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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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R. M. Haigh and C. T. Jones

ABSTRACT

Glucocorticoids are known to have marked effects on blood pressure regulation, predominantly through altering cardiovascular sensitivity to noradrenaline. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this action remain unclear. As part of our studies into these we have measured α1-adrenergic receptor binding using the ligand [3H]prazosin in plasma membrane fractions of aortas prepared from control, adrenalectomized and dexamethasone-treated adrenalectomized rats. In controls there were 50±8 (s.e.m.; n=6) fmol α1-adrenergic receptors/mg membrane protein (Bmax) with a dissociation constant (K d) of 0·52±0·10 nm (n=6). Adrenalectomy 8 days before tissue preparation caused a 40% decrease in Bmax and a 60% decrease in K d. Dexamethasone replacement after adrenalectomy returned these values close to those of controls. Noradrenaline competed for the [3H]prazosin-binding sites. Computer analysis by a non-linear curve-fitting program (LIGAND) showed that noradrenaline binding was to a heterogeneous population of high- and low-affinity receptors with K d values of 1·87±0·73 μm and 0·48±0·12 mm (n=5) respectively. Guanosine thiotriphosphate (GTP[S]) caused the conversion of high-affinity to low-affinity binding, consistent with the model of the high-affinity sites being coupled to a G protein. After adrenalectomy, noradrenaline binding was to a homogeneous population of low-affinity receptors; hence, the effect of GTP[S] was no longer apparent, suggesting that under these conditions the α1-adrenergic receptors were unable to couple to a G protein. The two-site model of binding and GTP[S] effect was returned by dexamethasone treatment. These data provide evidence that glucocorticoids not only modulate the number of α1-adrenergic receptors on vascular smooth muscle, but also cause disruptions in receptor—G protein coupling. This may be an important mechanism by which glucocorticoids exert their effect on cardiovascular sensitivity.

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R. M. Haigh, C. T. Jones and G. Milligan

ABSTRACT

Glucocorticoids are known to influence cardiovascular sensitivity to catecholamines but the molecular mechanisms are undefined. We recently showed that glucocorticoids control the coupling of adrenergic receptors to G protein. Alterations in the amount of G protein is one mechanism by which receptor-G protein coupling may be controlled. Therefore, we set out to measure the levels of G proteins in aorta from normal, adrenalectomized and dexamethasonetreated adrenalectomized rats. G proteins were measured in plasma membrane preparations by immunoblotting and horseradish peroxidase staining. After adrenalectomy there was a 53% (n = 5) decrease in the density of staining for Gi (ANOVA; P<0.05 compared to controls). Conversely, there was a 210% (n = 5) increase in the density of staining for Gs. The levels of Go and the β-subunit of G proteins were not changed by adrenalectomy. Dexamethasone-replacement treatment after adrenalectomy returned Gi and Gs close to control values. Go remained unaltered compared to controls but was 24% (n=3) less than the adrenalectomized values (ANOVA; P<0.05). The levels of β-subunit after dexamethasone replacement were significantly greater (ANOVA; P<0.05) than both the controls and adrenalectomized values. These results show that glucocorticoids can differentially regulate the amounts of G proteins in rat aorta as in other tissues. This may be an important mechanism by which steroids control receptor-G protein coupling and hence transmembrane signalling pathways in vascular smooth muscle.

Free access

Russell A Prough, Barbara J Clark and Carolyn M Klinge

Dehydroepiandrosterone (3β-hydroxy-5-androsten-17-one, DHEA), secreted by the adrenal cortex, gastrointestinal tract, gonads, and brain, and its sulfated metabolite DHEA-S are the most abundant endogeneous circulating steroid hormones. DHEA actions are classically associated with age-related changes in cardiovascular tissues, female fertility, metabolism, and neuronal/CNS functions. Early work on DHEA action focused on the metabolism to more potent sex hormones, testosterone and estradiol, and the subsequent effect on the activation of the androgen and estrogen steroid receptors. However, it is now clear that DHEA and DHEA-S act directly as ligands for many hepatic nuclear receptors and G-protein-coupled receptors. In addition, it can function to mediate acute cell signaling pathways. This review summarizes the molecular mechanisms by which DHEA acts in cells and animal models with a focus on the ‘novel’ and physiological modes of DHEA action.

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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.

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

Jonathan Pham, Kanaga Arul Nambi Rajan, Ping Li and Mana M Parast

Placental development is important for proper in utero growth and development of the fetus, as well as maternal well-being during pregnancy. Abnormal differentiation of placental epithelial cells, called trophoblast, is at the root of multiple pregnancy complications, including miscarriage, the maternal hypertensive disorder preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction. The ligand-activated nuclear receptor, PPARγ, and nutrient sensor, Sirtuin-1, both play a role in numerous pathways important to cell survival and differentiation, metabolism and inflammation. However, each has also been identified as a key player in trophoblast differentiation and placental development. This review details these studies, and also describes how various stressors, including hypoxia and inflammation, alter the expression or activity of PPARγ and Sirtuin-1, thereby contributing to placenta-based pregnancy complications.

Free access

Li Hu, Fengli He, Meifeng Huang, Meihua Peng, Zhiguang Zhou, Feng Liu and Yan-Shan Dai

Nuclear factors of activated T cells (NFAT) c3 have a prominent role in the regulation of proinflammatory factors in immune cells. The classically activated M1 macrophages are key players in the initiation and maintenance of adipose tissue (AT) inflammation. The role of NFATc3 in obesity and AT inflammation is unknown. We set out to determine how deficiency of NFATc3 effected macrophage polarization, inflammation and insulin resistance in visceral AT of high-fat diet (HFD)-fed mice. Nfatc3−/− and WT mice were fed a HFD for 8–17 weeks. Epididymal white AT (eWAT) F4/80(+) cells were characterized by fluorescence-activated cell sorting and quantitative RT-PCR. Results showed that Nfatc3−/− mice developed HFD-induced obesity similar to WT mice, but insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance were improved, and liver fat accumulation was reduced in Nfatc3−/− mice compared to WT control mice. Moreover, M1 macrophage content and proinflammatory factors were reduced, whereas the alternatively activated M2 macrophage content was increased in eWAT of HFD-fed Nfatc3−/− mice compared to that of WT mice. In addition, eWAT insulin signaling was improved in HFD-fed Nfatc3−/− mice. Importantly, after bone-marrow-derived macrophages had been isolated from Nfatc3−/− mice and cultured in vitro, treatment of these cells with interferon-γ and lipopolysaccharide resulted in reduction of M1 inflammatory markers, suggesting that NFATc3 promoted M1 polarization by a cell-autonomous mechanism. The results demonstrated that NFATc3 played an important role in M1 macrophage polarization, AT inflammation and insulin resistance in response to obesity through transcriptional activation of proinflammatory genes.

Free access

Jun Yang and Morag J Young

The mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) is a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily and is essential for controlling sodium transport in epithelial tissues such as the kidney and colon. Moreover, it is also present in other non-epithelial tissues and is capable of activation by both mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids. A challenge in understanding transcriptional regulation by the MR and other nuclear receptors is to determine how tissue- and ligand-specificity is achieved. Over the past decade, it has become clear that a heterogeneous group of non-receptor proteins termed as coregulators are required to either enhance or repress nuclear receptor-mediated transactivation of target genes. A subset of these coregulators may be expected to confer specificity to MR-mediated responses by virtue of their variable tissue expression and selectivity for different ligands. Specific coregulator–MR interactions may be a suitable target in the rational design of tissue-specific MR modulators as has been described for other steroid receptors. However, the number of coregulators identified to date for the MR is very limited compared with other nuclear receptors. Understanding the full complement of MR coregulators is essential for unraveling the complexity of MR signaling pathways and will facilitate the development of selective MR modulators.

Free access

Shaoqian Zhao, Wen Liu, Jiqiu Wang, Juan Shi, Yingkai Sun, Weiqing Wang, Guang Ning, Ruixin Liu and Jie Hong

Abnormal shifts in the composition of gut microbiota contribute to the pathogenesis of metabolic diseases, including obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2DM). The crosstalk between gut microbes and the host affects the inflammatory status and glucose tolerance of the individuals, but the underlying mechanisms have not been elucidated completely. In this study, we treated the lean chow diet-fed mice with Akkermansia muciniphila, which is thought to be inversely correlated with inflammation status and body weight in rodents and humans, and we found that A. muciniphila supplementation by daily gavage for five weeks significantly alleviated body weight gain and reduced fat mass. Glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity were also improved by A. muciniphila supplementation compared with the vehicle. Furthermore, A. muciniphila supplementation reduced gene expression related to fatty acid synthesis and transport in liver and muscle; meanwhile, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in liver and muscle was also alleviated by A. muciniphila. More importantly, A. muciniphila supplementation reduced chronic low-grade inflammation, as reflected by decreased plasma levels of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-binding protein (LBP) and leptin, as well as inactivated LPS/LBP downstream signaling (e.g. decreased phospho-JNK and increased IKBA expression) in liver and muscle. Moreover, metabolomics profiling in plasma also revealed an increase in anti-inflammatory factors such as α-tocopherol, β-sitosterol and a decrease of representative amino acids. In summary, our study demonstrated that A. muciniphila supplementation relieved metabolic inflammation, providing underlying mechanisms for the interaction of A. muciniphila and host health, pointing to possibilities for metabolic benefits using specific probiotics supplementation in metabolic healthy individuals.