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Open access

Yanli Miao, Haojie Qin, Yi Zhong, Kai Huang, and Caijun Rao

Obesity is an increasingly serious epidemic worldwide characterized by an increase in the number and size of adipocytes. Adipose tissue maintains the balance between lipid storage and energy utilization. Therefore, adipose metabolism is of great significance for the prevention, treatment and intervention of obesity. Asprosin, a novel adipokine, is a circulating hormone mainly secreted by white adipose tissue. Previous studies have shown that asprosin plays a role in fasting-induced homeostasis, insulin resistance, and glucose tolerance. However, whether it can regulate the metabolism of adipose tissue itself has not been studied. This study intended to examine the roles and potential mechanisms of asprosin in adipose regulation. We first demonstrated that the expression level of asprosin was significantly downregulated in subcutaneous white adipose tissue (scWAT) of high-fat diet (HFD)-fed or cold-stimulated mice. Overexpression of asprosin in scWAT reduced heat production, decreased expression of the browning marker uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) and other browning-related genes, along with upregulation of adipogenic gene expression. Mechanistically, we found that Nrf2 was activated upon cold exposure, but this activation was suppressed after asprosin overexpression. In primary cultured adipocytes, adenovirusmediated asprosin overexpression inhibited adipose browning and aggravated lipid deposition, while Nrf2 agonist oltipraz could reverse these changes. Our findings suggest that novel adipokine asprosin negatively regulated browning and elevate lipid deposition in adipose tissue via a Nrf2-mediated mechanism. Asprosin may be a promising target for the prevention and treatment of obesity and other metabolic diseases.

Open access

Jane J Reavey, Catherine Walker, Alison A Murray, Savita Brito-Mutunayagam, Sheona Sweeney, Moira Nicol, Ana Cambursano, Hilary O D Critchley, and Jacqueline A Maybin

Heavy menstrual bleeding is common and debilitating but the causes remain ill defined. Rates of obesity in women are increasing and its impact on menstrual blood loss (MBL) is unknown. Therefore, we quantified BMI and MBL in women not taking hormones and with regular menstrual cycles and revealed a positive correlation. In a mouse model of simulated menstruation, diet-induced obesity also resulted in delayed endometrial repair, a surrogate marker for MBL. BrdU staining of mouse uterine tissue revealed decreased proliferation during menstruation in the luminal epithelium of mice on a high-fat diet. Menstruation is known to initiate local endometrial inflammation and endometrial hypoxia; hence, the impact of body weight on these processes was investigated. A panel of hypoxia-regulated genes (VEGF, ADM, LDHA, SLC2A1) showed consistently higher mean values in the endometrium of women with obesity and in uteri of mice with increased weight vs normal controls, although statistical significance was not reached. The inflammatory mediators, Tnf and Il6 were significantly increased in the uterus of mice on a high-fat diet, consistent with a pro-inflammatory local endometrial environment in these mice. In conclusion, obesity was associated with increased MBL in women. Mice given a high-fat diet had delayed endometrial repair at menstruation and provided a model in which to study the influence of obesity on menstrual physiology. Our results indicate that obesity results in a more pro-inflammatory local endometrial environment at menstruation, which may delay endometrial repair and increase menstrual blood loss.

Open access

Bin Li, Jiming Yin, Jing Chang, Jia Zhang, Yangjia Wang, Haixia Huang, Wei Wang, and Xiangjun Zeng

Microcirculatory injuries had been reported to be involved in diabetic cardiomyopathy, which was mainly related to endothelial cell dysfunction. Apelin, an adipokine that is upregulated in diabetes mellitus, was reported to improve endothelial cell dysfunction and attenuate cardiac insufficiency induced by ischemia and reperfusion. Therefore, it is hypothesized that apelin might be involved in alleviating endothelial cell dysfunction and followed cardiomyopathy in diabetes mellitus. The results showed that apelin improved endothelial cell dysfunction via decreasing apoptosis and expression of adhesion molecules and increasing proliferation, angiogenesis, and expression of E-cadherin, VEGFR 2 and Tie-2 in endothelial cells, which resulted in the attenuation of the capillary permeability in cardiac tissues and following diabetic cardiomyopathy. Meanwhile, the results from endothelial cell-specific APJ knockout mice and cultured endothelial cells confirmed that the effects of apelin on endothelial cells were dependent on APJ and the downstream NFκB pathways. In conclusion, apelin might reduce microvascular dysfunction induced by diabetes mellitus via improving endothelial dysfunction dependent on APJ activated NFκB pathways.

Open access

Dominik Simon Botermann, Nadine Brandes, Anke Frommhold, Ina Heß, Alexander Wolff, Arne Zibat, Heidi Hahn, Rolf Buslei, and Anja Uhmann

Ubiquitous overactivation of Hedgehog signaling in adult pituitaries results in increased expression of proopiomelanocortin (Pomc), growth hormone (Gh) and prolactin (Prl), elevated adrenocorticotropic hormone (Acth) production and proliferation of Sox2+ cells. Moreover, ACTH, GH and PRL-expressing human pituitary adenomas strongly express the Hedgehog target GLI1. Accordingly, Hedgehog signaling seems to play an important role in pathology and probably also in homeostasis of the adult hypophysis. However, the specific Hedgehog-responsive pituitary cell type has not yet been identified. We here investigated the Hedgehog pathway activation status and the effects of deregulated Hedgehog signaling cell-specifically in endocrine and non-endocrine pituitary cells. We demonstrate that Hedgehog signaling is unimportant for the homeostasis of corticotrophs, whereas it is active in subpopulations of somatotrophs and folliculo-stellate cells in vivo. Reinforcement of Hedgehog signaling activity in folliculo-stellate cells stimulates growth hormone production/release from somatotrophs in a paracrine manner, which most likely is mediated by the neuropeptide vasoactive intestinal peptide. Overall, our data show that Hedgehog signaling affects the homeostasis of pituitary hormone production via folliculo-stellate cell-mediated regulation of growth hormone production/secretion.

Open access

Qinglei Yin, Liyun Shen, Yicheng Qi, Dalong Song, Lei Ye, Ying Peng, Yanqiu Wang, Zhou Jin, Guang Ning, Weiqing Wang, Dongping Lin, and Shu Wang

SIRT1, a class III histone/protein deacetylase (HDAC), has been associated with autoimmune diseases. There is a paucity of data about the role of SIRT1 in Graves’ disease. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of SIRT1 in the pathogenesis of GD. Here, we showed that SIRT1 expression and activity were significantly decreased in GD patients compared with healthy controls. The NF-κB pathway was activated in the peripheral blood of GD patients. The reduced SIRT1 levels correlated strongly with clinical parameters. In euthyroid patients, SIRT1 expression was markedly upregulated and NF-κB downstream target gene expression was significantly reduced. SIRT1 inhibited the NF-κB pathway activity by deacetylating P65. These results demonstrate that reduced SIRT1 expression and activity contribute to the activation of the NF-κB pathway and may be involved in the pathogenesis of GD.

Open access

Pauline Campos, Jamie J Walker, and Patrice Mollard

In most species, survival relies on the hypothalamic control of endocrine axes that regulate critical functions such as reproduction, growth, and metabolism. For decades, the complexity and inaccessibility of the hypothalamic–pituitary axis has prevented researchers from elucidating the relationship between the activity of endocrine hypothalamic neurons and pituitary hormone secretion. Indeed, the study of central control of endocrine function has been largely dominated by ‘traditional’ techniques that consist of studying in vitro or ex vivo isolated cell types without taking into account the complexity of regulatory mechanisms at the level of the brain, pituitary and periphery. Nowadays, by exploiting modern neuronal transfection and imaging techniques, it is possible to study hypothalamic neuron activity in situ, in real time, and in conscious animals. Deep-brain imaging of calcium activity can be performed through gradient-index lenses that are chronically implanted and offer a ‘window into the brain’ to image multiple neurons at single-cell resolution. With this review, we aim to highlight deep-brain imaging techniques that enable the study of neuroendocrine neurons in awake animals whilst maintaining the integrity of regulatory loops between the brain, pituitary and peripheral glands. Furthermore, to assist researchers in setting up these techniques, we discuss the equipment required and include a practical step-by-step guide to performing these deep-brain imaging studies.

Open access

Lisa L Koorneef, Jan Kroon, Eva M G Viho, Lucas F Wahl, Kim M L Heckmans, Marloes M A R van Dorst, Menno Hoekstra, René Houtman, Hazel Hunt, and Onno C Meijer

Glucocorticoids mediate numerous essential processes in the human body via binding to the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). Excessive GR signaling can cause disease, and GR antagonists can be used to treat many symptoms of glucocorticoid-induced pathology. The purpose of this study was to characterize the tissue-specific properties of the selective GR antagonist CORT125281. We evaluated the antagonistic effects of CORT125281 upon acute and subchronic corticosterone exposure in mice. In the acute corticosterone setting, hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal-axis activity was investigated by measurement of basal- and stress-induced corticosterone levels, adrenocorticotropic hormone levels and pituitary proopiomelanocortin expression. GR signaling was evaluated by RT-PCR analysis of GR-responsive transcripts in liver, muscle, brown adipose tissue (BAT), white adipose tissue (WAT) and hippocampus. Pretreatment with a high dose of CORT125281 antagonized GR activity in a tissue-dependent manner. We observed complete inhibition of GR-induced target gene expression in the liver, partial blockade in muscle and BAT and no antagonism in WAT and hippocampus. Tissue distribution only partially explained the lack of effective antagonism. CORT125281 treatment did not disinhibit the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal neuroendocrine axis. In the subchronic corticosterone setting, CORT125281 partially prevented corticosterone-induced hyperinsulinemia, but not hyperlipidemia and immune suppression. In conclusion, CORT125281 antagonizes GR transcriptional activity in a tissue-dependent manner and improves corticosterone-induced hyperinsulinemia. Tailored dosing of CORT125281 may allow tissue-specific inhibition of GR transcriptional activity.

Open access

Amanda E Garza, Elijah Trefts, Isis A Katayama Rangel, Danielle Brooks, Rene Baudrand, Burhanuddin Moize, Jose R Romero, Sanjay Ranjit, Thitinan Treesaranuwattana, Tham M Yao, Gail K Adler, Luminita H Pojoga, and Gordon H Williams

Aldosterone modulates the activity of both epithelial (specifically renal) and non-epithelial cells. Binding to the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), activates two pathways: the classical genomic and the rapidly activated non-genomic that is substantially modulated by the level of striatin. We hypothesized that disruption of MR’s non-genomic pathway would alter aldosterone-induced cardiovascular/renal damage. To test this hypothesis, wild type (WT) and striatin heterozygous knockout (Strn+/ ) littermate male mice were fed a liberal sodium (1.6% Na+) diet and randomized to either protocol one: 3 weeks of treatment with either vehicle or aldosterone plus/minus MR antagonists, eplerenone or esaxerenone or protocol two: 2 weeks of treatment with either vehicle or L-NAME/AngII plus/minus MR antagonists, spironolactone or esaxerenone. Compared to the WT mice, basally, the Strn+/ mice had greater (~26%) estimated renal glomeruli volume and reduced non-genomic second messenger signaling (pAkt/Akt ratio) in kidney tissue. In response to active treatment, the striatin-associated-cardiovascular/renal damage was limited to volume effects induced by aldosterone infusion: significantly increased blood pressure (BP) and albuminuria. In contrast, with aldosterone or L-NAME/AngII treatment, striatin deficiency did not modify aldosterone-mediated damage: in the heart and kidney, macrophage infiltration, and increases in aldosterone-induced biomarkers of injury. All changes were near-normalized following MR blockade with spironolactone or esaxerenone, except increased BP in the L-NAME/AngII model. In conclusion, the loss of striatin amplified aldosterone-induced damage suggesting that aldosterone’s non-genomic pathway is protective but only related to effects likely mediated via epithelial, but not non-epithelial cells.

Open access

Nikolaos Nikolaou, Anastasia Arvaniti, Nathan Appanna, Anna Sharp, Beverly A Hughes, Dena Digweed, Martin J Whitaker, Richard Ross, Wiebke Arlt, Trevor M Penning, Karen Morris, Sherly George, Brian G Keevil, Leanne Hodson, Laura L Gathercole, and Jeremy W Tomlinson

Steroid 5β-reductase (AKR1D1) is highly expressed in human liver where it inactivates endogenous glucocorticoids and catalyses an important step in bile acid synthesis. Endogenous and synthetic glucocorticoids are potent regulators of metabolic phenotype and play a crucial role in hepatic glucose metabolism. However, the potential of synthetic glucocorticoids to be metabolised by AKR1D1 as well as to regulate its expression and activity has not been investigated. The impact of glucocorticoids on AKR1D1 activity was assessed in human liver HepG2 and Huh7 cells; AKR1D1 expression was assessed by qPCR and Western blotting. Genetic manipulation of AKR1D1 expression was conducted in HepG2 and Huh7 cells and metabolic assessments were made using qPCR. Urinary steroid metabolite profiling in healthy volunteers was performed pre- and post-dexamethasone treatment, using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. AKR1D1 metabolised endogenous cortisol, but cleared prednisolone and dexamethasone less efficiently. In vitro and in vivo, dexamethasone decreased AKR1D1 expression and activity, further limiting glucocorticoid clearance and augmenting action. Dexamethasone enhanced gluconeogenic and glycogen synthesis gene expression in liver cell models and these changes were mirrored by genetic knockdown of AKR1D1 expression. The effects of AKR1D1 knockdown were mediated through multiple nuclear hormone receptors, including the glucocorticoid, pregnane X and farnesoid X receptors. Glucocorticoids down-regulate AKR1D1 expression and activity and thereby reduce glucocorticoid clearance. In addition, AKR1D1 down-regulation alters the activation of multiple nuclear hormone receptors to drive changes in gluconeogenic and glycogen synthesis gene expression profiles, which may exacerbate the adverse impact of exogenous glucocorticoids.

Open access

Sian J S Simpson, Lorna I F Smith, Peter M Jones, and James E Bowe

The corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) family of peptides, including urocortin (UCN) 1, 2 and 3, are established hypothalamic neuroendocrine peptides, regulating the physiological and behaviour responses to stress indirectly, via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. More recently, these peptides have been implicated in diverse roles in peripheral organs through direct signalling, including in placental and pancreatic islet physiology. CRH has been shown to stimulate insulin release through activation of its cognate receptors, CRH receptor 1 (CRHR1) and 2. However, the physiological significance of this is unknown. We have previously reported that during mouse pregnancy, expression of CRH peptides increase in mouse placenta suggesting that these peptides may play a role in various biological functions associated with pregnancy, particularly the pancreatic islet adaptations that occur in the pregnant state to compensate for the physiological increase in maternal insulin resistance. In the current study, we show that mouse pregnancy is associated with increased circulating levels of UCN2 and that when we pharmacologically block endogenous CRHR signalling in pregnant mice, impairment of glucose tolerance is observed. This effect on glucose tolerance was comparable to that displayed with specific CRHR2 blockade and not with specific CRHR1 blockade. No effects on insulin sensitivity or the proliferative capacity of β-cells were detected. Thus, CRHR2 signalling appears to be involved in β-cell adaptive responses to pregnancy in the mouse, with endogenous placental UCN2 being the likely signal mediating this.