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1.  Development of Selective Inhibitors for Aldehyde Dehydrogenases based on Substituted Indole-2,3-diones 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2014;57(3):714-722.
Aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH) participate in multiple metabolic pathways and have been indicated to play a role in several cancerous disease states. Our laboratory is interested in developing novel and selective ALDH inhibitors. We looked to further work recently published by developing a class of isoenzyme selective inhibitors using a similar indole-2,3-diones that exhibit differential inhibition of ALDH1A1, ALDH2 and ALDH3A1. Kinetic and X-ray crystallography data suggest these inhibitors are competitive against aldehyde binding, forming direct interactions with active site cysteine residues. The selectivity is precise in that these compounds appear to interact directly with the catalytic nucleophile, Cys243, in ALDH3A1, but not in ALDH2. In ALDH2, the 3-keto group is surrounded by the adjacent Cys301/303. Surprisingly, the orientation of the interaction changes depending on the nature of the substitutions on the basic indole ring structure and correlates well with the observed structure-activity relationships for each ALDH isoenzyme.
doi:10.1021/jm401377v
PMCID: PMC3954746  PMID: 24444054
2.  Development of Selective Inhibitors for Aldehyde Dehydrogenases Based on Substituted Indole-2,3-diones 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(3):714-722.
Aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH) participate in multiple metabolic pathways and have been indicated to play a role in several cancerous disease states. Our laboratory is interested in developing novel and selective ALDH inhibitors. We looked to further work recently published by developing a class of isoenzyme-selective inhibitors using similar indole-2,3-diones that exhibit differential inhibition of ALDH1A1, ALDH2, and ALDH3A1. Kinetic and X-ray crystallography data suggest that these inhibitors are competitive against aldehyde binding, forming direct interactions with active-site cysteine residues. The selectivity is precise in that these compounds appear to interact directly with the catalytic nucleophile, Cys243, in ALDH3A1 but not in ALDH2. In ALDH2, the 3-keto group is surrounded by the adjacent Cys301/303. Surprisingly, the orientation of the interaction changes depending on the nature of the substitutions on the basic indole ring structure and correlates well with the observed structure–activity relationships for each ALDH isoenzyme.
doi:10.1021/jm401377v
PMCID: PMC3954746  PMID: 24444054
3.  Aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 regulates nociception in rodent models of acute inflammatory pain 
Science translational medicine  2014;6(251):251ra118.
Exogenous aldehydes can cause pain in animal models, suggesting that aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2), which metabolizes many aldehydes, may regulate nociception. To test this hypothesis, we generated a knock-in mouse with an inactivating point mutation in ALDH2 (ALDH2*2), which is also present in human ALDH2 of ~540 million East Asians. The ALDH2*1/*2 heterozygotic mice exhibited a larger response to painful stimuli than their wild-type littermates, and this heightened nociception was inhibited by an ALDH2-selective activator (Alda-1). No effect on inflammation per se was observed. Using a rat model, we then showed that nociception tightly correlated with ALDH activity (R2=0.90) and that reduced nociception was associated with less early growth response protein 1 (EGR1) in the spinal cord and less reactive aldehyde accumulation at the insult site (including acetaldehyde and 4-hydroxynonenal). Further, acetaldehyde and formalin-induced nociceptive behavior was greater in the ALDH2*1/*2 mice than wild-type mice. Finally, Alda-1 treatment was also beneficial when given even after the inflammatory agent was administered. Our data in rodent models suggest that the mitochondrial enzyme ALDH2 regulates nociception and could serve as a molecular target for pain control, with ALDH2 activators, such as Alda-1, as potential non-narcotic cardiac-safe analgesics. Furthermore, our results suggest a possible genetic basis for East Asians’ apparent lower pain tolerance.
doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3009539
PMCID: PMC4234033  PMID: 25163478
4.  A Novel Aldehyde Dehydrogenase-3 Activator (Alda-89) Protects Submandibular Gland Function from Irradiation without Accelerating Tumor Growth 
Purpose
To determine the effect of Alda-89 (an ALDH3 activitor) on (1) the function of irradiated (RT) submandibular gland (SMG) in mice, (2) its toxicity profile and (3) its effect on the growth of head and neck cancer (HNC) in vitro and in vivo.
Experimental Design
Adult mice were infused with Alda-89 or vehicle before, during and after RT. Saliva secretion was monitored weekly. Hematology, metabolic profile and post-mortem evaluation for toxicity were examined at the time of sacrifice. Alda-89 or vehicle was applied to HNC cell lines in vitro, and SCID mice transplanted with HNC in vivo with or without radiation; HNC growth was monitored. The ALDH3A1 and ALDH3A2 protein expression was evaluated in 89 HNC patients and correlated to freedom from relapse (FFR) and overall survival (OS).
Results
Alda-89 infusion significantly resulted in more whole saliva production and a higher percentage of preserved acini after RT compared to vehicle control. There was no difference in the complete blood count, metabolic profile, and major organ morphology between the Alda-89 and vehicle groups. Compared to vehicle control, Alda-89 treatment did not accelerate HNC cell proliferation in vitro, nor did it affect tumor growth in vivo with or without RT. Higher expression of ALDH3A1 or ALDH3A2 was not significantly associated with worse FFR or OS in either HPV-positive or HPV-negative group.
Conclusion
Alda-89 preserves salivary function after RT without affecting HNC growth or causing measurable toxicity in mice. It is a promising candidate to mitigate RT-related xerostomia.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-13-0127
PMCID: PMC3745542  PMID: 23812668
ALDH3A1; ALDH3A2; Alda-89; xerostomia; radiation; head and neck cancer
5.  In vivo measurement of ALDH2 activity in rat liver ethanol model using dynamic MRSI of hyperpolarized [1-13C]pyruvate 
NMR in biomedicine  2012;26(6):607-612.
To date, measurements of the activity of aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 (ALDH2), a critical mitochondrial enzyme for eliminating certain cytotoxic aldehydes in the body and a promising target for drug development, have been largely limited to in vitro methods. Recent advancements in magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) of hyperpolarized 13C-labeled substrates now provide a method to detect and image in vivo metabolic pathways with signal-to-noise ratio gains greater than 10,000 fold over conventional MRS techniques. However aldehydes, due to their toxicity and short T1 relaxation times, are generally poor targets for such 13C-labeled studies. In this work, we show that dynamic magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging of hyperpolarized [1-13C]pyruvate and its conversion to [1-13C]lactate can provide an indirect in vivo measurement of ALDH2 activity via the concentration of NADH, a co-factor common to both the reduction of pyruvate to lactate and the oxidation of acetaldehyde to acetate. Results from a rat liver ethanol model (n = 9) show that changes in 13C-lactate labeling following the bolus injection of hyperpolarized pyruvate are highly correlated with changes in ALDH2 activity (R2=0.76).
doi:10.1002/nbm.2897
PMCID: PMC3634870  PMID: 23225495
hyperpolarized 13C; ALDH2 activity; liver; ethanol; pyruvate; lactate; NADH
6.  Mitigation of Radiation-Induced Dermatitis by Activation of Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 2 Using Topical Alda-1 in Mice1 
Radiation research  2012;178(1):69-74.
Ning, S., Budas, G. R., Churchill, E. N., Chen, C., Knox, S. J. and Mochly-Rosen, D. Mitigation of Radiation-Induced Dermatitis by Activation of Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 2 Using Topical Alda-1 in Mice.
Radiation-induced dermatitis is a debilitating clinical problem in cancer patients undergoing cancer radiation therapy. It is also a possible outcome of exposure to high levels of radiation due to accident or hostile activity. We report that activation of aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) enzymatic activity using the allosteric agonist, Alda-1, significantly reduced 4-hydroxynonenal adducts accumulation, delayed the onset of radiation dermatitis and substantially reduced symptoms in a clinically-relevant model of radiation-induced dermatitis. Importantly, Alda-1 did not radioprotect tumors in mice. Rather, it increased the sensitivity of the tumors to radiation therapy. This is the first report of reactive aldehydes playing a role in the intrinsic radiosensitivity of normal and tumor tissues. Our findings suggest that ALDH2 represents a novel target for the treatment of radiation dermatitis without reducing the benefit of radiotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3417825  PMID: 22404739
7.  A Novel Aldehyde Dehydrogenase-3 Activator Leads to Adult Salivary Stem Cell Enrichment In Vivo 
Purpose
To assess aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) expression in adult human and murine submandibular gland (SMG) stem cells and to determine the effect of ALDH3 activation in SMG stem cell enrichment.
Experimental Design
Adult human and murine SMG stem cells were selected by cell surface markers (CD34 for human and c-Kit for mouse) and characterized for various other stem cell surface markers by flow cytometry and ALDH isozymes expression by quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR. Sphere formation and bromodeoxyuridine (BrdUrd) incorporation assays were used on selected cells to confirm their renewal capacity and three-dimensional (3D) collagen matrix culture was applied to observe differentiation. To determine whether ALDH3 activation would increase stem cell yield, adult mice were infused with a novel ALDH3 activator (Alda-89) or with vehicle followed by quantification of c-Kit+/CD90+ SMG stem cells and BrdUrd+ salispheres.
Results
More than 99% of CD34+ huSMG stem cells stained positive for c-Kit, CD90 and 70% colocalized with CD44, Nestin. Similarly, 73.8% c-Kit+ mSMG stem cells colocalized with Sca-1, whereas 80.7% with CD90. Functionally, these cells formed BrdUrd+ salispheres, which differentiated into acinar- and ductal-like structures when cultured in 3D collagen. Both adult human and murine SMG stem cells showed higher expression of ALDH3 than in their non–stem cells and 84% of these cells have measurable ALDH1 activity. Alda-89 infusion in adult mice significantly increased c-Kit+/CD90+ SMG population and BrdUrd+ sphere formation compared with control.
Conclusion
This is the first study to characterize expression of different ALDH isozymes in SMG stem cells. In vivo activation of ALDH3 can increase SMG stem cell yield, thus providing a novel means for SMG stem cell enrichment for future stem cell therapy.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-0179
PMCID: PMC3544360  PMID: 21998334
8.  Common ALDH2 genetic variants predict development of hypertension in the SAPPHIRe prospective cohort: Gene-environmental interaction with alcohol consumption 
Background
Genetic variants near/within the ALDH2 gene encoding the mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 have been associated with blood pressure and hypertension in several case–control association studies in East Asian populations.
Methods
Three common tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (tagSNP) in the ALDH2 gene were genotyped in 1,134 subjects of Chinese origin from the Stanford Asia-Pacific Program for Hypertension and Insulin Resistance (SAPPHIRe) family cohort. We examined whether the ALDH2 SNP genotypes predicted the development of hypertension in the prospective SAPPHIRe cohort.
Results
Over an average follow-up period of 5.7 years, carriers homozygous for the rs2238152 T allele in the ALDH2 gene were more likely to progress to hypertension than were non-carriers (hazard ratio [HR], 2.88, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06-7.84, P = 0.03), corresponding to a population attributable risk of ~7.1%. The risk associated with the rs2238152 T allele were strongest in heavy/moderate alcohol drinkers and was reduced in non-drinkers, indicating an interaction between ALDH2 genetic variants and alcohol intake on the risk of hypertension (P for interaction = 0.04). The risk allele was associated with significantly lower ALDH2 gene expression levels in human adipose tissue.
Conclusion
ALDH2 genetic variants were associated with progression to hypertension in a prospective Chinese cohort. The association was modified by alcohol consumption.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-12-58
PMCID: PMC3476438  PMID: 22839215
ALDH2; Hypertension; SNP; Chinese
9.  Activation of aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) confers cardioprotection in protein kinase C epsilon (PKCε) knockout mice 
Acute administration of ethanol can reduce cardiac ischemia/reperfusion injury. Previous studies demonstrated that the acute cytoprotective effect of ethanol on the myocardium is mediated by protein kinase C epsilon (PKCε). We recently identified aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) as an PKCε substrate, whose activation is necessary and sufficient to confer cardioprotection in vivo. ALDH2 metabolizes cytotoxic reactive aldehydes, such as 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (4-HNE), which accumulate during cardiac ischemia/reperfusion. Here, we used a combination of PKCε knockout mice and a direct activator of ALDH2, Alda-44, to further investigate the interplay between PKCε and ALDH2 in cardioprotection. We report that ethanol preconditioning requires PKCε, whereas direct activation of ALDH2 reduces infarct size in both wild type and PKCε knockout hearts. Our data suggest that ALDH2 is downstream of PKCε in ethanol preconditioning and that direct activation of ALDH2 can circumvent the requirement of PKCε to induce cytoprotection. We also report that in addition to ALDH2 activation, Alda-44 prevents 4-HNE induced inactivation of ALDH2 by reducing the formation of 4-HNE-ALDH2 protein adducts. Thus, Alda-44 promotes metabolism of cytotoxic reactive aldehydes that accumulate in ischemic myocardium. Taken together, our findings suggest that direct activation of ALDH2 may represent a method of harnessing the cardioprotective effect of ethanol without the side effects associated with alcohol consumption.
doi:10.1016/j.yjmcc.2009.10.030
PMCID: PMC2837767  PMID: 19913552
10.  Alda-1 is an agonist and chemical chaperone for the common human aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 variant 
In approximately one billion people, a point mutation inactivates a key detoxifying enzyme, aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2). This mitochondrial enzyme metabolizes toxic biogenic and environmental aldehydes, including the endogenously produced 4-hydroxynonenal (4HNE) and the environmental pollutant, acrolein. ALDH2 also bioactivates nitroglycerin, but it is best known for its role in ethanol metabolism. The accumulation of acetaldehyde following the consumption of even a single alcoholic beverage leads to the Asian Alcohol-induced Flushing Syndrome in ALDH2*2 homozygotes. The ALDH2*2 allele is semi-dominant and heterozygotic individuals exhibit a similar, but not as severe phenotype. We recently identified a small molecule, Alda-1, which activates wild-type ALDH2 and restores near wild-type activity to ALDH2*2. The structures of Alda-1 bound to ALDH2 and ALDH2*2 reveal how Alda-1 activates the wild-type enzyme and how it restores the activity of ALDH2*2 by acting as a structural chaperone.
doi:10.1038/nsmb.1737
PMCID: PMC2857674  PMID: 20062057
11.  Mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase and cardiac diseases 
Cardiovascular Research  2010;88(1):51-57.
Numerous conditions promote oxidative stress, leading to the build-up of reactive aldehydes that cause cell damage and contribute to cardiac diseases. Aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDHs) are important enzymes that eliminate toxic aldehydes by catalysing their oxidation to non-reactive acids. The review will discuss evidence indicating a role for a specific ALDH enzyme, the mitochondrial ALDH2, in combating oxidative stress by reducing the cellular ‘aldehydic load’. Epidemiological studies in humans carrying an inactive ALDH2, genetic models in mice with altered ALDH2 levels, and small molecule activators of ALDH2 all highlight the role of ALDH2 in cardioprotection and suggest a promising new direction in cardiovascular research and the development of new treatments for cardiovascular diseases.
doi:10.1093/cvr/cvq192
PMCID: PMC2936126  PMID: 20558439
ALDH2; Mitochondria; Ischaemia; Nitroglycerin; Alda-1
12.  An Activator of Mutant and Wildtype Aldehyde Dehydrogenase Reduces Ischemic Damage to the Heart 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2008;321(5895):1493-1495.
There is substantial interest in the development of drugs that limit the extent of ischemia-induced cardiac damage caused by myocardial infarction or by certain surgical procedures. Here an unbiased proteomic search identified mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) as an enzyme whose activation correlates with reduced ischemic heart damage in rodent models. A high-throughput screen yielded a small-molecule activator of ALDH2 (Alda-1) that, when administered to rats prior to an ischemic event, reduced infarct size by 60%, most likely through its inhibitory effect on the formation of cytotoxic aldehydes. In vitro, Alda-1 was a particularly effective activator of ALDH2*2, an inactive mutant form of the enzyme that is found in 40% of East Asian populations. Thus, pharmacologic enhancement of ALDH2 activity may be useful for patients with wildtype or mutant ALDH2 subjected to cardiac ischemia, such as during coronary bypass surgery. (140/140 words)
doi:10.1126/science.1158554
PMCID: PMC2741612  PMID: 18787169

Results 1-12 (12)