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Globulin preparations (41) from patients with Graves's disease (positive to thyroid stimulating immunoglobulins; TSI) and 12 from healthy persons (TSI-negative) were tested for their specific thyrotrophin (TSH)-binding properties. Globulins from both groups possessed binding sites for 131I-labelled TSH. The mean dissociation constant (K d) was 6·8 pmol/l per mg globulin and the maximum specific binding (B max) was 3·0 pmol/mg globulin per 1 for the TSI-negative control group. Twenty-four (58·5%) globulin preparations from the TSI-positive group had similar TSH-binding characteristics with mean K d of 7·2 pmol/l per mg globulin and B max of 3·6 pmol/mg globulin per 1 (A-type binding) but the remaining 17 (41·5%) bound TSH in a different fashion with K d of 71·5 pmol/l per mg globulin and B max of 13·6 pmol/mg globulin per 1 (B-type binding).

Both types of specific TSH binding reached the maximal level within 1 h of incubation and had an optimum pH of 7–8. There was a linear correlation between the amount of bound TSH and the globulin content of the samples. Both types of binding were reversible by the addition of an excess of TSH and gonadotrophins, ACTH, prolactin and insulin competed with TSH for the binding sites only when in relatively high concentrations. The binding sites were associated with macromolecules; they emerged with the void volume after chromatography on Sephadex G-200 and migrated with immunoglobulin G (IgG) on paper electrophoresis. The binding capacity of the globulin preparations could be decreased by preincubation with antiserum to human IgG or with human thyroid membranes.

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Sharon H Chou and Christos Mantzoros

Leptin, as a key hormone in energy homeostasis, regulates neuroendocrine function, including reproduction. It has a permissive role in the initiation of puberty and maintenance of the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis. This is notable in patients with either congenital or acquired leptin deficiency from a state of chronic energy insufficiency. Hypothalamic amenorrhea is the best-studied, with clinical trials confirming a causative role of leptin in hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. Implications of leptin deficiency have also emerged in the pathophysiology of hypogonadism in type 1 diabetes. At the other end of the spectrum, hyperleptinemia may play a role in hypogonadism associated with obesity, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. In these conditions of energy excess, mechanisms of reproductive dysfunction include central leptin resistance as well as direct effects at the gonadal level. Thus, reproductive dysfunction due to energy imbalance at both ends can be linked to leptin.

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Tamiki Hikake, Shinji Hayashi, Taisen Iguchi and Tomomi Sato

IGF1 knockout (IGF1KO) mice show a reduced number of prolactin (PRL) producing cells (PRL cells); however, the role of IGF1 in PRL cell proliferation and differentiation in immature mice is unclear. In this study, ontogenic changes in the percentages of PRL cells, GH producing cells (GH cells), and 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU)-labeled cells in the anterior pituitary of male IGF1KO mice during the postnatal period were investigated. The percentage of PRL cells in IGF1KO mice was significantly lower at day 20 compared with that in wild-type (WT) mice, while GH cells in IGF1KO mice were significantly increased from day 10. From days 5 to 20, the percentage of BrdU-labeled cells in WT and IGF1KO mice was similar. PRL cells and GH cells are thought to originate from the same progenitor cells, therefore, PRL cells in IGF1KO mice are not able to differentiate because progenitor cells have already committed to be GH cells. However, IGF1, 17β-estradiol (E2), epidermal growth factor (EGF), or IGF1 plus E2 treatments increased the PRL cell number in the pituitaries in vitro of 10-day-old WT and IGF1KO mice. This fact suggests that these factors are involved in PRL cell proliferation and differentiation. In addition, the increase of PRL cells in IGF1KO mice stimulated by E2 or EGF was less than that of WT mice. Thus, IGF1 plays a crucial role in PRL cell proliferation and differentiation in mouse pituitaries by regulating the differentiation of progenitor cells and mediating the actions of E2 and EGF.

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Bohan Wang, I Stuart Wood and Paul Trayhurn

The effect of hypoxia on the expression and secretion of major adipokines by human preadipocytes has been examined. Hypoxia (1% O2) led to an increase in the HIF-1α transcription factor subunit in cultured preadipocytes, as did incubation with the hypoxia mimetic CoCl2. Leptin mRNA was essentially undetectable in preadipocytes incubated under normoxia (21% O2), but exposure to 1% O2, or CoCl2, for 4 or 24 h resulted in an induction of leptin gene expression (measured by real-time PCR). Immunoreactive leptin was not detected in the medium from normoxic preadipocytes, but was present in the medium from the hypoxic cells. Hypoxia stimulated expression of the GLUT-1 facilitative glucose transporter gene and the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene in preadipocytes, as in adipocytes. PPARγ and aP2 mRNA levels, markers of adipocyte differentiation, were reduced by hypoxia in both cell types. In marked contrast to adipocytes, interleukin-6 (IL-6), angiopoietin-like protein 4, and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 expression by preadipocytes was not stimulated by low O2 tension. Consistent with the gene expression results, VEGF release into the medium from preadipocytes was increased by hypoxia, but there was no change in IL-6 secretion. It is concluded that hypoxia induces human preadipocytes to synthesize and secrete leptin. Preadipocytes and adipocytes differ in their responsiveness to low O2 tension, maturation of the response to hypoxia developing on differentiation.

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Ruben Rodriguez, Jacqueline N Minas, Jose Pablo Vazquez-Medina, Daisuke Nakano, David G Parkes, Akira Nishiyama and Rudy M Ortiz

Obesity is associated with the inappropriate activation of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), which increases arterial pressure, impairs insulin secretion and decreases peripheral tissue insulin sensitivity. RAS blockade reverses these detriments; however, it is not clear whether the disease state of the organism and treatment duration determine the beneficial effects of RAS inhibition on insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity. Therefore, the objective of this study was to compare the benefits of acute vs chronic angiotensin receptor type 1 (AT1) blockade started after the onset of obesity, hyperglycemia and hypertension on pancreatic function and peripheral insulin resistance. We assessed adipocyte morphology, glucose intolerance, pancreatic redox balance and insulin secretion after 2 and 11 weeks of AT1 blockade in the following groups of rats: (1) untreated Long-Evans Tokushima Otsuka (lean control; n = 10), (2) untreated Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty (OLETF; n = 12) and (3) OLETF + ARB (ARB; 10 mg olmesartan/kg/day by oral gavage; n = 12). Regardless of treatment duration, AT1 blockade decreased systolic blood pressure and fasting plasma triglycerides, whereas chronic AT1 blockade decreased fasting plasma glucose, glucose intolerance and the relative abundance of large adipocytes by 22, 36 and 70%, respectively. AT1 blockade, however, did not improve pancreatic oxidative stress or reverse impaired insulin secretion. Collectively, these data show that AT1 blockade after the onset of obesity, hyperglycemia and hypertension improves peripheral tissue insulin sensitivity, but cannot completely reverse the metabolic derangement characterized by impaired insulin secretion once it has been compromised.

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Susan Kralisch, Anke Tönjes, Kerstin Krause, Judit Richter, Ulrike Lossner, Peter Kovacs, Thomas Ebert, Matthias Blüher, Michael Stumvoll and Mathias Fasshauer

Rather than a traditional growth factor, fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) is considered to be a metabolic hormone. In the current study, we investigated serum FGF21 levels in the self-contained population of Sorbs. Serum FGF21 concentrations were quantified by ELISA and correlated with IGF1 as well as metabolic, renal, hepatic, inflammatory, and cardiovascular parameters in 913 Sorbs from Germany. Moreover, human IGF1 protein secretion was investigated in FGF21-stimulated HepG2 cells. Median FGF21 serum concentrations were 2.1-fold higher in subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus (141.8 ng/l) compared with controls (66.7 ng/l). Furthermore, nondiabetic subjects with FGF21 levels below the detection limit of the ELISA showed a more beneficial metabolic profile compared with subjects with measurable FGF21. Moreover, FGF21 was significantly lower in female compared with male subjects after adjustment for age and BMI. In multiple regression analyses, circulating FGF21 concentrations remained independently and positively associated with gender, systolic blood pressure, triglycerides, and γ glutamyl transferase whereas a negative association was observed with IGF1 in nondiabetic subjects. Notably, FGF21 significantly inhibited IGF1 secretion into HepG2 cell culture supernatants in preliminary in vitro experiments. FGF21 serum concentrations are associated with facets of the metabolic syndrome, hepatocellular function, as well as GH status.

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BD Rodgers, M Bernier and MA Levine

Adipocyte beta-adrenergic sensitivity is compromised in animal models of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Although changes in the membrane concentrations of G-protein alpha subunits (Galpha) have been implicated, it remains to be determined how these changes are affected by insulin resistance in the different animal models. Because previous studies used young animals, we measured the concentrations of Galpha and Gbeta subunits in epididymal fat from aged (48 weeks old) db/db mice and from their lean littermates to more closely reproduce the model of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Levels of immunoreactive Galphas, Galphai(1/2), Galphao and Galphaq/11 were all significantly greater in adipocyte membranes from the db/db mice than in membranes from their lean non-diabetic littermate controls. Levels of Galphai(1) and Galphai(2) were also individually determined and although they appeared to be slightly higher in db/db membranes, these differences were not significant. Although the levels of both Galphas isoforms were elevated, levels of the 42 and 46 kDa proteins rose by approximately 42% and 20% respectively, indicating differential protein processing of Galphas. By contrast, levels of Galphai3 were similar in the two groups. The levels of common Gbeta and Gbeta2 were also elevated in db/db mice, whereas Gbeta1 and Gbeta4 levels were not different. To determine whether these changes were due to insulin resistance per se or to elevated glucocorticoid production, G-protein subunit levels were quantified in whole cell lysates from 3T3-L1 adipocytes that were stimulated with different concentrations of either insulin or corticosterone. Although none of the subunit levels was affected by insulin, the levels of both Galphas isoforms were increased equally by corticosterone in a concentration-dependent manner. Since glucocorticoids are known regulators of Galphas gene expression in many cell types and in adipocytes from diabetic rodents, the results presented herein appear to more accurately reflect diabetic pathophysiology than do those of previous studies which report a decrease in Galphas levels. Taken together, these results indicate that most of the selective changes in G-protein subunit production in adipocytes from this animal model of type 2 diabetes may not be due to diminished insulin sensitivity, but may be due to other endocrine or metabolic abnormalities associated with the diabetic phenotype.

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Jennifer A Crookshank, Daniel Serrano, Gen-Sheng Wang, Christopher Patrick, Baylie S Morgan, Marie-France Paré and Fraser W Scott

It is unknown whether there is a gene signature in pancreas which is associated with type 1 diabetes (T1D). We performed partial pancreatectomies on 30-day preinsulitic, diabetes-prone BioBreeding (BBdp) rats to prospectively identify factors involved in early prediabetes. Microarrays of the biopsies revealed downregulation of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, metabolism and apoptosis. Based on these results, additional investigations compared gene expression in control (BBc) and BBdp rats age ~8, 30 and 60 days using RT-qPCR. Neonates had increased ER stress gene expression in pancreas. This was associated with decreased insulin, cleaved caspase-3 and Ins1 whereas Gcg and Pcsk2 were increased. The increase in ER stress was not sustained at 30 days and decreased by 60 days. In parallel, the liver gene profile showed a similar signature in neonates but with an early decrease of the unfolded protein response (UPR) at 30 days. This suggested that changes in the liver precede those in the pancreas. Tnf and Il1b expression was increased in BBdp pancreas in association with increased caspase-1, cleaved caspase-3 and decreased proinsulin area. Glucagon area was increased in both 30-day and 60-day BBdp rats. Increased colocalization of BIP and proinsulin was observed at 60 days in the pancreas, suggesting insulin-related ER dysfunction. We propose that dysregulated metabolism leads to ER stress in neonatal rats long before insulitis, creating a microenvironment in both pancreas and liver that promotes autoimmunity.

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The changes in the content of melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) and histology of the neuro-intermediate (n.i.) lobe were followed in rats which drank 2% sodium chloride for periods from 1–15 days.

The pars intermedia showed a biphasic response. During the initial phase of 1–4 days there was a rapid rise in the MSH content, by 153% in the first day, falling back to control level by 4 days. These fluctuations were paralleled by an increase in the normally small numbers of Type 2 cells and at the same time numerous Type I cells showed hypertrophy and degranulation.

After 4 days on saline there was a second rise in the MSH content, which was still evident at 15 days; during this second period the number of Type 2 cells declined to normal levels. The degranulated Type 1 cells also disappeared, most of Type 1 being smaller in size and intensely PAS-positive.

After the ingestion of saline it apparently takes several days before the pars intermedia adapts to a new level of activity.

The likely significance of these changes and the possibility of a relationship between the pars intermedia and the neurohypophysis are discussed.

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Saeed Alshahrani and Mauricio Di Fulvio

The intracellular chloride concentration ([Cl]i) in β-cells plays an important role in glucose-stimulated plasma membrane depolarisation and insulin secretion. [Cl]i is maintained above equilibrium in β-cells by the action of Cl co-transporters of the solute carrier family 12 group A (Slc12a). β-Cells express Slc12a1 and Slc12a2, which are known as the bumetanide (BTD)-sensitive Na+-dependent K+2Cl co-transporters 2 and 1 respectively. We show that mice lacking functional alleles of the Slc12a2 gene exhibit better fasting glycaemia, increased insulin secretion in response to glucose, and improved glucose tolerance when compared with wild-type (WT). This phenomenon correlated with increased sensitivity of β-cells to glucose in vitro and with increased β-cell mass. Further, administration of low doses of BTD to mice deficient in Slc12a2 worsened their glucose tolerance, and low concentrations of BTD directly inhibited glucose-stimulated insulin secretion from β-cells deficient in Slc12a2 but expressing intact Slc12a1 genes. Together, our results suggest for the first time that the Slc12a2 gene is not necessary for insulin secretion and that its absence increases β-cell secretory capacity. Further, impairment of insulin secretion with BTD in vivo and in vitro in islets lacking Slc12a2 genes unmasks a potential new role for Slc12a1 in β-cell physiology.