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

Journal: Biomolecules & therapeutics


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


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


4-Hydroxy-2-(4-hydroxyphenethyl)isoindoline-1,3-dione (PD1) is a synthetic phthalimide derivative of a marine compound. PD1 has peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) γ agonistic and anti-inflammatory effects. This study aimed to investigate the effect of PD1 on allergic asthma using rat basophilic leukemia (RBL)-2H3 mast cells and an ovalbumin (OVA)-induced asthma mouse model. In vitro, PD1 suppressed β-hexosaminidase activity in RBL-2H3 cells. In the OVA-induced allergic asthma mouse model, increased inflammatory cells and elevated Th2 and Th1 cytokine levels were observed in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and lung tissue. PD1 administration decreased the numbers of inflammatory cells, especially eosinophils, and reduced the mRNA and protein levels of the Th2 cytokines including interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-13, in BALF and lung tissue. The severity of inflammation and mucin secretion in the lungs of PD1-treated mice was also less. These findings indicate that PD1 could be a potential compound for anti-allergic therapy.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, White blood cell, Asthma, Lung, Allergy, Bronchoalveolar lavage, Leukotriene


Taurine is an abundant, β-amino acid with diverse cytoprotective activity. In some species, taurine is an essential nutrient but in man it is considered a semi-essential nutrient, although cells lacking taurine show major pathology. These findings have spurred interest in the potential use of taurine as a therapeutic agent. The discovery that taurine is an effective therapy against congestive heart failure led to the study of taurine as a therapeutic agent against other disease conditions. Today, taurine has been approved for the treatment of congestive heart failure in Japan and shows promise in the treatment of several other diseases. The present review summarizes studies supporting a role of taurine in the treatment of diseases of muscle, the central nervous system, and the cardiovascular system. In addition, taurine is extremely effective in the treatment of the mitochondrial disease, mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS), and offers a new approach for the treatment of metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, and inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis. The review also addresses the functions of taurine (regulation of antioxidation, energy metabolism, gene expression, ER stress, neuromodulation, quality control and calcium homeostasis) underlying these therapeutic actions.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Brain, Bacteria, Metabolism, Nutrition, Organism, Mitochondrion


Neural stem cells (NSCs) have the ability to self-renew and differentiate into multiple nervous system cell types. During embryonic development, the concentrations of soluble biological molecules have a critical role in controlling cell proliferation, migration, differentiation and apoptosis. In an effort to find optimal culture conditions for the generation of desired cell types in vitro, we used a microfluidic chip-generated growth factor gradient system. In the current study, NSCs in the microfluidic device remained healthy during the entire period of cell culture, and proliferated and differentiated in response to the concentration gradient of growth factors (epithermal growth factor and basic fibroblast growth factor). We also showed that overexpression of ASCL1 in NSCs increased neuronal differentiation depending on the concentration gradient of growth factors generated in the microfluidic gradient chip. The microfluidic system allowed us to study concentration-dependent effects of growth factors within a single device, while a traditional system requires multiple independent cultures using fixed growth factor concentrations. Our study suggests that the microfluidic gradient-generating chip is a powerful tool for determining the optimal culture conditions.

Concepts: Neuron, Growth factor, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Cellular differentiation, Cell culture, Cell type, Embryonic stem cell


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are widely generated in biological processes such as normal metabolism and response to xenobiotic exposure. While ROS can be beneficial or harmful to cells and tissues, generation of ROS by diverse anti-cancer drugs or phytochemicals plays an important role in the induction of apoptosis. We recently identified a derivative of naphthalene, MS-5, that induces apoptosis of an ovarian cell, CAOV-3. Interestingly, MS-5 induced apoptosis by down-regulating the ROS. Cell viability was evaluated by water-soluble tetrazolium salt (WST-1) assay. Apoptosis was evaluated by flow cytometry analysis. Intracellular ROS (H₂O₂), mitochondrial superoxide, mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and effect on cycle were determined by flow cytometry. Protein expression was assessed by western blotting. The level of ATP was measured using ATP Colorimetric/Fluorometric Assay kit. MS-5 inhibited growth of ovarian cancer cell lines, CAOV-3, in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. MS-5 also induced G1 cell cycle arrest in CAOV-3 cells, while MS-5 decreased intracellular ROS generation. In addition, cells treated with MS-5 showed the decrease in MMP and ATP production. In this study, we found that treatment with MS-5 in CAOV-3 cells induced apoptosis but decreased ROS level. We suspect that MS-5 might interfere with the minimum requirements of ROS for survival. These perturbations appear to be concentration-dependent, suggesting that MS-5 may induce apoptosis by interfering with ROS generation. We propose that MS-5 may be a potent therapeutic agent for inducing apoptosis in ovarian cancer cell through regulation of ROS.

Concepts: DNA, Oxygen, Adenosine triphosphate, Mitochondrion, Cell biology, Apoptosis, Reactive oxygen species, Cell cycle


A type of breast cancer with a defect in three molecular markers such as the estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor is called triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Many patients with TNBC have a lower survival rate than patients with other types due to a poor prognosis. In this study, we confirmed the anti-cancer effect of a natural compound, Gomisin G, in TNBC cancer cells. Treatment with Gomisin G suppressed the viability of two TNBC cell lines, MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468 but not non-TNBC cell lines such as MCF-7, T47D, and ZR75-1. To investigate the molecular mechanism of this activity, we examined the signal transduction pathways after treatment with Gomisin G in MDA-MB-231 cells. Gomisin G did not induce apoptosis but drastically inhibited AKT phosphorylation and reduced the amount of retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein (Rb) and phosphorylated Rb. Gomisin G induced in a proteasome-dependent manner a decrease in Cyclin D1. Consequently, Gomisin G causes cell cycle arrest in the G1 phase. In contrast, there was no significant change in T47D cells except for a mild decrease in AKT phosphorylation. These results show that Gomisin G has an anti-cancer activity by suppressing proliferation rather than inducing apoptosis in TNBC cells. Our study suggests that Gomisin G could be used as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of TNBC patients.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Breast cancer, Signal transduction, Growth factor, Cell biology, Apoptosis, Cell cycle


In order to discover lifespan-extending compounds made from natural resources, activity-guided fractionation ofZingiber officinaleRoscoe (Zingiberaceae) ethanol extract was performed using theCaenorhabditis elegans(C. elegans) model system. The compound 6-gingerol was isolated from the most active ethyl acetate soluble fraction, and showed potent longevity-promoting activity. It also elevated the survival rate of worms against stressful environment including thermal, osmotic, and oxidative conditions. Additionally, 6-gingerol elevated the antioxidant enzyme activities ofC. elegans, and showed a dose-depend reduction of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation in worms. Further studies demonstrated that the increased stress tolerance of 6-gingerol-mediated worms could result from the promotion of stress resistance proteins such as heat shock protein (HSP-16.2) and superoxide dismutase (SOD-3). The lipofuscin levels in 6-gingerol treated intestinal worms were decreased in comparison to the control group. No significant 6-gingerol-related changes, including growth, food intake, reproduction, and movement were noted. These results suggest that 6-gingerol exerted longevity-promoting activities independently of these factors and could extend the human lifespan.

Concepts: Oxygen, Enzyme, Antioxidant, Oxidative stress, Oxidative phosphorylation, Reactive oxygen species, Superoxide dismutase, Hydrogen peroxide


Chalcone, (2E)-1,3-Diphenylprop-2-en-1-one, and its synthetic derivatives are known to possess anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. In the present study, we prepared a novel synthetic chalcone compound, (E)-1-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-3-(2-(trifluoromethoxy)phenyl)prop-2-en-1-one name (YJI-7), and investigated its inhibitory effects on endotoxin-stimulated production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and expression of inflammatory mediators in macrophages. We demonstrated that treatment of RAW 264.7 macrophages with YJI-7 significantly suppressed lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated ROS production. We also found that YJI-7 substantially decreased NADPH oxidase activity stimulated by LPS, indicating that YJI-7 regulates ROS production via modulation of NADPH oxidase in macrophages. Furthermore, YJI-7 strongly inhibited the expression of a number of inflammatory mediators in a gene-selective manner, suggesting that YJI-7 possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties, as well as anti-oxidative activity. In continuing experiments to investigate the mechanisms that could underlie such biological effects, we revealed that YJI-7 suppressed phosphorylation of p38MAPK and JNK stimulated by LPS, whereas no significant effect on ERK was observed. Furthermore, LPS-stimulated production of ROS, activation of NADPH oxidase and expression of inflammatory mediators were markedly suppressed by treatment with selective inhibitor of p38MAPK (SB203580) and JNK (SP600125). Taken together, these results demonstrated that YJI-7, a novel synthetic chalcone derivative, suppressed LPS-stimulated ROS production via modulation of NADPH oxidase and diminished expression of inflammatory mediators, at least in part, via down-regulation of p38MAPK and JNK signaling in macrophages.

Concepts: Inflammation, Oxygen, Effect, Oxidative phosphorylation, Reactive oxygen species, NADPH oxidase, Anti-inflammatory, Inhibitory postsynaptic potential