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Rong Wan, Chao Zhu, Rui Guo, Lai Jin, Yunxin Liu, Li Li, Hao Zhang and Shengnan Li

Urocortin (UCN1) is a member of corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) family, which has been proven to participate in inflammation. Previous work showed that dihydrotestosterone (DHT) could promote the inflammatory process. Little is known about the effect of DHT on UCN1 expression. The aim of our study is to investigate the effects and underlying mechanisms of DHT on endothelial UCN1 expression in the absence and presence of induced inflammation. Therefore, we tested the alterations of endothelial UCN1 expression treated with DHT in the presence or absence of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Our data showed that DHT alone decreased UCN1 levels, which were attenuated in the presence of the androgen receptor (AR) antagonist flutamide. Conversely, in the presence of LPS, DHT augmented the LPS-induced increase in UCN1 expression, which was, interestingly, not affected by flutamide. When cells were treated with DHT alone, AR was upregulated and translocated into the nuclei, which might repress UCN1 expression via a potential androgen-responsive element found in human CRF family promoter. In the presence of LPS, DHT did not influence AR expression and location while it increased toll-like receptor 4 expression and activation, which was not altered by flutamide. DHT enhanced LPS-induced p38MAPK, ERK1/2, and nuclear factor κB pathway activation, which may contribute to the elevated expression of UCN1. These data suggest that DHT differentially influences UCN1 levels under normal and inflammatory conditions in human umbilical vein endothelial cells, which involves AR-dependent and -independent mechanisms respectively.

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Yue Yu, Rui Guo, Yunjin Zhang, Hongbo Shi, Haoran Sun, Xia Chu, Xiaoyan Wu, Huimin Lu and Changhao Sun

Chronic exposure of pancreatic β-cells to saturated fatty acid (palmitic or stearic acid) is a leading cause of impaired insulin secretion. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying stearic-acid-induced β-cell dysfunction remain poorly understood. Emerging evidence indicates that miRNAs are involved in various biological functions. The aim of this study was to explore the differential expression of miRNAs and mRNAs, specifically in stearic-acid-treated- relative to palmitic-acid-treated β-cells, and to establish their co-expression networks. β-TC-6 cells were treated with stearic acid, palmitic acid or normal medium for 24 h. Differentially expressed miRNAs and mRNAs were identified by high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatic analysis. Co-expression network, gene ontology (GO) and pathway analyses were then conducted. Changes in the expression of selected miRNAs and mRNAs were verified in β-TC-6 cells and mouse islets. Sequencing analysis detected 656 known and 1729 novel miRNAs. miRNA-mRNA network and Venn-diagram analysis yielded two differentially expressed miRNAs and 63 mRNAs exclusively in the stearic-acid group. miR-374c-5p was up-regulated by a 1.801 log2(fold-change) and miR-297b-5p was down-regulated by a −4.669 log2(fold-change). We found that miR-297b-5p and miR-374c-5p were involved in stearic-acid-induced lipotoxicity to β-TC-6 cells. Moreover, the effects of miR-297b-5p and miR-374c-5p on the alterations of candidate mRNAs expressions were verified. This study indicates that expression changes of specific miRNAs and mRNAs may contribute to stearic-acid-induced β-cell dysfunction, which provides a preliminary basis for further functional and molecular mechanism studies of stearic-acid-induced β-cell dysfunction in the development of type 2 diabetes.