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Federico Gatto, R A Feelders, Rob van der Pas, P M van Koetsveld, Eleonora Bruzzone, Marica Arvigo, Fadime Dogan, Steven W Lamberts, Diego Ferone and Leo Hofland

Pituitary-directed medical treatment for Cushing’s disease (CD) is currently represented by membrane receptor targeting drugs (somatostatin analogs and dopamine agonists). Somatostatin and dopamine receptors are regulated by β-arrestins, which have been shown to be differentially regulated by glucocorticoids in non-neuroendocrine cells. In this study we investigated the effects of glucocorticoids on β-arrestin expression in corticotroph tumor cells. First, AtT20 cells, a mouse model of CD, were exposed to dexamethasone (Dex) at different time points and β-arrestin expression was evaluated at mRNA and protein level. Futhermore, β-arrestin mRNA expression was evaluated in 17 human corticotroph adenoma samples and correlated to patients’ pre-operative cortisol level. We observed that Dex treatment induced a time dependent increase in β-arrestin 1 mRNA expression and a decrease in β-arrestin 2. The same modulation pattern was observed at protein level. Dex-mediated modulation of β-arrestins was abolished by co-treatment with mifepristone, and Dex withdrawal restored β-arrestin expression to basal levels after 72h. The evaluation of β-arrestin mRNA in corticotroph adenomas from CD patients with variable disease activity showed a significant positive correlation between β-arrestin 1 mRNA and urinary cortisol levels. The effect of glucocorticoids on β-arrestin levels was confirmed by the analysis of two samples from a single patient, which underwent adenomectomy twice, with different pre-operative cortisol levels. In conclusion, glucocorticoids induce an inverse modulation of the two β-arrestin isofoms in corticotroph tumor cells. Since β-arrestins regulate membrane receptor functions, this finding may help to better understand the variable response to pituitary-targeting drugs in patients with Cushing’s disease.

Open access

Yoshirnori Kanemaru, Norio Harada, Satoko Shimazu Kuwahara, Shunsuke Yamane, Eri Ikeguchi, Yuki Murata, Sakura Kyo, Tomonobu Hatoko and Nobuya Inagaki

Glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) is an incretin secreted from enteroendocine K cells after nutrient ingestion. Fat strongly induces GIP secretion, and GIP hypersecretion is involved in high-fat diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance. Aging also induces GIP hypersecretion, but its effect on body weight gain and insulin sensitivity remains unclear. In the present study, we investigated the effect of GIP on age-related body weight gain and insulin resistance using GIP-knockout homozygous (GIP-/-) and heterozygous (GIP+/-) mice, which have entirely absent and 50% reduced GIP secretion compared to wild-type (WT) mice, respectively. Under 12% fat-containing normal diet feeding condition, body weight was significantly lower in GIP-/- mice compared to that in WT and GIP+/- mice from 38 weeks of age, while there was no significant difference between WT and GIP+/- mice. Visceral and subcutaneous fat mass were also significantly lower in GIP-/- mice compared to those in WT and GIP+/- mice. During oral glucose tolerance test, blood glucose levels did not differ among the three groups. Insulin levels were significantly lower in GIP-/- mice than those in WT and GIP+/- mice. During insulin tolerance test, GIP-/- mice showed higher insulin sensitivity than that of WT and GIP+/- mice. Adiponectin mRNA levels were increased and leptin mRNA levels tended to be decreased in adipose tissue of GIP-/- mice. These results demonstrate that GIP is involved in age-related obesity and insulin resistance and that inhibition of GIP secretion alleviates age-related fat mass gain and insulin resistance under carbohydrate-based diet feeding condition.

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Tomasz Misztal, Patrycja Młotkowska, Elżbieta Marciniak and Anna Misztal

The verified hypothesis assumed that centrally administered neurosteroid, allopregnanolone (AL), could affect basal and/or stress-induced activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in sheep. Four groups (n = 6 each) of luteal-phase sheep were intracerebroventricularly infused for 3 days with a vehicle without stress (control); a vehicle treated with stressful stimuli (isolation and partial movement restriction) on the third day; AL (4 × 15 µg/60 µL/30 min, at 30-min intervals) treated with stressful stimuli, and AL alone. Simultaneously, the push-pull perfusion of the infundibular nucleus/median eminence and plasma sample collection were performed. After the experiment, the sheep were killed to collect the hypothalamic and anterior pituitary (AP) tissues. Stressful stimuli evoked an increase in the expression of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) mRNA in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), and AVP receptor (V1b) and proopiomelanocortin (POMC) mRNA in the AP; the concentrations of perfusate CRH, and plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol compared to controls. Conversely, the expression of the CRH receptor (CRHR1) mRNA in the AP was downregulated. AL decreased the expression of CRH and AVP mRNA in the PVN, and AVPRV1b and POMC mRNA in the AP in stressed sheep, compared to only stressed ones. There was also a reduction in perfusate CRH, and plasma ACTH and cortisol concentrations. AL alone decreased the expression of CRHR1 mRNA in the AP, and plasma cortisol concentration at the beginning of the collection period compared to controls. In conclusion, AL may function centrally as a suppressor of HPA axis activity in stressed sheep.

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Zhengxiang Huang, Lili Huang, Chengjian Wang, Shanli Zhu, Xinzhou Qi, Yang Chen, Yanjun Zhang, Michael Cowley, Johannes D Veldhuis and Chen Chen

The well-documented hormonal disturbance in a general obese population is characterised by an increase in insulin secretion and a decrease in growth hormone (GH) secretion. Such hormonal disturbance promotes an increase in fat mass, which deteriorates obesity and accelerates the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. While the pathological consequence is alarming, the pharmaceutical approach attempting to correct such hormonal disturbance remains limited. By applying an emerging anti-diabetic drug, the sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitor, dapagliflozin (1mg/kg/day for 10 weeks), to a hyperphagic obese mouse model, we observed a significant improvement in insulin and GH secretion as early as 4 weeks after the initiation of the treatment. Restoration of pathological disturbance of insulin and GH secretion reduced fat accumulation and preserved lean body mass in the obese animal model. Such phenotypic improvement followed with concurrent improvements in glucose and lipid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, as well as the expression of metabolic genes that were regulated by insulin and GH. In conclusion, 10 weeks of treatment with dapagliflozin effectively reduces hyperinsulinemia and restores pulsatile GH secretion in the hyperphagic obese mice with considerable improvement in lipid and glucose metabolism. Promising outcomes from this study may provide insights into drug intervention to correct hormonal disturbance in obesity to delay the diabetes progression.

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Zeravan A Mohammed, Robert S Robinson, Rachel Harris, Yasmin McLaughlin, Kaitlin Em Turnbull, George Mann and Kathryn Jane Woad

Reproductive tract inflammatory disease (RTID) commonly occurs after the traumatic events of parturition and adversely affects follicular function. This study is the first to describe the cellular and steroidogenic characteristics of corpora lutea from cattle with RTID and the effects of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) on luteal angiogenesis and function in vitro. Luteal weight (P<0.05) and progesterone content (P<0.05) were reduced (1.2-fold) in cows with RTID, accompanied by reduced CYP11A (P<0.05), HSD3B (P<0.01) and STAR (P<0.01) protein expression. Immunohistochemistry revealed that luteal vascularity (VWF) and pericyte (ACTA2) coverage were >3-fold lower in RTID cows (P<0.05). To link these observations to bacterial infection and determine specificity of action, a physiologically-relevant luteal angiogenesis culture system examined the effects of PAMPs on endothelial cell (EC) network formation and progesterone production, in the presence of pro-angiogenic factors. Luteal EC networks were reduced ≤95% (P<0.05) by lipopolysaccharide (LPS, toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 agonist) but not by TLR2 agonists lipoteichoic acid or peptidoglycan. Conversely, progesterone production and steroidogenic protein expression were unaffected by PAMPs (P>0.05). Moreover, the adverse effect of LPS on luteal EC networks was dose-dependent and effective from 1ng/ml (P<0.05), while few EC networks were present above 10ng/ml LPS (P<0.001). LPS reduced proliferation (P<0.05) and increased apoptosis of EC (P<0.001). The specific TLR4 inhibitor TAK242 reversed the effects of LPS on EC networks. In conclusion, luteal vasculature is adversely sensitive to LPS acting via TLR4, therefore ovarian exposure to LPS from any Gram-negative bacterial infection will profoundly influence subsequent reproductive potential.

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Meng Guo, Yuna Li, Yan Wang, Zhenkun Li, Xiaohong Li, Peikun Zhao, Changlong Li, Jianyi Lv, Xin Liu, Xiaoyan Du and Zhenwen Chen

Recent studies raise the possibility that eukaryotic translation elongation factor 1 alpha (eEF1A) may play a role in metabolism. One isoform, eEF1A2, is specifically expressed in skeletal muscle, heart and brain. It regulates translation elongation and signal transduction. Nonetheless, eEF1A2’s function in skeletal muscle glucose metabolism remains unclear. In the present study, suppression subtractive hybridisation showed a decrease in Eef1a2 transcripts in the skeletal muscle of diabetic Mongolian gerbils. This was confirmed at mRNA and protein levels in hyperglycaemic gerbils, and in db/db and high-fat diet-fed mice. Further, this downregulation was independent of Eef1a2 promoter methylation. Interestingly, adeno-associated virus-mediated eEF1A2 overexpression in skeletal muscle aggravated fasting hyperglycaemia, hyperinsulinaemia and glucose intolerance in male diabetic gerbils but not in female gerbil models. The overexpression of eEF1A2 in skeletal muscle also resulted in promoted serum glucose levels and insulin resistance in male db/db mice. Up- and downregulation of eEF1A2 by lentiviral vector transfection confirmed its inhibitory effect on insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and signalling transduction in C2C12 myotubes with palmitate (PA)-induced insulin resistance. Furthermore, eEF1A2 bound PKCβ and increased its activation in the cytoplasm, whereas suppression of PKCβ by an inhibitor attenuated eEF1A2-mediated impairment of insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant myotubes. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress was elevated by eEF1A2, whereas suppression of ER stress or JNK partially restored insulin sensitivity in PA-treated myotubes. Additionally, eEF1A2 inhibited lipogenesis and lipid utilisation in insulin-resistant skeletal muscle. Collectively, we demonstrated that eEF1A2 exacerbates insulin resistance in male murine skeletal muscle via PKCβ and ER stress.

Open access

Shisan Xu, Fangjing Xie, Li Tian, Samane Fallah, Fatemeh Babaei, Sinai HC Manno, Francis A. M. Manno III, Lina Zhu, Kin Fung Wong, Yimin Liang, Rajkumar Ramalingam, Lei Sun, Xin Wang, Rorbert Plumb, Lee Gethings, Yun Wah Lam and Skuk Han Cheng

Sexual differences have been observed in the onset and prognosis of human cardiovascular diseases, but the underlying mechanisms are not clear. Here, we found that zebrafish heart regeneration is faster in females, can be accelerated by estrogen and is suppressed by the estrogen-antagonist tamoxifen. Injuries to the zebrafish heart, but not other tissues, increased plasma estrogen levels and the expression of estrogen receptors, especially esr2a. The resulting endocrine disruption induces the expression of the female-specific protein vitellogenin in male zebrafish. Transcriptomic analyses suggested heart injuries triggered pronounced immune and inflammatory responses in females. These responses, previously shown to elicit heart regeneration, could be enhanced by estrogen treatment in males and reduced by tamoxifen in females. Furthermore, a prior exposure to estrogen preconditioned the zebrafish heart for an accelerated regeneration. Altogether, this study reveals that heart regeneration is modulated by an estrogen-inducible inflammatory response to cardiac injury. These findings elucidate a previously unknown layer of control in zebrafish heart regeneration and provide a new model system for the study of sexual differences in human cardiac repair.

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Rukmani Pandey, Pallavi Shukla, Baby Anjum, Himanshu Pawankumar Gupta, Subhashis Pal, Nidhi Arjaria, Keerti Gupta, Naibedya Chattopadhyay, Rohit A Sinha and Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay

Estrogen deficiency reduces estrogen receptor-alpha (ERα) and promotes apoptosis in the hippocampus, inducing learning-memory deficits; however, underlying mechanisms remain less understood. Here, we explored the molecular mechanism in an ovariectomized (OVX) rat model, hypothesizing participation of autophagy and growth factor signaling that relate with apoptosis. We observed enhanced hippocampal autophagy in OVX rats, characterized by increased levels of autophagy proteins, presence of autophagosomes and inhibition of AKT-mTOR signaling. Investigating upstream effectors of reduced AKT-mTOR signaling revealed a decrease in hippocampal heparin-binding epidermal growth factor (HB-EGF) and p-EGFR. Moreover, 17β-estradiol and HB-EGF treatments restored hippocampal EGFR activation and alleviated downstream autophagy process and neuronal loss in OVX rats. In vitro studies using estrogen receptor (ERα)-silenced primary hippocampal neurons further corroborated the in vivo observations. Additionally, in vivo and in vitro studies suggested the participation of an attenuated hippocampal neuronal HB-EGF and enhanced autophagy in apoptosis of hippocampal neurons in estrogen- and ERα-deficient conditions. Subsequently, we found evidence of mitochondrial loss and mitophagy in hippocampal neurons of OVX rats and ERα-silenced cells. The ERα-silenced cells also showed a reduction in ATP production and an HB-EGF-mediated restoration. Finally in concordance with molecular studies, inhibition of autophagy and treatment with HB-EGF in OVX rats restored cognitive performances, assessed through Y-Maze and passive avoidance tasks. Overall, our study, for the first time, links neuronal HB-EGF/EGFR signaling and autophagy with ERα and memory performance, disrupted in estrogen-deficient condition.