Pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs), including Toll-like receptors (TLRs), NOD-like receptors (NLRs) and RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs), recognize microbial components and trigger a host defense response. Respiratory tract infections are common causes of asthma exacerbations, suggesting a role for PRRs in this process. The present study aimed to examine the expression and function of PRRs on human airway smooth muscle cells (HASMCs).
Expression of TLR, NLR and RLR mRNA and proteins was determined using real-time RT-PCR, flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry. The functional responses to ligand stimulation were investigated in terms of cytokine and chemokine release, cell surface marker expression, proliferation and proteins regulating the contractile state.
HASMCs expressed functional TLR2, TLR3, TLR4, TLR7 and NOD1. Stimulation with the corresponding agonists Pam3CSK4, poly(I:C), LPS, R-837 and iE-DAP, respectively, induced IL-6, IL-8 and GM-CSF release and up-regulation of ICAM-1 and HLA-DR, while poly(I:C) also affected the release of eotaxin and RANTES. The proliferative response was slightly increased by LPS. Stimulation, most prominently with poly(I:C), down-regulated myosin light chain kinase and cysteinyl leukotriene 1 receptor expression and up-regulated β2-adrenoceptor expression. No effects were seen for agonist to TLR2/6, TLR5, TLR8, TLR9, NOD2 or RIG-I/MDA-5.
Activation of TLR2, TLR3, TLR4, TLR7 and NOD1 favors a synthetic phenotype, characterized by an increased ability to release inflammatory mediators, acquire immunomodulatory properties by recruiting and interacting with other cells, and reduce the contractile state. The PRRs might therefore be of therapeutic use in the management of asthma and infection-induced disease exacerbations.
Oxytocin neurons represent one of the major subsets of neurons in the paraventricular hypothalamus (PVH), a critical brain region for energy homeostasis. Despite substantial evidence supporting a role of oxytocin in body weight regulation, it remains controversial whether oxytocin neurons directly regulate body weight homeostasis, feeding or energy expenditure. Pharmacologic doses of oxytocin suppress feeding through a proposed melanocortin responsive projection from the PVH to the hindbrain. In contrast, deficiency in oxytocin or its receptor leads to reduced energy expenditure without feeding abnormalities. To test the physiological function of oxytocin neurons, we specifically ablated oxytocin neurons in adult mice. Our results show that oxytocin neuron ablation in adult animals has no effect on body weight, food intake or energy expenditure on a regular diet. Interestingly, male mice lacking oxytocin neurons are more sensitive to high fat diet-induced obesity due solely to reduced energy expenditure. In addition, despite a normal food intake, these mice exhibit a blunted food intake response to leptin administration. Thus, our study suggests that oxytocin neurons are required to resist the obesity associated with a high fat diet; but their role in feeding is permissive and can be compensated for by redundant pathways.
Is oxytocin the hormone of happiness? Probably not. However, this small nine amino acid peptide is involved in a wide variety of physiological and pathological functions such as sexual activity, penile erection, ejaculation, pregnancy, uterus contraction, milk ejection, maternal behavior, osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, social bonding, and stress, which makes oxytocin and its receptor potential candidates as targets for drug therapy. In this review, we address the issues of drug design and specificity and focus our discussion on recent findings on oxytocin and its heterotrimeric G protein-coupled receptor OTR. In this regard, we will highlight the following topics: (i) the role of oxytocin in behavior and affectivity, (ii) the relationship between oxytocin and stress with emphasis on the hypothalamo–pituitary–adrenal axis, (iii) the involvement of oxytocin in pain regulation and nociception, (iv) the specific action mechanisms of oxytocin on intracellular Ca2+ in the hypothalamo neurohypophysial system (HNS) cell bodies, (v) newly generated transgenic rats tagged by a visible fluorescent protein to study the physiology of vasopressin and oxytocin, and (vi) the action of the neurohypophysial hormone outside the central nervous system, including the myometrium, heart and peripheral nervous system. As a short nine amino acid peptide, closely related to its partner peptide vasopressin, oxytocin appears to be ideal for the design of agonists and antagonists of its receptor. In addition, not only the hormone itself and its binding to OTR, but also its synthesis, storage and release can be endogenously and exogenously regulated to counteract pathophysiological states. Understanding the fundamental physiopharmacology of the effects of oxytocin is an important and necessary approach for developing a potential pharmacotherapy.
ACTH; Analgesics; Behavior; c-fos-mRFP1 fusion gene; CNS; Development; Drug design; eGFP; eCFP; Glial cells; Heart; HPA; Hypothalamus; Neurohypophysis; Neuropeptides; PNS; Receptors; Stress; Transgenic rat model; Vasopressin
Oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus and released into the circulation through the neurohypophyseal system. Peripherally released oxytocin facilitates parturition and milk ejection during nursing. Centrally released oxytocin coordinates the onset of maternal nurturing behavior at parturition and plays a role in mother-infant bonding. More recent studies have revealed a more general role for oxytocin in modulating affiliative behavior in both sexes. Oxytocin regulates alloparental care and pair bonding in female monogamous prairie voles. Social recognition in male and female mice is also modulated by oxytocin. In humans, oxytocin increases gaze to the eye region of human faces and enhances interpersonal trust and the ability to infer the emotions of others from facial cues. While the neurohypopheseal oxytocin system has been well characterized, less is known regarding the nature of oxytocin release within the brain. Here we review the role of oxytocin in the regulation prosocial interactions, and discuss the neuroanatomy of the central oxytocin system.
Previous studies have suggested that the proinflammatory cytokine, TNF-α, contributes to airway hyperresponsivness by altering airway smooth muscle (ASM) Ca2+ responses to agonist stimulation. The present study examined the effects of TNF-α on Ca2+ influx pathways in cultured human ASM cells (HASMCs). Proteins encoded by the transient receptor potential (TRP) gene family function as channels through which receptor-operated and store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) occur. In the present study, the presence of TRPC1, TRPC3, TRPC4, TRPC5, and TRPC6 mRNA and protein expression was confirmed in cultured HASMCs using RT-PCR and Western blot analysis. TNF-α treatment significantly increased TRPC3 mRNA and protein levels in HASMCs as well as SOCE. TNF-α treatment also increased both the peak and plateau intracellular Ca2+ concentration responses in HASMCs elicited by acetylcholine and bradykinin. The effects of TNF-α treatment on SOCE and agonist-induced intracellular Ca2+ concentration responses were attenuated using small interfering RNA transfection, which knocked down TRPC3 expression. Thus, in inflammatory airway diseases, TNF-α treatment may result in increased myocyte activation due to altered Ca2+ influx pathways. These results suggest that TRPC3 may be an important therapeutic target in inflammatory airway diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
human airway smooth muscle; receptor-operated calcium entry; store-operated calcium entry; TNF-α; transient receptor potential channels
This study was performed to determine the action mode of oxytocin antagonist. In Study 1, the duration of in vivo action of oxytocin antagonist I (AI) was examined. After infusing AI, oxytocin was given and repeated every hour for 5 hr. Uterine activities were monitored with a polygraph. Study 2 determined the effect of AI on uterine oxytocin receptor number (Rn) and binding affinity (Kd). AI treated rats were sacrificed at 0.5 and 4 hr later for receptor assay. In Study 1, the uterine contractile response to oxytocin was significantly inhibited (p<0.05) compared to controls at five min, 1 and 2 hr after injection of AI. No differences in response were detected compared to controls (p>0.05) at later hours. In Study 2, no differences (p>0.05) between the AI and control animals in either oxytocin receptor number or binding affinity was found. These data suggest that the major mode of AI action is via competitive inhibition at the uterine oxytocin receptor and not by altering receptor number or binding affinity. AI is suggested to have the potential of being a potent and specific tocolytic agent for prevention of preterm labor in human.
Cigarette smoke is the leading risk factor for the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) an inflammatory condition characterised by neutrophilic inflammation and release of proinflammatory mediators such as interleukin-8 (IL-8). Human airway smooth muscle cells (HASMC) are a source of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines. We investigated whether cigarette smoke could directly induce the release of chemokines from HASMC.
HASMC in primary culture were exposed to cigarette smoke extract (CSE) with or without TNFα. Chemokines were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and gene expression by real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Data were analysed using one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) followed by Bonferroni's t test
CSE (5, 10 and 15%) induced IL-8 release and expression without effect on eotaxin or RANTES release. At 20%, there was less IL-8 release. TNFα enhanced CSE-induced IL-8 release and expression. However, CSE (5–30%) inhibited TNFα-induced eotaxin and RANTES production. The effects of CSE on IL-8 release were inhibited by glutathione (GSH) and associated with the induction of the oxidant sensing protein, heme oxygenase-1.
Cigarette smoke may directly cause the release of IL-8 from HASMC, an effect enhanced by TNF-α which is overexpressed in COPD. Inhibition of eotaxin and RANTES by cigarette smoke is consistent with the predominant neutrophilic but not eosinophilic inflammation found in COPD.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the study was to assess the effects of Escherichia coli STa (heat stable) toxin on isolated human myometrial response to oxytocin. METHODS: One hundred and sixteen muscle strips were obtained from the lower uterine segment of 42 women undergoing cesarean section at term. Amniotic membranes and decidua were excluded. Uterine contractility in response to cumulative doses of E. coli STa toxin was recorded, as well as uterine response to cumulative doses of oxytocin before and after incubation with STa toxin or vehicle. The 50th percentile effective oxytocin concentration (EC50) of muscle strips with and without spontaneous activity before and after the incubation with STa toxin or vehicle was calculated. A paired t test was used for comparison. RESULTS: Muscle strips with and without spontaneous activity responded to cumulative doses of oxytocin before and after the incubation with STa toxin or vehicle. No differences in contraction force, duration, or frequency were noted between the groups (P > 0.05). Furthermore, this toxin was not able to induce uterine contractility when tested alone. CONCLUSIONS: The inability of this toxin to affect myometrial response to oxytocin in this study may be due to the absence of amnion cells, chorion, or decidua. Other possible explanations for the lack of response are discussed.
Oxytocin, a hormone involved in numerous physiologic processes, plays a central role in the mechanisms of parturition and lactation. It acts through its receptor, which belongs to the G-protein-coupled receptor superfamily, while Gq/phospholipase C (PLC)/inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate (InsP3) is the main pathway via which it exerts its action in the myometrium. Changes in receptor levels, receptor desensitization, and locally produced oxytocin are factors that influence the effect of oxytocin on uterine contractility in labor. Activation of oxytocin receptor causes myometrial contractions by increasing intracellular Ca+2 and production of prostaglandins. Since oxytocin induces contractions, the inhibition of its action has been a target in the management of preterm labor. Atosiban is today the only oxytocin receptor antagonist that is available as a tocolytic. However, the quest for oxytocin receptor antagonists with a better pharmacological profile has led to the synthesis of peptide and nonpeptide molecules such as barusiban, retosiban, L-368,899, and SSR-126768A. Many of these oxytocin receptor antagonists are used only as pharmacological tools, while others have tocolytic action. In this paper, we summarize the action of oxytocin and its receptor and we present an overview of the clinical and experimental data of oxytocin antagonists and their tocolytic action.
Acetylcholine, the primary parasympathetic neurotransmitter in the airways, plays an important role in bronchoconstriction and mucus production. Recently, it has been shown that acetylcholine, by acting on muscarinic receptors, is also involved in airway inflammation and remodelling. The mechanism(s) by which muscarinic receptors regulate inflammatory responses are, however, still unknown.
The present study was aimed at characterizing the effect of muscarinic receptor stimulation on cytokine secretion by human airway smooth muscle cells (hASMc) and to dissect the intracellular signalling mechanisms involved. hASMc expressing functional muscarinic M2 and M3 receptors were stimulated with the muscarinic receptor agonist methacholine, alone, and in combination with cigarette smoke extract (CSE), TNF-α, PDGF-AB or IL-1β.
Muscarinic receptor stimulation induced modest IL-8 secretion by itself, yet augmented IL-8 secretion in combination with CSE, TNF-α or PDGF-AB, but not with IL-1β. Pretreatment with GF109203X, a protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor, completely normalized the effect of methacholine on CSE-induced IL-8 secretion, whereas PMA, a PKC activator, mimicked the effects of methacholine, inducing IL-8 secretion and augmenting the effects of CSE. Similar inhibition was observed using inhibitors of IκB-kinase-2 (SC514) and MEK1/2 (U0126), both downstream effectors of PKC. Accordingly, western blot analysis revealed that methacholine augmented the degradation of IκBα and the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 in combination with CSE, but not with IL-1β in hASMc.
We conclude that muscarinic receptors facilitate CSE-induced IL-8 secretion by hASMc via PKC dependent activation of IκBα and ERK1/2. This mechanism could be of importance for COPD patients using anticholinergics.
Oxytocin has been best known for its roles in female reproduction. It is released in large amounts during labor, and after stimulation of the nipples. It is a facilitator for childbirth and breastfeeding. However, recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin's role in various behaviors, including orgasm, social recognition, bonding, and maternal behaviors. This small nine amino acid peptide is now believed to be involved in a wide variety of physiological and pathological functions such as sexual activity, penile erection, ejaculation, pregnancy, uterine contraction, milk ejection, maternal behavior, social bonding, stress and probably many more, which makes oxytocin and its receptor potential candidates as targets for drug therapy. From an innocuous agent as an aid in labor and delivery, oxytocin has come a long way in being touted as the latest party drug. The hormone of labor during the course of the last 100 years has had multiple orgasms to be the hormone of love. Many more shall be seen in the times to come!
Endocrinology; history; labor; love; obstetrics; oxytocin; pitocin
Oxytocin is a peptide hormone, well known for its role in labor and suckling, and most recently for its involvement in mammalian social behavior. All central and peripheral actions of oxytocin are mediated through the oxytocin receptor, which is the product of a single gene. Transcription of the oxytocin receptor is subject to regulation by gonadal steroid hormones, and is profoundly elevated in the uterus and mammary glands during parturition. DNA methylation is a major epigenetic mechanism that regulates gene transcription, and has been linked to reduced expression of the oxytocin receptor in individuals with autism. Here, we hypothesized that transcription of the mouse oxytocin receptor is regulated by DNA methylation of specific sites in its promoter, in a tissue-specific manner. Hypothalamus-derived GT1-7, and mammary-derived 4T1 murine cell lines displayed negative correlations between oxytocin receptor transcription and methylation of the gene promoter, and demethylation caused a significant enhancement of oxytocin receptor transcription in 4T1 cells. Using a reporter gene assay, we showed that methylation of specific sites in the gene promoter, including an estrogen response element, significantly inhibits transcription. Furthermore, methylation of the oxytocin receptor promoter was found to be differentially correlated with oxytocin receptor expression in mammary glands and the uterus of virgin and post-partum mice, suggesting that it plays a distinct role in oxytocin receptor transcription among tissues and under different physiological conditions. Together, these results support the hypothesis that the expression of the mouse oxytocin receptor gene is epigenetically regulated by DNA methylation of its promoter.
Oxytocin receptors in the nucleus accumbens have been implicated in the regulation of alloparental behavior and pair bond formation in the socially monogamous prairie vole. Oxytocin receptor density in the nucleus accumbens is positively correlated with alloparenting in juvenile and adult female prairie voles, and oxytocin receptor antagonist infused into the nucleus accumbens blocks this behavior. Furthermore, prairie voles have higher densities of oxytocin receptors in the accumbens than non-monogamous rodent species, and blocking accumbal oxytocin receptors prevents mating-induced partner preference formation. Here we used adeno-associated viral vector gene transfer to examine the functional relationship between accumbal oxytocin receptor density and social behavior in prairie and meadow voles. Adult female prairie voles that over-express oxytocin receptor in the nucleus accumbens displayed accelerated partner preference formation after cohabitation with a male, but did not display enhanced alloparental behavior. However, partner preference was not facilitated in non-monogamous meadow voles by introducing oxytocin receptor into the nucleus accumbens. These data confirm a role for oxytocin receptor in the accumbens in the regulation of partner preferences in female prairie voles, and suggest that oxytocin receptor expression in the accumbens is not sufficient to promote partner preferences in non-monogamous species. These data are the first to demonstrate a direct relationship between oxytocin receptor density in the nucleus accumbens and variation in social attachment behaviors. Thus, individual variation in oxytocin receptor expression in the striatum may contribute to natural diversity in social behaviors.
maternal; virus; preference; neuropeptide; cognition; autoradiography
Oxytocin is released in response to a meal. Further, mRNA for oxytocin and its receptor have been found throughout the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The aim of this study was therefore to examine whether oxytocin, or the receptor antagonist atosiban, influence the gastric emptying.
Ten healthy volunteers (five men) were examined regarding gastric emptying at three different occasions: once during oxytocin stimulation using a pharmacological dose; once during blockage of the oxytocin receptors (which also blocks the vasopressin receptors) and thereby inhibiting physiological doses of oxytocin; and once during saline infusion.
Gastric emptying rate (GER) was assessed and expressed as the percentage reduction in antral cross-sectional area from 15 to 90 min after ingestion of rice pudding. The assessment was performed by real-time ultrasonography. At the same time, the feeling of satiety was registered using visual satiety scores.
Inhibition of the binding of endogenous oxytocin by the receptor antagonist delayed the GER by 37 % compared to saline (p = 0.037). In contrast, infusion of oxytocin in a dosage of 40 mU/min did not affect the GER (p = 0.610). Satiation scores areas in healthy subjects after receiving atosiban or oxytocin did not show any significant differences.
Oxytocin and/or vasopressin seem to be regulators of gastric emptying during physiological conditions, since the receptor antagonist atosiban delayed the GER. However, the actual pharmacological dose of oxytocin in this study had no effect. The effect of oxytocin and vasopressin on GI motility has to be further evaluated.
We recently identified autocrine interferon (IFN)β as a novel mechanism mediating tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α-induced expression of inflammatory genes in airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells, including CD38, known to regulate calcium signaling. Here, we investigated the putative involvement of IFNβ in regulating TNFα-induced airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR), a defining feature of asthma. Using our pharmacodynamic model to assess ex vivo AHR isolated murine tracheal rings, we found that TNFα-induced enhanced contractile responses to carbachol and bradykinin was abrogated by neutralizing anti-IFNβ antibody or in tracheal rings deficient in CD38. In cultured human ASM cells, where CD38 has been involved in TNFα-induced enhanced calcium signals to carbachol and bradykinin, we found that neutralizing anti-IFNβ prevented TNFα enhancing action only on carbachol responses but not to that induced by bradykinin. In a well-characterized model of allergic asthma (mice sensitized and challenged with Aspergillus fumigatus (Af)), we found heightened expression of both IFNβ and CD38 in the airways. Furthermore, allergen-associated AHR to methacholine, assessed by lung resistance and dynamic compliance, was completely suppressed in CD38-deficient mice, despite the preservation of airway inflammation. These data provide the first evidence that ASM-derived IFNβ and CD38 may play a significant role in the development of TNFα-associated AHR.
Allergic asthma; Cytokine; Airway smooth muscle; Inflammation; Calcium signaling; Hypercontractility
Oxytocin neurons have a physiological role in food intake and energy balance. Central administration of oxytocin is powerfully anorexigenic, reducing food intake and meal duration. The central mechanisms underlying this effect of oxytocin have become better understood in the past few years. Parvocellular neurons of the paraventricular nucleus project to the caudal brainstem to regulate feeding via autonomic functions including the gastrointestinal vago-vagal reflex. In contrast, magnocellular neurons of the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei release oxytocin from their dendrites to diffuse to distant hypothalamic targets involved in satiety. The ventromedial hypothalamus, for example, expresses a high density of oxytocin receptors but does not contain detectable oxytocin nerve fibers. Magnocellular neurons represent targets for the anorexigenic neuropeptide α-melanocyte stimulating hormone. In addition to homeostatic control, oxytocin may also have a role in reward-related feeding. Evidence suggests that oxytocin can selectively suppress sugar intake and that it may have a role in limiting the intake of palatable food by inhibiting the reward pathway.
oxytocin; food; appetite; satiety; reward
Substantial empirical evidence has demonstrated that individuals who are socially isolated or have few positive social connections seem to age at a faster rate and have more chronic diseases. Oxytocin is a neurohypophyseal hormone hypothesized to coordinate both the causes and effects of positive social interactions, and may be involved in positive physiological adaptations such as buffering the deleterious effects of stress and promoting resilience. The proposed research will examine whether and how oxytocin influences responses to stress in humans and will consider effects in relation to those of social support.
Experimental research will be used to determine whether exogenously administered oxytocin (intranasal) influences psychological and physiological outcomes under conditions of stress across gender and age in adulthood. Hypotheses to be tested are: 1) Oxytocin ameliorates the deleterious neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, and subjective effects of stress; 2) Oxytocin and social support have similar and additive stress-buffering effects; 3) Oxytocin effects are stronger in women versus men; and 4) Oxytocin effects are similar across a range of adult ages. Hypotheses will be tested with a placebo-controlled, double-blind study using a sample of healthy men and women recruited from the community. Participants are randomly assigned to receive either oxytocin or placebo. They undergo a social stress manipulation with and without social support (randomly assigned), and outcome measures are obtained at multiple times during the procedure.
Understanding the determinants of healthy aging is a major public health priority and identifying effective measures to prevent or delay the onset of chronic diseases is an important goal. Experimental research on oxytocin, social relationships, and health in adulthood will contribute to the scientific knowledge base for maximizing active life and health expectancy. At conclusion of the study we will have solid evidence concerning the effects of oxytocin on stress response and whether it has similar effects across age and gender groups. A neurobiological understanding of resilience can inform efforts for both prevention and intervention of diseases or problems common in later life.
Clinical trial identification number is NCT01011465.
Mammary myoepithelial cells are specialized smooth musclelike epithelial cells that express the smooth muscle actin isoform: smooth muscle alpha-actin (ACTA2). These cells contract in response to oxytocin to generate the contractile force required for milk ejection during lactation. It is believed that ACTA2 contributes to myoepithelial contractile force generation; however, this hypothesis has not been directly tested. To evaluate the contribution of ACTA2 to mammary myoepithelial cell contraction, Acta2 null mice were utilized and milk ejection and myoepithelial cell contractile force generation were evaluated. Pups suckling on Acta2 null dams had a significant reduction in weight gain starting immediately postbirth. Cross-fostering demonstrated the lactation defect is with the Acta2 null dams. Carmine alum whole mounts and conventional histology revealed no underlying structural defects in Acta2 null mammary glands that could account for the lactation defect. In addition, myoepithelial cell formation and organization appeared normal in Acta2 null lactating mammary glands as evaluated using an Acta2 promoter-GFP transgene or phalloidin staining to visualize myoepithelial cells. However, mammary myoepithelial cell contraction in response to oxytocin was significantly reduced in isolated Acta2 null lactating mammary glands and in in vivo studies using Acta2 null lactating dams. These results demonstrate that lack of ACTA2 expression impairs mammary myoepithelial cell contraction and milk ejection and suggests that ACTA2 expression in mammary myoepithelial cells has the functional consequence of enhancing contractile force generation required for milk ejection.
Female mice lacking smooth muscle alpha-actin have a lactation defect that results from the inability of myoepithelial cells to generate sufficient contractile force in response to oxytocin to promote milk ejection.
cytoskeleton; lactation; mammary glands; milk ejection; myoepithelial cell; pregnancy; smooth muscle alpha-actin; transgenic/knockout model
Over half of twin pregnancies in US and UK deliver prematurely but the reasons for this are unclear. The contractility of myometrium from twin pregnancies has not been directly investigated. The objective of this research was to determine if there are differences in the contractile activity and response to oxytocin, between myometrium from singleton and twin pregnancies, across a range of gestational ages. Furthermore, we wished to determine if contractile activity correlates with increasing level of stretch, using neonatal birth weights as a marker of uterine stretch.
This was an in vitro, laboratory based study of myometrial contractility in women pregnant with one or two babies, using biopsies obtained from non-labouring women undergoing Caesarean section. Spontaneous, oxytocin-stimulated and depolarization induced contractile activity was compared.
Direct measurements of myometrial contractility under controlled conditions show that the frequency of contractions and responses to oxytocin are significantly increased in twins compared to singletons. The duration of contraction however was significantly reduced. We find that contractile activity correlates with increasing levels of stretch, using neonatal birth weights as a surrogate for uterine stretch, with response to oxytocin being significantly positively correlated with birth weight.
We have found significant differences in contractile properties between myometrium from singleton and twin pregnancies and that increasing uterine stretch can alter the contractile properties of myometrium. We discuss the implication of these findings to preterm delivery and future studies.
Stretch affects vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation and apoptosis, and several responsible genes have been proposed. We tested whether the expression of microRNA 21 (miR-21) is modulated by stretch and is involved in stretch-induced proliferation and apoptosis of human aortic smooth muscle cells (HASMCs).
Methods and Results
RT-PCR revealed that elevated stretch (16% elongation, 1 Hz) increased miR-21 expression in cultured HASMCs, and moderate stretch (10% elongation, 1 Hz) decreased the expression. BrdU incorporation assay and cell counting showed miR-21 involved in the proliferation of HASMCs mediated by stretch, likely by regulating the expression of p27 and phosphorylated retinoblastoma protein (p-Rb). FACS analysis revealed that the complex of miR-21 and programmed cell death protein 4 (PDCD4) participated in regulating apoptosis with stretch. Stretch increased the expression of primary miR-21 and pre-miR-21 in HASMCs. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) demonstrated that stretch increased NF-κB and AP-1 activities in HASMCs, and blockade of AP-1 activity by c-jun siRNA significantly suppressed stretch-induced miR-21 expression.
Cyclic stretch modulates miR-21 expression in cultured HASMCs, and miR-21 plays important roles in regulating proliferation and apoptosis mediated by stretch. Stretch upregulates miR-21 expression at least in part at the transcription level and AP-1 is essential for stretch-induced miR-21 expression.
Mast cells (MCs) play a central role in the development of many diseases including asthma and pulmonary fibrosis. Interactions of human lung mast cells (HLMCs) with human airway smooth muscle cells (HASMCs) are partially dependent on adhesion mediated by cell adhesion molecule-1 (CADM1), but the adhesion mechanism through which HLMCs interact with human lung fibroblasts (HLFs) is not known. CADM1 is expressed as several isoforms (SP4, SP1, SP6) in HLMCs, with SP4 dominant. These isoforms differentially regulate HLMC homotypic adhesion and survival.
In this study we have investigated the role of CADM1 isoforms in the adhesion of HLMCs and HMC-1 cells to primary HASMCs and HLFs.
CADM1 overexpression or downregulation was achieved using adenoviral delivery of CADM1 short hairpin RNAs or isoform-specific cDNAs respectively.
Downregulation of CADM1 attenuated both HLMC and HMC-1 adhesion to both primary HASMCs and HLFs. Overexpression of either SP1 or SP4 isoforms did not alter MC adhesion to HASMCs, whereas overexpression of SP4, but not SP1, significantly increased both HMC-1 cell and HLMC adhesion to HLFs. The expression level of CADM1 SP4 strongly predicted the extent of MC adhesion; linear regression indicated that CADM1 accounts for up to 67% and 32% of adhesion to HLFs for HMC-1 cells and HLMCs, respectively. HLFs supported HLMC proliferation and survival through a CADM1-dependent mechanism. With respect to CADM1 counter-receptor expression, HLFs expressed both CADM1 and nectin-3, whereas HASMCs expressed only nectin-3.
Conclusion and Clinical Relevance
Collectively these data indicate that the CADM1 SP4 isoform is a key receptor mediating human MC adhesion to HASMCs and HLFs. The differential expression of CADM1 counter-receptors on HLFs compared to HASMCs may allow the specific targeting of either HLMC-HLF or HLMC-HASMC interactions in the lung parenchyma and airways.
Pentraxin 3 (PTX3) is a soluble pattern recognition receptor with non-redundant functions in inflammation and innate immunity. PTX3 is produced by immune and structural cells. However, very little is known about the expression of PTX3 and its role in allergic asthma.
Objectives and Methods
We sought to determine the PTX3 expression in asthmatic airways and its function in human airway smooth muscle cells (HASMC). In vivo PTX3 expression in bronchial biopsies of mild, moderate and severe asthmatics was analyzed by immunohistochemistry. PTX3 mRNA and protein were measured by real-time RT-PCR and ELISA, respectively. Proliferation and migration were examined using 3H-thymidine incorporation, cell count and Boyden chamber assays.
PTX3 immunoreactivity was increased in bronchial tissues of allergic asthmatics compared to healthy controls, and mainly localized in the smooth muscle bundle. PTX3 protein was expressed constitutively by HASMC and was significantly up-regulated by TNF, and IL-1β but not by Th2 (IL-4, IL-9, IL-13), Th1 (IFN-γ), or Th-17 (IL-17) cytokines. In vitro, HASMC released significantly higher levels of PTX3 at the baseline and upon TNF stimulation compared to airway epithelial cells (EC). Moreover, PTX3 induced CCL11/eotaxin-1 release whilst inhibited the fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2)-driven HASMC chemotactic activity.
Our data provide the first evidence that PTX3 expression is increased in asthmatic airways. HASMC can both produce and respond to PTX3. PTX3 is a potent inhibitor of HASMC migration induced by FGF-2 and can upregulate CCL11/eotaxin-1 release. These results raise the possibility that PTX3 may play a dual role in allergic asthma.
In Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus), precopulatory behaviors such as vaginal scent marking are essential for attracting a suitable mate. Vaginal marking is dependent on forebrain areas implicated in the neural regulation of reproductive behaviors in rodents, including the medial preoptic/anterior hypothalamus (MPOA-AH). Within MPOA-AH, the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) acts to facilitate copulation (lordosis), as well as ultrasonic vocalizations towards males. It is not known, however, if OT in this area also facilitates vaginal marking. In the present study, a specific oxytocin receptor antagonist (OTA) was injected into MPOA-AH of intact female Syrian hamsters to determine if oxytocin receptor-dependent signaling is critical for the normal expression of vaginal marking elicited by male, female, and clean odors. OTA injections significantly inhibited vaginal marking in response to male odors compared to vehicle injections. There was no effect of OTA on marking in response to either female or clean odors. When injected into the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), a nearby region to MPOA-AH, OTA was equally effective in decreasing marking. Finally, the effects of OTA appear to be specific to vaginal marking, as OTA injections in MPOA-AH or BNST did not alter general locomotor activity, flank marking, or social odor investigation. Considered together, these results suggest that OT in MPOA-AH and/or BNST normally facilitates male odor-induced vaginal marking, providing further evidence that OT generally supports prosocial interactions among conspecifics.
Medial preoptic area; Anterior hypothalamus; Bed nucleus of the stria terminalis; Olfaction; Preference; Reproduction; Precopulatory; Scent marking
A review of the current state of knowledge of oxytocin production by the preovulatory follicle and corpus luteum is presented. Corpora lutea of a number of mammalian species have been found to synthesize oxytocin. However, the synthesis and secretion of this nanopeptide by the corpus luteum of the ruminant has been most extensively studied because of the potential role of this peptide in facilitating luteal regression. While much information exists relative to various biochemical and endocrine factors that impact on oxytocin gene expression, this aspect about luteal synthesis of this peptide hormone remains enigmatic. Prostaglandin F-2α (PGF-2α) has been shown to be a primary endogenous hormone responsible for triggering luteal secretion of oxytocin. Details are provided regarding the PGF-2α-induced intracellular signal transduction pathway that ultimately results in exocytosis of luteal oxytocin. Evidence is also presented for potential autocrine/paracrine actions of oxytocin in regulating progesterone production by luteal and granulosa cells. Concluding remarks highlight aspects about luteal oxytocin production that require further research.
Transcription of immediate-early genes—as well as multiple genes affecting muscle function, cytoskeletal integrity, apoptosis control, and wound healing/angiogenesis—is regulated by serum response factor (Srf). Extracellular signals regulate Srf in part via a pathway involving megakaryoblastic leukemia 1 (Mkl1, also known as myocardin-related transcription factor A [Mrtf-a]), which coactivates Srf-responsive genes downstream of Rho GTPases. Here we investigate Mkl1 function using gene targeting and show the protein to be essential for the physiologic preparation of the mammary gland during pregnancy and the maintenance of lactation. Lack of Mkl1 causes premature involution and impairs expression of Srf-dependent genes in the mammary myoepithelial cells, which control milk ejection following oxytocin-induced contraction. Despite the importance of Srf in multiple transcriptional pathways and widespread Mkl1 expression, the spectrum of abnormalities associated with Mkl1 absence appears surprisingly restricted.