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Maria E C Amaral, Daniel A Cunha, Gabriel F Anhê, Mirian Ueno, Everardo M Carneiro, Lício A Velloso, Silvana Bordin, and Antonio C Boschero

Prolactin (PRL) exerts its biological effects mainly by activating the Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (JAK/STAT5) signaling pathway. We have recently demonstrated that PRL also stimulates the insulin receptor substrates/phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (IRSs/PI3K) and SH2-plekstrin homology domain (SHC)/ERK pathways in islets of neonatal rats. In the present study, we investigated the involvement of the PI3K and MAP kinase (MAPK) cascades in islet development and growth in pregnant rats. The protein expression of AKT1, p70S6K and SHC was higher in islets from pregnant compared with control rats. Higher basal levels of tyrosine phosphorylation were found in classic transducers of insulin cell signaling (IRS1, IRS2 and SHC). Increased levels of threonine/tyrosine phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and serine phosphorylation of AKT and p70S6K were also detected. To assess the participation of PRL in these phenomena, pregnant and control rats were treated with an antisense oligonucleotide to reduce the expression of the PRL receptor (PRLR). Phosphorylation of AKT was reduced in islets from pregnant and control rats, whereas p70S6K protein levels were reduced only in islets from treated pregnant rats. Finally, glucose-induced insulin secretion was reduced in islets from pregnant but not from control rats treated with the PRLR antisense oligonucleotide. In conclusion, downstream proteins of the PI3K (AKT and p70S6K) and MAPK (SHC and ERK1/2) cascades are regulated by PRL signaling in islets from pregnant rats. These findings indicate that these pathways participate in the increase in islet mass and the sensitivity to glucose during pregnancy.

Free access

Gabriel F Anhê, Tatiane C A Nogueira, José E Nicoletti-Carvalho, Camilo Lellis-Santos, Helena C Barbosa, José Cipolla-Neto, José R Bosqueiro, Antonio C Boschero, and Silvana Bordin

During pregnancy, the maternal endocrine pancreas undergoes, as a consequence of placental lactogens and prolactin (PRL) action, functional changes that are characterized by increased glucose-induced insulin secretion. After delivery, the maternal endocrine pancreas rapidly returns to non-pregnant state, which is mainly attributed to the increased serum levels of glucocorticoids (GCs). Although GCs are known to decrease insulin secretion and counteract PRL action, the mechanisms for these effects are poorly understood. We have previously demonstrated that signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is increased in islets treated with PRL. In the present study, we show that STAT3 expression and serine phosphorylation are increased in pancreatic islets at the end of pregnancy (P19). STAT3 serine phosphorylation rapidly returned to basal levels 3 days after delivery (L3). The expression of the sarcoendoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase 2 (SERCA2), a crucial protein involved in the regulation of calcium handling in β-cells, was also increased in P19, returning to basal levels at L3. PRL increased SERCA2 and STAT3 expressions and STAT3 serine phosphorylation in RINm5F cells. The upregulation of SERCA2 by PRL was abolished after STAT3 knockdown. Moreover, PRL-induced STAT3 serine phosphorylation and SERCA2 expression were inhibited by dexamethasone (DEX). Insulin secretion from islets of P19 rats pre-incubated with thapsigargin and L3 rats showed a dramatic suppression of first phase of insulin release. The present results indicate that PRL regulates SERCA2 expression by a STAT3-dependent mechanism. PRL effect is counteracted by DEX and might contribute to the adaptation of maternal endocrine pancreas during the peripartum period.