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Apiwan Arinno, Nattayaporn Apaijai, Puntarik Kaewtep, Wasana Pratchayasakul, Thidarat Jaiwongkam, Sasiwan Kerdphoo, Siriporn 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 the 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 2 subgroups; sham operation and orchiectomy (NDO, HFO) and fed their diets for another 12 weeks. At week 25, orchiectomized rats were subdivided into 4 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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Jacqueline M Wallace

The competition for nutrients that arises when pregnancy coincides with continuing or incomplete growth in young adolescent girls increases the risk of preterm delivery and low birthweight with negative after-effects for mother and child extending beyond the perinatal period. Sheep paradigms involving nutritional management of weight and adiposity in young biologically immature adolescents have allowed the consequences of differential maternal growth status to be explored. Although nutrient reserves at conception play a modest role, it is the dietary manipulation of the maternal growth trajectory thereafter which has the most negative impact on pregnancy outcome. Overnourishing adolescents to promote rapid maternal growth is particularly detrimental as placental growth, uteroplacental blood-flows and fetal nutrient delivery are perturbed leading to a high incidence of fetal growth-restriction and premature delivery of low birthweight lambs, whereas in undernourished adolescents further maternal growth is prevented and depletion of the maternal body results in a small reduction in birthweight independent of placental size. Maternal and placental endocrine systems are differentially altered in both paradigms with downstream effects on fetal endocrine systems, organ development and body composition. Approaches to reverse these effects have been explored, predominantly targeting placental growth or function. After birth, growth-restricted offspring born to overnourished adolescents and fed to appetite have an altered metabolic phenotype which persists into adulthood whereas offspring of undernourished adolescents are largely unaffected. This body of work using ovine paradigms has public health implications for nutritional advice offered to young adolescents before and during pregnancy, and their offspring thereafter.

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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.

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Achim Lother, Lisa Deng, Michael Huck, David Fürst, Jessica Kowalski, Jennifer S Esser, Martin Moser, Christoph Bode and Lutz Hein

Aldosterone is a key factor in adverse cardiovascular remodeling by acting on the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) in different cell types. Endothelial MR activation mediates hypertrophy, inflammation and fibrosis. Cardiovascular remodeling is often accompanied by impaired angiogenesis, which is a risk factor for the development of heart failure. In this study, we evaluated the impact of MR in endothelial cells on angiogenesis. Deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA)-induced hypertension was associated with capillary rarefaction in the heart of WT mice but not of mice with cell type-specific MR deletion in endothelial cells. Consistently, endothelial MR deletion prevented the inhibitory effect of aldosterone on the capillarization of subcutaneously implanted silicon tubes and on capillary sprouting from aortic ring segments. We examined MR-dependent gene expression in cultured endothelial cells by RNA-seq and identified a cluster of differentially regulated genes related to angiogenesis. We found opposing effects on gene expression when comparing activation of the mineralocorticoid receptor in ECs to treatment with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a potent activator of angiogenesis. In conclusion, we demonstrate here that activation of endothelial cell MR impaired angiogenic capacity and lead to capillary rarefaction in a mouse model of MR-driven hypertension. MR activation opposed VEGF-induced gene expression leading to the dysregulation of angiogenesis-related gene networks in endothelial cells. Our findings underscore the pivotal role of endothelial cell MR in the pathophysiology of hypertension and related heart disease.

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Viktorija Gustaityte, Martina Winkler, Ines Stölting and Walter Raasch

Based on findings that treatment with AT1 receptor blocker (ARB) prevents diet-induced obesity and that the activity of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis is stimulated by AngII and blocked by ARBs, we aimed to investigate whether ARB treatment can reduce stress-induced eating of cafeteria diet (CD), thus contributing to alterations in eating behavior. Sprague–Dawley rats were fed with chow or CD and treated with telmisartan (TEL, 8 mg/kg/day) or vehicle. At weeks 2 and 12, rats were stressed over five consecutive days by restraint stress (RS, 4 h) and by additional shaking at d5. Tail blood was sampled during RS to determine hormone levels. During the first period of RS, ACTH and corticosterone responses were diminished at d5 in CD- compared to chow-fed rats. Independently of feeding, TEL did not reduce stress hormones. Compared to food behavior before RS, the stress-induced CD eating increased in controls but remained unchanged in TEL-treated rats. After 12 weeks, TEL reduced weight gain and energy intake, particularly in CD-fed rats. Similar to the first RS period, corticosterone response was reduced in CD-fed rats at d5 during the second RS period. TEL did not further reduce stress hormones and did not lessen the CD eating upon RS. We conclude that CD feeding compensates for stress reactions. However, stress-induced CD eating was only reduced by TEL after short term, but not after long-term drug treatment. Thus, the potency of ARBs to lower HPA activity only plays a minor role in reducing energy intake to prevent obesity.

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Christopher J Scott, Jessica L Rose, Allan J Gunn and Briony M McGrath

The control of reproductive processes involves the integration of a number of factors from the internal and external environment, with the final output signal of these processes being the pulsatile secretion of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) from the hypothalamus. These factors include the feedback actions of sex steroids, feed intake and nutritional status, season/photoperiod, pheromones, age and stress. Understanding these factors and how they influence GnRH secretion and hence reproduction is important for the management of farm animals. There is evidence that the RF-amide neuropeptide, kisspeptin, may be involved in relaying the effects of these factors to the GnRH neurons. This paper will review the evidence from the common domestic animals (sheep, goats, cattle, horses and pigs), that kisspeptin neurons are (i) regulated by the factors listed above, (ii) contact GnRH neurons and (iii) involved in the regulation of GnRH/gonadotrophin secretion.

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Maria F Heber, Silvana R Ferreira, Giselle Adriana Abruzzese, Trinidad Raices, Omar Pedro 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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Zerui Wu, Lin Cai, Jianglong Lu, Chengde Wang, Jiaqing Guan, Xianbin Chen, Jinsen Wu, Weiming Zheng, Zhebao Wu, Qun Li and Zhipeng Su

To date, the management of dopamine agonist (DA)-resistant prolactinomas remains a major clinical problem. Previously, we determined that miRNA-93 expression increases in DA-resistant prolactinomas; however, the role of miRNA-93 in the DA resistance remains largely unexplored. Hence, this study aimed to investigate the susceptibility of tumor cells to cabergoline (CAB) and the autophagy changes in MMQ and GH3 cells after miRNA-93 overexpression or inhibition. We used bioinformatics to identify the potential target of miRNA-93. Subsequently, we analyzed the correlation between miRNA-93 and autophagy-related 7 (ATG7) using protein expression analysis and luciferase assays. Furthermore, the change in the effect of miRNA-93 was measured after ATG7 overexpression. miRNA-93 expression was elevated in DA-resistant prolactinomas, whereas the expression of its identified target, ATG7, was downregulated. miRNA-93 overexpression suppressed the cytotoxic effect of CAB in MMQ and GH3 cells. In contrast, miRNA-93 downregulation enhanced CAB efficiency and promoted cell autophagy, eventually resulting in apoptosis. These results were further confirmed in in vivo xenograft models in nude mice. ATG7 overexpression could reverse the inhibitory effect of miRNA-93 on CAB treatment. Taken together, our results suggest that miRNA-93 mediates CAB resistance via autophagy downregulation by targeting ATG7 and serves as a promising therapeutic target for prolactinoma.

Open access

K E Lines, P J Newey, C J Yates, M Stevenson, R Dyar, G V Walls, M R Bowl and R V Thakker

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is an autosomal dominant disorder characterised by the combined occurrence of parathyroid, pituitary and pancreatic islet tumours, and is due to mutations of the MEN1 gene, which encodes the tumour suppressor protein menin. Menin has multiple roles in genome stability, transcription, cell division and proliferation, but its mechanistic roles in tumourigenesis remain to be fully elucidated. miRNAs are non-coding single-stranded RNAs that post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression and have been associated with tumour development, although the contribution of miRNAs to MEN1-associated tumourigenesis and their relationship with menin expression are not fully understood. Alterations in miRNA expression, including downregulation of three putative ‘tumour suppressor’ miRNAs, miR-15a, miR-16-1 and let-7a, have been reported in several tumour types including non-MEN1 pituitary adenomas. We have therefore investigated the expression of miR-15a, miR-16-1 and let-7a in pituitary tumours that developed after 12 months of age in female mice with heterozygous knockout of the Men1 gene (Men1 +/ mice). The miRNAs miR-15a, miR-16-1 and let-7a were significantly downregulated in pituitary tumours (by 2.3-fold, P < 0.05; 2.1-fold P < 0.01 and 1.6-fold P < 0.05, respectively) of Men1 +/ mice, compared to normal WT pituitaries. miR-15a and miR-16-1 expression inversely correlated with expression of cyclin D1, a known pro-tumourigenic target of these miRNAs, and knockdown of menin in a human cancer cell line (HeLa), and AtT20 mouse pituitary cell line resulted in significantly decreased expression of miR-15a (P < 0.05), indicating that the decrease in miR-15a may be a direct result of lost menin expression.

Open access

Lesley A Hill, Dimitra A Vassiliadi, Ioanna Dimopoulou, Anna J Anderson, Luke D Boyle, Alixe H M Kilgour, Roland H Stimson, Yoan Machado, Christopher M Overall, Brian R Walker, John G Lewis and Geoffrey L Hammond

Corticosteroid-binding globulin (CBG) transports glucocorticoids in blood and is a serine protease inhibitor family member. Human CBG has a reactive center loop (RCL) which, when cleaved by neutrophil elastase (NE), disrupts its steroid-binding activity. Measurements of CBG levels are typically based on steroid-binding capacity or immunoassays. Discrepancies in ELISAs using monoclonal antibodies that discriminate between intact vs RCL-cleaved CBG have been interpreted as evidence that CBG with a cleaved RCL and low affinity for cortisol exists in the circulation. We examined the biochemical properties of plasma CBG in samples with discordant ELISA measurements and sought to identify RCL-cleaved CBG in human blood samples. Plasma CBG-binding capacity and ELISA values were consistent in arterial and venous blood draining skeletal muscle, liver and brain, as well as from a tissue (adipose) expected to contain activated neutrophils in obese individuals. Moreover, RCL-cleaved CBG was undetectable in plasma from critically ill patients, irrespective of whether their ELISA measurements were concordant or discordant. We found no evidence of RCL-cleaved CBG in plasma using a heat-dependent polymerization assay, and CBG that resists immunoprecipitation with a monoclonal antibody designed to specifically recognize an intact RCL, bound steroids with a high affinity. In addition, mass spectrometry confirmed the absence of NE-cleaved CBG in plasma in which ELISA values were highly discordant. Human CBG with a NE-cleaved RCL and low affinity for steroids is absent in blood samples, and CBG ELISA discrepancies likely reflect structural differences that alter epitopes recognized by specific monoclonal antibodies.