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1.  In vivo hypoxic preconditioning protects from warm liver ischemic/reperfusion injury through the adenosine A2B receptor 
Transplantation  2012;94(9):894-902.
Liver ischemia(I)/reperfusion(R) injury(I) is a known risk factor for the postoperative outcome of patients undergoing liver surgery/transplantation. Attempts to protect from organ damage require multidisciplinary strategies and are of emerging interest in view of patients with higher age and ASA-status. Ischemic preconditioning has been successfully applied to prevent from IRI during liver resections/transplantation. Since even short periods of ischemia during preconditioning inevitably lead to hypoxia and formation of anti-inflammatory/ cytoprotective acting adenosine, we reasoned that short non-ischemic hypoxia also protects against hepatic IRI.
Mice underwent hypoxic preconditioning(HPC) by breathing 10%-oxygen for 10 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of 21%-oxygen prior to left-liver-lobe-ischemia(45 min) and reperfusion(4 hrs). The interactions of hypoxia->adenosine->adenosine-receptors were tested by pharmacologic antagonism at adenosine receptor(AR) sites in wild type mice and in mice with genetic deletions at the A1-;A2A-;A2B- and A3-ARs. Hepatocellular damage, inflammation and metabolic effects were quantified by enzyme activities, cytokines, liver-myeloperoxidase(MPO), blood adenosine and tissue-adenosinemonophosphate(AMP), respectively.
Hepatoprotection by HPC was significant in wild type and A1-, A2A-and A3 AR-knock-out mice as quantified by lower ALT serum activities, cytokine levels, histological damage-scores, tissue-myeloperoxidase-concentrations and as well as preserved AMP-concentrations. Protection by HPC was blunted in mice pretreated with the A2B-AR-antagonist MRS1754 or in A2B-AR“knock-outs”.
Because liver protective effects of HPC are negated when the A2B receptor is non-functional, the "hypoxia->adenosine->A2B receptor" pathway plays a critical role in the prevention of warm ischemia reperfusion injury in vivo. Hypoxic activation of this pathway warrants use of selective A2B-AR-agonists or even intermittent hypoxia (e.g. in deceased organ donors) to protect from liver ischemia/reperfusion injury.
PMCID: PMC3491139  PMID: 23073466
hypoxia; murine liver ischemia; preconditioning; hepatoprotection
3.  N-octanoyl-Dopamine Is an Agonist at the Capsaicin Receptor TRPV1 and Mitigates Is Chemia-Induced Acute Kidney Injury in Rat 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43525.
Since stimulation of transient receptor potential channels of the vanilloid receptor subtype 1 (TRPV1) mitigates acute kidney injury (AKI) and endogenous N-acyl dopamine derivatives are able to activate TRPV1, we tested if synthetic N-octanoyl-dopamine (NOD) activates TRPV1 and if it improves AKI. These properties of NOD and its intrinsic anti-inflammatory character were compared with those of dopamine (DA). TRPV1 activation and anti-inflammatory properties of NOD and DA were tested using primary cell cultures in vitro. The influence of NOD and DA on AKI was tested in a prospective, randomized, controlled animal study with 42 inbred male Lewis rats (LEW, RT1), treated intravenously with equimolar concentrations of DA or NOD one hour before the onset of warm ischemia and immediately before clamp release. NOD, but not DA, activates TRPV1 channels in isolated dorsal root ganglion neurons (DRG) that innervate several tissues including kidney. In TNFα stimulated proximal tubular epithelial cells, inhibition of NFκB and subsequent inhibition of VCAM1 expression by NOD was significantly stronger than by DA. NOD improved renal function compared to DA and saline controls. Histology revealed protective effects of NOD on tubular epithelium at day 5 and a reduced number of monocytes in renal tissue of DA and NOD treated rats. Our data demonstrate that NOD but not DA activates TRPV1 and that NOD has superior anti-inflammatory properties in vitro. Although NOD mitigates deterioration in renal function after AKI, further studies are required to assess to what extend this is causally related to TRPV1 activation and/or desensitization.
PMCID: PMC3423369  PMID: 22916273
4.  Motion Sickness, Stress and the Endocannabinoid System 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(5):e10752.
A substantial number of individuals are at risk for the development of motion sickness induced nausea and vomiting (N&V) during road, air or sea travel. Motion sickness can be extremely stressful but the neurobiologic mechanisms leading to motion sickness are not clear. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) represents an important neuromodulator of stress and N&V. Inhibitory effects of the ECS on N&V are mediated by endocannabinoid-receptor activation.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We studied the activity of the ECS in human volunteers (n = 21) during parabolic flight maneuvers (PFs). During PFs, microgravity conditions (<10−2 g) are generated for approximately 22 s which results in a profound kinetic stimulus. Blood endocannabinoids (anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, 2-AG) were measured from blood samples taken in-flight before start of the parabolic maneuvers, after 10, 20, and 30 parabolas, in-flight after termination of PFs and 24 h later. Volunteers who developed acute motion sickness (n = 7) showed significantly higher stress scores but lower endocannabinoid levels during PFs. After 20 parabolas, blood anandamide levels had dropped significantly in volunteers with motion sickness (from 0.39±0.40 to 0.22±0.25 ng/ml) but increased in participants without the condition (from 0.43±0.23 to 0.60±0.38 ng/ml) resulting in significantly higher anandamide levels in participants without motion sickness (p = 0.02). 2-AG levels in individuals with motion sickness were low and almost unchanged throughout the experiment but showed a robust increase in participants without motion sickness. Cannabinoid-receptor 1 (CB1) but not cannabinoid-receptor 2 (CB2) mRNA expression in leucocytes 4 h after the experiment was significantly lower in volunteers with motion sickness than in participants without N&V.
These findings demonstrate that stress and motion sickness in humans are associated with impaired endocannabinoid activity. Enhancing ECS signaling may represent an alternative therapeutic strategy for motion sickness in individuals who do not respond to currently available treatments.
PMCID: PMC2873996  PMID: 20505775
5.  Reduced ligand affinity leads to an impaired function of the adenosine A2A receptor of human granulocytes in sepsis 
The enhanced release of reactive oxygen species by excessively activated polymorphonuclear leucocytes (PMN) is a key step in the pathogenesis of sepsis. Potent action of adenosine in inhibiting cytotoxic PMN functions has been documented. Recent data, however provide evidence that in sepsis a diminished capability of adenosine to inhibit the generation of oxygen radicals by PMN occurs. Here, we investigated the underlying mechanisms in an in vitro sepsis model and in PMN of sepsis patients. We report that lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-incubation of human PMN elicited the same increase in the half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) of adenosine as observed in patients with septic shock. Coupling to adenylyl cyclase was impaired as well, as indicated by a decreased potency of adenosine to stimulate cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) accumulation. Ligand-binding studies conducted with native, LPS-stimulated PMN, and with PMN of sepsis patients revealed that, despite an increased adenosine A2A receptor (A2AR) expression, the receptor function declines due to a diminished ligand-binding affinity most likely caused by allosteric modulators within the inflammatory environment. A2AR function obviously is highly dependent upon the cellular environment and thus, further functional characterization of A2AR responses in sepsis may be a promising approach to develop new adenosine or A2AR agonists based therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC3823413  PMID: 19538256
sepsis; human PMN; A2A receptor; ligand affinity
6.  Critical Role of Hypoxia and A2A Adenosine Receptors in Liver Tissue-Protecting Physiological Anti-Inflammatory Pathway 
Molecular Medicine  2007;14(3-4):116-123.
Whole body exposure of wild type control littermates and A2A adenosine receptor (A2AR) gene deleted mice to low oxygen containing inspired gas mixture allowed the investigation of the mechanism that controls inflammatory liver damage and protects the liver using a mouse model of T cell-mediated viral and autoimmune hepatitis. We tested the hypothesis that the inflammatory tissue damage-associated hypoxia and extracellular adenosine → A2AR signaling plays an important role in the physiological anti-inflammatory mechanism that limits liver damage during fulminant hepatitis. After induction of T cell-mediated hepatitis, mice were kept in modular chambers either under normoxic (21% oxygen) or hypoxic (10% oxygen) conditions for 8 h. It was shown that the whole body exposure to hypoxic atmosphere caused tissue hypoxia in healthy animals as evidenced by a decrease in the arterial blood oxygen tension and increase of the plasma adenosine concentration (P < 0.05). This “hypoxic” treatment resulted in significantly reduced hepatocellular damage and attenuated levels of serum cytokines in mice with acute liver inflammation. The anti-inflammatory effects of hypoxia were not observed in the absence of A2AR in studies of A2AR gene-deficient mice or when A2AR have been pharmacologically antagonized with synthetic antagonist. The presented data demonstrate that total body hypoxia-triggered pathway provides protection in acute hepatitis and that hypoxia (upstream) and A2AR (downstream) function in the same immunosuppressive and liver tissue-protecting pathway.
PMCID: PMC2156187  PMID: 18163162
7.  Targeted Deletion of HIF-1α Gene in T Cells Prevents their Inhibition in Hypoxic Inflamed Tissues and Improves Septic Mice Survival 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(9):e853.
Sepsis patients may die either from an overwhelming systemic immune response and/or from an immunoparalysis-associated lack of anti-bacterial immune defence. We hypothesized that bacterial superantigen-activated T cells may be prevented from contribution into anti-bacterial response due to the inhibition of their effector functions by the hypoxia inducible transcription factor (HIF-1α) in inflamed and hypoxic areas.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using the Cre-lox-P-system we generated mice with a T–cell targeted deletion of the HIF-1α gene and analysed them in an in vivo model of bacterial sepsis. We show that deletion of the HIF-1α gene leads to higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, stronger anti-bacterial effects and much better survival of mice. These effects can be at least partially explained by significantly increased NF-κB activation in TCR activated HIF-1 α deficient T cells.
T cells can be recruited to powerfully contribute to anti-bacterial response if they are relieved from inhibition by HIF-1α in inflamed and hypoxic areas. Our experiments uncovered the before unappreciated reserve of anti-bacterial capacity of T cells and suggest novel therapeutic anti-pathogen strategies based on targeted deletion or inhibition of HIF-1 α in T cells.
PMCID: PMC1959117  PMID: 17786224
8.  Oxygenation Inhibits the Physiological Tissue-Protecting Mechanism and Thereby Exacerbates Acute Inflammatory Lung Injury 
PLoS Biology  2005;3(6):e174.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) usually requires symptomatic supportive therapy by intubation and mechanical ventilation with the supplemental use of high oxygen concentrations. Although oxygen therapy represents a life-saving measure, the recent discovery of a critical tissue-protecting mechanism predicts that administration of oxygen to ARDS patients with uncontrolled pulmonary inflammation also may have dangerous side effects. Oxygenation may weaken the local tissue hypoxia-driven and adenosine A2A receptor (A2AR)-mediated anti-inflammatory mechanism and thereby further exacerbate lung injury. Here we report experiments with wild-type and adenosine A2AR-deficient mice that confirm the predicted effects of oxygen. These results also suggest the possibility of iatrogenic exacerbation of acute lung injury upon oxygen administration due to the oxygenation-associated elimination of A2AR-mediated lung tissue-protecting pathway. We show that this potential complication of clinically widely used oxygenation procedures could be completely prevented by intratracheal injection of a selective A2AR agonist to compensate for the oxygenation-related loss of the lung tissue-protecting endogenous adenosine. The identification of a major iatrogenic complication of oxygen therapy in conditions of acute lung inflammation attracts attention to the need for clinical and epidemiological studies of ARDS patients who require oxygen therapy. It is proposed that oxygen therapy in patients with ARDS and other causes of lung inflammation should be combined with anti-inflammatory measures, e.g., with inhalative application of A2AR agonists. The reported observations may also answer the long-standing question as to why the lungs are the most susceptible to inflammatory injury and why lung failure usually precedes multiple organ failure.
A mouse model suggests that oxygen therapy may exacerbate lung injury by weakening the anti-inflammatory mechanisms driven by hypoxia.
PMCID: PMC1088279  PMID: 15857155

Results 1-8 (8)