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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Fatty Acid-Treated Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Human Cardiomyocytes Exhibit Adult Cardiomyocyte-Like Energy Metabolism Phenotypes
Cells 2019, 8(9), 1095; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8091095 - 17 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cardiomyocytes (CMs) (iPSC-CMs) are a promising cell source for myocardial regeneration, disease modeling and drug assessment. However, iPSC-CMs exhibit immature fetal CM-like characteristics that are different from adult CMs in several aspects, including cellular structure and metabolism. [...] Read more.
Human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cardiomyocytes (CMs) (iPSC-CMs) are a promising cell source for myocardial regeneration, disease modeling and drug assessment. However, iPSC-CMs exhibit immature fetal CM-like characteristics that are different from adult CMs in several aspects, including cellular structure and metabolism. As an example, glycolysis is a major energy source for immature CMs. As CMs mature, the mitochondrial oxidative capacity increases, with fatty acid β-oxidation becoming a key energy source to meet the heart’s high energy demand. The immaturity of iPSC-CMs thereby limits their applications. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the energy substrate fatty acid-treated iPSC-CMs exhibit adult CM-like metabolic properties. After 20 days of differentiation from human iPSCs, iPSC-CMs were sequentially cultured with CM purification medium (lactate+/glucose-) for 7 days and maturation medium (fatty acids+/glucose-) for 3–7 days by mimicking the adult CM’s preference of utilizing fatty acids as a major metabolic substrate. The purity and maturity of iPSC-CMs were characterized via the analysis of: (1) Expression of CM-specific markers (e.g., troponin T, and sodium and potassium channels) using RT-qPCR, Western blot or immunofluorescence staining and electron microscopy imaging; and (2) cell energy metabolic profiles using the XF96 Extracellular Flux Analyzer. iPSCs-CMs (98% purity) cultured in maturation medium exhibited enhanced elongation, increased mitochondrial numbers with more aligned Z-lines, and increased expression of matured CM-related genes, suggesting that fatty acid-contained medium promotes iPSC-CMs to undergo maturation. In addition, the oxygen consumption rate (OCR) linked to basal respiration, ATP production, and maximal respiration and spare respiratory capacity (representing mitochondrial function) was increased in matured iPSC-CMs. Mature iPSC-CMs also displayed a larger change in basal and maximum respirations due to the utilization of exogenous fatty acids (palmitate) compared with non-matured control iPSC-CMs. Etomoxir (a carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 inhibitor) but not 2-deoxyglucose (an inhibitor of glycolysis) abolished the palmitate pretreatment-mediated OCR increases in mature iPSC-CMs. Collectively, our data demonstrate for the first time that fatty acid treatment promotes metabolic maturation of iPSC-CMs (as evidenced by enhanced mitochondrial oxidative function and strong capacity of utilizing fatty acids as energy source). These matured iPSC-CMs might be a promising human CM source for broad biomedical application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cell-based Therapy and Disease Modeling)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Melatonin Effects on Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Are Related to MicroRNA-34a-5p/Sirt1 Axis and Autophagy
Cells 2019, 8(9), 1053; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8091053 - 08 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Melatonin, an indole produced by pineal and extrapineal tissues, but also taken with a vegetarian diet, has strong anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-obesogenic potentials. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the hepatic side of the metabolic syndrome. NAFLD is a still reversible phase but [...] Read more.
Melatonin, an indole produced by pineal and extrapineal tissues, but also taken with a vegetarian diet, has strong anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-obesogenic potentials. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the hepatic side of the metabolic syndrome. NAFLD is a still reversible phase but may evolve into steatohepatitis (NASH), cirrhosis and carcinoma. Currently, an effective therapy for blocking NAFLD staging is lacking. Silent information regulator 1 (SIRT1), a NAD+ dependent histone deacetylase, modulates the energetic metabolism in the liver. Micro-RNA-34a-5p, a direct inhibitor of SIRT1, is an emerging indicator of NAFLD grading. Thus, here we analyzed the effects of oral melatonin against NAFLD and underlying molecular mechanisms, focusing on steatosis, ER stress, mitochondrial shape and autophagy. Male C57BL/6J (WT) and SIRT1 heterozygous (HET) mice were placed either on a high-fat diet (58.4% energy from lard) (HFD) or on a standard maintenance diet (8.4% energy from lipids) for 16 weeks, drinking melatonin (10 mg/kg) or not. Indirect calorimetry, glucose tolerance, steatosis, inflammation, ER stress, mitochondrial changes, autophagy and microRNA-34a-5p expression were estimated. Melatonin improved hepatic metabolism and steatosis, influenced ER stress and mitochondrial shape, and promoted autophagy in WT HFD mice. Conversely, melatonin was ineffective in HET HFD mice, maintaining NASH changes. Indeed, autophagy was inconsistent in HET HFD or starved mice, as indicated by LC3II/LC3I ratio, p62/SQSTM1 and autophagosomes estimation. The beneficial role of melatonin in dietary induced NAFLD/NASH in mice was related to reduced expression of microRNA-34a-5p and sterol regulatory element-binding protein (SREBP1) but only in the presence of full SIRT1 availability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Melatonin in Human Health and Diseases)
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Review

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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
FOXO3a from the Nucleus to the Mitochondria: A Round Trip in Cellular Stress Response
Cells 2019, 8(9), 1110; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8091110 - 19 Sep 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Cellular stress response is a universal mechanism that ensures the survival or negative selection of cells in challenging conditions. The transcription factor Forkhead box protein O3 (FOXO3a) is a core regulator of cellular homeostasis, stress response, and longevity since it can modulate a [...] Read more.
Cellular stress response is a universal mechanism that ensures the survival or negative selection of cells in challenging conditions. The transcription factor Forkhead box protein O3 (FOXO3a) is a core regulator of cellular homeostasis, stress response, and longevity since it can modulate a variety of stress responses upon nutrient shortage, oxidative stress, hypoxia, heat shock, and DNA damage. FOXO3a activity is regulated by post-translational modifications that drive its shuttling between different cellular compartments, thereby determining its inactivation (cytoplasm) or activation (nucleus and mitochondria). Depending on the stress stimulus and subcellular context, activated FOXO3a can induce specific sets of nuclear genes, including cell cycle inhibitors, pro-apoptotic genes, reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavengers, autophagy effectors, gluconeogenic enzymes, and others. On the other hand, upon glucose restriction, 5′-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and mitogen activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) -dependent FOXO3a mitochondrial translocation allows the transcription of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) genes, restoring cellular ATP levels, while in cancer cells, mitochondrial FOXO3a mediates survival upon genotoxic stress induced by chemotherapy. Interestingly, these target genes and their related pathways are diverse and sometimes antagonistic, suggesting that FOXO3a is an adaptable player in the dynamic homeostasis of normal and stressed cells. In this review, we describe the multiple roles of FOXO3a in cellular stress response, with a focus on both its nuclear and mitochondrial functions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Stress Responses)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Trends and Challenges in Tumor Anti-Angiogenic Therapies
Cells 2019, 8(9), 1102; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8091102 - 18 Sep 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Excessive abnormal angiogenesis plays a pivotal role in tumor progression and is a hallmark of solid tumors. This process is driven by an imbalance between pro- and anti-angiogenic factors dominated by the tissue hypoxia-triggered overproduction of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF-mediated signaling [...] Read more.
Excessive abnormal angiogenesis plays a pivotal role in tumor progression and is a hallmark of solid tumors. This process is driven by an imbalance between pro- and anti-angiogenic factors dominated by the tissue hypoxia-triggered overproduction of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF-mediated signaling has quickly become one of the most promising anti-angiogenic therapeutic targets in oncology. Nevertheless, the clinical efficacy of this approach is severely limited in certain tumor types or shows only transient efficacy in patients. Acquired or intrinsic therapy resistance associated with anti-VEGF monotherapeutic approaches indicates the necessity of a paradigm change when targeting neoangiogenesis in solid tumors. In this context, the elaboration of the conceptual framework of “vessel normalization” might be a promising approach to increase the efficacy of anti-angiogenic therapies and the survival rates of patients. Indeed, the promotion of vessel maturation instead of regressing tumors by vaso-obliteration could result in reduced tumor hypoxia and improved drug delivery. The implementation of such anti-angiogenic strategies, however, faces several pitfalls due to the potential involvement of multiple pro-angiogenic factors and modulatory effects of the innate and adaptive immune system. Thus, effective treatments bypassing relapses associated with anti-VEGF monotherapies or breaking the intrinsic therapy resistance of solid tumors might use combination therapies or agents with a multimodal mode of action. This review enumerates some of the current approaches and possible future directions of treating solid tumors by targeting neovascularization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Angiogenesis in Cancer)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Membrane-Bound Meet Membraneless in Health and Disease
Cells 2019, 8(9), 1000; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8091000 - 29 Aug 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Membraneless organelles (MLOs) are defined as cellular structures that are not sealed by a lipidic membrane and are shown to form by phase separation. They exist in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm that is also heavily populated by numerous membrane-bound organelles. Even [...] Read more.
Membraneless organelles (MLOs) are defined as cellular structures that are not sealed by a lipidic membrane and are shown to form by phase separation. They exist in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm that is also heavily populated by numerous membrane-bound organelles. Even though the name membraneless suggests that MLOs are free of membrane, both membrane and factors regulating membrane trafficking steps are emerging as important components of MLO formation and function. As a result, we name them biocondensates. In this review, we examine the relationships between biocondensates and membrane. First, inhibition of membrane trafficking in the early secretory pathway leads to the formation of biocondensates (P-bodies and Sec bodies). In the same vein, stress granules have a complex relationship with the cyto-nuclear transport machinery. Second, membrane contributes to the regulated formation of phase separation in the cells and we will present examples including clustering at the plasma membrane and at the synapse. Finally, the whole cell appears to transit from an interphase phase-separated state to a mitotic diffuse state in a DYRK3 dependent manner. This firmly establishes a crosstalk between the two types of cell organization that will need to be further explored. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane Traffic in Health and Disease)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Physiology, Pathology and Regeneration of Salivary Glands
Cells 2019, 8(9), 976; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8090976 - 26 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Salivary glands are essential structures in the oral cavity. A variety of diseases, such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, infections and physical traumas, can alter the functionality of these glands, greatly impacting the quality of life of patients. To date, no definitive therapeutic approach [...] Read more.
Salivary glands are essential structures in the oral cavity. A variety of diseases, such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, infections and physical traumas, can alter the functionality of these glands, greatly impacting the quality of life of patients. To date, no definitive therapeutic approach can compensate the impairment of salivary glands, and treatment are purely symptomatic. Understanding the cellular and molecular control of salivary glands function is, therefore, highly relevant for therapeutic purposes. In this review, we provide a starting platform for future studies in basic biology and clinical research, reporting classical ideas on salivary gland physiology and recently developed technology to guide regeneration, reconstruction and substitution of the functional organs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cell Therapy in Oral and Maxillofacial Region)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
TGFβ/BMP Signaling Pathway in Cartilage Homeostasis
Cells 2019, 8(9), 969; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8090969 - 24 Aug 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Cartilage homeostasis is governed by articular chondrocytes via their ability to modulate extracellular matrix production and degradation. In turn, chondrocyte activity is regulated by growth factors such as those of the transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) family. Members of this family include the [...] Read more.
Cartilage homeostasis is governed by articular chondrocytes via their ability to modulate extracellular matrix production and degradation. In turn, chondrocyte activity is regulated by growth factors such as those of the transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) family. Members of this family include the TGFβs, bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), and growth and differentiation factors (GDFs). Signaling by this protein family uniquely activates SMAD-dependent signaling and transcription but also activates SMAD-independent signaling via MAPKs such as ERK and TAK1. This review will address the pivotal role of the TGFβ family in cartilage biology by listing several TGFβ family members and describing their signaling and importance for cartilage maintenance. In addition, it is discussed how (pathological) processes such as aging, mechanical stress, and inflammation contribute to altered TGFβ family signaling, leading to disturbed cartilage metabolism and disease. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue TGF-beta/BMP Signaling Pathway)
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceReview
Dynamics of Dynamin-Related Protein 1 in Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Diseases
Cells 2019, 8(9), 961; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8090961 - 23 Aug 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
The purpose of this article is to highlight the role of dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1) in abnormal mitochondrial dynamics, mitochondrial fragmentation, autophagy/mitophagy, and neuronal damage in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and [...] Read more.
The purpose of this article is to highlight the role of dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1) in abnormal mitochondrial dynamics, mitochondrial fragmentation, autophagy/mitophagy, and neuronal damage in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and obesity. Dynamin-related protein 1 is one of the evolutionarily highly conserved large family of GTPase proteins. Drp1 is critical for mitochondrial division, size, shape, and distribution throughout the neuron, from cell body to axons, dendrites, and nerve terminals. Several decades of intense research from several groups revealed that Drp1 is enriched at neuronal terminals and involved in synapse formation and synaptic sprouting. Different phosphorylated forms of Drp1 acts as both increased fragmentation and/or increased fusion of mitochondria. Increased levels of Drp1 were found in diseased states and caused excessive fragmentation of mitochondria, leading to mitochondrial dysfunction and neuronal damage. In the last two decades, several Drp1 inhibitors have been developed, including Mdivi-1, Dynasore, P110, and DDQ and their beneficial effects tested using cell cultures and mouse models of neurodegenerative diseases. Recent research using genetic crossing studies revealed that a partial reduction of Drp1 is protective against mutant protein(s)-induced mitochondrial and synaptic toxicities. Based on findings from cell cultures, mouse models and postmortem brains of AD and other neurodegenerative disease, we cautiously conclude that reduced Drp1 is a promising therapeutic target for AD and other neurological diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mitochondrial Dynamics: Fusion and Fission)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Mechanisms of Chemotherapy Resistance in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer—How We Can Rise to the Challenge
Cells 2019, 8(9), 957; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8090957 - 22 Aug 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Triple-negative (TNBC) is the most lethal subtype of breast cancer owing to high heterogeneity, aggressive nature, and lack of treatment options. Chemotherapy remains the standard of care for TNBC treatment, but unfortunately, patients frequently develop resistance. Accordingly, in recent years, tremendous effort has [...] Read more.
Triple-negative (TNBC) is the most lethal subtype of breast cancer owing to high heterogeneity, aggressive nature, and lack of treatment options. Chemotherapy remains the standard of care for TNBC treatment, but unfortunately, patients frequently develop resistance. Accordingly, in recent years, tremendous effort has been made into elucidating the mechanisms of TNBC chemoresistance with the goal of identifying new molecular targets. It has become evident that the development of TNBC chemoresistance is multifaceted and based on the elaborate interplay of the tumor microenvironment, drug efflux, cancer stem cells, and bulk tumor cells. Alterations of multiple signaling pathways govern these interactions. Moreover, TNBC’s high heterogeneity, highlighted in the existence of several molecular signatures, presents a significant obstacle to successful treatment. In the present, in-depth review, we explore the contribution of key mechanisms to TNBC chemoresistance as well as emerging strategies to overcome them. We discuss novel anti-tumor agents that target the components of these mechanisms and pay special attention to their current clinical development while emphasizing the challenges still ahead of successful TNBC management. The evidence presented in this review outlines the role of crucial pathways in TNBC survival following chemotherapy treatment and highlights the importance of using combinatorial drug strategies and incorporating biomarkers in clinical studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Cancers: Breast Cancer)
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