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E Y Faraoni, A I Abeledo Machado, P A Pérez, C A Marcial López, M A Camilletti, M Peña-Zanoni, S B Rulli, S Gutiérrez and G Díaz-Torga

Among all the hormone-secreting pituitary tumours, prolactinomas are the most frequently found in the clinic. Since dopamine is the primary inhibitor of lactotroph function, dopamine agonists represent the first-line therapy. However, a subset of patients exhibits resistance to these drugs, and therefore, alternative treatments are desired. As activins inhibit prolactin gene expression through the inhibition of Pit-1 involving the p38MAPK pathway, in the present work, we studied the local activin system as an alternative inhibitory system for lactotroph hyperplasia treatment. We used two different mouse models of prolactinoma: transgenic mice with overexpression of the human chorionic gonadotropin β-subunit (hCGβ) and mice lacking dopamine receptor type 2. In both models, females, but not males, develop lactotroph hyperplasia from the fourth month of life. We found reduced expression of pituitary activin subunits and activin receptors in hyperplastic pituitaries from both models compared with wild-type counterparts. Consequently, hyperplastic pituitaries presented a reduced activin-inhibitory action on prolactin secretion. Additionally, while female wild-type lactotrophs presented high levels of phospho-p38MAPK, it was lost in prolactinomas, concomitant with decreased activin expression, increased Pit-1 expression and tumour development. In contrast, male pituitaries express higher mRNA levels of activin subunits βA and βB, which would suggest a stronger activin inhibitory function on lactotrophs, protecting this sex from tumour development, despite genotype. The present results highlight the importance of the activin inhibitory action on lactotroph function and place the local activin system as a new target for the treatment of dopamine agonist-resistant prolactinomas.

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Zahida Yesmin Roly, Andrew T Major, Alex Fulcher, Martin A Estermann, Claire E Hirst and Craig A Smith

The embryonic Müllerian ducts give rise to the female reproductive tract (fallopian tubes, uterus and upper vagina in humans, the oviducts in birds). Embryonic Müllerian ducts initially develop in both sexes, but later regress in males under the influence of anti-Müllerian hormone. While the molecular and endocrine control of duct regression in males have been well studied, early development of the ducts in both sexes is less well understood. Here, we describe a novel role for the adhesion G protein-coupled receptor, GPR56, in development of the Müllerian ducts in the chicken embryo. GPR56 is expressed in the ducts of both sexes from early stages. The mRNA is present during the elongation phase of duct formation, and it is restricted to the inner Müllerian duct epithelium. The putative ligand, Collagen III, is abundantly expressed in the Müllerian duct at the same developmental stages. Knockdown of GPR56 expression using in ovo electroporation results in variably truncated ducts, with a loss of expression of both epithelial and mesenchymal markers of duct development. Over-expression of GPR56 in vitro results in enhanced cell proliferation and cell migration. These results show that GPR56 plays an essential role in avian Müllerian duct development through the regulation of duct elongation.

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Baiyang You, Yaoshan Dun, Wenliang Zhang, Lingjun Jiang, Hui Li, Murong Xie, Yuan Liu and Suixin Liu

Mitochondrial quality control (MQC) and function are determinants for cellular energy metabolism, and their disorders are reported to play an important role in the development of insulin resistance (IR). Salidroside was reported to have beneficial effects on MQC through AMPK pathway; however, it is unknown whether salidroside exerts anti-IR effect with this action. This study sought to investigate the effects of salidroside on IR with an exploration of the mechanisms of its action. Experimental IR models were adopted in high-fat-diet (HFD)-fed mice and palmitate-treated C2C12 myotubes, respectively. Blood levels of glucose and insulin as well as cellular glucose uptake were determined, and mitochondrial function and MQC-associated parameters and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production were analyzed based on treatments with the activator (AICAR), inhibitors (compound C and EX-527) or specific siRNA of Ampk/Sirt1 and mitochondrial ROS scavenger (mito-TEMPO). Protein expression level was determined by Western blot, cellular observation by transmission electron microscope and ROS production by functional analysis kits. Salidroside reduced IR and activated insulin signaling along with the stimulation of AMPK/SIRT1 signaling and downstream regulation of MQC and ROS production. These salidroside effects were comparable to those of AICAR and could be prevented by AMPK/SIRT1 inhibitors or siRNAs, respectively. Salidroside reduces IR and regulates MQC and ROS production by activating AMPK/SIRT1 signaling pathway. Since IR is a critical issue for public health, to explore a potent agent against IR is of high interest. The anti-IR effects of salidroside warrant further experimental and clinical studies.

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Zhe-Zhen Liao, Xiao-Yan Qi, Yadi Wang, Jiao-Yang Li, Qian-Qian Gu, Can Hu, Yin Hu, Heng Sun, Li Ran, Jing Yang, Jiang Hua Liu and Xinhua Xiao

Remodeling of energy-storing white fat into energy-consuming beige fat has led to a promising new approach to alleviate adiposity. Several studies have shown adipokines can induce white adipose tissues (WAT) beiging through autocrine or paracrine actions. Betatrophin, a novel adipokine, has been linked to energy expenditure and lipolysis but not clearly clarified. Here, we using high-fat diet induced obesity to determine how betatrophin modulate beiging and adiposity. We found that betatrophin-knockdown mice displayed less white fat mass and decreased plasma TG and NEFA levels. Consistently, inhibition of betatrophin leads to the phenotype change of adipocytes characterized by increased mitochondria contents, beige adipocytes and mitochondrial biogenesis-specific markers both in vivo and in vitro. Notably, blocking AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling pathway is able to abolish enhanced beige-like characteristics in betatrophin-knockdown adipocytes. Collectively, down-regulation of betatrophin induces beiging in white adipocytes through activation of AMPK signaling pathway. These processes suggest betatrophin as a latent therapeutic target for obesity.

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Jiali Liu, Yue Li, Xiaoyan Zhou, Xi Zhang, Hao Meng, Sanyuan Liu, Lei Zhang, Juntao He, Qian He and Yan Geng

High-fat diet (HFD) not only induces insulin resistance in liver, but also causes autophagic imbalance and metabolic disorders, increases chronic inflammatory response and induces mitochondrial dysfunction. Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IV (CaMKIV) has recently emerged as an important regulator of glucose metabolism and skeletal muscle insulin action. Its activation has been involved in the improvement of hepatic and adipose insulin action. But the underlying mechanism is not fully understood. In the present study, we aimed to address the direct effects of CaMKIV in vivo and to evaluate the potential interaction of impaired insulin sensitivity and autophagic disorders in hepatic insulin resistance. Our results indicated obese mice receiving CaMKIV showed decreased blood glucose and serum insulin and improved insulin sensitivity as well as increased glucose tolerance compared with vehicle injection. Meanwhile, defective hepatic autophagy activity, impaired insulin signaling, increased inflammatory response and mitochondrial dysfunction in liver tissues which are induced by high-fat diet were also effectively alleviated by injection of CaMKIV. Consistent with these results, the addition of CaMKIV to the culture medium of BNL cl.2 hepatocytes markedly restored palmitate-induced hepatic insulin resistance and autophagic imbalance. These effects were nullified by blockade of cyclic AMP response element-binding protein (CREB), indicating the causative role of CREB in action of CaMKIV. Our findings suggested that CaMKIV restores hepatic autophagic imbalance and improves impaired insulin sensitivity via phosphorylated CREB signaling pathway, which may offer novel opportunities for treatment of obesity and diabetes.

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Olena A Fedorenko, Pawitra Pulbutr, Elin Banke, Nneoma E Akaniro-Ejim, Donna C Bentley, Charlotta S Olofsson, Sue Chan and Paul A Smith

L-type channel antagonists are of therapeutic benefit in the treatment of hyperlipidaemia and insulin resistance. Our aim was to identify L-type voltage-gated Ca2+ channels in white fat adipocytes, and determine if they affect intracellular Ca2+, lipolysis and lipogenesis. We used a multidisciplinary approach of molecular biology, confocal microscopy, Ca2+ imaging and metabolic assays to explore this problem using adipocytes isolated from adult rat epididymal fat pads. CaV1.2, CaV1.3 and CaV1.1 alpha1, beta and alpha2delta subunits were detected at the gene expression level. The CaV1.2 and CaV1.3 alpha1 subunits were identified in the plasma membrane at the protein level. Confocal microscopy with fluorescent antibodies labelled CaV1.2 in the plasma membrane. Ca2+ imaging revealed that the intracellular Ca2+ concentration, [Ca2 +]i was reversibly decreased by removal of extracellular Ca2+, an effect mimicked by verapamil, nifedipine and Co2+, all blockers of L-type channels, whereas the Ca2+ channel agonist BAY-K8644 increased [Ca2+]i. The finding that the magnitude of these effects correlated with basal [Ca2+]i suggests that adipocyte [Ca2+]i is controlled by L-type Ca2+ channels that are constitutively active at the adipocyte depolarized membrane potential. Pharmacological manipulation of L-type channel activity modulated both basal and catecholamine-stimulated lipolysis but not insulin-induced glucose uptake or lipogenesis. We conclude that white adipocytes have constitutively active L-type Ca2+ channels which explains their sensitivity of lipolysis to Ca2+ channel modulators. Our data suggest CaV1.2 as a potential novel therapeutic target in the treatment of obesity.

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Terese M Zidon, Jaume Padilla, Kevin L Fritsche, Rebecca J. Welly, Leighton T. McCabe, Olivia E. Stricklin, Aaron P. Frank, Young-Min Park, Deborah J. Clegg, Dennis Lubahn, Jill Kanaley and Victoria Vieira-Potter

Loss of ovarian hormones leads to increased adiposity and insulin resistance (IR), increasing the risk for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the molecular mechanism behind the adverse systemic and adipose tissue-specific metabolic effects of ovariectomy requires loss of signaling through estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) or estrogen receptor beta (ERβ). We examined ovariectomized (OVX) and ovary-intact wildtype (WT), ERα-null (αKO), and ERβ-null (βKO) female mice (age ~49 weeks; n=7-12/group). All mice were fed a phytoestrogen-free diet (<15 mg/kg) and either remained ovary-intact (INT) or were OVX and followed for 12 weeks. Body composition, energy expenditure, glucose tolerance, and adipose tissue gene and protein expression were analyzed. INT αKO were ~25% fatter with reduced energy expenditure compared to age-matched INT WT controls and βKO mice (all p<0.001). Following OVX, αKO mice did not increase adiposity or experience a further increase in IR, unlike WT and βKO, suggesting that loss of signaling through ERα mediates OVX-induced metabolic dysfunction. In fact, OVX in αKO mice (i.e., signaling through ERβ in the absence of ERα) resulted in reduced adiposity, adipocyte size, and IR (p<0.05 for all). βKO mice responded adversely to OVX in terms of increased adiposity and development of IR. Together, these findings challenge the paradigm that ERα mediates metabolic protection over ERβ in all settings. These findings lead us to suggest that, following ovarian hormone loss, ERβ may mediate protective metabolic benefits.

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Bernadette M Trojanowski, Heba H Salem, Heike Neubauer, Eric Simon, Martin Wagner, Rajkumar Dorajoo, Bernhard O Boehm, Leticia Labriola, Thomas Wirth and Bernd Baumann

Maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) is a group of monogenetic forms of diabetes mellitus caused by mutations in genes regulating β-cell development and function. MODY represents a heterogeneous group of non-insulin-dependent diabetes arising in childhood or adult life. Interestingly, clinical heterogeneity in MODY patients like variable disease onset and severity is observed even among individual family members sharing the same mutation, an issue that is not well understood. As high blood glucose levels are a well-known factor promoting β-cell stress and ultimately leading to cell death, we asked whether additional β-cell stress might account for the occurrence of disease heterogeneity in mice carrying a MODY4 mutation. In order to challenge β-cells, we established a MODY4 animal model based on Pdx1 (pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1) haploinsufficiency, which allows conditional modulation of cell stress by genetic inhibition of the stress-responsive IKK/NF-κB signalling pathway. While Pdx1+/− mice were found glucose intolerant without progressing to diabetes, additional challenge of β-cell function by IKK/NF-κB inhibition promoted rapid diabetes development showing hyperglycaemia, hypoinsulinemia and loss of β-cell mass. Disease pathogenesis was characterized by deregulation of genes controlling β-cell homeostasis and function. Importantly, restoration of normal IKK/NF-κB signalling reverted the diabetic phenotype including normalization of glycaemia and β-cell mass. Our findings implicate that the avoidance of additional β-cell stress can delay a detrimental disease progression in MODY4 diabetes. Remarkably, an already present diabetic phenotype can be reversed when β-cell stress is normalized.

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Michal Silber, Irit Miller, Hadas Bar-Joseph, Ido Ben-Ami and Ruth Shalgi

PCOS is the most common endocrinopathy in women; associated with obesity and insulin resistance (IR). IR leads to accumulation of advanced-glycation-end-products (AGEs) and their receptor, RAGE. PCOS patients have increased levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), interleukin 6/8 (IL-6/8) and anti-Mϋllerian-hormone (AMH). PEDF is a secreted-glycoprotein known for its anti-angiogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. We aimed to elucidate the role of PEDF in the pathogenesis and treatment of PCOS. We used a prenatal PCOS mouse model and fed the female offspring a high-fat diet, inducing metabolic PCOS (met.PCOS) characteristics. Female offspring were divided into three groups: control; met.PCOS; met.PCOS + recombinant PEDF (rPEDF). Met.PCOS mice gained more weight, had elevated serum IL-6 and higher mRNA levels of AMH, PEDF and RAGE in their granulosa cells (GCs) than met.PCOS + rPEDF mice. An in vitro Met.PCOS model in human GCs (KGN) line was induced by prolonged incubation with insulin/AGEs, causing development of IR. Under the same conditions, we observed an elevation of VEGF, IL-6/8 mRNAs, concomitantly with an increase in PEDF mRNA, intracellular protein levels, and an elevation of PEDF receptors (PEDF-Rs) mRNA and protein. Simultaneously, a reduction in the secretion of PEDF from GCs, was measured in the medium. The addition of rPEDF (5 nM) activated P38 signaling, implying that PEDF-Rs maintained functionality, and negated AGE-induced elevation of IL-6/8 and VEGF mRNAs. Decreased PEDF secretion may be a major contributor to hyperangiogenesis and chronic inflammation, which lie at the core of PCOS pathogenesis. rPEDF treatment may restore physiological angiogenesis inflammatory balance, thus suggesting a potential therapeutic role in PCOS.

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Hui Yu, Zoe Thompson, Sylee Kiran, Graham L Jones, Lakshmi Mundada, Surbhi Gahlot, Marcelo Rubinstein and Malcolm J Low

Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus (ARC) are essential for normal energy homeostasis. Maximal ARC Pomc transcription is dependent on neuronal Pomc enhancer 1 (nPE1), located 12kb upstream from the promoter. Selective deletion of nPE1 in mice decreases ARC Pomc expression by 70%, sufficient to induce mild obesity. Because nPE1 is located exclusively in the genomes of placental mammals, we questioned whether its hypomorphic mutation would also alter placental Pomc expression and the metabolic adaptations associated with pregnancy and lactation. We assessed placental development, pup growth, circulating leptin and expression of Pomc, Agrp and alternatively spliced Leptin receptor (LepR) isoforms in the ARC and placenta of Pomc∆1/∆1 and Pomc+/+ dams. Despite indistinguishable body weights, lean mass, food intake, placental histology and Pomc expression and overall pregnancy outcomes between the genotypes, Pomc∆1/∆1 females had increased pre-pregnancy fat mass that paradoxically decreased to control levels by parturition. However, Pomc∆1/∆1 dams had exaggerated increases in circulating leptin, up to twice that of the typically elevated levels in Pomc+/+ mice at the end of pregnancy, despite their equivalent fat mass. Pomc∆1/∆1 dams also had increased placental expression of soluble leptin receptor (LepRe), although the protein levels of LepRe in circulation were the same as Pomc+/+ controls. Together, these data suggest that the hypomorphic Pomc∆1/∆1 allele is responsible for the perinatal super hyperleptinemia of Pomc∆1/∆1 dams, possibly due to upregulated leptin secretion from individual adipocytes.