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Te Du, Liu Yang, Xu Xu, Xiaofan Shi, Xin Xu, Jian Lu, Jianlu Lv, Xi Huang, Jing Chen, Heyao Wang, Jiming Ye, Lihong Hu and Xu Shen

Vincamine, a monoterpenoid indole alkaloid extracted from the Madagascar periwinkle, is clinically used for the treatment of cardio-cerebrovascular diseases, while also treated as a dietary supplement with nootropic function. Given the neuronal protection of vincamine and the potency of β-cell amelioration in treating type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), we investigated the potential of vincamine in protecting β-cells and ameliorating glucose homeostasis in vitro and in vivo. Interestingly, we found that vincamine could protect INS-832/13 cells function by regulating G-protein-coupled receptor 40 (GPR40)/cAMP/Ca2+/IRS2/PI3K/Akt signaling pathway, while increasing glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) by modulating GPR40/cAMP/Ca2+/CaMKII pathway, which reveals a novel mechanism underlying GPR40-mediated cell protection and GSIS in INS-832/13 cells. Moreover, administration of vincamine effectively ameliorated glucose homeostasis in either HFD/STZ or db/db type 2 diabetic mice. To our knowledge, our current work might be the first report on vincamine targeting GPR40 and its potential in the treatment of T2DM.

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Wang Xiao, Fei Beibei, Shen Guangsi, Jiang Yu, Zhang Wen, Huang Xi and Xu Youjia

Postmenopausal osteoporosis is a metabolic disease associated with estrogen deficiency. The results of numerous studies have revealed the positive correlation between iron accumulation and postmenopausal osteoporotic status. Although the results of previous studies have indicated that estrogen or iron alone have an effect on bone metabolism, their combined effects are not well defined. Using an in vivo mouse model, we found that bone mass was minimally affected by an excess of iron in the presence of estrogen. Once the source of estrogen was removed (ovariectomy), iron accumulation significantly decreased bone mass. These effects were accompanied by fluctuations in the level of oxidative stress. To determine whether these effects were related to bone formation or bone resorption, primary osteoblasts (OBs), RAW264.7 cells, and bone-marrow-derived macrophages were used for i n vitro experiments. We found that iron accumulation did inhibit the activity of OBs. However, estrogen had little effect on this inhibition. In contrast, iron promoted osteoclast differentiation through the production of reactive oxygen species. Estrogen, a powerful reactive oxygen scavenger, suppressed this effect in osteoclasts. Our data provided direct evidence that iron affected the bone mass only in the absence of estrogen. The inhibitory effect of estrogen on iron-induced osteopenia was particularly relevant to bone resorption rather than bone formation.

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Liqiong Song, Wei Xia, Zhao Zhou, Yuanyuan Li, Yi Lin, Jie Wei, Zhengzheng Wei, Bing Xu, Jie Shen, Weiyong Li and Shunqing Xu

Phenolic estrogen pollutants, a class of typical endocrine-disrupting chemicals, have attracted public attention due to their estrogenic activities of imitating steroid hormone 17β-estradiol (E2) effects. Exposure to these pollutants may disrupt insulin secretion and be a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. In this study, we investigated the direct effects of phenolic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES), octylphenol (OP), nonylphenol (NP), and bisphenol A (BPA) on rat pancreatic islets in vitro, whose estrogenic activities were DES>NP>OP>BPA. Isolated β-cells were exposed to E2, DES, OP, NP, or BPA (0, 0.1, 0.5, 2.5, 25, and 250 μg/l) for 24 h. Parameters of insulin secretion, content, and morphology of β-cells were measured. In the glucose-stimulated insulin secretion test, E2 and DES increased insulin secretion in a dose-dependent manner in a 16.7 mM glucose condition. However, for BPA, NP, or OP with lower estrogenic activity, the relationship between the doses and insulin secretion was an inverted U-shape. Moreover, OP, NP, or BPA (25 μg/l) impaired mitochondrial function in β-cells and induced remarkable swelling of mitochondria with loss of distinct cristae structure within the membrane, which was accompanied by disruption of mRNA expression of genes playing a key role in β-cell function (Glut2 (Slc2a2), Gck, Pdx1, Hnf1 α, Rab27a, and Snap25), and mitochondrial function (Ucp2 and Ogdh). Therefore, these phenolic estrogens can disrupt islet morphology and β-cell function, and mitochondrial dysfunction is suggested to play an important role in the impairment of β-cell function.

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Xin-gang Yao, Xin Xu, Gai-hong Wang, Min Lei, Ling-ling Quan, Yan-hua Cheng, Ping Wan, Jin-pei Zhou, Jing Chen, Li-hong Hu and Xu Shen

Impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) and increasing β-cell death are two typical dysfunctions of pancreatic β-cells in individuals that are destined to develop type 2 diabetes, and improvement of β-cell function through GSIS enhancement and/or inhibition of β-cell death is a promising strategy for anti-diabetic therapy. In this study, we discovered that the small molecule, N-(2-benzoylphenyl)-5-bromo-2-thiophenecarboxamide (BBT), was effective in both potentiating GSIS and protecting β-cells from cytokine- or streptozotocin (STZ)-induced cell death. Results of further studies revealed that cAMP/PKA and long-lasting (L-type) voltage-dependent Ca2 + channel/CaMK2 pathways were involved in the action of BBT against GSIS, and that the cAMP/PKA pathway was essential for the protective action of BBT on β-cells. An assay using the model of type 2 diabetic mice induced by high-fat diet combined with STZ (STZ/HFD) demonstrated that BBT administration efficiently restored β-cell functions as indicated by the increased plasma insulin level and decrease in the β-cell loss induced by STZ/HFD. Moreover, the results indicated that BBT treatment decreased fasting blood glucose and HbA1c and improved oral glucose tolerance further highlighting the potential of BBT in anti-hyperglycemia research.

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Rumana Yasmeen, Qiwen Shen, Aejin Lee, Jacob H Leung, Devan Kowdley, David J DiSilvestro, Lu Xu, Kefeng Yang, Andrei Maiseyeu, Naresh C Bal, Muthu Periasamy, Paolo Fadda and Ouliana Ziouzenkova

Adipokine leptin regulates neuroendocrine circuits that control energy expenditure, thermogenesis and weight loss. However, canonic regulators of leptin secretion, such as insulin and malonyl CoA, do not support these processes. We hypothesize that epiregulin (EREG), a growth factor that is secreted from fibroblasts under thermogenic and cachexia conditions, induces leptin secretion associated with energy dissipation. The effects of EREG on leptin secretion were studied ex vivo, in the intra-abdominal white adipose tissue (iAb WAT) explants, as well as in vivo, in WT mice with diet-induced obesity (DIO) and in ob/ob mice. These mice were pair fed a high-fat diet and treated with intraperitoneal injections of EREG. EREG increased leptin production and secretion in a dose-dependent manner in iAb fat explants via the EGFR/MAPK pathway. After 2 weeks, the plasma leptin concentration was increased by 215% in the EREG-treated group compared to the control DIO group. EREG-treated DIO mice had an increased metabolic rate and core temperature during the active dark cycle and displayed cold-induced thermogenesis. EREG treatment reduced iAb fat mass, the major site of leptin protein production and secretion, but did not reduce the mass of the other fat depots. In the iAb fat, expression of genes supporting mitochondrial oxidation and thermogenesis was increased in EREG-treated mice vs control DIO mice. All metabolic and gene regulation effects of EREG treatment were abolished in leptin-deficient ob/ob mice. Our data revealed a new role of EREG in induction of leptin secretion leading to the energy expenditure state. EREG could be a potential target protein to regulate hypo- and hyperleptinemia, underlying metabolic and immune diseases.