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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.

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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.

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Daniel J Tobiansky, George V Kachkovski, Reilly T Enos, Kim L Schmidt, E Angela Murphy, and Kiran K Soma

Sucrose consumption is associated with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive deficits. Sucrose intake during pregnancy might have particularly prominent effects on metabolic, endocrine, and neural physiology. It remains unclear how consumption of sucrose affects parous females, especially in brain circuits that mediate food consumption and reward processing. Here, we examine whether a human-relevant level of sucrose before, during, and after pregnancy (17–18 weeks total) influences metabolic and neuroendocrine physiology in female rats. Females were fed either a control diet or a macronutrient-matched, isocaloric sucrose diet (25% of kcal from sucrose). Metabolically, sucrose impairs glucose tolerance, increases liver lipids, and increases a marker of adipose inflammation, but has no effect on body weight or overall visceral adiposity. Sucrose also decreases corticosterone levels in serum but not in the brain. Sucrose increases progesterone levels in serum and in the brain and increases the brain:serum ratio of progesterone in the mesocorticolimbic system and hypothalamus. These data suggest a dysregulation of systemic and local steroid signalling. Moreover, sucrose decreases tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), a catecholamine-synthetic enzyme, in the medial prefrontal cortex. Finally, sucrose consumption alters the expression pattern of FOSB, a marker of phasic dopamine signalling, in the nucleus accumbens. Overall, chronic consumption of sucrose at a human-relevant level alters metabolism, steroid levels, and brain dopamine signalling in a female rat model.

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Erica Sarchielli, Paolo Comeglio, Sandra Filippi, Ilaria Cellai, Giulia Guarnieri, Daniele Guasti, Elena Rapizzi, Giulia Rastrelli, Daniele Bani, Gabriella Vannelli, Linda Vignozzi, Annamaria Morelli, and Mario Maggi

Lifestyle modifications, including physical exercise (PhyEx), are well-known treatments for metabolic syndrome (MetS), a cluster of metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors often associated to hypogonadism. Given the trophic role of testosterone on skeletal muscle (SkM), this study was aimed at evaluating the effects of testosterone treatment on SkM metabolism and exercise performance in male rabbits with high-fat diet (HFD)-induced MetS. HFD rabbits, treated or not with testosterone (30 mg/kg/week) for 12 weeks, were compared to regular diet animals (RD). A subset of each group was exercise-trained for 12 weeks. HFD increased type-II (fast, glycolytic) and decreased type-I (slow, oxidative) muscle fibers compared to RD as evaluated by RT-PCR and histochemistry. Testosterone reverted these effects, also inducing the expression of mitochondrial respiration enzymes and normalizing HFD-induced mitochondrial cristae reduction. Moreover, testosterone significantly increased the expression of myogenic/differentiation markers and genes related to glucidic/lipid metabolism. At the end of the PhyEx protocol, when compared to RD, HFD rabbits showed a significant reduction of running distance and running time, while testosterone counteracted this effect, also decreasing lactate production. In the trained groups, muscle histology showed a significant reduction of oxidative fibers in HFD compared to RD and the positive effect of testosterone in maintaining oxidative metabolism, as also demonstrated by analyzing mitochondrial ultrastructure, succinate dehydrogenase activity and ATP production. Our results indicate that testosterone could be useful to promote oxidative muscle metabolism altered by MetS, thus improving exercise performance. Conversely, testosterone administration to otherwise eugonadal rabbits (RD) only increased muscle fiber diameter but not endurance performance.