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S J Brandt, M Kleinert, M H Tschöp and T D Müller

Obesity is a worldwide pandemic, which can be fatal for the most extremely affected individuals. Lifestyle interventions such as diet and exercise are largely ineffective and current anti-obesity medications offer little in the way of significant or sustained weight loss. Bariatric surgery is effective, but largely restricted to only a small subset of extremely obese patients. While the hormonal factors mediating sustained weight loss and remission of diabetes by bariatric surgery remain elusive, a new class of polypharmacological drugs shows potential to shrink the gap in efficacy between a surgery and pharmacology. In essence, this new class of drugs combines the beneficial effects of several independent hormones into a single entity, thereby combining their metabolic efficacy to improve systems metabolism. Such unimolecular drugs include single molecules with agonism at the receptors for glucagon, glucagon-like peptide 1 and the glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide. In preclinical studies, these specially tailored multiagonists outperform both their mono-agonist components and current best in class anti-obesity medications. While clinical trials and vigorous safety analyses are ongoing, these drugs are poised to have a transformative effect in anti-obesity therapy and might hopefully lead the way to a new era in weight-loss pharmacology.

Free access

J Gebken, A Feydt, J Brinckmann, H Notbohm, PK Muller and B Batge

High concentrations of transforming growth factor b (TGF-beta) are found in the bone matrix, reflecting a pivotal role of this growth factor in the coupling of bone resorption and formation. TGF-beta strongly stimulates the synthesis of extracellular matrix proteins, but in vitro studies show an inhibitory effect on the final mineralization process, which in vivo occurs despite high concentrations of TGF-beta. Little is known about how bone-forming cells respond to different concentrations of TGF-beta and if they can transiently adapt receptor numbers in order to modulate cellular activity. Against this background, we studied the cell-surface expression of TGF-beta receptors (TbetaR) I, II and III (betaglycan) on human osteoblast-like cells from adult donors, and examined the TbetaR presentation on these cells after a preceding exposure to TGF-beta1. Affinity crosslinking studies with disuccinimidylsuberate showed the presence of all three receptor types. Preincubation with TGF-beta1 markedly reduced 125I-TGF-beta1 binding in a time-dependent and dose-dependent manner and revealed a 95% reduction after an 18-h preincubation with 200 pM TGF-beta1. In parallel, Scatchard analysis showed that the binding affinity did not change as a consequence of TGF-beta1 preincubation. Immunoblotting analyses revealed an almost complete disappearance of immunoreactive TbetaR-II and TbetaR-III proteins after a 24-h preincubation with TGF-beta1. Using semi-quantitative reverse transcription PCR, no effect of TGF-beta1 on the expression of TbetaR-II mRNA was observed. These studies demonstrate a ligand-induced downregulation of TbetaRs-II and -III on human osteoblast-like cells, without any evidence for recovery within the first 24 h, both in the presence and after the removal of the ligand. The underlying mechanism appears to be based on post-transcriptional events. The results suggest that high concentrations of active TGF-beta1 decrease the responsiveness of osteoblasts towards this growth factor.

Free access

G Dai, D Wang, B Liu, JW Kasik, H Muller, RA White, GS Hummel and MJ Soares

The prolactin (PRL) family consists of a collection of genes expressed in the uterus, placenta and anterior pituitary. These cytokines/hormones participate in the control of maternal-fetal adaptations to pregnancy. In this report, we establish the presence of three new members of the PRL family. Novel expressed sequence tags (ESTs) with homology to PRL were isolated from embryonic and placental cDNA libraries. The cDNAs were sequenced and compared with those of other members of the PRL family. The three new cDNAs were assigned to the PRL family on the basis of sequence similarities and were referred to as PRL-like protein-J (PLP-J), PRL-like protein-K (PLP-K) and PRL-like protein-M (PLP-M). Both rat and mouse PLP-J cDNAs were identified. Rat PLP-J cDNA encodes for a predicted 211 amino acid protein containing a 29 amino acid signal peptide and two putative N-linked glycosylation sites, whereas the mouse PLP-J cDNA encodes for a 212 amino acid protein containing a 29 amino acid signal peptide with a single N-linked glycosylation site. Rat and mouse PLP-J proteins share approximately 79% and 70% nucleotide and amino acid sequence identity, respectively. A full-length rat PLP-K cDNA and a partial tentative mouse PLP-K cDNA were identified. The rat PLP-K cDNA encodes for a predicted 228 amino acid protein containing a 31 amino acid signal peptide and one putative N-linked glycosylation site; the mouse PLP-M cDNA encodes for a predicted 228 amino acid protein containing a 28 amino acid signal peptide and one putative N-linked glycosylation site. Genes for PLP-J, PLP-K and PLP-M are situated at the Prl family locus on mouse chromosome 13. PLP-J was exclusively expressed in decidual tissue from both the mouse and rat. PLP-K was expressed in trophoblast cells of the chorioallantoic placenta and showed an apparent species difference. In the mouse, virtually all trophoblast lineages expressed PLP-K, whereas in the rat, PLP-K expression was restricted to the labyrinthine trophoblast cells. Mouse PLP-M expression was restricted to the junctional zone of the chorioallantoic placenta. In summary, we have identified three new members of the rodent PRL gene family that are expressed in uterine and placental structures. Future experimentation is needed to determine the specific roles of each of these ligands in the biology of pregnancy.

Free access

Lisa J Ma, Esther A Guzmán, Ariel DeGuzman, H Konrad Muller, Ameae M Walker and Laurie B Owen

It is well established that females mount stronger immune responses than males, but only very little is understood about the underlying mechanisms. We have analyzed local cytokine differences among intact females, those that had been ovariectomized (OVX), those receiving estrogen replacement after OVX, and males, both before and after production of delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses. We report confirmation of a much larger DTH response in females versus males. However, OVX resulted in an even larger response, while estrogen replacement resulted in a smaller response when compared with intact females. In animals exposed for the first time to an antigen (without a DTH response), OVX increased interleukin-6 (IL-6) and estrogen replacement after OVX suppressed IL-6. Of the cytokines that differed between males and females exposed for the first time to an antigen, only IL-6 was higher in females versus males when exposure to antigen occurred for the second time (when the DTH response occurs). Analysis of cytokines with OVX and estrogen replacement after a second exposure to antigen showed that IL-6 did not significantly change. Levels of IL-4; Regulated upon Activation, Normal T-cell Expressed; and Secreted; and thrombopoietin, however, correlated with the DTH response, suggesting direct or indirect positive regulation by estrogen. These results suggest an important role for both IL-6 and IL-4 in determining the degree of DTH response, with IL-6 (which appears negatively regulated by estrogen) increasing and IL-4 (which appears positively regulated by estrogen) decreasing the response. The results further suggest that IL-6 may play a role in predisposing to a larger DTH response, while IL-4 levels seem more important during an active response.

Free access

D Wang, R Ishimura, DS Walia, H Muller, G Dai, JS Hunt, NA Lee, JJ Lee and MJ Soares

The uterus and placenta of the mouse and rat produce a member of the prolactin (PRL) family referred to as decidual/trophoblast PRL-related protein (d/tPRP). This cytokine/hormone has been hypothesized to regulate decidual cell activities needed for the establishment and maintenance of gestation. An alkaline phosphatase (AP)-tagging strategy was used to identify d/tPRP target cells. AP-d/tPRP bound to virtually all cells and tissues to which it was exposed, consistent with our earlier evidence that d/tPRP binds to heparin-containing molecules. Moreover, we found that co-incubation with heparin or pretreatment with heparitinase greatly decreased the binding of AP-d/tPRP to tissue sections. In addition, we observed that the AP-d/tPRP probe bound to the surface of Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells but not to heparan sulfate-deficient CHO-pgsD-677 cells. Potential unique non-heparin d/tPRP binding sites within mouse and rat uteroplacental tissues were identified by consecutively incubating sections with AP-d/tPRP followed by heparin. This strategy led to the identification of d/tPRP target cells associated with the uterus and the labyrinth zone of the chorioallantoic placenta. Within the uterus, d/tPRP specifically bound to eosinophils. d/tPRP-binding and eosinophil peroxidase activity were co-localized and showed similar patterns of distribution during the estrous cycle, pregnancy, and following hormonal manipulation. d/tPRP interactions with eosinophils were further demonstrated in the lung and intestine, with eosinophils isolated from the peritoneum, and in mice with generalized tissue eosinophilia. Collectively, these findings suggest that intercellular d/tPRP targeting is mediated through associations with heparin-containing molecules which help direct d/tPRP to specific interactions with eosinophils within the uterus and with the labyrinthine compartment of the chorioallantoic placenta.

Restricted access

Ch. Müller, C. C. Zielinski, W. Kalinowski, H. Wolf, J. W. Mannhalter, G. Aschauer-Treiber, D. Klösch-Kasparek, S. Gaube, M. M. Eibl and G. Schernthaner


Patients who had been included in a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial on the efficacy of cyclosporin A (CyA) in producing remissions in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) type I were investigated for humoral and cellular immunologic parameters. Whereas metabolic derangement before the initiation of insulin treatment led to small but significant decreases in the percentage of CD4-positive lymphocytes as well as of the activity of natural killer (NK) cells and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), the administration of CyA did not influence any of the immunologic parameters tested, which included proliferative lymphocyte responses to mitogens and alloantigens and serum concentrations of immunoglobulins G, A and M. Thus NK cell activity, ADCC as well as the percentage of CD4-positive lymphocytes returned to normal levels in parallel with the normalization of glycosylated haemoglobin (HbAlc), but were not further influenced in their course by the administration of CyA, as compared with patients receiving placebo. Interferon-induced augmentation of NK cell activity did not differ between patients with IDDM on placebo and those under CyA therapy. All other investigated parameters also remained unchanged during the time of CyA therapy. We conclude that metabolic derangement leads to a reversible disturbance of certain cellular immune functions, but their normalization achieved by insulin treatment and their further course remains uninfluenced by the administration of CyA.

Journal of Endocrinology (1989) 121, 177–183