Myoepithelial cells (MECs) exist on the basal surface of acini in major exocrine glands, include myofilaments and various constructive proteins, and share characteristics with smooth muscle and epithelial cells. MECs project several ramified processes to invest acini, and possibly contract to compress acini to support the secretion by the glandular cells. However, the functional roles of MECs in salivary secretion are still unclear. We investigated morphological changes in immunostained MECs using the anti-α-smooth muscle actin (αSMA) antibody in operated or non-operated contralateral (NC) submandibular glands after partial or total resection. Furthermore, we investigated and discuss other salivary glands of rats. MECs in the parotid, sublingual and submandibular gland of adult rats exhibited different shapes and localizations. After surgery, in both operated and NC glands, the number of MECs and αSMA-immunopositive areas increased significantly. Three-dimensional analysis using a confocal laser-scanning microscope revealed that substantial and significant enhancement became evident in the number, length, and thickness of MEC-processes covering acini of the operated and NC submandibular glands. The preset findings indicate that MECs alter the morphology of their processes in operated and NC glands after surgery of the partial or total resection. It is suggested that MECs promote salivary secretion using elongated, thickened, and more ramified processes.
Fibromodulin belongs to the family of small leucine-rich proteoglycans (SLRPs), an active component of extracellular matrix. It directly binds collagens to promote fibrillogenesis and also binds transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ) to antagonize its actions. Our previous studies of rat anterior pituitary gland revealed that fibromodulin is expressed in folliculostellate cells and pericytes. Although our recent study showed that TGFβ2 secreted from folliculostellate cells induces collagen synthesis in pericytes, the involvement of fibromodulin in TGFβ2-mediated collagen regulation has not been studied. The present study examined the effect of TGFβ2 on fibromodulin synthesis in rat anterior pituitary gland. In situ hybridization for TGFβ receptor II and immunohistological techniques revealed the presence of TGFβ receptor II in folliculostellate cells and pericytes. To confirm canonical TGFβ intracellular signaling, Smad2 immunocytochemistry was performed. Nuclear translocation of Smad2 was observed in folliculostellate cells and pericytes after TGFβ2 treatment. TGFβ2 strongly enhanced fibromodulin mRNA and protein expressions, and TGFβ2-induced mRNA expression was completely blocked by TGFβ receptor I inhibitor (SB431542). These results suggest that folliculostellate cells and pericytes exhibit canonical TGFβ2 signaling, which is associated with fibromodulin production. Thus, this is the first report to show that TGFβ signaling regulates the endogenous TGFβ antagonist fibromodulin in the gland.
Gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) has recently been identified as an itch-signaling molecule in the primary afferents and spinal cord of rodents. However, little information exists on the expression and localization of GRP in the trigeminal somatosensory system other than in rats. We examined the generality of the trigeminal GRP system in mammals using two distinct species, suncus as a model of specialized placental mammals known to have a well-developed trigeminal sensory system and mice as a representative small laboratory animal. We first analyzed the gross morphology of the trigeminal somatosensory system in suncus to provide a brainstem atlas on which to map GRP distribution. Immunohistochemical analyses showed that 8% of trigeminal ganglion neurons in suncus and 6% in mice expressed GRP. Expression was restricted to cells with smaller somata. The GRP-containing fibers were densely distributed in the superficial layers of the caudal part of the trigeminal spinal nucleus (Vc) but rare in the rostral parts, both in suncus and mice. Expression of GRP receptor mRNA and protein was also detected in the Vc of suncus. Taken together, these results suggest that the trigeminal GRP system mediating itch sensation is conserved in mammals.
Kisspeptin neurons in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) regulate prolactin secretion, and are in physical contact with tuberoinfundibular dopaminergic (TIDA) neurons, which inhibit prolactin secretion. Prolactin levels in the blood are increased with advancing age in rats; therefore, we investigated the interactions with TIDA neurons and kisspeptin neurons in aged female rats (24 months of age), relative to those of young adult female rats (9–10 weeks of age). Plasma prolactin levels in the aged rats were significantly higher than those of young adult rats. Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-immunoreactive (ir) cell bodies and kisspeptin-ir nerve fibers were found in the dorsomedial ARC of both groups. The number of TH-ir cell bodies in the dorsomedial ARC did not differ significantly between groups. Additionally, no significant differences in the number of TH-ir cells in contact with kisspeptin-ir fibers was observed between groups. However, the number of kisspeptin-ir or Kiss1 mRNA-expressing cells in the ARC was significantly reduced in the aged rats compared with that of the young rats. These results suggest that the contacts between TIDA neurons and kisspeptin neurons are maintained after reproductive senescence, while production of kisspeptin in the ARC decreases significantly during aging.
The function of the serotonin transporter (SERT) is regulated by its membrane trafficking. Previously, we showed that the C-terminus-deleted mutant of SERT (SERTΔCT) exhibited an aberrant membrane trafficking and subsequent retention at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). In addition, we found that proteasome inhibitor-induced ER stress resulted in the impairment of SERT membrane trafficking and retention of SERT at the ER, an impairment very similar to that of SERTΔCT. Based on the result that the chemical chaperone 4-phnylbutulic acid (4-PBA), which relieves ER stress, accelerated the membrane trafficking and upregulated SERT activity, we hypothesized that drugs that facilitate the membrane trafficking of SERT would have potential therapeutic effects on an ER stress-related disease. In this study, we aimed to develop simple screening methods for such drugs using SERT. We first validated the serotonin uptake assay using fluorescent substrates. This simple and reliable assay method was useful for screening for drugs that affected the wild-type SERT but not SERTΔCT. In addition, we verified an assay focusing on the formation of SERTΔCT aggregates. The drugs 4-PBA and SKF-10047 facilitated the trafficking of SERT to the membrane and reduced SERTΔCT aggregates, indicating that the drugs with such characters could be potential candidates for ER stress relief. For both assays, we clarified the usefulness of a high-content screening microscope. These results could pave the way for high-throughput screening for such drugs.