GDF11 Implications in Cancer Biology and Metabolism. Facts and Controversies.
ABSTRACT: Growth Differentiation Factor 11 (GDF11), a member of the super family of the Transforming Growth Factor ?, has gained more attention in the last few years due to numerous reports regarding its functions in other systems, which are different to those related to differentiation and embryonic development, such as age-related muscle dysfunction, skin biology, metabolism, and cancer. GDF11 is expressed in many tissues, including skeletal muscle, pancreas, kidney, nervous system, and retina, among others. GDF11 circulating levels and protein content in tissues are quite variable and are affected by pathological conditions or age. Although, GDF11 biology had a lot of controversies, must of them are only misunderstandings regarding the variability of its responses, which are independent of the tissue, grade of cellular differentiation or pathologies. A blunt fact regarding GDF11 biology is that its target cells have stemness feature, a property that could be found in certain adult cells in health and in disease, such as cancer cells. This review is focused to present and analyze the recent findings in the emerging research field of GDF11 function in cancer and metabolism, and discusses the controversies surrounding the biology of this atypical growth factor.
Project description:Human skin is composed of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis. The epidermis has four major cell layers made up of keratinocytes in varying stages of progressive differentiation. Skin aging is a multi-factorial process that affects every phase of its biology and function. The expression profiles of inflammation-related genes analyzed in resident immune cells demonstrated that these cells have a strong ability to regenerate adult skin stem cells and to produce endogenous substances such as growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11). GDF11 appears to be the key to progenitor proliferation and/or differentiation. The preservation of youthful phenotypes has been tied to the presence of GDF11 in different human tissues, and, in the skin, this factor inhibits inflammatory responses. The protective role of GDF11 depends on a multi-factorial process implicating various types of skin cells such as keratinocytes, fibroblasts and inflammatory cells. GDF11 should be further studied for the purpose of developing novel therapies for the treatment of skin diseases.
Project description:RATIONALE:Possible beneficial effects of GDF11 (growth differentiation factor 11) on the normal, diseased, and aging heart have been reported, including reversing aging-induced hypertrophy. These effects have not been well validated. High levels of GDF11 have also been shown to cause cardiac and skeletal muscle wasting. These controversies could be resolved if dose-dependent effects of GDF11 were defined in normal and aged animals as well as in pressure overload-induced pathological hypertrophy. OBJECTIVE:To determine dose-dependent effects of GDF11 on normal hearts and those with pressure overload-induced cardiac hypertrophy. METHODS AND RESULTS:Twelve- to 13-week-old C57BL/6 mice underwent transverse aortic constriction (TAC) surgery. One-week post-TAC, these mice received rGDF11 (recombinant GDF11) at 1 of 3 doses: 0.5, 1.0, or 5.0 mg/kg for up to 14 days. Treatment with GDF11 increased plasma concentrations of GDF11 and p-SMAD2 in the heart. There were no significant differences in the peak pressure gradients across the aortic constriction between treatment groups at 1 week post-TAC. Two weeks of GDF11 treatment caused dose-dependent decreases in cardiac hypertrophy as measured by heart weight/tibia length ratio, myocyte cross-sectional area, and left ventricular mass. GDF11 improved cardiac pump function while preventing TAC-induced ventricular dilation and caused a dose-dependent decrease in interstitial fibrosis (in vivo), despite increasing markers of fibroblast activation and myofibroblast transdifferentiation (in vitro). Treatment with the highest dose (5.0 mg/kg) of GDF11 caused severe body weight loss, with significant decreases in both muscle and organ weights and death in both sham and TAC mice. CONCLUSIONS:Although GDF11 treatment can reduce pathological cardiac hypertrophy and associated fibrosis while improving cardiac pump function in pressure overload, high doses of GDF11 cause severe cachexia and death. Use of GDF11 as a therapy could have potentially devastating actions on the heart and other tissues.
Project description:Chronic skin wounds impose immense suffers and economic burdens. Current research mainly focuses on acute wound management which exhibits less effective in chronic wound healing. Growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) has profound effects on several important physiological processes related to chronic wound healing, such as inflammation, cell proliferation, migration, angiogenesis, and neurogenesis. This review summarizes recent advances in biology of chronic wounds and the potential role of GDF11 on wound healing with its regenerative effects, as well as the potential delivery methods of GDF11. The challenges and future perspectives of GDF11-based therapy for chronic wound care are also discussed. The Translational Potential of this Article: This review summarized the significance of GDF11 in the modulation of inflammation, vascularization, cell proliferation, and remodeling, which are important physiological processes of chronic wound healing. The potential delivery methods of GDF11 in the management of chronic wound healing is also summarized. This review may provide potential therapeutic approaches based on GDF11 for chronic wound healing.
Project description:Members of the TGF-? family of proteins are believed to play critical roles in cellular signaling processes such as those involved in muscle differentiation. The extent to which individual family members have been characterized and linked to biological function varies greatly. The role of myostatin, also known as growth differentiation factor 8 (GDF8), as an inhibitor of muscle differentiation is well understood through genetic linkages. In contrast, the role of growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) is much less well understood. In humans, the mature forms of GDF11 and myostatin are over 94% identical. In order to understand the role that the small differences in sequence may play in the differential signaling of these molecules, the crystal structure of GDF11 was determined to a resolution of 1.50 Å. A comparison of the GDF11 structure with those of other family members reveals that the canonical TGF-? domain fold is conserved. A detailed structural comparison of GDF11 and myostatin shows that several of the differences between these proteins are likely to be localized at interfaces that are critical for the interaction with downstream receptors and inhibitors.
Project description:Growth/differentiation factor 8 (GDF8) and GDF11 are two highly similar members of the transforming growth factor ? (TGF?) family. While GDF8 has been recognized as a negative regulator of muscle growth and differentiation, there are conflicting studies on the function of GDF11 and whether GDF11 has beneficial effects on age-related dysfunction. To address whether GDF8 and GDF11 are functionally identical, we compared their signaling and structural properties.Here we show that, despite their high similarity, GDF11 is a more potent activator of SMAD2/3 and signals more effectively through the type I activin-like receptor kinase receptors ALK4/5/7 than GDF8. Resolution of the GDF11:FS288 complex, apo-GDF8, and apo-GDF11 crystal structures reveals unique properties of both ligands, specifically in the type I receptor binding site. Lastly, substitution of GDF11 residues into GDF8 confers enhanced activity to GDF8.These studies identify distinctive structural features of GDF11 that enhance its potency, relative to GDF8; however, the biological consequences of these differences remain to be determined.
Project description:Growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) belongs to the TGF-? superfamily of proteins and is closely related to myostatin. Recent findings show that GDF11 has rejuvenating properties with pronounced effects on the cardiovascular system, brain, skeletal muscle, and skeleton in mice. Several human studies were also conducted, some implicating decreasing levels of circulating GDF11 with age. To date, however, there have not been any reports on its role in human skin. This study examined the impact of GDF11 on human skin, specifically related to skin aging. The effect of recombinant GDF11 on the function of various skin cells was examined in human epidermal keratinocytes, dermal fibroblasts, melanocytes, dermal microvascular endothelial cells and 3D skin equivalents, as well as in ex vivo human skin explants. GDF11 had significant effects on the production of dermal matrix components in multiple skin models in vitro and ex vivo. In addition, it had a pronounced effect on expression of multiple skin related genes in full thickness 3D skin equivalents. This work, for the first time, demonstrates an important role for GDF11 in skin biology and a potential impact on skin health and aging.
Project description:Osteoporosis is an age-related disease that affects millions of people. Growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) is a secreted member of the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-?) superfamily. Deletion of Gdf11 has been shown to result in a skeletal anterior-posterior patterning disorder. Here we show a role for GDF11 in bone remodelling. GDF11 treatment leads to bone loss in both young and aged mice. GDF11 inhibits osteoblast differentiation and also stimulates RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis through Smad2/3 and c-Fos-dependent induction of Nfatc1. Injection of GDF11 impairs bone regeneration in mice and blocking GDF11 function prevents oestrogen-deficiency-induced bone loss and ameliorates age-related osteoporosis. Our data demonstrate that GDF11 is a previously unrecognized regulator of bone remodelling and suggest that GDF11 is a potential target for treatment of osteoporosis.
Project description:Growth and differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) and myostatin (MSTN) are closely related transforming growth factor ? (TGF-?) family members, but their biological functions are quite distinct. While MSTN has been widely shown to inhibit muscle growth, GDF11 regulates skeletal patterning and organ development during embryogenesis. Postnatal functions of GDF11, however, remain less clear and controversial. Due to the perinatal lethality of Gdf11 null mice, previous studies used recombinant GDF11 protein to prove its postnatal function. However, recombinant GDF11 and MSTN proteins share nearly identical biochemical properties, and most GDF11-binding molecules have also been shown to bind MSTN, generating the possibility that the effects mediated by recombinant GDF11 protein actually reproduce the endogenous functions of MSTN. To clarify the endogenous functions of GDF11, here, we focus on genetic studies and show that Gdf11 null mice, despite significantly down-regulating Mstn expression, exhibit reduced bone mass through impaired osteoblast (OB) and chondrocyte (CH) maturations and increased osteoclastogenesis, while the opposite is observed in Mstn null mice that display enhanced bone mass. Mechanistically, Mstn deletion up-regulates Gdf11 expression, which activates bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling pathway to enhance osteogenesis. Also, mice overexpressing follistatin (FST), a MSTN/GDF11 inhibitor, exhibit increased muscle mass accompanied by bone fractures, unlike Mstn null mice that display increased muscle mass without fractures, indicating that inhibition of GDF11 impairs bone strength. Together, our findings suggest that GDF11 promotes osteogenesis in contrast to MSTN, and these opposing roles of GDF11 and MSTN must be considered to avoid the detrimental effect of GDF11 inhibition when developing MSTN/GDF11 inhibitors for therapeutic purposes.
Project description:Growth and differentiation factor 11 (GDF11; BMP11) is a circulating cytokine in the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-?) superfamily. Treatment with recombinant GDF11 (rGDF11) protein has previously been shown to reverse skeletal muscle dysfunction in aged mice. However, the actions of GDF11 in skeletal muscle are still not fully understood. Because GDF11 activates the TGF-?-SMAD2/3 pathway, we hypothesized that GDF11 overexpression would inhibit skeletal muscle growth. To test this hypothesis, we generated recombinant adeno-associated virus serotype 9 (AAV9) vectors harboring the gene for either human GDF11 (AAV9-GDF11) or human IgG1 Fc-fused GDF11 propeptide (AAV9-GDF11Pro-Fc-1) to study the effects of GDF11 overexpression or blockade on skeletal muscle growth and function in vivo. After intravenous administration of AAV9-GDF11 into neonatal C57BL/6J mice, we observed sustained limb muscle growth inhibition along with reductions in forelimb grip strength and treadmill running endurance at 16 weeks. Conversely, treatment with AAV9-GDF11Pro-Fc-1 led to increased limb muscle mass and forelimb grip strength after 28 weeks, although a difference in the total body mass/muscle mass ratio was not observed between treatment and control groups. In sum, our results suggest GDF11 overexpression has an inhibitory effect on skeletal muscle growth.
Project description:Various types of neurons and glia are generated following a precise spatial and temporal order during neurogenesis. The mechanisms that control this sequential generation of neuronal and glial cell types from the same progenitor population are not well understood. Growth differentiation factor 11 (Gdf11) belongs to the TGF-? family of proteins and is expressed transiently in newly born neurons adjacent to the progenitor domain in the developing spinal cord. We examined the phenotypes of Gdf11(-/-) mouse embryos and found that without Gdf11, neuronal differentiation in the spinal cord progresses at a slower rate. Higher progenitor proliferation rate, along with a delay in gliogenesis, is also observed in Gdf11(-/-) spinal cord but only after the peak of Gdf11 expression, indicating that Gdf11 can cause long-lasting changes in progenitor properties. These changes can be preserved in vitro, as neurospheres derived from Gdf11(-/-) and wild-type littermates at a stage after, but not before the onset of Gdf11 expression, exhibit differences in proliferation and differentiation potential. Moreover, these changes in progenitor properties can be induced in vitro by the addition of Gdf11. We also demonstrate that the effects of Gdf11 on progenitor cells are associated with its ability to upregulate p57(Kip2) and p27(Kip1) while downregulating Pax6 expression. These results support a model in which Gdf11 secreted by newly born neurons in the developing spinal cord facilitates the temporal progression of neurogenesis by acting as a positive feedback signal on the progenitor cells to promote cell cycle exit and decrease proliferation ability, thus changing their differentiation potential.