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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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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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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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Dominique H Eghlidi, Selva L Luna, Donald I Brown, Vasilios T Garyfallou, Steven G Kohama, and Henryk F Urbanski

In mammals, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is the location of a master circadian pacemaker. It receives photic signals from the environment via the retinal hypothalamic tract, which play a key role in synchronizing the body’s endogenously generated circadian rhythms with the 24-h rhythm of the environment. Therefore, it is plausible that age-related changes within the SCN contribute to the etiology of perturbed activity–rest cycles that become prevalent in humans during aging. To test this hypothesis, we used gene arrays and quantitative RT-PCR to profile age-related gene expression changes within the SCN of male rhesus macaques – a pragmatic translational animal model of human aging, which similarly displays an age-related attenuation of daytime activity levels. As expected, the SCN showed high expression of arginine vasopressin, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, calbindin and nuclear receptor subfamily 1, group D, member 1 (NR1D1) (also known as reverse strand of ERBA (REV-ERBα), both at the mRNA and protein level. However, no obvious difference was detected between the SCNs of young (7–12 years) and old animals (21–26 years), in terms of the expression of core clock genes or genes associated with SCN signaling and neurotransmission. These data demonstrate the resilience of the primate SCN to normal aging, at least at the transcriptional level and, at least in males, suggest that age-related disruption of activity–rest cycles in humans may instead stem from changes within other components of the circadian system, such as desynchronization of subordinate oscillators in other parts of the body.

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Jakob Bondo Hansen, Laila Romagueira Bichara Dos Santos, Ying Liu, Kacey J Prentice, Frederik Teudt, Morten Tonnesen, Jean-Christophe Jonas, Michael B Wheeler, and Thomas Mandrup-Poulsen

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) arises when the pancreatic beta-cell fails to compensate for increased insulin needs due to insulin resistance. Glucolipotoxicity (GLT) has been proposed to induce beta-cell dysfunction in T2D by formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Here, we examined if modeling glucolipotoxic conditions by high glucose-high free fatty acid (FFA) exposure (GLT) regulates beta-cell iron transport, by increasing the cytosolic labile iron pool (LIP). In isolated mouse islets, the GLT-induced increase in the LIP catalyzed cytosolic ROS formation and induced apoptosis. We show that GLT-induced ROS production is regulated by an increased LIP associated with elevated expression of genes regulating iron import. Using pharmacological and transgenic approaches, we show that iron reduction and decreased iron import protects from GLT-induced ROS production, prevents impairment of the mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and inhibits apoptosis. This study identifies a novel pathway underlying GLT-induced apoptosis involving increased iron import, generation of hydroxyl radicals from hydrogen peroxide through the Fenton reaction in the cytosolic compartment associated with dissipation of the MMP and beta-cell apoptosis.

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Kira Meyerovich, Fernanda Ortis, and Alessandra K Cardozo

The prevalence of diabetes has reached 8.8% in worldwide population and is predicted to increase up to 10.4% by 2040. Thus, there is an urgent need for the development of means to treat or prevent this major disease. Due to its role in inflammatory responses, several studies demonstrated the importance of the transcription factor nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) in both type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D). The two major NF-κB pathways are the canonical and the non-canonical. The later pathway is activated by the NF-κB-inducing kinase (NIK) that triggers p100 processing into p52, which forms with RelB its main dimer. Cytokines mediating the activation of this pathway are present in the serum of T1D and T2D patients. Conversely, limited information is available regarding the role of the alternative pathway on diabetes development and β-cell fate. In the present review, we will briefly describe the involvement of NF-κB on diabetes pathology and discuss new studies indicating an important role for the non-canonical NF-κB activation in β-cell function and survival. The non-canonical NF-κB pathway is emerging as a novel potential target for the development of therapeutic strategies to treat or prevent diabetes.

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Jon Wolf Mueller and Paul A Foster

Open access

Douglas A Gibson, Paul A Foster, Ioannis Simitsidellis, Hilary O D Critchley, Olympia Kelepouri, Frances Collins, and Philippa T K Saunders

In women, establishment of pregnancy is dependent upon ‘fine-tuning’ of the endometrial microenvironment, which is mediated by terminal differentiation (decidualisation) of endometrial stromal fibroblasts (ESFs). We have demonstrated that intracrine steroid metabolism plays a key role in regulating decidualisation and is essential for time-dependent expression of key factors required for endometrial receptivity. The primary aim of the current study was to determine whether sulphated steroids can act as precursors to bioactive sex steroids during decidualisation. We used primary human ESF and a robust in vitro model of decidualisation to assess the expression of genes associated with sulphation, desulphation and transport of sulphated steroids in human ESF as well as the impact of the steroid sulphatase (STS) inhibitor STX64 (Irosustat). We found evidence for an increase in both expression and activity of STS in response to a decidualisation stimulus with abrogation of oestrone biosynthesis and decreased secretion of the decidualisation marker IGFBP1 in the presence of STX64. These results provide novel insight into the contribution of STS to the intracrine regulation of decidualisation.

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Oscar J Pozo, Josep Marcos, Olha Khymenets, Andy Pranata, Christopher C Fitzgerald, Malcolm D McLeod, and Cedric Shackleton

The steroid disulfates (aka bis-sulfates) are a significant but minor fraction of the urinary steroid metabolome that have not been widely studied because major components are not hydrolyzed by the commercial sulfatases commonly used in steroid metabolomics. In early studies, conjugate fractionation followed by hydrolysis using acidified solvent (solvolysis) was used for the indirect detection of this fraction by GC–MS. This paper describes the application of a specific LC–MS/MS method for the direct identification of disulfates in urine, and their use as markers for the prenatal diagnosis of disorders causing reduced estriol production: STSD (steroid sulfatase deficiency), SLOS (Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome) and PORD (P450 oxidoreductase deficiency). Disulfates were detected by monitoring a constant ion loss (CIL) from the molecular di-anion. While focused on disulfates, our methodology included an analysis of intact steroid glucuronides and monosulfates because steroidogenic disorder diagnosis usually requires an examination of the complete steroid profile. In the disorders studied, a few individual steroids (as disulfates) were found particularly informative: pregn-5-ene-3β,20S-diol, pregn-5-ene-3β,21-diol (STSD, neonatal PORD) and 5α-pregnane-3β,20S-diol (pregnancy PORD). Authentic steroid disulfates were synthesized for use in this study as aid to characterization. Tentative identification of 5ξ-pregn-7-ene-3ξ,20S-diol and 5ξ-pregn-7-ene-3ξ,17,20S-triol disulfates was also obtained in samples from SLOS affected pregnancies. Seven ratios between the detected metabolites were applied to distinguish the three selected disorders from control samples. Our results show the potential of the direct detection of steroid conjugates in the diagnosis of pathologies related with steroid biosynthesis.

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Carla A Piccinato, Helena Malvezzi, Douglas A Gibson, and Philippa T K Saunders

Endometriosis is an incurable hormone-dependent inflammatory disease that causes chronic pelvic pain and infertility characterized by implantation and growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterine cavity. Symptoms have a major impact on the quality of life of patients resulting in socioeconomic, physical and psychological burdens. Although the immune system and environmental factors may play a role in the aetiology of endometriosis, oestrogen dependency is still considered a hallmark of the disorder. The impact of oestrogens such as oestrone and particularly, oestradiol, on the endometrium or endometriotic lesions may be mediated by steroids originating from ovarian steroidogenesis or local intra-tissue production (intracrinology) dependent upon the expression and activity of enzymes that regulate oestrogen biosynthesis and metabolism. Two key pathways have been implicated: while there is contradictory data on the participation of the aromatase enzyme (encoded by CYP19A1), there is increasing evidence that the steroid sulphatase pathway plays a role in both the aetiology and pathology of endometriosis. In this review, we consider the evidence related to the pathways leading to oestrogen accumulation in endometriotic lesions and how this might inform the development of new therapeutic strategies to treat endometriosis without causing the undesirable side effects of current regimes that suppress ovarian hormone production.