The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of monotherapies and combinations of drugs on insulin sensitivity, adipose tissue morphology, and pancreatic and hepatic remodelling in C57BL/6 mice fed on a very HF (high-fat) diet. Male C57BL/6 mice were fed on an HF (60% lipids) diet or SC (standard chow; 10% lipids) diet for 10 weeks, after which time the following drug treatments began: HF-T (HF diet treated with telmisartan; 5.2 mg·kg−1 of body weight·day−1), HF-S (HF diet treated with sitagliptin; 1.08 g·kg−1 of body weight·day−1), HF-M (HF diet treated with metformin; 310.0 mg·kg−1 of body weight·day−1), HF-TM (HF diet treated with telmisartan+metformin), HF-TS (HF diet treated with telmisartan+sitagliptin) and HF-SM (HF diet treated with sitagliptin+metformin). Treated groups also had free access to the HF diet, and treatments lasted for 6 weeks. Morphometry, stereological tools, immunostaining, ELISA, Western blot analysis and electron microscopy were used. The HF diet yielded an overweight phenotype, an increase in oral glucose intolerance, hyperinsulinaemia, hypertrophied islets and adipocytes, stage 2 steatosis (>33%), and reduced liver PPAR-α (peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor-α) and GLUT-2 (glucose transporter-2) levels, concomitant with enhanced SREBP-1 (sterol-regulatory-element-binding protein-1) expression (P<0.0001). Conversely, all drug treatments resulted in significant weight loss, a reversal of insulin resistance, islet and adipocyte hypertrophy, and alleviated hepatic steatosis. Only the HF-T and HF-TS groups had body weights similar to the SC group at the end of the experiment, and the latter treatment reversed hepatic steatosis. Increased PPAR-α immunostaining in parallel with higher GLUT-2 and reduced SREBP-1 expression may explain the favourable hepatic outcomes. Restoration of adipocyte size was consistent with higher adiponectin levels and lower TNF-α (tumour necrosis factor-α) levels (P<0.0001) in the drug-treated groups. In conclusion, all of the drug treatments were effective in controlling the metabolic syndrome. The best results were achieved using telmisartan and sitagliptin as monotherapies or as a dual treatment, combining partial PPAR-γ agonism and PPAR-α activation in the liver with extended incretin action.

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