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Free access

Taija Saloniemi, Heli Jokela, Leena Strauss, Pirjo Pakarinen, and Matti Poutanen

Disturbed action of sex steroid hormones, i.e. androgens and estrogens, is involved in the pathogenesis of various severe diseases in humans. Interestingly, recent studies have provided data further supporting the hypothesis that the circulating hormone concentrations do not explain all physiological and pathological processes observed in hormone-dependent tissues, while the intratissue sex steroid concentrations are determined by the expression of steroid metabolising enzymes in the neighbouring cells (paracrine action) and/or by target cells themselves (intracrine action). This local sex steroid production is also a valuable treatment option for developing novel therapies against hormonal diseases. Hydroxysteroid (17β) dehydrogenases (HSD17Bs) compose a family of 14 enzymes that catalyse the conversion between the low-active 17-keto steroids and the highly active 17β-hydroxy steroids. The enzymes frequently expressed in sex steroid target tissues are, thus, potential drug targets in order to lower the local sex steroid concentrations. The present review summarises the recent data obtained for the role of HSD17B1, HSD17B2, HSD17B7 and HSD17B12 enzymes in various metabolic pathways and their physiological and pathophysiological roles as revealed by the recently generated genetically modified mouse models. Our data, together with that provided by others, show that, in addition to having a role in sex steroid metabolism, several of these HSD17B enzymes possess key roles in other metabolic processes: for example, HD17B7 is essential for cholesterol biosynthesis and HSD17B12 is involved in elongation of fatty acids. Additional studies in vitro and in vivo are to be carried out in order to fully define the metabolic role of the HSD17B enzymes and to evaluate their value as drug targets.

Free access

Laura D Ratner, Guillermina Stevens, Maria Marta Bonaventura, Victoria A Lux-Lantos, Matti Poutanen, Ricardo S Calandra, Ilpo T Huhtaniemi, and Susana B Rulli

The metabolic syndrome is a growing epidemic; it increases the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver, and several cancers. Several reports have indicated a link between hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance or obesity. Transgenic (TG) female mice overexpressing the human chorionic gonadotropin β-subunit (hCGβ+ mice) exhibit constitutively elevated levels of hCG, increased production of testosterone, progesterone and prolactin, and obesity. The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of hCG hypersecretion on possible alterations in the glucose and lipid metabolism of adult TG females. We evaluated fasting serum insulin, glucose, and triglyceride levels in adult hCGβ+ females and conducted intraperitoneal glucose and insulin tolerance tests at different ages. TG female mice showed hyperinsulinemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and dyslipidemia, as well as glucose intolerance and insulin resistance at 6 months of age. A 1-week treatment with the dopamine agonist cabergoline applied on 5-week-old hCGβ+ mice, which corrected hyperprolactinemia, hyperandrogenism, and hyperprogesteronemia, effectively prevented the metabolic alterations. These data indicate a key role of the hyperprolactinemia-induced gonadal dysfunction in the metabolic disturbances of hCGβ+ female mice. The findings prompt further studies on the involvement of gonadotropins and prolactin on metabolic disorders and might pave the way for the development of new therapeutic strategies.

Open access

Claes Ohlsson, Petra Henning, Karin H Nilsson, Jianyao Wu, Karin L Gustafsson, Klara Sjögren, Anna Törnqvist, Antti Koskela, Fu-Ping Zhang, Marie K Lagerquist, Matti Poutanen, Juha Tuukkanen, Ulf H Lerner, and Sofia Movérare-Skrtic

Substantial progress has been made in the therapeutic reduction of vertebral fracture risk in patients with osteoporosis, but non-vertebral fracture risk has been improved only marginally. Human genetic studies demonstrate that the WNT16 locus is a major determinant of cortical bone thickness and non-vertebral fracture risk and mouse models with life-long Wnt16 inactivation revealed that WNT16 is a key regulator of cortical thickness. These studies, however, could not exclude that the effect of Wnt16 inactivation on cortical thickness might be caused by early developmental and/or growth effects. To determine the effect of WNT16 specifically on adult cortical bone homeostasis, Wnt16 was conditionally ablated in young adult and old mice through tamoxifen-inducible Cre-mediated recombination using CAG-Cre-ER; Wnt16 flox/flox (Cre-Wnt16 flox/flox) mice. First, 10-week-old Cre-Wnt16 flox/flox and Wnt16 flox/flox littermate control mice were treated with tamoxifen. Four weeks later, Wnt16 mRNA levels in cortical bone were reduced and cortical thickness in femur was decreased in Cre-Wnt16 flox/flox mice compared to Wnt16 flox/flox mice. Then, inactivation of Wnt16 in 47-week-old mice (evaluated four weeks later) resulted in a reduction of Wnt16 mRNA levels, cortical thickness and cortical bone strength with no effect on trabecular bone volume fraction. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that the reduced cortical bone thickness was caused by a combination of increased bone resorption and reduced periosteal bone formation. In conclusion, WNT16 is a crucial regulator of cortical bone thickness in young adult and old mice. We propose that new treatment strategies targeting the adult regulation of WNT16 might be useful to reduce fracture risk at cortical bone sites.

Free access

Alexia Barroso, Jose Antonio Santos-Marcos, Cecilia Perdices-Lopez, Ana Vega-Rojas, Miguel Angel Sanchez-Garrido, Yelizabeta Krylova, Helena Molina-Abril, Claes Ohlsson, Pablo Perez-Martinez, Matti Poutanen, Jose Lopez-Miranda, Manuel Tena-Sempere, and Antonio Camargo

Gonadal steroids strongly contribute to the metabolic programming that shapes the susceptibility to the manifestation of diseases later in life, and the effect is often sexually dimorphic. Microbiome signatures, together with metabolic traits and sex steroid levels, were analyzed at adulthood in neonatally androgenized female rats, and compared with those of control male and female rats. Exposure of female rats to high doses of androgens on early postnatal life resulted in persistent alterations of the sex steroid profile later on life, namely lower progesterone and higher estradiol and estrone levels, with no effect on endogenous androgens. Neonatally androgenized females were heavier (10% at early adulthood and 26% at adulthood) than controls and had impaired glucose homeostasis observed by higher AUC of glucose in GTT and ITT when subjected to obesogenic manipulations. Androgenized female displayed overt alterations in gut microbiota, indicated especially by higher Bacteroidetes and lower Firmicutes abundance at early adulthood, which disappeared when animals were concurrently overfed at adulthood. Notably, these changes in gut microbiota were related with the intestinal expression of several miRNAs, such as miR-27a-3p, miR-29a-5p, and miR-100-3p. Our results suggest that nutritional and hormonal disruption at early developmental periods not only alters the metabolic programming of the individual later in life but also perturbs the architecture of gut microbiota, which may interact with the host by a cross-talk mediated by intestinal miRNAs; phenomena that may contribute to amplify the metabolic derangement caused by obesity, as seen in neonatally androgenized female rats.

Open access

Laura L Gathercole, Nikolaos Nikolaou, Shelley E Harris, Anastasia Arvaniti, Toryn M Poolman, Jonathan M Hazlehurst, Denise V Kratschmar, Marijana Todorčević, Ahmad Moolla, Niall Dempster, Ryan C Pink, Michael F Saikali, Liz Bentley, Trevor M Penning, Claes Ohlsson, Carolyn L Cummins, Matti Poutanen, Alex Odermatt, Roger D Cox, and Jeremy W Tomlinson

Steroid 5β-reductase (AKR1D1) plays important role in hepatic bile acid synthesis and glucocorticoid clearance. Bile acids and glucocorticoids are potent metabolic regulators, but whether AKR1D1 controls metabolic phenotype in vivo is unknown. Akr1d1–/– mice were generated on a C57BL/6 background. Liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry, metabolomic and transcriptomic approaches were used to determine effects on glucocorticoid and bile acid homeostasis. Metabolic phenotypes including body weight and composition, lipid homeostasis, glucose tolerance and insulin tolerance were evaluated. Molecular changes were assessed by RNA-Seq and Western blotting. Male Akr1d1–/– mice were challenged with a high fat diet (60% kcal from fat) for 20 weeks. Akr1d1–/– mice had a sex-specific metabolic phenotype. At 30 weeks of age, male, but not female, Akr1d1–/– mice were more insulin tolerant and had reduced lipid accumulation in the liver and adipose tissue yet had hypertriglyceridemia and increased intramuscular triacylglycerol. This phenotype was associated with sexually dimorphic changes in bile acid metabolism and composition but without overt effects on circulating glucocorticoid levels or glucocorticoid-regulated gene expression in the liver. Male Akr1d1–/– mice were not protected against diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance. In conclusion, this study shows that AKR1D1 controls bile acid homeostasis in vivo and that altering its activity can affect insulin tolerance and lipid homeostasis in a sex-dependent manner.