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H. R. CATCHPOLE, I. GERSH and S. C. PAN

Ovarian follicles during the normal process of growth and maturation are accommodated spatially by structural rearrangements within the ovary. When follicular growth is artificially induced by gonadotrophic hormones, several of the processes involved in follicular maturation, such as an increase in ovarian vascularity and the rapid growth and multiplication of follicles, are accelerated or intensified. When ovulation does not take place, cystic follicles are formed. This intense proliferation and growth of the parenchymatous elements of the ovary may be directly related to events occurring in surrounding structures, and in particular in the ground substance (with basement membranes) of the connective tissue. From a study of fibrous elements of the ovary, Duke [1947] proposed that the connective tissue may arise in response to, or be accompanied by, alterations of the parenchyma both in developmental and cyclic stages.

Recent studies of the ground substance and basement membranes of a variety of normal

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S Wei, Y Feng, FY Che, H Pan, N Mzhavia, LA Devi, AA McKinzie, N Levin, WG Richards and LD Fricker

ProSAAS is a neuroendocrine peptide precursor that potently inhibits prohormone convertase 1 in vitro. To explore the function of proSAAS and its derived peptides, transgenic mice were created which express proSAAS using the beta-actin promoter. The body weight of transgenic mice was normal until approximately 10-12 weeks, and then increased 30-50% over wild-type littermates. Adult transgenic mice had a fat mass approximately twice that of wild-type mice, and fasting blood glucose levels were slightly elevated. In the pituitary, the levels of several fully processed peptides in transgenic mice were not reduced compared with wild-type mice, indicating that the proSAAS transgene did not affect prohormone convertase 1 activity in this tissue. Because the inhibitory potency of proSAAS-derived peptides towards prohormone convertase 1 is much greater in the absence of carboxypeptidase E activity, the proSAAS transgene was also expressed in carboxypeptidase E-deficient Cpe (fat/fat) mice. Although the transgenic mice were born in the expected frequency, 21 of 22 proSAAS transgenic Cpe (fat/fat) mice died between 11 and 26 weeks of age, presumably due to greatly elevated blood glucose. The levels of several pituitary peptides were significantly reduced in the proSAAS transgenic Cpe (fat/fat) mice relative to non-transgenic Cpe (fat/fat) mice, suggesting that the transgene inhibited prohormone convertase 1 in these mice. Taken together, these results are consistent with a role for proSAAS-derived peptides as neuropeptides that influence body weight independently of their function as inhibitors of prohormone convertase 1.

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Thomas H Claus, Clark Q Pan, Joanne M Buxton, Ling Yang, Jennifer C Reynolds, Nicole Barucci, Michael Burns, Astrid A Ortiz, Steve Roczniak, James N Livingston, Kevin B Clairmont and James P Whelan

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by reduced insulin secretion from the pancreas and overproduction of glucose by the liver. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) promotes glucose-dependent insulin secretion from the pancreas, while glucagon promotes glucose output from the liver. Taking advantage of the homology between GLP-1 and glucagon, a GLP-1/glucagon hybrid peptide, dual-acting peptide for diabetes (DAPD), was identified with combined GLP-1 receptor agonist and glucagon receptor antagonist activity. To overcome its short plasma half-life DAPD was PEGylated, resulting in dramatically prolonged activity in vivo. PEGylated DAPD (PEG-DAPD) increases insulin and decreases glucose in a glucose tolerance test, evidence of GLP-1 receptor agonism. It also reduces blood glucose following a glucagon challenge and elevates fasting glucagon levels in mice, evidence of glucagon receptor antagonism. The PEG-DAPD effects on glucose tolerance are also observed in the presence of the GLP-1 antagonist peptide, exendin(9–39). An antidiabetic effect of PEG-DAPD is observed in db/db mice. Furthermore, PEGylation of DAPD eliminates the inhibition of gastrointestinal motility observed with GLP-1 and its analogues. Thus, PEG-DAPD has the potential to be developed as a novel dual-acting peptide to treat type 2 diabetes, with prolonged in vivo activity, and without the GI side-effects.