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Jose Casasnovas, Yunhee Jo, Xi Rao, Xiaoling Xuei, Mary E Brown and Kok Lim Kua

Offspring of diabetic mothers are susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes due to pancreatic islet dysfunction. However, the initiating molecular pathways leading to offspring pancreatic islet dysfunction are unknown. We hypothesized that maternal hyperglycemia alters offspring pancreatic islet transcriptome and negatively impacts offspring islet function. We employed an infusion model capable of inducing localized hyperglycemia in fetal rats residing in the left uterine horn, thus avoiding other factors involved in programming offspring pancreatic islet health. While maintaining euglycemia in maternal dams and right uterine horn control fetuses, hyperglycemic fetuses in the left uterine horn had higher serum insulin and pancreatic beta cell area. Upon completing infusion from GD20 to 22, RNA sequencing was performed on GD22 islets to identify the hyperglycemia-induced altered gene expression. Ingenuity pathway analysis of the altered transcriptome found that diabetes mellitus and inflammation/cell death pathways were enriched. Interestingly, the downregulated genes modulate more diverse biological processes, which includes responses to stimuli and developmental processes. Next, we performed ex and in vivo studies to evaluate islet cell viability and insulin secretory function in weanling and adult offspring. Pancreatic islets of weanlings exposed to late gestation hyperglycemia had decreased cell viability in basal state and glucose-induced insulin secretion. Lastly, adult offspring exposed to in utero hyperglycemia also exhibited glucose intolerance and insulin secretory dysfunction. Together, our results demonstrate that late gestational hyperglycemia alters the fetal pancreatic islet transcriptome and increases offspring susceptibility to developing pancreatic islet dysfunction.

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Yuefei Huang, Pei Yee Ting, Tham M Yao, Tsuyoshi Homma, Danielle Brooks, Isis Katayama Rangel, Gail K Adler, Jose R Romero, Jonathan S Williams, Luminita H Pojoga and Gordon H Williams

Human risk allele carriers of lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1) and LSD1-deficient mice have salt-sensitive hypertension for unclear reasons. We hypothesized that LSD1 deficiency causes dysregulation of aldosterone’s response to salt intake resulting in increased cardiovascular risk factors (blood pressure and microalbumin). Furthermore, we determined the effect of biological sex on these potential abnormalities. To test our hypotheses, LSD1 male and female heterozygote-knockout (LSD1+/−) and WT mice were assigned to two age groups: 18 weeks and 36 weeks. Plasma aldosterone levels and aldosterone production from zona glomerulosa cells studied ex vivo were greater in both male and female LSD1+/− mice consuming a liberal salt diet as compared to WT mice consuming the same diet. However, salt-sensitive blood pressure elevation and increased microalbuminuria were only observed in male LSD1+/− mice. These data suggest that LSD1 interacts with aldosterone’s secretory response to salt intake. Lack of LSD1 causes inappropriate aldosterone production on a liberal salt diet; males appear to be more sensitive to this aldosterone increase as males, but not females, develop salt sensitivity of blood pressure and increased microalbuminuria. The mechanism responsible for the cardiovascular protective effect in females is uncertain but may be related to estrogen modulating the effect of mineralocorticoid receptor activation.

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Lenka Maletínská, Andrea Popelová, Blanka Železná, Michal Bencze and Jaroslav Kuneš

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder in the elderly population. Numerous epidemiological and experimental studies have demonstrated that patients who suffer from obesity or type 2 diabetes mellitus have a higher risk of cognitive dysfunction and AD. Several recent studies demonstrated that food intake-lowering (anorexigenic) peptides have the potential to improve metabolic disorders and that they may also potentially be useful in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. In this review, the neuroprotective effects of anorexigenic peptides of both peripheral and central origins are discussed. Moreover, the role of leptin as a key modulator of energy homeostasis is discussed in relation to its interaction with anorexigenic peptides and their analogs in AD-like pathology. Although there is no perfect experimental model of human AD pathology, animal studies have already proven that anorexigenic peptides exhibit neuroprotective properties. This phenomenon is extremely important for the potential development of new drugs in view of the aging of the human population and of the significantly increasing incidence of AD.

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Yi Luan, Maxwell E Edmonds, Teresa K Woodruff and So-Youn Kim

Cancer therapy can cause off-target effects including ovarian damage, which may result in primary ovarian insufficiency in girls and premenopausal women. Loss of ovarian follicles within the ovarian reserve leads to ovarian endocrine dysfunction and impaired fertility. Cyclophosphamide (CPA), a commonly used chemotherapeutic and immunosuppressant agent, is a gonadotoxic agent that destroys ovarian cells by crosslinking DNA. To protect the ovary against CPA damage, we sought to precisely map the mechanism by which the ovarian reserve is depleted by CPA. We found that CPA specifically depletes primordial follicles without affecting primary and secondary follicles in three independent murine strains (CD-1, C57BL/6J and BALB/cJ) in vivo. We directly tested the effect of the active metabolite of CPA, 1 μM 4-hydroxyperoxycyclophophamide (4-HC), in vitro and confirmed the loss of primordial oocytes but no change in the number of primary and secondary follicles. We demonstrated that phospho-AKT (p-AKT) and cleaved PARP (cPARP) are present in primordial oocytes 3 days after CPA injection, consistent with the role of these markers as part of the apoptotic cascade. Interestingly, p-AKT positive primordial oocytes co-expressed cPARP. Treatment of animals with specific inhibitors of apoptotic pathway components, ETP46464 and CHK2, blocked 4-HC‒induced DNA damage in vitro. These data suggest that CPA targets primordial germ cells in the ovarian reserve by stimulating apoptosis pathways. Adjuvant therapies to protect primordial germ cells from the off-target effects of CPA may reduce the risk of POI.

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Li Zhao, Chunfang Zhu, Meng Lu, Chi Chen, Xiaomin Nie, Buatikamu Abudukerimu, Kun Zhang, Zhiyuan Ning, Yi Chen, Jing Cheng, Fangzhen Xia, Ningjian Wang, Michael D Jensen and Yingli Lu

Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RAs) are an ideal therapy for type 2 diabetes and, as of recently, for obesity. In contrast to visceral fat, subcutaneous fat appears to be protective against metabolic diseases. Here, we aimed to explore whether liraglutide, a GLP-1RA, could redistribute body fat via regulating lipid metabolism in different fat depots. After being fed a high-fat diet for 8 weeks, 50 male Wistar and Goto-Kakizaki rats were randomly divided into a normal control group, a diabetic control group, low- and high-dose liraglutide-treated groups and a diet-control group. Different doses of liraglutide (400 μg/kg/day or 1200 μg/kg/day) or an equal volume of normal saline were administered to the rats subcutaneously once a day for 12 weeks. Body composition and body fat deposition were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and MRI. Isotope tracers were infused to explore lipid metabolism in different fat depots. Quantitative real-time PCR and Western blot analyses were conducted to evaluate the expression of adipose-related genes. The results showed that liraglutide decreased visceral fat and relatively increased subcutaneous fat. Lipogenesis was reduced in visceral white adipose tissue (WAT) but was elevated in subcutaneous WAT. Lipolysis was also attenuated, and fatty acid oxidation was enhanced. The mRNA expression levels of adipose-related genes in different tissues displayed similar trends after liraglutide treatment. In addition, the expression of browning-related genes was upregulated in subcutaneous WAT. Taken together, the results suggested that liraglutide potentially redistributes body fat and promotes browning remodeling in subcutaneous WAT to improve metabolic disorders.

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Ljupka Gligorovska, Biljana Bursać, Sanja Kovačević, Nataša Veličković, Gordana Matić and Ana Djordjevic

The macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a proinflammatory cytokine involved in inflammation, regulation of energy metabolism and glucocorticoid action. Chronic low-grade inflammation may be caused by fructose intake, contributing to visceral adipose tissue (VAT) dysfunction. Since MIF is a known antagonist of glucocorticoid signaling, and deregulated glucocorticoid signaling can contribute to lipid metabolism disturbances, we hypothesized that altered MIF signaling might underlie fructose-induced adiposity through glucocorticoid action. We analyzed physiological and biochemical parameters, adipose tissue histology, insulin sensitivity and lipid metabolism in WT and MIF−/− C57Bl/6J mice consuming 20% fructose solution for 9 weeks. Glucocorticoid prereceptor metabolism and glucocorticoid receptor (GR) protein level were examined in VAT, together with the expression of glucocorticoid-target genes involved in lipid metabolism. The expression of adipogenic and lipogenic transcriptional regulators peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG) and sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1c (SREBP1c) was also assessed. Results showed disturbed insulin sensitivity in all MIF−/− mice, regardless of the diet. Mice on fructose diet had increased energy intake, but increased visceral adiposity and enlarged adipocytes were observed only in fructose-fed MIF−/− mice. Increased VAT corticosterone level and 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1, hexose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase and GR protein levels were observed in the same animals, together with induced expression of examined lipogenic genes and accumulation of PPARG and SREBP1c. In conclusion, the results showed that dietary fructose was associated with increased visceral adiposity through activation of GR-regulated lipogenic genes, but only in the absence of MIF, which set the state of hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance.

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Benoit Cox, Emma Laporte, Annelies Vennekens, Hiroto Kobayashi, Charlotte Nys, Indra Van Zundert, Hiroshi Uji-i, Alizée Vercauteren Drubbel, Benjamin Beck, Heleen Roose, Matteo Boretto and Hugo Vankelecom

The pituitary is the master endocrine gland, harboring stem cells of which the phenotype and role remain poorly characterized. Here, we established organoids from mouse pituitary with the aim to generate a novel research model to study pituitary stem cell biology. The organoids originated from the pituitary cells expressing the stem cell marker SOX2 were long-term expandable, displayed a stemness phenotype during expansive culture and showed specific hormonal differentiation ability, although limited, after subrenal transplantation. Application of the protocol to transgenically injured pituitary harboring an activated stem cell population, resulted in more numerous organoids. Intriguingly, these organoids presented with a cystic morphology, whereas the organoids from undamaged gland were predominantly dense and appeared more limited in expandability. Transcriptomic analysis revealed distinct epithelial phenotypes and showed that cystic organoids more resembled the pituitary phenotype, at least to an immature state, and displayed in vitro differentiation, although yet moderate. Organoid characterization further exposed facets of regulatory pathways of the putative stem cells of the pituitary and advanced new injury-activated markers. Taken together, we established a novel organoid research model revealing new insights into the identity and regulation of the putative pituitary stem cells. This organoid model may eventually lead to an interesting tool to decipher pituitary stem cell biology in both healthy and diseased gland.

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Romain Fontaine, Eirill Ager-Wick, Kjetil Hodne and Finn-Arne Weltzien

Luteinizing hormone (Lh) and follicle-stimulating hormone (Fsh) control reproduction in vertebrates. Using a transgenic line of medaka, in which green fluorescent protein expression is controlled by the endogenous lhb promotor, we studied development and plasticity of Lh cells, comparing juveniles and adults of both genders. Confocal imaging and 3D reconstruction revealed hypertrophy and hyperplasia of Lh cells in both genders from juvenile to adult stages. We show that Lh cell hyperplasia may be caused by recruitment of existing pituitary cells that start to produce lhb, as evidenced by time lapse recordings of primary pituitary cell cultures, and/or through Lh cell proliferation, demonstrated through a combination of 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine incubation experiments and proliferating cell nuclear antigen staining. Proliferating Lh cells do not belong to the classical type of multipotent stem cells, as they do not stain with anti-sox2. Estradiol exposure in vivo increased pituitary cell proliferation, particularly Lh cells, whereas pituitary lhb and gpa expression levels decreased. RNA-seq and in situ hybridization showed that Lh cells express two estrogen receptors, esr1 and esr2b, and the aromatase gene cyp19a1b, suggesting a direct effect of estradiol, and possibly androgens, on Lh cell proliferation. In conclusion, our study reveals a high degree of plasticity in the medaka Lh cell population, resulting from a combination of recruitment and cell proliferation.

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María Andrea Camilletti, Alejandra Abeledo-Machado, Jimena Ferraris, Pablo A Pérez, Erika Y Faraoni, Daniel Pisera, Silvina Gutierrez and Graciela Díaz-Torga

Ovarian steroids control a variety of physiological functions. They exert actions through classical nuclear steroid receptors, but rapid non-genomic actions through specific membrane steroid receptors have been also described. In this study, we demonstrate that the G-protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER) is expressed in the rat pituitary gland and, at a high level, in the lactotroph population. Our results revealed that ~40% of the anterior pituitary cells are GPER positive and ~35% of the lactotrophs are GPER positive. By immunocytochemical and immuno-electron-microscopy studies, we demonstrated that GPER is localized in the plasmatic membrane but is also associated to the endoplasmic reticulum in rat lactotrophs. Moreover, we found that local Gper expression is regulated negatively by 17β-estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) and fluctuates during the estrus cycle, being minimal in proestrus. Interestingly, lack of ovarian steroids after an ovariectomy (OVX) significantly increased pituitary GPER expression specifically in the three morphologically different subtypes of lactotrophs. We found a rapid estradiol stimulatory effect on PRL secretion mediated by GPER, both in vitro and ex vivo, using a GPER agonist G1, and this effect was prevented by the GPER antagonist G36, demonstrating a novel role for this receptor. Then, the increased pituitary GPER expression after OVX could lead to alterations in the pituitary function as all three lactotroph subtypes are target of GPER ligand and could be involved in the PRL secretion mediated by GPER. Therefore, it should be taken into consideration in the response of the gland to an eventual hormone replacement therapy.

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Te Du, Liu Yang, Xu Xu, Xiaofan Shi, Xin Xu, Jian Lu, Jianlu Lv, Xi Huang, Jing Chen, Heyao Wang, Jiming Ye, Lihong Hu and Xu Shen

Vincamine, a monoterpenoid indole alkaloid extracted from the Madagascar periwinkle, is clinically used for the treatment of cardio-cerebrovascular diseases, while also treated as a dietary supplement with nootropic function. Given the neuronal protection of vincamine and the potency of β-cell amelioration in treating type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), we investigated the potential of vincamine in protecting β-cells and ameliorating glucose homeostasis in vitro and in vivo. Interestingly, we found that vincamine could protect INS-832/13 cells function by regulating G-protein-coupled receptor 40 (GPR40)/cAMP/Ca2+/IRS2/PI3K/Akt signaling pathway, while increasing glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) by modulating GPR40/cAMP/Ca2+/CaMKII pathway, which reveals a novel mechanism underlying GPR40-mediated cell protection and GSIS in INS-832/13 cells. Moreover, administration of vincamine effectively ameliorated glucose homeostasis in either HFD/STZ or db/db type 2 diabetic mice. To our knowledge, our current work might be the first report on vincamine targeting GPR40 and its potential in the treatment of T2DM.