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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


We attempted to determine whether betanin (from natural pigments) that has antioxidant properties would be protective against fructose-induced diabetic cardiac fibrosis in Sprague-Dawley rats. Fructose water solution (30%) was accessed freely, and betanin (25 and 100mg/kg/d) was administered by intra-gastric gavage continuously for 60d. Rats were sacrificed after overnight fast. The rat blood and left ventricle were collected. In vitro antiglycation assay in bovine serum albumin/fructose system was also performed. In rats treated only with fructose, levels of plasma markers: glucose, insulin, HOMA and glycated hemoglobin rised, left ventricle collagen accumulated and cross-linked, profibrotic factor-transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) protein expression increased, and soluble collagen decreased, compared with those in normal rats, showing fructose induces diabetic cardiac fibrosis. Treatment with betanin antagonized the changes of these parameters, demonstrating the antifibrotic role of betanin in the selected diabetic models. In further mechanistic study, betanin decreased protein glycation indicated by the decreased levels of protein glycation reactive intermediate (methylglyoxal), advanced glycation end product (N(ε)-(carboxymethyl) lysine) and receptors for advanced glycation end products (AGEs), antagonized oxidative stress and nuclear factor-κB activation elicited by fructose feeding, suggesting inhibition of glycation, oxidative stress and nuclear factor-κB activation may be involved in the antifibrotic mechanisms. Betanin also showed anitglycative effect in BSA/fructose system, which supported that anitglycation was involved in betanin’s protective roles in vivo. Taken together, the potential for using betanin as an auxillary therapy for diabetic cardiomyopathy deserves to be explored further.

Concepts: Protein, Blood, Glucose, Collagen, Heart, Vitamin C, Connective tissue, Glycation


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


20(S)-protopanaxadiol (PPD) possesses various biological properties, including anti-inflammatory, antitumor and anti-fatigue properties. Recent studies found that PPD functioned as a neurotrophic agent to ameliorate the sensory deficit caused by glutamate-induced excitotoxicity through its antioxidant effects and exhibited strong antidepressant-like effects in vivo. The objective of the present study was first to investigate the effect of PPD in scopolamine (SCOP)-induced memory deficit in mice and the potential mechanisms involved. In this study, mice were pretreated with PPD (20 and 40 μmol/kg) and donepezil (1.6 mg/kg) intraperitoneally (i.p) for 14 days. Then, open field test was used to assess the effect of PPD on the locomotor activity and mice were daily injected with SCOP (0.75 mg/kg) to induce cognitive deficits and then subjected to behavioral tests by object location recognition (OLR) experiment and Morris water maze (MWM) task. The cholinergic system function, oxidative stress biomarkers and protein expression of Egr-1, c-Fos, and c-Jun in mouse hippocampus were examined. PPD was found to significantly improve the performance of amnesia mice in OLR and MWM tests. PPD regulated cholinergic function by inhibiting SCOP-induced elevation of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity, decline of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity and decrease of acetylcholine (Ach) level. PPD suppressed oxidative stress by increasing activities of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and lowering maleic diadehyde (MDA) level. Additionally, PPD significantly elevated the expression of Egr-1, c-Fos, and c-Jun in hippocampus at protein level. Taken together, all these results suggested that 20(S)-protopanaxadiol (PPD) may be a candidate compound for the prevention against memory loss in some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Enzyme, Antioxidant, Oxidative stress, Traumatic brain injury, Superoxide dismutase, Acetylcholine, Memory loss


Impaired apoptosis and systemic toxicity of chemotherapeutic drugs make cancer treatment suboptimal. Thus, there is urgency for drug repurposing which facilitates discovery of safe and effective combination therapy. This study aimed to evaluate chloroquine’s (CQ) ability to trigger TRAIL/TRAILR2 apoptotic pathway in thioacetamide (TAA)-induced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) either alone or in combination with doxorubicin (DOX). Moreover, its ability to attenuate DOX-induced cardiotoxicity was investigated. TAA was injected in male Sprague Dawely rats (200 mg/kg; ip; 2 times/week) for 16 weeks. After the 16th week, rats were further divided into different groups (n = 10) and treated for 7 weeks. CQ group (received CQ 25 mg/kg/day; orally), DOX group (received DOX 1 mg/kg; ip; 2 times/week) and CQ/DOX group. Liver function biomarkers, AFP, hepatic levels of MDA and GSH, serum CK-MB and LDH enzymes activity were measured. Quantitative, Real-Time PCR was used to measure TRAIL, TRAILR2, caspase-8, caspase-9, caspase-3, BCL-2 and TGF-β1 genes expression levels. Necroinflammation and fibrosis were scored by histopathological examination. CQ improved liver functions, reduced AFP level and attenuated HCC progression. CQ induced apoptosis via upregulation of TRAIL/TRAILR2, caspase-8, caspase-3 and caspase-8 genes and downregulation of BCL-2 gene. Moreover, CQ/DOX showed marked decrease in hepatic MDA level, serum CK-MB, LDH enzymes activity, as well as marked increase in hepatic GSH level. In conclusion, this work assess the in vivo efficacy of CQ/DOX combination therapy in this HCC model that not only has enhanced anti-tumor activity but it also protects against DOX-induced cardiotoxicity. Nevertheless, more studies should be performed to illustrate the molecular mechanism of CQ’s cardioprotective effect.

Concepts: DNA, Gene expression, Cancer, Apoptosis, Chemotherapy, Liver, Anthracycline, Caspase 8