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Apiwan Arinno, Nattayaporn Apaijai, Puntarik Kaewthep, Wasana Pratchayasakul, Thidarat Jaiwongkam, Sasiwan Kerdphoo, Siriporn C Chattipakorn and Nipon Chattipakorn

Although a physiological dose of testosterone replacement therapy (p-TRT) has been shown to improve left ventricular (LV) function, some studies reported that it increased the risk of myocardial infarction in testosterone-deprived men. We previously reported that vildagliptin might be used as an alternative to p-TRT. In this study, we hypothesized that a combined low-dose TRT with vildagliptin exerts greater efficacy than single regimen in improving cardiometabolic function in obese, insulin-resistant rats with testosterone deprivation. Male rats were fed on a normal diet or high-fat diet for 12 weeks. Then, they were divided into two subgroups, sham operation and orchiectomy (normal diet rats with orchiectomy (NDO), high-fat diet rats with orchiectomy (HFO)) and fed their diets for another 12 weeks. At week 25, orchiectomized rats were subdivided into four groups: vehicle, p-TRT, vildagliptin and combined drugs. At week 29, cardiometabolic and biochemical parameters were determined. HFO rats had obese insulin resistance with a worse LV dysfunction, compared with sham. Vildagliptin and combined drugs effectively reduced insulin resistance. All treatments reduced blood pressure, cardiac autonomic imbalance, LV dysfunction, mitochondrial dysfunction, apoptosis and increased mitochondrial fusion in NDO and HFO rats. However, p-TRT and combined drugs, but not vildagliptin, reduced mitochondrial fission in NDO and HFO rats. We concluded that combined low-dose TRT with vildagliptin mitigated LV function at a similar level to the p-TRT alone and vildagliptin via improving mitochondrial fusion, reducing mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptosis in testosterone-deprived rats. Our findings suggest that low-dose TRT combined with vildagliptin may be an alternative for p-TRT in conditions of obese insulin resistance with testosterone deprivation.

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Jia Sun, Haiping Zhu, Xiaorong Wang, Qiuqi Gao, Zhuoying Li and Huiya Huang

The molecular signaling mechanisms of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) in diabetic nephropathy (DN) remain poorly understood. We verified that mitochondrial abnormalities, like defective mitophagy, the generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mtROS) and the reduction of mitochondrial membrane potential, occurred in the glomerulus of db/db mice, accompanied by reduced PINK and parkin expression and increased apoptosis. These changes were partially reversed following oral administration of CoQ10. In inner fenestrated murine glomerular endothelial cells (mGECs), high glucose (HG) also resulted in deficient mitophagy, mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptosis, which were reversed by CoQ10. Mitophagy suppression mediated by Mdivi-1 or siPINK abrogated the renoprotective effects exerted by CoQ10, suggesting a beneficial role for CoQ10-restored mitophagy in DN. Mechanistically, CoQ10 restored the expression, activity and nuclear translocation of Nrf2 in HG-cultured mGECs. In addition, the reduced PINK and parkin expression observed in HG-cultured mGECs were partially elevated by CoQ10. CoQ10-mediated renoprotective effects were abrogated by the Nrf2 inhibitor ML385. When ML385 abolished mitophagy and the renoprotective effects exerted by CoQ10, mGECs could be rescued by treatment with mitoTEMPO, which is a mtROS-targeted antioxidant. These results suggest that CoQ10, as an effective antioxidant in mitochondria, exerts beneficial effects in DN via mitophagy by restoring Nrf2/ARE signaling. In summary, CoQ10-mediated mitophagy activation positively regulates DN through a mechanism involving mtROS, which influences the activation of the Nrf2/ARE pathway.

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Weiwei Xu, Jamie Morford and Franck Mauvais-Jarvis

One of the most sexually dimorphic aspects of metabolic regulation is the bidirectional modulation of glucose homeostasis by testosterone in male and females. Severe testosterone deficiency predisposes men to type 2 diabetes (T2D), while in contrast, androgen excess predisposes women to hyperglycemia. The role of androgen deficiency and excess in promoting visceral obesity and insulin resistance in men and women respectively is well established. However, although it is established that hyperglycemia requires β cell dysfunction to develop, the role of testosterone in β cell function is less understood. This review discusses recent evidence that the androgen receptor (AR) is present in male and female β cells. In males, testosterone action on AR in β cells enhances glucose-stimulated insulin secretion by potentiating the insulinotropic action of glucagon-like peptide-1. In females, excess testosterone action via AR in β cells promotes insulin hypersecretion leading to oxidative injury, which in turn predisposes to T2D.

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Dong-Xu Han, Chang-Jiang Wang, Xu-Lei Sun, Jian-Bo Liu, Hao Jiang, Yan Gao, Cheng-Zhen Chen, Bao Yuan and Jia-Bao Zhang

Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a new class of RNA that have a stable structure characterized by covalently closed circular molecules and are involved in invasive pituitary adenomas and recurrent clinically nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas. However, information on circRNAs in the normal pituitary, especially in rats, is limited. In this study, we identified 4123 circRNAs in the immature (D15) and mature (D120) rat anterior pituitary using the Illumina platform, and 32 differentially expressed circRNAs were found. A total of 150 Gene Ontology terms were significantly enriched, and 16 KEGG pathways were found to contain differentially expressed genes. Moreover, we randomly selected eight highly expressed circRNAs and detected their relative expression levels in the mature and immature rat pituitary by qPCR. In addition, we predicted 90 interactions between 53 circRNAs and 57 miRNAs using miRanda. Notably, circ_0000964 and circ_0001303 are potential miRNA sponges that may regulate the Fshb gene. The expression profile of circRNAs in the immature and mature rat anterior pituitary may provide more information about the roles of circRNAs in the development and reproduction in mammals.

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Vinay Shukla, Jyoti Bala Kaushal, Pushplata Sankhwar, Murli Manohar and Anila Dwivedi

Embryo implantation and decidualization are critical events that occur during early pregnancy. Decidualization is synchronized by the crosstalk of progesterone and the cAMP signaling pathway. Previously, we confirmed the role of TPPP3 during embryo implantation in mice, but the underlying role and mechanism of TPPP3 in decidualization has not yet been understood. The current study was aimed to investigate the role of TPPP3 in decidualization in vivo and in vitro. For in vivo experiments, decidual reaction was artificially induced in the uteri of BALB/c mice. TPPP3 was found to be highly expressed during decidualization, whereas in the uteri receiving TPPP3 siRNA, decidualization was suppressed and the expression of β-catenin and decidual marker prolactin was reduced. In human endometrium, TPPP3 protein was found to be predominantly expressed in the mid-secretory phase (LH+7). In the primary culture of human endometrial stromal cells (hESCs), TPPP3 siRNA knockdown inhibited stromal-to-decidual cell transition and decreased the expression of the decidualization markers prolactin and IGFBP-1. Immunofluorescence and immunoblotting experiments revealed that TPPP3 siRNA knockdown suppressed the expression of β-catenin, NF-κB and COX-2 in hESCs during decidualization. TPPP3 inhibition also decreased NF-kB nuclear accumulation in hESCs and suppressed NF-κB transcriptional promoter activity. COX-2 expression was significantly decreased in the presence of a selective NF-kB inhibitor (QNZ) implicating that NF-kB is involved in COX-2 expression in hESCs undergoing decidualization. TUNEL assay and FACS analysis revealed that TPPP3 knockdown induced apoptosis and caused loss of mitochondrial membrane potential in hESCs. The study suggested that TPPP3 plays a significant role in decidualization and its inhibition leads to the suppression of β-catenin/NF-κB/COX-2 signaling along with the induction of mitochondria-dependent apoptosis.

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María Florencia Heber, Silvana Rocío Ferreira, Giselle Adriana Abruzzese, Raíces Trinidad, Omar P Pignataro, Margarita Vega and Alicia B Motta

Insulin resistance is the decreased ability of insulin to mediate metabolic actions. In the ovary, insulin controls ovulation and oocyte quality. Alterations in ovarian insulin signaling pathway could compromise ovarian physiology. Here, we aimed to investigate the effects of fetal programming on ovarian insulin signaling and evaluate the effect of metformin treatment. Pregnant rats were hyperandrogenized with testosterone and female offspring born to those dams were employed; at adulthood, prenatally hyperandrogenized (PH) offspring presented two phenotypes: irregular ovulatory (PHiov) and anovulatory (PHanov). Half of each group was orally treated with metformin. Metformin treatment improved the estrous cyclicity in both PH groups. Both PH groups showed low mRNA levels of Ir, Irs1 and Glut4. Irs2 was decreased only in PHanov. Metformin upregulated the mRNA levels of some of the mediators studied. Protein expression of IR, IRS1/2 and GLUT4 was decreased in both PH groups. In PHiov, metformin restored the expression of all the mediators, whereas in PHanov, metformin restored only that of IR and IRS1/2. IRS1 phosphorylation was measured in tyrosine residues, which activates the pathway, and in serine residues, which impairs insulin action. PHiov presented high IRS1 phosphorylation on tyrosine and serine residues, whereas PHanov showed high serine phosphorylation and low tyrosine phosphorylation. Metformin treatment lowered serine phosphorylation only in PHanov rats. Our results suggest that PHanov rats have a defective insulin action, partially restored with metformin. PHiov rats had less severe alterations, and metformin treatment was more effective in this phenotype.

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Yuxun Zhou, Li Tong, Maochun Wang, Xueying Chang, Sijia Wang, Kai Li and Junhua Xiao

Puberty onset is a complex trait regulated by multiple genetic and environmental factors. In this study, we narrowed a puberty-related QTL region down to a 1.7 Mb region on chromosome X in female mice and inferred miR-505-3p as the functional gene. We conducted ectopic expression of miR-505-3p in the hypothalamus of prepubertal female mice through lentivirus-mediated orthotopic injection. The impact of miR-505-3p on female puberty was evaluated by the measurement of pubertal/reproduction events and histological analysis. The results showed that female mice with overexpression of miR-505-3p in the hypothalamus manifested later puberty onset timing both in vaginal opening and ovary maturation, followed by weaker fertility lying in the longer interval time between mating and delivery, higher abortion rate and smaller litter size. We also constructed miR-505-3p-knockout mice by CRISPR/Cas9 technology. miR-505-3p-knockout female mice showed earlier vaginal opening timing, higher serum gonadotrophin and higher expression of puberty-related gene in the hypothalamus than their WT littermates. Srsf1 proved to be the target gene of miR-505-3p that played the major role in this process. The results of RNA immunoprecipitation sequencing showed that SRSF1 (or SF2), the protein product of Srsf1 gene, mainly bound to ribosome protein (RP) mRNAs in GT1-7 cells. The collective evidence implied that miR-505-3p/SRSF1/RP could play a role in the sexual maturation regulation of mammals.

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Manuel D Gahete, Juan M Jiménez-Vacas, Emilia Alors-Pérez, Vicente Herrero-Aguayo, Antonio C Fuentes-Fayos, Sergio Pedraza-Arévalo, Justo P Castaño and Raúl M Luque

Endocrine and neuroendocrine tumors comprise a highly heterogeneous group of neoplasms that can arise from (neuro)endocrine cells, either from endocrine glands or from the widespread diffuse neuroendocrine system, and, consequently, are widely distributed throughout the body. Due to their diversity, heterogeneity and limited incidence, studying in detail the molecular and genetic alterations that underlie their development and progression is still a highly elusive task. This, in turn, hinders the discovery of novel therapeutic options for these tumors. To circumvent these limitations, numerous mouse models of endocrine and neuroendocrine tumors have been developed, characterized and used in preclinical, co-clinical (implemented in mouse models and patients simultaneously) and post-clinical studies, for they represent powerful and necessary tools in basic and translational tumor biology research. Indeed, different in vivo mouse models, including cell line-based xenografts (CDXs), patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) and genetically engineered mouse models (GEMs), have been used to delineate the development, progression and behavior of human tumors. Results gained with these in vivo models have facilitated the clinical application in patients of diverse breakthrough discoveries made in this field. Herein, we review the generation, characterization and translatability of the most prominent mouse models of endocrine and neuroendocrine tumors reported to date, as well as the most relevant clinical implications obtained for each endocrine and neuroendocrine tumor type.

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Yoko Yagishita, Akira Uruno, Dionysios V Chartoumpekis, Thomas W Kensler and Masayuki Yamamoto

The transcription factor Nrf2 (NF-E2-related factor 2) plays a critical role in oxidative stress responses. Although activation of Nrf2 signaling is known to exert anti-inflammatory effects, the function of Nrf2 in inflammation-mediated autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes, is not well established. To address the roles of Nrf2 in protection against autoreactive T-cell-induced type 1 diabetes, we used non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice, which are a polygenic model of human type 1 diabetes, to generate a genetic model for assessment of the contribution of Nrf2 activation to prevention and/or treatment of type 1 diabetes. Because Keap1 (Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1) negatively regulates Nrf2, we used Keap1 gene knockdown driven by either hypomorphic or knockout Keap1 alleles, which enhanced Nrf2 signaling to moderate or excess levels, respectively. Nrf2 activation in the NOD::Keap1 FA/ mice inhibited T-cell infiltration within or near the islets, ameliorated impairment of insulin secretion and prevented the development of diabetes mellitus. Notably, Nrf2 activation decreased both the plasma interferon-γ (IFN-γ) levels and the IFN-γ-positive cell numbers in the pancreatic islets. The amelioration of diabetes was also observed in the NOD mice with two hypomorphic Keap1 alleles (Keap1 FA/FA) by intermediate activation of Nrf2. Both NOD::Keap1 FA/ and NOD::Keap1 FA/FA mice had a decreased incidence of diabetes mellitus, demonstrating that activation of Nrf2 signaling prevented the onset of type 1 diabetes mellitus in NOD mice. Thus, Nrf2 appears to be a potential target for the prevention and treatment of type 1 diabetes.

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Shui-lin Sun and Liang-ming Liu

Urotensin II (UII) is a polypeptide molecule with neurohormone-like activity. It has been confirmed that UII is widely distributed in numerous organs of different animal species from fish to mammals, including humans. The UII receptor is orphan G-protein-coupled receptor 14, also known as UT. The tissue distribution of UII and UT is highly consistent, and their expression may be regulated by autocrine and paracrine mechanisms. In the body, UII has many physiological and pathophysiological activities, such as vasoconstrictor and vasodilatory actions, cell proliferation, pro-fibrosis, neuroendocrine activity, insulin resistance and carcinogenic and inflammatory effects, which have been recognized only in recent years. In fact, UII is involved in the process of inflammatory injury and plays a key role in the onset and development of inflammatory diseases. In this paper, we will review the roles UII plays in inflammatory diseases.