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1.  Functional selectivity and time-dependence of μ-opioid receptor desensitization at nerve terminals in the mouse ventral tegmental area 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;172(2):469-481.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
The majority of studies examining desensitization of the μ-opioid receptor (MOR) have examined those located at cell bodies. However, MORs are extensively expressed at nerve terminals throughout the mammalian nervous system. This study is designed to investigate agonist-induced MOR desensitization at nerve terminals in the mouse ventral tegmental area (VTA).
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH
MOR function was measured in mature mouse brain slices containing the VTA using whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology. Presynaptic MOR function was isolated from postsynaptic function and the functional selectivity, time-dependence and mechanisms of agonist-induced MOR desensitization were examined.
KEY RESULTS
MORs located at GABAergic nerve terminals in the VTA were completely resistant to rapid desensitization induced by the high-efficacy agonists DAMGO and Met-enkephalin. MORs located postsynaptically on GABAergic cell bodies readily underwent rapid desensitization in response to DAMGO. However, after prolonged (>7 h) treatment with Met-enkephalin, profound homologous MOR desensitization was observed. Morphine could induce rapid MOR desensitization at nerve terminals when PKC was activated.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
Agonist-induced MOR desensitization in GABAergic neurons in the VTA is compartment-selective as well as agonist-selective. When MORs are located at cell bodies, higher-efficacy agonists induce greater levels of rapid desensitization than lower-efficacy agonists. However, the converse is true at nerve terminals where agonists that induce MOR desensitization via PKC are capable of rapid agonist-induced desensitization while higher-efficacy agonists are not. MOR desensitization induced by higher-efficacy agonists at nerve terminals only takes place after prolonged receptor activation.
LINKED ARTICLES
This article is part of a themed section on Opioids: New Pathways to Functional Selectivity. To view the other articles in this section visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2015.172.issue-2
doi:10.1111/bph.12605
PMCID: PMC4292961  PMID: 24467517
morphine; PKC; GPCR kinase (GRK); opioid; opiate; desensitization; tolerance; nerve terminal; ventral tegmental area (VTA)
2.  Activation of the δ-opioid receptor promotes cutaneous wound healing by affecting keratinocyte intercellular adhesion and migration 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;172(2):501-514.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
In addition to its analgesic functions, the peripheral opioid receptor system affects skin homeostasis by influencing cell differentiation, migration and adhesion; also, wound healing is altered in δ-opioid receptor knockout mice (DOPr–/–). Hence, we investigated δ-opioid receptor effects on the expression of several proteins of the desmosomal junction complex and on the migratory behaviour of keratinocytes.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH
Expression levels of desmosomal cadherins in wild-type and DOPr–/– mice, and the morphology of intercellular adhesion in human keratinocytes were analysed by immunofluorescence. To investigate the δ-opioid receptor activation pathway, protein expression was studied using Western blot and its effect on cellular migration determined by in vitro live cell migration recordings from human keratinocytes.
KEY RESULTS
Expression of the desmosomal cadherins, desmogleins 1 and 4, was up-regulated in skin from DOPr–/– mice, and down-regulated in δ-opioid receptor-overexpressing human keratinocytes. The localization of desmoplakin expression was rearranged from linear arrays emanating from cell borders to puncta in cell periphery, resulting in less stable intercellular adhesion. Migration and wound recovery were enhanced in human keratinocyte monolayers overexpressing δ-opioid receptors in vitro. These δ-opioid receptor effects were antagonized by specific PKCα/β inhibition indicating they were mediated through the PKC signalling pathway. Finally, cells overexpressing δ-opioid receptors developed characteristically long but undirected protrusions containing filamentous actin and δ-opioid receptors, indicating an enhanced migratory phenotype.
CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS
Opioid receptors affect intercellular adhesion and wound healing mechanisms, underlining the importance of a cutaneous neuroendocrine system in wound healing and skin homeostasis.
LINKED ARTICLES
This article is part of a themed section on Opioids: New Pathways to Functional Selectivity. To view the other articles in this section visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2015.172.issue-2
doi:10.1111/bph.12687
PMCID: PMC4292964  PMID: 24628261
δ-opioid receptor; intercellular adhesion; migration; wound healing
3.  Prolonged morphine treatment alters δ opioid receptor post-internalization trafficking 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;172(2):615-629.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
The δ opioid receptor (DOP receptor) undergoes internalization both constitutively and in response to agonists. Previous work has shown that DOP receptors traffic from intracellular compartments to neuronal cell membranes following prolonged morphine treatment. Here, we examined the effects of prolonged morphine treatment on the post-internalization trafficking of DOP receptors.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH
Using primary cultures of dorsal root ganglia neurons, we measured the co-localization of endogenous DOP receptors with post-endocytic compartments following both prolonged and acute agonist treatments.
KEY RESULTS
A departure from the constitutive trafficking pathway was observed following acute DOP receptor agonist-induced internalization by deltorphin II. That is, the DOP receptor underwent distinct agonist-induced post-endocytic sorting. Following prolonged morphine treatment, constitutive DOP receptor trafficking was augmented. SNC80 following prolonged morphine treatment also caused non-constitutive DOP receptor agonist-induced post-endocytic sorting. The μ opioid receptor (MOP receptor) agonist DAMGO induced DOP receptor internalization and trafficking following prolonged morphine treatment. Finally, all of the alterations to DOP receptor trafficking induced by both DOP and MOP receptor agonists were inhibited or absent when those agonists were co-administered with a DOP receptor antagonist, SDM-25N.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
The results support the hypothesis that prolonged morphine treatment induces the formation of MOP–DOP receptor interactions and subsequent augmentation of the available cell surface DOP receptors, at least some of which are in the form of a MOP/DOP receptor species. The pharmacology and trafficking of this species appear to be unique compared to those of its individual constituents.
LINKED ARTICLES
This article is part of a themed section on Opioids: New Pathways to Functional Selectivity. To view the other articles in this section visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2015.172.issue-2
doi:10.1111/bph.12761
PMCID: PMC4292973  PMID: 24819092
δ opioid receptor; μ opioid receptor; trafficking; internalization; dorsal root ganglia; morphine; DAMGO; deltorphin II; SNC80; SDM-25N
4.  Anti-nociception mediated by a κ opioid receptor agonist is blocked by a δ receptor agonist 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;172(2):691-703.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
The opioid receptor family comprises four structurally homologous but functionally distinct sub-groups, the μ (MOP), δ (DOP), κ (KOP) and nociceptin (NOP) receptors. As most opioid agonists are selective but not specific, a broad spectrum of behaviours due to activation of different opioid receptors is expected. In this study, we examine whether other opioid receptor systems influenced KOP-mediated antinociception.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH
We used a tail withdrawal assay in C57Bl/6 mice to assay the antinociceptive effect of systemically administered opioid agonists with varying selectivity at KOP receptors. Pharmacological and genetic approaches were used to analyse the interactions of the other opioid receptors in modulating KOP-mediated antinociception.
KEY RESULTS
Etorphine, a potent agonist at all four opioid receptors, was not anti-nociceptive in MOP knockout (KO) mice, although etorphine is an efficacious KOP receptor agonist and specific KOP receptor agonists remain analgesic in MOP KO mice. As KOP receptor agonists are aversive, we considered KOP-mediated antinociception might be a form of stress-induced analgesia that is blocked by the anxiolytic effects of DOP receptor agonists. In support of this hypothesis, pretreatment with the DOP antagonist, naltrindole (10 mg·kg−1), unmasked etorphine (3 mg·kg−1) antinociception in MOP KO mice. Further, in wild-type mice, KOP-mediated antinociception by systemic U50,488H (10 mg·kg−1) was blocked by pretreatment with the DOP agonist SNC80 (5 mg·kg−1) and diazepam (1 mg·kg−1).
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
Systemic DOP receptor agonists blocked systemic KOP antinociception, and these results identify DOP receptor agonists as potential agents for reversing stress-driven addictive and depressive behaviours mediated through KOP receptor activation.
LINKED ARTICLES
This article is part of a themed section on Opioids: New Pathways to Functional Selectivity. To view the other articles in this section visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2015.172.issue-2
doi:10.1111/bph.12810
PMCID: PMC4292979  PMID: 24923251
5.  The behavioural response of mice lacking NK1 receptors to guanfacine resembles its clinical profile in treatment of ADHD 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(20):4785-4796.
Background and Purpose
Mice with functional ablation of substance P-preferring neurokinin-1 receptors (NK1R−/− mice) display behavioural abnormalities resembling those in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Here, we investigated whether the ADHD treatment, guanfacine, alleviated the hyperactivity and impulsivity/inattention displayed by NK1R−/− mice in the light/dark exploration box (LDEB) and 5-choice serial reaction–time task (5-CSRTT), respectively. Following reports of co-morbid anxiety in ADHD, we also investigated effects of guanfacine on anxiety-like behaviour displayed by NK1R−/− and wild-type (WT) mice in the elevated plus maze (EPM).
Experimental Approach
Mice were treated with guanfacine (0.1, 0.3 or 1.0 mg·kg−1, i.p.), vehicle or no injection and tested in the 5-CSRTT or the LDEB. Only the lowest dose of guanfacine was used in the EPM assays.
Key Results
In the 5-CSRTT, a low dose of guanfacine (0.1 mg·kg−1) increased attention in NK1R−/− mice, but not in WT mice. This dose did not affect the total number of trials completed, latencies to respond or locomotor activity in the LDEB. Impulsivity was decreased by the high dose (1.0 mg·kg−1) of guanfacine, but this was evident in both genotypes and is likely to be secondary to a generalized blunting of behaviour. Although the NK1R−/− mice displayed marked anxiety-like behaviour, guanfacine did not affect the behaviour of either genotype in the EPM.
Conclusions and Implications
This evidence that guanfacine improves attention at a dose that did not affect arousal or emotionality supports our proposal that NK1R−/− mice express an attention deficit resembling that of ADHD patients.
Linked Articles
This article is part of a themed section on Animal Models in Psychiatry Research. To view the other articles in this section visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2014.171.issue-20
doi:10.1111/bph.12860
PMCID: PMC4209942  PMID: 25074741
6.  Multimodal antidepressant vortioxetine increases frontal cortical oscillations unlike escitalopram and duloxetine – a quantitative EEG study in rats 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(18):4255-4272.
Background and Purpose
EEG studies show that 5-HT is involved in regulation of sleep–wake state and modulates cortical oscillations. Vortioxetine is a 5-HT3, 5-HT7, and 5-HT1D receptor antagonist, 5-HT1B partial agonist, 5-HT1A agonist, and 5-HT transporter inhibitor. Preclinical (animal) and clinical studies with vortioxetine show positive impact on cognitive metrics involving cortical function. Here we assess vortioxetine's effect on cortical neuronal oscillations in actively awake rats.
Experimental Approach
Telemetric EEG recordings were obtained with the following treatments (mg·kg−1, s.c.): vehicle, vortioxetine (0.1, 1.0, 3.0, 10), 5-HT1A agonist flesinoxan (2.5), 5-HT3 antagonist ondansetron (0.30), 5-HT7 antagonist SB-269970-A (10), escitalopram (2.0), duloxetine (10) and vortioxetine plus flesinoxan. Target occupancies were determined by ex vivo autoradiography.
Key Results
Vortioxetine dose-dependently increased wakefulness. Flesinoxan, duloxetine, ondansetron, but not escitalopram or SB-269970-A increased wakefulness. Quantitative spectral analyses showed vortioxetine alone and with flesinoxan increased θ (4–8 Hz), α (8–12 Hz) and γ (30–50 Hz) power. Duloxetine had no effect on θ and γ, but decreased α power, while escitalopram produced no changes. Ondansetron and SB-269970 (≈31–35% occupancy) increased θ power. Flesinoxan (≈41% occupancy) increased θ and γ power.
Conclusions and Implications
Vortioxetine increased wakefulness and increased frontal cortical activity, most likely because of its 5-HT7 and 5-HT3 antagonism and 5-HT1A agonism. Vortioxetine differs from escitalopram and duloxetine by increasing cortical θ, α and γ oscillations. These preclinical findings suggest a role of vortioxetine in modulating cortical circuits known to be recruited during cognitive behaviours and warrant further investigation as to their clinical impact.
doi:10.1111/bph.12782
PMCID: PMC4241092  PMID: 24846338
7.  Effect of a toggle switch mutation in TM6 of the human adenosine A3 receptor on Gi protein-dependent signalling and Gi-independent receptor internalization 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(16):3827-3844.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
The highly conserved tryptophan (W6.48) in transmembrane domain 6 of GPCRs has been shown to play a central role in forming an active conformation in response to agonist binding. We set out to characterize the effect of this mutation on the efficacy of two agonists at multiple signalling pathways downstream of the adenosine A3 receptor.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH
Residue W6.48 in the human adenosine A3 receptor fused to yellow fluorescent protein was mutated to phenylalanine and expressed in CHO-K1 cells containing a cAMP response element reporter gene. The effects on agonist-mediated receptor internalization were monitored by automated confocal microscopy and image analysis. Further experiments were carried out to investigate agonist-mediated ERK1/2 phosphorylation, inhibition of [3H]-cAMP accumulation and β-arrestin2 binding.
KEY RESULTS
NECA was able to stimulate agonist-mediated internalization of the W6.48F mutant receptor, while the agonist HEMADO was inactive. Investigation of other downstream signalling pathways indicated that G-protein coupling was impaired for both agonists tested. Mutation of W6.48F therefore resulted in differential effects on agonist efficacy, and introduced signalling pathway bias for HEMADO at the adenosine A3 receptor.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
Investigation of the pharmacology of the W6.48F mutant of the adenosine A3 receptor confirms that this region is important in forming the active conformation of the receptor for stimulating a number of different signalling pathways and that mutations in this residue can lead to changes in agonist efficacy and signalling bias.
doi:10.1111/bph.12739
PMCID: PMC4128046  PMID: 24750014
8.  Investigating G protein signalling bias at the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor in yeast 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(15):3651-3665.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
The glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor performs an important role in glycaemic control, stimulating the release of insulin. It is an attractive target for treating type 2 diabetes. Recently, several reports of adverse side effects following prolonged use of GLP-1 receptor therapies have emerged: most likely due to an incomplete understanding of signalling complexities.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH
We describe the expression of the GLP-1 receptor in a panel of modified yeast strains that couple receptor activation to cell growth via single Gα/yeast chimeras. This assay enables the study of individual ligand–receptor G protein coupling preferences and the quantification of the effect of GLP-1 receptor ligands on G protein selectivity.
KEY RESULTS
The GLP-1 receptor functionally coupled to the chimeras representing the human Gαs, Gαi and Gαq subunits. Calculation of the dissociation constant for a receptor antagonist, exendin-3 revealed no significant difference between the two systems. We obtained previously unobserved differences in G protein signalling bias for clinically relevant therapeutic agents, liraglutide and exenatide; the latter displaying significant bias for the Gαi pathway. We extended the use of the system to investigate small-molecule allosteric compounds and the closely related glucagon receptor.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
These results provide a better understanding of the molecular events involved in GLP-1 receptor pleiotropic signalling and establish the yeast platform as a robust tool to screen for more selective, efficacious compounds acting at this important class of receptors in the future.
doi:10.1111/bph.12716
PMCID: PMC4128063  PMID: 24712679
GPCR; glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1); glucagon; diabetes; signal bias; G proteins; liraglutide; exenatide
9.  Revisiting CFTR inhibition: a comparative study of CFTRinh-172 and GlyH-101 inhibitors 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(15):3716-3727.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
For decades, inhibitors of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) chloride channel have been used as tools to investigate the role and function of CFTR conductance in cystic fibrosis research. In the early 2000s, two new and potent inhibitors of CFTR, CFTRinh-172 and GlyH-101, were described and are now widely used to inhibit specifically CFTR. However, despite some evidence, the effects of both drugs on other types of Cl−-conductance have been overlooked. In this context, we explore the specificity and the cellular toxicity of both inhibitors in CFTR-expressing and non–CFTR-expressing cells.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH
Using patch-clamp technique, we tested the effects of CFTRinh-172 and GlyH-101 inhibitors on three distinct types of Cl− currents: the CFTR-like conductance, the volume-sensitive outwardly rectifying Cl− conductance (VSORC) and finally the Ca2+-dependent Cl− conductance (CaCC). We also explored the effect of both inhibitors on cell viability using live/dead and cell proliferation assays in two different cell lines.
KEY RESULTS
We confirmed that these two compounds were potent inhibitors of the CFTR-mediated Cl− conductance. However,GlyH-101 also inhibited the VSORC conductance and the CaCC at concentrations used to inhibit CFTR. The CFTRinh-172 did not affect the CaCC but did inhibit the VSORC, at concentrations higher than 5 µM. Neither inhibitor (20 µM; 24 h exposure) affected cell viability, but both were cytotoxic at higher concentrations.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
Both inhibitors affected Cl− conductances apart from CFTR. Our results provided insights into their use in mouse models.
doi:10.1111/bph.12726
PMCID: PMC4128068  PMID: 24758416
patch-clamp; whole-cell; cystic fibrosis; inhibitors; chloride conductance; chloride channel; CFTR; VSORC; CaCC
10.  Hypoxia augments the calcium-activated chloride current carried by anoctamin-1 in cardiac vascular endothelial cells of neonatal mice 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(15):3680-3692.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
The molecular identity of calcium-activated chloride channels (CaCCs) in vascular endothelial cells remains unknown. This study sought to identify whether anoctamin-1 (Ano1, also known as TMEM16A) functions as a CaCC and whether hypoxia alters the biophysical properties of Ano1 in mouse cardiac vascular endothelial cells (CVECs).
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH
Western blot, quantitative real-time PCR, confocal imaging analysis and patch-clamp analysis combined with pharmacological approaches were used to determine whether Ano1 was expressed and functioned as CaCC in CVECs.
KEY RESULTS
Ano1 was expressed in CVECs. The biophysical properties of the current generated in the CVECs, including the Ca2+ and voltage dependence, outward rectification, anion selectivity and the pharmacological profile, are similar to those described for CaCCs. The density of ICl(Ca) detected in CVECs was significantly inhibited by T16Ainh-A01, an Ano1 inhibitor, and a pore-targeting, specific anti-Ano1 antibody, and was markedly decreased in Ano1 gene knockdown CVECs. The density of ICl(Ca) was significantly potentiated in CVECs exposed to hypoxia, and this hypoxia-induced increase in the density of ICl(Ca) was inhibited by T16Ainh-A01 or anti-Ano1 antibody. Hypoxia also increased the current density of ICl(Ca) in Ano1 gene knockdown CVECs.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
Ano1 formed CaCC in CVECs of neonatal mice. Hypoxia enhances Ano1-mediated ICl(Ca) density via increasing its expression, altering the ratio of its splicing variants, sensitivity to membrane voltage and to Ca2+. Ano1 may play a role in the pathophysiological processes during ischaemia in heart, and therefore, Ano1 might be a potential therapeutic target to prevent ischaemic damage.
doi:10.1111/bph.12730
PMCID: PMC4128065  PMID: 24758567
calcium-activated chloride channels; cardiac vascular endothelial cells; anoctamin; hypoxia
11.  Modulation of imidazoline I2 binding sites by CR4056 relieves postoperative hyperalgesia in male and female rats 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(15):3693-3701.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
CR4056 is a novel imidazoline-2 (I2) ligand exhibiting potent analgesic activity in animal models of pain. In this study, we investigated the effects of CR4056 in a well-established model of postoperative pain where rats develop hyperalgesia in the injured hind paw.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH
By measuring paw withdrawal threshold to mechanical pressure, we studied the pharmacology of CR4056, potential sex differences in pain perception and response to treatment, and the pharmacodynamic interaction of CR4056 with morphine.
KEY RESULTS
Oral CR4056 and subcutaneous morphine dose-dependently reversed the hyperalgesic response. Analgesic effects of CR4056 were completely suppressed by the non-selective imidazoline I2/α2-adrenoceptor antagonist idazoxan, were partially reduced (∼30%; P < 0.05) by the selective α2-adrenoceptor antagonist yohimbine, but were not influenced by the non-selective I1/α2-adrenoceptor antagonist efaroxan or by the μ opioid receptor antagonist naloxone. We found no differences in responses to CR4056 or morphine between male and female rats. However, females had a lower pain threshold than males, and needed lower doses of drugs to reach a significant analgesia. When CR4056 and morphine were combined, their median effective doses were lower than expected for additive effects, both in males and in females. Isobolographic analysis confirmed a synergism between CR4056 and morphine.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
CR4056 is a novel pharmacological agent under development for postoperative pain both as stand-alone treatment and in association with morphine. CR4056 has successfully completed Phase I studies for tolerability and pharmacokinetics in healthy volunteers, and is currently entering the first proof-of-concept study in patients.
doi:10.1111/bph.12728
PMCID: PMC4128066  PMID: 24758515
CR4056; imidazoline-2 receptors; postoperative pain; drug synergism; sex differences
12.  Varenicline decreases ethanol intake and increases dopamine release via neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the nucleus accumbens 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(14):3420-3431.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Varenicline, a neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) modulator, decreases ethanol consumption in rodents and humans. The proposed mechanism of action for varenicline to reduce ethanol consumption has been through modulation of dopamine (DA) release in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) via α4*-containing nAChRs in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). However, presynaptic nAChRs on dopaminergic terminals in the NAc have been shown to directly modulate dopaminergic signalling independently of neuronal activity from the VTA. In this study, we determined whether nAChRs in the NAc play a role in varenicline's effects on ethanol consumption.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH
Rats were trained to consume ethanol using the intermittent-access two-bottle choice protocol for 10 weeks. Ethanol intake was measured after varenicline or vehicle was microinfused into the NAc (core, shell or core-shell border) or the VTA (anterior or posterior). The effect of varenicline treatment on DA release in the NAc was measured using both in vivo microdialysis and in vitro fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV).
KEY RESULTS
Microinfusion of varenicline into the NAc core and core-shell border, but not into the NAc shell or VTA, reduced ethanol intake following long-term ethanol consumption. During microdialysis, a significant enhancement in accumbal DA release occurred following systemic administration of varenicline and FSCV showed that varenicline also altered the evoked release of DA in the NAc.
CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS
Following long-term ethanol consumption, varenicline in the NAc reduces ethanol intake, suggesting that presynaptic nAChRs in the NAc are important for mediating varenicline's effects on ethanol consumption.
doi:10.1111/bph.12690
PMCID: PMC4105930  PMID: 24628360
nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs); varenicline; alcohol; dopamine; fast-scan cyclic voltammetry; in vivo microdialysis; microinfusion; ethanol
13.  The pharmacokinetics of anthocyanins and their metabolites in humans 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(13):3268-3282.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Anthocyanins are phytochemicals with reported vasoactive bioactivity. However, given their instability at neutral pH, they are presumed to undergo significant degradation and subsequent biotransformation. The aim of the present study was to establish the pharmacokinetics of the metabolites of cyanidin-3-glucoside (C3G), a widely consumed dietary phytochemical with potential cardioprotective properties.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH
A 500 mg oral bolus dose of 6,8,10,3′,5′-13C5-C3G was fed to eight healthy male participants, followed by a 48 h collection (0, 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 6, 24, 48 h) of blood, urine and faecal samples. Samples were analysed by HPLC-ESI-MS/MS with elimination kinetics established using non-compartmental pharmacokinetic modelling.
KEY RESULTS
Seventeen 13C-labelled compounds were identified in the serum, including 13C5-C3G, its degradation products, protocatechuic acid (PCA) and phloroglucinaldehyde (PGA), 13 metabolites of PCA and 1 metabolite derived from PGA. The maximal concentrations of the phenolic metabolites (Cmax) ranged from 10 to 2000 nM, between 2 and 30 h (tmax) post-consumption, with half-lives of elimination observed between 0.5 and 96 h. The major phenolic metabolites identified were hippuric acid and ferulic acid, which peaked in the serum at approximately 16 and 8 h respectively.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
Anthocyanins are metabolized to a structurally diverse range of metabolites that exhibit dynamic kinetic profiles. Understanding the elimination kinetics of these metabolites is key to the design of future studies examining their utility in dietary interventions or as therapeutics for disease risk reduction.
doi:10.1111/bph.12676
PMCID: PMC4080980  PMID: 24602005
anthocyanins; metabolites; hippuric acid; ferulic acid; vanillic acid
14.  Intrinsic defence capacity and therapeutic potential of natriuretic peptides in pulmonary hypertension associated with lung fibrosis 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(14):3463-3475.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive fibro-proliferative disorder refractory to current therapy commonly complicated by the development of pulmonary hypertension (PH); the associated morbidity and mortality are substantial. Natriuretic peptides possess vasodilator and anti-fibrotic actions, and pharmacological augmentation of their bioactivity ameliorates renal and myocardial fibrosis. Here, we investigated whether natriuretic peptides possess an intrinsic cytoprotective function preventing the development of pulmonary fibrosis and associated PH, and whether therapeutics targeting natriuretic peptide signalling demonstrate efficacy in this life-threatening disorder.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH
Pulmonary haemodynamics, right ventricular function and markers of lung fibrosis were determined in wild-type (WT) and natriuretic peptide receptor (NPR)-A knockout (KO) mice exposed to bleomycin (1 mg·kg−1). Human myofibroblast differentiation was studied in vitro.
KEY RESULTS
Exacerbated cardiac, vascular and fibrotic pathology was observed in NPR-A KO animals, compared with WT mice, exposed to bleomycin. Treatment with a drug combination that raised circulating natriuretic peptide levels (ecadotril) and potentiated natriuretic peptide-dependent signalling (sildenafil) reduced indices of disease progression, whether administered prophylactically or to animals with established lung disease. This positive pharmacodynamic effect was diminished in NPR-A KO mice. Atrial natriuretic peptide and sildenafil synergistically reduced TGFβ-induced human myofibroblast differentiation, a key driver of remodelling in IPF patients.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
These data highlight an endogenous host-defence capacity of natriuretic peptides in lung fibrosis and PH. A combination of ecadotril and sildenafil reversed the pulmonary haemodynamic aberrations and remodelling that characterize the disease, advocating therapeutic manipulation of natriuretic peptide bioactivity in patients with IPF.
doi:10.1111/bph.12694
PMCID: PMC4105933  PMID: 24641440
natriuretic peptide; neutral endopeptidase; guanylyl cyclase; cyclic GMP; pulmonary hypertension; phosphodiesterase; bleomycin
15.  Interactions of antagonists with subtypes of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) receptor 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(13):3298-3312.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (IP3Rs) are intracellular Ca2+ channels. Interactions of the commonly used antagonists of IP3Rs with IP3R subtypes are poorly understood.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH
IP3-evoked Ca2+ release from permeabilized DT40 cells stably expressing single subtypes of mammalian IP3R was measured using a luminal Ca2+ indicator. The effects of commonly used antagonists on IP3-evoked Ca2+ release and 3H-IP3 binding were characterized.
KEY RESULTS
Functional analyses showed that heparin was a competitive antagonist of all IP3R subtypes with different affinities for each (IP3R3 > IP3R1 ≥ IP3R2). This sequence did not match the affinities for heparin binding to the isolated N-terminal from each IP3R subtype. 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate (2-APB) and high concentrations of caffeine selectively inhibited IP3R1 without affecting IP3 binding. Neither Xestospongin C nor Xestospongin D effectively inhibited IP3-evoked Ca2+ release via any IP3R subtype.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
Heparin competes with IP3, but its access to the IP3-binding core is substantially hindered by additional IP3R residues. These interactions may contribute to its modest selectivity for IP3R3. Practicable concentrations of caffeine and 2-APB inhibit only IP3R1. Xestospongins do not appear to be effective antagonists of IP3Rs.
doi:10.1111/bph.12685
PMCID: PMC4080982  PMID: 24628114
antagonist; 2-APB; caffeine; Ca2+ signal; DT40 cell; heparin; inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate; IP3 receptor; structure–activity relationship; Xestospongin
16.  Epac and the high affinity rolipram binding conformer of PDE4 modulate neurite outgrowth and myelination using an in vitro spinal cord injury model 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(9):2385-2398.
Background and Purpose
cAMP and pharmacological inhibition of PDE4, which degrades it, are promising therapeutic targets for the treatment of spinal cord injury (SCI). Using our previously described in vitro SCI model, we studied the mechanisms by which cAMP modulators promote neurite outgrowth and myelination using enantiomers of the PDE4-specific inhibitor rolipram and other modulators of downstream signalling effectors.
Experimental Approach
Rat mixed neural cell myelinating cultures were cut with a scalpel and treated with enantiomers of the PDE4-specific inhibitor rolipram, Epac agonists and PKA antagonists. Neurite outgrowth, density and myelination were assessed by immunocytochemistry and cytokine levels analysed by qPCR.
Key Results
Inhibition of the high-affinity rolipram-binding state (HARBS), rather than the low-affinity rolipram binding state (LARBS) PDE4 conformer promoted neurite outgrowth and myelination. These effects were mediated through the activation of Epac and not through PKA. Expression of the chemokine CXCL10, known to inhibit myelination, was markedly elevated in astrocytes after Rho inhibition and this was blocked by inhibition of Rho kinase or PDE4.
Conclusions and Implications
PDE4 inhibitors targeted at the HARBS conformer or Epac agonists may provide promising novel targets for the treatment of SCI. Our study demonstrates the differential mechanisms of action of these compounds, as well as the benefit of a combined pharmacological approach and highlighting potential promising targets for the treatment of SCI. These findings need to be confirmed in vivo.
doi:10.1111/bph.12588
PMCID: PMC3997278  PMID: 24467222
cAMP; Epac; neurite outgrowth; PDE4; spinal cord injury; myelination
17.  Naringenin inhibits the growth of Dictyostelium and MDCK-derived cysts in a TRPP2 (polycystin-2)-dependent manner 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(10):2659-2670.
Background and Purpose
Identifying and characterizing potential new therapeutic agents to target cell proliferation may provide improved treatments for neoplastic disorders such as cancer and polycystic diseases.
Experimental Approach
We used the simple, tractable biomedical model Dictyostelium to investigate the molecular mechanism of naringenin, a dietary flavonoid with antiproliferative and chemopreventive actions in vitro and in animal models of carcinogenesis. We then translated these results to a mammalian kidney model, Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) tubule cells, grown in culture and as cysts in a collagen matrix.
Key Results
Naringenin inhibited Dictyostelium growth, but not development. Screening of a library of random gene knockout mutants identified a mutant lacking TRPP2 (polycystin-2) that was resistant to the effect of naringenin on growth and random cell movement. TRPP2 is a divalent transient receptor potential cation channel, where mutations in the protein give rise to type 2 autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). Naringenin inhibited MDCK cell growth and inhibited cyst growth. Knockdown of TRPP2 levels by siRNA in this model conferred partial resistance to naringenin such that cysts treated with 3 and 10 μM naringenin were larger following TRPP2 knockdown compared with controls. Naringenin did not affect chloride secretion.
Conclusions and Implications
The action of naringenin on cell growth in the phylogenetically diverse systems of Dictyostelium and mammalian kidney cells, suggests a conserved effect mediated by TRPP2 (polycystin-2). Further studies will investigate naringenin as a potential new therapeutic agent in ADPKD.
Linked Articles
This article is part of a themed section on the pharmacology of TRP channels. To view the other articles in this section visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2014.171.issue-10
doi:10.1111/bph.12443
PMCID: PMC4009007  PMID: 24116661
polycystic kidney disease; polycystin-2; naringenin; Dictyostelium; polyphenol; cell growth
18.  Development of pharmacological strategies for mitochondrial disorders 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(8):1798-1817.
Mitochondrial diseases are an unusually genetically and phenotypically heterogeneous group of disorders, which are extremely challenging to treat. Currently, apart from supportive therapy, there are no effective treatments for the vast majority of mitochondrial diseases. Huge scientific effort, however, is being put into understanding the mechanisms underlying mitochondrial disease pathology and developing potential treatments. To date, a variety of treatments have been evaluated by randomized clinical trials, but unfortunately, none of these has delivered breakthrough results. Increased understanding of mitochondrial pathways and the development of many animal models, some of which are accurate phenocopies of human diseases, are facilitating the discovery and evaluation of novel prospective treatments. Targeting reactive oxygen species has been a treatment of interest for many years; however, only in recent years has it been possible to direct antioxidant delivery specifically into the mitochondria. Increasing mitochondrial biogenesis, whether by pharmacological approaches, dietary manipulation or exercise therapy, is also currently an active area of research. Modulating mitochondrial dynamics and mitophagy and the mitochondrial membrane lipid milieu have also emerged as possible treatment strategies. Recent technological advances in gene therapy, including allotopic and transkingdom gene expression and mitochondrially targeted transcription activator-like nucleases, have led to promising results in cell and animal models of mitochondrial diseases, but most of these techniques are still far from clinical application.
Linked Articles
This article is part of a themed issue on Mitochondrial Pharmacology: Energy, Injury & Beyond. To view the other articles in this issue visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2014.171.issue-8
doi:10.1111/bph.12456
PMCID: PMC3976606  PMID: 24116962
mitochondrial diseases; models for mitochondrial disorders; treatments for mitochondrial disorders; clinical trials for mitochondrial disorders; nutritional and cofactor support in mitochondrial disorders; mitochondrial biogenesis; gene therapy for mitochondrial diseases
19.  Mitochondrial fusion and fission proteins: novel therapeutic targets for combating cardiovascular disease 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(8):1890-1906.
Mitochondria are no longer considered to be solely the static powerhouses of the cell. While they are undoubtedly essential to sustaining life and meeting the energy requirements of the cell through oxidative phosphorylation, they are now regarded as highly dynamic organelles with multiple funtions, playing key roles in cell survival and death. In this review, we discuss the emerging role of mitochondrial fusion and fission proteins, as novel therapeutic targets for treating a wide range of cardiovascular diseases.
Linked Articles
This article is part of a themed issue on Mitochondrial Pharmacology: Energy, Injury & Beyond. To view the other articles in this issue visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2014.171.issue-8
doi:10.1111/bph.12516
PMCID: PMC3976611  PMID: 24328763
mitochondrial fusion; mitochondrial fission; MFN1; MFN2; Drp1; OPA1; mitochondrial morphology; mitochondrial dynamics
20.  Quality control gone wrong: mitochondria, lysosomal storage disorders and neurodegeneration 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(8):1958-1972.
The eukaryotic cell possesses specialized pathways to turn over and degrade redundant proteins and organelles. Each pathway is unique and responsible for degradation of distinctive cytosolic material. The ubiquitin-proteasome system and autophagy (chaperone-mediated, macro, micro and organelle specific) act synergistically to maintain proteostasis. Defects in this equilibrium can be deleterious at cellular and organism level, giving rise to various disease states. Dysfunction of quality control pathways are implicated in neurodegenerative diseases and appear particularly important in Parkinson's disease and the lysosomal storage disorders. Neurodegeneration resulting from impaired degradation of ubiquitinated proteins and α-synuclein is often accompanied by mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondria have evolved to control a diverse number of processes, including cellular energy production, calcium signalling and apoptosis, and like every other organelle within the cell, they must be ‘recycled.’ Failure to do so is potentially lethal as these once indispensible organelles become destructive, leaking reactive oxygen species and activating the intrinsic cell death pathway. This process is paramount in neurons which have an absolute dependence on mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation as they cannot up-regulate glycolysis. As such, mitochondrial bioenergetic failure can underpin neural death and neurodegenerative disease. In this review, we discuss the links between cellular quality control and neurodegenerative diseases associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, with particular attention to the emerging links between Parkinson's and Gaucher diseases in which defective quality control is a defining factor.
LINKED ARTICLES
This article is part of a themed issue on Mitochondrial Pharmacology: Energy, Injury & Beyond. To view the other articles in this issue visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2014.171.issue-8
doi:10.1111/bph.12453
PMCID: PMC3976615  PMID: 24116849
mitochondria; neurodegeneration; autophagy; ubiquitin-proteasome system; lysosome; lysosomal storage disorders; Parkinson's disease; Gaucher disease
21.  Impact of intracellular domain flexibility upon properties of activated human 5-HT3 receptors* 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(7):1617-1628.
Background and Purpose
It has been proposed that arginine residues lining the intracellular portals of the homomeric 5-HT3A receptor cause electrostatic repulsion of cation flow, accounting for a single-channel conductance substantially lower than that of the 5-HT3AB heteromer. However, comparison of receptor homology models for wild-type pentamers suggests that salt bridges in the intracellular domain of the homomer may impart structural rigidity, and we hypothesized that this rigidity could account for the low conductance.
Experimental Approach
Mutations were introduced into the portal region of the human 5-HT3A homopentamer, such that putative salt bridges were broken by neutralizing anionic partners. Single-channel and whole cell currents were measured in transfected tsA201 cells and in Xenopus oocytes respectively. Computational simulations of protein flexibility facilitated comparison of wild-type and mutant receptors.
Key Results
Single-channel conductance was increased substantially, often to wild-type heteromeric receptor values, in most 5-HT3A mutants. Conversely, introduction of arginine residues to the portal region of the heteromer, conjecturally creating salt bridges, decreased conductance. Gating kinetics varied significantly between different mutant receptors. EC50 values for whole-cell responses to 5-HT remained largely unchanged, but Hill coefficients for responses to 5-HT were usually significantly smaller in mutants. Computational simulations suggested increased flexibility throughout the protein structure as a consequence of mutations in the intracellular domain.
Conclusions and Implications
These data support a role for intracellular salt bridges in maintaining the quaternary structure of the 5-HT3 receptor and suggest a role for the intracellular domain in allosteric modulation of cooperativity and agonist efficacy.
Linked Article
This article is commented on by Vardy and Kenakin, pp. 1614–1616 of volume 171 issue 7. To view this commentary visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.12550.
doi:10.1111/bph.12536
PMCID: PMC3966743  PMID: 24283776
5-HT3 receptor; ligand-gated ion channels; electrophysiology; single-channel conductance; intracellular domain; allostery; cooperativity; constrained geometric simulation
22.  Unravelling mitochondrial pathways to Parkinson's disease 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(8):1943-1957.
Mitochondria are essential for cellular function due to their role in ATP production, calcium homeostasis and apoptotic signalling. Neurons are heavily reliant on mitochondrial integrity for their complex signalling, plasticity and excitability properties, and to ensure cell survival over decades. The maintenance of a pool of healthy mitochondria that can meet the bioenergetic demands of a neuron, is therefore of critical importance; this is achieved by maintaining a careful balance between mitochondrial biogenesis, mitochondrial trafficking, mitochondrial dynamics and mitophagy. The molecular mechanisms that underlie these processes are gradually being elucidated. It is widely recognized that mitochondrial dysfunction occurs in many neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease. Mitochondrial dysfunction in the form of reduced bioenergetic capacity, increased oxidative stress and reduced resistance to stress, is observed in several Parkinson's disease models. However, identification of the recessive genes implicated in Parkinson's disease has revealed a common pathway involving mitochondrial dynamics, transport, turnover and mitophagy. This body of work has led to the hypothesis that the homeostatic mechanisms that ensure a healthy mitochondrial pool are key to neuronal function and integrity. In this paradigm, impaired mitochondrial dynamics and clearance result in the accumulation of damaged and dysfunctional mitochondria, which may directly induce neuronal dysfunction and death. In this review, we consider the mechanisms by which mitochondrial dysfunction may lead to neurodegeneration. In particular, we focus on the mechanisms that underlie mitochondrial homeostasis, and discuss their importance in neuronal integrity and neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease.
LINKED ARTICLES
This article is part of a themed issue on Mitochondrial Pharmacology: Energy, Injury & Beyond. To view the other articles in this issue visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2014.171.issue-8
doi:10.1111/bph.12433
PMCID: PMC3976614  PMID: 24117181
mitochondria; Parkinson's disease; mitophagy; free radicals; respiratory chain; PINK1; PARKIN; oxidative stress; calcium
23.  The expression and function of midkine in the vertebrate retina 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(4):913-923.
The functional role of midkine during development, following injury and in disease has been studied in a variety of tissues. In this review, we summarize what is known about midkine in the vertebrate retina, focusing largely on recent studies utilizing the zebrafish (Danio rerio) as an animal model. Zebrafish are a valuable animal model for studying the retina, due to its very rapid development and amazing ability for functional neuronal regeneration following neuronal cell death. The zebrafish genome harbours two midkine paralogues, midkine-a (mdka) and midkine-b (mdkb), which, during development, are expressed in nested patterns among different cell types. mdka is expressed in the retinal progenitors and mdkb is expressed in newly post-mitotic cells. Interestingly, studies of loss-and gain-of-function in zebrafish larvae indicate that midkine-a regulates cell cycle kinetics. Moreover, both mdka and mdkb are expressed in different cell types in the normal adult zebrafish retina, but after light-induced death of photoreceptors, both are up-regulated and expressed in proliferating Müller glia and photoreceptor progenitors, suggesting an important and (perhaps) coincident role for these cytokines during stem cell-based neuronal regeneration. Based on its known role in other tissues and the expression and function of the midkine paralogues in the zebrafish retina, we propose that midkine has an important functional role both during development and regeneration in the retina. Further studies are needed to understand this role and the mechanisms that underlie it.
Linked Articles
This article is part of a themed section on Midkine. To view the other articles in this section visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2014.171.issue-4
doi:10.1111/bph.12495
PMCID: PMC3925030  PMID: 24460673
development; regeneration; zebrafish; mdka; mdkb; Müller glia; light-lesion; neurogenesis; id2a
24.  Midkine in repair of the injured nervous system 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(4):924-930.
Midkine (MK) is a growth factor with neurotrophic and neurite outgrowth activities. It was expressed in the peri-ischaemic area in the acute phase of cerebral infarction in rat brains. Astrocytes were the origin of MK in this occasion. MK has been assessed in terms of its effects on neural injury. The administration of MK into the lateral ventricle immediately prior to ischaemia prevented cell death in the hippocampal CA1 neurons degenerated by transient forebrain ischaemia in gerbils. MK administration was also beneficial in rats with neural injury, especially after kainic acid-induced seizures. Gene therapy with mouse MK cDNA using an adenovirus was effective in reducing the cerebral infarction volume and in increasing the number of neuronal precursor cells in the subventricular zone of the rat brain. MK mRNA and MK protein were found in spinal cord motor neurons of the anterior horn in both the acute phase of sciatic nerve injury and 3 weeks later. MK immunoreactivity was also found in the proximal side of a sciatic nerve-injured site in sciatic nerve axons. MK receptors were expressed in Schwann cells after injury, suggesting crosstalk between axons and Schwann cells. MK was also present in nerve terminals and influenced ACh receptor clustering during neuromuscular development in Xenopus. Thus, MK may also be involved in reinforcing and maintaining the synapse. All these findings indicate the therapeutic potential of MK for promoting repair of the nervous system after injury.
Linked Articles
This article is part of a themed section on Midkine. To view the other articles in this section visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2014.171.issue-4
doi:10.1111/bph.12497
PMCID: PMC3925031  PMID: 24460674
cerebral infarction; midkine; muscular injury; nerve injury; neurotrophic factor; sciatic nerve
25.  Stoichiometry of δ subunit containing GABAA receptors 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(4):985-994.
Background and Purpose
Although the stoichiometry of the major synaptic αβγ subunit-containing GABAA receptors has consensus support for 2α:2β:1γ, a clear view of the stoichiometry of extrasynaptic receptors containing δ subunits has remained elusive. Here we examine the subunit stoichiometry of recombinant α4β3δ receptors using a reporter mutation and a functional electrophysiological approach.
Experimental Approach
Using site-directed mutagenesis, we inserted a highly characterized 9′ serine to leucine mutation into the second transmembrane (M2) region of α4, β3 and δ subunits that increases receptor sensitivity to GABA. Whole-cell, GABA-activated currents were recorded from HEK-293 cells co-expressing different combinations of wild-type (WT) and/or mutant α4(L297S), β3(L284S) and δ(L288S) subunits.
Key Results
Recombinant receptors containing one or more mutant subunits showed increased GABA sensitivity relative to WT receptors by approximately fourfold, independent of the subunit class (α, β or δ) carrying the mutation. GABA dose–response curves of cells co-expressing WT subunits with their respective L9′S mutants exhibited multiple components, with the number of discernible components enabling a subunit stoichiometry of 2α, 2β and 1δ to be deduced for α4β3δ receptors. Varying the cDNA transfection ratio by 10-fold had no significant effect on the number of incorporated δ subunits.
Conclusions and Implications
Subunit stoichiometry is an important determinant of GABAA receptor function and pharmacology, and δ subunit-containing receptors are important mediators of tonic inhibition in several brain regions. Here we demonstrate a preferred subunit stoichiometry for α4β3δ receptors of 2α, 2β and 1δ.
doi:10.1111/bph.12514
PMCID: PMC3925037  PMID: 24206220
GABAA receptor; stoichiometry; δ subunit; extrasynaptic

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