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Open access

A Edlund, M Barghouth, M Hühn, M Abels, J S E Esguerra, I G Mollet, E Svedin, A Wendt, E Renström, E Zhang, N Wierup, B J Scholte, M Flodström-Tullberg and L Eliasson

Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD) is a common complication for patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), a disease caused by mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). The cause of CFRD is unclear, but a commonly observed reduction in first-phase insulin secretion suggests defects at the beta cell level. Here we aimed to examine alpha and beta cell function in the Cftr tm1 EUR/F508del mouse model (C57BL/6J), which carries the most common human mutation in CFTR, the F508del mutation. CFTR expression, beta cell mass, insulin granule distribution, hormone secretion and single cell capacitance changes were evaluated using islets (or beta cells) from F508del mice and age-matched wild type (WT) mice aged 7–10 weeks. Granular pH was measured with DND-189 fluorescence. Serum glucose, insulin and glucagon levels were measured in vivo, and glucose tolerance was assessed using IPGTT. We show increased secretion of proinsulin and concomitant reduced secretion of C-peptide in islets from F508del mice compared to WT mice. Exocytosis and number of docked granules was reduced. We confirmed reduced granular pH by CFTR stimulation. We detected decreased pancreatic beta cell area, but unchanged beta cell number. Moreover, the F508del mutation caused failure to suppress glucagon secretion leading to hyperglucagonemia. In conclusion, F508del mice have beta cell defects resulting in (1) reduced number of docked insulin granules and reduced exocytosis and (2) potential defective proinsulin cleavage and secretion of immature insulin. These observations provide insight into the functional role of CFTR in pancreatic islets and contribute to increased understanding of the pathogenesis of CFRD.

Restricted access

Saad A Amer, Nadia G Alzanati, Avril Warren, Rebecca Tarbox and Raheela Khan

The purpose of this study was to investigate androgen production and the role of insulin and LH in its regulation in subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Protein and mRNA expression of androgen synthesis enzymes (cytochrome P450 17A1 (CYP17A1) and aldo-keto reductase 1C3 (AKR1C3)) were measured in SAT biopsies from women with PCOS, diagnosed according to the Rotterdam criteria (n = 15) and healthy controls (n = 15). Cultured mature adipocytes (differentiated from SAT biopsies) were treated with insulin ± phosphoinositol-3-kinase inhibitor (LY294002) or LH ± insulin. CYP17A1 and AKR1C3 mRNA expression and testosterone concentrations were measured in treated and untreated adipocyte cultures. AKR1C3 mRNA was significantly (P < 0.001) greater in PCOS vs non-PCOS SAT, but CYP17A1 was not significantly different between the two groups. AKR1C3 and CYP17A1 protein expression was not significantly different in PCOS vs non-PCOS SAT. In untreated adipocyte cultures, CYP17A1, AKR1C3 and testosterone levels were significantly higher in the PCOS vs the non-PCOS groups. Addition of insulin increased AKR1C3 mRNA and testosterone levels, but not CYP17A1 mRNA in non-PCOS with no effect on PCOS adipocytes. The stimulatory effects of insulin were not inhibited by LY294002. Addition of LH increased CYP17A1, AKR1C3 and testosterone in non-PCOS adipocytes with no effect in PCOS adipocytes. In conclusion, SAT of women with PCOS produces excess androgen, which may contribute to PCOS-related hyperandrogenaemia. This SAT androgen excess is independent of obesity and is not directly stimulated by inulin or LH.

Free access

Giulia Baldini and Kevin D Phelan

The initial discovery that ob/ob mice become obese because of a recessive mutation of the leptin gene has been crucial to discover the melanocortin pathway to control appetite. In the melanocortin pathway, the fed state is signaled by abundance of circulating hormones such as leptin and insulin, which bind to receptors expressed at the surface of pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons to promote processing of POMC to the mature hormone α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH). The α-MSH released by POMC neurons then signals to decrease energy intake by binding to melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) expressed by MC4R neurons to the paraventricular nucleus (PVN). Conversely, in the ‘starved state’ activity of agouti-related neuropeptide (AgRP) and of neuropeptide Y (NPY)-expressing neurons is increased by decreased levels of circulating leptin and insulin and by the orexigenic hormone ghrelin to promote food intake. This initial understanding of the melanocortin pathway has recently been implemented by the description of the complex neuronal circuit that controls the activity of POMC, AgRP/NPY and MC4R neurons and downstream signaling by these neurons. This review summarizes the progress done on the melanocortin pathway and describes how obesity alters this pathway to disrupt energy homeostasis. We also describe progress on how leptin and insulin receptors signal in POMC neurons, how MC4R signals and how altered expression and traffic of MC4R change the acute signaling and desensitization properties of the receptor. We also describe how the discovery of the melanocortin pathway has led to the use of melanocortin agonists to treat obesity derived from genetic disorders.

Restricted access

Jackson Nteeba, Kaiyu Kubota, Wenfang Wang, Hao Zhu, Jay L Vivian, Guoli Dai and Michael J Soares

Prolactin (PRL) signaling has been implicated in the regulation of glucose homeostatic adaptations to pregnancy. In this report, the PRL receptor (Prlr) gene was conditionally disrupted in the pancreas, creating an animal model which proved useful for investigating the biology and pathology of gestational diabetes including its impacts on fetal and placental development. In mice, pancreatic PRLR signaling was demonstrated to be required for pregnancy-associated changes in maternal β cell mass and function. Disruption of the Prlr gene in the pancreas resulted in fewer insulin-producing cells, which failed to expand appropriately during pregnancy resulting in reduced blood insulin levels and maternal glucose intolerance. This inability to sustain normal blood glucose balance during pregnancy worsened with age and a successive pregnancy. The etiology of the insulin insufficiency was attributed to deficits in regulatory pathways controlling β cell differentiation. Additionally, the disturbance in maternal blood glucose homeostasis was associated with fetal overgrowth and dysregulation of inflammation and PRL-associated transcripts in the placenta. Overall, these results indicate that the PRLR, acting within the pancreas, mediates maternal pancreatic adaptations to pregnancy. PRLR dysfunction is associated with glucose intolerance during pregnancy and pathological features consistent with gestational diabetes.

Restricted access

Rodrigo Martins Pereira, Kellen Cristina da Cruz Rodrigues, Chadi Pellegrini Anaruma, Marcella Ramos Sant’Ana, Thaís Dantis Pereira de Campos, Rodrigo Stellzer Gaspar, Raphael dos Santos Canciglieri, Diego Gomes de Melo, Rania A Mekary, Adelino Sanchez Ramos da Silva, Dennys Esper Cintra, Eduardo Rochete Ropelle, José Rodrigo Pauli and Leandro Pereira de Moura

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has a positive correlation with obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D). The aerobic training is an important tool in combating NAFLD. However, no studies have demonstrated the molecular effects of short-term strength training on the accumulation of hepatic fat in obese mice. This study aimed to investigate the effects of short-term strength training on the mechanisms of oxidation and lipid synthesis in the liver of obese mice. The short duration protocol was used to avoid changing the amount of adipose tissue. Swiss mice were separated into three groups: lean control (CTL), sedentary obese (OB) and strength training obese (STO). The obese groups were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) and the STO group performed the strength training protocol 1 session/day for 15 days. The short-term strength training reduced hepatic fat accumulation, increasing hepatic insulin sensitivity and controlling hepatic glucose production. The obese animals increased the mRNA of lipogenic genes Fasn and Scd1 and reduced the oxidative genes Cpt1a and Ppara. On the other hand, the STO group presented the opposite results. Finally, the obese animals presented higher levels of lipogenic proteins (ACC and FAS) and proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-α and IL-1β), but the short-term strength training was efficient in reducing this condition, regardless of body weight loss. In conclusion, there was a reduction of obesity-related hepatic lipogenesis and inflammation after short-term strength training, independent of weight loss, leading to improvements in hepatic insulin sensitivity and glycemic homeostasis in obese mice. Key points: (1) Short-term strength training (STST) reduced fat accumulation and inflammation in the liver; (2) Hepatic insulin sensitivity and HPG control were increased with STST; (3) The content and activity of ACC and content of FAS were reduced with STST; (4) STST improved hepatic fat accumulation and glycemic homeostasis; (5) STST effects were observed independently of body weight change.

Restricted access

Weixia Han, Chen Wang, Zhifen Yang, Lin Mu, Ming Wu, Nan Chen, Chunyang Du, Huijun Duan and Yonghong Shi

Renal fibrosis is the major pathological characteristic of diabetic nephropathy (DN). Reportedly, increased SIRT1 expression played a renal protective role in animal models of DN. This study was designed to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying the protective effects of SRT1720, an SIRT1 activator, against diabetes-induced renal fibrosis. Type 2 diabetic mice (db/db) were treated with SRT1720 (50 mg/kg/day) by gavage for 10 weeks. Renal proximal tubular epithelial cells (HK-2 cells) were treated with high glucose (HG, 30 mM) in the presence or absence of SRT1720 (2.5 µM) for 48 h. We observed that impaired SIRT1 expression and activity were restored by SRT1720 administration in db/db mice as well as in HG-treated HK-2 cells. Moreover, SRT1720 administration improved the renal function, attenuated glomerular hypertrophy, mesangial expansion, glomerulosclerosis and interstitial fibrosis and inhibited TGFB1 and CTGF expressions and nuclear factor κB (NF-KB) activation in db/db mice. Similarly, HG-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transformation (EMT) and collagen IV and fibronectin expressions were inhibited in SRT1720-treated HK-2 cells. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that SRT1720 suppressed HIF1A, GLUT1 and SNAIL expressions both in vivo and in vitro. Furthermore, HIF1A or GLUT1 knockdown effectively abrogated HG-induced EMT and collagen IV and fibronectin expressions in HK-2 cells. These findings suggest that SRT1720 prevented diabetes-induced renal fibrosis via the SIRT1/HIF1A/GLUT1/SNAIL pathway.

Free access

Andrew W Norris, Katie Larson Ode, Lina Merjaneh, Srinath Sanda, Yaling Yi, Xingshen Sun, John F Engelhardt and Rebecca L Hull

In cystic fibrosis (CF), ductal plugging and acinar loss result in rapid decline of exocrine pancreatic function. This destructive process results in remodeled islets, with only a modest reduction in insulin-producing β cells. However, β-cell function is profoundly impaired, with decreased insulin release and abnormal glucose tolerance being present even in infants with CF. Ultimately, roughly half the CF subjects develop diabetes (termed CF-related diabetes (CFRD)). Importantly, CFRD increases CF morbidity and mortality via worsening catabolism and pulmonary disease. Current accepted treatment options for CFRD are aimed at insulin replacement, thereby improving glycemia as well as preventing nutritional losses and lung decline. CFRD is a unique form of diabetes with a distinct pathophysiology that is as yet incompletely understood. Recent studies highlight emerging areas of interest. First, islet inflammation and lymphocyte infiltration are common even in young children with CF and may contribute to β-cell failure. Second, controversy exists in the literature regarding the presence/importance of β-cell intrinsic functions of CFTR and its direct role in modulating insulin release. Third, loss of the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) from pancreatic ductal epithelium, the predominant site of its synthesis, results in paracrine effects that impair insulin release. Finally, the degree of β-cell loss in CFRD does not appear sufficient to explain the deficit in insulin release. Thus, it may be possible to enhance the function of the remaining β-cells using strategies such as targeting islet inflammation or ductal CFTR deficiency to effectively treat or even prevent CFRD.

Free access

Chen-Che Jeff Huang and Yuan Kang

The X-zone is a transient cortical region enriched in eosinophilic cells located in the cortical–medullary boundary of the mouse adrenal gland. Similar to the X-zone, the fetal zone in human adrenals is also a transient cortical compartment, comprising the majority of the human fetal adrenal gland. During adrenal development, fetal cortical cells are gradually replaced by newly formed adult cortical cells that develop into outer definitive zones. In mice, the regression of this fetal cell population is sexually dimorphic. Many mouse models with mutations associated with endocrine factors have been reported with X-zone phenotypes. Increasing findings indicate that the cell fate of this aged cell population of the adrenal cortex can be manipulated by many hormonal and nonhormonal factors. This review summarizes the current knowledge of this transient adrenocortical zone with an emphasis on genes and signaling pathways that affect X-zone cells.

Open access

Thomas Nicholson, Chris Church, Kostas Tsintzas, Robert Jones, Leigh Breen, Edward T Davis, David J Baker and Simon W Jones

Adipokines have emerged as central mediators of insulin sensitivity and metabolism, in part due to the known association of obesity with metabolic syndrome disorders such as type 2 diabetes. Recent studies in rodents have identified the novel adipokine vaspin as playing a protective role in inflammatory metabolic diseases by functioning as a promoter of insulin sensitivity during metabolic stress. However, at present the skeletal muscle and adipose tissue expression of vaspin in humans is poorly characterised. Furthermore, the functional role of vaspin in skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity has not been studied. Since skeletal muscle is the major tissue for insulin-stimulated glucose uptake, understanding the functional role of vaspin in human muscle insulin signalling is critical in determining its role in glucose homeostasis. The objective of this study was to profile the skeletal muscle and subcutaneous adipose tissue expression of vaspin in humans of varying adiposity, and to determine the functional role of vaspin in mediating insulin signalling and glucose uptake in human skeletal muscle. Our data shows that vaspin is secreted from both human subcutaneous adipose tissue and skeletal muscle, and is more highly expressed in obese older individuals compared to lean older individuals. Furthermore, we demonstrate that vaspin induces activation of the PI3K/AKT axis, independent of insulin receptor activation, promotes GLUT4 expression and translocation and sensitises older obese human skeletal muscle to insulin-mediated glucose uptake.

Open access

Jin Yu, Yuhuan Liu, Danying Zhang, Dongxia Zhai, Linyi Song, Zailong Cai and Chaoqin Yu

High androgen levels in patients suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can be effectively reversed if the herb Scutellaria baicalensis is included in traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions. To characterize the effects of baicalin, extracted from S. baicalensis, on androgen biosynthesis in NCI-H295R cells and on hyperandrogenism in PCOS model rats and to elucidate the underlying mechanisms. The optimum concentration and intervention time for baicalin treatment of NCI-H295R cells were determined by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide and ELISA. The functional genes affected by baicalin were studied by gene expression profiling (GEP), and the key genes were identified using a dual luciferase assay, RNA interference technique and genetic mutations. Besides, hyperandrogenic PCOS model rats were induced and confirmed before and after baicalin intervention. As a result, baicalin decreased the testosterone concentrations in a dose- and time-dependent manner in NCI-H295R cells. GEP revealed that 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type II (HSD3B2) was the key enzyme of androgen biosynthesis, and baicalin inhibited the expression of HSD3B2 by regulating the binding of transcription factor GATA-binding factor 1 (GATA1) to the HSD3B2 promoter. Hyperandrogenic PCOS model rats treated with baicalin significantly reversed the high androgen levels of serum and the abnormal ovarian status, restored the estrous cyclicity and decreased the expression of HSD3B2 in ovarian. In summary, our data revealed that GATA1 is an important transcription factor activating the HSD3B2 promoter in steroidogenesis, and baicalin will potentially be an effective therapeutic agent for hyperandrogenism in PCOS by inhibiting the recruitment of GATA1 to the HSD3B2 promoter in ovarian tissue.