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1.  An extensive phenotypic characterization of the hTNFα transgenic mice 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:13.
Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) is implicated in a wide variety of pathological and physiological processes, including chronic inflammatory conditions, coronary artery disease, diabetes, obesity, and cachexia. Transgenic mice expressing human TNFα (hTNFα) have previously been described as a model for progressive rheumatoid arthritis. In this report, we describe extensive characterization of an hTNFα transgenic mouse line.
In addition to arthritis, these hTNFα transgenic mice demonstrated major alterations in body composition, metabolic rate, leptin levels, response to a high-fat diet, bone mineral density and content, impaired fertility and male sexual function. Many phenotypes displayed an earlier onset and a higher degree of severity in males, pointing towards a significant degree of sexual dimorphism in response to deregulated expression of TNFα.
These results highlight the potential usefulness of this transgenic model as a resource for studying the progressive effects of constitutively expressed low levels of circulating TNFα, a condition mimicking that observed in a number of human pathological conditions.
PMCID: PMC2222242  PMID: 18070349
2.  Spatial transcription of CYP1A in fish liver 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:12.
The aim of this work was to study how evenly detoxifying genes are transcribed spatially in liver tissue of fish. Ten Atlantic salmon Salmo salar were intraperitoneally injected with 50 mg/kg of the strong CYP1A inducer β-naphthoflavone and liver tissue harvested seven days later. The liver from 10 control and 10 exposed fish were split into eight sections, RNA extracted and three reference (β-actin, elongation factor 1AB (EF1AB)) and two detoxifying genes (CYP1A and GST) quantified with real-time RT-PCR. The cellular localization of the EF1AB and CYP1A mRNA in the liver of control and β-naphthoflavone treated fish was then determined by in situ hybridization (ISH) using EF1AB and CYP1A biotinylated oligonucleotide probes.
The study shows that genes encoding phase I and phase II conjugating enzymes are unevenly transcribed in different parts of the liver of Atlantic salmon seven days after a single-dose of β-naphthoflavone exposure. Transcription of CYP1A and GST was higher in the middle section of the liver compared to the distal and proximal parts of the organ. The ISH data suggest that CYP1A transcription happens mainly in hepatocyte cells in the liver, and that hepatocytes in the vicinity of blood vessels respond stronger to β-naphthoflavone than cells further away from the blood supply.
Overall, the qRT-PCR and ISH results reported here suggest that gene expression analysis should be performed on as pure cell populations as possible. If bulk tissue samples are to be used, one should always check how evenly the target genes are expressed in tissue sections and organs in every study.
PMCID: PMC2238752  PMID: 18053248
3.  Induction of insulin secretion in engineered liver cells by nitric oxide 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:11.
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus results from an autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin. The lack of insulin leads to chronic hyperglycemia and secondary complications, such as cardiovascular disease. The currently approved clinical treatments for diabetes mellitus often fail to achieve sustained and optimal glycemic control. Therefore, there is a great interest in the development of surrogate beta cells as a treatment for type 1 diabetes. Normally, pancreatic beta cells produce and secrete insulin only in response to increased blood glucose levels. However in many cases, insulin secretion from non-beta cells engineered to produce insulin occurs in a glucose-independent manner. In the present study we engineered liver cells to produce and secrete insulin and insulin secretion can be stimulated via the nitric oxide pathway.
Expression of either human insulin or the beta cell specific transcription factors PDX-1, NeuroD1 and MafA in the Hepa1-6 cell line or primary liver cells via adenoviral gene transfer, results in production and secretion of insulin. Although, the secretion of insulin is not significantly increased in response to high glucose, treatment of these engineered liver cells with L-arginine stimulates insulin secretion up to three-fold. This L-arginine-mediated insulin release is dependent on the production of nitric oxide.
Liver cells can be engineered to produce insulin and insulin secretion can be induced by treatment with L-arginine via the production of nitric oxide.
PMCID: PMC2121102  PMID: 17941991
4.  Inflammatory cytokines induce MAdCAM-1 in murine hepatic endothelial cells and mediate alpha-4 beta-7 integrin dependent lymphocyte endothelial adhesion In Vitro 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:10.
MAdCAM-1 plays a central role in T-lymphocyte homing to the gut, but its role in chronic liver inflammation remains unknown. Therefore, this study measured MAdCAM-1 expression, regulation, and function in cultured murine hepatic endothelial cells.
Cultures of hepatic endothelial cells (HEC) were prepared from mice expressing a temperature-sensitive SV40 large T antigen (H-2Kb-tsA58) under the control of an IFN-γ promoter. Time and dose dependent expression of MAdCAM-1 in response to TNF-α, IL-1β and IFN-γ was studied by immunoblotting. Lymphocyte adhesion was studied using α4β7integrin expressing lymphocytes (TK-1) +/- anti-MAdCAM-1 mAb.
TNF-α induced MAdCAM-1 dose-and time-dependently with maximum expression at 20 ng/ml and at 48 hours. IL-1β also induced MAdCAM-1 to a lesser extent compared to TNF-α; IFN-γ did not induce MAdCAM-1. TNF-α significantly increased lymphocyte-endothelial adhesion (P < 0.01), which was reversed by anti-MAdCAM-1 antibody. MAdCAM-1 expression was also reduced by N-acetylcysteine and by two NO donors (SperNO, DETANO) suggesting that hepatic endothelial MAdCAM-1 is oxidant and NO regulated.
MAdCAM-1 is a major determinant of leukocyte recruitment in chronic inflammation and is expressed by HEC in response to IL-1β and TNF-α. This system may provide a useful model for studying inflammatory mechanisms in liver disease and help determine if controlled MAdCAM-1 expression might influence inflammation in liver disease.
PMCID: PMC2045088  PMID: 17868448
5.  Decrease in oxidative phosphorylation yield in presence of butyrate in perfused liver isolated from fed rats 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:8.
Butyrate is the main nutrient for the colonocytes but the effect of the fraction reaching the liver is not totally known. A decrease in tissue ATP content and increase in respiration was previously demonstrated when livers were perfused with short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) such as butyrate, or octanoate.
In fed rats the oxidative phosphorylation yield was determined on the whole isolated liver perfused with butyrate in comparison with acetate and octoanoate (3 mmol/L). The rate of ATP synthesis was determined in the steady state by monitoring the rate of ATP loss after inhibition of (i) cytochrome oxidase (oxidative phosphorylation) with KCN (2.5 mmol/L) and (ii) glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (glycolysis) with IAA (0.5 mmol/L). The ATP flux, estimated by 31P Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, and the measured liver respiration allowed the ATP/O ratio to be determined.
ATP turnover was significantly lower in the presence of butyrate (0.40 ± 0.10 μmoles/min.g, p = 0.001, n = 7) and octanoate (0.56 ± 0.10 μmoles/min.g, p = 0.01, n = 5) than in control (1.09 ± 0.13 μmoles/min.g, n = 7), whereas perfusion with acetate induced no significant decrease (0.76 ± 0.10 μmoles/min.g, n = 7). Mitochondrial oxygen consumption was unchanged in the presence of acetate (1.92 ± 0.16 vs 1.86 ± 0.16 for control) and significantly increased in the presence of butyrate (p = 0.02) and octanoate (p = 0.0004) (2.54 ± 0.18 and 3.04 ± 0.15 μmoles/min.g, respectively). The oxidative phosphorylation yield (ATP/O ratio) calculated in the whole liver was significantly lower with butyrate (0.07 ± 0.02, p = 0.0006) and octanoate (0.09 ± 0.02, p = 0.005) than in control (0.30 ± 0.05), whereas there was no significant change with acetate (0.20 ± 0.02).
Butyrate or octanoate decrease rather than increase the rate of ATP synthesis, resulting in a decrease in the apparent ATP/O ratio. Butyrate as a nutrient has the same effect as longer chain FA. An effect on the hepatic metabolism should be taken into account when large quantities of SCFA are directly used or obtained during therapeutic or nutritional strategies.
PMCID: PMC2048500  PMID: 17725817
6.  Exogenous overexpression of nerve growth factor in the urinary bladder produces bladder overactivity and altered micturition circuitry in the lumbosacral spinal cord 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:9.
Exogenous NGF or saline was delivered to the detrusor smooth muscle of female rats for a two-week period using osmotic mini-pumps. We then determined: (1) bladder function using conscious cystometry; (2) organization of micturition reflexes using Fos protein expression in lumbosacral (L5-S1) spinal cord neurons; (3) calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-immunoreactivity (IR) in lumbosacral spinal cord segments.
An osmotic pump infused 0.9% NaCl (n = 6) or NGF (n = 6)(2.5 μg/μl solution; 0.5 μl/hr) for two weeks into the bladder wall. NGF bladder content was determined by enzyme-linked immunoassays. Bladder function was assessed with conscious cystometry. Immunohistochemical and imaging techniques were used to determine the distribution of Fos-IR cells and CGRP expression in the L5-S1 spinal cord in saline and NGF-treated rats two hours after intravesical saline distention. Fos expression and CGRP-IR in NGF-treated rats with bladder distention was compared to that observed in cyclophosphamide (CYP; 75 mg/kg; i.p.) treated rats with bladder distention.
Two-week infusion of NGF into the bladder wall increased bladder weight, reduced bladder capacity (60%), reduced the intercontraction interval (60%) and increased the amplitude of non-voiding contractions. NGF treatment and intravesical saline distention (2 hr) increased expression of Fos protein in L6-S1 spinal cord and altered the distribution pattern of Fos-IR cells. CGRP-IR in the lumbosacral spinal cord was also increased after NGF treatment.
These data suggest that NGF infusion into the bladder wall induces bladder overactivity, can reveal a "nociceptive" Fos expression pattern in the spinal cord in response to a non-noxious bladder stimulus and increases CGRP-IR in the lumbosacral spinal cord.
PMCID: PMC2000875  PMID: 17725832
7.  Divergent calcium signaling in RBCs from Tropidurus torquatus (Squamata – Tropiduridae) strengthen classification in lizard evolution 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:7.
We have previously reported that a Teiid lizard red blood cells (RBCs) such as Ameiva ameiva and Tupinambis merianae controls intracellular calcium levels by displaying multiple mechanisms. In these cells, calcium stores could be discharged not only by: thapsigargin, but also by the Na+/H+ ionophore monensin, K+/H+ ionophore nigericin and the H+ pump inhibitor bafilomycin as well as ionomycin. Moreover, these lizards possess a P2Y-type purinoceptors that mobilize Ca2+ from intracellular stores upon ATP addition.
Here we report, that RBCs from the tropidurid lizard Tropidurus torquatus store Ca2+ in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) pool but unlike in the referred Teiidae, these cells do not store calcium in monensin-nigericin sensitive pools. Moreover, mitochondria from T. torquatus RBCs accumulate Ca2+. Addition of ATP to a calcium-free medium does not increase the [Ca2+]c levels, however in a calcium medium we observe an increase in cytosolic calcium. This is an indication that purinergic receptors in these cells are P2X-like.
T. torquatus RBCs present different mechanisms from Teiid lizard red blood cells (RBCs), for controlling its intracellular calcium levels. At T. torquatus the ion is only stored at endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria. Moreover activation of purinergic receptor, P2X type, was able to induce an influx of calcium from extracelullar medium. These studies contribute to the understanding of the evolution of calcium homeostasis and signaling in nucleated RBCs.
PMCID: PMC2018699  PMID: 17716375
8.  Prolactin stimulates the proliferation of normal female cholangiocytes by differential regulation of Ca2+-dependent PKC isoforms 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:6.
Prolactin promotes proliferation of several cells. Prolactin receptor exists as two isoforms: long and short, which activate different transduction pathways including the Ca2+-dependent PKC-signaling. No information exists on the role of prolactin in the regulation of the growth of female cholangiocytes. The rationale for using cholangiocytes from female rats is based on the fact that women are preferentially affected by specific cholangiopathies including primary biliary cirrhosis. We propose to evaluate the role and mechanisms of action by which prolactin regulates the growth of female cholangiocytes.
Normal cholangiocytes express both isoforms (long and short) of prolactin receptors, whose expression increased following BDL. The administration of prolactin to normal female rats increased cholangiocyte proliferation. In purified normal female cholangiocytes, prolactin stimulated cholangiocyte proliferation, which was associated with increased [Ca2+]i levels and PKCβ-I phosphorylation but decreased PKCα phosphorylation. Administration of an anti-prolactin antibody to BDL female rats decreased cholangiocyte proliferation. Normal female cholangiocytes express and secrete prolactin, which was increased in BDL rats. The data show that prolactin stimulates normal cholangiocyte growth by an autocrine mechanism involving phosphorylation of PKCβ-I and dephosphorylation of PKCα.
We suggest that in female rats: (i) prolactin has a trophic effect on the growth of normal cholangiocytes by phosphorylation of PKCβ-I and dephosphorylation of PKCα; and (iii) cholangiocytes express and secrete prolactin, which by an autocrine mechanism participate in regulation of cholangiocyte proliferation. Prolactin may be an important therapeutic approach for the management of cholangiopathies affecting female patients.
PMCID: PMC1939715  PMID: 17640386
9.  Toll-like receptor 4 deficiency: Smaller infarcts, but nogain in function 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:5.
It has been reported that Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) deficiency reduces infarct size after myocardial ischemia/reperfusion (MI/R). However, measurement of MI/R injury was limited and did not include cardiac function. In a chronic closed-chest model we assessed whether cardiac function is preserved in TLR4-deficient mice (C3H/HeJ) following MI/R, and whether myocardial and systemic cytokine expression differed compared to wild type (WT).
Infarct size (IS) in C3H/HeJ assessed by TTC staining after 60 min ischemia and 24h reperfusion was significantly smaller than in WT. Despite a smaller infarct size, echocardiography showed no functional difference between C3H/HeJ and WT. Left-ventricular developed pressure measured with a left-ventricular catheter was lower in C3H/HeJ (63.0 ± 4.2 mmHg vs. 77.9 ± 1.7 mmHg in WT, p < 0.05). Serum cytokine levels and myocardial IL-6 were higher in WT than in C3H/HeJ (p < 0.05). C3H/HeJ MI/R showed increased myocardial IL-1β and IL-6 expression compared to their respective shams (p < 0.05), indicating TLR4-independent cytokine activation due to MI/R.
These results demonstrate that, although a mutant TLR4 signaling cascade reduces myocardial IS and serum cytokine levels, it does not preserve myocardial function. The change in inflammatory response, secondary to a non-functional TLR-4 receptor, may contribute to the observed dichotomy between infarct size and function in the TLR-4 mutant mouse.
PMCID: PMC1933437  PMID: 17592640
10.  Mandatory role of proteinase-activated receptor 1 in experimental bladder inflammation 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:4.
In general, inflammation plays a role in most bladder pathologies and represents a defense reaction to injury that often times is two edged. In particular, bladder neurogenic inflammation involves the participation of mast cells and sensory nerves. Increased mast cell numbers and tryptase release represent one of the prevalent etiologic theories for interstitial cystitis and other urinary bladder inflammatory conditions. The activity of mast cell-derived tryptase as well as thrombin is significantly increased during inflammation. Those enzymes activate specific G-protein coupled proteinase-activated receptors (PAR)s.
Four PARs have been cloned so far, and not only are all four receptors highly expressed in different cell types of the mouse urinary bladder, but their expression is altered during experimental bladder inflammation. We hypothesize that PARs may link mast cell-derived proteases to bladder inflammation and, therefore, play a fundamental role in the pathogenesis of cystitis.
Here, we demonstrate that in addition to the mouse urinary bladder, all four PA receptors are also expressed in the J82 human urothelial cell line. Intravesical administration of PAR-activating peptides in mice leads to an inflammatory reaction characterized by edema and granulocyte infiltration. Moreover, the inflammatory response to intravesical instillation of known pro-inflammatory stimuli such as E. coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS), substance P, and antigen was strongly attenuated by PAR1-, and to a lesser extent, by PAR2-deficiency.
Our results reveal an overriding participation of PAR1 in bladder inflammation, provide a working model for the involvement of downstream signaling, and evoke testable hypotheses regarding the role of PARs in bladder inflammation. It remains to be determined whether or not mechanisms targeting PAR1 gene silencing or PAR1 blockade will ameliorate the clinical manifestations of cystitis.
PMCID: PMC1853108  PMID: 17397548
11.  Regulatory network of inflammation downstream of proteinase-activated receptors 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:3.
Protease-activated receptors (PAR) are present in the urinary bladder, and their expression is altered in response to inflammation. PARs are a unique class of G protein-coupled that carry their own ligands, which remain cryptic until unmasked by proteolytic cleavage. Although the canonical signal transduction pathway downstream of PAR activation and coupling with various G proteins is known and leads to the rapid transcription of genes involved in inflammation, the effect of PAR activation on the downstream transcriptome is unknown.
We have shown that intravesical administration of PAR-activating peptides leads to an inflammatory reaction characterized by edema and granulocyte infiltration. Moreover, the inflammatory response to intravesical instillation of known pro-inflammatory stimuli such as E. coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS), substance P (SP), and antigen was strongly attenuated by PAR1- and to a lesser extent by PAR2-deficiency.
Here, cDNA array experiments determined inflammatory genes whose expression is dependent on PAR1 activation. For this purpose, we compared the alteration in gene expression in wild type and PAR1-/- mice induced by classical pro-inflammatory stimuli (LPS, SP, and antigen). 75 transcripts were considered to be dependent on PAR-1 activation and further annotated in silico by Ingenuity Pathways Analysis (IPA) and gene ontology (GO). Selected transcripts were target validated by quantitative PCR (Q-PCR). Among PAR1-dependent transcripts, the following have been implicated in the inflammatory process: b2m, ccl7, cd200, cd63, cdbpd, cfl1, dusp1, fkbp1a, fth1, hspb1, marcksl1, mmp2, myo5a, nfkbia, pax1, plaur, ppia, ptpn1, ptprcap, s100a10, sim2, and tnfaip2. However, a balanced response to signals of injury requires a transient cellular activation of a panel of genes together with inhibitory systems that temper the overwhelming inflammation. In this context, the activation of genes such as dusp1 and nfkbia seems to counter-balance the inflammatory response to PAR activation by limiting prolonged activation of p38 MAPK and increased cytokine production. In contrast, transcripts such as arf6 and dcnt1 that are involved in the mechanism of PAR re-sensitization would tend to perpetuate the inflammatory reaction in response to common pro-inflammatory stimuli.
The combination of cDNA array results and genomic networks reveals an overriding participation of PAR1 in bladder inflammation, provides a working model for the involvement of downstream signaling, and evokes testable hypotheses regarding the transcriptome downstream of PAR1 activation.
It remains to be determined whether or not mechanisms targeting PAR1 gene silencing or PAR1 blockade will ameliorate the clinical manifestation of cystitis.
PMCID: PMC1853107  PMID: 17397547
12.  Systemic administration of IGF-I enhances healing in collagenous extracellular matrices: evaluation of loaded and unloaded ligaments 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:2.
Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) plays a crucial role in wound healing and tissue repair. We tested the hypotheses that systemic administration of IGF-I, or growth hormone (GH), or both (GH+IGF-I) would improve healing in collagenous connective tissue, such as ligament. These hypotheses were examined in rats that were allowed unrestricted activity after injury and in animals that were subjected to hindlimb disuse. Male rats were assigned to three groups: ambulatory sham-control, ambulatory-healing, and hindlimb unloaded-healing. Ambulatory and hindlimb unloaded animals underwent surgical disruption of their knee medial collateral ligaments (MCLs), while sham surgeries were performed on control animals. Healing animals subcutaneously received systemic doses of either saline, GH, IGF-I, or GH+IGF-I. After 3 weeks, mechanical properties, cell and matrix morphology, and biochemical composition were examined in control and healing ligaments.
Tissues from ambulatory animals receiving only saline had significantly greater strength than tissue from saline receiving hindlimb unloaded animals. Addition of IGF-I significantly improved maximum force and ultimate stress in tissues from both ambulatory and hindlimb unloaded animals with significant increases in matrix organization and type-I collagen expression. Addition of GH alone did not have a significant effect on either group, while addition of GH+IGF-I significantly improved force, stress, and modulus values in MCLs from hindlimb unloaded animals. Force, stress, and modulus values in tissues from hindlimb unloaded animals receiving IGF-I or GH+IGF-I exceeded (or were equivalent to) values in tissues from ambulatory animals receiving only saline with greatly improved structural organization and significantly increased type-I collagen expression. Furthermore, levels of IGF-receptor were significantly increased in tissues from hindlimb unloaded animals treated with IGF-I.
These results support two of our hypotheses that systemic administration of IGF-I or GH+IGF-I improve healing in collagenous tissue. Systemic administration of IGF-I improves healing in collagenous extracellular matrices from loaded and unloaded tissues. Growth hormone alone did not result in any significant improvement contrary to our hypothesis, while GH + IGF-I produced remarkable improvement in hindlimb unloaded animals.
PMCID: PMC1851714  PMID: 17386107
13.  A novel method for the evaluation of proximal tubule epithelial cellular necrosis in the intact rat kidney using ethidium homodimer 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:1.
Ethidium homodimer is a cell-membrane impermeant nuclear fluorochrome that has been widely used to identify necrotic cells in culture. Here, we describe a novel technique for evaluating necrosis of epithelial cells in the proximal tubule that involves perfusing ethidium homodimer through the intact rat kidney. As a positive control for inducing necrosis, rats were treated with 3.5, 1.75, 0.87 and 0.43 mg/kg mercuric chloride (Hg2+, intraperitoneal), treatments which have previously been shown to rapidly cause dose-dependent necrosis of the proximal tubule. Twenty-four h after the administration of Hg2+, ethidium homodimer (5 μM) was perfused through the intact left kidney while the animal was anesthetized. The kidney was then removed, placed in embedding medium, frozen and cryosectioned at a thickness of 5 μm. Sections were permeabilized with -20°C methanol and then stained with 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) to label total nuclei. Total cell number was determined from the DAPI staining in random microscopic fields and the number of necrotic cells in the same field was determined by ethidium homodimer labeling.
The Hg2+-treated animals showed a dose-dependent increase in the number of ethidium labeled cells in the proximal tubule, but not in other segments of the nephron. Other results showed that a nephrotoxic dose of gentamicin also caused a significant increase in the number of ethidium labeled cells in the proximal tubule.
These results indicate that this simple and sensitive perfusion technique can be used to evaluate cellular necrosis in the proximal tubule with the three-dimensional cyto-architecture intact.
PMCID: PMC1810561  PMID: 17319948

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