Activin receptor-like kinase 7 (ALK7) is a type I receptor in the TGF-β superfamily preferentially expressed in adipose tissue and associated with lipid metabolism. Inactivation of ALK7 signaling in mice results in increased lipolysis and resistance to both genetic and diet-induced obesity. Human genetic studies have recently revealed an association between ALK7 variants and both reduced waist to hip ratios and resistance to development of diabetes. In the present study, treatment with a neutralizing mAb against ALK7 caused a substantial loss of adipose mass and improved glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in both genetic and diet-induced mouse obesity models. The enhanced lipolysis increased fatty acid supply from adipocytes to promote fatty acid oxidation in muscle and oxygen consumption at the whole-body level. The treatment temporarily increased hepatic triglyceride levels, which resolved with long-term Ab treatment. Blocking of ALK7 signals also decreased production of its ligand, growth differentiation factor 3, by downregulating S100A8/A9 release from adipocytes and, subsequently, IL-1β release from adipose tissue macrophages. These findings support the feasibility of potential therapeutics targeting ALK7 as a treatment for obesity and diabetes.
Min Zhao, Katsuhide Okunishi, Yun Bu, Osamu Kikuchi, Hao Wang, Tadahiro Kitamura, Tetsuro Izumi