Biochemistry, Department of


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Obesity-induced insulin resistance is a risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, the mechanisms underlying endothelial senescence in obesity, and how it impacts obesity-induced insulin resistance remain incompletely understood. In this study, transcriptome analysis revealed that the long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) Maternally expressed gene 3 (Meg3) is one of the top differentially expressed lncRNAs in the vascular endothelium in diet-induced obese mice. Meg3 knockdown induces cellular senescence of endothelial cells characterized by increased senescence-associated β–galactosidase activity, increased levels of endogenous superoxide, impaired mitochondrial structure and function, and impaired autophagy. Moreover, Meg3 knockdown causes cellular senescence of hepatic endothelium in diet-induced obese mice. Furthermore, Meg3 expression is elevated in human nonalcoholic fatty livers and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis livers, which positively correlates with the expression of CDKN2A encoding p16, an important hallmark of cellular senescence. Meg3 knockdown potentiates obesity-induced insulin resistance and impairs glucose homeostasis. Insulin signaling is reduced by Meg3 knockdown in the liver and, to a lesser extent, in the skeletal muscle, but not in the visceral fat of obese mice. We found that the attenuation of cellular senescence of hepatic endothelium by ablating p53 expression in vascular endothelium can restore impaired glucose homeostasis and insulin signaling in obesity. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that cellular senescence of hepatic endothelium promotes obesity-induced insulin resistance, which is tightly regulated by the expression of Meg3. Our results suggest that manipulation of Meg3 expression may represent a novel approach to managing obesity-associated hepatic endothelial senescence and insulin resistance.