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Concept: Inverse agonist


The effect of rifampicin on the pharmacokinetics of fexofenadine enantiomers was examined in healthy subjects who received fexofenadine alone or with single or multiple doses of rifampicin (600 mg). A single coadministered dose of rifampicin significantly decreased the oral clearance (CL(tot)/F) and renal clearance (CL®) of S- and R-fexofenadine by 76 and 62%, and 73 and 62%, respectively. Even after multiple doses, rifampicin significantly decreased these parameters, although the effect on the CL(tot)/F was slightly blunted. Multiple doses of rifampicin abolished the difference in the CL(tot)/F of fexofenadine enantiomers, whereas the stereoselectivity in the CL® persisted. Rifampicin inhibited the uptake of fexofenadine enantiomers by human hepatocytes via organic anion transporter (OAT) OATP1B3 and its basal-to-apical transport in Caco-2 cells, but not OAT3-mediated or multidrug and toxic compound extrusion 1 (MATE1)-mediated transport. The plasma-unbound fraction of S-fexofenadine was 1.8 times higher than that of R-fexofenadine. The rifampicin-sensitive uptake by hepatocytes was 1.6 times higher for R-fexofenadine, whereas the transport activities by OATP1B3, OAT3, MATE1, or P-glycoprotein were identical for both enantiomers. S-fexofenadine is a more potent human histamine H1 receptor antagonist than R-fexofenadine. In conclusion, rifampicin has multiple interaction sites with fexofenadine, all of which contribute to increasing the area under the curve of fexofenadine when they are given simultaneously, to surpass the effect of the induction of P-glycoprotein elicited by multiple doses.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Human, Receptor, Ligand, Histamine, Receptor antagonist, Inverse agonist, Histamine H1 receptor


Purinergic signaling contributes significantly to pain mechanisms, and the nociceptor-specific P2X3 ATP receptor channel is considered a target in pain therapeutics. Recent evidence for co-expression of metabotropic P2Y receptors with P2X3 suggests that ATP release triggers the activation of both ionotropic and metabotropic purinoceptors, with strong potential for functional interaction. Modulation of native P2X3 function by P2Y receptor activation was investigated in rat dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings. Application of the selective P2Y receptor agonist UTP decreased peak amplitudes of α,β-meATP-evoked homomeric P2X3-mediated currents, but had no effect on heteromeric P2X2/3-mediated currents. Treatment with phospholipase C (PLC) inhibitor U73122 significantly reversed P2X3 current inhibition induced by UTP-sensitive P2Y receptor activation. We previously reported the modulation of P2X receptors by phospholipids in DRG neurons and injection of exogenous phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) fully reverses UTP-mediated regulation of P2X3 channel activity. Pharmacological as well as functional screening of P2Y receptor subtypes indicates the predominant involvement of P2Y2 receptor in P2X3 inhibition and immunolocalization confirms a significant cellular co-expression of P2X3 and P2Y2 in rat DRG neurons. In summary, the function of P2X3 ATP receptor can be inhibited by P2Y2-mediated depletion of PIP2. We propose that expression of P2Y2 purinoceptor in nociceptive sensory neurons provides an homeostatic mechanism to prevent excessive ATP signaling through P2X3 receptor channels.

Concepts: Nervous system, Signal transduction, Receptor, Action potential, Sensory system, Receptor antagonist, Serotonin, Inverse agonist


BACKGROUND: Brazilin, isolated from the heartwood of Caesalpinia sappan L., has been shown to possess multiple pharmacological properties. METHODS: In this study, platelet aggregation, flow cytometry, immunoblotting analysis, and electron spin resonance (ESR) spectrometry were used to investigate the effects of brazilin on platelet activation ex vivo. Moreover, fluorescein sodium-induced platelet thrombi of mesenteric microvessels was also used in in vivo study. RESULTS: We demonstrated that relatively low concentrations of brazilin (1 to 10 muM) potentiated platelet aggregation induced by collagen (0.1 mug/ml) in washed human platelets. Higher concentrations of brazilin (20 to 50 muM) directly triggered platelet aggregation. Brazilin-mediated platelet aggregation was slightly inhibited by ATP (an antagonist of ADP). It was not inhibited by yohimbine (an antagonist of epinephrine), by SCH79797 (an antagonist of thrombin protease-activated receptor [PAR] 1), or by tcY-NH2 (an antagonist of PAR 4). Brazilin did not significantly affect FITC-triflavin binding to the integrin alphaIIbbeta3 in platelet suspensions. Pretreatment of the platelets with caffeic acid phenethyl ester (an antagonist of collagen receptors) or JAQ1 and Sam.Q4 monoclonal antibodies raised against collagen receptor glycoprotein VI and integrin alpha2beta1, respectively, abolished platelet aggregation stimulated by collagen or brazilin. The immunoblotting analysis showed that brazilin stimulated the phosphorylation of phospholipase C (PLC)gamma2 and Lyn, which were significantly attenuated in the presence of JAQ1 and Sam.Q4. In addition, brazilin did not significantly trigger hydroxyl radical formation in ESR analysis. An in vivo mouse study showed that brazilin treatment (2 and 4 mg/kg) significantly shortened the occlusion time for platelet plug formation in mesenteric venules. CONCLUSION: To the best of our knowledge, this study provides the first evidence that brazilin acts a novel collagen receptor agonist. Brazilin is a plant-based natural product, may offer therapeutic potential as intended anti-thrombotic agents for targeting of collagen receptors or to be used a useful tool for the study of detailed mechanisms in collagen receptors-mediated platelet activation.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Cell biology, In vivo, Platelet, Receptor antagonist, Serotonin, Inverse agonist, GPVI


Angiotensin-(1-7) [Ang-(1-7)] is a biologically active heptapeptide that may counterbalance the physiological actions of angiotensin II (Ang II) within the renin-angiotensin system (RAS). Here, we evaluated whether activation of the Mas receptor with the oral agonist, AVE 0991, would have renoprotective effects in a model of adriamycin (ADR)-induced nephropathy. We also evaluated whether the Mas receptor contributed for the protective effects of treatment with AT1 receptor blockers. ADR (10 mg/kg) induced significant renal injury and dysfunction that was maximal at day 14 after injection. Treatment with the Mas receptor agonist AVE 0991 improved renal function parameters, reduced urinary protein loss and attenuated histological changes. Renoprotection was associated with reduction in urinary levels of TGF-β. Similar renoprotection was observed after treatment with the AT1 receptor antagonist, Losartan. AT1 and Mas receptor mRNA levels dropped after ADR administration and treatment with losartan reestablished the expression of Mas receptor and increased the expression of ACE2. ADR-induced nephropathy was similar in wild type (Mas(+/+) ) and Mas knockout (Mas (-/-)) mice, suggesting there was no endogenous role for Mas receptor activation. However, treatment with Losartan was able to reduce renal injury only in Mas(+/+) , but not in Mas (-/-) mice. Therefore, these findings suggest that exogenous activation of the Mas receptor protects from ADR-induced nephropathy and contributes to the beneficial effects of AT1 receptor blockade. Medications which target specifically the ACE2/Ang-(1-7)/Mas axis may offer new therapeutic opportunities to treat human nephropathies.

Concepts: Physiology, Receptor antagonist, Agonist, Angiotensin, Renin-angiotensin system, Inverse agonist, Receptor theory, Angiotensin receptor


Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory immune-mediated autoimmune skin disorder. The histamine H4 receptor (H4R) agonist 4-methylhistamine (4-MH) plays an important role in immunomodulation of inflammatory responses associated with allergic inflammatory diseases. In this study, we investigated the effects of H4R agonist 4-MH on the development of imiquimod (IMQ)-induced psoriasis-like skin inflammation in mice and explored the immunoregulatory mechanism involved. The total clinical severity scores were significantly ameliorated by treatment with 4-MH (20 mg/kg) and 4-MH (40 mg/kg). Histological analysis of the skin revealed that 4-MH (20 mg/kg) and 4-MH (40 mg/kg) significantly attenuated the psoriatic phenotypes, including epidermal hyperplasis, hyperkeratosis, and lymphocytes infiltration. Treatment with 4-MH (20 mg/kg) and 4-MH (40 mg/kg) led to reductions in the levels of Th1 cytokines (TNF-α, IFN-α, and IL-27) in the serum and dorsal skin, whereas Th17 cytokines levels (IL-17A and IL-23) did not change in response to treatment with 4-MH (20 mg/kg) and 4-MH (40 mg/kg). Furthermore, the number of CD4(+) CD25(+) FoxP3(+) regulatory T (Treg) cells was significantly increased by treatment with 4-MH (40 mg/kg). Taken together, these results imply that H4R agonist 4-MH might be an effective immunomodulatory approach for treatment of patients with psoriasis and the effects may be related to inhibited epidermal alteration, selectively reduced Th1 pro-inflammatory cytokines, and recruited CD4(+) CD25(+) FoxP3(+) Treg cells. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Asthma, Receptor antagonist, Inverse agonist, Copyright, Histamine H4 receptor, 4-Methylhistamine


The recent discovery of bile acid (BA) receptors and a better delineation of the multiple roles of BAs in relevant biological processes have revamped BA research. The vasoactive actions of BAs were recognized more than three decades ago but the underlying mechanisms of the BA-induced vasorelaxation are now being clarified. Recent evidence shows that the BA receptors FXR and TGR5 are expressed in endothelial cells and may have important effects on both systemic and portal circulation. The availability of genetically engineered mice with ablation of BA receptors and the development of BA receptor agonists has allowed to explore the modulation of XR and, in a lesser extent, of TGR5 in the setting of portal hypertension (PHT) with promising results. In this review, we summarize recent data on how BA-dependent pathways influence several processes that impact in PHT and the preclinical data showing that pharmacological modulation of those pathways may hold promise in the treatment of PHT.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Receptor antagonist, Cardiovascular system, Serotonin, Steroid, Inverse agonist, Vasoconstriction


Impulsivity, defined as impaired decision making, is associated with many psychiatric and behavioral disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder as well as eating disorders. Recent data indicate that there is a strong positive correlation between food reward behavior and impulsivity, but the mechanisms behind this relationship remain unknown. Here we hypothesize that ghrelin, an orexigenic hormone produced by the stomach and known to increase food reward behavior, also increases impulsivity. In order to assess the impact of ghrelin on impulsivity, rats were trained in three complementary tests of impulsive behavior and choice: differential-reinforcement-of-low-rate (DRL), go/no-go, and delay discounting. Ghrelin injection into the lateral ventricle increased impulsive behavior, as indicated by reduced efficiency of performance in the DRL test, and increased lever pressing during the no-go periods of the go/no-go test. Central ghrelin stimulation also increased impulsive choice, as evidenced by the reduced choice for large rewards when delivered with a delay in the delay discounting test. In order to determine whether signaling at the central ghrelin receptors is necessary for maintenance of normal levels of impulsive behavior, DRL performance was assessed following ghrelin receptor blockade with central infusion of a ghrelin receptor antagonist. Central ghrelin receptor blockade reduced impulsive behavior, as reflected by increased efficiency of performance in the DRL task. To further investigate the neurobiological substrate underlying the impulsivity effect of ghrelin we microinjected ghrelin into the ventral tegmental area, an area harboring dopaminergic cell bodies. Ghrelin receptor stimulation within the VTA was sufficient to increase impulsive behavior. We further evaluated the impact of ghrelin on dopamine-related gene expression and dopamine turnover in brain areas key in impulsive behavior control. This study provides the first demonstration that the stomach-produced hormone, ghrelin, increases impulsivity and also indicates that ghrelin can change two major components of impulsivity-motor and choice impulsivity.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 01 October 2015. doi:10.1038/npp.2015.297.

Concepts: Hormone, Receptor, Ligand, Receptor antagonist, Inverse agonist, Dopamine, Reward system, Ghrelin


The introduction of omalizumab to the management of chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU) has markedly improved the therapeutic possibilities for both, patients and physicians dealing with this disabling disease. But there is still a hard core of patients who do not tolerate or benefit from existing therapies and who require effective treatment. Novel approaches include the use of currently available drugs off-licence, investigational drugs currently undergoing clinical trials and exploring the potential for therapies directed at pathophysiological targets in CSU. Off-licence uses of currently available drugs include rituximab and tumour necrosis factor inhibitors. Ligelizumab (anti-IgE), canakinumab (anti-IL-1), AZD1981 (a PGD2 receptor antagonist) and GSK 2646264 (a selective Syk inhibitor) are currently in clinical trials for CSU. Examples of drugs that could target potential pathophysiological targets in CSU include substance P antagonists, designed ankyrin repeat proteins, C5a/C5a receptor inhibitors, anti-IL-4, anti-IL-5 and anti-IL-13 and drugs that target inhibitory mast cell receptors. Other mediators and receptors of likely pathogenic relevance should be explored in skin profiling and functional proof of concept studies. The exploration of novel therapeutic targets for their role and relevance in CSU should help to achieve a better understanding of its etiopathogenesis.

Concepts: Protein, Medicine, Signal transduction, Receptor, Ligand, Receptor antagonist, Inverse agonist, Schild regression


Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are man-made compounds interfering with hormone signaling and thereby adversely affecting human health. Recent reports provide evidence for the presence of EDCs in commercially available bottled water, including steroid receptor agonists and antagonists. However, since these findings are based on biological data the causative chemicals remain unidentified and, therefore, inaccessible for toxicological evaluation. Thus, the aim of this study is to assess the antiestrogenic and antiandrogenic activity of bottled water and to identify the causative steroid receptor antagonists. We evaluated the antiestrogenic and antiandrogenic activity of 18 bottled water products in reporter gene assays for human estrogen receptor alpha and androgen receptor. Using nontarget high-resolution mass spectrometry (LTQ-Orbitrap Velos), we acquired corresponding analytical data. We combined the biological and chemical information to determine the exact mass of the tentative steroid receptor antagonist. Further MS(n) experiments elucidated the molecule’s structure and enabled its identification. We detected significant antiestrogenicity in 13 of 18 products. 16 samples were antiandrogenic inhibiting the androgen receptor by up to 90%. Nontarget chemical analysis revealed that out of 24520 candidates present in bottled water one was consistently correlated with the antagonistic activity. By combining experimental and in silico MS(n) data we identified this compound as di(2-ethylhexyl) fumarate (DEHF). We confirmed the identity and biological activity of DEHF and additional isomers of dioctyl fumarate and maleate using authentic standards. Since DEHF is antiestrogenic but not antiandrogenic we conclude that additional, yet unidentified EDCs must contribute to the antagonistic effect of bottled water. Applying a novel approach to combine biological and chemical analysis this is the first study to identify so far unknown EDCs in bottled water. Notably, dioctyl fumarates and maleates have been overlooked by science and regulation to date. This illustrates the need to identify novel toxicologically relevant compounds to establish a more holistic picture of the human exposome.

Concepts: Receptor, Chemistry, Receptor antagonist, Agonist, Nuclear receptor, Inverse agonist, Buprenorphine, Endocrine system


Acupuncture lowers blood pressure (BP) in hypertension, but mechanisms underlying its action are unclear. To simulate clinical studies, we performed electroacupuncture (EA) in unanesthetized rats with cold-induced hypertension (CIH) induced by six weeks of cold exposure (6 °C). EA (0.1 - 0.4 mA, 2 Hz) was applied at ST36-37 acupoints overlying the deep peroneal nerve for 30 min twice weekly for five weeks while sham-EA was conducted with the same procedures as EA except for no electrical stimulation. Elevated BP was reduced after six sessions of EA treatment and remained low 72 hrs after EA in 18 CIH rats, but not in sham-EA (n = 12) and untreated (n = 6) CIH ones. The mRNA level of preproenkephalin in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (rVLM) 72 hr after EA was increased (n = 9), compared to the sham-EA (n = 6), untreated CIH rats (n = 6) and normotensive control animals (n = 6). Microinjection of ICI 174,864, a δ-opioid receptor antagonist, into the rVLM of EA-treated CIH rats partially reversed EA’s effect on elevated BP (n = 4). Stimulation of rVLM of CIH rats treated with sham-EA using a δ-opioid agonist, DADLE, decreased BP (n = 6). These data suggest that increased enkephalin in the rVLM induced by repetitive EA contributes to BP lowering action of EA.

Concepts: Hypertension, Blood pressure, Receptor, Receptor antagonist, Agonist, Inverse agonist, Common fibular nerve, Deep fibular nerve