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Asghar Ali, Callie M Swanepoel, Quinton A Winger, Paul J Rozance, and Russell V Anthony

Chorionic somatomammotropin (CSH) is a placenta-specific hormone associated with fetal growth, and fetal and maternal metabolism in both humans and sheep. We hypothesized that CSH deficiency could impact sheep fetal liver glucose utilization. To generate CSH-deficient pregnancies, day 9 hatched blastocysts were infected with lentiviral particles expressing CSH-specific shRNA (RNAi) or scramble control shRNA (SC) and transferred to synchronized recipients. CSH RNAi generated two distinct phenotypes at 135 days of gestational age (dGA); pregnancies with IUGR (RNAi-IUGR) or with normal fetal weight (RNAi-NW). Fetal body, fetal liver and placental weights were reduced (P < 0.05) only in RNAi-IUGR pregnancies compared to SC. Umbilical artery plasma insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) concentrations were decreased, whereas insulin receptor beta (INSR) concentration in fetal liver was increased (P < 0.05) in both RNAi phenotypes. The mRNA concentrations of IGF1, IGF2, IGF binding protein 2 (IGFBP2) and IGFBP3 were decreased (P < 0.05) in fetal livers from both RNAi phenotypes. Fetal liver glycogen concentration and glycogen synthase 1 (GYS1) concentration were increased (P < 0.05), whereas fetal liver phosphorylated-GYS (inactive GYS) concentration was reduced (P < 0.05) in both RNAi phenotypes. Lactate dehydrogenase B (LDHB) concentration was increased (P < 0.05) and IGF2 concentration was decreased (P < 0.05) in RNAi-IUGR fetal livers only. Our findings suggest that fetal liver glucose utilization is impacted by CSH RNAi, independent of IUGR, and is likely tied to enhanced fetal liver insulin sensitivity in both RNAi phenotypes. Determining the physiological ramifications of both phenotypes, may help to differentiate direct effect of CSH deficiency or its indirect effect through IUGR.

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Wenjuan Liu, Harry Kevin Lau, Dong Ok Son, Tianru Jin, Yehong Yang, Zhaoyun Zhang, Yiming Li, Gerald Prudhomme, and Qinghua Wang

γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1RA) improve rodent β-cell survival and function. In human β-cells, GABA exerts stimulatory effects on proliferation and anti-apoptotic effects, whereas GLP-1RA drugs have only limited effects on proliferation. We previously demonstrated that GABA and sitagliptin (Sita), a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor which increases endogenous GLP-1 levels, mediated a synergistic β-cell protective effect in mice islets. However, it remains unclear whether this combination has similar effects on human β-cell. To address this question, we transplanted a suboptimal mass of human islets into immunodeficient NOD-scid-gamma mice with streptozotocin-induced diabetes, and then treated them with GABA, Sita, or both. The oral administration of either GABA or Sita ameliorated blood glucose levels, increased transplanted human β-cell counts and plasma human insulin levels. Importantly, combined administration of the drugs generated significantly superior results in all these responses, as compared to the monotherapy with either one of them. Proliferation and/or regeneration, improved by the combination, were demonstrated by increased Ki67+, PDX-1+, or Nkx6.1+ β-cell numbers. Protection against apoptosis was also significantly improved by the drug combination. The expression level of α-Klotho, a protein with protective and stimulatory effects on β cells, was also augmented. Our study indicates that combined use of GABA and Sita produced greater therapeutic benefits, which are likely due to an enhancement of β-cell proliferation and a decrease in apoptosis.

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Amanda K Mauro, Nauman Khurshid, Danielle M Berdahl, Amanda C Ampey, Daniel Adu, Dinesh M Shah, and Derek S Boeldt

Endothelial dysfunction is a prominent feature of preeclampsia, a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy, and contributes to multiple symptoms characteristic of the syndrome. A myriad of growth factors and cytokines are dysregulated in preeclampsia as compared to normal pregnancy, however a complete appreciation of the effect of changing concentrations of these factors on endothelial function is lacking. In this study we evaluate the effect of a variety of growth factors and cytokines on Ca2+ signaling and monolayer integrity. We report that VEGF165, TNFα,EGF, and IL-1β either improve or inhibit Ca2+ signaling depending on dose, whereas TNFα and IL-1β reduce monolayer integrity and bFGF increases monolayer integrity. Additionally, to model the effects of combinations of growth factors and cytokines, we screened for Ca2+ signaling changes in response to 16 dose combinations of VEGF165 and TNFα together. This revealed an optimal combination capable of supporting pregnancy-adapted Ca2+ signaling, and that changes in either VEGF165 or TNFα dose would result in a shift towards suppressed function. This study shows in detail how growth factor or cytokine concentration effects endothelial cell function. Such data can be used to model how changing growth factor and cytokine levels in normal pregnancy may contribute to healthy endothelial function and in preeclampsia may promote endothelial dysfunction. The results of VEGF165 and TNFα combination treatments suggest that more complex growth factor and cytokine combination modeling may be important in order to more accurately understand the effects of circulating factors on the endothelial function.

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Alberto Dinarello, Giorgio Licciardello, Camilla Maria Fontana, Natascia Tiso, Francesco Argenton, and Luisa Dalla Valle

Glucocorticoids (GCs) are steroid hormones that contribute to the regulation of many physiological processes, such as inflammation, metabolism and stress response, mainly through binding to their cognate receptor, GR, which works as a ligand-activated transcription factor. Due to their pleiotropy and the common medical use of these steroids to treat patients affected by different pathologies, the investigation of their mechanisms of action is extremely important in biology and clinical research. The evolutionary conservation of GC physiological function, biosynthesis pathways, as well as the sequence and structure of the GC nuclear receptors has stimulated, in the last 20 years, the use of zebrafish (a teleost of Cyprinidae family) as a reliable model organism to investigate this topic. In this review, we wanted to collect many of the most significant findings obtained by the the scientific community using zebrafish to study GCs and their receptors. The paper begins by describing the experiments with transient knockdown of zebrafish gr to gain insights, mainly during development, and continues with the discoveries provided by the generation of transgenic reporter lines. Finally, we discuss how the generation of mutant lines for either gr or the enzymes involved in GC synthesis has significantly advanced our knowledge on GC biology.

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Michela Rossi, Giulia Battafarano, Viviana De Martino, Alfredo Scillitani, Salvatore Minisola, and Andrea Del Fattore

Bone remodelling is a complex mechanism regulated by osteoclasts and osteoblasts and perturbation of this process leads to the onset of diseases, which may be characterized by altered bone erosion or formation. In this review we will describe some bone formation-related disorders as Sclerosteosis, Van Buchem disease, Hypophosphatasia and Camurati-Engelmann disease. In the past decades the research focused on these rare disorders offered the opportunity to understand important pathways regulating bone formation. Thus, the identification of the molecular defects behind the etiopathology of these diseases will open the way for new therapeutic approaches applicable also to the management of more common bone diseases including osteoporosis.

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Qiaoli Cui, Yijing Liao, Yaojing Jiang, Xiaohang Huang, Weihong Tao, Quanquan Zhou, Anna Shao, Ying Zhao, Jia Li, Anran Ma, Zhihong Wang, Li Zhang, Zunyuan Yang, Yinan Liang, Minglin Wu, Zhenyan Yang, Wen Zeng, and Qinghua Wang

Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is an insulinotropic hormone and plays an important role in regulating glucose homeostasis. GLP-1 has a short half-life (t1/2<2 min) due to degrading enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase-IV and rapid kidney clearance, which limits its clinical application as a therapeutic reagent. We demonstrated recently that supaglutide, a novel GLP-1 mimetic generated by recombinant fusion protein techniques, exerted hypoglycemic and beta cell trophic effects in type 2 diabetes db/db mice. In the present study, we examined supaglutide’s therapeutic efficacy and pharmacokinetics in diabetic rhesus monkeys. We found that a single subcutaneous injection of supaglutide of tested doses transiently and significantly reduced blood glucose levels in a dose-dependent fashion in the diabetic monkeys. During a 4-weeks intervention period, treatment of supaglutide of weekly dosing dose-dependently decreased fasting and random blood glucose levels. This was associated with significantly declined plasma fructosamine levels. The repeated administration of supaglutide remarkably also decreased body weight in a dose-dependent fashion accompanied by decreased food intake. Intravenous glucose tolerance test results showed that supaglutide improved glucose tolerance. The intervention also showed enhanced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and improved lipid profile in diabetic rhesus monkeys. These results reveal that supaglutide exerts beneficial effects in regulating blood glucose and lipid homeostasis in diabetic rhesus monkeys.

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Guangcui Xu, Tingtian Yan, Qiang Peng, Haibin Li, Weidong Wu, Xianwen Yi, and Yingzheng Zhao

Oxidative stress is proposed to be involved in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). However, antioxidant therapy results in controversial outcomes. Therefore, we generated a new antioxidant/NAFLD mouse model, LiasHigh/HighLeprdb/db mice, by crossbreeding Leprdb/dbmice, an obesity mouse model, with LiasHigh/Highmice, generated by overexpression of lipoic acid synthase gene (Lias) and having increased endogenous antioxidant capacity, to investigate whether the new model could block the development of NAFLD. We have systemically characterized the novel model based on the main features of human NAFLD, determined the impact of enhanced endogenous antioxidant capacity on the retardation of NAFLD and elucidated the underlying mechanisms using various biological and pathological methods. We found that LiasHigh/HighLeprdb/db mice ameliorated many pathological changes of NAFLD compared with the control. In particular, LiasHigh/HighLeprdb/db mice displayed the improved liver mitochondrial function, reflecting the decline of mitochondrial microvesicular steatosis, and reduced oxidative stress, which mainly contribute to alleviation of pathologic alterations of the NAFLD progression. Our new model shows that mitochondrial dysfunction is a major pathogenesis for liver steatosis. Overexpression of Lias gene effectively reduces oxidative stress and protects mitochondria, and consequently attenuates NAFLD/NASH.

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Giselle Adriana Abruzzese, Maria Florencia Heber, Silvana Rocío Ferreira, María José Ferrer, and Alicia Beatriz Motta

Prenatal androgen exposure affects reproductive functions and has been proposed as an underlying cause of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In this study, we aimed to investigate the impact of prenatal androgen exposure on ovarian lipid metabolism and to deepen our understanding of steroidogenesis regulation during adulthood. Pregnant rats were hyperandrogenized with testosterone and female offspring were studied when adult. This treatment leads to two different phenotypes: irregular ovulatory and anovulatory animals. Our results showed that prenatally hyperandrogenized (PH) animals displayed altered lipid and hormonal profile together with alterations in steroidogenesis and ovarian lipid metabolism. Moreover, PH animals showed alterations in the PPARg system, impaired mRNA levels of cholesterol receptors (Ldlr and Srb1) and decreased expression of the rate-limiting enzyme of de novo cholesterol production (Hmgcr). Anovulatory PH animals presented an increase of ovarian cholesteryl esters levels and lipid peroxidation index. Together with alterations in cholesterol metabolism, we found an impairment of the steroidogenic pathway in PH animals in a phenotype-specific manner. Regarding fatty acid metabolism, our results showed, in PH animals, an altered expression of Srebp1 and Atgl, which are involved in fatty acid metabolism and triglycerides hydrolysis, respectively. In conclusion, fatty acid and cholesterol metabolism, which are key players in steroidogenesis acting as a source of energy and substrate for steroid production, were affected in animals exposed to androgens during gestation. These results suggest that prenatal androgen exposure leads to long-term effects that affect ovary lipid metabolism and ovarian steroid formation from the very first steps.

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Ana Sánchez-Tusie, Carlos Montes de Oca, Julia Rodríguez-Castelán, Evangelina Delgado-González, Zamira Ortiz, Lourdes Álvarez, Carlos Zarco, Carmen Aceves, and Brenda Anguiano

Thyroxine (T4) promotes cell proliferation and tumor growth in prostate cancer models, but it is unknown if the increase in the triiodothyronine (T3)/T4 ratio could attenuate prostate tumor development. We assessed T3 effects on thyroid response, histology, proliferation, and apoptosis in the prostate of wild-type (WT) and TRAMP (transgenic adenocarcinoma of the mouse prostate) mice. Physiological doses of T3 were administered in the drinking water (2.5, 5 and 15 µg/100 g body weight) for 6 weeks. None of the doses modified the body weight or serum levels of testosterone, but all of them reduced serum T4 levels by 50%, and the highest dose increased the T3/T4 ratio in TRAMP. In WT, the highest dose of T3 decreased cyclin D1 levels (immunohistochemistry) but did not modify prostate weight or alter the epithelial morphology. In TRAMP, this dose reduced tumor growth by antiproliferative mechanisms independent of apoptosis, but it did not modify the intraluminal or fibromuscular invasion of tumors. In vitro, in the LNCaP prostate cancer cell line, we found that both T3 and T4 increased the number of viable cells (Trypan blue assay), and only T4 response was fully blocked in the presence of an integrin-binding inhibitor peptide (RGD, arginine-glycine-aspartate). In summary, our data show that the prostate was highly sensitive to physiological T3 doses and suggest that in vivo, an increase in the T3/T4 ratio could be associated with the reduced weight of prostate tumors. Longitudinal studies are required to understand the role of thyroid hormones in prostate cancer progression.

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Patrycja Kurowska, Ewa Mlyczyńska, Monika Dawid, Małgorzata Grzesiak, Joelle Dupont, and Agnieszka Rak

Vaspin, visceral adipose tissue-derived serine protease inhibitor, plays important roles in inflammation, obesity, and glucose metabolism. Our recent research has shown the expression and role of vaspin in the function of ovarian follicles. However, whether vaspin regulates steroidogenesis and luteolysis in the corpus luteum (CL) is still unknown. The aim of this study was first to determine the expression of vaspin and its receptor GRP78 in porcine CL at the early, middle, and late stages of the luteal phase. Next, we investigated the hormonal regulation of vaspin levels in luteal cells in response to luteinizing hormone (LH), progesterone (P4), and prostaglandin PGE2 and PGF2α. Finally, we determined vaspin’s direct impact on luteal cells steroidogenesis, luteolysis and kinases phosphorylation. Our results are the first to show higher vaspin/GRP78 expression in middle and late vs early stages; immunohistochemistry showed cytoplasmic vaspin/GRP78 localization in small and large luteal cells. In vitro, we found that LH, P4, PGE2, and PGF2α significantly decreased vaspin levels. Furthermore, vaspin stimulated steroidogenesis by the activation of the GRP78 receptor and protein kinase A (PKA). Also, vaspin increased the ratio of luteotropic PGE2 to luteolytic PGF2α secretion via GRP78 and mitogen-activated kinase (MAP3/1). Moreover, vaspin, in a dose-dependent manner, decreased GRP78 expression, while it, in a time-dependent manner, increased kinases PKA and MAPK3/1 phosphorylation. Taken together, we found that vaspin/GRP78 expression depends on the luteal phase stage and vaspin affects luteal cells endocrinology, indicating that vaspin is a new regulator of luteal cells steroidogenesis and CL formation.