The Mexican tetra, Astyanax mexicanus, has undergone remarkable physiological and behavioral changes in order to colonize a number of subterranean caves in the Sierra de El Abra region of Mexico. A hallmark of cave-adapted populations is enhanced survival under low-nutrient conditions coupled with hyperglycemia, increased body fat, and insulin resistance, but cavefish appear to avoid the progression of the respective pathologies associated with these conditions and do not exhibit reduced longevity. The metabolic strategies underlying these adaptations are not fully understood. Here, we provide an untargeted metabolomics study of long- and short-term fasting in two A. mexicanus cave populations and one surface population. We find that, although cavefish share many similarities with metabolic syndrome normally associated with the human state of obesity, important differences emerge, including cholesterol esters, urate, intermediates of protein glycation, metabolites associated with hypoxia and longevity, and unexpectedly elevated levels of ascorbate (vitamin C). This work highlights the fact that certain metabolic features associated with human pathologies are not intrinsically harmful in all organisms, and suggests promising avenues for future investigation into the role of certain metabolites in evolutionary adaptation and health. We provide a transparent pipeline for reproducing our analysis and a Shiny app for other researchers to explore and visualize our dataset.
Limb skeleton forms through the process of endochondral ossification. This process of osteogenesis proceeds through an intermediate cartilage template and involves several stages of chondrocyte maturation and eventual bone formation. During the process of endochondral ossification, interplay between BMP and WNT signaling regulate simultaneous differentiation of articular and transient cartilage. In this review, we focus on the recent literature which explores the simultaneous differentiation of these two different types of cartilage. We discuss a new paradigm of developmental biology-inspired tissue engineering of bone and cartilage grafts and provide novel insight into treatment of osteoporosis.
Insights from organisms, which have evolved natural strategies for promoting survivability under extreme environmental pressures, may help guide future research into novel approaches for enhancing human longevity. The cave-adapted Mexican tetra, Astyanax mexicanus, has attracted interest as a model system for metabolic resilience, a term we use to denote the property of maintaining health and longevity under conditions that would be highly deleterious in other organisms (Figure 1). Cave-dwelling populations of Mexican tetra exhibit elevated blood glucose, insulin resistance and hypertrophic visceral adipocytes compared to surface-dwelling counterparts. However, cavefish appear to avoid pathologies typically associated with these conditions, such as accumulation of advanced-glycation-end-products (AGEs) and chronic tissue inflammation. The metabolic strategies underlying the resilience properties of A. mexicanus cavefish, and how they relate to environmental challenges of the cave environment, are poorly understood. Here, we provide an untargeted metabolomics study of long- and short-term fasting in two A. mexicanus cave populations and one surface population. We find that, although the metabolome of cavefish bears many similarities with pathological conditions such as metabolic syndrome, cavefish also exhibit features not commonly associated with a pathological condition, and in some cases considered indicative of an overall robust metabolic condition. These include a reduction in cholesteryl esters and intermediates of protein glycation, and an increase in antioxidants and metabolites associated with hypoxia and longevity. This work suggests that certain metabolic features associated with human pathologies are either not intrinsically harmful, or can be counteracted by reciprocal adaptations. We provide a transparent pipeline for reproducing our analysis and a Shiny app for other researchers to explore and visualize our dataset.
In vitroassays are crucial tools for gaining detailed insights into various biological processes, including metabolism. Cave morphs of the river-dwelling fish species,Astyanax mexicanus, have adapted their metabolism allowing them to thrive in the biodiversity-deprived and nutrient-limited environment of caves. Liver-derived cells from the cave and river morphs ofAstyanax mexicanushave proven to be excellentin vitroresources to better understand the unique metabolism of these fish. However, the current 2D cultures have not fully captured the complex metabolic profile of theAstyanaxliver. It is known that 3D culturing can modulate the transcriptomic state of cells when compared to its 2D monolayer culture. Therefore, in order to broaden the possibilities of thein vitrosystem by modeling a wider gamut of metabolic pathways, we cultured the liver-derivedAstyanaxcells of both surface and cavefish into 3D spheroids. We successfully established 3D cultures at various cell seeding densities for several weeks and characterized the resultant transcriptomic and metabolic variations. We found that the 3D culturedAstyanaxcells represent a wider range of metabolic pathways, including cell cycle changes and antioxidant activities, associated with liver functioning as compared to its monolayer culture. Additionally, the spheroids also exhibited surface and cave-specific metabolic signatures, making it a suitable system for evolutionary studies associated with cave adaptation. Taken together, the liver-derived spheroids prove to be a promisingin vitromodel for widening our understanding of metabolism inAstyanax mexicanusand of vertebrates in general.
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