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1.  Speed Trends in Male Distance Running 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112978.
The major cycling “Grand Tours” have shown an attenuation of performance over the last decade. This has been interpreted as circumstantial evidence that newer anti-doping strategies have reduced the use of performance-enhancing drugs. To examine this idea under more controlled conditions, speed trends for world class 5000 m, 10000 m, and marathon performances by men from 1980 to 2013 were analyzed. We obtained comprehensive records from the International Association of Athletics Federations, Association of Road Racing Statisticians, and the Track and Field All-time Performances database webpages. The top 40 performances for each event and year were selected for regression analysis. For the three distances, we noted cumulative performance improvements in the 1990s thru the mid-2000s. After the peak speed years of the mid 2000 s, there has been limited improvement in the 5000 m and 10,000 m and world records set during that time remain in place today, marking the longest period of time between new records since the early 1940s. By contrast marathon speed continues to increase and the world record has been lowered four times since 2007, including in 2013. While the speed trends for 5000 m and 10000 m track results parallel those seen in elite cycling, the marathon trends do not. We discuss a number of explanations other than improved anti-doping strategies that might account for these divergent findings.
PMCID: PMC4237511  PMID: 25409192
2.  Labdane Diterpenoids from Leonotis leonurus 
Phytochemistry  2012;91:229-235.
Three known (leoleorins A-C) and eight new (leoleorins D-J and 16-epi-leoleorin F) labdane diterpenoids, were isolated from leaves of Leonotis leonurus. The absolute configurations of leoleorins A and D were established by X-ray crystallographic analyses. In competitive binding assay all isolated compounds showed inhibition in excess of 50% at various CNS receptors. Leoleorin C showed moderate binding affinity (Ki = 2.9 μM) for the Sigma 1 receptor.
PMCID: PMC3390464  PMID: 22445074
Leonotis leonurus; Lamiaceae; Psychoactive plant; Labdane diterpenoids; Leoleorins A-J; X-ray diffraction; G-protein-coupled receptors
3.  Triterpenoids and flavonoids from Cecropia schreberiana Miq. (Urticaceae) 
Phytochemical investigation of the leaves of Cecropia schreberiana Miq. (Urticaceae) led to the isolation of four triterpenoids (1–4), three flavone C-glycosides (5–7), two flavan-3-ols (8, 9), two flavanolignans (10, 11), and two proanthocyanidins (12, 13). All compounds were isolated from C. schreberiana for the first time. This is the first report demonstrating the presence of arjunolic acid (4), cinchonain Ia (10), and cinchonain Ib (11) in the Urticaceae family. The occurrence of flavanolignans within the family Urticaceae supports the likelihood that such compounds are more common within the class Magnoliopsida than previously thought.
PMCID: PMC3580870  PMID: 23459662
Urticaceae; Cecropia schreberiana; Triterpenoid; Flavonoid; Proanthocyanidin; Flavanolignan
4.  Kappa-Opioid Receptor-Selective Dicarboxylic Ester-Derived Salvinorin A Ligands 
Salvinorin A, the active ingredient of the hallucinogenic plant Salvia divinorum is the most potent known naturally occurring hallucinogen and is a selective κ-opioid receptor agonist. To better understand the ligand-receptor interactions, a series of dicarboxylic ester-type of salvinorin A derivatives were synthesized and evaluated for their binding affinity at κ, δ, and μ-opioid receptors. Most of the analogues show high affinity to the κ-opioid receptor. Methyl malonyl derivative 4 shows the highest binding affinity (Ki = 2 nM), analogues 5, 7, and 14 exhibit significant affinity for the κ-receptor (Ki = 21, 36 and 39 nM).
PMCID: PMC3651692  PMID: 23587424
Salvia divinorum; Salvinorin A and B; Dicarboxylic ester-type ligands; Kappa opioid receptor agonists
5.  A phase III study evaluating the safety and efficacy of NEPA, a fixed-dose combination of netupitant and palonosetron, for prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting over repeated cycles of chemotherapy 
Annals of Oncology  2014;25(7):1333-1339.
In this multinational, phase III study, the safety and efficacy of NEPA, a convenient, fixed-dose antiemetic combination of netupitant, a highly selective NK1 receptor antagonist (RA), and palonosetron, a distinct 5-HT3 RA, were evaluated over multiple cycles of highly and moderately emetogenic chemotherapy. NEPA was shown to be safe, well tolerated and highly effective over 1961 chemotherapy cycles.
Safe, effective and convenient antiemetic regimens that preserve benefit over repeated cycles are needed for optimal supportive care during cancer treatment. NEPA, an oral fixed-dose combination of netupitant, a highly selective NK1 receptor antagonist (RA), and palonosetron (PALO), a distinct 5-HT3 RA, was shown to be superior to PALO in preventing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting after a single cycle of highly (HEC) or moderately (MEC) emetogenic chemotherapy in recent trials. This study was designed primarily to assess the safety but also to evaluate the efficacy of NEPA over multiple cycles of HEC and MEC.
Patients and methods
This multinational, double-blind, randomized phase III study (NCT01376297) in 413 chemotherapy-naïve patients evaluated a single oral dose of NEPA (NETU 300 mg + PALO 0.50 mg) given on day 1 with oral dexamethasone (DEX). An oral 3-day aprepitant (APR) regimen + PALO + DEX was included as a control (3:1 NEPA:APR randomization). In HEC, DEX was administered on days 1–4 and in MEC on day 1. Safety was assessed primarily by adverse events (AEs), including cardiac AEs; efficacy by complete response (CR: no emesis, no rescue).
Patients completed 1961 total chemotherapy cycles (76% MEC, 24% HEC) with 75% completing ≥4 cycles. The incidence/type of AEs was comparable for both groups. Most frequent NEPA-related AEs included constipation (3.6%) and headache (1.0%); there was no indication of increasing AEs over multiple cycles. The majority of AEs were mild/moderate and there were no cardiac safety concerns based on AEs and electrocardiograms. The overall (0–120 h) CR rates in cycle 1 were 81% and 76% for NEPA and APR + PALO, respectively, and antiemetic efficacy was maintained over repeated cycles.
NEPA, a convenient single oral dose antiemetic targeting dual pathways, was safe, well tolerated and highly effective over multiple cycles of HEC/MEC.
PMCID: PMC4071753  PMID: 24631949
neurokinin-1 receptor antagonist; NEPA; netupitant; palonosetron; CINV; multiple chemotherapy cycles
6.  Phytochemical Investigation of Cycas circinalis and Cycas revoluta Leaflets: Moderately Active Antibacterial Biflavonoids 
Planta medica  2010;76(8):796-802.
Chemical examination of the methanolic extract of the leaflets of Cycas circinalis L. led to the isolation of one new biflavonoid, (2S, 2″S)-2,3,2″,3″-tetrahydro-4′,4‴-di-O-methylamentoflavone (tetrahydroisoginkgetin; 2), and 15 known compounds, 11 of which are reported for the first time from C. circinalis. Chromatographic separation of the chloroform extract of C. revoluta Thunb. leaflets afforded 12 compounds, seven of which are reported for the first time from this species. The isolated compounds from both species include 14 biflavonoids, three lignans, three flavan-3-ols, two flavone-C-glucosides, two nor-isoprenoids, and one flavanone. This is the first report of NMR and CD data of 2,3,2″,3″-tetrahydro-4′-O-methyl- and 2,3-dihydro-4′-O-methyl-amentoflavone (6) and (7). The effect of O-methylation on the chemical shifts of the neighboring carbons in the 13C NMR spectra of the dihydro- and tetrahydro-amentoflavone skeletons provides a tool to identify the location of the methoxy groups. Compounds 2, 6, and 18 displayed moderate antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus (IC50 values of 3.8, 9.6, and 8.2 μM, respectively) and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA; IC50 values of 5.9, 12.5, and 11.5 μM, respectively).
PMCID: PMC3711132  PMID: 20072955
Cycadaceae; Cycas circinalis; Cycas revolute; biflavonoid; lignin; flavan-3-ol; nor-isoprenoid; flavone-C-glucoside; antibacterial activity
7.  Bis-spirolabdane Diterpenoids from Leonotis nepetaefolia 
Journal of Natural Products  2012;75(4):728-734.
Ten new bis-spirolabdane diterpenoids, leonepetaefolins A–E (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) and 15-epi-leonepetaefolins A-E (2, 4, 6, 8, 10), together with eight known labdane diterpenoids (11–18) as well as two known flavonoids apigenin and cirsiliol, were isolated from the leaves of Leonotis nepetaefolia. The structures of the new compounds were determined on the basis of 1D-and 2D-NMR experiments including 1H, 13C, DEPT, 1H-1H COSY, HSQC, HMBC, and NOESY. The absolute configuration of an epimeric mixture of 1 and 2 was determined by X-ray crystallographic analysis. The compounds isolated were evaluated for their binding propensity in several CNS G protein-coupled receptor assays in vitro.
PMCID: PMC3338874  PMID: 22475308
8.  Novel vitamin D photoproducts and their precursors in the skin 
Dermato-endocrinology  2013;5(1):7-19.
Novel metabolic pathways initiated by the enzymatic action of CYP11A1 on 7DHC (7-dehydrocholesterol), ergosterol, vitamins D3 and D2 were characterized with help of chemical synthesis, UV and mass spectrometry and NMR analyses. The first pathway follows the sequence 7DHC→22(OH)7DHC → 20,22(OH)27DHC → 7DHP (7-dehydropregnenolone), which can further be metabolized by steroidogenic enzymes. The resulting 5,7-dienes can be transformed by UVB to corresponding, biologically active, secosteroids. Action of CYP11A1 on vitamin D3 and D2 produces novel hydroxyderivatives with OH added at positions C17, C20, C22, C23 and C24, some of which can be hydroxylated by CYP27B1 and/or by CYP27A1 and/ or by CYP24A1.The main products of these pathways are biologically active with a potency related to their chemical structure and the target cell type. Main products of CYP11A1-mediated metabolism on vitamin D are non-calcemic and non-toxic at relatively high doses and serve as partial agonists on the vitamin D receptor. New secosteroids are excellent candidates for therapy of fibrosing, inflammatory or hyperproliferative disorders including cancers and psoriasis.
PMCID: PMC3897599  PMID: 24494038
skin; keratinocytes; melanocytes; melanoma cells; dermal fibroblasts; vitamin D; 5,7-dienes
9.  Searching for Lower Female Genital Tract Soluble and Cellular Biomarkers: Defining Levels and Predictors in a Cohort of Healthy Caucasian Women 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43951.
High concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines have been previously observed in the genital fluids of women enrolled in microbicide trials and may explain observed increased HIV transmission in some of these trials. Although the longitudinal nature of these studies allows within-subject comparisons of post-product levels to baseline levels, the fact that the physiologic variations of these cytokines and other markers of immune activation are not fully defined in different populations, makes it difficult to assess changes that can be directly attributed to microbicide use as opposed to other biological and behavioural factors.
Cervicovaginal lavage samples were collected from 30 healthy Caucasian and assayed for concentrations of ten cytokines/chemokines, total protein content and two antimicrobial proteins using a multiplex immunoassay and ELISA. Cellular markers were characterized by flow cytometry on mononuclear cells collected from the endocervix using flocked swabs. Bacterial quantification was performed using quantitative PCR.
Ectopy, menstrual cycle phase, prostate-specific antigen and presence of leucocytes in endocervical cells' supernatant were associated with the concentrations of cyto-/chemokines in cervicovaginal secretions. Approximately 3% of endocervical cells collected were monocytes of which a median of 52% (SD  = 17) expressed both CD4 and CCR5 markers. Approximately 1% of the total cells were T-cells with a median of 61% (SD  = 10) CD4 and CCR5 expression. Around 5% of the monocytes and 16% of the T-cells expressed the immune activation marker HLA-DR. Higher percentages of T-cells were associated with greater quantities of IL-1RA, GM-CSF and elafin.
We demonstrate the presence of selected soluble and cellular immune activation markers and identify their predictors in the female genital tract of healthy women. Future clinical trials should consider ectopy, sexual activity, menstrual cycle phase and presence of bacterial species as possible confounders when evaluating the possible inflammatory effects of microbicide compounds.
PMCID: PMC3432048  PMID: 22952818
10.  Salvinorin A reduces mechanical allodynia and spinal neuronal hyperexcitability induced by peripheral formalin injection 
Molecular Pain  2012;8:60.
Salvinorin A (SA), the main active component of Salvia Divinorum, is a non-nitrogenous kappa opioid receptor (KOR) agonist. It has been shown to reduce acute pain and to exert potent antinflammatory effects. This study assesses the effects and the mode of action of SA on formalin-induced persistent pain in mice. Specifically, the SA effects on long-term behavioural dysfuctions and changes in neuronal activity occurring at spinal level, after single peripheral formalin injection, have been investigated. Moreover, the involvement of microglial and glial cells in formalin-induced chronic pain condition and in SA-mediated effects has been evaluated.
Formalin induced a significant decrease of mechanical withdrawal threshold at the injected and contralateral paw as well as an increase in the duration and frequency, and a rapid decrease in the onset of evoked activity of the nociceptive neurons 7 days after formalin injection. SA daily treatment significantly reduced mechanical allodynia in KOR and cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1R) sensitive manner. SA treatment also normalized the spinal evoked activity. SA significantly reduced the formalin-mediated microglia and astrocytes activation and modulated pro and anti-inflammatory mediators in the spinal cord.
SA is effective in reducing formalin-induced mechanical allodynia and spinal neuronal hyperactivity. Our findings suggest that SA reduces glial activation and contributes in the establishment of dysfunctions associated with chronic pain with mechanisms involving KOR and CB1R. SA may provide a new lead compound for developing anti-allodynic agents via KOR and CB1R activation.
PMCID: PMC3522567  PMID: 22913292
Salvinorin A; Formalin injection; Allodynia; Nociceptive spinal neurons; Glial cells
11.  Molecular Epidemiology of HIV-1 Transmission in a Cohort of HIV-1 Concordant Heterosexual Couples from Dakar, Senegal 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37402.
A large number of HIV-1 infections in Africa occur in married couples. The predominant direction of intracouple transmission and the principal external origins of infection remain important issues of debate.
We investigated HIV-1 transmission in 46 HIV-1 concordant positive couples from Dakar, Senegal. Intracouple transmission was confirmed by maximum-likelihood phylogenetic analysis and pairwise distance comparisons of HIV-1 env gp41 sequences from both partners. Standardized interview data were used to deduce the direction as well as the external sources of the intracouple transmissions.
Conservative molecular analyses showed linked viruses in 34 (74%) couples, unlinked viruses in 6 (13%) couples, and indeterminate results for 6 (13%) couples. The interview data corresponded completely with the molecular analyses: all linked couples reported internal transmission and all unlinked couples reported external sources of infection. The majority of linked couples (93%) reported the husband as internal source of infection. These husbands most frequently (82%) reported an occasional sexual relationship as external source of infection. Pairwise comparisons of the CD4 count, antiretroviral therapy status, and the proportion of gp41 ambiguous base pairs within transmission pairs correlated with the reported order of infection events.
In this suburban Senegalese population, a majority of HIV-1 concordant couples showed linked HIV-1 transmission with the husband as likely index partner. Our data emphasize the risk of married women for acquiring HIV-1 as a result of the occasional sexual relationships of their husbands.
PMCID: PMC3355130  PMID: 22615999
12.  Labdane Diterpenoids from Leonurus sibiricus 
Journal of natural products  2011;74(4):831-836.
Six new labdane diterpenoids, preleosibirone A (1), 13-epi-preleosibirone A (2), isopreleosibirone A (3), leosibirone A (4), leosibirone B (5), and 15-epi-leosibirone B (6), were isolated from the leaves of Leonurus sibiricus. The absolute configurations of 1, 2, 5, and 6 were established by X-ray crystallographic analyses, and leosibirone A (4) was shown to be an artifact of the isolation process.
PMCID: PMC3081930  PMID: 21375312
13.  The place of solar power: an economic analysis of concentrated and distributed solar power 
Chemistry Central Journal  2012;6(Suppl 1):S6.
This paper examines the cost and benefits, both financial and environmental, of two leading forms of solar power generation, grid-tied photovoltaic cells and Dish Stirling Systems, using conventional carbon-based fuel as a benchmark.
First we define how these solar technologies will be implemented and why. Then we delineate a model city and its characteristics, which will be used to test the two methods of solar-powered electric distribution. Then we set the constraining assumptions for each technology, which serve as parameters for our calculations. Finally, we calculate the present value of the total cost of conventional energy needed to power our model city and use this as a benchmark when analyzing both solar models’ benefits and costs.
The preeminent form of distributed electricity generation, grid-tied photovoltaic cells under net-metering, allow individual homeowners a degree of electric self-sufficiency while often turning a profit. However, substantial subsidies are required to make the investment sensible. Meanwhile, large dish Stirling engine installations have a significantly higher potential rate of return, but face a number of pragmatic limitations.
This paper concludes that both technologies are a sensible investment for consumers, but given that the dish Stirling consumer receives 6.37 dollars per watt while the home photovoltaic system consumer receives between 0.9 and 1.70 dollars per watt, the former appears to be a superior option. Despite the large investment, this paper deduces that it is far more feasible to get few strong investors to develop a solar farm of this magnitude, than to get 150,000 households to install photovoltaic arrays in their roofs. Potential implications of the solar farm construction include an environmental impact given the size of land require for this endeavour. However, the positive aspects, which include a large CO2 emission reduction aggregated over the lifespan of the farm, outweigh any minor concerns or potential externalities.
PMCID: PMC3332255  PMID: 22540991
14.  C. elegans Dicer interacts with the P-granule component GLH-1 and both regulate germline RNPs 
Developmental biology  2010;350(2):370-381.
P granules, ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes specific to the cytoplasmic side of the nuclear pores of C. elegans germ cells, are implicated in post-transcriptional control of maternally-transcribed mRNAs. Here we show a relationship in C. elegans of Dicer, the riboendonuclease processing enzyme of the RNA interference and microRNA pathways, with GLH-1, a germline-specific RNA helicase and a constitutive component of P granules. Based on results from GST-pull-downs and immunoprecipitations, GLH-1 binds DCR-1 and this binding does not require RNA. Both GLH-1 protein and glh-1 mRNA levels are reduced in the dcr-1(ok247) null mutant background; conversely, a reduction of DCR-1 protein is observed in the glh-1(gk100) deletion strain. Thus, in the C. elegans germline, DCR-1 and GLH-1 are interdependent. In addition, evidence indicates DCR-1 protein levels, like those of GLH-1, are likely regulated by the Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), KGB-1. In adult germ cells, DCR-1 is found in uniformly-distributed, small puncta both throughout the cytoplasm and the nucleus, on the inner side of nuclear pores, and associated with P granules. In arrested oocytes, GLH-1 and DCR-1 re-localize to cytoplasmic and cortically-distributed RNP granules and are necessary to recruit other components to these complexes. We predict the GLH-1/DCR-1 complex may function in the transport, deposition, or regulation of maternally-transcribed mRNAs and their associated miRNAs.
PMCID: PMC3031674  PMID: 21146518
Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK); KGB-1; Processing bodies; oocyte RNP granules; miRNA pathway
15.  Synthesis and photochemical transformation of 3β,21-dihydroxypregna-5,7-dien-20-one to novel secosteroids that show anti-melanoma activity 
Steroids  2010;76(1-2):193-203.
We have synthesized 3β,21-dihydroxypregna-5,7-dien-20-one (21(OH) 7DHP) and used UVB radiation to induce its photoconversion to analogues of vitamin D (pD), lumisterol (pL) and tachysterol (pT). The number and character of the products and the dynamics of the process were dependent on the UVB dose. The main products: pD and pT compounds were characterized by UV absorption, MS and NMR spectroscopy after RP-HPLC chromatography. In addition, formation of multiple oxidized derivatives of the primary products was detected and one of these derivatives was characterized as oxidized 21-hydroxyisotachysterol compound (21(OH)oxy-piT). These newly synthesized compounds inhibited growth of human melanoma cells in a dose dependent manner, with greater or equal potency to calcitriol. 3β,21-Dihydroxy-9β,10α-pregna-5,7-dien-20-one (21(OH)pL) and 21(OH)oxy-piT had higher potency against pigmented melanoma cells, while the EC50 for compounds 21(OH)7DHP and (5Z,7E)-3β,21-dihydroxy-9,10-secopregna-5,7,10(19)-trien-20-one (21(OH)pD) were similar in both pigmented and non-pigmented cells. Moreover, 21(OH)7DHP and its derivatives inhibited proliferation of human epidermal HaCaT keratinocytes, albeit at a lower activity compared to melanoma cells. Importantly, 21(OH)7DHP derivatives strongly inhibited the colony formation of human melanoma cells with 21(OH)pD being the most potent. The potential mechanism of action of newly synthesized compounds was similar to that mediated by 1,25(OH)2D3 and involved ligand-induced translocation of vitamin D receptor into the nucleus. In summary, we have characterized for the first time products of UVB-induced conversion of 21(OH)7DHP and documented that these compounds have selective, inhibitory effects on melanoma cells.
PMCID: PMC3005096  PMID: 21070794
secosteroids; UV radiation; lumisterol; vitamin D; oxidation; SLOS; skin; melanoma
16.  Synthesis and biological evaluation of new salvinorin A analogues incorporating natural amino acids 
The synthesis and in vitro evaluation of a new series of salvinorin A analogues substituted at the C(2) position with natural amino acids is reported. Compound 12, containing Val, displayed high affinity and full agonist activity at the kappa-opioid receptor. Analogues with bulky and/or aromatic residues were inactive, showing the importance of size and electronegativity of C(2)-substituents for binding affinity of salvinorin A derivatives.
PMCID: PMC3031978  PMID: 21115248
Salvia divinorum; salvinorin B; neoclerodane diterpenoid; natural amino acids; opioid receptor ligands
17.  Comparison of Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Adenocarcinoma of the Lung by Metabolomic Analysis of Tissue-Serum Pairs§ 
The prospect of establishing serum metabolomic profiles offers great clinical significance for its potential to detect human lung cancers at clinically asymptomatic stages. Patients with suspicious serum metabolomic profiles may undergo advanced radiological tests that are too expensive to be employed as screening tools for the mass population. As the first step to establishing such profiles, this study investigates correlations between tissue and serum metabolomic profiles for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and adenocarcinoma (AC) in the lungs of humans. Tissue and serum paired samples from 14 patients (five SCCs and nine ACs), and seven serum samples from healthy controls were analyzed with high-resolution magic angle spinning proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (HRMAS 1HMRS). Tissue samples were subjected to quantitative histological pathology analyses after MRS. Based on pathology results, tissue metabolomic profiles for the evaluated cancer types were established using principal component and canonical analyses on measurable metabolites. The parameters used to construct tissue cancer profiles were then tested with serum spectroscopic results for their ability to differentiate between cancer types and identify cancer from controls. In addition, serum spectroscopic results were also analyzed independent of tissue data. Our results strongly indicate the potential of serum MR spectroscopy to achieve the task of differentiating between the tested human lung cancer types and from controls.
PMCID: PMC2834857  PMID: 19559498
Lung squamous cell carcinoma; Lung adenocarcinoma; Diagnosis; Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy; Magic Angle Spinning; Metabolomics; Blood Serum
18.  Modeling the Effect of Abrupt Acid and Osmotic Shifts within the Growth Region and across Growth Boundaries on Adaptation and Growth of Listeria monocytogenes▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(19):6555-6563.
This study aims to model the effects of acid and osmotic shifts on the intermediate lag time of Listeria monocytogenes at 10°C in a growth medium. The model was developed from data from a previous study (C. I. A. Belessi, Y. Le Marc, S. I. Merkouri, A. S. Gounadaki, S. Schvartzman, K. Jordan, E. H. Drosinos, and P. N. Skandamis, submitted for publication) on the effects of osmotic and pH shifts on the kinetics of L. monocytogenes. The predictive ability of the model was assessed on new data in milk. The effects of shifts were modeled through the dependence of the parameter h0 (“work to be done” prior to growth) induced on the magnitude of the shift and/or the stringency of the new environmental conditions. For shifts across the boundary, the lag time was found to be affected by the length of time for which the microorganisms were kept at growth-inhibiting conditions. The predicted concentrations of L. monocytogenes in milk were overestimated when the effects of this shift were not taken into account. The model proved to be suitable to describe the effects of osmotic and acid shifts observed both within the growth domain and across the growth boundaries of L. monocytogenes.
PMCID: PMC2950460  PMID: 20675449
19.  TC-5619: An alpha7 neuronal nicotinic receptor-selective agonist that demonstrates efficacy in animal models of the positive and negative symptoms and cognitive dysfunction of schizophrenia 
Biochemical pharmacology  2009;78(7):803-812.
A growing body of evidence suggests that the alpha7 neuronal nicotinic receptor (NNR) subtype is an important target for the development of novel therapies to treat schizophrenia, offering the possibility to address not only the positive but also the cognitive and negative symptoms associated with the disease. In order to probe the relationship of alpha7 function to relevant behavioral correlates we employed TC-5619, a novel selective agonist for the alpha7 NNR subtype. TC-5619 binds with very high affinity to the alpha7 subtype and is a potent full agonist. TC-5619 has little or no activity at other nicotinic receptors, including the α4β2, ganglionic (α3β4) and muscle subtypes. The transgenic th(tk−)/th(tk−) mouse model that reflects many of the developmental, anatomical, and multi-transmitter biochemical aspects of schizophrenia was used to assess the antipsychotic effects of TC-5619. In these mice TC-5619 acted both alone and synergistically with the antipsychotic clozapine to correct impaired pre-pulse inhibition (PPI) and social behavior which model positive and negative symptoms, respectively. Antipsychotic and cognitive effects of TC-5619 were also assessed in rats. Similar to the results in the transgenic mice, TC-5619 significantly reversed apomorphine-induced PPI deficits. In a novel object recognition paradigm in rats TC-5619 demonstrated long-lasting enhancement of memory over a wide dose range. These results suggest that alpha7-selective agonists such as TC-5619, either alone or in combination with antipsychotics, could offer a new approach to treating the constellation of symptoms associated with schizophrenia, including cognitive dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3005247  PMID: 19482012
Nicotinic receptor; Alpha7; Acetylcholine; Cholinergic; Schizophrenia; Antipsychotic
20.  JS-K, an arylating nitric oxide (NO) donor, has synergistic anti-leukemic activity with cytarabine (ARA-C) 
Leukemia research  2009;33(11):1525-1529.
We have designed prodrugs that release NO on metabolism by Glutathione S-Transferases (GST). This design exploits the upregulation of GST in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) cells. O2-(2,4-Dinitrophenyl) 1-[(4-ethoxycarbonyl)piperazin-1-yl] diazen-1-ium-1,2-diolate (JS-K, a member of this class) has potent antileukemic activity. HL-60 myeloid leukemia cells were used for in vitro studies of the combination of JS-K with Daunorubicin (DAUNO), Cytarabine (ARA-C) or Etoposide (ETOP) using the median effect method to determine synergistic, antagonistic, or additive effects. Combinations of JS-K added simultaneously, 2 hours before or 2 hours after the other compounds were used. JS-K and DAUNO were antagonistic in all 3 drug sequences. JS-K and ETOP were also antagonistic but to a lesser degree. JS-K and ARA-C showed strong synergy. The combination index at the 50% fraction affected was 0.37 ± 0.23, 0.24 ± 0.27, and 0.15 ± 0.11 for simultaneous, JS-K first and ARA-C first additions, respectively. JS-K by itself induced DNA strand breaks at relatively high concentrations. However, at submicromolar concentrations, it significantly augmented ARA-C-induced DNA strand breaks. NMR spectroscopy revealed no evidence of chemical interaction between JS-K and the other chemotherapeutic agents. We conclude that ARA-C and JS-K have synergistic anti-leukemic activity and warrant further exploration in combination.
PMCID: PMC2756046  PMID: 19193435
21.  Structure-based Design, Synthesis, Biochemical and Pharmacological Characterization of Novel Salvinorin A Analogues as Active State Probes of the κ-Opioid Receptor 
Biochemistry  2009;48(29):6898-6908.
Salvinorin A, the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogen, has gained increasing attention since the κ-opioid receptor (KOR) was identified as its principal molecular target by us (Roth et al, PNAS, 2002). Here we report the design, synthesis and biochemical characterization of novel, irreversible, salvinorin A-derived ligands suitable as active state probes of the KOR. Based on prior substituted cysteine accessibility and molecular modeling studies, C3157.38 was chosen as a potential anchoring point for covalent labeling of salvinorin A-derived ligands. Automated docking of a series of potential covalently-bound ligands suggested that either a haloacetate moiety or other similar electrophilic groups could irreversibly bind with C3157.38. 22-thiocyanatosalvinorin A (RB-64) and 22-chlorosalvinorin A (RB-48) were both found to be extraordinarily potent and selective KOR agonists in vitro and in vivo. As predicted based on molecular modeling studies, RB-64 induced wash-resistant inhibition of binding with a strict requirement for a free cysteine in or near the binding pocket. Mass spectrometry (MS) studies utilizing synthetic KOR peptides and RB-64 supported the hypothesis that the anchoring residue was C3157.38 and suggested one biochemical mechanism for covalent binding. These studies provide direct evidence for the presence of a free cysteine in the agonist-bound state of KOR and provide novel insights into the mechanism by which salvinorin A binds to and activates KOR.
PMCID: PMC2752672  PMID: 19555087
22.  Photo-conversion of two epimers (20R and 20S) of pregna-5,7-diene-3β,17α,20-triol and their bioactivity in melanoma cells 
Steroids  2008;74(2):218-228.
Pregna-5,7-dienes and their hydroxylated derivatives can be formed in vivo when there is a deficiency in 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC) Δ-reductase function, e.g., Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS). Ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation induces photoconversion of 7-DHC to vitamin D3, lumisterol3 and tachysterol3. Two epimers (20R and 20S) of pregna-5,7-diene-3β,17α,20-triol (4R and 4S, respectively) were synthesized and their UVB photo-conversion products identified as corresponding 9,10-secosteroids with vitamin D-like and tachysterol-like structures, and 5,7-dienes with inverted configuration at C-9 and C-10 (lumisterol-like). The number and character of the products and the dynamics of the process were dependent on the UVB dose. At high UVB doses, the formation of multiple oxidized derivatives of the primary products, and the formation of 5,7,9(11)-triene, were observed. The production of vitamin D-like, tachysterol-like and luminosterol-like derivatives was also observed in human skin treated with 4R and 4S, and subjected to UV irradiation, as shown by RP-HPLC. Newly synthesized compounds inhibited melanoma growth in dose dependent manner, and some of them showed equal or higher potency than 1,25(OH)2D3. In summary, we have characterized for the first time the products of UV induced conversion of pregna-5,7-diene-3β,17α,20-triols and documented that the newly synthesized compounds have antiproliferative properties against melanoma cells.
PMCID: PMC2631623  PMID: 19028513
secosteroids; UV radiation; lumisterol; tachysterol; SLOS; melanoma
23.  Synthesis and photo-conversion of androsta- and pregna-5,7-dienes to vitamin D3-like derivatives†‡ 
Calcitriol (3β,5Z,7E)-9,10-secocholesta-5,7,10(19)-trien-1α,3β,25-triol) is a powerful oncostatic form of vitamin D3 that is of limited clinical utility due to hypercalcemic (toxic) effects. Since the removal of the side chain reduces or eliminates the calcemic activity of vitamin D3, secosteroidal compounds lacking or with a shortened side chain are good candidates for anti-cancer drugs. In addition, 5,7-steroidal dienes without a side chain can be generated in vivo under pathological conditions. A series of androsta- and pregna-5,7-dienes was efficiently synthesized from their respective 3-acetylated 5-en precursors by bromination-dehydrobromination and deacetylation reactions. Ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiation was used to generate corresponding 9,10-secosteroids with vitamin D-like structures. Additional products with tachysterol-like (T-like) structures or 5,7-dienes with inverted configuration at C-9 and C-10 (lumisterol, L-like) were also detected. Different doses of UVB resulted in formation of various products. At low doses, previtamin D-, T- or L-like compounds were formed as the main products, while higher doses induced further isomerization, with formation of potentially oxidized derivatives. In summary, we describe dynamic UVB induced conversion of androsta- and pregna-5,7-dienes into vitamin D-like compounds and their rearranged analogues; additionally novel T-like and L-like structures were also produced and characterized. Further biological evaluation of newly synthesized compounds should help to select the best candidate(s) for potential treatment of hyperproliferative diseases including cancer.
PMCID: PMC2597640  PMID: 19037511
24.  Urinary CTX‐II and glucosyl‐galactosyl‐pyridinoline are associated with the presence and severity of radiographic knee osteoarthritis in men 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;65(7):871-877.
To investigate the association between biochemical markers of bone, cartilage, and synovial turnover with the presence and severity of knee osteoarthritis (OA) in men.
176 men aged 59–70 years from the MRC Hertfordshire Cohort were studied. Weightbearing anteroposterior and lateral semiflexed radiographs were taken of both knees. A lifestyle questionnaire including basic demographic details and a questionnaire detailing knee pain was completed. This random sample was stratified based on the Kellgren and Lawrence (K&L) score, and the following biochemical markers were analysed: serum osteocalcin, serum C‐terminal crosslinked telopeptide of type I collagen (CTX‐I), urinary C‐terminal crosslinked telopeptide of type II collagen (CTX‐II), and urinary glucosyl‐galactosyl‐pyridinoline (Glc‐Gal‐Pyd).
Age, body mass index (BMI), social class, smoking, and alcohol consumption were similar across K&L grades. Only one subject had a grade 4 K&L score, and was amalgamated with grade 3 subjects. A strong significant association was found between the presence of knee OA and urinary CTX‐II and urinary Glc‐Gal‐Pyd (p = 0.0001 and p = 0.009), which persisted after adjustment for age and BMI. A significant positive association was also found between urinary CTX‐II and urinary Glc‐Gal‐Pyd and the severity of K&L grade, joint space narrowing, and osteophytes scores, which persisted after adjustment for age and BMI. No associations between the presence and severity of knee OA were found for serum CTX‐I or serum osteocalcin.
Urinary CTX‐II and Glc‐Gal‐Pyd, but not systemic markers of bone turnover, are strongly associated with disease severity and the presence of OA at the tibiofemoral and patellofemoral joints in men.
PMCID: PMC1798227  PMID: 16284096
knee osteoarthritis; biochemical markers; CTX‐II; Glc‐Gal‐Pyd; radiographic osteoarthritis
25.  Aplysinopsins - Marine Indole Alkaloids: Chemistry, Bioactivity and Ecological Significance 
Marine Drugs  2009;7(2):166-183.
Aplysinopsins are tryptophan-derived marine natural products isolated from numerous genera of sponges and scleractinian corals, as well as from one sea anemone and one nudibranch. Aplysinopsins are widely distributed in the Pacific, Indonesia, Caribbean, and Mediterranean regions. Up to date, around 30 analogues occurring in Nature have been reported. Natural aplysinopsins differ in the bromination pattern of the indole ring, variation in the structure of the C ring, including the number and position of N-methylation, the presence and configuration of the C-8-C-1′ double bond, and the oxidation state of the 2-aminoimidazoline fragment. Aplysinopsins can also occur in the form of dimers. This review summarizes 30 years’ research on aplysinopsins. The origin, isolation sources, chemistry, bioactivity, and ecological functions of aplysinopsins are comprehensively reviewed.
PMCID: PMC2707041  PMID: 19597579
aplysinopsins; natural source; stereochemistry; bioactivity; ecological functions

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