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      Irisin deletion induces a decrease in growth and fertility in mice

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          Irisin, which is cleaved from fibronectin type III domain-containing protein 5 ( Fndc5), plays an important role in energy homeostasis. The link between energy metabolism and reproduction is well known. However, the biological actions of irisin in reproduction remain largely unexplored.


          In this study, we generated Fndc5 gene mutation to create irisin deficient mice. Female wild-type (WT) and Fndc5 mutant mice were fed with standard chow for 48 weeks. Firstly, the survival rate, body weight and fertility were described in mice. Secondly, the levels of steroid hormones in serum were measured by ELISA, and the estrus cycle and the appearance of follicles were determined by vaginal smears and ovarian continuous sections. Thirdly, mRNA-sequencing analysis was used to compare gene expression between the ovaries of Fndc5 mutant mice and those of WT mice. Finally, the effects of exogenous irisin on steroid hormone production was investigated in KGN cells.


          The mice lacking irisin presented increased mortality, reduced body weight and poor fertility. Analysis of sex hormones showed decreased levels of estradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, and elevated progesterone levels in Fndc5 mutant mice. Irisin deficiency in mice was associated with irregular estrus, reduced ratio of antral follicles. The expressions of Akr1c18, Mamld1, and Cyp19a1, which are involved in the synthesis of steroid hormones, were reduced in the ovaries of mutant mice. Exogenous irisin could promote the expression of Akr1c18, Mamld1, and Cyp19a1 in KGN cells, stimulating estradiol production and inhibiting progesterone secretion.


          Irisin deficiency was related to disordered endocrinology metabolism in mice. The irisin deficient mice showed poor growth and development, and decreased fertility. Irisin likely have effects on the expressions of Akr1c18, Mamld1 and Cyp19a1 in ovary, regulating the steroid hormone production. This study provides novel insights into the potential role of irisin in mammalian growth and reproduction.

          Supplementary Information

          The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1186/s12958-021-00702-7.

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          A PGC1α-dependent myokine that drives browning of white fat and thermogenesis

          Exercise benefits a variety of organ systems in mammals, and some of the best-recognized effects of exercise on muscle are mediated by the transcriptional coactivator PGC1α Here we show that PGC1α expression in muscle stimulates an increase in expression of Fndc5, a membrane protein that is cleaved and secreted as a new hormone, irisin. Irisin acts on white adipose cells in culture and in vivo to stimulate UCP1 expression and a broad program of brown fat-like development. Irisin is induced with exercise in mice and humans, and mildly increased irisin levels in blood cause an increase in energy expenditure in mice with no changes in movement or food intake. This results in improvements in obesity and glucose homeostasis. Irisin could be a protein therapeutic for human metabolic disease and other disorders that are improved with exercise.
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            Irisin is expressed and produced by human muscle and adipose tissue in association with obesity and insulin resistance.

            Recently irisin (encoded by Fndc5 gene) has been reported to stimulate browning and uncoupling protein 1 expression in sc adipose tissue of mice. The objective of the study was to investigate FNDC5 gene expression in human muscle and adipose tissue and circulating irisin according to obesity, insulin sensitivity, and type 2 diabetes. Adipose tissue FNDC5 gene expression and circulating irisin (ELISA) were analyzed in 2 different cohorts (n = 125 and n = 76); muscle FNDC5 expression was also evaluated in a subcohort of 34 subjects. In vitro studies in human preadipocytes and adipocytes and in induced browning of 3T3-L1 cells (by means of retinoblastoma 1 silencing) were also performed. In both sc and visceral adipose tissue, FNDC5 gene expression decreased significantly in association with obesity and was positively associated with brown adipose tissue markers, lipogenic, insulin pathway-related, mitochondrial, and alternative macrophage gene markers and negatively associated with LEP, TNFα, and FSP27 (a known repressor of brown genes). Circulating irisin and irisin levels in adipose tissue were significantly associated with FNDC5 gene expression in adipose tissue. In muscle, the FNDC5 gene was 200-fold more expressed than in adipose tissue, and its expression was associated with body mass index, PGC1α, and other mitochondrial genes. In obese participants, FNDC5 gene expression in muscle was significantly decreased in association with type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, muscle FNDC5 gene expression was significantly associated with FNDC5 and UCP1 gene expression in visceral adipose tissue. In men, circulating irisin levels were negatively associated with obesity and insulin resistance. Irisin was secreted from human adipocytes into the media, and the induction of browning in 3T3-L1 cells led to increased secreted irisin levels. Decreased circulating irisin concentration and FNDC5 gene expression in adipose tissue and muscle from obese and type 2 diabetic subjects suggests a loss of brown-like characteristics and a potential target for therapy.
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              Irisin stimulates browning of white adipocytes through mitogen-activated protein kinase p38 MAP kinase and ERK MAP kinase signaling.

              The number and activity of brown adipocytes are linked to the ability of mammals to resist body fat accumulation. In some conditions, certain white adipose tissue (WAT) depots are readily convertible to a ''brown-like'' state, which is associated with weight loss. Irisin, a newly identified hormone, is secreted by skeletal muscles into circulation and promotes WAT "browning" with unknown mechanisms. In the current study, we demonstrated in mice that recombinant irisin decreased the body weight and improved glucose homeostasis. We further showed that irisin upregulated uncoupling protein-1 (UCP-1; a regulator of thermogenic capability of brown fat) expression. This effect was possibly mediated by irisin-induced phosphorylation of the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) and extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) signaling pathways. Inhibition of the p38 MAPK by SB203580 and ERK by U0126 abolished the upregulatory effect of irisin on UCP-1. In addition, irisin also promoted the expression of betatrophin, another newly identified hormone that promotes pancreatic β-cell proliferation and improves glucose tolerance. In summary, our data suggest that irisin can potentially prevent obesity and associated type 2 diabetes by stimulating expression of WAT browning-specific genes via the p38 MAPK and ERK pathways.

                Author and article information

                Reprod Biol Endocrinol
                Reprod Biol Endocrinol
                Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology : RB&E
                BioMed Central (London )
                13 February 2021
                13 February 2021
                : 19
                [1 ]GRID grid.13291.38, ISNI 0000 0001 0807 1581, Reproductive Endocrinology and Regulation Laboratory West China Second University Hospital, Sichuan University, ; #20 Section 3, Ren Min Nan Road, Chengdu, 610041 Sichuan China
                [2 ]The Joint Laboratory for Reproductive Medicine of Sichuan University–The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Chengdu, People’s Republic of China
                [3 ]GRID grid.419897.a, ISNI 0000 0004 0369 313X, Key Laboratory of Birth Defects and Related Diseases of Women and Children (Sichuan University) Ministry of Education, ; Chengdu, People’s Republic of China
                [4 ]GRID grid.461863.e, ISNI 0000 0004 1757 9397, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, , West China Second University Hospital, Sichuan University, ; Chengdu, People’s Republic of China
                [5 ]GRID grid.261331.4, ISNI 0000 0001 2285 7943, College of Engineering, , The Ohio State University, ; Columbus, OH USA
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Open AccessThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100014718, Innovative Research Group Project of the National Natural Science Foundation of China;
                Award ID: 81671421
                Award ID: 81701413
                Award Recipient :
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                © The Author(s) 2021

                Human biology

                irisin, growth and development, hormone metabolism, reproduction


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