ABSTRACT Melanocortins, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and α-, β-, and γ-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) are produced in the placenta and secreted into embryos/fetuses. ACTH concentrations are higher in fetal plasma than in maternal plasma and peak at mid-gestation in rats, whereas ACTH production starts in the anterior lobe of the fetal pituitary at later stages. Melanocortin receptors (MC1-5R), receptors for ACTH and α-, β- and γ-MSH, are expressed in various adult organs. The specific function of these receptors has been well examined in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis and the HPA axis-like network in the skin, and anti-inflammatory effects for white blood cells have also been investigated. MC2R and/or MC5R are also expressed in the testis, lung, kidney, adrenal, liver, pancreas, brain and blood cells at different stages in mouse and rat embryos/fetuses. Melanocortins in embryos and fetuses promote maturation of the HPA axis and also contribute to the development of lung, testis, brain and blood cells. Recently, a unique ACTH function was revealed in fetuses: placental ACTH, which is secreted by the maternal leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), and induces LIF secretion from fetal nucleated red blood cells. Finally, the maternal LIF-placental ACTH-fetal LIF signal relay regulates the LIF level and promotes neurogenesis in fetuses, which suggests that ACTH acts as a signal transducer or effector for fetal development in the maternal-fetal signal pathway.
ABSTRACT We found that repeated treatment with phenobarbital (PB), a thyroid modulator, resulted in a persistent estrous stage in the present study. Although the effects of PB in blocking the surge release of luteinizing hormone (LH), inducing anovulation and prolonging the diestrous period has been well established, there is still no research describing the appearance of persistent estrous states in normal cycling rats dosed with PB. To further study this phenomenon, female rats exhibiting regular estrous cycle were administered an oral dose of PB for 14 consecutive days. Consecutively, vaginal smears were observed and rats from all the groups were sacrificed and serum hormone levels for prolactin, progesterone, estradiol, triiodothyronin (T3), thyroxine (T4) and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) were measured. Pituitary, thyroid, liver, uteri and ovaries were excised, weighed and further subjected to histological observations. We found that PB induced irregular estrous cycles, especially persistent estrus in rats. Histopathologically, the persistent estrous stages are characterized by persistent vaginal cornification in the vagina, cystic follicles and anovulation in the ovaries. Endocrinologically, serum T3 and T4 levels were significantly lower, and TSH was higher in treated-female rats compared to control females. The serum estradiol level and the estradiol/progesterone ratio tend to increase in treated-females. Furthermore, PB-treated animals with irregular estrous cycle were reduced by T4 replacement. Our data indicate that treatment with PB resulted in hypothyroidism and irregular estrous cycle, particularly a persistent estrous stage in normal cycling female rats.
ABSTRACT A wide range of individual differences exist in the total number of functional and structural units in each organ, such as β cells in pancreatic islands, and these units are the basis of the organ's overall function, including its functional reserve. The endocrine environment may influence organ histogenesis, during which functional and structural units are formed and increase in number. We analyzed the effects of a continuous high level of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and/or secondarily induced glucocorticoid on histogenesis of the pancreas in mouse embryos. Pituitary tumor-derived AtT20 cells, which secrete ACTH continuously, were injected subcutaneously into mouse embryos at embryonic day (E) 12.5, and the embryos were allowed to develop exo utero until E18.5 (AtT20 group). E18.5 AtT20 group embryos with high ACTH levels (23.74 ± 6.19 ng/mL vs control group, 0.48 ± 0.40 ng/mL, P < 0.05) were examined for the effects on histogenesis of the pancreas. Using serial sections of the E18.5 pancreas, we stereologically measured the volumes, and counted total cell numbers and numbers of mitotic or pyknotic cells of the whole pancreas, endocrine and exocrine cells, and glucagon-immunopositive α cells and insulin-immunopositive β cells in the endocrine part. Although the volumes of the whole pancreas and exocrine part did not change significantly, in the AtT20 group the endocrine part was significantly larger, with fewer pyknotic cells and lower ratios of α and β cells than in the control group. These results suggest that the high level of ACTH and/or glucocorticoid affects histogenesis of the pancreas.
Abstract A longevity gene product, Sir2 (silent information regulator 2) is a NAD-dependent histone deacetylase involved in longevity in yeasts, worms and flies. The mammalian homolog of Sir2, SIRT1(sirtuin 1), has been shown to play important roles related to anti-aging effects (regulating apoptosis, stress tolerance, insulin resistance, and fat metabolism). Recently, SIRT1 expression has been demonstrated to occur at as early as embryonic day 10.5 in mice. SIRT1 during developing period may be involved in the mechanism of developmental origins of adult diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. To investigate the contribution of SIRT1, it is important to reveal the distribution of this protein during development. In the present study, we demonstrated the distribution of immunoreactivity of SIRT1 in mouse organs during prenatal and neonatal development by staining a wide variety of serial sections. The SIRT1 immunoreactivity was strongly observed in the neuroepithelial layer, dorsal root ganglion, trigeminal ganglion, eyes, roots of whiskers, and internal organs, including the testis, liver, heart, kidney, and lung during the fetal period. Neurons which had finished migrating still showed relatively strong immunoreactivity. The immunoreactivity was completely absorbed by the blocking peptide in an absorption test. During the postnatal period, the immunoreactivities in most of these organs, except the heart and testis weakened, with the liver most dramatically affected. As SIRT1 expression was demonstrated in a wide variety of developing organs, further study to investigate prenatal factors which affect SIRT1 expression and its activity is important.
ABSTRACT The objective of the present study was to estimate the preventive effect of folic acid for structural birth defects (i.e. congenital abnormalities [CAs]) in the offspring of pregnant women with diabetes mellitus type 1 (DM-1). The occurrence of medically recorded DM-1 in pregnant women who had malformed fetuses/newborns (cases) and delivered healthy babies (controls) with or without folic acid supplementation was compared in the population-based Hungarian Case-Control Surveillance System of Congenital Abnormalities. The case group included 22 843 offspring, and there were 79 (0.35%) pregnant women with DM-1, while the control group comprised of 38 151 newborns, and 88 (0.23%) had mothers with DM-1. Case mothers with DM-1 associated with a higher risk of total rate of CAs in their offspring (OR with 95% CI: 1.5, 1.1–2.0) compared to the total rate of CAs in the offspring of non-diabetic case mothers. This higher risk can be explained by four specific types/groups of CAs: isolated renal a/dysgenesis; obstructive CA of the urinary tract; cardiovascular CAs; and multiple CAs, namely caudal dysplasia sequence. However, there was no higher rate of total CAs in the children of pregnant women with DM-1 after folic acid supplementation; in addition, neural-tube defect and renal a/dysgenesis did not occur. However, this benefit cannot be explained by the CA reduction effect of folic acid during the critical period of major CAs. In conclusion, there was a certain reduction in maternal teratogenic effect of DM-1 after folic acid supplementation during pregnancy, but the explanation of this effect requires further study.
Abstract The goal of this study was to describe a novel pattern of genitourinary (GU) anomalies in VACTERL association, which involves congenital anomalies affecting the vertebrae, anus, heart, trachea and esophagus, kidneys, and limbs. We collected clinical data on 105 patients diagnosed with VACTERL association and analyzed a subset of 89 patients who met more stringent inclusion criteria. Twenty-one percent of patients have GU anomalies, which are more severe (but not more frequent) in females. Anomalies were noted in patients without malformations affecting the renal, lower vertebral, or lower gastrointestinal systems. There should be a high index of suspicion for the presence of GU anomalies even in patients who do not have spatially similar malformations.
ABSTRACT Cloacal dysgenesis sequence is a severe malformation of the primitive cloaca and is characterized by a phallus-like structure, smooth perineum and the absence of genitourinary and anal orifices. It is usually accompanied by oligohydramnios, kidney dysplasia, and pulmonary hypoplasia. We present a case of a 29-year-old woman who was referred at 26 weeks of gestation due to an enlarged fetal abdominal circumference. Investigations revealed the presence of fetal ascites, intrapelvic cysts, calcified meconium, severe oligohydramnios and a 46XX karyotype. Fetal abdominal parecentesis performed on several occasions failed to reduce intra-abdominal pressure. To our knowledge this case represents the first variation of cloacal dysgenesis sequence to contain three dysmorphic structures along with the common findings of this anomaly.
ABSTRACT Familial cases of isolated abdominal wall defects with variable expressivity in more than one generation have rarely been observed. We report four affected individuals within a small three-generation family with either variable non-syndromic abdominal wall defects or external genital anomalies. We discuss the possible transmission of non-syndromic abdominal wall defects. It could be hypothesized that similar developmental defects may result in anomalies like hypospadias in males or developmental anomalies of the labia minora or labia majora in females.