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SP Bidey, DJ Hill, and MC Eggo

By combining data from studies of multinodular non-toxic goitre (MNTG) with data from rat models of goitre induction and in vitro models, a map of the growth factors involved in goitrogenesis has been constructed. We have addressed the roles of the insulin-like growth factors, transforming growth factors, fibroblast growth factors, endothelins, etc. We hypothesise that an imbalance in the interactions between the various growth factor axes exists in MNTG which favours cell replication. Thyrotrophin, although not significantly elevated in MNTG, exerts critical effects through interactions with autocrine and paracrine factors and their receptors. Expansion of the thyroidal vascular bed through angiogenesis is closely co-ordinated with follicular cell expansion and folliculoneogenesis, and while the integrated paracrine actions of fibroblast growth factors, vascular endothelial growth factor and endothelin probably play central roles, additional, as yet elusive, factors are probably involved. The combination of in vitro and in vivo approaches, designed to address specific questions, will undoubtedly continue to prove invaluable in dissecting further the complex interactions that exist between these growth factors, their binding proteins and receptors in goitrogenesis.

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Y Qiu, MJ Langman, and MC Eggo

Epidemiological studies show a strong link between postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy and decreased incidence of colorectal cancer. The colon cancer cell line, COLO 205, develops sensitivity to 17beta-oestradiol (E(2)) in apoptosis assays with increasing passage number (>40), and we hypothesised that genes selectively regulated in multiply passaged cells were likely to be important in E(2)-related apoptosis. Gene array analysis was used to compare the patterns of genes up- or down-regulated in E(2)-sensitive and -insensitive cells. For some genes, changes in mRNA expression were confirmed by protein expression analyses. Changes found in response to E(2) in multiply passaged cells, but not minimally passaged cells, included induction of growth arrest and DNA damage-inducible protein 153 (GADD153), and repression of Kirsten-Ras 2B (K-Ras-2B), metastasis inhibition factor NM23 and vascular endothelial growth factor. A second group of genes was regulated with E(2) exposure in both cell types, and is unlikely to be critically involved in E(2)-associated apoptosis. These included up-regulation of butyrate response factor 1 (BRF1) and down-regulation of c-jun and the breast cancer associated ring domain gene known as BARD1. By comparing control arrays from the two cell populations, cAMP-response element-binding protein (CBP), which is associated with steroid receptor-dependent target gene transcription and the oncoprotein, tyrosine kinase-T3 (TRK-T3), were up-regulated whereas retinoic acid receptor alpha (RARalpha) was down-regulated in multiply passaged cells. This study provides evidence for selective regulation of genes in colon cancer cells by E(2), indicates which of those regulated are likely to be involved in induced apoptosis, and suggests genes likely to be responsible for facilitation.

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HH Zhang, S Kumar, AH Barnett, and MC Eggo

Adipocytes contain large lipid droplets in their cytoplasm. When cultured, they float on top of the medium, clump together, and do not gain equal and sufficient access to the medium. Morphological changes cannot be observed and the majority of adipocytes undergo cell lysis within 72 h of isolation. We have used a ceiling culture method for human mature adipocytes which uses their buoyant property to allow them to adhere to a floating glass surface, where they remain viable for several weeks. Using confocal immunofluorescence microscopy we showed the cellular expression and subcellular localization of leptin in ceiling-cultured adipocytes. The secretion of leptin was increased from ceiling cultures following tumour necrosis factor-alpha treatment. Proliferation of mature human adipocytes in serum-containing medium was demonstrated by incorporation of bromodeoxyuridine, 2% of adipocytes showing positive incorporation after 4 h labelling. Proliferation was also evident from the budding of daughter cells. Apoptosis in the ceiling cultures was increased by 48 h serum deprivation (30-35 vs 10-15% in the control) and was assayed by propidium iodide staining and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-fluorescein nick-end labelling. Lipolysis, analysed by liquid scintillation counting, was increased by forskolin (10 microM for 90 min) and lipogenesis, shown by autoradiography, was stimulated by insulin (10 and 100 nM for 4 h). These findings indicate that ceiling-cultured adipocytes maintain adipocyte-specific functions and that ceiling culture, which overcomes the shortcomings of adipocyte suspension culture, can be used to study adipocyte cell biology.

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Y Qiu, CE Waters, AE Lewis, MJ Langman, and MC Eggo

Epidemiological studies of postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy show a reduction in the risk of developing colon cancer, and animal studies using 17beta-oestradiol (E(2)) demonstrate a decreased incidence of chemically-induced colon cancer. Using the colon cancer cell line, COLO205, we found that E(2) induced a dose-dependent increase in DNA fragmentation and nuclear condensation, significant effects being seen at 10(-12 )mol/l. BSA-conjugated E(2), which cannot enter cells, was ineffective at inducing apoptosis in COLO205 cells, indicating that E(2) was not acting through a cell-membrane receptor. E(2) did not induce the morphological changes characteristic of differentiation. Using RT-PCR we found that the oestrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) isoform was absent in the COLO205 cell line in contrast to CACO-2, LoVo and SW620 cells, but mRNAs for ERbeta1, -beta2, -beta5 and -beta6 isoforms were detected. Western immunoblotting results showed full-length ERbeta protein but no detectable ERalpha in COLO205 cells. In normal human colon tissue samples immunoreactive ERbeta was found but ERalpha was barely detectable. Expression of ERbeta was lost in some colon cancer specimens and reduced in others. We conclude that E(2), through ERbeta, at concentrations found during replacement therapy, may inhibit the development of colon cancer by inducing apoptosis.

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JD Ramsden, S Yarram, E Mathews, JC Watkinson, and MC Eggo

Angiostatin, a 38 kDa fragment of plasminogen, potently inhibits the growth of blood vessels. Angiostatin is generated from plasminogen by urokinase-type (uPA) and tissue-type (tPA) plasminogen activators in the presence of free sulphydryl donors. Angiogenesis inhibitors may be important in regulating angiogenesis in developing goitre. We have examined angiostatin formation in human primary thyrocyte cultures and a rat thyrocyte cell line (FRTL-5). We found that human thyroid cells in culture secrete plasminogen activators (both tPA and uPA) as well as matrix metalloproteinase 2 into the medium. When human thyrocyte conditioned medium was incubated with plasminogen (10 microg/ml) and N-acetylcysteine (100 microM) for 24 h, a 38 kDa fragment of plasminogen, which is consistent with angiostatin, was generated. The appearance of the 38 kDa fragment was increased by agents that increase cAMP (forskolin and 8 BrcAMP). FRTL-5 cells, which do not secrete uPA or tPA, did not generate angiostatin. Thyroid cells produce several angiogenic growth factors, and human thyrocyte conditioned medium stimulated growth of endothelial cells. When the conditioned medium was incubated with plasminogen and N-acetylcysteine, this stimulatory effect was lost, consistent with the production of a growth inhibitory factor. We conclude that thyroid cells can produce angiostatin from plasminogen in vitro, and this may play a role in vivo in limiting goitre size.

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VA Patel, DJ Hill, MC Sheppard, F Wang, A Logan, and MC Eggo

Goitrogenesis is accompanied by hyperplasia and hypertrophy and involves tissue remodelling and angiogenesis. During the involution of the goitre there must be removal of this increased thyroid volume, in addition to further remodelling, which may involve apoptosis. We investigated apoptosis in the involuting rat thyroid using male Fisher rats that were on a goitrogenic regimen for 14 days and then returned to a normal diet. Thyroid weights increased fourfold with the goitrogenic regimen. During involution, the largest decrease in weight was between day 2 and day 4 after withdrawal of treatment. After 34 days of involution, the thyroid weight plateaued, but had not returned to control values. High levels of Bcl-2 immunoreactivity were observed in normal and goitrous rat thyroids. These high levels were significantly reduced at 2 days of involution, after which high levels of Bcl-2 immunoreactivity returned. In situ end-labelling of apoptotic cells showed that there was an increase in the number of cells undergoing DNA fragmentation during goitrogenesis (1.0+/-0.8 cells/100 cells, n=9) compared with controls, in which no positive staining was observed. After 2 days of goitrogen withdrawal, there was a further fourfold increase in the number of in situ end-labelled cells (day 16: 4.1+/-1.7, n=9). Numbers of positive cells returned to low levels after 4 days of involution (day 18: 0.3+/-0.8, n=9). Using antiserum to apoptosis-specific protein, we found increased immunoreactivity during goitrogenesis and after 2 days of involution that was localised predominantly with the stromal and vascular tissue at both time points. The data show that rapid downregulation of Bcl-2 accompanies thyroid involution, which involves increased levels of apoptosis within the stromal compartment.

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ML Ricketts, KJ Shoesmith, M Hewison, A Strain, MC Eggo, and PM Stewart

Two isozymes of the enzyme 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11 beta-HSD) are responsible for the interconversion of the active glucocorticoid, cortisol in man, (corticosterone in the rodent), to the inactive 11-keto metabolite, cortisone (11-dehydrocorticosterone). We have examined the regulation of type 1 11 beta-HSD (11 beta-HSD1) using primary cultures of rat and human hepatocytes, both of which express only 11 beta-HSD1. Only 11 oxo-reductase activity could be demonstrated in cultured hepatocytes (apparent Km for cortisone 382 +/- 43 nM in human hepatocytes, apparent Km for 11-dehydrocorticosterone 14.6 +/- 1.5 microM in rat hepatocytes). There exists a marked discrepancy between 11 beta-HSD oxo-reductase activity and 11 beta-HSD1 mRNA levels in cultured human hepatocytes and human liver. Thus oxo-reductase specific activity is much higher in the cultured hepatocytes (7.2 +/- 0.01 nmoles cortisol/mg/h vs 0.89 +/- 0.06 for whole liver homogenates) whilst the converse is true for steady state 11 beta-HSD1 mRNA levels (0.78 +/- 0.02 vs 1.94 +/- 0.07 in whole liver, 11 beta-HSD1/18S expressed as arbitrary units). Carbenoxolone has a significant inhibitory effect on 11 oxo-reductase activity in both rat and human hepatocytes. However, there is clear species-specific regulation of 11 oxo-reductase activity by thyroid hormone (tri-iodothyronine (T3)), which increases 11 oxo-reductase activity in rat hepatocytes but has no effect on activity in human hepatocytes, and progesterone which inhibits activity in human hepatocytes, but has no effect on activity in rat hepatocytes. Neither T3 nor progesterone altered 11 beta-HSD1 mRNA levels. A series of growth factors (hepatocyte growth factor, epidermal growth factor, basic fibroblast growth factor, transforming growth factor beta 1) were without effect on 11 oxo-reductase activity in cultured rat hepatocytes. In contrast to homogenates of human liver, cultured hepatocytes express only 11 beta-HSD oxo-reductase activity. This is inhibited by carbenoxolone and shows species-specific regulation by T3 and progesterone. Growth factors do not appear to regulate activity or expression of 11 beta-HSD1. The discrepant enzyme activity data and 11 beta-HSD1 mRNA expression in hepatocytes and whole liver could reflect unstable 11 beta-HSD1 oxo-reductase activity or, alternatively, an additional 11 beta-HSD oxo-reductase isoform in cultured hepatocytes.