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1.  Compensatory Increase of Transglutaminase 2 Is Responsible for Resistance to mTOR Inhibitor Treatment 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(2):e0149388.
The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) plays a crucial role in controlling cell growth and homeostasis. Deregulation of mTOR signaling is frequently observed in some cancers, making it an attractive drug target for cancer therapy. Although mTORC1 inhibitor rapalog-based therapy has shown positive results in various pre-clinical animal cancer studies, tumors rebound upon treatment discontinuation. Moreover, several recent clinical trials showed that the mTORC1 inhibitors rapamycin and rapalog only reduce the capacity for cell proliferation without promoting cell death, consistent with the concept that rapamycin is cytostatic and reduces disease progression but is not cytotoxic. It is imperative that rapamycin-regulated events and additional targets for more effective drug combinations be identified. Here, we report that rapamycin treatment promotes a compensatory increase in transglutaminase 2 (TGM2) levels in mTORC1-driven tumors. TGM2 inhibition potently sensitizes mTORC1-hyperactive cancer cells to rapamycin treatment, and a rapamycin-induced autophagy blockade inhibits the compensatory TGM2 upregulation. More importantly, tumor regression was observed in MCF-7-xenograft tumor-bearing mice treated with both mTORC1 and TGM2 inhibitors compared with those treated with either a single inhibitor or the vehicle control. These results demonstrate a critical role for the compensatory increase in transglutaminase 2 levels in promoting mTORC1 inhibitor resistance and suggest that rational combination therapy may potentially suppress cancer therapy resistance.
PMCID: PMC4752276  PMID: 26872016
2.  Novel coumarin modified GLP-1 derivatives with enhanced plasma stability and prolonged in vivo glucose-lowering ability 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(23):5252-5264.
Background and Purpose
The short biological half-life limits the therapeutic use of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and chemical modification to improve the interaction of peptides with serum albumin represents an effective strategy to develop long-acting peptide analogues. Coumarin, a natural product, is known to bind tightly to plasma proteins and possesses many biological activities. Therefore, we designed and synthesized a series of coumarin-modified GLP-1 derivatives, hypothesizing that conjugation with coumarin would retain the therapeutic effects and prolong the biological half-life of the conjugates.
Experimental Approach
Four cysteine-modified GLP-1 analogues (1–4) were prepared using Gly8-GLP-1(7–36)-NH2 peptide as a starting point. These analogues were conjugated with two coumarin maleimides to yield eight compounds (conjugates 6–13) for testing. Activation of human GLP-1 receptors, stability to enzymic inactivation in plasma and binding to human albumin were assessed in vitro. In vivo, effects on oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTT) in rats and on blood glucose levels in db/db mice were studied.
Key Results
Most conjugates showed well preserved receptor activation efficacy, enhanced albumin-binding properties and improved in vitro plasma stability and conjugate 7 was selected to undergo further assessment. In rats, conjugate 7 had a longer circulating t1/2 than exendin-4 or liraglutide. A prolonged antidiabetic effect of conjugate 7 was observed after OGTT in rats and a prolonged hypoglycaemic effect in db/db mice.
Conclusions and Implications
Cysteine-specific coumarin conjugation with GLP-1 offers a useful approach to the development of long-acting incretin-based antidiabetic agents. Conjugate 7 is a promising long-lasting GLP-1 derivative deserving further investigation.
PMCID: PMC4294038  PMID: 25039358
3.  A narrative review of cost-effectiveness analysis of people living with HIV treated with HAART: from interventions to outcomes 
Since its introduction in 1996, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), which involves the combination of antiretroviral drugs, has resulted in significant improvements in the morbidity, mortality, and life expectancy of HIV-infected patients. Numerous studies of the cost-effectiveness of HAART from different perspectives in HIV have been reported.
To investigate the economic outcomes and relevance of HAART for people living with HIV.
Materials and methods
A narrative literature review was conducted on 22 peer-reviewed full economic evaluations of people living with HIV treated with different HAART regimens and published in English between January 2005 and December 2014. Information regarding study details, such as interventions, outcomes, and modeling methods, was extracted. The high heterogeneity of the included studies rendered a meta-analysis inappropriate; therefore, we conducted a comparative analysis of studies grouped according to the similarity of the different intervention types and outcomes.
Most of the economic evaluations of HAART focused on comparisons between the specific HAART regimens and others from the following perspectives: injecting drug users versus noninjecting drug users, HIV-infected adults without AIDS versus those with AIDS, regimens based on developed world guidelines versus those based on developing world guidelines, self-administered HAART versus directly observed HAART, and “ideal” versus “typical” regimens.
In general, HAART is more cost-effective than other therapeutic regimens adopted so far. Further investigations, especially head-to-head comparisons of “ideal” and “typical” trials of different regimen combinations, are required to identify the optimal HAART regimens.
PMCID: PMC4540173  PMID: 26316787
narrative review; cost-effectiveness; HAART
4.  HZ08 Reverse P-Glycoprotein Mediated Multidrug Resistance In Vitro and In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0116886.
Multidrug efflux transporter P-glycoprotein (P-gp) is highly expressed on membrane of tumor cells and is implicated in resistance to tumor chemotherapy. HZ08 is synthesized and studied in order to find a novel P-gp inhibitor.
MDCK-MDR1 monolayer transport, calcein-AM P-gp inhibition and P-gp ATPase assays were used to confirm the P-gp inhibition capability of HZ08. Furthermore, KB-WT and KB-VCR cells were used to evaluate the P-gp inhibitory activity of HZ08 both in vitro and in vivo.
Results showed that HZ08 was more potent than verapamil in MDCK-MDR1 monolayer transportation model. Meanwhile, P-gp ATPase assay and calcein-AM P-gp inhibition assay confirmed that HZ08 inhibited P-gp ATPase with a calcein-AM IC50 of 2.44±0.31μM. In addition, significantly greater in vitro multidrug resistance reversing effects were observed when vincristine or paclitaxel was used in combination with 10μM HZ08 compared with 10μM verapamil. Moreover, HZ08 could significantly enhance the sensitivity of vincristine with a similar effect like verapamil in both KB-WT and KB-VCR tumor xenograft models.
The novel structure HZ08 could be a potent P-gp inhibitor.
PMCID: PMC4331368  PMID: 25689592
5.  HDAC inhibitors attenuate the development of hypersensitivity in models of neuropathic pain 
Pain  2013;154(9):1668-1679.
Intrathecal delivery of histone deacetylase inhibitors ameliorates hypersensitivity in models of neuropathic pain. This effect may be mediated at the level of the spinal cord through inhibition of HDAC1 function.
Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACIs) interfere with the epigenetic process of histone acetylation and are known to have analgesic properties in models of chronic inflammatory pain. The aim of this study was to determine whether these compounds could also affect neuropathic pain. Different class I HDACIs were delivered intrathecally into rat spinal cord in models of traumatic nerve injury and antiretroviral drug–induced peripheral neuropathy (stavudine, d4T). Mechanical and thermal hypersensitivity was attenuated by 40% to 50% as a result of HDACI treatment, but only if started before any insult. The drugs globally increased histone acetylation in the spinal cord, but appeared to have no measurable effects in relevant dorsal root ganglia in this treatment paradigm, suggesting that any potential mechanism should be sought in the central nervous system. Microarray analysis of dorsal cord RNA revealed the signature of the specific compound used (MS-275) and suggested that its main effect was mediated through HDAC1. Taken together, these data support a role for histone acetylation in the emergence of neuropathic pain.
PMCID: PMC3763368  PMID: 23693161
Histone deacetylase; Histone deacetylase inhibitors; Neuropathic pain
6.  Schwann cell-specific JAM-C-deficient mice reveal novel expression and functions for JAM-C in peripheral nerves 
The FASEB Journal  2012;26(3):1064-1076.
Junctional adhesion molecule-C (JAM-C) is an adhesion molecule expressed at junctions between adjacent endothelial and epithelial cells and implicated in multiple inflammatory and vascular responses. In addition, we recently reported on the expression of JAM-C in Schwann cells (SCs) and its importance for the integrity and function of peripheral nerves. To investigate the role of JAM-C in neuronal functions further, mice with a specific deletion of JAM-C in SCs (JAM-C SC KO) were generated. Compared to wild-type (WT) controls, JAM-C SC KO mice showed electrophysiological defects, muscular weakness, and hypersensitivity to mechanical stimuli. In addressing the underlying cause of these defects, nerves from JAM-C SC KO mice were found to have morphological defects in the paranodal region, exhibiting increased nodal length as compared to WTs. The study also reports on previously undetected expressions of JAM-C, namely on perineural cells, and in line with nociception defects of the JAM-C SC KO animals, on finely myelinated sensory nerve fibers. Collectively, the generation and characterization of JAM-C SC KO mice has provided unequivocal evidence for the involvement of SC JAM-C in the fine organization of peripheral nerves and in modulating multiple neuronal responses.—Colom, B., Poitelon, Y., Huang, W., Woodfin, A., Averill, S., Del Carro, U., Zambroni, D., Brain, S. D., Perretti, M., Ahluwalia, A., Priestley, J. V., Chavakis, T., Imhof, B. A., Feltri, M. L., Nourshargh, S. Schwann cell-specific JAM-C-deficient mice reveal novel expression and functions for JAM-C in peripheral nerves.
PMCID: PMC3370675  PMID: 22090315
adhesion molecules; tight junctions; peripheral nerves
7.  The spatiotemporal localization of JAM-C following sciatic nerve crush in adult rats 
Brain and Behavior  2012;2(4):402-414.
JAM-C is a junctional adhesion molecule, enriched at tight junctions on endothelial and epithelial cells, and also localized to Schwann cells at junctions between adjoining myelin end loops. The role of JAM-C following peripheral nerve injury (PNI) is currently unknown. We examined the localization of JAM-C after sciatic nerve crush injury in adult rats. JAM-C immunoreactivity was present in paranodes and incisures in sham surgery control nerve, but distal to the crush injury significantly decreased at three and 14 days. JAM-C was re-expressed at 28 days and, by 56 days, was significantly increased in the distal nerve compared to controls. In a 7-mm length of sciatic nerve sampled distal to the crush site, the densities of JAM-C immunoreactive paranodes increased in the distal direction. Conversely, the densities of JAM-C immunoreactive incisures were highest immediately distal to the crush site and decreased in the more distal direction. Further analysis revealed a strong correlation between JAM-C localization and remyelination. Fifty-six days after crush injury, greater densities of JAM-C paranodes were seen compared to the nodal marker jacalin, suggesting that paranodal JAM-C precedes node formation. Our data are the first to demonstrate a potential role of JAM-C in remyelination after PNI.
PMCID: PMC3432963  PMID: 22950044
JAM-C; paranodes; peripheral nerve injury; remyelination; Schwann cells
8.  Comparative analysis of the time-dependent functional and molecular changes in spinal cord degeneration induced by the G93A SOD1 gene mutation and by mechanical compression 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:500.
Mutations of the superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) gene are linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an invariably fatal neurological condition involving cortico-spinal degeneration. Mechanical injury can also determine spinal cord degeneration and act as a risk factor for the development of ALS.
We have performed a comparative ontological analysis of the gene expression profiles of thoracic cord samples from rats carrying the G93A SOD1 gene mutation and from wild-type littermates subjected to mechanical compression of the spinal cord. Common molecular responses and gene expression changes unique to each experimental paradigm were evaluated against the functional development of each animal model. Gene Ontology categories crucial to protein folding, extracellular matrix and axonal formation underwent early activation in both experimental paradigms, but decreased significantly in the spinal cord from animals recovering from injury after 7 days and from the G93A SOD1 mutant rats at end-stage disease. Functional improvement after compression coincided with a massive up-regulation of growth-promoting gene categories including factors involved in angiogenesis and transcription, overcoming the more transitory surge of pro-apoptotic components and cell-cycle genes. The cord from G93A SOD1 mutants showed persistent over-expression of apoptotic and stress molecules with fewer neurorestorative signals, while functional deterioration was ongoing.
this study illustrates how cytoskeletal protein metabolism is central to trauma and genetically-induced spinal cord degeneration and elucidates the main molecular events accompanying functional recovery or decline in two different animal models of spinal cord degeneration.
PMCID: PMC2585103  PMID: 18947433
9.  Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Ezetimibe Analogs as Possible Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors 
In order to investigate the SAR of Ezetimibe analogs for cholesterol absorption inhibitions, amide group and electron-deficient pyridine ring were introduced to the C-(3) carbon chain of Ezetimibe. Eight new derivatives of the 2-azetidinone cholesterol absorption inhibitors have been synthesized, and all of them were enantiomerically pure. All the new compounds were evaluated for their activity to inhibit cholesterol absorption in hamsters, and most of them showed comparable effects in lowering the levels of total cholesterol in the serum.
PMCID: PMC3179128  PMID: 21966284
2-Azetidinone derivatives; Enantiomerically pure; Cholesterol absorption inhibition.

Results 1-9 (9)