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1.  Activating δPKC antagonizes the protective effect of ERK1/2 inhibition against stroke in rats 
Brain research  2008;1251:256-261.
Two pathways that have been shown to mediate cerebral ischemic damage are the MEK/ERK cascade and the pro-apoptotic δPKC pathway. We investigated the relationship between these pathways in a rat model of focal ischemia by observing and modifying the activation state of each pathway. The ERK1/2 inhibitor, U0126, injected at ischemia onset, attenuated the increase in phosphorylated ERK1/2 (P-ERK1/2) after reperfusion. The δPKC inhibitor, δV1-1, delivered at reperfusion, did not significantly change P-ERK1/2 levels. In contrast, the δPKC activator, ψδRACK, injected at reperfusion, reduced ERK1/2 phosphorylation measured 4 h after reperfusion. Additionally, U0126 pretreatment at ischemia onset reduced infarct size compared with vehicle, but U0126 injected at the onset of reperfusion had no protection. Finally, combination of U0126 injection at ischemia onset plus δV1-1 injection at reperfusion further reduced infarct size, while combination of U0126 delivered at ischemia onset with ψδRACK injected at reperfusion increased infarct size compared with U0126 alone. In conclusion, we find that inhibiting both the MEK/ERK and the δPKC pathways offers greater protection than either alone, indicating they likely act independently.
doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2008.11.051
PMCID: PMC2746701  PMID: 19063870
Cerebral ischemia; MEK/ERK cascade; δPKC; ERK1/2
2.  The Akt signaling pathway contributes to postconditioning’s protection against stroke; the protection is associated with the MAPK and PKC pathways 
Journal of neurochemistry  2008;105(3):943-955.
We previously reported that ischemic postconditioning with a series of mechanical interruptions of reperfusion reduced infarct volume 2 days after focal ischemia in rats. Here, we extend this data by examining long-term protection and exploring underlying mechanisms involving the Akt, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and protein kinase C (PKC) signaling pathways. Post-conditioning reduced infarct and improved behavioral function assessed 30 days after stroke. Additionally, postconditioning increased levels of phosphorylated Akt (Ser473) as measured by western blot and Akt activity as measured by an in vitro kinase assay. Inhibiting Akt activity by a phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitor, LY294002, enlarged infarct in postconditioned rats. Postconditioning did not affect protein levels of phosphorylated-phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 or -phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1 (molecules upstream of Akt) but did inhibit an increase in phosphorylated-glycogen synthase kinase 3β, an Akt effector. In addition, postconditioning blocked β-catenin phosphorylation subsequent to glycogen synthase kinase, but had no effect on total or non-phosphorylated active β-catenin protein levels. Furthermore, postconditioning inhibited increases in the amount of phosphorylated-c-Jun N-terminal kinase and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 in the MAPK pathway. Finally, postconditioning blocked death-promoting δPKC cleavage and attenuated reduction in phosphorylation of survival-promoting εPKC. In conclusion, our data suggest that postconditioning provides long-term protection against stroke in rats. Additionally, we found that Akt activity contributes to postconditioning’s protection; furthermore, increases in εPKC activity, a survival-promoting pathway, and reductions in MAPK and δPKC activity; two putative death-promoting pathways correlate with postconditioning’s protection.
doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2008.05218.x
PMCID: PMC2746404  PMID: 18182053
Akt; cerebral ischemia; mitogen-activated protein kinase; postconditioning; protein kinase C; β-catenin
3.  Inhibiting caspase-3 activity blocks beta-catenin degradation after focal ischemia in rat 
Neuroreport  2008;19(8):821-824.
Beta-catenin can be cleaved by caspase-3 or degraded by activated glycogen synthase kinase-3β via phosphorylating β-catenin. We tested the hypothesis that β-catenin undergoes degradation after stroke, and its degradation is dependent on caspase activity. Stroke was generated by permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion and 1h of transient bilateral common carotid artery occlusion in rats. Active caspase-3 was expressed in the ischemic cortex from 5 to 48 h after stroke, whereas β-catenin markedly degraded at 24 and 48 h after stroke. The caspase 3-specific inhibitor, Z-DQMD-FMK, attenuated β-catenin degradation, but it did not affect phosphorylation of both β-catenin and glycogen synthase kinase-3β. In conclusion, β-catenin degraded after stroke, and its degradation was caspase-3 dependent.
doi:10.1097/WNR.0b013e3282ffda72
PMCID: PMC2744604  PMID: 18463494
β-catenin; caspase-3; focal ischemia; glycogen synthase kinase-3β; stroke
4.  Synthesis of a potent and selective 18F-labeled δ-opioid receptor antagonist derived from the Dmt-Tic pharmacophore for PET imaging 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;51(6):1817-1823.
H-Dmt-Tic-ε-Lys(Z)-OH (1) was used in the synthesis of 18F-labeled opioids for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging by coupling N-succinimidyl-4-[18F]fluorobenzoate ([18F]SFB) with Boc-Dmt-Tic-ε-Lys(Z)-OH under slightly basic conditions at 37 °C for 15 min, deprotected with TFA and HPLC purification in 120 min with a decay-corrected radiochemical 25–30% yield of [18F]-1 (n = 5) and specific activity ca. 46 GBq/µmol. Autoradiography uptake of [18F]-1 in striatum and cortex was blocked by 1 and UFP-501 demonstrating specific binding to δ-opioid receptors. MicroPET imaging revealed the absence of [18F]-1 in rat brain, suggesting its suitability for imaging peripheral δ-opioid receptors.
doi:10.1021/jm7014765
PMCID: PMC2667121  PMID: 18311909
5.  Hypothermia Blocks β-catenin Degradation after Focal Ischemia in Rats 
Brain research  2008;1198:182-187.
Dephosphorylated and activated glycogen synthase kinase (GSK) 3β hyperphophorylates β-catenin, leading to its ubiquitin-proteosome-mediated degradation. β-catenin-knockdown increases while β-catenin overexpression prevents neuronal death in vitro; in addition, protein levels of β-catenin are reduced in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. However, whether β-catenin degradation is involved in stroke-induced brain injury is unknown. Here we studied activities of GSK3 β and β-catenin, and the protective effect of moderate hypothermia (30 °C) on these activities after focal ischemia in rats. The results of Western blot showed that GSK3 β was dephosphorylated at 5 and 24 hours after stroke in the normothermic (37 °C) brain; hypothermia augmented GSK3β dephosphorylation. Because hypothermia reduces infarction, these results contradict with previous studies showing that GSK3β dephosphorylation worsens neuronal death. Nevertheless, hypothermia blocked degradation of total GSK3β protein. Corresponding to GSK3β activity in normothermic rats, β-catenin phosphorylation transiently increased at 5 hours in both the ischemic penumbra and core, and the total protein level of β-catenin degraded after normothermic stroke. Hypothermia did not inhibit β-catenin phosphorylation, but it blocked β-catenin degradation in the ischemic penumbra. In conclusion, moderate hypothermia can stabilize β-catenin, which may contribute to the protective effect of moderate hypothermia.
doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2008.01.007
PMCID: PMC2350209  PMID: 18241848
Focal ischemia; hypothermia; GSK-3β; β-catenin
6.  Delayed Postconditioning Protects against Focal Ischemic Brain Injury in Rats 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e3851.
Background
We and others have reported that rapid ischemic postconditioning, interrupting early reperfusion after stroke, reduces infarction in rats. However, its extremely short therapeutic time windows, from a few seconds to minutes after reperfusion, may hinder its clinical translation. Thus, in this study we explored if delayed postconditioning, which is conducted a few hours after reperfusion, offers protection against stroke.
Methods and Results
Focal ischemia was generated by 30 min occlusion of bilateral common carotid artery (CCA) combined with permanent occlusion of middle cerebral artery (MCA); delayed postconditioning was performed by repetitive, brief occlusion and release of the bilateral CCAs, or of the ipsilateral CCA alone. As a result, delayed postconditioning performed at 3h and 6h after stroke robustly reduced infarct size, with the strongest protection achieved by delayed postconditioning with 6 cycles of 15 min occlusion/15 min release of the ipsilateral CCA executed from 6h. We found that this delayed postconditioning provided long-term protection for up to two months by reducing infarction and improving outcomes of the behavioral tests; it also attenuated reduction in 2-[18F]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG)-uptake therefore improving metabolism, and reduced edema and blood brain barrier leakage. Reperfusion in ischemic stroke patients is usually achieved by tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) application, however, t-PA's side effect may worsen ischemic injury. Thus, we tested whether delayed postconditioning counteracts the exacerbating effect of t-PA. The results showed that delayed postconditioning mitigated the worsening effect of t-PA on infarction.
Conclusion
Delayed postconditioning reduced ischemic injury after focal ischemia, which opens a new research avenue for stroke therapy and its underlying protective mechanisms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003851
PMCID: PMC2588536  PMID: 19066627

Results 1-6 (6)