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Journal: Sheng li xue bao : [Acta physiologica Sinica]


The transcription factor Nrf2, nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2, activates the transcription of over 500 genes in the human genome, most of which have cytoprotective functions. Nrf2 produces cytoprotection by detoxification mechanisms leading to increased detoxification and excretion of both organic xenobiotics and toxic metals; its action via over two dozen genes increases highly coordinated antioxidant activities; it produces major anti-inflammatory changes; it stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis and otherwise improves mitochondrial function; and it stimulates autophagy, removing toxic protein aggregates and dysfunctional organelles. Health-promoting nutrients and other factors act, at least in part by raising Nrf2 including: many phenolic antioxidants; gamma- and delta-tocopherols and tocotrienols; long chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA; many carotenoids of which lycopene may be the most active; isothiocyanates from cruciferous vegetables; sulfur compounds from allium vegetables; terpenoids. Other health promoting, Nrf2 raising factors include low level oxidative stress (hormesis), exercise and caloric restriction. Raising Nrf2 has been found to prevent and/or treat a large number of chronic inflammatory diseases in animal models and/or humans including various cardiovascular diseases, kidney diseases, lung diseases, diseases of toxic liver damage, cancer (prevention), diabetes/metabolic syndrome/obesity, sepsis, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, HIV/AIDS and epilepsy. Lesser evidence suggests that raising Nrf2 may lower 16 other diseases. Many of these diseases are probable NO/ONOO(-) cycle diseases and Nrf2 lowers effects of NO/ONOO(-) cycle elements. The most healthful diets known, traditional Mediterranean and Okinawan, are rich in Nrf2 raising nutrients as apparently was the Paleolithic diet that our ancestors ate. Modern diets are deficient in such nutrients. Nrf2 is argued to be both lifespan and healthspan extending. Possible downsides to too much Nrf2 are also discussed. Nrf2 is not a magic bullet but is likely to be of great importance in health promotion, particularly in those regularly exposed to toxic chemicals.

Concepts: Inflammation, DNA, Genetics, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Antioxidant, Omega-3 fatty acid, Inflammatory bowel disease


Under normal condition, there are a few lipid droplets in skeletal muscle. But in skeletal muscle acute injury, muscular dystrophy, muscle atrophy, obesity, diabetes and other pathological conditions, the fat deposition in skeletal muscle increases, which implicate that the fat deposition may play an important role in the pathogenesis of these diseases. However, the mechanisms of development and regulation of fat deposition in skeletal muscle are not clear. Clarifying the key signaling pathways and regulatory factors that affect fat deposition in skeletal muscle, and exploring new ways to improve the fat deposition in skeletal muscle will not only help to deepen our understanding of the pathogenesis of these diseases, but also provide new ideas for the treatment of these diseases. This paper reviews the research progresses and main mechanisms of fat deposition in skeletal muscle.

Concepts: Metabolism, Pathology, Muscle, Fat, Adipose tissue, Muscle atrophy, Muscular system, Atrophy


High altitude hypoxia is an important factor to affect fetal development during pregnancy. In the special environment, maternal physiological functions are regulated to maintain the maternal and fetal homeostasis, so that limited oxygen is to meet the needs of fetal growth and development. In this review, the literatures about the effects of hypoxic environment on fetal development during pregnancy in recent years were summarized, in which the fetal growth characteristics, maternal physiological regulation, genetic and placental influencing factors in high altitude areas were involved. This may be helpful for the reproductive healthcare of women in high altitude region, and also for the treatment and prevention of fetal growth retardation in the hypoxic environment.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Fertility, Embryology, Hypoxia, Implantation, Gestational age, Altitude sickness


Despite continued improvement in risk factor recognition and aggressive medical management, heart disease remains the number one killer in the world. Medications for primary or secondary prevention of heart disease can cause unpleasant side effects leading to non-compliance. Novel therapies are needed to serve as a complement to or alternative for current medical management. Acupuncture and more specifically electroacupuncture may serve as a safe and viable option in the cardiology clinic. This review article focuses on both mechanistic and clinical studies evaluating acupuncture’s effectiveness with symptomatic heart disease. Although continued research is needed, currently evidence warrants consideration of acupuncture’s use with myocardial ischemia, hypertension, arrhythmias, heart failure as well as autonomic dysfunction.

Concepts: Medicine, Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Heart failure, Avicenna, Heart disease, Alternative medicine, Ischaemic heart disease


Apelin is a novel endogenous active peptide. The aim of this study is to investigate whether apelin in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) can improve the cardiac function in rats subjected to thoracic surgery trauma, and whether it is involved in the protective effect of electro-acupuncture (EA). Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into non-stressed group (control), thoracic surgical trauma stressed group (trauma) and bilateral Neiguan EA applied on thoracic surgical trauma stressed group (trauma + EA-PC 6). The mRNA expressions of apelin receptor (APJR) and apelin in the PVN were detected by real time-PCR. The exogenous apelin-13 (6 mmol/L, 0.1 μL) was microinjected into the rat PVN in the thoracic trauma group, and the effects of apelin-13 on the blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR) and the discharge of rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) neurons were observed through the simultaneous recording technology by polygraph. The results showed that the APJR mRNA expression was significantly decreased in the rats of trauma group as compared with that in the control group (P < 0.05), and a decline trend of apelin mRNA expression was also observed. EA application at bilateral Neiguan acupoints partially recovered the decline of APJR and apelin mRNA expression by the treatment of thoracic trauma. Both mean arterial pressure and HR in the thoracic surgical trauma group were significantly increased by the microinjection of exogenous apelin-13 into the PVN (P < 0.05), and the single-unit discharge rate of RVLM neurons also had an increasing trend. These results suggest that apelin in the PVN can improve the cardiac function of thoracic surgical trauma rats, and may be involved in the protective effects of EA.

Concepts: Gene expression, Blood, Heart, Blood pressure, Messenger RNA, Artery, Pulse, Vein


The present study was aimed to investigate the electrophysiological characteristics of hippocampal postnatal early development mediated by α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors in rats. Forty-eight Wistar rats were divided into postnatal 0.5-, 1-, 2- and 3-month groups (n = 12). Spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs) and field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs) mediated by AMPA receptors were recorded to evaluate the changes in the intrinsic membrane properties of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons by using patch-clamp and MED64 planar microelectrode array technique respectively. The results showed that, during the period of postnatal 0.5-3 months, some of the intrinsic membrane properties of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons, such as the membrane capacitance (Cm) and the resting membrane potential (RMP), showed no significant changes, while the membrane input resistance (Rin) and the time constant (τ) of the cells were decreased significantly. The amplitude, frequency and kinetics (both rise and decay times) of sEPSCs were significantly increased during the period of postnatal 0.5-1 month, but they were all decreased during the period of postnatal 1-3 months. In addition, the range of evoked fEPSPs in hippocamal CA1 region was significantly expanded, but the fEPSP amplitudes were decreased significantly during the period of postnatal 0.5-3 months. Furthermore, the evoked fEPSPs could be significantly inhibited by extracellular application of the AMPA receptor antagonist 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX). These results suggest that AMPA receptor may act as a major type of excitatory receptor to regulate synaptic transmission and connections during the early stage of hippocampal postnatal development, which promotes the development and functional maturation of hippocampus in rats.

Concepts: Action potential, Ion channel, Hippocampus, Membrane potential, Long-term potentiation, Neurophysiology, Postsynaptic potential, Excitatory postsynaptic potential


The present study is aimed to explore the effects of endogenous carbon monoxide on the ischemia-reperfusion in rats. Wistar rats were intraperitoneally injected with protoporphyrin cobalt chloride (CoPP, an endogenous carbon monoxide agonist, 5 mg/kg), zinc protoporphyrin (ZnPP, an endogenous carbon monoxide inhibitor, 5 mg/kg) or saline. Twenty-four hours after injection, the myocardial ischemia-reperfusion model was made by Langendorff isolated cardiac perfusion system, and cardiac function parameters were collected. Myocardial cGMP content was measured by ELISA, and the endogenous carbon monoxide in plasma and myocardial enzymes in perfusate at 10 min after reperfusion were measured by colorimetry. The results showed that before ischemia the cardiac functions of CoPP, ZnPP and control groups were stable, and there were no significant differences. After reperfusion, cardiac functions had significant differences among the three groups (P < 0.05). Compared with pre-ischemia, the cardiac function decreased and obvious cardiac arrest was shown in control and ZnPP groups, while the cardiac function in CoPP group did not change significantly, maintaining a relatively stable level. At the same time, three groups' carbon monoxide level, myocardial enzymology and the cardiac function recovery time after reperfusion also had significant differences (P < 0.05). Compared with those in control group, recovery after reperfusion was faster, activities of creatine kinase and lactic dehydrogenase were significantly decreased, plasma CO and myocardial cGMP contents were significantly increased in CoPP group, while these changes were completely opposite in ZnPP group. It is concluded that endogenous carbon monoxide can maintain cardiac function, shorten the time of cardiac function recovery, and play a protective role in cardiac ischemia-reperfusion.

Concepts: Controlling for a variable, Scientific control, Enzyme, Blood, Myocardial infarction, Muscle, Ischemia, Carbon monoxide


Cholinergic receptor activation and intracellular current injection lead to the persistent activity (PA), which may be involved in inducing neural plasticity. Our previous study showed that PA is closely related to the activation of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs) in pyramidal neurons of mouse primary auditory cortex (AI). However, the subtypes of mAChRs involved in PA remain unclear. Thus, using whole-cell patch-clamp recording and pharmacological methods, we investigated the role of different mAChR subtypes in inducing PA in AI layer V pyramidal neurons of young mice. The results showed that activation of mAChRs with intracellular depolarizing current induced PA in layer V pyramidal neurons. Blockade of M1, M2 or M3 subtypes prevented the PA, whereas M4 receptor antagonists did not affect the production of PA. The results suggest that the PA may be induced through a mechanism involving M1, M2 and M3 muscarinic receptors, but not M4 subtype.

Concepts: Receptor, Neurotransmitter, Acetylcholine, Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor, Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, Acetylcholine receptor, Atropine, Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor M4


The auditory system has the ability to adjust its structure and function as the environment changes, which is called auditory plasticity. In the auditory system, inferior colliculus (IC) is an important relay station, which accepts the ascending inputs from dorsal nuclei of lateral lemniscus (DNLL). The present study was aimed to investigate the role of the DNLL in the formation of the plasticity of IC neurons. Here, we used extracellular single unit recording and electrical stimulation to investigate the plasticity of IC neurons in Kunming mice. The results showed that after the cessation of 30-minute electrical stimulation on contralateral DNLL, 95% of the inhibited IC neurons and 86% of the facilitated IC neurons showed plastic changes. Moreover, 1 h after the contralateral DNLL stimulation was stopped, the plastic changes in 74% of the inhibited IC neurons vanished, but still were maintained in 26% of the inhibited IC neurons. These results suggest that the contralateral DNLL ascending input can induce plastic changes of IC neurons, and this kind of effect can be maintained for a certain period of time, which is beneficial to enhance the sound intensity sensitivity of IC neurons.

Concepts: Present, Time, Auditory system, Superior colliculus, Brainstem, Input, Lateral lemniscus, Inferior colliculus


It has been recognized that patients with hypothyroidism have higher risks of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease, however, the mechanisms are largely unknown. Considering that macrophage dysfunction plays an important role in the formation and development of atherosclerosis plaques, this study aimed to investigate the direct effects of thyroid hormone on macrophage functions and to provide new insight for the mechanism of hypothyroid atherosclerosis. RAW264.7 cells (mouse leukaemic monocyte macrophage cell line) were incubated with oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) to establish macrophage foam cells model in vitro, and the protective effects of different concentration of thyroxine (T4) on the macrophage foam cells function were explored. The proliferation, migration and cell aging of macrophages were detected by MTT method, scratch test and β-galactosidase staining respectively. The ELISA method was used to detect the secretion of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), and interleukin-1β (IL-1β). Western blot analysis was applied to measure the phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK), which was required for the process of proliferation and migration of macrophages. The results showed that oxLDL significantly inhibited the macrophage proliferation and migration, induced cell senescence, and promoted the secretion of TNF-α, MCP-1, and IL-1β; while T4 reversed those effects of oxLDL on macrophage in a concentration-dependent manner. Moreover, oxLDL increased the phosphorylation of FAK in macrophage, while T4 concentration-dependently reversed the effect. These results suggest that T4 modulates macrophage proliferation, migration, senescence, and secretion of inflammation factors in a concentration-dependent way.

Concepts: Monocyte, Adenosine triphosphate, Senescence, Atherosclerosis, Cell biology, Macrophage, Atheroma, Thyroid hormone