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Parveen Abidi, Haiyan Zhang, Syed M Zaidi, Wen-Jun Shen, Susan Leers-Sucheta, Yuan Cortez, Jiahuai Han and Salman Azhar

Previous studies from this laboratory identified excessive oxidative stress as an important mediator of age-related decline in steroid hormone production. Here, we investigated whether oxidative stress exerts its antisteroidogenic action through modulation of oxidant-sensitive mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways. To accomplish these studies, we employed a highly responsive mouse adrenocortical cell line, Y1-BS1 cells that secrete large quantities of steroids when stimulated with lipoprotein plus hormone. Treatment of these cells with superoxide, H2O2 or 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE) significantly inhibited steroid production and increased phosphorylation and activation of p38 MAPK. None of the treatments altered the phosphorylation of either extracellular signal-regulated kinases or c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs). Pretreatment of Y1-BS1 cells with MnTMPyP, a cell-permeable superoxide-dismutase/catalase mimetic reactive oxygen species (ROS scavenger), completely prevented the superoxide- and H2O2-mediated inhibition of steroid production. Likewise, antioxidant N-acetylcysteine completely blocked the HNE-induced loss of steroidogenic response. Incubation of Y1-BS1 cells with either MnTMPyP or NAC also upregulated Bt2cAMP and Bt2cAMP+hHDL3-stimulated steroid synthesis, indicating that endogenously produced ROS can inhibit steroidogenesis. Inhibition of p38 MAPK with SB203580 or SB202190 upregulated the basal steroid production and also prevented the oxidant-mediated inhibition of steroid production. mRNA measurements by qPCR indicated that Y1-BS1 adrenal cells predominantly express p38 MAPKα isoform, along with relatively low-level expression of p38 MAPKγ. By contrast, little or no expression was detected for p38 MAPKβ and p38 MAPKδ isoforms in these cells. Transfection of Y1-BS1 cells with either caMKK3 or caMMK6 construct, the upstream p38 MAPK activators, decreased steroidogenesis, whereas transfection with dnMKK3 or dnMKK6 plasmid DNA increased steroidogenesis. Similarly, transfection of cells with a dnp38 MAPKα or dnp38 MAPKβ construct also increased steroid hormone production; however, the effect was less pronounced after expression of either dnp38 MAPKγ or dnp38 MAPKδ construct. These results indicate that activated p38 MAPK mediates oxidant (excessive oxidative stress)-induced inhibition of adrenal steroidogenesis.

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Hong-Hui Wang, Qian Cui, Teng Zhang, Lei Guo, Ming-Zhe Dong, Yi Hou, Zhen-Bo Wang, Wei Shen, Jun-Yu Ma and Qing-Yuan Sun

As a fat storage organ, adipose tissue is distributed widely all over the body and is important for energy supply, body temperature maintenance, organ protection, immune regulation and so on. In humans, both underweight and overweight women find it hard to become pregnant, which suggests that appropriate fat storage can guarantee the female reproductive capacity. In fact, a large mass of adipose tissue distributes around the reproductive system both in the male and female. However, the functions of ovary fat pad (the nearest adipose tissue to ovary) are not known. In our study, we found that the ovary fat pad-removed female mice showed decreased fertility and less ovulated mature eggs. We further identified that only a small proportion of follicles developed to antral follicle, and many follicles were blocked at the secondary follicle stage. The overall secretion levels of estrogen and FSH were lower in the whole estrus cycle (especially at proestrus); however, the LH level was higher in ovary fat pad-removed mice than that in control groups. Moreover, the estrus cycle of ovary fat pad-removed mice showed significant disorder. Besides, the expression of FSH receptor decreased, but the LH receptor increased in ovary fat pad-removed mice. These results suggest that ovary fat pad is important for mouse reproduction.

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Chunxia Yu, Sujuan Liu, Liqin Chen, Jun Shen, Yanmei Niu, Tianyi Wang, Wanqi Zhang and Li Fu

The composition and activity of the gut microbiota depend on the host genome, nutrition, and lifestyle. Exercise and sodium butyrate (NaB) exert metabolic benefits in both mice and humans. However, the underlying mechanisms have not been fully elucidated. This study aimed to examine the effect of exercise training and dietary supplementation of butyrate on the composition of gut microbiota and whether the altered gut microbiota can stimulate differential production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which promote the expression of SESN2 and CRTC2 to improve metabolic health and protect against obesity. C57BL/6J mice were used to study the effect of exercise and high-fat diet (HFD) with or without NaB on gut microbiota. Bacterial communities were assayed in fecal samples using pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons. Western blot was performed using relevant antibodies to detect the protein expressions in liver and HepG2 cell extracts. Exercise and butyrate administration significantly reversed metabolic dysfunctions induced by HFD (P < 0.05). The number of Firmicutes and the proportion of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes order were predominant in all HFD groups (P = 0.001). Exercise and butyrate supplementation significantly inhibited the relative abundance of lipopolysaccharide-producing phyla (P = 0.001). SESN2 and CRTC2 expression in the liver of mice were significantly increased after exercise (P < 0.05) and/or supplementation of butyrate (P < 0.05). Exercise enhances butyrate-producing fecal bacteria and increases butyrate production and consequently improves lipid metabolism through the butyrate-SESN2/CRTC2 pathway. Excess butyrate may reduce the proportion of probiotics and reverse the metabolic effects.