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Hyeon Young Park, Hye Suk Kang and Seung-Soon Im

Fatty acids are essential nutrients that contribute to several intracellular functions. Fatty acid synthesis and oxidation are known to be regulated by sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs), which play a pivotal role in the regulation of cellular triglyceride synthesis and cholesterol biogenesis. Recent studies point to a multifunctional role of SREBPs in the pathogenesis of metabolic diseases, such as obesity, type II diabetes and cancer as well as in immune responses. Notably, fatty acid metabolic intermediates are involved in energy homeostasis and pathophysiological conditions. In particular, intracellular fatty acid metabolism affects an inflammatory response, thereby influencing metabolic diseases. The objective of this review is to summarize the recent advances in our understanding of the dual role of SREBPs in both lipid metabolism and inflammation-mediated metabolic diseases.

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Mitsushige Ando, Masanori Goto, Masato Hojo, Aya Kita, Masashi Kitagawa, Toshiyuki Ohtsuka, Ryoichiro Kageyama and Susumu Miyamoto

Multiple signaling molecules and transcription factors are required for pituitary development. Activator-type bHLH genes Mash1, Math, NeuroD (Neurod) and Neurogenin (Neurog) are well known as key molecules in neural development. Although analyses of targeted mouse mutants have demonstrated involvement of these bHLH genes in pituitary development, studies with single-mutant mice could not elucidate their exact functions, because they cooperatively function and compensate each other. The aim of this study was to elucidate the roles of Mash1, Math3 and NeuroD in pituitary development. Mash1;Math3;NeuroD triple-mutant mice were analyzed by immunohistochemistry and quantitative real-time RT-PCR. Misexpression studies with retroviruses in pituisphere cultures were also performed. The triple-mutant adenohypophysis was morphologically normal, though the lumen of the neurohypophysis remained unclosed. However, in triple-mutant pituitaries, somatotropes, gonadotropes and corticotropes were severely decreased, whereas lactotropes were increased. Misexpression of Mash1 alone with retrovirus could not induce generation of hormonal cells, though Mash1 was involved in differentiation of pituitary progenitor cells. These data suggest that Mash1, Math3 and NeuroD cooperatively control the timing of pituitary progenitor cell differentiation and that they are also required for subtype specification of pituitary hormonal cells. Mash1 is necessary for corticotroph and gonadotroph differentiation, and compensated by Math3 and NeuroD. Math3 is necessary for somatotroph differentiation, and compensated by Mash1 and NeuroD. Neurog2 may compensate Mash1, Math3 and NeuroD during pituitary development. Furthermore, Mash1, Math3 and NeuroD are required for neurohypophysis development. Thus, Mash1, Math3 and NeuroD are required for pituitary development, and compensate each other.

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Li Hu, Fengli He, Meifeng Huang, Meihua Peng, Zhiguang Zhou, Feng Liu and Yan-Shan Dai

Nuclear factors of activated T cells (NFAT) c3 have a prominent role in the regulation of proinflammatory factors in immune cells. The classically activated M1 macrophages are key players in the initiation and maintenance of adipose tissue (AT) inflammation. The role of NFATc3 in obesity and AT inflammation is unknown. We set out to determine how deficiency of NFATc3 effected macrophage polarization, inflammation and insulin resistance in visceral AT of high-fat diet (HFD)-fed mice. Nfatc3−/− and WT mice were fed a HFD for 8–17 weeks. Epididymal white AT (eWAT) F4/80(+) cells were characterized by fluorescence-activated cell sorting and quantitative RT-PCR. Results showed that Nfatc3−/− mice developed HFD-induced obesity similar to WT mice, but insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance were improved, and liver fat accumulation was reduced in Nfatc3−/− mice compared to WT control mice. Moreover, M1 macrophage content and proinflammatory factors were reduced, whereas the alternatively activated M2 macrophage content was increased in eWAT of HFD-fed Nfatc3−/− mice compared to that of WT mice. In addition, eWAT insulin signaling was improved in HFD-fed Nfatc3−/− mice. Importantly, after bone-marrow-derived macrophages had been isolated from Nfatc3−/− mice and cultured in vitro, treatment of these cells with interferon-γ and lipopolysaccharide resulted in reduction of M1 inflammatory markers, suggesting that NFATc3 promoted M1 polarization by a cell-autonomous mechanism. The results demonstrated that NFATc3 played an important role in M1 macrophage polarization, AT inflammation and insulin resistance in response to obesity through transcriptional activation of proinflammatory genes.

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Hyon-Seung Yi, Joon Young Chang and Minho Shong

Mitochondria perform essential roles as crucial organelles for cellular and systemic energy homeostasis, and as signaling hubs, which coordinate nuclear transcriptional responses to the intra- and extra-cellular environment. Complex human diseases, including diabetes, obesity, fatty liver disease and aging-related degenerative diseases are associated with alterations in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) function. However, a recent series of studies in animal models have revealed that an integrated response to tolerable mitochondrial stress appears to render cells less susceptible to subsequent aging processes and metabolic stresses, which is a key feature of mitohormesis. The mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt) is a central part of the mitohormetic response and is a retrograde signaling pathway, which utilizes the mitochondria-to-nucleus communication network. Our understanding of the UPRmt has contributed to elucidating the role of mitochondria in metabolic adaptation and lifespan regulation. In this review, we discuss and integrate recent data from the literature on the present status of mitochondrial OxPhos function in the development of metabolic diseases, relying on evidence from human and other animal studies, which points to alterations in mitochondrial function as a key factor in the regulation of metabolic diseases and conclude with a discussion on the specific roles of UPRmt and mitohormesis as a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of obesity and insulin resistance.

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Jing Cen, Ernest Sargsyan, Anders Forslund and Peter Bergsten

Elevated levels of palmitate accentuate glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) after short-term and cause beta-cell dysfunction after prolonged exposure. We investigated whether metformin, the first-line oral drug for treatment of T2DM, has beneficial effects on FFA-treated human islets and the potential mechanisms behind the effects. Insulin secretion, oxygen consumption rate (OCR), AMPK activation, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and apoptosis were examined in isolated human islets after exposure to elevated levels of palmitate in the absence or presence of metformin. Palmitate exposure doubled GSIS after 2 days but halved after 7 days compared with control. Inclusion of metformin during palmitate exposure normalized insulin secretion both after 2 and 7 days. After 2-day exposure to palmitate, OCR and the marker of the adaptive arm of ER stress response (sorcin) were significantly raised, whereas AMPK phosphorylation, markers of pro-apoptotic arm of ER stress response (p-EIF2α and CHOP) and apoptosis (cleaved caspase 3) were not affected. Presence of metformin during 2-day palmitate exposure normalized OCR and sorcin levels. After 7-day exposure to palmitate, OCR and sorcin were not significantly different from control level, p-AMPK was reduced and p-EIF2α, CHOP and cleaved caspase 3 were strongly upregulated. Presence of metformin during 7-day culture with palmitate normalized the level of p-AMPK, p-EIF2α, CHOP and cleaved caspase 3 but significantly increased the level of sorcin. Our study demonstrates that metformin prevents early insulin hypersecretion and later decrease in insulin secretion from palmitate-treated human islets by utilizing different mechanisms.

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Jessica A Deis, Hong Guo, Yingjie Wu, Chengyu Liu, David A Bernlohr and Xiaoli Chen

Lipocalin-2 (LCN2) has been previously characterized as an adipokine regulating thermogenic activation of brown adipose tissue and retinoic acid (RA)-induced thermogenesis in mice. The objective of this study was to explore the role and mechanism for LCN2 in the recruitment and retinoic acid-induced activation of brown-like or ‘beige’ adipocytes. We found LCN2 deficiency reduces key markers of thermogenesis including uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1α (PGC-1α) in inguinal white adipose tissue (iWAT) and inguinal adipocytes derived from Lcn2 −/− mice. Lcn2 −/− inguinal adipocytes have attenuated insulin-induced upregulation of thermogenic gene expression and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38MAPK) signaling pathway activation. This is accompanied by a lower basal and maximal oxidative capacity in Lcn2 −/− inguinal adipocytes, indicating mitochondrial dysfunction. Recombinant Lcn2 was able to restore insulin-induced p38MAPK phosphorylation in both WT and Lcn2 −/− inguinal adipocytes. Rosiglitazone treatment during differentiation of Lcn2 −/− adipocytes is able to recruit beige adipocytes at a normal level, however, further activation of beige adipocytes by insulin and RA is impaired in the absence of LCN2. Further, the synergistic effect of insulin and RA on UCP1 and PGC-1α expression is markedly reduced in Lcn2 −/− inguinal adipocytes. Most intriguingly, LCN2 and the retinoic acid receptor-alpha (RAR-α) are concurrently translocated to the plasma membrane of adipocytes in response to insulin, and this insulin-induced RAR-α translocation is absent in adipocytes deficient in LCN2. Our data suggest a novel LCN2-mediated pathway by which RA and insulin synergistically regulates activation of beige adipocytes via a non-genomic pathway of RA action.

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Shan Song, Duojun Qiu, Fengwei Luo, Jinying Wei, Ming Wu, Haijiang Wu, Chunyang Du, Yunxia Du, Yunzhuo Ren, Nan Chen, Huijun Duan and Yonghong Shi

Tubular injury is one of the crucial determinants of progressive renal failure in diabetic nephropathy (DN), while epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of tubular cells contributes to the accumulation of matrix protein in the diabetic kidney. Activation of the nucleotide binding and oligomerization domain-like receptor family pyrin domain-containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome leads to the maturation of interleukin (IL)-1B and is involved in the pathogenic mechanisms of diabetes. In this study, we explored the role of NLRP3 inflammasome on high glucose (HG) or transforming growth factor-B1 (TGFB1)-induced EMT in HK-2 cells. We evaluated EMT through the expression of α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and E-cadherin as well as the induction of a myofibroblastic phenotype. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) was observed using the confocal microscopy. HG was shown to induce EMT at 48 h, which was blocked by NLRP3 silencing or antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC). We found that NLRP3 interference could inhibit HG-induced ROS. Knockdown of NLRP3 could prevent HG-induced EMT by inhibiting the phosphorylation of SMAD3, P38 MAPK and ERK1/2. In addition, P38 MAPK and ERK1/2 might be involved in HG-induced NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Besides, TGFB1 induced the activation of NLRP3 inflammasome and the generation of ROS, which were blocked by NLRP3 interference or NAC. Tubular cells exposed to TGFB1 also underwent EMT, and this could be inhibited by NLRP3 shRNA or NAC. These results indicated that knockdown of NLRP3 antagonized HG-induced EMT by inhibiting ROS production, phosphorylation of SMAD3, P38MAPK and ERK1/2, highlighting NLRP3 as a potential therapy target for diabetic nephropathy.

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Rachel S Fletcher and Gareth G Lavery

The concept of replenishing or elevating NAD+ availability to combat metabolic disease and ageing is an area of intense research. This has led to a need to define the endogenous regulatory pathways and mechanisms cells and tissues utilise to maximise NAD+ availability such that strategies to intervene in the clinical setting are able to be fully realised. This review discusses the importance of different salvage pathways involved in metabolising the vitamin B3 class of NAD+ precursor molecules, with a particular focus on the recently identified nicotinamide riboside kinase pathway at both a tissue-specific and systemic level.

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Fabien Duval, Esther Dos Santos, Benoît Maury, Valérie Serazin, Khadija Fathallah, François Vialard and Marie-Noëlle Dieudonné

Throughout the entire first trimester of pregnancy, fetal growth is sustained by endometrial secretions, i.e. histiotrophic nutrition. Endometrial stromal cells (EnSCs) accumulate and secrete a variety of nutritive molecules that are absorbed by trophoblastic cells and transmitted to the fetus. Glycogen appears to have a critical role in the early stages of fetal development, since infertile women have low endometrial glycogen levels. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying glycogen metabolism and trafficking at the fetal–maternal interface have not yet been characterized. Among the various factors acting at the fetal–maternal interface, we focused on adiponectin – an adipocyte-secreted cytokine involved in the control of carbohydrate and lipid homeostasis. Our results clearly demonstrated that adiponectin controls glycogen metabolism in EnSCs by (i) increasing glucose transporter 1 expression, (ii) inhibiting glucose catabolism via a decrease in lactate and ATP productions, (iii) increasing glycogen synthesis, (iv) promoting glycogen accumulation via phosphoinositide-3 kinase activation and (v) enhancing glycogen secretion. Furthermore, our results revealed that adiponectin significantly limits glycogen endocytosis by human villous trophoblasts. Lastly, we demonstrated that once glycogen has been endocytosed into placental cells, it is degraded into glucose molecules in lysosomes. Taken as a whole, the present results demonstrate that adiponectin exerts a dual role at the fetal–maternal interface by promoting glycogen synthesis in the endometrium and conversely reducing trophoblastic glycogen uptake. We conclude that adiponectin may be involved in feeding the conceptus during the first trimester of pregnancy by controlling glycogen metabolism in both the uterus and the placenta.

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Aran Son, Namju Kang, Jung Yun Kang, Ki Woo Kim, Yu-Mi Yang and Dong Min Shin

Mechanical stress plays an important role in the regulation of bone turnover. However, the mechanism underlying hypo-osmotic stress-induced cellular response in osteoblasts remains poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the effect of hypotonic stress on the expression of bone remodeling factors, including the receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa B ligand (RANKL) and the nuclear factor of activated T cells type c1 (NFATc1) in primary mouse osteoblasts and MC3T3-E1 cells. Hypo-osmotic stress induced significant increases in RANKL mRNA expression and intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) from the extracellular space. Hypo-osmotic stress-induced effects on [Ca2+]i and RANKL and NFATc1 protein expression were decreased by antagonists of transient receptor potential melastatin 3 (TRPM3) and vaniloid 4 (TRPV4). Agonists of TRPM3 and TRPV4 activated [Ca2+]i and RANKL and NFATc1 protein expression. Furthermore, genetic suppression of TRPM3 and TRPV4 reduced hypo-osmotic stress-induced effects in mouse osteoblasts. These results suggest that hypo-osmotic stress induces increases in [Ca2+]ii through TRPM3 and TRPV4 to regulate RANKL and NFATc1 expression in mouse osteoblastic cells and that mechanical stress-activated TRP channels may play a critical role in bone remodeling.