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1.  Peripheral Sensitization Increases Opioid Receptor Expression and Activation by Crotalphine in Rats 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90576.
Inflammation enhances the peripheral analgesic efficacy of opioid drugs, but the mechanisms involved in this phenomenon have not been fully elucidated. Crotalphine (CRP), a peptide that was first isolated from South American rattlesnake C.d. terrificus venom, induces a potent and long-lasting anti-nociceptive effect that is mediated by the activation of peripheral opioid receptors. Because the high efficacy of CRP is only observed in the presence of inflammation, we aimed to elucidate the mechanisms involved in the CRP anti-nociceptive effect induced by inflammation. Using real-time RT-PCR, western blot analysis and ELISA assays, we demonstrate that the intraplantar injection of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) increases the mRNA and protein levels of the µ- and κ-opioid receptors in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and paw tissue of rats within 3 h of the injection. Using conformation state-sensitive antibodies that recognize activated opioid receptors, we show that PGE2, alone does not increase the activation of these opioid receptors but that in the presence of PGE2, the activation of specific opioid receptors by CRP and selective µ- and κ-opioid receptor agonists (positive controls) increases. Furthermore, PGE2 down-regulated the expression and activation of the δ-opioid receptor. CRP increased the level of activated mitogen-activated protein kinases in cultured DRG neurons, and this increase was dependent on the activation of protein kinase Cζ. This CRP effect was much more prominent when the cells were pretreated with PGE2. These results indicate that the expression and activation of peripheral opioid receptors by opioid-like drugs can be up- or down-regulated in the presence of an acute injury and that acute tissue injury enhances the efficacy of peripheral opioids.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090576
PMCID: PMC3942445  PMID: 24594607
2.  ALDH2 Activator Inhibits Increased Myocardial Infarction Injury by Nitroglycerin Tolerance 
Science translational medicine  2011;3(107):107ra111.
Nitroglycerin, which helps impaired cardiac function as it is converted to nitric oxide, is used worldwide to treat patients with various ischemic and congestive cardiac diseases, including angina pectoris. Nevertheless, after continuous treatment, the benefits of nitroglycerin are limited by the development of tolerance to the drug. Nitroglycerin tolerance is a result of inactivation of aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2), an enzyme essential for cardioprotection in animals subjected to myocardial infarction (MI). Here we tested the hypothesis that the tolerance that develops as a result of sustained nitroglycerin treatment increases cardiac injury by subsequent MI. In a rat model of MI, 16 hours of prior, sustained nitroglycerin treatment (7.2 mg/kg/day) resulted in infarcts that were twice as large as those in untreated control animals and in diminished cardiac function at 3 days and 2 weeks after the MI. We also sought to identify a potential treatment to protect against this increased cardiac damage. Nitroglycerin inhibited ALDH2 activity in vitro, an effect that was blocked by Alda-1, an activator of ALDH2. Co-administration of Alda-1 (16 mg/kg/day) with the nitroglycerin prevented the nitroglycerin-induced increase in cardiac dysfunction after MI in rats, at least in part by enhancing metabolism of reactive aldehyde adducts that impair normal protein functions. If our animal studies showing that nitroglycerin tolerance increases cardiac injury upon ischemic insult are corroborated in humans, activators of ALDH2 such as Alda-1 may help to protect MI patients from this nitroglycerin-induced increase in cardiac injury, while maintaining the cardiac benefits of the increased nitric oxide concentrations produced by nitroglycerin.
doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3002067
PMCID: PMC3547591  PMID: 22049071
3.  Regulation of Cardiac Excitability Protein Kinase C Isozymes 
Cardiac excitability and electrical activity are determined by the sum of individual ion channels, gap junctions and exchanger activities. Electrophysiological remodeling during heart disease involves changes in membrane properties of cardiomyocytes and is related to higher prevalence of arrhythmia-associated morbidity and mortality. Pharmacological and genetic manipulation of cardiac cells as well as animal models of cardiovascular diseases are used to identity changes in electrophysiological properties and the molecular mechanisms associated with the disease. Protein kinase C (PKC) and several other kinases play a pivotal role in cardiac electrophysiological remodeling. Therefore, identifying specific therapies that regulate these kinases is the main focus of current research. PKC, a family of serine/threonine kinases, has been implicated as potential signaling nodes associated with biochemical and biophysical stress in cardiovascular diseases. Thus, the role of PKC isozymes in regulating cardiac excitability has been a subject of great attention. In this review, we describe the role of PKC isozymes that are involved in cardiac excitability and discuss both genetic and pharmacological tools that were used, their attributes and limitations. Selective and effective pharmacological interventions to normalize cardiac electrical activities and correct cardiac arrhythmias will be of great clinical benefit.
PMCID: PMC3527095  PMID: 22202075
4.  Identification of εPKC targets during cardiac ischemic injury 
Background
Activation of ε protein kinase C (εPKC) protects hearts from ischemic injury. However, some of the mechanism(s) of εPKC mediated cardioprotection are still unclear. Identification of εPKC targets may aid to elucidate εPKC–mediated cardioprotective mechanisms. Previous studies, using a combination of εPKC transgenic mice and difference in gel electrophoresis (DIGE), identified a number of proteins involved in glucose metabolism, whose expression was modified by εPKC. These studies, were accompanied by metabolomic analysis, and suggested that increased glucose oxidation may be responsible for the cardioprotective effect of εPKC. However, whether these εPKC-mediated alterations were due to differences in protein expression or phosphorylation was not determined.
Methods and Results
Here, we used an εPKC-specific activator peptide, ψεRACK, in combination with phosphoproteomics to identify εPKC targets, and identified proteins whose phosphorylation was altered by selective activation of εPKC most of the identified proteins were mitochondrial proteins and analysis of the mitochondrial phosphoproteome, led to the identification of 55 spots, corresponding to 37 individual proteins, which were exclusively phosphorylated, in the presence of ψεRACK. The majority of the proteins identified were proteins involved in glucose and lipid metabolism, components of the respiratory chain as well as mitochondrial heat shock proteins.
Conclusion
In summary the protective effect of εPKC during ischemia involves phosphorylation of several mitochondrial proteins involved in glucose, lipid metabolism and oxidative phosphorylation. Regulation of these metabolic pathways by εPKC phosphorylation may lead to εPKC-mediated cardioprotection induced by ψεRACK.
PMCID: PMC3527096  PMID: 22453000
εPKC; ischemia; phosphorylation; mitochondria
5.  βIIPKC and εPKC isozymes as potential pharmacological targets in cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure 
Cardiac hypertrophy is a complex adaptive response to mechanical and neurohumoral stimuli and under continual stressor, it contributes to maladaptive responses, heart failure and death. Protein kinase C (PKC) and several other kinases play a role in the maladaptative cardiac responses, including cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, myocardial fibrosis and inflammation. Identifying specific therapies that regulate these kinases is a major focus of current research. PKC, a family of serine/threonine kinases, has emerged as potential mediators of hypertrophic stimuli associated with neurohumoral hyperactivity in heart failure. In this review, we describe the role of PKC isozymes that are involved in cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure.
doi:10.1016/j.yjmcc.2010.10.020
PMCID: PMC3135714  PMID: 21035454
PKC signaling pathways; cardiac remodeling; heart failure
6.  PKCβII inhibition attenuates myocardial infarction induced heart failure and is associated with a reduction of fibrosis and pro-inflammatory responses 
Protein kinase C βII (PKCβII) levels increase in the myocardium of patients with end-stage heart failure (HF). Also targeted over-expression of PKCβII in the myocardium of mice leads to dilated cardiomyopathy associated with inflammation, fibrosis and myocardial dysfunction. These reports suggest a deleterious role of PKCβII in HF development. Using a post-myocardial infarction (MI) model of heart failure in rats, we determined the benefit of chronic inhibition of PKCβII on the progression of heart failure over a period of 6 weeks after the onset of symptoms and the cellular basis for these effects. Four weeks after MI, rats with HF signs that were treated for 6 weeks with the PKCβII selective inhibitor (βIIV5-3 conjugated to TAT47-57 alone) (3mg/kg/day) showed improved fractional shortening (from 21% to 35%) compared to control (TAT47-57 alone). Formalin-fixed mid-ventricle tissue sections stained with picrosirius red, hematoxylin-eosin and toluidine blue dyes exhibited a 150% decrease in collagen deposition, a two-fold decrease in inflammation and a 30% reduction in mast cell degranulation, respectively, in rat hearts treated with the selective PKCβII inhibitor. Further, a 90% decrease in active TGFβ1 and a significant reduction in SMAD2/3 phosphorylation indicated that the selective inhibition of PKCβII attenuates cardiac remodeling mediated by the TGF-SMAD signaling pathway. Therefore, sustained selective inhibition of PKCβII in a post-MI HF rat model improves cardiac function and is associated with inhibition of pathological myocardial remodeling.
doi:10.1111/j.1582-4934.2010.01174.x
PMCID: PMC3136735  PMID: 20874717
Protein kinase; PKCβII inhibitor peptide; cardiac remodeling; heart failure; myocardial infarction; mast cells, myocardial fibrosis; inflammation
7.  Regulation of mitochondrial processes: a target for heart failure 
Cardiac mitochondria, the main source of energy as well as free radicals, are vital organelles for normal functioning of the heart. Mitochondrial number, structure, turnover and function are regulated by processes such as mitochondrial protein quality control, mitochondrial fusion and fission and mitophagy. Recent studies suggest that abnormal changes in these mitochondrial regulatory processes may contribute to the pathology of heart failure (HF). Here we discuss these processes and their potential as therapeutic targets.
doi:10.1016/j.ddmec.2010.07.002
PMCID: PMC3026286  PMID: 21278905
8.  Protein kinase C in heart failure: a therapeutic target? 
Cardiovascular Research  2009;82(2):229-239.
Heart failure (HF) afflicts about 5 million people and causes 300 000 deaths a year in the United States alone. An integral part of the pathogenesis of HF is cardiac remodelling, and the signalling events that regulate it are a subject of intense research. Cardiac remodelling is the sum of responses of the heart to causes of HF, such as ischaemia, myocardial infarction, volume and pressure overload, infection, inflammation, and mechanical injury. These responses, including cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, myocardial fibrosis, and inflammation, involve numerous cellular and structural changes and ultimately result in a progressive decline in cardiac performance. Pharmacological and genetic manipulation of cultured heart cells and animal models of HF and the analysis of cardiac samples from patients with HF are all used to identify the molecular and cellular mechanisms leading to the disease. Protein kinase C (PKC) isozymes, a family of serine–threonine protein kinase enzymes, were found to regulate a number of cardiac responses, including those associated with HF. In this review, we describe the PKC isozymes that play critical roles in specific aspects of cardiac remodelling and dysfunction in HF.
doi:10.1093/cvr/cvp001
PMCID: PMC2675930  PMID: 19168855
Protein kinase C; Heart failure; Cardiac remodeling; Hypertrophy; Fibrosis and inflammation

Results 1-8 (8)