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Open access

Thomas Funck-Brentano, Karin H Nilsson, Robert Brommage, Petra Henning, Ulf H Lerner, Antti Koskela, Juha Tuukkanen, Martine Cohen-Solal, Sofia Movérare-Skrtic, and Claes Ohlsson

WNT signaling is involved in the tumorigenesis of various cancers and regulates bone homeostasis. Palmitoleoylation of WNTs by Porcupine is required for WNT activity. Porcupine inhibitors are under development for cancer therapy. As the possible side effects of Porcupine inhibitors on bone health are unknown, we determined their effects on bone mass and strength. Twelve-week-old C57BL/6N female mice were treated by the Porcupine inhibitors LGK974 (low dose = 3 mg/kg/day; high dose = 6 mg/kg/day) or Wnt-C59 (10 mg/kg/day) or vehicle for 3 weeks. Bone parameters were assessed by serum biomarkers, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, µCT and histomorphometry. Bone strength was measured by the 3-point bending test. The Porcupine inhibitors were well tolerated demonstrated by normal body weight. Both doses of LGK974 and Wnt-C59 reduced total body bone mineral density compared with vehicle treatment (P < 0.001). Cortical thickness of the femur shaft (P < 0.001) and trabecular bone volume fraction in the vertebral body (P < 0.001) were reduced by treatment with LGK974 or Wnt-C59. Porcupine inhibition reduced bone strength in the tibia (P < 0.05). The cortical bone loss was the result of impaired periosteal bone formation and increased endocortical bone resorption and the trabecular bone loss was caused by reduced trabecular bone formation and increased bone resorption. Porcupine inhibitors exert deleterious effects on bone mass and strength caused by a combination of reduced bone formation and increased bone resorption. We suggest that cancer targeted therapies using Porcupine inhibitors may increase the risk of fractures.

Open access

Ashley Patton, Tyler Church, Caroline Wilson, Jean Thuma, Douglas J Goetz, Darlene E Berryman, Edward O List, Frank Schwartz, and Kelly D McCall

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the hepatic manifestation of both metabolic and inflammatory diseases and has become the leading chronic liver disease worldwide. High-fat (HF) diets promote an increased uptake and storage of free fatty acids (FFAs) and triglycerides (TGs) in hepatocytes, which initiates steatosis and induces lipotoxicity, inflammation and insulin resistance. Activation and signaling of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) by FFAs induces inflammation evident in NAFLD and insulin resistance. Currently, there are no effective treatments to specifically target inflammation associated with this disease. We have established the efficacy of phenylmethimazole (C10) to prevent lipopolysaccharide and palmitate-induced TLR4 signaling. Because TLR4 is a key mediator in pro-inflammatory responses, it is a potential therapeutic target for NAFLD. Here, we show that treatment with C10 inhibits HF diet-induced inflammation in both liver and mesenteric adipose tissue measured by a decrease in mRNA levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Additionally, C10 treatment improves glucose tolerance and hepatic steatosis despite the development of obesity due to HF diet feeding. Administration of C10 after 16 weeks of HF diet feeding reversed glucose intolerance, hepatic inflammation, and improved hepatic steatosis. Thus, our findings establish C10 as a potential therapeutic for the treatment of NAFLD.

Open access

Claes Ohlsson, Petra Henning, Karin H Nilsson, Jianyao Wu, Karin L Gustafsson, Klara Sjögren, Anna Törnqvist, Antti Koskela, Fu-Ping Zhang, Marie K Lagerquist, Matti Poutanen, Juha Tuukkanen, Ulf H Lerner, and Sofia Movérare-Skrtic

Substantial progress has been made in the therapeutic reduction of vertebral fracture risk in patients with osteoporosis, but non-vertebral fracture risk has been improved only marginally. Human genetic studies demonstrate that the WNT16 locus is a major determinant of cortical bone thickness and non-vertebral fracture risk and mouse models with life-long Wnt16 inactivation revealed that WNT16 is a key regulator of cortical thickness. These studies, however, could not exclude that the effect of Wnt16 inactivation on cortical thickness might be caused by early developmental and/or growth effects. To determine the effect of WNT16 specifically on adult cortical bone homeostasis, Wnt16 was conditionally ablated in young adult and old mice through tamoxifen-inducible Cre-mediated recombination using CAG-Cre-ER; Wnt16 flox/flox (Cre-Wnt16 flox/flox) mice. First, 10-week-old Cre-Wnt16 flox/flox and Wnt16 flox/flox littermate control mice were treated with tamoxifen. Four weeks later, Wnt16 mRNA levels in cortical bone were reduced and cortical thickness in femur was decreased in Cre-Wnt16 flox/flox mice compared to Wnt16 flox/flox mice. Then, inactivation of Wnt16 in 47-week-old mice (evaluated four weeks later) resulted in a reduction of Wnt16 mRNA levels, cortical thickness and cortical bone strength with no effect on trabecular bone volume fraction. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that the reduced cortical bone thickness was caused by a combination of increased bone resorption and reduced periosteal bone formation. In conclusion, WNT16 is a crucial regulator of cortical bone thickness in young adult and old mice. We propose that new treatment strategies targeting the adult regulation of WNT16 might be useful to reduce fracture risk at cortical bone sites.

Open access

Andrea Mafficini and Aldo Scarpa

Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) may arise throughout the body and are a highly heterogeneous, relatively rare class of neoplasms difficult to study also for the lack of disease models. Despite this, knowledge on their molecular alterations has expanded in the latest years, also building from genetic syndromes causing their onset. Pancreatic NETs (PanNETs) have been among the most studied, and research so far has outlined a series of recurring features, as inactivation of MEN1, VHL, TSC1/2 genes and hyperactivation of the PI3K/mTOR pathway. Next-generation sequencing has added new information by showing the key role of alternative lengthening of telomeres, driven in a fraction of PanNETs by inactivation of ATRX/DAXX. Despite this accumulation of knowledge, single studies often relied on few cases or were limited to the DNA, RNA, protein or epigenetic level with lack of integrative analysis. The International Cancer Genome Consortium aimed at removing these barriers through a strict process of data and samples collection, to produce whole-genome integrated analyses for many tumour types. The results of this effort on PanNETs have been recently published and, while confirming previous observations provide a first snapshot of how heterogeneous is the combination of genetic alterations that drive this tumour type, yet converging into four pathways whose alteration has been enriched by newly discovered mechanisms. While calling for further integration of genetic and epigenetic analyses, these data allow to reconcile previous findings in a defined frame and may provide clinical research with markers for patients stratification and to guide targeted therapy decisions.

Open access

Gulizar Issa Ameen and Silvia Mora

Obesity leads to adipose tissue dysfunction, insulin resistance and diabetes. Adipose tissue produces adipokines that contribute to regulate insulin sensitivity. In turn, insulin stimulates the production and release of some adipokines. Casitas-b-lymphoma proteins (c-Cbl, Cbl-b and Cbl3) are intracellular adaptor signalling proteins that are rapidly phosphorylated by activation of tyrosine kinase receptors. c-Cbl is rapidly phosphorylated by insulin in adipocytes. Here, we tested the hypothesis that Cbl signalling regulates adipokine expression in adipose tissue. We determined the adipokine profile of WAT of Cbl−/− and Cbl+/+ mice in the C57BL6 background. Female Cbl−/− mice exhibited altered expression of adiponectin, leptin and RBP4 in visceral adipose tissue, while no significant changes were seen in male mice. TNFα and IL6 levels were unaffected by Cbl depletion. RBP4 expression was unchanged in liver. Adipose tissue of Cbl−/− animals showed increased basal activation of extracellular regulated kinases (ERK1/2) compared to Cbl+/+. c-Cbl knockdown in 3T3L1 adipocytes also increased basal ERK phosphorylation and RBP4 expression. Inhibition of ERK1/2 phosphorylation in Cbl-depleted 3T3L1 adipocytes or in adipose tissue explants of Cbl−/− mice reduced RBP4 mRNA. 17β-Estradiol increased RBP4 mRNA in adipocytes. Cbl depletion did not change ER expression but increased phosphorylation of ERα at S118, a target site for ERK1/2. ERK1/2 inhibition reduced phosphoER and RBP4 levels. These findings suggest that Cbl contributes to regulate RBP4 expression in adipose of female mice through ERK1/2-mediated activation of ERα. Since Cbl signalling is compromised in diabetes, these data highlight a novel mechanism that upregulates RBP4 locally.

Open access

E Meimaridou, M Goldsworthy, V Chortis, E Fragouli, P A Foster, W Arlt, R Cox, and L A Metherell

Nicotinamide nucleotide transhydrogenase, NNT, is a ubiquitous protein of the inner mitochondrial membrane with a key role in mitochondrial redox balance. NNT produces high concentrations of NADPH for detoxification of reactive oxygen species by glutathione and thioredoxin pathways. In humans, NNT dysfunction leads to an adrenal-specific disorder, glucocorticoid deficiency. Certain substrains of C57BL/6 mice contain a spontaneously occurring inactivating Nnt mutation and display glucocorticoid deficiency along with glucose intolerance and reduced insulin secretion. To understand the underlying mechanism(s) behind the glucocorticoid deficiency, we performed comprehensive RNA-seq on adrenals from wild-type (C57BL/6N), mutant (C57BL/6J) and BAC transgenic mice overexpressing Nnt (C57BL/6JBAC). The following results were obtained. Our data suggest that Nnt deletion (or overexpression) reduces adrenal steroidogenic output by decreasing the expression of crucial, mitochondrial antioxidant (Prdx3 and Txnrd2) and steroidogenic (Cyp11a1) enzymes. Pathway analysis also revealed upregulation of heat shock protein machinery and haemoglobins possibly in response to the oxidative stress initiated by NNT ablation. In conclusion, using transcriptomic profiling in adrenals from three mouse models, we showed that disturbances in adrenal redox homeostasis are mediated not only by under expression of NNT but also by its overexpression. Further, we demonstrated that both under expression or overexpression of NNT reduced corticosterone output implying a central role for it in the control of steroidogenesis. This is likely due to a reduction in the expression of a key steroidogenic enzyme, Cyp11a1, which mirrored the reduction in corticosterone output.

Open access

Scott Haston, Saba Manshaei, and Juan Pedro Martinez-Barbera

Evidence for the presence of pituitary gland stem cells has been provided over the last decade using a combination of approaches including in vitro clonogenicity assays, flow cytometric side population analysis, immunohistochemical analysis and genetic approaches. These cells have been demonstrated to be able to self-renew and undergo multipotent differentiation to give rise to all hormonal lineages of the anterior pituitary. Furthermore, evidence exists for their contribution to regeneration of the organ and plastic responses to changing physiological demand. Recently, stem-like cells have been isolated from pituitary neoplasms raising the possibility that a cytological hierarchy exists, in keeping with the cancer stem cell paradigm. In this manuscript, we review the evidence for the existence of pituitary stem cells, their role in maintaining organ homeostasis and the regulation of their differentiation. Furthermore, we explore the emerging concept of stem cells in pituitary tumours and their potential roles in these diseases.

Open access

Zhenguang Zhang, Agnes E Coutinho, Tak Yung Man, Tiina M J Kipari, Patrick W F Hadoke, Donald M Salter, Jonathan R Seckl, and Karen E Chapman

11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-1 (11β-HSD1) predominantly converts inert glucocorticoids into active forms, thereby contributing to intracellular glucocorticoid levels. 11β-HSD1 is dynamically regulated during inflammation, including in macrophages where it regulates phagocytic capacity. The resolution of inflammation in some disease models including inflammatory arthritis is impaired by 11β-HSD1 deficiency or inhibition. However, 11β-HSD1 deficiency/inhibition also promotes angiogenesis, which is beneficial in mouse models of surgical wound healing, myocardial infarction or obesity. The cell types responsible for the anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic roles of 11β-HSD1 have not been characterised. Here, we generated Hsd11b1 MKO mice with LysM-Cre mediated deletion of Hsd11b1 to investigate whether 11β-HSD1 deficiency in myeloid phagocytes is pro-angiogenic and/or affects the resolution of inflammation. Resolution of inflammatory K/BxN-induced arthritis was impaired in Hsd11b1 MKO mice to a similar extent as in mice globally deficient in 11β-HSD1. This was associated with >2-fold elevation in levels of the endothelial marker Cdh5 mRNA, suggesting increased angiogenesis in joints of Hsd11b1 MKO mice following arthritis. A pro-angiogenic phenotype was confirmed by measuring angiogenesis in subcutaneously implanted polyurethane sponges, in which Hsd11b1 MKO mice showed 20% greater vessel density than their littermate controls, associated with higher expression of Cdh5. Thus, 11β-HSD1 deficiency in myeloid phagocytes promotes angiogenesis. Targeting 11β-HSD1 in macrophages may be beneficial in tissue repair.

Open access

Joachim M Weitzel, Torsten Viergutz, Dirk Albrecht, Rupert Bruckmaier, Marion Schmicke, Armin Tuchscherer, Franziska Koch, and Björn Kuhla

During the transition between late gestation and early lactation, dairy cows experience severe metabolic stress due to the high energy and nutrient requirements of the fetus and the mammary gland. Additional thermal stress that occurs with rising temperatures during the ongoing climate change has further adverse implications on energy intake, metabolism and welfare. The thyroid hormone (TH)-mediated cellular signaling has a pivotal role in regulation of body temperature, energy intake and metabolic adaptation to heat. To distinguish between energy intake and heat stress-related effects, Holstein cows were first kept at thermoneutrality at 15°C followed by exposure to heat stress (HS) at 28°C or pair-feeding (PF) at 15°C for 6 days, in late pregnancy and again in early lactation. Herein, we focused on hepatic metabolic changes associated with alterations in the hypothalamic–pituitary–thyroid axis in HS and PF animals. T3 and T4 levels dropped with HS or PF; however, in HS animals, this decline was more pronounced. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels remain unaffected, while plasma cholesterol concentrations were lower in HS than PF animals. Hepatic marker genes for TH action (THRA, DIO1 and PPARGC1) decreased after HS and were lower compared to PF cows but only post-partum. Proteomics data revealed reduced hepatic amino acid catabolism ante-partum and a shift toward activated beta-oxidation and gluconeogenesis but declined oxidative stress defense post-partum. Thus, liver metabolism of HS and PF cows adapts differently to diminished energy intake both ante-partum and post-partum, and a different TH sensitivity is involved in the regulation of catabolic processes.

Open access

Colin P Sibley

Placental dysfunction underlies major obstetric diseases such as pre-eclampsia and fetal growth restriction (FGR). Whilst there has been a little progress in prophylaxis, there are still no treatments for placental dysfunction in normal obstetric practice. However, a combination of increasingly well-described in vitro systems for studying the human placenta, together with the availability of more appropriate animal models of pre-eclampsia and FGR, has facilitated a recent surge in work aimed at repurposing drugs and therapies, developed for other conditions, as treatments for placental dysfunction. This review: (1) highlights potential candidate drug targets in the placenta – effectors of improved uteroplacental blood flow, anti-oxidants, heme oxygenase induction, inhibition of HIF, induction of cholesterol synthesis pathways, increasing insulin-like growth factor II availability; (2) proposes an experimental pathway for taking a potential drug or treatment for placental dysfunction from concept through to early phase clinical trials, utilizing techniques for studying the human placenta in vitro and small animal models, particularly the mouse, for in vivo studies; (3) describes the data underpinning sildenafil citrate and adenovirus expressing vascular endothelial growth as potential treatments for placental dysfunction and summarizes recent research on other potential treatments. The importance of sharing information from such studies even when no effect is found, or there is an adverse outcome, is highlighted. Finally, the use of adenoviral vectors or nanoparticle carriers coated with homing peptides to selectively target drugs to the placenta is highlighted: such delivery systems could improve efficacy and reduce the side effects of treating the dysfunctional placenta.