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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.

Restricted access

Rachel A Davey, Michele V Clarke, Suzanne B Golub, Patricia K Russell, and Jeffrey D Zajac

The physiological role of calcitonin, and its receptor, the CTR (or Calcr), has long been debated. We previously provided the first evidence for a physiological role of the CTR to limit maternal bone loss during lactation in mice by a direct action on osteocytes to inhibit osteocytic osteolysis. We now extend these findings to show that CTR gene expression is upregulated two- to three-fold in whole bone of control mice at the end of pregnancy (E18) and lactation (P21) compared to virgin controls. This was associated with an increase in osteoclast activity evidenced by increases in osteoclast surface/bone surface and Dcstamp gene expression. To investigate the mechanism by which the CTR inhibits osteocytic osteolysis, in vivo acidification of the osteocyte lacunae during lactation (P14 days) was assessed using a pH indicator dye. A lower pH was observed in the osteocyte lacunae of lactating Global-CTRKOs compared to controls and was associated with an increase in the gene expression of ATPase H+ transporting V0 subunit D2 (Atp6v0d2) in whole bone of Global-CTRKOs at the end of lacation (P21). To determine whether the CTR is required for the replacement of mineral within the lacunae post-lactation, lacunar area was determined 3 weeks post-weaning. Comparison of the largest 20% of lacunae by area did not differ between Global-CTRKOs and controls post-lactation. These results provide evidence for CTR activation to inhibit osteocytic osteolysis during lactation being mediated by regulating the acidity of the lacunae microenvironment, whilst the CTR is dispensable for replacement of bone mineral within lacunae by osteocytes post-lactation.

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Tanja Jene, Inigo Ruiz de Azua, Annika Hasch, Jennifer Klüpfel, Julia Deuster, Mirjam Maas, Cora H Nijboer, Beat Lutz, Marianne B Müller, and Michael A van der Kooij

Stress has a major impact on the modulation of metabolism, as previously evidenced by hyperglycemia following chronic social defeat (CSD) stress in mice. Although CSD-triggered metabolic dysregulation might predispose to pre-diabetic conditions, insulin sensitivity remained intact, and obesity did not develop, when animals were fed with a standard diet (SD). Here, we investigated whether a nutritional challenge, a high-fat diet (HFD), aggravates the metabolic phenotype and whether there are particularly sensitive time windows for the negative consequences of HFD exposure. Chronically stressed male mice and controls (CTRL) were kept under (i) SD-conditions, (ii) with HFD commencing post-CSD, or (iii) provided with HFD lasting throughout and after CSD. Under SD conditions, stress increased glucose levels early post-CSD. Both HFD regimens increased glucose levels in non-stressed mice but not in stressed mice. Nonetheless, when HFD was provided after CSD, stressed mice did not differ from controls in long-term body weight gain, fat tissue mass and plasma insulin, and leptin levels. In contrast, when HFD was continuously available, stressed mice displayed reduced body weight gain, lowered plasma levels of insulin and leptin, and reduced white adipose tissue weights as compared to their HFD-treated non-stressed controls. Interestingly, stress-induced adrenal hyperplasia and hypercortisolemia were observed in mice treated with SD and with HFD after CSD but not in stressed mice exposed to a continuous HFD treatment. The present work demonstrates that CSD can reduce HFD-induced metabolic dysregulation. Hence, HFD during stress may act beneficially, as comfort food, by decreasing stress-induced metabolic demands.

Free access

Shelley Gorman, Alexander N Larcombe, and Hayley E Christian

In this narrative review, we provide an overview of the role of physical activity as part of differing exposomes (our combined non-genetic exposures from conception onwards) and environmental influences on metabolic health. We discuss ‘beneficial’ exposomes (green/natural outdoor spaces, sun exposure, healthy diets and features of built environments) that could synergise with physical activity to prevent metabolic dysfunction, particularly that related to lifestyle diseases of obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Physical activity may also reduce the capacity of some adverse exposomes, specifically those with significant levels of air pollution, to contribute towards metabolic dysfunction. Other exposomes, such as those experienced during pandemics (including COVID-19), potentially limit opportunities for physical activity, and there may be unexpected combined effects of physical activity with other infections (e.g. adenovirus-36) on metabolic health. Finally, we discuss how environments could be better optimised to create exposomes that promote the health benefits of physical activity and likely future directions of this research field.

Free access

Julie Rodriguez and Nathalie M Delzenne

The gut microbiota is now widely recognized as an important factor contributing to the regulation of host metabolic functions. Numerous studies describe an imbalance in the gut microbial ecosystem in response to an energy-dense diet that drives the development of metabolic disorders. In this context, the manipulation of the gut microbiota by food components acting as prebiotics appears as a promising strategy. Several studies have already investigated the beneficial potency of prebiotics, mostly inulin-type fructans, on host metabolism and key intestinal functions including gut hormone release. For the last 20 years, several non-digestible compounds present in food have been shown to modulate the gut microbiota and influence host metabolism in essential organs involved in the control of energy homeostasis. To date, numerous reviews summarize the impact of prebiotics on the liver or the brain. Here we propose to describe the mechanisms by which prebiotics, through modulation of the gut microbiota and endocrine functions, modulates the metabolic cross-talk communication between the gut, the adipose tissue and skeletal muscles.

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Ankana Ganguly, Jennifer A Tamblyn, Alexandra Shattock, Annsha Joseph, Dean P Larner, Carl Jenkinson, Janesh Gupta, Janesh R Gross, and Martin Hewison

Early pregnancy is characterised by elevated circulating levels of vitamin D binding protein (DBP). The impact of this on maternal and fetal health is unclear but DBP is present in the placenta, and DBP gene variants have been linked to malplacentation disorders such as preeclampsia. The functional role of DBP in the placenta was investigated using trophoblastic JEG3, BeWo and HTR8 cells. All three cell lines showed intracellular DBP with increased expression and nuclear localisation of DBP in cells treated with the active form of vitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25D). When cultured in the serum of mice lacking DBP (DBP−/−), JEG3 cells showed no intracellular DBP indicating uptake of exogenous DBP. Inhibition of the membrane receptor for DBP, megalin, also suppressed intracellular DBP. Elimination of intracellular DBP with DBP−/− serum or megalin inhibitor suppressed matrix invasion by trophoblast cells and was associated with increased nuclear accumulation of G-actin. Conversely, treatment with 1,25D enhanced matrix invasion. This was independent of the nuclear vitamin D receptor but was associated with enhanced ERK phosphorylation, and inhibition of ERK kinase suppressed trophoblast matrix invasion. When cultured with serum from pregnant women, trophoblast matrix invasion correlated with DBP concentration, and DBP was lower in first-trimester serum from women who later developed preeclampsia. These data show that the trophoblast matrix invasion involves uptake of serum DBP and associated intracellular actin-binding and homeostasis. DBP is a potential marker of placentation disorders such as preeclampsia and may also provide a therapeutic option for improved placenta and pregnancy health.

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Alice Bongrani, Namya Mellouk, Christelle Ramé, Marion Cornuau, Fabrice Guerif, Pascal Froment, and Joëlle Dupont

Vaspin is a novel adipokine mainly expressed in visceral adipose tissue and closely related to obesity and insulin-resistance. Currently, data about its ovarian expression are limited to animal models and its role in human reproduction is largely unexplored. Our study’s aims were then to characterise vaspin expression in the human ovary and to study in vitro its effects on granulosa cells physiology. Secondly, we assessed vaspin and its receptor GRP78 variations in granulosa cells and follicular fluid of a cohort of 112 infertile women undergoing an in vitro fertilisation procedure and allocated to three groups, each including normal-weight and obese subjects: 34 PCOS patients, 33 women with isolated polycystic ovary morphology (ECHO group) and 45 controls. Vaspin and GRP78 expression in the ovary was assessed by immunohistochemistry, RT-qPCR and Western blot. Granulosa cells and follicular fluid were analysed by RT-qPCR and ELISA, respectively. In vitro, granulosa cells metabolism was studied after stimulation with recombinant human vaspin, with and without a siRNA directed against GRP78. Vaspin was highly expressed in the human ovary and concentration-dependently enhanced granulosa cells steroidogenesis, proliferation and viability through GRP78 (P < 0.0001). Vaspin levels in both granulosa cells and follicular fluid were significantly higher in obese women (P < 0.0001) and in the normal-weight ECHO group (P < 0.001), which also had the highest expression rates of GRP78 (P < 0.05). Although further investigation is needed, vaspin appears as a novel modulator of human granulosa cells physiology and possibly plays a role in PCOS pathogenesis, notably protecting from insulin-resistance induced complications.

Free access

Jennifer Chen and Jenny E Gunton

Islet transplantation, a therapeutic option to treat type 1 diabetes, is not yet as successful as whole-pancreas transplantation as a treatment for diabetes. Mouse models are commonly used for islet research. However, it is clear disparities exist between islet transplantation outcomes in mice and humans. Given the shortage of transplant-grade islets, it is crucial that we further our understanding of factors that determine long-term islet survival and function post-transplantation. In turn, this may lead to new therapeutic targets and strategies that will improve transplant outcomes. Here, we summarise the current landscape in clinical transplantation, highlight underlying similarities and differences between mouse and human islets, and review interventions that are being considered to create a new pool of β-cells for clinical application.