Pharmacology and Therapeutics - Research Publications

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    Iron overload and impaired iron handling contribute to the dystrophic pathology in models of Duchenne muscular dystrophy
    Alves, FM ; Kysenius, K ; Caldow, MK ; Hardee, JP ; Chung, JD ; Trieu, J ; Hare, DJ ; Crouch, PJ ; Ayton, S ; Bush, A ; Lynch, GS ; Koopman, R (WILEY, 2022-03-06)
    BACKGROUND: Oxidative stress is implicated in the pathophysiology of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD, caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene), which is the most common and severe of the muscular dystrophies. To our knowledge, the distribution of iron, an important modulator of oxidative stress, has not been assessed in DMD. We tested the hypotheses that iron accumulation occurs in mouse models of DMD and that modulation of iron through the diet or chelation could modify disease severity. METHODS: We assessed iron distribution and total elemental iron using LA-ICP-MS on skeletal muscle cross-sections of 8-week-old Bl10 control mice and dystrophic mdx mice (with moderate dystrophy) and dystrophin/utrophin-null mice (dko, with severe dystrophy). In addition, mdx mice (4 weeks) were treated with either an iron chelator (deferiprone 150 mg/kg/day) or iron-enriched feed (containing 1% added iron as carbonyl iron). Immunoblotting was used to determine the abundance of iron- and mitochondria-related proteins. (Immuno)histochemical and mRNA assessments of fibrosis and inflammation were also performed. RESULTS: We observed a significant increase in total elemental iron in hindlimb muscles of dko mice (+50%, P < 0.05) and in the diaphragm of mdx mice (+80%, P < 0.05), with both tissues exhibiting severe pathology. Iron dyshomeostasis was further evidenced by an increase in the storage protein ferritin (dko: +39%, P < 0.05) and ferroportin compared with Bl10 control mice (mdx: +152% and dko: +175%, P < 0.05). Despite having features of iron overload, dystrophic muscles had lower protein expression of ALAS-1, the rate-limiting enzyme for haem synthesis (dko -44%, P < 0.05), and the haem-containing protein myoglobin (dko -54%, P < 0.05). Deferiprone treatment tended to decrease muscle iron levels in mdx mice (-30%, P < 0.1), which was associated with lower oxidative stress and fibrosis, but suppressed haem-containing proteins and mitochondrial content. Increasing iron via dietary intervention elevated total muscle iron (+25%, P < 0.05) but did not aggravate the pathology. CONCLUSIONS: Muscles from dystrophic mice have increased iron levels and dysregulated iron-related proteins that are associated with dystrophic pathology. Muscle iron levels were manipulated by iron chelation and iron enriched feed. Iron chelation reduced fibrosis and reactive oxygen species (ROS) but also suppressed haem-containing proteins and mitochondrial activity. Conversely, iron supplementation increased ferritin and haem-containing proteins but did not alter ROS, fibrosis, or mitochondrial activity. Further studies are required to investigate the contribution of impaired ferritin breakdown in the dysregulation of iron homeostasis in DMD.
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    An integrated mass spectrometry imaging and digital pathology workflow for objective detection of colorectal tumours by unique atomic signatures
    Paul, B ; Kysenius, K ; Hilton, JB ; Jones, MWM ; Hutchinson, RW ; Buchanan, DD ; Rosty, C ; Fryer, F ; Bush, A ; Hergt, JM ; Woodhead, JD ; Bishop, DP ; Doble, PA ; Hill, MM ; Crouch, PJ ; Hare, DJ (ROYAL SOC CHEMISTRY, 2021-06-29)
    Tumours are abnormal growths of cells that reproduce by redirecting essential nutrients and resources from surrounding tissue. Changes to cell metabolism that trigger the growth of tumours are reflected in subtle differences between the chemical composition of healthy and malignant cells. We used LA-ICP-MS imaging to investigate whether these chemical differences can be used to spatially identify tumours and support detection of primary colorectal tumours in anatomical pathology. First, we generated quantitative LA-ICP-MS images of three colorectal surgical resections with case-matched normal intestinal wall tissue and used this data in a Monte Carlo optimisation experiment to develop an algorithm that can classify pixels as tumour positive or negative. Blinded testing and interrogation of LA-ICP-MS images with micrographs of haematoxylin and eosin stained and Ki67 immunolabelled sections revealed Monte Carlo optimisation accurately identified primary tumour cells, as well as returning false positive pixels in areas of high cell proliferation. We analysed an additional 11 surgical resections of primary colorectal tumours and re-developed our image processing method to include a random forest regression machine learning model to correctly identify heterogenous tumours and exclude false positive pixels in images of non-malignant tissue. Our final model used over 1.6 billion calculations to correctly discern healthy cells from various types and stages of invasive colorectal tumours. The imaging mass spectrometry and data analysis methods described, developed in partnership with clinical cancer researchers, have the potential to further support cancer detection as part of a comprehensive digital pathology approach to cancer care through validation of a new chemical biomarker of tumour cells.
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    Iron accumulation in skeletal muscles of old mice is associated with impaired regeneration after ischaemia-reperfusion damage
    Alves, FM ; Kysenius, K ; Caldow, MK ; Hardee, JP ; Crouch, PJ ; Ayton, S ; Bush, AI ; Lynch, GS ; Koopman, R (WILEY, 2021-03-04)
    BACKGROUND: Oxidative stress is implicated in the insidious loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs with age. However, few studies have investigated the role of iron, which is elevated during ageing, in age-related muscle wasting and blunted repair after injury. We hypothesized that iron accumulation leads to membrane lipid peroxidation, muscle wasting, increased susceptibility to injury, and impaired muscle regeneration. METHODS: To examine the role of iron in age-related muscle atrophy, we compared the skeletal muscles of 3-month-old with 22- to 24-month-old 129SvEv FVBM mice. We assessed iron distribution and total elemental iron using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and Perls' stain on skeletal muscle cross-sections. In addition, old mice underwent ischaemia-reperfusion (IR) injury (90 min ischaemia), and muscle regeneration was assessed 14 days after injury. Immunoblotting was used to determine lipid peroxidation (4HNE) and iron-related proteins. To determine whether muscle iron content can be altered, old mice were treated with deferiprone (DFP) in the drinking water, and we assessed its effects on muscle regeneration after injury. RESULTS: We observed a significant increase in total elemental iron (+43%, P < 0.05) and lipid peroxidation (4HNE: +76%, P < 0.05) in tibialis anterior muscles of old mice. Iron was further increased after injury (adult: +81%, old: +135%, P < 0.05) and associated with increased lipid peroxidation (+41%, P < 0.05). Administration of DFP did not impact iron or measures of lipid peroxidation in skeletal muscle or modulate muscle mass. Increased muscle iron concentration and lipid peroxidation were associated with less efficient regeneration, evident from the smaller fibres in cross-sections of tibialis anterior muscles (-24%, P < 0.05) and an increased percentage of fibres with centralized nuclei (+4124%, P < 0.05) in muscles of old compared with adult mice. Administration of DFP lowered iron after IR injury (PRE: -32%, P < 0.05 and POST: -41%, P < 0.05), but did not translate to structural improvements. CONCLUSIONS: Muscles from old mice have increased iron levels, which are associated with increased lipid peroxidation, increased susceptibility to IR injury, and impaired muscle regeneration. Our results suggest that iron is involved in effective muscle regeneration, highlighting the importance of iron homeostasis in muscle atrophy and muscle repair.
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    The hypoxia imaging agent Cu-II(atsm) is neuroprotective and improves motor and cognitive functions in multiple animal models of Parkinson's disease
    Hung, LW ; Villemagne, VL ; Cheng, L ; Sherratt, NA ; Ayton, S ; White, AR ; Crouch, PJ ; Lim, S ; Leong, SL ; Wilkins, S ; George, J ; Roberts, BR ; Pham, CLL ; Liu, X ; Chiu, FCK ; Shackleford, DM ; Powell, AK ; Masters, CL ; Bush, AI ; O'Keefe, G ; Culvenor, JG ; Cappai, R ; Cherny, RA ; Donnelly, PS ; Hill, AF ; Finkelstein, DI ; Barnham, KJ (ROCKEFELLER UNIV PRESS, 2012-04-09)
    Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive, chronic disease characterized by dyskinesia, rigidity, instability, and tremors. The disease is defined by the presence of Lewy bodies, which primarily consist of aggregated α-synuclein protein, and is accompanied by the loss of monoaminergic neurons. Current therapeutic strategies only give symptomatic relief of motor impairment and do not address the underlying neurodegeneration. Hence, we have identified Cu(II)(atsm) as a potential therapeutic for PD. Drug administration to four different animal models of PD resulted in improved motor and cognition function, rescued nigral cell loss, and improved dopamine metabolism. In vitro, this compound is able to inhibit the effects of peroxynitrite-driven toxicity, including the formation of nitrated α-synuclein oligomers. Our results show that Cu(II)(atsm) is effective in reversing parkinsonian defects in animal models and has the potential to be a successful treatment of PD.
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    Tau-mediated iron export prevents ferroptotic damage after ischemic stroke
    Tuo, Q-Z ; Lei, P ; Jackman, KA ; Li, X-I ; Xiong, H ; Li, X-L ; Liuyang, Z-Y ; Roisman, L ; Zhang, S-T ; Ayton, S ; Wang, Q ; Crouch, PJ ; Ganio, K ; Wang, X-C ; Pei, L ; Adlard, PA ; Lu, Y-M ; Cappai, R ; Wang, J-Z ; Liu, R ; Bush, AI (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2017-11-01)
    Functional failure of tau contributes to age-dependent, iron-mediated neurotoxicity, and as iron accumulates in ischemic stroke tissue, we hypothesized that tau failure may exaggerate ischemia-reperfusion-related toxicity. Indeed, unilateral, transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) suppressed hemispheric tau and increased iron levels in young (3-month-old) mice and rats. Wild-type mice were protected by iron-targeted interventions: ceruloplasmin and amyloid precursor protein ectodomain, as well as ferroptosis inhibitors. At this age, tau-knockout mice did not express elevated brain iron and were protected against hemispheric reperfusion injury following MCAO, indicating that tau suppression may prevent ferroptosis. However, the accelerated age-dependent brain iron accumulation that occurs in tau-knockout mice at 12 months of age negated the protective benefit of tau suppression against MCAO-induced focal cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury. The protective benefit of tau knockout was revived in older mice by iron-targeting interventions. These findings introduce tau-iron interaction as a pleiotropic modulator of ferroptosis and ischemic stroke outcome.
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    Imaging Metals in Brain Tissue by Laser Ablation - Inductively Coupled Plasma - Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS)
    Hare, DJ ; Kysenius, K ; Paul, B ; Knauer, B ; Hutchinson, RW ; O'Connor, C ; Fryer, F ; Hennessey, TP ; Bush, AI ; Crouch, PJ ; Doble, PA (JOURNAL OF VISUALIZED EXPERIMENTS, 2017-01-01)
    Metals are found ubiquitously throughout an organism, with their biological role dictated by both their chemical reactivity and abundance within a specific anatomical region. Within the brain, metals have a highly compartmentalized distribution, depending on the primary function they play within the central nervous system. Imaging the spatial distribution of metals has provided unique insight into the biochemical architecture of the brain, allowing direct correlation between neuroanatomical regions and their known function with regard to metal-dependent processes. In addition, several age-related neurological disorders feature disrupted metal homeostasis, which is often confined to small regions of the brain that are otherwise difficult to analyze. Here, we describe a comprehensive method for quantitatively imaging metals in the mouse brain, using laser ablation - inductively coupled plasma - mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) and specially designed image processing software. Focusing on iron, copper and zinc, which are three of the most abundant and disease-relevant metals within the brain, we describe the essential steps in sample preparation, analysis, quantitative measurements and image processing to produce maps of metal distribution within the low micrometer resolution range. This technique, applicable to any cut tissue section, is capable of demonstrating the highly variable distribution of metals within an organ or system, and can be used to identify changes in metal homeostasis and absolute levels within fine anatomical structures.
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    Oral Treatment with Cu-II(atsm) Increases Mutant SOD1 In Vivo but Protects Motor Neurons and Improves the Phenotype of a Transgenic Mouse Model of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
    Roberts, BR ; Lim, NKH ; McAllum, EJ ; Donnelly, PS ; Hare, DJ ; Doble, PA ; Turner, BJ ; Price, KA ; Lim, SC ; Paterson, BM ; Hickey, JL ; Rhoads, TW ; Williams, JR ; Kanninen, KM ; Hung, LW ; Liddell, JR ; Grubman, A ; Monty, J-F ; Llanos, RM ; Kramer, DR ; Mercer, JFB ; Bush, AI ; Masters, CL ; Duce, JA ; Li, Q-X ; Beckman, JS ; Barnham, KJ ; White, AR ; Crouch, PJ (SOC NEUROSCIENCE, 2014-06-04)
    Mutations in the metallo-protein Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in humans and an expression level-dependent phenotype in transgenic rodents. We show that oral treatment with the therapeutic agent diacetyl-bis(4-methylthiosemicarbazonato)copper(II) [Cu(II)(atsm)] increased the concentration of mutant SOD1 (SOD1G37R) in ALS model mice, but paradoxically improved locomotor function and survival of the mice. To determine why the mice with increased levels of mutant SOD1 had an improved phenotype, we analyzed tissues by mass spectrometry. These analyses revealed most SOD1 in the spinal cord tissue of the SOD1G37R mice was Cu deficient. Treating with Cu(II)(atsm) decreased the pool of Cu-deficient SOD1 and increased the pool of fully metallated (holo) SOD1. Tracking isotopically enriched (65)Cu(II)(atsm) confirmed the increase in holo-SOD1 involved transfer of Cu from Cu(II)(atsm) to SOD1, suggesting the improved locomotor function and survival of the Cu(II)(atsm)-treated SOD1G37R mice involved, at least in part, the ability of the compound to improve the Cu content of the mutant SOD1. This was supported by improved survival of SOD1G37R mice that expressed the human gene for the Cu uptake protein CTR1. Improving the metal content of mutant SOD1 in vivo with Cu(II)(atsm) did not decrease levels of misfolded SOD1. These outcomes indicate the metal content of SOD1 may be a greater determinant of the toxicity of the protein in mutant SOD1-associated forms of ALS than the mutations themselves. Improving the metal content of SOD1 therefore represents a valid therapeutic strategy for treating ALS caused by SOD1.