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1.  VGF and striatal cell damage in in vitro and in vivo models of Huntington’s disease 
Huntington’s disease (HD) is an inherited genetic disorder, characterized by cognitive dysfunction and abnormal body movements, and at present there is no effective treatment for HD. Therapeutic options for HD are limited to symptomatic treatment approaches and there is no cure for this devastating disease. Here, we examined whether SUN N8075, (2S)-1-(4-amino-2,3,5-trimethylphenoxy)-3-{4-[4-(4-fluorobenzyl)phenyl]-1-piperazinyl}-2-propanol dimethanesulfonate, which exerts neuroprotective effects by antioxidant effects and induction of VGF nerve growth factor inducible (VGF), has beneficial effects in STHdh cells derived from striatum of knock-in HD mice and R6/2 HD mice. In an in vitro study, SUN N8075 inhibited the cell death caused by mutant huntingtin (mHtt) and upregulated the VGF mRNA level via the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2). Furthermore, 30 amino acid of VGF C-terminal peptide, AQEE-30 inhibited the cell death and the aggregation of mHtt. In an in vivo study, SUN N8075 improved the survival and the clasping response in the R6/2 mice. Furthermore, SUN N8075 increased the number of surviving neurons in the striatum of the R6/2 mice. These findings suggest that SUN N8075 may be an effective candidate for HD treatments.
PMCID: PMC4492756  PMID: 26171223
AQEE-30; Huntington’s disease; neuroprotection; SUN N8075; VGF
2.  The effect of triamcinolone acetonide on laser-induced choroidal neovascularization in mice using a hypoxia visualization bio-imaging probe 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:9898.
Hypoxic stress is a risk factor of ocular neovascularization. Hypoxia visualization may provide clues regarding the underlying cause of angiogenesis. Recently, we developed a hypoxia-specific probe, protein transduction domain-oxygen-dependent degradation domain-HaloTag-Rhodamine (POH-Rhodamine). In this study, we observed the localization of HIF-1α proteins by immunohistochemistry and the fluorescence of POH-Rhodamine on RPE-choroid flat mounts. Moreover, we compared the localization of POH-Rhodamine with pimonidazole which is a standard reagent for detecting hypoxia. Next, we investigated the effects of triamcinolone acetonide (TAAC) against visual function that was evaluated by recording electroretinogram (ERG) and choroidal neovascularization (CNV) development. Mice were given laser-induced CNV using a diode laser and treated with intravitreal injection of TAAC. Finally, we investigated POH-Rhodamine on CNV treated with TAAC. In this study, the fluorescence of POH-Rhodamine and HIF-1α were co-localized in laser-irradiated sites, and both the POH-Rhodamine and pimonidazole fluorescent areas were almost the same. Intravitreal injection of TAAC restored the reduced ERG b-wave but not the a-wave and decreased the mean CNV area. Furthermore, the area of the POH-Rhodamine-positive cells decreased. These findings indicate that POH-Rhodamine is useful for evaluating tissue hypoxia in a laser-induced CNV model, suggesting that TAAC suppressed CNV through tissue hypoxia improvement.
PMCID: PMC4415651  PMID: 25927172
3.  Progranulin, a Major Secreted Protein of Mouse Adipose-Derived Stem Cells, Inhibits Light-Induced Retinal Degeneration 
The authors examined the protective effects of adipose-derived stem cells and adipose-derived stem cell-conditioned medium (ASC-CM) against retinal damage and identified the neuroprotective factors in ASC-CM. The findings suggest that ASC-CM and progranulin have neuroprotective effects in the light-induced retinal-damage model. Progranulin may be a potential target for the treatment of the degenerative diseases of the retina.
Adipose tissue stromal vascular fraction contains mesenchymal stem cells, which show protective effects when administered to damaged tissues, mainly through secreted trophic factors. We examined the protective effects of adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) and ASC-conditioned medium (ASC-CM) against retinal damage and identified the neuroprotective factors in ASC-CM. ASCs and mature adipocytes were isolated from mouse subcutaneous tissue. ASCs were injected intravitreally in a mouse model of light-induced retinal damage, and ASC injection recovered retinal function as measured by electroretinogram and inhibited outer nuclear layer, thinning, without engraftment of ASCs. ASC-CM and mature adipocyte-conditioned medium were collected after 72 hours of culture. In vitro, H2O2- and light-induced cell death was reduced in a photoreceptor cell line with ASC-CM but not with mature adipocyte-conditioned medium. In vivo, light-induced photoreceptor damage was evaluated by measurement of outer nuclear layer thickness at 5 days after light exposure and by electroretinogram recording. ASC-CM significantly inhibited photoreceptor degeneration and retinal dysfunction after light exposure. Progranulin was identified as a major secreted protein of ASCs that showed protective effects against retinal damage in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, progranulin phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase, cAMP response element binding protein, and hepatocyte growth factor receptor, and protein kinase C signaling pathways were involved in the protective effects of progranulin. These findings suggest that ASC-CM and progranulin have neuroprotective effects in the light-induced retinal-damage model. Progranulin may be a potential target for the treatment of the degenerative diseases of the retina.
PMCID: PMC3902284  PMID: 24233842
Progranulin; Adipose-derived stem cell; Photoreceptor; Retina; Light-induced photoreceptor cell death
4.  Diabetes Mellitus Aggravates Hemorrhagic Transformation after Ischemic Stroke via Mitochondrial Defects Leading to Endothelial Apoptosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e103818.
Diabetes is a crucial risk factor for stroke and is associated with increased frequency and poor prognosis. Although endothelial dysfunction is a known contributor of stroke, the underlying mechanisms have not been elucidated. The aim of this study was to elucidate the mechanism by which chronic hyperglycemia may contribute to the worsened prognosis following stroke, especially focusing on mitochondrial alterations. We examined the effect of hyperglycemia on hemorrhagic transformation at 24 hours after middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) in streptozotocin (STZ) -induced diabetic mice. We also examined the effects of high-glucose exposure for 6 days on cell death, mitochondrial functions and morphology in human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMVECs) or human endothelial cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iCell endothelial cells). Hyperglycemia aggravated hemorrhagic transformation, but not infarction following stroke. High-glucose exposure increased apoptosis, capase-3 activity, and release of apoptosis inducing factor (AIF) and cytochrome c in HBMVECs as well as affected mitochondrial functions (decreased cell proliferation, ATP contents, mitochondrial membrane potential, and increased matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 activity, but not reactive oxygen species production). Furthermore, morphological aberration of mitochondria was observed in diabetic cells (a great deal of fragmentation, vacuolation, and cristae disruption). A similar phenomena were seen also in iCell endothelial cells. In conclusion, chronic hyperglycemia aggravated hemorrhagic transformation after stroke through mitochondrial dysfunction and morphological alteration, partially via MMP-9 activation, leading to caspase-dependent apoptosis of endothelial cells of diabetic mice. Mitochondria-targeting therapy may be a clinically innovative therapeutic strategy for diabetic complications in the future.
PMCID: PMC4136737  PMID: 25133692
5.  Damage of photoreceptor-derived cells in culture induced by light emitting diode-derived blue light 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:5223.
Our eyes are increasingly exposed to light from the emitting diode (LED) light of video display terminals (VDT) which contain much blue light. VDTs are equipped with televisions, personal computers, and smart phones. The present study aims to clarify the mechanism underlying blue LED light-induced photoreceptor cell damage. Murine cone photoreceptor-derived cells (661 W) were exposed to blue, white, or green LED light (0.38 mW/cm2). In the present study, blue LED light increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, altered the protein expression level, induced the aggregation of short-wavelength opsins (S-opsin), resulting in severe cell damage. While, blue LED light damaged the primary retinal cells and the damage was photoreceptor specific. N-Acetylcysteine (NAC), an antioxidant, protected against the cellular damage induced by blue LED light. Overall, the LED light induced cell damage was wavelength-, but not energy-dependent and may cause more severe retinal photoreceptor cell damage than the other LED light.
PMCID: PMC4048889  PMID: 24909301
6.  Protective effects of bilberry and lingonberry extracts against blue light-emitting diode light-induced retinal photoreceptor cell damage in vitro 
Blue light is a high-energy or short-wavelength visible light, which induces retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) and lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) contain high amounts of polyphenols (anthocyanins, resveratrol, and proanthocyanidins) and thus confer health benefits. This study aimed to determine the protective effects and mechanism of action of bilberry extract (B-ext) and lingonberry extract (L-ext) and their active components against blue light-emitting diode (LED) light-induced retinal photoreceptor cell damage.
Cultured murine photoreceptor (661 W) cells were exposed to blue LED light following treatment with B-ext, L-ext, or their constituents (cyanidin, delphinidin, malvidin, trans-resveratrol, and procyanidin B2). 661 W cell viability was assessed using a tetrazolium salt (WST-8) assay and Hoechst 33342 nuclear staining, and intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) production was determined using CM-H2DCFDA after blue LED light exposure. Activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK), nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB), and LC3, an ubiquitin-like protein that is necessary for the formation of autophagosomes, were analyzed using Western blotting. Caspase-3/7 activation caused by blue LED light exposure in 661 W cells was determined using a caspase-3/7 assay kit.
B-ext, L-ext, NAC, and their active components improved the viability of 661 W cells and inhibited the generation of intracellular ROS induced by blue LED light irradiation. Furthermore, B-ext and L-ext inhibited the activation of p38 MAPK and NF-κB induced by blue LED light exposure. Finally, B-ext, L-ext, and NAC inhibited caspase-3/7 activation and autophagy.
These findings suggest that B-ext and L-ext containing high amounts of polyphenols exert protective effects against blue LED light-induced retinal photoreceptor cell damage mainly through inhibition of ROS production and activation of pro-apoptotic proteins.
PMCID: PMC3992157  PMID: 24690313
Anthocyanin; Bilberry; Blue LED light; Lingonberry; Proanthocyanidin; Resveratrol; Retinal photoreceptor
7.  The Effects of Brazilian Green Propolis against Excessive Light-Induced Cell Damage in Retina and Fibroblast Cells 
Background. We investigated the effects of Brazilian green propolis and its constituents against white light- or UVA-induced cell damage in mouse retinal cone-cell line 661W or human skin-derived fibroblast cells (NB1-RGB). Methods. Cell damage was induced by 3,000lx white light for 24 h or 4/10 J/cm2 UVA exposure. Cell viability was assessed by Hoechst33342 and propidium iodide staining or by tetrazolium salt (WST-8) cell viability assay. The radical scavenging activity of propolis induced by UVA irradiation in NB1-RGB cells was measured using a reactive-oxygen-species- (ROS-) sensitive probe CM-H2DCFDA. Moreover, the effects of propolis on the UVA-induced activation of p38 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) were examined by immunoblotting. Results. Treatment with propolis and two dicaffeoylquinic acids significantly inhibited the decrease in cell viability induced by white light in 661W. Propolis and its constituents inhibited the decrease in cell viability induced by UVA in NB1-RGB. Moreover, propolis suppressed the intracellular ROS production by UVA irradiation. Propolis also inhibited the levels of phosphorylated-p38 and ERK by UVA irradiation. Conclusion. Brazilian green propolis may become a major therapeutic candidate for the treatment of AMD and skin damage induced by UV irradiation.
PMCID: PMC3876711  PMID: 24416064
8.  Involvement of Mincle and Syk in the changes to innate immunity after ischemic stroke 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:3177.
Accumulating evidence shows that post-ischemic inflammation originated by Toll-like receptors (TLR) plays critical roles in ischemic stroke. However, the functions of other innate immune receptors are poorly understood in cerebral ischemia. Macrophage-inducible C-type lectin, Mincle, is one of the innate immune receptor C-type lectin-like receptor (CLR) to response against dying cells. In the present study, we showed that Mincle, its ligand SAP130, and its downstream phospho-Syk/Syk were upregulated after ischemia, and that Mincle is expressed in immune and non-immune cells in the ischemic brains of mice and human. We treated mice with piceatannol, a Syk inhibitor, and consequently the infarct volume and swelling were suppressed by piceatannol. The levels of phospho-Syk, MMP9 and ICAM-1 were downregulated, and the level of Claudin5 was uplegurated in piceatannol-treated groups. These data indicate that innate immune system, such as Mincle and Syk plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis after the ischemia and reperfusion.
PMCID: PMC3822396  PMID: 24212132
9.  Cilostazol prevents retinal ischemic damage partly via inhibition of tumor necrosis factor-α-induced nuclear factor-kappa B/activator protein-1 signaling pathway 
Cilostazol is a specific inhibitor of phosphodiesterase III and is widely used to treat ischemic symptoms of peripheral vascular disease. We evaluated the protective effects of cilostazol in a murine model of ocular ischemic syndrome in which retinal ischemia was induced by 5-h unilateral ligation of both the pterygopalatine artery (PPA) and the external carotid artery (ECA) in anesthetized mice. The effects of cilostazol (30 mg/kg, p.o.) on ischemia/reperfusion (I/R)-induced retinal damage were examined by histological, retinal vascular permeability, and electrophysiological analyses. Using immunoblotting, the protective mechanism for cilostazol was evaluated by examining antiinflammatory effects of cilostazol on the expression of tumor necrosis factors-α (TNF-α) and tight junction proteins (ZO-1 and claudin-5), and the phosphorylations of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) and c-Jun. The histological analysis revealed that I/R decreased the cell number in the ganglion cell layer (GCL) and the thicknesses of the inner plexiform layer (IPL) and inner nuclear layer (INL), and that cilostazol attenuated these decreases. Additionally, cilostazol prevented the hyperpermeability of blood vessels. Electroretinogram (ERG) measurements revealed that cilostazol prevented the I/R-induced reductions in a-, b-, and oscillatory potential (OP) wave amplitudes seen at 5 days after I/R. Cilostazol inhibited the increased expression of TNF-α and the phosphorylation levels of NF-κB and c-Jun in the retina after I/R. In addition, cilostazol prevented TNF-α-induced reduction of ZO-1 and claudin-5 expression in human retinal microvascular endothelial cells (HRMECs). These findings indicate that cilostazol may prevent I/R-induced retinal damage partly through inhibition of TNF-α-induced NF-κB/AP-1 signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC4184571  PMID: 25505560
Activator protein-1; cilostazol; inflammation; nuclear factor-kappa B; ocular ischemic syndrome; phosphodiesterase III inhibitor; retinal microvascular endothelial cells; tight junction proteins; tumor necrosis factor-α
10.  The growth factor progranulin attenuates neuronal injury induced by cerebral ischemia-reperfusion through the suppression of neutrophil recruitment 
To improve the clinical outcome of patients who suffered ischemic stroke, cerebral ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury is one of the major concerns that should be conquered. Inflammatory reactions are considered a major contributor to brain injury following cerebral ischemia, and I/R exacerbates these reactions. The aim of this study was to investigate the possible ameliorative effects of progranulin (PGRN) against I/R injury in mice.
In vivo I/R was induced in four-week-old male ddY mice by 2 h of MCAO (middle cerebral artery occlusion) followed by 22 h of reperfusion. We evaluate expression of PGRN in I/R brain, efficacy of recombinant-PGRN (r-PGRN) treatment and its therapeutic time-window on I/R injury. Two hours after MCAO, 1.0 ng of r-PRGN or PBS was administered via intracerebroventricular. We assess neutrophil infiltration, expression of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and phosphorylation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) by immunofluorescense staining and Western blotting. We also investigate neutrophil chemotaxis and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) expression in vitro inflammation models using isolated neutrophils and endothelial cells.
We found that expression of PGRN was decreased in the I/R mouse brain. r-PGRN treatment at 2 h after MCAO resulted in a reduction in the infarct volume and decreased brain swelling; this led to an improvement in neurological scores and to a reduction of mortality rate at 24 h and 7 d after MCAO, respectively. Immunohistochemistry, Western blotting, and gelatin zymography also confirmed that r-PGRN treatment suppressed neutrophil recruitment into the I/R brain, and this led to a reduction of NF-κB and MMP-9 activation. In the in vitro inflammation models, PGRN suppressed both the neutrophil chemotaxis and ICAM-1 expression caused by TNF-α in endothelial cells.
PGRN exerted ameliorative effects against I/R-induced inflammation, and these effects may be due to the inhibition of neutrophil recruitment into the I/R brain.
PMCID: PMC3765381  PMID: 23972823
Cerebral ischemia-reperfusion; Inflammation; Progranulin; Neuroprotection; Neutrophil recruitment
11.  Mild Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Promotes Retinal Neovascularization via Induction of BiP/GRP78 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e60517.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress occurs as a result of accumulation of unfolded or misfolded proteins in the ER and is involved in the mechanisms of various diseases, such as cancer and neurodegeneration. The goal of the present study was to clarify the relationship between ER stress and pathological neovascularization in the retina. Proliferation and migration of human retinal microvascular endothelial cells (HRMEC) were assessed in the presence of ER stress inducers, such as tunicamycin and thapsigargin. The expression of ER chaperone immunoglobulin heavy-chain binding protein (BiP), known as Grp78, was evaluated by real time RT-PCR, immunostaining, and Western blotting. Tunicamycin or thapsigargin was injected into the intravitreal body of oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) model mice at postnatal day 14 (P14) and retinal neovascularization was quantified at P17. The expression and localization of BiP in the retina was also evaluated in the OIR model. Exposure to tunicamycin and thapsigargin increased the proliferation and migration of HRMEC. Tunicamycin enhanced the expression of BiP in HRMEC at both the mRNA level and at the protein level on the cell surface, and increased the formation of a BiP/T-cadherin immunocomplex. In OIR model mice, retinal neovascularization was accelerated by treatments with ER stress inducers. BiP was particularly observed in the pathological vasculature and retinal microvascular endothelial cells, and the increase of BiP expression was correlated with retinal neovascularization. In conclusion, ER stress may contribute to the formation of abnormal vasculature in the retina via BiP complexation with T-cadherin, which then promotes endothelial cell proliferation and migration.
PMCID: PMC3609792  PMID: 23544152
12.  Pharmacological inhibition of TLR4-NOX4 signal protects against neuronal death in transient focal ischemia 
Scientific Reports  2012;2:896.
Recent data have shown that TLR4 performs a key role in cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury which serves as the origin of the immunological inflammatory reactions. However, the therapeutic effects of pharmacological inhibitions of TLR4 and its immediate down-stream pathway remain to be uncovered. In the present study, on mice, intracerebroventricular injection of resatorvid (TLR4 signal inhibitor; 0.01 μg) significantly reduced infarct volume and improved neurological score after middle cerebral artery occlusion and reperfusion. The levels of phospho-p38, nuclear factor-kappa B, and matrix metalloproteinase 9 expressions were significantly suppressed in the resatorvid-treated group. In addition, NOX4 associates with TLR4 after cerebral ischemia-reperfusion seen in mice and human. Genetic and pharmacological inhibitions of TLR4 each reduced NOX4 expression, leading to suppression of oxidative/nitrative stress and of neuronal apoptosis. These data suggest that resatorvid has potential as a therapeutic agent for stroke since it inhibits TLR4-NOX4 signaling which may be the predominant causal pathway.
PMCID: PMC3508453  PMID: 23193438
13.  Laxative effects and mechanism of action of Brazilian green propolis 
Brazilian green propolis is reported to have wide range of biological properties including antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-influenza, and antioxidant activities. In the digestive system, a protective effect of propolis on gastric ulcer has been reported, but a laxative effect has not yet been reported. We investigated the effect and the mechanism of action of water and ethanol extracts of Brazilian green propolis.
We examined the laxative effect of propolis on stool frequency by administering orally an ethanol extract of propolis (EEP) or a water extract of propolis (WEP) at 10, 50, 100, or 500 mg/kg to normal mice. We then investigated the effects of propolis using constipation model mice induced by two types of drugs, loperamide (a μ opioid receptor agonist) and clonidine (an α-2 adrenergic receptor agonist). We also investigated the effects of WEP on gastrointestinal transit and contractional tension of the ileum to uncover the mechanism of action of WEP.
Treatment with WEP, but not with EEP, significantly increased the weight of stools (p<0.01 at 500 mg/kg). WEP treatment significantly restored stool frequency and stool weight in clonidine-induced constipation model mice, but not in loperamide-induced constipation model mice. WEP treatment did not affect gastro-intestinal transit, but significantly increased the contractional tension of the isolated ileum of guinea pigs. This increase was inhibited by an acetylcholine receptor antagonist (atropine), but not by a 5-HT receptor antagonist (GR113808).
These findings indicate that WEP has laxative effects both in normal mice and in clonidine-induced constipation model mice. The laxative effects of WEP might be mediated by increased contractional tension of the ileum exerted at least in part via activation of an acetylcholine receptor.
PMCID: PMC3487869  PMID: 23088672
Propolis; Laxative; Acetylcholine receptor; Water extract
14.  The potential of GPNMB as novel neuroprotective factor in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Scientific Reports  2012;2:573.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an incurable and fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by the loss of motor neurons. Despite substantial research, the causes of ALS remain unclear. Glycoprotein nonmetastatic melanoma protein B (GPNMB) was identified as an ALS-related factor using DNA microarray analysis with mutant superoxide dismutase (SOD1G93A) mice. GPNMB was greatly induced in the spinal cords of ALS patients and a mouse model as the disease progressed. It was especially expressed in motor neurons and astrocytes. In an NSC34 cell line, glycosylation of GPNMB was inhibited by interaction with SOD1G93A, increasing motor neuron vulnerability, whereas extracellular fragments of GPNMB secreted from activated astrocytes attenuated the neurotoxicity of SOD1G93A in neural cells. Furthermore, GPNMB expression was substantial in the sera of sporadic ALS patients than that of other diseased patients. This study suggests that GPNMB can be a target for therapeutic intervention for suppressing motor neuron degeneration in ALS.
PMCID: PMC3417778  PMID: 22891158
15.  Diacylglycerol Kinase β Knockout Mice Exhibit Attention-Deficit Behavior and an Abnormal Response on Methylphenidate-Induced Hyperactivity 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37058.
Diacylglycerol kinase (DGK) is an enzyme that phosphorylates diacylglycerol to produce phosphatidic acid. DGKβ is one of the subtypes of the DGK family and regulates many intracellular signaling pathways in the central nervous system. Previously, we demonstrated that DGKβ knockout (KO) mice showed various dysfunctions of higher brain function, such as cognitive impairment (with lower spine density), hyperactivity, reduced anxiety, and careless behavior. In the present study, we conducted further tests on DGKβ KO mice in order to investigate the function of DGKβ in the central nervous system, especially in the pathophysiology of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Methodology/Principal Findings
DGKβ KO mice showed attention-deficit behavior in the object-based attention test and it was ameliorated by methylphenidate (MPH, 30 mg/kg, i.p.). In the open field test, DGKβ KO mice displayed a decreased response to the locomotor stimulating effects of MPH (30 mg/kg, i.p.), but showed a similar response to an N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, MK-801 (0.3 mg/kg, i.p.), when compared to WT mice. Examination of the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), which is involved in regulation of locomotor activity, indicated that ERK1/2 activation induced by MPH treatment was defective in the striatum of DGKβ KO mice.
These findings suggest that DGKβ KO mice showed attention-deficit and hyperactive phenotype, similar to ADHD. Furthermore, the hyporesponsiveness of DGKβ KO mice to MPH was due to dysregulation of ERK phosphorylation, and that DGKβ has a pivotal involvement in ERK regulation in the striatum.
PMCID: PMC3349656  PMID: 22590645
16.  Morphological and Functional Changes in the Retina after Chronic Oxygen-Induced Retinopathy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e32167.
The mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) has been widely used for studies of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). This disorder, characterized by abnormal vascularization of the retina, tends to occur in low birth weight neonates after exposure to high supplemental oxygen. Currently, the incidence of ROP is increasing because of increased survival of these infants due to medical progress. However, little is known about changes in the chronic phase after ROP. Therefore, in this study, we examined morphological and functional changes in the retina using a chronic OIR model. Both the a- and b-waves in the OIR model recovered in a time-dependent manner at 4 weeks (w), 6 w, and 8 w, but the oscillatory potential (OP) amplitudes remained depressed following a return to normoxic conditions. Furthermore, decrease in the thicknesses of the inner plexiform layer (IPL) and inner nuclear layer (INL) at postnatal day (P) 17, 4 w, and 8 w and hyperpermeability of blood vessels were observed in conjunction with the decrease in the expression of claudin-5 and occludin at 8 w. The chronic OIR model revealed the following: (1) a decrease in OP amplitudes, (2) morphological abnormalities in the retinal cells (limited to the IPL and INL) and blood vessels, and (3) an increase in retinal vascular permeability via the impairment of the tight junction proteins. These findings suggest that the experimental animal model used in this study is suitable for elucidating the pathogenesis of ROP and may lead to the development of potential therapeutic agents for ROP treatment.
PMCID: PMC3279421  PMID: 22348151
17.  Unoprostone reduces oxidative stress- and light-induced retinal cell death, and phagocytotic dysfunction, by activating BK channels 
Molecular Vision  2011;17:3556-3565.
Unoprostone isopropyl (unoprostone) is a docosanoid currently used as an antiglaucoma agent. Unoprostone is known to have neuroprotective effects and to activate large conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (BK) channels. Recently, unoprostone has been tested in clinical studies as a therapeutic agent for retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and studies have demonstrated an improvement in retinal sensitivity and in the protection of central retinal sensitivity with its use. However, the mechanism of action underlying unoprostone’s protective effect in RP is not fully known. It is well known that the pathogenesis of RP can be accelerated by oxidative stress or light irradiation. Therefore, the current study investigated the effects and the underlying mechanism of action of unoprostone on oxidative stress- and light irradiation-induced damage in photoreceptor and retinal pigment epithelial cultures.
The study used the mouse retinal cone-cell line 661W to investigate the effects of unoprostone and its major metabolite, unoprostone-free acid (M1), on oxidative stress- or light irradiation-induced cell death, and a human retinal pigment epithelial cell line (ARPE-19), was used to investigate the effects on light-induced disruption of phagocytotic function in a latex bead assay. Additionally, we examined whether the effects of unoprostone and M1 were mediated by BK channels using iberiotoxin, a selective inhibitor of BK channels.
Unoprostone and M1 protected against light- or H2O2-induced cell death in 661W cells, and against light-induced phagocytotic dysfunction in ARPE-19 cells. Additionally, iberiotoxin inhibited the protective effects of unoprostone and M1.
These findings indicate that unoprostone has protective effects on oxidative stress- and light irradiation-induced damage in vitro and that these effects are mediated by activation of BK channels. This confirms that unoprostone represents a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of RP and other retinal diseases.
PMCID: PMC3250378  PMID: 22219651
18.  An Inducer of VGF Protects Cells against ER Stress-Induced Cell Death and Prolongs Survival in the Mutant SOD1 Animal Models of Familial ALS 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15307.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most frequent adult-onset motor neuron disease, and recent evidence has suggested that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress signaling is involved in the pathogenesis of ALS. Here we identified a small molecule, SUN N8075, which has a marked protective effect on ER stress-induced cell death, in an in vitro cell-based screening, and its protective mechanism was mediated by an induction of VGF nerve growth factor inducible (VGF): VGF knockdown with siRNA completely abolished the protective effect of SUN N8075 against ER-induced cell death, and overexpression of VGF inhibited ER-stress-induced cell death. VGF level was lower in the spinal cords of sporadic ALS patients than in the control patients. Furthermore, SUN N8075 slowed disease progression and prolonged survival in mutant SOD1 transgenic mouse and rat models of ALS, preventing the decrease of VGF expression in the spinal cords of ALS mice. These data suggest that VGF plays a critical role in motor neuron survival and may be a potential new therapeutic target for ALS, and SUN N8075 may become a potential therapeutic candidate for treatment of ALS.
PMCID: PMC3000345  PMID: 21151573
19.  Phosphodiesterase-III Inhibitor Prevents Hemorrhagic Transformation Induced by Focal Cerebral Ischemia in Mice Treated with tPA 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15178.
The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether cilostazol, a phosphodiesterase-III inhibitor and antiplatelet drug, would prevent tPA-associated hemorrhagic transformation. Mice subjected to 6-h middle cerebral artery occlusion were treated with delayed tPA alone at 6 h, with combined tPA plus cilostazol at 6 h, or with vehicle at 6 h. We used multiple imaging (electron microscopy, spectroscopy), histological and neurobehavioral measures to assess the effects of the treatment at 18 h and 7 days after the reperfusion. To further investigate the mechanism of cilostazol to beneficial effect, we also performed an in vitro study with tPA and a phosphodiesterase-III inhibitor in human brain microvascular endothelial cells, pericytes, and astrocytes. Combination therapy with tPA plus cilostazol prevented development of hemorrhagic transformation, reduced brain edema, prevented endothelial injury via reduction MMP-9 activity, and prevented the blood-brain barrier opening by inhibiting decreased claudin-5 expression. These changes significantly reduced the morbidity and mortality at 18 h and 7 days after the reperfusion. Also, the administration of both drugs prevented injury to brain human endothelial cells and human brain pericytes. The present study indicates that a phosphodiesterase-III inhibitor prevents the hemorrhagic transformation induced by focal cerebral ischemia in mice treated with tPA.
PMCID: PMC2997776  PMID: 21151895
20.  Proteomic approach with LCMS-IT-TOF identified an increase of Rab33B after transient focal cerebral ischemia in mice 
Several proteins are known to be markedly expressed in the brain during cerebral ischemia; however, the changes in protein profiles within the ischemic brain after an ischemic insult have not been fully elucidated. We studied the changes in the ischemic brain proteome after focal cerebral ischemia, induced by middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) in mice.
LCMS-IT-TOF mass spectrometry was used to detect the changes in ischemic brain protein patterns after MCAO. We evaluated the protein expression detected in the ischemic area, by western blotting and immunohistochemistry.
Nine unique proteins were identified from the ischemic area at 10 h after ischemic insult. Among these proteins, we focused on Rab33b, a member of RAS oncogene family and we found that Rab33b was up-regulated in the ischemic striatum and the number of Rab33B-positive cells increased in a time-dependent manner. Rab33B colocalized with Iba-1 positive microglia in the ischemic area.
These findings suggest that LCMS-IT-TOF is useful for identifying changes in proteins after cerebral ischemia and that Rab33B is partially related to the pathogenesis of transient cerebral ischemia in mice.
PMCID: PMC3002892  PMID: 21092243
21.  Laxative effects of agarwood on low-fiber diet-induced constipation in rats 
Agarwood (Aquilaria sinensis), well known as incense in Southeast Asia, has been used as a digestive in traditional medicine. We investigated the laxative effects of an ethanol extract of agarwood leaves (EEA) in a rat model of low-fiber diet-induced constipation.
A set of rats was bred on a normal diet while another set was placed on a low-fiber diet to induce constipation. The laxative effect of agarwood was then investigated on both sets of rats.
Pretreatment of normal rats with single dose of EEA (600 mg/kg, p.o.) significantly increased frequency and weight of stools. Also, treatments with EEA (300 and 600 mg/kg, p.o.) for 14 days caused a significant increase in stool frequency and weight. Feeding of the animals with a low-fiber diet resulted in a decrease in stool weight, frequency, and water content and also delayed carmine egestion. A single treatment with EEA (600 mg/kg) or senna (150 and 300 mg/kg) significantly increased stool frequency, weight, and water content and also accelerated carmine egestion in the model rats. Once daily administrations of EEA (150 mg/kg), for 14 days, caused a significant increase in water content of stools. The higher doses of EEA (300 and 600 mg/kg) significantly increased frequency, weight, and water content of the stools while accelerating carmine egestion in the constipated rats. Senna (150 and 300 mg/kg) produced similar effect as the higher doses of EEA but, in addition, induced severe diarrhea.
These findings indicate that EEA has a laxative effect, without causing diarrhea, in a rat model of low-fiber diet-induced constipation. These findings suggest that EEA may be highly effective on constipation as a complementary medicine in humans suffering from life style-induced constipation.
PMCID: PMC2995776  PMID: 21078136
22.  Diacylglycerol Kinase β Knockout Mice Exhibit Lithium-Sensitive Behavioral Abnormalities 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13447.
Diacylglycerol kinase (DGK) is an enzyme that phosphorylates diacylglycerol (DG) to produce phosphatidic acid (PA). DGKβ is widely distributed in the central nervous system, such as the olfactory bulb, cerebral cortex, striatum, and hippocampus. Recent studies reported that the splice variant at the COOH-terminal of DGKβ was related to bipolar disorder, but its detailed mechanism is still unknown.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In the present study, we performed behavioral tests using DGKβ knockout (KO) mice to investigate the effects of DGKβ deficits on psychomotor behavior. DGKβ KO mice exhibited some behavioral abnormalities, such as hyperactivity, reduced anxiety, and reduced depression. Additionally, hyperactivity and reduced anxiety were attenuated by the administration of the mood stabilizer, lithium, but not haloperidol, diazepam, or imipramine. Moreover, DGKβ KO mice showed impairment in Akt-glycogen synthesis kinase (GSK) 3β signaling and cortical spine formation.
These findings suggest that DGKβ KO mice exhibit lithium-sensitive behavioral abnormalities that are, at least in part, due to the impairment of Akt-GSK3β signaling and cortical spine formation.
PMCID: PMC2956634  PMID: 20976192
23.  Bee products prevent VEGF-induced angiogenesis in human umbilical vein endothelial cells 
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a key regulator of pathogenic angiogenesis in diseases such as cancer and diabetic retinopathy. Bee products [royal jelly (RJ), bee pollen, and Chinese red propolis] from the honeybee, Apis mellifera, have been used as traditional health foods for centuries. The aim of this study was to investigate the anti-angiogenic effects of bee products using human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs).
In an in vitro tube formation assay, HUVECs and fibroblast cells were incubated for 14 days with VEGF and various concentrations of bee products [RJ, ethanol extract of bee pollen, ethanol extract of Chinese red propolis and its constituent, caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE)]. To clarify the mechanism of in vitro angiogenesis, HUVEC proliferation and migration were induced by VEGF with or without various concentrations of RJ, bee pollen, Chinese red propolis, and CAPE.
RJ, bee pollen, Chinese red propolis, and CAPE significantly suppressed VEGF-induced in vitro tube formation in the descending order: CAPE > Chinese red propolis >> bee pollen > RJ. RJ and Chinese red propolis suppressed both VEGF-induced HUVEC proliferation and migration. In contrast, bee pollen and CAPE suppressed only the proliferation.
Among the bee products, Chinese red propolis and CAPE in particular showed strong suppressive effects against VEGF-induced angiogenesis. These findings indicate that Chinese red propolis and CAPE may have potential as preventive and therapeutic agents against angiogenesis-related human diseases.
PMCID: PMC2783019  PMID: 19917137
24.  Comparison of bee products based on assays of antioxidant capacities 
Bee products (including propolis, royal jelly, and bee pollen) are popular, traditional health foods. We compared antioxidant effects among water and ethanol extracts of Brazilian green propolis (WEP or EEP), its main constituents, water-soluble royal jelly (RJ), and an ethanol extract of bee pollen.
The hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-, superoxide anion (O2·-)-, and hydroxyl radical (HO·)- scavenging capacities of bee products were measured using antioxidant capacity assays that employed the reactive oxygen species (ROS)-sensitive probe 5-(and-6)-chloromethyl-2',7'-dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate, acetyl ester (CM-H2DCFDA) or aminophenyl fluorescein (APF).
The rank order of antioxidant potencies was as follows: WEP > EEP > pollen, but neither RJ nor 10-hydroxy-2-decenoic acid (10-HDA) had any effects. Concerning the main constituents of WEP, the rank order of antioxidant effects was: caffeic acid > artepillin C > drupanin, but neither baccharin nor coumaric acid had any effects. The scavenging effects of caffeic acid were as powerful as those of trolox, but stronger than those of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) or vitamin C.
On the basis of the present assays, propolis is the most powerful antioxidant of all the bee product examined, and its effect may be partly due to the various caffeic acids it contains. Pollen, too, exhibited strong antioxidant effects.
PMCID: PMC2664783  PMID: 19243635

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