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Hye-Yoon Jeon, Ah-Jun Lee, Eun-Bin Kim, Minsoo Kim, Won Sun Park, and Kwon-Soo Ha

Proinsulin C-peptide has a protective effect against diabetic complications; however, its role in hyperglycemia-induced pulmonary fibrosis is unknown. In this study, we investigated the inhibitory effect of C-peptide on hyperglycemia-induced pulmonary fibrosis and the molecular mechanism of C-peptide action in the lungs of diabetic mice and in human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells (HPMVECs). We found that, in the lungs of diabetic mice, C-peptide supplementation using osmotic pumps attenuated hyperglycemia-induced pulmonary fibrosis and expression of fibrosis-related proteins. In HPMVECs, C-peptide inhibited vascular endothelial growth factor-induced adherens junction disruption and endothelial cell permeability by inhibiting reactive oxygen species generation and transglutaminase (TGase) activation. In the lungs, C-peptide supplementation suppressed hyperglycemia-induced reactive oxygen species generation, TGase activation, and microvascular leakage. C-peptide inhibited hyperglycemia-induced inflammation and apoptosis, which are involved in the pathological process of pulmonary fibrosis. We also demonstrated the role of TGase2 in hyperglycemia-induced vascular leakage, inflammation, apoptosis, and pulmonary fibrosis in the lungs of diabetic TGase2-null (Tgm2−/− ) mice. Furthermore, we demonstrated a long-term inhibitory effect of systemic delivery of C-peptide using K9-C-peptide hydrogels on hyperglycemia-induced fibrosis in diabetic lungs. Overall, our findings suggest that C-peptide alleviates hyperglycemia-induced pulmonary fibrosis by inhibiting TGase2-mediated microvascular leakage, inflammation, and apoptosis in diabetes.

Free access

Jin Hong Chen, Chen Shen, Ha Ram Oh, and Ji Hyun Park

During bone formation, mesenchymal progenitor cells mature into bone-forming osteoblasts after undergoing several stages of differentiation. Impaired bone formation is a predominant finding in glucocorticoid (GC)-induced osteoporosis (GIO). Osteoblasts at different stages of maturation can be affected by excessive endogenous or therapeutic GCs. Sex-determining region Y-box 2 (SOX2) is normally expressed in immature osteoblasts, but its overexpression can suppress osteoblast differentiation. This study aimed to evaluate whether GC affects SOX2 expression in osteoblasts, and whether SOX2 contributes to GC-induced inhibition of osteoblast differentiation. Treatment with GCs such as dexamethasone (Dex) or hydrocortisone enhanced SOX2 expression. Silencing SOX2 improved inhibition of GC-induced osteoblast differentiation, whereas SOX2 overexpression decreased mineralized nodule formation and RUNX2 and Osterix expression in MC3T3-E1 cells. On the contrary, when C3H10T1/2 uncommitted mesenchymal stem cells were subjected to SOX2 overexpression, RUNX2 expression increased. As a mechanism of Dex-induced SOX2 upregulation in preosteoblasts, we found that the STAT3 pathway or GC receptor (GR) is involved, using a GR antagonist, STAT3 regulators, and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays. Moreover, mice treated with Dex for 4 weeks showed a notable increase in SOX2 expression in the bones and an increased ratio of procollagen type 1 N-terminal propeptide to osteocalcin in the plasma than in control mice. This study demonstrated that GC enhances SOX2 expression in vitro in osteoblast and in vivo in the mice bone, which affects bone-forming activity differently depending on the differentiation stage of osteoblast-lineage cells. Our results provide new insights into prevention and treatment against impaired bone formation in GIO.

Free access

Rocío del M Saavedra-Peña, Natalia Taylor, and Matthew S Rodeheffer

Sex hormones play a pivotal role in physiology and disease. Estrogen, the female sex hormone, has been long implicated in having protective roles against obesity. However, the direct impact of estrogens in white adipose tissue (WAT) function and growth is not understood. Here, we show that the deletion of estrogen receptor alpha (ERα; Esr1) from adipocytes using Adipoq-credoes not affect adipose mass in male or female mice under normal or high-fat diet (HFD) conditions. However, loss of ERα in adipocyte precursor cells (APs) via Pdgfra-cre leads to exacerbated obesity upon HFD feeding in both male and female mice, with s.c. adipose (SWAT)-specific expansion in male mice. Further characterization of these mice revealed infertility and increased plasma levels of sex hormones, including estradiol in female mice and androgens in male mice. These findings compromise the study of estrogen signaling within the adipocyte lineage using the Pdgfra-crestrain. However, AP transplant studies demonstrate that the increased AP hyperplasia in male SWAT upon Pdgfra-cre-mediated ablation of ERα is not driven by AP-intrinsic mechanisms but is rather mediated by off-target effects. These data highlight the inherent difficulties in studying models that disrupt the intricate balance of sex hormones. Thus, better approaches are needed to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms of sex hormones in obesity and disease.

Free access

Daiana Araujo Santana-Oliveira, Aline Fernandes-da-Silva, Carolline Santos Miranda, Fabiane Ferreira Martins, Carlos Alberto Mandarim-de-Lacerda, and Vanessa Souza-Mello

Obesity causes white and brown adipocyte dysfunction, reducing browning and stimulating whitening. Drugs that tackle adipocyte dysfunction through thermogenesis stimulation could be used to treat obesity. This study sought to address whether a combination of the PPAR-alpha agonist (WY14643) and DPP4i (linagliptin) potentiates browning and mitigates adipose tissue dysfunction, emphasizing the pathways related to browning induction and the underlying thermogenesis in high-fat-fed mice. Adult male C57BL/6 mice were randomly assigned to receive a control diet (C, 10% lipids) or a high-fat diet (HF, 50% lipids) for 12 weeks. Experiment 1 aimed to evaluate whether 5 weeks of combined therapy was able to potentiate browning using a five-group design: C, HF, HFW (monotherapy with WY14643, 2.5 mg/kg body mass), HFL (monotherapy with linagliptin, 15 mg/kg body mass), and HFC (a combination of both drugs). Experiment 2 further addressed the pathways involved in browning maximization using a four-group study design: C, CC (C diet plus the drug combination), HF, and HFC (HF diet plus the drug combination). The HF group showed overweight, oral glucose intolerance, sWAT adipocyte hypertrophy, and reduced numerical density of nuclei per area of BAT confirming whitening. Only the combined treatment normalized these parameters in addition to body temperature increase, browning induction, and whitening rescue. The high expression of thermogenic marker genes parallel to reduced expression of inflammatory and endoplasmic reticulum stress genes mediated the beneficial findings. Hence, the PPAR-alpha agonist and DPP-4i combination is a promising target for obesity control by inducing functional brown adipocytes, browning of sWAT, and enhanced adaptive thermogenesis.

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Dieniffer Peixoto-Neves, Praghalathan Kanthakumar, Ravi Kumar, Hitesh Soni, and Adebowale Adebiyi

Beyond the CNS, urotensin II (UII) and its receptor (UT) are functionally expressed in peripheral tissues of the endocrine, cardiovascular, and renal systems. The expression levels of UII and UT in the kidney and circulating UII levels are increased in diabetes. UII also promotes mesangial proliferation and matrix accumulation in vitro. Here, we evaluate the effect of UT deletion on the development of hyperglycemia and diabetic kidney disease (DKD) in streptozotocin (STZ)-treated mice. Ten‐week-old WT and UT knockout (KO) mice were injected with STZ for 5 days to induce diabetes. Blood glucose levels were measured weekly, and necropsy was performed 12 weeks after STZ injection. UT ablation slowed hyperglycemia and glucosuria in STZ-treated mice. UT KO also ameliorated STZ-induced increase in HbA1c, but not STZ-induced decrease in plasma insulin levels. However, STZ-induced increases in plasma glucagon concentration and immunohistochemical staining for glucagon in pancreatic islets were lessened in UT KO mice. UT ablation also protected against STZ-induced kidney derangements, including albuminuria, mesangial expansion, glomerular lesions, and glomerular endoplasmic reticulum stress. UT is expressed in a cultured pancreatic alpha cell line, and its activation by UII triggered membrane depolarization, T- and L-type voltage-gated Ca2+channel-dependent Ca2+influx, and glucagon secretion. These findings suggest that apart from direct action on the kidneys to cause injury, UT activation by UII may result in DKD by promoting hyperglycemia via induction of glucagon secretion by pancreatic alpha cells.

Open access

Melpomeni Malamouli, Itamar Levinger, Andrew J McAinch, Adam J Trewin, Raymond J Rodgers, and Alba Moreno-Asso

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder affecting pre-menopausal women and involves metabolic dysregulation. Despite the high prevalence of insulin resistance, the existence of mitochondrial dysregulation and its role in the pathogenesis of PCOS is not clear. Exercise is recommended as the first-line therapy for women with PCOS. In particular, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is known to improve metabolic health and enhance mitochondrial characteristics. In this narrative review, the existing knowledge of mitochondrial characteristics in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue of women with PCOS and the effect of exercise interventions in ameliorating metabolic and mitochondrial health in these women are discussed. Even though the evidence on mitochondrial dysfunction in PCOS is limited, some studies point to aberrant mitochondrial functions mostly in skeletal muscle, while there is very little research in adipose tissue. Although most exercise intervention studies in PCOS report improvements in metabolic health, they show diverse and inconclusive findings in relation to mitochondrial characteristics. A limitation of the current study is the lack of comprehensive mitochondrial analyses and the diversity in exercise modalities, with only one study investigating the impact of HIIT alone. Therefore, further comprehensive large-scale exercise intervention studies are required to understand the association between metabolic dysfunction and aberrant mitochondrial profile, and the molecular mechanisms underlying the exercise-induced metabolic adaptations in women with PCOS.

Open access

Yali Ling, Feng Xu, Xuedi Xia, Dexing Dai, Ruoman Sun, and Zhongjian Xie

Thyroid cancer has the fastest rising incidence among cancers, especially for differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC). Although the prognosis of DTC is relatively good, if it changes to anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC), the prognosis will be very poor. The prognosis of DTC is largely depending on the degree of cell differentiation and proliferation. However, whether the vitamin D receptor (VDR) plays a role in regulating the proliferation and the differentiation of DTC cells is unclear. In the present study, we found that VDR was upregulated in DTC tissues compared to the adjacent non-cancerous tissue. Knockdown of VDR increased proliferation and decreased differentiation proliferation in DTC cells in vitro as well as DTC cell-derived xenografts in vivo. In contrast, overexpression of VDR had an opposite effect. Knockdown of E-cadherin abolished VDR-induced suppression of proliferation and enhancement of differentiation of the DTC cells. Knockdown of β-catenin partially reversed the effect of the VDR knockdown. VDR increases the levels of E-cadherin in the plasma membrane and decreases the levels of β-catenin in the nucleus. VDR binds to E-cadherin and β-catenin in the plasma membrane of the DTC cell. Taken together, VDR inhibits DTC cell proliferation and promotes differentiation via regulation of the E-cadherin/β-catenin complex, potentially representing novel clues for a therapeutic strategy to attenuate thyroid cancer progression.

Free access

René Lafont, Maria Serova, Blaise Didry-Barca, Sophie Raynal, Louis Guibout, Laurence Dinan, Stanislas Veillet, Mathilde Latil, Waly Dioh, and Pierre J Dilda

20-Hydroxyecdysone (20E) is a steroid hormone that plays a key role in insect development through nuclear ecdysteroid receptors (EcR/RXR complex) and at least one membrane GPCR receptor (DopEcR). It also displays numerous pharmacological effects in mammals, where its mechanism of action is still debated, involving either an unidentified GPCR or the estrogen ERβ receptor. The goal of this study was to better understand 20E mechanism of action in mammals. A mouse myoblast cell line (C2C12) and the gene expression of myostatin (a negative regulator of muscle growth) were used as a reporter system of anabolic activity. Experiments using protein-bound 20E established the involvement of a membrane receptor. 20E-like effects were also observed with angiotensin(1–7), the endogenous ligand of MAS. Additionally, the effect on myostatin gene expression was abolished by Mas receptor knock-down using siRNA or pharmacological inhibitors. 17β-Estradiol (E2) also inhibited myostatin gene expression, but protein-bound E2 was inactive, and E2 activity was not abolished by angiotensin(1–7) antagonists. A mechanism involving cooperation between the MAS receptor and a membrane-bound palmitoylated estrogen receptor is proposed. The possibility to activate the MAS receptor with a safe steroid molecule is consistent with the pleiotropic pharmacological effects of ecdysteroids in mammals and, indeed, the proposed mechanism may explain the close similarity between the effects of angiotensin(1–7) and 20E. Our findings open up many possible therapeutic developments involving stimulation of the protective arm of the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system (RAAS) with 20E.

Free access

Wenlong Zhang, Zelin Zhang, Jiang Peng, Sitian Yang, and Dewen Tong

Effects of melatonin on the release and synthesis of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) at the hypothalamus and pituitary levels have been explored in some species, but a similar study in the corpora lutea (CL) has not yet been conducted. In this study, the immunostaining for GnRH and LH was observed in luteal cells of porcine CL during pregnancy, and a significant effect of pregnant stage on the level of GnRH and LH was found; higher values for GnRH and LH immunostaining and mRNA were detected in the early and mid-stages CL than in the later-stage CL (P  < 0.01). Furthermore, the patterns of melatonin membrane receptors (MT1 and MT2) expression were consistent with those of GnRH and LH expression in the CL of pregnant sows; the relative levels of MT1 and MT2 in the early and mid-stages were significantly higher than those in the later-stage (P  < 0.01). In luteal cells, melatonin dose-dependently increased in GnRH and LH secretion and mRNA expression. Melatonin also increased the GnRH-induced accumulation of LH and the LH-induced secretion of P4 in luteal cells. Additionally, the effects of melatonin on luteal GnRH and LH production were blocked by luzindole, a non-selective MT1 and MT2 receptor antagonist. Our results demonstrate the stimulatory effects of melatonin on GnRH and LH production in luteal cells of pregnant sows, suggesting a potential role for melatonin in luteal function through regulating the release and synthesis of GnRH and LH in luteal cells.

Open access

Douglas R Houston, Jane G Hanna, J Constance Lathe, Stephen G Hillier, and Richard Lathe

Ligand-activated nuclear receptors (NRs) orchestrate development, growth, and reproduction across all animal lifeforms – the Metazoa – but how NRs evolved remains mysterious. Given the NR ligands including steroids and retinoids are predominantly terpenoids, we asked whether NRs might have evolved from enzymes that catalyze terpene synthesis and metabolism. We provide evidence suggesting that NRs may be related to the terpene synthase (TS) enzyme superfamily. Based on over 10,000 3D structural comparisons, we report that the NR ligand-binding domain and TS enzymes share a conserved core of seven α-helical segments. In addition, the 3D locations of the major ligand-contacting residues are also conserved between the two protein classes. Primary sequence comparisons reveal suggestive similarities specifically between NRs and the subfamily of cis-isoprene transferases, notably with dehydrodolichyl pyrophosphate synthase and its obligate partner, NUS1/NOGOB receptor. Pharmacological overlaps between NRs and TS enzymes add weight to the contention that they share a distant evolutionary origin, and the combined data raise the possibility that a ligand-gated receptor may have arisen from an enzyme antecedent. However, our findings do not formally exclude other interpretations such as convergent evolution, and further analysis will be necessary to confirm the inferred relationship between the two protein classes.