The obese gene product, leptin, plays a central role in food intake and energy metabolism. The physiological roles of leptin in human bodily function have been broadened over the past decade since leptin was first discovered in 1994. Evidence has suggested that leptin plays a specific role in the intricate cascade of cardiovascular events, in addition to its well-established metabolic effects. Leptin, a hormone linking adiposity and central nervous circuits to reduce appetite and enhance energy expenditure, has been shown to increase overall sympathetic nerve activity, facilitate glucose utilization and improve insulin sensitivity. In addition, leptin is capable of regulating cardiac and vascular contractility through a local nitric oxide-dependent mechanism. However, elevated plasma leptin levels or hyperleptinemia, have been demonstrated to correlate with hyperphagia, insulin resistance and other markers of the metabolic syndrome including obesity, hyperlipidemia and hypertension, independent of total adiposity. Elevated plasma leptin levels may be an independent risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease. Although mechanisms leading to hyperleptinemia have not been well described, factors such as increased food intake and insulin resistance have been shown to rapidly enhance plasma leptin levels and subsequently tissue leptin resistance. These findings have prompted the speculation that leptin in the physiological range may serve as a physiological regulator of cardiovascular function whereas elevated plasma leptin levels may act as a pathophysiological trigger and/or marker for cardiovascular diseases due to tissue leptin resistance.
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PB Colligan, HM Brown-Borg, J Duan, BH Ren, and J Ren
Growth hormone (GH) plays a key role in cardiac growth and function. However, excessive levels of GH often result in cardiac dysfunction, which is the major cause of death in acromegalic patients. Transgenic mice with GH over-expression serve as useful models for acromegaly and exhibit impaired cardiac functions using echocardiography, similar to those of human acromegaly. However, the mechanism underscoring the impaired ventricular function has not been well defined. This study was designed to evaluate the cardiac excitation-contraction coupling in GH over-expressing transgenic mice at the single ventricular myocyte level. Myocytes were isolated from GH and age-matched wild-type mouse hearts. Mechanical properties were evaluated using an IonOptix MyoCam system. The contractile properties analyzed included peak shortening (PS), time-to-peak shortening (TPS) and time-to-90% relengthening (TR(90)), and maximal velocities of shortening/relengthening (+/-dL/dt). Intracellular Ca2+ properties were evaluated by fura-2. GH transgenic mice exhibited significantly increased body weights and enlarged heart and myocyte size. Myocytes from GH transgenic mice displayed significantly enhanced PS and+/-dL/dt associated with similar TPS and TR(90) compared with the wild-type littermates. Myocytes from GH transgenic mice displayed a similar resting intracellular Ca2+ level and Ca2+ removal rate but exhibited an elevated peak intracellular Ca2+ level compared with the wild-type group. Myocytes from both groups were equally responsive to increases in extracellular Ca2+ concentration and stimulating frequency. These results suggest that GH over-expression is associated with enhanced contractile function in isolated myocytes and that the impaired cardiac function observed in whole hearts may not be due to defects at the myocyte level.
Y Ren, J Chien, YP Sun, and GV Shah
Previous studies from this laboratory have shown that salmon (S) calcitonin (CT)-like immunoreactive peptide (CTI) is synthesized and secreted by the anterior pituitary (AP) gland. These studies also co-localized CTI to gonadotropes, and demonstrated that SCT is a potent inhibitor of lactotrope function. However, the molecular structure of putative gonadotrope-derived CTI that inhibits lactotrope function has not been defined. The present studies cloned CT cDNA (pit-CT cDNA) from a mouse gonadotrope L beta T2 cell line using RT-PCR and rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) techniques. Alignment of nucleotide sequences of pit-CT and mouse CT revealed greater than 99% homology between the sequences. The pit-CT cDNA was ligated into a mammalian expression vector, and the construct was transfected into L beta T2 cells. Two stable transfectant cell lines (CT.U6/A and B) were obtained by selection in G418. Subsequent S1-nuclease protection assay and immunocytochemistry results have shown that: (1) pit-CT peptide expressed by CT.U6 cell lines immunoreacted with GCT1-anti-SCT serum; (2) secretions of CT.U6 cells inhibited prolactin (PRL) release, PRL mRNA abundance and DNA synthesis of PRL-secreting GGH3 cells; and (3) CT.U6-induced inhibition was abolished by GCT1-anti-SCT serum. The studies also generated a riboprobe from the cloned pit-CT cDNA, and localized CT mRNA expression in gonadotropes of rat AP gland by in situ hybridization histochemistry. These results demonstrate that pit-CT mRNA is closely homologous to mouse CT mRNA; it is expressed by gonadotropes of the rat AP gland, and the peptide may significantly affect lactotrope function by inhibiting PRL release and cell proliferation.
FL Norby, Aberle NS 2nd, J Kajstura, P Anversa, and J Ren
Diabetic cardiomyopathy is characterized by cardiac dysfunction and altered level/function of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I). Both endogenous and exogenous IGF-I have been shown to effectively alleviate diabetes-induced cardiac dysfunction and oxidative stress. This study was designed to examine the effect of cardiac overexpression of IGF-I on streptozotocin (STZ)-induced cardiac contractile dysfunction in mouse myocytes. Both IGF-I heterozygous transgenic mice and their wild-type FVB littermates were made diabetic with a single injection of STZ (200 mg/kg, i.p.) and maintained for 2 weeks. The following mechanical indices were evaluated in ventricular myocytes: peak shortening (PS), time-to-PS (TPS), time-to-90% relengthening (TR90) and maximal velocity of shortening/relengthening (+/- dL/dt). Intracellular Ca2+ was evaluated as resting and peak intracellular Ca2+ levels, Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release and intracellular Ca2+ decay rate (tau). STZ led to hyperglycemia in FVB and IGF-I mice. STZ treatment prolonged TPS and TR90, reduced Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release, increased resting intracellular Ca2+ levels and slowed tau associated with normal PS and +/- dL/dt. All of which, except the elevated resting intracellular Ca2+, were prevented by the IGF-I transgene. In addition, myocytes from STZ-treated FVB mice displayed an attenuated contractile response to the beta-adrenergic agonist isoproterenol, which was restored by the IGF-I transgene. Contractile response to the alpha-adrenergic agonist phenylephrine and angiotensin II was not affected by either STZ treatment or IGF-I. These results validate the beneficial role of IGF-I in diabetic cardiomyopathy, possibly due to an improved beta-adrenergic response.
M Fraenkel, J Caloyeras, S-G Ren, and S Melmed
Male mice that are pttg-null develop sexually dimorphic diabetes with hypoinsulinemia secondary to reduced post-natal -cell proliferation and an inability to expand islet cell mass with aging. We therefore examined the effects of sex-steroid manipulation on diabetes development in pttg −/− male mice. Surgical gonadectomy was followed by implantation of 90-day slow-release pellets releasing 17β-estradiol (0.36 mg/pellet), placebo or dihydrotestosterone (DHT; 12.5 mg/pellet). Mean fasting blood sugars at the end of the study were 414 ± 54 mg/dl for pttg −/− controls and 371 ± 14 mg/dl for pttg −/− mice gonad-ectomized and treated with DHT compared with 124 ± 40 and 85 ± 12 mg/dl in gonadectomized pttg −/− males treated with placebo or estradiol, respectively (P < 0.01 compared with control pttg −/−). Gonadectomy with and without estradiol treatment did not increase the very low circulating insulin levels in pttg-null males (fasting insulin 0.44 ± 0.04 ng/ml in pttg −/− controls, 0.47 ± 0.07 and 0.4 ng/ml in pttg −/− gonadectomized males treated with placebo or estradiol, respectively). Gonadectomy increased serum adiponectin levels (4.9 ± 008 μg/ml in pttg −/− controls versus 13 ± 0.08 and 7.5 ± 0.6 μg/ml in pttg −/− gonadectomized males treated with placebo or estradiol, respectively; P < 0.001 and P < 0.05), accompanied by increased insulin sensitivity. The results show that gonadectomy delayed, and gonadectomy with additional estradiol treatment prevented, diabetes development in pttg −/− males, possibly through increased insulin sensitivity mediated by elevated serum adiponectin levels. Male-selective effects of disrupted β-cell proliferation in the absence of pttg are restored by sex-steroid effects on peripheral insulin sensitivity.
MQ Ren, G Kuhn, J Wegner, G Nurnberg, J Chen, and K Ender
The present study was undertaken to determine the tissue-specific expression of estrogen receptor beta (ERbeta), and the effects of a daidzein supplement to the diet of pregnant sows on the expression of ERbeta, and type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-1R) genes in newborn piglets by using semi-quantitative RT-PCR. Eight sows received a dietary supplement of daidzein at a dosage of 8 mg per kg feed from day 85 of gestation, and six sows were used as controls. After parturition, 2 male neonatal piglets were selected from each litter for sampling. ERbeta mRNA was detected in intestine, lung, thymus, kidney, pituitary and hypothalamus tissues, but not in heart, adrenal, skeletal muscle, liver or placental tissues. Daidzein treatment significantly increased the birth weight of male piglets and markedly reduced the level of ERbeta mRNA in the hypothalamus, but not in the pituitary. An up-regulation of IGF-1R gene transcription was observed in skeletal muscles of newborn piglets. In addition, the IGF-1R mRNA was found to be most abundant in pituitary and hypothalamus, followed by skeletal muscle, thymus, and liver tissues in decreasing order. Our results demonstrate that (1) ERbeta is expressed in a tissue-specific manner in newborn piglets, (2) daidzein down-regulates ERbeta gene expression in the hypothalamus, possibly indicating central effects of daidzein, and (3) daidzein influences fetal growth associated with higher IGF-IR gene expression in skeletal muscle.
Beata Bak, Laura Carpio, Jinjing L Kipp, Pankaj Lamba, Ying Wang, Ren-Shan Ge, Matthew P Hardy, Kelly E Mayo, and Daniel J Bernard
Activins are pleiotropic members of the TGFβ superfamily and were initially characterized based on their abilities to stimulate FSH synthesis and secretion by gonadotrope cells of the anterior pituitary gland. Here, we identified the gene encoding the steroidogenic enzyme, 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type I (17β-HSD1; Hsd17b1), as an activin-responsive gene in immortalized gonadotrope cells, LβT2. 17β-HSD1 catalyzes the conversion of estrone to the more active 17β-estradiol, and activin A stimulated an increase in this enzymatic activity in these cells. We demonstrated that activins signaled via the type I receptor, activin receptor-like kinase (ALK4), and the intracellular signaling protein, SMAD2, to regulate Hsd17b1 transcription in immediate-early fashion. Critical cis-elements, including a minimal SMAD-binding element, were mapped to within 100 bp of the start of transcription. Activin/ALK4 signaling also regulated Hsd17b1 transcription in both immortalized and primary cultured murine granulosa cells. The promoter regions mediating basal and activin/ALK4-regulated promoter activity were generally conserved across the different cell types. The data show that activin A rapidly regulates Hsd17b1 transcription in gonadotrope and granulosa cells and may thereby regulate local 17β-estradiol synthesis.
F Dong, X Zhang, X Yang, L B Esberg, H Yang, Z Zhang, B Culver, and J Ren
The level of the obese gene product leptin is often positively correlated with body weight, supporting the notion that hyperleptinemia contributes to obesity-associated cardiac dysfunction. However, a link between leptin levels and cardiac function has not been elucidated. This study was designed to examine the role of leptin deficiency (resulting from a point mutation of the leptin gene) in cardiomyocyte contractile function. Mechanical properties and intracellular Ca2 + transients were evaluated in ventricular myocytes from lean control and leptin-deficient ob/ob obese mice at 12 weeks of age. Cardiac ultrastructure was evaluated using transmission electron microscopy. ob/ob mice were overtly obese, hyperinsulinemic, hypertriglycemic, hypoleptinemic and euglycemic. Ultrastructural examination revealed swelling and disorganization of cristae in mitochondria from ob/ob mouse ventricular tissues. Cardiomyocytes from ob/ob mice displayed reduced expression of the leptin receptor Ob-R, larger cross-sectional area, decreased peak shortening and maximal velocity of shortening/relengthening, and prolonged relengthening but not shortening duration compared with lean counterparts. Consistent with mechanical characteristics, myocytes from ob/ob mice displayed reduced intracellular Ca2 + release upon electrical stimulus associated with a slowed intracellular Ca2 + decay rate. Interestingly, the contractile aberrations seen in ob/ob myocytes were significantly improved by in vitro leptin incubation. Contractile dysfunction was not seen in age- and gender-matched high fat-induced obese mice. These results suggested that leptin deficiency contributes to cardiac contractile dysfunction characterized by both systolic and diastolic dysfunction, impaired intracellular Ca2 + hemostasis and ultrastructural derangement in ventricular myocytes.
C Y Shan, J H Yang, Y Kong, X Y Wang, M Y Zheng, Y G Xu, Y Wang, H Z Ren, B C Chang, and L M Chen
For centuries, Berberine has been used in the treatment of enteritis in China, and it is also known to have anti-hyperglycemic effects in type 2 diabetic patients. However, as Berberine is insoluble and rarely absorbed in gastrointestinal tract, the mechanism by which it works is unclear. We hypothesized that it may act locally by ameliorating intestinal barrier abnormalities and endotoxemia. A high-fat diet combined with low-dose streptozotocin was used to induce type 2 diabetes in male Sprague Dawley rats. Berberine (100 mg/kg) was administered by lavage to diabetic rats for 2 weeks and saline was given to controls. Hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance improved in the Berberine group, although there was no significant decrease in blood glucose. Berberine treatment also led to a notable restoration of intestinal villi/mucosa structure and less infiltration of inflammatory cells, along with a decrease in plasma lipopolysaccharide (LPS) level. Tight junction protein zonula occludens 1 (ZO1) was also decreased in diabetic rats but was restored by Berberine treatment. Glutamine-induced glucagon-like peptide 2 (GLP2) secretion from ileal tissue decreased dramatically in the diabetic group but was restored by Berberine treatment. Fasting insulin, insulin resistance index, plasma LPS level, and ZO1 expression were significantly correlated with GLP2 level. In type 2 diabetic rats, Berberine treatment not only augments GLP2 secretion and improves diabetes but is also effective in repairing the damaged intestinal mucosa, restoring intestinal permeability, and improving endotoxemia. Whether these effects are mechanistically related will require further studies, but they certainly support the hypothesis that Berberine acts via modulation of intestinal function.