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Open access

Jin Yu, Yuhuan Yang, Danying Zhang, Dongxia Zhai, Linyi Song, Zailong Cai and Chaoqin Yu

High androgen levels in patients suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can be effectively reversed if the herb Scutellaria baicalensis is included in traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions. To characterize the effects of baicalin, extracted from S. baicalensis, on androgen biosynthesis in NCI-H295R cells and on hyperandrogenism in PCOS model rats and to elucidate the underlying mechanisms. The optimum concentration and intervention time for baicalin treatment of NCI-H295R cells were determined by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. The functional genes affected by baicalin were studied by gene expression profiling (GEP), and the key genes were identified using a dual luciferase assay, RNA interference technique, and genetic mutations. Besides, hyperandrogenic PCOS model rats were induced and confirmed before and after baicalin intervention. As a result, Baicalin decreased the testosterone concentrations in a dose-and time-dependent manner in NCI-H295R cells. GEP revealed that 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type II (HSD3B2) was the key enzyme of androgen biosynthesis, and baicalin inhibited the expression of HSD3B2 by regulating the binding of transcription factor GATA-binding factor 1 (GATA1) to the HSD3B2 promoter. Hyperandrogenic PCOS model rats treated with baicalin significantly reversed the high androgen levels of serum and the abnormal ovarian status, restored the estrous cyclicity, and decreased the expression of HSD3B2 in ovarian. In summary , our data revealed that GATA1 is an important transcription factor activating the HSD3B2 promoter in steroidogenesis, and baicalin potentially be an effective therapeutic agent for hyperandrogenism in PCOS by inhibiting the recruitment of GATA1 to the HSD3B2 promoter in ovarian tissue.

Open access

K E Lines, P J Newey, C J Yates, M Stevenson, R Dyar, G V Walls, M R Bowl and R V Thakker

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is an autosomal dominant disorder characterised by the combined occurrence of parathyroid, pituitary and pancreatic islet tumours, and is due to mutations of the MEN1 gene, which encodes the tumour suppressor protein menin. Menin has multiple roles in genome stability, transcription, cell division and proliferation, but its mechanistic roles in tumourigenesis remain to be fully elucidated. miRNAs are non-coding single-stranded RNAs that post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression and have been associated with tumour development, although the contribution of miRNAs to MEN1-associated tumourigenesis and their relationship with menin expression are not fully understood. Alterations in miRNA expression, including downregulation of three putative ‘tumour suppressor’ miRNAs, miR-15a, miR-16-1 and let-7a, have been reported in several tumour types including non-MEN1 pituitary adenomas. We have therefore investigated the expression of miR-15a, miR-16-1 and let-7a in pituitary tumours that developed after 12 months of age in female mice with heterozygous knockout of the Men1 gene (Men1 +/ mice). The miRNAs miR-15a, miR-16-1 and let-7a were significantly downregulated in pituitary tumours (by 2.3-fold, P < 0.05; 2.1-fold P < 0.01 and 1.6-fold P < 0.05, respectively) of Men1 +/ mice, compared to normal WT pituitaries. miR-15a and miR-16-1 expression inversely correlated with expression of cyclin D1, a known pro-tumourigenic target of these miRNAs, and knockdown of menin in a human cancer cell line (HeLa), and AtT20 mouse pituitary cell line resulted in significantly decreased expression of miR-15a (P < 0.05), indicating that the decrease in miR-15a may be a direct result of lost menin expression.

Open access

Lesley A Hill, Dimitra A Vassiliadi, Ioanna Dimopoulou, Anna J Anderson, Luke D Boyle, Alixe H M Kilgour, Roland H Stimson, Yoan Machado, Christopher M Overall, Brian R Walker, John G Lewis and Geoffrey L Hammond

Corticosteroid-binding globulin (CBG) transports glucocorticoids in blood and is a serine protease inhibitor family member. Human CBG has a reactive center loop (RCL) which, when cleaved by neutrophil elastase (NE), disrupts its steroid-binding activity. Measurements of CBG levels are typically based on steroid-binding capacity or immunoassays. Discrepancies in ELISAs using monoclonal antibodies that discriminate between intact vs RCL-cleaved CBG have been interpreted as evidence that CBG with a cleaved RCL and low affinity for cortisol exists in the circulation. We examined the biochemical properties of plasma CBG in samples with discordant ELISA measurements and sought to identify RCL-cleaved CBG in human blood samples. Plasma CBG-binding capacity and ELISA values were consistent in arterial and venous blood draining skeletal muscle, liver and brain, as well as from a tissue (adipose) expected to contain activated neutrophils in obese individuals. Moreover, RCL-cleaved CBG was undetectable in plasma from critically ill patients, irrespective of whether their ELISA measurements were concordant or discordant. We found no evidence of RCL-cleaved CBG in plasma using a heat-dependent polymerization assay, and CBG that resists immunoprecipitation with a monoclonal antibody designed to specifically recognize an intact RCL, bound steroids with a high affinity. In addition, mass spectrometry confirmed the absence of NE-cleaved CBG in plasma in which ELISA values were highly discordant. Human CBG with a NE-cleaved RCL and low affinity for steroids is absent in blood samples, and CBG ELISA discrepancies likely reflect structural differences that alter epitopes recognized by specific monoclonal antibodies.

Open access

Vikte Lionikaite, Karin L Gustafsson, Anna Westerlund, Sara H Windahl, Antti Koskela, Juha Tuukkanen, Helena Johansson, Claes Ohlsson, H Herschel Conaway, Petra Henning and Ulf H Lerner

Excess vitamin A has been associated with decreased cortical bone thickness and increased fracture risk. While most studies in rodents have employed high dosages of vitamin A for short periods of time, we investigated the bone phenotype in mice after longer exposure to more clinically relevant doses. For 1, 4 and 10 weeks, mice were fed a control diet (4.5 µg retinyl acetate/g chow), a diet modeled from the human upper tolerable limit (UTL; 20 µg retinyl acetate/g chow) and a diet three times UTL (supplemented; 60 µg retinyl acetate/g chow). Time-dependent decreases in periosteal circumference and bone mineral content were noted with the supplemented dose. These reductions in cortical bone resulted in a significant time-dependent decrease of predicted strength and a non-significant trend toward reduced bone strength as analyzed by three-point bending. Trabecular bone in tibiae and vertebrae remained unaffected when vitamin A was increased in the diet. Dynamic histomorphometry demonstrated that bone formation was substantially decreased after 1 week of treatment at the periosteal site with the supplemental dose. Increasing amount of vitamin A decreased endocortical circumference, resulting in decreased marrow area, a response associated with enhanced endocortical bone formation. In the presence of bisphosphonate, vitamin A had no effect on cortical bone, suggesting that osteoclasts are important, even if effects on bone resorption were not detected by osteoclast counting, genes in cortical bone or analysis of serum TRAP5b and CTX. In conclusion, our results indicate that even clinically relevant doses of vitamin A have a negative impact on the amount of cortical bone.

Open access

Jin-Ran Chen, Oxana P Lazarenko, Haijun Zhao, Alexander W Alund and Kartik Shankar

Intrauterine or early postnatal high-fat diet (HFD) has substantial influences on adult offspring health; however, studies of HFD-induced maternal obesity on regulation of adult offspring bone formation are sparse. Here, we investigated the effects of HFD-induced maternal obesity on both fetal and adult offspring skeletal development. We found that HFD-induced maternal obesity significantly decreased fetal skeletal development, but enhanced fetal osteoblastic cell senescence signaling and significantly increased the expression of inflammatory factors of the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) in osteo-progenitors. It was found that p300/CBP activation led to H3K27 acetylation to increase the expression of senescence-related genes and PPARγ in embryonic mouse osteogenic calvarial cells from HFD obese dams. These results were recapitulated in human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (UC MSCs) isolated from offspring of pregnant obese and lean mothers following delivery. Regardless of postnatal HFD challenge, adult offspring from HFD obese dams showed significantly suppressed bone formation. Such early involution of bone formation of adult offspring from HFD obese dams may at least in part due to histone acetylation, i.e., epigenetic regulation of genes involved in cell senescence signaling in pre-osteoblasts from prenatal development. These findings indicate fetal pre-osteoblastic cell senescence signaling is epigenetically regulated by maternal obesity to repress bone formation in adult offspring in rodents and suggest that at least some of these effects may also manifest in humans.

Open access

Ismael González-García, Pablo B Martínez de Morentin, Ánxela Estévez-Salguero, Cristina Contreras, Amparo Romero-Picó, Johan Fernø, Rubén Nogueiras, Carlos Diéguez, Manuel Tena-Sempere, Sulay Tovar and Miguel López

Current evidence suggests that estradiol (E2), the main ovarian steroid, modulates energy balance by regulating both feeding and energy expenditure at the central level, through the energy sensor AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). We hypothesized that the hypothalamic mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, a well-established nutrient sensor and modulator of appetite and puberty, could also mediate the anorectic effect of E2. Our data showed that ovariectomy (OVX) elicited a marked downregulation of the mTOR signaling in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARC), an effect that was reversed by either E2 replacement or central estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) agonism. The significance of this molecular signaling was given by the genetic inactivation of S6 kinase B1 (S6K1, a key downstream mTOR effector) in the ARC, which prevented the E2-induced hypophagia and weight loss. Overall, these data indicate that E2 induces hypophagia through modulation of mTOR pathway in the ARC.

Open access

Sara Della Torre, Gianpaolo Rando, Clara Meda, Paolo Ciana, Luisa Ottobrini and Adriana Maggi

Oestrogens are well-known proliferation and differentiation factors that play an essential role in the correct development of sex-related organs and behaviour in mammals. With the use of the ERE-Luc reporter mouse model, we show herein that throughout mouse development, oestrogen receptors (ERs) are active starting from day 12 post conception. Most interestingly, we show that prenatal luciferase expression in each organ is proportionally different in relation to the germ layer of the origin. The luciferase content is highest in ectoderm-derived organs (such as brain and skin) and is lowest in endoderm-derived organs (such as liver, lung, thymus and intestine). Consistent with the testosterone surge occurring in male mice at the end of pregnancy, in the first 2 days after birth, we observed a significant increase in the luciferase content in several organs, including the liver, bone, gonads and hindbrain. The results of the present study show a widespread transcriptional activity of ERs in developing embryos, pointing to the potential contribution of these receptors in the development of non-reproductive as well as reproductive organs. Consequently, the findings reported here might be relevant in explaining the significant differences in male and female physiopathology reported by a growing number of studies and may underline the necessity for more systematic analyses aimed at the identification of the prenatal effects of drugs interfering with ER signalling, such as aromatase inhibitors or endocrine disrupter chemicals.

Open access

S J Brandt, M Kleinert, M H Tschöp and T D Müller

Obesity is a worldwide pandemic, which can be fatal for the most extremely affected individuals. Lifestyle interventions such as diet and exercise are largely ineffective and current anti-obesity medications offer little in the way of significant or sustained weight loss. Bariatric surgery is effective, but largely restricted to only a small subset of extremely obese patients. While the hormonal factors mediating sustained weight loss and remission of diabetes by bariatric surgery remain elusive, a new class of polypharmacological drugs shows potential to shrink the gap in efficacy between a surgery and pharmacology. In essence, this new class of drugs combines the beneficial effects of several independent hormones into a single entity, thereby combining their metabolic efficacy to improve systems metabolism. Such unimolecular drugs include single molecules with agonism at the receptors for glucagon, glucagon-like peptide 1 and the glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide. In preclinical studies, these specially tailored multiagonists outperform both their mono-agonist components and current best in class anti-obesity medications. While clinical trials and vigorous safety analyses are ongoing, these drugs are poised to have a transformative effect in anti-obesity therapy and might hopefully lead the way to a new era in weight-loss pharmacology.

Open access

Gisela Helfer and Qing-Feng Wu

Metabolic syndrome is a global public health problem and predisposes individuals to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Although the underlying mechanisms remain to be elucidated, accumulating evidence has uncovered a critical role of adipokines. Chemerin, encoded by the gene Rarres2, is a newly discovered adipokine involved in inflammation, adipogenesis, angiogenesis and energy metabolism. In humans, local and circulating levels of chemerin are positively correlated with BMI and obesity-related biomarkers. In this review, we discuss both peripheral and central roles of chemerin in regulating body metabolism. In general, chemerin is upregulated in obese and diabetic animals. Previous studies by gain or loss of function show an association of chemerin with adipogenesis, glucose homeostasis, food intake and body weight. In the brain, the hypothalamus integrates peripheral afferent signals including adipokines to regulate appetite and energy homeostasis. Chemerin increases food intake in seasonal animals by acting on hypothalamic stem cells, the tanycytes. In peripheral tissues, chemerin increases cell expansion, inflammation and angiogenesis in adipose tissue, collectively resulting in adiposity. While chemerin signalling enhances insulin secretion from pancreatic islets, contradictory results have been reported on how chemerin links to obesity and insulin resistance. Given the association of chemerin with obesity comorbidities in humans, advances in translational research targeting chemerin are expected to mitigate metabolic disorders. Together, the exciting findings gathered in the last decade clearly indicate a crucial multifaceted role for chemerin in the regulation of energy balance, making it a promising candidate for urgently needed pharmacological treatment strategies for obesity.

Open access

K L Gustafsson, K H Nilsson, H H Farman, A Andersson, V Lionikaite, P Henning, J Wu, S H Windahl, U Islander, S Movérare-Skrtic, K Sjögren, H Carlsten, J-Å Gustafsson, C Ohlsson and M K Lagerquist

Estrogen treatment has positive effects on the skeleton, and we have shown that estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) expression in cells of hematopoietic origin contributes to a normal estrogen treatment response in bone tissue. T lymphocytes are implicated in the estrogenic regulation of bone mass, but it is not known whether T lymphocytes are direct estrogen target cells. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the importance of ERα expression in T lymphocytes for the estrogenic regulation of the skeleton using female mice lacking ERα expression specifically in T lymphocytes (Lck-ERα−/−) and ERαflox/flox littermate (control) mice. Deletion of ERα expression in T lymphocytes did not affect bone mineral density (BMD) in sham-operated Lck-ERα−/− compared to control mice, and ovariectomy (ovx) resulted in a similar decrease in BMD in control and Lck-ERα−/− mice compared to sham-operated mice. Furthermore, estrogen treatment of ovx Lck-ERα−/− led to an increased BMD that was indistinguishable from the increase seen after estrogen treatment of ovx control mice. Detailed analysis of both the appendicular (femur) and axial (vertebrae) skeleton showed that both trabecular and cortical bone parameters responded to a similar extent regardless of the presence of ERα in T lymphocytes. In conclusion, ERα expression in T lymphocytes is dispensable for normal estrogenic regulation of bone mass in female mice.