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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.

Open access

Craig L Doig, Jamila Bashir, Agnieszka E Zielinska, Mark S Cooper, Paul M Stewart and Gareth G Lavery

The activity of the enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1), which converts inactive cortisone (11-dehydrocorticosterone (11-DHC)) (in mice) into the active glucocorticoid (GC) cortisol (corticosterone in mice), can amplify tissue GC exposure. Elevated TNFα is a common feature in a range of inflammatory disorders and is detrimental to muscle function in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We have previously demonstrated that 11β-HSD1 activity is increased in the mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) by TNFα treatment and suggested that this is an autoregulatory anti-inflammatory mechanism. This upregulation was mediated by the P2 promoter of the Hsd11b1 gene and was dependent on the NF-κB signalling pathway. In this study, we show that in contrast to MSCs, in differentiated C2C12 and primary murine myotubes, TNFα suppresses Hsd11b1 mRNA expression and activity through the utilization of the alternative P1 promoter. As with MSCs, in response to TNFα treatment, NF-κB p65 was translocated to the nucleus. However, ChIP analysis demonstrated that the direct binding was seen at position −218 to −245 bp of the Hsd11b1 gene's P1 promoter but not at the P2 promoter. These studies demonstrate the existence of differential regulation of 11β-HSD1 expression in muscle cells through TNFα/p65 signalling and the P1 promoter, further enhancing our understanding of the role of 11β-HSD1 in the context of inflammatory disease.

Open access

L Nicol, M-O Faure, J R McNeilly, J Fontaine, C Taragnat and A S McNeilly

We have shown previously that, in sheep primary pituitary cells, bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP)-4 inhibits FSHβ mRNA expression and FSH release. In contrast, in mouse LβT2 gonadotrophs, others have shown a stimulatory effect of BMPs on basal or activin-stimulated FSHβ promoter-driven transcription. As a species comparison with our previous results, we used LβT2 cells to investigate the effects of BMP-4 on gonadotrophin mRNA and secretion modulated by activin and GnRH. BMP-4 alone had no effect on FSH production, but enhanced the activin+GnRH-induced stimulation of FSHβ mRNA and FSH secretion, without any effect on follistatin mRNA. BMP-4 reduced LHβ mRNA up-regulation in response to GnRH (±activin) and decreased GnRH receptor expression, which would favour FSH, rather than LH, synthesis and secretion. In contrast to sheep pituitary gonadotrophs, which express only BMP receptor types IA (BMPRIA) and II (BMPRII), LβT2 cells also express BMPRIB. Smad1/5 phosphorylation induced by BMP-4, indicating activation of BMP signalling, was the same whether BMP-4 was used alone or combined with activin±GnRH. We hypothesized that activin and/or GnRH pathways may be modulated by BMP-4, but neither the activin-stimulated phosphorylation of Smad2/3 nor the GnRH-induced ERK1/2 or cAMP response element-binding phosphorylation were modified. However, the GnRH-induced activation of p38 MAPK was decreased by BMP-4. This was associated with increased FSHβ mRNA levels and FSH secretion, but decreased LHβ mRNA levels. These results confirm 1. BMPs as important modulators of activin and/or GnRH-stimulated gonadotrophin synthesis and release and 2. important species differences in these effects, which could relate to differences in BMP receptor expression in gonadotrophs.

Open access

E Meimaridou, M Goldsworthy, V Chortis, E Fragouli, P A Foster, W Arlt, R Cox and L A Metherell

Nicotinamide nucleotide transhydrogenase, NNT, is a ubiquitous protein of the inner mitochondrial membrane with a key role in mitochondrial redox balance. NNT produces high concentrations of NADPH for detoxification of reactive oxygen species by glutathione and thioredoxin pathways. In humans, NNT dysfunction leads to an adrenal-specific disorder, glucocorticoid deficiency. Certain substrains of C57BL/6 mice contain a spontaneously occurring inactivating Nnt mutation and display glucocorticoid deficiency along with glucose intolerance and reduced insulin secretion. To understand the underlying mechanism(s) behind the glucocorticoid deficiency, we performed comprehensive RNA-seq on adrenals from wild-type (C57BL/6N), mutant (C57BL/6J) and BAC transgenic mice overexpressing Nnt (C57BL/6JBAC). The following results were obtained. Our data suggest that Nnt deletion (or overexpression) reduces adrenal steroidogenic output by decreasing the expression of crucial, mitochondrial antioxidant (Prdx3 and Txnrd2) and steroidogenic (Cyp11a1) enzymes. Pathway analysis also revealed upregulation of heat shock protein machinery and haemoglobins possibly in response to the oxidative stress initiated by NNT ablation. In conclusion, using transcriptomic profiling in adrenals from three mouse models, we showed that disturbances in adrenal redox homeostasis are mediated not only by under expression of NNT but also by its overexpression. Further, we demonstrated that both under expression or overexpression of NNT reduced corticosterone output implying a central role for it in the control of steroidogenesis. This is likely due to a reduction in the expression of a key steroidogenic enzyme, Cyp11a1, which mirrored the reduction in corticosterone output.

Open access

Andrea Mafficini and Aldo Scarpa

Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) may arise throughout the body and are a highly heterogeneous, relatively rare class of neoplasms difficult to study also for the lack of disease models. Despite this, knowledge on their molecular alterations has expanded in the latest years, also building from genetic syndromes causing their onset. Pancreatic NETs (PanNETs) have been among the most studied, and research so far has outlined a series of recurring features, as inactivation of MEN1, VHL, TSC1/2 genes and hyperactivation of the PI3K/mTOR pathway. Next-generation sequencing has added new information by showing the key role of alternative lengthening of telomeres, driven in a fraction of PanNETs by inactivation of ATRX/DAXX. Despite this accumulation of knowledge, single studies often relied on few cases or were limited to the DNA, RNA, protein or epigenetic level with lack of integrative analysis. The International Cancer Genome Consortium aimed at removing these barriers through a strict process of data and samples collection, to produce whole-genome integrated analyses for many tumour types. The results of this effort on PanNETs have been recently published and, while confirming previous observations provide a first snapshot of how heterogeneous is the combination of genetic alterations that drive this tumour type, yet converging into four pathways whose alteration has been enriched by newly discovered mechanisms. While calling for further integration of genetic and epigenetic analyses, these data allow to reconcile previous findings in a defined frame and may provide clinical research with markers for patients stratification and to guide targeted therapy decisions.

Open access

S Schmidt, A Hommel, V Gawlik, R Augustin, N Junicke, S Florian, M Richter, D J Walther, D Montag, H-G Joost and A Schürmann

Deletion of glucose transporter gene Slc2a3 (GLUT3) has previously been reported to result in embryonic lethality. Here, we define the exact time point of growth arrest and subsequent death of the embryo. Slc2a3 −/− morulae and blastocysts developed normally, implanted in vivo, and formed egg-cylinder-stage embryos that appeared normal until day 6.0. At day 6.5, apoptosis was detected in the ectodermal cells of Slc2a3 −/− embryos resulting in severe disorganization and growth retardation at day 7.5 and complete loss of embryos at day 12.5. GLUT3 was detected in placental cone, in the visceral ectoderm and in the mesoderm of 7.5-day-old wild-type embryos. Our data indicate that GLUT3 is essential for the development of early post-implanted embryos.

Open access

Esther Nuñez-Durán, Belén Chanclón, Silva Sütt, Joana Real, Hanns-Ulrich Marschall, Ingrid Wernstedt Asterholm, Emmelie Cansby and Margit Mahlapuu

Characterising the molecular networks that negatively regulate pancreatic β-cell function is essential for understanding the underlying pathogenesis and developing new treatment strategies for type 2 diabetes. We recently identified serine/threonine protein kinase 25 (STK25) as a critical regulator of ectopic fat storage, meta-inflammation, and fibrosis in liver and skeletal muscle. Here, we assessed the role of STK25 in control of progression of non-alcoholic fatty pancreas disease in the context of chronic exposure to dietary lipids in mice. We found that overexpression of STK25 in high-fat-fed transgenic mice aggravated diet-induced lipid storage in the pancreas compared with that of wild-type controls, which was accompanied by exacerbated pancreatic inflammatory cell infiltration, stellate cell activation, fibrosis and apoptosis. Pancreas of Stk25 transgenic mice also displayed a marked decrease in islet β/α-cell ratio and alteration in the islet architecture with an increased presence of α-cells within the islet core, whereas islet size remained similar between genotypes. After a continued challenge with a high-fat diet, lower levels of fasting plasma insulin and C-peptide, and higher levels of plasma leptin, were detected in Stk25 transgenic vs wild-type mice. Furthermore, the glucose-stimulated insulin secretion was impaired in high-fat-fed Stk25 transgenic mice during glucose tolerance test, in spite of higher net change in blood glucose concentrations compared with wild-type controls, suggesting islet β-cell dysfunction. In summary, this study unravels a role for STK25 in determining the susceptibility to diet-induced non-alcoholic fatty pancreas disease in mice in connection to obesity. Our findings highlight STK25 as a potential drug target for metabolic disease.

Open access

Xuefeng Yang, Shuang Mei, Haihua Gu, Huailan Guo, Longying Zha, Junwei Cai, Xuefeng Li, Zhenqi Liu and Wenhong Cao

We have previously shown that insulin plays an important role in the nutrient-induced insulin resistance. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that chronic exposure to excess long-acting insulin (glargine) can cause typical type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in normal mice fed on a chow diet. C57BL/6 mice were treated with glargine once a day for 8 weeks, followed by evaluations of food intake, body weight, blood levels of glucose, insulin, lipids, and cytokines, insulin signaling, histology of pancreas, ectopic fat accumulation, oxidative stress level, and cholesterol content in mitochondria in tissues. Cholesterol content in mitochondria and its association with oxidative stress in cultured hepatocytes and β-cells were also examined. Results show that chronic exposure to glargine caused insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, and relative insulin deficiency (T2DM). Treatment with excess glargine led to loss of pancreatic islets, ectopic fat accumulation in liver, oxidative stress in liver and pancreas, and increased cholesterol content in mitochondria of liver and pancreas. Prolonged exposure of cultured primary hepatocytes and HIT-TI5 β-cells to insulin induced oxidative stress in a cholesterol synthesis-dependent manner. Together, our results show that chronic exposure to excess insulin can induce typical T2DM in normal mice fed on a chow diet.

Open access

Amanda E Garza, Elijah Trefts, Isis A Katayama Rangel, Danielle Brooks, Rene Baudrand, Burhanuddin Moize, Jose R Romero, Sanjay Ranjit, Thitinan Treesaranuwattana, Tham M Yao, Gail K Adler, Luminita H Pojoga and Gordon H Williams

Aldosterone modulates the activity of both epithelial (specifically renal) and non-epithelial cells. Binding to the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), activates two pathways: the classical genomic and the rapidly activated non-genomic that is substantially modulated by the level of striatin. We hypothesized that disruption of MR’s non-genomic pathway would alter aldosterone-induced cardiovascular/renal damage. To test this hypothesis, wild type (WT) and striatin heterozygous knockout (Strn+/ ) littermate male mice were fed a liberal sodium (1.6% Na+) diet and randomized to either protocol one: 3 weeks of treatment with either vehicle or aldosterone plus/minus MR antagonists, eplerenone or esaxerenone or protocol two: 2 weeks of treatment with either vehicle or L-NAME/AngII plus/minus MR antagonists, spironolactone or esaxerenone. Compared to the WT mice, basally, the Strn+/ mice had greater (~26%) estimated renal glomeruli volume and reduced non-genomic second messenger signaling (pAkt/Akt ratio) in kidney tissue. In response to active treatment, the striatin-associated-cardiovascular/renal damage was limited to volume effects induced by aldosterone infusion: significantly increased blood pressure (BP) and albuminuria. In contrast, with aldosterone or L-NAME/AngII treatment, striatin deficiency did not modify aldosterone-mediated damage: in the heart and kidney, macrophage infiltration, and increases in aldosterone-induced biomarkers of injury. All changes were near-normalized following MR blockade with spironolactone or esaxerenone, except increased BP in the L-NAME/AngII model. In conclusion, the loss of striatin amplified aldosterone-induced damage suggesting that aldosterone’s non-genomic pathway is protective but only related to effects likely mediated via epithelial, but not non-epithelial cells.

Open access

Anne-Marie O'Carroll, Gillian M Howell, Emma M Roberts and Stephen J Lolait

Arginine vasopressin (AVP) and corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) have both been implicated in modulating insulin secretion from pancreatic β-cells. In the present study, we investigated the insulin-secreting activities of AVP and CRH in wild-type and AVP VIb receptor knockout mice. Both neuropeptides stimulated insulin secretion from isolated mouse pancreatic islets. The response of islets to CRH was increased fourfold by concomitant incubation with a subthreshold dose of AVP that alone did not stimulate insulin secretion. Activation of the endogenously expressed M3 receptor by the cholinergic agonist carbachol also potentiated CRH-induced insulin secretion, indicating that the phenomenon may be pathway specific (i.e. Ca2 +-phospholipase C) rather than agonist specific. The protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitors Ro-31-8425 and bisindolylmaleimide I attenuated the potentiating effect of AVP on CRH-stimulated insulin secretion and blocked AVP-stimulated insulin secretion. A possible interaction between the PKC and protein kinase A pathways was also investigated. The phorbol ester phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) stimulated insulin secretion, while the addition of both PMA and CRH enhanced insulin secretion over that measured with either PMA or CRH alone. Additionally, no AVP potentiation of CRH-stimulated insulin secretion was observed upon incubation in Ca2 +-free Krebs–Ringer buffer. Taken together, the present study suggests a possible synergism between AVP and CRH to release insulin from pancreatic β-cells that relies at least in part on activation of the PKC signaling pathway and is dependent on extracellular Ca2 +. This is the first example of a possible interplay between the AVP and CRH systems outside of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis.