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Xun Cao, Xiao Zhou, Xiao-Min Liu, and Li-Hong Zhou

Liraglutide, a human glucagon-like peptide (GLP1) analog that partially inhibits dipeptidyl-peptidase 4 (DPP4), can decrease glucose levels and suppress appetite in patients with type 2 diabetes (T2DM). GLP1 and its receptor (GLP1R) also exist in the taste buds of rodents and regulate taste sensitivity. DPP4, a protease, functions in homeostasis of blood glucose, lipids, and body weight. Interactions among GLP1, GLP1R, and DPP4 likely affect taste and food-intake behavior. The aim of the present study was to investigate DPP4 expression in the taste buds of the circumvallate papillae (CV) in T2DM rats, and determine the effects of liraglutide treatment. Rats were divided into diabetic control (T2DM-C), normal control (NC), and liraglutide-treated diabetic (T2DM+LIR) groups. DPP4 localization and gene expression levels were evaluated by immunohistochemistry and quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR), respectively. DPP4 immunoreactive cells were localized in the taste buds of the rat CV. RT-qPCR showed significantly higher expression of Dpp4 mRNA in both the taste buds and hypothalamus of T2DM-C rats compared with NC rats. However, in the T2DM+LIR group, Dpp4 expression differed between the taste buds and hypothalamus, with significantly higher and lower levels compared with the T2DM-C group, respectively. Dpp4 mRNA expression is increased in the taste buds of the CV of T2DM rats. Liraglutide simultaneously upregulated (taste buds) and downregulated (hypothalamus) Dpp4 expression in T2DM rats. Therefore, DPP4 may be closely associated with the anorexigenic signaling and weight loss induced by the treatment of liraglutide in type 2 diabetic patients.

Free access

Chunyi Li, Yan Li, Yinghui Li, Hong Liu, Zhijun Sun, Jingyu Lu, and Yanyan Zhao

With-no-lysine (K) kinase-4 (WNK4) is a serine/threonine kinase that plays an essential role in the regulation of fluid and electrolyte homeostasis. The effects of glucocorticoids, key physiological regulators, on the WNK4 gene expression are still unknown. Here, we used dexamethasone (Dex) to treat the human embryo kidney 293 (HEK293) cells and found a decrease of human WNK4 (hWNK4) mRNA level by northern blot and real-time quantitative PCR. After an hWNK4 transcriptional initiation site was located by 5′ rapid amplification of cDNA end assay, a series of 5′-deleted hWNK4 promoter–luciferase constructs were generated by PCR. Transfection of these constructs in COS-7 and HEK293 cells revealed that Dex inhibited the hWNK4 transcriptional activity in glucocorticoid receptor (GR)-dependent pattern. Two negative glucocorticoid response elements (nGREs) were identified at −285 and −337 of the hWNK4 gene promoter and the GR binding activity to them was increased by Dex as shown by electrophoretic mobility shift assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation. In summary, these data demonstrated that hWNK4 was a new glucocorticoid-regulated gene whose expression was inhibited through the interaction of GR with nGREs in the promoter region.

Open access

Hong Chen, Weiyu Li, Suping Zhang, Yunteng Sun, Yiping Shen, and Ruimin Chen

Pathogenic variants in the transcription factor CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) are associated with mental retardation, autosomal dominant 21 (MRD21, MIM#615502). Current studies supported the strong relationship between CTCF variants and growth, yet the mechanism of CTCF mutation leading to short stature is not known. Clinical information, treatment regimens, and follow-up outcomes of a patient with MRD21 were collected. The possible pathogenic mechanisms of CTCF variants leading to short stature were investigated using immortalized lymphocyte cell lines (LCLs), HEK-293T, and immortalized normal human liver cell lines (LO2). This patient received long-term treatment with recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) which resulted in an increased height of 1.0 SDS. She had low serum insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) before the treatment and the IGF1 level was not significantly increased during the treatment (−1.38 ± 0.61 SDS). The finding suggested that the CTCF R567W variant could have impaired IGF1 production pathway. We further demonstrated that the mutant CTCF had a reduced ability to bind to the promoter region of IGF1, consequently significantly reducing the transcriptional activation and expression of IGF1. Our novel results demonstrated a direct positive regulation of CTCF on the transcription of the IGF1 promoter. The impaired IGF1 expression due to CTCF mutation may explain the substandard effect of rhGH treatment on MRD21 patients. This study provided novel insights into the molecular basis of CTCF-associated disorder.

Free access

Hong Zhu, Wei Cao, Peng Zhao, Jieyu Wang, Yuying Qian, and Yun Li

The excessive activation of renin-angiotensin system (RAS) is one of key pathophysiological characteristics in the development of cardiac remodelling. Angiotensin (Ang) II, as a main active peptide in RAS, induces cardiac structural disorders and dysfunction. However, the molecular mechanisms are still not fully disclosed. Present study aimed to determine the role and potential mechanisms of cardiac TIR-domain-containing adapter-inducing interferon-β (TRIF) in Ang-II-mediated cardiac remodelling in mice. In vitro and in vivo studies showed Ang II and downstream aldosterone obviously increased the expression of TRIF, accompanied with cardiac structural abnormalities and functional injuries. Specific blockage of cardiac TRIF effectively decreased Ang-II/aldosterone-induced cardiac inflammation, fibrosis, hypertrophy and dysfunction in mice. Mechanistically, the TRIF triggered the activation of EGF receptor (EGFR) signalling by nuclear factor (NF)-κB transcriptional regulation and downstream EGFR ligands. Taken together, present study supported that cardiac TRIF was a potential therapeutic target for attenuating cardiac pathophysiological remodelling. The TRIF/EGFR axis partially explained the molecular mechanism of Ang-II/aldosterone-induced cardiac inflammation, fibrosis, hypertrophy and dysfunction in mice.

Free access

Xueyao Yin, Fenping Zheng, Qianqian Pan, Saifei Zhang, Dan Yu, Zhiye Xu, and Hong Li

Oxidative stress is considered to be an important factor in producing lethal hepatocyte injury associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Glucose fluctuation, more pronounced in patients with diabetes, has been recognized as an even stronger oxidative stress inducer than the sustained hyperglycemia. Here, we investigated the role of glucose variability in the development of the NAFLD based on hepatocyte apoptosis and possible mechanisms. To achieve this goal we studied C57BL/6J mice that were maintained on a high fat diet (HFD) and injected with glucose (3 g/kg) twice daily to induce intermittent high glucose (IHG). We also studied hepatic L02 cells incubated with palmitic acid (PA) to induce steatosis. The following experimental groups were compared: normal glucose (NG), sustained high glucose (SHG) and IHG with or without PA. We found that, although hepatic enzyme levels and liver lipid deposition were comparable between HFD mice injected with glucose or saline, the glucose injected mice displayed marked hepatocyte apoptosis and inflammation, accompanied by increased lipid peroxide in liver. In vitro, in the presence of PA, IHG increased L02 cell apoptosis and oxidative stress and produced pronounced mitochondrial dysfunction relative to the NG and SHG groups. Furthermore, treatment with the mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT) inhibitor, cyclosporin A (1.5 μmol/l), prevented mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and hepatocyte apoptosis. Our data suggests that IHG under lipotoxicity might contribute to the development of NAFLD by increasing oxidative stress and hepatocyte apoptosis via MPT and its related mitochondrial dysfunction.

Free access

Yueting Dong, Zhiye Xu, Ziyi Zhang, Xueyao Yin, Xihua Lin, Hong Li, and Fenping Zheng

Liver X receptors (LXR) are deemed as potential drug targets for atherosclerosis, whereas a role in adipose tissue expansion and its relation to insulin sensitivity remains unclear. To assess the metabolic effects of LXR activation by the dual LXRα/β agonist T0901317, C57BL/6 mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) were treated with T0901317 (30 mg/kg once daily by intraperitoneal injection) for 3 weeks. Differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes were used for analysing the effect of T0901317 on glucose uptake. The following results were obtained from this study. T0901317 reduced fat mass, accompanied by a massive fatty liver and lower serum adipokine levels in HFD mice. Increased adipocyte apoptosis was found in epididymal fat of T0901317-treated HFD mice. In addition, T0901317 treatment promoted basal lipolysis, but blunted the anti-lipolytic action of insulin. Furthermore, LXR activation antagonised PPARγ target genes in epididymal fat and PPARγ-PPRE-binding activity in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Although the glucose tolerance was comparable to that in HFD mice, the insulin response during IPGTT was significantly higher and the insulin tolerance was significantly impaired in T0901317-treated HFD mice, indicating decreased insulin sensitivity by T0901317 administration, and which was further supported by impaired insulin signalling found in epididymal fat and decreased insulin-induced glucose uptake in 3T3-L1 adipocytes by T0901317 administration. In conclusion, these findings reveal that LXR activation impairs adipose expansion by increasing adipocyte apoptosis, lipolysis and antagonising PPARγ-mediated transcriptional activity, which contributes to decreased insulin sensitivity in whole body. The potential of LXR activation being a therapeutic target for atherosclerosis might be limited by the possibility of exacerbating insulin resistance.

Free access

Hong Zhou, Yonghua Jiang, Wendy K W Ko, Wensheng Li, and Anderson O L Wong

Growth hormone (GH) is known to stimulate luteinizing hormone (LH) release via paracrine interactions between somatotrophs and gonadotrophs. However, it is unclear if LH can exert a reciprocal effect to modulate somatotroph functions. Here we examined the paracrine effects of LH on GH gene expression using grass carp pituitary cells as a cell model. LH receptors were identified in grass carp somatotrophs and their activation by human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) increased ‘steady-state’ GH mRNA levels. Removal of endogenous LH by immunoneutralization using LH antiserum inhibited GH release and GH mRNA expression. GH secretagogues, including gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH), pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) and apomorphine, were effective in elevating GH mRNA levels but these stimulatory actions were blocked by LH antiserum. In pituitary cells pretreated with actinomycin D, the half-life of GH mRNA was not affected by hCG but was enhanced by LH immunoneutralization. Treatment with LH antiserum also suppressed basal levels of mature GH mRNA and primary transcripts. hCG increased cAMP synthesis in carp pituitary cells and hCG-induced GH mRNA expression was mimicked by forskolin but suppressed by inhibiting adenylate cyclase and protein kinase A. Similarly, the stimulatory actions of hCG and forskolin on GH mRNA expression were blocked by inhibiting Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) and MAP kinase (MAPK), including P42/44MAPK and P38 MAPK. These results suggest that LH is essential for the maintenance of GH release, GH gene expression, and somatotroph responsiveness to GH-releasing factors. The paracrine actions of LH on GH mRNA expression are mediated by a concurrent increase in GH gene transcription and GH mRNA turnover, probably through JAK2/MAPK coupled to the cAMP-dependent pathway.

Free access

Ting-Ting Zhou, Fei Ma, Xiao-Fan Shi, Xin Xu, Te Du, Xiao-Dan Guo, Gai-Hong Wang, Liang Yu, Vatcharin Rukachaisirikul, Li-Hong Hu, Jing Chen, and Xu Shen

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a chronic metabolic disease with complicated pathogenesis and targeting gluconeogenesis inhibition is a promising strategy for anti-diabetic drug discovery. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are classified as distinct families by heterotrimeric G proteins, primarily including Gαs, Gαi and Gαq. Gαs-coupled GPCRs function potently in the regulation of hepatic gluconeogenesis by activating cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)/protein kinase A (PKA) pathway and Gαi-coupled GPCRs exhibit inhibitory effect on adenylyl cyclase and reduce intracellular cAMP level. However, little is known about the regulation of Gαq-coupled GPCRs in hepatic gluconeogenesis. Here, small-molecule 2-(2,4-dimethoxy-3-methylphenyl)-7-(thiophen-2-yl)-9-(trifluoromethyl)-2,3-dihydropyrido[3′,2′:4,5]thieno[3,2-d]pyrimidin-4(1H)-one (DMT) was determined to suppress hepatic glucose production and reduce mRNA levels of gluconeogenic genes. Treatment of DMT in db/db mice decreased fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) levels, while improved glucose tolerance and pyruvate tolerance. Mechanism study demonstrated that DMT-inhibited gluconeogenesis by regulating the Gαq/phospholipase C (PLC)/inositol-1,4,5-triphosphate receptor (IP3R)-mediated calcium (Ca2+)/calmodulin (CaM)/phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (AKT)/forkhead box protein O1 (FOXO1) signaling pathway. To our knowledge, DMT might be the first reported small molecule able to suppress hepatic gluconeogenesis by regulating Gαq signaling, and our current work has also highlighted the potential of DMT in the treatment of T2DM.

Free access

Ying Chen, Hua Ni, Xing-Hong Ma, Shi-Jun Hu, Li-Ming Luan, Gang Ren, Yue-Chao Zhao, Shi-Jie Li, Hong-Lu Diao, Xiu Xu, Zhen-Ao Zhao, and Zeng-Ming Yang

Although implantation types differ between species, the interaction between blastocyst trophectoderm and apical surface of the uterine epithelium is a common event during the implantation process. In this study, uterine luminal epithelium at implantation and inter-implantation sites was isolated by enzymatic digestion and used for microarray analysis. In a mouse microarray containing 12 345 unigenes, we found 136 genes upregulated more than twofold at the implantation site, while 223 genes were downregulated by at least twofold. Reverse transcription-PCR was used to verify the differential expression of seven upregulated and six downregulated genes chosen randomly from our microarray analysis, and the expression trends were similar. The differential expression patterns of eight upregulated genes were verified by in situ hybridization. Compared with the inter-implantation site on day 5 of pregnancy and the uterus on day 5 of pseudopregnancy, protease, serine, 12 neurotrypsin, endothelin-1, γ-glutamyl hydrolase, Ras homolog gene family, member U, T-cell immunoglobulin, and mucin domain containing 2, proline–serine–threonine phosphatase-interacting protein 2, 3-monooxgenase/tryptophan 5-monooxgenase activation protein, γ-polypeptide, and cysteine-rich protein 61 (Cyr61) were upregulated in the luminal epithelium at implantation site on day 5 of pregnancy. These genes may be related to embryo apposition and adhesion during embryo implantation. Cyr61, a gene upregulated at the implantation site, was chosen to examine its expression and regulation during the periimplantation period by in situ hybridization. Cyr61 mRNA was specifically localized in the luminal epithelium surrounding the implanting blastocyst at day 4 midnight and on day 5 of pregnancy, and in the activated uterus, but not expressed in inter-implantation sites and under delayed implantation, suggesting a role for Cyr61 in mediating embryonic–uterine dialog during embryo attachment. Our data could be a valuable source for future study on embryo implantation.

Free access

Hui Juan Zhu, Hui Pan, Xu Zhe Zhang, Nai Shi Li, Lin Jie Wang, Hong Bo Yang, and Feng Ying Gong

Myostatin is a critical negative regulator of skeletal muscle development, and has been reported to be involved in the progression of obesity and diabetes. In the present study, we explored the effects of myostatin on the proliferation and differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes by using 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl] 2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide spectrophotometry, intracellular triglyceride (TG) assays, and real-time quantitative RT-PCR methods. The results indicated that recombinant myostatin significantly promoted the proliferation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes and the expression of proliferation-related genes, including Cyclin B2, Cyclin D 1, Cyclin E1, Pcna, and c-Myc, and IGF1 levels in the medium of 3T3-L1 were notably upregulated by 35.2, 30.5, 20.5, 33.4, 51.2, and 179% respectively (all P<0.01) in myostatin-treated 3T3-L1 cells. Meanwhile, the intracellular lipid content of myostatin-treated cells was notably reduced as compared with the non-treated cells. Additionally, the mRNA levels of Ppar γ, Cebp α, Gpdh, Dgat, Acs1, Atgl, and Hsl were significantly downregulated by 22–76% in fully differentiated myostatin-treated adipocytes. Finally, myostatin regulated the mRNA levels and secretion of adipokines, including Adiponectin, Resistin, Visfatin, and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) in 3T3-L1 adipocytes (all P<0.001). Above all, myostatin promoted 3T3-L1 proliferation by increasing the expression of cell-proliferation-related genes and by stimulating IGF1 secretion. Myostatin inhibited 3T3-L1 adipocyte differentiation by suppressing Ppar γ and Cebp α expression, which consequently deceased lipid accumulation in 3T3-L1 cells by inhibiting the expression of critical lipogenic enzymes and by promoting the expression of lipolytic enzymes. Finally, myostatin modulated the expression and secretion of adipokines in fully differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes.