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Wenjuan Liu, Harry Kevin Lau, Dong Ok Son, Tianru Jin, Yehong Yang, Zhaoyun Zhang, Yiming Li, Gerald J Prud’homme, and Qinghua Wang

γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1RA) improve rodent β-cell survival and function. In human β-cells, GABA exerts stimulatory effects on proliferation and anti-apoptotic effects, whereas GLP-1RA drugs have only limited effects on proliferation. We previously demonstrated that GABA and sitagliptin (Sita), a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor which increases endogenous GLP-1 levels, mediated a synergistic β-cell protective effect in mice islets. However, it remains unclear whether this combination has similar effects on human β-cell. To address this question, we transplanted a suboptimal mass of human islets into immunodeficient NOD-scid-gamma mice with streptozotocin-induced diabetes, and then treated them with GABA, Sita, or both. The oral administration of either GABA or Sita ameliorated blood glucose levels, increased transplanted human β-cell counts and plasma human insulin levels. Importantly, the combined administration of the drugs generated significantly superior results in all these responses, as compared to the monotherapy with either one of them. The proliferation and/or regeneration, improved by the combination, were demonstrated by increased Ki67+, PDX-1+, or Nkx6.1+ β-cell numbers. Protection against apoptosis was also significantly improved by the drug combination. The expression level of α-Klotho, a protein with protective and stimulatory effects on β cells, was also augmented. Our study indicates that combined use of GABA and Sita produced greater therapeutic benefits, which are likely due to an enhancement of β-cell proliferation and a decrease in apoptosis.

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Amanda K Mauro, Nauman Khurshid, Danielle M Berdahl, Amanda C Ampey, Daniel Adu, Dinesh M Shah, and Derek S Boeldt


Endothelial dysfunction is a prominent feature of preeclampsia, a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy, and contributes to multiple symptoms characteristic of the syndrome. A myriad of growth factors and cytokines are dysregulated in preeclampsia as compared to normal pregnancy, however, a complete appreciation of the effect of changing concentrations of these factors on endothelial function is lacking. In this study, we evaluate the effect of a variety of growth factors and cytokines on Ca2+ signaling and monolayer integrity. We report that VEGF165, TNFα, EGF, and IL-1β either improve or inhibit Ca2+ signaling depending on dose, whereas TNFα and IL-1β reduce monolayer integrity and bFGF increases monolayer integrity. Additionally, to model the effects of combinations of growth factors and cytokines, we screened for Ca2+ signaling changes in response to 16 dose combinations of VEGF165 and TNFα together. This revealed an optimal combination capable of supporting pregnancy-adapted Ca2+ signaling, and that changes in either VEGF165 or TNFα dose would result in a shift toward suppressed function. This study shows in detail how growth factor or cytokine concentration effects endothelial cell function. Such data can be used to model how changing growth factor and cytokine levels in normal pregnancy may contribute to healthy endothelial function and in preeclampsia may promote endothelial dysfunction. The results of VEGF165 and TNFα combination treatments suggest that more complex growth factor and cytokine combination modeling may be important in order to more accurately understand the effects of circulating factors on the endothelial function.

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Qiaoli Cui, Yijing Liao, Yaojing Jiang, Xiaohang Huang, Weihong Tao, Quanquan Zhou, Anna Shao, Ying Zhao, Jia Li, Anran Ma, Zhihong Wang, Li Zhang, Zunyuan Yang, Yinan Liang, Minglin Wu, Zhenyan Yang, Wen Zeng, and Qinghua Wang

Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is an insulinotropic hormone and plays an important role in regulating glucose homeostasis. GLP-1 has a short half-life (t1/2 < 2 min) due to degrading enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase-IV and rapid kidney clearance, which limits its clinical application as a therapeutic reagent. We demonstrated recently that supaglutide, a novel GLP-1 mimetic generated by recombinant fusion protein techniques, exerted hypoglycemic and β-cell trophic effects in type 2 diabetes db/db mice. In the present study, we examined supaglutide’s therapeutic efficacy and pharmacokinetics in diabetic rhesus monkeys. We found that a single subcutaneous injection of supaglutide of tested doses transiently and significantly reduced blood glucose levels in a dose-dependent fashion in the diabetic monkeys. During a 4-week intervention period, treatment of supaglutide of weekly dosing dose-dependently decreased fasting and random blood glucose levels. This was associated with significantly declined plasma fructosamine levels. The repeated administration of supaglutide remarkably also decreased body weight in a dose-dependent fashion accompanied by decreased food intake. Intravenous glucose tolerance test results showed that supaglutide improved glucose tolerance. The intervention also showed enhanced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and improved lipid profile in diabetic rhesus monkeys. These results reveal that supaglutide exerts beneficial effects in regulating blood glucose and lipid homeostasis in diabetic rhesus monkeys.

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Guangcui Xu, Tingting Yan, Qiang Peng, Haibin Li, Weidong Wu, Xianwen Yi, and Yingzheng Zhao

Oxidative stress is proposed to be involved in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). However, antioxidant therapy results in controversial outcomes. Therefore, we generated a new antioxidant/NAFLD mouse model, LiasHigh/HighLeprdb/db mice, by crossbreeding Leprdb/db mice, an obesity mouse model, with LiasHigh/High mice, generated by overexpression of lipoic acid synthase gene (Lias) and having increased endogenous antioxidant capacity, to investigate whether the new model could block the development of NAFLD. We have systemically characterized the novel model based on the main features of human NAFLD, determined the impact of enhanced endogenous antioxidant capacity on the retardation of NAFLD and elucidated the underlying mechanisms using various biological and pathological methods. We found that LiasHigh/HighLeprdb/db mice ameliorated many pathological changes of NAFLD compared with the control. In particular, LiasHigh/HighLeprdb/db mice displayed the improved liver mitochondrial function, reflecting the decline of mitochondrial microvesicular steatosis, and reduced oxidative stress, which mainly contributes to the alleviation of pathologic alterations of the NAFLD progression. Our new model shows that mitochondrial dysfunction is a major pathogenesis for liver steatosis. Overexpression of Lias gene effectively reduces oxidative stress and protects mitochondria, and consequently attenuates NAFLD/NASH.

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Meghan F Hogan, Daryl J Hackney, Alfred C Aplin, Thomas O Mundinger, Megan J Larmore, Joseph J Castillo, Nathalie Esser, Sakeneh Zraika, and Rebecca L Hull

Islet endothelial cells produce paracrine factors important for islet beta-cell function and survival. Under conditions of type 2 diabetes, islet endothelial cells exhibit a dysfunctional phenotype including increased expression of genes involved in cellular adhesion and inflammation. We sought to determine whether treatment of hyperglycemia with the sodium glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitor empagliflozin, either alone or in combination with metformin, would improve markers of endothelial cell function in islets, assessed ex vivo, and if such an improvement is associated with improved insulin secretion in a mouse model of diabetes in vivo. For these studies, db/db diabetic mice and non-diabetic littermate controls were treated for 6 weeks with empagliflozin or metformin, either alone or in combination. For each treatment group, expression of genes indicative of islet endothelial dysfunction was quantified. Islet endothelial and beta-cell area was assessed by morphometry of immunochemically stained pancreas sections. Measurements of plasma glucose and insulin secretion during an intravenous glucose tolerance test were performed on vehicle and drug treated diabetic animals. We found that expression of endothelial dysfunction marker genes is markedly increased in diabetic mice. Treatment with either empagliflozin or metformin lowered expression of the dysfunction marker genes ex vivo, which correlated with improved glycemic control, and increased insulin release in vivo. Empagliflozin treatment was more effective than metformin alone, with a combination of the two drugs demonstrating the greatest effects. Improving islet endothelial function through strategies such as empagliflozin/metformin treatment may provide an effective approach for improving insulin release in human type 2 diabetes.

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Michael E Symonds, Mark Pope, Ian Bloor, James Law, Reham Alagal, and Helen Budge

Adipose tissue is usually laid down in small amounts in the foetus and is characterised as possessing small amounts of the brown adipose tissue-specific mitochondrial uncoupling protein (UCP)1. In adults, a primary factor determining the abundance and function of UCP1 is ambient temperature. Cold exposure causes activation and the rapid generation of heat through the free flow of protons across the mitochondria with no requirement to convert ADP to ATP. In rodents, housing at an ambient temperature below thermoneutrality promotes the appearance of beige like adipocytes. These arise as discrete regions of UCP1 containing cells in white fat depots. There is increasing evidence to show that to gain credible translational results on brown and beige fat function in rodent models that they should be housed at thermoneutrality. This not only reflects the type of environment in which humans spend a majority of their time, but is in accord with the rise of global temperature caused by industrialisation and the uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels. There is now good evidence in adult humans, that stimulating brown fat can improve glucose homeostasis which can be achieved either by nutritional or pharmacological interventions. The challenge, therefore, is to establish credible developmental models in animals maintained at thermoneutrality which will elucidate the true impact of nutrition. The primary focus should fall specifically on the components of breast milk and how these modulate long term effects on brown or beige fat development and function.

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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 which 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.

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Prashant Regmi, Rajesh Chaudhary, Amanda J Page, Amy T Hutchison, Andrew D Vincent, Bo Liu, and Leonie Heilbronn

Time-restricted feeding (TRF) initiated early during the dark phase prevents the metabolic consequences of a high-fat diet in rodent models. However, the metabolic consequences of delaying the initiation of TRF, akin to breakfast skipping in humans, is unclear. We assigned 8-week-old male C57BL/6J mice (n = 192) to chow or high-fat diet ad libitum (AL) for 4 weeks, before randomization to continue AL or 10 h of TRF, initiated at lights off (TRFe) or 4-h after lights off (TRFd) for a further 8 weeks. Oral glucose tolerance tests (1 g/kg), metabolic monitoring and body composition by echoMRI were performed, and tissues were collected at six time points. TRF reduced weight and fat mass vs AL, with a greater reduction in TRFe vs TRFd. TRF improved glucose tolerance and protected mice from high-fat diet-induced hepatosteatosis vs AL, with no difference between TRFe and TRFd. TRF increased the amplitude of Bmal1, Cry1, Per2, Nampt, and Nocturnin mRNA levels in liver. A phase delay in Bmal1, Cry1, Per2, Reverbα, Nampt, NAD, Sirt1, and Nocturnin was observed in TRFd. Thus, delaying TRF limited the weight benefit and induced a phase delay in the hepatic clock, but improved metabolic health. Allowing more flexibility in when TRF is initiated may increase the translational potential of this dietary approach in humans.

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Lauriane Bonnet, Esma Karkeni, Charlène Couturier, Julien Astier, Catherine Defoort, Ljubica Svilar, Franck Tourniaire, Lourdes Mounien, and Jean-François Landrier

Obesity is classically associated with low serum total and free 25(OH)D. Hypotheses have been advanced to explain this observation but mechanisms remain poorly understood, and notably priming events that could explain such association. We investigated the impact of short-term high fat (HF) diet to investigate early events occurring in vitamin D metabolism. Male C57BL/6J mice were fed with a control diet (control group) and HF diet for 4 days. HF fed mice displayed similar body weight to control mice but significantly increased adiposity, together with a decrease of free 25(OH)D concentrations, which could be explained at least in part by a decrease of Cyp2r1 and Cyp3a11 expression in the liver. An increase of 1,25(OH)2D concentration was also observed and could be explained by a decrease of Cyp24a1 expression observed in the kidney. In white adipose tissue (WAT), no modification of vitamin D metabolites quantity detected by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Nevertheless, an increase of Cyp2r1 and Cyp27a1 mRNA expression and a decrease of Cyp27b1 mRNA expression could suggest a possible storage of 25(OH)D in WAT at long-term. Our data are supportive of an active role of HF diet in mediating a priming effect leading the well-established perturbation of the vitamin D metabolism associated with obesity, including a decrease of free 25(OH)D and modulation of expression of genes involved in vitamin D metabolism.