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Pongpan Tanajak, Siriporn C Chattipakorn and Nipon Chattipakorn

Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is a novel polypeptide ligand that has been shown to be involved in several physiological and pathological processes including regulation of glucose and lipids as well as reduction of arteriosclerotic plaque formation in the great vessels. It has also been shown to exert cardioprotective effects in myocardial infarction, cardiac ischemia-reperfusion injury, cardiac hypertrophy and diabetic cardiomyopathy. Moreover, FGF21 protects the myocardium and great arteries by attenuating remodeling, inflammation, oxidative stress and also promoting the energy supply to the heart through fatty acid β-oxidation. This growing evidence emphasizes the important roles of FGF21 in cardioprotection. This review comprehensively summarizes and discusses the consistent and inconsistent findings regarding the beneficial effects of FGF21 on the heart available from both basic research and clinical reports. The details of the signaling, biological and pharmacological effects of FGF21 with regard to its protection of the heart are also presented and discussed in this review.

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Hiranya Pintana, Nattayaporn Apaijai, Nipon Chattipakorn and Siriporn C Chattipakorn

Recent evidence has demonstrated that insulin resistance is related to the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Our previous study found that high-fat diet (HFD) consumption caused not only peripheral and brain insulin resistance but also brain mitochondrial dysfunction and cognitive impairment. Vildagliptin and sitagliptin, dipeptidyl-peptidase-4 inhibitors, are recently developed anti-diabetic drugs. However, the effects of both drugs on cognitive behaviors and brain mitochondrial function in HFD-induced insulin-resistant rats have not yet been investigated. Sixty male Wistar rats were divided into two groups to receive either normal diet or HFD for 12 weeks. Rats in each group were then further divided into three treatment groups to receive either vehicle, vildagliptin (3 mg/kg per day), or sitagliptin (30 mg/kg per day) for 21 days. The cognitive behaviors of the rats were tested using the Morris Water Maze test. Blood samples were collected to determine metabolic parameters and plasma oxidative stress levels. Upon completion of the study, the animals were killed and the brains were removed to investigate brain and hippocampal mitochondrial function as well as to determine oxidative stress levels. We demonstrated that both drugs significantly improved the metabolic parameters and decreased circulating and brain oxidative stress levels in HFD-induced insulin-resistant rats. In addition, both drugs completely prevented brain and hippocampal mitochondrial dysfunction and equally improved the learning behaviors impaired by the HFD. Our findings suggest that the inhibition of dipeptidyl-peptidase-4 enzymes with vildagliptin or sitagliptin in insulin-resistant rats not only increases peripheral insulin sensitivity but also decreases brain dysfunction.

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Yoswaris Semaming, Sirinart Kumfu, Patchareewan Pannangpetch, Siriporn C Chattipakorn and Nipon Chattipakorn

Oxidative stress has been shown to play an important role in the pathogenesis of diabetes-induced cardiac dysfunction. Protocatechuic acid (PCA) is a phenolic compound, a main metabolite of anthocyanin, which has been reported to display various pharmacological properties. We proposed the hypothesis that PCA exerts cardioprotection in type 1 diabetic (T1DM) rats. T1DM was induced in male Sprague–Dawley rats by a single i.p. injection of 50 mg/kg streptozotocin (STZ) and groups of these animals received the following treatments for 12 weeks: i) oral administration of vehicle, ii) oral administration of PCA at a dose of 50  mg/kg per day, iii) oral administration of PCA at a dose of 100 mg/kg per day, iv) s.c. injection of insulin at a dose of 4 U/kg per day, and v) a combination of PCA, 100 mg/kg per day and insulin, 4 U/kg per day. Metabolic parameters, results from echocardiography, and heart rate variability were monitored every 4 weeks, and the HbA1c, cardiac malondialdehyde (MDA), cardiac mitochondrial function, and cardiac BAX/BCL2 expression were evaluated at the end of treatment. PCA, insulin, and combined drug treatments significantly improved metabolic parameters and cardiac function as shown by increased percentage fractional shortening and percentage left ventricular ejection fraction and decreased low-frequency:high-frequency ratio in T1DM rats. Moreover, all treatments significantly decreased plasma HbA1c and cardiac MDA levels, improved cardiac mitochondrial function, and increased BCL2 expression. Our results demonstrated for the first time, to our knowledge, the efficacy of PCA in improving cardiac function and cardiac autonomic balance, preventing cardiac mitochondrial dysfunction, and increasing anti-apoptotic protein in STZ-induced T1DM rats. Thus, PCA possesses a potential cardioprotective effect and could restore cardiac function when combined with insulin treatment. These findings indicated that supplementation with PCA might be helpful for the prevention and alleviation of cardiovascular complications in T1DM.

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Wanpitak Pongkan, Hiranya Pintana, Sivaporn Sivasinprasasn, Thidarat Jaiwongkam, Siriporn C Chattipakorn and Nipon Chattipakorn

Low testosterone level is associated with increased risks of cardiovascular diseases. As obese-insulin-resistant condition could impair cardiac function and that the incidence of obesity is increased in aging men, a condition of testosterone deprivation could aggravate the cardiac dysfunction in obese-insulin-resistant subjects. However, the mechanism underlying this adverse effect is unclear. This study investigated the effects of obesity on metabolic parameters, heart rate variability (HRV), left ventricular (LV) function, and cardiac mitochondrial function in testosterone-deprived rats. Orchiectomized or sham-operated male Wistar rats (n=36per group) were randomly divided into groups and were given either a normal diet (ND, 19.77% of energy fat) or a high-fat diet (HFD, 57.60% of energy fat) for 12weeks. Metabolic parameters, HRV, LV function, and cardiac mitochondrial function were determined at 4, 8, and 12weeks after starting each feeding program. We found that insulin resistance was observed after 8weeks of the consumption of a HFD in both sham (HFS) and orchiectomized (HFO) rats. Neither the ND sham (NDS) group nor ND orchiectomized (NDO) rats developed insulin resistance. The development of depressed HRV, LV contractile dysfunction, and increased cardiac mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production was observed earlier in orchiectomized (NDO and HFO) rats at week 4, whereas HFS rats exhibited these impairments later at week 8. These findings suggest that testosterone deprivation accelerates the impairment of cardiac autonomic regulation and LV function via increased oxidative stress and impaired cardiac mitochondrial function in obese-orchiectomized male rats.

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Nattayaporn Apaijai, Tharnwimol Inthachai, Suree Lekawanvijit, Siriporn C Chattipakorn and Nipon Chattipakorn

Adverse cardiac remodeling after myocardial infarction (MI) leads to progressive heart failure. Obese-insulin resistance increases risks of MI and heart failure. Although dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP4) inhibitor is known to exert cardioprotection, its effects on adverse remodeling after MI in obese-insulin-resistant rats are unclear. We hypothesized that DPP4 inhibitor reduces adverse left ventricular (LV) remodeling and LV dysfunction in obese-insulin-resistant rats with MI. Rats were fed either normal diet (ND) or high-fat diet (HFD) for 12 weeks to induce obese-insulin resistance, followed by left anterior descending coronary artery ligation to induce MI. Then, rats in each dietary group were divided into five subgroups to receive vehicle, enalapril (10mg/kg/day), metformin (30mg/kg/day), DPP4 inhibitor vildagliptin (3mg/kg/day), or combined metformin and vildagliptin for 8 weeks. Heart rate variability (HRV), LV function, pathological and biochemical studies for LV remodeling, and cardiomyocyte apoptosis were determined. Obese-insulin-resistant rats had severe insulin resistance and LV dysfunction. HFD rats had a higher mortality rate than ND rats, and all treatments reduced the mortality rate in obese-insulin-resistant rats. Although all drugs improved insulin resistance, HRV, LV function as well as reduced cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis, vildagliptin effectively reduced cardiomyocyte cross-sectional areas more than enalapril and was related to markedly decreased ERK1/2 phosphorylation. In ND rats with MI, metformin neither improved LV ejection fraction nor reduced cardiac fibrosis. The infarct size and transforming growth factor-β expression were not different among groups. In obese-insulin-resistant rats with chronic MI, DPP4 inhibitor vildagliptin exerts better cardioprotection than enalapril in attenuating adverse LV remodeling.

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Pongpan Tanajak, Hiranya Pintana, Natthaphat Siri-Angkul, Juthamas Khamseekaew, Nattayaporn Apaijai, Siriporn C Chattipakorn and Nipon Chattipakorn

Long-term high-fat diet (HFD) consumption causes cardiac dysfunction. Although calorie restriction (CR) has been shown to be useful in obesity, we hypothesized that combined CR with dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitor provides greater efficacy than monotherapy in attenuating cardiac dysfunction and metabolic impairment in HFD-induced obese-insulin resistant rats. Thirty male Wistar rats were divided into 2 groups to be fed on either a normal diet (ND, n = 6) or a HFD (n = 24) for 12 weeks. Then, HFD rats were divided into 4 subgroups (n = 6/subgroup) to receive just the vehicle, CR diet (60% of mean energy intake and changed to ND), vildagliptin (3 mg/kg/day) or combined CR and vildagliptin for 4 weeks. Metabolic parameters, heart rate variability (HRV), cardiac mitochondrial function, left ventricular (LV) and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) 21 signaling pathway were determined. Rats on a HFD developed insulin and FGF21 resistance, oxidative stress, cardiac mitochondrial dysfunction and impaired LV function. Rats on CR alone showed both decreased body weight and visceral fat accumulation, whereas vildagliptin did not alter these parameters. Rats in CR, vildagliptin and CR plus vildagliptin subgroups had improved insulin sensitivity and oxidative stress. However, vildagliptin improved heart rate variability (HRV), cardiac mitochondrial function and LV function better than the CR. Chronic HFD consumption leads to obese-insulin resistance and FGF21 resistance. Although CR is effective in improving metabolic regulation, vildagliptin provides greater efficacy in preventing cardiac dysfunction by improving anti-apoptosis and FGF21 signaling pathways and attenuating cardiac mitochondrial dysfunction in obese-insulin-resistant rats.

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Hiranya Pintana, Wanpitak Pongkan, Wasana Pratchayasakul, Nipon Chattipakorn and Siriporn C Chattipakorn

It is unclear whether the dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) inhibitor can counteract brain insulin resistance, brain mitochondrial dysfunction, impairment of hippocampal synaptic plasticity and cognitive decline in testosterone-deprived obese rats. We hypothesized that DPP4 inhibitor vildagliptin improves cognitive function in testosterone-deprived obese rats by restoring brain insulin sensitivity, brain mitochondrial function and hippocampal synaptic plasticity. Thirty male Wistar rats received either a sham-operated (S, n=6) or bilateral orchiectomy (ORX, n=24). ORX rats were divided into two groups and fed with either a normal diet (ND (NDO)) or a high-fat diet (HFO) for 12 weeks. Then, ORX rats in each dietary group were divided into two subgroups (n=6/subgroup) to receive either a vehicle or vildagliptin (3 mg/kg per day, p.o.) for 4 weeks. After treatment, cognitive function, metabolic parameters, brain insulin sensitivity, hippocampal synaptic plasticity and brain mitochondrial function were determined in each rat. We found that HFO rats exhibited peripheral and brain insulin resistance, brain mitochondrial dysfunction, impaired hippocampal synaptic plasticity and cognitive decline. NDO rats did not develop peripheral and brain insulin resistance. However, impaired hippocampal synaptic plasticity and cognitive decline occurred. Vildagliptin significantly improved peripheral insulin sensitivity, restored brain insulin sensitivity and decreased brain mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production in HFO rats. However, vildagliptin did not restore hippocampal synaptic plasticity and cognitive function in both NDO and HFO rats. These findings suggest that vildagliptin could not counteract the impairment of hippocampal synaptic plasticity and cognitive decline in testosterone-deprived subjects, despite its effects on improved peripheral and brain insulin sensitivity as well as brain mitochondrial function.

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Wanpitak Pongkan, Hiranya Pintana, Thidarat Jaiwongkam, Sasiwan Kredphoo, Sivaporn Sivasinprasasn, Siriporn C Chattipakorn and Nipon Chattipakorn

Obesity and testosterone deprivation are associated with coronary artery disease. Testosterone and vildagliptin (dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors) exert cardioprotection during ischemic-reperfusion (I/R) injury. However, the effect of these drugs on I/R heart in a testosterone-deprived, obese, insulin-resistant model is unclear. This study investigated the effects of testosterone and vildagliptin on cardiac function, arrhythmias and the infarct size in I/R heart of testosterone-deprived rats with obese insulin resistance. Orchiectomized (O) or sham operated (S) male Wistar rats were divided into 2 groups to receive normal diet (ND) or high-fat diet (HFD) for 12 weeks. Orchiectomized rats in each diet were divided to receive testosterone (2 mg/kg), vildagliptin (3 mg/kg) or the vehicle daily for 4 weeks. Then, I/R was performed by a 30-min left anterior descending coronary artery ligation, followed by a 120-min reperfusion. LV function, arrhythmia scores, infarct size and cardiac mitochondrial function were determined. HFD groups developed insulin resistance at week 12. At week 16, cardiac function was impaired in NDO, HFO and HFS rats, but was restored in all testosterone- and vildagliptin-treated rats. During I/R injury, arrhythmia scores, infarct size and cardiac mitochondrial dysfunction were prominently increased in NDO, HFO and HFS rats, compared with those in NDS rats. Treatment with either testosterone or vildagliptin similarly attenuated these impairments during I/R injury. These finding suggest that both testosterone replacement and vildagliptin share similar efficacy for cardioprotection during I/R injury by decreasing the infarct size and attenuating cardiac mitochondrial dysfunction caused by I/R injury in testosterone-deprived rats with obese insulin resistance.

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Saranyapin Potikanond, Pinyada Rattanachote, Hiranya Pintana, Panan Suntornsaratoon, Narattaphol Charoenphandhu, Nipon Chattipakorn and Siriporn Chattipakorn

The present study aimed to test the hypothesis that testosterone deprivation impairs osteoblastic insulin signaling, decreases osteoblast survival, reduces bone density, and that obesity aggravates those deleterious effects in testosterone-deprived rats. Twenty four male Wistar rats underwent either a bilateral orchiectomy (O, n=12) or a sham operation (S, n=12). Then the rats in each group were further divided into two subgroups fed with either a normal diet (ND) or a high-fat diet (HF) for 12 weeks. At the end of the protocol, blood samples were collected to determine metabolic parameters and osteocalcin ratios. The tibiae were collected to determine bone mass using microcomputed tomography and for osteoblast isolation. The results showed that rats fed with HF (sham-operated HF-fed rats (HFS) and ORX HF-fed rats (HFO)) developed peripheral insulin resistance and had decreased trabecular bone density. In ND-fed rats, only the ORX ND-fed rats (NDO) group had decreased trabecular bone density. In addition, osteoblastic insulin resistance, as indicated by a decrease in tyrosine phosphorylation of the insulin receptor and Akt, were observed in all groups except the sham-operated ND-fed rats (NDS) rats. Those groups, again with the exception of the NDS rats, also had decreased osteoblastic survival. No differences in the levels of osteoblastic insulin resistance and osteoblastic survival were found among the NDO, HFS, and HFO groups. These findings suggest that either testosterone deprivation or obesity alone can impair osteoblastic insulin signaling and decrease osteoblastic survival leading to the development of osteoporosis. However, obesity does not aggravate those deleterious effects in the bone of testosterone-deprived rats.

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Apiwan Arinno, Nattayaporn Apaijai, Puntarik Kaewtep, Wasana Pratchayasakul, Thidarat Jaiwongkam, Sasiwan Kerdphoo, Siriporn Chattipakorn and Nipon Chattipakorn

Although a physiological dose of testosterone replacement therapy (p-TRT) has been shown to improve left ventricular (LV) function, some studies reported that it increased the risk of myocardial infarction in testosterone-deprived men. We previously reported that vildagliptin might be used as an alternative to the p-TRT. In this study, we hypothesized that a combined low-dose TRT with vildagliptin exerts greater efficacy than single regimen in improving cardiometabolic function in obese-insulin resistant rats with testosterone deprivation. Male rats were fed on a normal diet or high-fat diet for 12 weeks. Then, they were divided into 2 subgroups; sham operation and orchiectomy (NDO, HFO) and fed their diets for another 12 weeks. At week 25, orchiectomized rats were subdivided into 4 groups, vehicle, p-TRT, vildagliptin, and combined drugs. At week 29, cardiometabolic and biochemical parameters were determined. HFO rats had obese-insulin resistance with a worse LV dysfunction, compared with sham. Vildagliptin and combined drugs effectively reduced insulin resistance. All treatments reduced blood pressure, cardiac autonomic imbalance, LV dysfunction, mitochondrial dysfunction, apoptosis, and increased mitochondrial fusion in NDO and HFO rats. However, p-TRT and combined drugs, but not vildagliptin, reduced mitochondrial fission in NDO and HFO rats. We concluded that combined low-dose TRT with vildagliptin mitigated LV function at a similar level to the p-TRT alone and vildagliptin via improving mitochondrial fusion, reducing mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptosis in testosterone-deprived rats. Our findings suggest that low-dose TRT combined with vildagliptin may be an alternative for p-TRT in conditions of obese-insulin resistance with testosterone deprivation.