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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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Kok Lim Kua, Shanming Hu, Chunlin Wang, Jianrong Yao, Diana Dang, Alexander B Sawatzke, Jeffrey L Segar, Kai Wang and Andrew W Norris

Offspring exposed in utero to maternal diabetes exhibit long-lasting insulin resistance, though the initiating mechanisms have received minimal experimental attention. Herein, we show that rat fetuses develop insulin resistance after only 2-day continuous exposure to isolated hyperglycemia starting on gestational day 18. Hyperglycemia-induced reductions in insulin-induced AKT phosphorylation localized primarily to fetal skeletal muscle. The skeletal muscle of hyperglycemia-exposed fetuses also exhibited impaired in vivo glucose uptake. To address longer term impacts of this short hyperglycemic exposure, neonates were cross-fostered and examined at 21 days postnatal age. Offspring formerly exposed to 2 days late gestation hyperglycemia exhibited mild glucose intolerance with insulin signaling defects localized only to skeletal muscle. Fetal hyperglycemic exposure has downstream consequences which include hyperinsulinemia and relative uteroplacental insufficiency. To determine whether these accounted for induction of insulin resistance, we examined fetuses exposed to late gestational isolated hyperinsulinemia or uterine artery ligation. Importantly, 2 days of fetal hyperinsulinemia did not impair insulin signaling in murine fetal tissues and 21-day-old offspring exposed to fetal hyperinsulinemia had normal glucose tolerance. Similarly, fetal exposure to 2-day uteroplacental insufficiency did not perturb insulin-stimulated AKT phosphorylation in fetal rats. We conclude that fetal exposure to hyperglycemia acutely produces insulin resistance. As hyperinsulinemia and placental insufficiency have no such impact, this occurs likely via direct tissue effects of hyperglycemia. Furthermore, these findings show that skeletal muscle is uniquely susceptible to immediate and persistent insulin resistance induced by hyperglycemia.

Free access

Trassanee Chatmethakul and Robert D Roghair

Consistent with the paradigm shifting observations of David Barker and colleagues that revealed a powerful relationship between decreased weight through 2 years of age and adult disease, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and preterm birth are independent risk factors for the development of subsequent hypertension. Animal models have been indispensable in defining the mechanisms responsible for these associations and the potential targets for therapeutic intervention. Among the modifiable risk factors, micronutrient deficiency, physical immobility, exaggerated stress hormone exposure and deficient trophic hormone production are leading candidates for targeted therapies. With the strong inverse relationship seen between gestational age at delivery and the risk of hypertension in adulthood trumping all other major cardiovascular risk factors, improvements in neonatal care are required. Unfortunately, therapeutic breakthroughs have not kept pace with rapidly improving perinatal survival, and groundbreaking bench-to-bedside studies are urgently needed to mitigate and ultimately prevent the tsunami of prematurity-related adult cardiovascular disease that may be on the horizon. This review highlights our current understanding of the developmental origins of hypertension and draws attention to the importance of increasing the availability of lactation consultants, nutritionists, pharmacists and physical therapists as critical allies in the battle that IUGR or premature infants are waging not just for survival but also for their future cardiometabolic health.

Open access

Jin Yu, Yuhuan Liu, Danying Zhang, Dongxia Zhai, Linyi Song, Zailong Cai and Chaoqin Yu

High androgen levels in patients suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can be effectively reversed if the herb Scutellaria baicalensis is included in traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions. To characterize the effects of baicalin, extracted from S. baicalensis, on androgen biosynthesis in NCI-H295R cells and on hyperandrogenism in PCOS model rats and to elucidate the underlying mechanisms. The optimum concentration and intervention time for baicalin treatment of NCI-H295R cells were determined by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide and ELISA. The functional genes affected by baicalin were studied by gene expression profiling (GEP), and the key genes were identified using a dual luciferase assay, RNA interference technique and genetic mutations. Besides, hyperandrogenic PCOS model rats were induced and confirmed before and after baicalin intervention. As a result, baicalin decreased the testosterone concentrations in a dose- and time-dependent manner in NCI-H295R cells. GEP revealed that 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type II (HSD3B2) was the key enzyme of androgen biosynthesis, and baicalin inhibited the expression of HSD3B2 by regulating the binding of transcription factor GATA-binding factor 1 (GATA1) to the HSD3B2 promoter. Hyperandrogenic PCOS model rats treated with baicalin significantly reversed the high androgen levels of serum and the abnormal ovarian status, restored the estrous cyclicity and decreased the expression of HSD3B2 in ovarian. In summary, our data revealed that GATA1 is an important transcription factor activating the HSD3B2 promoter in steroidogenesis, and baicalin will potentially be an effective therapeutic agent for hyperandrogenism in PCOS by inhibiting the recruitment of GATA1 to the HSD3B2 promoter in ovarian tissue.

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Apiwan Arinno, Nattayaporn Apaijai, Puntarik Kaewthep, Wasana Pratchayasakul, Thidarat Jaiwongkam, Sasiwan Kerdphoo, Siriporn C 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 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 two subgroups, sham operation and orchiectomy (normal diet rats with orchiectomy (NDO), high-fat diet rats with orchiectomy (HFO)) and fed their diets for another 12 weeks. At week 25, orchiectomized rats were subdivided into four 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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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. In summary, CoQ10-mediated mitophagy activation positively regulates DN through a mechanism involving mtROS, which influences the activation of the Nrf2/ARE pathway.

Free access

Weiwei Xu, Jamie Morford and Franck Mauvais-Jarvis

One of the most sexually dimorphic aspects of metabolic regulation is the bidirectional modulation of glucose homeostasis by testosterone in male and females. Severe testosterone deficiency predisposes men to type 2 diabetes (T2D), while in contrast, androgen excess predisposes women to hyperglycemia. The role of androgen deficiency and excess in promoting visceral obesity and insulin resistance in men and women respectively is well established. However, although it is established that hyperglycemia requires β cell dysfunction to develop, the role of testosterone in β cell function is less understood. This review discusses recent evidence that the androgen receptor (AR) is present in male and female β cells. In males, testosterone action on AR in β cells enhances glucose-stimulated insulin secretion by potentiating the insulinotropic action of glucagon-like peptide-1. In females, excess testosterone action via AR in β cells promotes insulin hypersecretion leading to oxidative injury, which in turn predisposes to T2D.

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Dong-Xu Han, Chang-Jiang Wang, Xu-Lei Sun, Jian-Bo Liu, Hao Jiang, Yan Gao, Cheng-Zhen Chen, Bao Yuan and Jia-Bao Zhang

Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a new class of RNA that have a stable structure characterized by covalently closed circular molecules and are involved in invasive pituitary adenomas and recurrent clinically nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas. However, information on circRNAs in the normal pituitary, especially in rats, is limited. In this study, we identified 4123 circRNAs in the immature (D15) and mature (D120) rat anterior pituitary using the Illumina platform, and 32 differentially expressed circRNAs were found. A total of 150 Gene Ontology terms were significantly enriched, and 16 KEGG pathways were found to contain differentially expressed genes. Moreover, we randomly selected eight highly expressed circRNAs and detected their relative expression levels in the mature and immature rat pituitary by qPCR. In addition, we predicted 90 interactions between 53 circRNAs and 57 miRNAs using miRanda. Notably, circ_0000964 and circ_0001303 are potential miRNA sponges that may regulate the Fshb gene. The expression profile of circRNAs in the immature and mature rat anterior pituitary may provide more information about the roles of circRNAs in the development and reproduction in mammals.

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Vinay Shukla, Jyoti Bala Kaushal, Pushplata Sankhwar, Murli Manohar and Anila Dwivedi

Embryo implantation and decidualization are critical events that occur during early pregnancy. Decidualization is synchronized by the crosstalk of progesterone and the cAMP signaling pathway. Previously, we confirmed the role of TPPP3 during embryo implantation in mice, but the underlying role and mechanism of TPPP3 in decidualization has not yet been understood. The current study was aimed to investigate the role of TPPP3 in decidualization in vivo and in vitro. For in vivo experiments, decidual reaction was artificially induced in the uteri of BALB/c mice. TPPP3 was found to be highly expressed during decidualization, whereas in the uteri receiving TPPP3 siRNA, decidualization was suppressed and the expression of β-catenin and decidual marker prolactin was reduced. In human endometrium, TPPP3 protein was found to be predominantly expressed in the mid-secretory phase (LH+7). In the primary culture of human endometrial stromal cells (hESCs), TPPP3 siRNA knockdown inhibited stromal-to-decidual cell transition and decreased the expression of the decidualization markers prolactin and IGFBP-1. Immunofluorescence and immunoblotting experiments revealed that TPPP3 siRNA knockdown suppressed the expression of β-catenin, NF-κB and COX-2 in hESCs during decidualization. TPPP3 inhibition also decreased NF-kB nuclear accumulation in hESCs and suppressed NF-κB transcriptional promoter activity. COX-2 expression was significantly decreased in the presence of a selective NF-kB inhibitor (QNZ) implicating that NF-kB is involved in COX-2 expression in hESCs undergoing decidualization. TUNEL assay and FACS analysis revealed that TPPP3 knockdown induced apoptosis and caused loss of mitochondrial membrane potential in hESCs. The study suggested that TPPP3 plays a significant role in decidualization and its inhibition leads to the suppression of β-catenin/NF-κB/COX-2 signaling along with the induction of mitochondria-dependent apoptosis.

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María Florencia Heber, Silvana Rocío Ferreira, Giselle Adriana Abruzzese, Raíces Trinidad, Omar P 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.