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Pabitra B Pal, Himangshu Sonowal, Kirtikar Shukla, Satish K Srivastava and Kota V Ramana

Although hyperglycemia-mediated death and dysfunction of endothelial cells have been reported to be a major cause of diabetes associated vascular complications, the mechanisms through which hyperglycemia cause endothelial dysfunction is not well understood. We have recently demonstrated that aldose reductase (AR, AKR1B1) is an obligatory mediator of oxidative and inflammatory signals induced by growth factors, cytokines and hyperglycemia. However, the molecular mechanisms by which AR regulates hyperglycemia-induced endothelial dysfunction is not well known. In this study, we have investigated the mechanism(s) by which AR regulates hyperglycemia-induced endothelial dysfunction. Incubation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) with high glucose (HG) decreased the cell viability and inhibition of AR prevented it. Further, AR inhibition prevented the HG-induced ROS generation and expression of BCL-2, BAX and activation of Caspase-3 in HUVECs. AR inhibition also prevented the adhesion of THP-1 monocytes on HUVECs, expression of iNOS and eNOS and adhesion molecules ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 in HG-treated HUVECs. Further, AR inhibition restored the HG-induced depletion of SIRT1 in HUVECs and increased the phosphorylation of AMPKα1 along-with a decrease in phosphorylation of mTOR in HG-treated HUVECs. Fidarestat decreased SIRT1 expression in HUVECs pre-treated with specific SIRT1 inhibitor but not with the AMPKα1 inhibitor. Similarly, knockdown of AR in HUVECs by siRNA prevented the HG-induced HUVECs cell death, THP-1 monocyte adhesion and SIRT1 depletion. Furthermore, fidarestat regulated the phosphorylation of AMPKα1 and mTOR, and expression of SIRT1 in STZ-induced diabetic mice heart and aorta tissues. Collectively, our data suggest that AR regulates hyperglycemia-induced endothelial death and dysfunction by altering the ROS/SIRT1/AMPKα1/mTOR pathway.

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Jie Sun, Yan Liu, Jinhui Yu, Jin Wu, Wenting Gao, Liyuan Ran, Rujiao Jiang, Meihua Guo, Dongyu Han, Bo Liu, Ning Wang, Youwei Li, He Huang, Li Zeng, Ying Gao, Xin Li and Yingjie Wu

Astragalus polysaccharide (APS) is the main component of Astragalus membranaceus, an anti-diabetic herb being used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). In this study, we aimed to evaluate the impact of APS on hepatic insulin signaling, autophagy and ER stress response in high-fat-diet (HFD)-induced insulin resistance (IR) mice. APS was intra-gastrically administrated and metformin was used as a control medicine. Apart from monitoring the changes in the important parameters of IR progression, the gene and protein expression of the key factors marking the state of hepatic ER stress and autophagic flux were examined. We found that, largely comparable to the metformin regime, APS treatment resulted in an overall improvement of IR, as indicated by better control of body weight and blood glucose/lipid levels, recovery of liver functions and regained insulin sensitivity. In particular, the excessive and pro-apoptotic ER stress response and inhibition of autophagy, as a result of prolonged HFD exposure, were significantly corrected by APS administration, indicating a switch of the cellular fate in favor of cell survival. Using the HepG2/IR cell model, we demonstrated that APS modulated the insulin-initiated phosphorylation cascades in a similar manner to metformin. This study provides a rationale for exploiting the insulin-sensitizing potential of APS, which has a therapeutic performance almost equivalent to metformin, to enrich our options in the treatment of IR.

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Tae Woo Jung, Hyoung-Chun Kim, Yong Kyoo Shin, Hyeyoung Min, Seong-Wan Cho, Zi Soo Kim, Su Mi Han, A M Abd El-Aty, Ahmet Hacımüftüoğlu and Ji Hoon Jeong

An aqueous extract of Humulus japonicus (AH) has been documented to ameliorate hypertension and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Here, we investigated the effects of an aqueous extract of AH on thermogenesis and palmitate-induced oxidative stress in adipocytes. To verify the effect of AH on browning, we measured the expression levels of specific markers in 3T3-L1 adipocytes using qPCR and Western blotting, respectively. To assess the role of oxidative stress, cells were stained with DCFDA and observed by fluorescence microscopy. AH increased the expression of brown adipose tissue-specific markers. Additionally, it induced fatty acid oxidation and lipolysis and suppressed both lipogenic markers and lipid accumulation. Furthermore, AH ameliorated hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress. Enhanced expression of these markers contributed to fat browning, fatty acid oxidation and lipolysis of 3T3-L1 adipocytes via the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor delta (PPARδ) signaling pathways. Moreover, AMPK and PPARδ resulting in protective effects of AH against oxidative stress. In sum, AH could promote the browning, lipolysis and thermogenesis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and would suppress the hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress and lipogenesis during differentiation. We therefore suggest that AH could be used as a potential candidate for treating obesity and related metabolic disorders.

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Choa Park, Joonwoo Park, Myeong Kuk Shim, Mee-Ra Rhyu, Byung-Koo Yoon, Kyung Sook Kim and YoungJoo Lee

Atherosclerosis is the most common root cause of arterial disease, such as coronary artery disease and carotid artery disease. Hypoxia is associated with the formation of macrophages and increased inflammation and is known to be present in lesions of atherosclerotic. Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) are one of the major components of blood vessels, and hypoxic conditions affect VSMC inflammation, proliferation and migration, which contribute to vascular stenosis and play a major role in the atherosclerotic process. Estrogen receptor (ER)-β is thought to play an important role in preventing the inflammatory response in VSMCs. In this report, we studied the anti-inflammatory effect of indazole (In)-Cl, an ERβ-specific agonist, under conditions of hypoxia. Expression of cyclooxygenase-2 reduced by hypoxia was inhibited by In-Cl treatment in VSMCs, and this effect was antagonized by an anti-estrogen compound. Additionally, the production of reactive oxygen species induced under conditions of hypoxia was reduced by treatment with In-Cl. Increased cell migration and invasion by hypoxia were also dramatically decreased following treatment with In-Cl. The increase in cell proliferation following treatment with platelet-derived growth factor was attenuated by In-Cl in VSMCs. RNA sequencing analysis was performed to identify changes in inflammation-related genes following In-Cl treatment in the hypoxic state. Our results suggest that ERβ is a potential therapeutic target for the suppression of hypoxia-induced inflammation in VSMCs.

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Xin-wei Chen, Ye-hong Li, Meng-jun Zhang, Zhou Chen, Dian-shan Ke, Ying Xue and Jian-ming Hou

Lactoferrin (LF) is an iron-binding glycoprotein that plays an important role in promoting bone formation and inhibiting bone resorption; however, its effects on senile osteoporosis remain unknown. This study aimed to investigate the effects and mechanism of LF intervention using a senile osteoporosis model (SAMP6 mice) and senescent osteoblasts. Micro-CT and hematoxylin and eosin staining demonstrated that the intragastric administration (2 g/kg/day) of LF could improve the bone mass and microstructure of SAMP6 mice. Furthermore, LF treatment improved bone metabolism and increased insulin-like growth factor 1 (Igf1) mRNA expression and activated phosphorylation status of AKT. Using osteoblasts passaged for ten generations as an in vitro senescence model, various markers associated with osteoblast formation and differentiation, as well as related indices of oxidative stress were analyzed. Our results revealed that after multiple generations, osteoblasts entered senescence, in conjunction with increased oxidative stress damage, reduced bone metabolism and enhanced expression of aging-related markers. While inhibiting oxidative stress, LF improved osteoblast proliferation by promoting the expression of osteogenesis markers, including alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, Igf1, bone gla protein (Bglap) and osteoprotegerin/receptor activator of nuclear factor-kB ligand (Opg/Rankl) mRNA and delayed senescence by decreasing the level of p16 and p21 expression. RNAI-mediated downregulation of IGF1 attenuated the effect of LF on osteogenesis. Therefore, the findings of the present study indicate that LF may promote osteogenesis via IGF1 signaling, thereby preventing senile osteoporosis.

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Danrong Ye, Yang Jiang, Yihan Sun, Yuefeng Li, Yefeng Cai, Qingxuan Wang, Ouchen Wang, Endong Chen and Xiaohua Zhang

Thyroid cancer is associated with one of the most malignant endocrine tumors. However, molecular mechanisms underlying thyroid tumorigenesis and progression remain unclear. In order to investigate these mechanisms, we performed whole-transcriptome sequencing, which indicated that a differentially expressed gene, METTL7B, was highly expressed in thyroid cancers. We analyzed METTL7B expression using TCGA and performed qRT-PCR on tissue samples. Moreover, an analysis of clinicopathological characteristics revealed a positive correlation between METTL7B and lymph node metastasis. A series of in vitro experiments indicated that METTL7B enhanced migration and invasion of thyroid carcinoma cells. Further studies revealed that METTL7B may enhance TGF-β1-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Our results indicate that METTL7B may promote metastasis of thyroid cancer through EMT and may therefore be considered as a potential biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of thyroid carcinoma.

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Gabriela Silva Monteiro de Paula, Marianna Wilieman, Karina Ribeiro Silva, Leandra Santos Baptista, Sihem Boudina, Luana Lopes de Souza, Thais Bento-Bernardes, Karina Dutra Asensi, Regina Coeli dos Santos Goldenberg and Carmen Cabanelas Pazos-Moura

Neuromedin B, a bombesin-like peptide, and its receptor, are expressed in white adipose tissue with undefined roles. Female mice with disruption of neuromedin B receptor (NB-R) exhibited partial resistance to diet-induced obesity leading to our hypothesis that NB-R is involved in adipogenesis. Here, we showed that adipose stem/stromal cells (ASC) from perigonadal fat of female NB-R-knockout mice, exposed to a differentiation protocol in vitro, accumulated less lipid (45%) than wild type, suggesting reduced capacity to differentiate under adipogenic input. To further explore mechanisms, preadipocytes 3T3-L1 cells were incubated in the presence of NB-R antagonist (PD168368) during the first 3 days in culture. Cells were analyzed in the end of the treatment (Day 3) and later when fully differentiated (Day 21). NB-R antagonist induced lower number of cells at day 3 and 21 (33–39%), reduced cell proliferation at day 3 (−53%) and reduced lipid accumulation at day 21 (−86%). The mRNA expressions of several adipocyte differentiation markers were importantly reduced at both days: Cebpb and Pparg and Fabp4, Plin-1 and Adipoq, and additionally Lep mRNA at day 21. The antagonist had no effect when incubated with mature 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Therefore, genetically disruption of NB-R in mice ASC or pharmacological antagonism of NB-R in 3T3-L1 cells impairs adipogenesis. The mechanisms suggested by results in 3T3-L1 cells involve reduction of cell proliferation and of early gene expressions, leading to decreased number of mature adipocytes. We speculate that NB-R antagonism may be useful to limit the increase in adiposity due to pre-adipocyte differentiation.

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Soojin Kim, Daksh Thaper, Samir Bidnur, Paul Toren, Shusuke Akamatsu, Jennifer L Bishop, Colin Colins, Sepideh Vahid and Amina Zoubeidi

Neuroendocrine (NE) differentiation of advanced prostate adenocarcinoma following androgen receptor (AR) axis-directed therapy is becoming increasingly recognized. Several models of this transdifferentiation provide insight into its molecular pathogenesis and have highlighted the placental gene PEG10 for further study. Using our unique model of enzalutamide resistance (ENZR) and NE differentiation, we studied PEG10/AR interplay in enzalutamide treatment-resistant cell lines 42DENZR and 42FENZR compared to LNCaP and castration-resistant 16DCRPC cells. ENZR cell lines with positive terminal NE marker status also displayed higher baseline expression of PEG10 compared to LNCaP and 16DCRPC. Antagonism of AR activity increased PEG10 expression followed by an increase in terminal NE markers. Conversely, stimulating AR activity via androgen supplementation reversed PEG10 and NE marker expression in a time and dose-dependent manner. These results were supported by human data showing that PEG10 expression is highest in NEPC and that AR-dependent gene, PSA, is negatively correlated with PEG10 in adenocarcinoma. Further, ChIP assay confirmed binding of activated AR to the PEG10 enhancer, decreasing PEG10 expression. While PEG10 did not drive NEPC, its knockdown reduced NE markers in our cell lines. Moreover, PEG10 knockdown in vitro- and in vivo-attenuated tumor growth. Overall, these observations indicate that PEG10 is an AR-repressed gene which modulates NE markers in ENZR cells and targeting PEG10 in advanced prostate cancer with NE features is a rational and viable option.

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Yousheng Xu, Yongshun Wang, Jingjin Liu, Wei Cao, Lili Li, Hongwei Du, Enbo Zhan, Ruoxi Zhang, Huimin Liu, Maoen Xu, Tao Chen, Yilin Qu and Bo Yu

The prevalence of obesity is dramatic increased and strongly associated with cardiovascular disease. Adipokines, secreted from adipose tissues, are critical risk factors for the development of cardiomyopathy. Present study aimed to investigate the pathophysiological role of autotaxin in obesity-related cardiomyopathy. In high fat diet-fed mice, autotaxin was mainly synthesized and secreted from adipocytes. The increased accumulation of cardiac autotaxin was positively associated with cardiac dysfunction in obese mice. Interestingly, specific blockage of adipose tissue autotaxin effectively protected against high fat diet-induced cardiac structural disorders, left ventricular hypertrophy and dysfunction. Inhibition of autotaxin further improved high fat diet-induced cardiac fibrosis and mitochondrial dysfunction, including improvement of mitochondrial structure, mass and activities. Our findings demonstrated intervention of adipose tissue biology could influence cardiac modification in obese mice, and adipocyte-derived autotaxin was a potential diagnostic marker and therapeutic target for obesity-related cardiomyopathy.

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Caroline Gorvin

Twenty-five years have elapsed since the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) was first identified in bovine parathyroid and the receptor is now recognized as a fundamental contributor to extracellular Ca2+ (Ca2+ e) homeostasis, regulating parathyroid hormone release and urinary calcium excretion. The CaSR is a class C G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) that is functionally active as a homodimer and couples to multiple G-protein subtypes to activate intracellular signalling pathways. The importance of the CaSR in the regulation of Ca2+ e has been highlighted by the identification of >400 different germline loss- and gain-of-function CaSR mutations that give rise to disorders of Ca2+ e homeostasis. CaSR inactivating mutations cause neonatal severe hyperparathyroidism, characterised by marked hypercalcaemia, skeletal demineralisation and failure to thrive in early infancy; and familial hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia, an often asymptomatic disorder associated with mild-moderately elevated serum calcium concentrations. Activating mutations are associated with autosomal dominant hypocalcaemia, which is occasionally associated with a Bartter’s-like phenotype. Recent elucidation of the CaSR extracellular domain structure enabled the locations of CaSR mutations to be mapped and has revealed clustering in locations important for structural integrity, receptor dimerisation and ligand-binding. Moreover, the study of disease-causing mutations has demonstrated that CaSR signals in a biased manner and have revealed specific residues important for receptor activation. This review presents the current understanding of the genetic landscape of CaSR mutations by summarising findings from clinical and functional studies of disease-associated mutations. It concludes with reflections on how recently uncovered signaling pathways may expand understanding of calcium homeostasis disorders.