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Mingjuan Deng, Fang Qu, Long Chen, Chang Liu, Ming Zhang, Fazheng Ren, Huiyuan Guo, Hao Zhang, Shaoyang Ge, Chaodong Wu, and Liang Zhao

This study aimed to assess the effects of three major SCFAs (acetate, propionate, and butyrate) on NASH phenotype in mice. C57BL/6 mice were fed a methionine- and choline-deficient (MCD) diet and treated with sodium acetate, sodium propionate, or sodium butyrate during the 6-week feeding period. SCFA treatment significantly reduced serum levels of alanine aminotransferase and aspartate transaminase, the numbers of lipid droplets, and the levels of triglycerides and cholesterols in livers of the mice compared with control treatment. SCFAs also reduced MCD-induced hepatic aggregation of macrophages and proinflammatory responses. Among the three SCFAs, sodium acetate (NaA) revealed the best efficacy at alleviating MCD-induced hepatic steatosis and inflammation. Additionally, NaA increased AMP-activated protein kinase activation in the liver and induced the expression of fatty acid oxidation gene in both the liver and cultured hepatocytes. In vitro, NaA decreased MCD-mimicking media-induced proinflammatory responses in macrophages to a greater extent than in hepatocytes. These results indicated that NaA alleviates steatosis in a manner involving AMPK activation. Also, NaA alleviation of hepatic inflammation appears to be due to, in large part, suppression of macrophage proinflammatory activation. SCFAs may represent as a novel and viable approach for alleviating NASH.

Open access

Amanda E Garza, Elijah Trefts, Isis A Katayama Rangel, Danielle Brooks, Rene Baudrand, Burhanuddin Moize, Jose R Romero, Sanjay Ranjit, Thitinan Treesaranuwattana, Tham M Yao, Gail K Adler, Luminita H Pojoga, and Gordon H Williams

Aldosterone modulates the activity of both epithelial (specifically renal) and non-epithelial cells. Binding to the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), activates two pathways: the classical genomic and the rapidly activated non-genomic that is substantially modulated by the level of striatin. We hypothesized that disruption of MR’s non-genomic pathway would alter aldosterone-induced cardiovascular/renal damage. To test this hypothesis, wild type (WT) and striatin heterozygous knockout (Strn+/ ) littermate male mice were fed a liberal sodium (1.6% Na+) diet and randomized to either protocol one: 3 weeks of treatment with either vehicle or aldosterone plus/minus MR antagonists, eplerenone or esaxerenone or protocol two: 2 weeks of treatment with either vehicle or L-NAME/AngII plus/minus MR antagonists, spironolactone or esaxerenone. Compared to the WT mice, basally, the Strn+/ mice had greater (~26%) estimated renal glomeruli volume and reduced non-genomic second messenger signaling (pAkt/Akt ratio) in kidney tissue. In response to active treatment, the striatin-associated-cardiovascular/renal damage was limited to volume effects induced by aldosterone infusion: significantly increased blood pressure (BP) and albuminuria. In contrast, with aldosterone or L-NAME/AngII treatment, striatin deficiency did not modify aldosterone-mediated damage: in the heart and kidney, macrophage infiltration, and increases in aldosterone-induced biomarkers of injury. All changes were near-normalized following MR blockade with spironolactone or esaxerenone, except increased BP in the L-NAME/AngII model. In conclusion, the loss of striatin amplified aldosterone-induced damage suggesting that aldosterone’s non-genomic pathway is protective but only related to effects likely mediated via epithelial, but not non-epithelial cells.

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Sandra K Szlapinski, Anthony A Botros, Sarah Donegan, Renee T King, Gabrielle Retta, Brenda J Strutt, and David J Hill

Gestational diabetes mellitus increases the risk of dysglycemia postpartum, in part, due to pancreatic β-cell dysfunction. However, no histological evidence exists comparing endocrine pancreas after healthy and glucose-intolerant pregnancies. This study sought to address this knowledge gap, in addition to exploring the contribution of an inflammatory environment to changes in endocrine pancreas after parturition. We used a previously established mouse model of gestational glucose intolerance induced by dietary low protein insult from conception until weaning. Pancreas and adipose samples were collected at 7, 30 and 90 days postpartum for histomorphometric and cytokine analyses, respectively. Glucose tolerance tests were performed prior to euthanasia and blood was collected via cardiac puncture. Pregnant female mice born to dams fed a low protein diet previously shown to develop glucose intolerance at late gestation relative to controls continued to be glucose intolerant until 1 month postpartum. However, glucose tolerance normalized by 3 months postpartum. Glucose intolerance at 7 days postpartum was associated with lower beta- and alpha-cell fractional areas and higher adipose levels of pro-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-6. By 3 months postpartum, a compensatory increase in the number of small islets and a higher insulin to glucagon ratio likely enabled euglycemia to be attained in the previously glucose-intolerant mice. The results show that impairments in endocrine pancreas compensation in hyperglycemic pregnancy persist after parturition and contribute to prolonged glucose intolerance. These impairments may increase the susceptibility to development of future type 2 diabetes.

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Fiona Roberts, Greg Markby, Scott Dillon, Colin Farquharson, and Vicky E MacRae

The physiological mineralisation of skeletal tissues, as well as the pathological mineralisation of soft tissues involves a fine balance between regulators that either promote or inhibit the process. In recent years, several studies have advocated a non-skeletal role for some of these mineralisation regulators in a range of human diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and neurodegenerative disease. This is an emerging area of interest and the functional roles and mechanisms of action of these various endocrine factors, phosphatases and phosphodiesterase’s in important pathologies are the focus of this review. Mechanistic insight of the pathways through which these acknowledged regulators of skeletal mineralisation act beyond the skeleton has the potential to identify druggable targets for commonly experienced morbidities, notably those related to metabolism and metabolic syndrome.

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Myat Theingi Swe, Laongdao Thongnak, Krit Jaikumkao, Anchalee Pongchaidecha, Varanuj Chatsudthipong, and Anusorn Lungkaphin

The kidneys release glucose into the systemic circulation through glucose reabsorption and renal gluconeogenesis. Currently, the significance of renal glucose release in pathological conditions has become a subject of interest. We examined the effect of sodium-dependent glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitor (SGLT2i) on renal gluconeogenic enzyme expression in obese rats. Male Wistar rats (180–200 g) were fed either a normal diet (ND, n = 6) or a high-fat diet. At 16 weeks, after confirming the degree of glucose intolerance, high-fat diet-fed rats were randomly subdivided into three groups (n = 6/group): untreated group (HF), treated with dapagliflozin 1 mg/kg/day (HFSG) and treated with metformin 30 mg/kg/day (HFM). The treatment was continued for 4 weeks. We observed that dapagliflozin or metformin mitigated the enhanced expression of renal gluconeogenic enzymes, PEPCK, G6Pase and FBPase, as well as improved glucose tolerance and renal function in obese rats. Dapagliflozin downregulated the elevated expression of gluconeogenic transcription factors p-GSK3β, p-CREB and coactivator PGC1α in the renal cortical tissue. Metformin reduced the expression levels of renal cortical FOXO1 and CREB. Furthermore, reduced renal insulin signaling was improved and renal oxidative stress was attenuated by either dapagliflozin or metformin treatment in obese rats. We concluded that glucose tolerance was improved by dapagliflozin in obese prediabetic rats by suppressing renal glucose release from not only glucose reabsorption but also renal gluconeogenesis through improving renal cortical insulin signaling and oxidative stress. The efficacy of dapagliflozin in improving renal insulin signaling, oxidative stress and renal function was greater than that of metformin.

Open access

Nikolaos Nikolaou, Anastasia Arvaniti, Nathan Appanna, Anna Sharp, Beverly A Hughes, Dena Digweed, Martin J Whitaker, Richard Ross, Wiebke Arlt, Trevor M Penning, Karen Morris, Sherly George, Brian G Keevil, Leanne Hodson, Laura L Gathercole, and Jeremy W Tomlinson

Steroid 5β-reductase (AKR1D1) is highly expressed in human liver where it inactivates endogenous glucocorticoids and catalyses an important step in bile acid synthesis. Endogenous and synthetic glucocorticoids are potent regulators of metabolic phenotype and play a crucial role in hepatic glucose metabolism. However, the potential of synthetic glucocorticoids to be metabolised by AKR1D1 as well as to regulate its expression and activity has not been investigated. The impact of glucocorticoids on AKR1D1 activity was assessed in human liver HepG2 and Huh7 cells; AKR1D1 expression was assessed by qPCR and Western blotting. Genetic manipulation of AKR1D1 expression was conducted in HepG2 and Huh7 cells and metabolic assessments were made using qPCR. Urinary steroid metabolite profiling in healthy volunteers was performed pre- and post-dexamethasone treatment, using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. AKR1D1 metabolised endogenous cortisol, but cleared prednisolone and dexamethasone less efficiently. In vitro and in vivo, dexamethasone decreased AKR1D1 expression and activity, further limiting glucocorticoid clearance and augmenting action. Dexamethasone enhanced gluconeogenic and glycogen synthesis gene expression in liver cell models and these changes were mirrored by genetic knockdown of AKR1D1 expression. The effects of AKR1D1 knockdown were mediated through multiple nuclear hormone receptors, including the glucocorticoid, pregnane X and farnesoid X receptors. Glucocorticoids down-regulate AKR1D1 expression and activity and thereby reduce glucocorticoid clearance. In addition, AKR1D1 down-regulation alters the activation of multiple nuclear hormone receptors to drive changes in gluconeogenic and glycogen synthesis gene expression profiles, which may exacerbate the adverse impact of exogenous glucocorticoids.

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Irit Miller, Hadas Bar-Joseph, Luba Nemerovsky, Ido Ben-Ami, and Ruth Shalgi

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), one of the most common female endocrine disorder, is a prevalent cause of infertility. Hyperandrogenism is a key feature in PCOS and is correlated with increased expression of VEGF and cytokines in the ovaries. We have previously shown that pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF), an endogenous protein, presents potent anti-angiogenic and anti-inflammatory activities in the ovary and negates the effects of cytokines and VEGF. Additionally, PEDF plays a role in both pathophysiology and treatment of ovarian-hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), frequently seen in PCOS patients. We established hyperandrogenic-PCOS models, both in vivo, using mice exposed prenatally to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and, in vitro, using human primary granulosa cells (hpGCs) and human granulosa cell line (KGN). In PCOS-induced mice, the mRNA levels of I l-6, V egf and Amh were higher than those of control; yet, treatment with rPEDF decreased these levels. Moreover, treating OHSS-induced PCOS-mice with rPEDF alleviated all OHSS symptoms. Stimulation of hpGCs with DHT resulted in downregulation of PEDF mRNA expression, concomitantly with a significant increase in IL-6 and IL-8 mRNAs expression. However, co-stimulation of DHT with rPEDF attenuated the increase in cytokines expression. The anti-inflammatory effect of PEDF was found to be mediated via PPARγ pathway. Our findings suggest that rPEDF treatment may normalize the ovarian angiogenic-inflammatory imbalance, induced by PCOS-associated hyperandrogenism. Moreover, the therapeutic potency of PEDF in preventing OHSS symptomes offers a rationale for using PEDF as novel physiological treatment for PCOS sequels.

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Bethania Mongi-Bragato, Ezequiel Grondona, Liliana del Valle Sosa, Natacha Zlocowski, Ana Clara Venier, Alicia Inés Torres, Alexandra Latini, Rodrigo Bainy Leal, Silvina Gutiérrez, and Ana Lucía De Paul

The molecular mechanisms underlying the capability of pituitary tumours to avoid unregulated cell proliferation are still not well understood. However, the NF-κB transcription factor, which is able to modulate not only cellular senescence but also tumour progression, has emerged as a targeted candidate. This work was focused on the NF-κB role in cellular senescence during the progression of experimental pituitary tumours. Also, the contribution of the signalling pathways in senescence-associated NF-κB activation and the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) and pro-survival-NF-κB target genes transcription were analysed. A robust NF-κB activation was seen at E20–E40 of tumour development accompanied by a marked SA-β-Gal co-reactivity in the tumour pituitary parenchyma. The induction of TNFα and IL1-β as specific SASP-related NF-κB target genes as well as Bcl-2 and Bcl-xl pro-survival genes was shown to be accompanied by increases in the p-p38 MAPK protein levels, starting at the E20 stage and strengthening from 40 to 60 days of tumour growth. It is noteworthy that p-JNK displayed a similar pattern of activation during pituitary tumour development, while p-AKT and p-ERK1/2 were downregulated. By employing a pharmacological strategy to abrogate NF-κB activity, we demonstrated a marked reduction in SA-β-Gal activity and a slight decrease in Ki67 immunopositive cells after NF-κB blockade. These results suggest a central role for NF-κB in the regulation of the cellular senescence programme, leading to the strikingly benign intrinsic nature of pituitary adenomas.

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Harleen Kaur, Beverly S Muhlhausler, Pamela Su-Lin Sim, Amanda J Page, Hui Li, Maria Nunez-Salces, Georgia S Clarke, Lili Huang, Rebecca L Wilson, Johannes D Veldhuis, Chen Chen, Claire T Roberts, and Kathryn L Gatford

Circulating growth hormone (GH) concentrations increase during pregnancy in mice and remain pituitary-derived. Whether abundance or activation of the GH secretagogue ghrelin increase during pregnancy, or in response to dietary octanoic acid supplementation, is unclear. We therefore measured circulating GH profiles in late pregnant C57BL/6J mice and in aged-matched non-pregnant females fed with standard laboratory chow supplemented with 5% octanoic or palmitic (control) acid (n = 4–13/group). Serum total and acyl-ghrelin concentrations, stomach and placenta ghrelin mRNA and protein expression, Pcsk1 (encoding prohormone convertase 1/3) and Mboat4 (membrane bound O-acyl transferase 4) mRNA were determined at zeitgeber (ZT) 13 and ZT23. Total and basal GH secretion were higher in late pregnant than non-pregnant mice (P < 0.001), regardless of diet. At ZT13, serum concentrations of total ghrelin (P = 0.004), but not acyl-ghrelin, and the density of ghrelin-positive cells in the gastric antrum (P = 0.019) were higher, and gastric Mboat4 and Pcsk1 mRNA expression were lower in pregnant than non-pregnant mice at ZT23. In the placenta, ghrelin protein was localised mostly to labyrinthine trophoblast cells. Serum acyl-, but not total, ghrelin was lower at mid-pregnancy than in non-pregnant mice, but not different at early or late pregnancy. In conclusion, dietary supplementation with 5% octanoic acid did not increase activation of ghrelin in female mice. Our results further suggest that increases in maternal GH secretion throughout murine pregnancy are not due to circulating acyl-ghrelin acting at the pituitary. Nevertheless, time-dependent increased circulating total ghrelin could potentially increase ghrelin action in tissues that express the acylating enzyme and receptor.

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Maria Konstandi, Christina E Andriopoulou, Jie Cheng, and Frank J Gonzalez

The CYP2D subfamily catalyses the metabolism of about 25% of prescribed drugs, including the majority of antidepressants and antipsychotics. At present, the mechanism of hepatic CYP2D regulation remains largely unknown. This study investigated the role of sex steroid hormones in CYP2D regulation. For this purpose, Cyp2d22 expression was assessed in the distinct phases of the estrous cycle of normocyclic C57BL/6J (WT) female mice. Cyp2d22 was also evaluated in ovariectomised WT and CYP2D6-humanized (hCYP2D6) mice that received hormonal supplementation with either 17β-estradiol (E2) and/or progesterone. Comparisons were also made to male mice. The data revealed that hepatic Cyp2d22 mRNA, protein and activity levels were higher at estrous compared to the other phases of the estrous cycle and that ovariectomy repressed Cyp2d22 expression in WT mice. Tamoxifen, an anti-estrogenic compound, also repressed hepatic Cyp2d22 via activation of GH/STAT5b and PI3k/AKT signaling pathways. Both hormones prevented the ovariectomy-mediated Cyp2d22 repression. In case of progesterone, this may be mediated by inhibition of the PI3k/AKT/FOX01 pathway. Notably, Cyp2d22 mRNA levels in WT males were similar to those in ovariectomised mice and were markedly lower compared to females at estrous, a differentiation potentially regulated by the GH/STAT5b pathway. Sex steroid hormone-related alterations in Cyp2d22 mRNA expression were highly correlated with Hnf1a mRNA. Interestingly, fluctuations in Cyp2d22 in hippocampus and cerebellum followed those in liver. In contrast to WT mice, ovariectomy induced hepatic CYP2D6 expression in hCYP2D6 mice, whereas E2 and/or progesterone prevented this induction. Apparently, sex steroid hormones display a significant gender- and species-specific role in the regulation of CYP2D.