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Michelle M Chen, Clarence Hale, Shanaka Stanislaus, Jing Xu, and Murielle M Véniant

Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is a potent regulator of glucose and lipid homeostasis in vivo; its most closely related subfamily member, FGF19, is known to be a critical negative regulator of bile acid synthesis. To delineate whether FGF21 also plays a functional role in bile acid metabolism, we evaluated the effects of short- and long-term exposure to native FGF21 and long-acting FGF21 analogs on hepatic signal transduction, gene expression and enterohepatic bile acid levels in primary hepatocytes and in rodent and monkey models. FGF21 acutely induced ERK phosphorylation and inhibited Cyp7A1 mRNA expression in primary hepatocytes and in different rodent models, although less potently than recombinant human FGF19. Long-term administration of FGF21 in mice fed a standard chow diet resulted in a 50–60% decrease in bile acid levels in the liver and small intestines and consequently a 60% reduction of bile acid pool size. In parallel, colonic and fecal bile acid was decreased, whereas fecal cholesterol and fatty acid excretions were elevated. The long-acting FGF21 analog showed superiority to recombinant human FGF21 and FGF19 in decreasing bile acid levels with long duration of effect action in mice. Long-term administration of the long-acting FGF21 analogs in obese cynomolgus monkeys suppressed plasma total bile acid and 7α-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one levels, a biomarker for bile acid synthesis. Collectively, these data reveal a previously unidentified role of FGF21 in bile acid metabolism as a negative regulator of bile acid synthesis.

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Xin-gang Yao, Xin Xu, Gai-hong Wang, Min Lei, Ling-ling Quan, Yan-hua Cheng, Ping Wan, Jin-pei Zhou, Jing Chen, Li-hong Hu, and Xu Shen

Impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) and increasing β-cell death are two typical dysfunctions of pancreatic β-cells in individuals that are destined to develop type 2 diabetes, and improvement of β-cell function through GSIS enhancement and/or inhibition of β-cell death is a promising strategy for anti-diabetic therapy. In this study, we discovered that the small molecule, N-(2-benzoylphenyl)-5-bromo-2-thiophenecarboxamide (BBT), was effective in both potentiating GSIS and protecting β-cells from cytokine- or streptozotocin (STZ)-induced cell death. Results of further studies revealed that cAMP/PKA and long-lasting (L-type) voltage-dependent Ca2 + channel/CaMK2 pathways were involved in the action of BBT against GSIS, and that the cAMP/PKA pathway was essential for the protective action of BBT on β-cells. An assay using the model of type 2 diabetic mice induced by high-fat diet combined with STZ (STZ/HFD) demonstrated that BBT administration efficiently restored β-cell functions as indicated by the increased plasma insulin level and decrease in the β-cell loss induced by STZ/HFD. Moreover, the results indicated that BBT treatment decreased fasting blood glucose and HbA1c and improved oral glucose tolerance further highlighting the potential of BBT in anti-hyperglycemia research.

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Pauline C Xu, Yi Luan, Seok-Yeong Yu, Jing Xu, Donald W Coulter, and So-Youn Kim

Immunotherapy has emerged at the forefront of cancer treatment. Checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA), a chimeric antibody which targets programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1), has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in pediatric patients with relapsed or refractory classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma. However, there is currently no published data regarding the effects of pembrolizumab on the ovary of female pediatric patients. In this study, prepubertal immunocompetent and immunodeficient female mice were injected with pembrolizumab or anti-mouse PD-1 antibody. The number of primordial follicles significantly decreased post-injection of both pembrolizumab and anti-mouse PD-1 antibody in immunocompetent mice. However, no changes in follicle numbers were observed in immunodeficient nude mice. Superovulation test and vaginal opening experiments suggest that there is no difference in the number of cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) and the timing of puberty onset between the control and anti-mouse PD-1 antibody treatment groups, indicating that there is no effect on short-term fertility. Elevation of pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-α following COX-2 upregulation was observed in the ovary. CD3+ T-cell infiltration was detected within some ovarian follicles and between stromal cells of the ovaries in mice following treatment with anti-mouse PD-1 antibody. Thus, PD-1 immune checkpoint blockade affects the ovarian reserve through a mechanism possibly involving inflammation following CD3+ T-cell infiltration.

Free access

Junhong Chen, Jing Sun, Michelle E Doscas, Jin Ye, Ashley J Williamson, Yanchun Li, Yi Li, Richard A Prinz, and Xiulong Xu

p70 S6 kinase (S6K1) is a serine/threonine kinase that phosphorylates the insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) at serine 1101 and desensitizes insulin receptor signaling. S6K1 hyperactivation due to overnutrition leads to hyperglycemia and type 2 diabetes. Our recent study showed that A77 1726, the active metabolite of the anti-rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drug leflunomide, is an inhibitor of S6K1. Whether leflunomide can control hyperglycemia and sensitize the insulin receptor has not been tested. Here we report that A77 1726 increased AKTS473/T308 and S6K1T389 phosphorylation but decreased S6S235/236 and IRS-1S1101 phosphorylation in 3T3-L1 adipocytes, C2C12 and L6 myotubes. A77 1726 increased insulin receptor tyrosine phosphorylation and binding of the p85 subunit of the PI-3 kinase to IRS-1. A77 1726 enhanced insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in L6 myotubes and 3T3-L1 adipocytes, and enhanced insulin-stimulated glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT4) translocation to the plasma membrane of L6 cells. Finally, we investigated the anti-hyperglycemic effect of leflunomide on ob/ob and high-fat diet (HFD)-induced diabetes mouse models. Leflunomide treatment normalized blood glucose levels and overcame insulin resistance in glucose and insulin tolerance tests in ob/ob and HFD-fed mice but had no effect on mice fed a normal chow diet (NCD). Leflunomide treatment increased AKTS473/T308 phosphorylation in the fat and muscle of ob/ob mice but not in normal mice. Our results suggest that leflunomide sensitizes the insulin receptor by inhibiting S6K1 activity in vitro, and that leflunomide could be potentially useful for treating patients with both RA and diabetes.

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Te Du, Liu Yang, Xu Xu, Xiaofan Shi, Xin Xu, Jian Lu, Jianlu Lv, Xi Huang, Jing Chen, Heyao Wang, Jiming Ye, Lihong Hu, and Xu Shen

Vincamine, a monoterpenoid indole alkaloid extracted from the Madagascar periwinkle, is clinically used for the treatment of cardio-cerebrovascular diseases, while also treated as a dietary supplement with nootropic function. Given the neuronal protection of vincamine and the potency of β-cell amelioration in treating type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), we investigated the potential of vincamine in protecting β-cells and ameliorating glucose homeostasis in vitro and in vivo. Interestingly, we found that vincamine could protect INS-832/13 cells function by regulating G-protein-coupled receptor 40 (GPR40)/cAMP/Ca2+/IRS2/PI3K/Akt signaling pathway, while increasing glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) by modulating GPR40/cAMP/Ca2+/CaMKII pathway, which reveals a novel mechanism underlying GPR40-mediated cell protection and GSIS in INS-832/13 cells. Moreover, administration of vincamine effectively ameliorated glucose homeostasis in either HFD/STZ or db/db type 2 diabetic mice. To our knowledge, our current work might be the first report on vincamine targeting GPR40 and its potential in the treatment of T2DM.

Free access

Yuan Ni, Dan Xu, Feng Lv, Yang Wan, Guanlan Fan, Wen Zou, Yunxi Chen, Linguo Pei, Jing Yang, and Hui Wang

Prenatal ethanol exposure (PEE) adversely affects the offspring reproductive system. We aimed to confirm the susceptibility to premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) in female PEE offspring and elucidate its intrauterine programming mechanism. The pregnant Wistar female rats were intragastrically administered with 4 g/kg × day of ethanol from gestational day (GD) 9 to 20. Offspring reproductive parameters were detected on GD20, postnatal week (PW) 6 and PW12. The PEE foetuses showed a decreased number of oocytes, increased ovarian cell apoptosis and upregulated expression levels of ovarian insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) signalling pathway and steroidogenic enzymes. The proportion of atretic follicles in adult rats was increased, while the number of anti-Müllerian hormone-positive antral follicles was decreased. The serum oestradiol (E2) levels were decreased, but the follicle stimulation hormone levels were elevated. The ovarian Igf1 signalling pathway was transformed from activation during puberty to relative inhibition in adulthood, and the expression levels of ovarian steroidogenic enzymes were inhibited in adulthood. Furthermore, we treated the human granulosa cell line KGN with different ethanol concentrations (15, 30, 60, 120 mM) and found that the expression of IGF1 signalling pathway components, 3β-HSD and P450arom, as well as the production of E2, was increased. After IGF1 siRNA transfection, P450arom expression and E2 production were downregulated. These results suggest that PEE induces POI susceptibility in adult females, which may be caused by over-activation of the foetal ovarian Igf1 signalling pathway and steroidogenesis under PEE, resulting in accelerated early development of folliculogenesis and depletion of primordial follicles.