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Jennifer J DuPont and Iris Z Jaffe

Since the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) was cloned 30 years ago, it has become clear that MR is expressed in extra-renal tissues, including the cardiovascular system, where it is expressed in all cells of the vasculature. Understanding the role of MR in the vasculature has been of particular interest as clinical trials show that MR antagonism improves cardiovascular outcomes out of proportion to changes in blood pressure. The last 30 years of research have demonstrated that MR is a functional hormone-activated transcription factor in vascular smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells. This review summarizes advances in our understanding of the role of vascular MR in regulating blood pressure and vascular function, and its contribution to vascular disease. Specifically, vascular MR contributes directly to blood pressure control and to vascular dysfunction and remodeling in response to hypertension, obesity and vascular injury. The literature is summarized with respect to the role of vascular MR in conditions including: pulmonary hypertension; cerebral vascular remodeling and stroke; vascular inflammation, atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction; acute kidney injury; and vascular pathology in the eye. Considerations regarding the impact of age and sex on the function of vascular MR are also described. Further investigation of the precise molecular mechanisms by which MR contributes to these processes will aid in the identification of novel therapeutic targets to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related morbidity and mortality.

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J Dupont, M Derouet, J Simon and M Taouis

Chronic treatment with corticosterone evokes insulin resistance in chickens, a species which is already resistant to insulin compared with mammals. The in vivo effects of corticosterone on insulin signaling were investigated in chicken liver and thigh muscle in two nutritional states: basal (overnight fasted) and stimulated (30 min refeeding). Corticosterone significantly decreased specific insulin binding in liver and the amount of insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) and p85 (regulatory subunit of phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3'-kinase) in both tissues. Insulin receptor (IR) and IRS-1 mRNAs generally varied accordingly. Src homology and collagen protein (Shc) and messenger were not altered. In liver, in the basal state, the tyrosine phosphorylation of IR, IRS-1 and Shc, and the IR-associated PI 3'-kinase activity were largely decreased by corticosterone. Following refeeding the cascade was activated in control but totally inhibited in treated chickens. In muscle, as previously observed, IR and IRS-1 phosphorylation and PI 3'-kinase were not stimulated by refeeding in controls. Only the phosphorylation of Shc was increased. On this background, corticosterone decreased the basal PI 3'-kinase activity and prevented the phosphorylation of Shc in response to refeeding. In conclusion, corticosterone largely impaired insulin signaling in liver and to some extent in muscle. This should contribute to the large impairment of growth. In addition, the present studies further emphasize the peculiarities of insulin signaling in chicken muscle, which needs further investigation.

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A Fafioffe, JF Ethier, J Fontaine, E JeanPierre, C Taragnat and J Dupont

In mammals, activin and inhibin are important regulators of FSH secretion. Previous studies have demonstrated that primary ovine pituitary cells express different activin receptor subtypes: activin receptor-like (ALK)2, ALK4, activin type II receptor A (ActRIIA), ActRIIB and Smad proteins in vitro. Here, we have carried out physiological studies to investigate the pattern of mRNA expression of the activin receptor subunits in the ewe pituitary throughout the oestrous cycle. The oestrous cycles of ewes were synchronized with progestagen sponges. The animals were killed 36 h (before the preovulatory surge, n=4), 48 h (during the preovulatory surge, n=4), 72 h (during the second surge of FSH, n=6) and 192 h (during the luteal phase, n=4) after sponge removal. Using Northern blots, we have shown that the levels of ALK2, ALK4 and ActRIIB mRNA were significantly higher before the preovulatory surge and during the secondary surge of FSH as compared with both during the preovulatory surge and the luteal phase, whereas the level of the ActRIIA mRNA was similar throughout the oestrous cycle. Using Western blots we have also demonstrated that the level of phospho-Smad2 did not vary during the reproductive cycle. Inhibin binding protein (InhBP/p120) and the transforming growth factor-beta type III receptor, betaglycan, have been identified as putative inhibin co-receptors. In this study, we cloned a fragment of both InhBP/p120 and betaglycan cDNAs in the ewe and showed by Northern blot that pituitary betaglycan and InhBP/p120 mRNA levels did not fluctuate across the oestrous cycle nor did they correlate with serum FSH levels.

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A. DUPONT, A. J. KASTIN, F. LABRIE, G. PELLETIER, R. PUVIANI and A. V. SCHALLY

SUMMARY

The distribution of radioactivity after intrajugular injection of 125Ilabelled α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) was studied by whole-body autoradiography of the mouse and by direct measurement of radioactivity in individual organs of the rat. Very high uptake of radioactivity in the pineal gland was measured 5 min after the injection of [125I]α-MSH. Lower levels of accumulation of radioactivity were found in the kidney and in the posterior (including intermediate) lobe of the pituitary. High uptake was also found in the thyroid, stomach, and oesophagus. The specificity of uptake of [125I] α-MSH into the pineal and pituitary is suggested by the very low uptake of Na125I into those tissues.

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S Elis, J Dupont, I Couty, L Persani, M Govoroun, E Blesbois, F Batellier and P Monget

The bone morphogenetic protein 15 (Bmp15) and growth differentiation factor 9 (Gdf9) genes are two members of the transforming growth factor-β superfamily. In mammals, these genes are known to be specifically expressed in oocytes and to be essential for female fertility. However, potential ovarian roles of BMPs remain unexplored in birds. The aim of the present work was to study for the first time the expression of Bmp15 in the hen ovary, to compare its expression pattern with that of Gdf9, and then to investigate the effects of BMP15 on granulosa cell (GC) proliferation and steroidogenesis. We found that chicken Bmp15 and Gdf9 genes were preferentially expressed in the ovary. We showed using in situ hybridization that Bmp15 and Gdf9 mRNAs were specifically localized in oocytes of all ovarian follicles examined. We also demonstrated using real-time quantitative RT-PCR that Bmp15 and Gdf9 expression was maintained during hierarchical follicular maturation in the gerrminal disc region and then progressively declined after ovulation. BMP15 was able to activate Smad1 (mothers against decapentaplegichomolog1) signaling pathway in hen GCs. Moreover, we showed a strong inhibitory effect of BMP15 on gonadotropin-induced progesterone production in hen GCs. This inhibitory effect was associated with a decrease in steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (STAR) level. Taken together, our results suggest that BMP15 may have a key role in the female fertility of birds.

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P Froment, F Gizard, D Defever, B Staels, J Dupont and P Monget

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARα, PPARβ/δ and PPARγ) are a family of nuclear receptors that are activated by binding of natural ligands, such as polyunsaturated fatty acids or by synthetic ligands. Synthetic molecules of the glitazone family, which bind to PPARγ, are currently used to treat type II diabetes and also to attenuate the secondary clinical symptoms frequently associated with insulin resistance, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PPARs are expressed in different compartments of the reproductive system (hypothalamus, pituitary, ovary, uterus and testis). Conservative functions of PPARs in mammalian species could be suggested through several in vivo and in vitro studies, especially in the ovary and during placental development. Several groups have described a strong expression of PPARγ in ovarian granulosa cells, and glitazones modulate granulosa cell proliferation and steroidogenesis in vitro. All these recent data raise new questions about the biologic actions of PPARs in reproduction and their use in therapeutic treatments of fertility troubles such as PCOS or endometriosis. In this review, we first describe the roles of PPARs in different compartments of the reproductive axis (from male and female gametogenesis to parturition), with a focus on PPARγ. Secondly, we discuss the possible molecular mechanisms underlying the effect of glitazones on PCOS. Like other ‘insulin sensitizer’ molecules, such as metformin, glitazones may in fact act directly on ovarian cells. Finally, we discuss the eventual actions of PPARs as mediators of environmental toxic substances for reproductive function.

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A. DUPONT, F. LABRIE, G. PELLETIER, R. PUVIANI, D. H. COY, A. V. SCHALLY and A. J. KASTIN

SUMMARY

The distribution of radioactivity after intrajugular injection of l-[3H]prolyl-l-leucyl-glycinamide has been studied by whole-body autoradiography in the mouse and by direct measurement of radioactivity in individual organs of the rat. There is good agreement between results obtained with the two techniques and animal species. High levels of radioactivity were found in the pineal gland, anterior pituitary, posterior (including intermediate) lobe of the pituitary, and epididymal and brown fat. Lower uptake of radioactivity occurred in the submaxillary gland, kidney, and adrenal gland. The preferential uptake of radioactivity by the pineal gland after injection of the labelled tripeptide suggests a role for this hypothalamic hormone in the control of pineal activity.

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Joëlle Dupont, Sophie Tesseraud, Michel Derouet, Anne Collin, Nicole Rideau, Sabine Crochet, Estelle Godet, Estelle Cailleau-Audouin, Sonia Métayer-Coustard, Michel J Duclos, Christian Gespach, Tom E Porter, Larry A Cogburn and Jean Simon

In order to evaluate the role of insulin in chicken, an insulin immuno-neutralization was performed. Fed chickens received 1 or 3 i.v. injections of anti-insulin serum (2-h intervals), while fed or fasted controls received normal serum. Measurements included insulin signaling cascade (at 1 h in liver and muscle), metabolic or endocrine plasma parameters (at 1 and 5 h), and qRT-PCR analysis (at 5 h) of 23 genes involved in endocrine regulation, metabolisms, and transcription. Most plasma parameters and food intake were altered by insulin privation as early as 1 h and largely at 5 h. The initial steps of insulin signaling pathways including insulin receptor (IR), IR substrate-1 (IRS-1), and Src homology collagen and downstream elements: phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), Akt, GSK3, ERK2, and S6 ribosomal protein) were accordingly turned off in the liver. In the muscle, IR, IRS-1 tyrosine phosphorylation, and PI3K activity remained unchanged, whereas several subsequent steps were altered by insulin privation. In both tissues, AMPK was not altered. In the liver, insulin privation decreased Egr1, PPARγ, SREBP1, THRSPα (spot14), D2-deiodinase, glucokinase (GK), and fatty acid synthase (whereas D3-deiodinase and IGF-binding protein1 transcripts were up-regulated. Liver SREBP1 and GK and plasma IGFBP1 proteins were accordingly down- and up-regulated. In the muscle, PPARβδ and atrogin-1 mRNA increased and Egr1 mRNA decreased. Changes in messengers were partly mimicked by fasting. Thus, insulin signaling in muscle is peculiar in chicken and is strictly dependent on insulin in fed status. The ‘diabetic’ status induced by insulin immuno-neutralization is accompanied by impairments of glucagon secretion, thyroid axis, and expression of several genes involved in regulatory pathways or metabolisms, evidencing pleiotropic effects of insulin in fed chicken.