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author:("Huang, heping")
1.  Reduced IL-10 Production in Fetal Type II Epithelial Cells Exposed to Mechanical Stretch Is Mediated via Activation of IL-6-SOCS3 Signaling Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59598.
An imbalance between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines is a key factor in the lung injury of premature infants exposed to mechanical ventilation. Previous studies have shown that lung cells exposed to stretch produces reduced amounts of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. The objective of these studies was to analyze the signaling mechanisms responsible for the decreased IL-10 production in fetal type II cells exposed to mechanical stretch. Fetal mouse type II epithelial cells isolated at embryonic day 18 were exposed to 20% stretch to simulate lung injury. We show that IL-10 receptor gene expression increased with gestational age. Mechanical stretch decreased not only IL-10 receptor gene expression but also IL-10 secretion. In contrast, mechanical stretch increased release of IL-6. We then investigated IL-10 signaling pathway-associated proteins and found that in wild-type cells, mechanical stretch decreased activation of JAK1 and TYK2 and increased STAT3 and SOCS3 activation. However, opposite effects were found in cells isolated from IL-10 knockout mice. Reduction in IL-6 secretion by stretch was observed in cells isolated from IL-10 null mice. To support the idea that stretch-induced SOCS3 expression via IL-6 leads to reduced IL-10 expression, siRNA-mediated inhibition of SOCS3 restored IL-10 secretion in cells exposed to stretch and decreased IL-6 secretion. Taken together, these studies suggest that the inhibitory effect of mechanical stretch on IL-10 secretion is mediated via activation of IL-6-STAT3-SOCS3 signaling pathway. SOCS3 could be a therapeutic target to increase IL-10 production in lung cells exposed to mechanical injury.
PMCID: PMC3602195  PMID: 23527226
2.  Differential Expression of MMP-2 and -9 and their Inhibitors in Fetal Lung Cells Exposed to Mechanical Stretch: Regulation by IL-10 
Lung  2011;189(4):341-349.
Study Objectives
Abnormal remodeling of the extracellular matrix (ECM) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. However, the contribution of lung parenchymal cells to ECM remodeling after mechanical injury is not well defined. The objective of these studies was to investigate in vitro the release of MMP-2 and -9 and their respective inhibitors TIMP-2 and -1, and to explore potential regulation by IL-10.
Mouse fetal epithelial cells and fibroblasts isolated on E18–19 of gestation were exposed to 20% cyclic stretch to simulate lung injury. MMP-2 and MMP-9 activity were investigated by zymography and ELISA. TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 abundance were analyzed by Western blot.
We found that mechanical stretch increased MMP-2 and decreased TIMP-2 in fibroblasts, indicating that excessive stretch promotes MMP-2 activation, expressed as the MMP-2/TIMP-2 ratio. Incubation with IL-10 did not change MMP-2 activity. In contrast, mechanical stretch of epithelial cells decreased MMP-9 activity and the MMP-9/TIMP-1 ratio by 60–70%. When IL-10 was added, mechanical stretch increased the MMP-9/TIMP-1 ratio by 50%.
We conclude that mechanical stretch differentially affects MMP-2/9 and their inhibitors in fetal lung cells. IL-10 modulates MMP-9 activity through a combination of effects on MMP-9 and TIMP-1 levels.
PMCID: PMC3194765  PMID: 21701831
Mechanical injury; Bronchopulmonary dysplasia; TIMP-1/2; Matrix metalloproteinases; Epithelial cells; Fibroblasts
3.  IL-10 inhibits inflammatory cytokines released by fetal mouse lung fibroblasts exposed to mechanical stretch 
Pediatric pulmonology  2011;46(7):640-649.
Mechanical ventilation plays an important role in the pathogenesis of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. However, the molecular mechanisms by which excessive stretch induces lung inflammation are not well characterized.
In this study, we investigated in vitro the contribution of lung mesenchymal cells to the inflammatory response mediated by mechanical stretch and the potential protective role of IL-10.
Fetal mouse lung fibroblasts isolated during the saccular stage of lung development were exposed to 20% cyclic stretch to simulate mechanical injury. The phenotype of cultured fibroblasts was investigated by red oil O and alpha-smooth muscle actin staining. Cell necrosis, apoptosis and inflammation were analyzed by LDH release, cleaved caspase-3 activation and release of cytokines and chemokines into the supernatant, respectively.
First, we characterized the phenotype of the cultured fibroblasts and found an absence of red oil O staining and 100% positive staining for alpha-smooth muscle actin, indicating that cultured fibroblasts were myofibroblasts. Mechanical stretch increased necrosis and apoptosis by 2- and 3-fold, compared to unstretched samples. Incubation of monolayers with IL-10 prior to stretch did not affect necrosis but significantly decreased apoptosis. Mechanical stretch increased release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines IL-1β, MCP-1, RANTES, IL-6, KC and TNF-α into the supernatant by 1.5- to 2.5-fold, and administration of IL-10 before stretch blocked that release.
Our data demonstrate that lung interstitial cells may play a significant role in the inflammatory cascade triggered by mechanical stretch. IL-10 protects fetal fibroblasts from injury secondary to stretch.
PMCID: PMC3103753  PMID: 21337733
Chronic lung disease; Cytokines; Interleukin-10; Lung fibroblasts; Lung injury; Mechanical stress
4.  The Protective Role of Nrf2 in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Nephropathy 
Diabetes  2010;59(4):850-860.
Diabetic nephropathy is one of the major causes of renal failure, which is accompanied by the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Nrf2 is the primary transcription factor that controls the antioxidant response essential for maintaining cellular redox homeostasis. Here, we report our findings demonstrating a protective role of Nrf2 against diabetic nephropathy.
We explore the protective role of Nrf2 against diabetic nephropathy using human kidney biopsy tissues from diabetic nephropathy patients, a streptozotocin-induced diabetic nephropathy model in Nrf2−/− mice, and cultured human mesangial cells.
The glomeruli of human diabetic nephropathy patients were under oxidative stress and had elevated Nrf2 levels. In the animal study, Nrf2 was demonstrated to be crucial in ameliorating streptozotocin-induced renal damage. This is evident by Nrf2−/− mice having higher ROS production and suffering from greater oxidative DNA damage and renal injury compared with Nrf2+/+ mice. Mechanistic studies in both in vivo and in vitro systems showed that the Nrf2-mediated protection against diabetic nephropathy is, at least, partially through inhibition of transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) and reduction of extracellular matrix production. In human renal mesangial cells, high glucose induced ROS production and activated expression of Nrf2 and its downstream genes. Furthermore, activation or overexpression of Nrf2 inhibited the promoter activity of TGF-β1 in a dose-dependent manner, whereas knockdown of Nrf2 by siRNA enhanced TGF-β1 transcription and fibronectin production.
This work clearly indicates a protective role of Nrf2 in diabetic nephropathy, suggesting that dietary or therapeutic activation of Nrf2 could be used as a strategy to prevent or slow down the progression of diabetic nephropathy.
PMCID: PMC2844833  PMID: 20103708
5.  Melatonin formation in mammals: In vivo perspectives 
Melatonin is a hormone secreted from the pineal gland specifically at night and contributes to a wide array of physiological functions in mammals. Melatonin is one of the most well understood output of the circadian clock located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Melatonin synthesis is controlled distally via the circadian clock located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus and proximally regulated by norepinephrine released in response to the circadian clock signals. To understand melatonin synthesis in vivo, we have performed microdialysis analysis of the pineal gland, which monitors melatonin as well as the precursor (serotonin) and intermediate (N-acetylserotonin) of melatonin synthesis in freely moving animals in realtime at high resolution. Our data revealed a number of novel features of melatonin production undetected using conventional techniques, which include (1) large inter-individual variations of melatonin onset timing; (2) circadian regulation of serotonin synthesis and secretion in the pineal gland; and (3) a revised view on the rate-limiting step of melatonin formation in vivo. This article will summarize the main findings from our laboratory regarding melatonin formation in mammals.
PMCID: PMC2843929  PMID: 20024626
Melatonin; Serotonin (5-HT); Pineal gland; Microdialysis
6.  Nrf2 protects against As(III)-induced damage in mouse liver and bladder 
Arsenic compounds are classified as toxicants and human carcinogens. Environmental exposure to arsenic imposes a big health issue worldwide. Arsenic elicits its toxic efforts through many mechanisms, including generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Nrf2 is the primary transcription factor that controls expression of a main cellular antioxidant response, which is required for neutralizing ROS and thus defending cells from exogenous insults. Previously, we demonstrated a protective role of Nrf2 against arsenic-induced toxicity using a cell culture model. In this report, we present evidence that Nrf2 protects against liver and bladder injury in response to six-weeks of arsenic exposure in a mouse model. Nrf2−/− mice displayed more severe pathological changes in the liver and bladder, compared to Nrf2+/+ mice. Furthermore, Nrf2−/− mice were more sensitive to arsenic-induced DNA hypomethylation, oxidative DNA damage, and apoptotic cell death. These results indicate a protective role of Nrf2 against arsenic toxicity in vivo. Hence, this work demonstrates the feasibility of using dietary compounds that target activation of the Nrf2 signaling pathway to alleviate arsenic-induced damage.
PMCID: PMC2739886  PMID: 19538980
7.  Nrf2 promotes neuronal cell differentiation 
Free radical biology & medicine  2009;47(6):867-879.
The transcription factor Nrf2 has emerged as a master regulator for the endogenous antioxidant response, which is critical in defending cells against environmental insults and in maintaining intracellular redox balance. However, whether Nrf2 has any role in neuronal cell differentiation is largely unknown. In this report, we have examined the effects of Nrf2 on cell differentiation using a neuroblastoma cell line, SH-SY5Y. Retinoic acid (RA) and 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), two well-studied inducers for neuronal differentiation, are able to induce Nrf2 and its target gene NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) in a dose- and time- dependent manner. RA-induced Nrf2 up-regulation is accompanied by neurite outgrowth and an induction of two neuronal differentiation markers, neurofilament-M (NF-M) and microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP-2). Overexpression of Nrf2 in SH-SY5Y cells promotes neuronal differentiation whereas inhibition of endogenous Nrf2 expression inhibited neuronal differentiation. More remarkably, the positive role of Nrf2 in neuronal differentiation was verified ex vivo in primary neuron culture. Primary neurons isolated from Nrf2-null mice showed a retarded progress in differentiation, compared to that from wild-type mice. Collectively, our data demonstrate a novel role for Nrf2 in promoting neuronal cell differentiation, which will open new perspectives for therapeutic uses of Nrf2 activators in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC2748111  PMID: 19573594
Nrf2; Keap1; Oxidative Stress; Neuronal differentiation; SH-SY5Y; NQO1
8.  Direct interaction between Nrf2 and p21Cip1/WAF1 upregulates the Nrf2-mediated antioxidant response 
Molecular cell  2009;34(6):663-673.
In response to oxidative stress, Nrf2 and p21 Cip1/WAF1 are both upregulated to protect cells from oxidative damage. Nrf2 is constantly ubiquitinated by a Keap1 dimer that interacts with a weak-binding 29DLG motif and a strong-binding 79ETGE motif in Nrf2, resulting in degradation of Nrf2. Modification of the redox-sensitive cysteine residues on Keap1 disrupts the Keap1-29DLG binding, leading to diminished Nrf2 ubiquitination and activation of the antioxidant response. However, the underlying mechanism by which p21 protects cells from oxidative damage remains unclear. Here, we present molecular and genetic evidence suggesting that the antioxidant function of p21 is mediated through activation of Nrf2 by stabilizing the Nrf2 protein. The 154KRR motif in p21 directly interacts with the 29DLG and 79ETGE motifs in Nrf2, and thus, competes with Keap1 for Nrf2 binding, compromising ubiquitination of Nrf2. Furthermore, the physiological significance of our findings was demonstrated in vivo using p21-deficient mice.
PMCID: PMC2714804  PMID: 19560419
9.  Posttranslational regulation of TPH1 is responsible for the nightly surge of 5-HT output in the rat pineal gland 
Journal of pineal research  2008;45(4):506-514.
Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT), a precursor for melatonin production, is produced abundantly in the pineal gland of all vertebrate animals. The synthesis of 5-HT in the pineal gland is rate limited by tryptophan hydroxylase 1 (TPH1) whose activity displays a twofold increase at night. Earlier studies from our laboratory demonstrate that pineal 5-HT secretion exhibits dynamic circadian rhythms with elevated levels during the early night, and that the increase is controlled by adrenergic signaling at night. In this study, we report that (a) 5-HT total output from the pineal gland and TPH1 protein levels both display diurnal rhythms with a twofold increase at night; (b) stimulation of cAMP signaling elevates 5-HT output in vivo; (c) 5-HT total output and TPH1 protein content in rat pineal gland are both acutely inhibited by light exposure at night. Consistent with these findings, molecular analysis of TPH1 protein revealed that (a) TPH1 is phosphorylated at the serine 58 in vitro and in the night pineal gland; and (b) phosphorylation of TPH1 at this residue is required for cAMP-enhanced TPH1 protein stability. These data support the model that increased nocturnal 5-HT synthesis in the pineal gland is mediated by the phosphorylation of TPH1 at the serine 58, which elevates the TPH1 protein content and activity at night.
PMCID: PMC2669754  PMID: 18705647
5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT; serotonin); cAMP; in vivo microdialysis; melatonin; phosphorylation; pineal gland; tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH)
10.  Phosphorylation of Nrf2 at Multiple Sites by MAP Kinases Has a Limited Contribution in Modulating the Nrf2-Dependent Antioxidant Response 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(8):e6588.
The bZIP transcription factor Nrf2 has emerged as a pivotal regulator of intracellular redox homeostasis by controlling the expression of many endogenous antioxidants and phase II detoxification enzymes. Upon oxidative stress, Nrf2 is induced at protein levels through redox-sensitive modifications on cysteine residues of Keap1, a component of the E3 ubiquitin ligase that targets Nrf2 for ubiquitin-dependent degradation. The mitogen activated protein kinases (MAPKs) have previously been proposed to regulate Nrf2 in response to oxidative stress. However, the exact role of MAPKs and the underlying molecular mechanism remain poorly defined. Here we report the first evidence that Nrf2 is phosphorylated in vivo by MAPKs. We have identified multiple serine/threonine residues as major targets of MAPK-mediated phosphorylation. Combined alanine substitution on those residues leads to a moderate decrease in the transcriptional activity of Nrf2, most likely due to a slight reduction in its nuclear accumulation. More importantly, Nrf2 protein stability, primarily controlled by Keap1, is not altered by Nrf2 phosphorylation in vivo. These data indicate that direct phosphorylation of Nrf2 by MAPKs has limited contribution in modulating Nrf2 activity. We suggest that MAPKs regulate the Nrf2 signaling pathway mainly through indirect mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2719090  PMID: 19668370

Results 1-10 (10)