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1.  T1-Weighted Hypersignal in the Deep Cerebellar Nuclei After Repeated Administrations of Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agents in Healthy Rats 
Investigative Radiology  2015;50(8):473-480.
Objectives
To prospectively compare in healthy rats the effect of multiple injections of macrocyclic (gadoterate meglumine) and linear (gadodiamide) gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) on T1-weighted signal intensity in the deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN), including the dentate nucleus.
Materials and Methods
Healthy rats (n = 7/group) received 20 intravenous injections of 0.6 mmol of gadolinium (Gd) per kilogram (4 injections per week during 5 weeks) of gadodiamide, gadoterate meglumine, or hyperosmolar saline (control group). Brain T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging was performed before and once a week during the 5 weeks of injections and during 5 additional weeks (treatment-free period). Gadolinium concentrations were measured with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry in plasma and brain. Blinded qualitative and quantitative evaluations of the T1 signal intensity in DCN were performed, as well as a statistical analysis on quantitative data.
Results
A significant and persistent T1 signal hyperintensity in DCN was observed only in gadodiamide-treated rats. The DCN-to-cerebellar cortex signal ratio was significantly increased from the 12th injection of gadodiamide (1.070 ± 0.024) compared to the gadoterate meglumine group (1.000 ± 0.033; P < 0.001) and control group (1.019 ± 0.022; P < 0.001) and did not significantly decrease during the treatment-free period. Total Gd concentrations in the gadodiamide group were significantly higher in the cerebellum (3.66 ± 0.91 nmol/g) compared with the gadoterate meglumine (0.26 ± 0.12 nmol/g; P < 0.05) and control (0.06 ± 0.10 nmol/g; P < 0.05) groups.
Conclusions
Repeated administrations of the linear GBCA gadodiamide to healthy rats are associated with progressive and persistent T1 signal hyperintensity in the DCN, with Gd deposition in the cerebellum in contrast with the macrocyclic GBCA gadoterate meglumine for which no effect was observed.
doi:10.1097/RLI.0000000000000181
PMCID: PMC4494686  PMID: 26107651
signal intensity; dentate nucleus; deep cerebellar nuclei; magnetic resonance; cumulative doses; gadolinium; contrast agent; gadoterate meglumine; gadodiamide
2.  One-Pot Isomerization–Cross Metathesis–Reduction (ICMR) Synthesis of Lipophilic Tetrapeptides 
ACS Combinatorial Science  2014;16(7):342-351.
An efficient, versatile and rapid method toward homologue series of lipophilic tetrapeptide derivatives (herein, the opioid peptides H-TIPP-OH and H-DIPP-OH) is reported. High atom economy and a minimal number of synthetic steps resulted from a one-pot tandem isomerization-cross metathesis-reduction sequence (ICMR), applicable both in solution and solid phase methodology. The broadly applicable synthesis proceeds with short reaction times and simple work-up, as illustrated in this work for alkylated opioid tetrapeptides.
doi:10.1021/co500020a
PMCID: PMC4140390  PMID: 24906051
alkylated tetrapeptides; one-pot tandem reactions; isomerization-cross metathesis-reduction process (ICMR); Grubbs’ second generation and Umicore M2 catalysts; solution and solid phase peptide synthesis
3.  In Vitro Membrane Permeation Studies and in Vivo Antinociception of Glycosylated Dmt1-DALDA Analogues 
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters  2014;5(4):352-357.
In this study the μ opioid receptor (MOR) ligands DALDA (Tyr-d-Arg-Phe-Lys-NH2) and Dmt1-DALDA (Dmt-d-Arg-Phe-Lys-NH2, Dmt = 2′,6′-dimethyltyrosine) were glycosylated at the N- or C-terminus. Subsequently, the modified peptides were subjected to in vitro and in vivo evaluation. In contrast to the N-terminally modified peptide (3), all peptide analogues derivatized at the C-terminus (4–7) proved to possess high affinity and agonist potency at both MOR and DOR (δ opioid receptor). Results of the Caco-2 monolayer permeation, as well as in vitro blood–brain barrier model experiments, showed that, in the case of compound 4, the glycosylation only slightly diminished the lumen-to-blood and blood-to-lumen transport. Altogether, these experiments were indicative of transcellular transport but not active transport. In vivo assays demonstrated that the peptides were capable of (i) crossing the blood–brain barrier (BBB) and (ii) activating both the spinal ascending as well as the descending opioid pathways, as determined by the tail-flick and hot-plate assays, respectively. In contrast to the highly selective MOR agonist Dmt1-DALDA 1, compounds 4–7 are mixed MOR/DOR agonists, expected to produce reduced opioid-related side effects.
doi:10.1021/ml4004765
PMCID: PMC4023695  PMID: 24839540
Opioid peptides; glycosylation; in vivo antinociception; Dmt1-DALDA
4.  Transcatheter embolization therapy in liver cancer: an update of clinical evidences 
Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is a form of intra-arterial catheter-based chemotherapy that selectively delivers high doses of cytotoxic drug to the tumor bed combining with the effect of ischemic necrosis induced by arterial embolization. Chemoembolization and radioembolization are at the core of the treatment of liver hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients who cannot receive potentially curative therapies such as transplantation, resection or percutaneous ablation. TACE for liver cancer has been proven to be useful in local tumor control, to prevent tumor progression, prolong patients’ life and control patient symptoms. Recent evidence showed in patients with single-nodule HCC of 3 cm or smaller without vascular invasion, the 5-year overall survival (OS) with TACE was similar to that with hepatic resection and radiofrequency ablation. Although being used for decades, Lipiodol® (Lipiodol® Ultra Fluid®, Guerbet, France) remains important as a tumor-seeking and radio-opaque drug delivery vector in interventional oncology. There have been efforts to improve the delivery of chemotherapeutic agents to tumors. Drug-eluting bead (DEB) is a relatively novel drug delivery embolization system which allows for fixed dosing and the ability to release the anticancer agents in a sustained manner. Three DEBs are available, i.e., Tandem® (CeloNova Biosciences Inc., USA), DC-Beads® (BTG, UK) and HepaSphere® (BioSphere Medical, Inc., USA). Transarterial radioembolization (TARE) technique has been developed, and proven to be efficient and safe in advanced liver cancers and those with vascular complications. Two types of radioembolization microspheres are available i.e., SIR-Spheres® (Sirtex Medical Limited, Australia) and TheraSphere® (BTG, UK). This review describes the basic procedure of TACE, properties and efficacy of some chemoembolization systems and radioembolization agents which are commercially available and/or currently under clinical evaluation. The key clinical trials of transcatheter arterial therapy for liver cancer are summarized.
doi:10.3978/j.issn.1000-9604.2015.03.03
PMCID: PMC4409973  PMID: 25937772
Transarterial; chemoembolization; hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); drug-eluting particles; microspheres; Lipiodol®; radioembolization; yttrium-90
5.  Blocking Junctional Adhesion Molecule C Enhances Dendritic Cell Migration and Boosts the Immune Responses against Leishmania major 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(12):e1004550.
The recruitment of dendritic cells to sites of infections and their migration to lymph nodes is fundamental for antigen processing and presentation to T cells. In the present study, we showed that antibody blockade of junctional adhesion molecule C (JAM-C) on endothelial cells removed JAM-C away from junctions and increased vascular permeability after L. major infection. This has multiple consequences on the output of the immune response. In resistant C57BL/6 and susceptible BALB/c mice, we found higher numbers of innate immune cells migrating from blood to the site of infection. The subsequent migration of dendritic cells (DCs) from the skin to the draining lymph node was also improved, thereby boosting the induction of the adaptive immune response. In C57BL/6 mice, JAM-C blockade after L. major injection led to an enhanced IFN-γ dominated T helper 1 (Th1) response with reduced skin lesions and parasite burden. Conversely, anti JAM-C treatment increased the IL-4-driven T helper 2 (Th2) response in BALB/c mice with disease exacerbation. Overall, our results show that JAM-C blockade can finely-tune the innate cell migration and accelerate the consequent immune response to L. major without changing the type of the T helper cell response.
Author Summary
Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease transmitted to humans through sand fly bites. Clinical symptoms vary from self-healing cutaneous lesions to death. Cutaneous leishmaniasis is particularly studied in mice inoculated with Leishmania major. In this model, some strains (e.g. C57BL/6) are resistant due to a Th1 immune response promoting parasite killing. Conversely, other strains (e.g. BALB/c) are susceptible due to a nonprotective Th2 response. DCs are professional antigen-presenting cells that educate antigen-specific T cells. Improving the migration of DCs from the site of infection to the lymph nodes, where T cells reside, may improve the T cell response. JAM-C is a vascular adhesion molecule implicated in leukocyte migration in different inflammatory models. We found that JAM-C blockade with antibodies increases vascular permeability and consequently improves the migration of DCs to sites of infection and draining lymph nodes. This increased leukocyte migration boosted the induction of the Th1 response in resistant mice, while in susceptible mice the Th2 response was augmented. This led to disease improvement or exacerbation, respectively. Our results illustrate the key role of a vascular adhesion molecule in controlling leukocyte migration and the subsequent immune events in response to pathogen infections.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004550
PMCID: PMC4256467  PMID: 25474593
6.  Draft Genome Sequence Analysis of a Pseudomonas putida W15Oct28 Strain with Antagonistic Activity to Gram-Positive and Pseudomonas sp. Pathogens 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e110038.
Pseudomonas putida is a member of the fluorescent pseudomonads known to produce the yellow-green fluorescent pyoverdine siderophore. P. putida W15Oct28, isolated from a stream in Brussels, was found to produce compound(s) with antimicrobial activity against the opportunistic pathogens Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae, an unusual characteristic for P. putida. The active compound production only occurred in media with low iron content and without organic nitrogen sources. Transposon mutants which lost their antimicrobial activity had the majority of insertions in genes involved in the biosynthesis of pyoverdine, although purified pyoverdine was not responsible for the antagonism. Separation of compounds present in culture supernatants revealed the presence of two fractions containing highly hydrophobic molecules active against P. aeruginosa. Analysis of the draft genome confirmed the presence of putisolvin biosynthesis genes and the corresponding lipopeptides were found to contribute to the antimicrobial activity. One cluster of ten genes was detected, comprising a NAD-dependent epimerase, an acetylornithine aminotransferase, an acyl CoA dehydrogenase, a short chain dehydrogenase, a fatty acid desaturase and three genes for a RND efflux pump. P. putida W15Oct28 genome also contains 56 genes encoding TonB-dependent receptors, conferring a high capacity to utilize pyoverdines from other pseudomonads. One unique feature of W15Oct28 is also the presence of different secretion systems including a full set of genes for type IV secretion, and several genes for type VI secretion and their VgrG effectors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110038
PMCID: PMC4219678  PMID: 25369289
7.  One-Pot Isomerization–Cross Metathesis–Reduction (ICMR) Synthesis of Lipophilic Tetrapeptides 
ACS combinatorial science  2014;16(7):342-351.
An efficient, versatile and rapid method toward homologue series of lipophilic tetrapeptide derivatives (herein, the opioid peptides H-TIPP-OH and H-DIPP-OH) is reported. High atom economy and a minimal number of synthetic steps resulted from a one-pot tandem isomerization-cross metathesis-reduction sequence (ICMR), applicable both in solution and solid phase methodology. The broadly applicable synthesis proceeds with short reaction times and simple work-up, as illustrated in this work for alkylated opioid tetrapeptides.
doi:10.1021/co500020a
PMCID: PMC4140390  PMID: 24906051
alkylated tetrapeptides; one-pot tandem reactions; isomerization-cross metathesis-reduction process (ICMR); Grubbs’ second generation and Umicore M2 catalysts; solution and solid phase peptide synthesis
8.  Monitoring plaque inflammation in atherosclerotic rabbits with an iron oxide (P904) and 18F-FDG using a combined PET/MR scanner 
Atherosclerosis  2013;228(2):339-345.
Purpose
The aim of this study was to compare the ability of 18F-FDG PET and iron contrast-enhanced MRI with a novel USPIO (P904) to assess change in plaque inflammation induced by atorvastatin and dietary change in a rabbit model of atherosclerosis using a combined PET/MR scanner.
Materials and methods
Atherosclerotic rabbits underwent USPIO-enhanced MRI and 18F-FDG PET in PET/ MR hybrid system at baseline and were then randomly divided into a progression group (high cholesterol diet) and a regression group (chow diet and atorvastatin). Each group was scanned again 6 months after baseline imaging. R2* (i.e. 1/T2*) values were calculated pre/post P904 injection. 18F-FDG PET data were analyzed by averaging the mean Standard Uptake Value (SUVmean) over the abdominal aorta. The in vivo imaging was then correlated with matched histological sections stained for macrophages.
Results
18F-FDG PET showed strong FDG uptake in the abdominal aorta and P904 injection revealed an increase in R2* values in the aortic wall at baseline. At 6 months, SUVmean values measured in the regression group showed a significant decrease from baseline (p =0.015). In comparison, progression group values remained constant (p =0.681). R2* values showed a similar decreasing trend in the regression group suggesting less USPIO uptake in the aortic wall. Correlations between SUVmean or Change in R2* value and macrophages density (RAM-11 staining) were good (R2 =0.778 and 0.707 respectively).
Conclusion
This experimental study confirms the possibility to combine two functional imaging modalities to assess changes in the inflammation of atherosclerotic plaques. 18F-FDG-PET seems to be more sensitive than USPIO P904 to detect early changes in plaque inflammation.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2013.03.019
PMCID: PMC4128694  PMID: 23582588
Inflammation Imaging; MRI; PET; Animal experimentations Statin
9.  Characterization of a surrogate murine antibody to model anti-human CD3 therapies 
mAbs  2013;5(4):555-564.
Fc-modified anti-human CD3ε monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are in clinical development for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. These next generation mAbs have completed clinical trials in patients with type-1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease demonstrating a narrow therapeutic window. Lowered doses are ineffective, yet higher pharmacologically-active doses cause an undesirable level of adverse events. Thus, there is a critical need for a return to bench research to explore ways of improving clinical outcomes. Indeed, we recently reported that a short course of treatment affords synergy, providing long-term disease amelioration when combining anti-mouse CD3 and anti-mouse tumor necrosis factor mAbs in experimental arthritis. Such strategies may widen the window between risk and benefit; however, to more accurately assess experimentally the biology and pharmacology, reagents that mimic the current development candidates were required. Consequently, we engineered an Fc-modified anti-mouse CD3ε mAb, 2C11-Novi. Here, we report the functional characterization of 2C11-Novi demonstrating that it does not bind FcγR in vitro and elicits little cytokine release in vivo, while maintaining classical pharmacodynamic effects (CD3-TCR downregulation and T cell killing). Furthermore, we observed that oral administration of 2C11-Novi ameliorated progression of remitting-relapsing experimental autoimmune encephalitis in mice, significantly reducing the primary acute and subsequent relapse phase of the disease. With innovative approaches validated in two experimental models of human disease, 2C11-Novi represents a meaningful tool to conduct further mechanistic studies aiming at exploiting the immunoregulatory properties of Fc-modified anti-CD3 therapies via combination therapy using parenteral or oral routes of administration.
doi:10.4161/mabs.24736
PMCID: PMC3906309  PMID: 23751612
Monoclonal antibody; anti-CD3; oral antibody; EAE; pharmacodynamics; pharmacokinetics; T cell activation
10.  In Vitro Membrane Permeation Studies and in Vivo Antinociception of Glycosylated Dmt1-DALDA Analogues 
ACS medicinal chemistry letters  2014;5(4):352-357.
In this study the μ opioid receptor (MOR) ligands DALDA (Tyr-d-Arg-Phe-Lys-NH2) and Dmt1-DALDA (Dmt-d-Arg-Phe-Lys-NH2, Dmt = 2′,6′-dimethyltyrosine) were glycosylated at the N- or C-terminus. Subsequently, the modified peptides were subjected to in vitro and in vivo evaluation. In contrast to the N-terminally modified peptide (3), all peptide analogues derivatized at the C-terminus (4–7) proved to possess high affinity and agonist potency at both MOR and DOR (δ opioid receptor). Results of the Caco-2 monolayer permeation, as well as in vitro blood–brain barrier model experiments, showed that, in the case of compound 4, the glycosylation only slightly diminished the lumen-to-blood and blood-to-lumen transport. Altogether, these experiments were indicative of transcellular transport but not active transport. In vivo assays demonstrated that the peptides were capable of (i) crossing the blood–brain barrier (BBB) and (ii) activating both the spinal ascending as well as the descending opioid pathways, as determined by the tail-flick and hot-plate assays, respectively. In contrast to the highly selective MOR agonist Dmt1-DALDA 1, compounds 4–7 are mixed MOR/DOR agonists, expected to produce reduced opioid-related side effects.
doi:10.1021/ml4004765
PMCID: PMC4023695  PMID: 24839540
Opioid peptides; glycosylation; in vivo antinociception; Dmt1-DALDA
12.  Variation of the net charge, lipophilicity and side chain flexibility in Dmt1-DALDA: effect on opioid activity and biodistribution 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2012;55(22):9549-9561.
The influence of the side chain charges of the second and fourth amino acid residues in the peptidic μ opioid lead agonist Dmt-D-Arg-Phe-Lys-NH2 ([Dmt1]-DALDA) was examined. Additionally, to increase the overall lipophilicity of [Dmt1]-DALDA and to investigate the Phe3 side chain flexibility, the final amide bond was N-methylated and Phe3 was replaced by a constrained aminobenzazepine analogue. The in vitro receptor binding and activity of the peptides, as well as their in vivo transport (brain in- and efflux and tissue biodistribution) and antinociceptive properties after peripheral administration (i.p. and s.c.) in mice were determined. The structural modifications result in significant shifts of receptor binding, activity and transport properties. Strikingly, while [Dmt1]-DALDA and its N-methyl analogue, Dmt-D-Arg-Phe-NMeLys-NH2, showed a long-lasting antinociceptive effect (>7h), the peptides with D-Cit2 generate potent antinociception more rapidly (maximal effect at 1h post-injection) but also lose their analgesic activity faster, when compared to [Dmt1]-DALDA and [Dmt1,NMeLys4]-DALDA.
doi:10.1021/jm3008079
PMCID: PMC3523097  PMID: 23102273
13.  Metabolic Profiling of the Impact of Oligofructose-Enriched Inulin in Crohn's Disease Patients: A Double-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial 
OBJECTIVES:
Although intestinal dysbiosis is well established in Crohn's disease (CD), little is known about the microbial metabolic activity of CD patients. In this study, we compared the metabolite patterns of the CD patients with profiles from healthy controls (HCs) and correlated them to disease activity and bacterial composition. In addition, the influence of the prebiotic oligofructose-enriched inulin (OF-IN) on the CD metabolites profile was evaluated.
METHODS:
Sixty-seven inactive and moderately active CD patients were included in a double-blinded randomized placebo controlled trial (RCT). Patients consumed either 10 g OF-IN or 10 g placebo twice per day for 4 weeks. They collected a fecal sample before the start of the study (baseline) and after the treatment period. In addition, fecal samples were obtained from 40 HCs. The metabolite profile was assessed using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry.
RESULTS:
The number of fecal metabolites was significantly higher in HCs than in CD patients (P<0.001). Forty compounds differed between CD patients and HCs. When correlating the metabolite levels to disease activity, significantly lower levels of butyrate, pentanoate, hexanoate, heptanoate, and p-cresol were found in active patients as compared with HCs. In the RCT, no significant changes in the metabolite pattern were found in patients randomized to placebo. In patients receiving OF-IN (per protocol; n=21), the relative levels of acetaldehyde (P=0.0008) and butyrate (P=0.0011) were significantly increased as compared with baseline.
CONCLUSIONS:
We identified medium chain fatty acids and p-cresol as differentiating metabolites toward CD disease status and as compared with HCs. In addition, OF-IN intake primarily increased the carbohydrate fermentation metabolites butyrate and acetaldehyde.
doi:10.1038/ctg.2012.24
PMCID: PMC3561595  PMID: 23303175
14.  Clinical and microbiological efficacy of micafungin on Geosmithia argillacea infection in a cystic fibrosis patient 
Medical Mycology Case Reports  2012;1(1):79-81.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) patients are at high risk of colonization of the airways by a number of fungi, including the emerging opportunistic fungus Geosmithia argillacea. We report the eradication of respiratory G. argillacea associated with clinical resolution of severe symptoms by high-dose and prolonged micafungin therapy in a young CF patient.
doi:10.1016/j.mmcr.2012.08.004
PMCID: PMC3854624  PMID: 24371745
Geosmithia argillacea; Cystic fibrosis; Pulmonary exacerbation; Micafungin
15.  Design of novel neurokinin 1 receptor antagonists based on conformationally constrained aromatic amino acids and discovery of a potent chimeric opioid agonist-neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(7):2467-2476.
A screening of conformationally constrained aromatic amino acids as base cores for the preparation of new NK1 receptor antagonists resulted in the discovery of three new NK1 receptor antagonists, 19 [Ac-Aba-Gly-NH-3′,5′-(CF3)2-Bn], 20 [Ac-Aba-Gly-NMe-3′,5′-(CF3)2-Bn] and 23 [Ac-Tic-NMe-3′,5′-(CF3)2-Bn], which were able to counteract the agonist effect of substance P, the endogenous ligand of NK1R. The most active NK1 antagonist of the series, 20 [Ac-Aba-Gly-NMe-3′,5′-(CF3)2-Bn], was then used in the design of a novel, potent chimeric opioid agonist-NK1 receptor antagonist, 35 [Dmt-D-Arg-Aba-Gly-NMe-3′,5′-(CF3)2-Bn], which combines the N-terminus of the established Dmt1-DALDA agonist opioid pharmacophore (H-Dmt-D-Arg-Phe-Lys-NH2) and 20, the NK1R ligand. The opioid component of the chimeric compound 35, i.e. Dmt-D-Arg-Aba-Gly-NH2 36, also proved to be an extremely potent and balanced μ- and δ opioid receptor agonist with subnanomolar binding and in vitro functional activity.
doi:10.1021/jm1016285
PMCID: PMC3096782  PMID: 21413804
NK1 receptor antagonists; opioids; multitarget drug design; designed multiple ligands
16.  In vivo antinociception of potent mu opioid agonist tetrapeptide analogues and comparison with a compact opioid agonist - neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist chimera 
Molecular Brain  2012;5:4.
Background
An important limiting factor in the development of centrally acting pharmaceuticals is the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Transport of therapeutic peptides through this highly protective physiological barrier remains a challenge for peptide drug delivery into the central nervous system (CNS). Because the most common strategy to treat moderate to severe pain consists of the activation of opioid receptors in the brain, the development of active opioid peptide analogues as potential analgesics requires compounds with a high resistance to enzymatic degradation and an ability to cross the BBB.
Results
Herein we report that tetrapeptide analogues of the type H-Dmt1-Xxx2-Yyy3-Gly4-NH2 are transported into the brain after intravenous and subcutaneous administration and are able to activate the μ- and δ opioid receptors more efficiently and over longer periods of time than morphine. Using the hot water tail flick test as the animal model for antinociception, a comparison in potency is presented between a side chain conformationally constrained analogue containing the benzazepine ring (BVD03, Yyy3: Aba), and a "ring opened" analogue (BVD02, Yyy3: Phe). The results show that in addition to the increased lipophilicity through amide bond N-methylation, the conformational constraint introduced at the level of the Phe3 side chain causes a prolonged antinociception. Further replacement of NMe-D-Ala2 by D-Arg2 in the tetrapeptide sequence led to an improved potency as demonstrated by a higher and maintained antinociception for AN81 (Xxx2: D-Arg) vs. BVD03 (Xxx2: NMe-D-Ala). A daily injection of the studied opioid ligands over a time period of 5 days did however result in a substantial decrease in antinociception on the fifth day of the experiment. The compact opioid agonist - NK1 antagonist hybrid SBCHM01 could not circumvent opioid induced tolerance.
Conclusions
We demonstrated that the introduction of a conformational constraint has an important impact on opioid receptor activation and subsequent antinociception in vivo. Further amino acid substitution allowed to identify AN81 as an opioid ligand able to access the CNS and induce antinociception at very low doses (0.1 mg/kg) over a time period up to 7 hours. However, tolerance became apparent after repetitive i.v. administration of the investigated tetrapeptides. This side effect was also observed with the dual opioid agonist-NK1 receptor antagonist SBCHM01.
doi:10.1186/1756-6606-5-4
PMCID: PMC3284447  PMID: 22289619
Opioid tetrapeptides; dual opioid agonist - neurokinin antagonist peptidomimetic; tolerance studies
18.  The Blood of Healthy Individuals Exhibits CD8 T Cells with a Highly Altered TCR Vb Repertoire but with an Unmodified Phenotype 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21240.
CD8 T cell clonal expansions (TCE) have been observed in elderly, healthy individuals as well in old mice, and have been associated with the ageing process. Both chronic latent and non-persistent viral infections have been proposed to drive the development of distinct non-functional and functional TCE respectively. Biases in TCR Vβ repertoire diversity are also recurrently observed in patients that have undergone strong immune challenge, and are preferentially observed in the CD8 compartment. Healthy adults can also exhibit CD8 T cells with strong alterations of their CDR3 length distribution. Surprisingly, no specific investigations have been conducted to analyze the CD8 T cell repertoire in normal adults, to determine if such alterations in TCR Vβ repertoire share the features of TCE. In this study, we characterized the phenotype and function of the CD8 population in healthy individuals of 25–52 years of age. All but one of the EBV-positive HLA-B8 healthy volunteers that were studied were CMV-negative. Using a specific unsupervised statistical method, we identified Vβ families with altered CDR3 length distribution and increased TCR Vβ/HPRT transcript ratios in all individuals tested. The increase in TCR Vβ/HPRT transcript ratio was more frequently associated with an increase in the percentage of the corresponding Vβ+ T cells than with an absence of modification of their percentage. However, in contrast with the previously described TCE, these CD8+ T cells were not preferentially found in the memory CD8 subset, they exhibited normal effector functions (cytokine secretion and cytotoxic molecule expression) and they were not reactive to a pool of EBV/CMV/Flu virus peptides. Taken together, the combined analysis of transcripts and proteins of the TCR Vβ repertoire led to the identification of different types of CD8+ T cell clone expansion or contraction in healthy individuals, a situation that appears more complex than previously described in aged individuals.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021240
PMCID: PMC3124488  PMID: 21738624
19.  Computing with bacterial constituents, cells and populations: from bioputing to bactoputing 
Theory in Biosciences  2011;130(3):211-228.
The relevance of biological materials and processes to computing—aliasbioputing—has been explored for decades. These materials include DNA, RNA and proteins, while the processes include transcription, translation, signal transduction and regulation. Recently, the use of bacteria themselves as living computers has been explored but this use generally falls within the classical paradigm of computing. Computer scientists, however, have a variety of problems to which they seek solutions, while microbiologists are having new insights into the problems bacteria are solving and how they are solving them. Here, we envisage that bacteria might be used for new sorts of computing. These could be based on the capacity of bacteria to grow, move and adapt to a myriad different fickle environments both as individuals and as populations of bacteria plus bacteriophage. New principles might be based on the way that bacteria explore phenotype space via hyperstructure dynamics and the fundamental nature of the cell cycle. This computing might even extend to developing a high level language appropriate to using populations of bacteria and bacteriophage. Here, we offer a speculative tour of what we term bactoputing, namely the use of the natural behaviour of bacteria for calculating.
doi:10.1007/s12064-010-0118-4
PMCID: PMC3163788  PMID: 21384168
Biological computing; Bacteria; Minimal cell; Synthetic biology; Turing; Origin of life; Computer science
20.  Novel multiple opioid ligands based on 4-aminobenzazepinone (Aba), azepinoindole (Aia) and tetrahydroisoquinoline (Tic) scaffolds 
The dimerization and trimerization of the Dmt-Tic, Dmt-Aia and Dmt-Aba pharmacophores provided multiple ligands which were evaluated in vitro for opioid receptor binding and functional activity. Whereas the Tic- and Aba multimers proved to be dual and balanced δ/μ antagonists, as determined by the functional [S35]GTPγS binding assay, the dimerization of potent Aia-based ‘parent’ ligands unexpectedly resulted in substantial less efficient receptor binding and non-active dimeric compounds.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2010.01.055
PMCID: PMC2840614  PMID: 20137938
21.  Magnetic resonance molecular imaging of thrombosis in an arachidonic acid mouse model using an activated platelet targeted probe 
Objective
The non-invasive in vivo visualization of activated platelets using a target-specific MRI contrast agent to identify thrombi, hallmarks of vulnerable/high-risk atherosclerotic plaques.
Methods
Inflammatory thrombi were induced in mice via topical application of arachidonic acid on the carotid. Thrombus formation was imaged with intravital fluorescence microscopy and molecular MRI. To accomplish the latter, a paramagnetic contrast agent (P975) that targets the glycoprotein αIIbβ3 expressed on activated platelets was investigated. The specificity of P975 for activated platelets was studied in vitro. In vivo, high spatial-resolution MRI was performed at baseline and longitudinally over 2 hours after injecting P975 or a non-specific agent. The contralateral carotid, a sham surgery group and a competitive inhibition experiment served as controls.
Results
P975 showed a good affinity for activated platelets with an IC50 value of 2.6 µM. In thrombosed animals, P975 produced an immediate and sustained increase in MRI signal whereas none of the control groups revealed any significant increase in MRI signal 2 hours post-injection. Importantly, the competitive inhibition experiment with a αIIbβ3 antagonist suppressed the MRI signal enhancement, which is indicative for the specificity of P975 for the activated platelets.
Conclusion
P975 allowed in vivo target-specific noninvasive MR imaging of activated platelets.
doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.109.198556
PMCID: PMC2864133  PMID: 20139362
22.  PK20, a new opioid-neurotensin hybrid peptide that exhibits central and peripheral antinociceptive effects 
Molecular Pain  2010;6:86.
Background
The clinical treatment of various types of pain relies upon the use of opioid analgesics. However most of them produce, in addition to the analgesic effect, several side effects such as the development of dependence and addiction as well as sedation, dysphoria, and constipation. One solution to these problems are chimeric compounds in which the opioid pharmacophore is hybridized with another type of compound to incease antinociceptive effects. Neurotensin-induced antinociception is not mediated through the opioid system. Therefore, hybridizing neurotensin with opioid elements may result in a potent synergistic antinociceptor.
Results
Using the known structure-activity relationships of neurotensin we have synthesized a new chimeric opioid-neurotensin compound PK20 which is characterized by a very strong antinociceptive potency. The observation that the opioid antagonist naltrexone did not completely reverse the antinociceptive effect, indicates the partial involvement of the nonopioid component in PK20 in the produced analgesia.
Conclusions
The opioid-neurotensin hybrid analogue PK20, in which opioid and neurotensin pharmacophores overlap partially, expresses high antinociceptive tail-flick effects after central as well as peripheral applications.
doi:10.1186/1744-8069-6-86
PMCID: PMC3017538  PMID: 21134256
23.  Evaluation of New Thiazolide/Thiadiazolide Derivatives Reveals Nitro Group-Independent Efficacy against In Vitro Development of Cryptosporidium parvum▿  
Thirty-nine new thiazolide/thiadiazolide compounds were compared with the nitrothiazole nitazoxanide for activity against Cryptosporidium parvum development in HCT-8 cells. Twenty-seven agents exerted ≥90% inhibition. Agents with a lower 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) than nitazoxanide were either NO2 or halogen 5 substituted on the thiazole moiety. Other 5 substitutions such as methyl, C3H7, C6H11, H, SO2CH3, and SCH3 negatively impacted activity. Five-substituted deacetylated analogues exhibited higher IC50s than their acetylated counterparts. Halogeno-thiazolide/thiadiazolides may provide valuable nitro-free alternatives to nitazoxanide.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00614-09
PMCID: PMC2825981  PMID: 20047919
24.  Cryptosporidium parvum Isolate-Dependent Postinfectious Jejunal Hypersensitivity and Mast Cell Accumulation in an Immunocompetent Rat Model▿  
Infection and Immunity  2009;77(11):5163-5169.
Cryptosporidium spp. are a cause of self-limited diarrhea in immunocompetent hosts. In immunocompetent rats, Cryptosporidium parvum infection induced digestive hypersensitivity, a key pathophysiological factor in functional digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In such a rat model, we sought to document whether jejunal hypersensitivity depends on C. parvum isolate and is associated with a mast cell accumulation. Five-day-old rats were orally administered 105 oocysts of either Nouzilly (NoI) or Iowa (IoI) C. parvum isolate. NoI-infected rats exhibited the lowest food intake on days 7 and 14 postinfection (p.i.). On day 7 p.i., small intestine villus atrophy, crypt hyperplasia, and inflammatory cell infiltration were prominent in NoI-infected rats, with higher numbers of Cryptosporidium forms than in IoI-infected rats. Compared to uninfected control rats, jejunal intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) were increased only in NoI-infected rats on day 14 p.i. On day 50 p.i., jejunal hypersensitivity to distension was found only in NoI-infected rats; this hypersensitivity is associated with activated mast cell accumulation. The number of mast cells in the jejunal lamina propria was increased from day 36 p.i. in NoI-infected rats and only at day 120 p.i. in IoI-infected rats. Our data suggest that both the severity of infection (weight loss, reduced food intake, villus atrophy, and IEL accumulation) and the onset of a jejunal hypersensitivity after infection in association with an activated mast cell accumulation are isolate dependent and related to NoI infection. This cryptosporidiosis rat model is a relevant model for the study of underlying mechanisms of postinfectious IBS-like symptoms.
doi:10.1128/IAI.00220-09
PMCID: PMC2772558  PMID: 19687199
25.  Conformationally constrained opioid ligands: The Dmt-Aba and Dmt-Aia vs. Dmt-Tic scaffold 
Replacement of the constrained phenylalanine analogue 1,2,3,4-tetrahydroisoquinoline-3-carboxylic acid (Tic) in the opioid Dmt-Tic-Gly-NH-Bn scaffold by the 4-amino-1,2,4,5-tetrahydro-indolo[2,3-c]azepin-3-one (Aia) and 4-amino-1,2,4,5-tetrahydro-2-benzazepin-3-one (Aba) scaffolds has led to the discovery of novel potent μ-selective agonists (Structures 5 and 12) as well as potent and selective δ-opioid receptor antagonists (Structures 9 and 15). Both stereochemistry and N-terminal N,N-dimethylation proved to be crucial factors for opioid receptor selectivity and functional bioactivity in the investigated small peptidomimetic templates. In addition to the in vitro pharmacological evaluation, automated docking models of Dmt-Tic and Dmt-Aba analogues were constructed in order to rationalize the observed structure-activity data.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2008.11.051
PMCID: PMC2742322  PMID: 19062273

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