Chemerin, originally known as a chemoattractant derived from adipose tissue and the liver, has been reported to have regulatory functions in gluconeogenesis, peripheral insulin sensitivity, and insulin secretion. This study was conducted to assess the postweaning changes in expression of this cytokine and its physiological role in the modification of glucose metabolism associated with weaning. Eighteen tissue samples were collected from Holstein calves (90 d of age; n = 4) to investigate the tissue distributions of chemerin and its receptors genes. Chemerin was highly expressed in the liver, and secreted chemerin protein was found in the plasma. Among the receptors of chemerin, chemokine-like receptor 1 and C-C chemokine receptor-like 2 were ubiquitously expressed whereas G protein-coupled receptor 1 was predominantly expressed in the liver. The changes in glucose metabolism and expression of these genes after weaning were assessed by comparing suckling calves (n = 6) and weaned calves (n = 8) of Japanese Black cattle. No significant difference was observed in plasma glucose levels between suckling and weaned calves (P = 0.22), whereas the plasma level of total ketone bodies was significantly higher in weaned calves (P < 0.01). Plasma levels of insulin and cortisol did not differ between suckling and weaned calves. The mRNA levels of certain key enzymes involved in hepatic gluconeogenesis were also altered; for instance, pyruvate carboxylase level was lower in postweaning calves (P < 0.05) and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase 2 (PCK2) level tended to be higher after weaning (P = 0.08). However, PCK1 was not altered after weaning. The plasma levels of hepatic stress indicators were also changed, with aspartate transaminase, alanine transaminase, and lactate dehydrogenase being significantly elevated in postweaning calves (P < 0.05). Chemerin protein in liver tissue was less abundant in weaned calves (P < 0.05), although there were no changes in its transcript levels. The abundance of plasma chemerin protein did not change after weaning (P = 0.95). In summary, these data indicate that as a consequence of weaning, which causes physiological stress and alters hepatic metabolism, chemerin protein expression within the liver is downregulated, indicating that chemerin plays a role in the upregulation of hepatic PCK2 expression via its inhibitory effect on hepatic gluconeogenesis.
- Glucose metabolism