Glucagon regulates hepatic mitochondrial function and biogenesis through FOXO1.
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Glucagon promotes hepatic glucose production maintaining glucose homeostasis in the fasting state. Glucagon maintains at high level in both diabetic animals and human, contributing to hyperglycemia. Mitochondria, a major place for glucose oxidation, are dysfunctional in diabetic condition. However, whether hepatic mitochondrial function can be affected by glucagon remains unknown. Recently, we reported that FOXO1 is an important mediator in glucagon signaling in control of glucose homeostasis. In this study, we further assessed the role of FOXO1 in the action of glucagon in the regulation of hepatic mitochondrial function. We found that glucagon decreased the heme production in a FOXO1-dependent manner, suppressed heme-dependent complex III (UQCRC1) and complex IV (MT-CO1) and inhibited hepatic mitochondrial function. However, the suppression of mitochondrial function by glucagon was largely rescued by deleting the Foxo1 gene in hepatocytes. Glucagon tends to reduce hepatic mitochondrial biogenesis by attenuating the expression of NRF1, TFAM and MFN2, which is mediated by FOXO1. In db/db mice, we found that hepatic mitochondrial function was suppressed and expression levels of UQCRC1, MT-CO1, NRF1 and TFAM were downregulated in the liver. These findings suggest that hepatic mitochondrial function can be impaired when hyperglucagonemia occurs in the patients with diabetes mellitus, resulting in organ failure.