Angiotensin II (ANG II) plays a role in muscle wasting and remodeling; however, little evidence shows its direct effects on specific muscle functions. We presently investigated the acute in vitro effects of ANG II on resting ionic conductance and calcium homeostasis of mouse extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscle fibers, based on previous findings that in vivo inhibition of ANG II counteracts the impairment of macroscopic ClC-1 chloride channel conductance (gCl) in the mdx mouse model of muscular dystrophy. By means of intracellular microelectrode recordings we found that ANG II reduced gCl in the nanomolar range and in a concentration-dependent manner (EC50 = 0.06 ?M) meanwhile increasing potassium conductance (gK). Both effects were inhibited by the ANG II receptors type 1 (AT1)-receptor antagonist losartan and the protein kinase C inhibitor chelerythrine; no antagonism was observed with the AT2 antagonist PD123,319. The scavenger of reactive oxygen species (ROS) N-acetyl cysteine and the NADPH-oxidase (NOX) inhibitor apocynin also antagonized ANG II effects on resting ionic conductances; the ANG II-dependent gK increase was blocked by iberiotoxin, an inhibitor of calcium-activated potassium channels. ANG II also lowered the threshold for myofiber and muscle contraction. Both ANG II and the AT1 agonist L162,313 increased the intracellular calcium transients, measured by fura-2, with a two-step pattern. These latter effects were not observed in the presence of losartan and of the phospholipase C inhibitor U73122 and the in absence of extracellular calcium, disclosing a Gq-mediated calcium entry mechanism. The data show for the first time that the AT1-mediated ANG II pathway, also involving NOX and ROS, directly modulates ion channels and calcium homeostasis in adult myofibers.
Weakness and fatigability are typical features of Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients and are aggravated in dystrophic mdx mice by chronic treadmill exercise. Mechanical activity modulates gene expression and muscle plasticity. Here, we investigated the outcome of 4 (T4, 8 weeks of age) and 12 (T12, 16 weeks of age) weeks of either exercise or cage-based activity on a large set of genes in the gastrocnemius muscle of mdx and wild-type (WT) mice using quantitative real-time PCR. Basal expression of the exercise-sensitive genes peroxisome-proliferator receptor ? coactivator 1? (Pgc-1?) and Sirtuin1 (Sirt1) was higher in mdx versus WT mice at both ages. Exercise increased Pgc-1? expression in WT mice; Pgc-1? was downregulated by T12 exercise in mdx muscles, along with Sirt1, Ppar? and the autophagy marker Bnip3. Sixteen weeks old mdx mice showed a basal overexpression of the slow Mhc1 isoform and Serca2; T12 exercise fully contrasted this basal adaptation as well as the high expression of follistatin and myogenin. Conversely, T12 exercise was ineffective in WT mice. Damage-related genes such as gp91-phox (NADPH-oxidase2), Tgf?, Tnf? and c-Src tyrosine kinase were overexpressed in mdx muscles and not affected by exercise. Likewise, the anti-inflammatory adiponectin was lower in T12-exercised mdx muscles. Chronic exercise with minor adaptive effects in WT muscles leads to maladaptation in mdx muscles with a disequilibrium between protective and damaging signals. Increased understanding of the pathways involved in the altered mechanical-metabolic coupling may help guide appropriate physical therapies while better addressing pharmacological interventions in translational research.
On the basis of a 3D-QSAR study, a new generation of tocainide analogues were designed and synthesized as voltage-gated skeletal muscle sodium channel blockers. Data obtained by screening new compounds by means of Hille-Campbell Vaseline gap voltage-clamp recordings showed that the elongation of the alkyl chain and the introduction of lipophilic and sterically hindered groups on the amino function enhance both potency and use-dependent block. The results provide additional indications about the structural requirement of pharmacophores for further increasing potency and state-dependent block and allowed us to identify a new tocainide analogue (6f) with a favorable pharmacodynamic profile to be proposed as a valid candidate for studies aimed at evaluating its usefulness in the treatment of myotonias.
In skeletal muscle, the resting chloride conductance (gCl), due to the ClC-1 chloride channel, controls the sarcolemma electrical stability. Indeed, loss-of-function mutations in ClC-1 gene are responsible of myotonia congenita. The ClC-1 channel can be phosphorylated and inactivated by protein kinases C (PKC), but the relative contribution of each PKC isoforms is unknown. Here, we investigated on the role of PKC? in the regulation of ClC-1 channel expression and activity in fast- and slow-twitch muscles of mouse models lacking PKC?. Electrophysiological studies showed an increase of gCl in the PKC?-null mice with respect to wild type. Muscle excitability was reduced accordingly. However, the expression of the ClC-1 channel, evaluated by qRT-PCR, was not modified in PKC?-null muscles suggesting that PKC? affects the ClC-1 activity. Pharmacological studies demonstrated that although PKC? appreciably modulates gCl, other isoforms are still active and concur to this role. The modification of gCl in PKC?-null muscles has caused adaptation of the expression of phenotype-specific genes, such as calcineurin and myocyte enhancer factor-2, supporting the role of PKC? also in the settings of muscle phenotype. Importantly, the lack of PKC? has prevented the aging-related reduction of gCl, suggesting that its modulation may represent a new strategy to contrast the aging process.
Age-related skeletal muscle decline is characterized by the modification of sarcolemma ion channels important to sustain fiber excitability and to prevent metabolic dysfunction. Also, calcium homeostasis and contractile function are impaired. In the aim to understand whether these modifications are related to oxidative damage and can be reverted by antioxidant treatment, we examined the effects of in vivo treatment with an waste water polyphenolic mixture (LACHI MIX HT) supplied by LACHIFARMA S.r.l. Italy containing hydroxytirosol (HT), gallic acid, and homovanillic acid on the skeletal muscles of 27-month-old rats. After 6-week treatment, we found an improvement of chloride ClC-1 channel conductance, pivotal for membrane electrical stability, and of ATP-dependent potassium channel activity, important in coupling excitability with fiber metabolism. Both of them were analyzed using electrophysiological techniques. The treatment also restored the resting cytosolic calcium concentration, the sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium release, and the mechanical threshold for contraction, an index of excitation-contraction coupling mechanism. Muscle weight and blood creatine kinase levels were preserved in LACHI MIX HT-treated aged rats. The antioxidant activity of LACHI MIX HT was confirmed by the reduction of malondialdehyde levels in the brain of the LACHI MIX HT-treated aged rats. In comparison, the administration of purified HT was less effective on all the parameters studied. Although muscle function was not completely recovered, the present study provides evidence of the beneficial effects of LACHI MIX HT, a natural compound, to ameliorate skeletal muscle functional decline due to aging-associated oxidative stress.
The mdx mouse, the most widely used animal model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), develops a seriously impaired blood-brain barrier (BBB). As glucocorticoids are used clinically to delay the progression of DMD, we evaluated the effects of chronic treatment with ?-methyl-prednisolone (PDN) on the expression of structural proteins and markers in the brain and skeletal muscle of the mdx mouse. We analyzed the immunocytochemical and biochemical expression of four BBB markers, including endothelial ZO-1 and occludin, desmin in pericytes, and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in glial cells, and the expression of the short dystrophin isoform Dp 71, the dystrophin-associated proteins (DAPs), and aquaporin-4 (AQP4) and ?-? dystroglycan (DG) in the brain. We evaluated the BBB integrity of mdx and PDN-treated mdx mice by means of intravascular injection of horseradish peroxidase (HRP). The expression of DAPs was also assessed in gastrocnemius muscles and correlated with utrophin expression, and laminin content was measured in the muscle and brain. PDN treatment induced a significant increase in the mRNA and protein content of the BBB markers; a reduction in the phosphorylation of occludin in the brain and of AQP4/? DG in both tissues; an increase of Dp71 protein content; and an increase of both mRNA and protein levels of the AQP4/?-? DG complex. The latter was associated with enhanced laminin and utrophin in the muscle. The HRP assay demonstrated functional restoration of the BBB in the PDN-treated mdx mice. Specifically, mdx mice showed extensive perivascular labeling due to escape of the marker, while HRP was exclusively intravascular in the PDN-treated mice and the controls. These data illustrate for the first time that PDN reverses the BBB alterations in the mdx mouse and re-establishes the proper expression and phosphorylation of ?-DG in both the BBB and skeletal muscle. Further, PDN partially protects against muscle damage. The reduction in AQP4 and occludin phosphorylation, coupled with their anchoring to glial and endothelial membranes in PDN-treated mice, suggests that the drug may target the glial and endothelial cells. Our results suggest a novel mechanism for PDN action on cerebral and muscular function, restoring the link between DAPs and the extracellular matrix, most likely through protein kinase inactivation.
Anabolic drugs may counteract muscle wasting and dysfunction in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD); however, steroids have unwanted side effects. We focused on GLPG0492, a new non-steroidal selective androgen receptor modulator that is currently under development for musculo-skeletal diseases such as sarcopenia and cachexia. GLPG0492 was tested in the exercised mdx mouse model of DMD in a 4-week trial at a single high dose (30 mg/kg, 6 day/week s.c.), and the results were compared with those from the administration of ?-methylprednisolone (PDN; 1 mg/kg, i.p.) and nandrolone (NAND, 5 mg/kg, s.c.). This assessment was followed by a 12-week dose-dependence study (0.3-30 mg/kg s.c.). The outcomes were evaluated in vivo and ex vivo on functional, histological and biochemical parameters. Similar to PDN and NAND, GLPG0492 significantly increased mouse strength. In acute exhaustion tests, a surrogate of the 6-min walking test used in DMD patients, GLPG0492 preserved running performance, whereas vehicle- or comparator-treated animals showed a significant increase in fatigue (30-50%). Ex vivo, all drugs resulted in a modest but significant increase of diaphragm force. In parallel, a decrease in the non-muscle area and markers of fibrosis was observed in GLPG0492- and NAND-treated mice. The drugs exerted minor effects on limb muscles; however, electrophysiological biomarkers were ameliorated in extensor digitorum longus muscle. The longer dose-dependence study confirmed the effect on mdx mouse strength and resistance to fatigue and demonstrated the efficacy of lower drug doses on in vivo and ex vivo functional parameters. These results support the interest of further studies of GLPG0492 as a potential treatment for DMD.
Previously identified potent and/or use-dependent mexiletine (Mex) analogs were used as template for the rational design of new Na(v)-channel blockers. The effects of the novel analogs were tested on sodium currents of native myofibers. Data and molecular modeling show that increasing basicity and optimal alkyl chain length enhance use-dependent block. This was demonstrated by replacing the amino group with a more basic guanidine one while maintaining a proper distance between positive charge and aromatic ring (Me13) or with homologs having the chirality center nearby the amino group or the aromatic ring. Accordingly, a phenyl group on the asymmetric center in the homologated alkyl chain (Me12), leads to a further increase of use-dependent behavior versus the phenyl Mex derivative Me4. A fluorine atom in paraposition and one ortho-methyl group on the xylyloxy ring (Me15) increase potency and stereoselectivity versus Me4. Charge delocalization and greater flexibility of Me15 may increase its affinity for Tyr residues influencing steric drug interaction with the primary Phe residue of the binding site. Me12 and Me15 show limited selectivity against Na(v)-isoforms, possibly due to the highly conserved binding site on Na(v). To our knowledge, the new compounds are the most potent Mex-like Na(v) blockers obtained to date and deserve further investigation.
Slow-twitch muscles, devoted to postural maintenance, experience atrophy and weakness during muscle disuse due to bed-rest, aging or spaceflight. These conditions impair motion activities and can have survival implications. Human and animal studies demonstrate the anabolic role of IGF-1 on skeletal muscle suggesting its interest as a muscle disuse countermeasure. Thus, we tested the role of IGF-1 overexpression on skeletal muscle alteration due to hindlimb unloading (HU) by using MLC/mIgf-1 transgenic mice expressing IGF-1 under the transcriptional control of MLC promoter, selectively activated in skeletal muscle. HU produced atrophy in soleus muscle, in terms of muscle weight and fiber cross-sectional area (CSA) reduction, and up-regulation of atrophy gene MuRF1. In parallel, the disuse-induced slow-to-fast fiber transition was confirmed by an increase of the fast-type of the Myosin Heavy Chain (MHC), a decrease of PGC-1? expression and an increase of histone deacetylase-5 (HDAC5). Consistently, functional parameters such as the resting chloride conductance (gCl) together with ClC-1 chloride channel expression were increased and the contractile parameters were modified in soleus muscle of HU mice. Surprisingly, IGF-1 overexpression in HU mice was unable to counteract the loss of muscle weight and the decrease of fiber CSA. However, the expression of MuRF1 was recovered, suggesting early effects on muscle atrophy. Although the expression of PGC-1? and MHC were not improved in IGF-1-HU mice, the expression of HDAC5 was recovered. Importantly, the HU-induced increase of gCl was fully contrasted in IGF-1 transgenic mice, as well as the changes in contractile parameters. These results indicate that, even if local expression does not seem to attenuate HU-induced atrophy and slow-to-fast phenotype transition, it exerts early molecular effects on gene expression which can counteract the HU-induced modification of electrical and contractile properties. MuRF1 and HDAC5 can be attractive therapeutic targets for pharmacological countermeasures and then deserve further investigations.
Drug screening on sodium currents of native myofibers by means of voltage-clamp recordings is predictive of pre-clinical anti-myotonic activity in vivo and ex vivo. By this approach we identified the N-benzylated beta-proline derivative of tocainide (To10) as the most potent use-dependent blocker of Nav1.4 so far. We tested novel analogs with modifications on the pharmacophore groups of To10. The substitution of the proline cycle with less planar piperidine or piperazine rings disclosed the importance of a two carbon atom distance and/or an additional nitrogen atom for potency. Structural changes on the xylididic group corroborated the role of a proper electronic cloud for hydrophobic interactions with the binding site. The N-benzylated moiety lead to a stereoselective behavior only in the rigid alpha-proline analog To11 vs. To10 and N-benzylated tocainide (To12). The results confirm the strict structural requirements of Nav1.4 blockers and allow to refine the drug design toward novel anti-myotonic drugs.
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is an X-linked disorder that affects boys and leads to muscle wasting and death due to cardiac involvement and respiratory complications. The cause is the absence of dystrophin, a large structural protein indispensable for muscle cell function and viability. The mdx mouse has become the standard animal model for pre-clinical evaluation of potential therapeutic treatments. Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the number of experimental compounds being evaluated in the mdx mouse. There is, however, much variability in the design of these pre-clinical experimental studies. This has made it difficult to interpret and compare published data from different laboratories and to evaluate the potential of a treatment for application to patients. The authors therefore propose the introduction of a standard study design for the mdx mouse model. Several aspects, including animal care, sampling times and choice of tissues, as well as recommended endpoints and methodologies are addressed and, for each aspect, a standard procedure is proposed. Testing of all new molecules/drugs using a widely accepted and agreed upon standard experimental protocol would greatly improve the power of pre-clinical experimentations and help identifying promising therapies for the translation into clinical trials for boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a lethal, progressive muscle wasting disease caused by a loss of sarcolemmal bound dystrophin, which results in the death of the muscle fibers leading to the gradual depletion of skeletal muscle. There is significant evidence demonstrating that increasing levels of the dystrophin-related protein, utrophin, in mouse models results in sarcolemmal bound utrophin and prevents the muscular dystrophy pathology. The aim of this work was to develop a small molecule which increases the levels of utrophin in muscle and thus has therapeutic potential.
Inhibitors of angiotensin converting enzymes (ACE) are clinically used to control cardiomyopathy in patients of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Various evidences suggest potential usefulness of long-term treatment with ACE inhibitors to reduce advanced fibrosis of dystrophic muscle in the mdx mouse model. However, angiotensin II is known to exert pro-inflammatory and pro-oxidative actions that might contribute to early events of dystrophic muscle degeneration. The present study has been aimed at evaluating the effects of an early treatment with enalapril on the pathology signs of exercised mdx mouse model. The effects of 1 and 5 mg/kg enalapril i.p. for 4-8 weeks have been compared with those of 1 mg/kg ?-methyl-prednisolone (PDN), as positive control. Enalapril caused a dose-dependent increase in fore limb strength, the highest dose leading to a recovery score similar to that observed with PDN. A dose-dependent reduction of superoxide anion production was observed by dihydroethidium staining in tibialis anterior muscle of enalapril-treated mice, approaching the effect observed with PND. In parallel, a significant reduction of the activated form of the pro-inflammatory Nuclear Factor-kB has been observed in gastrocnemious muscle. Histologically, 5 mg/kg enalapril reduced the area of muscle necrosis in both gastrocnemious muscle and diaphragm, without significant effect on non-muscle area. In parallel no significant changes have been observed in both muscle TGF-?1 and myonuclei positive to phosphorylated Smad2/3. Myofiber functional indices were also monitored by microelectrodes recordings. A dose-dependent recovery of macroscopic chloride conductance has been observed upon enalapril treatment in EDL muscle, with minor effects being exerted in diaphragm. However a modest effect, if any, was found on mechanical threshold, a functional index of calcium homeostasis. No recovery was observed in creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase. Finally the results suggest the ability of enalapril to blunt angiotensin-II dependent activation of pro-inflammatory and pro-oxidant pathways which may be earlier events with respect to the pro-fibrotic ones, and may in part account for both functional impairment and muscle necrosis. The PDN-like profile may corroborate the combined use of the two classes of drugs in DMD patients so to potentiate the beneficial effects at skeletal muscle level, while reducing both spontaneous and PDN-aggravated cardiomyopathy.
In this study, we investigated the involvement of dystrophin-associated proteins (DAPs) and their relationship with the perivascular basement membrane in the brains of mdx mice and controls at the age of 2 months. We analyzed (1) the expression of glial DAPs ?-?-dystroglycan (DG), ?-syntrophin, aquaporin-4 (AQP4) water channel, Kir 4.1 and dystrophin isoform (Dp71) by immunocytochemistry, laser confocal microscopy, immunogold electron microscopy, immunoblotting and RT-PCR; (2) the ultrastructure of the basement membrane and expression of laminin and agrin; and (3) the dual immunofluorescence colocalization of AQP4/?-?-DG, and of Kir 4.1/agrin. The following results were observed in mdx brain as compared with controls: (1) a significant reduction in protein content and mRNA expression of DAPs; (2) ultrastructurally, a thickened and discontinuous appearance of the basement membrane and a significant reduction in laminin and agrin; and (3) a molecular rearrangment of ?-?-DG, coupled with a parallel loss of agrin and Kir 4.1 on basement membrane and glial endfeet. These data indicate that in mdx brain the deficiency in dystrophin and dystrophin isoform (Dp71) is coupled with a reduction of DAP components, coupled with an altered anchoring to the basement membrane.
The phosphodiesterases inhibitor pentoxifylline gained attention for Duchenne muscular dystrophy therapy for its claimed anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antifibrotic action. A recent finding also showed that pentoxifylline counteracts the abnormal overactivity of a voltage-independent calcium channel in myofibers of dystrophic mdx mice. The possible link between workload, altered calcium homeostasis, and oxidative stress pushed toward a more detailed investigation. Thus a 4- to 8-wk treatment with pentoxifylline (50 mg x kg(-1) x day(-1) ip) was performed in mdx mice, undergoing or not a chronic exercise on treadmill. In vivo, the treatment partially increased forelimb strength and enhanced resistance to treadmill running in exercised animals. Ex vivo, pentoxifylline restored the mechanical threshold, an electrophysiological index of calcium homeostasis, and reduced resting cytosolic calcium in extensor digitorum longus muscle fibers. Mn quenching and patch-clamp technique confirmed that this effect was paralleled by a drug-induced reduction of membrane permeability to calcium. The treatment also significantly enhanced isometric tetanic tension in mdx diaphragm. The plasma levels of creatine kinase and reactive oxygen species were both significantly reduced in treated-exercised animals. Dihydroethidium staining, used as an indicator of reactive oxygen species production, showed that pentoxifylline significantly reduced the exercise-induced increase in fluorescence in the mdx tibialis anterior muscle. A significant decrease in connective tissue area and profibrotic cytokine transforming growth factor-beta(1) was solely found in tibialis anterior muscle. In both diaphragm and gastrocnemius muscle, a significant increase in neural cell adhesion molecule-positive area was instead observed. This data supports the interest toward pentoxifylline and allows insight in the level of cross talk between pathogenetic events in workloaded dystrophic muscle.
Objectives: Various authors who studied the effects of aluminium (Al) exposure on the neurocognitive system in the last 30 years have reached different and often contradictory conclusions. The aim of this study is to help clarify the effects that the metal causes on cognitive ability in a group of naval welders exposed to Al. METHODS: The study was performed on a sample of 86 male Al welders in a shipyard in Messina. The average value of environmental Al, recorded in the workplace, was 19.5 mg/m(3). The blood levels of Al, zinc, manganese, lead and chromium were monitored in all the subjects. The reagents used for the neuropsychic study were the Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS), the Colour Word Test or Stroop Test and the Test of Attention Matrixes. The results were compared with those obtained in a similar control group not exposed to Al and with an Al-b value of 6.93 g/l. RESULTS: For all the mental reagents used, the reply is obtained in the sample of exposed subjects showed decreased cognitive response with regard to attention and memory performance. The comparison between the individual tests showed greater sensitivity of performance studied using the WMS and the Stroop Test compared with the Test of Attention Matrixes. The alterations encountered in the cognitive functions studied increased proportionally to time of exposure and quantity of metal absorbed. CONCLUSION: The study confirmed that occupational exposure to Al causes alteration in cognitive responses that are more evident in complex functions.
INTRODUCTION. The relationship between stressful events in the workplace and their effect on health is the subject of numerous studies where the phenomenon of"Mobbing" has become of increasing interest in Social Psychiatry and Occupational Medicine. The aim of this study is to evaluate the relationship between mobbing, occupational stress and personality structure in a group of persons who consulted the "Work Adaptation Disorders Centre" at the Institute of Occupational Medicine between December 2008 and June 2010 for mobbing-related issues.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a lethal X-linked muscle disease affecting 1/3500 live male birth. It results from defects in the subsarcolemmal protein dystrophin, a component of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex (DGC) which links the intracellular cytoskeleton to the extracellular matrix. The absence of dystrophin leads to muscle membrane fragility, muscle necrosis and gradual replacement of skeletal muscle by fat and connective tissue, through a complex and still unclear cascade of interconnecting events. No cure is currently available, with glucocorticoids being the sole drugs in clinical use in spite of their remarkable side effects. A great effort is devoted at performing pre-clinical tests on the mdx mouse, the mostly used homologous animal model for DMD, with the final aim to identify drugs safer than steroids and able to target the pathogenic mechanisms so to delay pathology progression. This review updates the efforts on this topic, focusing on the open issues about the animal model and highlighting the classes of pharmaceuticals that are more promising as disease-modifiers, while awaiting for more corrective therapies. Although caution is necessary in data transfer from mdx model to DMD patients, the implementation of standard operating procedures and the growing understanding of the pathology may allow a more accurate evaluation of therapeutics, alone or in combination, in pre-clinical settings. A continuous cross-talk with clinicians and patients associations are also crucial points for proper translation of data from mouse to bedside.
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