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Madeleine R Di Natale, Alita Soch, Ilvana Ziko, Simone N De Luca, Sarah J Spencer and Luba Sominsky

Chronic stress is a known suppressor of female reproductive function. However, attempts to isolate single causal links between stress and reproductive dysfunction have not yet been successful due to their multi-faceted aetiologies. The gut-derived hormone ghrelin regulates stress and reproductive function and may therefore be pivotal in the neuroendocrine integration of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) and –gonadal (HPG) axes. Here, we hypothesised that chronic stress disrupts ovarian follicle maturation and that this effect is mediated by a stress-induced increase in acyl ghrelin and activation of the growth hormone secretatogue receptor (GHSR). We gave C57BL/6J female mice 30 min daily chronic predator stress for 4 weeks, or no stress, and gave them daily GHSR antagonist (d-Lys3-GHRP-6) or saline. Exposure to chronic predator stress reduced circulating corticosterone, elevated acyl ghrelin levels and led to significantly depleted primordial follicle numbers. GHSR antagonism stress-dependently altered the expression of genes regulating ovarian responsiveness to gonadotropins and was able to attenuate the stress-induced depletion of primordial follicles. These findings suggest that chronic stress-induced elevations of acyl ghrelin may be detrimental for ovarian follicle maturation.

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Sabashini K Ramchand, Yee-Ming Cheung, Belinda Yeo and Mathis Grossmann

In women with oestrogen receptor (ER)-positive early breast cancer, oestradiol is important for breast cancer development and progression. Endocrine therapy prevents the deleterious effects of oestradiol in breast tissue by systemically depleting oestradiol concentration (aromatase inhibitors) or preventing its local action in breast tissue (selective oestrogen receptor modulators i.e. tamoxifen), thereby improving oncological outcomes. Use of aromatase inhibitors in postmenopausal women and ovarian function suppression with either tamoxifen or aromatase inhibition in premenopausal women, consequent to systemic oestradiol depletion, exerts detrimental effects on skeletal health. The oestradiol-deficient state causes increased bone remodelling and a negative bone balance. This results in bone loss, microstructural deterioration and bone fragility predisposing to fractures. Similar effects are also seen with tamoxifen in premenopausal women. In contrast, use of tamoxifen in postmenopausal women appears to exert protective effects on bone but studies on fracture risk are inconclusive. The longevity of women with ER-positive breast cancer treated with adjuvant endocrine therapy emphasises the need to mitigate the adverse skeletal effects of these therapies in order to maximise benefit. In general, fractures are associated with increased morbidity, mortality and are a high socioeconomic burden. Whilst the efficacy of antiresorptive therapy in preventing bone mineral density loss in postmenopausal women has been established, further clinical trial evidence is required to provide guidance regarding fracture risk reduction, when to initiate and stop treatment, choice of agent and optimal management of bone health in premenopausal women receiving endocrine therapy. In addition, potential oncological benefits of antiresorptive therapies will also need to be considered.

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Kumiko Taguchi, Haruka Narimatsu, Takayuki Matsumoto and Tsuneo Kobayashi

Endothelial dysfunction is a hallmark of diabetic vascular complications. Microparticles (MPs) are small vesicles shed from the surface of blood and vascular cells that act as stimuli and during apoptosis. Circulating MPs of diabetic rats have been shown to induce endothelial dysfunction. However, the underlying mechanisms require further study. In this study, we investigated how MPs from diabetic mice affect endothelial function. MPs were collected from streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice and Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) mice as controls. The levels of MPs were assessed and characterized by flow cytometry, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and dot blotting. Normal mice aortas were incubated with MPs and expressions of enzymes and vascular relaxation were analyzed. We found that (1) circulating MPs level increased in diabetic mice; (2) MPs impaired endothelial-dependent relaxation in mice aorta, but diabetic mice-derived MPs (diabetes mellitus (DM) MPs) were easier to attach to the endothelial cells than were control MPs; (3) DM MPs had more extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 than did control mice-derived MPs, and they induced ERK1/2 activation in mice aortas; (4) DM MPs decreased endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in mice aortas, and eNOS was emitted from endothelial cells to blood in the shape of endothelial MPs. DM MPs significantly altered endothelial function by activation of ERK1/2, which might provide a therapeutic target for diabetic vascular complications.

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Wanbao Yang, Hui Yan, Quan Pan, James Zheng Shen, Fenghua Zhou, Chaodong Wu, Yuxiang Sun and Shaodong Guo

Glucagon promotes hepatic glucose production maintaining glucose homeostasis in the fasting state. Glucagon maintains at high level in both diabetic animals and human, contributing to hyperglycemia. Mitochondria, a major place for glucose oxidation, are dysfunctional in diabetic condition. However, whether hepatic mitochondrial function can be affected by glucagon remains unknown. Recently, we reported that FOXO1 is an important mediator in glucagon signaling in control of glucose homeostasis. In this study, we further assessed the role of FOXO1 in the action of glucagon in the regulation of hepatic mitochondrial function. We found that glucagon decreased the heme production in a FOXO1-dependent manner, suppressed heme-dependent complex III (UQCRC1) and complex IV (MT-CO1) and inhibited hepatic mitochondrial function. However, the suppression of mitochondrial function by glucagon was largely rescued by deleting the Foxo1 gene in hepatocytes. Glucagon tends to reduce hepatic mitochondrial biogenesis by attenuating the expression of NRF1, TFAM and MFN2, which is mediated by FOXO1. In db/db mice, we found that hepatic mitochondrial function was suppressed and expression levels of UQCRC1, MT-CO1, NRF1 and TFAM were downregulated in the liver. These findings suggest that hepatic mitochondrial function can be impaired when hyperglucagonemia occurs in the patients with diabetes mellitus, resulting in organ failure.

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Holly M Johnson, Erin Stanfield, Grace J Campbell, Erica E Eberl, Gregory J Cooney and Kim S Bell-Anderson

Poor nutrition plays a fundamental role in the development of insulin resistance, an underlying characteristic of type 2 diabetes. We have previously shown that high-fat diet-induced insulin resistance in rats can be ameliorated by a single glucose meal, but the mechanisms for this observation remain unresolved. To determine if this phenomenon is mediated by gut or hepatoportal factors, male Wistar rats were fed a high-fat diet for 3 weeks before receiving one of five interventions: high-fat meal, glucose gavage, high-glucose meal, systemic glucose infusion or portal glucose infusion. Insulin sensitivity was assessed the following day in conscious animals by a hyperinsulinaemic-euglycaemic clamp. An oral glucose load consistently improved insulin sensitivity in high-fat-fed rats, establishing the reproducibility of this model. A systemic infusion of a glucose load did not affect insulin sensitivity, indicating that the physiological response to oral glucose was not due solely to increased glucose turnover or withdrawal of dietary lipid. A portal infusion of glucose produced the largest improvement in insulin sensitivity, implicating a role for the hepatoportal region rather than the gastrointestinal tract in mediating the effect of glucose to improve lipid-induced insulin resistance. These results further deepen our understanding of the mechanism of glucose-mediated regulation of insulin sensitivity and provide new insight into the role of nutrition in whole body metabolism.

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Srilaxmi Kalavalapalli, Fernando Bril, Joy Guingab, Ariana Vergara, Timothy J Garrett, Nishanth E Sunny and Kenneth Cusi

Exenatide (Exe) is a glucagon-like peptide (GLP)-1 receptor agonist that enhances insulin secretion and is associated with induction of satiety with weight loss. As mitochondrial dysfunction and lipotoxicity are central features of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), we tested whether Exe improved mitochondrial function in this setting. We studied C57BL/6J mice fed for 24 weeks either a control- or high-fructose, high-trans-fat (TFD)-diet (i.e., a NASH model previously validated by our laboratory). For the final 8 weeks, mice were treated with Exe (30 µg/kg/day) or vehicle. Mitochondrial metabolism was assessed by infusion of [13C3]propionate, [3,4-13C2]glucose and NMR-based 13C-isotopomer analysis. Exenatide significantly decreased fasting plasma glucose, free fatty acids and triglycerides, as well as adipose tissue insulin resistance. Moreover, Exe reduced 23% hepatic glucose production, 15% tri-carboxylic acid (TCA) cycle flux, 20% anaplerosis and 17% pyruvate cycling resulting in a significant 31% decrease in intrahepatic triglyceride content (P = 0.02). Exenatide improved the lipidomic profile and decreased hepatic lipid byproducts associated with insulin resistance and lipotoxicity, such as diacylglycerols (TFD: 111 ± 13 vs Exe: 64 ± 13 µmol/g protein, P = 0.03) and ceramides (TFD: 1.6 ± 0.1 vs Exe: 1.3 ± 0.1 µmol/g protein, P = 0.03). Exenatide lowered expression of hepatic lipogenic genes (Srebp1C, Cd36) and genes involved in inflammation and fibrosis (Tnfa, Timp1). In conclusion, in a diet-induced mouse model of NASH, Exe ameliorates mitochondrial TCA cycle flux and significantly decreases insulin resistance, steatosis and hepatocyte lipotoxicity. This may have significant clinical implications to the potential mechanism of action of GLP-1 receptor agonists in patients with NASH. Future studies should elucidate the relative contribution of direct vs indirect mechanisms at play.

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Fazal Wahab, Ikram Ullah Khan, Ignacio Rodriguez Polo, Hira Zubair, Charis Drummer, Muhammad Shahab and Rüdiger Behr

Irisin, encoded by the FNDC5 gene, is a recently discovered endocrine factor mainly secreted as a myokine and adipokine. However, irisin/FNDC5 expression has also been reported in different other organs including components of the reproductive axis. Yet, there is the scarcity of data on FNDC5/irisin expression, regulation and its reproductive effects, particularly in primates. Here, we report the expression of FNDC5/irisin, along with PGC1A (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha) and ERRA (estrogen-related receptor alpha), in components of the reproductive axis of marmoset monkeys. Hypothalamic FNDC5 and ERRA transcript levels are developmentally regulated in both male and female. We further uncovered sex-specific differences in FNDC5, ERRA and PGC1A expression in muscle and the reproductive axis. Moreover, irisin and ERRα co-localize in the marmoset hypothalamus. Additionally, in the arcuate nucleus of rhesus monkeys, the number of irisin+ cells was significantly increased in short-term fasted monkeys as compared to ad libitum-fed monkeys. More importantly, we observed putative interaction of irisin-immunoreactive fibers and few GnRH-immunoreactive cell bodies in the mediobasal hypothalamus of the rhesus monkeys. Functionally, we noted a stimulatory effect of irisin on GnRH synthesis and release in mouse hypothalamic neuronal GT1-7 cells. In summary, our findings show that FNDC5 and irisin are developmentally, metabolic-status dependently and sex-specifically expressed in the primate hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis and exert a stimulatory effect on GnRH expression and release in mouse hypothalamic cells. Further studies are required to confirm the reproductive effects of irisin in vivo and to illuminate the mechanisms of its regulation.

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María F Andreoli, Jose Donato Jr, Isin Cakir and Mario Perello

Leptin resistance refers to states in which leptin fails to promote its anticipated effects, frequently coexisting with hyperleptinaemia. Leptin resistance is closely associated with obesity and also observed in physiological situations such as pregnancy and in seasonal animals. Leptin resensitisation refers to the reversion of leptin-resistant states and is associated with improvement in endocrine and metabolic disturbances commonly observed in obesity and a sustained decrease of plasma leptin levels, possibly below a critical threshold level. In obesity, leptin resensitisation can be achieved with treatments that reduce body adiposity and leptinaemia, or with some pharmacological compounds, while physiological leptin resistance reverts spontaneously. The restoration of leptin sensitivity could be a useful strategy to treat obesity, maintain weight loss and/or reduce the recidivism rate for weight regain after dieting. This review provides an update and discussion about reversion of leptin-resistant states and modulation of the molecular mechanisms involved in each situation.

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Richard Truse, Fabian Voß, Anna Herminghaus, Jan Schulz, Andreas P M Weber, Tabea Mettler-Altmann, Inge Bauer, Olaf Picker and Christian Vollmer

During circulatory shock, gastrointestinal microcirculation is impaired, especially via activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. Therefore, inhibition of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system might be beneficial in maintaining splanchnic microcirculation. The aim of this study was to analyze whether locally applied losartan influences gastric mucosal perfusion (µflow, µvelo) and oxygenation (µHbO2) without systemic hemodynamic changes. In repetitive experiments six anesthetized dogs received 30 mg losartan topically on the oral and gastric mucosa during normovolemia and hemorrhage (−20% blood volume). Microcirculatory variables were measured with reflectance spectrometry, laser Doppler flowmetry and incident dark field imaging. Transpulmonary thermodilution and pulse contour analysis were used to measure systemic hemodynamic variables. Gastric barrier function was assessed via differential absorption of inert sugars. During normovolemia, losartan increased gastric µflow from 99 ± 6 aU to 147 ± 17 aU and µvelo from 17 ± 1 aU to 19 ± 1 aU. During hemorrhage, losartan did not improve µflow. µvelo decreased from 17 ± 1 aU to 14 ± 1 aU in the control group. Application of losartan did not significantly alter µvelo (16 ± 1 aU) compared to the control group and to baseline levels (17 ± 1 aU). No effects of topical losartan on macrohemodynamic variables or microcirculatory oxygenation were detected. Gastric microcirculatory perfusion is at least partly regulated by local angiotensin receptors. Topical application of losartan improves local perfusion via vasodilation without significant effects on systemic hemodynamics. During mild hemorrhage losartan had minor effects on regional perfusion, probably because of a pronounced upstream vasoconstriction.

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Xiaoning Li, Junhua Xiao, Yating Fan, Kan Yang, Kai Li, Xin Wang, Yanhua Lu and Yuxun Zhou

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is the ultimate signal by which the neuroendocrine system controls the puberty onset and fertility in mammals. The pulsatile release of GnRH is regulated by numerous extracellular and intracellular factors, including microRNAs. Here we report a novel regulation mechanism mediated by miR-29 family. We found that the absence of miR-29s resulted in elevated expression of Gnrh1 in GT1-7 cells. Through in silico and wet analysis, we identified Tbx21, a target gene of miR-29, as the main effector. As a transcription activator, TBX21 stimulates the expression of Gnrh1 directly by binding to its promoter region, and indirectly by activating the expression of Dlx1, another transcription activator of Gnrh1. Stereotactic brain infusion of miR-29 inhibitor into the hypothalamus caused earlier puberty onset in prepubertal female mice than that of intact controls. The female mice with ectopic expression of Tbx21 in the hypothalamus were affected in both puberty onset and fertility, as they had higher level of serum LH and FSH, larger litter size but steeper decline of fertility compared with those of controls. Our results revealed that miR-29-3p and its target Tbx21 played a role in regulating the mammalian puberty onset and reproduction by modulating the Gnrh1 expression.