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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.

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W M Liu, Y J Cao, Y J Yang, J Li, Z Hu and E-K Duan

The expression of tetraspanin CD9 was found on blastocysts in mice and endometrium epithelial cells in human and bovine. However, it remains unknown how CD9 is involved in the precise dialogue between embryo and uterus during early pregnancy. This study was designed to investigate the functional roles of CD9 in the embryo implantation with monoclonal antibody against CD9 protein (anti-CD9 mAb) and antisense oligonucleotide against CD9 gene (AS-CD9). Our results showed that intrauterine injection of anti-CD9 mAb on day 4 of pregnancy significantly increased the number of embryos implanted (7.24±0.39 versus 4.04±0.38). In vitro, anti-CD9 mAb or AS-CD9 significantly enhanced embryo-outgrowth ability on the monolayer of uterus epithelial cells in a dose-dependent manner. However, the attachment of blastocysts to epithelial cells was unaffected. Furthermore, we found that anti-CD9 mAb or AS-CD9 stimulated matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP-2) production of blastocysts on Fibronectin. LY294002, a specific inhibitor of phosphoinositide 3-kinase, was able to counteract the effect of anti-CD9 mAb and AS-CD9 on outgrowth ability and production of MMP-2. Our results indicated that CD9 played a role of inhibiting embryo implantation. CD9 was able to impair embryo invasion and the production of MMP-2 through the phosphoinositide 3-kinase signaling pathway.

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RY Li, HD Song, WJ Shi, SM Hu, YS Yang, JF Tang, MD Chen and JL Chen

In addition to serving as a fat depot, adipose tissue is also considered as an important endocrine organ that synthesizes and secretes a number of factors. Leptin is an adipocyte-derived hormone that plays a vital role in energy balance. Expression of leptin is regulated by dietary status and hormones. In the present study, we report that galanin, an orexigenic peptide, inhibits leptin expression and secretion in rat adipose tissue and in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Treatment with galanin (25 micro g/animal) induced approximately 46% down-regulation of leptin secretion at 15 min, followed by 40, 37 and 47% decreases in leptin secretion at 1, 2 and 4 h respectively. Although Northern blot analysis of adipose tissue from the same animals showed that leptin mRNA expression in adipose tissue was unaffected by galanin treatment for 2 h, galanin treatment for 4 h led to decline of leptin mRNA expression in a dose-dependent manner. Meanwhile, treating the rats with galanin had no effect on leptin mRNA expression in the hypothalamus. The inhibitory action of the galanin on leptin mRNA and protein levels was also observed in vitro. When incubated with 10 nM galanin for 48 h, leptin mRNA expression and protein secretion also decreased in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. On the other hand, galanin was found not only to express in rat adipose tissue, but also to increase about 8-fold after fasting. Based on these data, we speculate that increased galanin expression in rat adipose tissue after fasting may be involved in reducing leptin expression and secretion in fasting rats.

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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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FY Diao, M Xu, Y Hu, J Li, Z Xu, M Lin, L Wang, Y Zhou, Z Zhou, J Liu and J Sha

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine disorders; it is characterized by polycystic ovaries, hyperandrogenism and chronic anovulation. To obtain a global view of those genes that might be involved in the development of this complex clinical disorder, we used recently developed cDNA microarray technology to compare differential gene expressions between normal human ovary and ovaries from PCOS patients. A total of 9216 clones randomly selected from a commercial human ovary cDNA library were screened. Among them, 290 clones showed differential expressions, including 119 known genes and 100 known or unknown expressed sequence tags (ESTs). Among 119 known genes, 88 were upregulated and 31 downregulated in the PCOS ovary, as compared with normal human ovary. These differentially expressed genes are involved in various biologic functions, such as cell division/apoptosis, regulation of gene expression and metabolism, reflecting the complexity of clinical manifestations of PCOS. The molecular characteristics established from our study will further our understanding of the pathogenesis of PCOS and help us to identify new targets for further studies and for the development of new therapeutic interventions.

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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.

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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.

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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.