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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.

Open access

Thomas Nicholson, Chris Church, Kostas Tsintzas, Robert Jones, Leigh Breen, Edward T Davis, David J Baker, and Simon W Jones

Adipokines have emerged as central mediators of insulin sensitivity and metabolism, in part due to the known association of obesity with metabolic syndrome disorders such as type 2 diabetes. Recent studies in rodents have identified the novel adipokine vaspin as playing a protective role in inflammatory metabolic diseases by functioning as a promoter of insulin sensitivity during metabolic stress. However, at present the skeletal muscle and adipose tissue expression of vaspin in humans is poorly characterised. Furthermore, the functional role of vaspin in skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity has not been studied. Since skeletal muscle is the major tissue for insulin-stimulated glucose uptake, understanding the functional role of vaspin in human muscle insulin signalling is critical in determining its role in glucose homeostasis. The objective of this study was to profile the skeletal muscle and subcutaneous adipose tissue expression of vaspin in humans of varying adiposity, and to determine the functional role of vaspin in mediating insulin signalling and glucose uptake in human skeletal muscle. Our data shows that vaspin is secreted from both human subcutaneous adipose tissue and skeletal muscle, and is more highly expressed in obese older individuals compared to lean older individuals. Furthermore, we demonstrate that vaspin induces activation of the PI3K/AKT axis, independent of insulin receptor activation, promotes GLUT4 expression and translocation and sensitises older obese human skeletal muscle to insulin-mediated glucose uptake.

Open access

Mark E Cleasby, Pauline M Jamieson, and Philip J Atherton

Insulin resistance (IR) in skeletal muscle is a key defect mediating the link between obesity and type 2 diabetes, a disease that typically affects people in later life. Sarcopenia (age-related loss of muscle mass and quality) is a risk factor for a number of frailty-related conditions that occur in the elderly. In addition, a syndrome of ‘sarcopenic obesity’ (SO) is now increasingly recognised, which is common in older people and is applied to individuals that simultaneously show obesity, IR and sarcopenia. Such individuals are at an increased risk of adverse health events compared with those who are obese or sarcopenic alone. However, there are no licenced treatments for sarcopenia or SO, the syndrome is poorly defined clinically and the mechanisms that might explain a common aetiology are not yet well characterised. In this review, we detail the nature and extent of the clinical syndrome, highlight some of the key physiological processes that are dysregulated and discuss some candidate molecular pathways that could be implicated in both metabolic and anabolic defects in skeletal muscle, with an eye towards future therapeutic options. In particular, the potential roles of Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin signalling, AMP-activated protein kinase, myostatin, urocortins and vitamin D are discussed.

Open access

Dawn E W Livingstone, Sarah L Grassick, Gillian L Currie, Brian R Walker, and Ruth Andrew

In obese humans, metabolism of glucocorticoids by 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) and A-ring reduction (by 5α- and 5β-reductases) is dysregulated in a tissue specific manner. These changes have been recapitulated in leptin resistant obese Zucker rats but were not observed in high-fat fed Wistar rats. Recent data from mouse models suggest that such discrepancies may reflect differences in leptin signalling. We therefore compared glucocorticoid metabolism in murine models of leptin deficiency and resistance. Male ob/ob and db/db mice and their respective littermate controls (n=10–12/group) were studied at the age of 12 weeks. Enzyme activities and mRNA expression were quantified in snap-frozen tissues. The patterns of altered pathways of steroid metabolism in obesity were similar in ob/ob and db/db mice. In liver, 5β-reductase activity and mRNA were increased and 11β-HSD1 decreased in obese mice, whereas 5α-reductase 1 (5αR1) mRNA was not altered. In visceral adipose depots, 5β-reductase was not expressed, 11β-HSD1 activity was increased and 5αR1 mRNA was not altered in obesity. By contrast, in subcutaneous adipose tissue 11β-HSD1 and 5αR1 mRNA were decreased. Systematic differences were not found between ob/ob and db/db murine models of obesity, suggesting that variations in leptin signalling through the short splice variant of the Ob receptor do not contribute to dysregulation of glucocorticoid metabolism.

Open access

I J Bujalska, L L Gathercole, J W Tomlinson, C Darimont, J Ermolieff, A N Fanjul, P A Rejto, and P M Stewart

Glucocorticoid excess increases fat mass, preferentially within omental depots; yet circulating cortisol concentrations are normal in most patients with metabolic syndrome (MS). At a pre-receptor level, 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) activates cortisol from cortisone locally within adipose tissue, and inhibition of 11β-HSD1 in liver and adipose tissue has been proposed as a novel therapy to treat MS by reducing hepatic glucose output and adiposity. Using a transformed human subcutaneous preadipocyte cell line (Chub-S7) and human primary preadipocytes, we have defined the role of glucocorticoids and 11β-HSD1 in regulating adipose tissue differentiation. Human cells were differentiated with 1.0 μM cortisol (F), or cortisone (E) with or without 100 nM of a highly selective 11β-HSD1 inhibitor PF-877423. 11β-HSD1 mRNA expression increased across adipocyte differentiation (P<0.001, n=4), which was paralleled by an increase in 11β-HSD1 oxo-reductase activity (from nil on day 0 to 5.9±1.9 pmol/mg per h on day 16, P<0.01, n=7). Cortisone enhanced adipocyte differentiation; fatty acid-binding protein 4 expression increased 312-fold (P<0.001) and glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase 47-fold (P<0.001) versus controls. This was abolished by co-incubation with PF-877423. In addition, cellular lipid content decreased significantly. These findings were confirmed in the primary cultures of human subcutaneous preadipocytes. The increase in 11β-HSD1 mRNA expression and activity is essential for the induction of human adipogenesis. Blocking adipogenesis with a novel and specific 11β-HSD1 inhibitor may represent a novel approach to treat obesity in patients with MS.

Open access

Emma M Roberts, Michael J F Newson, George R Pope, Rainer Landgraf, Stephen J Lolait, and Anne-Marie O'Carroll

The apelinergic system, comprised of apelin and its G protein-coupled receptor (APJ; APLNR as given in MGI Database), is expressed within key regions of the central nervous system associated with arginine vasopressin (AVP) synthesis and release as well as in structures involved in the control of drinking behaviour, including the magnocellular neurones of the hypothalamus, circumventricular organs, and the pituitary gland. This localisation is indicative of a possible functional role in fluid homeostasis. We investigated a role for APJ in the regulation of fluid balance using mice deficient for the receptor. Male APJ wild-type and knockout (APJ−/−) mice were housed in metabolic cages to allow determination of water intake and urine volume and osmolality. When provided with free access to water, APJ−/− mice drank significantly less than wild-types, while their urine volume and osmolality did not differ. Water deprivation for 24 h significantly reduced urine volume and increased osmolality in wild-type but not in APJ−/− mice. Baseline plasma AVP concentration increased comparably in both wild-type and APJ−/− mice following dehydration; however, APJ−/− mice were unable to concentrate their urine to the same extent as wild-type mice in response to the V2 agonist desmopressin. Analysis of c-fos (Fos as given in MGI Database) mRNA expression in response to dehydration showed attenuation of expression within the subfornical organ, accentuated expression in the paraventricular nucleus, but no differences in expression in the supraoptic nucleus nor median pre-optic nucleus in APJ−/− mice compared with wild-type. These findings demonstrate a physiological role for APJ in mechanisms of water intake and fluid retention and suggest an anti-diuretic effect of apelin in vivo.

Open access

Jarrad M Scarlett, Darren D Bowe, Xinxia Zhu, Ayesha K Batra, Wilmon F Grant, and Daniel L Marks

The central melanocortin system plays a key role in the regulation of food intake and energy homeostasis. We investigated whether genetic or pharmacologic blockade of central melanocortin signaling attenuates cardiac cachexia in mice and rats with heart failure. Permanent ligation of the left coronary artery (myocardial infarction (MI)) or sham operation was performed in wild-type (WT) or melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) knockout mice. Eight weeks after surgery, WT-Sham mice had significant increases in lean body mass (LBM; P<0.05) and fat mass (P<0.05), whereas WT-MI did not gain significant amounts of LBM or fat mass. Resting basal metabolic rate (BMR) was significantly lower in WT-Sham mice compared to WT-MI mice (P<0.001). In contrast, both MC4-Sham and MC4-MI mice gained significant amounts of LBM (P<0.05) and fat mass (P<0.05) over the study period. There was no significant difference in the BMR between MC4-Sham and MC4-MI mice. In the second experiment, rats received aortic bands or sham operations, and after recovery received i.c.v. injections of either artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF) or the melanocortin antagonist agouti-related protein (AGRP) for 2 weeks. Banded rats receiving AGRP gained significant amount of LBM (P<0.05) and fat mass (P<0.05) over the treatment period, whereas banded rats receiving aCSF did not gain significant amounts of LBM or fat mass. These results demonstrated that genetic and pharmacologic blockade of melanocortin signaling attenuated the metabolic manifestations of cardiac cachexia in murine and rat models of heart failure.

Open access

Shona Wood and Andrew Loudon

Adaptation to the environment is essential for survival, in all wild animal species seasonal variation in temperature and food availability needs to be anticipated. This has led to the evolution of deep-rooted physiological cycles, driven by internal clocks, which can track seasonal time with remarkable precision. Evidence has now accumulated that a seasonal change in thyroid hormone (TH) availability within the brain is a crucial element. This is mediated by local control of TH-metabolising enzymes within specialised ependymal cells lining the third ventricle of the hypothalamus. Within these cells, deiodinase type 2 enzyme is activated in response to summer day lengths, converting metabolically inactive thyroxine (T4) to tri-iodothyronine (T3). The availability of TH in the hypothalamus appears to be an important factor in driving the physiological changes that occur with season. Remarkably, in both birds and mammals, the pars tuberalis (PT) of the pituitary gland plays an essential role. A specialised endocrine thyrotroph cell (TSH-expressing) is regulated by the changing day-length signal, leading to activation of TSH by long days. This acts on adjacent TSH-receptors expressed in the hypothalamic ependymal cells, causing local regulation of deiodinase enzymes and conversion of TH to the metabolically active T3. In mammals, the PT is regulated by the nocturnal melatonin signal. Summer-like melatonin signals activate a PT-expressed clock-regulated transcription regulator (EYA3), which in turn drives the expression of the TSHβ sub-unit, leading to a sustained increase in TSH expression. In this manner, a local pituitary timer, driven by melatonin, initiates a cascade of molecular events, led by EYA3, which translates to seasonal changes of neuroendocrine activity in the hypothalamus. There are remarkable parallels between this PT circuit and the photoperiodic timing system used in plants, and while plants use different molecular signals (constans vs EYA3) it appears that widely divergent organisms probably obey a common set of design principles.

Open access

Romain Fontaine, Eirill Ager-Wick, Kjetil Hodne, and Finn-Arne Weltzien

Follicle-stimulating hormone (Fsh) and luteinizing hormone (Lh) produced by the gonadotropes play a major role in control of reproduction. Contrary to mammals and birds, Lh and Fsh are mostly produced by two separate cell types in teleost. Here, we investigated gonadotrope plasticity, using transgenic lines of medaka (Oryzias latipes) where DsRed2 and hrGfpII are under the control of the fshb and lhb promotors respectively. We found that Fsh cells appear in the pituitary at 8 dpf, while Lh cells were previously shown to appear at 14 dpf. Similar to Lh cells, Fsh cells show hyperplasia from juvenile to adult stages. Hyperplasia is stimulated by estradiol. Both Fsh and Lh cells show hypertrophy during puberty with similar morphology. They also share similar behavior, using their cellular extensions to make networks. We observed bi-hormonal gonadotropes in juveniles and adults but not in larvae where only mono-hormonal cells are observed, suggesting the existence of phenotypic conversion between Fsh and Lh in later stages. This is demonstrated in cell culture, where some Fsh cells start to produce Lhβ, a phenomenon enhanced by gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gnrh) stimulation. We have previously shown that medaka Fsh cells lack Gnrh receptors, but here we show that with time in culture, some Fsh cells start responding to Gnrh, while fshb mRNA levels are significantly reduced, both suggestive of phenotypic change. All together, these results reveal high plasticity of gonadotropes due to both estradiol-sensitive proliferation and Gnrh promoted phenotypic conversion, and moreover, show that gonadotropes lose part of their identity when kept in cell culture.

Open access

Jethro S Johnson, Monica N Opiyo, Marian Thomson, Karim Gharbi, Jonathan R Seckl, Andreas Heger, and Karen E Chapman

The enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD) interconverts active glucocorticoids and their intrinsically inert 11-keto forms. The type 1 isozyme, 11β-HSD1, predominantly reactivates glucocorticoids in vivo and can also metabolise bile acids. 11β-HSD1-deficient mice show altered inflammatory responses and are protected against the adverse metabolic effects of a high-fat diet. However, the impact of 11β-HSD1 on the composition of the gut microbiome has not previously been investigated. We used high-throughput 16S rDNA amplicon sequencing to characterise the gut microbiome of 11β-HSD1-deficient and C57Bl/6 control mice, fed either a standard chow diet or a cholesterol- and fat-enriched ‘Western’ diet. 11β-HSD1 deficiency significantly altered the composition of the gut microbiome, and did so in a diet-specific manner. On a Western diet, 11β-HSD1 deficiency increased the relative abundance of the family Bacteroidaceae, and on a chow diet, it altered relative abundance of the family Prevotellaceae. Our results demonstrate that (i) genetic effects on host–microbiome interactions can depend upon diet and (ii) that alterations in the composition of the gut microbiome may contribute to the aspects of the metabolic and/or inflammatory phenotype observed with 11β-HSD1 deficiency.