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[en] Obesity is an increasingly urgent global problem, yet, little is known about its causes and less is known how obesity can be effectively treated. We showed previously that the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) plays a role in the regulation of body mass in mice fed Western diet. The AHR is a ligand-activated nuclear receptor that regulates genes involved in a number of biological pathways, including xenobiotic metabolism and T cell polarization. This study was an investigation into whether inhibition of the AHR prevents Western diet-based obesity. Male C57Bl/6J mice were fed control and Western diets with and without the AHR antagonist α-naphthoflavone or CH-223191, and a mouse hepatocyte cell line was used to delineate relevant cellular pathways. Studies are presented showing that the AHR antagonists α-naphthoflavone and CH-223191 significantly reduce obesity and adiposity and ameliorates liver steatosis in male C57Bl/6J mice fed a Western diet. Mice deficient in the tryptophan metabolizing enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) were also resistant to obesity. Using an AHR-directed, luciferase-expressing mouse hepatocyte cell line, we show that the transforming growth factor β1 (TGFβ1) signaling pathway via PI3K and NF-κB and the toll-like receptor 2/4 (TLR2/4) signaling pathway stimulated by oxidized low-density lipoproteins via NF-κB, each induce luciferase expression; however, TLR2/4 signaling was significantly reduced by inhibition of IDO1. At physiological levels, kynurenine but not kynurenic acid (both tryptophan metabolites and known AHR agonists) activated AHR-directed luciferase expression. We propose a hepatocyte-based model, in which kynurenine production is increased by enhanced IDO1 activity stimulated by TGFβ1 and TLR2/4 signaling, via PI3K and NF-κB, to perpetuate a cycle of AHR activation to cause obesity; and inhibition of the AHR, in turn, blocks the cycle's output to prevent obesity. The AHR with its broad ligand binding specificity is a promising candidate for a potentially simple therapeutic approach for the prevention and treatment of obesity and associated complications. - Highlights: • The AHR acts as a hub in Western diet-based obesity. • Inhibition of AHR signaling by antagonists prevents obesity and liver steatosis. • ox-LDL stimulates AHR activity via a TLR2/4, NF-kB, IDO1, kynurenine axis. • TGFβ stimulates AHR activity in Hepa-1c1c7 cells via PI3K and NF-kB. • The AHR offers a simple and promising approach for treating obesity.
[en] 14-Deoxy-11,12-didehydroandrographolide (14-DDA), a major diterpenoid isolated from Andrographis paniculata (Burm.f.) Nees, is known to be cytotoxic and elicits a non-apoptotic cell death in T-47D breast carcinoma cells. In this study, the mechanistic toxicology properties of 14-DDA in T-47D cells were further investigated. 14-DDA is found to induce the formation of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) vacuoles and autophagosomes, with concurrent upregulation of LC3-II in the breast carcinoma cells. It stimulated an increase in cytosolic calcium concentration and caused a collapse in mitochondrial membrane potential in these cells. In addition, both DDIT3 and GADD45A, molecules implicated in ER stress pathway, were significantly upregulated. DDIT3 knockdown suppressed the formation of both ER vacuoles and autophagosomes, indicating that 14-DDA-induced ER stress and autophagy is dependent on this transcription factor. Collectively, it is possible that GADD45A/p38 MAPK/DDIT3 pathway is involved in the 14-DDA-induced ER-stress-mediated autophagy in T-47D cells. - Highlights: • The mechanistic toxicology properties of 14-DDA in T-47D breast carcinoma cells were investigated. • 14-DDA induces the formation of ER vacuoles and autophagosomes, with concurrent upregulation of LC3-II. • It stimulates an increase in cytosolic calcium concentration and causing collapse in the mitochondrial membrane potential. • Both DDIT3 and GADD45A, molecules implicated in ER stress pathway, were significantly upregulated. • 4-DDA induces ER stress-mediated autophagy in T-47D cells possibly via GADD45A/p38 MAPK/DDIT3 pathway.
[en] Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is compacted in ribonucleoprotein complexes called nucleoids, which can divide or move within the mitochondrial network. Mitochondrial nucleoids are able to aggregate into clusters upon reaction with intercalators such as the mtDNA depletion agent Ethidium Bromide (EB) or anticancer drug Doxorobicin (DXR). However, the exact mechanism of nucleoid clusters formation remains unknown. Resolving these processes may help to elucidate the mechanisms of DXR-induced cardiotoxicity. Therefore, we addressed the role of two key nucleoid proteins; mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) and mitochondrial single-stranded binding protein (mtSSB); in the formation of mitochondrial nucleoid clusters during the action of intercalators. We found that both intercalators cause numerous aberrations due to perturbing their native status. By blocking mtDNA replication, both agents also prevented mtDNA association with TFAM, consequently causing nucleoid aggregation into large nucleoid clusters enriched with TFAM, co-existing with the normal nucleoid population. In the later stages of intercalation (> 48 h), TFAM levels were reduced to 25%. In contrast, mtSSB was released from mtDNA and freely distributed within the mitochondrial network. Nucleoid clusters mostly contained nucleoids with newly replicated mtDNA, however the nucleoid population which was not in replication mode remained outside the clusters. Moreover, the nucleoid clusters were enriched with p53, an anti-oncogenic gatekeeper. We suggest that mitochondrial nucleoid clustering is a mechanism for protecting nucleoids with newly replicated DNA against intercalators mediating genotoxic stress. These results provide new insight into the common mitochondrial response to mtDNA stress and can be implied also on DXR-induced mitochondrial cytotoxicity. - Highlights: • The mechanism for mitochondrial nucleoid clustering is proposed. • DNA intercalators (Doxorubicin or Ethidium Bromide) prevent TFAM binding to mtDNA. • Replicating nucleoids are less prone to DNA intercalator and preserve more TFAM. • Nucleoid clusters mostly contain nucleoids with newly replicated mtDNA. • Recently replicated nucleoids are protected in clusters by increased TFAM and p53.
[en] Ozone (O3)-related cardiorespiratory effects are a growing public health concern. Ground level O3 can exacerbate pre-existing respiratory conditions; however, research regarding therapeutic interventions to reduce O3-induced lung injury is limited. In patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypoxia-associated pulmonary hypertension (HPH) is a frequent comorbidity that is difficult to treat clinically, yet associated with increased mortality and frequency of exacerbations. In this study, we hypothesized that established HPH would confer vulnerability to acute O3 pulmonary toxicity. Additionally, we tested whether improvement of pulmonary endothelial barrier integrity via rho-kinase inhibition could mitigate pulmonary inflammation and injury. To determine if O3 exacerbated HPH, male C57BL/6 mice were subject to either 3 weeks continuous normoxia (20.9% O2) or hypoxia (10.0% O2), followed by a 4-h exposure to either 1 ppm O3 or filtered air (FA). As an additional experimental intervention fasudil (20 mg/kg) was administered intraperitoneally prior to and after O3 exposures. As expected, hypoxia significantly increased right ventricular pressure and hypertrophy. O3 exposure in normoxic mice caused lung inflammation but not injury, as indicated by increased cellularity and edema in the lung. However, in hypoxic mice, O3 exposure led to increased inflammation and edema, along with a profound increase in airway hyperresponsiveness to methacholine. Fasudil administration resulted in reduced O3-induced lung injury via the enhancement of pulmonary endothelial barrier integrity. These results indicate that increased pulmonary vascular pressure may enhance lung injury, inflammation and edema when exposed to pollutants, and that enhancement of pulmonary endothelial barrier integrity may alleviate such vulnerability. - Highlights: • Environmental exposures can exacerbate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). • It is unknown if comorbid pulmonary hypertension may influence such effects in COPD patients. • Pulmonary hypertension in a mouse model significantly exacerbated ozone-induced lung injury. • Adverse ozone outcomes were largely attenuated by a rho kinase inhibitor, fasudil. • Therapeutic benefit from rho kinase inhibition may be related to endothelial barrier integrity.
[en] Cleft palate is caused by the failure of palatal midline epithelial cells to disintegrate, which is necessary for palatal mesenchymal confluence. Although 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) exposure is linked to cleft palate at a high rate, the mechanism remains to be elucidated. The present study was designed to determine the effects of TCDD on the fate of epithelial cell isolated from human fetal palatal shelves (hFPECs). We demonstrate that TCDD increased cell proliferation and promoted the progression of cells from G1 to S phase as well as increased the number of cells entering the G2/M phase. We found that TCDD has no measurable effect on apoptosis of hFPECs. The protein level assays revealed that TCDD increased cyclin-dependent kinases 4 (cdk4), cyclin D1, cyclin E and p21 (Waf1/Cip1) but not cdk2, bcl-2, cyclin B1 and cyclin A. Furthermore, TCDD activated PI3K/AKT signaling, and the PI3K inhibitor, LY294002, partially abrogated TCDD-induced cell proliferation and gene modulations. TCDD treatment increased CYP1A1 mRNA and protein levels, which indicated the activation of AhR signaling. Knockdown of the AhR with siRNA suppressed TCDD-induced cell proliferation and PI3K/AKT signaling activation. Taken together, these data demonstrated that TCDD is able to promote growth of hFPECs through AhR-dependent activation of the PI3K/AKT pathway, which may account for the underlying mechanism by which TCDD causes a failure of palatal fusion. - Highlights: • TCDD promoted the cell growth with a character of significant accumulation of cells in G2/M. • TCDD treatment induced a various profile of cell cycle regulatory proteins. • PI3K/AKT pathway was involved in TCDD-induced cell proliferation and gene modifications. • AhR knockdown blocked TCDD-induced cell proliferation and PI3K/Akt signaling activation.
[en] Cholestatic liver disease is characterized by a disruption of bile flow, bile acid toxicity, liver injury, and hypercholesterolemia. Relatively high secretion of glucocorticoids by the adrenals has been observed under cholestatic conditions. Here we investigated a contribution of the rise in endogenous glucocorticoids to initial stage cholestasis pathology. Adrenalectomized or sham-operated control C57BL/6 mice were given an oral dose of alpha-naphthylisothiocyanate to induce cholestasis. Adrenalectomy effectively lowered plasma corticosterone levels (18 ± 5 ng/ml vs 472 ± 58 ng/ml; P < 0.001) and disrupted the metabolic and anti-inflammatory glucocorticoid function. Adrenal removal did not exacerbate the cholestasis extent. In contrast, the cholestasis-associated liver injury was markedly lower in adrenalectomized mice as compared to controls as evidenced by a 84%–93% decrease in liver necrosis and plasma alanine aminotransferase and bile acid levels (P < 0.001 for all). Gene expression analysis on livers from adrenalectomized mice suggested the absence of bile acid toxicity-associated farnesoid X receptor signaling in the context of a 44% (P < 0.01) and 82% (P < 0.001) reduction in sodium/bile acid cotransporter member 1 transcript level as compared to respectively control and non-diseased mice. Adrenalectomy reduced the expression of the cholesterol synthesis gene HMG-CoA reductase by 70% (P < 0.05), which translated into a 73% lower plasma total cholesterol level (P < 0.05). Treatment of C57BL/6 mice with the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU-486 recapitulated the protective effect of adrenalectomy on indices of liver injury and hypercholesterolemia. In conclusion, we have shown that endogenous glucocorticoids exacerbate the liver injury and hypercholesterolemia associated with acute cholestasis in mice. - Highlights: • Cholestasis is associated with increased plasma glucocorticoid levels in mice. • Adrenalectomy lowers cholestasis-associated liver injury and hypercholesterolemia. • GR antagonist RU-486 similarly improves the cholestasis phenotype. • Endogenous glucocorticoids promote re-uptake of circulating bile acids into liver.
[en] Evaluation of the reducing capacity of human gastric fluid from healthy individuals, under fasted and fed conditions, is critical for assessing the cancer hazard posed by ingested hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] and for developing quantitative physiologically-based pharmacokinetic models used in risk assessment. In the present study, the patterns of Cr(VI) reduction were evaluated in 16 paired pre- and post-meal gastric fluid samples collected from 8 healthy volunteers. Human gastric fluid was effective both in reducing Cr(VI), as measured by using the s-diphenylcarbazide colorimetric method, and in attenuating mutagenicity in the Ames test. The mean (± SE) Cr(VI)-reducing ability of post-meal samples (20.4 ± 2.6 μg Cr(VI)/mL gastric fluid) was significantly higher than that of pre-meal samples (10.2 ± 2.3 μg Cr(VI)/mL gastric fluid). When using the mutagenicity assay, the decrease of mutagenicity produced by pre-meal and post-meal samples corresponded to reduction of 13.3 ± 1.9 and 25.6 ± 2.8 μg Cr(VI)/mL gastric fluid, respectively. These data are comparable to parallel results conducted by using speciated isotope dilution mass spectrometry. Cr(VI) reduction was rapid, with > 70% of total reduction occurring within 1 min and 98% of reduction is achieved within 30 min with post-meal gastric fluid at pH 2.0. pH dependence was observed with decreasing Cr(VI) reducing capacity at higher pH. Attenuation of the mutagenic response is consistent with the lack of DNA damage observed in the gastrointestinal tract of rodents following administration of ≤ 180 ppm Cr(VI) for up to 90 days in drinking water. Quantifying Cr(VI) reduction kinetics in the human gastrointestinal tract is necessary for assessing the potential hazards posed by Cr(VI) in drinking water. - Highlights: • Cr(VI) reduction capacity was greater in post-meal than paired pre-meal samples. • Cr(VI) reduction was rapid, pH dependent, and due to heat stable components. • Gastric fluid attenuates the mutagenicity of Cr(VI) and reduces risk of GI cancer. • The results are useful to quantitatively evaluate the fate of ingested Cr(VI).
[en] To extend previous models of hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] reduction by gastric fluid (GF), ex vivo experiments were conducted to address data gaps and limitations identified with respect to (1) GF dilution in the model; (2) reduction of Cr(VI) in fed human GF samples; (3) the number of Cr(VI) reduction pools present in human GF under fed, fasted, and proton pump inhibitor (PPI)-use conditions; and (4) an appropriate form for the pH-dependence of Cr(VI) reduction rate constants. Rates and capacities of Cr(VI) reduction were characterized in gastric contents from fed and fasted volunteers, and from fasted pre-operative patients treated with PPIs. Reduction capacities were first estimated over a 4-h reduction period. Once reduction capacity was established, a dual-spike approach was used in speciated isotope dilution mass spectrometry analyses to characterize the concentration-dependence of the 2nd order reduction rate constants. These data, when combined with previously collected data, were well described by a three-pool model (pool 1 = fast reaction with low capacity; pool 2 = slow reaction with higher capacity; pool 3 = very slow reaction with higher capacity) using pH-dependent rate constants characterized by a piecewise, log-linear relationship. These data indicate that human gastric samples, like those collected from rats and mice, contain multiple pools of reducing agents, and low concentrations of Cr(VI) (< 0.7 mg/L) are reduced more rapidly than high concentrations. The data and revised modeling results herein provide improved characterization of Cr(VI) gastric reduction kinetics, critical for Cr(VI) pharmacokinetic modeling and human health risk assessment. - Highlights: • SIDMS allows for measurement of Cr(VI) reduction rate in gastric fluid ex vivo • Human gastric fluid has three reducing pools • Cr(VI) in drinking water at < 0.7 mg/L is rapidly reduced in human gastric fluid • Reduction rate is concentration- and pH-dependent • A refined PK model is used to characterize inter-individual variability in Cr(VI) gastric reduction capacity
[en] PFOS is a chemical of nearly ubiquitous exposure in humans. Recent studies have associated PFOS exposure to adipose tissue-related effects. The present study was to determine whether PFOS alters the process of adipogenesis and regulates insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in mouse and human preadipocytes. In murine-derived 3T3-L1 preadipocytes, PFOS enhanced hormone-induced differentiation to adipocytes and adipogenic gene expression, increased insulin-stimulated glucose uptake at concentrations ranging from 10 to 100 μM, and enhanced Glucose transporter type 4 and Insulin receptor substrate-1 expression. Nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2), NAD(P)H dehydrogenase, quinone 1 and Glutamate-cysteine ligase, catalytic subunit were significantly induced in 3T3-L1 cells treated with PFOS, along with a robust induction of Antioxidant Response Element (ARE) reporter in mouse embryonic fibroblasts isolated from ARE-hPAP transgenic mice by PFOS treatment. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays further illustrated that PFOS increased Nrf2 binding to ARE sites in mouse Nqo1 promoter, suggesting that PFOS activated Nrf2 signaling in murine-derived preadipocytes. Additionally, PFOS administration in mice (100 μg/kg/day) induced adipogenic gene expression and activated Nrf2 signaling in epididymal white adipose tissue. Moreover, the treatment on human visceral preadipocytes illustrated that PFOS (5 and 50 μM) promoted adipogenesis and increased cellular lipid accumulation. It was observed that PFOS increased Nrf2 binding to ARE sites in association with Nrf2 signaling activation, induction of Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein α expression, and increased adipogenesis. This study points to a potential role of PFOS in dysregulation of adipose tissue expandability, and warrants further investigations on the adverse effects of persistent pollutants on human health. - Highlights: • PFOS induces adipogenesis in association with increased Pparγ and Cebpα mRNA expression. • PFOS increases ARE binding activity and activates Nrf2 signaling. • PFOS increases insulin-stimulated glucose uptake.
[en] The epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a critical stage during the development of silicosis fibrosis. In the current study, we hypothesized that the anti-fibrotic tetrapeptide, N-acetyl-seryl-aspartyl-lysyl-proline (Ac-SDKP) may exert its anti-fibrotic effects via activation of the TGF-β1/ROCK1 pathway, leading to inhibition of EMT. To address this hypothesis, we first examined the effect of Ac-SDKP upon EMT using an in vivo rat silicosis model, as well as in an in vitro model of TGF-β1-induced EMT. Confocal laser scanning microscopy was used to examine colocalization of surfactant protein A (SP-A), fibroblast specific protein-1 (FSP-1) and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) in vivo. Western blot analysis was used to examine for changes in the protein levels of E-cadherin (E-cad) and SP-A (epithelial cell markers), vimentin (mesenchymal cell marker), α-SMA (active myofibroblast marker), and collagen I and III in both in vivo and in vitro experiments. Secondly, we utilized Western blot analysis and confocal laser scanning microscopy to examine the protein expression of TGF-β1 and ROCK1 in in vivo and in vitro studies. The results revealed that Ac-SDKP treatment prevented increases in the expression of mesenchymal markers as well as TGF-β1, ROCK1, collagen I and III. Furthermore, Ac-SDKP treatment prevented decreases in the expression of epithelial cell markers in both in vivo and in vitro experiments. Based on the results, we conclude that Ac-SDKP inhibits the transition of epithelial cell-myofibroblast in silicosis via activation of the TGF-β1/ROCK1 signaling pathway, which may serve as a novel mechanism by which it exerts its anti-fibrosis properties. - Highlights: • EMT is a critical stage during the development of silicosis fibrosis. • Ac-SDKP inhibits the EMT process in silicosis both in vivo and in vitro. • Ac-SDKP inhibits the EMT process in silicosis via TGF-β1/ROCK1 pathway.