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1.  Progress in Elucidating the Structural and Dynamic Character of G Protein-Coupled Receptor Oligomers for Use in Drug Discovery 
Current pharmaceutical design  2009;15(35):4017-4025.
G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) are the most targeted group of proteins for the development of therapeutic drugs. Until the last decade, structural information about this family of membrane proteins was relatively scarce, and their mechanisms of ligand binding and signal transduction were modeled on the assumption that GPCRs existed and functioned as monomeric entities. New crystal structures of native and engineered GPCRs, together with important biochemical and biophysical data that reveal structural details of the activation mechanism(s) of this receptor family, provide a valuable framework to improve dynamic molecular models of GPCRs with the ultimate goal of elucidating their allostery and functional selectivity. Since the dynamic movements of single GPCR protomers are likely to be affected by the presence of neighboring interacting subunits, oligomeric arrangements should be taken into account to improve the predictive ability of computer-assisted structural models of GPCRs for effective use in drug design.
PMCID: PMC4332530  PMID: 20028319
GPCRs; molecular modeling; dynamics; activation; dimerization; oligomerization
2.  Effects of Cannabis on the Adolescent Brain 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(13):2186-2193.
This article reviews neuroimaging, neurocognitive, and preclinical findings on the effects of cannabis on the adolescent brain. Marijuana is the second most widely used intoxicant in adolescence, and teens who engage in heavy marijuana use often show disadvantages in neurocognitive performance, macrostructural and microstructural brain development, and alterations in brain functioning. It remains unclear whether such disadvantages reflect pre-existing differences that lead to increased substances use and further changes in brain architecture and behavioral outcomes. Future work should focus on prospective investigations to help disentangle dose-dependent effects from pre-existing effects, and to better understand the interactive relationships with other commonly abused substances (e.g., alcohol) to better understand the role of regular cannabis use on neurodevelopmental trajectories.
PMCID: PMC3930618  PMID: 23829363
3.  Epigenetic modification restores functional PR expression in endometrial cancer cells 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(11):1874-1880.
Endometrial cancer, the most common gynecologic malignancy, is a hormonally-regulated tumor. Response to progestin-based therapy correlates positively with progesterone receptor (PR) expression. However, many endometrial tumors have low levels or loss of PR, limiting the clinical application of progestin. We evaluated the ability of epigenetic modulators to restore functional PR expression in Type I endometrial cancer cells with low basal PR. Treatment with the histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) LBH589 induced a profound upregulation of PR mRNA. LBH589 restored PR protein expression at 24 hours and sustained expression for 72 hours, even in the presence of progesterone. LBH589 promoted a dose-dependent increase in PR protein levels, with an obvious increase with 10 nM LBH589. To investigate if the restored PR is functional as a transcription factor, we examined PR nuclear localization and expression of PRE- or Sp1-containing target genes. After treatment with LBH589 in the absence or presence of progesterone, PR nuclear expression was increased as demonstrated by Western blotting of nuclear fractions and immunostaining. Next, restored PR upregulated FoxO1, p21, and p27 and downregulated cyclin D1 in a ligand-dependent manner. Finally, LBH589 treatment induced cell cycle arrest in G1 that was further augmented by progesterone. Regulation of PR target genes was also achieved with other HDAC inhibitors, indicating that agents in this class work similarly with respect to PR. Our findings reveal that epigenetic modulators can restore endogenous functional PR expression in endometrial cancer cells and suggest that strategies to re-establish PR expression will resensitize endometrial tumors to progestin therapy.
PMCID: PMC3969402  PMID: 23888956
Progesterone; progesterone receptor; endometrial cancer; epigenetic modulation; HDAC inhibitor; PRE-containing genes; cell cycle arrest
4.  Vascular Calcification in Chronic Kidney Disease: Role of Disordered Mineral Metabolism 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(37):5829-5833.
In patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), vascular calcification is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. The prevalence of vascular calcification increases as glomerular filtration rate (GFR) declines and calcification occurs years earlier in CKD patients than in the general population. The mechanisms of vascular calcification in CKD patients are complex and not completely understood but likely involve non-traditional risk factors, which may be unique to patients with CKD. These unique risk factors may predispose patients to early and more accelerated calcification. Experimental and clinical studies show that disorders in mineral metabolisms including calcium and phosphorus homeostasis initiate and promote vascular calcification in patients with CKD. It is currently unknown if vascular calcification can be prevented or reversed with therapies aimed at maintaining calcium and phosphorus homeostasis. This review focuses on the potential mechanisms by which disordered mineral metabolism may promote vascular calcification in patients with CKD.
PMCID: PMC4130905  PMID: 24533939
vascular calcification; chronic kidney disease; mineral metabolism; phosphorus
5.  AMPK as a Potential Anticancer Target – Friend or Foe? 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(15):2607-2618.
Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a key player in maintaining energy homeostasis in response to metabolic stress. Beyond diabetes and metabolic syndrome, there is a growing interest in the therapeutic exploitation of the AMPK pathway in cancer treatment in light of its unique ability to regulate cancer cell proliferation through the reprogramming of cell metabolism. Although many studies support the tumor-suppressive role of AMPK, emerging evidence suggests that the metabolic checkpoint function of AMPK might be overridden by stress or oncogenic signals so that tumor cells use AMPK activation as a survival strategy to gain growth advantage. These findings underscore the complexity in the cellular function of AMPK in maintaining energy homeostasis under physiological versus pathological conditions. Thus, this review aims to provide an overview of recent findings on the functional interplay of AMPK with different cell metabolic and signaling effectors, particularly histone deacetylases, in mediating downstream tumor suppressive or promoting mechanisms in different cell systems. Although AMPK activation inhibits tumor growth by targeting multiple signaling pathways relevant to tumorigenesis, under certain cellular contexts or certain stages of tumor development, AMPK might act as a protective response to metabolic stresses, such as nutrient deprivation, low oxygen, and low pH, or as a downstream effectors of oncogenic proteins, including androgen receptor, hypoxia-inducible factor-1α, c-Src, and MYC. Thus, investigations to define at which stage(s) of tumorigenesis and cancer progression or for which genetic aberrations AMPK inhibition might represent a more relevant strategy than AMPK activation for cancer treatment are clearly warranted.
PMCID: PMC4264967  PMID: 23859619
AMPK; metabolic homeostasis; cancer therapy; LKB1; mTORC1; HDAC; Foxo3a; HIF-1α
6.  Utility of MLH1 Methylation Analysis in the Clinical Evaluation of Lynch Syndrome in Women with Endometrial Cancer 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(11):1655-1663.
Clinical screening criteria, such as young age of endometrial cancer diagnosis and family history of signature cancers, have traditionally been used to identify women with Lynch Syndrome, which is caused by mutation of a DNA mismatch repair gene. Immunohistochemistry and microsatellite instability analysis have evolved as important screening tools to evaluate endometrial cancer patients for Lynch Syndrome. A complicating factor is that 15-20% of sporadic endometrial cancers have immunohistochemical loss of the DNA mismatch repair protein MLH1 and high levels of microsatellite instability due to methylation of MLH1. The PCR-based MLH1 methylation assay potentially resolves this issue, yet many clinical laboratories do not perform this assay. The objective of this study was to determine if clinical and pathologic features help to distinguish sporadic endometrial carcinomas with MLH1 loss secondary to MLH1 methylation from Lynch Syndrome-associated endometrial carcinomas with MLH1 loss and absence of MLH1 methylation. Of 337 endometrial carcinomas examined, 54 had immunohistochemical loss of MLH1. 40/54 had MLH1 methylation and were designated as sporadic, while 14/54 lacked MLH1 methylation and were designated as Lynch Syndrome. Diabetes and deep myometrial invasion were associated with Lynch Syndrome; no other clinical or pathological variable distinguished the 2 groups. Combining Society of Gynecologic Oncology screening criteria with these 2 features accurately captured all Lynch Syndrome cases, but with low specificity. In summary, no single clinical/pathologic feature or screening criteria tool accurately identified all Lynch Syndrome-associated endometrial carcinomas, highlighting the importance of the MLH1 methylation assay in the clinical evaluation of these patients.
PMCID: PMC3895501  PMID: 23888949
Lynch Syndrome; molecular diagnostics; MLH1 methylation; immunohistochemistry; endometrial cancer
7.  Endocannabinoid Signaling in the Etiology and Treatment of Major Depressive Illness 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(23):3795-3811.
The purpose of this review is to examine human and preclinical data that are relevant to the following hypotheses. The first hypothesis is that deficient CB1R-mediated signaling results in symptoms that mimic those seen in depression. The second hypothesis is that activation of CB1R-mediated signaling results in behavioral, endocrine and other effects that are similar to those produced by currently used antidepressants. The third hypothesis is that conventional antidepressant therapies act through enhanced CB1R mediated signaling. Together the available data indicate that activators of CB1R signaling, particularly inhibitors of fatty acid amide hydrolase, should be considered for clinical trials for the treatment of depression.
PMCID: PMC4002665  PMID: 24180398
CB1 receptor; 2-arachidonoylglycerol; fatty acid amide hydrolase; URB597; tetrahydrocannabinol; genetics; circulation
8.  Molecular Mechanics 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(20):3281-3292.
Molecular Mechanics (MM) force fields are the methods of choice for protein simulations, which are essential in the study of conformational flexibility. Given the importance of protein flexibility in drug binding, MM is involved in most if not all Computational Structure-Based Drug Discovery (CSBDD) projects. This section introduces the reader to the fundamentals of MM, with a special emphasis on how the target data used in the parametrization of force fields determine their strengths and weaknesses. Variations and recent developments such as polarizable force fields are discussed. The section ends with a brief overview of common force fields in CSBDD.
PMCID: PMC4026342  PMID: 23947650
Molecular Mechanics; Force Fields; Structure-Based Drug Design
9.  Role of Monocarboxylate Transporters in Drug Delivery to the Brain 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(10):1487-1498.
Monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs) are known to mediate the transport of short chain monocarboxylates such as lactate, pyruvate and butyrate. Currently, fourteen members of this transporter family have been identified by sequence homology, of which only the first four members (MCT1- MCT4) have been shown to mediate the proton-linked transport of monocarboxylates. Another transporter family involved in the transport of endogenous monocarboxylates is the sodium coupled MCTs (SMCTs). These act as a symporter and are dependent on a sodium gradient for their functional activity. MCT1 is the predominant transporter among the MCT isoforms and is present in almost all tissues including kidney, intestine, liver, heart, skeletal muscle and brain. The various isoforms differ in terms of their substrate specificity and tissue localization. Due to the expression of these transporters in the kidney, intestine, and brain, they may play an important role in influencing drug disposition. Apart from endogenous short chain monocarboxylates, they also mediate the transport of exogenous drugs such as salicylic acid, valproic acid, and simvastatin acid. The influence of MCTs on drug pharmacokinetics has been extensively studied for γ-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) including distribution of this drug of abuse into the brain and the results will be summarized in this review. The physiological role of these transporters in the brain and their specific cellular localization within the brain will also be discussed. This review will also focus on utilization of MCTs as potential targets for drug delivery into the brain including their role in the treatment of malignant brain tumors.
PMCID: PMC4084603  PMID: 23789956
Monocarboxylate transporters; γ-hydroxybutyrate; brain; lactate
10.  Targeting miRNAs for Pancreatic Cancer Therapy 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(33):5279-5286.
Pancreatic cancer (PC) is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and has a median 5-year survival rate less than 5%. Although surgery offers the best chance for a cure for pancreatic cancer, less than 20% of patients are eligible for potentially curative resection, because in most cases, the cancer has already spread locally or to distant organs at diagnosis, precluding resection. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding, endogenous, single-stranded RNAs that are pivotal regulators of posttranscriptional gene expression. Extensive studies of miRNAs over the past several years have revealed that the expression of miRNAs is frequently deregulated in pancreatic cancer patients and that this deregulation contributes to the pathogenesis and aggressiveness of the disease. Currently, investigators are studying the use of miRNAs as diagnostic and/or prognostic biomarkers and therapeutic tools for pancreatic cancer. Rapid discovery of many miRNA targets and their relevant pathways has contributed to the development of miRNA-based therapeutics. In particular, the transcription factor Forkhead box M1 (FOXM1) is overexpressed in the majority of cancer patients, including those with pancreatic cancer. This overexpression is implicated to have a role in tumorigenesis, progression, and metastasis. This important role of FOXM1 affirms its usefulness in therapeutic interventions for pancreatic cancer. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge and concepts concerning the involvement of miRNAs and FOXM1 in pancreatic cancer development and describe the roles of the miRNA-FOXM1 signaling pathway in pancreatic cancer initiation and progression. Additionally, we describe some of the technical challenges in the use of the miRNA-FOXM1 signaling pathway in pancreatic cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC4113604  PMID: 24479803
miRNA; FOXM1; pancreatic cancer; transcription; invasion; metastasis; therapy
11.  MicroRNAs (miRNAs) as Biomarker(s) for Prognosis and Diagnosis of Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancers 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(33):5287-5297.
Gastrointestinal (GI) cancers remain one of the most common malignancies and are the second common cause of cancer deaths worldwide. The limited effectiveness of therapy for patients with advanced stage and recurrent disease is a reflection of an incomplete understanding of the molecular basis of GI carcinogenesis. Major advancements have improved our understanding of pathology and pathogenesis of GI cancers, but high mortality rates, unfavorable prognosis and lack of clinical predictive biomarkers provide an impetus to investigate new sensitive and specific diagnostic and prognostic markers for GI cancers. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short (19–24 nucleotides) noncoding RNA molecules that regulate gene expression at the posttranscriptional level thus playing an important role in modulating various biological processes including, but not limited, to developmental processes, proliferation, apoptosis, metabolism, differentiation, epithelial-mechenchymal transition and are involved in the initiation and progression of various human cancers. Unique miRNA expression profiles have been observed in various cancer types at different stages, suggesting their potential as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers. Due to their tumor-specific and tissue-specific expression profiles, stability, robust clinical assays for detection in serum as well as in formalin-fixed tissue samples, miRNAs have emerged as attractive candidates for diagnostic and prognostic applications. This review summarizes recent research supporting the utility of miRNAs as novel diagnostic and prognostic tools for GI cancers.
PMCID: PMC4113605  PMID: 24479799
Gastrointestinal cancers; Diagnosis; Prognosis; miRNAs
12.  Bridge Between Neuroimmunity and Traumatic Brain Injury 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(26):4284-4298.
The pathophysiology of degenerative, infectious, inflammatory and traumatic diseases of the central nervous system includes a significant immune component. As to the latter, damage to the cerebral vasculature and neural cell bodies, caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI) activates innate immunity with concomitant infiltration of immunocytes into the damaged nervous system. This leads to pro-inflammatory cytokine and prostaglandin production and lost synaptic integrity and more generalized neurotoxicity. Engagement of adaptive immune responses follows including the production of antibodies and lymphocyte proliferation. These affect the tempo of disease along with tissue repair and as such provide a number of potential targets for pharmacological treatments for TBI. However, despite a large body of research, no such treatment intervention is currently available. In this review we will discuss the immune response initiated following brain injuries, drawing on knowledge gained from a broad array of experimental and clinical studies. Our discussion seeks to address potential therapeutic targets and propose ways in which the immune system can be controlled to promote neuroprotection.
PMCID: PMC4135046  PMID: 24025052
Traumatic brain injury; neuroimmunity; mononuclear phagocytes; astrocytes; neurodegeneration; inflammation
13.  Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors as Therapeutics for Traumatic Brain Injury 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;21(3):332-342.
Developing therapeutics for traumatic brain injury remains a challenge for all stages of recovery. The pathological features of traumatic brain injury are diverse, and it remains an obstacle to be able to target the wide range of pathologies that vary between traumatic brain injured patients and that evolve during recovery. One promising therapeutic avenue is to target the second messengers cAMP and cGMP with phosphodiesterase inhibitors due to their broad effects within the nervous system. Phosphodiesterase inhibitors have the capability to target different injury mechanisms throughout the time course of recovery after brain injury. Inflammation and neuronal death are early targets of phosphodiesterase inhibitors, and synaptic dysfunction and circuitry remodeling are late potential targets of phosphodiesterase inhibitors. This review will discuss how signaling through cyclic nucleotides contributes to the pathology of traumatic brain injury in the acute and chronic stages of recovery. We will review our current knowledge of the successes and challenges of using phosphodiesterase inhibitors for the treatment of traumatic brain injury and conclude with important considerations in developing phosphodiesterase inhibitors as therapeutics for brain trauma.
PMCID: PMC4245324  PMID: 25159077
cAMP; cognition; CREB; hippocampus; inflammation; long-term potentiation; phosphodiesterase; protein kinase A; rolipram; synaptic plasticity; traumatic brain injury
14.  Disrupting Self-Assembly and Toxicity of Amyloidogenic Protein Oligomers by “Molecular Tweezers” - from the Test Tube to Animal Models 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(15):2469-2483.
Despite decades of research, therapy for diseases caused by abnormal protein folding and aggregation (amyloidoses) is limited to treatment of symptoms and provides only temporary and moderate relief to sufferers. The failure in developing successful disease-modifying drugs for amyloidoses stems from the nature of the targets for such drugs – primarily oligomers of amyloidogenic proteins, which are distinct from traditional targets, such as enzymes or receptors. The oligomers are metastable, do not have well-defined structures, and exist in dynamically changing mixtures. Therefore, inhibiting the formation and toxicity of these oligomers likely will require out-of-the-box thinking and novel strategies. We review here the development of a strategy based on targeting the combination of hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions that are key to the assembly and toxicity of amyloidogenic proteins using lysine (K)-specific “molecular tweezers” (MTs). Our discussion includes a survey of the literature demonstrating the important role of K residues in the assembly and toxicity of amyloidogenic proteins and the development of a lead MT derivative called CLR01, from an inhibitor of protein aggregation in vitro to a drug candidate showing effective amelioration of disease symptoms in animal models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
PMCID: PMC4261945  PMID: 23859557
Amyloid; Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; inhibitor; oligomer; lysine; molecular tweezers
15.  Mitochondrial Biogenesis: Regulation By Endogenous Gases during Inflammation and Organ Stress 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(35):5653-5662.
The influence of mitochondrial dysfunction on pathological states involving inflammatory and/or oxidative stress in tissues that do not show frank cellular apoptosis or necrosis has been rather difficult to unravel, and the literature is replete with contradictory information. Although such discrepancies have many potential causes related to the type of injurious agent, the severity and duration of the injury, and the particular cells and tissues and the functions involved, it is the successful induction of cellular adaptive responses that ultimately governs the resolution of mitochondrial dysfunction and survival of the cell. Much recent attention has been devoted to unraveling the signaling pathways that activate mitochondrial biogenesis and other processes involved in mitochondrial quality control (QC) during inflammatory and oxidative stress with an eye towards the development of novel targets for therapeutic mitigation of the resultant tissue damage. This review provides a brief overview of this emerging field with an emphasis on the role of signaling through the endogenous gases (NO, CO and H2S) and a redox-based approach that brings transparency to key factors that contribute to the resolution of mitochondrial dysfunction and the maintenance of cell vitality. We make the case that targeted stimulation of mitochondrial biogenesis could be a potentially valuable approach for the development of new therapies for the treatment of diseases for which mitochondrial damage is a major consideration.
PMCID: PMC4276344  PMID: 24606800
16.  Oxytocin – A Multifunctional Analgesic for Chronic Deep Tissue Pain 
Current pharmaceutical design  2015;21(7):906-913.
The treatment of chronic pain arising from deep tissues is currently inadequate and there is need for new pharmacological agents to provide analgesia. The endogenous paracrine hormone/neurotransmitter oxytocin is intimately involved in the modulation of multiple physiological and psychological functions. Recent experiments have given clear evidence for a role of oxytocin in the modulation of nociception. The present article reviews the existent human and basic science data related to the direct and indirect effects of oxytocin on pain. Due to its analgesic, anxiolytic, antidepressant and other central nervous system effects, there is strong evidence that oxytocin and other drugs acting through the oxytocin receptor could act as multifunctional analgesics with unique therapeutic value.
PMCID: PMC4276444  PMID: 25345612
oxytocin; visceral pain; musculoskeletal pain; nociception; analgesics; anxiolytics
17.  Removal of the Tag from His-tagged ILYd4, a Human CD59 Inhibitor, Significantly Improves its Physical Properties and its Activity 
Current pharmaceutical design  2012;18(27):4187-4196.
Complement dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) significantly contributes to Rituximab (RTX) and Ofatumumab (OFA) efficacies in the treatment of B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Human CD59 (hCD59) is a key complement regulatory protein that restricts the formation of the membrane attack complex and thereby inhibits CDC. hCD59 is an important determinant of the sensitivity of NHL and CLL to RTX and OFA treatment. Recently, we developed a specific and potent hCD59 inhibitor, His-tagged ILYd4, which consists of 30 amino acid sequences extending from the N-terminus of ILYd4. Our previously published results indicate that His-tagged ILYd4 can be used as a lead candidate to further develop a potential therapeutic adjuvant for RTX and OFA treatment of RTX-resistant NHL and CLL. However, these studies were conducted using ILYd4 tagged on the N-terminus with 30 additional amino acids (AA) containing 6 X His used for immobilized metal affinity chromatograph. As a further step towards the development of ILYd4-based therapeutics, we investigated the impact of the removal of this extraneous sequence on the anti-hCD59 activity. In this paper, we report the generation and characterization of tag-free ILYd4. We demonstrate that tag-free ILYd4 has over three-fold higher anti-hCD59 activities than the His-tagged ILYd4. The enhanced RTX-mediated CDC effect on B-cell malignant cells comes from tag-free ILYd4’s improved functionality and physical properties including better solubility, reduced tendency to aggregation, and greater thermal stability. Therefore, tag-free ILYd4 is a better candidate for the further development for the clinical application.
PMCID: PMC4279449  PMID: 22642361
Rituximab; complement; CD59; intermedilysin; his-tag
19.  Plasmodium Drug Targets Outside the Genetic Control of the Parasite 
Current pharmaceutical design  2013;19(2):282-289.
Drug development often seeks to find “magic bullets” which target microbiologic proteins while not affecting host proteins. Paul Ehrlich tested methylene blue as an antimalarial but this dye was not superior to quinine. Many successful antimalarial therapies are “magic shotguns” which target many Plasmodium pathways with little interference in host metabolism. Two malaria drug classes, the 8-aminoquinolines and the artemisinins interact with cytochrome P450s and host iron protoporphyrin IX or iron, respectively, to generate toxic metabolites and/or radicals, which kill the parasite by interference with many proteins. The non 8-amino antimalarial quinolines like quinine or piperaquine bind heme to inhibit the process of heme crystallization, which results in multiple enzyme inhibition and membrane dysfunction. The quinolines and artemisinins are rapidly parasiticidal in contrast to metal chelators, which have a slower parasite clearance rate with higher drug concentrations. Iron chelators interfere with the artemisinins but otherwise represent a strategy of targeting multiple enzymes containing iron. Interest has been revived in antineoplastic drugs that target DNA metabolism as antimalarials. Specific drug targeting or investigation of the innate immunity directed to the more permeable trophozoite or schizont infected erythrocyte membrane has been under explored. Novel drug classes in the antimalarial development pipeline which either target multiple proteins or unchangeable cellular targets will slow the pace of drug resistance acquisition.
PMCID: PMC4263254  PMID: 22973888
Heme; drug; iron; malaria; host defense peptide
20.  Opioid-induced Cardioprotection 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(36):5696-5705.
Ischemic heart disease and myocardial infarction continue to be leading causes of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Activation of opioid, adenosine, bradykinin, adrenergic and other G-protein coupled receptors have been found to be cardioprotective. κ- and/or δ-opioid receptor activation is involved in direct myocardial protection, while the role of μ-opioid receptors seems less clear. In addition, differential affinities to the three opioid-receptor subtypes by various agonists and cross-talk among different G-protein coupled receptors render conclusions regarding opioid-mediated cardioprotection challenging. The present review will focus on the protective effects of endogenously released opioid peptides as well as exogenously administered opioids such as morphine, fentanyl, remifentanil, butorphanol, and methadone against myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury. Receptor heterodimerization and cross-talk as well as interactions with other cardioprotective techniques will be discussed. Implications for opioid-induced cardioprotection in humans and for future drug development to improve myocardial salvage will be provided.
PMCID: PMC4216587  PMID: 24502571
21.  Targeting Mitochondrial Bioenergetics for Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment 
Current pharmaceutical design  2011;17(31):3474-3479.
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease with a complex and progressive pathological phenotype characterized first by hypometabolism and impaired mitochondrial bioenergetics followed by pathological burden. The progressive and multifaceted degenerative phenotype of Alzheimer’s suggests that successful treatment strategies necessarily will be equally multi-faceted and disease stage specific. Traditional therapeutic strategies based on the pathological aspect of the disease have achieved success in preclinical models which has not translated into clinical therapeutic efficacy. Meanwhile, increasing evidence indicates an antecedent and potentially causal role of mitochondrial bioenergetic deficits and brain hypometabolism coupled with increased mitochondrial oxidative stress in AD pathogenesis. The essential role of mitochondrial bioenergetics and the unique trajectory of alterations in brain metabolic capacity enable a bioenergetic-centric strategy that targets disease-stage specific pattern of brain metabolism for disease prevention and treatment. A combination of nutraceutical and pharmaceutical intervention that enhances glucose-driven metabolic activity and potentiates mitochondrial bioenergetic function could prevent the antecedent decline in brain glucose metabolism, promote healthy aging and prevent AD. Alternatively, during the prodromal incipient phase of AD, sustained activation of ketogenic metabolic pathways coupled with supplement of the alternative fuel source, ketone bodies, could sustain mitochondrial bioenergetic function to prevent or delay further progression of the disease.
PMCID: PMC4209948  PMID: 21902662
Mitochondria; Bioenergetics; Alzheimer’s disease; Ketogenesis; Hypometabolism; Oxidative Stress
22.  LFA-1 on Leukemic Cells as a Target for Therapy or Drug Delivery 
Current pharmaceutical design  2010;16(21):2321-2330.
Leukemia therapeutics are aiming for improved efficacy by targeting molecular markers differentially expressed on cancerous cells. Lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1) expression on various types of leukemia has been well studied. Here, the role and expression of LFA-1 on leukemic cells and the possibility of using this integrin as a target for drug delivery is reviewed. To support this rationale, experimental results were also included where cIBR, a cyclic peptide derived from a binding site of LFA-1, was conjugated to the surface of polymeric nanoparticles and used as a targeting ligand. These studies revealed a correlation of LFA-1 expression level on leukemic cell lines and binding and internalization of cIBR-NPs suggesting a differential binding and internalization of cIBR-NPs to leukemic cells overexpressing LFA-1. Nanoparticles conjugated with a cyclic peptide against an accessible molecular marker of disease hold promise as a selective drug delivery system for leukemia treatment.
PMCID: PMC4207650  PMID: 20618153
HL-60 cell line; LFA-1; leukemia; Molt-3 cell line; Molt-4 cell line; peptide; nanoparticles; targeting; U937 cell line
23.  New Insights into the Treatment of Multiple Myeloma with Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors 
Current pharmaceutical design  2013;19(4):734-744.
Multiple Myeloma (MM) is a common hematologic malignancy of plasma cells representing an excellent model of epigenomics dysregulation in human disease. Importantly, these findings, in addition to provide a better understanding of the underlying molecular changes leading to this malignance, furnish the basis for an innovative therapeutic approach. Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACIs), including Vorinostat and Panobinostat, represent a novel class of drugs targeting enzymes involved in epigenetic regulation of gene expression, which have been evaluated also for the treatment of multiple myeloma. Although the clinical role in this setting is evolving and their precise utility remains to be determined, to date that single-agent anti-MM activity is modest. More importantly, HDACIs appear to be synergistic both in vitro and in vivo when combined with other anti-MM agents, mainly proteasome inhibitors including bortezomib. The molecular basis underlying this synergism seems to be multifactorial and involves interference with protein degradation as well as the interaction of myeloma cells with microenvironment. Here we review molecular events underling antitumor effects of HDACIs and the most recent results of clinical trials in relapsed and refractory MM.
PMCID: PMC4171085  PMID: 23016853
Multiple myeloma; HDACIs; apoptosis; proteasome inhibitor; novel therapy
24.  Signaling epicenters: The role of caveolae and caveolins in volatile anesthetic induced cardiac protection 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(36):5681-5689.
Caveolae are flask-like invaginations of the cell surface that have been identified as signaling epicenters. Within these microdomains, caveolins are structural proteins of caveolae, which are able to interact with numerous signaling molecules affecting temporal and spatial dimensions required in cardiac protection. This complex moiety is essential to the mechanisms involved in volatile anesthetics. In this review, we will outline a general overview of caveolae and caveolins and their role in protective signaling, with a focus on the effects of volatile anesthetics. These recent developments have allowed us to better understand the mechanistic effect of volatile anesthetics and their potential in cardiac protection.
PMCID: PMC4119864  PMID: 24502576
caveolae; caveolin; lipid raft; volatile anesthetics; cardiac protection
25.  Anesthetic Cardioprotection: The Role of Adenosine 
Current pharmaceutical design  2014;20(36):5690-5695.
Brief periods of cardiac ischemia and reperfusion exert a protective effect against subsequent longer ischemic periods, a phenomenon coined ischemic preconditioning. Similar, repeated brief episodes of coronary occlusion and reperfusion at the onset of reperfusion, called post-conditioning, dramatically reduce infarct sizes. Interestingly, both effects can be achieved by the administration of any volatile anesthetic. In fact, cardio-protection by volatile anesthetics is an older phenomenon than ischemic pre- or post-conditioning. Although the mechanism through which anesthetics can mimic ischemic pre- or post-conditioning is still unknown, adenosine generation and signaling are the most redundant triggers in ischemic pre- or postconditioning. In fact, adenosine signaling has been implicated in isoflurane-mediated cardioprotection. Adenosine acts via four receptors designated as A1, A2a, A2b, and A3. Cardioprotection has been associated with all subtypes, although the role of each remains controversial. Much of the controversy stems from the abundance of receptor agonists and antagonists that are, in fact, capable of interacting with multiple receptor subtypes. Recently, more specific receptor agonists and new genetic animal models have become available paving way towards new discoveries. As such, the adenosine A2b receptor was shown to be the only 1 of the adenosine receptors whose cardiac expression is induced by ischemia in both mice and humans and whose function is implicated in ischemic pre- or post-conditioning. In the current review, we will focus on adenosine signaling in the context of anesthetic cardioprotection and will highlight new discoveries, which could lead to new therapeutic concepts to treat myocardial ischemia using anesthetic preconditioning.
PMCID: PMC4119865  PMID: 24502579

Results 1-25 (233)