Ageing is the main risk factor common to most primary neurodegenerative disorders. Indeed, age-related brain alterations have been long considered to predispose to neurodegeneration. Although protein misfolding and the accumulation of toxic protein aggregates have been contemplated as causative events in neurodegeneration, several biological pathways affected by brain ageing are also contributing to pathogenesis. Here, we discuss the evidence showing the involvement of the mechanisms controlling neuronal structure, gene expression, autophagy, cell metabolism, and neuroinflammation in the onset and progression of neurodegenerative disorders. Furthermore, we review the therapeutic strategies currently under development or as future approaches designed to normalize these pathways, which may then boost brain resilience to cope with toxic protein species. Therefore, in addition to therapies targeting the insoluble protein aggregates specifically associated with each neurodegenerative disorder, these novel pharmacological approaches may be part of combined therapies designed to rescue brain function.
Background and Purpose: Diabetic nephropathy is one of the most common complications that is related to high morbidity and mortality in type 2 diabetic patients. We investigated ability of a novel dual modulator, PTUPB that concurrently acts as a soluble epoxide hydrolase inhibitor and as a cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor against diabetic nephropathy. Experimental Approach: Sixteen-week-old type 2 diabetic and proteinuric obese ZSF1 rats were orally treated with vehicle, PTUPB, or enalapril for 8 weeks. Key Results: PTUPB alleviated diabetic nephropathy in obese ZSF1 rats by reducing albuminuria by 50%, renal tubular cast formation by 60-70%, renal fibrosis by 40-50%, glomerular injury by 55% and preserved glomerular nephrin expression. Enalapril demonstrated comparable effects and alleviated diabetic nephropathy in obese ZSF1 rats by reducing all kidney injury parameters by 30 to 50%. Diabetic renal injury in obese ZSF1 rats was accompanied by renal inflammation with 6-7-fold higher urinary MCP-1 level and renal infiltration of CD-68 positive cells. PTUPB and enalapril reduced renal inflammation but PTUPB demonstrated superior anti-inflammatory actions than enalapril. Obese ZSF1 rats were also hypertensive, hyperlipidemic, and exhibited liver injury. Interestingly, PTUPB but not enalapril decreased hyperlipidemia and liver injury in Obese ZSF1 rats. Conclusion and Implication: Overall, we demonstrate that a dual modulator PTUPB does not treat hyperglycemia, but can effectively alleviate hypertension, diabetic nephropathy, hyperlipidemia, and liver injury in type 2 diabetic rats. Therefore, we suggest that PTUPB has promising potential to be developed as a novel therapy for type 2 diabetic nephropathy and other complications.
Background: Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A (VEGF-A) is a key mediator of angiogenesis, primarily signalling via VEGF Receptor 2 (VEGFR2). Endothelial cells also express the co-receptor Neuropilin-1 (NRP1) that potentiates VEGF-A/VEGFR2 signalling. VEGFR2 and NRP1 had distinct real-time ligand binding kinetics when monitored using Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET). We previously characterised fluorescent VEGF-A isoforms tagged at a single site with tetramethylrhodamine (TMR). Here, we explore differences between VEGF-A isoforms in living cells that co-expressed both receptors. Experimental Approach: Receptor localisation was monitored in HEK293T cells expressing both VEGFR2 and NRP1 using a membrane-impermeant HaloTag and SnapTag technologies. To isolate ligand binding pharmacology at a defined VEGFR2/NRP1 complex, we developed an assay using NanoBiT complementation technology whereby heteromerization is required for luminescence emissions. Binding affinities and kinetics of VEGFR2-selective VEGF165b-TMR and non-selective VEGF165a-TMR were monitored using BRET from this defined complex. Key Results: Cell surface VEGFR2 and NRP1 were co-localised and formed a constitutive heteromeric complex. Despite being selective for VEGFR2, VEGF165b-TMR had a distinct kinetic ligand binding profile at the complex that largely remained elevated in cells over 90 minutes. VEGF165a-TMR bound to the VEGFR2/NRP1 complex with kinetics comparable to those of VEGFR2 alone. Using a binding-dead mutant of NRP1 had no impact on the binding kinetics or affinity of VEGF165a-TMR. Conclusions and Implications: This NanoBiT approach enabled real-time ligand binding to be quantified in living cells at 37°C from a specified complex between a receptor tyrosine kinase and its co-receptor for the first time.
Cholesterol (Chol) and oxysterol sulfates are important regulators of lipid metabolism, inflammation, cell apoptosis, and cell survival. Among the sulfate-based lipids, cholesterol sulfate (CS) is the most studied lipid both quantitatively and functionally. Despite the importance, very few studies have analysed and linked the actions of oxysterol sulfates to their physiological roles. Over expression of sulfotransferases confirmed the formation of a range of oxysterol sulfates and their antagonistic effects on liver X receptors (LXRs). It is therefore important to understand how further changes to oxysterol/oxysterol sulfate homeostasis can contribute to LXR activity in the physiological milieu. Here, we aim to bring together evidences for novel roles of oxysterol sulfates, the available techniques and the challenges for analysing them. Understanding the oxysterol/oxysterol sulfate levels and their physiological mechanisms could lead to new therapeutic targets for metabolic diseases.
Background and Purpose: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects up to half of the patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which exerts deleterious impact on health outcomes and survivability. Vascular endothelial dysfunction marks the onset of cardiovascular disease. The present study examined the effect of a potent NADPH Oxidase (NOX) inhibitor and free-radical scavenger, apocynin, on COPD-related CVD. Experimental Approach: Male BALB/c mice were exposed to either room air (Sham) or cigarette smoke (CS) generated from 9 cigarettes per day, 5 days a week for up to 24 weeks with or without apocynin treatment (5 mg·kg-1·day-1, intraperitoneal injection). Key Results: Eight-weeks of apocynin treatment reduced airway neutrophil infiltration (by 42%) and completely preserved endothelial function and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) activity against the oxidative insults of CS exposure. These preservative effects were maintained up until the 24-week time point. 24-week of apocynin treatment exhibited marked benefits on airway inflammation (reduced infiltration of macrophage, neutrophil and lymphocyte) and lung function decline (hyperinflation), and prevented airway collagen deposition by CS exposure. Conclusion and Implications: Limiting NOX activity may slow COPD progression and lower CVD risk, particularly when signs of oxidative stress become evident.
Dopamine transmission in the striatum is a critical mediator of the rewarding and reinforcing effects of commonly misused psychoactive drugs. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) that bind a variety of neuromodulators including dopamine, endocannabinoids, acetylcholine, and endogenous opioid peptides regulate dopamine release by acting on several components of dopaminergic circuitry. Striatal dopamine release can be driven by both somatic action potential firing and local mechanisms that depend on acetylcholine released from striatal cholinergic interneurons. GPCRs that primarily regulate somatic firing of dopamine neurons via direct effects or modulation of synaptic inputs are likely to impact distinct aspects of behavior and psychoactive drug actions compared with GPCRs that primarily regulate local acetylcholine-dependent dopamine release in striatal regions. This review will highlight mechanisms by which GPCRs modulate dopaminergic transmission and the relevance of these findings to psychoactive drugs involved in substance use disorders.
Background and Purpose: Mineralocorticoid receptors (MRs), glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) and corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) are implicated in the stress response. The present study investigated the role of GRs and MRs in the PVN in regulating depressive and anxiety-like behaviors. Experimental Approach: To model chronic stress, rats were exposed to chronic corticosterone treatment via drinking water for 21 days, and the GR antagonist RU486 and MR antagonist spironolactone, alone and combined, were directly injected in the PVN daily for 7 days before the behavioral tests. Depressive- and anxiety-like behaviors were evaluated in forced swim test, sucrose preference test, novelty-suppressed feeding test and social interaction test. The expression of GRs, MRs and CRF were detected by Western-Blot. Key Results: The rats exposed to corticosterone exhibited depressive- and anxiety-like behaviors. The expression of GRs and MRs decreased, and CRF levels increased in the PVN. The intra-PVN administration of RU486 increased the levels of GRs and CRF without influencing depressive- or anxiety-like behaviors. The spironolactone-treated group exhibited an increase in MRs without influencing GRs and CRF in the PVN, and improved anxiety-like behaviors. Interestingly, the intra-PVN administration of RU486 and spironolactone combined restored the expression of GRs, MRs, and CRF and improved depressive- and anxiety-like behaviors. Conclusion and Implications: These results suggest that the simultaneous restoration of GRs, MRs, and CRF in the PVN in this rat model of stress might play an important role in the treatment of depression and anxiety.
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.
Cough is an adverse effect that may hinder the delivery of drugs into the lungs. Chemical or mechanical stimulants activate the transient receptor potential in some airway afferent nerves (C or A fibres) to trigger cough. Types of inhaler device and drug, dose, excipients, formulation characteristics including pH, tonicity, aerosol output and particle size may trigger cough by stimulating the cough receptors. Release of inflammatory mediators may increase the sensitivity of the cough receptors to stimulants. The cough-provoking effect of aerosols is enhanced by bronchoconstriction in diseased airways and reduces drug deposition in the target pulmonary regions. In this article, we review the factors by which inhalation products may cause cough.
Background and Purpose Glutamate receptor mediated enhanced excitatory neurotransmission is typically associated with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis (MTLE-HS). Kynurenic acid (KYNA) and quinolinic acid (QUIN) are two important tryptophan-kynurenine pathway (KP) metabolites that modulate glutamate receptor activity. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that alteration in metabolism of KP metabolites in the hippocampus of patients with MTLE-HS contributes to abnormal glutamatergic transmission. Experimental Approach TKP metabolites level were determined using HPLC and LC-MS/MS in the hippocampal samples of patients with MTLE-HS compared to autopsy and non-seizure control samples. mRNA and protein expression of TKP enzymes were determined by qPCR and western blot. Spontaneous glutamatergic activities were recorded from pyramidal neurons in presence of kynurenine (KYN) and KYNA using whole cell patch clamp. Key Results We observed significantly reduced KYNA and elevated QUIN levels in the hippocampal samples, while KYN level remains unaltered. Spontaneous glutamatergic activity in the hippocampal samples was higher compared to that in non-seizure controls. Treatment with kynurenine inhibited the glutamatergic activity in non-seizure control samples but not in case of the hippocampal samples. However, exogenously applied KYNA inhibited glutamatergic activity in both non-seizure control and hippocampal samples. We also observed reduced levels of enzyme kynurenine aminotransferase II and its co-factor pyridoxal phosphate in the hippocampal samples. Conclusion Our findings indicate that altered metabolism of TKP metabolites in hippocampus could contribute to hyperglutamatergic tone in patients with MTLE-HS.
The central nervous system (CNS) has long been considered an immune-privileged site, with minimal interaction between immune cells, particularly of the adaptive immune system. Previously, the presence of immune cells in this organ was primarily linked to events involving disruption of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) or inflammation. However, current research has shown that immune cells are found patrolling CNS under homeostatic conditions. Specifically, T cells of the adaptive immune system are able to cross the BBB and are associated with aging and cognitive impairment. In addition, T-cell infiltration has been observed in pathological conditions, where inflammation correlates with poor prognosis. Despite ongoing research, the role of this population in the aging brain under both physiological and pathological conditions is not yet fully understood. In this review, we provide an overview of the interactions between T cells and other immune and CNS parenchymal cells, and examine the molecular mechanisms by which these interactions may contribute to normal brain function and the scenarios in which disruption of these connections lead to cognitive impairment. A comprehensive understanding of the role of T cells in the aging brain and the underlying molecular pathways under normal conditions could pave the way for new research to better understand brain disorders.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are diagnosed in 1/100 childbirth worldwide, based on two core symptoms, deficits in social interaction and communication and stereotyped behaviours. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest family of cell-surface receptors that mediate the transfer of extracellular signals to convergent intracellular signalling and downstream cellular responses that are dysregulated in ASD. Despite hundreds of GPCRs are expressed in the brain, only 23 GPCRs are genetically associated to ASD according to the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) gene database: oxytocin OTR, vasopressin V1A, V1B, metabotropic glutamate mGlu5, mGlu7, GABAB, dopamine D1, D2, D3, serotoninergic 5-HT1B, β2-adrenoceptor, cholinergic M3, adenosine A2A, A3, angiotensin AT2, cannabinoid CB1, chemokine CX3CR1, orphan GPR37, GPR85 and olfactory OR1C1, OR2M4, OR2T10, OR52M1. Here, we review the therapeutical potential of these 23 GPCRs, in addition to 5-HT2A, 5-HT6 and 5-HT7 for their relevance to ASD. We discuss their genetic association with ASD, the effects of their genetic and pharmacological manipulation in animal models and humans, their existing pharmacopeia towards core symptoms of ASD and rank them based on these evidences. Among these 23 GPCRs, we highlight that OTR, V1A, mGlu5, D2, 5-HT2A, CB1, and GPR37 are the best therapeutic targets. We conclude that the dysregulation of GPCRs and their signalling is a convergent pathological mechanism of ASD and their therapeutic potential has only begun as multiple GPCRs could mitigate ASD.
Background and Purpose: Although human blood flows are redistributed into the mesenteric circulation after meals, it is not well understood how postprandial nutrients induces vasorelaxation of mesenteric micro-arterioles and whether this process is involved in the pathogenesis of colitis. Experimental Approach: We used an auto dual wire myograph system, fluorescence imaging system and DSS-induced colitis mouse model to investigate the roles and mechanisms of nutrient-induced mesenteric relaxation in health and disease. Key Results: We found that acute application of glucose and sodium induced endothelium-dependent relaxation of human and mouse mesenteric micro-arterioles via a hyperosmotic action, which also stimulated Ca2+ influx through endothelial TRPV1 channels. The nutrient-induced vasorelaxation was almost abolished by selective blockers for TRPV1, IKCa and SKCa channels, but marginally altered by inhibition of nitric oxide production. The nutrient-induced hyperosmosis also activated functional activities of Na+/K+-ATPase and Na+/Ca2+-exchanger to further reduce [Ca2+]i in vascular smooth muscle cells. Moreover, hyperosmosis-induced endothelium-dependent hyperpolarization was significantly impaired in colitis mouse model. Conclusion and Implications: Our study provides the first evidence that nutrient-induced hyperosmosis stimulates endothelial TRPV1/Ca2+/EDH signaling pathway to eventually evoke vasorelaxation of mesenteric micro-arterioles, which may contribute to the pathogenesis of colitis as well.
Background and Purpose: The activation of the defense reaction inhibits the baroreflex response through the B3 and nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) regions. Our aim was to determine whether and how baroreflex inhibition induced by the disinhibition of the rostral cuneiform nucleus, part of the defense pathway, involves serotonin cells in B3 and 5-HT3 receptors in the NTS. Experimental Approach: We performed immunohistochemistry and anatomical experiments to determine whether raphe serotonin cells expressing Fos were directly targeted by the rostral cuneiform nucleus. The effect of blocking raphe serotonin transmission and NTS 5-HT3 receptors, on cuneiform-induced inhibition of the baroreflex cardiac response, were also analyzed. Key Results: Bicuculline microinjected into the rostral cuneiform nucleus induced an increase of double labeled Fos-5-HT IR cells in both the LPGi and Raphe Magnus. The anterograde tracer Phaseolus vulgaris leucoaggutinin into the rostral cuneiform nucleus revealed a dense projection to the LPGi but not Raphe Magnus. Cuneiform-induced baroreflex inhibition was prevented by B3 injection of 8-OH-DPAT, a specific agonist for 5-HT1A receptors. Cuneiform disinhibition also failed to inhibit the baroreflex bradycardia after microinjection of a 5-HT3 receptor antagonist (granisetron) into the NTS or in 5-HT3 receptor knock-out mice. Conclusion and Implications: In conclusion, the rostral cuneiform nucleus participates in the defense inhibition of the baroreflex bradycardia via direct activation of the LPGi and a relay to the Raphe Magnus, to activate NTS 5-HT3 receptors and inhibit second-order baroreflex neurons. These data bring new insights in primary and secondary mechanisms involved in vital baroreflex prevention during stress.
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.
GPR84 is an understudied rhodopsin-like class A G protein-coupled receptor which is arousing particular interest from a therapeutic perspective. Not least this reflects that gpr84 expression is significantly up-regulated following acute inflammatory stimuli and in inflammatory diseases and that receptor activation plays a role in regulating pro-inflammatory responses and migration of cells of the innate immune system such as neutrophils, monocytes, macrophages and microglia. Although most physiological responses of GPR84 reflect receptor coupling to Gαi/o G-proteins, several studies indicate that agonist-activated GPR84 can also recruit arrestin adaptor proteins and this regulates receptor internalisation and desensitisation. To date, very little is known on the patterns of GPR84 phosphorylation and how these might control these processes. Here, we consider what is known on the molecular basis of GPR84 signalling with a focus on how GRK-mediated phosphorylation regulates arrestin protein recruitment and receptor function.
Background and Purpose: 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 (11β-HSD1) catalyzes the oxoreduction of cortisone to cortisol, thereby amplifying levels of active glucocorticoids. It is considered a pharmaceutical target in metabolic disease and cognitive impairments. 11β-HSD1 also converts some 7oxo-steroids to their 7β-hydroxy forms. A recent study in mice described the ratio of tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA)/tauro-7oxolithocholic acid (T7oxoLCA) as a biomarker for decreased 11β-HSD1 oxoreductase activity. The present study aimed to evaluate the equivalent bile acid ratio glycoursodeoxycholic acid (GUDCA)/glyco-7oxolithocholic acid (G7oxoLCA) as a biomarker for pharmacological 11β-HSD1 inhibition in humans and compare it with the currently applied urinary (5α-tetrahydrocortisol+tetrahydrocortisol)/tetrahydrocortisone ((5αTHF+THF)/THE) ratio. Experimental Approach: Bile acid profiles were analyzed by ultra-HPLC tandem-MS in blood samples from two independent, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical studies on the orally administered selective 11β-HSD1 inhibitor AZD4017. The blood GUDCA/G7oxoLCA ratio was compared with the urinary tetrahydro-glucocorticoid ratio for the ability to detect 11β-HSD1 inhibition. Key Results: No significant alterations were observed in the bile acid profiles following 11β-HSD1 inhibition by AZD4017, except for an increase of the secondary bile acid G7oxoLCA. The enzyme product/substrate ratio GUDCA/G7oxoLCA was found to be more reliable to detect 11β-HSD1 inhibition than the absolute G7oxoLCA concentration in both cohorts. Comparison of the blood GUDCA/G7oxoLCA ratio with the urinary (5αTHF+THF)/THE ratio revealed that both ratios successfully detect 11β-HSD1 inhibition. Conclusion and Implications: 11β-HSD1 inhibition does not cause major alterations in bile acid homeostasis. The GUDCA/G7oxoLCA ratio represents the first blood biomarker of pharmacological 11β-HSD1 inhibition and may replace or complement the urinary (5αTHF+THF)/THE ratio biomarker.