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1.  DHA Supplementation: Current Implications in Pregnancy and Childhood 
Dietary supplementation with (ω)-3 long chain fatty acids including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has increased in popularity in recent years and adequate DHA supplementation during pregnancy and early childhood is of clinical importance. Some evidence has been built for the neuro-cognitive benefits of supplementation with long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) such as DHA during pregnancy; however, recent data indicate that the anti-inflammatory properties may be of at least equal significance. Adequate DHA availability in the fetus/infant optimizes brain and retinal maturation in part by influencing neurotransmitter pathways. The anti-inflammatory properties of LCPUFA are largely mediated through modulation of signaling either directly through binding to receptors or through changes in lipid raft formation and receptor presentation. Our goal is to review the current findings on DHA supplementation, specifically in pregnancy and infant neurodevelopment, as a pharmacologic agent with both preventative and therapeutic value. Given the overall benefits of DHA, maternal and infant supplementation may improve neurological outcomes especially in vulernable populations. However, optimal composition of the supplement and dosing and treatment strategies still need to be determined to lend support for routine supplementation.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.12.003
PMCID: PMC3602397  PMID: 23266567
DHA; long chain fatty acids; natural products; lipids; omega-3
2.  Ion channel remodeling in vascular smooth muscle during hypertension: Implications for novel therapeutic approaches 
Ion channels are multimeric, transmembrane proteins that selectively mediate ion flux across the plasma membrane in a variety of cells including vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). The dynamic interplay of Ca2+ and K+ channels on the plasma membrane of VSMCs plays a pivotal role in modulating the vascular tone of small arteries and arterioles. The abnormally-elevated arterial tone observed in hypertension thus points to an aberrant expression and function of Ca2+ and K+ channels in the VSMCs. In this short review, we focus on the three well-studied ion channels in VSMCs, namely the L-type Ca2+ (CaV1.2) channels, the voltage-gated K+ (KV) channels, and the large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (BK) channels. First, we provide a brief overview on the physiological role of vascular CaV1.2, KV and BK channels in regulating arterial tone. Second, we discuss the current understanding of the expression changes and regulation of CaV1.2, KV and BK channels in the vasculature during hypertension. Third, based on available proof-of-concept studies, we describe the potential therapeutic approaches targeting these vascular ion channels in order to restore blood pressure to normotensive levels.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2013.01.008
PMCID: PMC3607210  PMID: 23376354
Hypertension; vascular smooth muscle cell; ion channel; calcium channel; potassium channel; gene therapy
3.  Developing a metagenomic view of xenobiotic metabolism 
The microbes residing in and on the human body influence human physiology in many ways, particularly through their impact on the metabolism of xenobiotic compounds, including therapeutic drugs, antibiotics, and diet-derived bioactive compounds. Despite the importance of these interactions and the many possibilities for intervention, microbial xenobiotic metabolism remains a largely underexplored component of pharmacology. Here, we discuss the emerging evidence for both direct and indirect effects of the human gut microbiota on xenobiotic metabolism, and the initial links that have been made between specific compounds, diverse members of this complex community, and the microbial genes responsible. Furthermore, we highlight the many parallels to the now well-established field of environmental bioremediation, and the vast potential to leverage emerging metagenomic tools to shed new light on these important microbial biotransformations.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.07.009
PMCID: PMC3526672  PMID: 22902524
Metagenomics; microbiome; microbiota; reduction; hydrolysis; xenobiotics
4.  Cannabinoid Agonists Increase the Interaction between β-Arrestin 2 and ERK1/2 and Upregulate β-Arrestin 2 and 5-HT2A Receptors 
We have recently reported that selective cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptor agonists upregulate 5-HT2A receptors by enhancing ERK1/2 signaling in prefrontal cortex (PFCx). Increased activity of cortical 5-HT2A receptors has been associated with several neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety and schizophrenia. Here we examine the mechanisms involved in this enhanced ERK1/2 activation in rat PFCx and in a neuronal cell model. Sprague-Dawley rats treated with a non-selective cannabinoid agonist (CP55940, 50 μg/kg, 7 days, i.p.) showed enhanced co-immunoprecipitation of β-Arrestin 2 and ERK1/2, enhanced pERK protein levels, and enhanced expression of β-Arrestin 2 mRNA and protein levels in PFCx. In a neuronal cell line, we found that selective CB2 receptor agonists upregulate β-Arrestin 2, an effect that was prevented by selective CB2 receptor antagonist JTE-907 and CB2 shRNA lentiviral particles. Additionally, inhibition of clathrin-mediated endocytosis, ERK1/2, and the AP-1 transcription factor also prevented the cannabinoid receptor-induced upregulation of β-Arrestin 2. Our results suggest that sustained activation of CB2 receptors would enhance β-Arrestin 2 expression possibly contributing to its increased interaction with ERK1/2 thereby driving the upregulation of 5-HT2A receptors. The CB2 receptor-mediated upregulation of β-Arrestin 2 would be mediated, at least in part, by an ERK1/2-dependent activation of AP-1. These data could provide the rationale for some of the adverse effects associated with repeated cannabinoid exposure and shed light on some CB2 receptor agonists that could represent an alternative therapeutic because of their minimal effect on serotonergic neurotransmission.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.11.002
PMCID: PMC3562593  PMID: 23174265
Cannabinoid receptors; 5-HT2A receptor; ERK1/2; β-Arrestin 2; prefrontal cortex
5.  Blueberry polyphenol-enriched soybean flour reduces hyperglycemia, body weight gain and serum cholesterol in mice 
Defatted soybean flour (DSF) can sorb and concentrate blueberry anthocyanins and other polyphenols, but not sugars. In this study blueberry polyphenol-enriched DSF (BB-DSF) or DSF were incorporated into very high fat diet (VHFD) formulations and provided ad libitum to obese and hyperglycemic C57BL/6 mice for 13 weeks to investigate anti-diabetic effects. Compared to the VHFD containing DSF, the diet supplemented with BB-DSF reduced weight gain by 5.6%, improved glucose tolerance, and lowered fasting blood glucose levels in mice within 7 weeks of intervention. Serum cholesterol of mice consuming the BB-DSF-supplemented diet was 13.2% lower than mice on the diet containing DSF. Compounds were eluted from DSF and BB-DSF for in vitro assays of glucose production and uptake. Compared to untreated control, doses of BB-DSF eluate containing 0.05 – 10 μg/μL of blueberry anthocyanins significantly reduced glucose production by 24% - 74% in H4IIE rat hepatocytes, but did not increase glucose uptake in L6 myotubes. The results indicate that delivery of blueberry polyphenols stabilized in a high-protein food matrix may be useful for the dietary management of pre-diabetes and/or diabetes.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.11.008
PMCID: PMC3833590  PMID: 23220243
metabolic syndrome; diabetes; blueberry; soybean; anthocyanins; polyphenols
6.  Aorta from angiotensin II hypertensive mice exhibit preserved nitroxyl anion mediated relaxation responses 
Hypertension is a disorder affecting millions worldwide, and is a leading cause of death and debilitation in the United States. It is widely accepted that during hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases the vasculature exhibits endothelial dysfunction; a deficit in the relaxatory ability of the vessel, attributed to a lack of nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability. Recently, the one electron redox variant of NO, nitroxyl anion (NO−) has emerged as an endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF) and a candidate for endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDRF). NO− is thought to exist protonated (HNO) in vivo, which would make this species more resistant to scavenging. However, no studies have investigated the role of this redox species during hypertension, and whether the vasculature loses the ability to relax to HNO. Thus, we hypothesize that aorta from angiotensin II (AngII)-hypertensive mice will exhibit a preserved relaxation response to Angeli’s Salt, an HNO donor. Male C57Bl6 mice, aged 12–14 weeks were implanted with mini-osmotic pumps containing AngII (90ng/min, 14 days plus high salt chow) or sham surgery. Aorta were excised, cleaned and used to perform functional studies in a myograph. We found that aorta from AngII-hypertensive mice exhibited a significant endothelial dysfunction as demonstrated by a decrease in acetylcholine (ACh)-mediated relaxation. However, vessels from hypertensive mice exhibited a preserved response to Angeli’s Salt (AS), the HNO donor. To confirm that relaxation responses to HNO were maintained, concentration response curves (CRCs) to ACh were performed in the presence of scavengers to both NO and HNO (carboxy-PTIO and L-cys, resp.). We found that ACh-mediated relaxation responses were significantly decreased in aorta from sham and almost completely abolished in aorta from AngII-treated mice. Vessels incubated with L-cys exhibited a modest decrease in ACh-mediated relaxations responses. These data demonstrate that aorta from AngII-treated hypertensive mice exhibit a preserved relaxation response to AS, an HNO donor, regardless of a significant endothelial dysfunction.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2011.07.002
PMCID: PMC3908541  PMID: 21767645
nitroxyl anion; HNO; vascular; aorta; angiotensin II hypertension
7.  Alterations in endocannabinoid tone following chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy: Effects of endocannabinoid deactivation inhibitors targeting fatty-acid amide hydrolase and monoacylglycerol lipase in comparison to reference analgesics following cisplatin treatment 
SUMMARY
Cisplatin, a platinum-derived chemotherapeutic agent, produces mechanical and cold allodynia reminiscent of chemotherapy-induced neuropathy in humans. The endocannabinoid system represents a novel target for analgesic drug development. The endocannabinoid consists of endocannabinoids (e.g. anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)), cannabinoid receptors (e.g. CB1 and CB2) and the enzymes controlling endocannabinoid synthesis and degradation. AEA is hydrolyzed by fatty-acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) whereas 2-AG is hydrolyzed primarily by monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL). We compared effects of brain permeant (URB597) and impermeant (URB937) inhibitors of FAAH with an irreversible inhibitor of MGL (JZL184) on cisplatin-evoked behavioral hypersensitivities. Endocannabinoid modulators were compared with agents used clinically to treat neuropathy (i.e. the opioid analgesic morphine, the anticonvulsant gabapentin and the tricyclic antidepressant amitriptyline). Cisplatin produced robust mechanical and cold allodynia but did not alter responsiveness to heat. After neuropathy was fully established, groups received acute intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of vehicle, amitriptyline (30 mg/kg), gabapentin (100 mg/kg), morphine (6 mg/kg), URB597 (0.1 or 1 mg/kg), URB937 (0.1 or 1 mg/kg) or JZL184 (1, 3 or 8 mg/kg). Pharmacological specificity was assessed by coadministering each endocannabinoid modulator with either a CB1 (AM251 3 mg/kg), CB2 (AM630 3 mg/kg), TRPV1 (AMG9810 3 mg/kg) or TRPA1 (HC030031 8 mg/kg) antagonist. Effects of cisplatin on endocannabinoid levels and transcription of receptors (CB1, CB2, TRPV1, TRPA1) and enzymes (FAAH, MGL) linked to the endocannabinoid system were also assessed. URB597, URB937, JZL184 and morphine reversed cisplatin-evoked mechanical and cold allodynia to pre-cisplatin levels. By contrast, gabapentin only partially reversed the neuropathy while amitriptyline, administered acutely, was ineffective. CB1 or CB2 antagonist completely blocked the anti-allodynic effects of both FAAH (URB597, URB937) and MGL (JZL184) inhibitors to mechanical and cold stimulation, while TRPV1 antagonist AMG9810 blocked only the anti-allodynic efficacy of both FAAH inhibitors, but not the MGL inhibitor,. By contrast, the TRPA1 antagonist HC30031 did not attenuate anti-allodynic efficacy of any endocannabinoid modulator. When the levels of endocannabinoids were examined, cisplatin increased both anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) levels in the lumbar spinal cord and decreased 2-AG levels (but not AEA) in dorsal hind paw skin. RT-PCR showed that mRNA for FAAH, but not other markers, was upregulated by cisplatin treatment in dorsal root ganglia. The present studies demonstrate that cisplatin alters endocannabinoid tone and that inhibition of endocannabinoid hydrolysis alleviates chemotherapy-induced mechanical and cold allodynia. The anti-allodynic effects of FAAH and MGL inhibitors are mediated by CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, whereas TRPV1, but not TRPA1, -dependent mechanisms contribute to the anti-allodynic efficacy of FAAH (but not MGL) inhibitors. Strikingly, endocannabinoid modulators potently suppressed cisplatin-evoked allodynia with a rapid onset and showed efficacy that equaled or exceeded that of major classes of anti-neuropathic pain medications used clinically. Thus, inhibition of endocannabinoid hydrolysis, via FAAH or MGL inhibitors, represents an efficacious pharmacological approach for suppressing chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.10.013
PMCID: PMC3525790  PMID: 23127915
anandamide; 2-arachidonoyl glycerol; endocannabinoid; neuropathic pain; cold allodynia and hyperalgesia
8.  Reverse-mode Na+/Ca2+ exchange is an important mediator of venous contraction 
The Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCX) is a bi-directional regulator of cytosolic Ca2+, causing Ca2+ efflux in forward-mode and Ca2+ influx in reverse-mode. We hypothesized that reverse-mode NCX is a means of Ca2+ entry in rat aorta (RA) and vena cava (RVC). NCX protein in RA and RVC was confirmed by immunoprecipitation. To assess NCX function, isometric contraction and intracellular Ca2+ was measured in RA and RVC rings in response to low extracellular Na+, endothelin-1 (ET-1), and KCl, in the presence or absence of the NCX antagonist KB-R7943. In RVC, low extracellular Na+ caused vasoconstriction and an increase in intracellular Ca2+ that was attenuated by 10 μM KB-R7943. KB-R7943 (10 μM) attenuated maximal contraction to ET-1 in RVC (53±9% of control), but not RA (91±1% of control). KB-R7943 (10 μM) reduced the maximal contraction to KCl in RA (48±5%) and nearly abolished it in RVC (9±2%), suggesting that voltage-dependent Ca2+ influx may be inhibited by KB-R7943 as well. However, the L-type Ca2+ channel inhibitor nifedipine (1 μM) did not alter ET-1-induced contraction. Our findings suggest that reverse-mode NCX is an important mechanism of Ca2+ influx in RVC but not RA, especially during ET-1-induced contraction. Also, the effects of KB-R7943 on ET-1-induced contraction of RA and RVC are predominantly mediated by reverse-mode NCX inhibition and not due to off-target inhibition of Ca2+ channels.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.08.004
PMCID: PMC3502721  PMID: 22974823
Na+/Ca2+ Exchanger; vasoconstriction; veins; calcium; endothelin-1
9.  Targeting Autophagy for the Treatment of Liver Diseases 
Autophagy is a lysosomal degradation pathway that can degrade bulk cytoplasm and superfluous or damaged organelles, such as mitochondria, to maintain cellular homeostasis. It is now known that dysregulation of autophagy can cause pathogenesis of numerous human diseases. Here, we discuss the critical roles that autophagy plays in the pathogenesis of liver diseases such as nonalcoholic and alcoholic fatty liver, drug-induced liver injury, protein aggregate-related liver diseases, viral hepatitis, fibrosis, aging and liver cancer. In particular, we discuss the emerging therapeutic potential by pharmacological modulation of autophagy for these liver diseases.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.07.003
PMCID: PMC3502728  PMID: 22871337
autophagy; mitophagy; liver diseases
10.  Chaperones in autophagy 
Cells continuously turn over proteins through cycles of synthesis and degradation in order to maintain a functional proteome and to exert a tight control in the levels of regulatory proteins. Selective degradation of proteins was initially thought to be an exclusive function of the ubiquitin-proteasome system however, over the years, the contribution of lysosomes to this selective degradation, through the process of autophagy, has become consolidated. In this context, molecular chaperones, classically associated with protein folding, unfolding and assembling, have been revealed as important modulators of selectivity during the autophagic process. Here, we review this relatively new role of chaperones in mediating selective autophagy and comment on how alterations of this function can lead to human pathologies associated to proteotoxicity.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.10.002
PMCID: PMC3502706  PMID: 23059540
Aging; chaperones; lysosomes; membrane proteins; protein degradation
11.  Targets, trafficking, and timing of cardiac autophagy 
Heart failure is the major case of death in developed countries, and its prevalence is growing worldwide. Autophagy is a fundamental cellular mechanism through which intracellular components can be removed, recycled and repaired. Studies in humans and animal models demonstrate a marked increase in cardiac autophagic activity under a wide range of disease states and in response to diverse stimuli. Recently, autophagy has been widely promoted as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of cardiovascular disease and heart failure. An important challenge to achieving this goal is the dual nature of cardiac autophagy, sometimes acting to help preserve cardiac function, other times appearing to promote cardiac decline. Numerous control points regulating autophagic activity and cargo selection provide a diversity of opportunities for drug targeting. In addition there is an innate circadian rhythm to the systemic regulation of autophagy that is often overlooked but provides potential opportunities to target and optimize pharmacological intervention.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.10.001
PMCID: PMC3502698  PMID: 23059539
12.  Autophagy and the Regulation of the Immune Response 
Summary
Autophagy is a highly conserved mechanism of lysosomal-mediated protein degradation that plays a crucial role in maintaining cellular homeostasis by recycling amino acids, reducing the amount of damaged proteins and regulating protein levels in response to extracellular signals. In the last few years specific functions for different forms of autophagy have been identified in many tissues and organs. In the Immune System, autophagy functions range from the elimination infectious agents and the modulation of the inflammatory response, to the selection of antigens for presentation and the regulation of T cell homeostasis and activation. Here, we review the recent advances that have allowed us to better understand why autophagy is a crucial process in the regulation of the innate and adaptive immune responses.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.10.003
PMCID: PMC3508673  PMID: 23063674
Autophagy; T cell; Dendritic cell; Antigen presentation; Macrophage; Pathogen
13.  Bortezomib enhances antigen-specific cytotoxic T cell responses against immune-resistant cancer cells generated by STAT3-ablated dendritic cells 
Dendritic cell (DC)-based vaccines have received attention as a new therapeutic modality against cancer. However, increased STAT3 activity in the tumor microenvironment makes DCs tolerogenic and suppresses their antitumor activity. In this study, we explored the effects of a combination treatment consisting of a proteasome inhibitor, bortezomib, and an antigen specific STAT3-ablated (STAT3−/−) DC-based vaccine on the control of TC-1(P3) tumors, a p53-degraded immune resistant cancer cells. We found that E7-antigen expressing STAT3−/− DC (E7-DC-1STAT3−/−) vaccination enhanced generation of E7-specific CD8+ T cells, but was not enough to control TC-1(P3) cancer cells. Therefore, we investigated whether bortezomib could create a synergistic effect with E7-DC-1STAT3−/− vaccination. We found that apoptosis via down-regulation of STAT3 and NF-κB and up-regulation of Fas and death receptor 5 (DR5) expression in TC-1(P3) induced by bortezomib was independent of p53 status. We also observed that TC-1(P3) cells pretreated with bortezomib had markedly enhanced anti-tumor effects on E7-specific CD8+ T cells through a Fas/DR5-mediated mechanism. In addition, TC-1(P3) tumor-bearing mice treated with bortezomib prior to vaccination with E7-DC-1STAT3−/− demonstrated enhanced generation of E7-specific CD8+ T cells and prolonged survival compared to those treated with monotherapy. These results suggest that the anti-tumor effects against a p53-degraded immune resistant variant generated by antigen-expressing STAT3-ablated mature DCs may be enhanced by bortezomib via death receptor-mediated apoptosis.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2013.02.001
PMCID: PMC3817614  PMID: 23428347
Bortezomib; STAT3; Immune resistance; Cytotoxic T cells; Dendritic cells
14.  The CB2-preferring agonist JWH015 also potently and efficaciously activates CB1 in autaptic hippocampal neurons 
The G protein coupled receptors CB1 and CB2 are targets for the psychoactive constituents of cannabis, chief among them Δ9-THC. They are also key components of the multifunctional endogenous cannabinoid signaling system. CB1 and CB2 receptors modulate a wide variety of physiological systems including analgesia, memory, mood, reward, appetite and immunity. Identification and characterization of selective CB1 and CB2 receptor agonists and antagonists will facilitate understanding the precise physiological and pathophysiological roles of cannabinoid receptors in these systems. This is particularly necessary in the case of CB2 because these receptors are sparsely expressed and problematic to detect using traditional immunocytochemical approaches.
1-Propyl-2-methyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole (JWH015) is an aminoalkylindole that has been employed as a “CB2-selective” agonist in more than 40 published papers. However, we have found that JWH015 potently and efficaciously activates CB1 receptors in neurons. Using murine autaptic hippocampal neurons, which express CB1, but not CB2 receptors, we find that JWH015 inhibits excitatory postsynaptic currents with an EC50 of 216 nM. JWH015 inhibition is absent in neurons from CB1−/− cultures and is reversed by the CB1 antagonist, SR141716 [200 nM]. Furthermore, JWH015 partially occludes CB1-mediated DSE (~35% remaining), an action reversed by the CB2 antagonist, AM630 [1 and 3 μM], suggesting that high concentrations of AM630 also antagonize CB1 receptors.
We conclude that while JWH015 is a CB2-preferring agonist, it also activates CB1 receptors at experimentally encountered concentrations. Thus, CB1 agonism of JWH015 needs to be considered in the design and interpretation of experiments that use JWH015 to probe CB2-signaling.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.08.002
PMCID: PMC3601544  PMID: 22921769
JWH015; Cannabinoid; CB1; CB2; Marijuana; AM630
15.  Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency Augments Risperidone-Induced Hepatic Steatosis in Rats: Positive Association with Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase 
Psychiatric patients frequently exhibit long-chain n-3 (LCn-3) fatty acid deficits and elevated triglyceride (TAG) production following chronic exposure to second generation antipsychotics (SGA). Emerging evidence suggests that SGAs and LCn-3 fatty acids have opposing effects on stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 (SCD1), which plays a pivotal role in TAG biosynthesis. Here we evaluated whether low LCn-3 fatty acid status would augment elevations in rat liver and plasma TAG concentrations following chronic treatment with the SGA risperidone (RSP), and evaluated relationships with hepatic SCD1 expression and activity indices. In rats maintained on the n-3 fatty acid-fortified (control) diet, chronic RSP treatment significantly increased liver SCD1 mRNA and activity indices (18:1/18:0 and 16:1/16:0 ratios), and significantly increased liver, but not plasma, TAG concentrations. Rats maintained on the n-3 deficient diet exhibited significantly lower liver and erythrocyte LCn-3 fatty acid levels, and associated elevations in LCn-6/LCn-3 ratio. In n-3 deficient rats, RSP-induced elevations in liver SCD1 mRNA and activity indices (18:1/18:0 and 16:1/16:0 ratios) and liver and plasma TAG concentrations were significantly greater than those observed in RSP-treated controls. Plasma glucose levels were not altered by diet or RSP, and body weight was lower in RSP- and VEH-treated n-3 deficient rats. These preclinical data support the hypothesis that low n-3 fatty acid status exacerbates RSP-induced hepatic steatosis by augmenting SCD1 expression and activity.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.06.010
PMCID: PMC3419281  PMID: 22750665
Omega-3 fatty acids; Risperidone; Atypical antipsychotic; Stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1; Oleic acid; Polyunsaturated fatty acids; Triglycerides; Glucose; Liver; Rat
16.  Inhibition of Eph receptor-ephrin ligand interaction by tea polyphenols 
Tea contains a variety of bioactive chemicals, such as catechins and other polyphenols. These compounds are thought to be responsible for the health benefits of tea consumption by affecting the function of many cellular targets, not all of which have been identified. In a high-throughput screen for small molecule antagonists of the EphA4 receptor tyrosine kinase, we identified five tea polyphenols that substantially inhibit EphA4 binding to a synthetic peptide ligand. Further characterization of theaflavin monogallates from black tea and epigallocatechin-3,5-digallate from green tea revealed that these compounds at low micromolar concentrations also inhibit binding of the natural ephrin ligands to EphA4 and several other Eph receptors in in vitro assays. The compounds behave as competitive EphA4 antagonists, and their inhibitory activity is affected by amino acid mutations within the ephrin binding pocket of EphA4. In contrast, the major green tea catechin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), does not appear to be an effective Eph receptor antagonist. In cell culture assays, theaflavin monogallates and epigallocatechin-3,5-digallate inhibit ephrin-induced tyrosine phosphorylation (activation) of Eph receptors and endothelial capillary-like tube formation. However, the wider spectrum of Eph receptors affected by the tea derivatives in cells suggests additional mechanisms of inhibition besides interfering with ephrin binding. These results show that tea polyphenols derived from both black and green tea can suppress the biological activities of Eph receptors. Thus, the Eph receptor tyrosine kinase family represents an important class of targets for tea-derived phytochemicals.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.05.010
PMCID: PMC3677025  PMID: 22750215
angiogenesis; small molecule; antagonist; epigallocatechin-3-gallate; epigallocatechin-3; 5-digallate; theaflavin monogallates
17.  Peripheral FAAH inhibition causes profound antinociception and protects against indomethacin-induced gastric lesions 
Fatty-acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) catalyzes the intracellular hydrolysis of the endocannabinoid anandamide and other bioactive lipid amides. In the present study, we conducted a comparative characterization of the effects of the newly identified brain-impermeant FAAH inhibitor, URB937 ([3-(3-carbamoylphenyl)-4-hydroxy-phenyl] N-cyclohexylcarbamate), in various rodent models of acute and persistent pain. When administered by the oral route in mice, URB937 was highly active (median effective dose, ED50, to inhibit liver FAAH activity: 0.3 mg-kg−1) and had a bioavailability of 5.3%. The antinociceptive effects of oral URB937 were investigated in mouse models of acute inflammation (carrageenan), peripheral nerve injury (chronic sciatic nerve ligation) and arthritis (complete Freund’s adjuvant). In all models, URB937 was as effective or more effective than standard analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs (indomethacin, gabapentin, dexamethasone) and reversed pain-related responses (mechanical hyperalgesia, thermal hyperalgesia, and mechanical allodynia) in a dose-dependent manner. ED50 values ranged from 0.2 to 10 mg-kg−1, depending on model and readout. Importantly, URB937 was significantly more effective than two global FAAH inhibitors, URB597 and PF-04457845, in the complete Freund’s adjuvant model. The effects of a combination of URB937 with the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent, indomethacin, were examined in the carrageenan and chronic sciatic nerve ligation models. Isobolographic analyses showed that the two compounds interacted synergistically to attenuate pain-related behaviors. Furthermore, URB937 reduced the number and severity of gastric lesions produced by indomethacin, while exerting no ulcerogenic effect when administered alone. The results indicate that the peripheral FAAH inhibitor URB937 is more effective than globally active FAAH inhibitors at inhibiting inflammatory pain. Our findings further suggest that FAAH and cyclooxygenase inhibitors interact functionally in peripheral tissues, to either enhance or hinder each other’s actions.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.02.012
PMCID: PMC3738192  PMID: 22420940
inflammation; anandamide; neuropathic pain; gastric lesions; cannabinoid receptors
18.  The ABC membrane transporter ABCG2 prevents access of FAAH inhibitor URB937 to the central nervous system 
The O-arylcarbamate URB937 is a potent inhibitor of fatty-acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), an intracellular serine hydrolase responsible for the deactivation of the endocannabinoid anandamide. URB937 is unique among FAAH inhibitors in that is actively extruded from the central nervous system (CNS), and therefore increases anandamide levels exclusively in peripheral tissues. Despite its limited distribution, URB937 exhibits marked analgesic properties in rodent models of pain. Pharmacological evidence suggests that the extrusion of URB937 from the CNS may be mediated by the ABC membrane transporter ABCG2 (also called Breast Cancer Resistance Protein, BCRP). In the present study, we show that URB937 is a substrate for both mouse and human orthologues of ABCG2. The relative transport ratios for URB937 in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCKII) cells monolayers over-expressing either mouse Abcg2 or human ABCG2 were significantly higher compared to parental monolayers (13.6 and 13.1 vs 1.5, respectively). Accumulation of the compound in the luminal/apical side was prevented by co-administration of the selective ABCG2 inhibitor, Ko-143. In vivo studies in mice showed that URB937 (25 mg-kg−1) readily entered the brain and spinal cord of Abcg2-deficient mice following intraperitoneal administration, whereas the same dose of drug remained restricted to peripheral tissues in wild-type mice. By identifying ABCG2 as a transport mechanism responsible for the extrusion of URB937 from the CNS, the present results should facilitate the rational design of novel peripherally restricted FAAH inhibitors.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2011.07.001
PMCID: PMC3729352  PMID: 21767647
Fatty-acid amide hydrolase; URB937; Breast cancer resistance protein; blood-brain barrier; central nervous system; Abcg2-deficient mice
19.  Haptoglobin Genotype and Its Role in Determining Heme-Iron Mediated Vascular Disease 
Pharmacological Research  2012;66(1):1-6.
Haptoglobin (Hp) is a hemoglobin (Hb) binding protein whose major function is to prevent heme-iron mediated oxidation. The polymorphic nature of the Hp gene results in varying levels of antioxidant function associated with the protein products. Multiple clinical studies have now determined that the Hp 2-2 genotype is associated with an increased risk of developing vascular complications in patients suffering from diabetes. The mechanism for this phenomenon is a decrease in antioxidant capability associated with the Hp 2-2 protein. Specifically, heme iron associated with the Hp2-2/Hb complex is more redox active than other Hp type complexes and has been shown in a number of systems to lead to increased levels of oxidative stress in the form of oxidized lipids and decreased lipoprotein function. In addition, Hp 2-2/Hb complexes are cleared less efficiently from the circulation, leading to a buildup of iron in the plasma and in tissues. Recent analyses from clinical studies utilizing vitamin E treatment have shown beneficial results specifically in the diabetic Hp 2-2 genotype population. The use of vitamin E in the treatment of Hp 2-2 diabetics has the potential to greatly reduce medical costs and improve quality of life in the ever-growing diabetic population.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.02.011
PMCID: PMC3345090  PMID: 22465143
Haptoglobin; Hemoglobin; Oxidative Stress; Vitamin E
20.  Impaired β-adrenoceptor-induced relaxation in small mesenteric arteries from DOCA-salt hypertensive rats is due to reduced KCa channel activity 
Pharmacological Research  2012;65(5):537-545.
β-Adrenoceptor (β-AR)-mediated relaxation plays an important role in the regulation of vascular tone. β-AR-mediated vascular relaxation is reduced in various disease states and aging. We hypothesized that β-AR-mediated vasodilatation is impaired in DOCA-salt hypertension due to alterations in the cAMP pathway. β-AR-mediated relaxation was determined in small mesenteric arteries from DOCA-salt hypertensive and control uninephrectomized (Uni) rats. To exclude nitric oxide (NO) and cyclooxygenase (COX) pathways, relaxation responses were determined in the presence of L-NNA and indomethacin, NO synthase inhibitor and COX inhibitors, respectively. Isoprenaline (ISO)-induced relaxation was reduced in arteries from DOCA-salt compared to Uni rats. Protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitors (H89 or Rp-cAMPS) or adenylyl cyclase inhibitor (SQ22536) did not abolish the difference in ISO-induced relaxation between the groups. Forskolin (adenylyl cyclase activator)-induced relaxation was similar between the groups. The inhibition of IKCa/SKCa channels (TRAM-34 plus UCL1684) or BKCa channels (iberiotoxin) reduced ISO-induced relaxation only in Uni rats and abolished the relaxation differences between the groups. The expression of SKCa channel was decreased in DOCA-salt arteries. The expression of BKCa channel α subunit was increased whereas the expression of BKCa channel β subunit was decreased in DOCA-salt arteries. The expression of receptor for activated C kinase 1 (RACK1), which is a binding protein for BKCa channel and negatively modulates its activity, was increased in DOCA-salt arteries. These results suggest that the impairment of β-AR-mediated relaxation in DOCA-salt mesenteric arteries may be attributable to altered IKCa/SKCa and/or BKCa channels activities rather than cAMP/PKA pathway. Impaired β-AR-stimulated BKCa channel activity may be due to the imbalance between its subunit expressions and RACK1 upregulation.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2012.02.004
PMCID: PMC3327799  PMID: 22388053
β-adrenoceptor; calcium-activated potassium channel; DOCA-salt; relaxation; mesenteric artery; RACK1
21.  Protein deacetylation by SIRT1: an emerging key post-translational modification in metabolic regulation 
The biological function of most proteins relies on reversible post-translational modifications, among which phosphorylation is most prominently studied and well recognized. Recently, a growing amount of evidence indicates that acetylation-deacetylation reactions, when applied to crucial mediators, can also robustly affect the function of target proteins and thereby have wide-ranging physiological impacts. Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), which functions as a nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+)-dependent protein deacetylase, deacetylates a wide variety of metabolic molecules in response to the cellular energy and redox status and as such causes significant changes in metabolic homeostasis. This review surveys the evidence for the emerging role of SIRT1-mediated deacetylation in the control of metabolic homeostasis.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2009.12.006
PMCID: PMC3620551  PMID: 20026274
SIRT1; NAD; deacetylation; metabolic homeostasis
22.  Anti-ischemic effects of multivalent dendrimeric A3 adenosine receptor agonists in cultured cardiomyocytes and in the isolated rat heart 
Pharmacological Research  2011;65(3):338-346.
Adenosine released during myocardial ischemia mediates cardioprotective preconditioning. Multivalent drugs covalently bound to nanocarriers may differ greatly in chemical and biological properties from the corresponding monomeric agents. Here, we conjugated chemically functionalized nucleosides to poly(amidoamine) (PAMAM) dendrimeric polymers and investigated their effects in rat primary cardiac cell cultures and in the isolated heart. Three conjugates of A3 adenosine receptor (AR) agonists, chain-functionalized at the C2 or N6 position, were cardioprotective, with greater potency than monomeric agonist Cl-IB-MECA. Multivalent amide-linked MRS5216 was selective for A1 and A3ARs, and triazole-linked MRS5246 and MRS5539 (optionally containing fluorescent label) were A3AR-selective. The conjugates protected ischemic rat cardiomyocytes, an effect blocked by an A3AR antagonist MRS1523, and isolated hearts with significantly improved infarct size, rate of pressure product, and rate of contraction and relaxation. Thus, strategically derivatized nucleosides tethered to biocompatible polymeric carriers display enhanced cardioprotective potency via activation of A3AR on the cardiomyocyte surface.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2011.11.013
PMCID: PMC3278557  PMID: 22154845
dendrimer; cardiomyocyte; adenosine receptor; ischemia; isolated heart; rat
23.  Quantification of recombinant and platelet P2Y1 receptors utilizing a [125I]-labeled high affinity antagonist 2-iodo-N6-methyl-(N)-methanocarba-2′-deoxyadenosine-3′,5′-bisphosphate ([125I]MRS2500) 
The ADP-activated P2Y1 receptor is broadly expressed and plays a crucial role in ADP-promoted platelet aggregation. We previously synthesized 2-iodo-N6-methyl–(N)-methanocarba-2′-deoxyadenosine 3′,5′-bisphosphate (MRS2500), as a selective, high affinity, competitive antagonist of this receptor. Here we report utilization of a trimethylstannyl precursor molecule for the multistep radiochemical synthesis of a [125I]-labeled form of MRS2500. [125I]MRS2500 bound selectively to Sf9 insect cell membranes expressing the human P2Y1 receptor but did not specifically bind to membranes isolated from empty vector-infected cells. Binding of [125I]MRS2500 to P2Y1 receptors was saturable with a Kd of 1.2 nM. Known agonists and antagonists of the P2Y1 receptor inhibited [125I]MRS2500 binding to P2Y1 receptor-expressing membranes with potencies in agreement with those previously observed in functional assays of this receptor. A high-affinity binding site for [125I]MRS2500 also was observed on intact human platelets (Kd = 0.61 nM) and mouse platelets (Kd = 1.20 nM) that exhibited the pharmacological selectivity of the P2Y1 receptor. The densities of sites observed were 151 sites/platelet and 229 sites/platelet in human and mouse platelets, respectively. In contrast, specific binding was not observed in platelets isolated from P2Y1 receptor (−/−) mice. Taken together, these data illustrate the synthesis and characterization of a novel P2Y1 receptor radioligand and its utility for examining P2Y1 receptors natively expressed on human and mouse platelets.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2010.05.007
PMCID: PMC3578425  PMID: 20594939
P2Y1 receptor; competitive antagonist; radioligand; MRS2500; platelet
24.  Multiple Regulatory Roles of the Carboxy Terminus of Ste2p a Yeast GPCR 
Pharmacological Research  2011;65(1):31-40.
Signaling and internalization of Ste2p, a model G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, are reported to be regulated by phosphorylation status of serine (S) and threonine (T) residues located in the cytoplasmic C-terminus. Although the functional roles of S/T residues located in certain C-terminus regions are relatively well characterized, systemic analyses have not been conducted for all the S/T residues that are spread throughout the C-terminus. A point mutation to alanine was introduced into the S/T residues located within three intracellular loops and the C-terminus individually or in combination. A series of functional assays such as internalization, FUS1-lacZ induction, and growth arrest were conducted in comparison between WT- and mutant Ste2p. The Ste2p in which all S/T residues in the C-terminus were mutated to alanine was more sensitive to α-factor, suggesting that phosphorylation in the C-terminus exerts negative regulatory activities on the Ste2p signaling. C-terminal S/T residues proximal to the seventh transmembrane domain were important for ligand-induced G protein coupling but not for receptor internalization. Sites on the central region of the C-terminus regulated both constitutive and ligand-induced internalization. Residues on the distal part were important for constitutive desensitization and modulated the G protein signaling mediated through the proximal part of the C-terminus. This study demonstrated that the C-terminus contains multiple functional domains with differential and interdependent roles in regulating Ste2p function in which the S/T residues located in each domain play critical roles.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2011.11.002
PMCID: PMC3264830  PMID: 22100461
Ste2p; C-terminus; Phosphorylation; Internalization; FUS-lacZ; Growth arrest
25.  Dicer-substrate siRNA inhibits tumor necrosis factor alpha secretion in Kupffer cells in vitro: In vivo targeting of Kupffer cells by siRNA-liposomes 
Pharmacological Research  2011;65(1):48-55.
Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) plays a major role in the pathogenesis of many inflammatory diseases. Neutralizing TNF-α by antibodies or antisense oligodeoxynucleotides, alleviate disease symptoms. In this study, we introduce the new generation of gene-silencing molecules, namely the small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to reduce TNF-α. Although siRNAs of 19–21 base pairs are commonly used, it is reported that longer siRNAs have much higher efficacies. Here, we report the identification of a 27-mer Dicer-substrate siRNA (DsiRNA) against TNF-α mRNA. Primary cells of rat Kupffer cells were transfected with five 27-mer siRNA constructs (si27-1, si27-2 si27-3, si27-4 and si27-5) for 24 h, following which, TNF-α secretion was induced by exposure to LPS (0.1 ug/ml) for 2 h. TNF-α released to the medium was measured by ELISA. Of the five si27 constructs, si27-3 had the highest inhibitory effect on TNF-α secretion. At 10 nM, si27-3 inhibited TNF-α secretion by 80% compared to a 60% inhibition by a 21-mer (SSL3). Following encapsulation in anionic liposomes, si27-3 at 100 µg/kg body weight, on two successive days by intravenous administration, inhibited the secretion of TNF-α by 50%. These data demonstrate the identification of a highly efficacious siRNA formulation, which can be used in the treatment of TNF-α mediated diseases.
doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2011.09.001
PMCID: PMC3264835  PMID: 21933712
TNF alpha; siRNA; Kupffer cells; lipopolysaccharide; liposomes

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