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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

Lianne Abrahams, Nina M Semjonous, Phil Guest, Agnieszka Zielinska, Beverly Hughes, Gareth G Lavery and Paul M Stewart

Glucocorticoid concentrations are a balance between production under the negative feedback control and diurnal rhythm of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis and peripheral metabolism, for example by the enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1), which catalyses the reduction of inactive cortisone (11-dehydrocorticosterone (11-DHC) in mice) to cortisol (corticosterone in mice). Reductase activity is conferred upon 11β-HSD1 by hexose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (H6PDH). 11β-HSD1 is implicated in the development of obesity, and selective 11β-HSD1 inhibitors are currently under development. We sought to address the concern regarding potential up-regulation of the HPA axis associated with inhibition of 11β-HSD1. We assessed biomarkers for allele combinations of 11β-HSD1 and H6PDH derived from double heterozygous mouse crosses. H6PDH knock out (KO) adrenals were 69% larger than WT while 11β-HSD1 KO and double KO (DKO) adrenals were ∼30% larger than WT – indicative of increased HPA axis drive in KO animals. ACTH-stimulated circulating corticosterone concentrations were 2.2-fold higher in H6PDH KO animals and ∼1.5-fold higher in 11β-HSD1 KO and DKO animals compared with WT, proportional to the observed adrenal hypertrophy. KO of H6PDH resulted in a substantial increase in urinary DHC metabolites in males (65%) and females (61%). KO of 11β-HSD1 alone or in combination with H6PDH led to significant increases (36 and 42% respectively) in urinary DHC metabolites in females only. Intermediate 11β-HSD1/H6PDH heterozygotes maintained a normal HPA axis. Urinary steroid metabolite profile by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry as a biomarker assay may be beneficial in assaying HPA axis status clinically in cases of congenital and acquired 11β-HSD1/H6PDH deficiency.

Open access

Alvaro Souto Padron, Ruy Andrade Louzada Neto, Thiago Urgal Pantaleão, Maria Carolina de Souza dos Santos, Renata Lopes Araujo, Bruno Moulin de Andrade, Monique da Silva Leandro, João Pedro Saar Werneck de Castro, Andrea Claudia Freitas Ferreira and Denise Pires de Carvalho

In general, 3,5-diiodothyronine (3,5-T2) increases the resting metabolic rate and oxygen consumption, exerting short-term beneficial metabolic effects on rats subjected to a high-fat diet. Our aim was to evaluate the effects of chronic 3,5-T2 administration on the hypothalamus–pituitary–thyroid axis, body mass gain, adipose tissue mass, and body oxygen consumption in Wistar rats from 3 to 6 months of age. The rats were treated daily with 3,5-T2 (25, 50, or 75 μg/100 g body weight, s.c.) for 90 days between the ages of 3 and 6 months. The administration of 3,5-T2 suppressed thyroid function, reducing not only thyroid iodide uptake but also thyroperoxidase, NADPH oxidase 4 (NOX4), and thyroid type 1 iodothyronine deiodinase (D1 (DIO1)) activities and expression levels, whereas the expression of the TSH receptor and dual oxidase (DUOX) were increased. Serum TSH, 3,3′,5-triiodothyronine, and thyroxine were reduced in a 3,5-T2 dose-dependent manner, whereas oxygen consumption increased in these animals, indicating the direct action of 3,5-T2 on this physiological variable. Type 2 deiodinase activity increased in both the hypothalamus and the pituitary, and D1 activities in the liver and kidney were also increased in groups treated with 3,5-T2. Moreover, after 3 months of 3,5-T2 administration, body mass and retroperitoneal fat pad mass were significantly reduced, whereas the heart rate and mass were unchanged. Thus, 3,5-T2 acts as a direct stimulator of energy expenditure and reduces body mass gain; however, TSH suppression may develop secondary to 3,5-T2 administration.

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

Dawn E W Livingstone, Emma M Di Rollo, Chenjing Yang, Lucy E Codrington, John A Mathews, Madina Kara, Katherine A Hughes, Christopher J Kenyon, Brian R Walker and Ruth Andrew

Patients with critical illness or hepatic failure exhibit impaired cortisol responses to ACTH, a phenomenon known as ‘relative adrenal insufficiency’. A putative mechanism is that elevated bile acids inhibit inactivation of cortisol in liver by 5α-reductases type 1 and type 2 and 5β-reductase, resulting in compensatory downregulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and adrenocortical atrophy. To test the hypothesis that impaired glucocorticoid clearance can cause relative adrenal insufficiency, we investigated the consequences of 5α-reductase type 1 deficiency in mice. In adrenalectomised male mice with targeted disruption of 5α-reductase type 1, clearance of corticosterone was lower after acute or chronic (eightfold, P<0.05) administration, compared with WT control mice. In intact 5α-reductase-deficient male mice, although resting plasma corticosterone levels were maintained, corticosterone responses were impaired after ACTH administration (26% lower, P<0.05), handling stress (2.5-fold lower, P<0.05) and restraint stress (43% lower, P<0.05) compared with WT mice. mRNA levels of Nr3c1 (glucocorticoid receptor), Crh and Avp in pituitary or hypothalamus were altered, consistent with enhanced negative feedback. These findings confirm that impaired peripheral clearance of glucocorticoids can cause ‘relative adrenal insufficiency’ in mice, an observation with important implications for patients with critical illness or hepatic failure, and for patients receiving 5α-reductase inhibitors for prostatic disease.

Open access

Zhenguang Zhang, Agnes E Coutinho, Tak Yung Man, Tiina M J Kipari, Patrick W F Hadoke, Donald M Salter, Jonathan R Seckl and Karen E Chapman

11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-1 (11β-HSD1) predominantly converts inert glucocorticoids into active forms, thereby contributing to intracellular glucocorticoid levels. 11β-HSD1 is dynamically regulated during inflammation, including in macrophages where it regulates phagocytic capacity. The resolution of inflammation in some disease models including inflammatory arthritis is impaired by 11β-HSD1 deficiency or inhibition. However, 11β-HSD1 deficiency/inhibition also promotes angiogenesis, which is beneficial in mouse models of surgical wound healing, myocardial infarction or obesity. The cell types responsible for the anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic roles of 11β-HSD1 have not been characterised. Here, we generated Hsd11b1 MKO mice with LysM-Cre mediated deletion of Hsd11b1 to investigate whether 11β-HSD1 deficiency in myeloid phagocytes is pro-angiogenic and/or affects the resolution of inflammation. Resolution of inflammatory K/BxN-induced arthritis was impaired in Hsd11b1 MKO mice to a similar extent as in mice globally deficient in 11β-HSD1. This was associated with >2-fold elevation in levels of the endothelial marker Cdh5 mRNA, suggesting increased angiogenesis in joints of Hsd11b1 MKO mice following arthritis. A pro-angiogenic phenotype was confirmed by measuring angiogenesis in subcutaneously implanted polyurethane sponges, in which Hsd11b1 MKO mice showed 20% greater vessel density than their littermate controls, associated with higher expression of Cdh5. Thus, 11β-HSD1 deficiency in myeloid phagocytes promotes angiogenesis. Targeting 11β-HSD1 in macrophages may be beneficial in tissue repair.

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

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

Katie J Mylonas, Neil A Turner, Sumia A Bageghni, Christopher J Kenyon, Christopher I White, Kieran McGregor, Robert A Kimmitt, Richard Sulston, Valerie Kelly, Brian R Walker, Karen E Porter, Karen E Chapman and Gillian A Gray

We have previously demonstrated that neutrophil recruitment to the heart following myocardial infarction (MI) is enhanced in mice lacking 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) that regenerates active glucocorticoid within cells from intrinsically inert metabolites. The present study aimed to identify the mechanism of regulation. In a mouse model of MI, neutrophil mobilization to blood and recruitment to the heart were higher in 11β-HSD1-deficient (Hsd11b1 / ) relative to wild-type (WT) mice, despite similar initial injury and circulating glucocorticoid. In bone marrow chimeric mice, neutrophil mobilization was increased when 11β-HSD1 was absent from host cells, but not when absent from donor bone marrow-derived cells. Consistent with a role for 11β-HSD1 in ‘host’ myocardium, gene expression of a subset of neutrophil chemoattractants, including the chemokines Cxcl2 and Cxcl5, was selectively increased in the myocardium of Hsd11b1 / mice relative to WT. SM22α-Cre directed disruption of Hsd11b1 in smooth muscle and cardiomyocytes had no effect on neutrophil recruitment. Expression of Cxcl2 and Cxcl5 was elevated in fibroblast fractions isolated from hearts of Hsd11b1 / mice post MI and provision of either corticosterone or of the 11β-HSD1 substrate, 11-dehydrocorticosterone, to cultured murine cardiac fibroblasts suppressed IL-1α-induced expression of Cxcl2 and Cxcl5. These data identify suppression of CXCL2 and CXCL5 chemoattractant expression by 11β-HSD1 as a novel mechanism with potential for regulation of neutrophil recruitment to the injured myocardium, and cardiac fibroblasts as a key site for intracellular glucocorticoid regeneration during acute inflammation following myocardial injury.

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.