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Sogol Gachkar, Sebastian Nock, Cathleen Geissler, Rebecca Oelkrug, Kornelia Johann, Julia Resch, Awahan Rahman, Anders Arner, Henriette Kirchner and Jens Mittag

It is well established that thyroid hormones are required for cardiovascular functions; however, the molecular mechanisms remain incompletely understood, especially the individual contributions of genomic and non-genomic signalling pathways. In this study, we dissected how thyroid hormones modulate aortic contractility. To test the immediate effects of thyroid hormones on vasocontractility, we used a wire myograph to record the contractile response of dissected mouse aortas to the adrenergic agonist phenylephrine in the presence of different doses of T3 (3,3′,5-triiodothyronine). Interestingly, we observed reduced vasoconstriction under low and high T3 concentrations, indicating an inversed U-shaped curve with maximal constrictive capacity at euthyroid conditions. We then tested for possible genomic actions of thyroid hormones on vasocontractility by treating mice for 4 days with 1 mg/L thyroxine in drinking water. The study revealed that in contrast to the non-genomic actions the aortas of these animals were hyperresponsive to the contractile stimulus, an effect not observed in endogenously hyperthyroid TRβ knockout mice. To identify targets of genomic thyroid hormone action, we analysed aortic gene expression by microarray, revealing several altered genes including the well-known thyroid hormone target gene hairless. Taken together, the findings demonstrate that thyroid hormones regulate aortic tone through genomic and non-genomic actions, although genomic actions seem to prevail in vivo. Moreover, we identified several novel thyroid hormone target genes that could provide a better understanding of the molecular changes occurring in the hyperthyroid aorta.

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Ayse Basak Engin, Atilla Engin and Ipek Isik Gonul

Adipose tissue is the primary source of many pro-inflammatory cytokines in obesity. Macrophage numbers and pro-inflammatory gene expression are positively associated with adipocyte size. Free fatty acid and tumor necrosis factor-α involve in a vicious cycle between adipocytes and macrophages aggravating inflammatory changes. Thereby, M1 macrophages form a characteristic ‘crown-like structure (CLS)’ around necrotic adipocytes in obese adipose tissue. In obese women, CLSs of breast adipose tissue are responsible for both increase in local aromatase activity and aggressive behavior of breast cancer cells. Interlinked molecular mechanisms between adipocyte–macrophage–breast cancer cells in obesity involve seven consecutive processes: Excessive release of adipocyte- and macrophage-derived inflammatory cytokines, TSC1–TSC2 complex–mTOR crosstalk, insulin resistance, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and excessive oxidative stress generation, uncoupled respiration and hypoxia, SIRT1 controversy, the increased levels of aromatase activity and estrogen production. Considering elevated risks of estrogen receptor (E2R)-positive postmenopausal breast cancer growth in obesity, adipocyte–macrophage crosstalk is important in the aforementioned issues. Increased mTORC1 signaling in obesity ensures the strong activation of oncogenic signaling in E2Rα-positive breast cancer cells. Since insulin and insulin-like growth factors have been identified as tumor promoters, hyperinsulinemia is an independent risk factor for poor prognosis in breast cancer despite peripheral insulin resistance. The unpredictable effects of adipocyte-derived leptin–estrogen–macrophage axis, and sirtuin 1 (SIRT1)–adipose-resident macrophage axis in obese postmenopausal patients with breast cancer are unresolved mechanistic gaps in the molecular links between the tumor growth and adipocytokines.

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Cristina Velasco, Sara Comesaña, Marta Conde-Sieira, Jesús M Míguez and José L Soengas

We hypothesize that cholecystokinin (CCK) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) are involved in the modulation of metabolic regulation of food intake by fatty acids in fish. Therefore, we assessed in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) the effects of intracerebroventricular treatment with 1 ng/g of CCK-8 and with 2 ng/g of GLP-1 on food intake, expression of neuropeptides involved in food intake control and the activity of fatty acid-sensing systems in hypothalamus and hindbrain. Food intake decreased up to 24 h post-treatment to 49.8–72.3% and 3.1–17.8% for CCK-8 and GLP-1, respectively. These anorectic responses are associated with changes in fatty acid metabolism and an activation of fatty acid-sensing mechanisms in the hypothalamus and hindbrain. These changes occurred in parallel with those in the expression of anorexigenic and orexigenic peptides. Moreover, we observed that the activation of fatty acid sensing and the enhanced anorectic potential elicited by CCK-8 and GLP-1 treatments occurred in parallel with the activation of mTOR and FoxO1 and the inhibition of AMPKα, BSX and CREB. The results are discussed in the context of metabolic regulation of food intake in fish.

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Shu-Ching M Wang, Dennis H Dowhan and George E O Muscat

Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease, and the complexity of breast carcinogenesis is associated with epigenetic modification. There are several major classes of epigenetic enzymes that regulate chromatin activity. This review will focus on the nine mammalian protein arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs) and the dysregulation of PRMT expression and function in breast cancer. This class of enzymes catalyse the mono- and (symmetric and asymmetric) di-methylation of arginine residues on histone and non-histone target proteins. PRMT signalling (and R methylation) drives cellular proliferation, cell invasion and metastasis, targeting (i) nuclear hormone receptor signalling, (ii) tumour suppressors, (iii) TGF-β and EMT signalling and (iv) alternative splicing and DNA/chromatin stability, influencing the clinical and survival outcomes in breast cancer. Emerging reports suggest that PRMTs are also implicated in the development of drug/endocrine resistance providing another prospective avenue for the treatment of hormone resistance and associated metastasis. The complexity of PRMT signalling is further underscored by the degree of alternative splicing and the scope of variant isoforms (with distinct properties) within each PRMT family member. The evolution of PRMT inhibitors, and the ongoing clinical trials of PRMT inhibitors against a subgroup of solid cancers, coupled to the track record of lysine methyltransferases inhibitors in phase I/II clinical trials against cancer underscores the potential therapeutic utility of targeting PRMT epigenetic enzymes to improve survival outcomes in aggressive and metastatic breast cancer.

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Yingkai Sun, Rui Wang, Shaoqian Zhao, Wen Li, Wen Liu, Lingyun Tang, Zhugang Wang, Weiqing Wang, Ruixin Liu, Guang Ning, Jiqiu Wang and Jie Hong

Browning of white adipose tissue has been proven to be a potential target to fight against obesity and its metabolic commodities, making the exploration of molecules involved in browning process important. Among those browning agents reported recently, FGF21 play as a quite promising candidate for treating obesity for its obvious enhancement of thermogenic capacity in adipocyte and significant improvement of metabolic disorders in both mice and human. However, whether other members of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family play roles in adipose thermogenesis and obese development is still an open question. Here, we examined the mRNA expression of all FGF family members in three adipose tissues of male C57BL/6 mice and found that FGF9 is highly expressed in adipose tissue and decreased under cold stress. Furthermore, FGF9 treatment inhibited thermogenic genes in the process of beige adipocytes differentiation from stromal vascular fraction (SVF) in a dose-dependent manner. Similar results were obtained with FGF9 overexpression. Consistently, knockdown of FGF9 in SVF cells by using lentiviral shRNA increased thermogenic genes in differentiated beige adipocytes. RNA sequencing analysis revealed a significant increment of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) pathway in the early stage of beige adipocytes differentiation under FGF9 treatment, which was validated by real-time PCR. FGF9 expression was increased in subcutaneous WAT of obese human and mice. This study shows that adipose-derived FGF9 play as an inhibitory role in the browning of white adipocytes. Activation of hypoxia signaling at early stage of adipose browning process may contribute to this anti-thermogenic effect of FGF9.

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Gauthier Schang, Chirine Toufaily and Daniel J Bernard

Fertility is dependent on follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), a product of gonadotrope cells of the anterior pituitary gland. Hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and intra-pituitary activins are regarded as the primary drivers of FSH synthesis and secretion. Both stimulate expression of the FSH beta subunit gene (Fshb), although the underlying mechanisms of GnRH action are poorly described relative to those of the activins. There is currently no consensus on how GnRH regulates Fshb transcription, as results vary across species and between in vivo and in vitro approaches. One of the more fully developed models suggests that the murine Fshb promoter is tonically repressed by histone deacetylases (HDACs) and that GnRH relieves this repression, at least in immortalized murine gonadotrope-like cells (LβT2 and αT3-1). In contrast, we observed that the class I/II HDAC inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA) robustly inhibited basal, activin A-, and GnRH-induced Fshb mRNA expression in LβT2 cells and in primary murine pituitary cultures. Similar results were obtained with the class I specific HDAC inhibitor, entinostat, whereas two class II-specific inhibitors, MC1568 and TMP269, had no effects on Fshb expression. Collectively, these data suggest that class I HDACs are positive, not negative, regulators of Fshb expression in vitro and that, contrary to earlier reports, GnRH may not stimulate Fshb by inhibiting HDAC-mediated repression of the gene.

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Chunmei Wang and Yong Xu

Sex differences exist in the regulation of energy homeostasis. Better understanding of the underlying mechanisms for sexual dimorphism in energy balance may facilitate development of gender-specific therapies for human diseases, e.g. obesity. Multiple organs, including the brain, liver, fat and muscle, play important roles in the regulations of feeding behavior, energy expenditure and physical activity, which therefore contribute to the maintenance of energy balance. It has been increasingly appreciated that this multi-organ system is under different regulations in male vs female animals. Much of effort has been focused on roles of sex hormones (including androgens, estrogens and progesterone) and sex chromosomes in this sex-specific regulation of energy balance. Emerging evidence also indicates that other factors (not sex hormones/receptors and not encoded by the sex chromosomes) exist to regulate energy homeostasis differentially in males vs females. In this review, we summarize factors and signals that have been shown to regulate energy homeostasis in a sexually dimorphic fashion and propose a framework where these factors and signals may be integrated to mediate sex differences in energy homeostasis.

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Gill Holdsworth, Scott J Roberts and Hua Zhu Ke

The discovery that two rare autosomal recessive high bone mass conditions were caused by the loss of sclerostin expression prompted studies into its role in bone homeostasis. In this article, we aim to bring together the wealth of information relating to sclerostin in bone though discussion of rare human disorders in which sclerostin is reduced or absent, sclerostin manipulation via genetic approaches and treatment with antibodies that neutralise sclerostin in animal models and in human. Together, these findings demonstrate the importance of sclerostin as a regulator of bone homeostasis and provide valuable insights into its biological mechanism of action. We summarise the current state of knowledge in the field, including the current understanding of the direct effects of sclerostin on the canonical WNT signalling pathway and the actions of sclerostin as an inhibitor of bone formation. We review the effects of sclerostin, and its inhibition, on bone at the cellular and tissue level and discuss new findings that suggest that sclerostin may also regulate adipose tissue. Finally, we highlight areas in which future research is expected to yield additional insights into the biology of sclerostin.

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Afreen Idris Shariff, Sohail Syed, Rebecca A Shelby, Jeremy Force, Jeffrey Melson Clarke, David D’Alessio and Leonor Corsino

Over the last decade, there has been a shift in the focus of cancer therapy from conventional cytotoxic drugs to therapies more specifically directed to cancer cells. These novel therapies include immunotherapy, targeted therapy and precision medicine, each developed in great part with a goal of limiting collateral destruction of normal tissues, while enhancing tumor destruction. Although this approach is sound in theory, even new, specific therapies have some undesirable, ‘off target effects’, in great part due to molecular pathways shared by neoplastic and normal cells. One such undesirable effect is hyperglycemia, which results from either the loss of immune tolerance and autoimmune destruction of pancreatic β-cells or dysregulation of the insulin signaling pathway resulting in insulin resistance. These distinct pathogenic mechanisms lead to clinical presentations similar to type 1 (T1DM) and type 2 (T2DM) diabetes mellitus. Both types of diabetes have been reported in patients across clinical trials, and data on the mechanism(s) for developing hyperglycemia, prevalence, prognosis and effect on cancer mortality is still emerging. With the rapidly expanding list of clinical indications for new cancer therapies, it is essential to understand the impact of their adverse effects. In this review, we focus on hyperglycemia and diabetes related to cancer therapies, describe what is known about mechanism(s) leading to dysregulated glucose metabolism and provide a guide to management of complex oncology patients with a new diagnosis of diabetes.

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Tilman D Rachner, Lorenz C Hofbauer, Andy Göbel and Elena Tsourdi

Bone-forming approaches to treat patients with severe osteoporosis are effective, but treatment options are limited, and there is an unmet clinical need for additional drugs. This review discusses two novel and advanced anabolic therapeutic concepts that have successfully completed phase 3 trials. Romosozumab is a monoclonal antibody that targets the Wnt inhibitor sclerostin. Two phase 3 trials (FRAME and ARCH) of romosozumab for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis have been completed. Both trials successfully reached their primary endpoint by reducing vertebral fractures by 75% compared to placebo (FRAME trial) and 48% compared to alendronate (ARCH trial), respectively. Abaloparatide is a PTH-related protein (PTHrP) analog that has displayed bone anabolic activity. In the phase 3 ACTIVE trial, abaloparatide was compared to placebo and teriparatide for 18 months in postmenopausal women who had already experienced an osteoporotic fracture. Abaloparatide successfully reduced the rate of new vertebral fractures by 86% compared to placebo. Furthermore, abaloparatide achieved greater BMD increases at all measured sites compared to both placebo and teriparatide. Based on these results, abaloparatide was FDA approved in April 2017. This review discusses available data of both agents with regard to efficacy and safety as well as their possible future application.