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Jonathan Pham, Kanaga Arul Nambi Rajan, Ping Li, and Mana M Parast

Placental development is important for proper in utero growth and development of the fetus, as well as maternal well-being during pregnancy. Abnormal differentiation of placental epithelial cells, called trophoblast, is at the root of multiple pregnancy complications, including miscarriage, the maternal hypertensive disorder preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction. The ligand-activated nuclear receptor, PPARγ, and nutrient sensor, Sirtuin-1, both play a role in numerous pathways important to cell survival and differentiation, metabolism and inflammation. However, each has also been identified as a key player in trophoblast differentiation and placental development. This review details these studies, and also describes how various stressors, including hypoxia and inflammation, alter the expression or activity of PPARγ and Sirtuin-1, thereby contributing to placenta-based pregnancy complications.

Open access

Paul de Goede, Jakob Wefers, Eline Constance Brombacher, Patrick Schrauwen, and Andries Kalsbeek

Many physiological processes are regulated with a 24-h periodicity to anticipate the environmental changes of daytime to nighttime and vice versa. These 24-h regulations, commonly termed circadian rhythms, among others control the sleep–wake cycle, locomotor activity and preparation for food availability during the active phase (daytime for humans and nighttime for nocturnal animals). Disturbing circadian rhythms at the organ or whole-body level by social jetlag or shift work, increases the risk to develop chronic metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus. The molecular basis of this risk is a topic of increasing interest. Mitochondria are essential organelles that produce the majority of energy in eukaryotes by converting lipids and carbohydrates into ATP through oxidative phosphorylation. To adapt to the ever-changing environment, mitochondria are highly dynamic in form and function and a loss of this flexibility is linked to metabolic diseases. Interestingly, recent studies have indicated that changes in mitochondrial morphology (i.e., fusion and fission) as well as generation of new mitochondria are dependent on a viable circadian clock. In addition, fission and fusion processes display diurnal changes that are aligned to the light/darkness cycle. Besides morphological changes, mitochondrial respiration also displays diurnal changes. Disturbing the molecular clock in animal models leads to abrogated mitochondrial rhythmicity and altered respiration. Moreover, mitochondrial-dependent production of reactive oxygen species, which plays a role in cellular signaling, has also been linked to the circadian clock. In this review, we will summarize recent advances in the study of circadian rhythms of mitochondria and how this is linked to the molecular circadian clock.

Open access

Zhengjie Yan, Youjin Dai, Heling Fu, Yuan Zheng, Dan Bao, Yuan Yin, Qin Chen, Xiaowei Nie, Qingting Hao, Daorong Hou, and Yugui Cui

This study was designed to investigate the protective effect of curcumin against d-galactose (d-gal)-induced premature ovarian failure (POF) in mice. A mouse POF model was induced by subcutaneous injection of d-gal (200 mg/kg/day) daily for 42 days. Mice in the curcumin group received both d-gal treatment and intraperitoneal injection of curcumin (100 mg/kg/day) for 42 days. Ovarian function, oxidative stress and apoptosis were evaluated. The P, E2 and SOD levels were higher, and the FSH, LH and MDA levels were significantly lower in the curcumin group than those in the d-gal group. The proportion of primordial follicles was also significantly higher in the curcumin group than that in the d-gal group. In addition, curcumin treatment after d-gal administration resulted in significantly lower Sod2, Cat, 8-OhdG, 4-HNE, NTY and senescence-associated protein P16 expression levels, higher Amh expression levels and less apoptosis in granulosa cells than was observed in the d-gal group. Moreover, the p-Akt, Nrf2 and HO-1 protein expression levels were significantly higher and the apoptosis-related cleaved caspase-3 and -9 protein expression levels were markedly lower in the curcumin group than in the d-gal group. In conclusion, curcumin effectively inhibited d-gal-induced oxidative stress, apoptosis and ovarian injury via a mechanism involving the Nrf2/HO-1 and PI3K/Akt signaling pathways, suggesting that curcumin is a potential protective agent against POF.

Open access

L B James-Allan, G S Whitley, K Leslie, A E Wallace, and J E Cartwright

Successful implantation and placentation are dependent on the interaction between decidual stromal cells (DSC) and extravillous trophoblast (EVT) cells. The extent of trophoblast invasion relies on communication between the placenta and maternal decidua. The cyclical process of decidualisation induces a transformation of endometrial fibroblasts to secretory DSC; these secreted products have many functions including the control of trophoblast invasion. Inadequate trophoblast invasion and remodelling of the uterine vessels (the spiral arteries) are associated with pregnancy disorders such as pre-eclampsia. Uterine artery Doppler resistance index (RI) in the first trimester of pregnancy can be used as a proxy measure of remodelling. DSC were isolated from pregnancies with normal (normal RI) or impaired (high RI) spiral artery remodelling. Following isolation, DSC were re-decidualised using cAMP and MPA and secretion of the decidualisation markers IGFBP-1 and prolactin assessed. We examined the impact of DSC-secreted factors on trophoblast cell function, using the EVT cell line SGHPL-4. We demonstrated that DSC exposed to decidual factors were able to re-decidualise in vitro and that the chemoattraction of trophoblasts by DSC is impaired in pregnancies with high RI. This study provides new insights into the role that DSC play in regulating EVT functions during the first trimester of pregnancy. This is the first study to demonstrate that DSC from pregnancies with impaired vascular remodelling in the first trimester secrete factors that inhibit the directional movement of trophoblast cells. This finding may be important in understanding aberrant trophoblast invasion in pregnancies where vascular remodelling is impaired.

Free access

Yeon Jean Cho, Seung Hyun Lee, Jung Woo Park, Myoungseok Han, Mi Jin Park, and Sang Jun Han

Endometriosis is defined as the presence of endometrial tissue outside the uterine cavity. It affects approximately 5–10% of women of reproductive age. Endometriosis is associated with dysmenorrhea, dyspareunia and, often, severe pelvic pain. In addition to pain, women with endometriosis often experience infertility. Defining the molecular etiology of endometriosis is a significant challenge for improving the quality of women’s lives. Unfortunately, the pathophysiology of endometriosis is not well understood. Here, we summarize the potential causative factors of endometriosis in the following three categories: (1) dysregulation of immune cells in the peritoneal fluid and endometriotic lesions; (2) alteration of apoptotic signaling in retrograde menstrual tissue and cytotoxic T cells involved in endometriosis progression and (3) dysregulation of oxidative stress. Determining the molecular etiology of these dysregulated cellular signaling pathways should provide crucial clues for understanding initiation and progression of endometriosis. Moreover, improved understanding should suggest new molecular therapeutic targets that could improve the specificity of endometriosis treatments and reduce the side effects associated with current approaches.

Free access

K Alexander Iwen, Rebecca Oelkrug, and Georg Brabant

Thyroid hormones (TH) are of central importance for thermogenesis, energy homeostasis and metabolism. Here, we will discuss these aspects by focussing on the physiological aspects of TH-dependent regulation in response to cold exposure and fasting, which will be compared to alterations in primary hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. In particular, we will summarise current knowledge on regional thyroid hormone status in the central nervous system (CNS) and in peripheral cells. In contrast to hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, where parallel changes are observed, local alterations in the CNS differ to peripheral compartments when induced by cold exposure or fasting. Cold exposure is associated with low hypothalamic TH concentrations but increased TH levels in the periphery. Fasting results in a reversed TH pattern. Primary hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism disrupt these fine-tuned adaptive mechanisms and both, the hypothalamus and the periphery, will have the same TH status. These important mechanisms need to be considered when discussing thyroid hormone replacement and other therapeutical interventions to modulate TH status.

Free access

Sheng Y Ang, Bronwyn A Evans, Daniel P Poole, Romke Bron, Jesse J DiCello, Ross A D Bathgate, Martina Kocan, Dana S Hutchinson, and Roger J Summers

Insulin-like peptide 5 (INSL5) is a newly discovered gut hormone expressed in colonic enteroendocrine L-cells but little is known about its biological function. Here, we show using RT-qPCR and in situ hybridisation that Insl5 mRNA is highly expressed in the mouse colonic mucosa, colocalised with proglucagon immunoreactivity. In comparison, mRNA for RXFP4 (the cognate receptor for INSL5) is expressed in various mouse tissues, including the intestinal tract. We show that the human enteroendocrine L-cell model NCI-H716 cell line, and goblet-like colorectal cell lines SW1463 and LS513 endogenously express RXFP4. Stimulation of NCI-H716 cells with INSL5 produced phosphorylation of ERK1/2 (Thr202/Tyr204), AKT (Thr308 and Ser473) and S6RP (Ser235/236) and inhibited cAMP production but did not stimulate Ca2+ release. Acute INSL5 treatment had no effect on GLP-1 secretion mediated by carbachol or insulin, but modestly inhibited forskolin-stimulated GLP-1 secretion in NCI-H716 cells. However, chronic INSL5 pre-treatment (18 h) increased basal GLP-1 secretion and prevented the inhibitory effect of acute INSL5 administration. LS513 cells were found to be unresponsive to INSL5 despite expressing RXFP4. Another enteroendocrine L-cell model, mouse GLUTag cells did not express detectable levels of Rxfp4 and were unresponsive to INSL5. This study provides novel insights into possible autocrine/paracrine roles of INSL5 in the intestinal tract.

Free access

Björn Hansson, Sebastian Wasserstrom, Björn Morén, Vipul Periwal, Petter Vikman, Samuel W Cushman, Olga Göransson, Petter Storm, and Karin G Stenkula

To capture immediate cellular changes during diet-induced expansion of adipocyte cell volume and number, we characterized mature adipocytes during a short-term high-fat diet (HFD) intervention. Male C57BL6/J mice were fed chow diet, and then switched to HFD for 2, 4, 6 or 14 days. Systemic glucose clearance was assessed by glucose tolerance test. Adipose tissue was dissected for RNA-seq and cell size distribution analysis using coulter counting. Insulin response in isolated adipocytes was monitored by glucose uptake assay and Western blotting, and confocal microscopy was used to assess autophagic activity. Switching to HFD was accompanied by an immediate adipocyte size expansion and onset of systemic insulin resistance already after two days, followed by recruitment of new adipocytes. Despite an initially increased non-stimulated and preserved insulin-stimulated glucose uptake, we observed a decreased phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) and protein kinase B (PKB). After 14 days of HFD, both the insulin-stimulated phosphorylation of Akt substrate of 160 kDa (AS160) and glucose uptake was blunted. RNA-seq analysis of adipose tissue revealed transient changes in gene expression at day four, including highly significant upregulation of Trp53inp, previously demonstrated to be involved in autophagy. We confirmed increased autophagy, measured as an increased density of LC3-positive puncta and decreased p62 expression after 14 days of HFD. In conclusion, HFD rapidly induced systemic insulin resistance, whereas insulin-stimulated glucose uptake remained intact throughout 6 days of HFD feeding. We also identified autophagy as an early cellular process that potentially influences adipocyte function upon switching to HFD.

Free access

Shadab Abadpour, Bente Halvorsen, Afaf Sahraoui, Olle Korsgren, Pål Aukrust, and Hanne Scholz

Interleukin (IL)-22 has recently been suggested as an anti-inflammatory cytokine that could protect the islet cells from inflammation- and glucose-induced toxicity. We have previously shown that the tumor necrosis factor family member, LIGHT, can impair human islet function at least partly via pro-apoptotic effects. Herein, we aimed to investigate the protective role of IL-22 on human islets exposed to the combination of hyperglycemia and LIGHT. First, we found upregulation of LIGHT receptors (LTβR and HVEM) in engrafted human islets exposed to hyperglycemia (>11 mM) for 17 days post transplantation by using a double islet transplantation mouse model as well as in human islets cultured with high glucose (HG) (20 mM glucose) + LIGHT in vitro, and this latter effect was attenuated by IL-22. The effect of HG + LIGHT impairing glucose-stimulated insulin secretion was reversed by IL-22. The harmful effect of HG + LIGHT on human islet function seemed to involve enhanced endoplasmic reticulum stress evidenced by upregulation of p-IRE1α and BiP, elevated secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-8, IP-10 and MCP-1) and the pro-coagulant mediator tissue factor (TF) release and apoptosis in human islets, whereas all these effects were at least partly reversed by IL-22. Our findings suggest that IL-22 could counteract the harmful effects of LIGHT/hyperglycemia on human islet cells and potentially support the strong protective effect of IL-22 on impaired islet function and survival.

Free access

Endong Zhu, Juanjuan Zhang, Jie Zhou, Hairui Yuan, Wei Zhao, and Baoli Wang

miR-20a-5p has recently been identified to induce adipogenesis of established adipogenic cell lines in our previous study. However, its role and molecular mechanisms in the regulation of adipocyte lineage commitment of bone marrow-derived stromal cells (BMSCs) still need to be explored. In this report, we demonstrated the expression of miR-20a-5p was promoted gradually during adipogenic differentiation in BMSCs. We also confirmed that miR-20a-5p has a positive function in the adipogenic differentiation of BMSCs by gain-of-function study with overexpression lentivirus or synthetic mimics of miR-20a-5p, and loss-of-function study with sponge lentivirus or synthetic inhibitor of miR-20a-5p. Dual luciferase reporter assay, GFP repression assay and Western blotting suggested Kruppel-like factor 3 (Klf3) was a direct target of miR-20a-5p. Furthermore, siRNA-mediated silencing of Klf3 recapitulated the potentiation of adipogenesis induced by miR-20a-5p overexpression, whereas enhanced expression of Klf3 attenuated the effect of miR-20a-5p. As Klf3 was reported to play an inhibitory role in adipogenesis at the initial stage of differentiation, the findings we present here indicate that miR-20a-5p promotes adipocyte differentiation from BMSCs by targeting and negatively regulating Klf3 in the early phase during the procedure of adipogenesis.