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Mu-Hsin Chang, Wei-Wen Kuo, Ray-Jade Chen, Ming-Chin Lu, Fuu-Jen Tsai, Wu-Hsien Kuo, Ling-Yun Chen, Wen-Jun Wu, Chih-Yang Huang and Chun-Hsien Chu

The IGF-II/mannose 6-phosphate receptor (IGF2R) function in extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling is known to occur as a result of transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) activation and plasmin in the proteolytic cleavage level caused by the interaction between latent TGF-β and urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR) respectively. In one of our previous studies, we found IGF-II and IGF2R dose-dependently correlated with the progression of pathological hypertrophy remodeling following complete abdominal aorta ligation. However, how this IGF2R signaling pathway responds specifically to IGF-II and regulates the myocardial ECM remodeling process is unclear. We found that IGF2R was aberrantly expressed in myocardial infarction scars. The matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) zymographic activity was elevated in H9c2 cardiomyoblast cells treated with IGF-II, but not IGF-I. Treatment with Leu27IGF-II, an IGF2R specifically binding IGF-II analog, resulted in significant time-dependent increases in the MMP-9, tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA), and urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA); and a reduction in the tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases-2 (TIMP-2) protein expression. Furthermore, IGF2R expression inhibition by siRNA blocked the IGF-II-induced MMP-9 activity. We hypothesize that after IGF-II is bound with IGF2R, the resulting signal disrupts the balance in the MMP-9/TIMP-2 expression level and increases plasminogen activator (PAs) expression involved in the development of myocardial remodeling. If so, IGF2R signaling inhibition may have potential use in the development of therapies preventing heart fibrosis progression.

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Yan-ping Xu, Jia-jun Zhu, Fen Cheng, Ke-wen Jiang, Wei-zhong Gu, Zheng Shen, Yi-dong Wu, Li Liang and Li-zhong Du

Effective treatment and/or prevention strategies for neonatal persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) have been an important topic in neonatal medicine. However, mechanisms of impaired pulmonary vascular structure in hypoxia-induced PPHN are poorly understood and consequently limit the development of effective treatment. In this study, we aimed to explore the molecular signaling cascades in the lungs of a PPHN animal model and used primary cultured rat pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells to analyze the physiological benefits of ghrelin during the pathogenesis of PPHN. Randomly selected newborn rats were exposed to hypoxia (10–12%) or room air and received daily s.c. injections of ghrelin (150 μg/kg) or saline. After 2 weeks, pulmonary hemodynamics and morphometry were assessed in the rats. Compared with the control, hypoxia increased pulmonary arterial pressure, right ventricle (RV) hypertrophy, and arteriolar wall thickness. Ghrelin treatment reduced both the magnitude of PH and the RV/(left ventricle+septum (Sep)) weight ratio. Ghrelin protected neonatal rats from hypoxia-induced PH via the upregulation of phosphorylation of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (p-GSK3β)/β-catenin signaling and associated with β-catenin translocation to the nucleus in the presence of growth hormone secretagogue receptor-1a. Our findings suggest that s.c. administration of ghrelin improved PH and attenuated pulmonary vascular remodeling after PPHN. These beneficial effects may be mediated by the regulation of p-GSK3β/β-catenin expression. We propose ghrelin as a novel potential therapeutic agent for PPHN.

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Chuan-Chou Tu, V Bharath Kumar, Cecilia Hsuan Day, Wei-Wen Kuo, Su-Peng Yeh, Ray-Jade Chen, Chen-Rong Liao, Hsiao-Yu Chen, Fuu-Jen Tsai, Wen-Jun Wu and Chih-Yang Huang

Previous studies have reported that estrogen receptors (ERs) are expressed in normal human liver, chronic hepatitis, and benign hepatic tumor tissues. However, decreased expression of ERs can be observed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and the role of ERs in HCC is not fully understood. Thus, the present study aimed to investigate the molecular mechanism induced by the overexpression of ERα (ERα (ESR1)) in Hep3B cells. We first detected the induction of apoptosis in ER-negative Hep3B cells using DNA fragmentation assay and flow cytometry. We found that ERα and ERα plus 17β-estradiol treatment increased apoptosis in Hep3B cells. Additionally, western blotting showed increased expression of active caspase 3 and tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα (TNF)) in ER α-transfected cells. To further understand the importance of SP1-binding sites in the TNF α promoter, ERα-negative Hep3B cells were co-transfected with ER α and a wild-type TNFα plasmid or TNF α with deleted SP1 regions. Deletion of both distant and primal SP1 sites abolished the activity of ERα, and similar results were observed by blocking the expression of SP1 protein using mithramycin (MA). This result indicates that SP1 protein is essential for ERα-activated TNF α promoter activity. Co-immunoprecipitation assay further confirmed the binding interaction between ERα and SP1 in a ligand-dependent manner. In general, we demonstrate that the overexpression of ERα mediates apoptosis in ERα-negative Hep3B cells by the binding of ERα to SP1 protein. Additionally, this ERα–SP1 complex binds to the proximal and distal sites of the TNF α gene promoter and further induces the expression of active caspase 3 in a ligand-dependent manner.