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Cecilia Brännmark, Emma I Kay, Unn Örtegren Kugelberg, Belén Chanclón, Man Mohan Shrestha, Ingrid Wernstedt Asterholm, Peter Strålfors, and Charlotta S Olofsson

Here we have investigated the role of the protein caveolin 1 (Cav1) and caveolae in the secretion of the white adipocyte hormone adiponectin. Using mouse primary subcutaneous adipocytes genetically depleted of Cav1, we show that the adiponectin secretion, stimulated either adrenergically or by insulin, is abrogated while basal (unstimulated) release of adiponectin is elevated. Adiponectin secretion is similarly affected in wildtype mouse and human adipocytes where the caveolae structure was chemically disrupted. The altered ex vivo secretion in adipocytes isolated from Cav1 null mice is accompanied by lowered serum levels of the high-molecular weight (HMW) form of adiponectin, whereas the total concentration of adiponectin is unaltered. Interestingly, levels of HMW adiponectin are maintained in adipose tissue from Cav1-depleted mice, signifying that a secretory defect is present. The gene expression of key regulatory proteins known to be involved in cAMP/adrenergically triggered adiponectin exocytosis (the beta-3-adrenergic receptor and exchange protein directly activated by cAMP) remains intact in Cav1 null adipocytes. Microscopy and fractionation studies indicate that adiponectin vesicles do not co-localise with Cav1 but that some vesicles are associated with a specific fraction of caveolae. Our studies propose that Cav1 has an important role in secretion of HMW adiponectin, even though adiponectin-containing vesicles are not obviously associated with this protein. We suggest that Cav1, and/or the caveolae domain, is essential for the organisation of signalling pathways involved in the regulation of HMW adiponectin exocytosis, a function that is disrupted in Cav1/caveolae-depleted adipocytes.

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Maria Esteban-Lopez and Alexander I Agoulnik

Insulin-like 3 peptide (INSL3) is a member of the insulin-like peptide superfamily and is the only known physiological ligand of relaxin family peptide receptor 2 (RXFP2), a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR). In mammals, INSL3 is primarily produced both in testicular Leydig cells and in ovarian theca cells, but circulating levels of the hormone are much higher in males than in females. The INSL3/RXFP2 system has an essential role in the development of the gubernaculum for the initial transabdominal descent of the testis and in maintaining proper reproductive health in men. Although its function in female physiology has been less well-characterized, it was reported that INSL3 deletion affects antral follicle development during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle and uterus function. Since the discovery of its role in the reproductive system, the study of INSL3/RXFP2 has expanded to others organs, such as skeletal muscle, bone, kidney, thyroid, brain, and eye. This review aims to summarize the various advances in understanding the physiological function of this ligand–receptor pair since its first discovery and elucidate its future therapeutic potential in the management of various diseases.

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Flávia Maria Silva-Veiga, Carolline Santos Miranda, Fabiane Ferreira Martins, Julio Beltrame Daleprane, Carlos Alberto Mandarim-de-Lacerda, and Vanessa Souza-Mello

Fructose dietary intake affects the composition of the intestinal microbiota and influences the development of hepatic steatosis. Endotoxins produced by gram-negative bacteria alter intestinal permeability and cause bacterial translocation. This study evaluated the effects of gut microbiota modulation by a purified PPAR-alpha agonist (WY14643), a DPP-4 inhibitor (linagliptin), or their association on intestinal barrier integrity, endotoxemia, and hepatic energy metabolism in high-fructose-fed C57BL/6 mice. Fifty mice were divided to receive the control diet (C group) or the high-fructose diet (HFRU) for 12 weeks. Subsequently, the HFRU group was divided to initiate the treatment with PPAR-alpha agonist (3.5 mg/kg/BM) and DPP-4 inhibitor (15 mg/kg/BM). The HFRU group had glucose intolerance, endotoxemia, and dysbiosis (with increased Proteobacteria) without changes in body mass in comparison with the C group. HFRU group showed damaged intestinal ultrastructure, which led to liver inflammation and marked hepatic steatosis in the HFRU group when compared to the C group. PPAR-alpha activation and DPP-4 inhibition countered glucose intolerance, endotoxemia, and dysbiosis, ameliorating the ultrastructure of the intestinal barrier and reducing Tlr4 expression in the liver of treated animals. These beneficial effects suppressed lipogenesis and mitigated hepatic steatosis. In conclusion, the results herein propose a role for PPAR-alpha activation, DPP-4 inhibition, and their association in attenuating hepatic steatosis by gut-liver axis modulation in high-fructose mice model. These observations suggest these treatments as potential targets to treat hepatic steatosis and avoid its progression.

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Iyad H Manaserh, Emily Maly, Marziyeh Jahromi, Lakshmikanth Chikkamenahalli, Joshua Park, and Jennifer Hill

The important role of astrocytes in the central control of energy balance and glucose homeostasis has recently been recognized. Changes in thermoregulation can lead to metabolic dysregulation, but the role of astrocytes in this process is not yet clear. Therefore, we generated mice congenitally lacking insulin receptors (Ir) in astrocytes (IrKOGFAP mice) to investigate the involvement of astrocyte insulin signaling. IrKOGFAP mice displayed significantly lower energy expenditure and a strikingly lower basal and fasting body temperature. When exposed to cold, however, they were able to mount a thermogenic response. IrKOGFAP mice displayed sex differences in metabolic function and thermogenesis that may contribute to the development of obesity and type II diabetes as early as 2 months of age. While brown adipose tissue exhibited higher adipocyte size in both sexes, more apoptosis was seen in IrKOGFAP males. Less innervation and lower BAR3 expression levels were also observed in IrKOGFAP brown adipose tissue. These effects have not been reported in models of astrocyte Ir deletion in adulthood. In contrast, body weight and glucose regulatory defects phenocopied such models. These findings identify a novel role for astrocyte insulin signaling in the development of normal body temperature control and sympathetic activation of BAT. Targeting insulin signaling in astrocytes has the potential to serve as a novel target for increasing energy expenditure.

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Henrik Oster

Endogenous circadian clocks adapt an organism’s physiology and behavior to predictable changes in the environment as a consequence of the Earth’s rotation around its axis. In mammals, circadian rhythms are the output of a ubiquitous network of cellular timers coordinated by a hypothalamic master pacemaker. Circadian clock function is closely connected to the stress response system which has evolved to ensure survival under less predictable situations of danger. Disruptions in both of these functions are highly prevalent in modern society and have been linked to pathologic alterations in metabolic setpoints, promoting overeating, obesity, and type-2 diabetes. This paper describes the different levels of interaction between the circadian clock and acute and chronic stress responses. It summarizes studies assessing clock-stress crosstalk in the context of metabolic homeostasis and outlines options to use this interaction for diagnostic and therapeutic measures targeting metabolic health and well-being in the highly chronodisruptive environment of modern 24-h globalized societies.

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Prasanthi P Koganti and Vimal Selvaraj

Despite being a highly conserved protein, the precise role of the mitochondrial translocator protein (TSPO), previously known as the peripheral benzodiazepine receptor (PBR), remains elusive. The void created by studies that overturned a presumptive model that described TSPO/PBR as a mitochondrial cholesterol transporter for steroidogenesis has been filled with evidence that it can affect mitochondrial metabolic functions across different model systems. We previously reported that TSPO/PBR deficient steroidogenic cells upregulate mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation and presented a strong positive correlation between TSPO/PBR expression and tissues active in triglyceride metabolism or lipid storage. Nevertheless, the highlighting of inconsistencies in prior work has provoked reprisals that threaten to stifle progress. One frequent factoid presented as being supportive of a cholesterol import function is that there are no steroid-synthesizing cell types without high TSPO/PBR expression. In this study, we examine the hamster adrenal gland that is devoid of lipid droplets in the cortex and largely relies on de novo cholesterol biosynthesis and uptake for steroidogenesis. We find that Tspo expression in the hamster adrenal is imperceptible compared to the mouse. This observation is consistent with a substantially low expression of Cpt1a in the hamster adrenal, indicating minimal mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation capacity compared to the mouse. These findings provide further reinforcement that the much sought-after mechanism of TSPO/PBR function remains correlated with the extent of cellular triglyceride metabolism. Thus, TSPO/PBR could have a homeostatic function relevant only to steroidogenic systems that manage triglycerides associated with lipid droplets.

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Brit H Boehmer, Peter R Baker II, Laura D Brown, Stephanie R Wesolowski, and Paul J Rozance

A 9-day infusion of leucine into fetal sheep potentiates fetal glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS). However, there were accompanying pancreatic structural changes that included a larger proportion of β-cells and increased vascularity. Whether leucine can acutely potentiate fetal GSIS in vivo before these structural changes develop is unknown. The mechanisms by which leucine acutely potentiates GSIS in adult islets and insulin-secreting cell lines are well known. These mechanisms involve leucine metabolism, including leucine oxidation. However, it is not clear if leucine-stimulated metabolic pathways are active in fetal islets. We hypothesized that leucine would acutely potentiate GSIS in fetal sheep and that isolated fetal islets are capable of oxidizing leucine. We also hypothesized that leucine would stimulate other metabolic pathways associated with insulin secretion. In pregnant sheep we tested in vivo GSIS with and without an acute leucine infusion. In isolated fetal sheep islets, we measured leucine oxidation with a [1-14C] l-leucine tracer. We also measured concentrations of other amino acids, glucose, and analytes associated with cellular metabolism following incubation of fetal islets with leucine. In vivo, a leucine infusion resulted in glucose-stimulated insulin concentrations that were over 50% higher than controls (P < 0.05). Isolated fetal islets oxidized leucine. Leucine supplementation of isolated fetal islets also resulted in significant activation of metabolic pathways involving leucine and other amino acids. In summary, acute leucine supplementation potentiates fetal GSIS in vivo, likely through pathways related to the oxidation of leucine and catabolism of other amino acids.

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Alexia Barroso, Jose Antonio Santos-Marcos, Cecilia Perdices-Lopez, Ana Vega-Rojas, Miguel Angel Sanchez-Garrido, Yelizabeta Krylova, Helena Molina-Abril, Claes Ohlsson, Pablo Perez-Martinez, Matti Poutanen, Jose Lopez-Miranda, Manuel Tena-Sempere, and Antonio Camargo

Gonadal steroids strongly contribute to the metabolic programming that shapes the susceptibility to the manifestation of diseases later in life, and the effect is often sexually dimorphic. Microbiome signatures, together with metabolic traits and sex steroid levels, were analyzed at adulthood in neonatally androgenized female rats, and compared with those of control male and female rats. Exposure of female rats to high doses of androgens on early postnatal life resulted in persistent alterations of the sex steroid profile later on life, namely lower progesterone and higher estradiol and estrone levels, with no effect on endogenous androgens. Neonatally androgenized females were heavier (10% at early adulthood and 26% at adulthood) than controls and had impaired glucose homeostasis observed by higher AUC of glucose in GTT and ITT when subjected to obesogenic manipulations. Androgenized female displayed overt alterations in gut microbiota, indicated especially by higher Bacteroidetes and lower Firmicutes abundance at early adulthood, which disappeared when animals were concurrently overfed at adulthood. Notably, these changes in gut microbiota were related with the intestinal expression of several miRNAs, such as miR-27a-3p, miR-29a-5p, and miR-100-3p. Our results suggest that nutritional and hormonal disruption at early developmental periods not only alters the metabolic programming of the individual later in life but also perturbs the architecture of gut microbiota, which may interact with the host by a cross-talk mediated by intestinal miRNAs; phenomena that may contribute to amplify the metabolic derangement caused by obesity, as seen in neonatally androgenized female rats.

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Marco Colella, Valeria Nittoli, Alfonsina Porciello, Immacolata Porreca, Carla Reale, Filomena Russo, Nicola Antonino Russo, Luca Roberto, Francesco Albano, Mario De Felice, Massimo Mallardo, and Concetta Ambrosino

The intra-tissue levels of thyroid hormones (THs) regulate organ functions. Environmental factors can impair these levels by damaging the thyroid gland and/or peripheral TH metabolism. We investigated the effects of embryonic and/or long-life exposure to low-dose pesticides, ethylene thiourea (ETU), chlorpyrifos (CPF) and both combined on intra-tissue T4/T3 metabolism/signaling in zebrafish at different life stages. Hypothyroidism was evident in exposed larvae that showed reduced number of follicles and induced tshb mRNAs. Despite that, we found an increase in free T4 (fT4) and free T3 (fT3) levels/signaling that was confirmed by transcriptional regulation of TH metabolic enzymes (deiodinases) and T3-regulated mRNAs (cpt1, igfbp1a). Second-generation larvae showed that thyroid and TH signaling was affected even when not directly exposed, suggesting the role of parental exposure. In adult zebrafish, we found that sex-dependent damage of hepatic T3 level/signaling was associated with liver steatosis, which was more pronounced in females, with sex-dependent alteration of transcripts codifying the key enzymes involved in ‘de novo lipogenesis’ and β-oxidation. We found impaired activation of liver T3 and PPARα/Foxo3a pathways whose deregulation was already involved in mammalian liver steatosis. The data emphasizes that the intra-tissue imbalance of the T3 level is due to thyroid endocrine disruptors (THDC) and suggests that the effect of a slight modification in T3 signaling might be amplified by its direct regulation or crosstalk with PPARα/Foxo3a pathways. Because T3 levels define the hypothyroid/hyperthyroid status of each organ, our findings might explain the pleiotropic and site-dependent effects of pesticides.

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Danuzia A Marques, Luis Gustavo A Patrone, Carolina S Scarpellini, Kênia C Bícego, Raphael E Szawka, and Luciane H Gargaglioni

Many diseases of the respiratory system occur differently in males and females, indicating a possible role of gonadal hormones in respiratory control. We hypothesized that testosterone (T) is important for the ventilatory chemosensitivity responses in males. To test this hypothesis, we evaluated ventilation (E), metabolic rate and body temperature (Tb) under normoxia/normocapnia, hypercapnia and hypoxia in orchiectomized (ORX), ORX with testosterone replacement (ORX+T) or flutamide (FL, androgen receptor blocker)-treated rats. We also performed immunohistochemistry to evaluate the presence of androgen receptor (AR) in the carotid body (CB) of intact males. Orchiectomy promoted a reduction V̇E and ventilatory equivalent (E/V̇O 2) under room-air conditions, which was restored with testosterone treatment. Moreover, during hypoxia or hypercapnia, animals that received testosterone replacement had a higher E and E/V̇O 2 than control and ORX, without changes in metabolic and thermal variables. Flutamide decreased the hypoxic ventilatory response without changing the CO2-drive to breathe, suggesting that the testosterone effect on hypercapnic hyperventilation does not appear to involve the AR. We also determined the presence of AR in the CB of intact animals. Our findings demonstrate that testosterone seems to be important for maintaining resting E in males. In addition, the influence of testosterone on E, either during resting conditions or under hypoxia and hypercapnia, seems to be a direct and specific effect, as no changes in metabolic rate or Tb were observed during any treatment. Finally, a putative site of testosterone action during hypoxia is the CB, since we detected the presence of AR in this structure.