Background and purpose: Bradykinin [BK-(1-9)] is an endogenous nonapeptide involved in multiple physiological and pathological processes. A long-held belief is that peptide fragments of BK-(1-9) are biologically inactive. Here, we have tested the biological activities of BK-(1-9) and two major peptide fragments in human and animal systems. Experimental Approach: Levels of BK peptides in male Wistar rat plasma were quantified by mass spectrometric methods. Nitric oxide was quantified in human, mouse and rat cells, and loaded with DAF-FM. We used aortic rings from adult male Wistar rats to test vascular reactivity. Changes in blood pressure and heart rate were measured in conscious adult male Wistar rats. Key results: Plasma levels of BK-(1-7) and BK-(1-5) in rats were increased following infusion of BK-(1-9). All tested peptides induced NO production in all cell types tested. However, unlike BK-(1-9), NO production elicited by BK-(1-7) or BK-(1-5) was not inhibited by B1 or B2 receptor antagonists. BK-(1-7) or BK-(1-5) also induced concentration-dependent vasorelaxation of aortic rings, without involving B1 or B2 receptors. In vivo, either intravenous or intra-arterial administration of BK-(1-7) or BK-(1-5) induced similar hypotension response. Conclusions and implications: BK-(1-7) and BK-(1-5) are endogenous peptides present in plasma. They are formed, at least partially, through the BK-(1-9) proteolysis. BK-related peptide fragments show biological activity, not mediated by B1 or B2 receptors. These BK-fragments could constitute new, active components of the kallikrein-kinin system.
Background and Purpose: Individualized assessment of the activity of cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6), a highly variable drug-metabolizing enzyme, is performed through phenotyping during which a probe drug is administered to measure the enzyme’s activity. In order to avoid any iatrogenic harm (allergic drug reaction, dosing error) related to the probe drug, the development of non-invasive tools for real-time phenotyping of CYP2D6 could significantly contribute to the expansion of precision medicine in clinical practice. This study focuses on the identification of endogenous markers of the CYP2D6 enzyme in human biofluids using a liquid chromatography (LC)-high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS)-based metabolomics approach. Experimental Approach: Data from a control session were compared to data from an inhibition session. Before the latter, healthy volunteers (extensive and ultrarapid metabolizers) received a daily dose of paroxetine 20 mg over seven days. CYP2D6 genotyping and phenotyping, using single oral dose of dextromethorphan 5 mg, were also performed in all participants. Key Results: In CYP2D6 extensive and ultrarapid metabolizers (n = 37), mean relative intensities of five features were significantly reduced during the inhibition session compared to the control session (fold changes ≤ 0.67, FDR-adjusted P < 0.0001). Furthermore, mean relative intensities of these candidates were significantly higher in the CYP2D6 extensive-ultrarapid metabolizer group (n = 37) compared to the poor metabolizer group (n = 6) (fold changes ≤ 0.67, P < 0.0001). Conclusion and Implications: The applied untargeted metabolomics strategy was able to identify five CYP2D6 endogenous metabolites, a promising discovery for non-invasive phenotyping and personalised medicine.
Background and Purpose: Azithromycin (AZM) is a macrolide antibiotic with well-described anti-inflammatory properties. This study aimed to substantiate its treatment potential in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Experimental Approach: Gene expression profiles were collected by RNA-sequencing and the effects of AZM were assessed in functional assays. In vitro and vivo assays for examining the blockade of glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) actions by AZM: assays for defining the anti-inﬂammatory activity of AZM using fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) from RA patients as well as collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in DBA/1 mice. Identification and characterization of the binding of AZM to GRP78 using drug affability responsive target stability assay, proteomics and cellular thermal shift assay. Detect AZM inhibition of GRP78 and dependence of AZM’s anti-arthritis activity on GRP78. Key Results: AZM reduced pro-inflammatory factor production, cell migration, invasion and chemo-attractive potential, enhanced apoptosis, thereby reducing the deleterious inflammatory response of RA FLSs in vitro. AZM ameliorated the severity of CIA lesions. Transcriptional analyses implied that AZM treatment causes impairments in signaling cascades associated with cholesterol and lipid biosynthetic process. GRP78 was isolated as a novel target of AZM. AZM-mediated activation of unfolded protein response (UPR) via inhibiting GRP78 activity is required not only for inducing the expression of C/EBP-homologous protein (CHOP), but also for activation of sterol-regulatory element binding protein (SREBP) and its targeted genes involved in cholesterol and lipid biosynthetic process. Further, deletion of GRP78 abolished AZM’s anti-arthritis activity. Conclusion and Implications: These findings confirmed that AZM is an anti-arthritis therapeutic drug for RA treatment.
Background and Purpose. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a main cause of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) with drug-resistant bacteria. Bacteriophage therapy has experienced resurgence to compensate for the limited development of novel antibiotics. However, phage therapy is limited to a compassionate use so far, resulting from lack of adequate studies in relevant pharmacological models. We used a pig model of VAP caused by P. aeruginosa that recapitulates essential features of human disease to study the antimicrobial efficacy of nebulized-phage therapy. Experimental Approach. (i) Lysis kinetic assays were performed to evaluate in vitro phage antibacterial efficacy against P. aeruginosa and select relevant combinations of lytic phages. (ii) The efficacy of the phage combinations was investigated in vivo (murine model of P. aeruginosa lung infection). (iii) We determined the optimal conditions to ensure efficient phage delivery by aerosol during mechanical ventilation. (iv) Lung antimicrobial efficacy of inhaled-phage therapy was evaluated in pigs, which were anesthetized, mechanically ventilated and infected with P. aeruginosa. Key Results. By selecting an active phage cocktail and optimizing aerosol delivery conditions, we were able to deliver high phage concentrations in the lungs, which resulted in a rapid and marked reduction in P. aeruginosa density (1.5 Log reduction, p<0.001). No phage was detected in the sera and urines throughout the experiment. Conclusion and Implications. Our findings demonstrated: (i) the feasibility of delivering large amounts of active phages by nebulization during mechanical ventilation, (ii) rapid control of in situ infection by inhaled bacteriophage in an experimental model of VAP with high translational value.
COVID-19 is a complex disease and many difficulties are faced today especially in the proper choice of pharmacological treatments. The role of antiviral agents for COVID-19 is still being investigated. The evidence for immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory drugs is quite conflicting, while the use of corticosteroids is supported by robust evidence. The use of heparins in hospitalized critically ill patients is preferred over other anticoagulants. Lastly, conflicting data were found regarding to the use of convalescent plasma and vitamin D. According to data shared by the WHO, many vaccines are under phase 3 clinical trials and some of them already received the marketing approval in EU countries and in the US. In conclusion, drugs repurposing has represented the main approach recently used in the treatment of patients with COVID-19. At this moment, the analysis of efficacy and safety data of drugs and vaccines used in real life context is strongly needed.
Background: Post-ischemic inflammation contributes to worsening of ischemic brain injury and in this process, the inflammasomes play a key role. Inflammasomes are cytosolic multiprotein complexes which upon assembly activate the maturation and secretion of the inflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-18. However, participation of the NLRP3 inflammasome in ischemic stroke remains controversial. Our aims were to determine the role of NLRP3 in ischemia and to explore the mechanism involved in the potential protective effect of the neurovascular unit. Methods: WT and NLRP3 knock-out mice were subjected to ischemia by middle cerebral artery occlusion (60 minutes) with or without treatment with MCC950 at different time points post-stroke. Brain injury was measured histologically with 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC) staining. Results: We identified a time-dependent dual effect of NLRP3. While neither the pre-treatment with MCC950 nor the genetic approach (NLRP3 KO) proved to be neuroprotective, post-reperfusion treatment with MCC950 significantly reduced the infarct volume in a dose-dependent manner. Importantly, MCC950 improved the neuro-motor function and reduced the expression of different pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, TNF-α), NLRP3 inflammasome components (NLRP3, pro-caspase-1), protease expression (MMP9) and endothelial adhesion molecules (ICAM, VCAM). We observed a marked protection of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which was also reflected in the recovery of the tight junctions proteins (ZO-1, Claudin-5). Additionally, MCC950 produced a reduction of the CCL2 chemokine in blood serum and in brain tissue, which lead to a reduction in the immune cell infiltration. Conclusions: These findings suggest that post-reperfusion NLRP3 inhibition may be an effective acute therapy for protecting the blood-brain barrier in cerebral ischemia with potential clinical translation.
Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder characterized by repeated and spontaneous epileptic seizures, which is not well controlled by current medication. Traditional theory supports that epilepsy results from the imbalance of excitatory glutamate neurons and inhibitory GABAergic neurons. Recently, shreds of evidence from available clinical and preclinical researches suggest that histamine in the central nervous system plays an important role in the modulation of neural excitability and pathogenesis of epilepsy. Many histamine receptor ligands show positive response in animal epilepsy models, among which the H3R antagonist pitolisant even has shown a good anti-epileptic effect in clinical trials. New insights are focusing on the potential action of histamine receptors to control and treat epilepsy. This review summarizes the findings from animal and clinical researches on the role of brain histamine and histamine receptor in epilepsy. Importantly, we further provide perspectives on some possible research directions for future studies.
Background and Purpose: The development of effective therapeutic strategies against Alzheimer’s disease (AD) remains a challenge. I2 Imidazoline receptors (I2-IR) ligands have a neuroprotective role in AD. While co-treatment of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors with neuroprotective agents have shown better effects on the prevention of dementia. Here, we assessed the potential therapeutic effect of the I2-IR ligand LSL60101, donepezil and their combination in 5XFAD mice. Experimental Approach: 5XFAD female mice were treated with low doses of LSL60101 (1mg/kg/day), donepezil (1mg/kg/day), and donepezil plus LSL60101 (1+1mg/kg/day), during 4 weeks per os. Novel object recognition, Morris water maze, open field, elevated plus maze and three-chamber tests were employed to evaluate the cognitive and behavioural status of the mice after treatment. The effects of the treatments on AD-like pathology were assessed with immunohistochemistry, Western blot and qPCR. Key results: Chronic low-dose treatment with LSL60101 and donepezil reversed cognitive deficits and impaired social behaviour. LSL60101 treatment did not affect anxiety-like behaviour in contrast to donepezil. In the 5XFAD brains, LSL60101 and donepezil/LSL60101 treatments decreased Aβ-pathology and Tau hyperphosphorylation, and these alterations were accompanied by decreased microglia marker Iba-1 levels and increased Trem2 gene expression. LSL60601 and donepezil decreased glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) astrocytic marker reactivity. However, only LSL60601 treatment significantly increased the levels of the synaptic markers post-density 95 (PSD95) and synaptophysin (SYN). Conclusion and implications: Our results suggest that chronic low dose treatment with selective I2-IR ligands can be an effective treatment for AD and provide insights into combination treatments of symptomatic and disease-modifying drugs
Na+,K+ATPase (NKA), a transmembrane protein essential for maintaining the electrochemical gradient across the plasma membrane, acts as a receptor for cardiotonic steroids (CTS) such as ouabain. CTS binding to NKA, triggers signalling pathways or inhibits NKA activity in a concentration-dependent manner, resulting in a modulation of Ca2+ levels, which are essential for homeostasis in neurons. However, most of the pharmacological strategies for avoiding neuronal death do not target NKA activity, due to its complexity and poor comprehension of the mechanisms involved in NKA modulation. The present review aims to discuss two points regarding the interplay between NKA and Ca2+ signalling in the brain: NKA impairment causing illness as well as neuronal death due to Ca2+ signalling and benefits to the brain by modulating NKA activity. These interactions play an essential role in neuronal cell fate determination and are relevant to finding new targets for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
Muscle protein catabolism in patients with diabetic nephropathy (DN) results in striking losses of muscle proteins, which increases morbidity and mortality risks. Emerging evidence shows that short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) play an important role in the maintenance of health and disease development. Recently, the connection between butyrate (a SCFA) and DN has been revealed, although the relationship between butyrate and muscle atrophy is still not clear. In our study, we found a significant decrease in butyrate in DN using metabolomics analyses. The addition of butyrate remarkably intestinal barrier function. Concurrently, butyrate could alleviate muscle atrophy and promote PI3K/AKT/mTOR signals, and suppress oxidative stress and autophagy in the skeletal muscle of db/db mice as well as high glucose/lipopolysaccharide (HG/LPS)-induced C2C12 cells. To further explore the mechanism, we found that GPR43, the key SCFAs signaling molecule, was significantly decreased in the skeletal muscle of db/db mice and HG/LPS-induced C2C12 cells. Overexpression of GPR43 could activate PI3K/AKT/mTOR signals and inhibit oxidative stress and autophagy in HG/LPS-induced C2C12 cells. Silencing of GPR43 blocked PI3K/AKT/mTOR signals improved by butyrate, as well as suppression of oxidative stress and reduction of autophagy. Ultimately, butyrate alleviated muscle atrophy in DN via GPR43-mediated PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway
Background and Purpose: Liver fibrosis is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide of which no acceptable therapy exists. Accumulating evidence supports that glioma-associated oncogene homologue 1(GLI1) is a potentially important therapeutic target for liver fibrosis. This study investigates the antifibrotic activities and potential mechanisms of Physalin B (PB), a natural Solanaceae compound. Experimental Approach: Mice subjected to CCl4 challenge and bile duct ligation were used to study the antifibrotic effects of PB in vivo. Mouse primary hepatic stellate cells (pHSCs) and human HSC line LX‐2 also served as an in vitro liver fibrosis model. Liver fibrogenic genes, GLI1 downstream genes were examined using western blot and real-time PCR analyses. GLI1 acetylation and LAP2α-HDAC1 interaction were analyzed by coimmunoprecipitation. Key Results: In animal models, PB administration attenuated hepatic histopathological injury, collagen accumulation, and reduced the expression of fibrogenic genes. PB dose‐dependently suppressed fibrotic marker expression in LX‐2 cells and mouse pHSCs. Mechanistic studies showed PB inhibited GLI activity in a non-canonical Hedgehog signaling. PB blocked lamina-associated polypeptide 2 α (LAP2α)/ histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) complex formation thereby inhibited HDAC1mediated GLI1 deacetylation. PB downregulated the acetylation and expression of GLI1, and subsequently inhibiting HSC activation. Conclusions and Implications: PB exerted potent antifibrotic effects in vitro and in vivo by disrupting the LAP2α/HDAC1 complex, increasing GLI1 acetylation and inactivating GLI1. This indicates that PB may be a potential therapeutic candidate for the treatment of liver fibrosis.
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder associated with the accelerated development of macrovascular (atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease) and microvascular complications (nephropathy, retinopathy and neuropathy), which remain the principal cause of mortality and morbidity in this population. Current understanding of cellular and molecular pathways of diabetes-driven vascular complications as well as therapeutic interventions have arisen from studying disease pathogenesis in animal models. Diabetes-associated vascular complications are multi-faceted, involving the interaction between various cellular and molecular pathways. Thus, the choice of an appropriate animal model to study vascular pathogenesis is important in our quest to identify innovative and mechanism-based targeted therapies to reduce the burden of diabetic complications. Herein, we provide up-to-date information on available mouse models of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetic vascular complications as well as experimental analysis and research outputs.
Epitranscriptomics is an exciting emerging area that studies biochemical modifications of RNA. The field is boosted by the technical efforts of the last decade to characterize and quantify RNA modifications which have led to a map of post-transcripcional RNA marks in normal cell fate and develoment. However, the scientific interest has been fueled by the discovery of aberrant epitranscriptomes associated with human diseases, mainly cancer. The challenge is now to see whether epitrancriptomics offers a tunable mechanims to be targeted by small- molecule intervention. In this review, we will describe the principal RNA modifications (with a focus on mRNA), summarize the latest scientific evidences of their dysregulation in cancer and provide an overview of the state-of-the-art drug discovery to target the epitranscriptome. Finally, we will discuss the principal challenges in the field of chemical biology and drug development to increase the potential of targeted-RNA for clinical benefit.
IImmunodeficiency and hyperinflammation characterize COVID-19 associated states; thus, repurposing of multiple cytokine and/or anti-cytokine drugs currently being used in other therapeutic areas has been suggested as a potential therapeutic strategy in COVID-19 patients. Clinical trials involving these drugs target the most frequent and life-threatening peripheral consequences of the disease, mainly focusing on lung, heart, and coagulation functions; however, a growing number of reports describe a wide range of COVID-associated neurological manifestations (altogether defined as neuro-COVID) including anosmia, seizures, confusion, stroke, encephalopathy, and paralysis. Notably, the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms for neuro-COVID may also include dysregulation of cytokines/chemokines, deficiencies in the innate immune response, and autoimmunity. This suggests that therapeutic attempts with drugs targeting cytokine-mediated inflammation in peripheral organs could also positively affect neuro-COVID manifestations. As a matter of fact, some of these drugs have also been scrutinized for their potential efficacy in treating neuroinflammatory diseases such as optic neuromyelitis, epilepsy, stroke, and traumatic brain injury, among others. On the other hand, anti-cytokine drugs, by impairing relevant physiological activities exerted by these mediators in the CNS, may also be endowed with significant neurological risk. Therefore, the primary aim of the present manuscript is to review the available preclinical and clinical data regarding the neurological effects of the drugs targeting cytokine-mediated inflammation, in order to raise awareness about their potentially beneficial or detrimental neurological consequences when used to treat COVID-19 patients.
Background and Purpose: Pancreatic cancer is an exceptionally fatal disease. However, therapeutic drugs for pancreatic cancer have presented a serious shortage over the past few decades. Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription-3 (STAT3) is persistently activated in many human cancers where it promotes tumor development and progression. Natural products serve as an inexhaustible source of anticancer drugs. Here, we identified the natural product Trienomycin A (TA), an ansamycin antibiotic, as a potential inhibitor of the STAT3 pathway with potent activity against pancreatic cancer. Experimental Approach: Utilizing the STAT3-luciferase (STAT3-luc) reporter system, we found that TA potently inhibits the transcriptional activity of STAT3. We subsequently investigated in vitro and in vivo inhibitory activity of TA against pancreatic cancer and its potential mechanism by using the molecular docking, SPR assay, MTS assay, colony formation assay, transwell migration/invasion assay, flow cytometric analysis, immunofluorescence staining, quantitative real-time PCR, western blotting, tumor xenograft model, H&E staining and immunohistochemistry. Key Results: TA directly bound to STAT3 and inhibited STAT3 (Tyr705) phosphorylation, leading to the inhibition of the STAT3 pathway. TA significantly inhibited the colony formation, proliferation, migration and invasion of pancreatic cancer cell lines. TA dramatically blocked pancreatic tumor growth. More importantly, TA did not show obvious toxicity at the effective dose in mice. Conclusions and Implications: TA exhibits antineoplastic activity by suppressing the STAT3 activation in pancreatic cancer. TA could be a novel therapeutic candidate for pancreatic cancer by blocking the STAT3 pathway.
Background and Purpose: Cigarette smoking (CS) is the major risk factor for developing COPD and related skeletal muscle dysfunction. It has been postulated that CS exposure may directly causes muscle dysfunction via the induction of oxidative stress. The present study examined the effect of a potent Nox inhibitor and ROS scavenger, apocynin on CS-induced muscle dysfunction. Experimental Approach: Male BALB/c mice were exposed to either room air (sham) or CS generated from 9 cigarettes per day, 5 days a week for 8 weeks with or without apocynin treatment (5 mg·kg-1 w/v, intraperitoneal injection). C2C12 myotubes exposed to either hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) or water-soluble cigarette smoke extract (CSE) with or without apocynin (500 nM), was set up as an experimental model in vitro. Key Results: Eight weeks of CS exposure caused significant lung inflammation and muscle dysfunction in mice; evidenced by a 10% loss in muscle mass and 54% loss in contractile function of tibialis anterior, attributable to altered myogenic homeostasis and protein oxidation. These effects were prevented by apocynin administration. In C2C12 myotubes, direct exposure to H2O2 or CSE caused myofiber wasting, which was associated with altered myogenic homeostasis marked by ~50% loss in muscle-derived insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 and 1.5-fold increase in myostatin expression. Apocynin treatment completely attenuated CSE-induced Nox2 expression, preserving muscle-derived IGF-1 expression and downstream mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway, thereby preventing myofiber wasting. Conclusion and Implications: Targeted pharmacological inhibition of Nox-derived ROS may alleviate the lung and systemic manifestations in smokers with COPD.
Background: Vascular TRPV channels have emerged as important regulators of vascular tone. TRPV1 and endothelin-1 (ET-1) are independently associated with the pathophysiology of coronary vasospasm but the relationship between their vasomotor functions remains unclear. We characterized the vasomotor function of TRPV1 channels in human arterioles and investigated regulation of their vasomotor function by ET-1. Approach: Arterioles were threaded on two metal wires, equilibrated in a physiological buffer at 37 oC and exposed to increasing concentrations of capsaicin in the absence or presence of SB366791 (TRPV1-selective inhibitor) or GF109203X (PKC-selective inhibitor). Some arterioles were preconstricted with ET-1 or phenylephrine or high K+ buffer. TRPV1 mRNA and protein expression in human arteries were assessed. Results: TRPV1 transcripts and proteins were detected in human resistance arteries. Capsaicin (1 µM) induced concentration-dependent constriction of endothelium-intact (35 ± 8 %) and endothelium-denuded (43 ± 11 %) human adipose arterioles (HAA), which was significantly inhibited by SB366791 (0.2 ± 0.1 %). Preconstriction of HAA with ET-1, but not high potassium buffer or phenylephrine, significantly potentiated capsaicin-induced constriction (33 ± 7 % vs 12 ± 8 %). GF109203X significantly inhibited potentiation of capsaicin-induced constriction by ET-1. Conclusion: TRPV1 channels are expressed in the human vasculature and can influence vascular tone of human arterioles upon activation. Their vasomotor function is modulated by ET-1, mediated in part by PKC.. These findings reveal a novel interplay between ET-1 signaling and TRPV1 channels in human VSMC, adding to our understanding of the ion channel mechanisms that regulate human arteriolar tone and may also contribute to the pathophysiology of coronary vasospasm.
Background and Purpose The cyclic nucleotides cAMP and cGMP are ubiquitous second messengers participating in the regulation of several biological processes. Interference of cNMP signalling is linked to multiple diseases and thus is an important component of pharmaceutical research. The existing optogenetic toolbox in C. elegans is restricted to soluble adenylyl cyclases, the membrane-bound Blastocladiella CyclOp and hyperpolarizing rhodopsins, yet missing are membrane-bound photoactivatable adenylyl cyclases and hyperpolarizers on the basis of K+-currents. Experimental Approach For the characterization of the photoactivatable nucleotidyl cyclases, we expressed the proteins alone or in combination with cyclic-nucleotide gated channels in C. elegans muscle cells and cholinergic motor neurons. To investigate the extent of optogenetic cNMP production and the ability of the systems to de- or hyperpolarize the cells, we performed behavioural analyses (locomotion, muscle contraction) and measured the cNMP content in vitro. Key Results We implemented Catenaria CyclOp as a new tool for cGMP production, allowing fine-control of cGMP levels. As photoactivatable membrane-bound adenylyl cyclases, we established YFP::BeCyclOp(A-2x) and YFP::CaCyclOp(A-2x), enabling more specific optogenetic cAMP signalling compared to soluble ACs. For the hyperpolarization of excitable cells by K+-currents, we introduced the cAMP-gated K+-channel SthK from Spirochaeta thermophila with either bPAC or BeCyclOp(A-2x), and the Blastocladiella emersonii cGMP-gated K+-channel BeCNG1 with BeCyclOp. Conclusion and Implications We established a comprehensive suite of optogenetic tools for cNMP manipulation for the nematode, which will be useful for applications in many cell types, including sensory neurons which use mainly cGMP as second messenger, and for potent hyperpolarization using K+-ions.