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  • Racing the clock: The role of circadian rhythmicity in addiction across the lifespan ☆
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-03-15
    Danielle Gulick, Joshua J. Gamsby

    Although potent effects of psychoactive drugs on circadian rhythms were first described over 30 years ago, research into the reciprocal relationship between the reward system and the circadian system – and the impact of this relationship on addiction – has only become a focus in the last decade. Nonetheless, great progress has been made in that short time toward understanding how drugs of abuse impact the molecular and physiological circadian clocks, as well as how disruption of normal circadian rhythm biology may contribute to addiction and ameliorate the efficacy of treatments for addiction. In particular, data have emerged demonstrating that disrupted circadian rhythms, such as those observed in shift workers and adolescents, increase susceptibility to addiction. Furthermore, circadian rhythms and addiction impact one another longitudinally – specifically from adolescence to the elderly. In this review, the current understanding of how the circadian clock interacts with substances of abuse within the context of age-dependent changes in rhythmicity, including the potential existence of a drug-sensitive clock, the correlation between chronotype and addiction vulnerability, and the importance of rhythmicity in the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system, is discussed. The primary focus is on alcohol addiction, as the preponderance of research is in this area, with references to other addictions as warranted. The implications of clock-drug interactions for the treatment of addiction will also be reviewed, and the potential of therapeutics that reset the circadian rhythm will be highlighted.

  • Canine sarcomas as a surrogate for the human disease
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-03-09
    Daniel L. Gustafson, Dawn L. Duval, Daniel P. Regan, Douglas H. Thamm

    Pet dogs are becoming increasingly recognized as a population with the potential to inform medical research through their treatment for a variety of maladies by veterinary health professionals. This is the basis of the One Health initiative, supporting the idea of collaboration between human and animal health researchers and clinicians to study spontaneous disease processes and treatment in animals to inform human health. Cancer is a major health burden in pet dogs, accounting for approximately 30% of deaths across breeds. As such, pet dogs with cancer are becoming increasingly recognized as a resource for studying the pharmacology and therapeutic potential of anticancer drugs and therapies under development. This was recently highlighted by a National Academy of Medicine Workshop on Comparative Oncology that took place in mid-2015 (http://www.nap.edu/21830). One component of cancer burden in dogs is their significantly higher incidence of sarcomas as compared to humans. This increased incidence led to canine osteosarcoma being an important component in the development of surgical approaches for osteosarcoma in children. Included in this review of sarcomas in dogs is a description of the incidence, pathology, molecular characteristics and previous translational therapeutic studies associated with these tumors. An understanding of the patho-physiological and molecular characteristics of these naturally occurring canine sarcomas holds great promise for effective incorporation into drug development schemas, for evaluation of target modulation or other pharmacodynamic measures associated with therapeutic response. These data could serve to supplement other preclinical data and bolster clinical investigations in tumor types for which there is a paucity of human patients for clinical trials.

  • Discovery of Leonuri and therapeutical applications: From bench to bedside
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-03-09
    Yi Zhun Zhu, Weijun Wu, Qing Zhu, Xinhua Liu

    Despite several advances in percutaneous coronary intervention and the discovery of new drugs, the incidence of myocardial infarction and deaths due to cardiovascular diseases (CVD) has not decreased markedly in China. The quality of life is affected seriously, which further results in great social and family burden. Many drugs, from the century-old aspirin to the newly FDA-approved Byvalson, have been proven to be effective in the treatment and prevention of CVD. As clinically reported, those life-saving drugs still have their side effects in regards to the narrow therapeutic indexes influenced by individual genetic variations. Herba Leonuri, also known as Chinese Motherwort, which are naturally present in plants and traditionally are used for the uterotonic action, postpartum blood stasis, breast pain as well as other gynecological disorders in China for thousands of years. Since the last two decades, our group has reported leonurine, a unique alkaloid found in Herba Leonuri, exhibits various bioactivities such as antioxidant, anti-apoptotic effects, free radical scavenging and anti-inflammatory effects, in addition to improving micro-circulation. These bioactivities are related to the underlying mechanisms of ischemic heart diseases and cardiac fibrosis. Pharmacological studies have proven leonurine to be effective in treating CVD in various ways, particularly ischemic heart diseases. Besides the cardio protective effects, which are similar in the central nervous system, more specifically, inhibited mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production together with the restored mitochondrial function and redox state were observed in middle cerebral artery occlusion rats by leonurine treatment, which strongly reveals its neuroprotective effects and carries a therapeutic potential for recovery and prevention of stroke. Based on their mode of action, we propose that leonurine can be developed as drugs to treat ischemic heart diseases. Taking advantage of the most recent findings in pharmacological research including the effects of low toxicity and good pharmacokinetics characteristics, leonurine has a very attractive prospect of clinical application. Our recent promising pharmacological results may be able to eradicate the barrier hindering its sale on market. In sum, from bench to bedside is no longer a long way for leonurine.

  • The Role of TAM Family Receptors and Ligands in the Nervous System: From Development to Pathobiology ☆
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-03-04
    Bridget Shafit-Zagardo, Ross C. Gruber, Juwen C. DuBois

    Tyro3, Axl, and Mertk, referred to as the TAM family of receptor tyrosine kinases, are instrumental in maintaining cell survival and homeostasis in mammals. TAM receptors interact with multiple signaling molecules to regulate cell migration, survival, phagocytosis and clearance of metabolic products and cell debris called efferocytosis. The TAMs also function as rheostats to reduce the expression of proinflammatory molecules and prevent autoimmunity. All three TAM receptors are activated in a concentration-dependent manner by the vitamin K–dependent growth arrest-specific protein 6 (Gas6). Gas6 and the TAM are abundantly expressed in the nervous system. Gas6, secreted by neurons and endothelial cells, is the sole ligand for Axl. ProteinS1 (ProS1), another vitamin K–dependent protein functions mainly as an anti-coagulant, and independent of this function can activate Tyro3 and Mertk, but not Axl. This review will focus on the role of the TAM receptors and their ligands in the nervous system. We highlight studies that explore the function of TAM signaling in myelination, the visual cortex, neural cancers, and multiple sclerosis (MS) using Gas6-/- and TAM mutant mice models.

  • The long-lived Octodon degus as a rodent drug discovery model for Alzheimer's and other age-related diseases
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-03-04
    Michael J. Hurley, Robert M.J. Deacon, Katrin Beyer, Elena Ioannou, Agustin Ibáñez, Jessica L. Teeling, Patricia Cogram

    Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a multifactorial progressive neurodegenerative disease. Despite decades of research, no disease modifying therapy is available and a change of research objectives and/or development of novel research tools may be required. Much AD research has been based on experimental models using animals with a short lifespan that have been extensively genetically manipulated and do not represent the full spectrum of late-onset AD, which make up the majority of cases. The aetiology of AD is heterogeneous and involves multiple factors associated with the late-onset of the disease like disturbances in brain insulin, oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, metabolic syndrome, retinal degeneration and sleep disturbances which are all progressive abnormalities that could account for many molecular, biochemical and histopathological lesions found in brain from patients dying from AD. This review is based on the long-lived rodent Octodon degus (degu) which is a small diurnal rodent native to South America that can spontaneously develop cognitive decline with concomitant phospho-tau, β-amyloid pathology and neuroinflammation in brain. In addition, the degu can also develop several other conditions like type 2 diabetes, macular and retinal degeneration and atherosclerosis, conditions that are often associated with aging and are often comorbid with AD. Long-lived animals like the degu may provide a more realistic model to study late onset AD.

  • CCRK is a novel signalling hub exploitable in cancer immunotherapy
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-03-01
    Myth T. Mok, Jingying Zhou, Wenshu Tang, Xuezhen Zeng, Antony W. Oliver, Simon E. Ward, Alfred S. Cheng

    Cyclin-dependent kinase 20 (CDK20), or more commonly referred to as cell cycle-related kinase (CCRK), is the latest member of CDK family with strong linkage to human cancers. Accumulating studies have reported the consistent overexpression of CCRK in cancers arising from brain, colon, liver, lung and ovary. Such aberrant up-regulation of CCRK is clinically significant as it correlates with tumor staging, shorter patient survival and poor prognosis. Intriguingly, the signalling molecules perturbed by CCRK are divergent and cancer-specific, including the cell cycle regulators CDK2, cyclin D1, cyclin E and RB in glioblastoma, ovarian carcinoma and colorectal cancer, and KEAP1-NRF2 cytoprotective pathway in lung cancer. In hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), CCRK mediates virus-host interaction to promote hepatitis B virus-associated tumorigenesis. Further mechanistic analyses reveal that CCRK orchestrates a self-reinforcing circuitry comprising of AR, GSK3β, β-catenin, AKT, EZH2, and NF-κB signalling for transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. Notably, EZH2 and NF-κB in this circuit have been recently shown to induce IL-6 production to facilitate tumor immune evasion. Concordantly, in a hepatoma preclinical model, ablation of Ccrk disrupts the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment and enhances the therapeutic efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade via potentiation of anti-tumor T cell responses. In this review, we summarized the multifaceted tumor-intrinsic and -extrinsic functions of CCRK, which represents a novel signalling hub exploitable in cancer immunotherapy.

  • Newer Therapeutic Strategies for Soft-Tissue Sarcomas
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-24
    Kevin Bourcier, Antoine Italiano

    Metastatic soft-tissue sarcoma (STS), a devastating disease, has a median overall survival of only 12-18 months. Until recently, therapeutic options were limited and relied primarily on the use of anthracycline-based chemotherapy. Over the past two decades, improvement in the knowledge of the biology of STS has allowed the investigation of new therapeutic strategies including new cytotoxic agents, epigenetic drugs, specific targeted therapies, and immunotherapeutic treatments.

  • Nutraceuticals and osteoarthritis pain
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-24
    Angela Wang, Daniel J. Leong, Luis Cardoso, Hui B. Sun

    Arthritis is a chronic disease of joints. It is highly prevalent, particularly in the elderly, and is commonly associated with pain that interferes with quality of life. Because of its chronic nature, pharmacological approaches to pain relief and joint repair must be safe for long term use, a quality many current therapies lack. Nutraceuticals refer to compounds or materials that can function as nutrition and exert a potential therapeutic effect, including the relief of pain, such as pain related to arthritis, of which osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form. Of interest, nutraceuticals have recently been shown to have potential in relieving OA pain in human clinical trials. Emerging evidence indicates nutraceuticals may represent promising alternatives for the relief of OA pain. In this paper, we will overview OA pain and the use of nutraceuticals in OA pain management, focusing on those that have been evaluated by clinical trials. Furthermore, we discuss the biologic and pharmacologic actions underlying the nutraceutical effects on pain relief based on the potential active ingredients identified from traditional nutraceuticals in OA pain management and their potential for drug development. The review concludes by sharing our viewpoints that future studies should prioritize elucidating the mechanisms of action of nutraceuticals in OA and developing nutraceuticals that not only relieve OA pain, but also mitigate OA pathology.

  • Biogenesis and function of extracellular vesicles in cancer
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-21
    Maarten P. Bebelman, Martine J. Smit, D. Michiel Pegtel, S. Rubina Baglio
  • Inflammasome biology, molecular pathology and therapeutic implications ☆
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-18
    Fawaz Awad, Eman Assrawi, Camille Louvrier, Claire Jumeau, Sophie Georgin-Lavialle, Gilles Grateau, Serge Amselem, Irina Giurgea, Sonia-Athina Karabina

    Inflammasomes are intracellular multiprotein signaling complexes, mainly present in myeloid cells. They commonly assemble around a cytoplasmic receptor of the nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat containing receptor (NLR) family, although other cytoplasmic receptors like pyrin have been shown to form inflammasomes. The nucleation of the multiprotein scaffolding platform occurs upon detection of a microbial, a danger or a homeostasis pattern by the receptor that will, most commonly, associate with the adaptor protein ASC (apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD) through homotypic domain interactions resulting in recruitment of procaspase-1. This will lead to the autoproteolytic activation of caspase-1, which regulates the secretion of proinflammatory IL1β and IL18 cytokines and pyroptosis, a caspase-1-mediated form of cell death. Pyroptosis occurs through cleavage of Gasdermin D, a membrane pore forming protein. Recently, non-canonical inflammasomes have been described, which directly sense intracellular pathogens through caspase-4 and -5 in humans, leading to pyroptosis. Inflammasomes are important in host defense; however, a deregulated activity is associated with a number of inflammatory, immune and metabolic disorders. Furthermore, mutations in inflammasome receptor coding genes are causal for an increasing number of rare autoinflammatory diseases. Biotherapies targeting the products of inflammasome activation as well as molecules that directly or indirectly inhibit inflammasome nucleation and activation are promising therapeutic areas. This review discusses recent advances in inflammasome biology, the molecular pathology of several inflammasomes, and current therapeutic approaches in autoinflammatory diseases and in selected common multifactorial inflammasome-mediated disorders.

  • The relaxin receptor as a therapeutic target – perspectives from evolution and drug targeting
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-17
    Ross A.D. Bathgate, Martina Kocan, Daniel J. Scott, M. Akhter Hossain, Sara V. Good, Sergey Yegorov, Jan Bogerd, Paul Gooley

    The peptide relaxin was first identified as an important circulating hormone during pregnancy over 90 years ago. Research over many years defined the numerous biological roles that relaxin plays throughout pregnancy in many mammalian species. These important biological actions have led to the testing of relaxin as a therapeutic agent for a number of indications. The discovery of the relaxin receptor, RXFP1, in 2002 facilitated the better understanding of the cellular targets of relaxin, its mechanism of action and enabled the development of relaxin mimetics and screening for small molecule agonists. Additionally, the rapid expansion of the genome databases and bioinformatics tools has significantly advanced our understanding of the evolution of the relaxin/RXFP1 signaling system. It is now clear that the relaxin-RXFP1 signaling axis is far more ancient than previously appreciated with important roles for invertebrate relaxin-like peptides in reproductive and non-reproductive functions. This review summarizes these advances as well as developments in drug targeting of RXFP1. Hence the complex mode of activation of RXFP1 is discussed as is the discovery and development of a peptide mimetic and small molecule agonist. Detailed signaling studies are summarized which highlight the cell specific signaling of a peptide mimetic and biased signaling of a small molecule agonist. These studies highlight the complexities of targeting peptide GPCRs such as RXFP1.

  • Safer approaches to therapeutic modulation of TGF-β signaling for respiratory disease
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-17
    Philippe Lachapelle, Meina Li, Jo Douglass, Alastair Stewart

    The transforming growth factor (TGF)-β cytokines play a central role in development and progression of chronic respiratory diseases. TGF-β overexpression in chronic inflammation, remodeling, fibrotic process and susceptibility to viral infection is established in the most prevalent chronic respiratory diseases including asthma, COPD, lung cancer and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Despite the overwhelming burden of respiratory diseases in the world, new pharmacological therapies have been limited in impact. Although TGF-β inhibition as a therapeutic strategy carries great expectations, the constraints in avoiding compromising the beneficial pleiotropic effects of TGF-β, including the anti-proliferative and immune suppressive effects, have limited the development of effective pharmacological modulators. In this review, we focus on the pathways subserving deleterious and beneficial TGF-β to identify strategies for selective modulation of more distal signaling pathways that may result in agents with improved safety/efficacy profiles. Adverse effects of TGF-β inhibitors in respiratory clinical trials are comprehensively reviewed, including those of the marketed TGF-β modulators, pirfenidone and nintedanib. Precise modulation of TGF-β signaling may result in new safer therapies for chronic respiratory diseases.

  • WNT receptor signalling in lung physiology and pathology ☆
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-17
    Wioletta Skronska-Wasek, Reinoud Gosens, Melanie Königshoff, Hoeke Abele Baarsma

    The WNT signalling cascades have emerged as critical regulators of a wide variety of biological aspects involved in lung development as well as in physiological and pathophysiological processes in the adult lung. WNTs (secreted glycoproteins) interact with various transmembrane receptors and co-receptors to activate signalling pathways that regulate transcriptional as well as non-transcriptional responses within cells. In physiological conditions, the majority of WNT receptors and co-receptors can be detected in the adult lung. However, dysregulation of WNT signalling pathways contributes to the development and progression of chronic lung pathologies, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and lung cancer. The interaction between a WNT and the (co-)receptor(s) present at the cell surface is the initial step in transducing an extracellular signal into an intracellular response. This proximal event in WNT signal transduction with (cell-specific) ligand-receptor interactions is of great interest as a potential target for pharmacological intervention. In this review we highlight the diverse expression of various WNT receptors and co-receptors in the aforementioned chronic lung diseases and discuss the currently available biologicals and pharmacological tools to modify proximal WNT signalling.

  • Modulation of CYP1A1 metabolism: From adverse health effects to chemoprevention and therapeutic options
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-17
    Melina Mescher, Thomas Haarmann-Stemmann

    The human cytochrome P450 (CYP) 1A1 gene encodes a monooxygenase that metabolizes multiple exogenous and endogenous substrates. CYP1A1 has become infamous for its oxidative metabolism of benzo[a]pyrene and related polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, converting these chemicals into very potent human carcinogens. CYP1A1 expression is mainly controlled by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), a transcription factor whose activation is induced by binding of persistent organic pollutants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins. Accordingly, induction of CYP1A1 expression and activity serves as a biomarker of AHR activation and associated xenobiotic metabolism as well as toxicity in diverse animal species and humans. Determination of CYP1A1 activity is integrated into modern toxicological concepts and testing guidelines, emphasizing the tremendous importance of this enzyme for risk assessment and regulation of chemicals. Further, CYP1A1 serves as a molecular target for chemoprevention of chemical carcinogenesis, although present literature is controversial on whether its inhibition or induction exerts beneficial effects. Regarding therapeutic applications, first anti-cancer prodrugs are available, which require a metabolic activation by CYP1A1, and thus enable a specific elimination of CYP1A1-positive tumors. However, the application range of these drugs may be limited due to the frequently observed downregulation of CYP1A1 in various human cancers, probably leading to a reduced metabolism of endogenous AHR ligands and a sustained activation of AHR and associated tumor-promoting responses. We here summarize the current knowledge on CYP1A1 as a key player in the metabolism of exogenous and endogenous substrates and as a promising target molecule for prevention and treatment of human malignancies.

  • ERK1/2 inhibitors: New weapons to inhibit the RAS-regulated RAF-MEK1/2-ERK1/2 pathway
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-16
    Andrew M. Kidger, James Sipthorp, Simon J. Cook

    The RAS-regulated RAF-MEK1/2-ERK1/2 signalling pathway is de-regulated in a variety of cancers due to mutations in receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), negative regulators of RAS (such as NF1) and core pathway components themselves (RAS, BRAF, CRAF, MEK1 or MEK2). This has driven the development of a variety of pharmaceutical agents to inhibit RAF-MEK1/2-ERK1/2 signalling in cancer and both RAF and MEK inhibitors are now approved and used in the clinic. There is now much interest in targeting at the level of ERK1/2 for a variety of reasons. First, since the pathway is linear from RAF-to-MEK-to-ERK then ERK1/2 are validated as targets per se. Second, innate resistance to RAF or MEK inhibitors involves relief of negative feedback and pathway re-activation with all signalling going through ERK1/2, validating the use of ERK inhibitors with RAF or MEK inhibitors as an up-front combination. Third, long-term acquired resistance to RAF or MEK inhibitors involves a variety of mechanisms (KRAS or BRAF amplification, MEK mutation, etc.) which re-instate ERK activity, validating the use of ERK inhibitors to forestall acquired resistance to RAF or MEK inhibitors. The first potent highly selective ERK1/2 inhibitors have now been developed and are entering clinical trials. They have one of three discrete mechanisms of action – catalytic, “dual mechanism” or covalent – which could have profound consequences for how cells respond and adapt. In this review we describe the validation of ERK1/2 as anti-cancer drug targets, consider the mechanism of action of new ERK1/2 inhibitors and how this may impact on their efficacy, anticipate factors that will determine how tumour cells respond and adapt to ERK1/2 inhibitors and consider ERK1/2 inhibitor drug combinations.

  • Signalling pathways regulating galactosaminoglycan synthesis and structure in vascular smooth muscle: Implications for lipoprotein binding and atherosclerosis
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-15
    Rizwana Afroz, Yingnan Cao, Muhamad Ashraf Rostam, Hang Ta, Suowen Xu, Wenhua Zheng, Narin Osman, Danielle Kamato, Peter J. Little

    Atherosclerosis commences with the trapping of low density lipoproteins (LDLs) in blood vessels by modified proteoglycans (PGs) with hyperelongated glycosaminoglycan (GAG) chains. GAG chain synthesis and growth factor mediated hyperelongation regulates the composition and size of PGs in a manner that would cause low density lipoprotein (LDLs) retention in vessel wall. Galactosaminoglycans are a class of GAGs, commonly observed on PGs. Multiple enzymes are involved in galactosaminoglycan biosynthesis. Galactosaminoglycan synthesis is regulated by various signalling pathways which are amenable to pharmacological manipulation to treat atherosclerosis. Receptor mediated signalling pathways including protein tyrosine kinase receptors (PTKRs), serine/threonine kinase receptors (S/TKRs) and G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) pathways regulate galactosaminoglycan synthesizing enzyme expression. Increased expression of these enzymes modify galactosaminoglycan chain structure by making them hyperelongated. This review focuses on the signalling pathways regulating the expression of genes involved in galactosaminoglycan synthesis and modification. Furthemore, there are multiple other processes for inhibiting the interactions between LDL and galactosaminoglycans such as peptide mimetics of ApoB100 and anti-galactosaminoglycan antibodies and the therapeutic potential of these strategies is also addressed.

  • Nucleosidic DNA demethylating epigenetic drugs – A comprehensive review from discovery to clinic
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-15
    Khushboo Agrawal, Viswanath Das, Pankhuri Vyas, Marián Hajdúch

    DNA methylation plays a pivotal role in the etiology of cancer by mediating epigenetic silencing of cancer-related genes. Since the relationship between aberrant DNA methylation and cancer has been understood, there has been an explosion of research at developing anti-cancer therapies that work by inhibiting DNA methylation. From the discovery of first DNA hypomethylating drugs in the 1980s to recently discovered second generation pro-drugs, exceedingly large number of studies have been published that describe the DNA hypomethylation-based anti-neoplastic action of these drugs in various stages of the pre-clinical investigation and advanced stages of clinical development. This review is a comprehensive report of the literature published in past 40 years, on so far discovered nucleosidic DNA methylation inhibitors in chronological order. The review will provide a complete insight to the readers about the mechanisms of action, efficacy to demethylate and re-express various cancer-related genes, anti-tumor activity, cytotoxicity profile, stability, and bioavailability of these drugs. The review further presents the far known mechanisms of primary and secondary resistance to azanucleoside drugs. Finally, the review highlights the ubiquitous role of DNA hypomethylating epi-drugs as chemosensitizers and/or priming agents, and recapitulate the combinatorial cancer preventive effects of these drugs with other epigenetic agents, conventional chemo-drugs, or immunotherapies. This comprehensive review analyzes the beneficial characteristics and drawbacks of nucleosidic DNA methylation inhibitors, which will assist the pre-clinical and clinical researchers in the design of future experiments to improve the therapeutic efficacy of these drugs and circumvent the challenges in the path of successful epigenetic therapy.

  • Circular RNA and its mechanisms in disease: From the bench to the clinic
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-14
    Bing Han, Jie Chao, Honghong Yao

    The emerging recognition of the functional roles of circular RNAs (circRNAs) has given rise to a new perspective regarding our understanding of cellular physiology and disease pathogenesis. Unlike linear RNAs, circRNAs are covalently closed continuous loops that act as gene regulators in mammals, and their sequence composition determines the mode of circRNA biogenesis. The availability and integrated use of advanced genome analysis platforms have allowed the identification of a large number of these molecules. Their high abundance, stability and evolutionary conservation among species endow circRNAs with numerous potential functions, such as acting as microRNA (miRNA) sponges or binding to RNA-associated proteins to form RNA-protein complexes that regulate gene transcription. Moreover, circRNAs have been shown to be expressed in a tissue-specific manner and in pathological conditions, which has stimulated significant interest in their role in human disease and cancer. In this concise review, we outline the characteristics, functions and mechanisms of action of circRNAs as well as their involvement in different diseases. Although their exact roles and mechanisms of gene regulation remain to be clarified, circRNAs have potential applications as disease biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets.

  • Serelaxin as a novel therapeutic opposing fibrosis and contraction in lung diseases ☆
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-12
    Maggie Lam, Simon G. Royce, Chrishan S. Samuel, Jane E. Bourke

    The most common therapies for asthma and other chronic lung diseases are anti-inflammatory agents and bronchodilators. While these drugs oppose disease symptoms, they do not reverse established structural changes in the airways and their therapeutic efficacy is reduced with increasing disease severity. The peptide hormone, relaxin, is a Relaxin Family Peptide Receptor 1 (RXFP1) receptor agonist with unique combined effects in the lung that differentiates it from these existing therapies. Relaxin has previously been reported to have cardioprotective effects in acute heart failure as well anti-fibrotic actions in several organs. This review focuses on recent experimental evidence of the beneficial effects of chronic relaxin treatment in animal models of airways disease demonstrating inhibition of airway hyperresponsiveness and reversal of established fibrosis, consistent with potential therapeutic benefit. Of particular interest, accumulating evidence demonstrates that relaxin can also acutely oppose contraction by reducing the release of mast cell-derived bronchoconstrictors and by directly eliciting bronchodilation. When used in combination, chronic and acute treatment with relaxin has been shown to enhance responsiveness to both glucocorticoids and β2-adrenoceptor agonists respectively. While the mechanisms underlying these beneficial actions remain to be fully elucidated, translation of these promising combined preclinical findings is critical in the development of relaxin as a novel alternative or adjunct therapeutic opposing multiple aspects of airway pathology in lung diseases.

  • Efferocytosis in atherosclerotic lesions: Malfunctioning regulatory pathways and control mechanisms
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-11
    Amir Tajbakhsh, Mehdi Rezaee, Petri T. Kovanen, Amirhossein Sahebkar

    Atherosclerosis is a dynamic and progressive inflammatory process in the intimal layer of large and medium-sized arteries, and it is the major contributor to the atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ACVD), the leading cause of death worldwide. In an atherosclerotic plaque, phagocytosis of apoptotic cells occurs through an intricate process designated efferocytosis. Defective efferocytosis has emerged as a causal factor in the etiopathogenesis of atherosclerosis and its progression into overt ACVD. Both specialized phagocytes (macrophages and dendritic cells) and non-specialized cells with phagocytic capabilities (smooth muscle and endothelial cells) are involved in the efferocytotic process. Moreover, several signaling and regulatory molecules are involved in the different steps of efferocytosis, and they include ″Find-Me″ signals (lysophosphatidylcholine), ″Eat-Me″ signals [phosphatidylserine, Mer tyrosine kinase (MerTK), and milk fat globule-EGF factor 8], and ″Don't Eat-Me″ signals [cluster of differentiation 47 (CD47)]. Regulation of efferocytosis is in a close nexus with inflammation, the key component in atherosclerosis. The predominance of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory molecules plays a crucial role in lesion progression and regression, respectively. Polarization of macrophages towards the M1 phenotype causes them to secrete proinflammatory cytokines, while polarization towards the M2 phenotype causes them to secrete of anti-inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin-10 and transforming growth factor β, so tending to shift the balance towards resolution of the inflammation. Dysfunction of any regulatory signal may cause expansion of the necrotic core of an atherosclerotic plaque with ensuing conversion of the plaque into an unstable plaque with an increased susceptibility to rupture and to atherothrombotic complication. In this review we aim at elucidating the determinant factors and pathways of efferocytosis which can be considered as potential novel targets when striving to develop more personalized and efficient treatment regimens for patients with ACVD.

  • Thyroid hormone and the brain: Mechanisms of action in development and role in protection and promotion of recovery after brain injury
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-09
    Yan-Yun Liu, Gregory A. Brent

    Thyroid hormone (TH) is essential for normal brain development and may also promote recovery and neuronal regeneration after brain injury. TH acts predominantly through the nuclear receptors, TH receptor alpha (THRA) and beta (THRB). Additional factors that impact TH action in the brain include metabolism, activation of thyroxine (T4) to triiodothyronine (T3) by the enzyme 5′-deiodinase Type 2 (Dio2), inactivation by the enzyme 5-deiodinase Type 3 (Dio3) to reverse T3 (rT3), which occurs in glial cells, and uptake by the Mct8 transporter in neurons. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with inflammation, metabolic alterations and neural death. In clinical studies, central hypothyroidism, due to hypothalamic and pituitary dysfunction, has been found in some individuals after brain injury. TH has been shown, in animal models, to be protective for the damage incurred from brain injury and may have a role to limit injury and promote recovery. Although clinical trials have not yet been reported, findings from in vitro and in vivo models inform potential treatment strategies utilizing TH for protection and promotion of recovery after brain injury.

  • Targeting cancer stem cells in the clinic: Current status and perspectives
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-05
    Stephanie Annett, Tracy Robson

    Resistance to chemotherapy and cancer relapse are major clinical challenges attributed to a sub population of cancer stem cells (CSCs). The concept of CSCs has been the subject of intense research by the oncology community since evidence for their existence was first published over twenty years ago. Emerging data indicates that they are also able to evade novel therapies such as targeted agents, immunotherapies and anti-angiogenics. The inability to appropriately identify and isolate CSCs is a major hindrance to the field and novel technologies are now being utilized. Agents that target CSC-associated cell surface receptors and signaling pathways have generated promising pre-clinical results and are now entering clinical trial. Here we discuss and evaluate current therapeutic strategies to target CSCs.

  • Evolving targets for the treatment of atherosclerosis
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2018-02-04
    Ankita Solanki, Lokesh Kumar Bhatt, Thomas P. Johnston

    Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease of large arteries and a leading cause of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Chronic inflammation, aberrant immune response, and disturbances to key enzymes involved with lipid metabolism are characteristic features of atherosclerosis. Apart from targeting the derangements in lipid metabolism, therapeutic modulation to regulate chronic inflammation and the immune system response may prove to be very promising strategies in the management of atherosclerosis. In recent years, various targets have been studied for the treatment of atherosclerosis. PCSK9, a serine protease, actively targets the LDL-R and causes lysosomal degradation, which leads to excessive accumulation of LDL-C. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) and Triggering Receptor Expressed on Myeloid cells-1 (TREM-1) affects the adaptive and innate immune response, respectively, and thus, therapeutic intervention of either of these targets would directly modulate disease progression. Advanced atherosclerotic lesions are characterized by an accumulation of apoptotic cells. Cluster of differentiation-47 (CD47), an anti-phagocytic known as the “don't eat me” signaling molecule, inhibits efferocytosis, which causes accumulation of cell debris in plaque. ADAMTS and Notch signaling potentially affect the formation of neointima by modulation of extracellular matrix components such as macrophages and vascular smooth muscle cells. This review provides insights on the molecular targets for therapeutic intervention of atherosclerosis, their effect at various stages of atherosclerosis development, and the therapies that have been designed and currently being evaluated in clinical trials.

  • Biological responses to immobilized microscale and nanoscale surface topographies
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-07-16
    Shelby A. Skoog, Girish Kumar, Roger J. Narayan, Peter L. Goering

    Cellular responses are highly influenced by biochemical and biomechanical interactions with the extracellular matrix (ECM). Due to the impact of ECM architecture on cellular responses, significant research has been dedicated towards developing biomaterials that mimic the physiological environment for design of improved medical devices and tissue engineering scaffolds. Surface topographies with microscale and nanoscale features have demonstrated an effect on numerous cellular responses, including cell adhesion, migration, proliferation, gene expression, protein production, and differentiation; however, relationships between biological responses and surface topographies are difficult to establish due to differences in cell types and biomaterial surface properties. Therefore, it is important to optimize implant surface feature characteristics to elicit desirable biological responses for specific applications. The goal of this work was to review studies investigating the effects of microstructured and nanostructured biomaterials on in vitro biological responses through fabrication of microscale and nanoscale surface topographies, physico-chemical characterization of material surface properties, investigation of protein adsorption dynamics, and evaluation of cellular responses in specific biomedical applications.

  • Cardiac metabolism — A promising therapeutic target for heart failure
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-08-15
    Hannah Noordali, Brodie L. Loudon, Michael P. Frenneaux, Melanie Madhani

    Both heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) and with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) are associated with high morbidity and mortality. Although many established pharmacological interventions exist for HFrEF, hospitalization and death rates remain high, and for those with HFpEF (approximately half of all heart failure patients), there are no effective therapies. Recently, the role of impaired cardiac energetic status in heart failure has gained increasing recognition with the identification of reduced capacity for both fatty acid and carbohydrate oxidation, impaired function of the electron transport chain, reduced capacity to transfer ATP to the cytosol, and inefficient utilization of the energy produced. These nodes in the genesis of cardiac energetic impairment provide potential therapeutic targets, and there is promising data from recent experimental and early-phase clinical studies evaluating modulators such as carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 inhibitors, partial fatty acid oxidation inhibitors and mitochondrial-targeted antioxidants. Metabolic modulation may provide significant symptomatic and prognostic benefit for patients suffering from heart failure above and beyond guideline-directed therapy, but further clinical trials are needed.

  • The potential for targeted rewriting of epigenetic marks in COPD as a new therapeutic approach
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-08-19
    Dan-Dan Wu, Juan Song, Sabine Bartel, Susanne Krauss-Etschmann, Marianne G. Rots, Machteld N. Hylkema

    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an age and smoking related progressive, pulmonary disorder presenting with poorly reversible airflow limitation as a result of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The prevalence, disease burden for the individual, and mortality of COPD continues to increase, whereas no effective treatment strategies are available. For many years now, a combination of bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory corticosteroids has been most widely used for therapeutic management of patients with persistent COPD. However, this approach has had disappointing results as a large number of COPD patients are corticosteroid resistant. In patients with COPD, there is emerging evidence showing aberrant expression of epigenetic marks such as DNA methylation, histone modifications and microRNAs in blood, sputum and lung tissue. Therefore, novel therapeutic approaches may exist using epigenetic therapy. This review aims to describe and summarize current knowledge of aberrant expression of epigenetic marks in COPD. In addition, tools available for restoration of epigenetic marks are described, as well as delivery mechanisms of epigenetic editors to cells. Targeting epigenetic marks might be a very promising tool for treatment and lung regeneration in COPD in the future.

  • Molecular pathogenesis and therapeutic implications in pediatric high-grade gliomas
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-08-19
    Tareq A. Juratli, Nan Qin, Daniel P. Cahill, Mariella G. Filbin

    High-grade gliomas (HGG) are the most common malignant brain tumors in the pediatric population and account for a large subset of all pediatric central nervous system neoplasms. The management of pediatric HGG continues to be challenging, with poor outcome in many cases despite aggressive treatments. Consequently, parallel research efforts have been focused on identifying the underlying genetic and biological basis of pediatric HGG in order to more clearly define prognostic subgroups for treatment stratification as well as identify new treatment targets. These cutting-edge advances have revolutionized pediatric neuro-oncology and have revealed novel oncogenic vulnerabilities that are being therapeutically leveraged. Promising treatments – including pathway-targeting small molecules as well as epigenetic therapy – are being evaluated in clinical trials, and recent genomic discoveries in rare glioma subgroups have led to the identification of additional new potentially-actionable alterations. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge about the molecular characterization of pediatric HGG in correlation to the revised World Health Organization (WHO) classification, as well as provides an overview of some targeted treatment approaches in the modern clinical management of high-grade gliomas.

  • Binge-eating disorder: Clinical and therapeutic advances
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-08-19
    Peter H. Hutson, Iris M. Balodis, Marc N. Potenza

    Binge-eating disorder (BED) is the most prevalent eating disorder with estimates of 2–5% of the general adult population. Nonetheless, its pathophysiology is poorly understood. Furthermore, there exist few therapeutic options for its effective treatment. Here we review the current state of binge-eating neurobiology and pharmacology, drawing from clinical therapeutic, neuroimaging, cognitive, human genetic and animal model studies. These studies, which are still in their infancy, indicate that while there are many gaps in our knowledge, several key neural substrates appear to underpin binge-eating and may be conserved between human and animals. This observation suggests that behavioral intermediate phenotypes or endophenotypes relevant to BED may be modeled in animals, facilitating the identification and testing of novel pharmacological targets. The development of novel, safe and effective pharmacological therapies for the treatment of BED will enhance the ability of clinicians to provide optimal care for people with BED.

  • The role of the leukemia inhibitory factor receptor in neuroprotective signaling
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-08-19
    Stephanie M. Davis, Keith R. Pennypacker

    Several neurotropic cytokines relay their signaling through the leukemia inhibitory factor receptor. This 190 kDa subunit couples with the 130 kDa gp130 subunit to transduce intracellular signaling in neurons and oligodendrocytes that leads to expression of genes associated with neurosurvival. Moreover, activation of this receptor alters the phenotype of immune cells to an anti-inflammatory one. Although cytokines that activate the leukemia inhibitory factor receptor have been studied in the context of neurodegenerative disease, therapeutic targeting of the specific receptor subunit has been understudied in by comparison. This review examines the role of this receptor in the CNS and immune system, and its application in the treatment in stroke and other brain pathologies.

  • T cell engaging bispecific antibody (T-BsAb): From technology to therapeutics
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-08-20
    Z. Wu, N.V. Cheung

    Harnessing the power of the human immune system to treat cancer is the essence of immunotherapy. Monoclonal antibodies engage the innate immune system to destroy targeted cells. For the last 30 years, antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity and complement-dependent cytotoxicity have been the main mechanisms of anti-tumor action of unconjugated antibody drugs. Efforts to exploit the potentials of other immune cells, in particular T cells, culminated in the recent approval of two T cell engaging bispecific antibody (T-BsAb) drugs, thereby stimulating new efforts to accelerate similar platforms through preclinical and clinical trials. In this review, we have compiled the worldwide effort in exploring T cell engaging bispecific antibodies. Our special emphasis is on the lessons learned, with the hope to derive insights in this fast evolving field with tremendous clinical potential.

  • EMT: Mechanisms and therapeutic implications
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-08-20
    Mohini Singh, Nicolas Yelle, Chitra Venugopal, Sheila K. Singh

    Metastasis, the dissemination of cancer cells from primary tumors, represents a major hurdle in the treatment of cancer. The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) has been studied in normal mammalian development for decades, and it has been proposed as a critical mechanism during cancer progression and metastasis. EMT is tightly regulated by several internal and external cues that orchestrate the shifting from an epithelial-like phenotype into a mesenchymal phenotype, relying on a delicate balance between these two stages to promote metastatic development. EMT is thought to be induced in a subset of metastatic cancer stem cells (MCSCs), bestowing this population with the ability to spread throughout the body and contributing to therapy resistance. The EMT pathway is of increasing interest as a novel therapeutic avenue in the treatment of cancer, and could be targeted to prevent tumor cell dissemination in early stage patients or to eradicate existing metastatic cells in advanced stages. In this review, we describe the sequence of events and defining mechanisms that take place during EMT, and how these interactions drive cancer cell progression into metastasis. We summarize clinical interventions focused on targeting various aspects of EMT and their contribution to preventing cancer dissemination.

  • Pharmacotherapeutic potential of ginger and its compounds in age-related neurological disorders
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-08-24
    Jin Gyu Choi, Sun Yeou Kim, Minsun Jeong, Myung Sook Oh

    Age-related neurological disorders (ANDs), including neurodegenerative diseases, are multifactorial disorders with a risk that increases with aging. ANDs are generally characterized by common neuropathological conditions of the central nervous system, such as oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and protein misfolding. Recently, efforts have been made to overcome ANDs because of the increase in age-dependent prevalence. Ginger, the rhizome of Zingiber officinale Roscoe, is a popular food spice and has a long history of use in traditional medicine for treating various disease symptoms. The structure-activity relationships of ginger phytochemicals show that ginger can be used to treat ANDs by targeting different ligand sites. This review shows that ginger and its constituents, such as 6-gingerol, 6-shogaol, 6-paradol, zingerone, and dehydrozingerone, are effective for ameliorating the neurological symptoms and pathological conditions of ANDs through by modulating cell death or cell survival signaling molecules. From this review, we conclude that the active ingredients in ginger have therapeutic potential in ANDs.

  • Cannabis use during pregnancy: Pharmacokinetics and effects on child development
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-08-25
    Kimberly S. Grant, Rebekah Petroff, Nina Isoherranen, Nephi Stella, Thomas M. Burbacher

    The broad-based legalization of cannabis use has created a strong need to understand its impact on human health and behavior. The risks that may be associated with cannabis use, particularly for sensitive subgroups such as pregnant women, are difficult to define because of a paucity of dose-response data and the recent increase in cannabis potency. Although there is a large body of evidence detailing the mode of action of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in adults, little work has focused on understanding how cannabis use during pregnancy may impact the development of the fetal nervous system and whether additional plant-derived cannabinoids might participate. This manuscript presents an overview of the historical and contemporary literature focused on the mode of action of THC in the developing brain, comparative pharmacokinetics in both pregnant and nonpregnant model systems and neurodevelopmental outcomes in exposed offspring. Despite growing public health significance, pharmacokinetic studies of THC have focused on nonpregnant adult subjects and there are few published reports on disposition parameters during pregnancy. Data from preclinical species show that THC readily crosses the placenta although fetal exposures appear lower than maternal exposures. The neurodevelopmental data in humans and animals suggest that prenatal exposure to THC may lead to subtle, persistent changes in targeted aspects of higher-level cognition and psychological well-being. There is an urgent need for well-controlled studies in humans and preclinical models on THC as a developmental neurotoxicant. Until more information is available, pregnant women should not assume that using cannabis during pregnancy is safe.

  • Non-canonical function of Tat in regulating host microtubule dynamics: Implications for the pathogenesis of lentiviral infections
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-08-25
    Min Liu, Xin Du, Jun Zhou

    Lentiviruses are a class of genetically unique retroviruses that share similar features, despite their wide variety of host species. Transactivator of transcription (Tat) proteins of lentiviruses are critical for the regulation of viral transcription and replication. Recent studies demonstrate that in addition to mediating transactivation, Tat binds to the microtubule cytoskeleton of the host cell and interferes with microtubule dynamics, ultimately triggering apoptosis. This non-canonical function of Tat appears to be critical for the pathogenesis of lentiviral diseases, such as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Here, we compare the structure and activity of Tat proteins from three different types of lentiviruses, focusing on the roles of these proteins in the alteration of host microtubule dynamics and induction of apoptosis. We propose that further investigation of the Tat-microtubule interaction will provide important insight into the process of lentiviral pathogenesis and elucidate new avenues for the development of antiviral therapies.

  • The role of osteoprotegerin in the crosstalk between vessels and bone: Its potential utility as a marker of cardiometabolic diseases
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-09-01
    Luc Rochette, Alexandre Meloux, Eve Rigal, Marianne Zeller, Yves Cottin, Catherine Vergely

    Among the numerous molecules that are being studied for their potential utility as biomarkers of cardiovascular diseases, much interest has been shown in the superfamily of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptors. Members of this family include osteoprotegerin (OPG) and its ligands, which are receptor activators of nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL) and TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). These signals may be expressed and regulated, and their functions could be involved in several physiological and pathological processes. The relationship between bone regulatory proteins and vascular biology has attracted attention, and it has been suggested that OPG may mediate vascular calcification and cardiometabolic diseases. OPG is steadily released from vascular endothelial cells in response to inflammatory stimuli, suggesting that it plays a modulatory role in vascular injury, inflammation, and atherosclerosis. Vascular calcification, a hallmark of atherosclerosis, is similar to bone remodeling. It is an actively regulated mechanism that includes both inductive and inhibitory processes. There is a temporal link between the development of osteoporosis and vascular calcification, which is particularly marked in post-menopausal women and the elderly. The precise nature of the link between bone metabolism, vascular calcification and cardiovascular disease is largely unknown but increasing evidence suggests that the triad of RANK/RANKL/OPG may be important in the initiation of various diseases. An increased release of OPG is associated with increased cardiovascular risk and it is suggested that increased OPG levels resulting from vascular damage correspond to a protective mechanism. Circulating OPG levels could be used as independent biomarkers of cardiovascular disease in patients with acute or chronic cardiometabolic disease and thus an improved prognosis.

  • Bevacizumab-induced hypertension: Clinical presentation and molecular understanding
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-09-04
    Megan Li, Deanna L. Kroetz

    Bevacizumab is a vascular endothelial growth factor-A-specific angiogenesis inhibitor indicated as an adjunct to chemotherapy for the treatment of several types of cancer. Hypertension is commonly observed during bevacizumab treatment, and high-grade toxicity can limit therapy and lead to other cardiovascular complications. The factors that contribute to interindividual variability in blood pressure response to bevacizumab treatment are not well understood. In this review, we outline research efforts to understand the mechanisms and pathophysiology of hypertension resulting from bevacizumab treatment. Moreover, we highlight current knowledge of the pharmacogenetics of bevacizumab-induced hypertension, which may be used to develop strategies to prevent or minimize this toxicity.

  • Immunoproteasome-selective and non-selective inhibitors: A promising approach for the treatment of multiple myeloma
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-09-11
    Roberta Ettari, Maria Zappalà, Silvana Grasso, Caterina Musolino, Vanessa Innao, Alessandro Allegra

    The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) is the major non-lysosomal proteolytic system for the degradation of abnormal or damaged proteins no longer required. The proteasome is involved in degradation of numerous proteins which regulate the cell cycle, indicating a role in controlling cell proliferation and maintaining cell survival. Defects in the UPS can lead to anarchic cell proliferation and to tumor development. For these reasons UPS inhibition has become a significant new strategy for drug development in cancer treatment. In addition to the constitutive proteasome, which is expressed in all cells and tissues, higher organisms such as vertebrates possess two immune-type proteasomes, the thymoproteasome and the immunoproteasome. The thymoproteasome is specifically expressed by thymic cortical epithelial cells and has a role in positive selection of CD8 + T cells, whereas the immunoproteasome is predominantly expressed in monocytes and lymphocytes and is responsible for the generation of antigenic peptides for cell-mediated immunity. Recent studies demonstrated that the immunoproteasome has a preservative role during oxidative stress and is up-regulated in a number of pathological disorders including cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. As a consequence, immunoproteasome-selective inhibitors are currently the focus of anticancer drug design. At present, the commercially available proteasome inhibitors bortezomib and carfilzomib which have been validated in multiple myeloma and other model systems, appear to target both the constitutive and immunoproteasomes, indiscriminately. This lack of specificity may, in part, explain some of the side effects of these agents, such as peripheral neuropathy and gastrointestinal effects, which may be due to targeting of the constitutive proteasome in these tissues. In contrast, by selectively inhibiting the immunoproteasome, it may be possible to maintain the antimyeloma and antilymphoma efficacy while reducing these toxicities, thereby increasing the therapeutic index. This review article will be focused on the discussion of the most promising immunoproteasome specific inhibitors which have been developed in recent years. Particular attention will be devoted to the description of their mechanism of action, their structure-activity relationship, and their potential application in therapy.

  • Paving the Rho in cancer metastasis: Rho GTPases and beyond
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-09-11
    Sepp Jansen, Reinoud Gosens, Thomas Wieland, Martina Schmidt

    Malignant carcinomas are often characterized by metastasis, the movement of carcinoma cells from a primary site to colonize distant organs. For metastasis to occur, carcinoma cells first must adopt a pro-migratory phenotype and move through the surrounding stroma towards a blood or lymphatic vessel. Currently, there are very limited possibilities to target these processes therapeutically. The family of Rho GTPases is an ubiquitously expressed division of GTP-binding proteins involved in the regulation of cytoskeletal dynamics and intracellular signaling. The best characterized members of the Rho family GTPases are RhoA, Rac1 and Cdc42. Abnormalities in Rho GTPase function have major consequences for cancer progression. Rho GTPase activation is driven by cell surface receptors that activate GTP exchange factors (GEFs) and GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs). In this review, we summarize our current knowledge on Rho GTPase function in the regulation of metastasis. We will focus on key discoveries in the regulation of epithelial-mesenchymal-transition (EMT), cell-cell junctions, formation of membrane protrusions, plasticity of cell migration and adaptation to a hypoxic environment. In addition, we will emphasize on crosstalk between Rho GTPase family members and other important oncogenic pathways, such as cyclic AMP-mediated signaling, canonical Wnt/β-catenin, Yes-associated protein (YAP) and hypoxia inducible factor 1α (Hif1α) and provide an overview of the advancements and challenges in developing pharmacological tools to target Rho GTPase and the aforementioned crosstalk in the context of cancer therapeutics.

  • Hypoxia inducible factor as a therapeutic target for atherosclerosis
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-09-20
    Tanmay Jain, Eleni Aliki Nikolopoulou, Qingbo Xu, Aijuan Qu

    Atherosclerosis is a highly prevalent disease that can significantly increase the risk of major vascular events, such as myocardial or cerebral infarctions. The anoxemia theory states that a disparity between oxygen supply and demand contributes to atherosclerosis. Hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a heterodimeric protein, part of the basic helix-loop-helix family and one of the main regulators of cellular responses in a low‑oxygen environment. It plays a key role in the development of atherosclerosis through cell-specific responses, acting on endothelial cells, vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and macrophages. Through the upregulation of VEGF, NO, ROS and PDGF, HIF-1 is able to cause endothelial cell dysfunction, proliferation, angiogenesis and inflammation. Activation of the NF-kB pathway in endothelial cells is an important contributor to inflammation and positively feedbacks to HIF-1. HIF-1 also plays a significant role in both the proliferation and migration of smooth muscle cells – two important features of atherosclerosis, while the formation of foam cells (lipid-laden macrophages) is also a critical step in atherosclerosis and mediated by HIF-1 through various mechanisms such as dysfunctional efflux pathways in macrophages. Overall, HIF-1 exerts its effect on the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis via a variety of molecular and cellular events in the process. In this review article, we examine the effects HIF-1 on vascular cells and macrophages in the development of atherosclerosis, highlighting the environmental cues and signalling pathways that control HIF-1 expression/activation within the vasculature. We will highlight the potential of HIF-1 as a therapeutic target on the disease development.

  • The immature electrophysiological phenotype of iPSC-CMs still hampers in vitro drug screening: Special focus on IK1
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-03
    Birgit Goversen, Marcel A.G. van der Heyden, Toon A.B. van Veen, Teun P. de Boer

    Preclinical drug screens are not based on human physiology, possibly complicating predictions on cardiotoxicity. Drug screening can be humanised with in vitro assays using human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs). However, in contrast to adult ventricular cardiomyocytes, iPSC-CMs beat spontaneously due to presence of the pacemaking current If and reduced densities of the hyperpolarising current IK1. In adult cardiomyocytes, IK1 finalises repolarisation by stabilising the resting membrane potential while also maintaining excitability. The reduced IK1 density contributes to proarrhythmic traits in iPSC-CMs, which leads to an electrophysiological phenotype that might bias drug responses. The proarrhythmic traits can be suppressed by increasing IK1 in a balanced manner. We systematically evaluated all studies that report strategies to mature iPSC-CMs and found that only few studies report IK1 current densities. Furthermore, these studies did not succeed in establishing sufficient IK1 levels as they either added too little or too much IK1. We conclude that reduced densities of IK1 remain a major flaw in iPSC-CMs, which hampers their use for in vitro drug screening.

  • Toll-like receptors and their role in persistent pain
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-04
    Michael J. Lacagnina, Linda R. Watkins, Peter M. Grace

    One of the fundamental mechanisms whereby the innate immune system coordinates inflammatory signal transduction is through Toll-like receptors (TLRs), which function to protect and defend the host organism by initiating inflammatory signaling cascades in response to tissue damage or injury. TLRs are positioned at the neuroimmune interface, and accumulating evidence suggests that the inflammatory consequences of TLR activation on glia (including microglia and astrocytes), sensory neurons, and other cell types can influence nociceptive processing and lead to states of exaggerated and unresolved pain. In this review, we summarize our current understanding of how different TLRs and their accessory or adaptor molecules can contribute to the development and maintenance of persistent pain. The challenges and opportunities of targeting TLRs for new treatment strategies against chronic pain are discussed, including the therapeutic context of TLR-mediated signaling in opioid analgesia and chemotherapy-induced pain. Considering the prevalence of persistent pain and the insufficient efficacy and safety of current treatment options, a deeper understanding of Toll-like receptors holds the promise of novel therapies for managing pathological pain.

  • Lung development, regeneration and plasticity: From disease physiopathology to drug design using induced pluripotent stem cells
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-04
    Engi Ahmed, Caroline Sansac, Said Assou, Delphine Gras, Aurélie Petit, Isabelle Vachier, Pascal Chanez, John De Vos, Arnaud Bourdin

    Lungs have a complex structure composed of different cell types that form approximately 17 million airway branches of gas-delivering bronchioles connected to 500 million gas-exchanging alveoli. Airways and alveoli are lined by epithelial cells that display a low rate of turnover at steady-state, but can regenerate the epithelium in response to injuries. Here, we review the key points of lung development, homeostasis and epithelial cell plasticity in response to injury and disease, because this knowledge is required to develop new lung disease treatments. Of note, canonical signaling pathways that are essential for proper lung development during embryogenesis are also involved in the pathophysiology of most chronic airway diseases. Moreover, the perfect control of these interconnected pathways is needed for the successful differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) into lung cells. Indeed, differentiation of iPSC into airway epithelium and alveoli is based on the use of biomimetics of normal embryonic and fetal lung development. In vitro iPSC-based models of lung diseases can help us to better understand the impaired lung repair capacity and to identify new therapeutic targets and new approaches, such as lung cell therapy.

  • Mitochondria, telomeres and cell senescence: Implications for lung ageing and disease
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-04
    Jodie Birch, Peter J. Barnes, Joao F. Passos

    Cellular senescence, the irreversible loss of replicative capacity in somatic cells, plays a causal role in the development of age-related pathology and in a number of age-related chronic inflammatory diseases. The ageing lung is marked by an increasing number of senescent cells, and evidence is mounting that senescence may directly contribute to a number of age-related respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Telomere dysfunction and alterations in mitochondrial homeostasis frequently occur in cellular senescence and are important to the development of the often detrimental senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). The roles of telomeres, the mitochondria and cellular senescence in lung ageing and disease are discussed. Therapeutic interventions targeting cellular senescence are considered for delaying or potentially reversing age-related respiratory disease.

  • The longevity gene INDY (I'm Not Dead Yet) in metabolic control: Potential as pharmacological target
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-05
    Diana M. Willmes, Anica Kurzbach, Christine Henke, Tina Schumann, Grit Zahn, Alexander Heifetz, Jens Jordan, Stephen L. Helfand, Andreas L. Birkenfeld

    The regulation of metabolic processes by the Indy (I′m Not Dead Yet) (SLC13A5/NaCT) gene was revealed through studies in Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans. Reducing the expression of Indy in these species extended their life span by a mechanism resembling caloric restriction, without reducing food intake. In D. melanogaster, mutating the Indy gene reduced body fat content, insulin-like proteins and reactive oxygen species production. Subsequent studies indicated that Indy encodes a citrate transporter located on the cell plasma membrane. The transporter is highly expressed in the mammalian liver. We generated a mammalian knock out model deleting the mammalian homolog mIndy (SLC13A5). The knock out animals were protected from HFD induced obesity, fatty liver and insulin resistance. Moreover, we have shown that inducible and liver selective knock down of mIndy protects against the development of fatty liver and insulin resistance and that obese humans with type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease have increased levels of mIndy. Therefore, the transporter mINDY (NaCT) has been proposed to be an ‘ideal target for the treatment of metabolic disease’. A small molecule inhibitor of the mINDY transporter has been generated, normalizing glucose levels and reducing fatty liver in a model of diet induced obese mice. Taken together, studies from lower organisms, mammals and humans suggest that mINDY (NaCT) is an attractive target for the treatment of metabolic disease.

  • An insight into the complex roles of metallothioneins in malignant diseases with emphasis on (sub)isoforms/isoforms and epigenetics phenomena
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-05
    Sona Krizkova, Marta Kepinska, Gabriella Emri, Tomas Eckschlager, Marie Stiborova, Petra Pokorna, Zbynek Heger, Vojtech Adam

    Metallothioneins (MTs) belong to a group of small cysteine-rich proteins that are ubiquitous throughout all kingdoms. The main function of MTs is scavenging of free radicals and detoxification and homeostating of heavy metals. In humans, 16 genes localized on chromosome 16 have been identified to encode four MT isoforms labelled by numbers (MT-1–MT-4). MT-2, MT-3 and MT-4 proteins are encoded by a single gene. MT-1 comprises many (sub)isoforms. The known active MT-1 genes are MT-1A, -1B, -1E, -1F, -1G, -1H, -1M and -1X. The rest of the MT-1 genes (MT-1C, -1D, -1I, -1J and -1L) are pseudogenes. The expression and localization of individual MT (sub)isoforms and pseudogenes vary at intra-cellular level and in individual tissues. Changes in MT expression are associated with the process of carcinogenesis of various types of human malignancies, or with a more aggressive phenotype and therapeutic resistance. Hence, MT (sub)isoform profiling status could be utilized for diagnostics and therapy of tumour diseases. This review aims on a comprehensive summary of methods for analysis of MTs at (sub)isoforms levels, their expression in single tumour diseases and strategies how this knowledge can be utilized in anticancer therapy.

  • The role of human dopamine transporter in NeuroAIDS
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-05
    Jun Zhu, Subramaniam Ananthan, Chang-Guo Zhan

    HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) remains highly prevalent in HIV infected individuals and represents a special group of neuropathological disorders, which are associated with HIV-1 viral proteins, such as transactivator of transcription (Tat) protein. Cocaine abuse increases the incidence of HAND and exacerbates its severity by enhancing viral replication. Perturbation of dopaminergic transmission has been implicated as a risk factor of HAND. The presynaptic dopamine (DA) transporter (DAT) is essential for DA homeostasis and dopaminergic modulation of the brain function including cognition. Tat and cocaine synergistically elevate synaptic DA levels by acting directly on human DAT (hDAT), ultimately leading to dysregulation of DA transmission. Through integrated computational modeling and experimental validation, key residues have been identified in hDAT that play a critical role in Tat-induced inhibition of DAT and induce transporter conformational transitions. This review presents current information regarding neurological changes in DAT-mediated dopaminergic system associated with HIV infection, DAT-mediated adaptive responses to Tat as well as allosteric modulatory effects of novel compounds on hDAT. Understanding the molecular mechanisms by which Tat induces DAT-mediated dysregulation of DA system is of great clinical interest for identifying new targets for an early therapeutic intervention for HAND.

  • CYP-mediated drug metabolism in the brain impacts drug response
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-10
    Douglas M. McMillan, Rachel F. Tyndale

    The functional role of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes in the brain is an exciting and evolving field of research. CYPs are present and active in the brain, with heterogeneous patterns of expression, activity, and sensitivity to modulation across cell types, regions, and species. Despite total brain CYP expression being a fraction of hepatic CYP expression, the expanding literature of in vitro and in vivo experiments has provided evidence that brain CYPs can impact acute and chronic drug response, susceptibility to damage by neurotoxins, and are associated with altered personality, behaviour, and risk of neurological disease. They may also play a role in endogenous neurotransmitter and neurosteroid homeostasis. This review goes through the characterization of brain CYPs across species, the patterns of susceptibility of brain CYPs to exogenous induction, and recent preclinical evidence of the potential role of brain CYPs in vivo (e.g. CYP2D), along with the development of experiment paradigms that allow modulation of brain CYP activity without affecting CYP activity in the liver. Understanding brain CYP function, and changes therein, may provide unique strategies for the development of CNS-acting therapeutics metabolized locally in the brain, as well as therapeutics to target brain CYPs directly.

  • In vivo potency revisited – Keep the target in sight
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-10
    Johan Gabrielsson, Lambertus A. Peletier, Stephan Hjorth

    Potency is a central parameter in pharmacological and biochemical sciences, as well as in drug discovery and development endeavors. It is however typically defined in terms only of ligand to target binding affinity also in in vivo experimentation, thus in a manner analogous to in in vitro studies. As in vivo potency is in fact a conglomerate of events involving ligand, target, and target-ligand complex processes, overlooking some of the fundamental differences between in vivo and in vitro may result in serious mispredictions of in vivo efficacious dose and exposure. The analysis presented in this paper compares potency measures derived from three model situations. Model A represents the closed in vitro system, defining target binding of a ligand when total target and ligand concentrations remain static and constant. Model B describes an open in vivo system with ligand input and clearance (Cl(L)), adding in parallel to the turnover (ksyn, kdeg) of the target. Model C further adds to the open in vivo system in Model B also the elimination of the target-ligand complex (ke(RL)) via a first-order process. We formulate corresponding equations of the equilibrium (steady-state) relationships between target and ligand, and complex and ligand for each of the three model systems and graphically illustrate the resulting simulations. These equilibrium relationships demonstrate the relative impact of target and target-ligand complex turnover, and are easier to interpret than the more commonly used ligand-, target- and complex concentration-time courses. A new potency expression, labeled L50, is then derived. L50 is the ligand concentration at half-maximal target and complex concentrations and is an amalgamation of target turnover, target-ligand binding and complex elimination parameters estimated from concentration-time data. L50 is then compared to the dissociation constant Kd (target-ligand binding affinity), the conventional Black & Leff potency estimate EC50, and the derived Michaelis-Menten parameter Km (target-ligand binding and complex removal) across a set of literature data. It is evident from a comparison between parameters derived from in vitro vs. in vivo experiments that L50 can be either numerically greater or smaller than the Kd (or Km) parameter, primarily depending on the ratio of kdeg-to-ke(RL). Contrasting the limit values of target R and target-ligand complex RL for ligand concentrations approaching infinity demonstrates that the outcome of the three models differs to a great extent. Based on the analysis we propose that a better understanding of in vivo pharmacological potency requires simultaneous assessment of the impact of its underlying determinants in the open system setting. We propose that L50 will be a useful parameter guiding predictions of the effective concentration range, for translational purposes, and assessment of in vivo target occupancy/suppression by ligand, since it also encompasses target turnover – in turn also subject to influence by pathophysiology and drug treatment. Different compounds may have similar binding affinity for a target in vitro (same Kd), but vastly different potencies in vivo. L50 points to what parameters need to be taken into account, and particularly that closed-system (in vitro) parameters should not be first choice when ranking compounds in vivo (open system).

  • Direct antiviral agents (DAAs) - A new age in the treatment of hepatitis C virus infection
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-10
    Ulrich Spengler

    Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a global health problem, because infection frequently leads to chronic hepatitis C eventually progressing to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Improved insights into the HCV replication cycle and the role of HCV non-structural proteins have recently enabled to identify drugs directly acting on specific HCV target structures. Agents from three drug classes have been developed and approved by the health authorities. Combinations of two or more drugs from different classes achieve high (> 90%) HCV clearance rates and are well tolerated. This interferon-free DAA (direct antiviral agent) therapy has revolutionized antiviral therapy in hepatitis C so that successful hepatitis C treatment can be offered to virtually all patients irrespective of their co-morbidity. This review provides an overview over currently approved regimens and outlines their use in clinical practice. In addition potential short-comings of the current therapeutic options such as drug-drug interactions and selection of viral resistance are addressed. DAA combination therapy has the potential to obtain global control over hepatitis C. However, easy access to DAAs, availability of reliable HCV diagnostics, and affordable costs remain still important goals, which must be reached to globally eliminate hepatitis C.

  • Antimicrobial peptides, nanotechnology, and natural metabolites as novel approaches for cancer treatment
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-10
    Michel L. Leite, Nicolau B. da Cunha, Fabricio F. Costa

    Despite the advances in tumor identification and treatment, cancer remains the primary driver of death around the world. Also, regular treatments for the disease are incapable of targeting particular cancer types at different stages since they are not specifically focused on harmful cells since they influence both solid and tumor cells, causing side effects and undesirable symptoms. Therefore, novel strategies should be developed to treat this disease. Several efforts have been made in this direction to find more effective alternatives to cancer treatment, such as the use of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) with antitumoral activity, nanocarriers and natural compounds from a variety of sources. AMPs are more specific to their targets because of electrostatic interaction between AMPs and the cancer cells’ plasma membrane. Nanocarriers may be used for the delivery of non-soluble drugs, which are poorly stable or require a controlled release. In addition, natural compounds have been a rich source of anti-cancer agents for decades. In this review, these three approaches will be discussed, showing recent advances and advantages of using these strategies to treat cancer as well as the combination of these approaches increasing anticancer activity.

  • Live or let die: Neuroprotective and anti-cancer effects of nutraceutical antioxidants
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-18
    Xiao-Yuan Mao, Ming-Zhu Jin, Jin-Fei Chen, Hong-Hao Zhou, Wei-Lin Jin

    Diet sources are closely involved in the pathogenesis of diverse neuropsychiatric disorders and cancers, in addition to inherited factors. Currently, natural products or nutraceuticals (commonly called medical foods) are increasingly employed for adjunctive therapy of these patients. However, the potential molecular mechanisms of the nutrient efficacy remain elusive. In this review, we summarized the neuroprotective and anti-cancer mechanisms of nutraceuticals. It was concluded that the nutraceuticals exerted neuroprotection and suppressed tumor growth possibly through the differential modulations of redox homeostasis. In addition, the balance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and ROS elimination was manipulated by multiple molecular mechanisms, including cell signaling pathways, inflammation, transcriptional regulation and epigenetic modulation, which were involved in the therapeutic potential of nutraceutical antioxidants against neurological diseases and cancers. We specifically proposed that ROS scavenging was integral in the neuroprotective potential of nutraceuticals, while alternation of ROS level (either increase or decrease) or disruption of redox homeostasis (ROS addiction) constituted the anti-cancer property of these compounds. We also hypothesized that ROS-associated ferroptosis, a novel type of lipid ROS-dependent regulatory cell death, was likely to be a critical mechanism for the nutraceutical antioxidants. Targeting ferroptosis is advantageous to develop new nutraceuticals with more effective and lower adverse reactions for curing patients with neuropsychiatric diseases or carcinomas.

  • Cytokines as therapeutic targets in primary Sjögren syndrome
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-29
    Soledad Retamozo, Alejandra Flores-Chavez, Marta Consuegra-Fernández, Francisco Lozano, Manuel Ramos-Casals, Pilar Brito-Zerón

    Primary Sjögren syndrome (SjS) is a systemic autoimmune disease that may affect 1 in 1000 people (overwhelmingly women) and that can be a serious disease with excess mortality due to severe organ-specific involvements and the development of B cell lymphoma; systemic involvement clearly marks the disease prognosis, and strongly suggests the need for closer follow-up and more robust therapeutic management. Therapy is established according to the organ involved and severity. As a rule, the management of systemic SjS should be organ-specific, with glucocorticoids and immunosuppressive agents limited to potentially-severe involvements; unfortunately, the limited evidence available for these drugs, together with the potential development of serious adverse events, makes solid therapeutic recommendations difficult. The emergence of biological therapies has increased the therapeutic armamentarium available to treat primary SjS. Biologics currently used in SjS patients are used off-label and are overwhelmingly agents targeting B cells, but the most recent studies are moving on into the evaluation of targeting specific cytokines involved in the SjS pathogenesis. The most recent etiopathogenic advances in SjS are shedding some light in the search for new highly-selective biological therapies without the adverse effects of the standard drugs currently used (corticosteroids and immunosuppressant drugs). This review summarizes the potential pharmacotherapeutic options targeting the main cytokine families involved in the etiopathogenesis of primary SjS and analyzes potential insights for developing new therapies.

  • Conserved structural and functional aspects of the tripartite motif gene family point towards therapeutic applications in multiple diseases
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-31
    Liubov V. Gushchina, Thomas A. Kwiatkowski, Sayak Bhattacharya, Noah L. Weisleder

    The tripartite motif (TRIM) gene family is a highly conserved group of E3 ubiquitin ligase proteins that can establish substrate specificity for the ubiquitin-proteasome complex and also have proteasome-independent functions. While several family members were studied previously, it is relatively recent that over 80 genes, based on sequence homology, were grouped to establish the TRIM gene family. Functional studies of various TRIM genes linked these proteins to modulation of inflammatory responses showing that they can contribute to a wide variety of disease states including cardiovascular, neurological and musculoskeletal diseases, as well as various forms of cancer. Given the fundamental role of the ubiquitin-proteasome complex in protein turnover and the importance of this regulation in most aspects of cellular physiology, it is not surprising that TRIM proteins display a wide spectrum of functions in a variety of cellular processes. This broad range of function and the highly conserved primary amino acid sequence of family members, particularly in the canonical TRIM E3 ubiquitin ligase domain, complicates the development of therapeutics that specifically target these proteins. A more comprehensive understanding of the structure and function of TRIM proteins will help guide therapeutic development for a number of different diseases. This review summarizes the structural organization of TRIM proteins, their domain architecture, common and unique post-translational modifications within the family, and potential binding partners and targets. Further discussion is provided on efforts to target TRIM proteins as therapeutic agents and how our increasing understanding of the nature of TRIM proteins can guide discovery of other therapeutics in the future.

  • Emerging tumor spheroids technologies for 3D in vitro cancer modeling
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-31
    Tânia Rodrigues, Banani Kundu, Joana Silva-Correia, S.C. Kundu, Joaquim M. Oliveira, Rui L. Reis, Vitor M. Correlo

    Cancer is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. Around 90% of deaths are caused by metastasis and just 10% by primary tumor. The advancement of treatment approaches is not at the same rhythm of the disease; making cancer a focal target of biomedical research. To enhance the understanding and prompts the therapeutic delivery; concepts of tissue engineering are applied in the development of in vitro models that can bridge between 2D cell culture and animal models, mimicking tissue microenvironment. Tumor spheroid represents highly suitable 3D organoid-like framework elucidating the intra and inter cellular signaling of cancer, like that formed in physiological niche. However, spheroids are of limited value in studying critical biological phenomenon such as tumor-stroma interactions involving extra cellular matrix or immune system. Therefore, a compelling need of tailoring spheroid technologies with physiologically relevant biomaterials or in silico models, is ever emerging. The diagnostic and prognostic role of spheroids rearrangements within biomaterials or microfluidic channel is indicative of patient management; particularly for the decision of targeted therapy. Fragmented information on available in vitro spheroid models and lack of critical analysis on transformation aspects of these strategies; pushes the urge to comprehensively overview the recent technological advancements (e.g. bioprinting, micro-fluidic technologies or use of biomaterials to attain the third dimension) in the shed of translationable cancer research. In present article, relationships between current models and their possible exploitation in clinical success is explored with the highlight of existing challenges in defining therapeutic targets and screening of drug efficacy.

  • Analysis of natural product regulation of opioid receptors in the treatment of human disease
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-31
    S. Badal, S. Turfus, R. Rajnarayanan, C. Wilson-Clarke, S.L. Sandiford

    Opioid receptors (ORs), μOR, δOR, κOR and ORL1 mediate numerous signalling cascades, most importantly, through the modulation of ion channels. Research demonstrates the role of OR mediated signal transduction in treating pain, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders and cardiac insults. Yet, the primary application of drugs that modulate ORs is analgesia. Current opioids like morphine that are mainly μOR orthosteric agonists attract many undesirable side-effects (constipation, urinary retention, respiratory depression and hypotension) and the existing modus operandi against these is the inclusion of a μOR antagonist (for example, naloxone) which itself produces side-effects. As such, there is a current thrust to delineate the anti-nociceptive pathways mediated by ORs from the pathways involved in their induction of debilitating side-effects, in order to develop enhanced lead molecules. This review discusses the effects of natural products on the OR-induced signalling cascades and compares these to current synthetic leads and drugs. Important to these discussions is the complexity of OR signalling which involves OR trafficking, de- and re-sensitization, homo- and hetero-dimerization, the type of ligand binding (agonist, antagonist, reverse antagonist, orthosteric and allosteric agonist and antagonist in the context of biased agonism) and reasons for dysregulation that primarily occur because of inter-individual variations. Our current understanding of the different forms of ORs has expanded, thus introducing the concept of allosterism, which is also discussed. The authors present possible combination therapies to be explored towards developing the ‘Holy Grail’ of analgesics, for example, ignavine, the natural μOR positive allosteric modulator (PAM) with codeine and the natural fascaplysin, a balanced agonist with fentanyl. There remain many gaps in natural products research on ORs, more so on ORL1 and δ- and κ receptors. Furthermore, additional exploration of ORs' modulation is needed for ameliorating other associated disease conditions of global concern.

  • Allosteric pathways in nuclear receptors — Potential targets for drug design
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-31
    Elias J. Fernandez

    The nuclear receptor family of transcription factor proteins mediates endocrine function and plays critical roles in the development, physiology and pharmacology. Malfunctioning nuclear receptors are associated with several disease states. The functional activity of nuclear receptors is regulated by small molecular hormonal and synthetic molecules. Multiple sources of evidence have identified and distinguished between the different allosteric pathways initiated by ligands, DNA and cofactors such as co-activators and co-repressors. Also, these biophysical studies are attempting to determine how these pathways that regulate co-activator and DNA recognition can control gene transcription. Thus, there is a growing interest in determining the genome-scale impact of allostery in nuclear receptors. Today, it is accepted that a detailed understanding of the allosteric regulatory pathways within the nuclear receptor molecular complex will enable the development of efficient drug therapies in the long term.

  • Effect fingerprinting of new psychoactive substances (NPS): What can we learn from in vitro data?
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-10-31
    Laura Hondebrink, Anne Zwartsen, Remco H.S. Westerink

    The use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) is increasing and currently > 600 NPS have been reported. However, limited information on neuropharmacological and toxicological effects of NPS is available, hampering risk characterization. We reviewed the literature on the in vitro neuronal modes of action to obtain effect fingerprints of different classes of illicit drugs and NPS. The most frequently reported NPS were selected for review: cathinones (MDPV, α-PVP, mephedrone, 4-MEC, pentedrone, methylone), cannabinoids (JWH-018), (hallucinogenic) phenethylamines (4-fluoroamphetamine, benzofurans (5-APB, 6-APB), 2C-B, NBOMes (25B-NBOMe, 25C-NBOMe, 25I-NBOMe)), arylcyclohexylamines (methoxetamine) and piperazine derivatives (mCPP, TFMPP, BZP). Our effect fingerprints highlight the main modes of action for the different NPS studied, including inhibition and/or reversal of monoamine reuptake transporters (cathinones and non-hallucinogenic phenethylamines), activation of 5-HT2receptors (hallucinogenic phenethylamines and piperazines), activation of cannabinoid receptors (cannabinoids) and inhibition of NDMA receptors (arylcyclohexylamines). Importantly, we identified additional targets by relating reported effect concentrations to the estimated human brain concentrations during recreational use. These additional targets include dopamine receptors, α- and β-adrenergic receptors, GABAAreceptors and acetylcholine receptors, which may all contribute to the observed clinical symptoms following exposure. Additional data is needed as the number of NPS continues to increase. Also, the effect fingerprints we have obtained are still incomplete and suffer from a large variation in the reported effects and effect sizes. Dedicated in vitro screening batteries will aid in complementing specific effect fingerprints of NPS. These fingerprints can be implemented in the risk assessments of NPS that are necessary for eventual control measures to reduce Public Health risks.

  • G protein-coupled receptors as anabolic drug targets in osteoporosis
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-11-07
    Natalie Diepenhorst, Patricia Rueda, Anna E. Cook, Philippe Pastoureau, Massimo Sabatini, Christopher J. Langmead

    Osteoporosis is a progressive bone disorder characterised by imbalance between bone building (anabolism) and resorption (catabolism). Most therapeutics target inhibition of osteoclast-mediated bone resorption, but more recent attention in early drug discovery has focussed on anabolic targets in osteoblasts or their precursors. Two marketed agents that display anabolic properties, strontium ranelate and teriparatide, mediate their actions via the G protein-coupled calcium-sensing and parathyroid hormone-1 receptors, respectively. This review explores their activity, the potential for improved therapeutics targeting these receptors and other putative anabolic GPCR targets, including Smoothened, Wnt/Frizzled, relaxin family peptide, adenosine, cannabinoid, prostaglandin and sphingosine-1-phosphate receptors.

  • Therapeutic potential of omega-3 fatty acid-derived epoxyeicosanoids in cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-11-07
    Wolf-Hagen Schunck, Anne Konkel, Robert Fischer, Karsten-Henrich Weylandt

    Numerous benefits have been attributed to dietary long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LC-PUFAs), including protection against cardiac arrhythmia, triglyceride-lowering, amelioration of inflammatory, and neurodegenerative disorders. This review covers recent findings indicating that a variety of these beneficial effects are mediated by “omega-3 epoxyeicosanoids”, a class of novel n-3 LC-PUFA-derived lipid mediators, which are generated via the cytochrome P450 (CYP) epoxygenase pathway. CYP enzymes, previously identified as arachidonic acid (20:4n-6; AA) epoxygenases, accept eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3; EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3; DHA), the major fish oil n-3 LC-PUFAs, as efficient alternative substrates. In humans and rodents, dietary EPA/DHA supplementation causes a profound shift of the endogenous CYP-eicosanoid profile from AA- to EPA- and DHA-derived metabolites, increasing, in particular, the plasma and tissue levels of 17,18-epoxyeicosatetraenoic acid (17,18-EEQ) and 19,20-epoxydocosapentaenoic acid (19,20-EDP). Based on preclinical studies, these omega-3 epoxyeicosanoids display cardioprotective, vasodilatory, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergic properties that contribute to the beneficial effects of n-3 LC-PUFAs in diverse disease conditions ranging from cardiac disease, bronchial disorders, and intraocular neovascularization, to allergic intestinal inflammation and inflammatory pain. Increasing evidence also suggests that background nutrition as well as genetic and disease state-related factors could limit the response to EPA/DHA-supplementation by reducing the formation and/or enhancing the degradation of omega-3 epoxyeicosanoids. Recently, metabolically robust synthetic analogs mimicking the biological activities of 17,18-EEQ have been developed. These drug candidates may overcome limitations of dietary EPA/DHA supplementation and provide novel options for the treatment of cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases.

  • Readers of DNA methylation, the MBD family as potential therapeutic targets
    Pharmacol. Therapeut. (IF 11.127) Pub Date : 2017-11-08
    Gordon D. Ginder, David C. Williams

    DNA methylation represents a fundamental epigenetic modification that regulates chromatin architecture and gene transcription. Many diseases, including cancer, show aberrant methylation patterns that contribute to the disease phenotype. DNA methylation inhibitors have been used to block methylation dependent gene silencing to treat hematopoietic neoplasms and to restore expression of developmentally silenced genes. However, these inhibitors disrupt methylation globally and show significant off-target toxicities. As an alternative approach, we have been studying readers of DNA methylation, the 5-methylcytosine binding domain family of proteins, as potential therapeutic targets to restore expression of aberrantly and developmentally methylated and silenced genes. In this review, we discuss the role of DNA methylation in gene regulation and cancer development, the structure and function of the 5-methylcytosine binding domain family of proteins, and the possibility of targeting the complexes these proteins form to treat human disease.

Some contents have been Reproduced with permission of the American Chemical Society.
Some contents have been Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry.
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