There is a strong need for new broadly active antifungal agents for the treatment of oral candidiasis that not only are active against many species of Candida, including drug-resistant strains, but also evade microbial countermeasures which may lead to resistance. Host defense peptides (HDPs) can provide a foundation for the development of such agents. Toward this end, we have developed fully synthetic, small-molecule, nonpeptide mimetics of the HDPs that improve safety and other pharmaceutical properties. Here we describe the identification of several HDP mimetics that are broadly active against C. albicans and other species of Candida, rapidly fungicidal, and active against yeast and hyphal cultures and that exhibit low cytotoxicity for mammalian cells. Importantly, specificity for Candida over commensal bacteria was also evident, thereby minimizing potential damage to the endogenous microbiome which otherwise could favor fungal overgrowth. Three compounds were tested as topical agents in two different mouse models of oral candidiasis and were found to be highly active. Following single-dose administrations, total Candida burdens in tongues of infected animals were reduced up to three logs. These studies highlight the potential of HDP mimetics as a new tool in the antifungal arsenal for the treatment of oral candidiasis.
A series of self-associating foldamers have been designed as heparin reversal agents, as antidotes to prevent bleeding due to this potent antithrombotic agent. The foldamers have a repeating sequence of Lys-Sal, in which Sal is 5-amino-2-methoxy-benzoic acid. These foldamers are designed to self-associate along one face of an extended chain in a ?-sheet-like interaction. The methoxy groups were included to form intramolecular hydrogen bonds that preclude the formation of very large amyloid-like aggregates, while the positively charged Lys side chains were introduced to interact electrostatically with the highly anionic heparin polymer. The prototype compound (Lys-Sal)4 carboxamide weakly associates in aqueous solution at physiological salt concentration in a monomer-dimer-hexamer equilibrium. The association is greatly enhanced at either high ionic strength or in the presence of a heparin derivative, which is bound tightly. Variants of this foldamer are active in an antithrombin III-factor Xa assay, showing their potential as heparin reversal agents.
Breast cancer metastasis to bone is frequently accompanied by pain. What remains unclear is why this pain tends to become more severe and difficult to control with disease progression. Here we test the hypothesis that with disease progression, sensory nerve fibers that innervate the breast cancer bearing bone undergo a pathological sprouting and reorganization, which in other nonmalignant pathologies has been shown to generate and maintain chronic pain. Injection of human breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-231-BO) into the femoral intramedullary space of female athymic nude mice induces sprouting of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP(+)) sensory nerve fibers. Nearly all CGRP(+) nerve fibers that undergo sprouting also coexpress tropomyosin receptor kinase A (TrkA(+)) and growth-associated protein-43 (GAP43(+)). This ectopic sprouting occurs in periosteal sensory nerve fibers that are in close proximity to breast cancer cells, tumor-associated stromal cells, and remodeled cortical bone. Therapeutic treatment with an antibody that sequesters nerve growth factor (NGF), administered when the pain and bone remodeling were first observed, blocks this ectopic sprouting and attenuates cancer pain. The present data suggest that the breast cancer cells and tumor-associated stromal cells express and release NGF, which drives bone pain and the pathological reorganization of nearby CGRP(+)/TrkA(+)/GAP43(+) sensory nerve fibers.
Pain frequently accompanies cancer. What remains unclear is why this pain frequently becomes more severe and difficult to control with disease progression. Here we test the hypothesis that with disease progression, sensory nerve fibers that innervate the tumor-bearing tissue undergo a pathological sprouting and reorganization, which in other nonmalignant pathologies has been shown to generate and maintain chronic pain. Injection of canine prostate cancer cells into mouse bone induces a remarkable sprouting of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP(+)) and neurofilament 200 kDa (NF200(+)) sensory nerve fibers. Nearly all sensory nerve fibers that undergo sprouting also coexpress tropomyosin receptor kinase A (TrkA(+)). This ectopic sprouting occurs in sensory nerve fibers that are in close proximity to colonies of prostate cancer cells, tumor-associated stromal cells and newly formed woven bone, which together form sclerotic lesions that closely mirror the osteoblastic bone lesions induced by metastatic prostate tumors in humans. Preventive treatment with an antibody that sequesters nerve growth factor (NGF), administered when the pain and bone remodeling were first observed, blocks this ectopic sprouting and attenuates cancer pain. Interestingly, reverse transcription PCR analysis indicated that the prostate cancer cells themselves do not express detectable levels of mRNA coding for NGF. This suggests that the tumor-associated stromal cells express and release NGF, which drives the pathological reorganization of nearby TrkA(+) sensory nerve fibers. Therapies that prevent this reorganization of sensory nerve fibers may provide insight into the evolving mechanisms that drive cancer pain and lead to more effective control of this chronic pain state.
Pain often accompanies cancer and most current therapies for treating cancer pain have significant unwanted side effects. Targeting nerve growth factor (NGF) or its cognate receptor tropomyosin receptor kinase A (TrkA) has become an attractive target for attenuating chronic pain. In the present report, we use a mouse model of bone cancer pain and examine whether oral administration of a selective small molecule Trk inhibitor (ARRY-470, which blocks TrkA, TrkB and TrkC kinase activity at low nm concentrations) has a significant effect on cancer-induced pain behaviors, tumor-induced remodeling of sensory nerve fibers, tumor growth and tumor-induced bone remodeling. Early/sustained (initiated day 6 post cancer cell injection), but not late/acute (initiated day 18 post cancer cell injection) administration of ARRY-470 markedly attenuated bone cancer pain and significantly blocked the ectopic sprouting of sensory nerve fibers and the formation of neuroma-like structures in the tumor bearing bone, but did not have a significant effect on tumor growth or bone remodeling. These data suggest that, like therapies that target the cancer itself, the earlier that the blockade of TrkA occurs, the more effective the control of cancer pain and the tumor-induced remodeling of sensory nerve fibers. Developing targeted therapies that relieve cancer pain without the side effects of current analgesics has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life and functional status of cancer patients.
There are few studies that evaluate the clinical outcomes of individuals with non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The purpose of this study was to evaluate baseline predictors of clinical progression after 2 years for patients with dysexecutive MCI (dMCI), a single-domain non-amnestic MCI subgroup.
Current therapies for treating skeletal pain have significant limitations as available drugs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opiates) have significant unwanted side effects. Targeting nerve growth factor (NGF) or its cognate receptor tropomysin receptor kinase A (TrkA) has recently become an attractive target for inhibition of adult skeletal pain. Here we explore whether sustained administration of a selective small molecule Trk inhibitor that blocks TrkA, TrkB and TrkC kinase activity with nanomolar affinity reduces skeletal pain while allowing the maintenance of sensory and sympathetic neurons in the adult mouse. Twice-daily administration of a Trk inhibitor was begun 1 day post fracture and within 8 h of acute administration fracture pain-related behaviors were reduced by 50% without significant sedation, weight gain or inhibition of fracture healing. Following administration of the Trk inhibitor for 7 weeks, there was no significant decline in the density of unmyelinated or myelinated sensory nerve fibers, sympathetic nerve fibers, measures of acute thermal pain, acute mechanical pain, or general neuromuscular function. The present results suggest that sustained administration of a peripherally selective TrkA, B and C inhibitor significantly reduces skeletal pain without having any obvious detrimental effects on adult sensory and sympathetic nerve fibers or early fracture healing. As with any potential therapeutic advance, understanding whether the benefits of Trk blockade are associated with any risks or unexpected effects will be required to fully appreciate the patient populations that may benefit from this therapeutic approach.
As humans age there is a decline in most sensory systems including vision, hearing, taste, smell, and tactile acuity. In contrast, the frequency and severity of musculoskeletal pain generally increases with age. To determine whether the density of sensory nerve fibers that transduce skeletal pain changes with age, calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP) and neurofilament 200 kDa (NF200) sensory nerve fibers that innervate the femur were examined in the femurs of young (4-month-old), middle-aged (13-month-old) and old (36-month-old) male F344/BNF1 rats. Whereas the bone quality showed a significant age-related decline, the density of CGRP(+) and NF200(+) nerve fibers that innervate the bone remained remarkably unchanged as did the severity of acute skeletal fracture pain. Thus, while bone mass, quality, and strength undergo a significant decline with age, the density of sensory nerve fibers that transduce noxious stimuli remain largely intact. These data may in part explain why musculoskeletal pain increases with age.
Although early studies on mild cognitive impairment (MCI) focused on memory dysfunction; more recent studies suggest that MCI is clinically heterogeneous. The objective of this study is to examine patterns of cerebral perfusion in anmestic (N=12) and nonamnestic (N=12) single-domain MCI patients from 4 a priori regions of interest: middle and superior frontal cortex, posterior cingulate, and precuneus, to compare them relative to healthy controls (N=12), and to correlate perfusion with neuropsychologic measures. Relative to controls, all MCI patients had hypoperfusion in the posterior cingulate, bilaterally. MCI patients with executive dysfunctions also showed hypoperfusion in bilateral middle frontal cortex and the left precuneus relative to controls and in the left middle frontal cortex, left posterior cingulate, and left precuneus relative to amnestic MCI patients. Perfusion in the posterior cingulate correlated positively with memory performance whereas perfusion in all 4 a priori regions of interest, predominantly on the left side, correlated with executive function performance. The finding that single-domain MCI patients with prominent deficits in different cognitive domains exhibited different patterns of hypoperfusion relative to controls supports the existence of distinct subgroups of MCI. These data further suggest that cognitive impairment in MCI is related to cerebral hypoperfusion.
Subgroups of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have been proposed, but few studies have investigated the nonamnestic, single-domain subgroup of MCI. The goal of the study was to compare clinical and neuroimaging characteristics of two single-domain MCI subgroups: amnestic MCI and dysexecutive MCI.
Plasmodium falciparum pathogenesis is affected by various cell types in the blood, including platelets, which can kill intraerythrocytic malaria parasites. Platelets could mediate these antimalarial effects through human defense peptides (HDPs), which exert antimicrobial effects by permeabilizing membranes. Therefore, we screened a panel of HDPs and determined that human platelet factor 4 (hPF4) kills malaria parasites inside erythrocytes by selectively lysing the parasite digestive vacuole (DV). PF4 rapidly accumulates only within infected erythrocytes and is required for parasite killing in infected erythrocyte-platelet cocultures. To exploit this antimalarial mechanism, we tested a library of small, nonpeptidic mimics of HDPs (smHDPs) and identified compounds that kill P. falciparum by rapidly lysing the parasite DV while sparing the erythrocyte plasma membrane. Lead smHDPs also reduced parasitemia in a murine malaria model. Thus, identifying host molecules that control parasite growth can further the development of related molecules with therapeutic potential.
Many forms of arthritis are accompanied by significant chronic joint pain. This study was undertaken to investigate whether there is significant sprouting of sensory and sympathetic nerve fibers in the painful arthritic knee joint and whether nerve growth factor (NGF) drives this pathologic reorganization.
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