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1.  HOXA4 protein levels and localization in the aorta and in human abdominal aortic aneurysms 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:18.
This report presents evidence for the specificities of select commercially available HOXA4 antibodies in regards to concerns about the specificity of the HOXA4 antibody used by Lillvis et al. (Regional expression of HOXA4 along the aorta and its potential role in human abdominal aortic aneurysms. BMC Physiol 2011, 11:9). Using an antibody characterized extensively by us, Lillvis et al. report detecting HOXA4 at a size of 33 kDa despite our previous reports that HOXA4 is detected at ~37-39 kDa and that the ~30-33 kDa band is non-specific. Using small interfering RNA targeting HOXA4, forced expression of full-length HOXA4 and HOXA4-positive and -negative ovarian cancer cell lines, we confirm our previous findings that the ~30-33 kDa band is non-specific and that HOXA4 is detected at ~37-39 kDa. Moreover, we demonstrate that HOXA4 small interfering RNA reduces the ~37-39 kDa HOXA4 band, but not the ~30-33 kDa non-specific band, in a human acute monocytic leukemia cell line used by Lillvis et al. Western blot analysis performed with two additional commercially available HOXA4 antibodies also detected HOXA4 at ~37-39 kDa. Lastly, immunofluorescent staining of a HOXA4-negative ovarian cancer cell line with the antibody used by Lillvis et al. yields strong perinuclear staining, similar to that observed by Lillvis et al., which cannot be attributed to HOXA4. Our results highlight and briefly discuss the importance of careful antibody validation and selection for use in various applications.
PMCID: PMC3254126  PMID: 22168796
2.  Effect of prolonged standardized bed rest on cystatin C and other markers of cardiovascular risk 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:17.
Sedentary lifestyle is associated with coronary artery disease but even shorter periods of physical inactivity may increase cardiovascular risk. Cystatin C is independently associated with cardiovascular disease and our objective was to investigate the relation between this novel biomarker and standardized bed rest. Research of immobilization physiology in humans is challenging because good biological models are in short supply. From the Women International Space simulation for Exploration study (WISE) we studied markers of atherosclerosis and kidney function, including cystatin C, in a standardized bed rest study on healthy volunteers. Fifteen healthy female volunteers participated in a 20-day ambulatory control period followed by 60 days of bed rest in head-down tilt position (-6°) 24 h a day, finalized by 20 days of recovery. The subjects were randomized into two groups during bed rest: a control group (n = 8) that remained physically inactive and an exercise group (n = 7) that participated in both supine resistance and aerobic exercise training.
Compared to baseline values there was a statistically significant increase in cystatin C in both groups after bed rest (P < 0.001). Glomerular filtration rate (GFR), calculated by both cystatin C and Cockcroft-Gault equation, decreased after bed rest while there were no differences in creatinine or creatine kinase levels. CRP did not change during bed rest in the exercise group, but there was an increase of CRP in the control group during recovery compared to both the baseline and the bed rest periods. The apo-B/apo-Ai ratio increased during bed rest and decreased again in the recovery period. Subjects experienced a small but statistically significant reduction in weight during bed rest and compared to baseline weights remained lower at day 8 of recovery.
During and following prolonged standardized bed rest the concentrations of several clinically relevant cardiovascular risk markers change.
PMCID: PMC3298483  PMID: 22152087
3.  VEGF signaling mediates bladder neuroplasticity and inflammation in response to BCG 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:16.
This work tests the hypothesis that increased levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) observed during bladder inflammation modulates nerve plasticity.
Chronic inflammation was induced by intravesical instillations of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) into the urinary bladder and the density of nerves expressing the transient receptor potential vanilloid subfamily 1 (TRPV1) or pan-neuronal marker PGP9.5 was used to quantify alterations in peripheral nerve plasticity. Some mice were treated with B20, a VEGF neutralizing antibody to reduce the participation of VEGF. Additional mice were treated systemically with antibodies engineered to specifically block the binding of VEGF to NRP1 (anti-NRP1B) and NRP2 (NRP2B), or the binding of semaphorins to NRP1 (anti-NRP1 A) to diminish activity of axon guidance molecules such as neuropilins (NRPs) and semaphorins (SEMAs). To confirm that VEGF is capable of inducing inflammation and neuronal plasticity, another group of mice was instilled with recombinant VEGF165 or VEGF121 into the urinary bladder.
The major finding of this work was that chronic BCG instillation resulted in inflammation and an overwhelming increase in both PGP9.5 and TRPV1 immunoreactivity, primarily in the sub-urothelium of the urinary bladder. Treatment of mice with anti-VEGF neutralizing antibody (B20) abolished the effect of BCG on inflammation and nerve density.
NRP1A and NRP1B antibodies, known to reduce BCG-induced inflammation, failed to block BCG-induced increase in nerve fibers. However, the NRP2B antibody dramatically potentiated the effects of BCG in increasing PGP9.5-, TRPV1-, substance P (SP)-, and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-immunoreactivity (IR). Finally, instillation of VEGF121 or VEGF165 into the mouse bladder recapitulated the effects of BCG and resulted in a significant inflammation and increase in nerve density.
For the first time, evidence is being presented supporting that chronic BCG instillation into the mouse bladder promotes a significant increase in peripheral nerve density that was mimicked by VEGF instillation. Effects of BCG were abolished by pre-treatment with neutralizing VEGF antibody. The present results implicate the VEGF pathway as a key modulator of inflammation and nerve plasticity, introduces a new animal model for investigation of VEGF-induced nerve plasticity, and suggests putative mechanisms underlying this phenomenon.
PMCID: PMC3226567  PMID: 22059553
4.  Calcium sparks in the intact gerbil spiral modiolar artery 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:15.
Calcium sparks are ryanodine receptor mediated transient calcium signals that have been shown to hyperpolarize the membrane potential by activating large conductance calcium activated potassium (BK) channels in vascular smooth muscle cells. Along with voltage-dependent calcium channels, they form a signaling unit that has a vasodilatory influence on vascular diameter and regulation of myogenic tone. The existence and role of calcium sparks has hitherto been unexplored in the spiral modiolar artery, the end artery that controls blood flow to the cochlea. The goal of the present study was to determine the presence and properties of calcium sparks in the intact gerbil spiral modiolar artery.
Calcium sparks were recorded from smooth muscle cells of intact arteries loaded with fluo-4 AM. Calcium sparks occurred with a frequency of 2.6 Hz, a rise time of 17 ms and a time to half-decay of 20 ms. Ryanodine reduced spark frequency within 3 min from 2.6 to 0.6 Hz. Caffeine (1 mM) increased spark frequency from 2.3 to 3.3 Hz and prolonged rise and half-decay times from 17 to 19 ms and from 20 to 23 ms, respectively. Elevation of potassium (3.6 to 37.5 mM), presumably via depolarization, increased spark frequency from 2.4 to 3.2 Hz. Neither ryanodine nor depolarization changed rise or decay times.
This is the first characterization of calcium sparks in smooth muscle cells of the spiral modiolar artery. The results suggest that calcium sparks may regulate the diameter of the spiral modiolar artery and cochlear blood flow.
PMCID: PMC3170618  PMID: 21871098
5.  Metabolomic phenotyping of a cloned pig model 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:14.
Pigs are widely used as models for human physiological changes in intervention studies, because of the close resemblance between human and porcine physiology and the high degree of experimental control when using an animal model. Cloned animals have, in principle, identical genotypes and possibly also phenotypes and this offer an extra level of experimental control which could possibly make them a desirable tool for intervention studies. Therefore, in the present study, we address how phenotype and phenotypic variation is affected by cloning, through comparison of cloned pigs and normal outbred pigs.
The metabolic phenotype of cloned pigs (n = 5) was for the first time elucidated by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-based metabolomic analysis of multiple bio-fluids including plasma, bile and urine. The metabolic phenotype of the cloned pigs was compared with normal outbred pigs (n = 6) by multivariate data analysis, which revealed differences in the metabolic phenotypes. Plasma lactate was higher for cloned vs control pigs, while multiple metabolites were altered in the bile. However a lower inter-individual variability for cloned pigs compared with control pigs could not be established.
From the present study we conclude that cloned and normal outbred pigs are phenotypically different. However, it cannot be concluded that the use of cloned animals will reduce the inter-individual variation in intervention studies, though this is based on a limited number of animals.
PMCID: PMC3174869  PMID: 21859467
6.  Monitoring the wild black bear's reaction to human and environmental stressors 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:13.
Bears are among the most physiologically remarkable mammals. They spend half their life in an active state and the other half in a state of dormancy without food or water, and without urinating, defecating, or physical activity, yet can rouse and defend themselves when disturbed. Although important data have been obtained in both captive and wild bears, long-term physiological monitoring of bears has not been possible until the recent advancement of implantable devices.
Insertable cardiac monitors that were developed for use in human heart patients (Reveal® XT, Medtronic, Inc) were implanted in 15 hibernating bears. Data were recovered from 8, including 2 that were legally shot by hunters. Devices recorded low heart rates (pauses of over 14 seconds) and low respiration rates (1.5 breaths/min) during hibernation, dramatic respiratory sinus arrhythmias in the fall and winter months, and elevated heart rates in summer (up to 214 beats/min (bpm)) and during interactions with hunters (exceeding 250 bpm). The devices documented the first and last day of denning, a period of quiescence in two parturient females after birthing, and extraordinary variation in the amount of activity/day, ranging from 0 (winter) to 1084 minutes (summer). Data showed a transition toward greater nocturnal activity in the fall, preceding hibernation. The data-loggers also provided evidence of the physiological and behavioral responses of bears to our den visits to retrieve the data.
Annual variations in heart rate and activity have been documented for the first time in wild black bears. This technique has broad applications to wildlife management and physiological research, enabling the impact of environmental stressors from humans, changing seasons, climate change, social interactions and predation to be directly monitored over multiple years.
PMCID: PMC3177774  PMID: 21849079
Electrophysiology; Hibernation; Cardiac Physiology
7.  Receptors and effects of gut hormones in three osteoblastic cell lines 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:12.
In recent years the interest on the relationship of gut hormones to bone processes has increased and represents one of the most interesting aspects in skeletal research. The proportion of bone mass to soft tissue is a relationship that seems to be controlled by delicate and subtle regulations that imply "cross-talks" between the nutrient intake and tissues like fat. Thus, recognition of the mechanisms that integrate a gastrointestinal-fat-bone axis and its application to several aspects of human health is vital for improving treatments related to bone diseases. This work analysed the effects of gut hormones in cell cultures of three osteoblastic cell lines which represent different stages in osteoblastic development. Also, this is the first time that there is a report on the direct effects of glucagon-like peptide 2, and obestatin on osteoblast-like cells.
mRNA expression levels of five gut hormone receptors (glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide [GIP], glucagon-like peptide 1 [GLP-1], glucagon-like peptide 2 [GLP-2], ghrelin [GHR] and obestatin [OB]) were analysed in three osteoblastic cell lines (Saos-2, TE-85 and MG-63) showing different stages of osteoblast development using reverse transcription and real time polymerase chain reaction. The responses to the gut peptides were studied using assays for cell viability, and biochemical bone markers: alkaline phosphatase (ALP), procollagen type 1 amino-terminal propeptides (P1NP), and osteocalcin production.
The gut hormone receptor mRNA displayed the highest levels for GIP in Saos-2 and the lowest levels in MG-63, whereas GHR and GPR39 (the putative obestatin receptor) expression was higher in TE-85 and MG-63 and lower in Saos-2. GLP-1 and GLP-2 were expressed only in MG-63 and TE-85. Treatment of gut hormones to cell lines showed differential responses: higher levels in cell viability in Saos-2 after GIP, in TE-85 and MG-63 after GLP-1, GLP-2, ghrelin and obestatin. ALP showed higher levels in Saos-2 after GIP, GHR and OB and in TE-85 after GHR. P1NP showed higher levels after GIP and OB in Saos-2. Decreased levels of P1NP were observed in TE-85 and MG-63 after GLP-1, GLP-2 and OB. MG-63 showed opposite responses in osteocalcin levels after GLP-2.
These results suggest that osteoblast activity modulation varies according to different development stage under different nutrition related-peptides.
PMCID: PMC3162581  PMID: 21801348
8.  Regulation of Caenorhabditis elegans vitellogenesis by DAF-2/IIS through separable transcriptional and posttranscriptional mechanisms 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:11.
Evolutionary theories of aging propose that longevity evolves as a competition between reproduction and somatic maintenance for a finite pool of resources. Reproduction is thought to shorten lifespan by depleting resources from processes promoting somatic maintenance. Maternal yolk production, vitellogenesis, represents a significant maternal cost for reproduction and is suppressed under genetic and environmental conditions that extend lifespan. However, little is known about the pathways regulating vitellogenesis in response to prolongevity cues.
In order to identify mechanisms that suppress vitellogenesis under prolongevity conditions, we studied factors regulating vitellogenesis in C. elegans nematodes. In C. elegans, vitellogenesis is depressed in the absence of insulin-like signaling (IIS). We found that the C. elegans daf-2/IIS pathway regulates vitellogenesis through two mechanisms. vit-2 transcript levels in daf-2 mutants were indirectly regulated through a germline-dependent signal, and could be rescued by introduction of daf-2(+) sperm. However, yolk protein (YP) levels in daf-2 mutants were also regulated by germline-independent posttranscriptional mechanisms.
C. elegans vitellogenesis is regulated transcriptionally and posttranscriptionally in response to environmental and reproductive cues. The daf-2 pathway suppressed vitellogenesis through transcriptional mechanisms reflecting reproductive phenotypes, as well as distinct posttranscriptional mechanisms. This study reveals that pleiotropic effects of IIS pathway mutations can converge on a common downstream target, vitellogenesis, as a mechanism to modulate longevity.
PMCID: PMC3160409  PMID: 21749693
9.  The actions of exogenous leucine on mTOR signalling and amino acid transporters in human myotubes 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:10.
The branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) leucine has been identified to be a key regulator of skeletal muscle anabolism. Activation of anabolic signalling occurs via the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) through an undefined mechanism. System A and L solute carriers transport essential amino acids across plasma membranes; however it remains unknown whether an exogenous supply of leucine regulates their gene expression. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of acute and chronic leucine stimulation of anabolic signalling and specific amino acid transporters, using cultured primary human skeletal muscle cells.
Human myotubes were treated with leucine, insulin or co-treated with leucine and insulin for 30 min, 3 h or 24 h. Activation of mTOR signalling kinases were examined, together with putative nutrient sensor human vacuolar protein sorting 34 (hVps34) and gene expression of selected amino acid transporters. Phosphorylation of mTOR and p70S6K was transiently increased following leucine exposure, independently to insulin. hVps34 protein expression was also significantly increased. However, genes encoding amino acid transporters were differentially regulated by insulin and not leucine.
mTOR signalling is transiently activated by leucine within human myotubes independently of insulin stimulation. While this occurred in the absence of changes in gene expression of amino acid transporters, protein expression of hVps34 increased.
PMCID: PMC3141572  PMID: 21702994
10.  Regional expression of HOXA4 along the aorta and its potential role in human abdominal aortic aneurysms 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:9.
The infrarenal abdominal aorta exhibits increased disease susceptibility relative to other aortic regions. Allograft studies exchanging thoracic and abdominal segments showed that regional susceptibility is maintained regardless of location, suggesting substantial roles for embryological origin, tissue composition and site-specific gene expression.
We analyzed gene expression with microarrays in baboon aortas, and found that members of the HOX gene family exhibited spatial expression differences. HOXA4 was chosen for further study, since it had decreased expression in the abdominal compared to the thoracic aorta. Western blot analysis from 24 human aortas demonstrated significantly higher HOXA4 protein levels in thoracic compared to abdominal tissues (P < 0.001). Immunohistochemical staining for HOXA4 showed nuclear and perinuclear staining in endothelial and smooth muscle cells in aorta. The HOXA4 transcript levels were significantly decreased in human abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) compared to age-matched non-aneurysmal controls (P < 0.00004). Cultured human aortic endothelial and smooth muscle cells stimulated with INF-γ (an important inflammatory cytokine in AAA pathogenesis) showed decreased levels of HOXA4 protein (P < 0.0007).
Our results demonstrated spatial variation in expression of HOXA4 in human aortas that persisted into adulthood and that downregulation of HOXA4 expression was associated with AAAs, an important aortic disease of the ageing population.
PMCID: PMC3125234  PMID: 21627813
11.  Non-endothelial endothelin counteracts hypoxic vasodilation in porcine large coronary arteries 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:8.
The systemic vascular response to hypoxia is vasodilation. However, reports suggest that the potent vasoconstrictor endothelin-1 (ET-1) is released from the vasculature during hypoxia. ET-1 is reported to augment superoxide anion generation and may counteract nitric oxide (NO) vasodilation. Moreover, ET-1 was proposed to contribute to increased vascular resistance in heart failure by increasing the production of asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA). We investigated the role of ET-1, the NO pathway, the potassium channels and radical oxygen species in hypoxia-induced vasodilation of large coronary arteries.
In prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α, 10 μM)-contracted segments with endothelium, gradual lowering of oxygen tension from 95 to 1% O2 resulted in vasodilation. The vasodilation to O2 lowering was rightward shifted in segments without endothelium at all O2 concentrations except at 1% O2. The endothelin receptor antagonist SB217242 (10 μM) markedly increased hypoxic dilation despite the free tissue ET-1 concentration in the arterial wall was unchanged in 1% O2 versus 95% O2. Exogenous ET-1 reversed hypoxic dilation in segments with and without endothelium, and the hypoxic arteries showed an increased sensitivity towards ET-1 compared to the normoxic controls. Without affecting basal NO, hypoxia increased NO concentration in PGF2α-contracted arteries, and an NO synthase inhibitor, L-NOARG,(300 μM, NG-nitro-L-Arginine) reduced hypoxic vasodilation. NO-induced vasodilation was reduced in endothelin-contracted preparations. Arterial wall ADMA concentrations were unchanged by hypoxia. Blocking of potassium channels with TEA (tetraethylammounium chloride)(10 μM) inhibited vasodilation to O2 lowering as well as to NO. The superoxide scavenger tiron (10 μM) and the putative NADPH oxidase inhibitor apocynin (10 μM) leftward shifted concentration-response curves for O2 lowering without changing vasodilation to 1% O2. PEG (polyethylene glycol) catalase (300 u/ml) inhibited H2O2 vasodilation, but failed to affect vasodilation to O2 lowering. Neither did PEG-SOD (polyethylene glycol superoxide dismutase)(70 u/ml) affect vasodilation to O2 lowering. The mitochondrial inhibitors rotenone (1 μM) and antimycin A (1 μM) both inhibited hypoxic vasodilatation.
The present results in porcine coronary arteries suggest NO contributes to hypoxic vasodilation, probably through K channel opening, which is reversed by addition of ET-1 and enhanced by endothelin receptor antagonism. These latter findings suggest that endothelin receptor activation counteracts hypoxic vasodilation.
PMCID: PMC3118136  PMID: 21575165
12.  Expression of human amyloid precursor protein in the skeletal muscles of Drosophila results in age- and activity-dependent muscle weakness 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:7.
One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, and several other degenerative disorders such as Inclusion Body Myositis, is the abnormal accumulation of amyloid precursor protein (APP) and its proteolytic amyloid peptides. To better understand the pathological consequences of inappropriate APP expression on developing tissues, we generated transgenic flies that express wild-type human APP in the skeletal muscles, and then performed anatomical, electrophysiological, and behavioral analysis of the adults.
We observed that neither muscle development nor animal longevity was compromised in these transgenic animals. However, human APP expressing adults developed age-dependent defects in both climbing and flying. We could advance or retard the onset of symptoms by rearing animals in vials with different surface properties, suggesting that human APP expression-mediated behavioral defects are influenced by muscle activity. Muscles from transgenic animals did not display protein aggregates or structural abnormalities at the light or transmission electron microscopic levels. In agreement with genetic studies performed with developing mammalian myoblasts, we observed that co-expression of the ubiquitin E3 ligase Parkin could ameliorate human APP-induced defects.
These data suggest that: 1) ectopic expression of human APP in fruit flies leads to age- and activity-dependent behavioral defects without overt changes to muscle development or structure; 2) environmental influences can greatly alter the phenotypic consequences of human APP toxicity; and 3) genetic modifiers of APP-induced pathology can be identified and analyzed in this model.
PMCID: PMC3112101  PMID: 21518451
amyloid precursor protein (APP); Drosophila; muscle; mitochondria; electron microscopy; apoptosis; Parkin
13.  JAK/STAT signaling and human in vitro myogenesis 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:6.
A population of satellite cells exists in skeletal muscle. These cells are thought to be primarily responsible for postnatal muscle growth and injury-induced muscle regeneration. The Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription (JAK/STAT) signaling cascade has a crucial role in regulating myogenesis. In rodent skeletal muscle, STAT3 is essential for satellite cell migration and myogenic differentiation, regulating the expression of myogenic factors. The aim of the present study was to investigate and compare the expression profile of JAK/STAT family members, using cultured primary human skeletal muscle cells.
Near confluent proliferating myoblasts were induced to differentiate for 1, 5 or 10 days. During these developmental stages, members of the JAK/STAT family were examined, along with factors known to regulate myogenesis. We demonstrate the phosphorylation of JAK1 and STAT1 only during myoblast proliferation, while JAK2 and STAT3 phosphorylation increases during differentiation. These increases were correlated with the upregulation of genes associated with muscle maturation and hypertrophy.
Taken together, these results provide insight into JAK/STAT signaling in human skeletal muscle development, and confirm recent observations in rodents.
PMCID: PMC3063215  PMID: 21388555
14.  Fatigue-inducing stimulation resolves myotonia in a drug-induced model 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:5.
Slowed muscle relaxation is the contractile hallmark of myotonia congenita, a disease caused by genetic CLC-1 chloride channel deficiency, which improves with antecedent brief contractions ("warm-up phenomenon"). It is unclear to what extent the myotonia continues to dissipate during continued repetitive contractions and how this relates temporally to muscle fatigue. Diaphragm, EDL, and soleus muscles were examined in vitro during repetitive 20 Hz and 50 Hz train stimulation in a drug-induced (9-AC) rat myotonia model.
At the onset of stimulation, 9-AC treated diaphragm and EDL muscle had markedly prolonged half relaxation and late relaxation times (range 147 to 884 ms, 894 to 1324 ms). Half relaxation and late relaxation times reached near-normal values over the 5-10 and 10-40 subsequent contractions, respectively. In both muscles myotonia declined faster during repetitive 50 Hz than 20 Hz stimulation, and much faster than the rate of force loss during fatigue at both frequencies. Soleus muscle was resistant to the myotonic effects of 9-AC.
In a drug-induced model of mechanical myotonia, fatigue-inducing stimulation resolves the myotonia, which furthermore appears to be independent from the development of muscle fatigue.
PMCID: PMC3052176  PMID: 21356096
15.  Sodium selectivity of Reissner's membrane epithelial cells 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:4.
Sodium absorption by Reissner's membrane is thought to contribute to the homeostasis of the volume of cochlear endolymph. It was previously shown that the absorptive transepithelial current was blocked by amiloride and benzamil. The most commonly-observed target of these drugs is the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC), which is composed of the three subunits α-,β- and γ-ENaC. However, other less-selective cation channels have also been observed to be sensitive to benzamil and amiloride. The aim of this study was to determine whether Reissner's membrane epithelial cells could support parasensory K+ absorption via amiloride- and benzamil-sensitive electrogenic pathways.
We determined the molecular and functional expression of candidate cation channels with gene array (GEO GSE6196), RT-PCR, and whole-cell patch clamp. Transcript expression analysis of Reissner's membrane detected no amiloride-sensitive acid-sensing ion channels (ASIC1a, ASIC2a, ASIC2b) nor amiloride-sensitive cyclic-nucleotide gated channels (CNGA1, CNGA2, CNGA4, CNGB3). By contrast, α-,β- and γ-ENaC were all previously reported as present in Reissner's membrane. The selectivity of the benzamil-sensitive cation currents was observed in whole-cell patch clamp recordings under Cl--free conditions where cations were the only permeant species. The currents were carried by Na+ but not K+, and the permeability of Li+ was greater than that of Na+ in Reissner's membrane. Complete replacement of bath Na+ with the inpermeable cation NMDG+ led to the same inward current as with benzamil in a Na+ bath.
These results are consistent with the amiloride/benzamil-sensitive absorptive flux of Reissner's membrane mediated by a highly Na+-selective channel that has several key characteristics in common with αβγ-ENaC. The amiloride-sensitive pathway therefore absorbs only Na+ in this epithelium and does not provide a parasensory K+ efflux route from scala media.
PMCID: PMC3042420  PMID: 21284860
16.  Study of multiparameter respiratory pattern complexity in surgical critically ill patients during weaning trials 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:2.
Separation from mechanical ventilation is a difficult task, whereas conventional predictive indices have not been proven accurate enough, so far. A few studies have explored changes of breathing pattern variability for weaning outcome prediction, with conflicting results. In this study, we tried to assess respiratory complexity during weaning trials, using different non-linear methods derived from theory of complex systems, in a cohort of surgical critically ill patients.
Thirty two patients were enrolled in the study. There were 22 who passed and 10 who failed a weaning trial. Tidal volume and mean inspiratory flow were analyzed for 10 minutes during two phases: 1. pressure support (PS) ventilation (15-20 cm H2O) and 2. weaning trials with PS: 5 cm H2O. Sample entropy (SampEn), detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA) exponent, fractal dimension (FD) and largest lyapunov exponents (LLE) of the two respiratory parameters were computed in all patients and during the two phases of PS. Weaning failure patients exhibited significantly decreased respiratory pattern complexity, reflected in reduced sample entropy and lyapunov exponents and increased DFA exponents of respiratory flow time series, compared to weaning success subjects (p < 0.001). In addition, their changes were opposite between the two phases of the weaning trials. A new model including rapid shallow breathing index (RSBI), its product with airway occlusion pressure at 0.1 sec (P0.1), SampEn and LLE predicted better weaning outcome compared with RSBI, P0.1 and RSBI* P0.1 (conventional model, R2 = 0.874 vs 0.643, p < 0.001). Areas under the curve were 0.916 vs 0.831, respectively (p < 0.05).
We suggest that complexity analysis of respiratory signals can assess inherent breathing pattern dynamics and has increased prognostic impact upon weaning outcome in surgical patients.
PMCID: PMC3031268  PMID: 21255420
17.  Athletic humans and horses: Comparative analysis of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells in trained and untrained subjects at rest 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:3.
Horses and humans share a natural proclivity for athletic performance. In this respect, horses can be considered a reference species in studies designed to optimize physical training and disease prevention. In both species, interleukin-6 (IL-6) plays a major role in regulating the inflammatory process induced during exercise as part of an integrated metabolic regulatory network. The aim of this study was to compare IL-6 and IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) mRNA expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in trained and untrained humans and horses.
Nine highly trained male swimmers (training volume: 21.6 ± 1.7 h/wk in 10-12 sessions) were compared with two age-matched control groups represented by eight lightly trained runners (training volume: 6.4 ± 2.6 h/wk in 3-5 sessions) and nine untrained subjects. In addition, eight trained horses (training volume: 8.0 ± 2.1 h/wk in 3-4 sessions) were compared with eight age-matched sedentary mares. In humans, IL-6 mRNA levels in PBMCs determined by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction were significantly higher in highly trained subjects, whereas IL-6R expression did not differ among groups. In horses, transcripts of both IL-6 and IL-6R were significantly up-regulated in the trained group.
Up-regulation of IL-6R expression in PBMCs in horses could reflect a mechanism that maintains an adequate anti-inflammatory environment at rest through ubiquitous production of anti-inflammatory cytokines throughout the body. These findings suggest that the system that controls the inflammatory response in horses is better adapted to respond to exercise than that in humans.
PMCID: PMC3036646  PMID: 21255427
18.  Characterization of the insulin sensitivity of ghrelin receptor KO mice using glycemic clamps 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:1.
We and others have demonstrated previously that ghrelin receptor (GhrR) knock out (KO) mice fed a high fat diet (HFD) have increased insulin sensitivity and metabolic flexibility relative to WT littermates. A striking feature of the HFD-fed GhrR KO mouse is the dramatic decrease in hepatic steatosis. To characterize further the underlying mechanisms of glucose homeostasis in GhrR KO mice, we conducted both hyperglycemic (HG) and hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic (HI-E) clamps. Additionally, we investigated tissue glucose uptake and specifically examined liver insulin sensitivity.
Consistent with glucose tolerance-test data, in HG clamp experiments, GhrR KO mice showed a reduction in glucose-stimulated insulin release relative to WT littermates. Nevertheless, a robust 1st phase insulin secretion was still achieved, indicating that a healthy β-cell response is maintained. Additionally, GhrR KO mice demonstrated both a significantly increased glucose infusion rate and significantly reduced insulin requirement for maintenance of the HG clamp, consistent with their relative insulin sensitivity. In HI-E clamps, both LFD-fed and HFD-fed GhrR KO mice showed higher peripheral insulin sensitivity relative to WT littermates as indicated by a significant increase in insulin-stimulated glucose disposal (Rd), and decreased hepatic glucose production (HGP). HFD-fed GhrR KO mice showed a marked increase in peripheral tissue glucose uptake in a variety of tissues, including skeletal muscle, brown adipose tissue and white adipose tissue. GhrR KO mice fed a HFD also showed a modest, but significant decrease in conversion of pyruvate to glucose, as would be anticipated if these mice displayed increased liver insulin sensitivity. Additionally, the levels of UCP2 and UCP1 were reduced in the liver and BAT, respectively, in GhrR KO mice relative to WT mice.
These results indicate that improved glucose homeostasis of GhrR KO mice is characterized by robust improvements of glucose disposal in both normal and metabolically challenged states, relative to WT controls. GhrR KO mice have an intact 1st phase insulin response but require significantly less insulin for glucose disposal. Our experiments reveal that the insulin sensitivity of GhrR KO mice is due to both BW independent and dependent factors. We also provide several lines of evidence that a key feature of the GhrR KO mouse is maintenance of hepatic insulin sensitivity during metabolic challenge.
PMCID: PMC3024223  PMID: 21211044

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