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Caiyun Sun, Da Duan, Bo Li, Chaobin Qin, Jirong Jia, Bin Wang, Haiyan Dong, and Wensheng Li

Urotensin II (UII) is a cyclic peptide that was originally extracted from the caudal neurosecretory system (CNSS) of fish. UII is well known to exhibit cardiovascular, ventilatory, and motor effects in vertebrates. Studies have reported that UII exerts mitogenic effects and can act as an autocrine/paracrine growth factor in mammals. However, similar information in fish is limited. In this study, the full-length cDNAs of UII and its receptor (UT) were cloned and characterized in the orange-spotted grouper. UII and UT were expressed ubiquitously in various tissues in grouper, and particularly high levels were observed in the CNSS, CNS, and ovary. A functional study showed that UT was coupled with intracellular Ca2 + mobilization in HEK293 cells. Studies carried out using i.p. injections of UII in grouper showed the following: i) in the hypothalamus, UII can significantly stimulate the mRNA expression of ghrh and simultaneously inhibit the mRNA expression of somatostatin 1 (ss1) and ss2 3 h after injection; ii) in the pituitary, UII also significantly induced the mRNA expression of gh 6 and 12 h after injection; and iii) in the liver, the mRNA expression levels of ghr1/ghr2 and igf1/igf2 were markedly increased 12 and 3 h after the i.p. injection of UII respectively. These results collectively indicate that the UII/UT system may play a role in the promotion of the growth of the orange-spotted grouper.

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Jia Sun, Haiping Zhu, Xiaorong Wang, Qiuqi Gao, Zhuoying Li, and Huiya Huang

The molecular signaling mechanisms of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) in diabetic nephropathy (DN) remain poorly understood. We verified that mitochondrial abnormalities, like defective mitophagy, the generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mtROS) and the reduction of mitochondrial membrane potential, occurred in the glomerulus of db/db mice, accompanied by reduced PINK and parkin expression and increased apoptosis. These changes were partially reversed following oral administration of CoQ10. In inner fenestrated murine glomerular endothelial cells (mGECs), high glucose (HG) also resulted in deficient mitophagy, mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptosis, which were reversed by CoQ10. Mitophagy suppression mediated by Mdivi-1 or siPINK abrogated the renoprotective effects exerted by CoQ10, suggesting a beneficial role for CoQ10-restored mitophagy in DN. Mechanistically, CoQ10 restored the expression, activity and nuclear translocation of Nrf2 in HG-cultured mGECs. In addition, the reduced PINK and parkin expression observed in HG-cultured mGECs were partially elevated by CoQ10. CoQ10-mediated renoprotective effects were abrogated by the Nrf2 inhibitor ML385. When ML385 abolished mitophagy and the renoprotective effects exerted by CoQ10, mGECs could be rescued by treatment with mitoTEMPO, which is a mtROS-targeted antioxidant. These results suggest that CoQ10, as an effective antioxidant in mitochondria, exerts beneficial effects in DN via mitophagy by restoring Nrf2/ARE signaling. In summary, CoQ10-mediated mitophagy activation positively regulates DN through a mechanism involving mtROS, which influences the activation of the Nrf2/ARE pathway.

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Hao Wu, Junduo Wu, Shengzhu Zhou, Wenlin Huang, Ying Li, Huan Zhang, Junnan Wang, and Ye Jia

Endothelial dysfunction contributes to diabetic macrovascular complications. Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) protects against diabetic vasculopathy. SRT2104 is a novel SIRT1 activator and was not previously studied for its effects on diabetes-induced aortic endothelial dysfunction. Additionally, whether or to what extent deacetylation of P53, a substrate of SIRT1, is required for the effects of SIRT1 activation was unclear, given the fact that SIRT1 has multiple targets. Moreover, little was known about the pathogenic role of P53 in diabetes-induced aortic injury. To these ends, diabetes was induced by streptozotocin in C57BL/6 mice. The diabetic mice developed enhanced aortic contractility, oxidative stress, inflammation, P53 hyperacetylation and a remarkable decrease in SIRT1 protein, the effects of which were rescued by SRT2104. In HG-treated endothelial cells (ECs), P53 siRNA and SRT2104 produced similar effects on the induction of SIRT1 and the inhibition of P53 acetylation, oxidative stress and inflammation. Interestingly, SRT2104 failed to further enhance these effects in the presence of P53 siRNA. Moreover, P53 activation by nutlin3a completely abolished SRT2104’s protection against HG-induced oxidative stress and inflammation. Further, forced activation of P53 by nutlin3a increased aortic contractility in the healthy mice and generated endothelial oxidative stress and inflammation in both the normal glucose-cultured ECs and the aortas of the healthy mice. Collectively, the present study demonstrates that P53 deacetylation predominantly mediates SRT2104’s protection against diabetes-induced aortic endothelial dysfunction and highlights the pathogenic role of P53 in aortic endothelial dysfunction.

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Can Liu, Mian Zhang, Meng-yue Hu, Hai-fang Guo, Jia Li, Yun-li Yu, Shi Jin, Xin-ting Wang, Li Liu, and Xiao-dong Liu

Panax ginseng is one of the most popular herbal remedies. Ginsenosides, major bioactive constituents in P. ginseng, have shown good antidiabetic action, but the precise mechanism was not fully understood. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP1) is considered to be an important incretin that can regulate glucose homeostasis in the gastrointestinal tract after meals. The aim of this study was to investigate whether ginseng total saponins (GTS) exerts its antidiabetic effects via modulating GLP1 release. Ginsenoside Rb1 (Rb1), the most abundant constituent in GTS, was selected to further explore the underlying mechanisms in cultured NCI-H716 cells. Diabetic rats were developed by a combination of high-fat diet and low-dose streptozotocin injection. The diabetic rats orally received GTS (150 or 300 mg/kg) daily for 4 weeks. It was found that GTS treatment significantly ameliorated hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia, accompanied by a significant increase in glucose-induced GLP1 secretion and upregulation of proglucagon gene expression. Data from NCI-H716 cells showed that both GTS and Rb1 promoted GLP1 secretion. It was observed that Rb1 increased the ratio of intracellular ATP to ADP concentration and intracellular Ca2 + concentration. The metabolic inhibitor azide (3 mM), the KATP channel opener diazoxide (340 μM), and the Ca2 + channel blocker nifedipine (20 μM) significantly reversed Rb1-mediated GLP1 secretion. All these results drew a conclusion that ginsenosides stimulated GLP1 secretion both in vivo and in vitro. The antidiabetic effects of ginsenosides may be a result of enhanced GLP1 secretion.

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Wenpeng Dong, Ye Jia, Xiuxia Liu, Huan Zhang, Tie Li, Wenlin Huang, Xudong Chen, Fuchun Wang, Weixia Sun, and Hao Wu

Oxidative stress contributes to the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy (DN). Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) plays a key role in cellular defense against oxidative stress. NRF2 activators have shown promising preventive effects on DN. Sodium butyrate (NaB) is a known activator of NRF2. However, it is unknown whether NRF2 is required for NaB protection against DN. Therefore, streptozotocin-induced diabetic C57BL/6 Nrf2 knockout and their wild-type mice were treated in the presence or absence of NaB for 20 weeks. Diabetic mice, but not NaB-treated diabetic mice, developed significant renal oxidative damage, inflammation, apoptosis, fibrosis, pathological changes and albuminuria. NaB inhibited histone deacetylase (HDAC) activity and elevated the expression of Nrf2 and its downstream targets heme oxygenase 1 and NAD(P)H dehydrogenase quinone 1. Notably, deletion of the Nrf2 gene completely abolished NaB activation of NRF2 signaling and protection against diabetes-induced renal injury. Interestingly, the expression of Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1, the negative regulator of NRF2, was not altered by NaB under both diabetic and non-diabetic conditions. Moreover, NRF2 nuclear translocation was not promoted by NaB. Therefore, the present study indicates, for the first time, that NRF2 plays a key role in NaB protection against DN. Other findings suggest that NaB may activate Nrf2 at the transcriptional level, possibly by the inhibition of HDAC activity.

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Ida Alenkvist, Oleg Dyachok, Geng Tian, Jia Li, Saba Mehrabanfar, Yang Jin, Bryndis Birnir, Anders Tengholm, and Michael Welsh

The Src homology-2 domain containing protein B (SHB) has previously been shown to function as a pleiotropic adapter protein, conveying signals from receptor tyrosine kinases to intracellular signaling intermediates. The overexpression of Shb in β-cells promotes β-cell proliferation by increased insulin receptor substrate (IRS) and focal adhesion kinase (FAK) activity, whereas Shb deficiency causes moderate glucose intolerance and impaired first-peak insulin secretion. Using an array of techniques, including live-cell imaging, patch-clamping, immunoblotting, and semi-quantitative PCR, we presently investigated the causes of the abnormal insulin secretory characteristics in Shb-knockout mice. Shb-knockout islets displayed an abnormal signaling signature with increased activities of FAK, IRS, and AKT. β-catenin protein expression was elevated and it showed increased nuclear localization. However, there were no major alterations in the gene expression of various proteins involved in the β-cell secretory machinery. Nor was Shb deficiency associated with changes in glucose-induced ATP generation or cytoplasmic Ca2 + handling. In contrast, the glucose-induced rise in cAMP, known to be important for the insulin secretory response, was delayed in the Shb-knockout compared with WT control. Inhibition of FAK increased the submembrane cAMP concentration, implicating FAK activity in the regulation of insulin exocytosis. In conclusion, Shb deficiency causes a chronic increase in β-cell FAK activity that perturbs the normal insulin secretory characteristics of β-cells, suggesting multi-faceted effects of FAK on insulin secretion depending on the mechanism of FAK activation.

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Gen Chen, Xiangjuan Chen, Chao Niu, Xiaozhong Huang, Ning An, Jia Sun, Shuai Huang, Weijian Ye, Santie Li, Yingjie Shen, Jiaojiao Liang, Weitao Cong, and Litai Jin

Baicalin is the major component found in Scutellaria baicalensis root, a widely used herb in traditional Chinese medicine, which exhibits strong anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-tumor activities. The present work was devoted to elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the protective effects of Baicalin against diabetes-induced oxidative damage, inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. Diabetic mice, induced by streptozotocin (STZ), were treated with intraperitoneal Baicalin injections. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were cultured either in normal glucose (NG, 5.5 mM) or high glucose (HG, 33 mM) medium in the presence or absence of Baicalin for 72 h. We observed an obvious inhibition of hyperglycemia-triggered oxidative damage and inflammation in HUVECs and diabetic aortal vasculature by Baicalin, along with restoration of hyperglycemia-impaired nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) pathway activity. However, the protective effects of Baicalin almost completely abolished in HUVECs transduced with shRNA against Nrf2, but not with nonsense shRNA. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that HG decreased Akt and GSK3B phosphorylation, restrained nuclear export of Fyn and nuclear localization of Nrf2, blunted Nrf2 downstream target genes and subsequently induced oxidative stress in HUVECs. However, those destructive cascades were well prevented by Baicalin in HUVECs. Furthermore, LY294002 and ML385 (inhibitor of PI3K and Nrf2) attenuated Baicalin-mediated Nrf2 activation and the ability of facilitates angiogenesis in vivo and ex vivo. Taken together, the endothelial protective effect of Baicalin under hyperglycemia condition could be partly attributed to its role in downregulating reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inflammation via the Akt/GSK3B/Fyn-mediated Nrf2 activation.

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Qiaoli Cui, Yijing Liao, Yaojing Jiang, Xiaohang Huang, Weihong Tao, Quanquan Zhou, Anna Shao, Ying Zhao, Jia Li, Anran Ma, Zhihong Wang, Li Zhang, Zunyuan Yang, Yinan Liang, Minglin Wu, Zhenyan Yang, Wen Zeng, and Qinghua Wang

Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is an insulinotropic hormone and plays an important role in regulating glucose homeostasis. GLP-1 has a short half-life (t1/2<2 min) due to degrading enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase-IV and rapid kidney clearance, which limits its clinical application as a therapeutic reagent. We demonstrated recently that supaglutide, a novel GLP-1 mimetic generated by recombinant fusion protein techniques, exerted hypoglycemic and beta cell trophic effects in type 2 diabetes db/db mice. In the present study, we examined supaglutide’s therapeutic efficacy and pharmacokinetics in diabetic rhesus monkeys. We found that a single subcutaneous injection of supaglutide of tested doses transiently and significantly reduced blood glucose levels in a dose-dependent fashion in the diabetic monkeys. During a 4-weeks intervention period, treatment of supaglutide of weekly dosing dose-dependently decreased fasting and random blood glucose levels. This was associated with significantly declined plasma fructosamine levels. The repeated administration of supaglutide remarkably also decreased body weight in a dose-dependent fashion accompanied by decreased food intake. Intravenous glucose tolerance test results showed that supaglutide improved glucose tolerance. The intervention also showed enhanced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and improved lipid profile in diabetic rhesus monkeys. These results reveal that supaglutide exerts beneficial effects in regulating blood glucose and lipid homeostasis in diabetic rhesus monkeys.

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Yuehui Zhang, Min Hu, Wenyan Jia, Guoqi Liu, Jiao Zhang, Bing Wang, Juan Li, Peng Cui, Xin Li, Susanne Lager, Amanda Nancy Sferruzzi-Perri, Yanhua Han, Songjiang Liu, Xiaoke Wu, Mats Brännström, Linus R Shao, and Håkan Billig

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have hyperandrogenism and insulin resistance and a high risk of miscarriage during pregnancy. Similarly, in rats, maternal exposure to 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and insulin from gestational day 7.5 to 13.5 leads to hyperandrogenism and insulin resistance and subsequently increased fetal loss. A variety of hormonal and metabolic stimuli are able to trigger different types of regulated cell death under physiological and pathological conditions. These include ferroptosis, apoptosis and necroptosis. We hypothesized that, in rats, maternal hyperandrogenism and insulin-resistance-induced fetal loss is mediated, at least in part, by changes in the ferroptosis, apoptosis and necroptosis pathways in the gravid uterus and placenta. Compared with controls, we found that co-exposure to DHT and insulin led to decreased levels of glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) and glutathione, increased glutathione + glutathione disulfide and malondialdehyde, aberrant expression of ferroptosis-associated genes (Acsl4, Tfrc, Slc7a11, and Gclc), increased iron deposition and activated ERK/p38/JNK phosphorylation in the gravid uterus. In addition, we observed shrunken mitochondria with electron-dense cristae, which are key features of ferroptosis-related mitochondrial morphology, as well as increased expression of Dpp4, a mitochondria-encoded gene responsible for ferroptosis induction in the uteri of rats co-exposed to DHT and insulin. However, in the placenta, DHT and insulin exposure only partially altered the expression of ferroptosis-related markers (e.g. region-dependent GPX4, glutathione + glutathione disulfide, malondialdehyde, Gls2 and Slc7a11 mRNAs, and phosphorylated p38 levels). Moreover, we found decreased expression of Dpp4 mRNA and increased expression of Cisd1 mRNA in placentas of rats co-exposed to DHT and insulin. Further, DHT + insulin-exposed pregnant rats exhibited decreased apoptosis in the uterus and increased necroptosis in the placenta. Our findings suggest that maternal hyperandrogenism and insulin resistance causes the activation of ferroptosis in the gravid uterus and placenta, although this is mediated via different mechanisms operating at the molecular and cellular levels. Our data also suggest that apoptosis and necroptosis may play a role in coordinating or compensating for hyperandrogenism and insulin-resistance-induced ferroptosis when the gravid uterus and placenta are dysfunctional.