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Free access

Zodwa Dlamini, Fortunate Mokoena and Rodney Hull

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a non-communicable, metabolic disorder that affects 416 million individuals worldwide. Type 2 diabetes contributes to a vast 85–90% of the diabetes incidences while 10–15% of patients suffer from type 1 diabetes. These two predominant forms of DM cause a significant loss of functional pancreatic β-cell mass causing different degrees of insulin deficiency, most likely, due to increased β-cell apoptosis. Treatment options involve the use of insulin sensitisers, α-glucosidase inhibitors, and β-cell secretagogues which are often expensive, limited in efficacy and carry detrimental adverse effects. Cost-effective options for treatment exists in the form of herbal drugs, however, scientific validations of these widely used medicinal plants are still underway. Alternative splicing (AS) is a co-ordinated post-transcriptional process in which a single gene generates multiple mRNA transcripts which results in increased amounts of functionally different protein isoforms and in some cases aberrant splicing leads to metabolic disease. In this review, we explore the association of AS with metabolic alterations in DM and the biological significance of the abnormal splicing of some pathogenic diabetes-related genes. An understanding of the molecular mechanism behind abnormally spliced transcripts will aid in the development of new diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic tools.

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Ilaria Cimmino, Francesco Oriente, Vittoria D’Esposito, Domenico Liguoro, Pasquale Liguoro, Maria Rosaria Ambrosio, Serena Cabaro, Francesco D’Andrea, Francesco Beguinot, Pietro Formisano and Rossella Valentino

The dramatic rise in obesity and metabolic syndrome can be related, at least in part, to environmental chemical factors such as Bisphenol-A (BPA). In this study, we aimed to understand the effects of low-dose Bisphenol-A on the human mature adipocytes and stromal vascular fraction (SVF) cells, obtained from subcutaneous mammary adipose tissue of overweight female patients, undergoing surgical mammary reduction. 24 and/or 48-h exposure to BPA 0.1 nM elicited significant increase of the inflammatory molecules interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-8 (IL-8), monocyte chemo-attractant protein 1α (MCP1α) and induced G protein-coupled estrogen receptor 30 (GPR30) levels more than two-fold both in mature adipocytes and SVF cells. These effects were similar to that obtained in the presence of GPR30-specific agonist G1 (100 nM) and were reverted by G15 (1 µM), a GPR30-selective antagonist. As a result of BPA-GPR30 signaling activation, fatty acid synthase (FAS) and leptin mRNA levels were significantly higher upon BPA exposure (P < 0.05) in mature adipocytes, with an opposite effect on adiponectin (ADIPOQ). In addition, an increase in SVF cell proliferation and ERK1/2 phosphorylation, was observed, compared to untreated cells. G15 reverted all of these effects. Interestingly, the action of BPA on SVF cell growth was mimicked by IL-8 treatment and was reverted by incubation with anti-IL8 antibodies. All these data suggest that BPA at 0.1 nM, a ten times lower concentration than environmental exposure, increases the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines via GPR30 both in mature mammary adipocytes and in SVF cells with a possible involvement of IL-8.

Free access

Amanda M Ackermann and Maureen Gannon

Pancreatic β-cells are responsible for producing all of the insulin required by an organism to maintain glucose homeostasis. Defects in development, maintenance, or expansion of β-cell mass can result in impaired glucose metabolism and diabetes. Thus, identifying the molecular regulators of these processes may provide new therapeutic targets for diabetes. Additionally, understanding the processes of β-cell differentiation and proliferation may allow for in vitro cultivation of β-cells in sufficient amounts to be transplanted into patients with diabetes. This review addresses many of the transcription factors and signaling pathways that play a role in early pancreatic development and endocrine cell (specifically β-cell) differentiation, conditions that influence β-cell mass development and molecular regulators of β-cell proliferation and apoptosis that are responsible for maintaining and expanding β-cell mass.

Free access

Paola Moreno, Bernardo Nuche-Berenguer, Irene Gutiérrez-Rojas, Alicia Acitores, Verónica Sancho, Isabel Valverde, Nieves González and María L Villanueva-Peñacarrillo

Exendin-4 (Ex-4) mimics glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1 or GCG as listed in the HUGO database), being anti-diabetic and anorectic, in stimulating glucose and lipid metabolism in extrapancreatic tissues. We studied the characteristics of Ex-4 and GLP-1 action, during prolonged treatment, on GLUTs expression (mRNA and protein), glycogen content (GC), glucose transport (GT), glycogen synthase a (GSa), and kinase (PI3K and MAPKs) activity, in liver, muscle, and fat of insulin-resistant (IR, by fructose) and type 2 diabetic (T2D, streptozotocin at birth) rats compared with normal rats. In both IR and T2D, the three tissues studied presented alterations in all measured parameters. In liver, GLP-1 and also Ex-4 normalized the lower than normal Glut2 (Slc2a2) expression and showed a trend to normalize the reduced GC in IR, and GLP-1, like Ex-4, also in T2D, effects mediated by PI3K and MAPKs. In skeletal muscle, neither GLP-1 nor Ex-4 modified Glut4 (Slc2a4) expression in either experimental model but showed normalization of reduced GT and GSa, in parallel with the normalization of reduced PI3K activity in T2D and MAPKs in both models. In adipose tissue, the altered GLUT4 expression in IR and T2D, along with reduced GT in IR and increased GT in T2D, and with hyperactivated PI3K in both, became normal after GLP-1 and Ex-4 treatment; yet, MAPKs, that were also higher, became normal only after Ex-4 treatment. The data shows that Ex-4, as well as GLP-1, exerts a normalizing effect on IR and T2D states through a distinct post-receptor mechanism, the liver being the main target for Ex-4 and GLP-1 to control glucose homeostasis.

Free access

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.

Free access

Yang Mi, Na Guo, Tongqiang He, Jing Ji, Zhibin Li and Pu Huang

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition commonly encountered during mid to late pregnancy with pathologic manifestations including hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance, and fetal mal-development. The deficit and dysfunction of insulin secreting β-cells are signature symptoms for GDM. Pancreatic progenitors derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) were shown to be able to effectively treat diabetes in mice. In this study, we first identified that microRNA-410 (miR-410) directly targets lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA), a gene selectively repressed in normal insulin secreting β-cells. hESCs that can be induced to express miR-410 hence keeping LDHA levels in check were then differentiated in vitro into pancreatic endoderm, followed by transplantation into db/ + mouse model of GDM. The transplant greatly improved glucose metabolism and reproductive outcome of the pregnant females suffering from GDM. Our findings describe for the first time the method of combining miRNA with hESCs, providing proof of concept by employing genetically modified stem cell therapy for treating GDM.

Free access

Andrea Armani, Vincenzo Marzolla, Andrea Fabbri and Massimiliano Caprio

In addition to the well-documented expression and activity of the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) in the kidney, in the last decade research on MR has also revealed its important role in regulating functions of extrarenal tissues, including adipose tissue, where MR is involved in adipocyte fundamental processes such as differentiation, autophagy and adipokine secretion. MR expression is increased in adipose tissue of murine models of obesity and in obese human subjects, suggesting that over-activation of the mineralocorticoid signaling leads to dysfunctional adipocyte and associated metabolic disorders. Notably, pharmacological blockade of MR prevents metabolic dysfunctions observed in obese mice and suggests a potential therapeutic use of MR antagonists in the treatment of obesity and metabolic syndrome. However, the molecular pathways affected by MR blockade have been poorly investigated. This review summarizes the functions of MR in the adipocyte, discusses potential signaling pathways mediating MR action, and describes post-translational modifications regulating its activity.

Free access

MJ Haas, D Reinacher, JP Li, NC Wong and AD Mooradian

Serum apolipoprotein A(1) (apoA(1)) concentration is inversely correlated with the risk of premature atherosclerosis. Serum apoA(1) concentrations are regulated, in part, at the transcriptional level. ApoA(1) mRNA is synthesized primarily in the liver and small intestine, under the direction of a number of signaling molecules and tissue-specific regulatory elements. Previously, we demonstrated that extracellular acidosis suppresses apoA(1) mRNA levels at the level of transcription. Here we demonstrate that intracellular acidosis, in the absence of extracellular pH changes, represses apoA(1) promoter activity. Repression occurs through a pH responsive element (pH-RE) located within the apoA(1) gene promoter. Acidosis increases the specific DNA binding activity of a putative repressor protein within the immediate 5'-flanking region of the apoA(1) gene. The cis-element that binds the putative repressor protein contains a negative thyroid hormone response element (nTRE) located 3' and adjacent to the apoA(1) TATA box. Mutation of the nTRE/pH-RE abrogates protein binding and alters the activity of reporter genes controlled by this element. Repression by acidosis did not require de novo mRNA and protein synthesis. Inhibition of tyrosine kinase activity and diacylglycerol-stimulated protein kinase C (PKC) signaling pathways with tyrophostin A47 and phorbol myristate acetate, respectively, did not affect the repression of apoA(1) promoter activity with acidosis. These results suggest that transcriptional repression of the apoA(1) gene by alterations in ambient pH is associated with enhanced DNA binding activity of a repressor protein, through a mechanism which appears to be independent of de novo mRNA and protein synthesis, tyrosine kinase activity, or PKC activation.

Free access

Christopher E Wall, Ruth T Yu, Anne R Atkins, Michael Downes and Ronald M Evans

Endurance exercise can lead to systemic improvements in insulin sensitivity and metabolic homeostasis, and is an effective approach to combat metabolic diseases. Pharmacological compounds that recapitulate the beneficial effects of exercise, also known as ‘exercise mimetics’, have the potential to improve disease symptoms of metabolic syndrome. These drugs, which can increase energy expenditure, suppress hepatic gluconeogenesis, and induce insulin sensitization, have accordingly been highly scrutinized for their utility in treating metabolic diseases including diabetes. Nevertheless, the identity of an efficacious exercise mimetic still remains elusive. In this review, we highlight several nuclear receptors and cofactors that are putative molecular targets for exercise mimetics, and review recent studies that provide advancements in our mechanistic understanding of how exercise mimetics exert their beneficial effects. We also discuss evidence from clinical trials using these compounds in human subjects to evaluate their efficacy in treating diabetes.

Free access

James E P Brown, David J Onyango, Manjunath Ramanjaneya, Alex C Conner, Snehal T Patel, Simon J Dunmore and Harpal S Randeva

The role of the adipocyte-derived factor visfatin in metabolism remains controversial, although some pancreatic β-cell-specific effects have been reported. This study investigated the effects of visfatin upon insulin secretion, insulin receptor activation and mRNA expression of key diabetes-related genes in clonal mouse pancreatic β-cells. β-TC6 cells were cultured in RPMI 1640 and were subsequently treated with recombinant visfatin. One-hour static insulin secretion was measured by ELISA. Phospho-specific ELISA and western blotting were used to detect insulin receptor activation. Real-time SYBR Green PCR array technology was used to measure the expression of 84 diabetes-related genes in both treatment and control cells. Incubation with visfatin caused significant changes in the mRNA expression of several key diabetes-related genes, including marked up-regulation of insulin (9-fold increase), hepatocyte nuclear factor (HNF)1β (32-fold increase), HNF4α (16-fold increase) and nuclear factor κB (40-fold increase). Significant down-regulation was seen in angiotensin-converting enzyme (−3.73-fold) and UCP2 (−1.3-fold). Visfatin also caused a significant 46% increase in insulin secretion compared to control (P<0.003) at low glucose, and this increase was blocked by co-incubation with the specific nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase inhibitor FK866. Both visfatin and nicotinamide mononucleotide induced activation of both insulin receptor and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2, with visfatin-induced insulin receptor/ERK1/2 activation being inhibited by FK866. We conclude that visfatin can significantly regulate insulin secretion, insulin receptor phosphorylation and intracellular signalling and the expression of a number of β-cell function-associated genes in mouse β-cells.