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1.  A common variant in the melatonin receptor gene (MTNR1B) is associated with increased risk of future type 2 diabetes and impaired early insulin secretion 
Nature genetics  2008;41(1):82-88.
Genome wide association studies revealed that variation in the Melatonin Receptor 1B gene (MTNR1B) is associated with insulin and glucose concentrations. Here we show that the risk genotype of this SNP predicts future type 2 diabetes (T2D) in two large prospective studies. Specifically, the risk genotype was associated with impairment of early insulin response to both oral and intravenous glucose and with faster deterioration of insulin secretion over time. We also show that the Melatonin Receptor 1B mRNA is expressed in human islets, and immunocytochemistry confirms that it is primarily localized in β-cells in islets. Non-diabetic individuals carrying the risk allele and patients with T2D showed increased expression of the receptor in islets. Insulin release from clonal β-cells in response to glucose was inhibited in the presence of melatonin. These data suggest that the circulating hormone melatonin, which is predominantly released from the pineal gland in the brain, is involved in the pathogenesis of T2D. Given the increased expression of Melatonin Receptor 1B in individuals at risk of T2D, the pathogenic effects are likely exerted via a direct inhibitory effect on β-cells. In view of these results, blocking the melatonin ligand-receptor system could be a therapeutic avenue in T2D.
PMCID: PMC3725650  PMID: 19060908
2.  Biomechanical properties and innervation of the female caveolin-1-deficient detrusor 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2011;162(5):1156-1170.
Caveolin-1-deficiency is associated with substantial urogenital alterations. Here, a mechanical, histological and biochemical characterization of female detrusors from wild-type and caveolin-1-deficient (KO) mice was made to increase the understanding of detrusor changes caused by lack of caveolae.
Length–tension relationships were generated, and we recorded responses to electrical field stimulation, the muscarinic receptor agonist carbachol and the purinoceptor agonist ATP. Tyrosine nitration and the contents of caveolin-1, cavin-1, muscarinic M3 receptors, phospholipase Cβ1, muscle-specific kinase (MuSK) and L-type Ca2+ channels were determined by immunoblotting. Innervation was assessed by immunohistochemistry.
Bladder to body weight ratio was not changed, nor was there any change in the optimum circumference for force development. Depolarization- and ATP-induced stress was reduced, as was carbachol-induced stress between 0.1 and 3 µM, but the supramaximal relative (% K+) response to carbachol was increased, as was M3 expression. The scopolamine-sensitive component of the electrical field stimulation response was impaired, and yet bladder nerves contained little caveolin-1. The density of cholinergic nerves was unchanged, whereas CART- and CGRP-positive nerves were reduced. Immunoblotting revealed loss of MuSK.
Ablation of caveolae in the female detrusor leads to generalized impairment of contractility, ruling out prostate hypertrophy as a contributing factor. Cholinergic neuroeffector transmission is impaired without conspicuous changes in the density of cholinergic nerves or morphology of their terminals, but correlating with reduced expression of MuSK.
PMCID: PMC3051387  PMID: 21091642
caveolae; carbachol; ATP; purine receptor; CGRP; CART; NPK; synaptophysin; caveolin; cavin; lower urinary tract dysfunction; MuSK
3.  β-Cell Specific Overexpression of GPR39 Protects against Streptozotocin-Induced Hyperglycemia 
Mice deficient in the zinc-sensor GPR39, which has been demonstrated to protect cells against endoplasmatic stress and cell death in vitro, display moderate glucose intolerance and impaired glucose-induced insulin secretion. Here, we use the Tet-On system under the control of the proinsulin promoter to selectively overexpress GPR39 in the β cells in a double transgenic mouse strain and challenge them with multiple low doses of streptozotocin, which in the wild-type littermates leads to a gradual increase in nonfasting glucose levels and glucose intolerance observed during both food intake and OGTT. Although the overexpression of the constitutively active GPR39 receptor in animals not treated with streptozotocin appeared by itself to impair the glucose tolerance slightly and to decrease the β-cell mass, it nevertheless totally protected against the gradual hyperglycemia in the steptozotocin-treated animals. It is concluded that GPR39 functions in a β-cell protective manner and it is suggested that it is involved in some of the beneficial, β-cell protective effects observed for Zn++ and that GPR39 may be a target for antidiabetic drug intervention.
PMCID: PMC3227460  PMID: 22164158
4.  Evidence for Presence and Functional Effects of Kv1.1 Channels in β-Cells: General Survey and Results from mceph/mceph Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18213.
Voltage-dependent K+ channels (Kv) mediate repolarisation of β-cell action potentials, and thereby abrogate insulin secretion. The role of the Kv1.1 K+ channel in this process is however unclear. We tested for presence of Kv1.1 in different species and tested for a functional role of Kv1.1 by assessing pancreatic islet function in BALB/cByJ (wild-type) and megencephaly (mceph/mceph) mice, the latter having a deletion in the Kv1.1 gene.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Kv1.1 expression was detected in islets from wild-type mice, SD rats and humans, and expression of truncated Kv1.1 was detected in mceph/mceph islets. Full-length Kv1.1 protein was present in islets from wild-type mice, but, as expected, not in those from mceph/mceph mice. Kv1.1 expression was localized to the β-cell population and also to α- and δ-cells, with evidence of over-expression of truncated Kv1.1 in mceph/mceph islets. Blood glucose, insulin content, and islet morphology were normal in mceph/mceph mice, but glucose-induced insulin release from batch-incubated islets was (moderately) higher than that from wild-type islets. Reciprocal blocking of Kv1.1 by dendrotoxin-K increased insulin secretion from wild-type but not mceph/mceph islets. Glucose-induced action potential duration, as well as firing frequency, was increased in mceph/mceph mouse β-cells. This duration effect on action potential in β-cells from mceph/mceph mice was mimicked by dendrotoxin-K in β-cells from wild-type mice. Observations concerning the effects of both the mceph mutation, and of dendrotoxin-K, on glucose-induced insulin release were confirmed in pancreatic islets from Kv1.1 null mice.
Kv1.1 channels are expressed in the β-cells of several species, and these channels can influence glucose-stimulated insulin release.
PMCID: PMC3071710  PMID: 21483673
5.  Attainment of Brown Adipocyte Features in White Adipocytes of Hormone-Sensitive Lipase Null Mice 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(3):e1793.
Hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) is expressed predominantly in adipose tissue, where it plays an important role in catecholamine-stimulated hydrolysis of stored tri- and diglycerides, thus mobilizing fatty acids. HSL exhibits broad substrate specificity and besides acylglycerides it hydrolyzes cholesteryl esters, retinyl esters and lipoidal esters. Despite its role in fatty acid mobilization, HSL null mice have been shown to be resistant to diet-induced obesity.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Following a high-fat diet (HFD) regimen, energy expenditure, measured using indirect calorimetry, was increased in HSL null mice. White adipose tissue of HSL null mice was characterized by reduced mass and reduced protein expression of PPARγ, a key transcription factor in adipogenesis, and stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1, the expression of which is known to be positively correlated to the differentiation state of the adipocyte. The protein expression of uncoupling protein-1 (UCP-1), the highly specific marker of brown adipocytes, was increased 7-fold in white adipose tissue of HSL null mice compared to wildtype littermates. Transmission electron microscopy revealed an increase in the size of mitochondria of white adipocytes of HSL null mice. The mRNA expression of pRb and RIP140 was decreased in isolated white adipocytes, while the expression of UCP-1 and CPT1 was increased in HSL null mice compared to wildtype littermates. Basal oxygen consumption was increased almost 3-fold in white adipose tissue of HSL null mice and was accompanied by increased uncoupling activity.
These data suggest that HSL is involved in the determination of white versus brown adipocytes during adipocyte differentiation The exact mechanism(s) underlying this novel role of HSL remains to be elucidated, but it seems clear that HSL is required to sustain normal expression levels of pRb and RIP140, which both promote differentiation into the white, rather than the brown, adipocyte lineage.
PMCID: PMC2258419  PMID: 18335062
6.  Characterisation of CART-containing neurons and cells in the porcine pancreas, gastro-intestinal tract, adrenal and thyroid glands 
BMC Neuroscience  2007;8:51.
The peptide CART is widely expressed in central and peripheral neurons, as well as in endocrine cells. Known peripheral sites of expression include the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the pancreas, and the adrenal glands. In rodent pancreas CART is expressed both in islet endocrine cells and in nerve fibers, some of which innervate the islets. Recent data show that CART is a regulator of islet hormone secretion, and that CART null mutant mice have islet dysfunction. CART also effects GI motility, mainly via central routes. In addition, CART participates in the regulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal-axis. We investigated CART expression in porcine pancreas, GI-tract, adrenal glands, and thyroid gland using immunocytochemistry.
CART immunoreactive (IR) nerve cell bodies and fibers were numerous in pancreatic and enteric ganglia. The majority of these were also VIP IR. The finding of intrinsic CART containing neurons indicates that pancreatic and GI CART IR nerve fibers have an intrinsic origin. No CART IR endocrine cells were detected in the pancreas or in the GI tract. The adrenal medulla harboured numerous CART IR endocrine cells, most of which were adrenaline producing. In addition CART IR fibers were frequently seen in the adrenal cortex and capsule. The capsule also contained CART IR nerve cell bodies. The majority of the adrenal CART IR neuronal elements were also VIP IR. CART IR was also seen in a substantial proportion of the C-cells in the thyroid gland. The majority of these cells were also somatostatin IR, and/or 5-HT IR, and/or VIP IR.
CART is a major neuropeptide in intrinsic neurons of the porcine GI-tract and pancreas, a major constituent of adrenaline producing adrenomedullary cells, and a novel peptide of the thyroid C-cells. CART is suggested to be a regulatory peptide in the porcine pancreas, GI-tract, adrenal gland and thyroid.
PMCID: PMC1934373  PMID: 17625001
7.  Alterations in regulation of energy homeostasis in cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase 3B–null mice 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2006;116(12):3240-3251.
Cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase 3B (PDE3B) has been suggested to be critical for mediating insulin/IGF-1 inhibition of cAMP signaling in adipocytes, liver, and pancreatic β cells. In Pde3b-KO adipocytes we found decreased adipocyte size, unchanged insulin-stimulated phosphorylation of protein kinase B and activation of glucose uptake, enhanced catecholamine-stimulated lipolysis and insulin-stimulated lipogenesis, and blocked insulin inhibition of catecholamine-stimulated lipolysis. Glucose, alone or in combination with glucagon-like peptide–1, increased insulin secretion more in isolated pancreatic KO islets, although islet size and morphology and immunoreactive insulin and glucagon levels were unchanged. The β3-adrenergic agonist CL 316,243 (CL) increased lipolysis and serum insulin more in KO mice, but blood glucose reduction was less in CL-treated KO mice. Insulin resistance was observed in KO mice, with liver an important site of alterations in insulin-sensitive glucose production. In KO mice, liver triglyceride and cAMP contents were increased, and the liver content and phosphorylation states of several insulin signaling, gluconeogenic, and inflammation- and stress-related components were altered. Thus, PDE3B may be important in regulating certain cAMP signaling pathways, including lipolysis, insulin-induced antilipolysis, and cAMP-mediated insulin secretion. Altered expression and/or regulation of PDE3B may contribute to metabolic dysregulation, including systemic insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC1678809  PMID: 17143332
8.  A Paleolithic diet confers higher insulin sensitivity, lower C-reactive protein and lower blood pressure than a cereal-based diet in domestic pigs 
A Paleolithic diet has been suggested to be more in concordance with human evolutionary legacy than a cereal based diet. This might explain the lower incidence among hunter-gatherers of diseases of affluence such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to experimentally study the long-term effect of a Paleolithic diet on risk factors for these diseases in domestic pigs. We examined glucose tolerance, post-challenge insulin response, plasma C-reactive protein and blood pressure after 15 months on Paleolithic diet in comparison with a cereal based swine feed.
Upon weaning twenty-four piglets were randomly allocated either to cereal based swine feed (Cereal group) or cereal free Paleolithic diet consisting of vegetables, fruit, meat and a small amount of tubers (Paleolithic group). At 17 months of age an intravenous glucose tolerance test was performed and pancreas specimens were collected for immunohistochemistry. Group comparisons of continuous variables were made by use of the t-test. P < 0.05 was chosen for statistical significance. Simple and multivariate correlations were evaluated by use of linear regression analysis.
At the end of the study the Paleolithic group weighed 22% less and had 43% lower subcutaneous fat thickness at mid sternum. No significant difference was seen in fasting glucose between groups. Dynamic insulin sensitivity was significantly higher (p = 0.004) and the insulin response was significantly lower in the Paleolithic group (p = 0.001). The geometric mean of C-reactive protein was 82% lower (p = 0.0007) and intra-arterial diastolic blood pressure was 13% lower in the Paleolithic group (p = 0.007). In evaluations of multivariate correlations, diet emerged as the strongest explanatory variable for the variations in dynamic insulin sensitivity, insulin response, C-reactive protein and diastolic blood pressure when compared to other relevant variables such as weight and subcutaneous fat thickness at mid sternum. There was no obvious immunohistochemical difference in pancreatic islets between the groups, but leukocytes were clearly more frequent in sampled pancreas from the Cereal group.
This study in domestic pigs suggests that a Paleolithic diet conferred higher insulin sensitivity, lower C-reactive protein and lower blood pressure when compared to a cereal based diet.
PMCID: PMC1635051  PMID: 17081292
9.  Natural Killer Cells Determine Development of Allergen-induced Eosinophilic Airway Inflammation in Mice  
The earliest contact between antigen and the innate immune system is thought to direct the subsequent antigen-specific T cell response. We hypothesized that cells of the innate immune system, such as natural killer (NK) cells, NK1.1+ T cells (NKT cells), and γ/δ T cells, may regulate the development of allergic airway disease. We demonstrate here that depletion of NK1.1+ cells (NK cells and NKT cells) before immunization inhibits pulmonary eosinophil and CD3+ T cell infiltration as well as increased levels of interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, and IL-12 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid in a murine model of allergic asthma. Moreover, systemic allergen-specific immunoglobulin (Ig)E and IgG2a levels and the number of IL-4 and interferon γ–producing splenic cells were diminished in mice depleted of NK1.1+ cells before the priming regime. Depletion of NK1.1+ cells during the challenge period only did not influence pulmonary eosinophilic inflammation. CD1d1 mutant mice, deficient in NKT cells but with normal NK cells, developed lung tissue eosinophilia and allergen-specific IgE levels not different from those observed in wild-type mice. Mice deficient in γ/δ T cells showed a mild attenuation of lung tissue eosinophilia in this model. Taken together, these findings suggest a critical role of NK cells, but not of NKT cells, for the development of allergen-induced airway inflammation, and that this effect of NK cells is exerted during the immunization. If translatable to humans, these data suggest that NK cells may be critically important for deciding whether allergic eosinophilic airway disease will develop. These observations are also compatible with a pathogenic role for the increased NK cell activity observed in human asthma.
PMCID: PMC2192913  PMID: 9927517
natural killer cells; NK1.1+ T cells; γ/δ T cells; eosinophils; allergic asthma
10.  Allergic Eosinophil-rich Inflammation Develops in Lungs and Airways of B Cell–deficient Mice 
Immunoglobulins (Ig), particularly IgE, are believed to be crucially involved in the pathogenesis of asthma and, equally, in allergic models of the disease. To validate this paradigm we examined homozygous mutant C57BL/6 mice, which are B cell deficient, lacking all Ig. Mice were immunized intraperitoneally with 10 μg ovalbumin (OVA) plus alum, followed by daily (day 14–20) 30 min exposures to OVA aerosol (OVA/OVA group). Three control groups were run: OVA intraperitoneally plus saline (SAL) aerosol (OVA/SAL group); saline intraperitoneally plus saline aerosol; saline intraperitoneally plus OVA aerosol (n = 6–7). Lung and large airway tissues obtained 24 h after the last OVA or SAL exposure were examined by light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The Ig-deficient mice receiving OVA/ OVA treatment had swollen and discolored lungs and exhibited marked eosinophilia both in large airway subepithelial tissue (49.2 ± 12.0 cells/mm basement membrane [BM] versus OVA/ SAL control 1.2 ± 0.3 cells/mm BM; P <0.001), and perivascularly and peribronchially in the lung (49.3 ± 9.0 cells/unit area versus OVA/SAL control 2.6 ± 0.6 cells/unit area; P <0.001). The eosinophilia extended to the regional lymph nodes. TEM confirmed the subepithelial and perivascular localization of eosinophils. Mucus cells in large airway epithelium increased from 1.5 ± 0.8 (OVA/SAL mice) to 39.5 ± 5.7 cells/mm BM in OVA/OVA treated mice (P <0.001). OVA/SAL mice never differed from the other control groups. Corresponding experiments in wild-type mice (n = 6–7 in each group) showed qualitatively similar but less pronounced eosinophil and mucus cell changes. Macrophages and CD4+ T cells increased in lungs of all OVA/OVA-treated mice. Mast cell number did not differ but degranulation was detected only in OVA/OVA-treated wild-type mice. Immunization to OVA followed by OVA challenges thus cause eosinophil-rich inflammation in airways and lungs of mice without involvement of B cells and Ig.
PMCID: PMC2196175  PMID: 9120394

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