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Open access

Gillian A Gray, Christopher I White, Raphael F P Castellan, Sara J McSweeney and Karen E Chapman

Corticosteroids influence the development and function of the heart and its response to injury and pressure overload via actions on glucocorticoid (GR) and mineralocorticoid (MR) receptors. Systemic corticosteroid concentration depends largely on the activity of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, but glucocorticoid can also be regenerated from intrinsically inert metabolites by the enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1), selectively increasing glucocorticoid levels within cells and tissues. Extensive studies have revealed the roles for glucocorticoid regeneration by 11β-HSD1 in liver, adipose, brain and other tissues, but until recently, there has been little focus on the heart. This article reviews the evidence for glucocorticoid metabolism by 11β-HSD1 in the heart and for a role of 11β-HSD1 activity in determining the myocardial growth and physiological function. We also consider the potential of 11β-HSD1 as a therapeutic target to enhance repair after myocardial infarction and to prevent the development of cardiac remodelling and heart failure.

Open access

Ying Ying, Huazhang Zhu, Zhen Liang, Xiaosong Ma and Shiwei Li

Activation of apoptosis in cardiomyocytes by saturated palmitic acids contributes to cardiac dysfunction in diabetic cardiomyopathy. Beta-catenin (b-catenin) is a transcriptional regulator of several genes involved in survival/anti-apoptosis. However, its role in palmitate-induced cardiomyocyte apoptosis remains unclear. Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) has been shown to exhibit potential cardioprotective properties. This study was designed to evaluate the role of b-catenin signalling in palmitate-induced cardiomyocyte apoptosis and the molecular mechanism underlying the protective effects of GLP1 on palmitate-stressed cardiomyocytes. Exposure of neonatal rat cardiomyocytes to palmitate increased the fatty acid transporter CD36-mediated intracellular lipid accumulation and cardiomyocyte apoptosis, decreased accumulation and nuclear translocation of active b-catenin, and reduced expression of b-catenin target protein survivin and BCL2. These detrimental effects of palmitate were significantly attenuated by GLP1 co-treatment. However, the anti-apoptotic effects of GLP1 were markedly abolished when b-catenin was silenced with a specific short hairpin RNA. Furthermore, analysis of the upstream molecules and mechanisms responsible for GLP1-associated cardiac protection revealed that GLP1 restored the decreased phosphorylation of protein kinase B (Akt) and glycogen synthase kinase-3b (GSK3b) in palmitate-stimulated cardiomyocytes. In contrast, inhibition of Akt with an Akt-specific inhibitor MK2206 or blockade of GLP1 receptor (GLP1R) with a competitive antagonist exendin-(9–39) significantly abrogated the GLP1-mediated activation of GSK3b/b-catenin signalling, leading to increased apoptosis in palmitate-stressed cardiomyocytes. Collectively, our results demonstrated for the first time that the attenuated b-catenin signalling may contribute to palmitate-induced cardiomyocyte apoptosis, while GLP1 can protect cardiomyocytes from palmitate-induced apoptosis through activation of GLP1R/Akt/GSK3b-mediated b-catenin signalling.

Open access

Emma J Agnew, Jessica R Ivy, Sarah J Stock and Karen E Chapman

Glucocorticoids are essential in mammals to mature fetal organs and tissues in order to survive after birth. Hence, antenatal glucocorticoid treatment (termed antenatal corticosteroid therapy) can be life-saving in preterm babies and is commonly used in women at risk of preterm birth. While the effects of glucocorticoids on lung maturation have been well described, the effects on the fetal heart remain less clear. Experiments in mice have shown that endogenous glucocorticoid action is required to mature the fetal heart. However, whether the potent synthetic glucocorticoids used in antenatal corticosteroid therapy have similar maturational effects on the fetal heart is less clear. Moreover, antenatal corticosteroid therapy may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in adulthood. Here, we present a narrative review of the evidence relating to the effects of antenatal glucocorticoid action on the fetal heart and discuss the implications for antenatal corticosteroid therapy.

Open access

Farhana Naznin, Koji Toshinai, T M Zaved Waise, Tadashi Okada, Hideyuki Sakoda and Masamitsu Nakazato

High-fat diet (HFD)-induced metabolic inflammation in the central and peripheral organs contributes to the pathogenesis of obesity. Long-term HFD blunts signaling by ghrelin, a gastric-derived orexigenic peptide, in the vagal afferent nerve via a mechanism involving in situ activation of inflammation. This study was undertaken to investigate whether ghrelin resistance is associated with progressive development of metabolic inflammation. In mice, ghrelin’s orexigenic activity was abolished 2–4 weeks after the commencement of HFD (60% of energy from fat), consistent with the timing of accumulation and activation of macrophages and microglia in the nodose ganglion and hypothalamus. Calorie-restricted weight loss after 12-week HFD feeding restored ghrelin responsiveness and alleviated the upregulation of macrophage/microglia activation markers and inflammatory cytokines. HSP72, a chaperone protein, was upregulated in the hypothalamus of HFD-fed mice, potentially contributing to prevention of irreversible neuron damage. These results demonstrate that ghrelin resistance is reversible following reversal of the HFD-induced inflammation and obesity phenotypes.

Open access

Irit Hochberg, Innocence Harvey, Quynh T Tran, Erin J Stephenson, Ariel L Barkan, Alan R Saltiel, William F Chandler and Dave Bridges

Glucocorticoids have major effects on adipose tissue metabolism. To study tissue mRNA expression changes induced by chronic elevated endogenous glucocorticoids, we performed RNA sequencing on the subcutaneous adipose tissue from patients with Cushing's disease (n=5) compared to patients with nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas (n=11). We found a higher expression of transcripts involved in several metabolic pathways, including lipogenesis, proteolysis and glucose oxidation as well as a decreased expression of transcripts involved in inflammation and protein synthesis. To further study this in a model system, we subjected mice to dexamethasone treatment for 12 weeks and analyzed their inguinal (subcutaneous) fat pads, which led to similar findings. Additionally, mice treated with dexamethasone showed drastic decreases in lean body mass as well as increased fat mass, further supporting the human transcriptomic data. These data provide insight to transcriptional changes that may be responsible for the comorbidities associated with chronic elevations of glucocorticoids.

Open access

Yihong Wan and Ronald M Evans

The nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) is a key transcriptional regulator of both lipid metabolism and inflammation. The importance of PPARγ is accentuated by the widespread use of synthetic PPARγ agonists, thiazolidinediones (such as rosiglitazone), as drugs for insulin resistance and type II diabetes. Fractalkine (FKN) and FKN receptor (FR) play an important role in the immune responses by regulating leukocyte migration and adhesion to inflamed peripheral tissues. In this study, we have identified a novel link between PPARγ activation and FKN signaling. On one hand, the activation of PPARγ by rosiglitazone in macrophages not only represses the transcription of the FR gene, but also prevents the plasma membrane translocation of the FR protein. On the other hand, the activation of PPARγ by rosiglitazone in endothelial cells also impedes the nuclear export of FKN. Together, these data suggest that PPARγ activation represses FKN signaling. These findings indicate a previously unrecognized mechanism that may contribute to the anti-inflammatory effect of PPARγ.

Open access

Lingyun Zhang, Takashi Sugiyama, Nao Murabayashi, Takashi Umekawa, Ning Ma, Yuki Kamimoto, Yoshihiro Ogawa and Norimasa Sagawa

The infiltration of classically activated macrophages (M1) and alternatively activated macrophages (M2) in subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) and parametrial adipose tissue (PAT) was analyzed to investigate whether local inflammatory change in adipose tissue occurs in late pregnancy. C57B L /6N female mice at 6 weeks of age were fed a normal chow diet for 4 weeks prior to mating at 10 weeks of age and were sampled on day 17 of pregnancy. The serum levels of adipokines and biochemical markers were measured using ELISA and enzymatic methods. The identification of M1 and M2 was analyzed by double immunofluorescence with anti-F4/80 and anti-CD11c antibodies. The gene expression of adipokines in adipose tissues was analyzed by quantitative RT-PCR. The pregnant group showed adipocyte hypertrophy, higher macrophage infiltration, and higher M1/M2 in both SAT and PAT compared with the non-pregnant (NP) group. Serum levels of free fatty acids, tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), interleukin 6 (IL6), and IL10 were higher, and serum levels of adiponectin were lower in the pregnant group than those in the NP group. The gene expressions of CD68, Itgax, CCR2, TNF α, and PAI1 in SAT during pregnancy were significantly higher than those in the NP group, as were the gene expressions of CD68, Emrl, Itgax, MCP1, TNF α , IL6, PAI1, adiponectin, and IL10 in PAT. These results suggest that the low-grade inflammation of adipose tissue indicated by increased macrophage infiltration occurs in late normal pregnancy.

Open access

Irina G Bogdarina, Peter J King and Adrian J L Clark

Angiotensin II acts through two pharmacologically distinct receptors known as AT1 and AT2. Duplication of the AT1 receptor in rodents into At1a and b subtypes allows tissue-specific expression of the AT1b in adrenal and pituitary tissue. Adrenal expression of this receptor is increased in the offspring of rat mothers exposed to a low-protein diet and this is associated with the undermethylation of its promoter. This phenomenon is blocked by the inhibition of maternal glucocorticoid synthesis by metyrapone. We have mapped the transcriptional start site of the promoter and demonstrated that a 1.2 kbp fragment upsteam of this site is effective in driving luciferase expression in mouse Y1 cells. A combination of bioinformatic analysis, electrophoretic mobility shift analysis (EMSA), and mutagenesis studies demonstrates: i) the presence of a putative TATA box and CAAT box; ii) the presence of three Sp1 response elements, capable of binding SP1; mutation of any pair of these sites effectively disables this promoter; iii) the presence of four potential glucocorticoid response elements which each bind glucocorticoid receptor in EMSA, although only two confer dexamethasone inhibition on the promoter; iv) the presence of two AP1 sites. Mutagenesis of the distal AP1 site greatly diminishes promoter function but this is also associated with the loss of dexamethasone inhibition. These studies will facilitate an understanding of the mechanisms by which fetal programming leads to long term alterations in gene expression and the development of adult disease.

Open access

Bo Li, Zhiguo Zhang, Huizhi Zhang, Kai Quan, Yan Lu, Dongsheng Cai and Guang Ning

The prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition characterized by an excessive accumulation of triglycerides (TGs) in hepatocytes, has dramatically increased globally during recent decades. MicroRNAs (miRs) have been suggested to play crucial roles in many complex diseases and lipid metabolism. Our results indicated that miR199a-5p was remarkably upregulated in free fatty acid (FA)-treated hepatocytes. To investigate the role of miR199a-5p in the pathogenesis of fatty liver and the potential mechanism by which miR199a-5p regulates NAFLD, we first transfected two hepatocyte cell lines, HepG2 and AML12 cells, with agomiR199a-5p or antagomiR199a-5p. Our results indicated that miR199a-5p overexpression exacerbated deposition of FA and inhibited ATP levels and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) contents. Consistently, suppression of miR199a-5p partially alleviated deposition of FA and increased ATP levels and mtDNA contents. Moreover, miR199a-5p suppressed the expression of mitochondrial FA β-oxidation-related genes through inhibition of caveolin1 (CAV1) and the related peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPAR α) pathway. Furthermore, suppression of CAV1 gene expression by CAV1 siRNA inhibited the PPARα signalling pathway. Finally, we examined the expression of miR199a-5p in liver samples derived from mice fed a high-fat diet, db/db mice, ob/ob mice and NAFLD patients, and found that miR199a-5p was upregulated while CAV1 and PPARA were downregulated in these systems, which was strongly indicative of the essential role of miR199a-5p in NAFLD. In summary, miR199a-5p plays a vital role in lipid metabolism, mitochondrial activity and mitochondrial β-oxidation in liver. Upregulated miR199a-5p in hepatocytes may contribute to impaired FA β-oxidation in mitochondria and aberrant lipid deposits, probably via CAV1 and the PPARα pathway.

Open access

Tingyuan Ren, Yuping Zhu, Xuejuan Xia, Yongbo Ding, Jing Guo and Jianquan Kan

This study aimed to evaluate the protein metabolism effect of Zanthoxylum alkylamides and to explore the potential mechanism in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats. Diabetic rats were orally treated with 2, 4 and 8 mg per kg bw of alkylamides daily for 28 days. Alkylamides decreased the relative weight of the liver and food intake, significantly increased the relative skeletal muscle weight and significantly decreased the blood urea nitrogen levels. Insulin, insulin-like growth factor 1, total protein (TP) and albumin (ALB), globular proteins and ALB proteins/globulin protein levels in serum significantly increased. TP, RNA content and RNA/DNA ratio significantly increased in the skeletal muscle of diabetic rats. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction results indicated that alkylamides significantly increased the mRNA expression of insulin receptor (InR), IGF1 and insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) in the liver and skeletal muscle. Moreover, the mRNA and protein expression levels of PI3K, PKB and mTOR significantly increased, whereas those of atrogin-1, muscle ring finger 1 and FOXO in the skeletal muscle significantly decreased. Alkylamides may advance protein synthesis by the PI3K/PKB/mTOR signalling pathway and attenuate the catabolism of protein through the ubiquitin–proteasome pathway. Therefore, it was possible that alkylamides ameliorate protein metabolism disorders in diabetic rats by activating the mTOR pathway.