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1.  Simultaneous quantification of five steroid saponins from Dioscorea zingiberensis C.H.Wright in rat plasma by HPLC-MS/MS and its application to the pharmacokinetic studies 
Steroids  2014;0:16-24.
A simple, reliable and sensitive high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry method (HPLC-MS/MS) was established for simultaneous analyses of the following 5 steroid saponins in rat plasma after the single dose administration of total steroid saponins extracted from the rhizome of Dioscorea zingiberensis C.H.Wright for the first time. Protodioscin, huangjiangsu A, zingiberensis new saponin, dioscin, and gracillin were quantified using ginsenoside Rb1 as the internal standard (IS). The plasma samples were pretreated by a single step acetonitrile-mediated protein precipitation. The chromatographic separation was performed on an Inersil ODS-3 C18 column (250 mm × 4.6 mm, 5 μm) with the mobile phase composed of acetonitrile and water containing 0.1% formic acid under a gradient elution mode at 0.2 mL min−1 using a microsplit after the eluent from the HPLC apparatus. The quantification was accomplished on a triple quadrupole tandem mass spectrometer using the multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) in the positive ionization mode. The above five analytes were stable under sample storage and preparation conditions applied in the present study. The linearity, precision, accuracy, and recoveries of the analysis confirmed the requirements for quality-control purposes. After validation, this proposed method was successfully adopted to investigate the pharmacokinetic parameters of these five analytes.
PMCID: PMC4297735  PMID: 25201262
HPLC-MS/MS; total steroid saponins; Dioscorea zingiberensis C.H.Wright; MRM; pharmacokinetic parameters
2.  Impact of physiological levels of chenodeoxycholic acid supplementation on intestinal and hepatic bile acid and cholesterol metabolism in Cyp7a1-deficient mice 
Steroids  2014;0:87-95.
Mice deficient in cholesterol 7α-hydroxylase (Cyp7a1) have a diminished bile acid pool (BAP) and therefore represent a useful model for investigating the metabolic effects of restoring the pool with a specific BA. Previously we carried out such studies in Cyp7a1−/−mice fed physiological levels of cholic acid (CA) and achieved BAP restoration, along with an increased CA enrichment, at a dietary level of just 0.03% (w/w). Here we demonstrate that in Cyp7a1−/− mice fed chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA) at a level of 0.06 % (w/w), the BAP was restored to normal size and became substantially enriched with muricholic acid (MCA)(>70%), leaving the combined contribution of CA and CDCA to be <15%. This resulted in a partial to complete reversal of the main changes in cholesterol and BA metabolism associated with Cyp7a1 deficiency such as an elevated rate of intestinal sterol synthesis, an enhanced level of mRNA for Cyp8b1 in the liver, and depressed mRNA levels for Ibabp, Shp and Fgf15 in the distal small intestine. When Cyp7a1−/− and matching Cyp7a1+/+ mice were fed a diet with added cholesterol (0.2%) (w/w), either alone, or also containing CDCA (0.06%) (w/w) or CA (0.03%) (w/w) for 18 days, the hepatic total cholesterol concentrations (mg/g) in the Cyp7a1−/− mice were 26.9±3.7, 16.4±0.9 and 47.6±1.9, respectively, vs 4.9±0.4, 5.0±0.7 and 6.4±1.9, respectively in the corresponding Cyp7a1+/+ controls. These data affirm the importance of using moderate levels of dietary BA supplementation to elicit changes in hepatic cholesterol metabolism through shifts in BAP size and composition.
PMCID: PMC4297738  PMID: 25447797
bile acid pool composition; cholesterol 7α-hydroxylase; cholesterol absorption; cholesterol synthesis; hepatic cholesterol concentration; muricholic acid
3.  Targeting thapsigargin towards tumors 
Steroids  2014;97:2-7.
The skin irritating principle from Thapsia garganica was isolated, named thapsigargin and the structure elucidated. By inhibiting the sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase (SERCA) thapsigargin provokes apoptosis in almost all cells. By conjugating thapsigargin to peptides, which are only substrates for either prostate specific antigen (PSA) or prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) prodrugs were created, which selectively affect prostate cancer cells or neovascular tissue in tumors. One of the prodrug is currently tested in clinical phase II. The prodrug under clinical trial has been named mipsagargin.
PMCID: PMC4696022  PMID: 25065587
Thapsigargin; Sarco/endoplasmic reticulum (SERCA); Prodrug; Prostate specific antigen (PSA); Prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA); Targeting drugs
4.  Vitamin D receptor signaling mechanisms: Integrated actions of a well-defined transcription factor 
Steroids  2012;78(2):127-136.
The main physiological actions of the biologically most active metabolite of vitamin D, 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1α,25(OH)2D3), are calcium and phosphorus uptake and transport and thereby controlling bone formation. Other emergent areas of 1α,25(OH)2D3 action are in the control of immune functions, cellular growth and differentiation. All genomic actions of 1α,25(OH)2D3 are mediated by the transcription factor vitamin D receptor (VDR) that has been the subject of intense study since the 1980’s. Thus, vitamin D signaling primarily implies the molecular actions of the VDR. In this review, we present different perspectives on the VDR that incorporate its role as transcription factor and member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, its dynamic changes in genome-wide locations and DNA binding modes, its interaction with chromatin components and its primary protein-coding and non-protein coding target genes and finally how these aspects are united in regulatory networks. By comparing the actions of the VDR, a relatively well-understood and characterized protein, with those of other transcription factors, we aim to build a realistic positioning of vitamin D signaling in the context of other intracellular signaling systems.
PMCID: PMC4668715  PMID: 23178257
Chromatin; Gene regulation; Genome-wide view; Nuclear receptor; Vitamin D; Vitamin D receptor
5.  Mineralocorticoid Receptors in Immune Cells; Emerging Role in Cardiovascular Disease 
Steroids  2014;0:38-45.
Mineralocorticoid receptors (MR) contribute to the pathophysiology of hypertension and cardiovascular disease in humans. As such, MR antagonists improve cardiovascular outcomes but the molecular mechanisms remain unclear. The actions of the MR in the kidney to increase blood pressure are well known, but the recent identification of MRs in immune cells has led to novel discoveries in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease that are reviewed here. MR regulates macrophage activation to the pro-inflammatory M1 phenotype and this process contributes to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular fibrosis in response to hypertension and to outcomes in mouse models of stroke. T lymphocytes have recently been implicated in the development of hypertension and cardiovascular fibrosis in mouse models. MR activation in vivo promotes T lymphocyte differentiation to the pro-inflammatory Th1 and Th17 subsets while decreasing the number of anti-inflammatory T regulatory lymphocytes. The mechanism likely involves activation of MR in antigen presenting dendritic cells that subsequently regulate Th1/Th17 polarization by production of cytokines. Alteration of the balance between T helper and T regulatory lymphocytes contributes to the pathogenesis of hypertension and atherosclerosis and the associated complications. B lymphocytes also express the MR and specific B lymphocyte-derived antibodies modulate the progression of atherosclerosis. However, the role of MR in B lymphocyte function remains to be explored. Overall, recent studies of MR in immune cells have identified new mechanisms by which MR activation may contribute to the pathogenesis of organ damage in patients with cardiovascular risk factors. Conversely, inhibition of leukocyte MR may contribute to the protective effects of MR antagonist drugs in cardiovascular patients. Further understanding of the role of MR in leukocyte function could yield novel drug targets for cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC4205205  PMID: 24769248
mineralocorticoid receptor; aldosterone; macrophage; T lymphocyte; cardiovascular disease; hypertension
6.  Effects of aldosterone on insulin sensitivity and secretion 
Steroids  2014;0:54-60.
Dr. Conn originally reported an increased risk of diabetes in patients with hyperaldosteronism in the 1950’s, although the mechanism remains unclear. Aldosterone-induced hypokalemia was initially described to impair glucose tolerance by impairing insulin secretion. Correction of hypokalemia by potassium supplementation only partially restored insulin secretion and glucose tolerance, however. Aldosterone also impairs glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in isolated pancreatic islets via reactive oxygen species in a mineralocorticoid receptor-independent manner. Aldosterone-induced mineralocorticoid receptor activation also impairs insulin sensitivity in adipocytes and skeletal muscle. Aldosterone may produce insulin resistance secondarily by altering potassium, increasing inflammatory cytokines, and reducing beneficial adipokines such as adiponectin. Renin-angiotensin system antagonists reduce circulating aldosterone concentrations and also the risk of type 2 diabetes in clinical trials. These data suggest that primary and secondary hyperaldosteronism may contribute to worsening glucose tolerance by impairing insulin sensitivity or insulin secretion in humans. Future studies should define the effects of MR antagonists and aldosterone on insulin secretion and sensitivity in humans.
PMCID: PMC4252580  PMID: 25194457
Aldosterone; Mineralocorticoid receptor; Hypertension; Diabetes; Insulin Sensitivity; Insulin Secretion
7.  Brain mineralocorticoid receptors in cognition and cardiovascular homeostasis 
Steroids  2014;91:20-31.
Mineralocorticoid receptors (MR) mediate diverse functions supporting osmotic and hemodynamic homeostasis, response to injury and inflammation, and neuronal changes required for learning and memory. Inappropriate MR activation in kidneys, heart, vessels, and brain hemodynamic control centers results in cardiovascular and renal pathology and hypertension. MR binds aldosterone, cortisol and corticosterone with similar affinity, while the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) has less affinity for cortisol and corticosterone. As glucocorticoids are more abundant than aldosterone, aldosterone activates MR in cells co-expressing enzymes with 11β-hydroxydehydrogenase activity to inactivate them. MR and GR co-expressed in the same cell interact at the molecular and functional level and these functions may be complementary or opposing depending on the cell type. Thus the balance between MR and GR expression and activation is crucial for normal function. Where 11β-hydroxydehydrogenase 2 (11β-HSD2) that inactivates cortisol and corticosterone in aldosterone target cells of the kidney and nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) is not expressed, as in most neurons, MR are activated at basal glucocorticoid concentrations, GR at stress concentrations. An exception may be pre-autonomic neurons of the PVN which express MR and 11β-HSD1 in the absence of hexose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase required to generate the requisite cofactor for reductase activity, thus acts as a dehydrogenase. MR antagonists, valuable adjuncts to the treatment of cardiovascular disease, also inhibit MR in the brain that are crucial for memory formation and exacerbate detrimental effects of excessive GR activation on cognition and mood. 11β-HSD1 inhibitors combat metabolic and cognitive diseases related to glucocorticoid excess, but may exacerbate MR action where 11β-HSD1 acts as a dehydrogenase, while non-selective 11β-HSD1&2 inhibitors cause injurious disruption of MR hemodynamic control. MR functions in the brain are multifaceted and optimal MR:GR activity is crucial. Therefore selectively targeting down-stream effectors of MR specific actions may be a better therapeutic goal.
PMCID: PMC4302001  PMID: 25173821
aldosterone; mineralocorticoid receptor; 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase; cognition; depression; hypertension; cardiovascular disease
8.  Estrogen Receptors Alpha (ERα) and Beta (ERβ): Subtype-Selective Ligands and Clinical Potential 
Steroids  2014;0:13-29.
Estrogen receptors alpha (ERα) and beta (ERβ) are nuclear transcription factors that are involved in the regulation of many complex physiological processes in humans. Modulation of these receptors by prospective therapeutic agents is currently being considered for prevention and treatment of a wide variety of pathological conditions, such as, cancer, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, neurodegeneration, inflammation, and osteoporosis. This review provides an overview and update of compounds that have been recently reported as modulators of ERs, with a particular focus on their potential clinical applications.
PMCID: PMC4192010  PMID: 24971815
Estrogen receptors; Estrogen receptor subtype α; Estrogen receptor subtype β; modulators; agonists; antagonists; therapeutic applications
9.  Current State of Practice Regarding Testosterone Supplementation Therapy in Men with Prostate Cancer 
Steroids  2014;0:27-32.
Hypogonadal men are characterized by low serum testosterone and symptoms of low energy, decreased libido, and muscle mass as well as impaired concentration and sexual functioning. Men with prostate cancer (PCa) currently on active surveillance or post-therapy, have traditionally been excluded from management paradigms given the decade-old concern that testosterone caused PCa growth. However, there appears to be little or no relationship between serum testosterone concentration and PCa. Androgen action in the prostate has long been known to be affected by the kinetics of receptor saturation and, as such, testosterone beyond a certain baseline is unable to stimulate prostatic growth due to complete intra-prostatic androgen receptor binding. Given this physiologic concept, many clinical investigators have begun to promote testosterone supplementation therapy (TST) as safe in men with PCa. This review examines the basics of testosterone physiology and summarizes the most recent findings on the use of TST in men with PCa on active surveillance and following treatment with external beam radiotherapy, brachytherapy and radical prostatectomy.
PMCID: PMC4186692  PMID: 25072793
testosterone; hypogonadism; androgens; prostate cancer; saturation; prostate-specific antigen
10.  Nuclear Receptor Modulation - Role of Coregulators in Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM) Actions 
Steroids  2014;90:39-43.
Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) are a class of small-molecule chemical compounds that bind to estrogen receptor (ER) ligand binding domain (LBD) with high affinity and selectively modulate ER transcriptional activity in a cell- and tissue-dependent manner. The prototype of SERMs is tamoxifen, which has agonist activity in bone, but has antagonist activity in breast. Tamoxifen can reduce the risk of breast cancer and, at same time, prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Tamoxifen is widely prescribed for treatment and prevention of breast cancer. Mechanistically the activity of SERMs is determined by the selective recruitment of coactivators and corepressors in different cell types and tissues. Therefore, understanding the coregulator function is the key to understanding the tissue selective activity of SERMs.
PMCID: PMC4192004  PMID: 24945111
SERM; Nuclear receptor; Coregulator
11.  From empirical to mechanism-based discovery of clinically useful Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) 
Steroids  2014;90:30-38.
Our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the pharmacological actions of estrogen receptor (ER) ligands has evolved considerably in recent years. Much of this knowledge has come from a detailed dissection of the mechanism(s) of action of the Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) tamoxifen and raloxifene, drugs whose estrogen receptor (ER) agonist/antagonist properties are influenced by the cell context in which they operate. These studies have revealed that notwithstanding differences in drug pharmokinetics, the activity of an ER ligand is determined primarily by (a) the impact that a given ligand has on the receptor conformation and (b) the ability of structurally distinct ER-ligand complexes to interact with functionally distinct coregulators. Exploitation of the established relationships between ER structure and activity has led to the development of improved SERMs with more favorable therapeutic properties and of tissue-selective estrogen complexes, drugs in which a SERM and an ER agonist are combined to yield a blended activity that results in distinct clinical profiles. Remarkably, endogenous ligands that exhibit SERM activity have also been identified. One of these ligands, 27-hydroxycholesterol (27HC), has been shown to manifest ER-dependent pathological activities in the cardiovascular system, bone and mammary gland. Whereas the physiological activity of 27HC remains to be determined, its discovery highlights how cells have adopted mechanisms to allow the same receptor ligand complex to manifest different activities in different cells, and also how these processes can be exploited for new drug development.
PMCID: PMC4192009  PMID: 25084324
12.  Menopausal Hormone Therapy and Cancer: Changing Clinical Observations of Target Site Specificity 
Steroids  2014;90:53-59.
Menopausal hormone therapy with estrogen plus progestin or estrogen alone (for women with prior hysterectomy) is still used by millions of women for climacteric symptom management throughout the world. Until 2002, hormone therapy influence on cancer risk and other chronic diseases was determined through observational study reports. Since then, results from the Women's Health Initiative randomized, placebo-controlled hormone therapy trials have substantially changed concepts regarding estrogen plus progestin and estrogen alone influence on the most common cancers in postmenopausal women. In these trials, estrogen plus progestin significantly increased breast cancer incidence and deaths from breast cancer, significantly increased deaths from lung cancer, significantly decreased endometrial cancer, and did not have a clinically significant influence on colorectal cancer. In contrast, estrogen alone use in women with prior hysterectomy significantly reduced breast cancer incidence and deaths from breast cancer without significant influence on colorectal cancer or lung cancer. These complex results are discussed in the context of known potential mediating mechanisms of action involved in interactionwith steroid hormone receptors.
PMCID: PMC4192019  PMID: 24910928
13.  The Evolution of Nonsteroidal Antiestrogens to become Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators 
Steroids  2014;90:3-12.
The discovery of the first nonsteroidal antiestrogen ethamoxytriphetol (MER25) in 1958, opened the door to a wide range of clinical applications. However, the finding that ethamoxytriphetol was a “morning after” pill in laboratory animals, energized the pharmaceutical industry to discover more potent derivatives. In the wake of the enormous impact of the introduction of the oral contraceptive worldwide, contraceptive research was a central focus in the early 1960’s. Numerous compounds were discovered eg: clomiphene, nafoxidine, and tamoxifen, but the fact that clinical studies showed no contraceptive actions, but, in fact, induced ovulation, dampened enthusiasm for clinical development. Only clomiphene moved forward to pioneer an application to induce ovulation in subfertile women. The fact that all the compounds were antiestrogenic made an application in patients to treat estrogen responsive breast cancer, an obvious choice. However, toxicities and poor projected commercial returns severely retarded clinical development for two decades. In the 1970’s a paradigm shift in the laboratory to advocate long term adjuvant tamoxifen treatment for early (non-metastatic) breast cancer changed medical care and dramatically increased survivorship. Tamoxifen pioneered that paradigm shift but it became the medicine of choice in a second paradigm shift for preventing breast cancer during the 1980’s and 1990’s. This was not surprising as it was the only medicine available and there was laboratory and clinical evidence for the eventual success of this application. Tamoxifen is the first medicine to be approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women at high risk. But it was the re-evaluation of the toxicology of tamoxifen in the 1980’s and the finding that there was both carcinogenic potential and a significant, but small, risk of endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women that led to a third paradigm shift to identify applications for selective estrogen receptor (ER) modulation. This idea was to establish a new group of medicines now called Selective ER Modulators (SERMs). Today there are 5 SERMs FDA approved (one other in Europe) for applications ranging from the reduction of breast cancer risk and osteoporosis to the reduction of menopausal hot flashes and improvements in dyspareunia and vaginal lubrication. This article charts the origins of the current path for progress in women’s health with SERMs.
PMCID: PMC4192084  PMID: 24949934
breast cancer; osteoporosis; women’s health; endometrial cancer
14.  Acquired Resistance to Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) in Clinical Practice (Tamoxifen & Raloxifene) by Selection Pressure in Breast Cancer Cell Populations 
Steroids  2014;90:44-52.
Tamoxifen, a pioneering selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM), has long been a therapeutic choice for all stages of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer. The clinical application of long-term adjuvant antihormone therapy for the breast cancer has significantly improved breast cancer survival. However, acquired resistance to SERM remains a significant challenge in breast cancer treatment. The evolution of acquired resistance to SERMs treatment was primarily discovered using MCF-7 tumors transplanted in athymic mice to mimic years of adjuvant treatment in patients. Acquired resistance to tamoxifen is unique because the growth of resistant tumors is dependent on SERMs. It appears that acquired resistance to SERM is initially able to utilize either E2 or a SERM as the growth stimulus in the SERM-resistant breast tumors. Mechanistic studies reveal that SERMs continuously suppress nuclear ER-target genes even during resistance, whereas they function as agonists to activate multiple membrane-associated molecules to promote cell growth. Laboratory observations in vivo further show that three phases of acquired SERM-resistance exists, depending on the length of SERMs exposure. Tumors with Phase I resistance are stimulated by both SERMs and estrogen. Tumors with Phase II resistance are stimulated by SERMs, but are inhibited by estrogen due to apoptosis. The laboratory models suggest a new treatment strategy, in which limited-duration, low-dose estrogen can be used to purge Phase II-resistant breast cancer cells. This discovery provides an invaluable insight into the evolution of drug resistance to SERMs, and this knowledge is now being used to justify clinical trials of estrogen therapy following long-term antihormone therapy. All of these results suggest that cell populations that have acquired resistance are in constant evolution depending upon selection pressure. The limited availability of growth stimuli in any new environment enhances population plasticity in the trial and error search for survival.
PMCID: PMC4192097  PMID: 24930824
selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM); resistance; estrogen; estrogen-induced apoptosis
15.  26-Desmethyl-2-methylene-22-ene-19-nor-1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 compounds selectively active on intestine 
Steroids  2014;83:27-38.
Six new analogs of 2-methylene-19-nor-1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, 6–7 and 8a,b–9a,b, have been synthesized. All compounds are characterized by a trans double bond located in the side chain between C-22 and C-23. While compounds 6 and 7 possess C-26 and C-27 methyls, compounds 8a,b and 9a,b lack one of these groups. A Lythgoe-based synthesis, employing the Wittig–Horner reaction was used for these preparations. Two different types of Δ22E-25-hydroxy Grundmann’s ketone, having either only one stereogenic center located at position C-20 (20 and 21), or two stereogenic centers located at 20- and 25-positions (24a,b–25a,b) were obtained by a multi-step procedure from commercial vitamin D2. The introduction of a double bond at C-22 appeared to lower biological activity in vitro and in vivo. Further removal of a 26-methyl in these analogs had little effect on receptor binding, HL-60 differentiation and CYP24A expression but markedly diminished or eliminated in vivo activity on bone calcium mobilization while retaining activity on intestinal calcium transport.
PMCID: PMC4601567  PMID: 24513051
Vitamin D; Calcemic activity; Transcription activity
16.  New insights on the role of hormonal therapy in ovarian cancer 
Steroids  2013;78(6):530-537.
Ovarian cancer (OVCA) is the most lethal gynecological malignancy. It is often diagnosed in advanced stages and despite therapy, 70% relapse within 2 years with incurable disease. Regimens with clinical benefit and minimal toxicity are urgently needed. More effective hormonal therapies would be appealing in this setting.
Estrogens (E2) are implicated in the etiology of OVCA. Estrogens drive proliferation and anti-estrogens inhibit ovarian cancer growth in vitro and in vivo. Despite estrogen receptor (ER) expression in 67% of OVCAs, small anti-estrogen therapy trials have been disappointing and the benefit of hormonal therapy has not been systematically studied in large well-designed trials. OVCAs often manifest de novo anti-estrogen resistance and those that initially respond invariably develop resistance. Estrogens stimulate ovarian cancer progression by transcriptional activation and cross talk between liganded ER and mitogenic pathways, both of which drive cell cycle progression. Estrogen deprivation and estrogen receptor (ER) blockade cause cell cycle arrest in susceptible OVCAs by increasing the cell cycle inhibitor, p27. This review summarizes and discusses scientific and epidemiological evidence supporting estrogen’s role in ovarian carcinogenesis, provides an overview of clinical trials of ER blockade and aromatase inhibitors in OVCA and reviews potential causes of antiestrogen resistance. Anti-estrogen resistance was recently shown to be reversed by dual ER and Src signaling blockade. Blocking cross-talk between ER and constitutively activated kinase pathways may improve anti-estrogen therapeutic efficacy in OVCA, as has been demonstrated in other cancers. Novel strategies to improve benefit from anti-estrogens by combining them with targeted therapies are reviewed.
Graphical abstract
PMCID: PMC4551472  PMID: 23402742
ovarian cancer; estrogen receptor; antiestrogen-resistance
17.  Progesterone-facilitated lordosis of estradiol-primed mice is attenuated by knocking down expression of membrane progestin receptors in the midbrain 
Steroids  2013;81:17-25.
Evidence is emerging of the role of membrane progestin receptors (referred to as mPRs herein: members of Progestin and AdipoQ Receptor (Paqr) family) as a novel brain target in mammals, such as rats. In the present study, the role of mPRs in mice was assessed to further elucidate the conservation of this mechanism across species. The brain target investigated was the midbrain ventral tegmental area (VTA) given its described role for rapid actions of progestins for reproduction. Studies tested the hypothesis that if mPRs are required for progestin-facilitated lordosis through actions in the VTA, then knockdown of mPRs in the VTA will attenuate lordosis. Ovariectomized (OVX) mice were subcutaneously injected with estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4), and infused with antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (AS-ODNs) to mPRαs (Paqr7) and/or mPRβ (Paqr8) or vehicle to the lateral ventricle or VTA. Mice were assessed for reproductive behavior (lordosis and aggression/rejection quotients) in a standard mating task. Results supported our hypothesis. E2 + P4-facilitated lordosis was significantly reduced, and aggression/rejection increased, with infusions of mPRα, mPRβ, or mPRαβ AS-ODNs to the lateral ventricle, compared to vehicle. E2 + P4-facilitated lordosis was significantly decreased, and aggression/rejection increased, with mPRβ or mPRαβ AS-ODNs to the VTA of C57/BL6 mice. Both mPRα and mPRβ AS-ODNs reduced lordosis, and increased aggression/rejection, of wildtype (C57/BL6x129) mice, but not nuclear PR knockout mice. Thus, mPRs may be a novel target of progestins for reproductive behavior of mice.
PMCID: PMC4540077  PMID: 24269738
Nongenomic; Progestin; Neurosteroids; Reproduction
18.  Bile Acids are Nutrient Signaling Hormones 
Steroids  2014;0:62-68.
Bile salts play crucial roles in allowing the gastrointestinal system to digest, transport and metabolize nutrients. They function as nutrient signaling hormones by activating specific nuclear receptors (FXR, PXR, Vitamin D) and G-protein coupled receptors [TGR5, sphingosine-1 phosphate receptor 2 (S1PR2), muscarinic receptors]. Bile acids and insulin appear to collaborate in regulating the metabolism of nutrients in the liver. They both activate the AKT and ERK1/2 signaling pathways. Bile acid induction of the FXR-α target gene, small heterodimer partner (SHP), is highly dependent on the activation PKCζ, a branch of the insulin signaling pathway. SHP is an important regulator of glucose and lipid metabolism in the liver. One might hypothesize that chronic low grade inflammation which is associated with insulin resistance, may inhibit bile acid signaling and disrupt lipid metabolism. The disruption of these signaling pathways may increase the risk of fatty liver and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Finally, conjugated bile acids appear to promote cholangiocarcinoma growth via the activation of S1PR2.
PMCID: PMC4073476  PMID: 24819989
Bile acids; Sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor 2; Insulin; PKCζ; Glucose metabolism; Liver
19.  Effects of Representative Glucocorticoids on TNFα– and CD40L–Induced NF-κB Activation in Sensor Cells 
Steroids  2014;85:36-43.
Glucocorticoids are an important class of anti-inflammatory/immunosuppressive drugs. A crucial part of their anti-inflammatory action results from their ability to repress proinflammatory transcription factors such as nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) and activator protein-1 (AP-1) upon binding to the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). Accordingly, sensor cells quantifying their effect on inflammatory signal-induced NF-κB activation can provide useful information regarding their potencies as well as their transrepression abilities. Here, we report results obtained on their effect in suppressing both the TNFα- and the CD40L-induced activation of NF-κB in sensor cells that contain an NF-κB–inducible SEAP construct. In these cells, we confirmed concentration-dependent NF-κB activation for both TNFα and CD40L at low nanomolar concentrations (EC50). Glucocorticoids tested included hydrocortisone, prednisolone, dexamethasone, loteprednol etabonate, triamcinolone acetonide, beclomethasone dipropionate, and clobetasol propionate. They all caused significant, but only partial inhibition of these activations in concentration-dependent manners that could be well described by sigmoid response-functions. Despite the limitations of only partial maximum inhibitions, this cell-based assay could be used to quantitate the suppressing ability of glucocorticoids (transrepression potency) on the expression of proinflammatory transcription factors caused by two different cytokines in parallel both in a detailed, full dose-response format as well as in a simpler single-dose format. Whereas inhibitory potencies obtained in the TNF assay correlated well with consensus glucocorticoid potencies (receptor-binding affinities, Kd, RBA, at the GR) for all compounds, the non-halogenated steroids (hydrocortisone, prednisolone, and loteprednol etabonate) were about an order of magnitude more potent than expected in the CD40 assay in this system.
PMCID: PMC4049353  PMID: 24747770
CD154; corticosteroids; Hill equation; TNF; transrepression
20.  Improved profiling of estrogen metabolites by orbitrap LC/MS 
Steroids  2014;99(0 0):84-90.
Estrogen metabolites are important biomarkers to evaluate cancer risks and metabolic diseases. Due to their low physiological levels, a sensitive and accurate method is required, especially for the quantitation of unconjugated forms of endogenous steroids and their metabolites in humans. Here, we evaluated various derivatives of estrogens for improved analysis by orbitrap LC/MS in human serum samples. A new chemical derivatization reagent was applied modifying phenolic steroids to form 1-methylimidazole-2-sulfonyl adducts. The method significantly improves the sensitivity 2–100 fold by full scan MS and targeted selected ion monitoring MS over other derivatization methods including, dansyl, picolinoyl, and pyridine-3-sulfonyl products.
PMCID: PMC4446197  PMID: 25543003
Estrogen metabolites; Orbitrap MS; Dansyl chloride; 1-Methylimidazole-2-sulfonyl chloride
21.  Steroid hormone measurements from different types of assays in relation to body mass index and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women: Reanalysis of eighteen prospective studies 
Steroids  2015;99:49-55.
Epidemiological studies have examined breast cancer risk in relation to sex hormone concentrations measured by different methods: “extraction” immunoassays (with prior purification by organic solvent extraction, with or without column chromatography), “direct” immunoassays (no prior extraction or column chromatography), and more recently with mass spectrometry-based assays. We describe the associations of estradiol, estrone and testosterone with both body mass index and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women according to assay method, using data from a collaborative pooled analysis of 18 prospective studies. In general, hormone concentrations were highest in studies that used direct assays and lowest in studies that used mass spectrometry-based assays. Estradiol and estrone were strongly positively associated with body mass index, regardless of the assay method; testosterone was positively associated with body mass index for direct assays, but less clearly for extraction assays, and there were few data for mass spectrometry assays. The correlations of estradiol with body mass index, estrone and testosterone were lower for direct assays than for extraction and mass spectrometry assays, suggesting that the estimates from the direct assays were less precise. For breast cancer risk, all three hormones were strongly positively associated with risk regardless of assay method (except for testosterone by mass spectrometry where there were few data), with no statistically significant differences in the trends, but differences may emerge as new data accumulate. Future epidemiological and clinical research studies should continue to use the most accurate assays that are feasible within the design characteristics of each study.
PMCID: PMC4502556  PMID: 25304359
Breast cancer; Estradiol; Body mass index; Extraction immunoassay; Direct immunoassay; Mass spectrometry
22.  The oxysterol and cholestenoic acid profile of mouse cerebrospinal fluid 
Steroids  2015;99:172-177.
Graphical abstract
•Measurement of oxysterols and cholestenoic acids in mouse CSF by LC–MS.•Major cholesterol metabolites in mouse CSF are 7α-hydroxylated cholestenoic acids.•Levels of cholesterol metabolites an order of magnitude lower in CSF than plasma.•7α-Hydroxy metabolites of 24S-hydroxycholesterol found in CSF but not plasma.
Oxysterols and cholestenoic acids are oxidised forms of cholesterol with a host of biological functions. The possible roles of oxysterols in various neurological diseases makes the analysis of these metabolites in the central nervous system of particular interest. Here, we report the identification and quantification of a panel of twelve sterols in mouse cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry exploiting enzyme assisted derivatisation for sterol analysis technology. We found low levels of oxysterols and cholestenoic acids in CSF in the range of 5 pg/mL–2.6 ng/mL. As found in man, these concentrations are one to two orders of magnitude lower than in plasma.
PMCID: PMC4503871  PMID: 25759118
CSF, cerebrospinal fluid; CYP, cytochrome P450; LXRs, liver X receptors; 7α,25-diHC, 7α,25-dihydroxycholesterol (cholest-5-ene-3β,7α,25-triol); 26-HC, (25R)26-hydroxcholesterol,(cholest-5-en-3β,(25R)26-diol); BBB, blood brain barrier; CNS, central nervous system; EADSA, enzyme assisted derivatisation for sterol analysis; LC–MSn, liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry; 22R-HCO, 22R-hydroxycholest-4-en-3-one; GP, Girard P; SPE, solid phase extraction; LIT, linear ion trap; RIC, reconstructed ion chromatograms; 7-OC, 7-oxocholesterol (3β-hydroxycholest-5-en-7-one); 3β-HCA, 3β-hydroxycholest-5-enoic acid; 3β,7α-diHCA, 3β,7α-dihydroxycholest-5-enoic acid; 7αH,3O-CA, 7α-hydroxy-3-oxocholest-4-enoic acid; 7α,24-diHCO, 7α,24-dihydroxycholest-4-en-3-one; LC–MS; Derivatisation; Bile acid; Brain
23.  Cholesterol metabolites exported from human brain 
Steroids  2015;99:189-193.
Graphical abstract
•Flux of more than 20 sterols into and out from human brain measured.•24S-hydroxycholesterol confirmed to be exported from brain at about 2–3 mg/24 h.•Other sterols exported from brain include 5α-hydroxy-6-oxo-, 7β-hydroxy- and 7-oxo-cholesterol.
The human brain contains approximately 25% of the body’s cholesterol. The brain is separated from the circulation by the blood brain barrier. While cholesterol will not passes this barrier, oxygenated forms of cholesterol can cross the barrier. Here by measuring the difference in the oxysterol content of blood plasma in the jugular vein and in a forearm vein by mass spectrometry (MS) we were able to determine the flux of more than 20 cholesterol metabolites between brain and the circulation. We confirm that 24S-hydroxycholesterol is exported from brain at a rate of about 2–3 mg/24 h. Gas chromatography (GC)–MS data shows that the cholesterol metabolites 5α-hydroxy-6-oxocholesterol (3β,5α-dihydroxycholestan-6-one), 7β-hydroxycholesterol and 7-oxocholesterol, generally considered to be formed through reactive oxygen species, are similarly exported from brain at rates of about 0.1, 2 and 2 mg/24 h, respectively. Although not to statistical significance both GC–MS and liquid chromatography (LC)–MS methods indicate that (25R)26-hydroxycholesterol is imported to brain, while LC–MS indicates that 7α-hydroxy-3-oxocholest-4-enoic acid is exported from brain.
PMCID: PMC4503873  PMID: 25668615
MS, mass spectrometry; GC, gas chromatography; LC, liquid chromatography; BBB, blood brain barrier; CYP, cytochrome P450; 24S-HC, 24S-hydroxycholesterol; 26-HC, (25R)26-hydroxycholesterol; 7αH,3O-CA, 7α-hydroxy-3-oxocholest-4-enoic acid; 3β,5α-diHC-6O, 3β,5α-dihydroxycholestan-6-one; C-triol, cholestane-3β,5α,6β-triol; 4α-HC, 4α-hydroxycholesterol; 4β-HC, 4β-hydroxycholesterol; GP, Girard P; 7β-HC, 7β-hydroxycholesterol; 7O-C, 7-oxocholesterol; 25-D3, 25-hydroxyvitamin D3; 7α,25-diHCO, 7α,25-dihydroxycholest-4-en-3-one; 7α,26-diHCO, 7α,(25R)26-hydroxycholest-4-en-3-one; ROS, reactive oxygen species; 7α,26-diHC, 7α,(25R)26-dihydroxycholesterol; 7α,25-diHC, 7α,25-dihydroxycholesterol; HSD3B7, hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 3B7; 3β-HCA, 3β-hydroxycholest-5-en-(25R)26-oic acid; 3β,7α-diHCA, 3β,7α-dihydroxycholest-5-enoic acid; CHD, coronary heart disease; Oxysterol; LC–MS; GC–MS; 24S-hydroxycholesterol
24.  Rapid proteasomal elimination of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase by interferon-γ in primary macrophages requires endogenous 25-hydroxycholesterol synthesis 
Steroids  2015;99:219-229.
•IFN-γ leads to the proteasomal degradation of HMGCR.•IFN-γ and 25-HC can transcriptionally and post-translationally alter levels of HMGCR.•The reduction of HMGCR through the action of IFN-γ requires the de novo synthesis of 25-HC by CH25H.
Interferons (IFNs) play a central role in immunity and emerging evidence suggests that IFN-signalling coordinately regulates sterol biosynthesis in macrophages, via Sterol Regulatory Element-Binding Protein (SREBP) dependent and independent pathways. However, the precise mechanisms and kinetic steps by which IFN controls sterol biosynthesis are as yet not fully understood. Here, we elucidate the molecular circuitry governing how IFN controls the first regulated step in the mevalonate-sterol pathway, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGCR), through the synthesis of 25-Hydroxycholesterol (25-HC) from cholesterol by the IFN-inducible Cholesterol-25-Hydroxylase (CH25H). We show for the first 30-min of IFN stimulation of macrophages the rate of de novo synthesis of the Ch25h transcript is markedly increased but by 120-min becomes transcriptionally curtailed, coincident with induction of the Activating Transcription Factor 3 (ATF3) repressor. We demonstrate ATF3 induction by Toll-like receptors is strictly dependent on IFN-signalling. While the SREBP-pathway dependent rates of de novo transcription of Hmgcr are relatively unchanged in the first 90-min of IFN treatment, we find HMGCR enzyme levels undergo a rapid proteasomal-mediated degradation, defining a previously unappreciated SREBP-independent mechanism for IFN-action. These events precede a sustained marked reduction in Hmgcr RNA levels involving SREBP-dependent mechanisms. We demonstrate that HMGCR proteasomal-degradation by IFN strictly requires the synthesis of endogenous 25-HC and functionally couples HMGCR to CH25H to coordinately suppress sterol biosynthesis. In conclusion, we quantitatively delineate proteomic and transcriptional levels of IFN-mediated control of HMGCR, the primary enzymatic step of the mevalonate-sterol biosynthesis pathway, providing a foundational framework for mathematically modelling the therapeutic outcome of immune-metabolic pathways.
PMCID: PMC4503878  PMID: 25759117
HMGCR, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase; 25-HC, 25-hydroxycholesterol; IFN, interferon; SREBP, sterol regulatory element-binding protein; SCAP, SREBP cleavage activating protein; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; ERAD, ER-associated protein degradation; FBS, fetal bovine serum; LPDS, lipoprotein depleted serum; MEV, mevalonate; LS, lanosterol; CHO, cholesterol; CH25H, cholesterol 25-hydroxylase; TLR, Toll-like receptor; BMDMs, bone marrow derived macrophages; DCs, dendritic cells; SBGN, systems biology graphical notation; PRRs, Pattern recognition receptors; IFNAR1, IFN-α/β receptor; CH25H; Cholesterol biosynthesis; 25-Hydroxycholesterol; Macrophages; Immunity; Infection
25.  Diallyl sulfide inhibits diethylstilbestrol induced DNA damage in human breast epithelial cells (MCF-10A) 
Steroids  2014;92:96-100.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States. Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a synthetic estrogen that has been shown to cause cancer in animals and humans, altering cell viability as well as inducing DNA damage. Diallyl sulfide (DAS) is a garlic organosulfide that has been shown to inhibit both the initiation and promotion phases of cancer in vivo and in vitro, as well as reduce the risk of cancer in epidemiological studies. MCF-10A cells, regarded as a normal breast epithelial cell line, were treated with varying concentrations of DES, DAS or various dose combinations of DES and DAS concomitantly, and assessed for cell viability, DNA strand breaks, and lipid peroxidation. DES (10 μM) in combination with 1, 10, or 100 μM DAS resulted in a 31%, 34%, or 36% respective increase in cell viability compared to the DES treatment alone, after 24 h. At the same time point, 1, 10, and 100 μM DAS were all effective in significantly reducing DES (100 μM)-induced strand breaks to near that of the vehicle control. Additionally, 1 μM DAS was effective in significantly reducing DES (100 μM)-induced lipid peroxidation after 3 h. The results of this research suggest that DAS is effective in recovering cell viability, attenuating DNA strand breaks, and decreasing lipid peroxidation in MCF-10A cells.
PMCID: PMC4426958  PMID: 25278253
DNA damage; Diallyl sulfide; Diethystilbestrol; Breast epithelial cells chemoprevention

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