As glucocorticoid resistance (GCR) and the concomitant burden pose a worldwide problem, there is an urgent need for a more effective glucocorticoid therapy, for which insights into the molecular mechanisms of GCR are essential. In this study, we addressed the hypothesis that TNF?, a strong pro-inflammatory mediator in numerous inflammatory diseases, compromises the protective function of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) against TNF?-induced lethal inflammation. Indeed, protection of mice by dexamethasone against TNF? lethality was completely abolished when it was administered after TNF? stimulation, indicating compromised GR function upon TNF? challenge. TNF?-induced GCR was further demonstrated by impaired GR-dependent gene expression in the liver. Furthermore, TNF? down-regulates the levels of both GR mRNA and protein. However, this down-regulation seems to occur independently of GC production, as TNF? also resulted in down-regulation of GR levels in adrenalectomized mice. These findings suggest that the decreased amount of GR determines the GR response and outcome of TNF?-induced shock, as supported by our studies with GR heterozygous mice. We propose that by inducing GCR, TNF? inhibits a major brake on inflammation and thereby amplifies the pro-inflammatory response. Our findings might prove helpful in understanding GCR in inflammatory diseases in which TNF? is intimately involved.
Systemic bile acid (BA) homeostasis is a critical determinant of dietary fat digestion, enterohepatic function, and postprandial thermogenesis. However, major checkpoints for the dynamics and the molecular regulation of BA homeostasis remain unknown. Here we show that hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis impairment in humans and liver-specific deficiency of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) in mice disrupts the normal changes in systemic BA distribution during the fasted-to-fed transition. Fasted mice with hepatocyte-specific GR knockdown had smaller gallbladder BA content and were more susceptible to developing cholesterol gallstones when fed a cholesterol-rich diet. Hepatic GR deficiency impaired liver BA uptake/transport via lower expression of the major hepatocyte basolateral BA transporter, Na(+)-taurocholate transport protein (Ntcp/Slc10a1), which affected dietary fat absorption and brown adipose tissue activation. Our results demonstrate a role of the HPA axis in the endocrine regulation of BA homeostasis through the liver GR control of enterohepatic BA recycling.
Glucocorticoids acting through the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) inhibit TNF-induced lethal inflammation. Here, we demonstrate that GR dimerization plays a role in reducing TNF sensitivity. In mutant mice unable to dimerize GR, we found that TNF failed to induce MAPK phosphatase 1 (MKP1). We assessed TNF sensitivity in Mkp1(-/-) mice and found increased inflammatory gene induction in livers, increased circulating cytokines, cell death in intestinal epithelium, severe intestinal inflammation, hypothermia, and death. Mkp1(-/-) mice had increased levels of phosphorylated JNK, which promotes apoptosis, in liver tissue. We further examined JNK-deficient mice for their response to TNF. Although Jnk1(-/-) mice showed no change in sensitivity to TNF, Jnk2(-/-) mice were significantly protected against TNF, identifying JNK2 as an essential player in inflammation induced by TNF. Furthermore, we found that loss of Jnk2 partially rescued the increased sensitivity of Mkp1(-/-) and mutant GR mice to TNF. Our data show that GR dimerization inhibits JNK2 through MKP1 and protects from TNF-induced apoptosis and lethal inflammation.
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