C1q/TNF-related protein-3 (CTRP3), a novel adipokine that regulates hepatic glucose output

Jonathan M. Peterson, Zhikui Wei, G. William Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


Adipose tissue-derived adipokines play important roles in controlling systemic insulin sensitivity and energy balance. Our recent efforts to identify novel metabolic mediators produced by adipose tissue have led to the discovery of a highly conserved family of secreted proteins, designated as C1q/TNF-related proteins 1-10 (CTRP1 to -10). However, physiological functions regulated by CTRPs are largely unknown. Here we provide the first in vivo functional characterization of CTRP3. We show that circulating levels of CTRP3 are inversely correlated with leptin levels; CTRP3 increases with fasting, decreases in diet-induced obese mice with high leptin levels, and increases in leptin-deficient ob/ob mice. A modest 3-fold elevation of plasma CTRP3 levels by recombinant protein administration is sufficient to lower glucose levels in normal and insulin-resistant ob/ob mice, without altering insulin or adiponectin levels. The glucose-lowering effect in mice is linked to activation of the Akt signaling pathway in liver and a marked suppression of hepatic gluconeogenic gene expression. Consistent with its effects in mice, CTRP3 acts directly and independently of insulin to regulate gluconeogenesis in cultured hepatocytes. In humans, alternative splicing generates two circulating CTRP3 isoforms differing in size and glycosylation pattern. The two human proteins form hetero-oligomers, an association that does not require interdisulfide bond formation and appears to protect the longer isoform from proteolytic cleavage. Recombinant human CTRP3 also reduces glucose output in hepatocytes by suppressing gluconeogenic enzyme expression. This study provides the first functional evidence linking CTRP3 to hepatic glucose metabolism and establishes CTRP3 as a novel adipokine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39691-39701
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 17 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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