Pharmacology and Therapeutics - Research Publications
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THE CONCISE GUIDE TO PHARMACOLOGY 2015/16: Catalytic receptors
The Concise Guide to PHARMACOLOGY 2015/16 provides concise overviews of the key properties of over 1750 human drug targets with their pharmacology, plus links to an open access knowledgebase of drug targets and their ligands (www.guidetopharmacology.org), which provides more detailed views of target and ligand properties. The full contents can be found at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.13353/full. G protein-coupled receptors are one of the eight major pharmacological targets into which the Guide is divided, with the others being: G protein-coupled receptors, ligand-gated ion channels, voltage-gated ion channels, other ion channels, nuclear hormone receptors, enzymes and transporters. These are presented with nomenclature guidance and summary information on the best available pharmacological tools, alongside key references and suggestions for further reading. The Concise Guide is published in landscape format in order to facilitate comparison of related targets. It is a condensed version of material contemporary to late 2015, which is presented in greater detail and constantly updated on the website www.guidetopharmacology.org, superseding data presented in the previous Guides to Receptors & Channels and the Concise Guide to PHARMACOLOGY 2013/14. It is produced in conjunction with NC-IUPHAR and provides the official IUPHAR classification and nomenclature for human drug targets, where appropriate. It consolidates information previously curated and displayed separately in IUPHAR-DB and GRAC and provides a permanent, citable, point-in-time record that will survive database updates.
Cardioprotective Actions of the Annexin-A1 N-Terminal Peptide, Ac2-26, Against Myocardial Infarction
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2019-04-03)
The anti-inflammatory, pro-resolving annexin-A1 protein acts as an endogenous brake against exaggerated cardiac necrosis, inflammation, and fibrosis following myocardial infarction (MI) in vivo. Little is known, however, regarding the cardioprotective actions of the N-terminal-derived peptide of annexin A1, Ac2-26, particularly beyond its anti-necrotic actions in the first few hours after an ischemic insult. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that exogenous Ac2-26 limits cardiac injury in vitro and in vivo. Firstly, we demonstrated that Ac2-26 limits cardiomyocyte death both in vitro and in mice subjected to ischemia-reperfusion (I-R) injury in vivo (Ac2-26, 1 mg/kg, i.v. just prior to post-ischemic reperfusion). Further, Ac2-26 (1 mg/kg i.v.) reduced cardiac inflammation (after 48 h reperfusion), as well as both cardiac fibrosis and apoptosis (after 7-days reperfusion). Lastly, we investigated whether Ac2-26 preserved cardiac function after MI. Ac2-26 (1 mg/kg/day s.c., osmotic pump) delayed early cardiac dysfunction 1 week post MI, but elicited no further improvement 4 weeks after MI. Taken together, our data demonstrate the first evidence that Ac2-26 not only preserves cardiomyocyte survival in vitro, but also offers cardioprotection beyond the first few hours after an ischemic insult in vivo. Annexin-A1 mimetics thus represent a potential new therapy to improve cardiac outcomes after MI.
Separating Probability and Reversal Learning in a Novel Probabilistic Reversal Learning Task for Mice
(Frontiers Media SA, 2020-01-09)
The exploration/exploitation tradeoff – pursuing a known reward vs. sampling from lesser known options in the hope of finding a better payoff – is a fundamental aspect of learning and decision making. In humans, this has been studied using multi-armed bandit tasks. The same processes have also been studied using simplified probabilistic reversal learning (PRL) tasks with binary choices. Our investigations suggest that protocols previously used to explore PRL in mice may prove beyond their cognitive capacities, with animals performing at a no-better-than-chance level. We sought a novel probabilistic learning task to improve behavioral responding in mice, whilst allowing the investigation of the exploration/exploitation tradeoff in decision making. To achieve this, we developed a two-lever operant chamber task with levers corresponding to different probabilities (high/low) of receiving a saccharin reward, reversing the reward contingencies associated with levers once animals reached a threshold of 80% responding at the high rewarding lever. We found that, unlike in existing PRL tasks, mice are able to learn and behave near optimally with 80% high/20% low reward probabilities. Altering the reward contingencies towards equality showed that some mice displayed preference for the high rewarding lever with probabilities as close as 60% high/40% low. Additionally, we show that animal choice behavior can be effectively modelled using reinforcement learning (RL) models incorporating learning rates for positive and negative prediction error, a perseveration parameter, and a noise parameter. This new decision task, coupled with RL analyses, advances access to investigate the neuroscience of the exploration/exploitation tradeoff in decision making.
Migration and Differentiation of Neural Stem Cells Diverted From the Subventricular Zone by an Injectable Self-Assembling beta-Peptide Hydrogel
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2019-11-08)
Neural stem cells, which are confined in localised niches are unable to repair large brain lesions because of an inability to migrate long distances and engraft. To overcome these problems, previous research has demonstrated the use of biomaterial implants to redirect increased numbers of endogenous neural stem cell populations. However, the fate of the diverted neural stem cells and their progeny remains unknown. Here we show that neural stem cells originating from the subventricular zone can migrate to the cortex with the aid of a long-lasting injectable hydrogel within a mouse brain. Specifically, large numbers of neuroblasts were diverted to the cortex through a self-assembling β-peptide hydrogel that acted as a tract from the subventricular zone to the cortex of transgenic mice (NestinCreERT2:R26eYFP) in which neuroblasts and their progeny are permanently fluorescently labelled. Moreover, neuroblasts differentiated into neurons and astrocytes 35 days post implantation, and the neuroblast-derived neurons were Syn1 positive suggesting integration into existing neural circuitry. In addition, astrocytes co-localised with neuroblasts along the hydrogel tract, suggesting that they assisted migration and simulated pathways similar to the native rostral migratory stream. Lower levels of astrocytes were found at the boundary of hydrogels with encapsulated brain-derived neurotrophic factor, comparing with hydrogel implants alone.
Optimizing Mycophenolic Acid Exposure in Kidney Transplant Recipients: Time for Target Concentration Intervention
(LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS, 2019-10-01)
The immunosuppressive agent mycophenolate is used extensively in kidney transplantation, yet dosing strategy applied varies markedly from fixed dosing ("one-dose-fits-all"), to mycophenolic acid (MPA) trough concentration monitoring, to dose optimization to an MPA exposure target (as area under the concentration-time curve [MPA AUC0-12]). This relates in part to inconsistent results in prospective trials of concentration-controlled dosing (CCD). In this review, the totality of evidence supporting mycophenolate CCD is examined: pharmacological characteristics, observational data linking exposure to efficacy and toxicities, and randomized controlled trials of CCD, with attention to dose optimization method and exposure achieved. Fixed dosing of mycophenolate consistently leads to underexposure associated with rejection, as well as overexposure associated with toxicities. When CCD is driven by pharmacokinetic calculation to a target concentration (target concentration intervention), MPA exposure is successfully controlled and clinical benefits are seen. There remains a need for consensus on practical aspects of mycophenolate target concentration intervention in contemporary tacrolimus-containing regimens and future research to define maintenance phase exposure targets. However, given ongoing consequences of both overimmunosuppression and underimmunosuppression in kidney transplantation, impacting short- and long-term outcomes, these should be a priority. The imprecise "one-dose-fits-all" approach should be replaced by the clinically proven MPA target concentration strategy.
Activation of pruritogenic TGR5, MRGPRA3, and MRGPRC11 on colon-innervating afferents induces visceral hypersensitivity
(AMER SOC CLINICAL INVESTIGATION INC, 2019-10-17)
Itch induces scratching that removes irritants from the skin, whereas pain initiates withdrawal or avoidance of tissue damage. While pain arises from both the skin and viscera, we investigated whether pruritogenic irritant mechanisms also function within visceral pathways. We show that subsets of colon-innervating sensory neurons in mice express, either individually or in combination, the pruritogenic receptors Tgr5 and the Mas-gene-related GPCRs Mrgpra3 and Mrgprc11. Agonists of these receptors activated subsets of colonic sensory neurons and evoked colonic afferent mechanical hypersensitivity via a TRPA1-dependent mechanism. In vivo intracolonic administration of individual TGR5, MrgprA3, or MrgprC11 agonists induced pronounced visceral hypersensitivity to colorectal distension. Coadministration of these agonists as an "itch cocktail" augmented hypersensitivity to colorectal distension and changed mouse behavior. These irritant mechanisms were maintained and enhanced in a model of chronic visceral hypersensitivity relevant to irritable bowel syndrome. Neurons from human dorsal root ganglia also expressed TGR5, as well as the human ortholog MrgprX1, and showed increased responsiveness to pruritogenic agonists in pathological states. These data support the existence of an irritant-sensing system in the colon that is a visceral representation of the itch pathways found in skin, thereby contributing to sensory disturbances accompanying common intestinal disorders.
Application of a chemical probe to detect neutrophil elastase activation during inflammatory bowel disease
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-09-16)
Neutrophil elastase is a serine protease that has been implicated in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. Due to post-translational control of its activation and high expression of its inhibitors in the gut, measurements of total expression poorly reflect the pool of active, functional neutrophil elastase. Fluorogenic substrate probes have been used to measure neutrophil elastase activity, though these tools lack specificity and traceability. PK105 is a recently described fluorescent activity-based probe, which binds to neutrophil elastase in an activity-dependent manner. The irreversible nature of this probe allows for accurate identification of its targets in complex protein mixtures. We describe the reactivity profile of PK105b, a new analogue of PK105, against recombinant serine proteases and in tissue extracts from healthy mice and from models of inflammation induced by oral cancer and Legionella pneumophila infection. We apply PK105b to measure neutrophil elastase activation in an acute model of experimental colitis. Neutrophil elastase activity is detected in inflamed, but not healthy, colons. We corroborate this finding in mucosal biopsies from patients with ulcerative colitis. Thus, PK105b facilitates detection of neutrophil elastase activity in tissue lysates, and we have applied it to demonstrate that this protease is unequivocally activated during colitis.
Causes and Consequences of Snake Venom Variation
(ELSEVIER SCIENCE LONDON, 2020-08-01)
Snake venoms are mixtures of toxins that vary extensively between and within snake species. This variability has serious consequences for the management of the world's 1.8 million annual snakebite victims. Advances in 'omic' technologies have empowered toxinologists to comprehensively characterize snake venom compositions, unravel the molecular mechanisms that underpin venom variation, and elucidate the ensuing functional consequences. In this review, we describe how such mechanistic processes have resulted in suites of toxin isoforms that cause diverse pathologies in human snakebite victims and we detail how variation in venom composition can result in treatment failure. Finally, we outline current therapeutic approaches designed to circumvent venom variation and deliver next-generation treatments for the world's most lethal neglected tropical disease.
7,8-Dihydroxyflavone Enhances Cue-Conditioned Alcohol Reinstatement in Rats
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a detrimental disease that develops through chronic ethanol exposure. Reduced brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression has been associated with AUD and alcohol addiction, however the effects of activation of BDNF signalling in the brain on voluntary alcohol intake reinstatement and relapse are unknown. We therefore trained male and female Sprague Dawley rats in operant chambers to self-administer a 10% ethanol solution. Following baseline acquisition and progressive ratio (PR) analysis, rats were split into drug and vehicle groups during alcohol lever extinction. The animals received two weeks of daily IP injection of either the BDNF receptor, TrkB, agonist, 7,8-dihydroxyflavone (7,8-DHF), or vehicle. During acquisition of alcohol self-administration, males had significantly higher absolute numbers of alcohol-paired lever presses and a higher PR breakpoint. However, after adjusting for body weight, the amount of ethanol was not different between the sexes and the PR breakpoint was higher in females than males. Following extinction, alcohol-primed reinstatement in male rats was not altered by pretreatment with 7,8-DHF when adjusted for body weight. In contrast, in female rats, the weight-adjusted potential amount of ethanol, but not absolute numbers of active lever presses, was significantly enhanced by 7,8-DHF treatment during reinstatement. Analysis of spontaneous locomotor activity in automated photocell cages suggested that the effect of 7,8-DHF was not associated with hyperactivity. These results suggest that stimulation of the TrkB receptor may contribute to reward craving and relapse in AUD, particularly in females.
Estimation of the vascular resistance amplifier in the renal vascular bed in conscious hypertensive rabbits: comparison with the total peripheral vasculature
(ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2020-04-01)
Objectives: The vascular amplifier in hypertension is a result of structural changes in resistance arteries. We estimated the vascular amplifier hypertensive:normotensive (H:N) ratio in the renal bed compared with the total peripheral bed in conscious rabbits during infusion of vasoconstrictor and vasodilator stimuli. Methods: Rabbits were subjected to bilateral renal cellophane wrap or sham operation. A perivascular ultrasonic flow probe was implanted on the left renal artery to measure renal blood flow. A catheter was inserted into the thoracic aorta for agonist administration. Blood pressure, heart rate and renal blood flow were measured on three separate days in conscious rabbits with intact effectors, ganglionic block or neurohumoral block. Dose-response curves were constructed to intra-arterial infusion of noradrenaline, angiotensin II, adenosine and acetylcholine. Results: Resting renal vascular resistance in hypertensive rabbits was markedly decreased by ganglionic block and further by neurohumoral block. With effectors intact, ganglionic block or neurohumoral block, the H:N ratio for renal vascular resistance was 2.32, 1.72 or 1.72, respectively. The ratio was generally maintained during the infusion of constrictor and dilator drugs although distortions occurred at higher concentrations of constrictor or dilator drugs. Conclusions: Estimation of the renal resistance amplifier in renal wrap hypertension with neurohumoral block accords with our earlier estimates of the total peripheral resistance amplifier (1.79). This vascular resistance amplifier is consistent with a decrease in internal radius through structural remodelling in the renal vascular bed as is reflected in the total arterial circulation in hypertension.
Self-Collection for Cervical Screening Programs: From Research to Reality
In 2018, there were an estimated 570,000 new cases of cervical cancer globally, with most of them occurring in women who either had no access to cervical screening, or had not participated in screening in regions where programs are available. Where programs are in place, a major barrier for women across many cultures has been the requirement to undergo a speculum examination. With the emergence of HPV-based primary screening, the option of self-collection (where the woman takes the sample from the vagina herself) may overcome this barrier, given that such samples when tested using a PCR-based HPV assay have similar sensitivity for the detection of cervical pre-cancers as practitioner-collected cervical specimens. Other advantages of HPV-based screening using self-collection, beyond the increase in acceptability to women, include scalability, efficiency, and high negative predictive value, allowing for long intervals between negative tests. Self-collection will be a key strategy for the successful scale up of cervical screening programs globally in response to the WHO call for all countries to work towards the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem. This review will examine self-collection for HPV-based cervical screening including the collection devices, assays and possible routine laboratory processes considering how they can be utilized in cervical screening programs.