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1.  Oxytocin decreases colonic motility of cold water stressed rats via oxytocin receptors 
World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG  2014;20(31):10886-10894.
AIM: To investigate whether cold water intake into the stomach affects colonic motility and the involvement of the oxytocin-oxytocin receptor pathway in rats.
METHODS: Female Sprague Dawley rats were used and some of them were ovariectomized. The rats were subjected to gastric instillation with cold (0-4 °C, cold group) or room temperature (20-25 °C, control group) saline for 14 consecutive days. Colon transit was determined with a bead inserted into the colon. Colonic longitudinal muscle strips were prepared to investigate the response to oxytocin in vitro. Plasma concentration of oxytocin was detected by ELISA. Oxytocin receptor expression was investigated by Western blot analysis. Immunohistochemistry was used to locate oxytocin receptors.
RESULTS: Colon transit was slower in the cold group than in the control group (P < 0.05). Colonic smooth muscle contractile response to oxytocin decreased, and the inhibitory effect of oxytocin on muscle contractility was enhanced by cold water intake (0.69 ± 0.08 vs 0.88 ± 0.16, P < 0.05). Atosiban and tetrodotoxin inhibited the effect of oxytocin on colonic motility. Oxytocin receptors were located in the myenteric plexus, and their expression was up-regulated in the cold group (P < 0.05). Cold water intake increased blood concentration of oxytocin, but this effect was attenuated in ovariectomized rats (286.99 ± 83.72 pg/mL vs 100.56 ± 92.71 pg/mL, P < 0.05). However, in ovariectomized rats, estradiol treatment increased blood oxytocin, and the response of colonic muscle strips to oxytocin was attenuated.
CONCLUSION: Cold water intake inhibits colonic motility partially through oxytocin-oxytocin receptor signaling in the myenteric nervous system pathway, which is estrogen dependent.
PMCID: PMC4138467  PMID: 25152590
Intragastric cold water stress; Colonic motility; Estradiol; Oxytocin; Oxytocin receptor; Irritable bowel syndrome
2.  Pentraxin 3 (PTX3) Expression in Allergic Asthmatic Airways: Role in Airway Smooth Muscle Migration and Chemokine Production 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34965.
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.
PMCID: PMC3329534  PMID: 22529962
3.  Role of c-jun N-terminal kinase in the induced release of GM-CSF, RANTES and IL-8 from human airway smooth muscle cells 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2003;139(6):1228-1234.
Human airway smooth muscle cells (HASMC) contribute to airway inflammation in asthma by virtue of their capacity to produce several inflammatory mediators including IL-8, GM-CSF and RANTES. The intracellular signal pathway underlying the production of these cytokines in HASMC is not entirely elucidated.We examined the role of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) in TNFα- and IL-1β-induced GM-CSF, RANTES and IL-8 production in HASMC by using a novel specific inhibitor for JNK (SP600125).Confluent HASMC were treated with TNFα or IL-1β (10 ng ml−1) for 24 h in the presence or absence of SP600125 (1–100 μM). JNK activity was determined by a kinase assay. Phosphorylation of JNK, p38 MAPK and ERK was examined by Western blotting. Culture supernatants were assayed for GM-CSF, RANTES and IL-8 content by ELISA.Maximum TNFα- or IL-1β-induced phosphorylation of JNK in HASMC occurred after 15 min and returned to baseline levels after 4 h. SP600125 inhibited TNFα- and IL-1β-induced JNK activity in HASMC as shown by the reduced phosphorylation of its substrate c-jun. Furthermore, GM-CSF, RANTES and to a lesser extent IL-8 release from HASMC treated with TNFα and IL-1β was inhibited dosedependently by SP600125.JNK activation is involved in TNFα- and IL-1β-induced GM-CSF, RANTES and IL-8 production from HASMC. JNK may therefore represent a critical pathway for cytokine production in HASMC.
PMCID: PMC1573939  PMID: 12871843
c-jun N-terminal kinase; airway smooth muscle cells; cytokines; asthma; airway inflammation; signal transduction
4.  CADM1 Is a Key Receptor Mediating Human Mast Cell Adhesion to Human Lung Fibroblasts and Airway Smooth Muscle Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61579.
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.
PMCID: PMC3631237  PMID: 23620770
5.  Distinct phospholipase A2 enzymes regulate prostaglandin E2 and F2alpha production by bovine endometrial epithelial cells 
The rate-limiting step in prostaglandin (PG) biosynthesis is catalyzed by phospholipase A2 (PLA2) enzymes which hydrolyze arachidonic acid from membrane phospholipids. Despite their importance in uterine PG production, little is known concerning the specific PLA2 enzymes that regulate arachidonic acid liberation in the uterine endometrium. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the expression and activities of calcium-independent Group VI and Group IVC PLA2 (PLA2G6 and PLA2G4C) and calcium-dependent Group IVA PLA2 (PLA2G4A) enzymes in the regulation of bovine uterine endometrial epithelial cell PG production.
Bovine endometrial epithelial cells in culture were treated with oxytocin, interferon-tau and the PLA2G6 inhibitor bromoenol lactone, alone and in combination. Concentrations of PGF2alpha and PGE2 released into the medium were analyzed. Western blot analysis was performed on cellular protein to determine the effects of treatments on expression of PLA2G4A, PLA2G6 and PLA2G4C. Group-specific PLA2 activity assays were performed on cell lysates following treatment with oxytocin, interferon-tau or vehicle (control), alone and in combination. To further evaluate the role of specific PLA2 enzymes in uterine cell PG biosynthesis, cells were transfected with cDNAs encoding human PLA2G6 and PLA24C, treated as described above and PG assays performed.
Constitutive cell production of PGF2alpha was about two-fold higher than PGE2. Oxytocin stimulated production of both PGs but the increase of PGF2alpha was significantly greater. Interferon-tau diminished oxytocin stimulation of both PGs. The PLA2G6 inhibitor, bromoenol lactone, abolished oxytocin-stimulated production of PGF2alpha. Treatments had little effect on PLA2G4A protein expression. In contrast, oxytocin enhanced expression of PLA2G6 and this effect was diminished in the presence of interferon-tau. Expression of PLA2G4C was barely detectable in control and oxytocin treated cells but it was enhanced in cells treated with interferon-tau. Oxytocin stimulated PLA2 activity in assays designed to evaluate PLA2G6 activity and interferon-tau inhibited this response. In assays designed to measure PLA2G4C activity, only interferon-tau was stimulatory. Cells overexpressing PLA2G6 produced similar quantities of the two PGs and these values were significantly higher than PG production by non-transfected cells. Oxytocin stimulated production of both PGs and this response was inhibited by interferon-tau. Bromoenol lactone inhibited oxtocin stimulation of PGF2alpha production but stimulated PGE2 production, both in the absence and presence of oxytocin. Cells over-expressing PLA2G4C produced more PGE2 than PGF2alpha and interferon-tau stimulated PGE2 production.
Results from these studies indicate that oxytocin stimulation of uterine PGF2alpha production is mediated, at least in part, by up-regulation of PLA2G6 expression and activity. In addition to its known inhibitory effect on oxytocin receptor expression, interferon-tau represses oxytocin-stimulated PLA2G6 expression and activity and this contributes to diminished PGF2alpha production. Furthermore, endometrial cell PGE2 biosynthesis was associated with PLA2G4C expression and activity and interferon-tau was stimulatory to this process.
PMCID: PMC1868772  PMID: 17459165
6.  Defective Resensitization in Human Airway Smooth Muscle Cells Evokes β-Adrenergic Receptor Dysfunction in Severe Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0125803.
β2-adrenergic receptor (β2AR) agonists (β2-agonist) are the most commonly used therapy for acute relief in asthma, but chronic use of these bronchodilators paradoxically exacerbates airway hyper-responsiveness. Activation of βARs by β-agonist leads to desensitization (inactivation) by phosphorylation through G-protein coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) which mediate β-arrestin binding and βAR internalization. Resensitization occurs by dephosphorylation of the endosomal βARs which recycle back to the plasma membrane as agonist-ready receptors. To determine whether the loss in β-agonist response in asthma is due to altered βAR desensitization and/or resensitization, we used primary human airway smooth muscle cells (HASMCs) isolated from the lungs of non-asthmatic and fatal-asthmatic subjects. Asthmatic HASMCs have diminished adenylyl cyclase activity and cAMP response to β-agonist as compared to non-asthmatic HASMCs. Confocal microscopy showed significant accumulation of phosphorylated β2ARs in asthmatic HASMCs. Systematic analysis of desensitization components including GRKs and β-arrestin showed no appreciable differences between asthmatic and non-asthmatic HASMCs. However, asthmatic HASMC showed significant increase in PI3Kγ activity and was associated with reduction in PP2A activity. Since reduction in PP2A activity could alter receptor resensitization, endosomal fractions were isolated to assess the agonist ready β2ARs as a measure of resensitization. Despite significant accumulation of β2ARs in the endosomes of asthmatic HASMCs, endosomal β2ARs cannot robustly activate adenylyl cyclase. Furthermore, endosomes from asthmatic HASMCs are associated with significant increase in PI3Kγ and reduced PP2A activity that inhibits β2AR resensitization. Our study shows that resensitization, a process considered to be a homeostasis maintaining passive process is inhibited in asthmatic HASMCs contributing to β2AR dysfunction which may underlie asthma pathophysiology and loss in asthma control.
PMCID: PMC4449172  PMID: 26023787
7.  Regulation of IL-17A responses in human airway smooth muscle cells by Oncostatin M 
Respiratory Research  2015;16(1):14.
Regulation of human airway smooth muscle cells (HASMC) by cytokines contributes to chemotactic factor levels and thus to inflammatory cell accumulation in lung diseases. Cytokines such as the gp130 family member Oncostatin M (OSM) can act synergistically with Th2 cytokines (IL-4 and IL-13) to modulate lung cells, however whether IL-17A responses by HASMC can be altered is not known.
To determine the effects of recombinant OSM, or other gp130 cytokines (LIF, IL-31, and IL-6) in regulating HASMC responses to IL-17A, assessing MCP-1/CCL2 and IL-6 expression and cell signaling pathways.
Cell responses of primary HASMC cultures were measured by the assessment of protein levels in supernatants (ELISA) and mRNA levels (qRT-PCR) in cell extracts. Activation of STAT, MAPK (p38) and Akt pathways were measured by immunoblot. Pharmacological agents were used to assess the effects of inhibition of these pathways.
OSM but not LIF, IL-31 or IL-6 could induce detectable responses in HASMC, elevating MCP-1/CCL2, IL-6 levels and activation of STAT-1, 3, 5, p38 and Akt cell signaling pathways. OSM induced synergistic action with IL-17A enhancing MCP-1/CCL-2 and IL-6 mRNA and protein expression, but not eotaxin-1 expression, while OSM in combination with IL-4 or IL-13 synergistically induced eotaxin-1 and MCP-1/CCL2. OSM elevated steady state mRNA levels of IL-4Rα, OSMRβ and gp130, but not IL-17RA or IL-17RC. Pharmacologic inhibition of STAT3 activation using Stattic down-regulated OSM, OSM/IL-4 or OSM/IL-13, and OSM/IL-17A synergistic responses of MCP-1/CCL-2 induction, whereas, inhibitors of Akt and p38 MAPK resulted in less reduction in MCP-1/CCL2 levels. IL-6 expression was more sensitive to inhibition of p38 (using SB203580) and was affected by Stattic in response to IL-17A/OSM stimulation.
Oncostatin M can regulate HASMC responses alone or in synergy with IL-17A. OSM/IL-17A combinations enhance MCP-1/CCL2 and IL-6 but not eotaxin-1. Thus, OSM through STAT3 activation of HASMC may participate in inflammatory cell recruitment in inflammatory airway disease.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12931-014-0164-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4332894  PMID: 25849622
Asthma; Cytokines; Chemokines; STAT signaling; Oncostatin M; Airway smooth muscle
8.  Role of Transient Receptor Potential C3 in TNF-α–Enhanced Calcium Influx in Human Airway Myocytes 
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.
PMCID: PMC2643259  PMID: 16574942
human airway smooth muscle; receptor-operated calcium entry; store-operated calcium entry; TNF-α; transient receptor potential channels
9.  An Interaction of Oxytocin Receptors with Metabotropic Glutamate Receptors in Hypothalamic Astrocytes 
Journal of neuroendocrinology  2009;21(12):1001-1006.
Hypothalamic astrocytes play a critical role in the regulation and support of many different neuroendocrine events, and are affected by estradiol. Both nuclear and membrane estrogen receptors (ERs) are expressed in astrocytes. Upon estradiol activation, membrane-associated ER (mER) signals through the type 1a metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR1a) to induce an increase of free cytoplasmic calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i). Since the expression of oxytocin receptors (OTRs) is modulated by estradiol, we tested if estradiol also influences oxytocin signaling. Oxytocin at 1 nM, 10 nM, and 100 nM induced a [Ca2+]i flux measured as a change in relative fluorescence (ΔF Ca2+ = 330 ± 17 relative fluorescent units (RFU), ΔF Ca2+ = 331 ± 22 RFU, and ΔF Ca2+ = 347 ± 13 RFU, respectively) in primary cultures of female post-pubertal hypothalamic astrocytes. Interestingly, OTRs interacted with mGluRs. The mGluR1a antagonist, LY 367385 (20 nM), blocked the oxytocin (1 nM)-induced [Ca2+]i flux (ΔF Ca2+ = 344 ± 19 vs. 127 ± 11 RFU, P < 0.001). Conversely, the mGluR1a receptor agonist, (RS)-3,5-dihydroxyphenyl-glycine (DHPG, 100 nM), increased the oxytocin (1 nM)-induced [Ca2+]i response (ΔF Ca2+ = 670 ± 31 RFU) compared with either compound alone (P < 0.001). Since both oxytocin and estradiol rapidly signal through the mGluR1a, we treated hypothalamic astrocytes sequentially with oxytocin and estradiol to determine whether stimulation with one hormone affected the subsequent [Ca2+]i response to the second hormone. Estradiol treatment did not change the subsequent [Ca2+]i flux to oxytocin (P > 0.05) and previous oxytocin exposure did not affect the [Ca2+]i response to estradiol (P > 0.05). Furthermore, simultaneous estradiol and oxytocin stimulation failed to yield a synergistic [Ca2+]i response. These results suggest that the OTR signals through the mGluR1a to release Ca2+ from intracellular stores and rapid, non-genomic estradiol stimulation does not influence OTR signaling in astrocytes.
PMCID: PMC2804744  PMID: 19807846
OTR; mGluR1a; [Ca2+]i; rapid cell signaling; mER
10.  Oxytocin stimulates migration and invasion in human endothelial cells 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2007;153(4):728-736.
Background and purpose:
It has recently been reported that oxytocin is produced by some tumour cell types, and that oxytocin receptors, belonging to the G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) family, are expressed in a variety of cell types. Among these, human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) respond to oxytocin with an increased proliferation, suggesting a possible role for the hormone in the regulation of angiogenesis.
Experimental approach:
We employed chemotaxis and chemoinvasion assays to characterize the effect of oxytocin on HUVEC motility, and immunoblot analysis to study its molecular mechanisms of action.
Key results:
We showed that oxytocin stimulates migration and invasion in HUVECs via oxytocin receptor activation. Searching for the molecular mechanism(s) responsible for oxytocin's pro-migratory effect, we identified the Gq coupling of oxytocin receptors and phospholipase C (PLC) as the main effectors of oxytocin's action in HUVECs. We also found that oxytocin stimulates the phosphorylation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) via the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI-3-K)/AKT pathway, and that the activation of PI-3-K and formation of nitric oxide (NO) are required for the pro-migratory effect of oxytocin.
Conclusions and implications:
The ability of oxytocin to stimulate HUVEC motility and invasion suggests that the hormone can participate in physiopathological processes where activation of endothelial cells plays an important role, for example, in angiogenesis. Interestingly, both the AKT and eNOS phosphorylation induced by oxytocin receptor activation depended on PLC activity, thus suggesting the existence of a still undefined mechanism connecting PLC to the PI-3-K/AKT pathway, upon oxytocin stimulation.
PMCID: PMC2259201  PMID: 18059319
oxytocin; human endothelial cells; motility; invasion; angiogenesis; phospholipase C; nitric oxide; phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/AKT pathway.
11.  A Deletion Involving CD38 and BST1 Results in a Fusion Transcript in a Patient With Autism and Asthma 
CD38 encodes a ligand in the oxytocin signaling pathway. Some single nucleotide polymorphisms in this gene have been associated with low serum oxytocin levels in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) patients. Oxytocin disruption has been hypothesized to account for features of ASD, including impaired communication and social behavior, based on animal studies. Recent human studies have shown administration of oxytocin improving emotion recognition, promoting social behavior, and improving auditory processing of social stimuli in ASD patients. In addition to its role in oxytocin signaling, CD38 is involved in the regulation of calcium concentration in airway smooth muscle with impairment of CD38 being implicated in airway diseases like asthma. While a number of studies have implicated rare chromosomal deletions and duplications in helping determine genetic risk for autism, there are to our knowledge no reports describing rearrangements involving CD38 or deletions in patients with ASD. Here, we present two sisters diagnosed with autism and with features of regression—previously acquired speech lost in the second year of life. The younger sister, who also had asthma, inherited a maternal deletion of 4p15.32 that results in a BST1-CD38 fusion transcript. Their mother's deletion was mosaic and she was not affected. Although further work is required to assess functional consequences of the fusion transcript, we hypothesize that the proband's deletion may have served as a risk factor for autism that, when combined with other susceptibility variants, resulted in a more severe presentation than her sister.
PMCID: PMC4309371  PMID: 24634087
autism; CD38; oxytocin; CNV; fusion transcript
12.  Pro-inflammatory mechanisms of muscarinic receptor stimulation in airway smooth muscle 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):130.
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.
PMCID: PMC2955662  PMID: 20875145
13.  Reduction in TRPC4 expression specifically attenuates G-protein coupled receptor-stimulated increases in intracellular calcium in human myometrial cells 
Cell calcium  2009;46(1):73-84.
Canonical transient receptor potential (TRPC) proteins may play a role in regulating changes in intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i). Human myometrium expresses TRPC4, TRPC1 and TRPC6 mRNAs in greatest relative abundance. Contributions of TRPC4 to increases in [Ca2+]i were assessed in PHM1-41 and primary human uterine smooth muscle (UtSMC) cells using short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs). Based on a reporter assay screen, one shRNA was selected to construct an adenoviral expression vector (TC4sh1). TC4sh1 induced both mRNA and protein TRPC4 knockdown in PHM1-41 cells without affecting expression of other TRPCs. Signal-regulated Ca2+ entry (SRCE), defined as a stimulus- and extracellular Ca2+-dependent increase in [Ca2+]i, was measured in PHM1-41 cells treated with oxytocin (G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR)-stimulated), thapsigargin (store depletion-simulated), and OAG (diacylglycerol-stimulated), using Fura-2. Cells infected with TC4sh1 exhibited attenuated oxytocin-, ATP- and PGF2α–mediated SRCE, but no change in thapsigargin- or OAG-stimulated SRCE. Similar results were obtained in primary uterine smooth muscle cells. Additionally, cells expressing TC4sh1 exhibited a significantly smaller increase in channel activity in response to oxytocin administration than did cells infected with empty virus. These data show that, in human myometrial cells, knockdown of endogenous TRPC4 specifically attenuates GPCR-stimulated, but not thapsigargin- or OAG-stimulated extracellular calcium-dependent increases in [Ca2+]i. These data imply that, in this cellular context, the mechanisms regulating extracellular Ca2+-dependent increases in [Ca2+]i are differentially affected by different signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC2866636  PMID: 19523685
14.  DNA Methylation of Specific CpG Sites in the Promoter Region Regulates the Transcription of the Mouse Oxytocin Receptor 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56869.
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.
PMCID: PMC3575498  PMID: 23441222
15.  Innate Immune Receptors in Human Airway Smooth Muscle Cells: Activation by TLR1/2, TLR3, TLR4, TLR7 and NOD1 Agonists 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68701.
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.
PMCID: PMC3701658  PMID: 23861935
16.  Labor and Inflammation Increase the Expression of Oxytocin Receptor in Human Amnion1 
Biology of Reproduction  2010;84(3):546-552.
The oxytocin/oxytocin receptor (OXT/OXTR) system plays an important role in the regulation of parturition. The amnion is a major source of prostaglandins and inflammatory cytokine synthesis, which increase both before and during labor. Amnion is a noncontractile tissue; therefore, the role played by OXT/OXTR in this tissue will be fundamentally different from the role played in myometrial contractions. In the present study, we demonstrate increased OXTR mRNA and protein concentrations in human amnion epithelial cells associated with the onset of labor. We show that incubation of primary human amnion epithelial cells with IL1B results in a rapid, transient up-regulation of OXTR mRNA expression, which peaks in prelabor samples after 6 h. Incubation of prelabor amnion epithelial cells with OXT results in a marked increase of prostaglandin E2 synthesis, and we demonstrate that OXT activates the extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase signal transduction pathway to stimulate up-regulation of cyclo-oxygenase 2 in human amnion epithelial cells. The increased ability of human amnion to produce prostaglandins in response to OXT treatment suggests a complementary role for the OXT/OXTR system in the activation of human amnion and the onset of labor.
Oxytocin receptor expression in the amnion increases after the onset of labor and is involved in the inflammation-driven labor process via amniotic prostaglandin production and activation of the ERK signal transduction pathway to stimulate PTGS2 up-regulation.
PMCID: PMC4480813  PMID: 20926803
amnion; oxytocin; oxytocin receptor; parturition; prostaglandins
17.  The oxytocin/vasopressin receptor antagonist atosiban delays the gastric emptying of a semisolid meal compared to saline in human 
BMC Gastroenterology  2006;6:11.
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.
PMCID: PMC1434749  PMID: 16542457
18.  Oxytocin receptors expressed and coupled to Ca2+ signalling in a human vascular smooth muscle cell line. 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1996;117(5):799-804.
1. In a human vascular smooth muscle cell line (HVSMC), binding experiments with [3H]-arginine8-vasopressin (AVP) have shown the existence of a homogeneous population of binding sites with affinity (Kd value) of 0.65 nM and a maximum number of binding sites (Bmax) of 122 fmol mg-1 protein. 2. Nonlabelled compounds compete for [3H]-AVP binding in the HVSMC membrane with an order of potency of oxytocin > lyspressin > or = AVP > Thr4, Gly7-oxytocin > (beta-mercapto-beta-beta-cyclopentamethylenepropionyl-O-Me Tyr2, Arg8) vasopressin > desmopressin > OPC21268 > OPC31260. This order was markedly different from that observed in rat vascular smooth muscle cells (A10), a well-established V1A receptor system. 3. In HVSMC both oxytocin and AVP increased inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) production and [Ca2+]i response, but the efficacy of the responses was greater for oxytocin than AVP. 4. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay detected only oxytocin receptor but not V1A or V2 receptors in HVSMC, whereas only V1A receptors were found in A10 cells. 5. In conclusion, in HVSMC only oxytocin receptors are expressed among the vasopressin receptor family, and they coupled to phosphatidyl inositol (PI) turnover/Ca2+ signalling. This unexpected observation should provide new insight into the functional role of the oxytocin receptor in a human vascular smooth muscle cell line.
PMCID: PMC1909422  PMID: 8851493
19.  Oxytocin: an unexpected risk for cardiologic and broncho-obstructive effects, and allergic reactions in susceptible delivering women 
Oxytocin (Sintocynon) is considered an uncommon cause of severe allergic reactions during delivery. We have recently shown that allergic sensitization to latex might constitute an important predisposing risk factor for anaphylaxis after the first infusion of oxytocin during delivery.
Some oxytocin cardiovascular activities such as lowering blood pressure, negative cardiac inotropy and cronotropy, parasympathetic neuromodulation, vasodilatation etc. can induce significant side effects mimicking cardiac anaphylaxis, and constitute an additional differential diagnostic problem in delivering women with suspected or real allergic background. Finally, some ex vivo models have shown that oxytocin, under pro-inflammatory cytokines stimulation, such as those occurring in asthma, may induce contraction of smooth muscle and airway narrowing.
This background suggests that allergic sensitization to latex allergens constitutes a significant but underestimated risk factor for triggering severe systemic reactions after the infusion of oxytocin and, consequently, there is a need of particular attention in managing delivering women suffering from latex allergy and bronchial asthma. An accurate anamnestic, clinical and diagnostic evaluation, latex-free anesthesiological setting, use of oxytocin-alternative agents and, if necessary, a drug premedication are likely to reduce the risk of anaphylactic/broncho-obstructive reactions in these women.
PMCID: PMC4014859  PMID: 24139438
Anaphylaxis; Bronchial asthma; Delivery; Drug allergy; Heart; Hypersensitivity; Latex allergy; Oxytocin; Oxytocin allergy; Oxytocin and heart; Oxytocin side effects
20.  Pharmacologic characterization of the oxytocin receptor in human uterine smooth muscle cells 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2000;129(1):131-139.
[3H]-oxytocin was used to characterize the oxytocin receptor found in human uterine smooth muscle cells (USMC). Specific binding of [3H]-oxytocin to USMC plasma membranes was dependent upon time, temperature and membrane protein concentration.Scatchard plot analysis of equilibrium binding data revealed the existence of a single class of high-affinity binding sites with an apparent equilibrium dissociation constant (Kd) of 0.76 nM and a maximum receptor density (Bmax) of 153 fmol mg−1 protein. The Hill coefficient (nH) did not differ significantly from unity, suggesting binding to homogenous, non-interacting receptor populations.Competitive inhibition of [3H]-oxytocin binding showed that oxytocin and vasopressin (AVP) receptor agonists and antagonists displaced [3H]-oxytocin in a concentration-dependent manner. The order of potencies for peptide agonists and antagonists was: oxytocin>[Asu1,6]-oxytocin>AVP= atosiban>d(CH2)5Tyr(Me)AVP>[Thr4,Gly7]-oxytocin>dDAVP, and for nonpeptide antagonists was: L-371257>YM087>SR 49059>OPC-21268>SR 121463A>OPC-31260.Oxytocin significantly induced concentration-dependent increase in intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) and hyperplasia in USMC. The oxytocin receptor antagonists, atosiban and L-371257, potently and concentration-dependently inhibited oxytocin-induced [Ca2+]i increase and hyperplasia. In contrast, the V1A receptor selective antagonist, SR 49059, and the V2 receptor selective antagonist, SR 121463A, did not potently inhibit oxytocin-induced [Ca2+]i increase and hyperplasia. The potency order of antagonists in inhibiting oxytocin-induced [Ca2+]i increase and hyperplasia was similar to that observed in radioligand binding assays.In conclusion, these data provide evidence that the high-affinity [3H]-oxytocin binding site found in human USMC is a functional oxytocin receptor coupled to [Ca2+]i increase and cell growth. Thus human USMC may prove to be a valuable tool in further investigation of the physiologic and pathophysiologic roles of oxytocin in the uterus.
PMCID: PMC1621120  PMID: 10694212
Oxytocin receptor; vasopressin receptor; human; uterine smooth muscle cells
21.  The Influence of Oxytocin Administration on Responses to Infant Faces and Potential Moderation by OXTR Genotype 
Psychopharmacology  2012;224(4):469-476.
Oxytocin is a neuropeptide that is associated with increases in social affiliative behaviors, particularly toward infants. However, no previous study has investigated healthy adults’ responses to infant faces following oxytocin administration. In addition, given that preliminary evidence suggests that a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene, rs53576, may influence behaviors associated with parental sensitivity, we assessed whether such responses vary according to OXTR rs53576 genotype.
The present study assessed the effects of intranasally administered oxytocin and OXTR genotype on human adults’ preferences for infant faces.
A double-blind, between-groups design was used, with 57 genotyped volunteers randomly assigned to receive intranasally administered oxytocin or placebo. Fifty minutes following the administration of oxytocin or placebo, participants viewed infants’ and adults’ faces showing neutral expressions and assessed how appealing they found each face.
Infants’ faces were more strongly preferred following oxytocin inhalation relative to placebo. When participants were separated according to genotype, this effect was only observed for participants homozygous for the rs53576G allele. Parallel effects were not seen for adults’ faces.
The present results are consistent with the hypothesis that acute oxytocin administration increases sensitivity to reward-relevant features of infants and/or reduces sensitivity to their aversive properties. The results also are consistent with suggestions of more efficient oxytocinergic function in rs53576G homozygotes.
PMCID: PMC3500580  PMID: 22763666
Oxytocin; OXTR; parental; faces; affiliation
22.  Advanced glycation end products promote human aortic smooth muscle cell calcification in vitro via activating NF-κB and down-regulating IGF1R expression 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2013;34(4):480-486.
To investigate the effects of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) on calcification in human aortic smooth muscle cells (HASMCs) in vitro and the underlying mechanisms.
AGEs were artificially prepared. Calcification of HASMCs was induced by adding inorganic phosphate (Pi, 2 mmol/L) in the media, and observed with Alizarin red staining. The calcium content in the supernatant was measured using QuantiChrome Calcium Assay Kit. Expression of the related mRNAs and proteins was analyzed using real-time PCR and Western blot, respectively. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay was used to detect the binding of NF-κB to the putative IGF1R promoter.
AGEs (100 μg/mL) significantly enhanced Pi-induced calcification and the levels of osteocalcin and Cbfα1 in HASMCs. Furthermore, the treatment decreased the expression of insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R). Over-expression of IGF1R in HASMCs suppressed the AGEs-induced increase in calcium deposition. When IGF1R expression was knocked down in HASMCs, AGEs did not enhance the calcium deposition. Meanwhile, AGEs time-dependently decreased the amounts of IκBα and Flag-tagged p65 in the cytoplasmic extracts, and increased the amount of nuclear p65 in HASMCs. In the presence of NF-κB inhibitor PDTC (50 μmol/L), the AGEs-induced increase in calcium deposition was blocked. Over-expression of p65 significantly enhanced Pi-induced mineralization, but suppressed IGF1R mRNA level. Knockdown of p65 suppressed the AGEs-induced increase in calcium deposition, and rescued the IGF1R expression. The ChIP analysis revealed that NF-κB bound the putative IGF1R promoter at position −230 to −219 bp. The inhibition of IGF1R by NF-κB was abolished when IGF1R reporter plasmid contained mutated binding sequence for NF-κB or an NF-κB reporter vector.
The results demonstrate that AGEs promote calcification of human aortic smooth muscle cells in vitro via activation of NF-κB and down-regulation of IGF1R expression.
PMCID: PMC4002782  PMID: 23416929
vascular calcification; advanced glycation end products; human aortic smooth muscle cell; osteocalcin; Cbfα1; insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R); nuclear factor-kappa B; PDTC
23.  Fibroblast activation protein is induced by inflammation and degrades type I collagen in thin-cap fibroatheromata 
European Heart Journal  2011;32(21):2713-2722.
Collagen degradation in atherosclerotic plaques with thin fibrous caps renders them more prone to rupture. Fibroblast activation protein (FAP) plays a role in arthritis and tumour formation through its collagenase activity. However, the significance of FAP in thin-cap human fibroatheromata remains unknown.
Methods and results
We detected enhanced FAP expression in type IV–V human aortic atheromata (n = 12), compared with type II–III lesions (n = 9; P < 0.01) and healthy aortae (n = 8; P < 0.01) by immunostaining and western blot analyses. Fibroblast activation protein was also increased in thin-cap (<65 µm) vs. thick-cap (≥65 µm) human coronary fibroatheromata (n = 12; P < 0.01). Fibroblast activation protein was expressed by human aortic smooth muscle cells (HASMC) as shown by colocalization on immunofluorescent aortic plaque stainings (n = 10; P < 0.01) and by flow cytometry in cell culture. Although macrophages did not express FAP, macrophage burden in human aortic plaques correlated with FAP expression (n = 12; R2= 0.763; P < 0.05). Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays showed a time- and dose-dependent up-regulation of FAP in response to human tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) in HASMC (n = 6; P < 0.01). Moreover, supernatants from peripheral blood-derived macrophages induced FAP expression in cultured HASMC (n = 6; P < 0.01), an effect abolished by blocking TNFα (n = 6; P < 0.01). Fibroblast activation protein associated with collagen-poor regions in human coronary fibrous caps and digested type I collagen and gelatin in vitro (n = 6; P < 0.01). Zymography revealed that FAP-mediated collagenase activity was neutralized by an antibody directed against the FAP catalytic domain both in HASMC (n = 6; P < 0.01) and in fibrous caps of atherosclerotic plaques (n = 10; P < 0.01).
Fibroblast activation protein expression in HASMC is induced by macrophage-derived TNFα. Fibroblast activation protein associates with thin-cap human coronary fibroatheromata and contributes to type I collagen breakdown in fibrous caps.
PMCID: PMC3205479  PMID: 21292680
Atherosclerosis; Antibodies; Collagen; Inflammation; Smooth muscle cells
24.  Cigarette smoke induces IL-8, but inhibits eotaxin and RANTES release from airway smooth muscle 
Respiratory Research  2005;6(1):74.
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.
PMCID: PMC1187925  PMID: 16029496
25.  The neuroanatomical distribution of oxytocin receptor binding and mRNA in the male rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) 
Psychoneuroendocrinology  2014;45:128-141.
The rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) is an important primate model for social cognition, and recent studies have begun to explore the impact of oxytocin on social cognition and behavior. Macaques have great potential for elucidating the neural mechanisms by which oxytocin modulates social cognition, which has implications for oxytocin-based pharmacotherapies for psychiatric disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. Previous attempts to localize oxytocin receptors (OXTR) in the rhesus macaque brain have failed due to reduced selectivity of radioligands, which in primates bind to both OXTR and the structurally similar vasopressin 1a receptor (AVPR1A). We have developed a pharmacologically-informed competitive binding autoradiography protocol that selectively reveals OXTR and AVPR1A binding sites in primate brain sections. Using this protocol, we describe the neuroanatomical distribution of OXTR in the macaque. Finally, we use in situ hybridization to localize OXTR mRNA. Our results demonstrate that OXTR expression in the macaque brain is much more restricted than AVPR1A. OXTR is largely limited to the nucleus basalis of Meynert, pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus, the superficial gray layer of the superior colliculus, the trapezoid body, and the ventromedial hypothalamus. These regions are involved in a variety of functions relevant to social cognition, including modulating visual attention, processing auditory and multimodal sensory stimuli, and controlling orienting responses to visual stimuli. These results provide insights into the neural mechanisms by which oxytocin modulates social cognition and behavior in this species, which, like humans, uses vision and audition as the primary modalities for social communication.
PMCID: PMC4043226  PMID: 24845184
oxytocin receptor; neuropeptide; neuroanatomy; nonhuman primate; autism

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