Wenjiao Li

Fudan University, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, China

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Publications (10)40.38 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Overexposure of the fetus to glucocorticoids in gestation is detrimental to fetal development. The passage of maternal glucocorticoids into the fetal circulation is governed by 11beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 2 (HSD11B2) in the placental syncytiotrophoblasts. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) plays an important role in maintaining placental HSD11B2 expression via activation of the cAMP pathway. In this study, we investigated the relationship between the activation of the cAMP pathway by hCG and subsequent phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2 (ERK1/2) or p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways in the regulation of placental HSD11B2 expression in human placental syncytiotrophoblasts. We found that treatment of the placental syncytiotrophoblasts with either hCG or dibutyl cAMP (dbcAMP) could promote the phosphorylation of p38 and ERK1/2. Inhibition of p38 MAPK with SB203580 not only reduced the basal HSD11B2 mRNA and protein levels but also attenuated HSD11B2 levels induced by either hCG or dbcAMP. By contrast, inhibition of ERK1/2 with PD98059 increased the basal mRNA and protein levels of HSD11B2 and had no effect on HSD11B2 mRNA and protein levels induced by either hCG or dbcAMP. These data suggest that p38 MAPK is involved in both basal and hCG/cAMP-induced expression of HSD11B2, and ERK1/2 may play a role opposite to p38 MAPK at least in the basal expression of HSD11B2 in human placental syncytiotrophoblasts and that there is complicated cross-talk between hCG/cAMP and MAPK cascades in the regulation of placental HSD11B2 expression.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(9):e107938. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    Qun Shu, Wenjiao Li, Haichuan Li, Gang Sun
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    ABSTRACT: Anti-angiogenesis treatment has been a promising new form of cancer therapy. Endothelial cells are critical for vascular homeostasis and play important roles in angiogenesis, vascular and tissue remodeling. Vasostatin, the 180 amino acid N-terminal fragment of the calreticulin protein, is reported to be a potent endogenous inhibitor of angiogenesis, suppressing tumor growth. However, the mechanism of these effects has not been sufficiently investigated. This study was performed to investigate the possible mechanism of vasostatin effects on primary cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). We found that vasostatin could inhibit the cell viability of HUVEC and induce cell apoptosis through mitochondrial pathways via activation of caspase-3 under oxygen deprivation conditions. Meanwhile, vasostatin also inhibited vascular endothelial growth factor-induced proliferation and tube formation of HUVEC. The possible mechanism of vasostatin-inhibited proliferation of HUVEC could be through down-regulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase. These findings suggest that vasostatin could regulate endothelial cell function and might be used in anti-angiogenesis treatment.
    International Journal of Molecular Sciences 01/2014; 15(4):6019-30. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Context:Fetal over-exposure to glucocorticoids leads to growth restriction. Optimal fetal glucocorticoid level is ensured by the expression of cortisol-inactivating enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11β-HSD2) in placental syncytiotrophoblasts. The transcription factor Sp1 is known to up-regulate 11β-HSD2 expression in the presence of enhanced histone acetylation in syncytiotrophoblasts, but the mechanisms underlying histone acetylation remain unknown.Objectives:The role of p300 in histone acetylation associated with 11β-HSD2 expression in syncytiotrophoblasts was investigated.Design:Distribution of p300 in human placenta was studied with immunohistochemistry. The role of p300 in hitstone3 (H3) acetylation in association with 11β-HSD2 expression was investigated in cultured primary human placental trophoblasts in the presence of siRNA-mediated knock-down of p300, p300 inhibitor C646 or p300 over-expression. The interaction of Sp1 and p300 was studied with chromatin immunoprecipitation and co-immunoprecipitation (co-IP).Results:Intense staining of p300 was found in the nuclei of trophoblasts. Levels of p300, acetyl H3K9 and H3K27 associated with 11β-HSD2 promoter were increased in the course of syncytialization and by cAMP pathway activation. ChIP and co-IP revealed p300 and Sp1 on 11β-HSD2 promoter and in the same protein complex in the syncytiotrophoblasts. Over-expression of p300 enhanced 11β-HSD2 expression, which was attenuated by Sp1 knock-down, whereas p300 knock-down and C646 reduced both basal and cAMP-stimulated acetylation of H3K9 and H3K27 associated with 11β-HSD2 expression.Conclusions:Interaction of p300 with Sp1 plays a crucial role in histone acetylation associated with 11β-HSD2 expression in syncytiotrophoblasts, which may have important implication in the establishment of placental glucocorticoid barrier in gestation.
    The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 05/2013; · 6.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human fetal membranes express 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1), which reduces biologically inert cortisone to active cortisol and may provide an extraadrenal source of cortisol mediating fetal development and parturition. The reductase activity of 11β-HSD1 depends on the availability of the cofactor reduced form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) derived from the enzymatic activity of hexose-6-phosphodehydrogenase (H6PD). Based on the feed-forward induction of 11β-HSD1 by glucocorticoids in human fetal membranes, we hypothesize that glucocorticoids simultaneously induce H6PD in the fetal membranes. We found a parallel distribution of H6PD and 11β-HSD1 in the amnion, chorion, and decidua. In cultured human amnion fibroblasts, small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of H6PD expression significantly attenuated the conversion of cortisone to cortisol. Cortisol (0.01-1 μm) induced H6PD expression in a concentration-dependent manner, which was attenuated by glucocorticoid receptor (GR) antagonist RU486. Cortisol induced the expression of p300, a histone acetyltransferase, whereas C646, an inhibitor of p300, attenuated the induction of H6PD by cortisol. Coimmunoprecipitation revealed GR and p300 in the same nuclear protein complex upon cortisol stimulation. Chromatin immunoprecipitation showed that cortisol increased the binding of p300 and GR to H6PD promoter and the acetylation of histone 3 lysine 9 on the promoters. In conclusion, the induction of H6PD by cortisol requires the participation of GR and p300 as well as the acetylation of H3K9 by p300. This may be a prerequisite for the parallel induction of reductase activity of 11β-HSD1 in human amnion fibroblasts in a feed-forward loop that may influence fetal development and the onset of parturition.
    Endocrinology 11/2012; · 4.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: One of the dominant effects of glucocorticoids in triggering parturition in certain animal species is to drive the placental conversion of progesterone to estrogen. However, in the human placenta, estrogen is formed using dehydroepiandrosterone from the fetal adrenal glands rather than progesterone as precursor. Although aromatization of dehydroepiandrosterone is crucial in estrogen synthesis in human placenta, it is not known whether glucocorticoids affect aromatase expression. Human term placental syncytiotrophoblasts were used to examine the effect of cortisol on aromatase expression. The signaling pathway and transcription factors involved were identified in this study. Results showed that cortisol induced aromatase expression in a concentration-dependent manner, which was mediated indirectly by glucocorticoid receptor and required the participation of other proteins. The induction of aromatase by cortisol could be blocked by either specificity protein 1 (Sp1) antagonist mithramycin or knockdown of Sp1 expression. The induction of aromatase and Sp1 by cortisol could be prevented by inhibitors of the cAMP pathway, whereas activators of the cAMP pathway induced Sp1 and aromatase expression as well as Sp1 binding to aromatase promoter. Concomitantly, cortisol treatment and activation of the cAMP pathway led to increased acetylation and decreased methylation of histone 3 at the aromatase promoter. In conclusion, cortisol stimulates aromatase expression through the cAMP/Sp1 pathway in human placental syncytiotrophoblasts. These findings reveal a novel role of cortisol in increasing the local level of estrogen within the placenta that would help transform the myometrium to a contractile state, thereby contributing to a cascade of events leading to human parturition.
    Endocrinology 02/2012; 153(4):2012-22. · 4.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Potassium inwardly rectifying channel, subfamily-J, member 11 (KCNJ11) gene encodes Kir6.2 subunits of the adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-sensitive potassium channel involved in glucose-mediated metabolic signaling pathway and has attracted considerable attention as a candidate gene for type 2 diabetes (T2D) based on its function in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. In the past decade, a number of case-control studies have been conducted to investigate the relationship between the KCNJ11 polymorphisms and T2D. However, these studies have yielded contradictory results. To investigate this inconsistency and derive a more precise estimation of the relationship, we conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis of 64,403 cases and 122,945 controls from 49 published studies. Using the random-effects model, we found a significant association between E23K (rs5219) polymorphism and T2D risk with per-allele odds ratio of 1.13 (95% confidence interval: 1.10-1.15; p<10(-5)). Significant results were found in East Asians and Caucasians when stratified by ethnicity; whereas no significant associations were found among South Asians and other ethnic populations. In subgroup analysis by sample size, mean age and body mass index (BMI) of cases, mean BMI of controls and diagnostic criterion, significantly increased risks were found in all genetic models. This meta-analysis suggests that the E23K polymorphism in KCNJ11 is associated with elevated T2D risk, but these associations vary in different ethnic populations.
    DNA and cell biology 11/2011; 31(5):801-10. · 2.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cytosolic phospholipase A2alpha (cPLA(2alpha), now known as PLA2G4A) is the enzyme catalyzing the formation of the rate-limiting substrate, arachidonic acid, for prostaglandin (PG) synthesis. The increasing expression of PLA2G4A toward term gestation in human amnion fibroblasts is believed to be the crucial event in parturition. Human amnion fibroblasts produce cortisol, progesterone and express glucocorticoid receptor (GR), progesterone receptor A (PGRA) form at term. The roles of progesterone and PGRA in the induction of PLA2G4A by cortisol via GR in the amnion fibroblasts remain largely unknown. Using cultured human term amnion fibroblasts, we found that cortisol induced the expression of PGRA, which was attenuated by inhibiting PG synthesis with indomethacin. Knockdown of PGRA expression or inhibition of endogenous progesterone production with trilostane significantly enhanced the induction of PLA2G4A by cortisol, whereas overexpression of PGRA attenuated the induction of PLA2G4A by cortisol. Although exogenous progesterone did not alter PLA2G4A expression under basal conditions, it attenuated cortisol-induced PLA2G4A expression at concentrations about tenfold higher, which might be achieved by competition with cortisol for GR. In conclusion, PGRA in the presence of endogenous progesterone is a transdominant repressor of the induction of PLA2G4A by cortisol. High level of progesterone may compete with cortisol for GR, thus further inhibiting the induction of PLA2G4A by cortisol. Moreover, increased PG synthesis by cortisol may feed back on the expression of PGRA leading to attenuation of cortisol-induced PLA2G4A expression. The above findings may be pertinent to the inconsistent effects of glucocorticoids on parturition in humans.
    Reproduction 02/2010; 139(5):915-22. · 3.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Glucocorticoids (GCs) are well-known anti-inflammatory drugs inhibiting prostaglandin production. Paradoxically, GCs are reported to stimulate cytosolic phosphoplipase A2 group IVA (PLA2G4A) and prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2 (PTGS2) expression in human amnion fibroblasts. This study was designed to examine the molecular mechanisms underlying glucocorticoid-induced PLA2G4A expression in human amnion fibroblasts. Our data showed that cortisol (0.01 approximately 1 microM) increased PLA2G4A mRNA level in a dose-dependent manner in human amnion fibroblasts, which was blocked by glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU486 (1 microM) as well as by the mRNA transcription inhibitor 5,6-dichlorobenzimidazole riboside (DRB; 75 microM). Concurrently, cortisol (0.01 approximately 1 microM) decreased rather than increased proinflammatory cytokine mRNA levels, including interleukin 1 beta (IL1B), interleukin 6 (IL6), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF), in a dose-dependent manner in human amnion fibroblasts. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assay revealed that glucocorticoid receptor was bound to PLA2G4A promoter in human amnion fibroblasts upon cortisol stimulation. This was confirmed by electrophoretic mobility shift assay showing that nuclear protein extracted from human amnion fibroblasts upon cortisol stimulation could bind the synthesized oligonucleotide sequence corresponding to PLA2G4A promoter region from -95 bp to -65 bp bearing the putative glucocorticoid response element. This binding was super shifted by glucocorticoid receptor antibody. In conclusion, we demonstrated in this study that cortisol increased PLA2G4A mRNA level via GR-dependent ongoing transcription in human amnion fibroblasts by activating the binding of GR to PLA2G4A promoter directly, and this effect appeared unlikely to be secondary to the effect of cortisol on the expression of proinflammatory cytokines in human amnion fibroblasts.
    Biology of Reproduction 02/2008; 78(1):193-7. · 4.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The amount of cortisol available to its receptors is increased by the pre-receptor enzyme 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11beta-HSD1) which converts cortisone to cortisol. We examined the molecular mechanisms of the feedback effect of cortisol on 11beta-HSD1 mRNA expression in human amnion fibroblasts. Our data showed that cortisol-induced 11beta-HSD1 mRNA expression dose dependently in amnion fibroblasts, which could be completely blocked both by the mRNA transcription inhibitor 5,6-dichlorobenzimidazole riboside and by the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) antagonist RU486, and partially blocked by global inhibition of CCAAT/enhancer-binding proteins (C/EBPs) with transfection of C/EBP-specific dominant-negative expression CMV500 plasmid (AC/EBP) into the cells. Likewise, the induction of the promoter activity by cortisol could also be completely blocked by RU486 and partially by AC/EBP transfection. Progressive 5' deletion of the 11beta-HSD1promoter located the region responsible for cortisol's induction within -204 bp upstream to the transcription start site. Specific nucleotide mutations of the putative glucocorticoid responsive element or CCAAT in this promoter region attenuated the induction by cortisol. Moreover, chromatin immunoprecipitation assay and electrophoretic mobility shift assay showed that GR and C/EBPalpha but not C/EBPbeta could bind this promoter region upon cortisol stimulation of amnion fibroblasts. In conclusion, we demonstrated that GR and C/EBPalpha were involved in cortisol-induced 11beta-HSD1 mRNA expression via binding to 11beta-HSD1 promoter in amnion fibroblasts, which may cast a feed-forward production of cortisol in the fetal membranes at the end of gestation.
    Journal of Endocrinology 12/2007; 195(2):241-53. · 4.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chorion is the most abundant site of 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11beta-HSD1) expression within intrauterine tissues. It is important to study the regulation of 11beta-HSD1 expression in the chorion in terms of local cortisol production during pregnancy. Using real-time PCR and enzyme activity assay, we found that cortisol (1 mum) and IL-1beta (10 ng/ml) for 24 h significantly increased 11beta-HSD1 mRNA expression and reductase activity in cultured human chorionic trophoblasts. A further significant increase of 11beta-HSD1 mRNA expression and reductase activity was observed with cotreatment of cortisol and IL-1beta. To explore the mechanism of induction, 11beta-HSD1 promoter was cloned into pGL3 plasmid expressing a luciferase reporter gene. By transfecting the constructed vector into WISH cells, an amnion-derived cell line, we found that cortisol (1 microM) or IL-1beta (10 ng/ml) significantly increased reporter gene expression. Likewise, an additional increase in reporter gene expression was observed with cotreatment of cortisol and IL-beta. To explore the physiological significance of 11beta-HSD1 induction in the chorion, we studied the effect of cortisol on cytosolic phospholipase A(2) and cyclooxygenase 2 expression. We found that treatment of chorionic trophoblast cells with cortisol (1 microM) induced both cytosolic phospholipase A(2) and cyclooxygenase 2 mRNA expression. We conclude that cortisol up-regulates 11beta-HSD1 expression through induction of promoter activity, and the effect was enhanced by IL-1beta, suggesting that more biologically active glucocorticoids could be generated in the fetal membranes in the presence of infection, which may consequently feed forward in up-regulation of prostaglandin synthesis.
    Endocrinology 05/2006; 147(5):2490-5. · 4.72 Impact Factor