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Maria Jacoba Kruger, Maria Martha Conradie, Magda Conradie and Mari van de Vyver

Obesity-associated inflammatory mechanisms play a key role in the pathogenesis of metabolic-related diseases. Failure of anti-inflammatory control mechanisms within adipose tissue and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) have been implicated in disease progression. This study investigated the efficacy of allogeneic adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells conditioned media (ADSC-CM) to counteract persistent inflammation by inducing an anti-inflammatory phenotype and cytokine response within PBMCs derived from patients with and without metabolic syndrome. Forty-six (n = 46) mixed ancestry females (18–45 years) were subdivided into (a) healthy lean (HL) (n = 10) (BMI <25 kg/m2), (b) overweight/obese (OW/OB) (BMI ≥25 kg/m2, <3 metabolic risk factors) (n = 22) and (c) metabolic syndrome (MetS) (visceral adiposity, ≥3 metabolic risk factors) (n = 14) groups. Body composition (DXA scan), metabolic (cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, blood glucose) and inflammatory profiles (38-Plex cytokine panel) were determined. PBMCs were isolated from whole blood and treated ex vivo with either (i) autologous participant-derived serum, (ii) ADSCs-CM or (iii) a successive treatment regime. The activation status (CD11b+) and intracellular cytokine (IL6, IL10, TNFa) expression were determined in M1 (CD68+CD206−CD163−) and M2 (CD68+CD163+ CD206+) macrophage populations using flow cytometry. ADSC-CM treatment, promoted a M2 macrophage phenotype and induced IL10 expression, this was most pronounced in the OW/OB group. This response is likely mediated by multiple complementing factors within ADSC-CM, yet to be identified. This study is the first to demonstrate the therapeutic potential of ADSC-CM to restore the inflammatory balance in immune compromised obese individuals.

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Yujiro Yamanaka, Yoshiko Yamada, Ken-ichi Honma and Sato Honma

Cryptochrome (Cry) 1 and 2 are essential for circadian rhythm generation, not only in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the site of the mammalian master circadian clock, but also in peripheral organs throughout the body. CRY is also known as a repressor of arylalkylamine-N-acetyltransferase (Aanat) transcription; therefore, Cry deficiency is expected to induce constantly high pineal melatonin content. Nevertheless, we previously found that the content was consistently low in melatonin-proficient Cry1 and Cry2 double-deficient mice (Cry1 / /Cry2 / ) on C3H background. This study aims to clarify the mechanism underlying this discrepancy. In the Cry1 / /Cry2 / pineal, expression levels of Aanat and clock gene Per1 were consistently high with no circadian fluctuation on the first day in constant darkness, demonstrating that CRY acts in vivo as a repressor of the pineal circadian clock and AANAT. In contrast, the enzyme activity and protein levels of AANAT remained low throughout the day, supporting our previous observation of continuously low melatonin. Thus, effects of Cry deficiency on the responses of β-adrenergic receptors were examined in cultured pineal glands. Isoproterenol, a β-adrenergic stimulant, significantly increased melatonin content, although the increase was smaller in Cry1 / /Cry2 / than in WT mice, during both the day and night. However, the increase in cAMP in response to forskolin was similar in both genotypes, indicating that CRY deficiency does not affect the pathway downstream of the β-adrenergic receptor. These results suggest that a lack of circadian adrenergic input due to CRY deficiency decreases β-receptor activity and cAMP levels, resulting in consistently low AANAT levels despite abundant Aanat mRNA.

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Ying Li, Fuzhe Ma, Huimin Li, Yuguo Song, Huan Zhang, Ziping Jiang and Hao Wu

Impaired wound healing is a common complication among patients with diabetes mellitus (DM), resulting in high rates of disability and mortality. Recent findings highlighted the critical role of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) – a master of cellular antioxidants scavenging excessive DM-induced free radicals – in accelerating diabetic wound healing. Dimethyl fumarate (DMF) is a potent NRF2 activator used for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. However, the effect of DMF on wound healing has not been determined. The present study investigated the effect of DMF on the diabetic and the non-diabetic wound healing in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice and non-diabetic control mice. DMF activated NRF2 signaling under both conditions. Interestingly, DMF attenuated oxidative damage and inflammation and accelerated wound closure in diabetic mice. However, this effect was not observed in non-diabetic mice. Keratinocytes were treated with normal glucose (NG), high glucose (HG) or hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), in the presence or absence of DMF to assess the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) – inducible in DM – in mediating DMF-induced protection. Both HG and H2O2 elevated ROS, oxidative damage and inflammation, the effects of which were similarly blunted by DMF. However, in spite of the activation of NRF2, DMF lost this capability under the NG condition. The findings of this study demonstrate that ROS activate the protective effect of DMF on the diabetic wound healing.

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Seisuke Sato, Hitomi Imachi, Jingya Lyu, Yumi Miyai, Kensaku Fukunaga, Tao Dong, Tomohiro Ibata, Toshihiro Kobayashi, Takuo Yoshimoto, Fumi Kikuchi, Kazuko Yonezaki, Nao Yamaji, Hisakazu Iwama and Koji Murao

ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1), a 254-kD membrane protein, is a key regulator of lipid efflux from cells to apolipoproteins. ABCA1 in pancreatic β-cells influences insulin secretion and cholesterol homeostasis. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α is a pleiotropic cytokine that elicits a wide spectrum of physiological events, including cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis and is also known to decrease glucose-dependent insulin secretion in pancreatic islets. In the present study, we examined the role of TNF-α on ABCA1 expression in rat pancreatic islets and INS-1 cells. ABCA1 protein levels decreased in response to rising concentrations of TNF-α in pancreatic islets. Real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis showed a significant decrease in ABCA1 mRNA expression. In parallel with its effect on endogenous ABCA1 mRNA levels, TNF-α suppressed the activity of a reporter construct containing the ABCA1 promoter. This effect was abrogated by BIRB796, but not by SB203580 or LY-294002. The constitutively active form of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) γ suppressed ABCA1 promoter activity but not p38-MAPK (α, β), while a dominant-negative mutant of p38-MAPK γ blocked the effect of TNF-α on ABCA1 promoter activity. BIRB796 inhibited the increased cholesterol ester content induced by TNF-α. However, BIRB796 had no effect on either the decreased insulin content or the ABCA1 suppression caused by TNF-α in INS-1 cells. We checked the influence of TNF-α of insulin secretion and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in rat pancreatic islet and INS-1 cell. TNF-α suppressed the insulin secretion and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in both rat pancreatic islet and INS-1 cell. In summary, TNF-α suppressed the expression of endogenous ABCA1 and suppress the insulin secretion in pancreatic islets and INS-1 cells. These findings raise the possibility that TNF-α may affect insulin secretion by controlling ABCA1 expression.

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Meghan S Perkins, Renate Louw-du Toit and Donita Africander

Although hormone therapy is widely used by millions of women to relieve symptoms of menopause, it has been associated with several side effects such as coronary heart disease, stroke and increased invasive breast cancer risk. These side effects have caused many women to seek alternatives to conventional hormone therapy, including the controversial custom-compounded bioidentical hormone therapy suggested to not increase breast cancer risk. Historically, estrogens and the estrogen receptor were considered the principal factors promoting breast cancer development and progression; however, a role for other members of the steroid receptor family in breast cancer pathogenesis is now evident, with emerging studies revealing an interplay between some steroid receptors. In this review, we discuss examples of hormone therapy used for the relief of menopausal symptoms, highlighting the distinction between conventional hormone therapy and custom-compounded bioidentical hormone therapy. Moreover, we highlight the fact that not all hormones have been evaluated for an association with increased breast cancer risk. We also summarize the current knowledge regarding the role of steroid receptors in mediating the carcinogenic effects of hormones used in menopausal hormone therapy, with special emphasis on the influence of the interplay or crosstalk between steroid receptors. Unraveling the intertwined nature of steroid hormone receptor signaling pathways in breast cancer biology is of utmost importance, considering that breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among women worldwide. Moreover, understanding these mechanisms may reveal novel prevention or treatment options and lead to the development of new hormone therapies that do not cause increased breast cancer risk.

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Quinn Dufurrena, Nils Bäck, Richard E Mains, Louis Hodgson, Herbert Tanowitz, Prashant Mandela, Elizabeth Eipper and Regina Kuliawat

Key features for progression to pancreatic β-cell failure and disease are loss of glucose responsiveness and an increased ratio of secreted proinsulin to insulin. Proinsulin and insulin are stored in secretory granules (SGs) and the fine-tuning of hormone output requires signal mediated recruitment of select SG populations according to intracellular location and age. The GTPase Rac1 coordinates multiple signaling pathways that specify SG release and Rac1 activity is controlled in part by GDP/GTP exchange factors (GEFs). To explore the function of two large multidomain GEFs, Kalirin and Trio in β-cells, we manipulated their Rac1-specific GEF1 domain activity by using small molecule inhibitors and by genetically ablating Kalirin. We examined age related secretory granule behavior employing radiolabeling protocols. Loss of Kalirin/Trio function attenuated radioactive proinsulin release by reducing constitutive-like secretion and exocytosis of 2-hour old granules. At later chase times or at steady state, Kalirin/Trio manipulations decreased glucose stimulated insulin output. Finally, use of a Rac1 FRET biosensor with cultured β-cell lines, demonstrated that Kalirin/Trio GEF1 activity was required for normal rearrangement of Rac1 to the plasma membrane in response to glucose. Rac1 activation can be evoked by both glucose metabolism and signaling through the incretin glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor. GLP-1 addition restored Rac1 localization/activity and insulin secretion in the absence of Kalirin, thereby assigning Kalirin’s participation to stimulatory glucose signaling.

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Yan-hui Bai, Yong Lv, Wei-qun Wang, Guang-li Sun and Hao-hao Zhang

Human corneal fibroblasts (HCFs) are implicated in corneal neovascularization (CRNV). The mechanisms underlying the inflammatory response in HCFs and the development of CRNV were explored in this study. Alkali burns were applied to the corneas of rats to establish a CRNV model. The expression of long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) nuclear enriched abundant transcript 1 (NEAT1) and mRNA and protein levels of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB)- activating protein (NKAP) were examined by quantitative real-time (qRT-PCR) and Western blot methods, respectively. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is used to stimulate HCFs for inflammatory response. The level of inflammation factors in HCF supernatant was detected using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Binding and interactions between NEAT1 and miRNA 1246 (miR-1246) were determined by RNA immunoprecipitation (RIP) and RNA pull-down assays in HCFs. Compared with the control group (n = 6), NEAT1 was upregulated in the corneas of the CRNV rat model (n = 6). The expression of NEAT1 in HCFs was upregulated by LPS. Downregulation of NEAT1 suppressed the secretion of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). NEAT1 could bind and interact with miR-1246. LPS regulated the expression of NKAP and NF-κB signaling via the NEAT1/miR-1246 pathway. Downregulation of NEAT1 in vivo inhibited CRNV progression in the CRNV rat model. The lncRNA NEAT1 induced secretion of inflammatory factors, mediated by NF-κB, by targeting miR-1246, thereby promoting CRNV progression.

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Ashley A Able, Allison J Richard and Jacqueline M Stephens

STAT5A (signal transducer and activator of transcription 5A) is a transcription factor that plays a role in adipocyte development and function. In this study, we report DBC1 (deleted in breast cancer 1 – also known as CCAR2) as a novel STAT5A-interacting protein. DBC1 has been primarily studied in tumor cells, but there is evidence that loss of this protein may promote metabolic health in mice. Currently, the functions of DBC1 in mature adipocytes are largely unknown. Using immunoprecipitation and immunoblotting techniques, we confirmed that there is an association between endogenous STAT5A and DBC1 proteins under physiological conditions in the adipocyte nucleus that is not dependent upon STAT5A tyrosine phosphorylation. We used siRNA to knockdown DBC1 in 3T3-L1 adipocytes to determine the impact on STAT5A activity, adipocyte gene expression and TNFα (tumor necrosis factor α)-regulated lipolysis. The loss of DBC1 did not affect the expression of several STAT5A target genes including Socs3, Cish, Bcl6, Socs2 and Igf1. However, we did observe decreased levels of TNFα-induced glycerol and free fatty acids released from adipocytes with reduced DBC1 expression. In addition, DBC1-knockdown adipocytes had increased Glut4 expression. In summary, DBC1 can associate with STAT5A in adipocyte nucleus, but it does not appear to impact regulation of STAT5A target genes. Loss of adipocyte DBC1 modestly increases Glut4 gene expression and reduces TNFα-induced lipolysis. These observations are consistent with in vivo observations that show loss of DBC1 promotes metabolic health in mice.

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Muraly Puttabyatappa and Vasantha Padmanabhan

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a heterogeneous endocrine disorder affecting women of reproductive age. The origin of PCOS is still not clear and appears to be a function of gene × environment interactions. This review addresses the current knowledge of the genetic and developmental contributions to the etiology of PCOS, the ovarian and extra-ovarian mediators of PCOS and the gaps and key challenges that need to be addressed in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of PCOS.

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Sufang Chen, Wei Wei, Minjie Chen, Xiaobo Qin, Lianglin Qiu, Li Zhang, Yuhao Zhang, Qi Cao and Zhekang Ying

Numerous studies have implicated tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. However, the role of its primary receptor, TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1), in homeostatic regulation of glucose metabolism is still controversial. In addition to TNFα, lymphotoxin α (LTα) binds to and activates TNFR1. Thus, TNFα and LTα together are known as TNF. To delineate the role of TNF signaling in glucose homeostasis, the present study ascertained how TNF signaling deficiency affects major regulatory components of glucose homeostasis. To this end, normal diet-fed male TNFR1-deficient mice (TNFR1−/−), TNFα/LTα/LTβ triple-deficient mice (TNF/LT∆3) and their littermate controls were subjected to intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test, insulin tolerance test and oral glucose tolerance test. The present results showed that TNFR1−/− and TNF/LT∆3 mice vs their controls had comparable body weight, tolerance to intraperitoneal glucose and sensitivity to insulin. However, their tolerance to oral glucose was significantly increased. Additionally, glucose-induced insulin secretion assessments revealed that TNFR1 or TNF/LT deficiency significantly increased oral but not intraperitoneal glucose-induced insulin secretion. Consistently, qPCR and immunohistochemistry analyses showed that TNFR1−/− and TNF/LT∆3 mice vs their controls had significantly increased ileal expression of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), one of the primary incretins. Their oral glucose-induced secretion of GLP-1 was also significantly increased. These data collectively suggest that physiological TNF signaling regulates glucose metabolism primarily through effects on GLP-1 expression and secretion and subsequently insulin secretion.