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Xiao-Qiu Wang, Jing Yu, Xue-Zhen Luo, Ying-Li Shi, Yun Wang, Ling Wang, and Da-Jin Li

RANTES (C–C chemokine, regulated on activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted) is involved in progression of endometriosis, but the precise mechanism is understood inadequately. This study is to elucidate the roles of RANTES in macrophage recruitment and tolerance in the endometriotic milieu. The expression of RANTES was analyzed by immunohistochemistry. The cell co-cultures were applied to simulate the endometriotic milieu to investigate the regulation of RANTES secretion and its receptor CCR1 expression. Transwell migration assay was used for chemotaxis of U937 cells (macrophage line) to endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) and/or human pelvic mesothelial cells. The expression of CCR1 was analyzed by RT-PCR and qPCR in transcription and by western blot in translation respectively. Concentrations of RANTES, IL10, and IL12p70 were determined by ELISA. The phenotype of U937 cells and apoptosis of ESCs were analyzed by flow cytometry. We have found that the expression of RANTES is significantly higher in the endometriotic tissue and eutopic endometrium than that of the normal endometrium without endometriosis. The combination of 17β-estradiol and dioxin 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin increases significantly RANTES secretion in the endometriosis-associated cell co-culture which can recruit more macrophages, upregulate CCR1 expression, and induce tolerant phenotype, which inhibits the apoptosis of ESC in the milieu. In conclusion, the higher levels of RANTES in the ectopic milieu facilitate the onset and progression of endometriosis by macrophage recruitment and tolerance that in turn inhibits apoptosis and enhances growth of ESC.

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Jie Wang, Yuchao Zhang, Qi Shen, Jing Wu, and Jian-Xin Li

Obesity is a chronic disease that increases the risk of type II diabetes, heart diseases and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Unfortunately, to date, only a handful of drugs are approved for clinical use. This study aims at the discovery of anti-obesity agents based on naturally sourced oleanolic acid (OA) derivatives. 3T3-L1 preadipocytes were differentiated into mature adipocytes for in vitro assays, and a high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity mice model was established for in vivo studies. The screening of the OA derivatives was performed with 3T3-L1 cell, and resulted in a discovery of a novel compound HA-20 with a potent inhibitory activity on 3T3-L1 adipogenesis. In vitro data demonstrated that HA-20 markedly suppressed the adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 at the early stage without cytotoxicity. In vivo research using HFD mice revealed that HA-20 lowered the body weight, and possessed a lipid-lowering effect. Transcriptome analysis discovered that the mainly adipogenesis/lipogenesis genes regulated by HA-20 were Pparg, Cebpa, Fas, Acc, and Fabp4/aP2. Mechanism study revealed that HA-20 played its bioactive roles at least via downregulating PPARγ-FABP4/aP2 pathway in 3T3-L1, which was further confirmed in HFD-induced obesity mice. Our findings provided a new insight into fighting fat accumulation based on OA derivatives, and demonstrated that HA-20 may sever as a worthy leading compound for the further development of anti-obesity agents.

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Qi Zhang, Jing Liu, Jia Liu, Wenhui Huang, Limin Tian, Jinxing Quan, Yunfang Wang, and Ruilan Niu

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is associated with hepatic microangiopathy and liver inflammation caused by type 2 diabetes mellitus. Oxidised LDL (oxLDL) is involved in proinflammatory and cytotoxic events in various microcirculatory systems. The lectin-like oxLDL receptor 1 (LOX1) plays a crucial role in oxLDL-induced pathological transformation. However, the underlying mechanism of oxLDL's effects on liver microcirculation disturbances remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the effects of oxLDL on LOX1 (OLR1) expression and function, as well as on the fenestration features of human liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (HLSECs) in vitro. Primary HLSECs were obtained and cultured. The cells were treated with various concentrations of oxLDL (25, 50, 100 and 200 μg/ml), and the cytotoxicity and expression of LOX1 were examined. Furthermore, LOX1 knockdown was performed using siRNA technology, and the changes in intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), NFκB, p65, (p65), endothelin 1 (ET1 (EDN1)), eNOS (NOS3) and caveolin 1 (CAV1) levels were measured. Cells were treated with 100 μg/ml oxLDL, and the fenestra morphology was visualised using scanning electron microscopy. oxLDL significantly increased LOX1 expression at both the mRNA and protein levels in HLSECs in a dose- and time-dependent manner. oxLDL stimulation increased ROS generation and NFκB activation, upregulated ET1 and caveolin 1 expression, downregulated eNOS expression and reduced the fenestra diameter and porosity. All of these oxLDL-mediated effects were inhibited after LOX1 knockdown. These results reveal a mechanism by which oxLDL stimulates the production of LOX1 through the ROS/NFκB signalling pathway and by which LOX1 mediates oxLDL-induced endothelial injury and the defenestration of HLSECs.

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Xinxin Xiang, Wenjiao An, Changtao Jiang, Jing Zhao, Xian Wang, Guang Sun, Yin Li, and Weizhen Zhang

Resistin is an adipocytokine leading to insulin resistance. Endotoxin/lipopolysaccharide (LPS) has been reported to decrease the expression of resistin mRNA and protein in both lean and db/db obese mice, although the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Several models such as ex vivo culture of adipose tissues, primary rat adipocytes and 3T3-L1 adipocytes were used to further characterize the effect of LPS on the expression of resistin. LPS attenuated both the resistin mRNA and protein in a time- and dose-dependent manner. In the presence of actinomycin D, LPS failed to reduce the half-life of resistin mRNA, suggesting a transcriptional mechanism. The lipid A fraction is crucial for the inhibition of resistin expression induced by LPS. Pharmacological intervention of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) reversed the inhibitory effect of LPS. LPS down-regulated CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein α (C/EBP-α; CEBPA) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPAR-γ; PPARG), while activation of C/EBP-α or PPAR-γ by either over-expressing these transcriptional factors or by rosiglitazone, an agonist of PPAR-γ, blocked the inhibitory effect of LPS on resistin. C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP-10; DDIT3) was up-regulated by LPS, while a CHOP-10 antisense oligonucleotide reversed the decrement of resistin protein induced by LPS. Taken together, these results suggest that LPS inhibits resistin expression through a unique signaling pathway involving toll-like receptor 4, JNK, CHOP-10 and C/EBP-α/PPAR-γ.

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Yue Wang, Xiu Long Niu, Xiao Qin Guo, Jing Yang, Ling Li, Ye Qu, Cun Xiu Hu, Li Qun Mao, and Dan Wang

About 40–60% of ovarian cancer (OVCA) cases express ERα, but only a small proportion of patients respond clinically to anti-estrogen treatment with estrogen receptor (ER) antagonist tamoxifen (TAM). The mechanism of TAM resistance in the course of OVCA progression remains unclear. However, IL6 plays a critical role in the development and progression of OVCA. Our recent results indicated that IL6 secreted by OVCA cells may promote the resistance of these cells to TAM via ER isoforms and steroid hormone receptor coactivator-1. Here we demonstrate that both exogenous (a relatively short period of treatment with recombinant IL6) and endogenous IL6 (generated as a result of transfection with a plasmid encoding sense IL6) increases expression of pERα-Ser118 and pERα-Ser167 in non-IL6-expressing A2780 cells, while deleting endogenous IL6 expression in IL6-overexpressing CAOV-3 cells (by transfection with a plasmid encoding antisense IL6) reduces expression of pERα-Ser118 and pERα-Ser167, indicating that IL6-induced TAM resistance may also be associated with increased expression of pERα-Ser118 and pERα-Ser167 in OVCA cells. Results of further investigation indicate that IL6 phosphorylates ERα at Ser118 and Ser167 by triggering activation of MEK/ERK and phosphotidylinositol 3 kinase/Akt signaling, respectively, to activate the ER pathway and thereby induce OVCA cells resistance to TAM. These results indicate that IL6 secreted by OVCA cells may also contribute to the refractoriness of these cells to TAM via the crosstalk between ER and IL6-mediated intracellular signal transduction cascades. Overexpression of IL6 not only plays an important role in OVCA progression but also promotes TAM resistance. Our results indicate that TAM-IL6-targeted adjunctive therapy may lead to a more effective intervention than TAM alone.

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Beibei Wu, Ruojun Qiu, Shuo Wang, Yingzi He, Jing Wang, Zhiye Xu, Xihua Lin, Hong Li, and Fenping Zheng

Liver transthyretin (TTR) synthesis and release are exacerbated in insulin-resistant states but are decreased by exercise training, in relation to the insulin-sensitizing effects of exercise. We hypothesized that TTR knockdown (TTR-KD) may mimic this exercise-induced metabolic improvement and skeletal muscle remodeling. Adeno-associated virus-mediated TTR-KD and control mice were trained for 8 weeks on treadmills. Their metabolism status and exercise capacity were investigated and then compared with sedentary controls. After treadmill training, the mice showed improved glucose and insulin tolerance, hepatic steatosis, and exercise endurance. Sedentary TTR-KD mice displayed metabolic improvements comparable to the improvements in trained mice. Both exercise training and TTR-KD promoted the oxidative myofiber compositions of MyHC I and MyHC IIa in the quadriceps and gastrocnemius skeletal muscles. Furthermore, training and TTR-KD had an additive effect on running performance, accompanied by substantial increases in oxidative myofiber composition, Ca2+-dependent Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) activity, and the downstream expression of PGC1α as well as the unfolded protein response (UPR) segment of PERK-p-eIF2a pathway activity. Consistent with these findings, electrical pulse stimulation of an in vitro model of chronic exercise (with differentiated C2C12 myoblasts) showed that exogenous TTR protein was internalized and localized in the endoplasmic reticulum, where it disrupted Ca2+ dynamics; this led to decreases in intracellular Ca2+ concentration and downstream pathway activity. TTR-KD may function as an exercise/Ca2+-dependent CaMKII-PGC1α-UPR regulator that upregulates the oxidative myofiber composition of fast-type muscles; it appears to mimic the effect of exercise training on insulin sensitivity-related metabolic improvement and endurance capacity.

Free access

Bo Li, Yue Zhou, Jing Chen, Tingting Wang, Zhijuan Li, Yili Fu, Aixia Zhai, and Changlong Bi

Diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) is a chronic and non-healing complication of diabetes that leads to high hospital costs and, in extreme cases, to amputation. Recent studies have reported that long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are linked to various diabetes-related symptoms. Thus, we aim to explore the role of lncRNA H19 in the wound healing process following DFU. Fibroblasts were isolated from the ulcer margin tissues of DFU patients, with the expression of lncRNA H19, connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) or serum response factor (SRF) altered by lentivirus infection. Next, rat models of DFU induced by high glucose and lipid diet were established, which was also infected with the corresponding lentivirus. The interaction among lncRNA H19, SRF and CTGF was determined. Afterward, cell proliferation and apoptosis, angiogenesis, ECM remodeling and wound healing in DFU tissues were evaluated to explore the effects of lncRNA H19/SRF/CTGF and MAPK signaling pathway on DFU. CTGF was poorly expressed in ulcer tissues from DFU rats and patients. CTGF overexpression was shown to activate the MAPK signaling pathway to promote cell proliferation, ECM remodeling, angiogenesis and wound healing while inhibiting cell apoptosis. lncRNA H19 was validated to elevate CTGF expression by recruiting SRF to the promoter region of CTGF, thus accelerating cell proliferation, ECM remodeling and wound healing while repressing cell apoptosis. Furthermore, MAPK signaling pathway activation is confirmed to be the underlying mechanism behind lncRNA H19/CTGF/SRF-induced results. Thus, lncRNA H19 accelerated wound healing in DFU through elevation of CTGF and activation of the MAPK signaling pathway.

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Yi Wang, Qi-Ling Shen, Qi Xin, Bei Sun, Shi Zhang, Qian-Hua Fang, Ying-Xin Shi, Wen-Yan Niu, Jing-Na Lin, and Chun-Jun Li

Medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD) is one of the significant enzymes involved in the β-oxidation of mitochondrial fatty acids. MCAD deficiency affects the β-oxidation of fatty acid and leads to lipid deposition in multiple organs, but little is known about its importance in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Empagliflozin is revealed to effectively improve NASH by increasing research, whereas the specific mechanism still has to be explored. Human liver tissues of patients with or without NASH were obtained for proteomic analysis to screen proteins of interest. db/db mice were given empagliflozin by gavage for 8 weeks. The expression of MCAD and signaling molecules involved in hepatic lipid metabolism was evaluated in human liver, mice and HL7702 cells. We found that the MCAD levels in the liver were significantly reduced in NASH patients compared to patients without NASH. Protein–protein interaction network analysis showed that MCAD was highly correlated with forkhead box A2 (FOXA2) and protein kinase AMP-activated catalytic subunit alpha (PRKAA). AMPK/FOXA2/MCAD signaling pathway was detected to be inhibited in the liver of NASH patients. Decreased expression of MCAD was also observed in the livers of db/db mice and hepatocyte treated with palmitic acid and glucose. Of note, empagliflozin could upregulate MCAD expression by activating AMPK/FOXA2 signaling pathway, reduce lipid deposition and improve NASH in vivo and in vitro. This research demonstrated that MCAD is a key player of hepatic lipid deposition and its targeting partially corrects NASH. MCAD thus may be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of NASH.

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

Juan Liu, Xiaocen Kong, Long Wang, Hanmei Qi, Wenjuan Di, Xiao Zhang, Lin Wu, Xia Chen, Jing Yu, Juanmin Zha, Shan Lv, Aisen Zhang, Peng Cheng, Miao Hu, Yujie Li, Jianhua Bi, Yan Li, Fang Hu, Yi Zhong, Yong Xu, and Guoxian Ding

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) increases energy expenditure and is an attractive therapeutic target for obesity. 11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1), an amplifier of local glucocorticoid activity, has been shown to modulate white adipose tissue (WAT) metabolism and function. In this study, we investigated the roles of 11β-HSD1 in regulating BAT function. We observed a significant increase in the expression of BAT-specific genes, including UCP1, Cidea, Cox7a1, and Cox8b, in BVT.2733 (a selective inhibitor of 11β-HSD1)-treated and 11β-HSD1-deficient primary brown adipocytes of mice. By contrast, a remarkable decrease in BAT-specific gene expression was detected in brown adipocytes when 11β-HSD1 was overexpressed, which effect was reversed by BVT.2733 treatment. Consistent with the in vitro results, expression of a range of genes related to brown fat function in high-fat diet-fed mice treated with BVT.2733. Our results indicate that 11β-HSD1 acts as a vital regulator that controls the expression of genes related to brown fat function and as such may become a potential target in preventing obesity.