c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase 1/2 and endoplasmic reticulum stress as interdependent and reciprocal causation in diabetic embryopathy.

PMID 22961085


Embryos exposed to high glucose exhibit aberrant maturational and cytoarchitectural cellular changes, implicating cellular organelle stress in diabetic embryopathy. c-Jun-N-terminal kinase 1/2 (JNK1/2) activation is a causal event in maternal diabetes-induced neural tube defects (NTD). However, the relationship between JNK1/2 activation and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in diabetic embryopathy has never been explored. We found that maternal diabetes significantly increased ER stress markers and induced swollen/enlarged ER lumens in embryonic neuroepithelial cells during neurulation. Deletion of either jnk1 or jnk2 gene diminished hyperglycemia-increased ER stress markers and ER chaperone gene expression. In embryos cultured under high-glucose conditions (20 mmol/L), the use of 4-phenylbutyric acid (4-PBA), an ER chemical chaperone, diminished ER stress markers and abolished the activation of JNK1/2 and its downstream transcription factors, caspase 3 and caspase 8, and Sox1 neural progenitor apoptosis. Consequently, both 1 and 2 mmol/L 4-PBA significantly ameliorated high glucose-induced NTD. We conclude that hyperglycemia induces ER stress, which is responsible for the proapoptotic JNK1/2 pathway activation, apoptosis, and NTD induction. Suppressing JNK1/2 activation by either jnk1 or jnk2 gene deletion prevents ER stress. Thus, our study reveals a reciprocal causation of ER stress and JNK1/2 in mediating the teratogenicity of maternal diabetes.