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Journal: Chemico-biological interactions


Lithium is one of the most widely used mood-stabilizing agents for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Lithium is also a potent inhibitor of glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK3β) activity, which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In experiments with cultured HEK293T cells, we show here that GSK3β stabilizes synaptic acetylcholinesterase (AChE-S), a critical component of AD development. Cells treated with lithium exhibited rapid proteasomal degradation of AChE-S. Furthermore treatment of the cells with MG132, an inhibitor of the 26S proteasome, prevented the destabilizing effect of lithium on AChE-S. Taken together, these findings suggest that regulation of AChE-S protein stability may be an important biological target of lithium therapy.

Concepts: Enzyme, Acetylcholine, Proteasome, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Mania, Emil Kraepelin, Lithium pharmacology


The OrganoTox test is a rapid, point-of-care assay capable of detecting clinically relevant organophosphate (OP) poisoning after low-level exposure to sarin, soman, tabun, or VX chemical nerve agents. The test utilizes either a finger stick peripheral blood sample or plasma specimen. While high-level nerve agent exposure can quickly lead to death, low-level exposure produces vague, nondescript signs and symptoms that are not easily clinically differentiated from other conditions. In initial testing, the OrganoTox test was used to detect the presence of blood protein-nerve agent adducts in exposed blood samples. In order to mimic the in vivo exposure as closely as possible, nerve agents stored in organic solvents were spiked in minute quantities into whole blood samples. For performance testing, 40 plasma samples were spiked with sarin, soman, tabun, or VX and 10 normal plasma samples were used as the negative control. The 40 nerve agent-spiked plasma samples included 10 replicates of each agent. At the clinically relevant low-level exposure of 10 ng/ml, the OrganoTox test demonstrated 100% sensitivity for soman, tabun, and VX and 80% sensitivity for sarin. The OrganoTox test demonstrated greater than 97% specificity with 150 blood samples obtained from healthy adults. No cross-reactivity or interference from pesticide precursor compounds was found. A rapid test for nerve agent exposure will help identify affected patients earlier in the clinical course and trigger more appropriate medical management in a more timely manner.

Concepts: Blood, Acetylcholine, Sarin, VX, Nerve agent, Tabun, Soman, Gerhard Schrader


Oil-in-water (o/w) emulsions containing egg yolk phosphatidylcholine (EPC) were combined with aqueous polyhexamethylene biguanide hydrochloride (PHMB). The PHMB concentration in the aqueous phase was estimated by filtration centrifugation experiments. In parallel, PHMB concentration was assessed utilizing cytotoxicity assays (neutral red) on cultured murine fibroblasts (L929 cells) and tests of bactericidal efficacy on either Pseudomonas aeruginosa or Staphylococcus aureus. Biological tests were performed in cell culture medium. Filtration centrifugation experiments demonstrated much higher aqueous PHMB concentrations than did the assays for biologically effective PHMB. Therefore, biological test systems should preferably be used to verify effective PHMB concentrations. Tests of microbicidal efficacy in which the same 0.05% PHMB o/w emulsion was re-used 8 times revealed a drug delivery system activated by the presence of test bacteria.

Concepts: Gene, Bacteria, Microbiology, Chemistry, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Cell culture, Growth medium, PAPB


Only one crystal structure is currently available for tumor marker AKR1B10, complexed with NADP(+) and tolrestat, which is an aldose reductase inhibitor (ARI) of the carboxylic acid type. Here, the X-ray structure of the complex of the V301L substituted AKR1B10 holoenzyme with fidarestat, an ARI of the cyclic imide type, was obtained at 1.60 Å resolution by replacement soaking of crystals containing tolrestat. Previously, fidarestat was found to be safe in phase III trials for diabetic neuropathy and, consistent with its low in vivo side effects, was highly selective for aldose reductase (AR or AKR1B1) versus aldehyde reductase (AKR1A1). Now, inhibition studies showed that fidarestat was indeed 1300-fold more selective for AR as compared to AKR1B10, while the change of Val to Leu (found in AR) caused a 20-fold decrease in the IC(50) value with fidarestat. Structural analysis of the V301L AKR1B10-fidarestat complex displayed enzyme-inhibitor interactions similar to those of the AR-fidarestat complex. However, a close inspection of both the new crystal structure and a computer model of the wild-type AKR1B10 complex with fidarestat revealed subtle changes that could affect fidarestat binding. In the crystal structure, a significant motion of loop A was observed between AR and V301L AKR1B10, linked to a Phe-122/Phe-123 side chain displacement. This was due to the presence of the more voluminous Gln-303 side chain (Ser-302 in AR) and of a water molecule buried in a subpocket located at the base of flexible loop A. In the wild-type AKR1B10 model, a short contact was predicted between the Val-301 side chain and fidarestat, but would not be present in AR or in V301L AKR1B10. Overall, these changes could contribute to the difference in inhibitory potency of fidarestat between AR and AKR1B10.

Concepts: Amino acid, Crystal, Crystallography, Model theory, Aldose reductase, Crystallographic database, Aldo-keto reductase, Aldose reductase inhibitor


Xanthohumol (XN), a prenylflavonoid derived from the hop plant (Humulus lupulus L.) has been found to exhibit a broad spectrum of biological properties, including anti-cancer activity. In this study, the mechanisms involved in anti-cancer activity of XN in human RK33 and RK45 larynx cancer cell lines were investigated. The effect of XN on the viability of larynx cancer and normal cells (human skin fibroblasts HSF and rat oligodendroglia-derived cells, OLN-93) was compared. Additionally, the influence of XN on proliferation, cell cycle progression, induction of apoptosis in larynx cancer cells, as well as the molecular mechanisms underlying in these processes were analyzed. XN promoted the reduction of cell viability in cancer cells, but showed low cytotoxicity to normal cells. The decrease in cell viability in the cancer cells was coupled with induction of apoptosis via two pathways. The mechanisms involved in these effects of XN were associated with cell growth inhibition by induction of cell cycle arrest in the G1 phase, increased p53 and p21/WAF1 expression levels, downregulation of cyclin D1 and Bcl-2, and activation of caspases-9, -8, and -3. Moreover, this compound inhibited phosphorylation of ERK1/2, suggesting a key role of the ERKs pathway in the XN-mediated growth suppressing effects against the studied cells. These results indicate that XN could be used as a potential agent for the treatment of patients with larynx cancer.

Concepts: Gene expression, Cancer, Oncology, Cell division, Apoptosis, Cell cycle, P53, Humulus lupulus


Our aim was to investigate the possible effects of regular drinking of Rosmarinus officinalis L. leaf infusion on behavior and on AChE activity of mice. Rosemary tea (2% w/w) phytochemical profile was investigated through LC/DAD/ESI-MS(n). Adult male mice were randomly divided into two groups: “Rosemary-treated” that received orally the rosemary tea for 4 weeks and “control” that received drinking water. The effects of regular drinking of rosemary tea on behavioral parameters were assessed by passive avoidance, elevated plus maze and forced swimming tests. Moreover, its effects on cerebral and liver cholinesterase (ChE) isoforms activity were examined colorimetricaly. Phytochemical analysis revealed the presence of diterpenes, flavonoids and hydroxycinnamic derivatives in rosemary tea; the major compounds were quantitatively determined. Its consumption rigorously affected anxiety/fear and depression-like behavior of mice, though memory/learning was unaffected. ChE isoforms activity was significantly decreased in brain and liver of “rosemary treated” mice. In order to explain the tissue ChE inhibition, principal component analysis, pharmacophore alignment and molecular docking were used to explore a possible relationship between main identified compounds of rosemary tea, i.e. rosmarinic acid, luteolin-7-O-glucuronide, caffeic acid and known AChE inhibitors. Results revealed potential common pharmacophores of the phenolic components with the inhibitors. Our findings suggest that rosemary tea administration exerts anxiolytic and antidepressant effects on mice and inhibits ChE activity; its main phytochemicals may function in a similar way as inhibitors.

Concepts: Enzyme inhibitor, Principal component analysis, Inhibitor, Lamiaceae, Acetylcholinesterase, Rosmarinic acid, Rosemary, Rosmarinus


A clear understanding of physicochemical factors governing nanoparticle toxicity is still in its infancy. We used a systematic approach to delineate physicochemical properties of nanoparticles that govern cytotoxicity. The cytotoxicity of fourth period metal oxide nanoparticles (NPs): TiO2, Cr2O3, Mn2O3, Fe2O3, NiO, CuO, and ZnO increases with the atomic number of the transition metal oxide. This trend was not cell-type specific, as observed in non-transformed human lung cells (BEAS-2B) and human bronchoalveolar carcinoma-derived cells (A549). Addition of NPs to the cell culture medium did not significantly alter pH. Physiochemical properties were assessed to discover the determinants of cytotoxicity: 1) point-of-zero charge (PZC) (i.e., isoelectric point) described the surface charge of NPs in cytosolic and lysosomal compartments; 2) relative number of available binding sites on the NP surface quantified by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy was used to estimate the probability of biomolecular interactions on the particle surface; 3) band-gap energy measurements to predict electron abstraction from NPs which might lead to oxidative stress and subsequent cell death; and 4) ion dissolution. Our results indicate that that cytotoxicity is a function of particle surface charge, the relative number of available surface binding sites, and metal ion dissolution from NPs. These findings provide a physicochemical basis for both risk assessment and the design of safer nanomaterials.

Concepts: Electron, Oxygen, Cell, Atom, Uranium, Oxide, Physical chemistry, Silver


Liposome is a kind of prospective abiotic drug delivery system for cancer treatment. Novel liposomes modified with PEG, cationic lipids and highly selective molecules achieve better stability, half-life and selectivity as well as less severe side effects. However, novel liposomes are still not nontoxic. PEG on the surface of liposomes interfere the combination of cancer cells and drugs. Cationic liposomes can induce oxidative damage and cytotoxicity to normal tissues. To further improve the safety of liposomal drugs, liposomal drugs must be highly selective to cancer tissues and cancer cells, at the same time, induce minimum damage to normal cells. It is necessary to gather several advantages of novel liposomes. The ideal targeted drug delivery system is like a multistage rocket. Firstly, the liposomal drugs should be sensitive to the specific environment of cancer tissues and accumulate in there. Secondly, the liposomes could selectively combine with cancer cells by surface modification. Lastly, in cancer cells, drugs release from the carriers rapidly. What’s more, form the records of clinical researches, the side effects induced by liposomal drugs, such as acute infusion reaction and hand-foot syndrome(HFS), are also unignorable. More attention should be paid to these safety problems in new liposomal drugs research and development.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Chemotherapy, Drug delivery, Liposome


Chronic hyperglycemia aggravates insulin resistance, in part due to increased formation of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). Methylglyoxal (MG), a major precursor of AGEs, accumulates abnormally in various tissues and organs and participates in oxidative damage. We investigated the insulinotropic benefits of magnolol, a hydroxylated biphenyl compound isolated from Magnolia officinalis, in pancreatic β-cells exposed to MG in vitro. When exposed to cytotoxic levels of MG for 48 h, RIN-m5F β-cells exhibited a significant loss of viability and impaired insulin secretion, whereas pretreatment with magnolol protected against MG-induced cell death and decreased insulin secretion. Moreover, magnolol increased the expression of genes involved in β-cell survival and function, including Ins2 and PDX1. Furthermore, magnolol increased the levels of AMPK phosphorylation, SIRT1, and PGC1α in RIN-5F β-cells. In addition, magnolol increased the activity of glyoxalase I and decreased the levels of MG-modified protein adducts, which suggests that magnolol protects against MG-induced protein glycation. Taken together, the results indicate the potential application of magnolol as an intervention against MG-induced hyperglycemia.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell, Insulin, Cell biology, Oxidative phosphorylation, Posttranslational modification, Magnolia


Carnosic acid (CA), an important bioactive phenolic diterpene mainly found in labiate plants, exerts various biological functions, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and neuroprotective activities. In the present study, we proved the deleterious effects of CA against hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in both in vitro and in vivo models. In vitro, CA significantly decreased cell viability, inhibited cell proliferation and migration, enhanced apoptosis, and increased caspase-3, -8, and -9 activities in HepG2 and SMMC-7721 cells. Specifically, CA led to a decreased mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and increases in intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels and apoptosis-related protein expression. Pre-incubation of HCC cells with N-Acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC), a ROS inhibitor, strongly suppressed CA-induced apoptotic phenomena, including reduced cell viability, excessive ROS levels, MMP decreases, and abnormal protein expression, suggesting an association of CA-induced apoptosis with oxidative stress-mediated mitochondrial pathways. In HepG2-and SMMC-7721-xenograft tumor mouse models, treatment with CA inhibited tumor growth and modulated apoptosis-related protein expression, confirming the anti-HCC effects of this chemical. Moreover, the CA-mediated anti-HCC effects associated with oxidative stress provide experimental evidence to support the potential use of CA as a drug therapy for HCC.

Concepts: DNA, Oxygen, Cancer, Bacteria, Mitochondrion, Cell biology, Oxidative phosphorylation, Reactive oxygen species