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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


In a previous study, we have demonstrated that S-methylmethionine sulfonium (SMMS) confers wound-healing and photoprotective effects on the skin, suggesting that SMMS can be used as a cosmetic raw material. However, it has an unpleasant odor. Therefore, in the present study, we synthesized odor-free SMMS derivatives by eliminating dimethyl sulfide, which is the cause of the unpleasant odor and identified two derivatives that exhibited skin-protective effects: one derivative comprised (2S,4S)- and (2R,4S)-2-phenylthiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid and the other comprised (2S,4R)-, (2S,4S)-, (2R,4R)-, and (2R,4S)-2-phenyl-1,3-thiazinane-4-carboxylic acid. We performed in vitro proliferation assays using human dermal fibroblasts (hDFs) and an immortalized human keratinocyte cell line (HaCaT). The two SMMS derivatives were shown to increase hDF and HaCaT cell proliferation as well as improve their survival by protecting against ultraviolet exposure. Moreover, the derivatives regulated the expression of collagen type I and MMP mRNAs against ultraviolet exposure in hDFs, suggesting that these derivatives can be developed as cosmetic raw materials.

Concepts: Cell, Collagen, Fibroblast, Skin, Material, Materials, Type-I collagen, Raw material


The phosphorylation of JNK is known to induce insulin resistance in insulin target tissues. The inhibition of JNK-JIP1 interaction, which interferes JNK phosphorylation, becomes a potential target for drug development of type 2 diabetes. To discover the inhibitors of JNK-JIP1 interaction, we screened out 30 candidates from 4320 compound library with In Cell Interaction Trap method. The candidates were further confirmed and narrowed down to five compounds using the FRET method in a model cell. Among those five compounds, Acebutolol showed notable inhibition of JNK phosphorylation and elevation of glucose uptake in diabetic models of adipocyte and liver cell. Structural computation showed that the binding affinity of Acebutolol on the JNK-JIP1 interaction site was comparable to the known inhibitor, BI-78D3. Our results suggest that Acebutolol, an FDA-approved beta blocker for hypertension therapy, could have a new repurposed effect on type 2 diabetes elevating glucose uptake process by inhibiting JNK-JIP1 interaction.

Concepts: Hypertension, Insulin, Diabetes mellitus type 2, Diabetes mellitus, Glucose, Obesity, Insulin resistance, Metabolic syndrome


The liver is an essential organ for the detoxification of exogenous xenobiotics, drugs and toxic substances. The incidence rate of non-alcoholic liver injury increases due to dietary habit change and drug use increase. Our previous study demonstrated that Ecklonia stolonifera (ES) formulation has hepatoprotective effect against alcohol-induced liver injury in rat and tacrine-induced hepatotoxicity in HepG2 cells. This present study was designated to elucidate hepatoprotective effects of ES formulation against carbon tetrachloride (CCl₄)-induced liver injury in Sprague Dawley rat. Sixty rats were randomly divided into six groups. The rats were treated orally with ES formulation and silymarin (served as positive control, only 100 mg/kg/day) at a dose of 50, 100, or 200 mg/kg/day for 21 days. Seven days after treatment, liver injury was induced by intraperitoneal injection of CCl₄ (1.5 ml/kg, twice a week for 14 days). The administration of CCl₄ exhibited significant elevation of hepatic enzymes (like AST and ALT), and decrease of antioxidant related enzymes (superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase) and glutathione. Then, it leaded to DNA damages (8-Oxo-2'-deoxyguanosine) and lipid peroxidation (malondialdehyde). Administration of ES formulation inhibited imbalance of above factors compared to CCl₄ induced rat in a dose dependent manner. Real time PCR analysis indicates that CYP2E1 was upregulated in CCl₄ induced rat. However, increased gene expression was compromised by ES formulation treatment. These findings suggests that ES formulation could protect hepatotoxicity caused by CCl₄ via two pathways: elevation of antioxidant enzymes and normalization of CYP2E1 enzyme.

Concepts: Polymerase chain reaction, Metabolism, Enzyme, Antioxidant, Paracetamol, Rat, Laboratory rat, Hepatotoxicity


Sepsis is a syndrome characterized by systemic inflammatory responses to a severe infection. Acute hyper-inflammatory reactions in the acute phase of sepsis have been considered as a primary reason for organ dysfunction and mortality, and advances in emergency intervention and improved intensive care management have reduced mortalities in the early phase. However it has been recognized that increased deaths in the late phase still maintain sepsis mortality high worldwide. Patients recovered from early severe illness are unable to control immune system with sepsis-induced immunosuppression such as immunological tolerance, exhaustion and apoptosis, which make them vulnerable to nosocomial and opportunistic infections ultimately leading to threat to life. Based on strategies to reverse immunosuppression, recent developments in sepsis therapy are focused on molecules having immune enhancing activities. These efforts are focused on defining and revising the immunocompromised status associated with long-term mortality.

Concepts: AIDS, Immune system, Inflammation, Opportunistic infection, Infection, Intensive care medicine, Immunology, Immunosuppressive drug


Recently, there has been a rise in the number of amphetamine derivatives that serve as substitutes for controlled substances (e.g. amphetamine and methamphetamine) on the global illegal drug market. These substances are capable of producing rewarding effects similar to their parent drug. In anticipation of the future rise of new and similar psychoactive substances, we designed and synthesized four novel amphetamine derivatives with N-benzyl, N-benzylamphetamine HCl (NBNA) substituent on the amine region, 1,4-dioxane ring, ethylenedioxy-amphetamine HCl (EDA), methyl, para-methylamphetamine HCl (PMEA), and naphthalene, 2-(aminopropyl) naphthalene HCl (2-APN) substituents on the phenyl site. Then, we evaluated their abuse potential in the conditioned place preference (CPP) test in mice and self-administration (SA) test in rats. We also investigated the psychostimulant properties of the novel drugs using the locomotor sensitization test in mice. Moreover, we performed qRT-PCR analyses to explore the effects of the novel drugs on the expression of D1 and D2 dopamine receptor genes in the striatum. NBNA, but not EDA, PMEA, and 2-APN, induced CPP and SA in rodents. None of the test drugs have produced locomotor sensitization. qRT-PCR analyses demonstrated that NBNA increased the expression of striatal D1 dopamine receptor genes. These data indicate that NBNA yields rewarding effects, suggesting potential for abuse. Continual observation for the rise of related substances is thus strongly encouraged.

Concepts: Drug, Dopamine receptor, Addiction, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Amphetamine, Psychoactive drug, Dopamine receptor D2, Recreational drug use


Sinomenium acutum has been long used in the preparations of traditional medicine in Japan, China and Korea for the treatment of various disorders including rheumatism, fever, pulmonary diseases and mood disorders. Recently, it was reported that Sinomenium acutum, has sedative and anxiolytic effects mediated by GABA-ergic systems. These experiments were performed to investigate whether sinomenine (SIN), an alkaloid derived from Sinomenium acutum enhances pentobarbital-induced sleep via γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic systems, and modulates sleep architecture in mice. Oral administration of SIN (40 mg/kg) markedly reduced spontaneous locomotor activity, similar to diazepam (a benzodiazepine agonist) in mice. SIN shortened sleep latency, and increased total sleep time in a dose-dependent manner when co-administrated with pentobarbital (42 mg/kg, i.p.). SIN also increased the number of sleeping mice and total sleep time by concomitant administration with the sub-hypnotic dosage of pentobarbital (28 mg/kg, i.p.). SIN reduced the number of sleep-wake cycles, and increased total sleep time and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. In addition, SIN also increased chloride influx in the primary cultured hypothalamic neuronal cells. Furthermore, protein overexpression of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD65/67) and GABAA receptor subunits by western blot were found, being activated by SIN. In conclusion, SIN augments pentobarbital-induced sleeping behaviors through GABAA-ergic systems, and increased NREM sleep. It could be a candidate for the treatment of insomnia.

Concepts: Sleep, Serotonin, Circadian rhythm, Diazepam, Benzodiazepine, Lorazepam, Barbiturate, Non-rapid eye movement sleep


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common inflammatory skin disorder mediated by inflammatory cells, such as macrophages and mast cells. Rifampicin is mainly used for the treatment of tuberculosis. Recently, it was reported that rifampicin has anti-inflammatory and immune-suppressive activities. In this study, we investigated the effect of rifampicin on atopic dermatitis in vivo and in vitro. AD was induced by treatment with 2, 4-dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB) in NC/Nga mice. A subset of mice was then treated with rifampicin by oral administration. The severity score and scratching behavior were alleviated in the rifampicin-treated group. Serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) and interleukin-4 (IL-4) levels were also ameliorated in mice treated with rifampicin. We next examined whether rifampicin has anti-atopic activity via suppression of mast cell activation. Rifampicin suppressed the release of β-hexosaminidase and histamine from human mast cell (HMC)-1 cultures stimulated with compound 48/80. Treatment with rifampicin also inhibited secretion of inflammatory mediators, such tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and prostaglandin D₂ (PGD₂), in mast cells activated by compound 48/80. The mRNA expression of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) was reduced in the cells treated with rifampicin in a concentration-dependent manner. These results suggest that rifampicin can be used to treat atopic dermatitis.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Asthma, Cell biology, Immunoglobulin E, Allergy, Mast cell, Histamine