• Photoperiod Regulates Lean Mass Accretion, but Not Adiposity, in Growing F344 Rats Fed a High Fat Diet

      Ross, A.W.; Russell, L.; Helfer, Gisela; Thomson, L.M.; Dalby, M.J.; Morgan, P.J. (2015-03-19)
      In this study the effects of photoperiod and diet, and their interaction, were examined for their effects on growth and body composition in juvenile F344 rats over a 4-week period. On long (16L:8D), relative to short (8L:16D), photoperiod food intake and growth rate were increased, but percentage adiposity remained constant (ca 3-4%). On a high fat diet (HFD), containing 22.8% fat (45% energy as fat), food intake was reduced, but energy intake increased on both photoperiods. This led to a small increase in adiposity (up to 10%) without overt change in body weight. These changes were also reflected in plasma leptin and lipid levels. Importantly while both lean and adipose tissue were strongly regulated by photoperiod on a chow diet, this regulation was lost for adipose, but not lean tissue, on HFD. This implies that a primary effect of photoperiod is the regulation of growth and lean mass accretion. Consistent with this both hypothalamic GHRH gene expression and serum IGF-1 levels were photoperiod dependent. As for other animals and humans, there was evidence of central hyposomatotropism in response to obesity, as GHRH gene expression was suppressed by the HFD. Gene expression of hypothalamic AgRP and CRH, but not NPY nor POMC, accorded with the energy balance status on long and short photoperiod. However, there was a general dissociation between plasma leptin levels and expression of these hypothalamic energy balance genes. Similarly there was no interaction between the HFD and photoperiod at the level of the genes involved in thyroid hormone metabolism (Dio2, Dio3, TSHβ or NMU), which are important mediators of the photoperiodic response. These data suggest that photoperiod and HFD influence body weight and body composition through independent mechanisms but in each case the role of the hypothalamic energy balance genes is not predictable based on their known function.
    • Tunable Supramolecular Hydrogels for Selection of Lineage-Guiding Metabolites in Stem Cell Cultures

      Alakpa, E.V.; Jayawarna, V.; Lampel, A.; Burgess, K.V.; West, C.C.; Bakker, S.C.J.; Roy, S.; Javid, Nadeem; Fleming, S.; Lamprou, D.A.; et al. (2016-08-11)
      Stem cells are known to differentiate in response to the chemical and mechanical properties of the substrates on which they are cultured. Thus, supramolecular biomaterials with tunable properties are well suited for the study of stem cell differentiation. In this report, we exploited this phenomenon by combining stem cell differentiation in hydrogels with variable stiffness and metabolomics analysis to identify specific bioactive lipids that are uniquely used up during differentiation. To achieve this, we cultured perivascular stem cells on supramolecular peptide gels of different stiffness, and metabolite depletion followed. On soft (1 kPa), stiff (13 kPa), and rigid (32 kPa) gels, we observed neuronal, chondrogenic, and osteogenic differentiation, respectively, showing that these stem cells undergo stiffness-directed fate selection. By analyzing concentration variances of >600 metabolites during differentiation on the stiff and rigid gels (and focusing on chondrogenesis and osteogenesis as regenerative targets, respectively), we identified that specific lipids (lysophosphatidic acid and cholesterol sulfate, respectively), were significantly depleted. We propose that these metabolites are therefore involved in the differentiation process. In order to unequivocally demonstrate that the lipid metabolites that we identified play key roles in driving differentiation, we subsequently demonstrated that these individual lipids can, when fed to standard stem cell cultures, induce differentiation toward chondrocyte and osteoblast phenotypes. Our concept exploits the design of supramolecular biomaterials as a strategy for discovering cell-directing bioactive metabolites of therapeutic relevance.