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Chirine Toufaily, Gauthier Schang, Xiang Zhou, Philipp Wartenberg, Ulrich Boehm, John P Lydon, Ferdinand Roelfsema, and Daniel J Bernard

The progesterone receptor (PR, encoded by Pgr) plays essential roles in reproduction. Female mice lacking the PR are infertile, due to the loss of the protein’s functions in the brain, ovary, and uterus. PR is also expressed in pituitary gonadotrope cells, but its specific role therein has not been assessed in vivo. We therefore generated gonadotrope-specific Pgr conditional knockout mice (cKO) using the Cre-LoxP system. Overall, both female and male cKO mice appeared phenotypically normal. cKO females displayed regular estrous cycles (vaginal cytology) and normal fertility (litter size and frequency). Reproductive organ weights were comparable between wild-type and cKO mice of both sexes, as were production and secretion of the gonadotropins, LH and FSH, with one exception. On the afternoon of proestrus, the amplitude of the LH surge was blunted in cKO females relative to controls. Contrary to predictions of earlier models, this did not appear to derive from impaired GnRH self-priming. Collectively, these data indicate that PR function in gonadotropes may be limited to regulation of LH surge amplitude in female mice via a currently unknown mechanism.

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Caterina Luana Pitasi, Junjun Liu, Blandine Gausserès, Gaëlle Pommier, Etienne Delangre, Mathieu Armanet, Pierre Cattan, Bruno Mégarbane, Anne-Sophie Hanak, Kamel Maouche, Danielle Bailbé, Bernard Portha, and Jamileh Movassat

Islet inflammation is associated with defective β cell function and mass in type 2 diabetes (T2D). Glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) has been identified as an important regulator of inflammation in different diseased conditions. However, the role of GSK3 in islet inflammation in the context of diabetes remains unexplored. In this study, we investigated the direct implication of GSK3 in islet inflammation in vitro and tested the impact of GSK3 inhibition in vivo, on the reduction of islet inflammation, and the improvement of glucose metabolism in the Goto-Kakizaki (GK) rat, a spontaneous model of T2D. GK rats were chronically treated with infra-therapeutic doses of lithium, a widely used inhibitor of GSK3. We analyzed parameters of glucose homeostasis as well as islet inflammation and fibrosis in the endocrine pancreas. Ex vivo, we tested the impact of GSK3 inhibition on the autonomous inflammatory response of non-diabetic rat and human islets, exposed to a mix of pro-inflammatory cytokines to mimic an inflammatory environment. Treatment of young GK rats with lithium prevented the development of overt diabetes. Lithium treatment resulted in reduced expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the islets. It decreased islet fibrosis and partially restored the glucose-induced insulin secretion in GK rats. Studies in non-diabetic human and rat islets exposed to inflammatory environment revealed the direct implication of GSK3 in the islet autonomous inflammatory response. We show for the first time, the implication of GSK3 in islet inflammation and suggest this enzyme as a viable target to treat diabetes-associated inflammation.

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Hongyu Su, Xueyi Chen, Yueming Zhang, Linglu Qi, Yun He, Juanxiu Lv, Yingying Zhang, Xiang Li, Jiaqi Tang, and Zhice Xu

Cerebral circulation is important in fetal brain development, and angiotensin II (Ang II) plays vital roles in regulation of adult cerebral circulation. However, functions of Ang II in fetal cerebral vasculature and influences of in utero hypoxia on Ang II-mediated fetal cerebral vascular responses are largely unknown. This study investigated the effects and mechanisms of in utero hypoxia on fetal middle cerebral arteries (MCA) via Ang II. Near-term ovine fetuses were exposed to in utero hypoxia, and fetal MCA responses to Ang II were tested for vascular tension, calcium transient, and molecular analysis. Ang II caused significant dose-dependent contraction in control fetal MCA. Ang II-induced MCA constriction was decreased significantly in hypoxic fetuses. Neither losartan (AT1R antagonist, 10−5 mol/L) nor PD123,319 (AT2R antagonist, 10−5 mol/L) altered Ang II-mediated contraction in fetal MCA. Phenylephrine-mediated constriction was also significantly weaker in hypoxic fetuses. Bay K8644 caused similar contractions between the two groups. Protein expression of L-type voltage-dependent calcium channels was unchanged. There were no differences in caffeine-mediated vascular tension or calcium transients. Contraction induced by PDBu (PKC agonist) was obviously weaker in hypoxic MCA. Protein expression of PKCβ was reduced in the hypoxic compared with the control, along with no differences in phosphorylation levels. The results showed that fetal MCA was functionally responsive to Ang II near term. Intrauterine hypoxia reduced the vascular agonist-mediated contraction in fetal MCA, probably via decreasing PKCβ and its phosphorylation, which might play protective effects on fetal cerebral circulation against transient hypoxia.

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Jian Ma, Xin He, Yan Cao, Kienan O’Dwyer, Katherine M Szigety, Yuan Wu, Buddha Gurung, Zijie Feng, Bryson W Katona, and Xianxin Hua

Protein arginine methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5), a symmetric arginine methyltransferase, regulates cell functions by influencing gene transcription through posttranslational modification of histones and non-histone proteins. PRMT5 interacts with multiple partners including menin, which controls beta cell homeostasis. However, the role of Prmt5 in pancreatic islets, particularly in beta cells, remains unclear. A mouse model with an islet-specific knockout (KO) of the Prmt5 gene was generated, and the influence of the Prmt5 excision on beta cells was investigated via morphologic and functional studies. Beta cell function was evaluated by glucose tolerance test (GTT) and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) test. Beta cell proliferation was evaluated by immunostaining. Gene expression change was determined by real-time qPCR. Molecular mechanisms were investigated in beta cells in vitro and in vivo in Prmt5 KO mice. The results show that islet-specific KO of Prmt5 reduced expression of the insulin gene and impaired glucose tolerance and GSIS in vivo. The mechanistic study indicated that PRMT5 is involved in the regulation of insulin gene transcription, likely via histone methylation-related chromatin remodeling. The reduced expression of insulin in beta cells in the Prmt5 KO mice may contribute to impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and deficient GSIS in the mouse model. These results will provide new insights into exploring novel strategies to treat diabetes caused by insulin insufficiency.

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Tingting Yang, Min He, Hailiang Zhang, Paula Q Barrett, and Changlong Hu

Aldosterone, which plays a key role in the regulation of blood pressure, is produced by zona glomerulosa (ZG) cells of the adrenal cortex. Exaggerated overproduction of aldosterone from ZG cells causes primary hyperaldosteronism. In ZG cells, calcium entry through voltage-gated calcium channels plays a central role in the regulation of aldosterone secretion. Previous studies in animal adrenals and human adrenal adrenocortical cell lines suggest that the T-type but not the L-type calcium channel activity drives aldosterone production. However, recent clinical studies show that somatic mutations in L-type calcium channels are the second most prevalent cause of aldosterone-producing adenoma. Our objective was to define the roles of T and L-type calcium channels in regulating aldosterone secretion from human adrenals. We find that human adrenal ZG cells mainly express T-type CaV3.2/3.3 and L-type CaV1.2/1.3 calcium channels. TTA-P2, a specific inhibitor of T-type calcium channel subtypes, reduced basal aldosterone secretion from acutely prepared slices of human adrenals. Surprisingly, nifedipine, the prototypic inhibitor of L-type calcium channels, also decreased basal aldosterone secretion, suggesting that L-type calcium channels are active under basal conditions. In addition, TTA-P2 or nifedipine also inhibited aldosterone secretion stimulated by angiotensin II- or elevations in extracellular K+. Remarkably, blockade of either L- or T-type calcium channels inhibits basal and stimulated aldosterone production to a similar extent. Low concentrations of TTA-P2 and nifedipine showed additive inhibitory effect on aldosterone secretion. We conclude that T- and L-type calcium channels play equally important roles in controlling aldosterone production from human adrenals.

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Md Nurul Islam, Yuichiro Mita, Keisuke Maruyama, Ryota Tanida, Weidong Zhang, Hideyuki Sakoda, and Masamitsu Nakazato

Ghrelin, a stomach-derived peptide, promotes feeding and growth hormone (GH) secretion. A recent study identified liver-expressed antimicrobial peptide 2 (LEAP2) as an endogenous inhibitor of ghrelin-induced GH secretion, but the effect of LEAP2 in the brain remained unknown. In this study, we showed that intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) administration of LEAP2 to rats suppressed central ghrelin functions including Fos expression in the hypothalamic nuclei, promotion of food intake, blood glucose elevation, and body temperature reduction. LEAP2 did not inhibit neuropeptide Y (NPY)-induced food intake or des-acyl ghrelin-induced reduction in body temperature, indicating that the inhibitory effects of LEAP2 were specific for GHSR. Plasma LEAP2 levels varied according to feeding status and seemed to be dependent on the hepatic Leap2 expression. Furthermore, ghrelin suppressed the expression of hepatic Leap2 via AMPK activation. Together, these results reveal that LEAP2 inhibits central ghrelin functions and crosstalk between liver and stomach.

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Min Liu, Shuo Xie, Weiwei Liu, Jingjin Li, Chao Li, Wei Huang, Hexin Li, Jinghai Song, and Hong Zhang

Obesity is a worldwide health problem. Semaphorins are involved in axonal guidance; however, the role of secretory semaphorin 3G (SEMA3G) in regulating adipocyte differentiation remains unclear. Microarray analysis showed that the SEMA3G gene was upregulated in an in vitro model of adipogenesis. In this study, SEMA3G was highly expressed in the white adipose tissue and liver. Analysis of 3T3-L1 cell and primary mouse preadipocyte differentiation showed that SEMA3G mRNA and protein levels were increased during the middle stage of cell development. In vitro experiments also showed that adipocyte differentiation was promoted by SEMA3G; however, SEMA3G inhibition using a recombinant lentiviral vector expressing a specific shRNA showed the opposite results. Mice were fed a chow or high-fat diet (HFD); knockdown of SEMA3G was found to inhibit weight gain, reduce fat mass in the tissues, prevent lipogenesis in the liver tissue, reduce insulin resistance and ameliorate glucose tolerance in HFD mice. Additionally, the effect of SEMA3G on HFD-induced obesity was activated through PI3K/Akt/GSK3β signaling in the adipose tissue and the AMPK/SREBP-1c pathway in the liver. Moreover, the plasma concentrations of SEMA3G and leptin were measured in 20 obese and 20 non-obese human subjects. Both proteins were increased in obese subjects, who also exhibited a lower level of adiponectin and presented with insulin resistance. In summary, we demonstrated that SEMA3G is an adipokine essential for adipogenesis, lipogenesis, and insulin resistance and is associated with obesity. SEMA3G inhibition may, therefore, be useful for treating diet-induced obesity and its complications.

Open access

Alyce M Martin, Emily W Sun, and Damien J Keating

The homoeostatic regulation of metabolism is highly complex and involves multiple inputs from both the nervous and endocrine systems. The gut is the largest endocrine organ in our body and synthesises and secretes over 20 different hormones from enteroendocrine cells that are dispersed throughout the gut epithelium. These hormones include GLP-1, PYY, GIP, serotonin, and CCK, each of which play pivotal roles in maintaining energy balance and glucose homeostasis. Some are now the basis of several clinically used glucose-lowering and weight loss therapies. The environment in which these enteroendocrine cells exist is also complex, as they are exposed to numerous physiological inputs including ingested nutrients, circulating factors and metabolites produced from neighbouring gut microbiome. In this review, we examine the diverse means by which gut-derived hormones carry out their metabolic functions through their interactions with different metabolically important organs including the liver, pancreas, adipose tissue and brain. Furthermore, we discuss how nutrients and microbial metabolites affect gut hormone secretion and the mechanisms underlying these interactions.

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Olivier Dumortier, Gaia Fabris, Didier F Pisani, Virginie Casamento, Nadine Gautier, Charlotte Hinault, Patricia Lebrun, Christophe Duranton, Michel Tauc, Stéphane Dalle, Julie Kerr-Conte, François Pattou, Marc Prentki, and Emmanuel Van Obberghen

Enhanced beta cell glycolytic and oxidative metabolism are necessary for glucose-induced insulin secretion. While several microRNAs modulate beta cell homeostasis, miR-375 stands out as it is highly expressed in beta cells where it regulates beta cell function, proliferation and differentiation. As glucose metabolism is central in all aspects of beta cell functioning, we investigated the role of miR-375 in this process using human and rat islets; the latter being an appropriate model for in-depth investigation. We used forced expression and repression of mR-375 in rat and human primary islet cells followed by analysis of insulin secretion and metabolism. Additionally, miR-375 expression and glucose-induced insulin secretion were compared in islets from rats at different developmental ages. We found that overexpressing of miR-375 in rat and human islet cells blunted insulin secretion in response to glucose but not to α-ketoisocaproate or KCl. Further, miR-375 reduced O2 consumption related to glycolysis and pyruvate metabolism, but not in response to α-ketoisocaproate. Concomitantly, lactate production was augmented suggesting that glucose-derived pyruvate is shifted away from mitochondria. Forced miR-375 expression in rat or human islets increased mRNA levels of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase-4, but decreased those of pyruvate carboxylase and malate dehydrogenase1. Finally, reduced miR-375 expression was associated with maturation of fetal rat beta cells and acquisition of glucose-induced insulin secretion function. Altogether our findings identify miR-375 as an efficacious regulator of beta cell glucose metabolism and of insulin secretion, and could be determinant to functional beta cell developmental maturation.

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Mariana Rosolen Tavares, Simone Ferreira Lemes, Thais de Fante, Cristina Saenz de Miera, Isadora Carolina Betim Pavan, Rosangela Maria Neves Bezerra, Patricia Oliveira Prada, Marcio Alberto Torsoni, Carol Fuzeti Elias, and Fernando Moreira Simabuco

The mTOR/S6Ks signaling is one of the intracellular pathways important for metabolic control, acting both peripherally and centrally. In the hypothalamus, mTOR/S6Ks axis mediates the action of leptin and insulin and can modulate the expression of neuropeptides. We analyzed the role of different S6Ks isoforms in the hypothalamic regulation of metabolism. We observed decreased food intake and decreased expression of agouti-related peptide (AgRP) following intracerebroventricular (icv) injections of adenoviral-mediated overexpression of three different S6Ks isoforms. Moreover, mice overexpressing p70-S6K1 in undefined periventricular hypothalamic neurons presented changes in glucose metabolism, as an increase in gluconeogenesis. To further evaluate the hypothalamic role of a less-studied S6K isoform, p54-S6K2, we used a Cre-LoxP approach to specifically overexpress it in AgRP neurons. Our findings demonstrate the potential participation of S6K2 in AgRP neurons regulating feeding behavior.