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Open access

Zhi Zhang, Fang Wang, Bing-jian Wang, Guang Chu, Qunan Cao, Bao-Gui Sun and Qiu-Yan Dai

Vascular extracellular matrix (ECM) remodelling, which is the result of disruption in the balance of ECM synthesis and degradation, induces vessel fibrosis and thereby leads to hypertension. Leptin is known to promote tissue fibrosis, while adiponectin has recently been demonstrated to be anti-fibrogenic in tissue fibrosis. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the leptin-antagonist function of adiponectin and to further elucidate the mechanisms through which adiponectin dampens leptin signalling in vascular smooth muscle cells, thus preventing excess ECM production, in our already established 3D co-culture vessel models. Our 3D co-culture vessel model, which mimics true blood vessels, is composed of vascular endothelial cells, vascular smooth muscle cells and collagen type I. We validated the profibrogenic effects of leptin and analysed matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2), MMP9, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP1) and collagen types II/IV secretion in 3D vessel models. The protective/inhibitory effects of adiponectin were re-analysed by inhibiting adiponectin receptor 1 (AdipoR) and AdipoR2 expression in endothelial cells using RNAi technology. In the 3D vessel models, adiponectin blocked the leptin-stimulated secretion of collagen types II/IV and TIMP1 while significantly increasing MMP2/9 activity. In endothelial cells, adiponectin induced phosphorylation of AMPK, thereby suppressing leptin-mediated STAT3 phosphorylation through induction of SOCS3 in smooth muscle cells. Our findings indicate that adiponectin disrupted the leptin-induced vascular ECM remodelling via AdipoR1 and enhanced AMPK signalling in endothelial cells, which, in turn, promoted SOCS3 up-regulation in smooth muscle cells to repress leptin-stimulated phosphorylation of STAT3.

Restricted access

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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F Petit, P Le Goff, JP Cravedi, Y Valotaire and F Pakdel

A relation between the chemical structure of a xenobiotic and its steroidal action has not yet been clearly established. Thus, it is not possible to define the estrogenic potency of different xenobiotics. An assessment may be accomplished by the use of different bioassays. We have previously developed a yeast system highly and stably expressing rainbow trout estrogen receptor (rtER) in order to analyze the biological activity of the receptor. The recombinant yeast system appears to be a reliable, rapid and sensitive bioassay for the screening and determination of the direct interaction between ER and estrogenic compounds. This system was used in parallel with a more elaborate biological system, trout hepatocyte aggregate cultures, to examine the estrogenic potency of a wide spectrum of chemicals commonly found in the environment. In hepatocyte cultures, the vitellogenin gene whose expression is principally dependent upon estradiol was used as a biomarker. Moreover, competitive binding assays were performed to determine direct interaction between rtER and xenobiotics. In our study, 50% of the 49 chemical compounds tested exhibited estrogenic activity in the two bioassays: the herbicide diclofop-methyl; the fungicides biphenyl, dodemorph, and triadimefon; the insecticides lindane, methyl parathion, chlordecone, dieldrin, and endosulfan; polychlorinated biphenyl mixtures; the plasticizers or detergents alkylphenols and phthalates; and phytoestrogens. To investigate further biphenyl estrogenic activity, its principal metabolites were also tested in both bioassays. Among these estrogenic compounds, 70% were able to activate rtER in yeast and hepatocytes with variable induction levels according to the system. Nevertheless, 30% of these estrogenic compounds exhibited estrogenic activity in only one of the bioassays, suggesting the implication of metabolites or different pathways in the activation of gene transcription. This paper shows that it is important to combine in vivo bioassays with in vitro approaches to elucidate the mechanism of xenoestrogen actions.

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F. Claessens, L. Dirckx, B. Delaey, J.-L. Decourt, K. Hemschoote, B. Peeters and W. Rombauts


The complete gene encoding the polypeptide Cl of the complex androgen-controlled prostatic binding protein was isolated from a rat genomic library. A new genomic fragment (C2B) containing only the 5′ part of a C2-related gene was also purified. The segments containing exon 1 and a large part of the adjacent sequences were analysed and compared with the corresponding region of the C2A gene which has been completely sequenced previously. The high structural similarity extending over a large part of all three genomic fragments suggests the duplication of a common ancestral gene, followed by a more recent duplication of the C2-coding region. However, since the structural similarity upstream of position − 150 between C2A and C2B abruptly disappears and no transcripts specific for the C2B region can be detected in prostate RNA, we propose that at a later stage in evolution the C2B region was disrupted and inactivated. Despite the common origin and the similar regulation of the two active genes, Cl and C2A, the only obvious conserved structural element is the homopurine stretch located at position −400, although sequence motifs resembling steroid hormone response elements are present at several locations.

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J Tucci, V Hammond, P V Senior, A Gibson and F Beck


During pregnancy, a placental calcium pump maintains the fetus in a hypercalcaemic state relative to the mother, a condition which has been thought to facilitate normal development of the fetal skeleton. Based on experiments performed in the sheep, parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) has been implicated as the hormone responsible for maintaining the placental calcium pump. In the present study on mice in which the PTHrP gene has been ablated by homologous recombination, we have measured both fetal and maternal circulating total and ionised calcium levels, as well as fetal total body calcium, in order to determine whether absence of PTHrP during fetal development has an effect on fetal calcium levels. Our results show that, in fetuses lacking PTHrP, circulating ionised calcium levels are significantly lower than those of heterozygote and wild-type littermates, but circulating total calcium levels show no difference. Total body calcium levels of null mutants are significantly higher than those of normal littermates.

The role of PTHrP in maintaining the integrity of the transplacental calcium pump in the rodent thus remains unclear. It may be that the lower levels of fetal blood ionised calcium in mutant animals are due to disruption of the placental pump, but, if this is the case, compensatory mechanisms have operated to allow the excessive calcium deposition seen in the skeletons of these animals. Alternatively, the increased avidity of the bones for calcium may in itself have produced a lower equilibrium level of available ionised calcium.

Restricted access

A. Stephanou, N. J. Sarlis, R. A. Knight, S. L. Lightman and H. S. Chowdrey


Adjuvant arthritis (AA) in the rat leads to chronic stimulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the loss of its diurnal rhythmicity. We have investigated the effects of adrenalectomy (ADX) and different levels of corticosterone replacement upon plasma ACTH levels and anterior pituitary pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), GH and prolactin mRNAs during the development of AA. In control ADX animals, we observed the negative feedback effects of exogenous corticosterone on plasma ACTH and anterior pituitary POMC mRNA. In the ADX animal with AA, however, the increased POMC mRNA which was observed was not reduced by exogenous corticosterone on day 7 of AA, although the negative feedback effect of corticosterone on plasma ACTH was intact. On day 14, however, even high dose corticosterone replacement failed to have a significant feedback effect on the raised levels of plasma ACTH.

In control ADX animals, corticosterone replacement resulted in increased anterior pituitary GH mRNA and reduced prolactin mRNA. In contrast, in ADX animals with AA, GH mRNA was reduced and there was a further decrease in prolactin mRNA. In these animals, corticosterone replacement did not affect GH or prolactin mRNA expression.

These data demonstrate a disruption of the normal mechanisms underlying feedback inhibition of the HPA axis by glucocorticoids during AA. Similarly, the glucocorticoid-dependent regulation of GH and prolactin mRNA expression is altered in AA.

Free access

AR Green, RE Edwards, P Greaves and IN White

Oral dosing of CD-1 mice on days 2-5 after birth with tamoxifen but not raloxifene disrupts the development of the myometrium, resulting in adult uterine adenomyosis. Using laser capture microdissection and RT-PCR we have investigated nerve growth factor (NGF) and cognate receptor expression in uterine cells of 6-day-old pups that may be important in early developmental changes that give rise to adenomyosis. NGF down-regulation is known to occur during terminal myogenic differentiation. NGF was found exclusively in endometrial luminal epithelium of controls. It was up-regulated 18-fold in the luminal epithelium following dosing with tamoxifen but not raloxifene. Western blotting for NGF protein in the whole uterus showed a 25-fold increase after tamoxifen treatment. Expression of the low affinity p75 neutrophin receptor (p75(NTR)) was twofold higher in the myometrium compared with luminal epithelium or stroma. This was not altered following tamoxifen treatment. There was no detectable expression of high affinity tyrosine kinase receptor (trkA(NGFR)). This study shows luminal epithelial cells of the endometrium primarily form NGF. This suggests that NGF normally regulates the differentiation of the mesenchyme into uterine myocytes through paracrine mechanisms and that an early disturbance of this process plays a key role in the subsequent development of adenomyosis.

Free access

CM Perks, PV Newcomb, MR Norman and JM Holly

Interaction of epithelial cells with the extracellular matrix is mediated through integrin receptors, which transmit signals regulating cell growth, differentiation and death. Occupation of these receptors, via Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) recognition sequences, leads to activation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK). We treated human breast cancer cell lines with RGD-containing peptides, which can disrupt integrin attachment, and investigated alterations in FAK phosphorylation, cell detachment and death. Cells grown in vitro were treated with insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) and a small, synthetic RGD-containing peptide (Gly-Arg-Gly-Asp-Thr-Pro) and its negative control peptide RGE (Arg-Gly-Glu-Ser) for either 30 min followed by immunoprecipitation of cell lysates with anti-phosphotyrosine and Western immunoblotting with anti-FAK or for 24 h followed by cell counting, immunocytochemistry and flow cytometry. Both IGFBP-1 (0-800 ng/ml) and the synthetic RGD-containing peptide (1-100 microg/ml) caused significant dephosphorylation of FAK. Furthermore, after 24 h both peptides caused detachment from the matrix and the induction of apoptosis. We conclude from these data that IGFBP-1 can interact with integrin receptors to induce FAK dephosphorylation and subsequently influence attachment and cell death.

Open access

S Das, I Sepahi, A Duthie, S Clark and J C Crockett

The interaction of receptor activator of NFκB (RANK), a member of the tumour necrosis factor receptor superfamily, with RANK ligand is crucial for the formation, function and survival of osteoclasts. The role of the cytoplasmic oligomerisation domain (pre-ligand assembly domain; PLAD or ‘IVVY’ motif) in the ligand-dependent activation of downstream NFκB signalling has not been studied previously. The discovery of truncating mutations of TNFRSF11A (W434X and G280X that lack the PLAD) as the cause of rare cases of osteoclast-poor osteopetrosis offered the opportunity for functional study of this region. Recapitulating the W434X mutation by transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN)-mediated targeted disruption of Tnfrsf11a within the region homologous to W434X in the mouse macrophage-like cell line RAW264.7 impaired formation of osteoclast-like cells. Using overexpression studies, we demonstrated that, in contrast to WT-RANK, the absence of the PLAD in G280X-RANK and W434X-RANK prevented ligand-independent but not ligand-dependent oligomerisation. Cells expressing W434X-RANK, in which only two of the three TRAF6-binding motifs are present, continued to exhibit ligand-dependent NFκB signalling. Hence, the absence of the PLAD did not prevent ligand-induced trimerisation and subsequent NFκB activation of RANK, demonstrating that therapeutic targeting of the PLAD in the prevention of osteoporosis may not be as effective as proposed previously.

Free access

Elena Ivanova and Gavin Kelsey

Genomic imprinting is an important and enigmatic form of gene regulation in mammals in which one copy of a gene is silenced in a manner determined by its parental history. Imprinted genes range from those with constitutive monoallelic silencing to those, typically more remote from imprinting control regions, that display developmentally regulated, tissue-specific or partial monoallelic expression. This diversity may make these genes, and the processes they control, more or less sensitive to factors that modify or disrupt epigenetic marks. Imprinted genes have important functions in development and physiology, including major endocrine/neuroendocrine axes. Owing to is central role in coordinating growth, metabolism and reproduction, as well as evidence from genetic and knockout studies, the hypothalamus may be a focus for imprinted gene action. Are there unifying principles that explain why a gene should be imprinted? Conflict between parental genomes over limiting maternal resources, but also co-adaptation between mothers and offspring, have been invoked to explain the evolution of imprinting. Recent reports suggest there may be many more genes imprinted in the hypothalamus than hitherto expected, and it will be important for these new candidates to be validated and to determine whether they conform to current notions of how imprinting is regulated. In fully evaluating the role of imprinted genes in the hypothalamus, much work needs to be done to identify the specific neuronal populations in which particular genes are expressed, establish whether there are pathways in common and whether imprinted genes are involved in long-term programming of hypothalamic functions.