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D Swolin-Eide, J Dahlgren, C Nilsson, K Albertsson Wikland, A Holmang and C Ohlsson

Events occurring early in life or prenatally are able to play important roles in the pathogenesis of diseases in adult life. Different sorts of stress or hormonal influences, during particular periods of pregnancy, may result in persisting or transient changes in physiology. Glucocorticoids are used for the treatment of a variety of diseases, to promote organ maturation and to prevent preterm delivery. Glucocorticoids are also known to affect skeletal growth and adult bone metabolism. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether exposure to dexamethasone (Dex) during fetal life has any effect on skeletal growth and/or bone mineral density in adult rat offspring. Pregnant rats were given injections of either Dex (100 micro g/kg) or vehicle on days 9, 11 and 13 of gestation. Dex-exposed male but not female rat offspring showed transient increases in crown-rump length and tibia and femur lengths at 3-6 weeks of age. In contrast, the cortical bone dimensions were altered in 12-week-old female but not male Dex-exposed offspring. The areal bone mineral densities of the long bones and the spine, as determined by dual X-ray absorptiometry, and trabecular as well as cortical volumetric bone mineral density, as measured using peripheral quantitative computerized tomography, were unchanged in both male and female Dex-exposed offspring. In conclusion, prenatal Dex exposure affects skeletal growth in a gender-specific manner, while the mineralization of bones is unaffected in both male and female offspring.

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J Mizuki, N Masumoto, M Tahara, K Fukami, A Mammoto, K Tasaka and A Miyake

Abstract

These studies were undertaken to characterize the exocytotic changes in purified gonadotropes by three-dimensional imaging using scanning electron microscopy. Rat gonadotropes were purified using a fluorescence-activated cell sorter and an argon laser treatment system. The purified gonadotropes were stimulated with GnRH under various conditions and fixed for scanning electron microscopy. After the GnRH stimulation, many 'hole' structures (diameter 0·1–0·5 μm) were observed on the cell surface, and notably the population of cells with 10 or more holes was clearly increased. The pattern of the time-course of the changes in this population was perfectly consistent with the LH secretory profile of pituitary cells, and their formation of the cells with 10 or more holes was completely inhibited by pretreatment with a GnRH antagonist. Our data suggest that the hole structure represents an exocytotic opening site and that regulated exocytosis in purified gonadotropes can be evaluated by scanning electron microscopy. This method may be widely applicable to other endocrine cells.

Journal of Endocrinology (1995) 144, 193–200

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F. Piva, P. Limonta and L. Martini

The organum vasculosum laminae terminalis (OVLT) was destroyed by radiofrequency lesions in regularly cycling and in long-term ovariectomized adult rats. After OVLT lesion practically all cyclic females (16 out of 22) became dioestrous, as indicated by vaginal smears. At the time of killing these animals (8 days after the lesion) serum LH levels were undetectable, while serum FSH was as low as in cyclic animals in dioestrus. In the few OVLT-lesioned animals which exhibited some sort of oestrous cyclicity, serum LH showed a small subphysiological increase at pro-oestrus: this was not accompanied by a parallel increase in serum FSH and in these animals a delayed peak of FSH occurred on the day of oestrus. Ovariectomized rats bearing OVLT lesions had serum titres of LH and FSH as high as those of ovariectomized control rats. It is suggested that the OVLT may play a role in the control of the cyclic release of gonadotrophins but is not involved in the tonic regulation of gonadotrophin secretion.

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Hsiu-Chi Lee and Shaw-Jenq Tsai

Endocrine is an important and tightly regulated system for maintaining body homeostasis. Endocrine glands produce hormones, which are released into blood stream to guide the target cells responding to all sorts of stimulations. For maintaining body homeostasis, the secretion and activity of a particular hormone needs to be adjusted in responding to environmental challenges such as changes in nutritional status or chronic stress. Hypoxia, a status caused by reduced oxygen availability or imbalance of oxygen consumption/supply in an organ or within a cell, is a stress that affects many physiological and pathological processes. Hypoxic stress in endocrine organs is especially critical because endocrine glands control body homeostasis. Local hypoxia affects not only the particular gland but also the downstream cells/organs regulated by hormones secreted from this gland. Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) are transcription factors that function as master regulators of oxygen homeostasis. Recent studies report that aberrant expression of HIFs in endocrine organs may result in the development and/or progression of diseases including diabetes, endometriosis, infertility and cancers. In this article, we will review recent findings in HIF-mediated endocrine organ dysfunction and the systemic syndromes caused by these disorders.

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CU Niesler, B Urso, JB Prins and K Siddle

We have previously shown that human preadipocytes in primary culture undergo apoptosis in response to serum deprivation and addition of tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), and have proposed that regulation of preadipocyte apoptosis in vivo may contribute to the overall control of adipose mass. In the present study we have investigated both pro- and anti-apoptotic factors, and the signalling pathways by which they act, in murine 3T3-L1 preadipocytes. Apoptotic indices (fraction of cells undergoing apoptosis) were determined by microscopic examination of acridine orange-stained cells, fluorescence-activated cell sorting of propidium iodide-stained cells, or phase-contrast video microscopy. Murine 3T3-L1 cells were more susceptible to apoptosis than human preadipocytes. In medium containing 10% newborn calf serum, the basal apoptotic index was very low (<2%), but the number of apoptotic cells increased significantly following serum withdrawal (10% after 24 h). Addition of TNF-alpha (6 nM) stimulated apoptosis in both serum-containing and serum-free media (apoptotic indices of 12% and 20% respectively after 24 h). IGF-I inhibited by approximately 50% the apoptosis induced by serum withdrawal, but increased by 25% the apoptosis induced by TNF-alpha in serum-free medium. It was shown by using specific inhibitors of lipid and protein kinases (LY294002, rapamycin, PD98059, SB203580) that both phosphoinositide 3-kinase and MAP kinase pathways contribute to the anti-apoptotic action of IGF-I on serum-starved cells, while phosphoinositide 3-kinase but not MAP kinase activity is required for the paradoxical pro-apoptotic action of IGF-I in the presence of TNF-alpha. We conclude that, in addition to its previously described anti-apoptotic action, IGF-I can also be pro-apoptotic in 3T3-L1 cells in the presence of TNF-alpha, and that both the anti- and pro-apoptotic effects of IGF-I require the activation of phosphoinositide 3-kinase.

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Simona Michienzi, Barbara Bucci, Cecilia Verga Falzacappa, Valentina Patriarca, Antonio Stigliano, Laura Panacchia, Ercole Brunetti, Vincenzo Toscano and Silvia Misiti

The pancreatic adenocarcinoma is an aggressive and devastating disease, which is characterized by invasiveness, rapid progression, and profound resistance to actual treatments, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy. At the moment, surgical resection provides the best possibility for long-term survival, but is feasible only in the minority of patients, when advanced disease chemotherapy is considered, although the effects are modest. Several studies have shown that thyroid hormone, 3,3′,5-triiodo-l-thyronine (T3) is able to promote or inhibit cell proliferation in a cell type-dependent manner. The aim of the present study is to investigate the ability of T3 to reduce the cell growth of the human pancreatic duct cell lines chosen, and to increase the effect of chemotherapeutic drugs at conventional concentrations. Three human cell lines hPANC-1, Capan1, and HPAC have been used as experimental models to investigate the T3 effects on pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell proliferation. The hPANC-1 and Capan1 cell proliferation was significantly reduced, while the hormone treatment was ineffective for HPAC cells. The T3-dependent cell growth inhibition was also confirmed by fluorescent activated cell sorting analysis and by cell cycle-related molecule analysis. A synergic effect of T3 and chemotherapy was demonstrated by cell kinetic experiments performed at different times and by the traditional isobologram method. We have showed that thyroid hormone T3 and its combination with low doses of gemcitabine (dFdCyd) and cisplatin (DDP) is able to potentiate the cytotoxic action of these chemotherapic drugs. Treatment with 5-fluorouracil was, instead, largely ineffective. In conclusion, our data support the hypothesis that T3 and its combination with dFdCyd and DDP may act in a synergic way on adenopancreatic ductal cells.

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Gonzalez-Juanatey JR, R Pineiro, MJ Iglesias, O Gualillo, PA Kelly, C Dieguez and F Lago

The use of GH to treat heart failure has received considerable attention in recent years. Although the mechanisms of its beneficial effects are unknown, it has been implicated in the regulation of apoptosis in several cell types, and cardiomyocyte apoptosis is known to occur in heart failure. We therefore decided to investigate whether GH protects cardiomyocytes from apoptosis. Preliminary experiments confirmed the expression of the GH receptor (GHR) gene in primary cultures of neonatal rat cardiomyocytes (PC), the specific binding of GH by HL-1 cardiomyocytes, and the GH-induced activation of GHR and its classical downstream effectors in the latter. That GH prevented the apoptosis of PC cells deprived of serum for 48 h was shown by DNA electrophoresis and by Hoechst staining assays in which GH reduced the percentage of cells undergoing apoptosis. Similarly, the TUNEL-evaluated pro-apoptotic effect of cytosine arabinoside (AraC) on HL-1 cells was almost totally prevented by pre-treatment with GH. Fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) analysis showed apoptosis in 9.7% of HL-1 cells growing in normal medium, 21.1% of those treated with AraC and 13.9% of those treated with AraC+GH, and that GH increased the percentage of AraC-treated cells in the S/G(2)/M phase from 36.9% to 52.8%. GH did not modify IGF-I mRNA levels or IGF-I secretion in HL-1 cells treated with AraC, and the protection afforded by GH against AraC-induced apoptosis in HL-1 cells was not affected by the presence of anti-IGF-I antibodies, but was largely abolished by the calcineurin-inhibiting combination cyclosporin+FK506. GH also reduced AraC-induced phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase p38 (MAPK p38) in HL-1 cells. In summary, GH protects PC and HL-1 cells from apoptosis. This effect is not mediated by IGF-I and may involve MAPK p38 as well as calcineurin.

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R A Bradbury, M N McCall, M J Brown and A D Conigrave

Abstract

We have prepared purified cytotrophoblasts from human term placentas and examined the sensitivity of fura-2 loaded cells to the nucleotides ATP and UTP and to changes in extracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]o). Purified cytotrophoblasts were obtained by collagenase digestion and separation according to density using selfgenerated Percoll gradients. The cytotrophoblast fraction was free of red cell and largely free of white cell contamination (as assessed by uniformly negative staining for vimentin and the failure of >90% of fura-2 loaded cells to respond to the chemotactic peptide fMet-Leu-Phe). Purified cells secreted progesterone in a linear fashion over several hours in the presence of 25-hydroxycholesterol. The cells ranged in size from approximately 7·5 to 50 μm in diameter as described previously for purified cytotrophoblasts, and an analysis of cells for sensitivity to [Ca2+]o or nucleotides suggested functional heterogeneity within the cytotrophoblast population. Small cells (7·5–10 μm) were negative for cytokeratin-8 and, after loading with fura-2, were insensitive to extracellular nucleotides but sensitive to elevations in [Ca2+]o. Medium-sized cells (12–20 μm) were largely cytokeratin-positive (70% of cells) and sensitive to both ATP and UTP but largely insensitive to [Ca2+]o. Large cells (25–50 μm) were uniformly cytokeratin-positive (100% of cells) and, after fura-2 loading, sensitive to both [Ca2+]o and extracellular ATP or UTP. We examined the likely origin of small, medium and large cytotrophoblasts using an immunomagnetic cell sorting procedure that separates villous cytotrophoblasts (which do not express major histocompatibility class I antigens) from extravillous cytotrophoblasts. This procedure resulted in the selective sedimentation of almost all medium and large cells, leading to the conclusion that the small cells were villous cytotrophoblasts whereas medium and large cells were predominantly extravillous in origin. The data suggest that small, medium and large cytotrophoblasts have distinct roles in the function of the term placenta.

Journal of Endocrinology (1996) 149, 135–144

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DM Findlay, LJ Raggatt, S Bouralexis, S Hay, GJ Atkins and A Evdokiou

We recently reported that calcitonin (CT) can profoundly inhibit the growth of HEK-293 cells transfected with the human calcitonin receptor (hCTR). We also obtained preliminary evidence that suggested a role for CT in cell survival, and in the present study we have investigated the pro-apoptotic action of CT, which we observe in conditions of low serum concentration. Under these conditions, we have found that CT treatment of HEK-293 cells stably transfected with the insert-negative form of the human CTR (HR12 cells) caused a time-dependent decrease in cell number associated with loss of cellular attachment. Loss of cellular adherence in CT-treated cultures caused programmed cell death, as shown by Annexin V staining of cells, failure of cells to exclude Trypan Blue dye, condensation and cleavage of nuclear DNA, and appearance of hypodiploid cells in fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis. The accumulation of non-adherent cells and cell death was concomitant with increased intracellular activity of caspase-3. However, inhibition of caspase activation in HR12 cells did not prevent CT-mediated loss of attachment and did not maintain the viability of non-adherent cells, indicating that caspase activation accompanied, but was probably not the cause of, the loss of cell viability. Neither the effects of CT on cell survival nor the activation of caspase-3 were observed in serum-replete conditions, suggesting that serum-derived factors provide protection of cells from CT-induced apoptosis. The inhibitory effects of CT on cell growth were found previously to be related to activation of Erk1/2 MAP kinase. In the present experiments, it was found that the Erk1/2 inhibitor, PD 98059, inhibited the CT-induced loss of cellular adherence and the consequent reduction in cell numbers. These results demonstrate that CT can negatively affect cell survival and they identify roles for cell adherence and MAP kinase activation in this process.

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T Kogai, F Curcio, S Hyman, EM Cornford, GA Brent and JM Hershman

Iodide uptake by the sodium/iodide symporter (NIS) in thyrocytes is essential for thyroid hormone production. Reduced NIS activity has been reported in thyroid diseases, including thyroid cancer and congenital hypothyroidism. The study of iodide uptake in thyrocytes has been limited by the availability of appropriate in vitro models. A new culture technique was recently developed that allows normal human thyroid primary culture cells to grow as monolayer cells and express differentiated functions for more than 3 months. We used this technique to study the effect of follicle formation and TSH on iodide uptake in these cells. Iodide uptake by the cells grown in monolayer was very low. Follicle formation was induced from monolayer cells, and electron micrographs demonstrated cell polarity in the follicles. No significant increase in iodide uptake was observed after TSH treatment of cells in monolayer or when follicle formation was induced without TSH. TSH stimulation of follicles, however, significantly increased iodide uptake ( approximately 4. 4-fold; P<0.001). Compared with iodide uptake in monolayers, the combination of follicle formation and TSH treatment stimulated iodide uptake synergistically to 12.0-fold (P<0.001). NIS messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein levels were almost the same in both monolayer cells and follicles. TSH treatment of monolayers and follicles produced significant (P<0.05) stimulation of mRNA ( approximately 4. 8- and approximately 4.3-fold respectively) and protein ( approximately 6.8- and 4.9-fold respectively). TSH stimulated NIS protein levels in both monolayer and follicles, however, stimulation of functional iodide uptake was only seen with TSH stimulation of follicles. The function of NIS may involve post-transcriptional events, such as intracellular sorting, membrane localization of NIS or another NIS regulatory factor. Polarized functions, such as iodide efflux into follicular lumina, may also contribute to the increased iodide concentration after follicle formation.