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Olivier Dumortier, Gaia Fabris, Didier F Pisani, Virginie Casamento, Nadine Gautier, Charlotte Hinault, Patricia Lebrun, Christophe Duranton, Michel Tauc, Stéphane Dalle, Julie Kerr-Conte, François Pattou, Marc Prentki and Emmanuel Van Obberghen

Enhanced beta cell glycolytic and oxidative metabolism are necessary for glucose-induced insulin secretion. While several microRNAs modulate beta cell homeostasis, miR-375 stands out as it is highly expressed in beta cells where it regulates beta cell function, proliferation and differentiation. As glucose metabolism is central in all aspects of beta cell functioning, we investigated the role of miR-375 in this process using human and rat islets; the latter being an appropriate model for in-depth investigation. We used forced expression and repression of mR-375 in rat and human primary islet cells followed by analysis of insulin secretion and metabolism. Additionally, miR-375 expression and glucose-induced insulin secretion were compared in islets from rats at different developmental ages. We found that overexpressing of miR-375 in rat and human islet cells blunted insulin secretion in response to glucose but not to α-ketoisocaproate or KCl. Further, miR-375 reduced O2 consumption related to glycolysis and pyruvate metabolism, but not in response to α-ketoisocaproate. Concomitantly, lactate production was augmented suggesting that glucose-derived pyruvate is shifted away from mitochondria. Forced miR-375 expression in rat or human islets increased mRNA levels of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase-4, but decreased those of pyruvate carboxylase and malate dehydrogenase1. Finally, reduced miR-375 expression was associated with maturation of fetal rat beta cells and acquisition of glucose-induced insulin secretion function. Altogether our findings identify miR-375 as an efficacious regulator of beta cell glucose metabolism and of insulin secretion, and could be determinant to functional beta cell developmental maturation.

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Mariana Rosolen Tavares, Simone Ferreira Lemes, Thais de Fante, Cristina Saenz de Miera, Isadora Carolina Betim Pavan, Rosangela Maria Neves Bezerra, Patricia Oliveira Prada, Marcio Alberto Torsoni, Carol Fuzeti Elias and Fernando Moreira Simabuco

The mTOR/S6Ks signaling is one of the intracellular pathways important for metabolic control, acting both peripherally and centrally. In the hypothalamus, mTOR/S6Ks axis mediates the action of leptin and insulin and can modulate the expression of neuropeptides. We analyzed the role of different S6Ks isoforms in the hypothalamic regulation of metabolism. We observed decreased food intake and decreased expression of agouti-related peptide (AgRP) following intracerebroventricular (icv) injections of adenoviral-mediated overexpression of three different S6Ks isoforms. Moreover, mice overexpressing p70-S6K1 in undefined periventricular hypothalamic neurons presented changes in glucose metabolism, as an increase in gluconeogenesis. To further evaluate the hypothalamic role of a less-studied S6K isoform, p54-S6K2, we used a Cre-LoxP approach to specifically overexpress it in AgRP neurons. Our findings demonstrate the potential participation of S6K2 in AgRP neurons regulating feeding behavior.

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Kenshiro Shikano, Eiko Iwakoshi-Ukena, Takaya Saito, Yuki Narimatsu, Atsuki Kadota, Megumi Furumitsu, George E Bentley, Lance J Kriegsfeld and Kazuyoshi Ukena

We recently discovered a novel gene encoding a small secretory protein, neurosecretory protein GL (NPGL), which stimulates feeding behavior in mice following acute administration. These findings suggest that dysregulation of NPGL contributes to obesity and metabolic disease. To explore this possibility, we investigated the impact of prolonged exposure to NPGL through 13 days of chronic intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) infusion and examined feeding behavior, body composition, expressions of lipid metabolic factors, respiratory metabolism, locomotor activity, and food preference. Under standard chow diet, NPGL increased white adipose tissue (WAT) mass without affecting feeding behavior and body mass. In contrast, when fed a high-calorie diet, NPGL stimulated feeding behavior and increased body mass concomitant with marked fat accumulation. Quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis revealed that mRNA expressions for key enzymes and related factors involved in lipid metabolism were increased in WAT and liver. Likewise, analyses of respiratory metabolism and locomotor activity revealed that energy expenditure and locomotor activity were significantly decreased by NPGL. In contrast, selective feeding of macronutrients did not alter food preference in response to NPGL, although total calorie intake was increased. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that NPGL-containing cells produce galanin, a neuropeptide that stimulates food intake. Taken together, these results provide further support for NPGL as a novel regulator of fat deposition through changes in energy intake and locomotor activity.

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Diego Crespo, Moline Severino Lemos, Yu Ting Zhang, Diego Safian, Birgitta Norberg, Jan Bogerd and Rüdiger W Schulz

Changes in zebrafish testicular gene expression induced by follicle-stimulating hormone (Fsh) or anti-Mullerian hormone (Amh) suggested that Amh inhibition and Fsh stimulation of spermatogenesis involved up and downregulation, respectively, of prostaglandin (PG) signaling. We found that Sertoli cells contacting type A undifferentiated (Aund) and differentiating (Adiff) spermatogonia expressed a key enzyme of PG production (Ptgs2); previous work showed that Sertoli cells contacting Adiff and B spermatogonia and spermatocytes showed ptges3b expression, an enzyme catalyzing PGE2 production. In primary testis tissue cultures, PGE2, but not PGD2 or PGF, reduced the mitotic activity of Adiff and their development into B spermatogonia. Vice versa, inhibiting PG production increased the mitotic activity of Adiff and B spermatogonia. Studies with pharmacological PG receptor antagonists suggest that an Ep4 receptor mediates the inhibitory effects on the development of spermatogonia, and cell-sorting experiments indicated this receptor is expressed mainly by testicular somatic cells. Combined inhibition of PG and steroid production moreover reduced the mitotic activity of Aund spermatogonia and led to their partial depletion, suggesting that androgens (and/or other testicular steroids), supported by PGE2, otherwise prevent depletion of Aund. Androgens also decreased testicular PGE2 production, increased the transcript levels of the enzyme-catabolizing PGs and decreased PGE2 receptor ptger4b transcript levels. Also Fsh potentially reduced, independent of androgens, PGE2 production by decreasing ptges3b transcript levels. Taken together, our results indicate that PGE2, via Ep4 receptors, favors self-renewal in conjunction with androgens and, independent of Fsh and androgens, inhibits differentiating divisions of spermatogonia.

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Romain Fontaine, Eirill Ager-Wick, Kjetil Hodne and Finn-Arne Weltzien

Follicle stimulating hormone (Fsh) and luteinizing hormone (Lh) produced by the gonadotropes, play a major role in control of reproduction. Contrary to mammals and birds, Lh and Fsh are mostly produced by two separate cell types in teleost. Here, we investigated gonadotrope plasticity, using transgenic lines of medaka (Oryzias latipes) where DsRed2 and hrGfpII are under the control of the fshb and lhb promotors respectively. We found that Fsh cells appear in the pituitary at 8 dpf, while Lh cells were previously shown to appear at 14 dpf. Similar to in Lh cells, Fsh cells show hyperplasia from juvenile to adult stages. Hyperplasia is stimulated by estradiol. Both Fsh and Lh cells show hypertrophy during puberty with similar morphology. They also share similar behavior, using their cellular extensions to make networks. We observed bi-hormonal gonadotropes in juveniles and adults but not in larvae where only mono-hormonal cells are observed, suggesting the existence of phenotypic conversion between Fsh and Lh in later stages. This is demonstrated in cell culture, where some Fsh cells start to produce Lhβ, a phenomenon enhanced by gonadotropin releasing hormone (Gnrh) stimulation. We have previously shown that medaka Fsh cells lack Gnrh receptors, but here we show that with time in culture, some Fsh cells start responding to Gnrh, while fshb mRNA levels are significantly reduced, both suggestive of phenotypic change. All together, these results reveal high plasticity of gonadotropes due to both estradiol sensitive proliferation and Gnrh promoted phenotypic conversion, and moreover show that gonadotropes lose part of their identity when kept in cell culture.

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Hong-Tao Zheng, Tao Fu, Hai-Yi Zhang, Zhen-Shan Yang, Zhan-Hong Zheng and Zeng-Ming Yang

Glucocorticoids (GCs) are essential for mouse embryo implantation and decidualization. Excess GCs are harmful for mouse embryo implantation and decidualization. 11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases type I and II (Hsd11b1/Hsd11b2) are main enzymes for regulating local level of GCs. Hsd11b2 acts as the placental glucocorticoid barrier to protect the fetus from excessive exposure. Although effects of GCs on the fetus and placenta in late pregnancy have been extensively studied, the effects of these adrenal corticosteroids in early pregnancy are far less well defined. Therefore, we examined the expression, regulation and function of Hsd11b1/Hsd11b2 in mouse uterus during early pregnancy. We found that Hsd11b2 is highly expressed in endometrial stromal cells on days 3 and 4 of pregnancy and mainly upregulated by progesterone (P4). In both ovariectomized mice and cultured stromal cells, P4 significantly stimulates Hsd11b2 expression. P4 stimulation of Hsd11b2 is mainly mediated by the Ihh pathway. The uterine level of corticosterone (Cort) is regulated by Hsd11b2 during preimplantation. Embryo development and the number of inner cell mass cells are suppressed by Cort treatment. These results indicate that P4 should provide a low Cort environment for the development of preimplantation mouse embryos by promoting the expression of uterine Hsd11b2.

Open access

Koichiro Taguchi, Kazuo Kajita, Yoshihiko Kitada, Masayuki Fuwa, Motochika Asano, Takahide Ikeda, Toshiko Kajita, Tatsuo Ishizuka, Itaru Kojima and Hiroyuki Morita

Despite extensive investigation, the mechanisms underlying adipogenesis are not fully understood. We previously identified proliferative cells in adipose tissue expressing adipocyte- specific genes, which were named small proliferative adipocytes (SPA). In this study, we investigated the characteristics and roles of SPA in adipose tissue. Epididymal and inguinal fat was digested by collagenase, and then SPA were separated by centrifugation from stromal vascular cells (SVC) and mature white adipocytes. To clarify the feature of gene expression in SPA, microarray and real-time PCR were performed. The expression of adipocyte-specific genes and several neuronal genes was increased in the order of SVC < SPA < mature white adipocytes. In addition, proliferin was detected only in SPA. SPA differentiated more effectively into lipid-laden cells than SVC. Moreover, differentiated SPA expressed uncoupling protein 1 and mitochondria-related genes more than differentiated SVC. Treatment of SPA with pioglitazone and CL316243, a specific β3-adrenergic receptor agonist, differentiated SPA into beige-like cells. Therefore, SPA are able to differentiate into beige cells. SPA isolated from epididymal fat (epididymal SPA), but not SPA from inguinal fat (inguinal SPA), expressed a marker of visceral adipocyte precursor, WT1. However, no significant differences were detected in the expression levels of adipocyte-specific genes or neuronal genes between epididymal and inguinal SPA. The ability to differentiate into lipid-laden cells in epididymal SPA was a little superior to that in inguinal SPA, whereas the ability to differentiate into beige-like cells was greater in inguinal SPA than epididymal SPA. In conclusion, SPA may be progenitors of beige cells.

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Catalina Sierra-Ramos, Silvia Velazquez-Garcia, Arianna Vastola-Mascolo, Guadalberto Hernández, Nourdine Faresse and Diego Alvarez de la Rosa

The serum- and glucocorticoid-induced kinase 1 (SGK1) is a transcriptional target of steroid hormones including glucocorticoids or aldosterone in addition to other stimuli such as glucose. SGK1 is activated via phosphoinositide 3-kinase, placing it downstream of insulin signaling. SGK1 participates in the upregulation of kidney Na+ reabsorption by aldosterone and has been linked to obesity-related hypertension in humans. We hypothesized that a systemic increase in SGK1 activity may trigger a multiplicity of mechanisms leading to simultaneous development of the main conditions that characterize the metabolic syndrome (MetS), including hypertension. We used a transgenic mouse model made with a bacterial artificial chromosome containing the whole mouse Sgk1 gene modified to introduce an activating point mutation. Wild type or transgenic 14-week-old male mice were fed with standard chow diet or high-fat diet for up to 18 weeks. Development of the main features of MetS and hepatic steatosis were monitored, and in vitro adipocyte differentiation was studied. Our results show that transgenic animals under high-fat diet rapidly and markedly develop MetS characterized by obesity, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and hypertension. In addition, SGK1 gain-of-function accelerates the development of hepatic steatosis. Our study suggests that inappropriate SGK1 activity represents a risk factor in developing MetS with hypertension and related end-organ damage. Our data support SGK1 as a possible therapeutic target in MetS and related complications and provides a useful gain-of-function model for pre-clinical drug testing.

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Elias Rawish, Laura Nickel, Franziska Schuster, Ines Stölting, Alex Frydrychowicz, Kathrin Saar, Norbert Hübner, Alaa Othman, Lars Kuerschner and Walter Raasch

The AT1 receptor blocker telmisartan (TEL) prevents diet-induced obesity. Hypothalamic lipid metabolism is functionally important for energy homeostasis, as a surplus of lipids induces an inflammatory response in the hypothalamus, thus promoting the development of central leptin resistance. However, it is unclear as to whether TEL treatment affects the lipid status in the hypothalamus. C57BL/6N mice were fed with chow (CONchow) or high-fat diet (CONHFD). HFD-fed mice were gavaged with TEL (8 mg/kg/day, 12 weeks, TELHFD). Mice were phenotyped regarding weight gain, energy homeostasis, and glucose control. Hypothalamic lipid droplets were analyzed by fluorescence microscopy. Lipidomics were assessed by performing liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry in plasma and hypothalami. Adipokines were investigated using immunosorbent assays. Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) was determined by Western blotting and immunohistochemical imaging. We found that body weight, energy homeostasis, and glucose control of TEL-treated mice remained normal while CONHFD became obese. Hypothalamic ceramide and triglyceride levels as well as alkyne oleate distribution were normalized in TELHFD. The lipid droplet signal in the tanycyte layer was higher in CONHFD than in CONchow and returned to normal under TELHFD conditions. High hypothalamic levels of GFAP protein indicate astrogliosis of CONHFD mice while normalized GFAP, TNFα, and IL1α levels of TELHFD mice suggest that TEL prevents hypothalamic inflammation. In conclusion, TEL has anti-obese efficacy and prevented lipid accumulation and lipotoxicity, which is accompanied by an anti-inflammatory effect in the murine hypothalamus. Our findings support the notion that a brain-related mechanism is involved in TEL-induced weight loss.

Open access

Hiroharu Mifune, Yuji Tajiri, Yusuke Sakai, Yukie Kawahara, Kento Hara, Takahiro Sato, Yoshihiro Nishi, Akinori Nishi, Ryouichi Mitsuzono, Tatsuyuki Kakuma and Masayasu Kojima

We previously reported that voluntary exercise contributed to the amelioration of abnormal feeding behavior with a concomitant restoration of ghrelin production in a rat model of obesity, suggesting a possible relationship between exercise and appetite-regulating hormones. Ghrelin is known to be involved in the brain reward circuits via dopamine neurons related to motivational properties. We investigated the relevance of ghrelin as an initiator of voluntary exercise as well as feeding behavior. The plasma ghrelin concentration fluctuates throughout the day with its peak at the beginning of the dark period in the wild-type (WT) mice with voluntary exercise. Although predominant increases in wheel running activity were observed accordant to the peak of plasma ghrelin concentration in the WT mice, those were severely attenuated in the ghrelin-knockout (GKO) mice under either ad libitum or time-restricted feeding. A single injection of ghrelin receptor agonist brought about and reproduced a marked enhancement of wheel running activity, in contrast to no effect by the continuous administration of the same drug. Brain dopamine levels (DAs) were enhanced after food consumption in the WT mice under voluntary exercise. Although the acceleration of DAs were apparently blunted in the GKO mice, they were dramatically revived after the administration of ghrelin receptor agonist, suggesting the relevance of ghrelin in the reward circuit under voluntary exercise. These findings emphasize that the surge of ghrelin plays a crucial role in the formation of motivation for the initiation of voluntary exercise possibly related to the central dopamine system.