Background and Purpose Refractory status epilepticus is a clinical emergency associated with high mortality and morbidity. Increasing evidence suggests neuroinflammatory pathways contribute to the development of drug-refractoriness during status epilepticus. The ATP-gated P2X7 receptor (P2X7R) has been described as potential link between inflammation and increased hyperexcitability. The aim of the present study was to determine the contribution of the P2X7R to drug-refractory status epilepticus and its therapeutic potential. Experimental Approach Status epilepticus was induced via a unilateral microinjection of kainic acid into the amygdala in adult mice. Severity of status epilepticus was compared in animals overexpressing or knock-out in the P2X7R, after inflammatory priming by the pre-injection of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and in mice treated with P2X7R-targeting and anti-inflammatory drugs. Key Results P2X7R overexpressing mice were unresponsive to several anticonvulsants (lorazepam, midazolam, phenytoin and carbamazepine) during status epilepticus. P2X7R expression was increased in microglia during drug-refractory status epilepticus, P2X7R overexpression led to a pro-inflammatory phenotype in microglia during status epilepticus and the anti-inflammatory drug minocycline restored normal responsiveness to anticonvulsants in P2X7R overexpressing mice. Pre-treatment of wildtype mice with LPS increased P2X7R levels in the brain and promoted the development of pharmaco-resistant status epilepticus, which was overcome by either a genetic deletion of the P2X7R or the administration of the P2X7R antagonists AFC-5128 or ITH15004. Conclusion and Implications Our results demonstrate that P2X7R-induced pro-inflammatory effects contribute to resistance to pharmacotherapy during status epilepticus and suggest therapies targeting the P2X7R as novel adjunctive treatments for drug-refractory status epilepticus.
In the retina, mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), expressed in vessels, glial and neuronal cells, is mainly activated by glucocorticoids. Under pathological conditions, ocular MR expression and corticoids change, leading in most cases to MR overactivation. Experimental models using MR agonists or antagonists, administered systemically or intraocularly, acutely or chronically and transgenic models, allowed to identify the deleterious consequences of MR pathway overactivation. Among them, oxidative stress, inflammation, deregulation of hydro-ionic channels, alteration of choroidal vasculature, angiogenesis and cell death, are common to major retinal diseases. Specific MR antagonists showed efficacy in models of diabetic retinopathy, ischaemia, retinal and choroidal angiogenesis and in models of glaucoma. It is highly likely that MR antagonists will find a place in the therapeutic arsenal of age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and in pachychoroid associated diseases. Their use in humans is still limited by the need of biomarkers of MR activation and specific ocular formulations.
G protein-coupled receptors modulate a plethora of physiological processes and mediate the effects of one-third of FDA-approved drugs. Notably, depending on which ligand has activated a particular receptor, it can engage different intracellular transducers. This paradigm of ligand-dependent ‘biased signaling’ dictates a need to advance beyond the level of receptors to consider the combined ligand-receptor pair in order to understand physiological signaling. Bias signaling also has the potential to improve medicines by reducing adverse effects. However, this is challenged by inconsistent interpretation of results and lack of commonly agreed guidelines. Here, we present recommended terminology and guidelines to conduct, report and quantify bias in a comparable and reproducible fashion. We expect these recommendations will facilitate a common understanding of experiments and findings across basic receptor research and drug discovery, while the area and the analytical methods to measure bias are still evolving, especially in complex cellular, tissue and organismal systems.
Background and Purpose: Despite availability of a variety of treatment options, many asthma patients have poorly controlled disease with frequent exacerbations. Proteinase-activated receptor-2 (PAR2) has been identified in pre-clinical animal models as important to asthma initiation and progression following allergen exposure. Proteinase activation of PAR2 induces intracellular Ca2+, mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) and -arrestin signaling the airway, leading to both inflammatory and protective effects. We have developed C391, a potent PAR2 antagonist effective in blocking peptidomimetic- and trypsin-induced PAR2 signaling in vitro as well as reducing inflammatory PAR2-associated pain in vivo. We hypothesized that PAR2 reduction with C391 would attenuate allergen-induced asthma indicators in murine models. Experimental Approach: We evaluated the ability for C391 to alter Alternaria alternata-induced PAR2 signaling pathways in vitro using a human airway epithelial cell line that naturally expresses PAR2 (16HBE14o-) and a transfected embryonic cell line (HEK 293). We next evaluated the ability for C391 to reduce A. alternata-induced asthma indicators in vivo in two murine strains. Key Results: C391 blocked A. alternata-induced, PAR2-dependent Ca2+ and MAPK signaling in 16HBE14o- cells, as well as -arrestin recruitment in HEK 293 cells. C391 effectively attenuated A. alternata-induced inflammation, mucus production, mucus cell hyperplasia and airway hyperresponsiveness in acute asthma murine models. Conclusions and Implications: To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of pharmacological intervention of PAR2 to reduce allergen-induced asthma indicators in vivo. These data support further development of PAR2 antagonists as potential first-in-class allergic asthma drugs.
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.
Post-operative ileus (POI) is a frequent complication after abdominal surgery. The consequences of POI can be potentially serious such as bronchial inhalation or acute functional renal failure. Numerous advances in peri-operative management, particularly early rehabilitation, have made it possible to decrease POI. Despite this, the rate of prolonged POI ileus remains high and can be as high as 25% of patients in colorectal surgery. From a pathophysiological point of view, POI has two phases, an early neurological phase and a later inflammatory phase, to which we could add a “pharmacological” phase during which analgesic drugs, particularly opiates, play a central role. The aim of this review article is to describe the phases of the pathophysiology of POI, to analyse the pharmacological treatments currently available through published clinical trials and finally to discuss the different research areas for potential pharmacological targets.
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.
As human spaceflight continues with extended mission durations, the demand of effective and safe drugs is going to increase. To date, the medications used during missions (for space motion sickness, sleep disturbances, allergies, pain and sinus congestion) are administered under the assumption that they act similarly as on the Earth. During spaceflights however fluid shifts, muscle and bone loss, immune system dysregulation and changes in the gastrointestinal tract and metabolism are documented. These alterations may change the pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamics. The information gained from bed-rest studies and from inflight observations is partial and demonstrates variability in drug PK. The objectives of this review are to report: i) the impact of the space environmental stressors on human physiology in relation to PK; ii) the state-of-the-art on experimental data in space and/or in ground-based models; iii) the validation of ground-based models for PK studies; and iv) the identification of possible research gaps.
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.
Background and purpose The incretin hormone, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), secreted by the enteroendocrine K-cells in the proximal intestine, may regulate lipid metabolism and adiposity but its exact role in these processes is unclear. Experimental approach We characterized in vitro and in vivo antagonistic properties of a novel GIP analogue, mGIPAnt-1. We further assessed the in vivo pharmacokinetic profile of this antagonist, as well as its ability to affect high-fat diet (HFD)-induced body weight gain in ovariectomized mice during an 8-week treatment period. Key results mGIPAnt-1 showed competitive antagonistic properties to the GIP receptor (GIPR) in vitro as it inhibited GIP-induced cAMP accumulation in COS-7 cells. Furthermore, mGIPAnt-1 was capable of inhibiting GIP-induced glucoregulatory and insulinotropic effects in vivo and has a favourable pharmacokinetic profile with a half-life of 7.2 hours in C57Bl6 female mice. Finally, sub-chronic treatment with mGIPAnt-1 in ovariectomized HFD mice resulted in a reduction of body weight and fat mass. Conclusion and Implications mGIPAnt-1 successfully inhibited acute GIP-induced effects in vitro and in vivo and sub-chronically induces resistance to HFD-induced weight gain in ovariectomized mice. Our results support the development of GIP antagonists for the therapy of obesity.
The insulin receptor is a membrane protein responsible for regulation of nutrient balance and therefore an attractive target in the treatment of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Pharmacology of the insulin receptor involves two distinct mechanisms, (1) activation of the receptor by insulin mimetics that bind in the extracellular domain and (2) inhibition of the receptor tyrosine kinase enzymatic activity in the cytoplasmic domain. While a complete structural picture of the full-length receptor comprising the entire sequence covering extracellular, transmembrane, juxtamembrane and cytoplasmic domains is still elusive, recent progress through cryoelectron microscopy has made it possible to describe the initial insulin ligand binding events at atomistic detail. We utilize this opportunity to obtain structural insights into the pharmacology of the insulin receptor. To this end, we conducted a comprehensive docking study of known ligands to the new structures of the receptor. Through this approach, we provide an in-depth, structure-based review of human insulin receptor pharmacology in light of the new structures.
The present work analyses in detail the published data on ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine and provides arguments for the involvement of anti-vector immunity and of SARS-CoV-2 variants on the efficacy of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine. First, it is suggested that anti-vector immunity takes place as the regimen of homologous vaccination with ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine is applied and interferes with efficacy of the vaccine when the interval between prime and boost doses is less than three months. Second, longitudinal studies suggest that ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine provides sub-optimal efficacy against UK variant of SARS-CoV-2, which appears to have an increased transmissibility over the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 among vaccinated people. At the moment, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine is able to reduce the severity of symptoms and transmissibility; however, if the vaccinated individuals do not maintain everyday preventive actions, they could turn into potential spreaders, thus accelerating the process of generation of new viral variants due to the selective pressure of immune response. Prediction and possible consequences of the SARS-CoV-2 evolution and repeated anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations are discussed. Since the impact of emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants suggests that vaccines are unlikely to be effective in quickly solving the pandemic crisis, it is highlighted the need to keep searching for new and more efficacious pharmacotherapy for COVID-19, such as those targeting ACE2 and ADAM17 zinc-metalloprotease activities.
Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) is a non-receptor kinase best known for its role in B lymphocyte development that is critical for proliferation, and survival of leukaemia cells in B cell malignancies. However, BTK is expressed in myeloid cells, particularly monocytes and macrophages where its inhibition has been reported to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, we explored the role of BTK on the migration of myeloid cells in vitro and in vivo. Using the zymosan induced peritonitis model of sterile inflammation we demonstrated that acute (1 h prior to zymosan) inhibition of BTK using a wide range of FDA (Ibrutinib and Acalabrutinib) and non-FDA approved inhibitors (ONO-4059, CNX-774, Olumatinib and LFM-A13) reduced neutrophil and monocyte recruitment. XID mice, which have a point mutation in the Btk gene had reduced neutrophil and monocyte recruitment to the peritoneum following zymosan challenge. To better understand the role of BTK in myeloid cell recruitment we investigated both chemotaxis and chemokine production in monocytes and macrophages. Pharmacological or genetic inhibition of BTK signalling substantially reduced human monocyte and murine macrophage chemotaxis to a range of chemoattractants (complement C5a and CCL2). We also demonstrated that inhibition of BTK in tissue resident macrophages significantly decreases chemokine secretion by reducing NF-kB activity and Akt signalling. Our work has identified a new role of BTK in regulating myeloid cell recruitment via two mechanisms, 1) reducing monocyte/macrophages’ ability to undergo chemotaxis, and 2) reducing chemokine secretion, via reduced NF-kB activity in tissue resident macrophages.