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  • Author: Qi Chen x
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Zhengxiang Huang, Lili Huang, Chengjian Wang, Shanli Zhu, Xinzhou Qi, Yang Chen, Yanjun Zhang, Michael A Cowley, Johannes D Veldhuis and Chen Chen

The well-documented hormonal disturbance in a general obese population is characterised by an increase in insulin secretion and a decrease in growth hormone (GH) secretion. Such hormonal disturbance promotes an increase in fat mass, which deteriorates obesity and accelerates the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. While the pathological consequence is alarming, the pharmaceutical approach attempting to correct such hormonal disturbance remains limited. By applying an emerging anti-diabetic drug, the sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitor, dapagliflozin (1 mg/kg/day for 10 weeks), to a hyperphagic obese mouse model, we observed a significant improvement in insulin and GH secretion as early as 4 weeks after the initiation of the treatment. Restoration of pathological disturbance of insulin and GH secretion reduced fat accumulation and preserved lean body mass in the obese animal model. Such phenotypic improvement followed with concurrent improvements in glucose and lipid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, as well as the expression of metabolic genes that were regulated by insulin and GH. In conclusion, 10 weeks of treatment with dapagliflozin effectively reduces hyperinsulinemia and restores pulsatile GH secretion in the hyperphagic obese mice with considerable improvement in lipid and glucose metabolism. Promising outcomes from this study may provide insights into drug intervention to correct hormonal disturbance in obesity to delay the diabetes progression.

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Xiaoyi Ma, Fei Gao, Qi Chen, Xiuping Xuan, Ying Wang, Hongjun Deng, Fengying Yang and Li Yuan

The angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2)/angiotensin 1–7 (A1–7)/MAS axis and glutamate decarboxylase 67 (GAD67)/gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) signal both exist in the islet and play important roles in regulating blood glucose metabolism. It has been reported that the activation of ACE2 in the brain increases GABA expression to improve biological effects; however, it is unclear whether there is functional correlation between the ACE2/A1–7/MAS axis and GAD67/GABA signal in the islet. In this study, we showed that the ACE2/A1–7/MAS and GABA signaling systems decreased in the islet of different metabolic stress models. In ACE2-knockout mice, we found that GAD67 and GABA expression decreased significantly, which was reversed by exogenous administration of A1–7. Furthermore, A1–7 mediated PDX1 and AKT activation was inhibited by allylglycine (a specific GAD67 inhibitor) in MIN6 cells. Moreover, giving A1–7 and GABA could significantly reduce beta-cell dedifferentiation and improved glucose metabolism during metabolic stress in vivo and in vitro. In conclusion, our study reveals that the ACE2/A1–7/MAS axis improves beta-cell function through regulating GAD67/GABA signal in beta cells and that up-regulating the ACE2/A1–7/MAS axis and GABA signals delays the development of obesity-induced diabetes.

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Hongyu Su, Xueyi Chen, Yueming Zhang, Linglu Qi, Yun He, Juanxiu Lv, Yingying Zhang, Xiang Li, Jiaqi Tang and Zhice Xu

Cerebral circulation is important in fetal brain development, and angiotensin II (Ang II) plays vital roles in regulation of adult cerebral circulation. However, functions of Ang II in fetal cerebral vasculature and influences of in utero hypoxia on Ang II-mediated fetal cerebral vascular responses are largely unknown. This study investigated the effects and mechanisms of in utero hypoxia on fetal middle cerebral arteries (MCA) via Ang II. Near-term ovine fetuses were exposed to in utero hypoxia, and fetal MCA responses to Ang II were tested for vascular tension, calcium transient, and molecular analysis. Ang II caused significant dose-dependent contraction in control fetal MCA. Ang II-induced MCA constriction was decreased significantly in hypoxic fetuses. Neither losartan (AT1R antagonist, 10−5 mol/L) nor PD123,319 (AT2R antagonist, 10−5 mol/L) altered Ang II-mediated contraction in fetal MCA. Phenylephrine-mediated constriction was also significantly weaker in hypoxic fetuses. Bay K8644 caused similar contractions between the two groups. Protein expression of L-type voltage-dependent calcium channels was unchanged. There were no differences in caffeine-mediated vascular tension or calcium transients. Contraction induced by PDBu (PKC agonist) was obviously weaker in hypoxic MCA. Protein expression of PKCβ was reduced in the hypoxic compared with the control, along with no differences in phosphorylation levels. The results showed that fetal MCA was functionally responsive to Ang II near term. Intrauterine hypoxia reduced the vascular agonist-mediated contraction in fetal MCA, probably via decreasing PKCβ and its phosphorylation, which might play protective effects on fetal cerebral circulation against transient hypoxia.

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Chunchun Wei, Xianhua Ma, Kai Su, Shasha Qi, Yuangang Zhu, Junjian Lin, Chenxin Wang, Rui Yang, Xiaowei Chen, Weizhong Wang and Weiping J Zhang

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) plays a critical role in energy expenditure by uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1)-mediated thermogenesis. Carbohydrate response element-binding protein (ChREBP) is one of the key transcription factors regulating de novo lipogenesis (DNL). As a constitutively active form, ChREBP-β is expressed at extremely low levels. Up to date, its functional relevance in BAT remains unclear. In this study, we show that ChREBP-β inhibits BAT thermogenesis. BAT ChREBP-β mRNA levels were elevated upon cold exposure, which prompted us to generate a mouse model overexpressing ChREBP-β specifically in BAT using the Cre/LoxP approach. ChREBP-β overexpression led to a whitening phenotype of BAT at room temperature, as evidenced by increased lipid droplet size and decreased mitochondrion content. Moreover, BAT thermogenesis was inhibited upon acute cold exposure, and its metabolic remodeling induced by long-term cold adaptation was significantly impaired by ChREBP-β overexpression. Mechanistically, ChREBP-β overexpression downregulated expression of genes involved in mitochondrial biogenesis, autophagy, and respiration. Furthermore, thermogenic gene expression (e.g. Dio2, UCP1) was markedly inhibited in BAT by the overexpressed ChREBP-β. Put together, our work points to ChREBP-β as a negative regulator of thermogenesis in brown adipocytes.