International Journal of Molecular Sciences

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ISSN / EISSN : 1422-0067 / 1422-0067
Current Publisher: MDPI AG (10.3390)
Total articles ≅ 35,069
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International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22052559

Basic research on types 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus require early stage studies using beta cells or cell lines, ideally of human origin and with preserved insulin secretion in response to glucose. The 1.1E7 cells are a hybrid cell line resulting from the electrofusion of dispersed human islets and PANC-1 cells, capable of secreting insulin in response to glucose, but their survival and function under toxic conditions remains untested. This characterization is the purpose of the present study. We treated these cells with a cytokine mix, high glucose, palmitate, and the latter two combined. Under these conditions, we measured cell viability and apoptosis (MTT, Caspase Glo and TUNEL assays, as well as caspase-8 and -9 levels by Western blotting), endoplasmic reticulum stress markers (EIF2AK3, HSPA4, EIF2a, and HSPA5) by real-time PCR, and insulin secretion with a glucose challenge. All of these stimuli (i) induce apoptosis and ER stress markers expression, (ii) reduce mRNA amounts of 2–5 components of genes involved in the insulin secretory pathway, and (iii) abrogate the insulin release capability of 1.1E7 cells in response to glucose. The most pronounced effects were observed with cytokines and with palmitate and high glucose combined. This characterization may well serve as the starting point for those choosing this cell line for future basic research on certain aspects of diabetes.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22052570

Arterial smooth muscle exhibits rhythmic oscillatory contractions called vasomotion and believed to be a protective mechanism against tissue hypoperfusion or hypoxia. Oscillations of vascular tone depend on voltage and follow oscillations of the membrane potential. Voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav), responsible for the initiation and propagation of action potentials in excitable cells, have also been evidenced both in animal and human vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs). For example, they contribute to arterial contraction in rats, but their physiopathological relevance has not been established in human vessels. In the present study, we investigated the functional role of Nav in the human artery. Experiments were performed on human uterine arteries obtained after hysterectomy and on SMCs dissociated from these arteries. In SMCs, we recorded a tetrodotoxin (TTX)-sensitive and fast inactivating voltage-dependent INa current. Various Nav genes, encoding -subunit isoforms sensitive (Nav 1.2; 1.3; 1.7) and resistant (Nav 1.5) to TTX, were detected both in arterial tissue and in SMCs. Nav channels immunostaining showed uniform distribution in SMCs and endothelial cells. On arterial tissue, we recorded variations of isometric tension, ex vivo, in response to various agonists and antagonists. In arterial rings placed under hypoxic conditions, the depolarizing agent KCl and veratridine, a specific Nav channels agonist, both induced a sustained contraction overlaid with rhythmic oscillations of tension. After suppression of sympathetic control either by blocking the release of catecholamine or by antagonizing the target adrenergic response, rhythmic activity persisted while the sustained contraction was abolished. This rhythmic activity of the arteries was suppressed by TTX but, in contrast, only attenuated by antagonists of calcium channels, Na+/Ca2+ exchanger, Na+/K+-ATPase and the cardiac Nav channel. These results highlight the role of Nav as a novel key element in the vasomotion of human arteries. Hypoxia promotes activation of Nav channels involved in the initiation of rhythmic oscillatory contractile activity.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22052580

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)/chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is one of the most refractory diseases in humans and is characterized by severe central fatigue accompanied with various symptoms that affect daily life, such as impaired memory, depression, and somatic pain. However, the etiology and pathophysiological mechanisms of CFS remain unknown. To investigate the pathophysiological role of transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1, we injected a cytokine into the lateral ventricle of a C57BL/6 mouse. The intracranial injection of TGF-β1 increased the immobility duration in a forced swimming test (FST) and time spent at the closed arm in elevated plus maze (EPM) analysis. The mice injected with TGF-β1 into their brain showed increased sensitivity to pain in a von Frey test, and had a decreased retention time on rotarod and latency time in a bright box in a passive avoidance test. In addition, the serum levels of muscle fatigue biomarkers, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and creatine kinase (CK), were significantly increased after administration of TGF-β1. Intracranial injection of TGF-β1 significantly reduced the production of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) in the ventral tegmental area, accompanied by a decreased level of dopamine in the striatum. The suppression of TH expression by TGF-β1 was confirmed in the human neuroblastoma cell line, SH-SY5Y. These results, which show that TGF-β1 induced fatigue-like behaviors by suppressing dopamine production, suggest that TGF-β1 plays a critical role in the development of central fatigue and is, therefore, a potential therapeutic target of the disease.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22052556

There is substantial genetic variation for common traits associated with reproductive lifespan and for common diseases influencing female fertility. Progress in high-throughput sequencing and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have transformed our understanding of common genetic risk factors for complex traits and diseases influencing reproductive lifespan and fertility. The data emerging from GWAS demonstrate the utility of genetics to explain epidemiological observations, revealing shared biological pathways linking puberty timing, fertility, reproductive ageing and health outcomes. The observations also identify unique genetic risk factors specific to different reproductive diseases impacting on female fertility. Sequencing in patients with primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) have identified mutations in a large number of genes while GWAS have revealed shared genetic risk factors for POI and ovarian ageing. Studies on age at menopause implicate DNA damage/repair genes with implications for follicle health and ageing. In addition to the discovery of individual genes and pathways, the increasingly powerful studies on common genetic risk factors help interpret the underlying relationships and direction of causation in the regulation of reproductive lifespan, fertility and related traits.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22052579

Stem cell-based therapeutics are amongst the most promising next-generation therapeutic approaches for the treatment of spinal cord injury (SCI), as they may promote the repair or regeneration of damaged spinal cord tissues. However, preclinical optimization should be performed before clinical application to guarantee safety and therapeutic effect. Here, we investigated the optimal injection route and dose for adult human multipotent neural cells (ahMNCs) from patients with hemorrhagic stroke using an SCI animal model. ahMNCs demonstrate several characteristics associated with neural stem cells (NSCs), including the expression of NSC-specific markers, self-renewal, and multi neural cell lineage differentiation potential. When ahMNCs were transplanted into the lateral ventricle of the SCI animal model, they specifically migrated within 24 h of injection to the damaged spinal cord, where they survived for at least 5 weeks after injection. Although ahMNC transplantation promoted significant locomotor recovery, the injection dose was shown to influence treatment outcomes, with a 1 × 106 (medium) dose of ahMNCs producing significantly better functional recovery than a 3 × 105 (low) dose. There was no significant gain in effect with the 3 × 106 ahMNCs dose. Histological analysis suggested that ahMNCs exert their effects by modulating glial scar formation, neuroprotection, and/or angiogenesis. These data indicate that ahMNCs from patients with hemorrhagic stroke could be used to develop stem cell therapies for SCI and that the indirect injection route could be clinically relevant. Moreover, the optimal transplantation dose of ahMNCs defined in this preclinical study might be helpful in calculating its optimal injection dose for patients with SCI in the future.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22052557

Diabetic nephropathy (DN) ranks among the most detrimental long-term effects of diabetes, affecting more than 30% of all patients. Within the diseased kidney, intraglomerular mesangial cells play a key role in facilitating the pro-fibrotic turnover of extracellular matrix components and a progredient glomerular hyperproliferation. These pathological effects are in part caused by an impaired functionality of soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) and a consequentially reduced synthesis of anti-fibrotic messenger 3′,5′-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). Bay 58-2667 (cinaciguat) is able to re-activate defective sGC; however, the drug suffers from poor bioavailability and its systemic administration is linked to adverse events such as severe hypotension, which can hamper the therapeutic effect. In this study, cinaciguat was therefore efficiently encapsulated into virus-mimetic nanoparticles (NPs) that are able to specifically target renal mesangial cells and therefore increase the intracellular drug accumulation. NP-assisted drug delivery thereby increased in vitro potency of cinaciguat-induced sGC stabilization and activation, as well as the related downstream signaling 4- to 5-fold. Additionally, administration of drug-loaded NPs provided a considerable suppression of the non-canonical transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) signaling pathway and the resulting pro-fibrotic remodeling by 50–100%, making the system a promising tool for a more refined therapy of DN and other related kidney pathologies.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22052584

Endothelial dysfunction is an early event in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and represents the first step in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases. The evaluation of endothelial health is fundamental in clinical practice and several direct and indirect markers have been suggested so far to identify any alterations in endothelial homeostasis. Alongside the known endothelial role on vascular health, several pieces of evidence have demonstrated that proper endothelial functioning plays a key role in human fertility and reproduction. Therefore, this state-of-the-art review updates the endothelial health markers discriminating between those available for clinical practice or for research purposes and their application in human fertility. Moreover, new molecules potentially helpful to clarify the link between endothelial and reproductive health are evaluated herein.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22052574

Cholesterol is responsible for the plasticity of plasma membranes and is involved in physiological and pathophysiological responses. Cholesterol homeostasis is regulated by oxysterols, such as 25-hydroxycholesterol. The presence of 25-hydroxycholesterol at the membrane level has been shown to interfere with several viruses’ entry into their target cells. We used atomic force microscopy to assess the effect of 25-hydroxycholesterol on different properties of supported lipid bilayers with controlled lipid compositions. In particular, we showed that 25-hydroxycholesterol inhibits the lipid-condensing effects of cholesterol, rendering the bilayers less rigid. This study indicates that the inclusion of 25-hydroxycholesterol in plasma membranes or the conversion of part of their cholesterol content into 25-hydroxycholesterol leads to morphological alterations of the sphingomyelin (SM)-enriched domains and promotes lipid packing inhomogeneities. These changes culminate in membrane stiffness variations.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22052590

Fibrinogen is a well-known risk factor for arterial and venous thrombosis. Its function is not restricted to clot formation, however, as it partakes in a complex interplay between thrombin, soluble plasma fibrinogen, and deposited fibrin matrices. Fibrinogen, like thrombin, participates predominantly in hemostasis to maintain vascular integrity, but executes some important pleiotropic effects: firstly, as observed in thrombin generation experiments, fibrin removes thrombin from free solution by adsorption. The adsorbed thrombin is protected from antithrombins, notably α2-macroglobulin, and remains physiologically active as it can activate factors V, VIII, and platelets. Secondly, immobilized fibrinogen or fibrin matrices activate monocytes/macrophages and neutrophils via Mac-1 interactions. Immobilized fibrin(ogen) thereby elicits a pro-inflammatory response with a reciprocal stimulating effect of the immune system on coagulation. In contrast, soluble fibrinogen prohibits recruitment of these immune cells. Thus, while fibrin matrices elicit a procoagulant response, both directly by protecting thrombin and indirectly through the immune system, high soluble fibrinogen levels might protect patients due to its immune diminutive function. The in vivo influence of the ‘protective’ plasma fibrinogen versus the ‘pro-thrombotic’ fibrin matrices on thrombosis should be explored in future research.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22052555

1′,4′-trans-diol-ABA is a key precursor of the biosynthesis of abscisic acid (ABA) biosynthesis in fungi. We successfully obtained the pure compound from a mutant of Botrytis cinerea and explored its function and possible mechanism on plants by spraying 2 mg/L 1′,4′-trans-diol-ABA on tobacco leaves. Our results showed that this compound enhanced the drought tolerance of tobacco seedlings. A comparative transcriptome analysis showed that a large number of genes responded to the compound, exhibiting 1523 genes that were differentially expressed at 12 h, which increased to 1993 at 24 h and 3074 at 48 h, respectively. The enrichment analysis demonstrated that the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were primarily enriched in pathways related to hormones and resistance. The DEGs of transcription factors were generally up-regulated and included the bHLH, bZIP, ERF, MYB, NAC, WRKY and HSF families. Moreover, the levels of expression of PYL/PYR, PP2C, SnRK2, and ABF at the ABA signaling pathway responded positively to exogenous 1′,4′-trans-diol-ABA. Among them, seven ABF transcripts that were detected were significantly up-regulated. In addition, the genes involved in salicylic acid, ethylene and jasmonic acid pathways, reactive oxygen species scavenging system, and other resistance related genes were primarily induced by 1′,4′-trans-diol-ABA. These findings indicated that treatment with 1′,4′-trans-diol-ABA could improve tolerance to plant abiotic stress and potential biotic resistance by regulating gene expression, similar to the effects of exogenous ABA.
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