SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Biomolecules & therapeutics

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) levels are often found to be elevated in serum, bronchoalveolar lavage, and lung tissue of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patients and experimental mouse models. Although the roles of sphingosine kinase 1 and S1P receptors have been implicated in fibrosis, the underlying mechanism of fibrosis via Sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor 2 (S1P2) has not been fully investigated. Therefore, in this study, the roles of S1P2 in lung inflammation and fibrosis was investigated by means of a bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis model and lung epithelial cells. Bleomycin was found to induce lung inflammation on day 7 and fibrosis on day 28 of treatment. On the 7th day after bleomycin administration, S1P2 deficient mice exhibited significantly less pulmonary inflammation, including cell infiltration and pro-inflammatory cytokine induction, than the wild type mice. On the 28th day after bleomycin treatment, severe inflammation and fibrosis were observed in lung tissues from wild type mice, while lung tissues from S1P2 deficient mice showed less inflammation and fibrosis. Increase in TGF-β1-induced extracellular matrix accumulation and epithelial-mesenchymal transition were inhibited by JTE-013, a S1P2 antagonist, in A549 lung epithelial cells. Taken together, pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic functions of S1P2 were elucidated using a bleomycin-induced fibrosis model. Notably, S1P2 was found to mediate epithelial-mesenchymal transition in fibrotic responses. Therefore, the results of this study indicate that S1P2 could be a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis.

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Melanoma cells have been shown to respond to BRAF inhibitors; however, intrinsic and acquired resistance limits their clinical application. In this study, we performed RNA-Seq analysis with BRAF inhibitor-sensitive (A375P) and -resistant (A375P/Mdr with acquired resistance and SK-MEL-2 with intrinsic resistance) melanoma cell lines, to reveal the genes and pathways potentially involved in intrinsic and acquired resistance to BRAF inhibitors. A total of 546 differentially expressed genes (DEGs), including 239 up-regulated and 307 down-regulated genes, were identified in both intrinsic and acquired resistant cells. Gene ontology (GO) analysis revealed that the top 10 biological processes associated with these genes included angiogenesis, immune response, cell adhesion, antigen processing and presentation, extracellular matrix organization, osteoblast differentiation, collagen catabolic process, viral entry into host cell, cell migration, and positive regulation of protein kinase B signaling. In addition, using the PANTHER GO classification system, we showed that the highest enriched GOs targeted by the 546 DEGs were responses to cellular processes (ontology: biological process), binding (ontology: molecular function), and cell subcellular localization (ontology: cellular component). Ingenuity pathway analysis (IPA) network analysis showed a network that was common to two BRAF inhibitor-resistant cells. Taken together, the present study may provide a useful platform to further reveal biological processes associated with BRAF inhibitor resistance, and present areas for therapeutic tool development to overcome BRAF inhibitor resistance.

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Cis-3-O-p-hydroxycinnamoyl ursolic acid (HCUA), a triterpenoid compound, was purified from Elaeagnus oldhamii Maxim. This traditional medicinal plant has been used for treating rheumatoid arthritis and lung disorders as well as for its anti-inflammation and anticancer activities. This study aimed to investigate the anti-proliferative and apoptotic-inducing activities of HCUA in oral cancer cells. HCUA exhibited anti-proliferative activity in oral cancer cell lines (Ca9-22 and SAS cells), but not in normal oral fibroblasts. The inhibitory concentration of HCUA that resulted in 50% viability was 24.0 μM and 17.8 μM for Ca9-22 and SAS cells, respectively. Moreover, HCUA increased the number of cells in the sub-G1 arrest phase and apoptosis in a concentration-dependent manner in both oral cancer cell lines, but not in normal oral fibroblasts. Importantly, HCUA induced p53-mediated transcriptional regulation of pro-apoptotic proteins (Bax, Bak, Bim, Noxa, and PUMA), which are associated with mitochondrial apoptosis in oral cancer cells via the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential. HCUA triggered the production of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) that was ascertained to be involved in HCUA-induced apoptosis by the ROS inhibitors YCG063 and N-acetyl-L-cysteine. As a result, HCUA had potential antitumor activity to oral cancer cells through eliciting ROS-dependent and p53-mediated mitochondrial apoptosis. Overall, HCUA could be applicable for the development of anticancer agents against human oral cancer.

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Depression is a major mood disorder. Abnormal expression of glial glutamate transporter-1 (GLT-1) is associated with depression. Schisantherin B (STB) is one bioactive of lignans isolated from Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill which has been commonly used as a traditional herbal medicine for thousands of years. This paper was designed to investigate the effects of STB on depressive mice induced by forced swimming test (FST). Additionally, we also assessed the impairment of FST on cognitive function in mice with different ages. FST and open field test (OFT) were used for assessing depressive symptoms, and Y-maze was used for evaluating cognition processes. Our study showed that STB acting as an antidepressant, which increased GLT-1 levels by promoting PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway. Although the damage is reversible, short-term learning and memory impairment caused by FST test is more serious in the aged mice, and STB also exerts cognition improvement ability in the meanwhile. Our findings suggested that STB might be a promising therapeutic agent of depression by regulating the GLT-1 restoration as well as activating PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway.

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Ceramide metabolism is known to be an essential etiology for various diseases, such as atopic dermatitis and Gaucher disease. Glucosylceramide synthase (GCS) is a key enzyme for the synthesis of glucosylceramide (GlcCer), which is a main ceramide metabolism pathway in mammalian cells. In this article, we developed a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method to determine GCS activity using synthetic non-natural sphingolipid C8-ceramide as a substrate. The reaction products, C8-GlcCer for GCS, could be separated on a C18 column by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Quantification was conducted using the multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode to monitor the precursor-to-product ion transitions of m/z 588.6 → 264.4 for C8-GlcCer at positive ionization mode. The calibration curve was established over the range of 0.625-160 ng/mL, and the correlation coefficient was larger than 0.999. This method was successfully applied to detect GCS in the human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line (HepG2 cells) and mouse peripheral blood mononuclear cells. We also evaluated the inhibition degree of a known GCS inhibitor 1-phenyl-2-decanoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol (PDMP) on GCS enzymatic activity and proved that this method could be successfully applied to GCS inhibitor screening of preventive and therapeutic drugs for ceramide metabolism diseases, such as atopic dermatitis and Gaucher disease.