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Esther Paulo, Dongmei Wu, Peter Hecker, Yun Zhang and Biao Wang

Numerous studies have suggested that beige adipocyte abundance is correlated with improved metabolic performance, but direct evidence showing that beige adipocyte expansion protects animals from the development of obesity is missing. Previously, we have described that the liver kinase b1 (LKB1) regulates beige adipocyte renaissance in subcutaneous inguinal white adipose tissue (iWAT) through a class IIa histone deacetylase 4 (HDAC4)-dependent mechanism. This study investigates the physiological impact of persistent beige adipocyte renaissance in energy homeostasis in mice. Here we present that the transgenic mice H4-TG, overexpressing constitutively active HDAC4 in adipocytes, showed beige adipocyte expansion in iWAT at room temperature. H4-TG mice exhibited increased energy expenditure due to beige adipocyte expansion. They also exhibited reduced adiposity under both normal chow and high-fat diet (HFD) feeding conditions. Specific ablation of beige adipocytes reversed the protection against HFD-induced obesity in H4-TG mice. Taken together, our results directly demonstrate that beige adipocyte expansion regulates adiposity in mice and targeting beige adipocyte renaissance may present a novel strategy to tackle obesity in humans.

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Zhenhua Li, Tao Zhang, Hongyan Dai, Guanghui Liu, Haibin Wang, Yingying Sun, Yun Zhang and Zhiming Ge

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Zhenhua Li, Tao Zhang, Hongyan Dai, Guanghui Liu, Haibin Wang, Yingying Sun, Yun Zhang and Zhiming Ge

Apoptosis plays a critical role in the diabetic cardiomyopathy, and endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS) is one of the intrinsic apoptosis pathways. Previous studies have shown that the endoplasmic reticulum becomes swollen and dilated in diabetic myocardium, and ERS is involved in heart failure and diabetic kidney. This study is aimed to demonstrate whether ERS is induced in myocardium of streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats. We established a type 1 diabetic rat model, used echocardiographic evaluation, hematoxylin–eosin staining, and the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated DNA nick-end labeling staining to identify the existence of diabetic cardiomyopathy and enhanced apoptosis in the diabetic heart. We performed immunohistochemistry, western blot, and real-time PCR to analyze the hallmarks of ERS that include glucose-regulated protein 78, CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein homologous protein (CHOP) and caspase12. We found these hallmarks to have enhanced expression in protein and mRNA levels in diabetic myocardium. Also, another pathway that can lead to cell death of ERS, c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase-dependent pathway, was also activated in diabetic heart. Those results suggested that ERS was induced in STZ-induced diabetic rats' myocardium, and ERS-associated apoptosis occurred in the pathophysiology of diabetic cardiomyopathy.

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Chang-Jiang Li, Hui-Wen Sun, Fa-Liang Zhu, Liang Chen, Yuan-Yuan Rong, Yun Zhang and Mei Zhang

In this study, we investigated the in vivo role of adiponectin, an adipocytokine, on the development of atherosclerosis in rabbits mainly using adenovirus expressing adiponectin gene (Ad-APN) and intravascular ultrasonography. Serum adiponectin concentrations in rabbits after Ad-APN local transfer to abdominal aortas increased about nine times as much as those before transfer (P < 0.01), about ten times as much as the levels of endogenous adiponectin in adenovirus expressing β-galactosidase gene (Ad-β gal) treated rabbits (P < 0.01), and about four times as much as those in the aorta of non-injured rabbits on a normal cholesterol diet (P < 0.01). Ultrasonography revealed a significantly reduced atherosclerotic plaque area in abdominal aortas of rabbits infected through intima with Ad-APN, by 35.2% compared with the area before treatment (P < 0.01), and by 35.8% compared with that in Ad-β gal-treated rabbits (P < 0.01). In rabbits infected through adventitia, Ad-APN treatment reduced plaque area by 28.9% as compared with the area before treatment (P < 0.01) and 25.6% compared with that in Ad-β gal-treated rabbits (P < 0.01). Adiponectin significantly suppressed the mRNA expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) by 18.5% through intima transfer (P < 0.05) and 26.9% through adventitia transfer (P < 0.01), and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) by 40.7% through intima transfer (P < 0.01), and 30.7% through adventitia transfer (P < 0.01). However, adiponectin had no effect on the expression of types I and III collagen. These results suggest that local adiponectin treatment suppresses the development of atherosclerosis in vivo in part by attenuating the expression of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 in vascular walls.

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Jacob C Garza, Chung Sub Kim, Jing Liu, Wei Zhang and Xin-Yun Lu

Pharmacological and genetic studies have suggested that melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) signaling in the paraventricular nucleus of hypothalamus (PVN) regulates appetite and energy balance. However, the specific role of MC4R signaling in PVN neurons in these processes remains to be further elucidated in normally developed animals. In the present study, we employed RNA interference to determine whether MC4R knockdown in the PVN modulates food intake and body weight in adult rats. Adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors encoding short hairpin RNAs targeting MC4R (AAV-shRNA-MC4R) were generated to induce MC4R knockdown in the PVN. By in situ hybridization, we detected a high-level expression of Dicer, a key enzyme required for shRNA-mediated gene silencing, along the entire rostrocaudal extent of the PVN. Bilateral injection of AAV-shRNA-MC4R vectors into the PVN of the adult rat resulted in significant and specific reduction of MC4R mRNA expression. Animals with MC4R knockdown exhibited an increase in food intake and excessive body weight gain when exposed to a high-fat diet. Our results provide evidence that AAV-mediated silencing of MC4R on PVN neurons promotes hyperphagia and obesity in response to the dietary challenge in the adult animal.

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Binbin Guan, Wenyi Li, Fengying Li, Yun Xie, Qicheng Ni, Yanyun Gu, Xiaoying Li, Qidi Wang, Hongli Zhang and Guang Ning

The cellular and molecular mechanisms of glucose-stimulated β-cell proliferation are poorly understood. Recently, secreted frizzled-related protein 5 (encoded by Sfrp5; a Wnt signaling inhibitor) has been demonstrated to be involved in β-cell proliferation in obesity. A previous study demonstrated that glucose enhanced Wnt signaling to promote cell proliferation. We hypothesized that inhibition of SFRP5 contributes to glucose-stimulated β-cell proliferation. In this study, we found that the Sfrp5 level was significantly reduced in high glucose-treated INS-1 cells, primary rat β-cells, and islets isolated from glucose-infused rats. Overexpression of SFRP5 diminished glucose-stimulated proliferation in both INS-1 cells and primary β-cells, with a concomitant inhibition of the Wnt signaling pathway and decreased cyclin D2 expression. In addition, we showed that glucose-induced Sfrp5 suppression was modulated by the PI3K/AKT pathway. Therefore, we conclude that glucose inhibits Sfrp5 expression via the PI3K/AKT pathway and hence promotes rat pancreatic β-cell proliferation.

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Jian-Ting Ke, Mi Li, Shi-Qing Xu, Wen-Jian Zhang, Yong-Wei Jiang, Lan-yun Cheng, Li Chen, Jin-Ning Lou and Wei Wu

The efficacy of gliquidone for the treatment of diabetic nephropathy was investigated by implanting micro-osmotic pumps containing gliquidone into the abdominal cavities of Goto-Kakizaki (GK) rats with diabetic nephropathy. Blood glucose, 24 h urinary protein, and 24 h urinary albumin levels were measured weekly. After 4 weeks of gliquidone therapy, pathological changes in the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) were examined using an electron microscope. Real-time PCR, western blotting, and immunohistochemistry were employed to detect glomerular expression of receptors for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) (AGER), protein kinase C β (PKCβ), and protein kinase A (PKA) as well as tubular expression of the albumin reabsorption-associated proteins: megalin and cubilin. Human proximal tubular epithelial cells (HK-2 cells) were used to analyze the effects of gliquidone and advanced glycation end products (AGEs) on the expression of megalin and cubilin and on the absorption of albumin. Gliquidone lowered blood glucose, 24 h urinary protein, and 24 h urinary albumin levels in GK rats with diabetic nephropathy. The level of plasma C-peptide increased markedly and GBM and podocyte lesions improved dramatically after gliquidone treatment. Glomerular expression of RAGE and PKCβ decreased after gliquidone treatment, while PKA expression increased. AGEs markedly suppressed the expression of megalin and cubulin and the absorption of albumin in HK-2 cells in vitro, whereas the expression of megalin and cubilin and the absorption of albumin were all increased in these cells after gliquidone treatment. In conclusion, gliquidone treatment effectively reduced urinary protein in GK rats with diabetic nephropathy by improving glomerular lesions and promoting tubular reabsorption.

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Can Liu, Mian Zhang, Meng-yue Hu, Hai-fang Guo, Jia Li, Yun-li Yu, Shi Jin, Xin-ting Wang, Li Liu and Xiao-dong Liu

Panax ginseng is one of the most popular herbal remedies. Ginsenosides, major bioactive constituents in P. ginseng, have shown good antidiabetic action, but the precise mechanism was not fully understood. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP1) is considered to be an important incretin that can regulate glucose homeostasis in the gastrointestinal tract after meals. The aim of this study was to investigate whether ginseng total saponins (GTS) exerts its antidiabetic effects via modulating GLP1 release. Ginsenoside Rb1 (Rb1), the most abundant constituent in GTS, was selected to further explore the underlying mechanisms in cultured NCI-H716 cells. Diabetic rats were developed by a combination of high-fat diet and low-dose streptozotocin injection. The diabetic rats orally received GTS (150 or 300 mg/kg) daily for 4 weeks. It was found that GTS treatment significantly ameliorated hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia, accompanied by a significant increase in glucose-induced GLP1 secretion and upregulation of proglucagon gene expression. Data from NCI-H716 cells showed that both GTS and Rb1 promoted GLP1 secretion. It was observed that Rb1 increased the ratio of intracellular ATP to ADP concentration and intracellular Ca2 + concentration. The metabolic inhibitor azide (3 mM), the KATP channel opener diazoxide (340 μM), and the Ca2 + channel blocker nifedipine (20 μM) significantly reversed Rb1-mediated GLP1 secretion. All these results drew a conclusion that ginsenosides stimulated GLP1 secretion both in vivo and in vitro. The antidiabetic effects of ginsenosides may be a result of enhanced GLP1 secretion.

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Shuisheng Li, Yong Zhang, Yun Liu, Xigui Huang, Weiren Huang, Danqi Lu, Pei Zhu, Yu Shi, Christopher H K Cheng, Xiaochun Liu and Haoran Lin

To ascertain the neuroendocrine function of the kisspeptin/GPR54 system in non-mammalian species, full-length cDNAs encoding for Kiss1 and Kiss2 as well as their putative cognate receptors GPR54a and GPR54b, were isolated from goldfish (Carassius auratus). The deduced protein sequences between Kiss1 and Kiss2 in goldfish share very low similarity, but their putative mature peptides (kisspeptin-10) are relatively conserved. RT-PCR analysis demonstrated that the goldfish kiss1 gene (gfkiss1) is highly expressed in the optic tectum-thalamus, intestine, kidney, and testis, while the goldfish kiss2 gene (gfkiss2) is mainly detected in the hypothalamus, telencephalon, optic tectum thalamus, adipose tissue, kidney, heart, and gonads. The two receptor genes (gfgpr54a and gfgpr54b) are highly expressed in the brain regions including telencephalon, optic tectum thalamus, and hypothalamus. Both mature goldfish kisspeptin-10 peptides (gfKiss1–10 and gfKiss2–10) are biologically active as they could functionally interact with the two goldfish receptors expressed in cultured eukaryotic cells to trigger the downstream signaling pathways with different potencies. The actions of gfKiss1–10 and gfKiss2–10 on LH secretion were further investigated in vitro and in vivo. Intraperitoneal administration of gfKiss1–10 to sexually mature female goldfish could increase the serum LH levels. However, this peptide does not significantly influence LH release from goldfish pituitary cells in primary culture, indicating that the peptide does not exert its actions at the pituitary level. On the other hand, gfKiss2–10 appears to be a much less potent peptide as it exhibits no significant in vivo bioactivity and is also inactive on the primary pituitary cells.

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Yong Zhang, Yun Liu, Xigui Huang, Xiaochun Liu, Baowei Jiao, Zining Meng, Pei Zhu, Shuisheng Li, Haoran Lin and Christopher H K Cheng

Two GPR39 transcripts, designated as sbGPR39-1a and sbGPR39-1b, were identified in black seabream (Acanthopagrus schlegeli). The deduced amino acid (aa) sequence of sbGPR39-1a contains 423 residues with seven putative transmembrane (TM) domains. On the other hand, sbGPR39-1b contains 284 aa residues with only five putative TM domains. Northern blot analysis confirmed the presence of two GPR39 transcripts in the seabream intestine, stomach, and liver. Apart from seabream, the presence of two GPR39 transcripts was also found to exist in a number of teleosts (zebrafish and pufferfish) and mammals (human and mouse). Analysis of the GPR39 gene structure in different species suggests that the two GPR39 transcripts are generated by alternative splicing. When the seabream receptors were expressed in cultured HEK293 cells, Zn2 + could trigger sbGPR39-1a signaling through the serum response element pathway, but no such functionality could be detected for the sbGPR39-1b receptor. The two receptors were found to be differentially expressed in seabream tissues. sbGPR39-1a is predominantly expressed in the gastrointestinal tract. On the other hand, sbGPR39-1b is widely expressed in most central and peripheral tissues except muscle and ovary. The expression of sbGPR39-1a in the intestine and the expression of sbGPR39-1b in the hypothalamus were decreased significantly during food deprivation in seabream. On the contrary, the expression of the GH secretagogue receptors (sbGHSR-1a and sbGHSR-1b) was significantly increased in the hypothalamus of the food-deprived seabream. The reciprocal regulatory patterns of expression of these two genes suggest that both of them are involved in controlling the physiological response of the organism during starvation.