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Journal: Biomolecules & therapeutics


The global obesity epidemic and associated metabolic diseases require alternative biological targets for new therapeutic strategies. In this study, we show that a phytochemical sulfuretin suppressed adipocyte differentiation of preadipocytes and administration of sulfuretin to high fat diet-fed obese mice prevented obesity and increased insulin sensitivity. These effects were associated with a suppressed expression of inflammatory markers, induced expression of adiponectin, and increased levels of phosphorylated ERK and AKT. To elucidate the molecular mechanism of sulfuretin in adipocytes, we performed microarray analysis and identified activating transcription factor 3 (Atf3) as a sulfuretin-responsive gene. Sulfuretin elevated Atf3 mRNA and protein levels in white adipose tissue and adipocytes. Consistently, deficiency of Atf3 promoted lipid accumulation and the expression of adipocyte markers. Sulfuretin’s but not resveratrol’s anti-adipogenic effects were diminished in Atf3 deficient cells, indicating that Atf3 is an essential factor in the effects of sulfuretin. These results highlight the usefulness of sulfuretin as a new anti-obesity intervention for the prevention of obesity and its associated metabolic diseases.


Most diabetic patients experience diabetic mellitus (DM) urinary bladder dysfunction. A number of studies evaluate bladder smooth muscle contraction in DM. In this study, we evaluated the change of bladder smooth muscle contraction between normal rats and DM rats. Furthermore, we used pharmacological inhibitors to determine the differences in the signaling pathways between normal and DM rats. Rats in the DM group received an intraperitoneal injection of 65 mg/kg streptozotocin and measured blood glucose level after 14 days to confirm DM. Bladder smooth muscle contraction was induced using acetylcholine (ACh, 10-4 M). The materials such as, atropine (a muscarinic receptor antagonist), U73122 (a phospholipase C inhibitor), DPCPX (an adenosine A1 receptor antagonist), udenafil (a PDE5 inhibitor), prazosin (an α1-receptor antagonist), papaverine (a smooth muscle relaxant), verapamil (a calcium channel blocker), and chelerythrine (a protein kinase C inhibitor) were pre-treated in bladder smooth muscle. We found that the DM rats had lower bladder smooth muscle contractility than normal rats. When prazosin, udenafil, verapamil, and U73122 were pre-treated, there were significant differences between normal and DM rats. Taken together, it was concluded that the change of intracellular Ca2+ release mediated by PLC/IP3 and PDE5 activity were responsible for decreased bladder smooth muscle contractility in DM rats.


Oxidative stress activates several intracellular signaling cascades that may have deleterious effects on neuronal cell survival. Thus, controlling oxidative stress has been suggested as an important strategy for prevention and/or treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. In this study, we found that ginsenoside Rh1 inhibited hydrogen peroxide-induced reactive oxygen species generation and subsequent cell death in rat primary astrocytes. Rh1 increased the expression of phase II antioxidant enzymes, such as heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1, superoxide dismutase-2, and catalase, that are under the control of Nrf2/ARE signaling pathways. Further mechanistic studies showed that Rh1 increased the nuclear translocation and DNA binding of Nrf2 and c-Jun to the antioxidant response element (ARE), and increased the ARE-mediated transcription activities in rat primary astrocytes. Analysis of signaling pathways revealed that MAP kinases are important in HO-1 expression, and act by modulating ARE-mediated transcriptional activity. Therefore, the upregulation of antioxidant enzymes by Rh1 may provide preventive therapeutic potential for various neurodegenerative diseases that are associated with oxidative stress.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Bacteria, Transcription, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Superoxide dismutase


Previous studies have shown that spinosin was implicated in the modulation of sedation and hypnosis, while its effects on learning and memory deficits were rarely reported. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of spinosin on the improvement of cognitive impairment in model mice with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) induced by Aβ1-42 and determine the underlying mechanism. Spontaneous locomotion assessment and Morris water maze test were performed to investigate the impact of spinosin on behavioral activities, and the pathological changes were assayed by biochemical analyses and histological assay. After 7 days of intracerebroventricular (ICV) administration of spinosin (100 μg/kg/day), the cognitive impairment of mice induced by Aβ1-42 was significantly attenuated. Moreover, spinosin treatment effectively decreased the level of malondialdehyde (MDA) and Aβ1-42 accumulation in hippocampus. Aβ1-42 induced alterations in the expression of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and B-cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2), as well as inflammatory response in brain were also reversed by spinosin treatment. These results indicated that the ameliorating effect of spinosin on cognitive impairment might be mediated through the regulation of oxidative stress, inflammatory process, apoptotic program and neurotrophic factor expression,suggesting that spinosin might be beneficial to treat learning and memory deficits in patients with AD via multi-targets.


Cancer metabolism as a field of research was founded almost 100 years ago by Otto Warburg, who described the propensity for cancers to convert glucose to lactate despite the presence of oxygen, which in yeast diminishes glycolytic metabolism known as the Pasteur effect. In the past 20 years, the resurgence of interest in cancer metabolism provided significant insights into processes involved in maintenance metabolism of non-proliferating cells and proliferative metabolism, which is regulated by proto-oncogenes and tumor suppressors in normal proliferating cells. In cancer cells, depending on the driving oncogenic event, metabolism is re-wired for nutrient import, redox homeostasis, protein quality control, and biosynthesis to support cell growth and division. In general, resting cells rely on oxidative metabolism, while proliferating cells rewire metabolism toward glycolysis, which favors many biosynthetic pathways for proliferation. Oncogenes such as MYC, BRAF, KRAS, and PI3K have been documented to rewire metabolism in favor of proliferation. These cell intrinsic mechanisms, however, are insufficient to drive tumorigenesis because immune surveillance continuously seeks to destroy neo-antigenic tumor cells. In this regard, evasion of cancer cells from immunity involves checkpoints that blunt cytotoxic T cells, which are also attenuated by the metabolic tumor microenvironment, which is rich in immuno-modulating metabolites such as lactate, 2-hydroxyglutarate, kyneurenine, and the proton (low pH). As such, a full understanding of tumor metabolism requires an appreciation of the convergence of cancer cell intrinsic metabolism and that of the tumor microenvironment including stromal and immune cells.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Oncology, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Leukemia, Oncogene, Tumor suppressor gene


The emergence and use of synthetic cannabinoids have greatly increased in recent years. These substances are easily dispensed over the internet and on the streets. Some synthetic cannabinoids were shown to have abuse liability and were subsequently regulated by authorities. However, there are compounds that are still not regulated probably due to the lack of abuse liability studies. In the present study, we assessed the abuse liability of three synthetic cannabinoids, namely JWH-030, JWH-175, and JWH-176. The abuse liability of these drugs was evaluated in two of the most widely used animal models for assessing the abuse potential of drugs, the conditioned place preference (CPP) and self-administration (SA) test. In addition, the open-field test was utilized to assess the effects of repeated (7 days) treatment and abrupt cessation of these drugs on the psychomotor activity of animals. Results showed that JWH-175 (0.5 mg/kg), but not JWH-030 or JWH-176 at any dose, significantly decreased the locomotor activity of mice. This alteration in locomotor activity was only evident during acute exposure to the drug and was not observed during repeated treatment and abstinence. Similarly, only JWH-175 (0.1 mg/kg) produced significant CPP in rats. On the other hand, none of the drugs tested was self-administered by rats. Taken together, the present results indicate that JWH-175, but not JWH-030 and JWH-176, may have abuse potential. More importantly, our findings indicate the complex psychopharmacological effects of synthetic cannabinoids and the need to closely monitor the production, dispensation, and use of these substances.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Animal testing, Assessment, Drug addiction, Addiction, Cannabinoid, Recreational drug use, HU-210


Synthetic cannabinoids JWH-018 and JWH-250 in ‘herbal incense’ also called ‘spice’ were first introduced in many countries. Numerous synthetic cannabinoids with similar chemical structures emerged simultaneously and suddenly. Currently there are not sufficient data on their adverse effects including neurotoxicity. There are only anecdotal reports that suggest their toxicity. In the present study, we evaluated the neurotoxicity of two synthetic cannabinoids (JWH-081 and JWH-210) through observation of various behavioral changes and analysis of histopathological changes using experimental mice with various doses (0.1, 1, 5 mg/kg). In functional observation battery (FOB) test, animals treated with 5 mg/kg of JWH-081 or JWH-210 showed traction and tremor. Their locomotor activities and rotarod retention time were significantly (p<0.05) decreased. However, no significant change was observed in learning or memory function. In histopathological analysis, neural cells of the animals treated with the high dose (5 mg/kg) of JWH-081 or JWH-210 showed distorted nuclei and nucleus membranes in the core shell of nucleus accumbens, suggesting neurotoxicity. Our results suggest that JWH-081 and JWH-210 may be neurotoxic substances through changing neuronal cell damages, especially in the core shell part of nucleus accumbens. To confirm our findings, further studies are needed in the future.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neuron, Cell nucleus, Future, Toxicity, Change, Dopamine, Neurotoxicity


HSP90 is a molecular chaperone that increases the stability of client proteins. Cancer cells show higher HSP90 expression than normal cells because many client proteins play an important role in the growth and survival of cancer cells. HSP90 inhibitors mainly bind to the ATP binding site of HSP90 and inhibit HSP90 activity, and these inhibitors can be distinguished as ansamycin and non-ansamycin depending on the structure. In addition, the histone deacetylase inhibitors inhibit the activity of HSP90 through acetylation of HSP90. These HSP90 inhibitors have undergone or are undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of cancer. On the other hand, recent studies have reported that various reagents induce cleavage of HSP90, resulting in reduced HSP90 client proteins and growth suppression in cancer cells. Cleavage of HSP90 can be divided into enzymatic cleavage and non-enzymatic cleavage. Therefore, reagents inducing cleavage of HSP90 can be classified as another class of HSP90 inhibitors. We discuss that the cleavage of HSP90 can be another mechanism in the cancer treatment by HSP90 inhibition.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a pivotal role in pathologic ocular neovascularization and vascular leakage via activation of VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2). This study was undertaken to evaluate the therapeutic mechanisms and effects of the tetrapeptide Arg-Leu-Tyr-Glu (RLYE), a VEGFR2 inhibitor, in the development of vascular permeability and choroidal neovascularization (CNV). In cultured human retinal microvascular endothelial cells (HRMECs), treatment with RLYE blocked VEGF-A-induced phosphorylation of VEGFR2, Akt, ERK, and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), leading to suppression of VEGFA-mediated hyper-production of NO. Treatment with RLYE also inhibited VEGF-A-stimulated angiogenic processes (migration, proliferation, and tube formation) and the hyperpermeability of HRMECs, in addition to attenuating VEGF-A-induced angiogenesis and vascular permeability in mice. The anti-vascular permeability activity of RLYE was correlated with enhanced stability and positioning of the junction proteins VE-cadherin, β-catenin, claudin-5, and ZO-1, critical components of the cortical actin ring structure and retinal endothelial barrier, at the boundary between HRMECs stimulated with VEGF-A. Furthermore, intravitreally injected RLYE bound to retinal microvascular endothelium and inhibited laser-induced CNV in mice. These findings suggest that RLYE has potential as a therapeutic drug for the treatment of CNV by preventing VEGFR2-mediated vascular leakage and angiogenesis.


Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) can be defined as an ectopic ossification in the tissues of spinal ligament showing a hyperostotic condition. OPLL is developed mostly in the cervical spine and clinical presentations of OPLL are majorly myelopathy and/or radiculopathy, with serious neurological pathology resulting in paralysis of extremities and disturbances of motility lowering the quality of life. OPLL is known to be an idiopathic and multifactorial disease, which genetic factors and non-genetic factors including diet, obesity, physical strain on the posterior longitudinal ligament, age, and diabetes mellitus, are involved into the pathogenesis. Up to now, surgical management by decompressing the spinal cord is regarded as standard treatment for OPLL, although there might be the risk of development of reprogression of ossification. The molecular pathogenesis and efficient therapeutic strategy, especially pharmacotherapy and/or preventive intervention, of OPLL has not been clearly elucidated and suggested. Therefore, in this review, we tried to give an overview to the present research results on OPLL, in order to shed light on the potential pharmacotherapy based on molecular pathophysiologic aspect of OPLL, especially on the genetic/genomic factors involved into the etiology of OPLL.