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Yanning Li, Yan Zhong, Wenjian Gong, Xuehan Gao, Huanli Qi, Kun Liu, and Jinsheng Qi

Activation of transforming growth factor β1 (TGFB1)/SMAD3 signaling may lead to additional synthesis of collagen type IV (COL4), which is a major contributor to extracellular matrix (ECM) accumulation in diabetic nephropathy (DN). C-peptide can attenuate fibrosis to have unique beneficial effects in DN. However, whether and how C-peptide affects TGFB1/SMAD3-activated COL4 synthesis is unclear. In this study, pathological changes, expression of COL4 a1-a5 chains (Col4a1-a5), COL4 distribution and protein and TGFB1 and SMAD3 protein were first assessed in a rat model of diabetes. Then, rat mesangial cells were treated with high glucose (HG) and/or C-peptide to investigate the underlying mechanism. Col4a1-a5 expression, COL4 protein and secretion, TGFB1 protein, SMAD3 nuclear translocation and binding of SMAD3 to its cognate sites in the promoters of Col4a1a2, Col4a3a4 and Col4a5 were measured. It was found that C-peptide attenuated glomerular pathological changes and suppressed renal Col4a1 -a5 mRNA expression, COL4 protein content and TGFB1 protein content. C-peptide had a dose-dependent effect to inhibit Col4a1-a5 mRNA expression, COL4 protein content and secretion, in HG-stimulated mesangial cells. In addition, the HG-induced increase in TGFB1 protein content was significantly reduced by C-peptide. Although not apparently affecting SMAD3 nuclear translocation, C-peptide prevented SMAD3 from binding to its sites in the Col4a1a2, Col4a3a4 and Col4a5 promoters in HG-stimulated mesangial cells. In conclusion, C-peptide could prevent SMAD3 from binding to its sites in the Col4a1a2, Col4a3a4 and Col4a5 promoters, to inhibit COL4 generation. These results may provide a mechanism for the alleviation of fibrosis in DN by C-peptide.

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Chang-Jiang Wang, Fei Gao, Yi-Jie Huang, Dong-Xu Han, Yi Zheng, Wen-Hua Wang, Hao Jiang, Yan Gao, Bao Yuan, and Jia-Bao Zhang

The pituitary gland functions as a prominent regulator of diverse physiologic processes by secreting multiple hormones. Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are an emerging novel type of endogenous noncoding RNA that have recently been recognized as powerful regulators participating in various biological processes. However, the physiological roles and molecular mechanisms of circRNAs in pituitary remain largely unclear. Herein, we concentrated on expounding the biological function and molecular mechanism of circRNA in rat pituitary. In this study, we identified a novel circRNA in pituitary tissue, circAkap17b, which was pituitary- and stage-specific. Then, we designed circAkap17b siRNA and constructed an overexpression plasmid to evaluate the effect of loss- and gain-of-circAkap17b function on FSH secretion. Interestingly, silencing circAkakp17b significantly inhibited FSH expression and secretion, while overexpression of circAkap17b enhanced FSH expression and secretion. Furthermore, dual luciferase reporter and RNA immunoprecipitation (RIP) assays confirmed that circAkap17b could serve as miR-7 sponge to regulate target genes. Additionally, miR-7b suppressed FSH expression and secretion by directly targeting Fshb through the dual luciferase reporter and RT-qPCR analysis. Additionally, rescue experiments showed that circAkap17b could regulate FSH secretion in pituitary cells through a circAkap17b-miR-7-Fshb axis. Collectively, we demonstrated that circAkap17b could act as a molecular sponge of miR-7 to upregulate expression of the target gene Fshb and facilitate FSH secretion. These findings provide evidence for a novel regulatory role of circRNAs in pituitary.

Free access

Jie Sun, Yan Liu, Jinhui Yu, Jin Wu, Wenting Gao, Liyuan Ran, Rujiao Jiang, Meihua Guo, Dongyu Han, Bo Liu, Ning Wang, Youwei Li, He Huang, Li Zeng, Ying Gao, Xin Li, and Yingjie Wu

Astragalus polysaccharide (APS) is the main component of Astragalus membranaceus, an anti-diabetic herb being used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). In this study, we aimed to evaluate the impact of APS on hepatic insulin signaling, autophagy and ER stress response in high-fat-diet (HFD)-induced insulin resistance (IR) mice. APS was intra-gastrically administrated and metformin was used as a control medicine. Apart from monitoring the changes in the important parameters of IR progression, the gene and protein expression of the key factors marking the state of hepatic ER stress and autophagic flux were examined. We found that, largely comparable to the metformin regime, APS treatment resulted in an overall improvement of IR, as indicated by better control of body weight and blood glucose/lipid levels, recovery of liver functions and regained insulin sensitivity. In particular, the excessive and pro-apoptotic ER stress response and inhibition of autophagy, as a result of prolonged HFD exposure, were significantly corrected by APS administration, indicating a switch of the cellular fate in favor of cell survival. Using the HepG2/IR cell model, we demonstrated that APS modulated the insulin-initiated phosphorylation cascades in a similar manner to metformin. This study provides a rationale for exploiting the insulin-sensitizing potential of APS, which has a therapeutic performance almost equivalent to metformin, to enrich our options in the treatment of IR.