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Jessica K Devin, Joyce E Johnson, Mesut Eren, Linda A Gleaves, William S Bradham, John R Bloodworth Jr and Douglas E Vaughan

Reproductive age women (5–10%) are affected by the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a diagnosis which confers lifelong cardiovascular and reproductive health implications. Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), the main physiological inhibitor of plasminogen activation, is consistently elevated in women with PCOS, regardless of metabolic status. Interestingly, the plasminogen system has long been implicated in proteolytic processes within the dynamic ovary. A non-physiologic elevation in PAI-1 may thus contribute systemically to endothelial dysfunction and locally to abnormal ovarian phenotype and function. We herein characterize the phenotypic alterations in ovaries from transgenic mice, which constitutively express a stable form of human PAI-1 and determine the plasma testosterone level in these mice as opposed to their unaffected counterparts. Over half of the ovaries from transgenic mice were found to contain large cystic structures, in contrast to wild-type controls of the same genetic background (53% (N = 17) vs 5% (N = 22); P = 0.001). Plasma testosterone was nearly twofold elevated in transgenic female mice versus wild-type females (0.312 ng/ml ± 0.154 (N = 10) vs 0.181 ng/ml ± 0.083 (N = 8); P = 0.014). An elevation in PAI-1 therefore appears to predispose mice to the development of this abnormal architecture, which in turn is associated with an increase in plasma testosterone. Therefore, we propose that an inappropriate elevation in PAI-1 contributes to the development of polycystic structures; these findings may thus reorient the efforts aimed at the development of therapeutic agents for the treatment of this increasingly common syndrome.

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Seung Chul Kim, Mee-Na Park, Young Joo Lee, Jong Kil Joo and Beum-Soo An

Female sex steroid hormones such as estrogen and progesterone have a pivotal role in maintaining pregnancy in human and animals. Especially, estrogen exerts specific effects on the cardiovascular system and angiogenesis, and thus affects significantly on placentation. Although the functions of estrogen have been emphasized during pregnancy, their signaling pathways in the placenta have not been fully understood. In this study, estrogen signaling was evaluated according to gestational age. Human placenta samples were collected and divided into early preterm (n=10), late preterm (n=18), and term (n=20) groups. First, serum estrogen concentration and corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) mRNA expression, which is known as gestation clock gene, were increased following gestation age in our experimental condition, as we expected. Next, the expression of estrogen receptors (ERs) and steroid receptor coactivators (SRCs) in the placenta was evaluated. ERα (ESR1) and ERβ (ESR2) were expressed highly at term period compared with early preterm. In addition, SRC family including SRC1, SRC2, and SRC3 was expressed in the human placenta, and the levels of SRC1, SRC2, and SRC3 were increased in the placenta at the late stage of gestation. The interaction of ERs with SRCs was also examined, which was significantly enhanced at term period. In the immunostaining results, it was indicated that ERs and SRCs were all dominantly expressed in syncytiotrophoblast cells. These results suggested that SRC1, SRC2, and SRC3 were expressed and interact with ERs highly at the late stage of gestation, and may amplify the signaling of estrogen in the placenta to maintain pregnancy.

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Elisa Manieri and Guadalupe Sabio

Obesity is a new global pandemic, with growing incidence and prevalence. This disease is associated with increased risk of several pathologies, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. The mechanisms underlying obesity-associated metabolic changes are the focus of efforts to identify new therapies. Stress-activated protein kinases (SAPK), including cJun N-terminal kinases (JNKs) and p38, are required for cellular responses to metabolic stress and therefore might contribute to the pathogenesis of obesity. Tissue-specific knockout models support a cell-type-specific role for JNK isoforms, in particular JNK1, highlighting its importance in cell homeostasis and organ crosstalk. However, more efforts are needed to elucidate the specific roles of other JNK isoforms and p38 family members in metabolism and obesity. This review provides an overview of the role of SAPKs in the regulation of metabolism.

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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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I J Bujalska, M Quinkler, J W Tomlinson, C T Montague, D M Smith and P M Stewart

Obesity is associated with increased morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Although obesity is a multi-factorial heterogeneous condition, fat accumulation in visceral depots is most highly associated with these risks. Pathological glucocorticoid excess (i.e. in Cushing’s syndrome) is a recognised, reversible cause of visceral fat accumulation. The aim of this study was to identify depot-specific glucocorticoid-target genes in adipocyte precursor cells (preadipocytes) using Affymetrix microarray technique. Confluent preadipocytes from subcutaneous (SC) and omental (OM) adipose tissue collected from five female patients were treated for 24 h with 100 nM cortisol (F), RNA was pooled and hybridised to the Affymetrix U133 microarray set. We identified 72 upregulated and 30 downregulated genes by F in SC cells. In OM preadipocytes, 56 genes were increased and 19 were decreased. Among the most interesting were transcription factors, markers of adipocyte differentiation and glucose metabolism, cell adhesion and growth arrest protein factors involved in G-coupled and Wnt signalling. The Affymetrix data have been confirmed by quantitative real-time PCR for ten specific genes, including HSD11B1, GR, C/EBPα, C/EBPβ, IL-6, FABP4, APOD, IRS2, AGTR1 and GHR. One of the most upregulated genes in OM but not in SC cells was HSD11B1. The GR was similarly expressed and not regulated by glucocorticoids in SC and OM human preadipocytes. C/EBPα was expressed in SC preadipocytes and upregulated by F, but was below the detection level in OM cells. C/EBPβ was highly expressed both in SC and in OM preadipocytes, but was not regulated by F. Our results provide insight into the genes involved in the regulation of adipocyte differentiation by cortisol, highlighting the depot specifically in human adipose tissue.

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S Najib and V Sánchez-Margalet

Hyperhomocysteinemia and insulin resistance are independent factors for cardiovascular disease. Most of the angiotoxic effects of homocysteine are related to the formation of homocysteine thiolactone and the consequent increase in oxidative stress. We have recently found that homocysteine thiolactone inhibits insulin receptor tyrosine kinase activity, which results in decreased phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) activity and inhibition of glycogen synthesis. Oxidative stress seemed to be the mechanism underlying these effects, since glutathione was able to restore the insulin signaling as well as the insulin-mediated glycogen synthesis. In the present work we have further investigated insulin receptor signaling studying mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) and p70 S6K phosphorylation. Again, homocysteine thiolactone (50 μM) prevented insulin-mediated MAPK, GSK-3 and p70 S6K phosphorylation and these effects were blocked by glutathione (250 μM). Since MAPK and PI3K pathways, including GSK3 and S6K, seem to mediate insulin-mediated growth and proliferation, we measured DNA and protein synthesis. We have found that homocysteine thiolactone (50 μM) inhibits insulin-mediated growth and proliferation, as previously shown for glycogen synthesis. Again, these effects seem to be mediated by oxidative stress, since 250 μM glutathione completely abolished the effects of homocysteine thiolactone on insulin-stimulated DNA and protein synthesis. In conclusion, these data suggest that homocysteine thiolactone impairs insulin signaling by a mechanism involving oxidative stress, leading to a defect in the action of insulin on growth and proliferation.

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Diana Vargas, Noriaki Shimokawa, Ryosuke Kaneko, Wendy Rosales, Adriana Parra, Ángela Castellanos, Noriyuki Koibuchi and Fernando Lizcano

Increasing thermogenesis in white adipose tissues can be used to treat individuals at high risk for obesity and cardiovascular disease. The objective of this study was to determine the function of EP300-interacting inhibitor of differentiation (EID1), an inhibitor of muscle differentiation, in the induction of beige adipocytes from adipose mesenchymal stem cells (ADMSCs). Subcutaneous adipose tissue was obtained from healthy women undergoing abdominoplasty. ADMSCs were isolated in vitro, grown, and transfected with EID1 or EID1 siRNA, and differentiation was induced after 48 h by administering rosiglitazone. The effects of EID1 expression under the control of the aP2 promoter (aP2-EID1) were also evaluated in mature adipocytes that were differentiated from ADMSCs. Transfection of EID1 into ADMSCs reduced triglyceride accumulation while increasing levels of thermogenic proteins, such as PGC1α, TFAM, and mitochondrial uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1), all of which are markers of energy expenditure and mitochondrial activity. Furthermore, increased expression of the beige phenotype markers CITED1 and CD137 was observed. Transfection of aP2-EID1 transfection induced the conversion of mature white adipocytes to beige adipocytes, as evidenced by increased expression of PGC1α, UCP1, TFAM, and CITED1. These results indicate that EID1 can modulate ADMSCs, inducing a brown/beige lineage. EID1 may also activate beiging in white adipocytes obtained from subcutaneous human adipose tissue.

Free access

Cyrus C Martin, Brian P Flemming, Yingda Wang, James K Oeser and Richard M O'Brien

Islet-specific glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit-related protein (IGRP/G6PC2) is a major autoantigen in both mouse and human type 1 diabetes. IGRP is selectively expressed in islet β cells and polymorphisms in the IGRP gene have recently been associated with variations in fasting blood glucose levels and cardiovascular-associated mortality in humans. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays have shown that the IGRP promoter binds the islet-enriched transcription factors Pax-6 and BETA2. We show here, again using ChIP assays, that the IGRP promoter also binds the islet-enriched transcription factors MafA and Foxa2. Single binding sites for these factors were identified in the proximal IGRP promoter, mutation of which resulted in decreased IGRP fusion gene expression in βTC-3, Hamster insulinoma tumor (HIT), and Min6 cells. ChiP assays have shown that the islet-enriched transcription factor Pdx-1 also binds the IGRP promoter, but mutational analysis of four Pdx-1 binding sites in the proximal IGRP promoter revealed surprisingly little effect of Pdx-1 binding on IGRP fusion gene expression in βTC-3 cells. In contrast, in both HIT and Min6 cells mutation of these four Pdx-1 binding sites resulted in a ∼50% reduction in fusion gene expression. These data suggest that the same group of islet-enriched transcription factors, namely Pdx-1, Pax-6, MafA, BETA2, and Foxa2, directly or indirectly regulate expression of the two major autoantigens in type 1 diabetes.

Free access

Jiayu Jin, Xinhong Wang, Xiuling Zhi and Dan Meng

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), the main complication of diabetes mellitus (DM), accounts for a high percentage of mortality in diabetic patients. Endothelial dysfunction is a major causative event in the pathogenesis of diabetes-related vascular disease and the earliest symptom of vascular injury. Epigenetic modification plays a key role in the initiation, maintenance, and progression of both endothelial dysfunction and diabetes. Epigenetic alterations respond to the environment and mediate the ‘legacy effect’ of uncontrolled hyperglycaemia early in the disease despite thorough glycaemic control in a phenomenon called metabolic memory. Therefore, an understanding of the integrated system of different epigenetic mechanisms in DM and its vascular complications is urgently needed. This review summarizes aberrant epigenetic regulation under diabetic conditions, including histone modifications, DNA methylation, and non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). Understanding the connections between these processes and DM may reveal a novel potential therapeutic target for diabetic vascular complications.

Free access

Amy Warner and Jens Mittag

It has long been known that thyroid hormone has profound direct effects on metabolism and cardiovascular function. More recently, it was shown that the hormone also modulates these systems by actions on the central autonomic control. Recent studies that either manipulated thyroid hormone signalling in anatomical areas of the brain or analysed seasonal models with an endogenous fluctuation in hypothalamic thyroid hormone levels revealed that the hormone controls energy turnover. However, most of these studies did not progress beyond the level of anatomical nuclei; thus, the neuronal substrates as well as the molecular mechanisms remain largely enigmatic. This review summarises the evidence for a role of thyroid hormone in the central autonomic control of peripheral homeostasis and advocates novel strategies to address thyroid hormone action in the brain on a cellular level.