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1.  Mutant Disrupted-In-Schizophrenia 1 in astrocytes: focus on glutamate metabolism 
Journal of neuroscience research  2014;92(12):1659-1668.
Disrupted-In-Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) is a genetic risk factor that has been implicated in major mental disorders. DISC1 binds to and stabilizes serine racemase (SR) to regulate production of D-serine by astrocytes, contributing to glutamate (GLU) neurotransmission. However, the possible involvement of astrocytic DISC1 in synthesis, metabolism, re-uptake or secretion of GLU remains unexplored. Thus, we studied the effects of dominant-negative mutant DISC1 on various aspects of GLU metabolism using primary astrocyte cultures and the hippocampal tissue from transgenic mice with astrocyte-restricted expression of mutant DISC1. While mutant DISC1 had no significant effects on astrocyte proliferation, GLU re-uptake, Glutaminase or Glutamate carboxypeptidase II activity, expression of mutant DISC1 was associated with increased levels of alanine-serine-cysteine transporter 2, vesicular glutamate transporters 1 and 3 in primary astrocytes and in the hippocampus as well as elevated expression of the NR1 subunit and diminished expression of the NR2A subunit of NMDA receptors in the hippocampus at postnatal day 21. Our findings indicate that decreased D-serine production by astrocytic mutant DISC1 may lead to compensatory changes in levels of the amino acid transporters and NMDA receptors in the context of tripartite synapse.
PMCID: PMC4247786  PMID: 25131692
glutamate uptake; VGLUT; ASCT2; D-serine; NMDA; psychiatric disease
2.  Human stem cell-derived spinal cord astrocytes with defined mature or reactive phenotypes 
Cell reports  2013;4(5):1035-1048.
Differentiation of astrocytes from human stem cells has significant potential for analyzing their role in normal brain function and disease, but existing protocols generate only immature astrocytes. Using early neuralization, we generated spinal cord astrocytes from mouse or human embryonic (ESCs) or induced pluripotent (hiPSCs) stem cells with high efficiency. Remarkably, short exposure to FGF1 or FGF2 was sufficient to direct these astrocytes selectively toward a mature quiescent phenotype, as judged both by marker expression and functional analysis. In contrast, TNFα and IL-1β but not FGFs, induced multiple elements of a reactive phenotype but did not affect maturation. These phenotypically defined, scalable populations of spinal cord astrocytes will be important both for studying normal astrocyte function and for modeling human pathological processes in vitro.
PMCID: PMC4229657  PMID: 23994478
Embryonic stem cells; human induced pluripotent stem cells; astrocytes; glutamate transporter; fibroblast growth factor; tumor necrosis factor-alpha; maturation; reactivity
3.  A Comparison of the In Vitro Inhibitory Effects of Thelephoric Acid and SKF-525A on Human Cytochrome P450 Activity 
Biomolecules & Therapeutics  2014;22(2):155-160.
Thelephoric acid is an antioxidant produced by the hydrolysis of polyozellin, which is isolated from Polyozellus multiplex. In the present study, the inhibitory effects of polyozellin and thelephoric acid on 9 cytochrome P450 (CYP) family members (CYP1A2, CYP2A6, CYP2B6, CYP2C8, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, CYP2D6, CYP2E1, and CYP3A4) were examined in pooled human liver microsomes (HLMs) using a cocktail probe assay. Polyozellin exhibited weak inhibitory effects on the activities of all 9 CYPs examined, whereas thelephoric acid exhibited dose- and time-dependent inhibition of all 9 CYP isoforms (IC50 values, 3.2–33.7 μM). Dixon plots of CYP inhibition indicated that thelephoric acid was a competitive inhibitor of CYP1A2 and CYP3A4. In contrast, thelephoric acid was a noncompetitive inhibitor of CYP2D6. Our findings indicate that thelephoric acid may be a novel, non-specific CYP inhibitor, suggesting that it could replace SKF-525A in inhibitory studies designed to investigate the effects of CYP enzymes on the metabolism of given compounds.
PMCID: PMC3975472  PMID: 24753822
Thelephoric acid; Polyozellin; SKF-525A; Cytochrome P450; Non-specific inhibitor
4.  Protective effects of onion-derived quercetin on glutamate-mediated hippocampal neuronal cell death 
Pharmacognosy Magazine  2013;9(36):302-308.
Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by progressive neuron degeneration in specific functional systems of the central or peripheral nervous system. This study investigated the protective effects of quercetin isolated from onion on neuronal cells and its protective mechanisms against glutamate-induced apoptosis in HT22 cells.
Materials and Methods:
HT22 cells were cultured to study the neuroprotective mechanism of quercetin against glutamate-mediated oxidative stress. The intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) level and mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) were measured. The protein expression of calpain, spectrin, Bcl-2, Bax, Bid, cytochrome c, and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) was evaluated by Western blotting.
Quercetin had a protective effect by reducing both intracellular ROS overproduction and glutamate-mediated Ca2+ influx. These effects were due to the downregulation of several apoptosis-related biochemical markers. Calpain expression was reduced and spectrin cleavage was inhibited by quercetin in glutamate-exposed HT22 cells. Disruption of the mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm), activation of the pro-apoptotic proteins Bid and Bax, and cytochrome c release in response to glutamate-induced oxidative stress were reduced. Quercetin also suppressed phosphorylation of MAPKs.
This is the first report on the detailed mechanisms of the protective effect of quercetin on HT22 cells. Onion extract and quercetin may be useful for preventing or treating neurodegenerative disorders.
PMCID: PMC3793334  PMID: 24124281
Glutamate; neuroprotective effects; onion; oxidative stress; quercetin
5.  Comparison of dietary food and nutrient intakes by supplement use in pregnant and lactating women in Seoul 
Nutrition Research and Practice  2013;7(3):199-206.
This study was performed to compare the dietary food and nutrient intakes according to supplement use in pregnant and lactating women in Seoul. The subjects were composed of 201 pregnant and 104 lactating women, and their dietary food intake was assessed using the 24-h recall method. General information on demographic and socioeconomic factors, as well as health-related behaviors, including the use of dietary supplements, were collected. About 88% and 60% of the pregnant and lactating women took dietary supplements, respectively. The proportion of dietary supplements used was higher in pregnant women with a higher level of education. After adjusting for potential confounders, among the pregnant women, supplement users were found to consume 45% more vegetables, and those among the lactating women were found to consume 96% more beans and 58% more vegetables. The intakes of dietary fiber and β-carotene among supplement users were higher than those of non-users, by 23% and 39%, respectively. Among pregnant women, the proportion of women with an intake of vitamin C (from diet alone) below the estimated average requirements (EAR) was lower among supplement users [users (44%) vs. non-users (68%)], and the proportion of lactating women with intakes of iron (from diet alone) below the EAR was lower among supplement users [usesr (17%) vs. non-users (38%)]. These results suggest that among pregnant and lactating women, those who do not use dietary supplements tend to have a lower intake of healthy foods, such as beans and vegetables, as well as a lower intake of dietary fiber and β-carotene, which are abundant in these foods, and non-users are more likely than users to have inadequate intake of micro-nutrient such as vitamin C and iron.
PMCID: PMC3679329  PMID: 23766881
Dietary intake; supplement; pregnant women; lactating women
6.  Reduction in expression of the astrocyte glutamate transporter, GLT1, worsens functional and histological outcomes following traumatic spinal cord injury 
Glia  2011;59(12):1996-2005.
The astrocyte glutamate transporter, GLT1, is responsible for the vast majority of glutamate uptake in the adult central nervous system (CNS), thereby regulating extracellular glutamate homeostasis and preventing excitotoxicity. Glutamate dysregulation plays a central role in outcome following traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). To determine the role of GLT1 in secondary cell loss following SCI, mice heterozygous for the GLT1 astrocyte glutamate transporter (GLT1+/−) and wild-type mice received thoracic crush SCI. Compared to wild-type controls, GLT1+/− mice had an attenuated recovery in hindlimb motor function, increased lesion size, and decreased tissue sparing. GLT1+/− mice showed a decrease in intraspinal GLT1 protein and functional glutamate uptake compared to wild-type mice, accompanied by increased apoptosis and neuronal loss following crush injury. These results suggest that astrocyte GLT1 plays a role in limiting secondary cell death following SCI, and also show that compromise of key astrocyte functions has significant effects on outcome following traumatic CNS injury. These findings also suggest that increasing intraspinal GLT1 expression may represent a therapeutically relevant target for SCI treatment.
PMCID: PMC3269541  PMID: 21882244
secondary injury; GLT1+/− mice; crush injury; glutamate uptake; excitotoxicity
7.  Harmine, A Natural Beta-Carboline Alkaloid, Upregulates Astroglial Glutamate Transporter Expression 
Neuropharmacology  2010;60(7-8):1168-1175.
Glutamate is the predominant excitatory amino acid neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS). Glutamate transporter EAAT2 /GLT-1 is the physiologically dominant astroglial protein that inactivates synaptic glutamate. Previous studies have shown that EAAT2 dysfunction leads to excessive extracellular glutamate and may contribute to various neurological disorders including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The recent discovery of the neuroprotective properties of ceftriaxone, a beta lactam antibiotic, suggested that increasing EAAT2 /GLT-1 gene expression might be beneficial in ALS and other neurological/psychiatric disorders by augmenting astrocytic glutamate uptake. Here we report our efforts to develop a new screening assay for identifying compounds that activate EAAT2 gene expression. We generated fetal derived-human immortalized astroglial cells that are stably expressing a firefly luciferase reporter under the control of the human EAAT2 promoter. When screening a library of 1040 FDA approved compounds and natural products, we identified harmine, a naturally occurring beta-carboline alkaloid, as one of the top hits for activating the EAAT2 promoter. We further tested harmine in our in vitro cell culture systems and confirmed its ability to increase EAAT2/GLT1 gene expression and functional glutamate uptake activity. We next tested its efficacy in both wild type animals and in an ALS animal model of disease and demonstrated that harmine effectively increased GLT-1 protein and glutamate transporter activity in vivo. Our studies provide potential novel neurotherapeutics by modulating the activity of glutamate transporters via gene activation.
PMCID: PMC3220934  PMID: 21034752
harmine; GLT-1; EAAT2; glutamate transporter; astroglia; ALS
8.  Glycine- and GABA-mimetic Actions of Shilajit on the Substantia Gelatinosa Neurons of the Trigeminal Subnucleus Caudalis in Mice 
Shilajit, a medicine herb commonly used in Ayurveda, has been reported to contain at least 85 minerals in ionic form that act on a variety of chemical, biological, and physical stressors. The substantia gelatinosa (SG) neurons of the trigeminal subnucleus caudalis (Vc) are involved in orofacial nociceptive processing. Shilajit has been reported to be an injury and muscular pain reliever but there have been few functional studies of the effect of Shilajit on the SG neurons of the Vc. Therefore, whole cell and gramicidin-perfotrated patch clamp studies were performed to examine the action mechanism of Shilajit on the SG neurons of Vc from mouse brainstem slices. In the whole cell patch clamp mode, Shilajit induced short-lived and repeatable inward currents under the condition of a high chloride pipette solution on all the SG neurons tested. The Shilajit-induced inward currents were concentration dependent and maintained in the presence of tetrodotoxin (TTX), a voltage gated Na+ channel blocker, CNQX, a non-NMDA glutamate receptor antagonist, and AP5, an NMDA receptor antagonist. The Shilajit-induced responses were partially suppressed by picrotoxin, a GABAA receptor antagonist, and totally blocked in the presence of strychnine, a glycine receptor antagonist, however not affected by mecamylamine hydrochloride (MCH), a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist. Under the potassium gluconate pipette solution at holding potential 0 mV, Shilajit induced repeatable outward current. These results show that Shilajit has inhibitory effects on the SG neurons of Vc through chloride ion channels by activation of the glycine receptor and GABAA receptor, indicating that Shilajit contains sedating ingredients for the central nervous system. These results also suggest that Shilajit may be a potential target for modulating orofacial pain processing.
PMCID: PMC3222798  PMID: 22128261
Substantia gelatinosa neurons; Shilajit; Patch clamp; Glycine receptor; GABAA receptor
9.  Status of intestinal parasite infections among children in Bat Dambang, Cambodia 
A survey was conducted to determine the extent of intestinal parasite infection in Bat Dambang, Cambodia in March 2004. A total of 623 fecal specimens was collected from kindergarten and schoolchildren and examined using the formalin-ether sedimentation technique. The overall infection rate of intestinal parasites was 25.7% (boys, 26.2%; girls, 25.1%), and the infection rates of intestinal helminthes by species were as follows: Echinostoma sp. 4.8%, hookworm 3.4%, Hymenolepis nana 1.3%, and Rhabditis sp. 1.3%. The infection rates of intestinal protozoa were; Entamoeba coli 4.8%, Giardia lamblia 2.9%, Iodamoeba butschlii 1.4%, Entamoeba polecki 1.1%, and Entamoeba histolytica 0.8%. There were no egg positive cases of Ascaris lumbricoides or Trichuris trichiura. All children infected were treated with albendazole, praziquantel, or metronidazole according to parasite species. The results showed that intestinal parasites are highly endemic in Bat Dambang, Cambodia.
PMCID: PMC2717386  PMID: 15591838
Cambodia; intestinal parasites; children
10.  Susceptibility of several strains of mice to Echinostoma hortense infection 
Susceptibilities of 5 different mice strains, including C3H/HeN, BALB/c, C57BL6, FvB and ICR, to Echinostoma hortense infection, was evaluated. The worm expulsion rate, worm size and egg production were observed from 1 to 8 weeks after infection with 30 metacercariae. C3H/HeN and ICR mice showed the highest worm maturation rates. The worm recovery rate and the number of eggs per gram (EPG) of feces was also higher in C3H/HeN and ICR mice than in BALB/c, C57BL6, and FvB mice. It is suggested that E. hortense is highly infectious to ICR and C3H/HeN mice, but not to the other strains of mice. Based on the results obtained, we believe that the susceptibility of different mouse strains to E. hortense infection is dependent on the genetic and immunologic background of mice.
PMCID: PMC2717341  PMID: 15181343
Echinostoma; immune; mice; infection

Results 1-10 (10)