Publications by authors named "Wen-Tsan Weng"

15 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

4-Ethylguaiacol modulates neuroinflammation and Th1/Th17 differentiation to ameliorate disease severity in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

J Neuroinflammation 2021 May 11;18(1):110. Epub 2021 May 11.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Indiana University School of Medicine, 2101 E. Coliseum Boulevard, Fort Wayne, IN, 46805, USA.

Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive autoimmune disease characterized by the accumulation of pathogenic inflammatory immune cells in the central nervous system (CNS) that subsequently causes focal inflammation, demyelination, axonal injury, and neuronal damage. Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is a well-established murine model that mimics the key features of MS. Presently, the dietary consumption of foods rich in phenols has been reported to offer numerous health benefits, including anti-inflammatory activity. One such compound, 4-ethylguaiacol (4-EG), found in various foods, is known to attenuate inflammatory immune responses. However, whether 4-EG exerts anti-inflammatory effects on modulating the CNS inflammatory immune responses remains unknown. Thus, in this study, we assessed the therapeutic effect of 4-EG in EAE using both chronic and relapsing-remitting animal models and investigated the immunomodulatory effects of 4-EG on neuroinflammation and Th1/Th17 differentiation in EAE.

Methods: Chronic C57BL/6 EAE and relapsing-remitting SJL/J EAE were induced followed by 4-EG treatment. The effects of 4-EG on disease progression, peripheral Th1/Th17 differentiation, CNS Th1/Th17 infiltration, microglia (MG) activation, and blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption in EAE were evaluated. In addition, the expression of MMP9, MMP3, HO-1, and Nrf2 was assessed in the CNS of C57BL/6 EAE mice.

Results: Our results showed that 4-EG not only ameliorated disease severity in C57BL/6 chronic EAE but also mitigated disease progression in SJL/J relapsing-remitting EAE. Further investigations of the cellular and molecular mechanisms revealed that 4-EG suppressed MG activation, mitigated BBB disruption, repressed MMP3/MMP9 production, and inhibited Th1 and Th17 infiltration in the CNS of EAE. Furthermore, 4-EG suppressed Th1 and Th17 differentiation in the periphery of EAE and in vitro Th1 and Th17 cultures. Finally, we found 4-EG induced HO-1 expression in the CNS of EAE in vivo as well as in MG, BV2 cells, and macrophages in vitro.

Conclusions: Our work demonstrates that 4-EG confers protection against autoimmune disease EAE through modulating neuroinflammation and inhibiting Th1 and Th17 differentiation, suggesting 4-EG, a natural compound, could be potentially developed as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of MS/EAE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12974-021-02143-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8111955PMC
May 2021

PPARγ activation improves the microenvironment of perivascular adipose tissue and attenuates aortic stiffening in obesity.

J Biomed Sci 2021 Mar 29;28(1):22. Epub 2021 Mar 29.

Institute of Clinical Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan, ROC.

Background: Obesity-related cardiovascular risk, end points, and mortality are strongly related to arterial stiffening. Current therapeutic approaches for arterial stiffening are not focused on direct targeting within the vessel. Perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT) surrounding the artery has been shown to modulate vascular function and inflammation. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) activation significantly decreases arterial stiffness and inflammation in diabetic patients with coronary artery disease. Thus, we hypothesized that PPARγ activation alters the PVAT microenvironment, thereby creating a favorable environment for the attenuation of arterial stiffening in obesity.

Methods: Obese ob/ob mice were used to investigate the effect of PPARγ activation on the attenuation of arterial stiffening. Various cell types, including macrophages, fibroblasts, adipocytes, and vascular smooth muscle cells, were used to test the inhibitory effect of pioglitazone, a PPARγ agonist, on the expression of elastolytic enzymes.

Results: PPARγ activation by pioglitazone effectively attenuated arterial stiffening in ob/ob mice. This beneficial effect was not associated with the repartitioning of fat from or changes in the browning of the PVAT depot but was strongly related to improvement of the PVAT microenvironment, as evidenced by reduction in the expression of pro-inflammatory and pro-oxidative factors. Pioglitazone treatment attenuated obesity-induced elastin fiber fragmentation and elastolytic activity and ameliorated the obesity-induced upregulation of cathepsin S and metalloproteinase 12, predominantly in the PVAT. In vitro, pioglitazone downregulated Ctss and Mmp12 in macrophages, fibroblasts, and adipocytes-cell types residing within the adventitia and PVAT. Ultimately, several PPARγ binding sites were found in Ctss and Mmp12 in Raw 264.7 and 3T3-L1 cells, suggesting a direct regulatory mechanism by which PPARγ activation repressed the expression of Ctss and Mmp-12 in macrophages and fibroblasts.

Conclusions: PPARγ activation attenuated obesity-induced arterial stiffening and reduced the inflammatory and oxidative status of PVAT. The improvement of the PVAT microenvironment further contributed to the amelioration of elastin fiber fragmentation, elastolytic activity, and upregulated expression of Ctss and Mmp12. Our data highlight the PVAT microenvironment as an important target against arterial stiffening in obesity and provide a novel strategy for the potential clinical use of PPARγ agonists as a therapeutic against arterial stiffness through modulation of PVAT function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12929-021-00720-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8008548PMC
March 2021

Interferon-β alleviates delayed tPA-induced adverse effects via modulation of MMP3/9 production in ischemic stroke.

Blood Adv 2020 09;4(18):4366-4381

Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is the only US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug for ischemic stroke. However, delayed tPA administration is associated with increased risk of blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption and hemorrhagic transformation (HT). Interferon-β (IFNβ), an FDA-approved drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, is a cytokine with immunomodulatory properties. Previous studies, including ours, demonstrated that IFNβ or type I IFN receptor signaling conferred protection against ischemic stroke in preclinical models, suggesting IFNβ might have translational therapeutic potential for the treatment of ischemic stroke. Currently, whether IFNβ could be coadministered with tPA to alleviate delayed tPA-induced adverse effects remains unknown. To elucidate that, IFNβ was coadministered with delayed tPA to ischemic stroke animals, and the severity and pathology of ischemic brain injury were assessed. We found delayed tPA treatment exacerbated ischemic brain injury, manifested by aggravated BBB disruption and HT. Notably, IFNβ ameliorated delayed tPA-exacerbated brain injury and alleviated adverse effects. Mechanistic studies revealed IFNβ suppressed tPA-enhanced neuroinflammation and MMP3/9 production in the ischemic brain. Furthermore, we identified IFNβ suppressed MMP9 production in microglia and attenuated tight junction protein degradation in brain endothelial cells. Moreover, we observed that peripheral immune cells may participate to a lesser extent in delayed tPA-exacerbated brain injury during the early phase of ischemic stroke. In conclusion, we provide the first evidence that IFNβ can be coadministered with tPA to mitigate delayed tPA-induced adverse effects of BBB disruption and HT that could potentially extend the tPA therapeutic window for the treatment of ischemic stroke.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2020001443DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7509872PMC
September 2020

Dimethyl itaconate, an itaconate derivative, exhibits immunomodulatory effects on neuroinflammation in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

J Neuroinflammation 2020 Apr 29;17(1):138. Epub 2020 Apr 29.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Indiana University School of Medicine, 2101 E. Coliseum Boulevard, Fort Wayne, IN, 46805, USA.

Background: Inflammatory stimuli induce immunoresponsive gene 1 (IRG1) expression that in turn catalyzes the production of itaconate from the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Itaconate has recently emerged as a regulator of immune cell functions, especially in macrophages. Studies show that itaconate is required for the activation of anti-inflammatory transcription factor Nrf2 by LPS in mouse and human macrophages, and LPS-activated IRG1 macrophages that lack endogenous itaconate production exhibit augmented inflammatory responses. Moreover, dimethyl itaconate (DMI), an itaconate derivative, inhibits IL-17-induced IκBς activation in keratinocytes and modulates IL-17-IκBς pathway-mediated skin inflammation in an animal model of psoriasis. Currently, the effect of itaconate on regulating macrophage functions and peripheral inflammatory immune responses is well established. However, its effect on microglia (MG) and CNS inflammatory immune responses remains unexplored. Thus, we investigated whether itaconate possesses an immunomodulatory effect on regulating MG activation and CNS inflammation in animal models of multiple sclerosis, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE).

Methods: Chronic C57BL/6 EAE was induced followed by DMI treatment. The effect of DMI on disease severity, blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption, MG activation, peripheral Th1/Th17 differentiation, and the CNS infiltration of Th1/Th17 cells in EAE was determined. Primary MG was cultured to study the effect of DMI on MG activation. Relapsing-remitting SJL/J EAE was induced to assess the therapeutic effect of DMI.

Results: Our results show DMI ameliorated disease severity in the chronic C57BL/6 EAE model. Further analysis of the cellular and molecular mechanisms revealed that DMI mitigated BBB disruption, inhibited MMP3/MMP9 production, suppressed microglia activation, inhibited peripheral Th1/Th17 differentiation, and repressed the CNS infiltration of Th1 and Th17 cells. Strikingly, DMI also exhibited a therapeutic effect on alleviating severity of relapse in the relapsing-remitting SJL/J EAE model.

Conclusions: We demonstrate that DMI suppresses neuroinflammation and ameliorates disease severity in EAE through multiple cellular and molecular mechanisms, suggesting that DMI can be developed as a novel therapeutic agent for the treatment of MS/EAE through its immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12974-020-01768-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7191722PMC
April 2020

Loss of EGR-1 uncouples compensatory responses of pancreatic β cells.

Theranostics 2020 4;10(9):4233-4249. Epub 2020 Mar 4.

Institute of Clinical Medicine, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan, ROC.

: Subjects unable to sustain β-cell compensation develop type 2 diabetes. Early growth response-1 protein (EGR-1), implicated in the regulation of cell differentiation, proliferation, and apoptosis, is induced by diverse metabolic challenges, such as glucose or other nutrients. Therefore, we hypothesized that deficiency of EGR-1 might influence β-cell compensation in response to metabolic overload. : Mice deficient in EGR-1 () were used to investigate the roles of EGR-1 in regulation of glucose homeostasis and beta-cell compensatory responses. : In response to a high-fat diet, mice failed to secrete sufficient insulin to clear glucose, which was associated with lower insulin content and attenuated hypertrophic response of islets. High-fat feeding caused a dramatic impairment in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and downregulated the expression of genes encoding glucose sensing proteins. The cells co-expressing both insulin and glucagon were dramatically upregulated in islets of high-fat-fed mice. EGR-1-deficient islets failed to maintain the transcriptional network for β-cell compensatory response. In human pancreatic tissues, expression correlated with the expression of β-cell compensatory genes in the non-diabetic group, but not in the diabetic group. : These results suggest that EGR-1 couples the transcriptional network to compensation for the loss of β-cell function and identity. Thus, our study highlights the early stress coupler EGR-1 as a critical factor in the development of pancreatic islet failure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7150/thno.40664DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7086362PMC
May 2021

α-Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone Attenuates Neovascularization by Inducing Nitric Oxide Deficiency via MC-Rs/PKA/NF-κB Signaling.

Int J Mol Sci 2018 Nov 30;19(12). Epub 2018 Nov 30.

Center for Stem Cell Research, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung 80708, Taiwan.

α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) has been characterized as a novel angiogenesis inhibitor. The homeostasis of nitric oxide (NO) plays an important role in neovascularization. However, it remains unclear whether α-MSH mitigates angiogenesis through modulation of NO and its signaling pathway. The present study elucidated the function and mechanism of NO signaling in α-MSH-induced angiogenesis inhibition using cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), rat aorta rings, and transgenic zebrafish. By Griess reagent assay, it was found α-MSH dose-dependently reduced the NO release in HUVECs. Immunoblotting and immunofluorescence analysis revealed α-MSH potently suppressed endothelial and inducible nitric oxide synthase (eNOS/iNOS) expression, which was accompanied with inhibition of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) activities. Excessive supply of NO donor l-arginine reversed the α-MSH-induced angiogenesis inhibition in vitro and in vivo. By using antibody neutralization and RNA interference, it was delineated that melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1-R) and melanocortin-2 receptor (MC2-R) participated in α-MSH-induced inhibition of NO production and NF-κB/eNOS/iNOS signaling. This was supported by pharmaceutical inhibition of protein kinase A (PKA), the downstream effector of MC-Rs signaling, using H89 abolished the α-MSH-mediated suppression of NO release and eNOS/iNOS protein level. Therefore, α-MSH exerts anti-angiogenic function by perturbing NO bioavailability and eNOS/iNOS expression in endothelial cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms19123823DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6321109PMC
November 2018

Celecoxib enhances the therapeutic efficacy of epirubicin for Novikoff hepatoma in rats.

Cancer Med 2018 06 23;7(6):2567-2580. Epub 2018 Apr 23.

Center for Neuroscience, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Epirubicin is a chemotherapy agent for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the outcome of HCC patients receiving epirubicin remains unsatisfactory. Moreover, our previous study indicated that celecoxib suppresses HCC progression and liver cancer stemness. This study evaluated the potential of celecoxib to serve as a complementary therapy during epirubicin treatment. Cell proliferation, apoptosis, invasiveness, and anchorage-independent growth were analyzed in hepatoma cells. Therapeutic efficacy was validated in rat orthotopic Novikoff hepatoma. After animal sacrifice, the antitumor mechanism of celecoxib and epirubicin combined therapy was investigated by histological analysis. Celecoxib enhanced the cytotoxic activity of epirubicin in HCC cells by promoting apoptosis. Besides, celecoxib potentiated the antineoplastic function of epirubicin in inhibiting the invasiveness and anchorage-independent growth of HCC cells. Ultrasound monitoring showed that combined therapy was more potent than either therapy alone in perturbing HCC progression. Consistently, the size and weight of dissected HCC tissues from rats receiving combined therapy were smallest among all groups. HCC treated with combined therapy exhibited the highest prevalence of apoptotic cells, which was accompanied by reduced proliferating and angiogenic activities in tumor tissues. Moreover, the expression levels of cancer stemness markers (CD44 and CD133) and drug transporter MDR-1 were significantly diminished in rats receiving combined therapy. Besides, celecoxib treatment increased the infiltration of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and reduced the number of regulatory T cells (Tregs), tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs), and the expression of immune checkpoint PD-L1 in HCC tissues during epirubicin therapy. Celecoxib augmented the therapeutic efficacy while modulated cancer stemness and antitumor immunity. Thus, celecoxib may serve as complementary therapy to improve the outcome of patients with advanced HCC during epirubicin treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cam4.1487DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6010827PMC
June 2018

MicroRNA-29a Counteracts Synovitis in Knee Osteoarthritis Pathogenesis by Targeting VEGF.

Sci Rep 2017 06 15;7(1):3584. Epub 2017 Jun 15.

Core Laboratory for Phenomics & Diagnostics, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Synovitis contributes to the development of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. MicroRNAs regulate joint microenvironment homeostasis and deterioration. This study was undertaken to characterize the actions of microRNA-29a (miR-29a) to synovial remodeling in OA joints. Synovial specimens isolated from patients with end-stage OA knees showed abundant fibrotic matrix and vessel histopathology concomitant with weak miR-29a expression. In vitro, miR-29a knockdown caused synovial fibroblasts to exhibit high expressions of collagen III, TGF-β1, MMP9, MMP13, and ADAMTS5, whereas miR-29a overexpression diminished these joint-deleterious factors. In collagenase-mediated OA pathogenesis, miR-29a-overexpressing transgenic mice showed minor responses to hyperplasia, macrophage infiltration, fibrosis, hyperangiogenesis, and VEGF expression in synovial lesions. These effects mitigated articular cartilage loss and gait aberrance of injured joints. Intra-articular administration of miR-29a precursor lessened the collagenase aggravation of excessive synovial remodeling reactions and thereby sustained joint tissue integrity. miR-29a lowered VEGF production and angiogenic activities in synovial fibroblasts through targeting the 3'-UTR of VEGF. Taken together, miR-29a deficiency exacerbated synovitis pathogenesis in the end-stage OA knees. miR-29a signaling fends off excessive synovial angiogenesis and fibrosis, which delays joint destruction. This study sheds new light on the protective effects against synovial deterioration and the therapeutic advantage of miR-29a in OA knees.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-03616-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5472675PMC
June 2017

Histone demethylase UTX counteracts glucocorticoid deregulation of osteogenesis by modulating histone-dependent and -independent pathways.

J Mol Med (Berl) 2017 05 27;95(5):499-512. Epub 2017 Jan 27.

Graduate Institute of Clinical Medical Sciences, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 123, Ta-Pei Road, Niao-Sung District, Kaohsiung, 83303, Taiwan.

Excess glucocorticoid administration impairs osteogenic activities, which raises the risk of osteoporotic disorders. Epigenetic methylation of DNA and histone regulates the lineage commitment of progenitor cells. This study was undertaken to delineate the actions of histone lysine demethylase 6a (UTX) with regard to the glucocorticoid impediment of osteogenic differentiation. Osteogenic progenitor cells responded to supraphysiological glucocorticoid by elevating CpG dinucleotide methylation proximal to transcription start sites within Runx2 and osterix promoters and Wnt inhibitor Dickkopf-1 (Dkk1) expression concomitant with low UTX expression. 5'-Aza-deoxycystidine demethylation of Runx2 and osterix promoters abolished the glucocorticoid inhibition of mineralized matrix accumulation. Gain of UTX function attenuated the glucocorticoid-induced loss of osteogenic differentiation, whereas UTX silencing escalated adipogenic gene expression and adipocyte formation. UTX sustained osteogenic gene transcription through maintaining its occupancy to Runx2 and osterix promoters. It also mitigated the trimethylation of histone 3 at lysine 27 (H3K27me3), which reduced H3K27me3 enrichment to Dkk1 promoter and thereby lowered Dkk1 transcription. Modulation of β-catenin and Dkk1 actions restored UTX signaling in glucocorticoid-stressed cells. In vivo, UTX inhibition by exogenous methylprednisolone and GSK-J4 administration, an effect that disturbed H3K27me3, β-catenin, Dkk1, Runx2, and osterix levels, exacerbated trabecular microarchitecture loss and marrow adiposity. Taken together, glucocorticoid reduction of UTX function hindered osteogenic differentiation. Epigenetic hypomethylation of osteogenic transcription factor promoters and H3K27 contributed to the UXT alleviation of Dkk1 transcription and osteogenesis in glucocorticoid-stressed osteogenic progenitor cells. Control of UTX action has an epigenetic perspective of curtailing glucocorticoid impairment of osteogenic differentiation and bone mass.

Key Messages: UTX attenuates glucocorticoid deregulation of osteogenesis and adipogenesis. UTX reduces Runx2 promoter methylation and H3K27me3 enrichment in the Dkk1 promoter. β-catenin and Dkk1 modulate the glucocorticoid inhibition of UTX signaling. UTX inhibition exacerbates bone mass, trabecular microstructure and fatty marrow. UTX signaling is indispensable in fending off glucocorticoid-impaired osteogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00109-017-1512-xDOI Listing
May 2017

A novel poly-naphthol compound ST104P suppresses angiogenesis by attenuating matrix metalloproteinase-2 expression in endothelial cells.

Int J Mol Sci 2014 Sep 19;15(9):16611-27. Epub 2014 Sep 19.

Department of Biological Sciences, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Kaohsiung 804, Taiwan.

Angiogenesis, the process of neovascularization, plays an important role in physiological and pathological conditions. ST104P is a soluble polysulfated-cyclo-tetrachromotropylene compound with anti-viral and anti-thrombotic activities. However, the functions of ST104P in angiogenesis have never been explored. In this study, we investigated the effects of ST104P in angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo. Application of ST104P potently suppressed the microvessels sprouting in aortic rings ex vivo. Furthermore, ST104P treatment significantly disrupted the vessels' development in transgenic zebrafish in vivo. Above all, repeated administration of ST104P resulted in delayed tumor growth and prolonged the life span of mice bearing Lewis lung carcinoma. Mechanistic studies revealed that ST104P potently inhibited the migration, tube formation and wound closure of human umbilical endothelial cells (HUVECs). Moreover, ST104P treatment inhibited the secretion and expression of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) in a dose-dependent manner. Together, these results suggest that ST104P is a potent angiogenesis inhibitor and may hold potential for treatment of diseases due to excessive angiogenesis including cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms150916611DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4200753PMC
September 2014

α-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone inhibits angiogenesis through attenuation of VEGF/VEGFR2 signaling pathway.

Biochim Biophys Acta 2014 Jun 14;1840(6):1850-60. Epub 2014 Feb 14.

Department of Biological Sciences, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung 804, Taiwan; Institute of Marine Biotechnology, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Kaohsiung 804, Taiwan; Institute of Biomedical Sciences, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Kaohsiung 804, Taiwan. Electronic address:

Background: Gene therapy of proopiomelanocortin, the precursor of α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH), suppresses the neovascularization in tumors. However, the roles of α-MSH in angiogenesis remain unclear.

Methods: The influence of α-MSH on angiogenesis was evaluated by ex vivo rat aorta and in vivo, including transgenic zebrafish and chicken chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assays. The effect of α-MSH on proliferation, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) secretion, migration and tube formation was examined using human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). The expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2) was investigated by quantitative RT-PCR, immunoblot and immunofluorescent analysis. Antibodies' neutralization was employed to dissect the receptor(s) transmitting α-MSH signaling.

Results: Application of α-MSH potently suppressed the microvessels sprouting in organotypic aortic rings. Besides, α-MSH perturbed the vessels development in zebrafish and chicken embryos. α-MSH (0.01-10nM) inhibited the MMP-2 secretion, migration and tube formation of HUVECs without affecting proliferation. Mechanistic studies unveiled α-MSH decreased the VEGF expression and release in HUVECs. Besides, α-MSH downregulated the VEGFR2 expression at transcriptional and translational levels. Importantly, α-MSH attenuated the Akt phosphorylation, but enhanced the expression of PTEN, endogenous antagonist of PI3K/Akt signaling. Expression analysis and antibody neutralization revealed that MC1-R and MC2-R participated in α-MSH-induced blockage of migration and VEGF/VEGFR2/Akt signaling. However, VEGF supply failed to reverse the anti-angiogenic function of α-MSH.

Conclusions: α-MSH inhibits the physiological angiogenesis by attenuating VEGF/VEGFR2/Akt signaling in endothelial cells.

General Significance: α-MSH is a potent angiogenesis inhibitor targeting at endothelial VEGF/VEGFR2 signaling, which may have potential for therapeutic application.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbagen.2014.02.005DOI Listing
June 2014

Pro-opiomelanocortin gene delivery suppresses the growth of established Lewis lung carcinoma through a melanocortin-1 receptor-independent pathway.

J Gene Med 2012 Jan;14(1):44-53

Institute of Biomedical Science, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Background: Pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) is the precursor of several neuropeptides, such as corticotropin, melanocyte-stimulating hormone and the endogenous opioid (β-endorphin). Our previous studies have indicated that POMC gene delivery inhibited the progression and metastasis of B16-F10 melanoma via the α- melanocyte-stimulating hormone/melanortin-1 receptor (MC-1R) pathway.

Methods: In the present study, the therapeutic efficacy of POMC gene therapy was evaluated in mice bearing established Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) models both in vitro and in vivo. We also investigated the MC-1R-independent mechanism underlying POMC gene therapy.

Results: We found that POMC gene delivery significantly inhibited the growth and colony formation in MC-1R-deficient LLC cells. In addition, POMC gene transfer effectively suppressed the growth of established LLC in mice. The inhibitory mechanisms underlying POMC gene delivery were attibuted to be inhibition of proliferation and the induction of apoptosis. Moreover, POMC gene delivery attenuated tumor β-catenin signaling by reducing protein levels of β-catenin and its downstream proto-oncogenes, including cyclin D1 and c-myc. Lastly, POMC gene delivery induced a significant suppression of tumor vasculature.

Conclusions: These results support the existence of an MC-1R-independent pathway for POMC gene therapy, which further expands the therapeutic spectrum of POMC therapy for multiple types of cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jgm.1625DOI Listing
January 2012

Systemic pro-opiomelanocortin expression induces melanogenic differentiation and inhibits tumor angiogenesis in established mouse melanoma.

Hum Gene Ther 2011 Mar 7;22(3):325-35. Epub 2011 Feb 7.

Department of Medical Education and Research, Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, Kaohsiung 813, Taiwan.

Malignant melanoma is one of the leading causes of cancer mortality worldwide, underlining the need for effective novel therapies. In this study, the therapeutic efficacy and mechanism of systemic pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) therapy were evaluated in mice bearing established melanoma. Injection of adenovirus encoding POMC (Ad-POMC) led to hepatic POMC overexpression and elevated adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) levels in the circulation. Systemic POMC therapy significantly attenuated the growth of established melanoma and prolonged the survival of tumor-bearing mice. Histological analysis revealed that systemic POMC therapy induced melanogenic differentiation while reducing melanoma growth. In addition, POMC therapy also elicited a significant reduction in the neovascular network of melanoma. Last, we demonstrated that POMC-derived peptides, including ACTH, α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH), and β-MSH, are involved in POMC-mediated melanogenic differentiation and angiogenesis inhibition. In summary, systemic POMC therapy suppresses melanoma growth via induction of melanogenic differentiation and angiogenesis blockade, thereby demonstrating its potential as a novel treatment modality for melanoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/hum.2010.090DOI Listing
March 2011

Prophylactic proopiomelanocortin expression alleviates capsaicin-induced neurogenic inflammation in rat trachea.

Shock 2009 Dec;32(6):645-50

Department of Medical Education & Research, Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Neurogenic inflammation frequently causes acute plasma leakage in airways and life-threatening pulmonary edema. However, limited strategies are available to alleviate neurogenic inflammation. Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) is the precursor of anti-inflammatory melanocortins, which have been proposed of therapeutic potential for various inflammatory diseases. The present study aimed to evaluate whether peripheral POMC expression ameliorated capsaicin-induced acute neurogenic inflammation in rat trachea. Prophylactic POMC expression was achieved by intravenous injection of adenovirus encoding POMC (Ad-POMC), which led to POMC expression in livers and elevated plasma adrenocorticotropin levels for approximately 60 days. After gene delivery for 7 days, neurogenic inflammation was induced in rats by capsaicin injection. The extent of capsaicin-evoked plasma leakage in trachea was alleviated in Ad-POMC-treated rats compared with animals of control groups (P < 0.01). Moreover, the number of endothelial gaps in tracheal venules was also significantly decreased in Ad-POMC-treated animals (P < 0.01). Prophylactic POMC expression, however, did not alter the basal substance P (SP) expression or the capsaicin-induced SP elevation in trachea and circulation. Instead, cell cultures studies revealed that POMC overexpression or application of POMC-derived melanocortins potently inhibited the SP-induced migration of endothelial cells (P < 0.01), thereby possibly contributing to the attenuation of endothelial gap formation and plasma leakage. The present study indicates that the anti-inflammatory POMC gene vector or melanocortins may constitute a therapeutic alternative for neurogenic inflammation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/SHK.0b013e3181a5aa10DOI Listing
December 2009

Role of nitric oxide in alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone-induced hypotension in the nucleus tractus solitarii of the spontaneously hypertensive rats.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2007 May 5;321(2):455-61. Epub 2007 Feb 5.

Department of Medical Education and Research, Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, and Graduate Institute of Biochemistry, Kaohsiung Medical University, 386 Ta-Chung 1st Road, Kaohsiung 813, Taiwan.

Pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) is expressed in the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS) of the brainstem, where nitric oxide (NO) plays an important role in cardiovascular regulation. The POMC-derived neuropeptides and their receptors are important regulators of energy homeostasis and cardiovascular functions in the central nervous system. In this study, we investigated the cardiovascular effect of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), a POMC-derived neuropeptide, and its relationship with NO pathway in the NTS of spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). Unilateral microinjection of alpha-MSH (0.3-300 pmol) into the NTS resulted in a dose-dependent hypotension and bradycardia in urethane-anesthetized SHR. The alpha-MSH-induced hypotension was abolished by pretreatment with the antagonist of melanocortin-3/4 receptor (MC-3/4R), Ac-Nle-c[Asp-His-D-Nal(2')-Arg-Trp-Lys]-NH2 (SHU9119). Blockade of cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA), the downstream effector of melanocortin receptors, by previous injection of N-[2-(4-bromocinnamylamino)ethyl]-5-isoquinoline (H89) also ablated the cardiovascular effect of alpha-MSH. To elucidate the role of NO pathway in alpha-MSH-evoked hypotension, pretreatment with Nomega-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, a universal inhibitor of nitric-oxide synthase (NOS), partially reversed the depressor and bradycardic effects of alpha-MSH. Furthermore, previous application of the inducible NOS (iNOS) inhibitor, aminoguanidine, but not the neuronal NOS inhibitor, 7-nitroindazole, attenuated the cardiovascular effect of alpha-MSH. Histological analysis revealed the colocalization of MC-4R, but not MC-3R, with iNOS in the NTS of SHR. In summary, intra-NTS injection of alpha-MSH induces hypotension and bradycardia of SHR via MC-4R signaling, which activates cAMP/PKA and iNOS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/jpet.106.118299DOI Listing
May 2007