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1.  Increased apoptosis and browning of TAK1-deficient adipocytes protects against obesity 
JCI Insight  null;1(7):e81175.
Obesity is an increasing health problem worldwide, and nonsurgical strategies to treat obesity have remained rather inefficient. We here show that acute loss of TGF-β–activated kinase 1 (TAK1) in adipocytes results in an increased rate of apoptotic adipocyte death and increased numbers of M2 macrophages in white adipose tissue. Mice with adipocyte-specific TAK1 deficiency have reduced adipocyte numbers and are resistant to obesity induced by a high-fat diet or leptin deficiency. In addition, adipocyte-specific TAK1-deficient mice under a high-fat diet showed increased energy expenditure, which was accompanied by enhanced expression of the uncoupling protein UCP1. Interestingly, acute induction of adipocyte-specific TAK1 deficiency in mice already under a high-fat diet was able to stop further weight gain and improved glucose tolerance. Thus, loss of TAK1 in adipocytes reduces the total number of adipocytes, increases browning of white adipose tissue, and may be an attractive strategy to treat obesity, obesity-dependent diabetes, and other associated complications.
Adipocyte-specific TAK1-deficient mice are protected from obesity due to an increased adipocyte apoptosis rate, increased numbers of M2 macrophages, and browning of white adipose tissue.
PMCID: PMC5033847  PMID: 27699262
2.  5-HT2B Receptor Antagonists Inhibit Fibrosis and Protect from RV Heart Failure 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:438403.
Objective. The serotonin (5-HT) pathway was shown to play a role in pulmonary hypertension (PH), but its functions in right ventricular failure (RVF) remain poorly understood. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effects of Terguride (5-HT2A and 2B receptor antagonist) or SB204741 (5-HT2B receptor antagonist) on right heart function and structure upon pulmonary artery banding (PAB) in mice. Methods. Seven days after PAB, mice were treated for 14 days with Terguride (0.2 mg/kg bid) or SB204741 (5 mg/kg day). Right heart function and remodeling were assessed by right heart catheterization, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and histomorphometric methods. Total secreted collagen content was determined in mouse cardiac fibroblasts isolated from RV tissues. Results. Chronic treatment with Terguride or SB204741 reduced right ventricular fibrosis and showed improved heart function in mice after PAB. Moreover, 5-HT2B receptor antagonists diminished TGF-beta1 induced collagen synthesis of RV cardiac fibroblasts in vitro. Conclusion. 5-HT2B receptor antagonists reduce collagen deposition, thereby inhibiting right ventricular fibrosis. Chronic treatment prevented the development and progression of pressure overload-induced RVF in mice. Thus, 5-HT2B receptor antagonists represent a valuable novel therapeutic approach for RVF.
PMCID: PMC4312574  PMID: 25667920
3.  MiRNA-1/133a Clusters Regulate Adrenergic Control of Cardiac Repolarization 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e113449.
The electrical properties of the heart are primarily determined by the activity of ion channels and the activity of these molecules is permanently modulated and adjusted to the physiological needs by adrenergic signaling. miRNAs are known to control the expression of many proteins and to fulfill distinct functions in the mammalian heart, though the in vivo effects of miRNAs on the electrical activity of the heart are poorly characterized. The miRNAs miR-1 and miR-133a are the most abundant miRNAs of the heart and are expressed from two miR-1/133a genomic clusters. Genetic modulation of miR-1/133a cluster expression without concomitant severe disturbance of general cardiomyocyte physiology revealed that these miRNA clusters govern cardiac muscle repolarization. Reduction of miR-1/133a dosage induced a longQT phenotype in mice especially at low heart rates. Longer action potentials in cardiomyocytes are caused by modulation of the impact of β-adrenergic signaling on the activity of the depolarizing L-type calcium channel. Pharmacological intervention to attenuate β-adrenergic signaling or L-type calcium channel activity in vivo abrogated the longQT phenotype that is caused by modulation of miR-1/133a activity. Thus, we identify the miR-1/133a miRNA clusters to be important to prevent a longQT-phenotype in the mammalian heart.
PMCID: PMC4240597  PMID: 25415383
4.  Sham Surgery and Inter-Individual Heterogeneity Are Major Determinants of Monocyte Subset Kinetics in a Mouse Model of Myocardial Infarction 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98456.
Mouse models of myocardial infarction (MI) are commonly used to explore the pathophysiological role of the monocytic response in myocardial injury and to develop translational strategies. However, no study thus far has examined the potential impact of inter-individual variability and sham surgical procedures on monocyte subset kinetics after experimental MI in mice. Our goal was to investigate determinants of systemic myeloid cell subset shifts in C57BL/6 mice following MI by developing a protocol for sequential extensive flow cytometry (FCM).
Methods and Results
Following cross-sectional multiplex FCM analysis we provide for the first time a detailed description of absolute quantities, relative subset composition, and biological variability of circulating classical, intermediate, and non-classical monocyte subsets in C57BL/6 mice. By using intra-individual longitudinal measurements after MI induction, a time course of classical and non-classical monocytosis was recorded. This approach disclosed a significant reduction of monocyte subset dispersion across all investigated time points following MI. We found that in the current invasive model of chronic MI the global pattern of systemic monocyte kinetics is mainly determined by a nonspecific inflammatory response to sham surgery and not by the extent of myocardial injury.
Application of sequential multiplexed FCM may help to reduce the impact of biological variability in C57BL/6 mice. Furthermore, the confounding influence of sham surgical procedures should always be considered when measuring monocyte subset kinetics in a murine model of MI.
PMCID: PMC4043649  PMID: 24893162
5.  Deletion of Fn14 receptor protects from right heart fibrosis and dysfunction 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2013;108(2):325.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a fatal disease for which no cure is yet available. The leading cause of death in PAH is right ventricular (RV) failure. Previously, the TNF receptor superfamily member fibroblast growth factor-inducible molecule 14 (Fn14) has been associated with different fibrotic diseases. However, so far there is no study demonstrating a causal role for endogenous Fn14 signaling in RV or LV heart disease. The purpose of this study was to determine whether global ablation of Fn14 prevents RV fibrosis and remodeling improving heart function. Here, we provide evidence for a causative role of Fn14 in pulmonary artery banding (PAB)-induced RV fibrosis and dysfunction in mice. Fn14 expression was increased in the RV after PAB. Mice lacking Fn14 (Fn14−/−) displayed substantially reduced RV fibrosis and dysfunction following PAB compared to wild-type littermates. Cell culture experiments demonstrated that activation of Fn14 induces collagen expression via RhoA-dependent nuclear translocation of myocardin-related transcription factor-A (MRTF-A)/MAL. Furthermore, activation of Fn14 in vitro caused fibroblast proliferation and myofibroblast differentiation, which corresponds to suppression of PAB-induced RV fibrosis in Fn14−/− mice. Moreover, our findings suggest that Fn14 expression is regulated by endothelin-1 (ET-1) in cardiac fibroblasts. We conclude that Fn14 is an endogenous key regulator in cardiac fibrosis and suggest this receptor as potential new target for therapeutic interventions in heart failure.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-012-0325-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3597271  PMID: 23325387
Right heart disease; Fibrosis; Fn14; MAL; Cardiac fibroblasts
8.  Cardiac Deletion of Smyd2 Is Dispensable for Mouse Heart Development 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9748.
Chromatin modifying enzymes play a critical role in cardiac differentiation. Previously, it has been shown that the targeted deletion of the histone methyltransferase, Smyd1, the founding member of the SET and MYND domain containing (Smyd) family, interferes with cardiomyocyte maturation and proper formation of the right heart ventricle. The highly related paralogue, Smyd2 is a histone 3 lysine 4- and lysine 36-specific methyltransferase expressed in heart and brain. Here, we report that Smyd2 is differentially expressed during cardiac development with highest expression in the neonatal heart. To elucidate the functional role of Smyd2 in the heart, we generated conditional knockout (cKO) mice harboring a cardiomyocyte-specific deletion of Smyd2 and performed histological, functional and molecular analyses. Unexpectedly, cardiac deletion of Smyd2 was dispensable for proper morphological and functional development of the murine heart and had no effect on global histone 3 lysine 4 or 36 methylation. However, we provide evidence for a potential role of Smyd2 in the transcriptional regulation of genes associated with translation and reveal that Smyd2, similar to Smyd3, interacts with RNA Polymerase II as well as to the RNA helicase, HELZ.
PMCID: PMC2840034  PMID: 20305823

Results 1-8 (8)