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Concept: GSK-3


The restoration of dentine lost in deep caries lesions in teeth is a routine and common treatment that involves the use of inorganic cements based on calcium or silicon-based mineral aggregates. Such cements remain in the tooth and fail to degrade and thus normal mineral volume is never completely restored. Here we describe a novel, biological approach to dentine restoration that stimulates the natural formation of reparative dentine via the mobilisation of resident stem cells in the tooth pulp. Biodegradable, clinically-approved collagen sponges are used to deliver low doses of small molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) antagonists that promote the natural processes of reparative dentine formation to completely restore dentine. Since the carrier sponge is degraded over time, dentine replaces the degraded sponge leading to a complete, effective natural repair. This simple, rapid natural tooth repair process could thus potentially provide a new approach to clinical tooth restoration.

Concepts: Enzyme, Animal, Teeth, Tooth, Dental caries, Portland cement, GSK-3, GSK3B


The quest to extend healthspan via pharmacological means is becoming increasingly urgent, both from a health and economic perspective. Here we show that lithium, a drug approved for human use, promotes longevity and healthspan. We demonstrate that lithium extends lifespan in female and male Drosophila, when administered throughout adulthood or only later in life. The life-extending mechanism involves the inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) and activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor (NRF-2). Combining genetic loss of the NRF-2 repressor Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) with lithium treatment revealed that high levels of NRF-2 activation conferred stress resistance, while low levels additionally promoted longevity. The discovery of GSK-3 as a therapeutic target for aging will likely lead to more effective treatments that can modulate mammalian aging and further improve health in later life.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Gene expression, Human, Transcription, Economics, Lithium pharmacology, GSK-3


The enzymes 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) and glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3 represent promising drug targets in the treatment of inflammation. We made use of the bisindole core of indirubin, present in GSK-3 inhibitors, to innovatively target 5-LO at the ATP-binding site for the design of dual 5-LO/GSK-3 inhibitors. Evaluation of substituted indirubin derivatives led to the identification of (3Z)-6-bromo-3-[(3E)-3-hydroxyiminoindolin-2-ylidene]indolin-2-one (15) as a potent, direct, and reversible 5-LO inhibitor (IC50 = 1.5 µM), with comparable cellular effectiveness on 5-LO and GSK-3. Together, we present indirubins as novel chemotypes for the development of 5-LO inhibitors, the interference with the ATP-binding site as a novel strategy for 5-LO targeting, and dual 5-LO/GSK-3 inhibition as an unconventional and promising concept for anti-inflammatory intervention.

Concepts: Enzyme, Enzyme inhibitor, Inhibitor, Xanthine oxidase inhibitor, Enzymes, Target Corporation, GSK-3, GSK3B


Severe intestinal graft-vs-host disease (GVHD) after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) causes mucosal ulceration and induces innate and adaptive immune responses that amplify and perpetuate GVHD and the associated barrier dysfunction. Pharmacological agents to target mucosal barrier dysfunction in GVHD are needed. We hypothesized that induction of Wnt signaling by lithium, an inhibitor of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK3), would potentiate intestinal crypt proliferation and mucosal repair and that inhibition of GSK3 in inflammatory cells would attenuate the deregulated inflammatory response to mucosal injury. We conducted an observational pilot study to provide data for the potential design of a randomized study of lithium. Twenty patients with steroid refractory intestinal GVHD meeting enrollment criteria were given oral lithium carbonate. GVHD was otherwise treated per current practice, including 2 mg/kg per day of prednisone equivalent. Seventeen patients had extensive mucosal denudation (extreme endoscopic grade 3) in the duodenum or colon. We observed that 8 of 12 patients (67%) had a complete remission (CR) of GVHD and survived more than 1 year (median 5 years) when lithium administration was started promptly within 3 days of endoscopic diagnosis of denuded mucosa. When lithium was started promptly and less than 7 days from salvage therapy for refractory GVHD, 8 of 10 patients (80%) had a CR and survived more than 1 year. In perspective, a review of 1447 consecutive adult HCT patients in the preceding 6 years at our cancer center showed 0% one-year survival in 27 patients with stage 3-4 intestinal GVHD and grade 3 endoscopic appearance in the duodenum or colon. Toxicities included fatigue, somnolence, confusion or blunted affect in 50% of the patients. The favorable outcomes in patients who received prompt lithium therapy appear to support the future conduct of a randomized study of lithium for management of severe GVHD with extensive mucosal injury.

Concepts: Inflammation, Graft-versus-host disease, Ulcerative colitis, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Bipolar disorder, Lithium pharmacology, GSK-3, John Cade


Little is known about the effects of chronic alcohol intake on the outcome of acute kidney injury (AKI). Hence, we examined the effects of chronic alcohol intake on the development of renal fibrosis following AKI in an animal model of bilateral renal ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury. We first found that chronic alcohol exposure exacerbated bilateral IR-induced renal fibrosis and renal function impairment. This phenomenon was associated with increased bilateral IR-induced extracellular matrix deposition and an increased myofibroblast population as well as increased bilateral IR-induced expression of fibrosis-related genes in the kidneys. To explore the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon, we showed that chronic alcohol exposure enhanced β-arrestin 2 (Arrb2) expression and Akt and glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3)β activation in the kidneys. Importantly, pharmacological GSK3 inhibition alleviated bilateral IR-induced renal fibrosis and renal function impairment. Furthermore, we demonstrated that Arrb2(-/-) mice exhibited resistance to IR-induced renal fibrosis and renal function impairment following chronic alcohol exposure, and these effects were associated with attenuated GSK3β activation in the kidneys. Taken together, our results suggest that chronic alcohol exposure may potentiate AKI via β-arrestin 2/Akt/GSK3β-mediated signaling in the kidney.

Concepts: Renal failure, Kidney, Nephrology, Renal physiology, Electrolyte, GSK-3


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common cancers in the world, and represents the second most frequently cancer and third most common cause of death from cancer worldwide. At advanced stage, HCC is a highly aggressive tumor with a poor prognosis and with very limited response to common therapies. Therefore, there is still the need for new effective and well-tolerated therapeutic strategies. Molecular-targeted therapies hold promise for HCC treatment. One promising molecular target is the multifunctional serine/threonine kinase glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3). The roles of GSK-3β in HCC remain controversial, several studies suggested a possible role of GSK-3β as a tumor suppressor gene in HCC, whereas, other studies indicate that GSK-3β is a potential therapeutic target for this neoplasia. In this review, we will focus on the different roles that GSK-3 plays in HCC and its interaction with signaling pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of HCC, such as Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF), Notch, Wnt/β-catenin, Hedgehog (HH), and TGF-β pathways. In addition, the pivotal roles of GSK3 in epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), invasion and metastasis will be also discussed.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Oncology, Lung cancer, Tumor, Neoplasm, P53, GSK-3


While leukemias represent a diverse set of diseases with malignant cells derived from myeloid or lymphoid origin, a common feature is the dysregulation of signal transduction pathways that influence leukemogeneisis, promote drug resistance, and favor leukemia stem cells. Mutations in PI3K, PTEN, RAS, or other upstream regulators can activate the AKT kinase which has central roles in supporting cell proliferation and survival. A major target of AKT is Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 (GSK3). GSK3 has two isoforms (alpha and beta) that were studied as regulators of metabolism but emerged as central players in cancer in the early 1990s. GSK3 is unique in that the isoforms are constitutively active. Active GSK3 promotes destruction of oncogenic proteins such as beta Catenin, c-MYC, and MCL-1 and thus has tumor suppressor properties. In AML, inactivation of GSK3 is associated with poor overall survival. Interestingly in some leukemias GSK3 targets a tumor suppressor and thus the kinases can act as tumor promoters in those instances. An example is GSK3 targeting p27Kip1 in AML with MLL translocation. This review will cover the role of GSK3 in various leukemias both as tumor suppressor and tumor promoter. We will also briefly cover current state of GSK3 inhibitors for leukemia therapy.

Concepts: Protein, Cancer, Oncology, Signal transduction, Enzyme, Acute myeloid leukemia, Oncogene, GSK-3


The Ser and Thr kinase AKT, also known as protein kinase B (PKB), was discovered 25 years ago and has been the focus of tens of thousands of studies in diverse fields of biology and medicine. There have been many advances in our knowledge of the upstream regulatory inputs into AKT, key multifunctional downstream signaling nodes (GSK3, FoxO, mTORC1), which greatly expand the functional repertoire of AKT, and the complex circuitry of this dynamically branching and looping signaling network that is ubiquitous to nearly every cell in our body. Mouse and human genetic studies have also revealed physiological roles for the AKT network in nearly every organ system. Our comprehension of AKT regulation and functions is particularly important given the consequences of AKT dysfunction in diverse pathological settings, including developmental and overgrowth syndromes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, and neurological disorders. There has also been much progress in developing AKT-selective small molecule inhibitors. Improved understanding of the molecular wiring of the AKT signaling network continues to make an impact that cuts across most disciplines of the biomedical sciences.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Biology, Insulin, Diabetes mellitus type 2, Diabetes mellitus, Protein kinases, AKT, GSK-3


Hepatic glucokinase (GK) expression and activity are decreased in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) inhibits the synthesis of GK. In hepatocytes, the activation of the protein kinase B (PKB/AKT) signaling pathway enhances GK expression and inhibits the phosphorylation of GSK-3β. The dysfunction of certain long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) has been associated with a variety of diseases.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Enzyme, Insulin, Diabetes mellitus type 2, Diabetes mellitus, Glucose, Glycogen, GSK-3


Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) inhibition by lithium has been well established in vitro, but proof that this biochemical effect mediates lithium’s beneficial action in patients with bipolar disorder is lacking. We studied whether lymphocyte GSK-3β activity measured indirectly in lithium- or valproate (VPA)-treated euthymic patients with bipolar disorder is different from controls.

Concepts: Metabolism, Enzyme, Bipolar disorder, Mood stabilizer, Valproic acid, Lithium pharmacology, Sodium valproate, GSK-3