Hypovitaminosis D is common in the obese population and patients suffering from obesity-associated disorders such as type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease, resulting in suggestions for vitamin D supplementation as a potential therapeutic option. However, the pathomechanistic contribution of the vitamin D-vitamin D receptor (VDR) axis to metabolic disorders is largely unknown.
We analyzed the pathophysiological role of global and intestinal VDR signaling in diet-induced obesity (DIO) using global Vdr-/- mice and mice re-expressing an intestine-specific human VDR transgene in the Vdr deficient background (Vdr-/- hTg).
Vdr-/- mice were protected from DIO, hepatosteatosis and metabolic inflammation in adipose tissue and liver. Furthermore, Vdr-/- mice displayed a decreased adipose tissue lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity and a reduced capacity to harvest triglycerides from the circulation. Intriguingly, all these phenotypes were partially reversed in Vdr-/- hTg animals. This clearly suggested an intestine-based VDR activity on systemic lipid homeostasis. Scrutinizing this hypothesis, we identified the potent LPL inhibitor angiopoietin-like 4 (Angptl4) as a novel transcriptional target of VDR.
Our study suggests a VDR-mediated metabolic cross-talk between gut and adipose tissue, which significantly contributes to systemic lipid homeostasis. These results have important implications for use of the intestinal VDR as a therapeutic target for obesity and associated disorders.