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Publications 11

Abstract Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) develop a variety of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). We previously characterized a murine model of neurogenic bladder dysfunction induced by a neurotropic strain of a coronavirus. In the present study, we further study the role of long-lasting neurodegeneration on the development of neurogenic bladder dysfunction in mice with corona-virus induced encephalitis (CIE). Long-term follow up study revealed three phenotypes of neurodegenerative symptom development: recovery (REC group), chronic progression (C-PRO group) and chronic disease with relapsing-remitting episodes (C-RELAP group). The levels of IL-1β in REC group, IL-10 in C-RELAP group, and IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10 and TNF-α in C-PRO group were diminished in the brain. The levels of TNF-α in REC group and INF-γ, IL-2, TGF-β and TNF-α in the C-PRO group were also diminished in the urinary bladder. Mice in C-RELAP group showed a delayed recovery of voiding function. In vitro contractility studies determined a decreased basal detrusor tone and reduced amplitude of nerve-mediated contractions in C-RELAP group, whereas C-PRO group had elevated muscle-mediated contractions. In conclusion, mice with CIE developed three phenotypes of neurologic impairment mimicking different types of MS progression in humans and showed differential mechanisms driving neurogenic bladder dysfunction.

During mammary gland involution, the organ undergoes extensive remodeling. Here, the authors explore the role of mammary gland adipose tissue (mgWAT) in this process and demonstrate that adipocyte hypertrophy and lipid trafficking underlie mgWAT expansion and epithelial regression.

Abstract Background/Objectives The current obesity epidemic has spurred exploration of the developmental origin of adult heath and disease. A mother’s dietary choices and health can affect both the early wellbeing and lifelong disease-risk of the offspring. Subjects/Methods To determine if changes in the mother’s diet and adiposity have long-term effects on the baby’s metabolism, independently from a prenatal insult, we utilized a mouse model of diet-induced-obesity and cross-fostering. All pups were born to lean dams fed a low fat diet but were fostered onto lean or obese dams fed a high fat diet. This study design allowed us to discern the effects of a poor diet from those of mother’s adiposity and metabolism. The weaned offspring were placed on a high fat diet to test their metabolic function. Results In this feeding challenge, all male (but not female) offspring developed metabolic dysfunction. We saw increased weight gain in the pups nursed on an obesity-resistant dam fed a high fat diet, and increased pathogenesis including liver steatosis and adipose tissue inflammation, when compared to pups nursed on either obesity-prone dams on a high fat diet or lean dams on a low fat diet. Conclusion Exposure to maternal over-nutrition, through the milk, is sufficient to shape offspring health outcomes in a sex- and organ-specific manner, and milk from a mother who is obesity-prone may partially protect the offspring from the insult of a poor diet.

Profiling of RNA from mouse mammary epithelial cells (MECs) isolated on pregnancy day (P)14 and lactation day (L)2 revealed that the majority of differentially expressed microRNA declined precipitously between late pregnancy and lactation. The decline in miR-150, which exhibited the greatest fold-decrease, was verified quantitatively and qualitatively. To test the hypothesis that the decline in miR-150 is crucial for lactation, MEC-specific constitutive miR-150 was achieved by crossing ROSA26-lox-STOP-lox-miR-150 mice with WAP-driven Cre recombinase mice. Both biological and foster pups nursed by bitransgenic dams exhibited a dramatic decrease in survival compared with offspring nursed by littermate control dams. Protein products of predicted miR-150 targets Fasn , Olah , Acaca , and Stat5B were significantly suppressed in MECs of bitransgenic mice with constitutive miR-150 expression as compared with control mice at L2. Lipid profiling revealed a significant reduction in fatty acids synthesized by the de novo pathway in L2 MECs of bitransgenic versus control mice. Collectively, these data support the hypothesis that a synchronized decrease in miRNAs, such as miR-150, at late pregnancy serves to allow translation of targets crucial for lactation.


: Increased maternal body mass index (BMI) is a robust risk factor for later pediatric obesity. Accumulating evidence suggests that human milk (HM) may attenuate the transfer of obesity from mother to offspring, potentially through its effects on early development of the infant microbiome.Objectives: Our objective was to identify early differences in intestinal microbiota in a cohort of breastfeeding infants born to obese compared with normal-weight (NW) mothers. We also investigated relations between HM hormones (leptin and insulin) and both the taxonomic and functional potentials of the infant microbiome.Design: Clinical data and infant stool and fasting HM samples were collected from 18 NW [prepregnancy BMI (in kg/m2) <24.0] and 12 obese (prepregnancy BMI >30.0) mothers and their exclusively breastfed infants at 2 wk postpartum. Infant body composition at 2 wk was determined by air-displacement plethysmography. Infant gastrointestinal microbes were estimated by using 16S amplicon and whole-genome sequencing. HM insulin and leptin were determined by ELISA; short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) were measured in stool samples by using gas chromatography. Power was set at 80%.


: Infants born to obese mothers were exposed to 2-fold higher HM insulin and leptin concentrations (P < 0.01) and showed a significant reduction in the early pioneering bacteria Gammaproteobacteria (P = 0.03) and exhibited a trend for elevated total SCFA content (P < 0.06). Independent of maternal prepregnancy BMI, HM insulin was positively associated with both microbial taxonomic diversity (P = 0.03) and Gammaproteobacteria (e.g., Enterobacteriaceae; P = 0.04) and was negatively associated with Lactobacillales (e.g., Streptococcaceae; P = 0.05). Metagenomic analysis showed that HM leptin and insulin were associated with decreased bacterial proteases, which are implicated in intestinal permeability, and reduced concentrations of pyruvate kinase, a biomarker of pediatric gastrointestinal inflammation.


: Our results indicate that, although maternal obesity may adversely affect the early infant intestinal microbiome, HM insulin and leptin are independently associated with beneficial microbial metabolic pathways predicted to increase intestinal barrier function and reduce intestinal inflammation. This trial was registered at as NCT01693406.

Claudins are a large family of membrane proteins whose classic function is to regulate the permeability of tight junctions in epithelia. They are tetraspanins, with four alpha-helices crossing the membrane, two extracellular loops, a short cytoplasmic N-terminus and a longer and more variable C-terminus. The extracellular ends of the helices are known to undergo side-to-side (cis) interactions that allow the formation of claudin polymers in the plane of the membrane. The extracellular loops also engage in head-to-head (trans) interactions thought to mediate the formation of tight junctions. However, claudins are also present in intracellular structures, thought to be vesicles, with less well-characterized functions. Here, we briefly review our current understanding of claudin structure and function followed by an examination of changes in claudin mRNA and protein expression and localization through mammary gland development. Claudins-1, 3, 4, 7, and 8 are the five most prominent members of the claudin family in the mouse mammary gland, with varied abundance and intracellular localization during the different stages of post-pubertal development. Claudin-1 is clearly localized to tight junctions in mammary ducts in non-pregnant non-lactating animals. Cytoplasmic puncta that stain for claudin-7 are present throughout development. During pregnancy claudin-3 is localized both to the tight junction and basolaterally while claudin-4 is found only in sparse puncta. In the lactating mouse both claudin-3 and claudin-8 are localized at the tight junction where they may be important in forming the paracellular barrier. At involution and under challenge by lipopolysaccharide claudins −1, −3, and −4 are significantly upregulated. Claudin-3 is still colocalized with tight junction molecules but is also distributed through the cytoplasm as is claudin-4. These largely descriptive data provide the essential framework for future mechanistic studies of the function and regulation of mammary epithelial cell claudins.Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10911-017-9379-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Background/ObjectivesExcessive infant weight gain in the first 6-months of life is a powerful predictor of childhood obesity and related health risks. In mice, omega-6 fatty acids (FA) serve as potent ligands driving adipogenesis during early development. The ratio of omega-6 relative to omega-3 (n-6/n-3) FA in human milk (HM) has increased 3-fold over the last 30 years, but the impact of this shift on infant adipose development remains undetermined. This study investigated how maternal obesity and maternal dietary FA (as reflected in maternal red blood cells (RBC) composition) influenced HM n-6 and n-3 FAs, and whether the HM n-6/n-3 ratio was associated with changes in infant adipose deposition between 2-weeks and 4-months postpartum.Subjects/


Forty-eight infants from normal-weight (NW), overweight (OW) and obese (OB) mothers were exclusively or predominantly breastfed over the first 4 months of lactation. Mid-feed HM and maternal RBC were collected at either transitional (2-weeks) or established (4-months) lactation, along with infant body composition assessed using air-displacement plethysmography. The FA composition of HM and maternal RBC was measured quantitatively by lipid mass spectrometry.


In transitional and established HM, DHA was lower (P=0.008; 0.005) and the AA/DHA+EPA ratio was higher (P=0.05; 0.02) in the OB relative to the NW group. Maternal prepregnancy BMI and AA/ DHA+EPA ratios in transitional and established HM were moderately correlated (P=0.018; 0.001). Total infant fat mass was increased in the upper AA/DHA+EPA tertile of established HM relative to the lower tertile (P=0.019). The amount of changes in infant fat mass and % body fat were predicted by AA/EPA+DHA ratios in established HM (P=0.038; 0.010).


Perinatal infant exposures to a high AA/EPA+DHA ratio during the first 4-months of life, which is primarily reflective of maternal dietary FA, may significantly contribute to the way infants accumulate adipose.

Spot14 (S14), encoded by the THRSP gene, regulates de novo fatty acid synthesis in the liver, adipose, and lactating mammary gland. We recently showed that S14 stimulated fatty acid synthase (FASN) activity in vitro, and increased the synthesis of fatty acids in mammary epithelial cells in vivo. Elevated de novo fatty acid synthesis is a distinguishing feature of many solid tumors compared with adjacent normal tissue. This characteristic is thought to be acquired during tumor progression, as rapidly proliferating cells have a heightened requirement for membrane phospholipids. Further, overexpression of FASN is sufficient to stimulate cell proliferation. While many studies have focused on the FASN enzyme in cancer biology, few studies have addressed the roles of proteins that modify FASN activity, such as S14.

Tumor cells exhibit an altered metabolism characterized by elevated aerobic glycolysis and lactate secretion which is supported by an increase in glucose transport and consumption. We hypothesized that reducing or eliminating the expression of the most prominently expressed glucose transporter(s) would decrease the amount of glucose available to breast cancer cells thereby decreasing their metabolic capacity and proliferative potential.Of the 12 GLUT family glucose transporters expressed in mice, GLUT1 was the most abundantly expressed at the RNA level in the mouse mammary tumors from MMTV-c-ErbB2 mice and cell lines examined. Reducing GLUT1 expression in mouse mammary tumor cell lines using shRNA or Cre/Lox technology reduced glucose transport, glucose consumption, lactate secretion and lipid synthesis in vitro without altering the concentration of ATP, as well as reduced growth on plastic and in soft agar. The growth of tumor cells with reduced GLUT1 expression was impaired when transplanted into the mammary fat pad of athymic nude mice in vivo. Overexpression of GLUT1 in a cell line with low levels of endogenous GLUT1 increased glucose transport in vitro and enhanced growth in nude mice in vivo as compared to the control cells with very low levels of GLUT1.These studies demonstrate that GLUT1 is the major glucose transporter in mouse mammary carcinoma models overexpressing ErbB2 or PyVMT and that modulation of the level of GLUT1 has an effect upon the growth of mouse mammary tumor cell lines in vivo.

The molecular events underlying mammary development during pregnancy, lactation, and involution are incompletely understood. Mammary gland microarray data, cellular localization data, protein-protein interactions, and literature-mined genes were integrated and analyzed using statistics, principal component analysis, gene ontology analysis, pathway analysis, and network analysis to identify global biological principles that govern molecular events during pregnancy, lactation, and involution. Several key principles were derived: (1) nearly a third of the transcriptome fluctuates to build, run, and disassemble the lactation apparatus; (2) genes encoding the secretory machinery are transcribed prior to lactation; (3) the diversity of the endogenous portion of the milk proteome is derived from fewer than 100 transcripts; (4) while some genes are differentially transcribed near the onset of lactation, the lactation switch is primarily post-transcriptionally mediated; (5) the secretion of materials during lactation occurs not by up-regulation of novel genomic functions, but by widespread transcriptional suppression of functions such as protein degradation and cell-environment communication; (6) the involution switch is primarily transcriptionally mediated; and (7) during early involution, the transcriptional state is partially reverted to the pre-lactation state. A new hypothesis for secretory diminution is suggested – milk production gradually declines because the secretory machinery is not transcriptionally replenished. A comprehensive network of protein interactions during lactation is assembled and new regulatory gene targets are identified. Less than one fifth of the transcriptionally regulated nodes in this lactation network have been previously explored in the context of lactation. Implications for future research in mammary and cancer biology are discussed.

The transition from pregnancy to lactation is a critical event in the survival of the newborn since all the nutrient requirements of the infant are provided by milk. While milk contains numerous components, including proteins, that aid in maintaining the health of the infant, lactose and milk fat represent the critical energy providing elements of milk. Much of the research to date on mammary epithelial differentiation has focused upon expression of milk protein genes, providing a somewhat distorted view of alveolar differentiation and secretory activation. While expression of milk protein genes increases during pregnancy and at secretory activation, the genes whose expression is more tightly regulated at this transition are those that regulate lipid biosynthesis. The sterol regulatory element binding protein (SREBP) family of transcription factors is recognized as regulating fatty acid and cholesterol biosynthesis. We propose that SREBP1 is a critical regulator of secretory activation with regard to lipid biosynthesis, in a manner that responds to diet, and that the serine/threonine protein kinase Akt influences this process, resulting in a highly efficient lipid synthetic organ that is able to support the nutritional needs of the newborn.