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Y Chen and H J Arnqvist


The present study was undertaken to investigate the metabolic regulation of insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs) gene expression in muscles from diabetic or fasted rat. The messenger RNA (mRNA) levels for IGFBP-2 and -4 were analysed by solution hybridization in heart, skeletal and smooth muscle and liver from fasted (3 days) and refed (6, 12, 24, 72 h) rats and rats made diabetic with streptozotocin. In aortic intima-media, the mRNA levels for IGFBP-2 and -4 were decreased by diabetes or fasting and were restored gradually by refeeding. The response of IGFBP-4 mRNA to diabetes appeared two days after injection of streptozotocin, while a significant decrease of IGFBP-2 mRNA was found after a diabetes duration of two weeks. Both diabetes and fasting decreased IGFBP-4 mRNA levels in heart muscle and skeletal muscle and refeeding restored mRNA for IGFBP-4 to normal level. IGFBP-2 mRNA was undetectable in heart muscle and skeletal muscle. In liver IGFBP-4 mRNA was abundantly expressed. It was slightly but significantly decreased by fasting and approached normality with refeeding, while no change was found in diabetic liver. In contrast, liver IGFBP-2 mRNA was much lower in amount than IGF-I mRNA and IGFBP-4 mRNA and was sharply elevated by fasting, and decreased by refeeding. In conclusion, 1) both IGFBP-2 and -4 mRNA in various tissues are regulated by diabetes or fasting; 2) the mRNA for IGFBP-2 is metabolically regulated in a discordant, organ-specific manner.

Journal of Endocrinology (1994) 143, 235–242

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Y Chen, ML Nagpal, and T Lin

Basal and LH/human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)-stimulated testosterone formation by Leydig cells is dependent on ambient glucose levels. Inhibition of glucose uptake is associated with decreased testosterone formation. Recently, glucose transporter 8 (GLUT8) has been shown to be highly expressed in the testis. In the present study, we have investigated the expression and regulation of the GLUT8 gene in rat Leydig cells. Primers were designed by using sequences that are not conserved in GLUT1 to GLUT5 and that contain the glycosylation region of GLUT8. This yielded an amplicon of 186 bp. The tIssue-specific expression experiments in adult rat (55- to 65-day-old) tIssues revealed that GLUT8 is expressed predominantly in the testis, in smaller amounts in heart and kidney, and in negligible amounts in liver and spleen. Furthermore, GLUT8 mRNA was found to be highly expressed in crude interstitial cells, Leydig cells and testicular and epididymal germ cells. In prepubertal rat (20-day-old) tIssues, GLUT8 expression was comparatively much lower than in the adult rat tIssues. By comparative RT-PCR, hCG caused dose- and time-dependent increases of GLUT8 mRNA levels. hCG and IGF-I had synergistic effects on GLUT8 mRNA and protein expression. GLUT1 and GLUT3 were also found to be expressed in Leydig cells. However, neither GLUT1 nor GLUT3 were affected by treatments with hCG, IGF-I or hCG and IGF-I combined. The addition of murine interleukin-1alpha (mIL-1alpha; 10 ng/ml), murine tumor necrosis factor-alpha (mTNF-alpha; 10 ng/ml), murine interferon-gamma (mIFN-gamma; 500 U/ml) separately or in combination decreased hCG-induced GLUT8 mRNA levels significantly. In conclusion, GLUT8 mRNA in Leydig cells was positively regulated by hCG and IGF-I and down-regulated by cytokines, mIL-1alpha, mTNF-alpha and mIFN-gamma. These results indicate that hCG, growth factors and cytokines affect Leydig cell steroidogenesis by modulating GLUT8 expression.

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John F Langenheim and Wen Y Chen

To prolong the circulation half-life of human prolactin (hPRL), human GH (hGH), and their competitive antagonists, hPRL-G129R and hGH-G120R, we examined the effects of fusing a serum albumin-binding peptide (SA20) to their amino- or carboxyl-terminus. Fusion of the SA20 peptide to the amino-terminus of the ligands was less detrimental upon their ability to induce or inhibit signal transduction and cell proliferation in vitro than fusion to the carboxyl-terminus. Pharmacokinetic (PK) studies in mice revealed that the half-life of SA20-hPRL and SA20-hGH was prolonged and their clearance was reduced in comparison with hPRL and hGH. Pharmacodynamic (PD) studies in 8-week-old female mice revealed that lobuloalveolar development in mammary glands was greater in all three groups (daily, every 2 days, or every third day over a 12-day period) of mice treated with SA20-hPRL (4 mg/kg) compared with hPRL (3.59 mg/kg). Similarly, daily administration (i.p.) of SA20-hGH (8 mg/kg) or hGH (7.15 mg/kg) to 23-day-old female mice over a 40-day period revealed the superiority of SA20-hGH over hGH as measured by weight gain, body length, and lobuloalveolar development in the mammary glands. These findings indicate that SA20 modification of hPRL, hGH, and their respective antagonists improves their PK/PD properties.

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C Y Shan, J H Yang, Y Kong, X Y Wang, M Y Zheng, Y G Xu, Y Wang, H Z Ren, B C Chang, and L M Chen

For centuries, Berberine has been used in the treatment of enteritis in China, and it is also known to have anti-hyperglycemic effects in type 2 diabetic patients. However, as Berberine is insoluble and rarely absorbed in gastrointestinal tract, the mechanism by which it works is unclear. We hypothesized that it may act locally by ameliorating intestinal barrier abnormalities and endotoxemia. A high-fat diet combined with low-dose streptozotocin was used to induce type 2 diabetes in male Sprague Dawley rats. Berberine (100 mg/kg) was administered by lavage to diabetic rats for 2 weeks and saline was given to controls. Hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance improved in the Berberine group, although there was no significant decrease in blood glucose. Berberine treatment also led to a notable restoration of intestinal villi/mucosa structure and less infiltration of inflammatory cells, along with a decrease in plasma lipopolysaccharide (LPS) level. Tight junction protein zonula occludens 1 (ZO1) was also decreased in diabetic rats but was restored by Berberine treatment. Glutamine-induced glucagon-like peptide 2 (GLP2) secretion from ileal tissue decreased dramatically in the diabetic group but was restored by Berberine treatment. Fasting insulin, insulin resistance index, plasma LPS level, and ZO1 expression were significantly correlated with GLP2 level. In type 2 diabetic rats, Berberine treatment not only augments GLP2 secretion and improves diabetes but is also effective in repairing the damaged intestinal mucosa, restoring intestinal permeability, and improving endotoxemia. Whether these effects are mechanistically related will require further studies, but they certainly support the hypothesis that Berberine acts via modulation of intestinal function.

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M Noguchi, Y Ikarashi, M Yuzurihara, Y Kase, JT Chen, S Takeda, M Aburada, and A Ishige

The effects of a Japanese herbal medicine, Keishi-bukuryo-gan, and 17beta-estradiol on calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-induced elevation of skin temperature were investigated in ovariectomized (OVX) rats. Ovariectomy not only potentiated CGRP-induced elevation of skin temperature and arterial vasorelaxation but also induced a lower concentration of endogenous CGRP in plasma and up-regulation of arterial CGRP receptors, suggesting that lowered CGRP in plasma due to ovarian hormone deficiency increases the number of CGRP receptors and consequently amplifies the stimulatory effects of CGRP to elevate skin temperature. Oral Keishi-bukuryo-gan (100-1000 mg/kg, once a day for 7 days) restored a series of CGRP-related responses observed in OVX rats by normalizing plasma CGRP levels in a dose-dependent manner as effectively as s.c. injection. 17Beta-estradiol (0.010 mg/kg, once a day for 7 days). However, Keishi-bukuryo-gan did not affect the lower concentration of plasma estradiol and the decreased uterine weight due to ovariectomy, although the hormone replacement of 17beta-estradiol restored them. These results suggest that Keishi-bukuryo-gan, which does not confer estrogen activity on plasma, may be useful for the treatment of hot flashes in patients for whom estrogen replacement therapy is contraindicated, as well as menopausal women.

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Fung M-L, SY Lam, X Dong, Y Chen, and PS Leung

In the present study, the effects of postnatal hypoxemia on the AT1 angiotensin receptor-mediated activities in the rat carotid body were studied. Angiotensin II (Ang II) concentration-dependently increased the chemoreceptor afferent activity in the isolated carotid body. Single- or pauci-fiber recording of the sinus nerve revealed that the afferent response to Ang II was enhanced in the postnatally hypoxic carotid body. To determine whether the increased sensitivity to Ang II is mediated by changes in the functional expression of Ang II receptors in the carotid body chemoreceptors, cytosolic calcium ([Ca2+]i) was measured by spectrofluorimetry in fura-2 acetoxymethyl ester-loaded type I cells dissociated from carotid bodies. Ang II (25-100 nM) concentration-dependently increased [Ca2+]i in the type I cells. The proportion of clusters of type I cells responsive to Ang II was higher in the postnatally hypoxic group than in the normoxic control (89 vs 66%). In addition, the peak [Ca2+]i response to Ang II was enhanced 2- to 3-fold in the postnatally hypoxic group. The [Ca2+]i response to Ang II was abolished by pretreatment with losartan (1 microM), an AT1 receptor antagonist, but not by PD-123177 (1 microM), an AT(2) antagonist. Double-labeling immunohistochemistry confirmed that an enhanced immunoreactivity for AT1 receptor was co-localized to the lobules of type I cells in the hypoxic group. In addition, RT-PCR analysis of subtypes of AT1 receptors showed an up-regulation of AT1a but a down-regulation of AT1b receptors, indicating a differential regulation of the expression of AT1 receptor subtypes by postnatal hypoxia in the carotid body. These data suggest that postnatal hypoxemia is associated with an increased sensitivity of peripheral chemoreceptors in response to Ang II and an up-regulation of AT1a receptor-mediated [Ca2+]i activity of the chemoreceptors. This modulation may be important for adaptation of carotid body functions in the hypoxic ventilatory response and in electrolyte and water homeostasis during perinatal and postnatal hypoxia.

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D Wu, C Chen, J Zhang, C Y Bowers, and I J Clarke


The mechanism of action of GH-releasing peptide-6 (GHRP-6) and GHRP-2 on GH release was investigated in ovine and rat pituitary cells in vitro. In partially purified sheep somatotrophs, GHRP-2 and GH-releasing factor (GRF) increased intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP) concentrations and caused GH release in a dose-dependent manner; GHRP-6 did not increase cAMP levels. An additive effect of maximal doses of GRF and GHRP-2 was observed in both cAMP and GH levels whereas combined GHRP-6 and GHRP-2 at maximal doses produced an additive effect on GH release only. Pretreatment of the cells with MDL 12,330A, an adenylyl cyclase inhibitor, prevented cAMP accumulation and the subsequent release of GH that was caused by either GHRP-2 or GRF. The cAMP antagonist, Rp-cAMP also blocked GH release in response to GHRP-2 and GRF. The cAMP antagonist did not prevent the effect of GHRP-6 on GH secretion whereas MDL 12,330A partially reduced the effect. An antagonist for the GRF receptor, [Ac-Tyr1,d-Arg2]-GRF 1–29, significantly diminished the effect of GHRP-2 and GRF on cAMP accumulation and GH release, but did not affect GH release induced by GHRP-6. Somatostatin prevented cAMP accumulation and GH release responses to GHRP-2, GRF and GHRP-6. Ca2+ channel blockade did not affect the cAMP increase in response to GHRP-2 or GRF but totally prevented GH release in response to GHRP-2, GRF and GHRP-6. These results indicated that GHRP-2 acts on ovine pituitary somatotrophs to increase cAMP concentration in a manner similar to that of GRF; this occurs even during the blockade of Ca2+ influx. GHRP-6 caused GH release without an increase in intracellular cAMP levels. GH release in response to all three secretagogues was reduced by somatostatin and was dependent upon the influx of extracellular Ca2+. The additive effect of GHRP-2 and GRF or GHRP-6 suggested that the three peptides may act on different receptors. In rat pituitary cell cultures, GHRP-6 had no effect on cAMP levels, but potentiated the effect of GRF on cAMP accumulation. The synergistic effect of GRF and GHRP-6 on cAMP accumulation did not occur in sheep somatotrophs. Whereas GHRP-2 caused cAMP accumulation in sheep somatotrophs, it did not do so in rat pituitary cells. These data indicate species differences in the response of pituitary somatotrophs to the GHRPs and this is probably due to different subtypes of GHRP receptor in rat or sheep.

Journal of Endocrinology (1996) 148, 197–205

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The effects of hypophysectomy on serum testosterone, 125I-labelled hCG binding to testicular membranes and on testicular responsiveness were studied in adult rats. Serum testosterone decreased rapidly over the first 6 h after hypophysectomy. LH receptors were determined (pmol/testis) by measuring the specific binding of 125I-labelled hCG in membrane preparations of testes of rats hypophysectomized 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, or 15 days earlier. Hypophysectomy did not result in a decrease in 125I-labelled hCG binding on day 1 but this had decreased to 40% of that in intact controls by day 2. A gradual decline was found between days 2 and 6 at which time hCG binding had decreased to 15%. No further decrease occurred between days 6 and 15. Scatchard analysis indicated that the decline in hCG binding was due to a decrease in binding capacity and not to a decrease in binding affinity. FSH, testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and oestradiol were unable to prevent the decline in hCG binding. Although serum testosterone, testicular testosterone content, and 125I-labelled hCG binding decreased rapidly after hypophysectomy, testicular responsiveness to LH was biphasic. The intraperitoneal administration of 25 μg LH 2 h before decapitation increased testosterone in the circulation to a greater extent in animals hypophysectomized for 1 day than in intact controls while hCG binding affinities and capacities had not changed. Two or three days after hypophysectomy testicular responsiveness to LH was similar to that of intact controls even though hCG binding in hypophysectomized animals had decreased to 40 and 28% of intact controls respectively.

It is concluded that (1) the testis is dependent on anterior pituitary hormones for maintenance of testicular LH receptors and testosterone secretion, (2) FSH, testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, or oestradiol cannot prevent the decline in testicular LH receptors resulting from hypophysectomy, and (3) steroidogenic capacity of the testis persists significantly longer than the hCG binding capacity of the testis.

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B Dabovic, Y Chen, C Colarossi, L Zambuto, H Obata, and DB Rifkin

The latent transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta binding proteins (LTBP)-1, -3 and -4 bind the latent form of the multipotent cytokine TGF-beta. To examine the function of the LTBPs, we made a null mutation of Ltbp-3 by gene targeting. The homozygous mutant animals developed cranio-facial malformations by 12 days. By three months, there was a pronounced rounding of the cranial vault, extension of the mandible beyond the maxilla, and kyphosis. The mutant animals developed osteosclerosis of the long bones and vertebrae as well as osteoarthritis between 6 and 9 months of age. These latter phenotypic changes were similar to those described for mice that have impaired TGF-beta signaling. Thus, we suggest that Ltbp-3 plays an important role in regulating TGF-beta bioavailability as the phenotype of the Ltbp-3 null mouse appears to result from decreased TGF-beta signaling. Histological examination of the skulls from null animals revealed no effects on calvarial suture closure. However, the synchondroses in the skull base were obliterated within 2 weeks of birth. This is in contrast to the wild-type synchondroses, which remain unossified throughout the life of the animal and enable growth of the skull base through endochondral ossification. Histological changes in mutant basooccipital-basosphenoid synchondrosis were observed 1.5 days after birth. Compared with wild-type or heterozygous littermates, the basooccipital-basosphenoid synchondrosis of Ltbp-3 null mice contained increased numbers of hypertrophic chondrocytes. The expression of bone sialoprotein-1 (a marker for osteoblasts) was observed in cells surrounding the synchondrosis at postnatal day 1.5 indicating ectopic ossification. The expression of Indian hedgehog (Ihh) (a marker for chondrocytes committed to hypertrophic differentiation) was found through the basooccipital-basosphenoid synchondrosis, whereas the expression of parathyroid hormone related protein (PTHrP), which inhibits chondrocyte differentiation, appeared to be diminished in Ltbp-3 null mice. This suggests that Ltbp-3 may control chondrocyte differentiation by regulating TGF-beta availability. TGF-beta may regulate PTHrP expression either downstream of Ihh or independently of Ihh signaling.

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M Noguchi, Y Ikarashi, M Yuzurihara, K Mizoguchi, K Kurauchi, JT Chen, and A Ishige

We investigated the mechanism for the augmentation of the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-induced elevation of skin temperature in ovariectomized (OVX) rats. I.v. injection of alphaCGRP (10 micro g/kg) elevated skin temperature of the hind paws. The elevation was significantly greater in OVX rats than in sham-operated rats and was inhibited by pretreatment with human CGRP(8-37) (100-1000 micro g/kg i.v.), a CGRP receptor antagonist, in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, ovariectomy not only potentiated vasorelaxation due to alphaCGRP but increased the number of CGRP receptors in mesenteric arteries. Further, the plasma concentration of endogenous CGRP was significantly lower in OVX rats. These results suggest that the low concentration of plasma CGRP due to ovarian hormone deficiency may induce the increase in the number of CGRP receptors due to up-regulation. Therefore, the increased number of CGRP receptors may be responsible for potentiation of exogenous alphaCGRP-induced elevation of skin temperature in OVX rats. The mechanism underlying the hot flashes observed in menopausal women may also involve, in part, the up-regulation of CGRP receptors following ovarian hormone deficiency.