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YL Wang-Fisher, J Han and W Guo

Acipimox is a nicotinic acid-derived antilipolytic drug devoid of major side effects, and has been used in a number of human trials. This work reports the effects of Acipimox on leptin production from isolated rat adipocytes, in comparison with nicotinic acid and insulin. For cells isolated from normal animals, all these three reagents stimulated leptin release to a similar extent. Acipimox and nicotinic acid were more potent than insulin in stimulating leptin release from cells isolated from diabetic animals, probably because of impaired insulin sensitivity in cells from these diseased animals. Co-incubation of Acipimox with norepinephrine or dibutyryl cAMP diminished its stimulatory effects on leptin release, in parallel with increased lipolysis, suggesting that intracellular free fatty acids play an important role in mediating leptin production in adipocytes.

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LD Wallen, W Myint, K Nygard, S Shimasaki, DR Clemmons and VK Han

A role for IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs) in lung development is suggested by the identification of IGFBPs in lung tissue and production of IGFBPs by fetal lung cells in culture. To characterize the expression of IGFBPs during lung development in the rat in vivo (16 days gestation through adulthood), the expression of IGFBP mRNAs (IGFBP-1 to IGFBP-6) was examined by Northern analysis and in situ hybridization, and IGFBP peptides (IGFBP-2, IGFBP-3, and IGFBP-5) were localized by immunohistochemistry. IGFBP-1 mRNA was not detectable. IGFBP-2 mRNA (1.8 kb) was expressed in both fetal and postnatal life with peak expression during the fetal pseudoglandular stage. IGFBP-2 mRNA was localized mainly to airway epithelium. IGFBP-3 mRNA (2.4 kb) was maximally expressed postnatally in the saccular stage of lung development; it was identified in airway epithelium and interstitium in the fetal lung, but predominantly in airway epithelium after birth. IGFBP-4 (2.6 kb) and IGFBP-5 (6.0 kb) mRNA levels were maximal after birth, from 3 to 21 days postnatal (saccular and alveolar stage). IGFBP-4 mRNA was localized primarily to the interstitium and blood vessels early in development, but was abundant in airway epithelium in the adult. IGFBP-5 mRNA was most abundant in the airway epithelium. IGFBP-3, IGFBP-4, IGFBP-5, and to a lesser extent IGFBP-6 were localized to the large cartilaginous airways in the adult. IGFBP-2, IGFBP-3, and IGFBP-5 peptides were distributed more widely than their respective mRNAs, with a temporal pattern of immunoreactivity following that of their mRNAs. Maximal staining was noted in airway epithelium for IGFBP-2 in the newborn, for IGFBP-3 in the saccular stage (newborn to 3 days postnatal), and for IGFBP-5 in the alveolar stage (5 to 21 days postnatal). Our studies demonstrate that IGFBP-2, IGFBP-3, IGFBP-4, and IGFBP-5 are synthesized and distributed in spatially and temporally different patterns in the developing lung. The widespread distribution of IGFBP immunoreactivity compared with their respective mRNAs suggests that IGFBPs are important paracrine factors in the regulation of IGF action in the developing lung.

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Yeon Jean Cho, Jiyeun E Lee, Mi Jin Park, Bert W O’Malley and Sang Jun Han

The steroid receptor coactivator (SRC)-1 isoform/estrogen receptor (ER)-β axis has an essential role in endometriosis progression. In this context, therefore, bufalin was employed as a ‘tool compound’ to evaluate inhibitors of SRC in alternative endometriosis treatment. Bufalin effectively suppressed the growth of primary human endometrial stroma cells isolated from endometriosis patients compared to women without endometriosis and immortalized human endometrial epithelial and stromal cells expressing the SRC-1 isoform compared to their parental cells in vitro. In vivo, compared to the vehicle, bufalin treatment significantly suppressed the growth of endometriotic lesions in mice with surgically induced endometriosis because bufalin disrupted the functional axis of SRC-1 isoform/ERβ by increasing SRC-1 isoform protein stability, hyperactivating the transcriptional activity of the SRC-1 isoform and degrading the ERβ protein by proteasome 26S subunit, non-ATPase 2 in endometriotic lesions. Bufalin treatment elevated the apoptosis signaling in epithelial cells of endometriotic lesions. In stromal cells of endometriotic lesions, bufalin treatment increased the levels of pyroptosis markers (caspase 1 and the active form of interleukin 1β) and reduced proliferation. In addition, bufalin treatment increased the expression levels of endoplasmic reticulum-stress (ERS) markers (PKR-like ER kinase, protein disulfide isomerase and binding immunoglobulin) in endometriotic lesions. Collectively, the bufalin-induced disruption of the SRC-1 isoform/ERβ axis might induce apoptosis, pyroptosis and ERS signaling in endometriotic lesions, causing the suppression of endometriosis. Therefore, future generations of SRC-modulators could be employed as an alternative medical approach for endometriosis treatment.

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Isabelle Vögeli, Hans H Jung, Bernhard Dick, Sandra K Erickson, Robert Escher, John W Funder, Felix J Frey and Geneviève Escher

The intracellular availability of glucocorticoids is regulated by the enzymes 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 (HSD11B1) and 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 2 (HSD11B2). The activity of HSD11B1 is measured in the urine based on the (tetrahydrocortisol+5α-tetrahydrocortisol)/tetrahydrocortisone ((THF+5α-THF)/THE) ratio in humans and the (tetrahydrocorticosterone+5α-tetrahydrocorticosterone)/tetrahydrodehydrocorticosterone ((THB+5α-THB)/THA) ratio in mice. The cortisol/cortisone (F/E) ratio in humans and the corticosterone/11-dehydrocorticosterone (B/A) ratio in mice are markers of the activity of HSD11B2. In vitro agonist treatment of liver X receptor (LXR) down-regulates the activity of HSD11B1. Sterol 27-hydroxylase (CYP27A1) catalyses the first step in the alternative pathway of bile acid synthesis by hydroxylating cholesterol to 27-hydroxycholesterol (27-OHC). Since 27-OHC is a natural ligand for LXR, we hypothesised that CYP27A1 deficiency may up-regulate the activity of HSD11B1. In a patient with cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis carrying a loss-of-function mutation in CYP27A1, the plasma concentrations of 27-OHC were dramatically reduced (3.8 vs 90–140 ng/ml in healthy controls) and the urinary ratios of (THF+5α-THF)/THE and F/E were increased, demonstrating enhanced HSD11B1 and diminished HSD11B2 activities. Similarly, in Cyp27a1 knockout (KO) mice, the plasma concentrations of 27-OHC were undetectable (<1 vs 25–120 ng/ml in Cyp27a1 WT mice). The urinary ratio of (THB+5α-THB)/THA was fourfold and that of B/A was twofold higher in KO mice than in their WT littermates. The (THB+5α-THB)/THA ratio was also significantly increased in the plasma, liver and kidney of KO mice. In the liver of these mice, the increase in the concentrations of active glucocorticoids was due to increased liver weight as a consequence of Cyp27a1 deficiency. In vitro, 27-OHC acts as an inhibitor of the activity of HSD11B1. Our studies suggest that the expression of CYP27A1 modulates the concentrations of active glucocorticoids in both humans and mice and in vitro.

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Abdullah Cim, Greta J Sawyer, Xiaohong Zhang, Haibin Su, Louise Collins, Peter Jones, Michael Antoniou, Jean-Paul Reynes, Hans-Joachim Lipps and John W Fabre

Transdifferentiation in vivo is an attractive option for autologous replacement of pancreatic β cells in patients with type 1 diabetes. It has been achieved by adenoviral delivery of genes for transcription factors in the liver and pancreas of hyperglycaemic mice. However, these viral approaches are not clinically applicable. We used the hydrodynamic approach to deliver genes Pdx1, Ngn3 (Neurog3) and MafA singly and in combination to livers of normoglycaemic rats. Five expression plasmids were evaluated. Livers were removed 1, 3, 7, 14 and 28 days after gene delivery and assayed by quantitative PCR, semi-quantitative PCR and immunohistology. Functional studies on hyperglycaemic rats were performed. The highest and most sustained expression was from a CpG-depleted plasmid (pCpG) and a plasmid with an in-frame scaffold/matrix attachment region ((pEPI(CMV)). When Pdx1, Ngn3 and MafA were delivered together to normoglycaemic rats with these plasmids, insulin mRNA was detected at all time points and was ∼50-fold higher with pCpG. Insulin mRNA content of livers at days 3 and 7 was equivalent to that of a pancreas, with scattered insulin-positive cells detected by immunohistology, but levels declined thereafter. Prohormone convertase 1/3 was elevated at days 3 and 7. In hyperglycaemic rats, fasting blood glucose was lower at days 1, 3 and 7 but not thereafter, and body weight was maintained to day 28. We conclude that hydrodynamic gene delivery of multiple transcription factors to rat liver can initiate transdifferentiation to pancreatic β cells, but the process is reversible and probably requires more sustained transcription factor expression.

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H Y Li, Y X Liu, L Harvey, S Shafaeizadeh, E M van der Beek and W Han

The prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is estimated at 14% globally, and in some countries, such as Singapore, exceeds 20%. Both women and children exposed to GDM have an increased risk of later metabolic diseases, cardiovascular disease and other health issues. Beyond lifestyle changes and pharmaceutical intervention using existing type 2 diabetes medications for expecting women, there are limited treatment options for women with GDM; targeting better outcomes of potentially affected infants is unexplored. Numerous animal models have been generated for understanding of pathological processes of GDM development and for development of treatment strategies. These models, however, suffer from limited windows of opportunity to examine risk factors and potential intervention options. By combining short-term high-fat diet (HFD) feeding and low-dose streptozotocin (STZ) treatments before pregnancy, we have established a mouse model with marked transient gestation-specific hyperglycemia, which allows testing of nutritional and pharmacological interventions before, during and beyond pregnancy.