Gastrointestinal motility is tightly regulated by the enteric nervous system (ENS). Disruption of coordinated ENS activity can result in dysmotility. Pharmacological treatment options for dysmotility include targeting of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) expressed by neurons of the ENS. Current GPCR-targeting drugs for motility disorders bind to the highly conserved endogenous ligand binding site and promote indiscriminate activation or inhibition of the target receptor throughout the body. This can be associated with significant side-effect liability and a loss of physiological tone. Allosteric modulators of GPCRs bind to a distinct site from the endogenous ligand, which is typically less conserved across multiple receptor subtypes and can modulate endogenous ligand signalling. Allosteric modulation of GPCRs that are important for ENS function may provide effective relief from motility disorders while limiting side-effects. This review will focus on how allosteric modulators of GPCRs may influence gastrointestinal motility, using 5-HT, ACh, and opioid receptors as examples.
Background and Purpose: Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disease of chronic recurrence mediated by the interaction between IL-17 and keratinocytes, which sustains a vicious circle of inflammation. Currently, there is no safe and effective natural medicine for the clinical treatment of psoriasis. Given its prominent anti-proliferative and anti-inflammatory properties, we investigated the mechanism of allicin improving psoriasis. Experimental Design: Pharmacodynamics and toxicology experimental studies were estimated after topical administration of allicin on the skin of mice. Changes in inflammatory factors expression were analyzed by qPCR and immunohistochemistry after topical treatment with allicin in mice with psoriasis-like lesions induced by imiquimod. The impacts of allicin on proliferation and apoptosis of keratinocytes were analyzed by CCK8 assay and flow cytometry. The interaction between IL-17A and keratinocytes was studied using HaCaT cells, and the mechanism of action of allicin was explored by Western Blot. Transcriptomic changes following the action of allicin were probed by RNA-seq. Key Results: Our study demonstrated that allicin significantly improved the epidermal structure by inhibiting excessive proliferation and evasion of apoptosis of keratinocytes. Furthermore, allicin reduced the secretion of inflammatory cytokines (IL-17A/F, IL-22, IL-12, IL-20), chemokines (CXCL2, CXCL5, CCL20), and antibacterial peptides (S100A8/9). Mechanistically, allicin directly inhibited the IL-17-induced TRAF6/MAPK/NF-κB and STAT3/NF-κB signaling cascades in keratinocytes, thus breaking the positive inflammation feedback and alleviating imiquimod-induced psoriasis-like dermatitis in mice. Importantly, topical administration of allicin did not cause skin allergy, and the safety and adaptability of long-term application were verified.
Abstract Background and Purpose: Gpr17 is an orphan receptor involved in the process of myelination due to its ability to inhibit the maturation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells into myelinating oligodendrocytes. Despite multiple claims that the biological ligand has been identified, it remains an orphan receptor. Experimental Approach: Seventy-seven oxysterols were screened in a cell-free [35S]- GTPgS binding assay using membranes from cells expressing Gpr17. The positive hits were characterised using cAMP, IP1, and calcium mobilisation assays, with results confirmed in rat primary oligodendrocytes. Rat and pig brain extracts were separated by HPLC chromatography and endogenous activator(s) were identified in receptor activation assays. Gene expression studies of Gpr17 and Cyp46a1, the enzymes responsible for the conversion of cholesterol into specific oxysterols, were performed using quantitative real time PCR. Key Results: Eight oxysterols were able to stimulate Gpr17 activity, including the brain cholesterol, 24(S)-hydroxycholesterol. A specific brain fraction from rat and pig extracts containing 24S-HC activates Gpr17 in vitro assays. Expression of Gpr17 during mouse brain development correlates with the expression of Cyp46a1 and the levels of 24S-HC itself. Other active oxysterols have low brain concentrations below effective ranges. Conclusions and Implications: Oxysterols, including but not limited to 24S-HC, could be physiological activators for Gpr17 and thus potentially regulate OPC differentiation and myelination through activation of the receptor.
Background and Purpose: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) remains a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in young adults. The role of iron in potentiating neurodegeneration following TBI has gained recent interest since iron deposition has been detected in the injured brain in the weeks to months post-TBI, in both the preclinical and clinical setting. A failure in iron homeostasis can lead to oxidative stress, inflammation and excitotoxicity; and whether this is a cause or consequence of the long-term effects of TBI remains unknown. Experimental approach: We investigated the role of iron, and the effect of therapeutic intervention using a brain-permeable iron chelator, deferiprone, in a controlled cortical impact mouse model of TBI. An extensive assessment of cognitive, motor and anxiety/depressive outcome measures were examined, and neuropathological and biochemical changes, over a 3-month period post-TBI. Key Results: Lesion volume was significantly reduced at 3 months, which was preceded by a reduction in astrogliosis and a preservation of neurons in the injured brain at 2 weeks and/or 1-month post-TBI in mice receiving oral deferiprone. Deferiprone treatment showed significant improvements in neurological severity scores and locomotor/gait performance, and cognitive function, and attenuated anxiety-like symptoms post-TBI. Deferiprone reduced iron levels, oxidative stress and altered expression of neurotrophins in the injured brain over this period. Conclusion and Implications: Our findings support a detrimental role of iron in the injured brain and suggest that deferiprone (or similar iron chelators) may be promising therapeutic approaches to improve survival, functional outcomes and quality of life following TBI.
Sodium glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitors (SGLT-2i’s) significantly improve cardiovascular outcome in both diabetic and non-diabetic patients. Preclinical studies suggest that SGLT-2i’s directly affect endothelial function in a glucose-independent manner. The effects of SGLT-2i’s include reduction of oxidative stress and inflammatory reaction in endothelial cells. Furthermore, SGLT2i’s have been shown to restore endothelial-related vasodilation and to regulate angiogenesis. The favorable cardiovascular effects of SGLT-2i’s might be mediated via multiple pathways: 1) by inhibition of the overactive sodium-hydrogen exchanger; 2) by reduction of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidases expression; 3) by alleviation of mitochondrial injury; 4) by the suppression of inflammatory-related signaling pathways (e.g. by affecting nuclear factor kappa beta); 5) by modulation of glycolysis, as well as 6) by restoring impaired nitric oxide bioavailability. This review focuses on the most recent progress and existing gaps in preclinical investigations concerning the direct effects of SGLT-2i’s on endothelial dysfunction and their underlying mechanisms.
Targeting cancer metabolism has emerged as an attractive approach to improve therapeutic regimens in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Mitochondrial proteases are closely related to cancer metabolism, but their biological functions have not been well characterized in AML. According to different catogory, we comprehensively reviewed the role of mitochondrial proteases in AML. This review highlights some ‘powerful’ mitochondrial protease targets, including their biological function, chemical modulators, and applicative prospect in AML.
Chronic liver diseases comprises a broad spectrum of burdensome diseases that still lack effective pharmacological therapies. Our research group focuses on Fibrosis which is a major precursor of liver cirrhosis. Fibrosis consists in a progressive disturbance of liver sinusoidal architecture characterised by connective tissue deposition as a reparative response to tissue injury. Multifactorial events and several types of cells, participate in fibrosis initiation and progression and the process still needs to be completely understood. The development of experimental models of liver fibrosis alongside the identification of critical factors progressing fibrosis to cirrhosis will facilitate the development of more effective therapeutic approaches for such condition. This review provides an overlook of the main process leading to hepatic fibrosis and therapeutic approaches that have emerged from a deep knowledge of the molecular regulation of fibrogenesis in the liver.
Brain mineralocorticoid receptors (MR) mediate effects of aldosterone in relation to salt homeostasis, and of glucocorticoid stress hormones corticosteroids in the context of stress adaptation. Brain stem MRs respond to aldosterone, while forebrain MRs mediate rapid and delayed MR-mediated glucocorticoids effects in conjunction with the glucocorticoid receptor. MR-mediated effects depend on gender, genetic variations and environmental influences. Disturbed MR activity by chronic stress or in certain (endocrine) diseases can cause deleterious effects on affective state, cognitive and behavioural function in susceptible individuals. High MR activation may have protective effects in healthy individuals, whereas dysregulated high MR activity during a stress response would require treatment with mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists (MRAs). Here, we discuss recent pharmacological and genetic developments, from the molecular underpinnings of MR signaling and function, to pharmacological interventions in the clinic. Improved understanding of MR dependent pathways will help to improve glucocorticoid therapy, unwanted side effects and psychiatric symptoms.
Vaccines have reduced the transmission and severity of COVID-19 but there remains a paucity of efficacious treatment for drug resistant strains and more susceptible individuals. Repurposing existing drugs is a timely, safe and scientifically robust method for treating pandemics such as COVID-19. Here, we review the pharmacology and scientific rationale for repurposing niclosamide, an anti-helminth already in human use as a treatment for COVID-19. In addition to potent antiviral activity, niclosamide has shown pleiotropic anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, bronchodilatory and anticancer effects in numerous pre-clinical and early clinical studies. The advantages and rationale for nebulised and intranasal formulations of niclosamide, which target the site of primary infection in COVID-19, are reviewed. Finally, we discuss the TACTIC-E clinical trial, an international COVID-19 therapeutic platform trial for the use of licensed and novel therapeutic agents, which is investigating niclosamide as a promising candidate against SARS-CoV-2.
The access of drugs into the central nervous system (CNS) is regulated by the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB). A large body of evidence supports perturbation of these barriers in neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Modifications to the BBB and BSCB are also reported in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), albeit these modifications have received less attention relative to those in other neurodegenerative diseases. Such alterations to the BBB and BSCB have the potential to impact on CNS exposure of drugs in ALS, modulating the effectiveness of drugs intended to reach the brain and the toxicity of drugs that are not intended to reach the brain. Given the clinical importance of these phenomena, this review will summarise reported modifications to the BBB and BSCB in ALS, discuss their impact on CNS drug exposure and suggest further research directions so as to optimise medicine use in people with ALS.
Background:The pathogenesis of osteoarthritis (OA) implicates a low-grade inflammation associated to the activation of the innate immune system. Toll like receptor (TLR) stimulation triggers the release of inflammatory mediators, which aggravate OA severity. The aim was to study the preventive effect of 6-shogaol (6S), a potential TLR4 inhibitor, on the treatment of experimental knee OA. Experimentalapproach:OA was induced in C57BL6 mice by surgical section of the medial meniscotibial ligament, which received 6S for eight weeks. Cartilage damage, inflammatory mediator presence, and disease markers were assessed in the joint tissues by immunohistochemistry. Computational modeling was used to predict binding modes of 6S into the TLR4/MD2 receptor and its permeability across cellular membranes. Employing LPS-stimulated chondrocytes and MAPK assay we clarified 6S action mechanisms. Results:6S treatment was able to prevent articular cartilage lesions, synovitis, and the presence of pro-inflammatory mediators and disease markers in OA animals. Molecular modeling studies predicted 6S interaction with the TLR4/MD-2 heterodimer in an antagonist conformation through its binding into the MD-2 pocket. In cell culture, we confirmed that 6S reduced LPS-induced TLR4 inflammatory signaling pathways. Besides, MAPK assay demonstrated that 6S directly inhibits the ERK1/2 phosphorylation activity. Conclusion:6S evoked a preventive action on cartilage and synovial inflammation in OA mice. 6S effect may take place not only by hindering the interaction between TLR4 ligands and the TLR4/MD-2 complex in chondrocytes, but also through inhibition of ERK phosphorylation, implying a pleiotropic effect on different mediators activated during OA, which proposes it as an attractive drug for OA treatment.
Peptides play a key role in controlling many physiological and neurobiological pathways. Many bioactive peptides require a C-terminal α-amide for full activity. The bifunctional enzyme catalyzing α-amidation, peptidylglycine α-amidating monooxygenase (PAM), is the sole enzyme responsible for amidated peptide biosynthesis, from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to Homo sapiens. Many neuronal and endocrine functions are dependent upon amidated peptides; additional amidated peptides are growth promoters in tumors. The amidation reaction occurs in two steps, glycine α-hydroxylation followed by dealkylation to generate the α-amide product. Currently, most potentially useful inhibitors target the first reaction, which is rate-limiting. PAM is a membrane-bound enzyme that visits the cell surface during peptide secretion. PAM is then used again in the biosynthetic pathway, meaning that cell-impermeable inhibitors or inactivators could have therapeutic value for the treatment of cancer or psychiatric abnormalities. To date, inhibitor design has not fully exploited the structures and mechanistic details of PAM.
Background and purpose Statins, inhibitors of HMG-CoA reductase, are mainstay treatment for hypercholesterolemia. However, muscle pain and weakness prevent many patients from benefiting from their cardioprotective effects. We previously demonstrated that simvastatin activates skeletal ryanodine receptors (RyR1), an effect that could be important in initiating myopathy. We therefore investigated if RyR1 activation is a standard property of commonly-prescribed statins. Using a range of structurally-diverse statin analogues we examined structural features associated with RyR1 activation, aiming to identify statins lacking this property. Experimental Approach Compounds were screened for RyR1 activity utilising [3H]ryanodine binding. Mechanistic insight into RyR1 activity was studied by incorporating RyR1 channels from sheep, mouse or rabbit skeletal muscle into bilayers. Key Results All UK-prescribed statins activated RyR1 at nanomolar concentrations. Cerivastatin, withdrawn from the market due to life-threatening muscle-related side effects, was more effective than currently-prescribed statins and possessed the unique ability to open RyR1 channels independently of cytosolic Ca2+. We synthesised the statin pharmacophore and it did not activate RyR1. We also identified five analogues retaining potent HMG-CoA reductase inhibition that inhibited RyR1 and four analogues that lacked the ability to activate RyR1. Conclusion and Implications That cervistatin activates RyR1 most strongly supports the hypothesis that RyR1 activation is implicated in statin-induced myopathy. Demonstrating that statin-regulation of RyR1 and HMG-CoA reductase are separable effects allows the role of RyR1 in statin-induced myopathy to be further elucidated by the tool compounds identified, thus paving the way for the development of effective cardioprotective statins with improved patient tolerance.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorders with considerably increased risk in male infants born preterm and with neonatal infection. Here we investigated the role of postnatal immune activation on hippocampal synaptopathology by targeting Reelin+ cells in mice with ASD-like behavior. C57/Bl6 mouse pups of both sexes received lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 1mg/kg) on postnatal day (P) 5. At P45, animal behavior was examined by marble burying and sociability test, followed by ex-vivo brain MRI diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI). Hippocampal synaptogenesis, number and morphology of Reelin+ cells, and mRNA expression of trans-synaptic genes, including neurexin-3, neuroligin-1, and cell-adhesion molecule nectin-1 were analyzed at P12 and P45. Social withdrawal and increased stereotypic activities in males were related to increased mean diffusivity on MRI-DKI and overgrowth in hippocampus together with retention of long-thin immature synapses on apical dendrites, decreased volume and number of Reelin+ cells as well as reduced expression of trans-synaptic and cell-adhesion molecules. The study provides new insights into sex-dependent mechanisms that may underlie ASD-like behavior in males following PIA. We identify GABAergic interneurons as core components of dysmaturation of excitatory synapses in the hippocampus following postnatal infection and provide cellular and molecular substrates for the MRI findings with translational value.
Aldosterone binds to the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), a transcription factor of the nuclear receptor family, present in the kidney and in various other non-epithelial cells including the heart and the vasculature (Cannavo et al., 2018). Indeed, extra-renal pathophysiological effects of this hormone have been characterized, extending its actions to the cardiovascular (CV) system (Messaoudi et al., 2012). A growing body of clinical and pre-clinical evidence suggests that MR activation plays an important pathophysiological role in CV remodeling by promoting cardiac hypertrophy, fibrosis, arterial stiffness, as well as in inflammation and oxidative stress (Bauersachs et al., 2015). The following review article outlines the role of MR in CV disease with a focus on myocardial remodeling and heart failure (HF) including clinical trials as well as cellular and animal studies.
Background and purpose. Venomous animals express numerous Kunitz-type peptides. The mambaquaretin-1 (MQ1) recently identified from the Dendroaspis angusticeps venom is the most selective antagonist of the arginine-vasopressin V2 receptor (V2R) and the unique Kunitz-type peptide active on a GPCR. We aimed to exploit other mamba venoms to enlarge the V2R-Kunitz peptide family and get insight into the MQ1 molecular mode of action. Experimental approach. We used a bio-guided screening assay to identify novel MQs and placed them phylogenetically. Several newly identified MQs were produced by solid phase peptide synthesis. They were characterized in vitro by binding and functional tests andin vivo by diuresis measurement in rats. Key results. Eight additional MQs were identified with nanomolar affinities for the V2R, all antagonists. MQs form a new subgroup in the Kunitz family, close to the V2R non-active dendrotoxins and to 2 V2R active cobra toxins. Sequence comparison between active and non-active V2R Kunitz peptides highlighted 5 specific V2R positions. Four of them are involved in V2R activity and belong to the 2 large MQ1 loops. We finally determined that 8 positions, part of these 2 loops, interact with the V2R. The variant MQ1-K39A showed specificity for the human versus the rat V2R . Conclusions and implications. A third function and mode of action is now associated with the Kunitz-peptides. The number of MQ1 residues involved in V2R binding is large and may explain its absolute selectivity. MQ1-K39A represents the first step in the improvement of the MQ1 design for medicinal perspective.
Fungal infections cause serious problems in many aspects of human life; especially infections by fungal species represent problems in immunocompromised patients. Current antifungal antibiotics target various metabolic pathways, predominantly the cell wall or cellular membrane. However, numerous compounds are available to combat fungal infections, their efficacy is far from being satisfactory and some of them display substantial toxicity. The emerging resistance represents a serious issue as well; thus, there is a considerable need for new anti-fungal compounds with lower toxicity and higher effectiveness. One of the unique antifungal antibiotics is sordarin, the only known compound that acts on the fungal translational machinery per se. It has been shown that sordarin inhibits protein synthesis at the elongation step of the translational cycle, acting on eukaryotic elongation-factor-2. In this review, we are aiming to deliver a robust scientific platform promoting the development of antifungal compounds, especially focusing on molecular action of sordarin.
Liver fibrosis induced by chronic hepatic injury remains as a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Identification of susceptibility/prognosis factors and new therapeutic tools for treating hepatic fibrotic disorders of various etiologies are urgent medical needs. Cortistatin is a neuropeptide with potent anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic activities in lung that binds to receptors that are expressed in liver fibroblasts and hepatic stellate cells. Here, we evaluated the capacity of cortistatin to regulate liver fibrosis. We initially found that hepatic expression of cortistatin inversely correlated with liver fibrosis grade in mice and humans with hepatic disorders. Cortistatin-deficient mice showed exacerbated signs of liver damage and fibrosis and increased mortality rates when challenged to hepatotoxic and cholestatic injury. Compared to wild-type mice, non-parenchymal liver cells isolated from cortistatin-deficient mice showed increased presence of cells with activated myofibroblast phenotypes and a differential genetic signature that is indicative of activated hepatic stellate cells and periportal fibroblasts and of myofibroblasts with active contractile apparatus. Cortistatin treatment reversed in vivo and in vitro these exaggerated fibrogenic phenotypes and protected from progression to severe liver fibrosis in response to hepatic injury. In conclusion, we identify cortistatin as an endogenous molecular break of liver fibrosis and its deficiency as a potential poor-prognosis marker for chronic hepatic disorders that course with fibrosis. Cortistatin-based therapies emerge as attractive strategies for ameliorating severe hepatic fibrosis.