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Anna Cinkajzlová, Miloš Mráz, and Martin Haluzík

Immune cells are an inseparable component of adipose tissue intimately involved in most of its functions. Physiologically, they regulate adipose tissue homeostasis, while in case of adipose tissue stress, immune cells are able to change their phenotype, enhance their count and subsequently contribute to the development and maintenance of local adipose tissue inflammation. Immune cells are an important source of inflammatory cytokines and other pro-inflammatory products that further influence not only surrounding tissues but via systemic circulation also the whole organism being thus one of the main factors responsible for the transition from simple obesity to associated metabolic and cardiovascular complications. The purpose of this review is to summarize current knowledge on different adipose tissue immune cell subsets and their role in the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases.

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Paul R Shorten, Erin L Legacki, Pascale Chavatte-Palmer, and Alan J Conley

Hormone secretion by the maternal ovaries, trophoblast/placenta and fetus occurs sequentially, creating distinct steroid metabolomic ‘signatures’ in systemic blood of pregnant mares that vary with gestational stage. Algorithms were developed to predict the gestational day (GD) from the maternal steroid metabolome (nine steroids; pregnenolone (P5), progesterone (P4), 5α-dihydroprogesterone (DHP), 17α-hydroxyprogesterone, allopregnanolone, 20α-hydroxy-DHP, 3β,20α-dihydroxy-DHP, DHEA and androstenedione) determined by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) of eight thoroughbred mares sampled longitudinally throughout pregnancy. A physiologically based model was developed to infer rates of steroid secretion during chorionic gonadotropin secretion, the luteo-placental shift and by the equine feto-placenta unit, demonstrating more variability in P5 and DHP than P4. The average of four empirical models, using nine steroids to predict GD, was calibrated (five mares, R2 = 0.94, RMSE = 20 days) and validated (three mares, R2 = 0.84, RMSE = 32 days). Validation performance was improved using paired samples taken 14 or 30 days apart (RMSE = 29 and 19 days, respectively). A second validation used an independent dataset (single serum samples from 56 mixed breed mares, RMSE = 79 days) and an additional longitudinal subset from the same population sampled monthly throughout gestation (seven mares, RMSE = 42 days). Again, using paired samples improved model performance (RMSE = 32.5 days). Despite less predictive performance of the mixed breed than the thoroughbred datasets, these models demonstrate the feasibility and potential for using maternal steroid metabolomic algorithms to estimate the stage of gestation in pregnant mares and perhaps monitor fetal development.

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Shadi K Gholami, Chee Sin Tay, Jessica M Lee, Eleanor Zagoren, Stephen A Maris, Jian Yao Wong, Amanda E Garza, Ezgi Caliskan Guzelce, Luminita H Pojoga, Gail K Adler, Jose R Romero, and Gordon H Williams

Inconsistencies have been reported on the effect of sex on aldosterone (ALDO) levels leading to clinical confusion. The reasons for these inconsistencies are uncertain but include estrogen and/or its receptor modulating target gene responses to mineralocorticoid receptor activation and ALDO secretagogues’ levels. This study’s goal was to determine whether ALDO’s biosynthesis also differed by sex. Two approaches were used. First, plasma renin activity and aldosterone were measured in rats. Both were significantly higher in males. Secondly, using rat zona glomerulosa (ZG) cells, we assessed three ex vivo areas: (1) activity/levels of early steps in ALDO’s biosynthesis (StAR and CYP11A1); (2) activity/levels of a late step (CYP11B2); and (3) the status of the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR)-mediated, ultrashort feedback loop. Females had higher expression of CYP11A1 and StAR and increased CYP11A1 activity (increased pregnenolone/corticosterone levels) but did not differ in CYP11B2 expression or activity (ALDO levels). Activating the ZG’s MR (thereby activating the ultrashort feedback loop) reduced CYP11B2’s activity similarly in both sexes. Exvivo, these molecular effects were accompanied, in females, by lower ALDO basally but higher ALDO with angiotensin II stimulation. In conclusion, we documented that not only was there a sex-mediated difference in the activity of ALDO’s biosynthesis but also these differences at the molecular level help explain the variable reports on ALDO’s circulating levels. Basally, both in vivo and ex vivo, males had higher ALDO levels, likely secondary to higher ALDO secretagogue levels. However, in response to acute stimulation, ALDO levels are higher in females because of the greater levels and/or activity of their StAR/CYP11A1.

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Pauline C Xu, Yi Luan, Seok-Yeong Yu, Jing Xu, Donald W Coulter, and So-Youn Kim

Immunotherapy has emerged at the forefront of cancer treatment. Checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA), a chimeric antibody which targets programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1), has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in pediatric patients with relapsed or refractory classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma. However, there is currently no published data regarding the effects of pembrolizumab on the ovary of female pediatric patients. In this study, prepubertal immunocompetent and immunodeficient female mice were injected with pembrolizumab or anti-mouse PD-1 antibody. The number of primordial follicles significantly decreased post-injection of both pembrolizumab and anti-mouse PD-1 antibody in immunocompetent mice. However, no changes in follicle numbers were observed in immunodeficient nude mice. Superovulation test and vaginal opening experiments suggest that there is no difference in the number of cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) and the timing of puberty onset between the control and anti-mouse PD-1 antibody treatment groups, indicating that there is no effect on short-term fertility. Elevation of pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-α following COX-2 upregulation was observed in the ovary. CD3+ T-cell infiltration was detected within some ovarian follicles and between stromal cells of the ovaries in mice following treatment with anti-mouse PD-1 antibody. Thus, PD-1 immune checkpoint blockade affects the ovarian reserve through a mechanism possibly involving inflammation following CD3+ T-cell infiltration.

Open access

Maria L Price, Cameron D Ley, and Caroline M Gorvin

Ghrelin is a peptide hormone secreted primarily by the stomach that acts upon the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR1), a G protein-coupled receptor whose functions include growth hormone secretion, appetite regulation, energy expenditure, regulation of adiposity, and insulin release. Following the discovery that GHSR1a stimulates food intake, receptor antagonists were developed as potential therapies to regulate appetite. However, despite reductions in signalling, the desired effects on appetite were absent. Studies in the past 15 years have demonstrated GHSR1a can interact with other transmembrane proteins, either by direct binding (i.e. heteromerisation) or via signalling cross-talk. These interactions have various effects on GHSR1a signalling including preferential coupling to one pathway (i.e. biased signalling), coupling to a unique G protein (G protein switching), suppression of GHSR1a signalling, and enhancement of signalling by both receptors. While many of these interactions have been shown in cells overexpressing the proteins of interest and remain to be verified in tissues, substantial evidence exists showing that GHSR1a and the dopamine receptor D1 (DRD1) form heteromers, which promote synaptic plasticity and formation of hippocampal memory. Additionally, a reduction in GHSR1a-DRD1 complexes in favour of establishment of GHSR1a-Aβ complexes correlates with Alzheimer’s disease, indicating that GHSR1a heteromers may have pathological functions. Herein, we summarise the evidence published to date describing interactions between GHSR1a and transmembrane proteins, discuss the experimental strengths and limitations of these studies, describe the physiological evidence for each interaction, and address their potential as novel drug targets for appetite regulation, Alzheimer’s disease, insulin secretion, and inflammation.

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Sami Ayari, Eva Gil-Iturbe, Léa le Gléau, Céline Osinski, Nathalie Kapel, Hedi Antoine Soula, Armelle Leturque, Fabrizio Andreelli, Karine Clément, Patricia Serradas, and Agnès Ribeiro

Changes in dietary habits have occurred concomitantly with a rise of type 2 diabetes (T2D) and obesity. Intestine is the first organ facing nutrient ingestion and has to adapt its metabolism with these dietary changes. HNF-4γ, a transcription factor member of the nuclear receptor superfamily and mainly expressed in intestine, has been suggested to be involved in susceptibility to T2D. Our aim was to investigate the role of HNF-4γ in metabolic disorders and related mechanisms. Hnf4g−/− mice were fed high-fat/high-fructose (HF-HF) diet for 6 weeks to induce obesity and T2D. Glucose homeostasis, energy homeostasis in metabolic cages, body composition and stool energy composition, as well as gene expression analysis in the jejunum were analyzed. Despite an absence of decrease in calorie intake, of increase in locomotor activity or energy expenditure, Hnf4g−/− mice fed with HF-HF are protected against weight gain after 6 weeks of HF-HF diet. We showed that Hnf4g−/− mice fed HF-HF display an increase in fecal calorie loss, mainly due to intestinal lipid malabsorption. Gene expression of lipid transporters, Fatp4 and Scarb1 and of triglyceride-rich lipoprotein secretion proteins, Mttp and ApoB are decreased in gut epithelium of Hnf4g−/− mice fed HF-HF, showing the HNF-4γ role in intestine lipid absorption. Furthermore, plasma GLP-1 and jejunal GLP-1 content are increased in Hnf4g−/− mice fed HF-HF, which could contribute to the glucose intolerance protection. The loss of HNF-4γ leads to a protection against a diet-induced weight gain and to a deregulated glucose homeostasis, associated with lipid malabsorption.

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Rita E Roberts, Jacqueline Cavalcante-Silva, Rhonda D Kineman, and Timothy J Koh

Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 plays important role in tissue repair through its ability to stimulate wound cell activity. While IGF-1 is expressed locally by wound cells, liver-derived IGF-1 is also present at high levels in the circulation, and the contributions of local vs circulating IGF-1 to wound levels remain undefined. The hypothesis of this study was that liver is a primary source of IGF-1 during skin wound healing. To test this hypothesis, we utilized a model that allows inducible ablation of IGF-1 specifically in liver of adult mice. We demonstrate that ablation of liver IGF-1 leads to >85% loss of circulating IGF-1 and ~60% decrease in wound IGF-1 during the proliferative phase of healing in both male and female mice. This reduction of liver-derived IGF-1 did not alter local mRNA expression of Igf1 in wounds. Knockdown of liver IGF-1 significantly delayed wound re-epithelialization and reduced granulation tissue formation and collagen deposition. Knockdown of liver IGF-1 also significantly reduced angiogenesis and resulted in persistent macrophage accumulation. In summary, liver is a primary source of IGF-1 in skin wounds and contributes to many aspects of both epithelial and dermal healing.

Open access

Stuart A Lanham, Dominique Blache, Richard O C Oreffo, Abigail L Fowden, and Alison J Forhead

Hormones have an important role in the regulation of fetal growth and development, especially in response to nutrient availability in utero. Using micro-CT and an electromagnetic three-point bend test, this study examined the effect of pancreas removal at 0.8 fraction of gestation on the developing bone structure and mechanical strength in fetal sheep. When fetuses were studied at 10 and 25 days after surgery, pancreatectomy caused hypoinsulinaemia, hyperglycaemia and growth retardation which was associated with low plasma concentrations of leptin and a marker of osteoclast activity and collagen degradation. In pancreatectomized fetuses compared to control fetuses, limb lengths were shorter, and trabecular (Tb) bone in the metatarsi showed greater bone volume fraction, Tb thickness, degree of anisotropy and porosity, and lower fractional bone surface area and Tb spacing. Mechanical strength testing showed that pancreas deficiency was associated with increased stiffness and a greater maximal weight load at fracture in a subset of fetuses studied near term. Overall, pancreas deficiency in utero slowed the growth of the fetal skeleton and adapted the developing bone to generate a more compact and connected structure. Maintenance of bone strength in growth-retarded limbs is especially important in a precocial species in preparation for skeletal loading and locomotion at birth.

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Ida Marie Boisen, John Erik Nielsen, Lieve Verlinden, Mette Lorenzen, Rune Holt, Anja Pinborg, Christine Hjorth Andreassen, Anders Juul, Beate Lanske, Geert Carmeliet, and Martin Blomberg Jensen

Vitamin D is important for gonadal function in rodents, and improvement of vitamin D status in men with low sperm counts increases live birth rate. Vitamin D is a regulator of transcellular calcium transport in the intestine and kidney and may influence the dramatic changes in the luminal calcium concentration in epididymis. Here, we show spatial expression in the male reproductive tract of vitamin D receptor (VDR)-regulated factors involved in calcium transport: transient receptor potential vanilloid 5/6 , sodium/calcium exchanger 1, plasma membrane calcium ATPase 1, calbindin D9k, calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR), and parathyroid hormone-related peptide (PTHrP) in mouse and human testis and epididymis. Testicular Casr expression was lower in Vdr ablated mice compared with controls. Moreover, expression levels of Casr and Pthrp were strongly correlated in both testis and epididymis and Pthrp was suppressed by 1,25(OH)2D3 in a spermatogonial cell line. The expression of CaSR in epididymis may be of greater importance than in the gonad in mice as germ cell-specific Casr deficient mice had no major reproductive phenotype, and coincubation with a CaSR-agonist had no effect on human sperm–oocyte binding. In humans, seminal calcium concentration between 5 and 10 mM was associated with a higher fraction of motile and morphologically normal sperm cells, and the seminal calcium concentration was not associated with serum calcium levels. In conclusion, VDR regulates CaSR and PTHrP, and both factors may be involved in the regulation of calcium transport in the male reproductive tract with possible implications for sperm function and storage.