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Gonzalez-Juanatey JR, R Pineiro, MJ Iglesias, O Gualillo, PA Kelly, C Dieguez, and F Lago

The use of GH to treat heart failure has received considerable attention in recent years. Although the mechanisms of its beneficial effects are unknown, it has been implicated in the regulation of apoptosis in several cell types, and cardiomyocyte apoptosis is known to occur in heart failure. We therefore decided to investigate whether GH protects cardiomyocytes from apoptosis. Preliminary experiments confirmed the expression of the GH receptor (GHR) gene in primary cultures of neonatal rat cardiomyocytes (PC), the specific binding of GH by HL-1 cardiomyocytes, and the GH-induced activation of GHR and its classical downstream effectors in the latter. That GH prevented the apoptosis of PC cells deprived of serum for 48 h was shown by DNA electrophoresis and by Hoechst staining assays in which GH reduced the percentage of cells undergoing apoptosis. Similarly, the TUNEL-evaluated pro-apoptotic effect of cytosine arabinoside (AraC) on HL-1 cells was almost totally prevented by pre-treatment with GH. Fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) analysis showed apoptosis in 9.7% of HL-1 cells growing in normal medium, 21.1% of those treated with AraC and 13.9% of those treated with AraC+GH, and that GH increased the percentage of AraC-treated cells in the S/G(2)/M phase from 36.9% to 52.8%. GH did not modify IGF-I mRNA levels or IGF-I secretion in HL-1 cells treated with AraC, and the protection afforded by GH against AraC-induced apoptosis in HL-1 cells was not affected by the presence of anti-IGF-I antibodies, but was largely abolished by the calcineurin-inhibiting combination cyclosporin+FK506. GH also reduced AraC-induced phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase p38 (MAPK p38) in HL-1 cells. In summary, GH protects PC and HL-1 cells from apoptosis. This effect is not mediated by IGF-I and may involve MAPK p38 as well as calcineurin.

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V Pineiro, X Casabiell, R Peino, M Lage, JP Camina, C Menendez, J Baltar, C Dieguez, and F Casanueva

Leptin, the product of the Ob gene, is a polypeptide hormone expressed in adipocytes which acts as a signalling factor from the adipose tissue to the central nervous system, regulating food intake and energy expenditure. It has been reported that circulating leptin levels are higher in women than in men, even after correction for body fat. This gender-based difference may be conditioned by differences in the levels of androgenic hormones. To explore this possibility, a systematic in vitro study with organ cultures from human omental adipose tissue, either stimulated or not with androgens (1 microM), was undertaken in samples obtained from surgery on 44 non-obese donors (21 women and 23 men). The assay was standardized in periods of 24 h, ending at 96 h, with no apparent tissue damage. Leptin results are expressed as the mean+/-s.e.m. of the integrated secretion into the medium, expressed as ng leptin/g tissue per 48 h. Spontaneous leptin secretion in samples from female donors (4149+/-301) was significantly higher (P<0.01) than that from male donors (2456+/-428). Testosterone did not exert any significant effect on in vitro leptin secretion in either gender (4856+/-366 in women, 3322+/-505 in men). Coincubation of adipose tissue with dihydrotestosterone (DHT) induced a significant (P<0.05) leptin decrease in samples taken from women (3119+/-322) but not in those taken from men (2042+/-430). Stanozolol, a non-aromatizable androgen, decreased (P<0.05) leptin secretion in female samples (2809+/-383) but not in male (1553+/-671). Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S) induced a significant (P<0.01) leptin decrease in female samples (2996+/-473), with no modifications in samples derived from males (1596+/-528). Exposure to androstenedione also resulted in a significant reduction (P<0.01) of leptin secretion in samples taken from women (2231+/-264), with no effect on male adipose tissue (1605+/-544). In conclusion, DHT, stanozolol, DHEA-S and androstenedione induced a significant inhibition of in vitro leptin secretion in samples from female donors, without affecting the secretion in samples from men. Testosterone was devoid of activity in either gender.