Transplantation and drug discovery programs for liver diseases are hampered by the shortage of donor tissue. While recent studies have shown that hepatic cells can be derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), few cases have shown selective enrichment of hESC-derived hepatocytes and their integration into host liver tissues. Here we demonstrate that the dissociation and reaggregation procedure after an endodermal differentiation of hESC produces spheroids mainly consisted of cells showing hepatic phenotypes in vitro and in vivo. A combined treatment with Wnt3a and bone morphogenic protein 4 efficiently differentiated hESCs into definitive endoderm in an adherent culture. Dissociation followed by reaggregation of these cells in a nonadherent condition lead to the isolation of spheroid-forming cells that preferentially expressed early hepatic markers from the adherent cell population. Further differentiation of these spheroid cells in the presence of the hepatocyte growth factor, oncostatin M, and dexamethasone produced a highly enriched population of cells exhibiting characteristics of early hepatocytes, including glycogen storage, indocyanine green uptake, and synthesis of urea and albumin. Furthermore, we show that grafted spheroid cells express hepatic features and attenuate the serum aspartate aminotransferase level in a model of acute liver injury. These data suggest that hepatic progenitor cells can be enriched by the spheroid formation of differentiating hESCs and that these cells have engraftment potential to replace damaged liver tissues.
Intermittent fasting (IF) improves healthy lifespan in animals by a mechanism involving reduced oxidative damage and increased resistance to stress. However, no studies have evaluated the impact of controlled meal frequency on immune responses in human subjects.
Emerging evidence suggests that increases in activated T cell populations in adipose tissue may contribute toward obesity-associated metabolic syndrome. The present study investigates three unanswered questions: 1) Do adipose-resident T cells (ARTs) from lean and obese mice have altered cytokine production in response to TCR ligation?; 2) Do the extralymphoid ARTs possess a unique TCR repertoire compared with lymphoid-resident T cells and whether obesity alters the TCR diversity in specific adipose depots?; and 3) Does short-term elimination of T cells in epididymal fat pad without disturbing the systemic T cell homeostasis regulate inflammation and insulin-action during obesity? We found that obesity reduced the frequency of naive ART cells in s.c. fat and increased the effector-memory populations in visceral fat. The ARTs from diet-induced obese (DIO) mice had a higher frequency of IFN-gamma(+), granzyme B(+) cells, and upon TCR ligation, the ARTs from DIO mice produced increased levels of proinflammatory mediators. Importantly, compared with splenic T cells, ARTs exhibited markedly restricted TCR diversity, which was further compromised by obesity. Acute depletion of T cells from epididymal fat pads improved insulin action in young DIO mice but did not reverse obesity-associated feed forward cascade of chronic systemic inflammation and insulin resistance in middle-aged DIO mice. Collectively, these data establish that ARTs have a restricted TCR-Vbeta repertoire, and T cells contribute toward the complex proinflammatory microenvironment of adipose tissue in obesity. Development of future long-term T cell depletion protocols specific to visceral fat may represent an additional strategy to manage obesity-associated comorbidities.
Age-related thymic involution is characterized by reduction in T cell production together with ectopic adipocyte development within the hematopoietic and thymic niches. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) is required for adipocyte development, glucose homeostasis and is a target for several insulin-sensitizing drugs. Our prior studies showed that age-related elevation of PPARgamma expression in thymic stromal cells is associated with thymic involution. Here, using clinically relevant pharmacological and genetic manipulations in mouse models, we provide evidence that activation of PPARgamma leads to reduction in thymopoiesis. Treatment of aged mice with antihyperglycemic PPARgamma-ligand class of thiazolidinedione drug, rosiglitazone caused robust thymic expression of classical pro-adipogenic transcripts. Rosiglitazone reduced thymic cellularity, lowered the naïve T cell number and T cell receptor excision circles (TRECs) indicative of compromised thymopoiesis. To directly investigate whether PPARgamma activation induces thymic involution, we created transgenic mice with constitutive-active PPARgamma (CA-PPARg) fusion protein in cells of adipogenic lineage. Importantly, CA-PPARgamma transgene was expressed in thymus and in fibroblast-specific protein-1/S100A4 (FSP1(+)) cells, a marker of secondary mesenchymal cells. The CAPPARgamma fusion protein mimicked the liganded PPARgamma receptor and the transgenic mice displayed increased ectopic thymic adipogenesis and reduced thymopoiesis. Furthermore, the reduction in thymopoiesis in CA-PPARgamma mice was associated with higher bone marrow adiposity and lower hematopoietic stem cell progenitor pool. Consistent with lower thymic output, CAPPARgamma transgenic mice had restricted T cell receptor repertoire diversity. Collectively, our data suggest that activation of PPARgamma accelerates thymic aging and thymus-specific PPARgamma antagonist may forestall age-related decline in T cell diversity.
Membrane-associated oxidative stress has been implicated in the synaptic dysfunction and neuronal degeneration that occurs in Alzheimers disease (AD), but the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Enzymes of the plasma membrane redox system (PMRS) provide electrons for energy metabolism and recycling of antioxidants. Here, we show that activities of several PMRS enzymes are selectively decreased in plasma membranes from the hippocampus and cerebral cortex of 3xTgAD mice, an animal model of AD. Our results that indicate the decreased PMRS enzyme activities are associated with decreased levels of coenzyme Q(10) and increased levels of oxidative stress markers. Neurons overexpressing the PMRS enzymes (NQO1 or cytochrome b5 reductase) exhibit increased resistance to amyloid ?-peptide (A?). If and to what extent A? is the cause of the impaired PMRS enzymes in the 3xTgAD mice is unknown. Because these mice also express mutant tau and presenilin-1, it is possible that one or more of the PMRS could be adversely affected by these mutations. Nevertheless, the results of our cell culture studies clearly show that exposure of neurons to A?1-42 is sufficient to impair PMRS enzymes. The impairment of the PMRS in an animal model of AD, and the ability of PMRS enzyme activities to protect neurons against A?-toxicity, suggest enhancement PMRS function as a novel approach for protecting neurons against oxidative damage in AD and related disorders.
As the expanding obese population grows older, their successful immunologic aging will be critical to enhancing the health span. Obesity increases risk of infections and cancer, suggesting adverse effects on immune surveillance. Here, we report that obesity compromises the mechanisms regulating T-cell generation by inducing premature thymic involution. Diet-induced obesity reduced thymocyte counts and significantly increased apoptosis of developing T-cell populations. Obesity accelerated the age-related reduction of T-cell receptor (TCR) excision circle bearing peripheral lymphocytes, an index of recently generated T cells from thymus. Consistent with reduced thymopoiesis, dietary obesity led to reduction in peripheral naive T cells with increased frequency of effector-memory cells. Defects in thymopoiesis in obese mice were related with decrease in the lymphoid-primed multipotent progenitor (Lin-Sca1+Kit+ Flt3+) as well as common lymphoid progenitor (Lin-Sca1+CD117(lo)CD127+) pools. The TCR spectratyping analysis showed that obesity compromised V-beta TCR repertoire diversity. Furthermore, the obesity induced by melanocortin 4 receptor deficiency also constricted the T-cell repertoire diversity, recapitulating the thymic defects observed with diet-induced obesity. In middle-aged humans, progressive adiposity with or without type 2 diabetes also compromised thymic output. Collectively, these findings establish that obesity constricts T-cell diversity by accelerating age-related thymic involution.
Aging of thymus is characterized by reduction in naive T cell output together with progressive replacement of lymphostromal thymic zones with adipocytes. Determining how calorie restriction (CR), a prolongevity metabolic intervention, regulates thymic aging may allow identification of relevant mechanisms to prevent immunosenescence. Using a mouse model of chronic CR, we found that a reduction in age-related thymic adipogenic mechanism is coupled with maintenance of thymic function. The CR increased cellular density in the thymic cortex and medulla and preserved the epithelial signatures. Interestingly, CR prevented the age-related increase in epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) regulators, FoxC2, and fibroblast-specific protein-1 (FSP-1), together with reduction in lipid-laden thymic fibroblasts. Additionally, CR specifically blocked the age-related elevation of thymic proadipogenic master regulator, peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma), and its upstream activator xanthine-oxidoreductase (XOR). Furthermore, we found that specific inhibition of PPARgamma in thymic stromal cells prevented their adipogenic transformation in an XOR-dependent mechanism. Activation of PPARgamma-driven adipogenesis in OP9-DL1 stromal cells compromised their ability to support T cell development. Conversely, CR-induced reduction in EMT and thymic adipogenesis were coupled with elevated thymic output. Compared with 26-mo-old ad libitum fed mice, the T cells derived from age-matched CR animals displayed greater proliferation and higher IL-2 expression. Furthermore, CR prevented the deterioration of the peripheral TCR repertoire diversity in older animals. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that reducing proadipogenic signaling in thymus via CR may promote thymopoiesis during aging.
Melanocortin receptor agonists act in the brain to regulate food intake and body weight and, independently of these actions, affect insulin sensitivity. These experiments investigated the function of novel non-selective melanocortin receptor agonists (BIM-22493, BIM-22511) that cross the blood-brain barrier when administered peripherally. Treatment of diet induced obese C57BL/6J (B6) mice with melanocortin agonists administered peripherally improved obesity, hyperinsulinemia (approximately 50%) and fatty liver disease. Specificity of function was determined using B6 melanocortin-3 and melanocortin-4 receptor knockout mice (MC3RKO, MC4RKO). Chow fed MC4RKO but not MC3RKO used for these tests exhibited obesity, hyperinsulinemia and severe hepatosteatosis associated with increased expression of insulin-stimulated genes involved in lipogenesis. Reduced food intake associated with acute BIM-22493 treatment, and weight loss associated with 14 days of treatment with BIM-22511, required functional MC4R but not MC3R. However, while 14 days of treatment with BIM-22511 did not affect body weight and even increased cumulative food intake in MC4RKO, a significant reduction (approximately 50%) in fasting insulin was still observed. Despite lowering insulin, chronic treatment with BIM-22511 did not improve hepatosteatosis in MC4RKO, and did not affect hepatic lipogenic gene expression. Together, these results demonstrate that peripherally administered melanocortin receptor agonists regulate body weight, liver metabolism and glucose homeostasis through independent pathways. MC4R are necessary for melanocortin agonist-induced weight loss and improvements in liver metabolism, but are not required for improvements in hyperinsulinemia. Agonists with activity at MC4R improve glucose homeostasis at least partially by causing weight loss, however other melanocortin receptors may have potential for treating aberrations in glucose homeostasis associated with obesity.
With progressive aging, adipocytes are the major cell types that constitute the bulk of thymic microenvironment. Understanding the origin of thymic adipocytes and mechanisms responsible for age-related thymic adiposity is thus germane for the design of long lasting thymic rejuvenation strategies. We have recently identified that ghrelin, an orexigenic anti-inflammatory peptide, can partially reverse age-related thymic involution. Here we demonstrate that Ghrl and ghrelin receptor (growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR)) are expressed in thymic stromal cells and that their expression declines with physiological aging. Genetic ablation of ghrelin and GHSR leads to loss of thymic epithelial cells (TEC) and an increase in adipogenic fibroblasts in the thymus, suggesting potential cellular transitions. Using FoxN1Cre;R26RstopLacZ double transgenic mice, we provide qualitative evidence that thymic epithelial cells can transition to mesenchymal cells that express proadipogenic regulators in the thymus. We found that loss of functional Ghrl-GHSR interactions facilitates EMT and induces thymic adipogenesis with age. In addition, the compromised thymic stromal microenvironment due to lack of Ghrl-GHSR interactions is associated with reduced number of naive T cells. These data suggest that Ghrl may be a novel regulator of EMT and preserves thymic stromal cell microenvironment by controlling age-related adipocyte development within the thymus.
The adipocytes are the predominant cell types that constitute the bulk of the thymic microenvironment by the fifth decade of life in healthy humans. An age-related increase in thymic adiposity is associated with reduced thymopoiesis and compromised immune surveillance in the elderly. However, the mechanisms regulating the generation of intrathymic adipocytes during aging remain to be elucidated. Here, we report that the CD45- thymic stromal cells (TSCs) are amenable to adipogenesis. We identified that the Wnt inhibitor axin is expressed in the lymphoid as well as stromal cells of the thymus with increased expression in CD45- TSCs of older mice. Knockdown of axin by RNA interference in CD45- primary TSCs led to a marked reduction in adipogenesis with significantly lower expression of adipogenic transcripts peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor 2 (PPAR), adipocyte fatty acid-binding protein (aP2), and perilipin. Age-related elevated axin expression was increased specifically in thymic fibroblasts and medullary thymic epithelial cells (TECs) but not in the cortical TEC or CD45+ cells. Consistent with a role of axin in promoting thymic adipogenesis, axin expression was also colocalized with lipid-expressing adipogenic cells in aging thymus. The prolongevity intervention, caloric restriction (CR), prevented the age-related increase in axin and the adipogenic cell in the thymus together with increase in thymic output. We have recently demonstrated that CR induces ghrelin, which can partially reverse thymic involution. Here, we show that axin expression is not affected by ablation of ghrelin receptors in aging mice, suggesting a ghrelin-independent mechanism for regulation of axin. Our data are consistent with the hypothesis that blocking the specific proadipogenic signals in the thymus may complement the present approaches to rejuvenate thymic function during aging.
Ghrelin (Grln) is a peptide hormone that is predominantly produced in the stomach and stimulates appetite and induces growth hormone (GH) release. We have previously reported that ghrelin is also expressed in T cells and exerts prothymic and anti-inflammatory effects. However, the biologic relevance of T cell-derived ghrelin remains to be determined. Here, we report that acylated-bioactive ghrelin is expressed in human T cells and preferentially segregates within the lipid raft domains upon TCR ligation. The RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated down-regulation of ghrelin in primary human T cells activates IkB, and increases Th1 cytokines and IL-17 secretion. Ghrelin expression declines with increasing age in spleen and T cells and exogenous ghrelin administration in old mice reduces proinflammatory cytokines. These findings demonstrate that ghrelin functions in an autocrine and paracrine capacity to regulate proinflammatory cytokine expression in human and murine T cells and may contribute in regulating "inflamm-aging."
Tributyltin (TBT), an endocrine disrupting chemical, has been reported to decrease ovarian function by causing apoptosis in the ovary, but the mechanism is not fully understood. Therefore, we examined whether TBT increases the expression of adipogenesis-related genes in the ovary and the increased expression of these genes is associated with apoptosis induction.
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