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1.  Adipocytokines in Obesity and Metabolic Disease 
The Journal of endocrinology  2014;220(2):T47-T59.
The current global obesity pandemic is the leading cause for the soaring rates of metabolic diseases, especially diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and non-alcoholic hepatosteatosis. Efforts devoted to find cures for obesity and associated disorders in the past two decades have prompted intensive interest in adipocyte biology, and have led to major advances in the mechanistic understanding of adipose tissue as an essential endocrine organ. Adipose tissue secretes an array of hormones (adipokines) that signal key organs to maintain metabolic homeostasis, and their dysfunction has been causally linked to a wide range of metabolic diseases. In addition, obesity induces production of inflammatory cytokines (often referred to together with adipokines as adipocytokines) and infiltration of immune cells into adipose tissue, which creates a state of chronic low-grade inflammation. Metabolic inflammation has been increasingly recognized as a unifying mechanism linking obesity to a broad spectrum of pathological conditions. This review focuses on classic examples of adipocytokines that have helped to form the basis of the endocrine and inflammatory roles of adipose tissue, and it also details a few newly characterized adipocytokines that provide fresh insights into adipose biology. Studies of adipocytokines in clinical settings and their therapeutic potential are also discussed.
PMCID: PMC3887367  PMID: 24403378
2.  Maternal Perinatal Diet Induces Developmental Programming of Bone Architecture 
The Journal of endocrinology  2013;217(1):69-81.
Maternal high fat diet can alter offspring metabolism via perinatal developmental programming. This study tests the hypothesis that maternal high fat diet also induces perinatal programming of offspring bone mass and strength. We compared skeletal acquisition in pups from C57Bl/6J mice fed high fat or normal diet from preconception through lactation. Three-week-old male and female pups from high fat (HF-N) and normal mothers (N-N) were weaned onto normal diet. Outcomes at 14 and 26 wks of age included body mass, body composition, whole body bone mineral content via pDXA, femoral cortical and trabecular architecture via μCT, and glucose tolerance. Female HF-N had normal body mass and glucose tolerance, with lower %body fat but higher serum leptin at 14 wks vs. N-N (p<0.05 for both). Whole body bone mineral content was 12% lower at 14 wks and 5% lower at 26 wks, but trabecular bone volume fraction was 20% higher at 14 wks in female HF-N vs. N-N (p<0.05 for all). Male HF-N had normal body mass and mildly impaired glucose tolerance, with lower %body fat at 14 wks and lower serum leptin at 26 wks vs. N-N (p<0.05 for both). Serum insulin was higher at 14 wks and lower at 26 wks in HF-N vs. N-N (p<0.05). Trabecular BV/TV was 34% higher and cortical bone area was 6% higher at 14 wks vs. N-N (p<0.05 for both). These data suggest maternal high fat diet has complex effects on offspring bone, supporting the hypothesis that maternal diet alters postnatal skeletal homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3792707  PMID: 23503967
Skeletal biology; Skeletal development; Nutrition; Mouse; Bone formation and resorption
3.  Estrogen receptor agonists and estrogen attenuate TNF-α-induced apoptosis in VSC4.1 motoneurons 
The Journal of endocrinology  2010;208(2):171-182.
Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) may cause apoptosis and inflammation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and spinal cord injury (SCI). Recent studies suggest that estrogen (EST) provides neuroprotection against SCI. We tested whether 1,3,5-tris (4-hydroxyphenyl)-4-propyl-1H-pyrazole (PPT) (EST receptor alpha (ERα) agonist), 2,3-bis (4-hydroxyphenyl) propionitrile (DPN) (EST receptor beta (ERβ) agonist), or EST itself would prevent apoptosis in VSC4.1 motoneurons following exposure to TNF-α. Cells were exposed to TNF-α and 15 min later treated with PPT, DPN, or EST. Posttreatment with 50 nM PPT, 50 nM DPN, or 150 nM EST prevented cell death in VSC4.1 motoneurons. Treatment of VSC4.1 motoneurons with PPT, DPN, or EST induced overexpression of ERα, ERβ, or both, which contributed to neuroprotection by upregulating expression of anti-apoptotic proteins (p-AKT, p-CREB, Bcl-2, and p-Src). Our analyses also revealed that EST agonists and EST increased phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). The L-type Ca2+ channel inhibitor, nifedipine (10 μM), partially inhibited EST agonist and EST-induced increase in phosphorylated ERK expression. The mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitor, PD98059 (5 μM), partially prevented ER agonists and EST from providing neuroprotection to TNF-α toxicity. Presence of the nuclear ER antagonist, ICI 182 780 (10 μM), blocked the neuroprotection provided by all three ER agonists tested. Taken together, our data indicate that both ERα and ERβ contribute to PPT, DPN, or EST-mediated neuroprotection with similar signaling profiles. Our data strongly imply that PPT, DPN, or EST can be used as effective neuroprotective agents to attenuate motoneuron death in ALS and SCI.
PMCID: PMC3951893  PMID: 21068071
4.  Vitamin D receptor-mediated control of Soggy, Wise, and Hairless gene expression in keratinocytes 
The Journal of endocrinology  2014;220(2):165-178.
The vitamin D receptor (VDR), but not its hormonal ligand, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25D), is required for the progression of the mammalian hair cycle. We studied three genes relevant to hair cycle signaling, DKKL1 (Soggy), SOSTDC1 (Wise), and HR (Hairless), to determine if their expression is regulated by VDR and/or its 1,25D ligand. DKKL1 mRNA was repressed 49–72% by 1,25D in primary human and CCD-1106 KERTr keratinocytes; a functional vitamin D responsive element (VDRE) was identified at −9590 bp in murine Soggy. Similarly, SOSTDC1 mRNA was repressed 41–59% by 1,25D in KERTr and primary human keratinocytes; a functional VDRE was located at −6215 bp in human Wise. In contrast, HR mRNA was upregulated 1.56–2.77-fold by 1,25D in primary human and KERTr keratinocytes; a VDRE (TGGTGAgtgAGGACA) consisting of an imperfect direct repeat separated by 3 nucleotides (DR3) was identified at −7269 bp in the human Hairless gene that mediated dramatic induction, even in the absence of 1,25D ligand. In parallel, a DR4 thyroid hormone responsive element, TGGTGAggccAGGACA, was identified at +1304 bp in the human HR gene that conferred T3-independent transcriptional activation. Because thyroid hormone receptor controls HR expression in the central nervous system, whereas VDR functions in concert with the HR corepressor specifically in skin, a model is proposed wherein unliganded VDR upregulates the expression of HR, the gene product of which acts as a downstream comodulator to feedback repress DkkL1 and SOSTDC1, resulting in integration of BMP and Wnt signaling to drive the mammalian hair cycle and/or influencing epidermal function.
PMCID: PMC3947288  PMID: 24190897
Gene regulation; Hormone receptors; Skin; Transcription factors; Vitamin D
5.  MKP1 dependent PTH modulation of bone matrix mineralization in female mice is osteoblast maturation stage specific and involves P-ERK, P-p38 MAPKs 
The Journal of endocrinology  2013;216(3):315-329.
Limited information is available on the role of MAPK phosphatase1 (MKP1) signaling in osteoblasts. We have recently reported distinct roles for MKP1 during osteoblast proliferation, differentiation and skeletal responsiveness to parathyroid hormone (PTH). Since MKP1 regulates the phosphorylation status of MAPKs we investigated the involvement of P-ERK and P-p38 MAPKs in MKP1 knock out (KO) early and mature osteoblasts with respect to mineralization and PTH response. Calvarial osteoblasts from 9–14 week old wild type (WT) and MKP1 KO male and female mice were examined. Western blot analysis revealed down-regulation and sustained expressions of P-ERK and P-p38 with PTH treatment in differentiated osteoblasts derived from KO males and females respectively. Exposure of early osteoblasts to p38 inhibitor, SB203580 (S), markedly inhibited mineralization in WT and KO osteoblasts from both genders as determined by von Kossa assay. In osteoblasts from males, ERK inhibitor U0126 (U), not p38 inhibitor (S), prevented the inhibitory effects of PTH on mineralization in early or mature osteoblasts. In osteoblasts from KO females, PTH sustained mineralization in early osteoblasts and decreased mineralization in mature cells. This effect of PTH was attenuated by S in early osteoblasts, and by U in mature KO cells. Changes in matrix gla protein (MGP) expression with PTH in KO osteoblasts did not correlate with mineralization, indicative of MKP1 dependent additional mechanisms essential for PTH action on osteoblast mineralization. We conclude that PTH regulation of osteoblast mineralization in female mice is maturation stage specific and involves MKP1 modulation of P-ERK and P-p38 MAPKs.
PMCID: PMC3796767  PMID: 23197743
Osteoblast; mineralization; MKP1; MAPK; PTH
6.  Noncanonical suppression of growth hormone – dependent isoforms of cytochrome P450 by the somatostatin analog octreotide 
The Journal of endocrinology  2013;216(1):87-97.
Octreotide is a potent somatostatin analog therapeutically used to treat several conditions including hyper growth hormone secretion in patients with acromegaly. We infused, over 30 sec, octreotide into male rats every 12 h for 6 days at levels considerably greater than typical human therapeutic doses. Unexpectedly, resulting circulating growth hormone profile were characterized by pulses of higher amplitudes, longer durations and greater total content than normal, but still contained an otherwise male-like episodic secretory profiles. In apparent disaccord, the normally elevated masculine expression levels (protein and/or mRNA) of CYP2C11 (accounting for >50% of the total hepatic cytochrome P450 content), CYP3A2, CYP2C7 and IGF1, all dependent on the episodic growth hormone profile, were considerably down-regulated. We explain this contradiction by proposing that the requisite minimal growth hormone-devoid interpulse durations in the masculine profile that solely regulate expression of at least CYP2C11 and IGF1 may be sufficiently reduced to suppress transcription of the hepatic genes. Alternatively, we observed that octreotide infusion may have acted directly on the hepatocytes to induce expression of immune response factors postulated to suppress CYP transcription and/or up-regulate expression of several negative regulators (e.g., phosphatases, SOCS proteins) of the JAK2/STAT5B signaling pathway that normally mediates the up-regulation of CYP2C11 and IGF1 by the masculine episodic growth hormone profile.
PMCID: PMC3539820  PMID: 23077183
cytochrome P450; CYP2C7; CYP2C11; CYP3A2; growth hormone; IGF1; JAK2; octreotide; sexual dimorphisms; somatostatin; STAT5B
7.  Decreased glycolytic and tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates coincide with peripheral nervous system oxidative stress in a murine model of type 2 diabetes 
The Journal of endocrinology  2013;216(1):1-11.
Diabetic neuropathy (DN) is the most common complication of diabetes and is characterized by distal-to-proximal loss of peripheral nerve axons. The idea of tissue-specific pathological alterations in energy metabolism in diabetic complications-prone tissues is emerging. Altered nerve metabolism in type 1 diabetes models is observed; however, therapeutic strategies based on these models offer limited efficacy to type 2 diabetic patients with DN. Therefore, understanding how peripheral nerves metabolically adapt to the unique type 2 diabetic environment is critical to develop disease-modifying treatments. In the current study, we utilized targeted LC/MS/MS to characterize the glycolytic and tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle metabolomes in sural nerve, sciatic nerve and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) from male type 2 diabetic mice (BKS.Cg-m+/+Leprdb; db/db) and controls (db/+). We report depletion of glycolytic intermediates in diabetic sural nerve and sciatic nerve (glucose-6-phosphate, fructose-6-phosphate, fructose-1,6-bisphosphate (sural nerve only), 3-phosphoglycerate, 2-phosphoglycerate, phosphoenolpyruvate, lactate), with no significant changes in DRG. Citrate and isocitrate TCA cycle intermediates were decreased in sural nerve, sciatic nerve and DRG from diabetic mice. Utilizing LC/ESI/MS/MS and HPLC methods, we also observed increased protein and lipid oxidation (nitrotyrosine; hydroxyoctadecadienoic acids, HODEs) in db/db tissue, with a proximal-to-distal increase in oxidative stress, with associated decreased aconitase enzyme activity. We propose a preliminary model, whereby the greater change in metabolomic profile, increase in oxidative stress, and decrease in TCA cycle enzyme activity may cause distal peripheral nerve to rely on truncated TCA cycle metabolism in the type 2 diabetes environment.
PMCID: PMC3665007  PMID: 23086140
diabetes; neuropathy; metabolomics; sural nerve; sciatic nerve; dorsal root ganglia
8.  PI3 kinase directly phosphorylates Akt1/2 at Ser473/474 in the insulin signal transduction pathway 
The Journal of Endocrinology  2014;220(1):49-59.
Insulin stimulated translocation of the glucose transporter GLUT4 from the cytosol to the plasma membrane in a concentration (1 nM–1 μM)-dependent manner and increased glucose uptake in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Insulin-induced GLUT4 translocation to the cell surface was prevented by the phosphoinositide 3 kinase (PI3K) inhibitor wortmannin, the 3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (PDK1) inhibitor BX912 or the Akt1/2 inhibitor MK2206, and by knocking-down PI3K, PDK1 or Akt1/2. Insulin increased phosphorylation of Akt1/2 at Thr308/309 and Ser473/474, to activate Akt1/2, in the adipocytes. Insulin-induced phosphorylation of Akt1/2 was suppressed by wortmannin and knocking-down PI3K, while no significant inhibition of the phosphorylation was obtained with BX912 or knocking-down PDK1. In the cell-free Akt assay, PI3K phosphorylated Akt1 both at Thr308 and Ser473 and Akt2 at Ser474 alone. In contrast, PDK1 phosphorylates Akt1 at Thr308 and Akt2 at Thr309. The results of this study indicate that PI3K activates Akt1, independently of PDK1, and Akt2 by cooperating with PDK1 in the insulin signal transduction pathway linked to GLUT4 translocation.
PMCID: PMC3842210  PMID: 24169049
adipocyte; cell biology; GLUT4; insulin signaling
9.  Novel α-MSH analog causes weight loss in obese rats and minipigs and improves insulin sensitivity 
The Journal of Endocrinology  2014;220(2):97-107.
Obesity is a major burden to people and to health care systems around the world. The aim of the study was to characterize the effect of a novel selective α-MSH analog on obesity and insulin sensitivity. The subchronic effects of the selective MC4-R peptide agonist MC4-NN1-0182 were investigated in diet-induced obese (DIO) rats and DIO minipigs by assessing the effects on food intake, energy consumption, and body weight. The acute effect of MC4-NN1-0182 on insulin sensitivity was assessed by a euglycemic–hyperinsulinemic clamp study in normal rats. Three weeks of treatment of DIO rats with MC4-NN1-0182 caused a decrease in food intake and a significant decrease in body weight 7±1%, P<0.05 compared with 3±1% increase with the vehicle control. In DIO minipigs, 8 weeks of treatment with MC4-NN1-0182 resulted in a body weight loss of 13.3±2.5 kg (13±3%), whereas the vehicle control group had gained 3.7±1.4 kg (4±1%). Finally, clamp studies in normal rats showed that acute treatment with MC4-NN1-0182 caused a significant increase in glucose disposal (Rd) compared with vehicle control (Rd, mg/kg per min, 17.0±0.7 vs 13.9±0.6, P<0.01). We demonstrate that treatment of DIO rats or minipigs with a selective MC4-R peptide agonist causes weight loss. Moreover, we have demonstrated weight-independent effects on insulin sensitivity. Our observations identify MC4 agonism as a viable target for the treatment of obesity and insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3888513  PMID: 24204009
obesity; insulin resistance; hyperinsulinemic–euglycemic clamp; melanocortin receptor 4; agonist; ISI
10.  MCT8 expression in human fetal cerebral cortex is reduced in severe intrauterine growth restriction 
The Journal of Endocrinology  2014;220(2):85-95.
The importance of the thyroid hormone (TH) transporter, monocarboxylate transporter 8 (MCT8), to human neurodevelopment is highlighted by findings of severe global neurological impairment in subjects with MCT8 (SLC16A2) mutations. Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), usually due to uteroplacental failure, is associated with milder neurodevelopmental deficits, which have been partly attributed to dysregulated TH action in utero secondary to reduced circulating fetal TH concentrations and decreased cerebral thyroid hormone receptor expression. We postulate that altered MCT8 expression is implicated in this pathophysiology; therefore, in this study, we sought to quantify changes in cortical MCT8 expression with IUGR. First, MCT8 immunohistochemistry was performed on occipital and parietal cerebral cortex sections obtained from appropriately grown for gestational age (AGA) human fetuses between 19 weeks of gestation and term. Secondly, MCT8 immunostaining in the occipital cortex of stillborn IUGR human fetuses at 24–28 weeks of gestation was objectively compared with that in the occipital cortex of gestationally matched AGA fetuses. Fetuses demonstrated widespread MCT8 expression in neurons within the cortical plate and subplate, in the ventricular and subventricular zones, in the epithelium of the choroid plexus and ependyma, and in microvessel wall. When complicated by IUGR, fetuses showed a significant fivefold reduction in the percentage area of cortical plate immunostained for MCT8 compared with AGA fetuses (P<0.05), but there was no significant difference in the proportion of subplate microvessels immunostained. Cortical MCT8 expression was negatively correlated with the severity of IUGR indicated by the brain:liver weight ratios (r2=0.28; P<0.05) at post-mortem. Our results support the hypothesis that a reduction in MCT8 expression in the IUGR fetal brain could further compromise TH-dependent brain development.
PMCID: PMC3921694  PMID: 24204008
MCT8; human fetus; CNS; intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)
11.  Expression of molecular equivalent of hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis in adult retinal pigment epithelium 
The Journal of endocrinology  2007;193(1):10.1677/joe.1.06927.
We have investigated expression of molecular elements of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis in the human retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells. The presence of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF); urocortins I, II and III; CRF receptor type 1 (CRFR1); POMC and prohormone convertases 1 and 2 (PC1 and PC2) mRNAs were shown by RT-PCR; the protein products were detected by ELISA, western blot or immunocytochemical methods in an ARPE-19 cell line derived from an adult human donor. CRFR2 was below the level of detectability. The CRFR1 was functional as evidenced by CRF stimulation of cAMP and inositol triphosphate production as well as by ligand induction of transcriptional activity of inducible cis-elements cAMP responsive element (CRE), activator protein 1 responsive element (AP-1) and POMC promoter) in ARPE-19 using luciferase reporter assay. Immunoreactivities representative of CRF, pre-urocortin, CRFR1 receptor and ACTH were also detected in mouse retina by in situ immunocytochemistry. Finally, using RT-PCR, we detected expression of genes encoding four key enzymes participating in steroids synthesis (CYP11A1, CYP11B1, CYP17 and CYP21A2) and showed transformation of progesterone into cortisol-immunoreactivity in cultured ARPE-19 cells. Therefore, we suggest that ocular tissue expresses CRF-driven signalling system that follows organisational structure of the HPA axis.
PMCID: PMC3865983  PMID: 17400813
12.  SIRT1 Represses Estrogen-signaling, Ligand-Independent ERα-mediated Transcription, and Cell Proliferation in Estrogen-Responsive Breast Cells 
The Journal of endocrinology  2013;216(3):10.1530/JOE-12-0102.
In prostate and breast cancer, the androgen and estrogen receptors mediate induction of androgen- and estrogen-responsive genes respectively, and stimulate cell proliferation in response to the binding of their cognate steroid hormones. Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) is a nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide (NAD+)-dependent class III histone deacetylase (HDAC) that has been linked to gene silencing, control of the cell cycle, apoptosis and energy homeostasis. In prostate cancer, SIRT1 is required for androgen-antagonist-mediated transcriptional repression and growth suppression of prostate cancer cells. Whether SIRT1 plays a similar role in the actions of estrogen or antagonists had not been determined. We report here that SIRT1 represses the transcriptional and proliferative response of breast cancer cells to estrogens, and this repression is estrogen receptor-alpha (ERα)-dependent. Inhibition of SIRT1 activity results in the phosphorylation of ERα in an AKT-dependent manner, and this activation requires phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) activity. Phosphorylated ERα subsequently accumulates in the nucleus, where ERα binds DNA ER-response elements and activates transcription of estrogen-responsive genes. This ER-dependent transcriptional activation augments estrogen-induced signaling, but also activates ER-signaling in the absence of estrogen, thus defining a novel and unexpected mechanism of ligand-independent ERα-mediated activation and target gene transcription. Like ligand-dependent activation of ERα, SIRT1 inhibition-mediated ERα activation in the absence of estrogen also results in breast cancer cell proliferation. Together, these data demonstrate that SIRT1 regulates the most important cell signaling pathway for the growth of breast cancer cells, both in the presence and the absence of estrogen.
PMCID: PMC3852670  PMID: 23169992
Sirtuin; estrogen receptor; SIRT1; ligand-independent; breast cancer
13.  Meat hydrolysate and essential amino acid-induced glucagon-like peptide-1 secretion, in the human NCI-H716 enteroendocrine cell line, is regulated by extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases 
The Journal of endocrinology  2006;191(1):10.1677/joe.1.06557.
Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a potent insulin secretagogue released from L-cells in the intestine. Meat hydrolysate (MH) is a powerful activator of GLP-1 secretion in the human enteroendocrine NCI-H716 cell line, but the mechanisms involved in nutrient-stimulated GLP-1 secretion are poorly understood. The objective of this study was to characterize the intracellular signalling pathways regulating MH- and amino acid-induced GLP-1 secretion. Individually, the pharmacological inhibitors, SB203580 (inhibitor of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)), wortmannin (inhibitor of phosphatidyl inositol 3-kinase) and U0126 (inhibitor of mitogen activated or extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (MEK1/2) upstream of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2) all inhibited MH-induced GLP-1 secretion. Further examination of the MAPK pathway showed that MH increased the phosphorylation of ERK1/2, but not p38 or c-Jun N-terminal kinase over 2–15 min. Incubation with SB203580 resulted in a decrease in phosphorylated p38 MAPK and a concomitant increase in the phosphorylation of ERK1/2. Phosphorylation of ERK1/2 was augmented by co-incubation of MH with SB203580. Inhibitors of protein kinase A and protein kinase C did not inhibit MH-induced GLP-1 secretion. In contrast to non-essential amino acids, essential amino acids (EAAs) increased GLP-1 secretion and similar to MH, activated ERK1/2. However, they also activated p38-suggesting type of protein may affect GLP-1 secretion. In conclusion, there appears to be a crosstalk between p38 and ERK1/2 MAPK in the human enteroendocrine cell with the activation of ERK1/2 common to both MH and EAA. Understanding the cellular pathways involved in nutrient-stimulated GLP-1 secretion has important implications for the design of new treatments aimed at increasing endogenous GLP-1 release in type-2 diabetes and obesity.
PMCID: PMC3838362  PMID: 17065399 CAMSID: cams3667
14.  Regulation of Angiotensin II Type 2 Receptor Gene Expression in the Adrenal Medulla by Acute and Repeated Immobilization Stress 
The Journal of endocrinology  2012;215(2):291-301.
While the Renin-Angiotensin System is important for adrenomedullary responses to stress, the involvement of specific angiotensin II receptor subtypes is unclear. We examined gene expression changes of angiotensin II type 1A (AT1A) and type 2 (AT2) receptors in rat adrenal medulla in response to immobilization stress (IMO). AT2 receptor mRNA levels decreased immediately after a single 2 h IMO. Repeated IMO also decreased AT2 receptor mRNA levels, but the decline was more transient. AT1A receptor mRNA levels were unaltered with either single or repeated IMO, although binding was increased following repeated IMO. These effects of stress on angiotensin II receptor expression may alter catecholamine biosynthesis, as tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine beta-hydroxylase mRNA levels in PC12 cells are decreased with angiotensin II treatment in the presence of ZD7155 (AT1 receptor antagonist), or with CGP42112 (AT2 receptor agonist) treatment. Involvement of stress-triggered activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) or sympatho-adrenal axis in AT2 receptor downregulation was examined. Cultured cells treated with the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone displayed a transcriptionally-mediated decrease in AT2 receptor mRNA levels. However, glucocorticoids are not required for the immediate stress-triggered decrease in AT2 receptor gene expression, as demonstrated in corticotropin-releasing hormone knockout (CRH KO) mice and hypophysectomized rats, although they can regulate basal gene expression. cAMP and pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) also reduced AT2 receptor gene expression and may mediate this response. Overall, the effects of stress on adrenomedullary AT1A and AT2 receptor expression may contribute to allostatic changes, such as regulation of catecholamine biosynthesis.
PMCID: PMC3474336  PMID: 22911895
Stress; renin-angiotensin system; angiotensin II receptors; glucocorticoids; dexamethasone; tyrosine hydroxylase; dopamine beta-hydroxylase; cAMP; pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide
15.  Germline Ablation of VGF Increases Lipolysis in White Adipose Tissue 
The Journal of endocrinology  2012;215(2):313-322.
Targeted deletion of VGF, a neuronal and endocrine secreted protein and neuropeptide precursor, produces a lean, hypermetabolic mouse that is resistant to diet-, lesion-, and genetically-induced obesity and diabetes. We hypothesized that increased sympathetic nervous system activity in Vgf−/Vgf− knockout mice is responsible for increased energy expenditure and decreased fat storage, and that increased beta-adrenergic receptor stimulation induces lipolysis in white adipose tissue (WAT) of Vgf−/Vgf− mice. We found that fat mass was markedly reduced in Vgf−/Vgf− mice. Within knockout WAT, phosphorylation of protein kinase A (PKA) substrate increased in males and females, phosphorylation of hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) (Ser563) increased in females, and levels of adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL), comparative gene identification-58 (CGI-58), and phospho-perilipin, were higher in male Vgf−/Vgf− WAT compared to wild type, consistent with increased lipolysis. The phosphorylation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) (Thr172) and levels of the AMPK kinase, transforming growth factor β-activated kinase 1 (TAK-1), were decreased. This was associated with a decrease in HSL Ser565 phosphorylation, the site phosphorylated by AMPK, in both male and female Vgf−/Vgf− WAT. No significant differences in phosphorylation of cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) or the p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) were noted. Despite this evidence supporting increased cAMP signaling and lipolysis, lipogenesis as assessed by fatty acid synthase (FAS) protein expression and phosphorylated acetyl-CoA carboxylase (pACC) was not decreased. Our data suggest that the VGF precursor or selected VGF-derived peptides dampen sympathetic outflow pathway activity to WAT to regulate fat storage and lipolysis.
PMCID: PMC3488863  PMID: 22942234
adipose tissue; beta-adrenergic receptor; diabetes; lipolysis; norepinephrine; obesity; sympathetic nervous system; VGF
16.  Embryonic stem cell-derived trophoblast differentiation: A comparative review of the biology, function, and signaling mechanisms 
The Journal of endocrinology  2013;216(3):10.1530/JOE-12-0433.
The development of the placenta is imperative for successful pregnancy establishment, yet the earliest differentiation events of the blastocyst-derived trophectoderm that forms the placenta remains difficult to study in humans. Human embryonic stem cells (hESC) display a unique ability to form trophoblast cells when induced to differentiate either by the addition of exogenous BMP4 or by the formation of cellular aggregates called embryoid bodies (EBs). While mouse trophoblast stem cells have been isolated from blastocyst outgrowths, mouse ESC do not spontaneously differentiate into trophoblast cells
In this review, we focus on addressing the similarities and differences between mouse trophoblast stem cell differentiation and human ESC-derived trophoblast differentiation. We discuss the functional and mechanistic diversity that is found in different species models. Of central importance are the unique signaling events that trigger downstream gene expression that create specific cellular fate decisions. We support the idea that we must understand the nuances that hESC differentiation models display so that investigators can choose the appropriate model system to fit experimental needs.
PMCID: PMC3809013  PMID: 23291503
The Journal of endocrinology  2011;213(1):37-48.
Sirtuins, which are class III NAD-dependent histone deacetylases (HDACs) that regulate a number of physiological processes, play important roles in the regulation of metabolism, aging, oncogenesis and cancer progression. More recently, a role for the sirtuins in the regulation of steroid hormone receptor signaling is emerging. In this mini-review, we will summarize current research into the regulation of estrogen, androgen, progesterone, mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid signaling by sirtuins in cancer. Sirtuins can regulate steroid hormone signaling through a variety of molecular mechanisms, including acting as co-regulatory transcription factors, deacetylating histones in the promoters of genes with nuclear receptor binding sites, directly deacetylating steroid hormone nuclear receptors, and regulating pathways which modify steroid hormone receptors through phosphorylation. Furthermore, disruption of sirtuin activity may be an important step in the development of steroid hormone-refractory cancers.
PMCID: PMC3804056  PMID: 22159506
Sirtuin; steroid hormone receptor activity/regulation; SIRT1; endocrine cancer
18.  MARKs (MAP/microtubule affinity-regulating kinases), microtubule dynamics and spermatogenesis* 
The Journal of endocrinology  2013;217(2):R13-R23.
During spermatogenesis, spermatids derived from meiosis simultaneously undergo extensive morphological transformation, to become highly specialized and metabolically quiescent cells, and transport across the seminiferous epithelium. Spermatids are also transported back-and-forth across the seminiferous epithelium during the epithelial cycle until they line up at the luminal edge of the tubule to prepare for spermiation at stage VIII of the cycle. Spermatid transport thus requires the intricate coordination of the cytoskeletons in Sertoli cells since spermatids are non-motile cells, lacking the ultrastructures of lamellipodia and filopodia, as well as the organized components of the cytoskeletons. In the course of preparing this brief review, we were surprised to see that, except for some earlier eminent morphological studies, little is known about the regulation of the microtubule (MT) cytoskeleton and the coordination of MT with the actin-based cytoskeleton to regulate spermatid transport during the epithelia cycle, illustrating that this is a largely neglected area of research required in the field. Herein, we summarize recent findings in the field regarding the significance of actin- and tubulin-based cytoskeletons in the Sertoli cell that support spermatid transport; we also highlight specific areas of research that deserve attentions in future studies.
PMCID: PMC3804303  PMID: 23449618
Testis; MARKs; microtubule; spermatogenesis; seminiferous epithelial cycle; spermiogenesis; spermatid adhesion
19.  Acute Psychological Stress Results in the Rapid Development of Insulin Resistance 
The Journal of endocrinology  2013;217(2):175-184.
In recent years, the roles of chronic stress and depression as an independent risk factor for decreased insulin sensitivity and the development of diabetes have been increasingly recognized. However, an understanding and the mechanisms linking insulin resistance and acute psychological stress are very limited. We hypothesized that acute psychological stress may cause the development of insulin resistance, which may be a risk factor in developing type 2 diabetes. We tested the hypothesis in a well-established mouse model using 180 episodes of inescapable foot shock (IES), followed by a behavioral escape test. In this study, mice that received IES treatment were tested for acute insulin resistance by measuring glucose metabolism and insulin signaling. When compared to normal and sham mice, mice that were exposed to IES resulting in escape failure (defined as IES with behavioral escape failure) displayed elevated blood glucose levels in both glucose tolerance and insulin tolerance tests. Furthermore, mice with IES exposure and behavioral escape failure exhibited impaired hepatic insulin signaling via the insulin-induced insulin receptor/insulin receptor substrate 1/Akt pathway, without affecting similar pathways in skeletal muscle, adipose tissue and brain. Additionally, a rise in murine growth-related oncogene KC/GRO was associated with impaired glucose metabolism in IES mice, suggesting a mechanism by which psychological stress by IES may influence glucose metabolism. The present results indicate that psychological stress induced by IES can acutely alter hepatic responsiveness to insulin and affect whole-body glucose metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3804337  PMID: 23444388
Psychological stress; Inescapable foot shocks; Insulin signaling; Glucose metabolism; Acute insulin resistance
20.  Cartilage to bone transitions in health and disease 
The Journal of Endocrinology  2013;219(1):R1-R12.
Aberrant redeployment of the ‘transient’ events responsible for bone development and postnatal longitudinal growth has been reported in some diseases in what is otherwise inherently ‘stable’ cartilage. Lessons may be learnt from the molecular mechanisms underpinning transient chondrocyte differentiation and function, and their application may better identify disease aetiology. Here, we review the current evidence supporting this possibility. We firstly outline endochondral ossification and the cellular and physiological mechanisms by which it is controlled in the postnatal growth plate. We then compare the biology of these transient cartilaginous structures to the inherently stable articular cartilage. Finally, we highlight specific scenarios in which the redeployment of these embryonic processes may contribute to disease development, with the foresight that deciphering those mechanisms regulating pathological changes and loss of cartilage stability will aid future research into effective disease-modifying therapies.
PMCID: PMC3769078  PMID: 23959079
bone; cartilage; osteoarthritis; chondrocyte; endochondral ossification
21.  Vitamin D reduces the expression of collagen and key profibrotic factors by inducing an antifibrotic phenotype in mesenchymal multipotent cells 
The Journal of endocrinology  2008;200(2):207-221.
Hypovitaminosis D is an important public health problem. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) is now recognized as an independent predictor for cardiovascular and related diseases (CVD) as well as other chronic medical conditions. However, the biologic pathways through which these effects are mediated remain poorly understood. We hypothesized that exposing mesenchymal multipotent cells (MMCs) to the active form of vitamin D would increase the expression of selected antifibrotic factors that in turn would ameliorate the progression of chronic diseases. MMCs were primed with 5′-azacytidine to induce a fibrotic phenotype and then treated with active vitamin D (1,25D) or ethanol <0·1% as vehicle in a time course manner (30 min, 1, 5, and 24 h, and for 4 and 7 days). The addition of 1,25D to MMCs promotes: a) increased expression and nuclear translocation of the vitamin D receptor; b) decreased expression of TGFB1 and plasminogen activator inhibitor (SERPINE1), two well-known profibrotic factors; c) decreased expression of collagen I, III and other collagens isoforms; and d) increased expression of several antifibrotic factors such as BMP7 a TGFB1 antagonist, MMP8 a collagen breakdown inducer and follistatin, an inhibitor of the profibrotic factor myostatin. In conclusion, the addition of 1,25D to differentiated MMCs displays a decreased profibrotic signaling pathway and gene expression, leading to decrease in collagen deposition. This study highlights key mechanistic pathways through which vitamin D decreases fibrosis, and provides a rationale for studies to test vitamin D supplementation as a preventive and/or early treatment strategy for CVD and related fibrotic disorders.
PMCID: PMC3787314  PMID: 19036760
22.  MafA is a dedicated activator of the insulin gene in vivo 
The Journal of endocrinology  2008;198(2):271-279.
As successful generation of insulin-producing cells could be used for diabetes treatment, a concerted effort is being made to understand the molecular programs underlying islet β-cell formation and function. The closely related MafA and MafB transcription factors are both key mammalian β-cell regulators. MafA and MafB are co-expressed in insulin+ β-cells during embryogenesis, while in the adult pancreas only MafA is produced in β-cells and MafB in glucagon+ α-cells. MafB−/− animals are also deficient in insulin+ and glucagon+ cell production during embryogenesis. However, only MafA over-expression selectively induced endogenous Insulin mRNA production in cell line-based assays, while MafB specifically promoted Glucagon expression. Here, we analyzed whether these factors were sufficient to induce insulin+ and/or glucagon+ cell formation within embryonic endoderm using the chick in ovo electroporation assay. Ectopic expression of MafA, but not MafB, promoted Insulin production; however, neither MafA nor MafB were capable of inducing Glucagon. Co-electroporation of MafA with the Ngn3 transcription factor resulted in the development of more organized cell clusters containing both insulin- and glucagon-producing cells. Analysis of chimeric proteins of MafA and MafB demonstrated that chick Insulin activation depended on sequences within the MafA C-terminal DNA-binding domain. MafA was also bound to Insulin and Glucagon transcriptional control sequences in mouse embryonic pancreas and β-cell lines. Collectively, these results demonstrate a unique ability for MafA to independently activate Insulin transcription.
PMCID: PMC3787904  PMID: 18515495
23.  Targeted ablation of the PTH/PTHrP receptor in osteocytes impairs bone structure and homeostatic calcemic responses 
The Journal of endocrinology  2011;209(1):21-32.
Parathyroid hormone (PTH) is a major physiologic regulator of calcium, phosphorous and skeletal homeostasis. Cells of the osteoblastic lineage are key targets of PTH action in bone, and recent evidence suggests that osteocytes might be important in the anabolic effects of PTH. To understand the role of PTH signaling through the PTH/PTHrP receptors (PPR) in osteocytes and to determine the role(s) of these cells in mediating the effects of the hormone, we have generated mice in which PPR expression is specifically ablated in osteocytes. Transgenic mice in which the 10Kb-Dmp1 promoter drives a tamoxifen-inducible Cre –recombinase were mated with animals in which exon1 of PPR is flanked by Lox-P sites. In these animals, osteocyte-selective PPR knockout (Ocy-PPRcKO mice) could be induced by administration of tamoxifen. Histological analysis revealed a reduction in trabecular bone and mild osteopenia in Ocy-PPRcKO mice. Reduction of trabeculae number and thickness was also detected by μCT analysis whereas BV/TV% was unchanged. These findings were associated with an increase in Sost and sclerostin expression. When Ocy-PPRcKO mice were subjected to a low calcium diet, to induce secondary hyperparathyroidism, their blood calcium levels were significantly lower than littermate controls. Moreover, PTH was unable to suppress Sost and sclerostin expression in the Ocy-PPRcKO animals, suggesting an important role of PTH signaling in osteocytes for proper bone remodeling and calcium homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3783949  PMID: 21220409
osteocytes; parathyroid hormone; parathyroid hormone receptor
24.  Mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase 1 regulates bone mass, osteoblast gene expression, and responsiveness to parathyroid hormone 
The Journal of endocrinology  2011;211(2):145-156.
Parathyroid hormone (PTH) signaling via PTH 1 receptor (PTH1R) involves mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways. MAPK phosphatase 1 (MKP1) dephosphorylates and inactivates MAPKs in osteoblasts, the bone-forming cells. We previously showed that PTH1R activation in differentiated osteoblasts upregulates MKP1 and downregulates pERK1/2–MAPK and cyclin D1. In this study, we evaluated the skeletal phenotype of Mkp1 knockout (KO) mice and the effects of PTH in vivo and in vitro. Microcomputed tomography analysis of proximal tibiae and distal femora from 12-week-old Mkp1 KO female mice revealed osteopenic phenotype with significant reduction (8–46%) in bone parameters compared with wild-type (WT) controls. Histomorphometric analysis showed decreased trabecular bone area in KO females. Levels of serum osteocalcin (OCN) were lower and serum tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase 5b (TRAP5b) was higher in KO animals. Treatment of neonatal mice with hPTH (1–34) for 3 weeks showed attenuated anabolic responses in the distal femora of KO mice compared with WT mice. Primary osteoblasts derived from KO mice displayed delayed differentiation determined by alkaline phosphatase activity, and reduced expressions of Ocn and Runx2 genes associated with osteoblast maturation and function. Cells from KO females exhibited attenuated PTH response in mineralized nodule formation in vitro. Remarkably, this observation was correlated with decreased PTH response of matrix Gla protein expression. Expressions of pERK1/2 and cyclin D1 were inhibited dramatically by PTH in differentiated osteoblasts from WT mice but much less in osteoblasts from Mkp1 KO mice. In conclusion, MKP1 is important for bone homeostasis, osteoblast differentiation and skeletal responsiveness to PTH.
PMCID: PMC3783352  PMID: 21852324
25.  The Calcium-Sensing Receptor Couples to Gαs and Regulates PTHrP and ACTH Secretion in Pituitary Cells 
The Journal of endocrinology  2009;204(3):287-297.
The calcium-sensing receptor (CaR) is a G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) that binds and signals in response to extracellular calcium and other polycations. It is highly expressed on parathyroid and kidney cells, where it participates in the regulation of systemic calcium homeostasis. It is also expressed on many other cell types and is involved in a wide array of biological functions such as cell growth and differentiation, ion transport and hormone secretion. It has been described to couple to several different G-proteins including Gαi/0, Gαq/11 and Gα12/13. Recently, it has also been shown to stimulate cAMP production by coupling to Gαs in immortalized or malignant breast cells. The CaR is expressed on cells in the anterior pituitary and had previously been described to stimulate cAMP production in these cells. In this report, we examined signaling from the CaR in murine pituitary corticotroph-derived, AtT-20 cells. We found that CaR activation led to the stimulation of cAMP production, and PTHrP and ACTH secretion from these cells. Furthermore, manipulation of cAMP levels was able to modulate PTHrP and ACTH secretion independent of changes in extracellular calcium. Finally, we demonstrated that the CaR couples to Gαs in AtT-20 cells. Therefore, in pituitary corticotroph-like cells, as in breast cancer cells, the CaR utilizes Gαs and activates cAMP production to stimulate hormone secretion.
PMCID: PMC3777408  PMID: 20032198
G-protein coupled receptor; calcimimetic; intracellular signaling; cyclic-AMP

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