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S Yang, X Xu, P Björntorp, and S Edén


The effects of growth hormone (GH) and testosterone, alone or in combination, on the regulation of lipolysis in isolated adipocytes from hypophysectomized rats were investigated. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were hypophysectomized at 50 days of age. One week after operation, hormonal replacement therapy with l-thyroxine and hydrocortisone acetate was given to hypophysectomized rats. Groups of rats were treated with GH (1·33 mg/kg, daily), testosterone (10 mg/kg, once) alone or in combination. After one week of hormonal treatment, adipocytes were isolated from the pooled epididymal and perirenal fat pads and glycerol release after isoproterenol stimulation and 125I-cyanopindolol binding was measured. Hypophysectomy caused a marked decrease in basal and isoproterenol-stimulated lipolysis. There was no effect of testosterone treatment alone on lipolysis, but GH treatment resulted in an increase in isoproterenol-induced lipolysis but not to the levels observed in cells from control rats. Testosterone and GH in combination restored the lipolytic response to isoproterenol. Also 125I-cyanopindolol binding was decreased after hypophysectomy. Testosterone treatment alone and GH treatment alone increased the binding, while in combination the treatment had an additive effect. Affinity was not changed, but the effects seemed to be on receptor number, as determined by Scatchard analysis.

Forskolin-stimulated cAMP accumulation in adipocytes was markedly reduced after hypophysectomy. Testosterone treatment alone had no effect. GH treatment alone increased forskolin-stimulated cAMP accumulation, although the level was lower than that found in control rats. The combined treatment resulted in a further increase to levels observed in adipocytes from control rats.

These results demonstrate that GH and testosterone have additive effects in the regulation of lipolysis. Both hormones increase the β-adrenergic receptor density, partly explaining this additive effect. Moreover, GH may contribute to the lipolytic response by affecting steps distal to the receptor in the lipolytic cascade.

Journal of Endocrinology (1995) 147, 147–152

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N Popnikolov, J Yang, A Liu, R Guzman, and S Nandi

The proliferation of normal human breast epithelial cells in women is highest during the first trimester of pregnancy. In an attempt to analyze this hormonal environment in a model system, the effect of host mouse pregnancy and the administration of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) were assessed in normal human breast epithelial cells transplanted into athymic nude mice. Human breast epithelial cells, dissociated from reduction mammoplasty specimens and embedded inside the extracellular matrices comprised of collagen gel and Matrigel, were transplanted into nude mice. Proliferation was measured in vivo by BrdU labeling followed by immunostaining of sections from recovered gels in response to an altered hormonal environment of the host animal. The host animal was mated to undergo pregnancy and the complex hormonal environment of the host animal pregnancy stimulated growth of transplanted human cells. This effect increased with progression of pregnancy and reached the maximum during late pregnancy prior to parturition. In order to determine whether additional stimulation could be achieved, the transplanted human cells were exposed to a second cycle of host mouse pregnancy by immediately mating the animal after parturition. This additional exposure of host mouse pregnancy did not result in further increase of proliferation. The effect of hCG administration on transplanted human cells was also tested, since hCG level is highest during the first trimester of human pregnancy and coincides with the maximal breast cell proliferation. Administration of hCG alone stimulated proliferation of human cells in a dose-dependent manner, and could further enhance stimulation achieved with estrogen. The host mouse mammary gland also responded to hCG treatment resulting in increased branching and lobulo-alveolar development. However, the hCG effect on both human and mouse cells was dependent on intact ovary since the stimulation did not occur in ovariectomized animals. Although hCG receptor transcripts were detected in human breast epithelial cells, raising the possibility of a direct mitogenic action, the hCG effect observed in this study may have been mediated via the ovary by increased secretion of ovarian steroids. In summary, using our in vivo nude mice system, the proliferation of normal human breast epithelial cells could be stimulated by host mouse pregnancy and by administration of hCG.

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D A Langlois, S G Matthews, M Yu, and K Yang


In adult mammals, liver and kidney are the two major sites of biosynthesis for 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD) 1 and 2 respectively. In the present study, the expression of these two isozymes in the developing ovine fetal liver and kidney was characterized. Livers and kidneys were obtained from fetal sheep at days 85, 100–120 and 140–143 of gestation (term=145 days). Tissue levels of 11β-HSD2 mRNA were assessed by Northern blot analysis. 11β-HSD dehydrogenase and reductase activities in tissue homogenates were determined by a radiometric conversion assay using cortisol and cortisone as physiological substrates respectively. The unidirectional 11β-HSD2 dehydrogenase activity was identified by its distinct co-factor preference (NAD), and by its unique ability to metabolize dexamethasone (Dex). In the liver, 11β-HSD1 dehydrogenase and reductase activities were present by day 85, and their levels did not change between days 85 and 100–120 but increased more than twofold at days 140–143. This was consistent with changes we reported previously in the fetal hepatic 11β-HSD1 mRNA. 11β-HSD1 reductase activity was always higher than the dehydrogenase activity. 11β-HSD2 mRNA and activity were undetectable in the fetal liver at all three ages. By contrast, 11β-HSD2 mRNA was present in the fetal kidney by day 85, and its abundance increased progressively thereafter. There was a parallel increase in the renal 11β-HSD2 activity. Dex was also converted to 11-dehydro-Dex by the fetal kidney. In keeping with the absence of the full-length 11β-HSD1 mRNA, 11β-HSD1 activity was undetectable in the kidney. These results indicate that (1) 11β-HSD1 and 2 genes are differentially expressed and regulated in the fetal liver and kidney during development, (2) since the hepatic 11β-HSD1 reductase activity is always higher than the dehydrogenase activity, the fetal liver may be a potential extra-adrenal source of cortisol, and (3) 11β-HSD2 in the kidney may play a very important role in protecting the fetus from elevated levels of bioactive glucocorticoids.

Journal of Endocrinology (1995) 147, 405–411

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F S Khan-Dawood, J Yang, K Anwer, and M Y Dawood


Oxytocin has been identified in both non-human primate and human corpora lutea of the menstrual cycle by RIA, immunocytochemistry and HPLC. Evidence for the transcription of the oxytocin gene in this tissue using PCR is available. Oxytocin receptors have been characterized by biochemical procedures. However, there is some debate as to whether the oxytocin identified in these tissues is biologically active and has a role in luteal function. In this study we have demonstrated that oxytocin isolated by gel chromatography of tissue extracts from the baboon and the human corpus luteum is biologically active as determined in a rat uterine bioassay. Since both oxytocin and its receptors are present in these tissues, it is suggested that oxytocin in the human and non-human primate corpora lutea has a functional role.

Journal of Endocrinology (1995) 147, 525–532

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S G Matthews, K Yang, and J R G Challis


Developmental changes in pituitary glucocorticoid receptor (GR) mRNA were examined during gestation and early neonatal life using in situ hybridization. Pituitaries were harvested from sheep fetuses at days 60–80, 100–120, 130–135, 140–142 and term, and from lambs of days 0–7 and 30–60, and adults. GR mRNA was present in the pars distalis by day 60, levels increased through gestation, and there was a redistribution of GR mRNA, resulting in a relatively greater abundance at the base of the pars distalis. At term, there was a significant (P<0·05 compared with the day 140–142 fetuses) elevation of GR mRNA, which was maintained in the newborn lamb, reaching highest levels at days 30–60 of neonatal life. GR mRNA was undetectable in the pars intermedia until day 120, but subsequently increased to high levels at term. Interestingly, the expression of GR mRNA in the pars intermedia dropped precipitously in the newborn (P<0·05 compared with term), though levels recovered in the older lambs and adults. The regional and cellular distribution of GR mRNA correlated closely with the presence of immuno-reactive GR (irGR) in the pituitary; the majority of irGR was present in the nuclei. Intrafetal infusion of cortisol (12 h; 5 μg/min) in late gestation (day 135) had no effect on GR mRNA expression in either the pars distalis or pars intermedia. These results indicated that, in the fetal pituitary, (1) the GR gene is expressed in both the pars distalis and pars intermedia, (2) levels of GR mRNA in the fetal pituitary correlated with the distribution of nuclear irGR, (3) GR mRNA is present at higher levels in the inferior aspect of the pars distalis, its abundance increases immediately prior to parturition and is maintained in the newborn, and (4) cortisol infusion for 12 h does not affect GR mRNA in either region of the pituitary, suggesting that, in the short term, glucocorticoids do not directly regulate GR synthesis.

Journal of Endocrinology (1995) 144, 483–490

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Y Yang, J Cao, W Xiong, J Zhang, Q Zhou, H Wei, C Liang, J Deng, T Li, S Yang, and L Xu

It has been documented that stress or glucocorticoids have conflicting effects on memory under different conditions. However, it is not fully understood why stress can either impair or enhance memory. Here, we have examined the performance of six age groups of Wistar rats in a water maze spatial task to evaluate the effects of stress under different conditions. We found that the impairment or enhancement effect of an 'elevated platform' (EP) stress on memory was dependent on previous stress experience and on age. EP stress impaired memory retrieval in water maze naive animals, but enhanced rather than impaired memory retrieval in young water maze stress-experienced animals. Furthermore, exogenously applied corticosterone or foot shock stress before water maze training prevented the impairment of memory retrieval that should be induced by treatment with corticosterone or foot shock before the 'probe trial'. Again, memory retrieval was enhanced in young animals under these conditions, and this enhancement can be prevented by the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU 38486. Thus, glucocorticoid receptor activation not only induced impairment of memory but also increased the capacity of young animals to overcome a later stress. The present findings suggest that the effect of stress on memory can be switched from impairment to enhancement dependent on both stress experience and age.

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Jennifer A Yang, Jessica K Hughes, Ruby A Parra, Katrina M Volk, and Alexander S Kauffman

Restraint stress is a psychosocial stressor that suppresses reproductive status, including LH pulsatile secretion, but the neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying this inhibition remains unclear. Reproductive neural populations upstream of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons, such as kisspeptin, neurokinin B and RFRP-3 (GnIH) neurons, are possible targets for psychosocial stress to inhibit LH pulses, but this has not been well examined, especially in mice in which prior technical limitations prevented assessment of in vivo LH pulse secretion dynamics. Here, we examined whether one-time acute restraint stress alters in vivo LH pulsatility and reproductive neural populations in male mice, and what the time-course is for such alterations. We found that endogenous LH pulses in castrated male mice are robustly and rapidly suppressed by one-time, acute restraint stress, with suppression observed as quickly as 12–18 min. This rapid LH suppression parallels with increased in vivo corticosterone levels within 15 min of restraint stress. Although Kiss1, Tac2 and Rfrp gene expression in the hypothalamus did not significantly change after 90 or 180 min restraint stress, arcuate Kiss1 neural activation was significantly decreased after 180 min. Interestingly, hypothalamic Rfrp neuronal activation was strongly increased at early times after restraint stress initiation, but was attenuated to levels lower than controls by 180 min of restraint stress. Thus, the male neuroendocrine reproductive axis is quite sensitive to short-term stress exposure, with significantly decreased pulsatile LH secretion and increased hypothalamic Rfrp neuronal activation occurring rapidly, within minutes, and decreased Kiss1 neuronal activation also occurring after longer stress durations.

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A. N. Brooks, L. A. Power, S. A. Jones, K. P. Yang, and J. R. G. Challis


Corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) is thought to be an important physiological regulator of the pituitary-adrenal axis in fetal sheep and, as such, plays a fundamental role in the initiation of parturition in this species. However, little is known of the controls of CRF secretion from the fetal hypothalamus.

We looked for the presence of CRF in fetal hypothalami, and examined whether the hypothalamic CRF concentration or molecular species changed in relation to gestational age. We established an in-vitro perifusion system to examine the release of CRF from perifused hypothalami taken from fetuses at day 100 and day 140 of pregnancy, under basal conditions and in response to potassium depolarization and/or dexamethasone administration.

Immunoreactive CRF was present in fetal hypothalami as early as day 100 (2·42 ± 0·99 (s.e.m.) μg/g protein, n = 9) and in similar concentrations at day 140 (2·31 ± 0·69 μg/g protein, n = 9). There was a significant (P < 0·05) increase in hypothalamic CRF content to 14·79 ± 4·09 μg/g protein (n = 16) between day 122 and day 135 of gestation. Using Sephadex G-75 chromatography, hypothalamic extracts at day 100, days 122–135 and day 140 eluted with a single peak of immunoreactivity which corresponded to synthetic ovine CRF(1–41).

The basal release of CRF from perifused hypothalami at day 140 (76·6 ± 10·4 pg/fraction, n = 8) was significantly (P < 0·05) greater than at day 100 (50·1 ± 10·2 pg/fraction, n = 11). Dexamethasone significantly inhibited basal CRF release at day 140 of gestation but not at day 100. Potassium depolarization caused a rapid release of CRF in all cases, a response which was independent of gestational age or treatment with dexamethasone.

We conclude that the fetal hypothalamus contains immunoreactive CRF as early as day 100 of gestation and that this material may be released when perifused in vitro under basal conditions and in response to a depolarizing agent. The basal release of CRF from perifused hypothalami of day-140 fetuses was greater than at day 100 and was inhibited by dexamethasone, suggesting maturation of negative feedback control of CRF output between days 100 and 140. Since dexamethasone had no effect on potassium-stimulated release of CRF, we suggest that its effects are at sites other than the hypothalamic CRF nerve terminals.

Journal of Endocrinology (1989) 122, 15–22

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Heat–alkali treatment of synthetic α- and β-melanocyte-stimulating hormones (MSH), known to cause racemization of amino acids within the peptides, results in prolongation of the darkening (melanophore dispersion) effect of these hormones on frog and lizard skins in vitro. Skins remain darkened for hours or even days if supramaximal concentrations of the racemized hormones are used. This response can be partially reversed by melatonin or noradrenaline. Heat–alkali treatment of α-MSH at either 60 or 97 °C results in a retardation of the response of the skins to the racemized peptides. In contrast, the response of frog skins to heat–alkali-treated β-MSH is immediately enhanced and potentiated. Heat–alkali treatment also prolongs and potentiates the activity of synthetic [des-acetyl]-α-MSH (in contrast to the retardation effect on the natural acetylated peptide). These data suggest a role for the N-acetyl group in the retardation phenomenon. The activity of synthetic [2-d-tyrosine]-α-MSH is much lower than that of α-MSH itself, indicating that heat–alkali treatment of the hormone may produce either potentiation or partial inactivation of the peptide, depending on the site of racemization.

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W Yin, D Liao, M Kusunoki, S Xi, K Tsutsumi, Z Wang, X Lian, T Koike, J Fan, Y Yang, and C Tang

The synthetic compound NO-1886 (ibrolipim) is a lipoprotein lipase activator that has been proven to be highly effective in lowering plasma triglycerides. Recently, we found that NO-1886 also reduced plasma free fatty acids and glucose in high-fat/high-sucrose diet-induced diabetic rabbits. In the current study, we investigated the effects of NO-1886 treatment on ectopic lipid deposition and the islet pathology in miniature swine fed a high-fat/high-sucrose diet. Our results showed that feeding this diet to miniature swine caused insulin resistance, increased lipid deposition in non-adipose tissue, such as in the heart, skeletal muscle, liver and pancreas, and also caused pancreatic beta cell damage. However, supplementing 1% NO-1886 (200 mg/kg per day) into the high-fat/high-sucrose diet decreased ectopic lipid deposition, improved insulin resistance, and alleviated the beta cell damage. These results suggest that improvement of lipid disorder, non-adipose tissue steatosis and insulin resistance may be very important for the protection of beta cell damage. Therefore, NO-1886 is potentially beneficial for the treatment of insulin-resistance syndrome.