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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Nandana Das and T Rajendra Kumar

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) plays fundamental roles in male and female fertility. FSH is a heterodimeric glycoprotein expressed by gonadotrophs in the anterior pituitary. The hormone-specific FSHβ-subunit is non-covalently associated with the common α-subunit that is also present in the luteinizing hormone (LH), another gonadotrophic hormone secreted by gonadotrophs and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) secreted by thyrotrophs. Several decades of research led to the purification, structural characterization and physiological regulation of FSH in a variety of species including humans. With the advent of molecular tools, availability of immortalized gonadotroph cell lines and genetically modified mouse models, our knowledge on molecular mechanisms of FSH regulation has tremendously expanded. Several key players that regulate FSH synthesis, sorting, secretion and action in gonads and extragonadal tissues have been identified in a physiological setting. Novel post-transcriptional and post-translational regulatory mechanisms have also been identified that provide additional layers of regulation mediating FSH homeostasis. Recombinant human FSH analogs hold promise for a variety of clinical applications, whereas blocking antibodies against FSH may prove efficacious for preventing age-dependent bone loss and adiposity. It is anticipated that several exciting new discoveries uncovering all aspects of FSH biology will soon be forthcoming.

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Siyi Zhu, Hongchen He, Chengfei Gao, Guojing Luo, Ying Xie, Haiming Wang, Li Tian, Xiang Chen, Xijie Yu, and Chengqi He

We examined the effects of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) and interleukin-6 (IL6) gene knockout in preserving the bone loss induced by ovariectomy (OVX) and the mechanisms involved in bone metabolism. Twenty female wild-type (WT), TNFα-knockout (TNFα−/−) or IL6-knockout (IL6−/−) mice aged 12 weeks were sham-operated (SHAM) or subjected to OVX and killed after 4 weeks. Bone mass and skeletal microarchitecture were determined using micro-CT. Bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) from all three groups (WT, TNFα−/− and IL6−/−) were induced to differentiate into osteoblasts or osteoclasts and treated with 17-β-estradiol. Bone metabolism was assessed by histological analysis, serum analyses and qRT-PCR. OVX successfully induced a high turnover in all mice, but a repair effect was observed in TNFα−/− and IL6−/− mice. The ratio of femoral trabecular bone volume to tissue volume, trabecular number and trabecular thickness were significantly decreased in WT mice subjected to OVX, but increased in TNFα−/− mice (1.62, 1.34, 0.27-fold respectively; P < 0.01) and IL6−/− mice (1.34, 0.80, 0.22-fold respectively; P < 0.01). Furthermore, we observed a 29.6% increase in the trabecular number in TNFα−/− mice when compared to the IL6−/− mice. Both, TNFα−/− and IL6−/− BMSCs exhibited decreased numbers of TRAP-positive cells and an increase in ALP-positive cells, with or without E2 treatment (P < 0.05). While the knockout of TNFα or IL6 significantly upregulated mRNA expressions of osteoblast-related genes (Runx2 and Col1a1) and downregulated osteoclast-related mRNA for TRAP, MMP9 and CTSK in vivo and in vitro, TNFα knockout appeared to have roles beyond IL6 knockout in upregulating Col1a1 mRNA expression and downregulating mRNA expressions of WNT-related genes (DKK1 and Sost) and TNF-related activation-induced genes (TRAF6). TNFα seemed to be more potentially invasive in inhibiting bone formation and enhancing TRAF6-mediated osteoclastogenesis than IL6, implying that the regulatory mechanisms of TNFα and IL6 in bone metabolism may be different.

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Carlos Gaspar, Jonás I Silva-Marrero, María C Salgado, Isabel V Baanante, and Isidoro Metón

Glutamate dehydrogenase (Gdh) plays a central role in ammonia detoxification by catalysing reversible oxidative deamination of l-glutamate into α-ketoglutarate using NAD+ or NADP+ as cofactor. To gain insight into transcriptional regulation of glud, the gene that codes for Gdh, we isolated and characterised the 5′ flanking region of glud from gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata). In addition, tissue distribution, the effect of starvation as well as short- and long-term refeeding on Gdh mRNA levels in the liver of S. aurata were also addressed. 5′-Deletion analysis of glud promoter in transiently transfected HepG2 cells, electrophoretic mobility shift assays, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and site-directed mutagenesis allowed us to identify upstream stimulatory factor 2 (Usf2) as a novel factor involved in the transcriptional regulation of glud. Analysis of tissue distribution of Gdh and Usf2 mRNA levels by reverse transcriptase-coupled quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) showed that Gdh is mainly expressed in the liver of S. aurata, while Usf2 displayed ubiquitous distribution. RT-qPCR and ChIP assays revealed that long-term starvation down-regulated the hepatic expression of Gdh and Usf2 to similar levels and reduced Usf2 binding to glud promoter, while refeeding resulted in a slow but gradual restoration of both Gdh and Usf2 mRNA abundance. Herein, we demonstrate that Usf2 transactivates S. aurata glud by binding to an E-box located in the proximal region of glud promoter. In addition, our findings provide evidence for a new regulatory mechanism involving Usf2 as a key factor in the nutritional regulation of glud transcription in the fish liver.

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Joram D Mul

Acute or chronic exposure to stress can increase the risk to develop major depressive disorder, a severe, recurrent and common psychiatric condition. Depression places an enormous social and financial burden on modern society. Although many depressed patients are treated with antidepressants, their efficacy is only modest, underscoring the necessity to develop clinically effective pharmaceutical or behavioral treatments. Exercise training produces beneficial effects on stress-related mental disorders, indicative of clinical potential. The pro-resilient and antidepressant effects of exercise training have been documented for several decades. Nonetheless, the underlying molecular mechanisms and the brain circuitries involved remain poorly understood. Preclinical investigations using voluntary wheel running, a frequently used rodent model that mimics aspects of human exercise training, have started to shed light on the molecular adaptations, signaling pathways and brain nuclei underlying the beneficial effects of exercise training on stress-related behavior. In this review, I highlight several neurotransmitter systems that are putative mediators of the beneficial effects of exercise training on mental health, and review recent rodent studies that utilized voluntary wheel running to promote our understanding of exercise training-induced central adaptations. Advancements in our mechanistic understanding of how exercise training induces beneficial neuronal adaptations will provide a framework for the development of new strategies to treat stress-associated mental illnesses.

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Sang R Lee, Mi-Young Park, Hyun Yang, Geun-Shik Lee, Beum-Soo An, Bae-kuen Park, Eui-Bae Jeung, and Eui-Ju Hong

Androgens act in concert with vitamin D to influence reabsorption of calcium. However, it is unclear whether androgens directly regulate vitamin D homeostasis or control other cellular events that are related to vitamin D metabolism. To examine whether the expression of vitamin D-related genes in mouse kidney is driven by androgens or androgen-dependent effects, the androgen receptor and other sex steroid receptors were monitored in orchidectomized mice treated with 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Our results revealed that exposing orchidectomized mice to DHT inhibited the expression of progesterone receptor (Pgr) with or without estrogen receptor α expression, the latter was confirmed by ER-positive (MCF7 and T47D) or -negative (PCT) cells analysis. The loss of Pgr in turn decreased the expression of renal 24-hydroxylase via transcriptional regulation because Cyp24a1 gene has a progesterone receptor-binding site on promoter. When male kidneys preferentially hydroxylate 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 using 24-hydroxylase rather than 25-hydroxyvitamin D3-1-alpha hydroxylase, DHT suppressed the Pgr-mediated 24-hydroxylase expression, and it is important to note that DHT increased the blood 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels. These findings uncover an important link between androgens and vitamin D homeostasis and suggest that therapeutic modulation of Pgr may be used to treat vitamin D deficiency and related disorders.