Conflicting results have been obtained by clinical studies investigating the effect of liver cirrhosis on enzyme induction. Because ethical concerns do not give consent for methodologically rigorous studies in humans, we addressed this question by examining the effect of the prototypical inducer dexamethasone (DEX) on the pregnane X receptor (PXR)-mediated induction of CYP3A1 and 3A2 in a validated animal model of liver cirrhosis obtained by exposure of rats to carbon tetrachloride. For this purpose, we assessed mRNA levels, protein expressions, and enzymatic activities of both CYP3A enzymes, as well as mRNA and protein expressions of PXR in rat populations rigorously stratified according to the severity of liver insufficiency. Constitutive mRNA and protein expressions of CYP3A1 and CYP3A2 and their basal enzyme activities were not affected by liver dysfunction. DEX treatment markedly increased steady-state mRNA level, protein content, and enzymatic activity of CYP3A1 in healthy and cirrhotic rats, irrespective of the degree of liver dysfunction. On the contrary, the inducing effect of DEX on gene and protein expressions and enzyme activity of CYP3A2 was preserved in moderate liver insufficiency, whereas it was greatly curtailed when liver insufficiency became severe. mRNA and protein expressions of PXR were neither reduced by liver dysfunction nor increased by DEX treatment. These results indicate that even the inducibility of cytochrome P450 isoforms under the transcriptional control of the same nuclear receptor may be differentially affected by cirrhosis and may partly explain why conflicting results were obtained by human studies.
Adrenomedullin (AM) is a multifunctional peptide endowed with various biological actions mediated by the interaction with the calcitonin receptor-like receptor (CLR), which couples to the receptor activity-modifying proteins 2 or 3 (RAMP2 or RAMP3) to form the functional plasma membrane receptors AM1 and AM2, respectively. In this study, we investigated for the first time the expression and localization of AM, CLR, RAMP2 and RAMP3 in human thymic tissue from newborns and in primary cultures of thymic epithelial cells (TECs) and thymocytes. Immunohistochemical analysis of thymic tissue showed that both AM and RAMP2 are abundantly expressed in the epithelial cells of medulla and cortex, blood vessels and mastocytes. In contrast, RAMP3 could not be detected. In cultured TECs, double immunofluorescence coupled to confocal microscopy revealed that AM is present in the cytoplasmic compartment, whereas RAMP2 could be detected in the cytoplasm and nucleus, but not in the cell membrane. At variance with RAMP2, CLR was not only present in the nucleus and cytoplasm of TECs, but could also be detected in the cell membrane. The nuclear and cytoplasmic localizations of RAMP2 and CLR and the absence of RAMP2 in the cell membrane were confirmed by western-blot analysis performed on cell fractions. AM, RAMP2 and CLR could also be detected in thymocytes by means of double immunofluorescence coupled to confocal microscopy, although these proteins were not present in the whole thymocyte population. In these cells, AM and RAMP2 were detected in the cytoplasm, whereas CLR could be observed in the cytoplasm and the plasma membrane. In conclusion, our results show that the AM system is widely expressed in human thymus from newborns and suggest that both AM1 receptor components CLR and RAMP2 are not associated with the plasma membrane of TECs and thymocytes but are located intracellularly, notably in the nucleus.
Norbormide [5-(?-hydroxy-?-2-pyridylbenzyl)-7-(?-2-pyridylbenzylidene)-5-norbornene-2,3-dicarboximide] (NRB), an existing but infrequently used rodenticide, is known to be uniquely toxic to rats but relatively harmless to other rodents and mammals. However, one major drawback of NRB as a viable rodenticide relates to an evolutionary aversion developed by the rat leading to sub-lethal dosing due to either its unpleasant taste or rapid onset of effects. A series of NRB-derived prodrugs were prepared in an effort to mask this acute response. Their synthesis and biological evaluation (in vitro vasoconstrictory activity, in vitro hydrolytic and enzymatic stability and lethality/palatability in vivo) is described. Prodrug 2 displayed the most promising profile with respect to a delay in the onset of symptoms and was subsequently demonstrated to be significantly more palatable to rats. Moreover, prodrug 25 was found to be largely accepted by rats in a choice trial, resulting in high mortality.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect and molecular mechanism of albumin infusion on cardiac contractility in experimental cirrhosis with ascites. Cardiac contractility was recorded ex vivo in rats with cirrhosis and ascites and in control rats after the injection in the caudal vein of albumin, saline, or hydroxyethyl starch (HES). Gene and protein expression of ?-receptors and pathways involved in their intracellular signaling such as G?(i2) protein (G?(i2)), adenylate cyclase 3 (Adcy3), protein expression of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-?) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), were evaluated in cardiac tissue in both groups. Phosphorylation and membrane-translocation of the cytosolic components of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NAD(P)H)-oxidase and translocation of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-?B) were also evaluated. After saline intravenous injection, cardiac contractility was significantly reduced in rats with cirrhosis as compared to control rats (P < 0.01). This was associated with: (1) increased expression of protein G?(i2) (P < 0.05), TNF-? (P < 0.05), iNOS (P < 0.05); (2) increased NAD(P)H-oxidase activity (P < 0.05); (3) increased nuclear translocation of NF-?B (P < 0.05); and (4) lower expression of Adcy 3 (P < 0.05) in cardiac tissue of rats with cirrhosis. After albumin injection cardiac contractility (P < 0.01), protein expression of TNF-?, iNOS, G?(i2), and Adcy3, NAD(P)H-oxidase activity and nuclear translocation of NF-?B in cardiac tissue of rats with cirrhosis were reversed to control levels (P < 0.05). HES injection did not modify cardiac contractility and nuclear translocation of NF-?B in cardiac tissue of rats with cirrhosis.
Although the induction of cytochrome P450 (CYP) has long been investigated in patients with cirrhosis, the question whether liver dysfunction impairs the response to CYP inducers still remains unresolved. Moreover, the mechanism underlying the possible effect of cirrhosis on induction has not been investigated. Since ethical constraints do not permit methodologically rigorous studies in humans, this question was addressed by investigating the effect of the prototypical inducer benzo[a]pyrene (BP) on CYP1A1 and CYP1A2 in cirrhotic rats stratified according to the severity of liver dysfunction. We simultaneously assessed mRNA level, protein expression and enzymatic activity of the CYP1A enzymes, as well as mRNA and protein expressions of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), which mediates the BP effect. Basal mRNA and protein expressions of CYP1A1 were virtually absent in both healthy and cirrhotic rats. On the contrary, CYP1A2 mRNA, protein and enzyme activity were constitutively present in healthy rats and decreased significantly as liver function worsened. BP treatment markedly increased the concentrations of mRNA and immunodetectable protein, and the enzymatic activities of both CYP1A enzymes to similar levels in healthy and non-ascitic cirrhotic rats. Induced mRNA levels, protein expressions and enzymatic activities of both CYPs were much lower in ascitic rats and were proportionally reduced. Both constitutive and induced protein expressions of AhR were significantly lower in ascitic than in healthy rats. These results indicate that the inducibility of CYP1A enzymes is well preserved in compensated cirrhosis, whereas it is markedly reduced when liver dysfunction becomes severe. Induction appears to be impaired at the transcriptional level, due to the reduced expression of AhR, which controls the transcription of CYP1A genes.
We have investigated the mechanism of rat-selective induction of the mitochondrial permeability transition (PT) by norbormide (NRB). We show that the inducing effect of NRB on the PT (i) is inhibited by the selective ligands of the 18kDa outer membrane (OMM) translocator protein (TSPO, formerly peripheral benzodiazepine receptor) protoporphyrin IX, N,N-dihexyl-2-(4-fluorophenyl)indole-3-acetamide and 7-chloro-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-1,3-dihydro-1-methyl-2H-1,4-benzodiazepin-2-one; and (ii) is lost in digitonin mitoplasts, which lack an intact OMM. In mitoplasts the PT can still be induced by the NRB cationic derivative OL14, which contrary to NRB is also effective in intact mitochondria from mouse and guinea pig. We conclude that selective NRB transport into rat mitochondria occurs via TSPO in the OMM, which allows its translocation to PT-regulating sites in the inner membrane. Thus, species-specificity of NRB toward the rat PT depends on subtle differences in the structure of TSPO or of TSPO-associated proteins affecting its substrate specificity.
An in-depth analysis of the effects of cardamonin, 2,4-dihydroxy-6-methoxychalcone, on rat tail artery preparations was performed by means of whole-cell patch-clamp recordings of Ca(v)1.2 Ca(2+) [I(Ca(L))] or Ba(2+) [I(Ba(L))] current as well as K(Ca)1.1 currents in single myocytes and by measuring contractile responses in endothelium-denuded isolated rings. At a holding potential (V(h)) of -80 mV, cardamonin decreased both I(Ba(L)) and I(Ca(L)) in a concentration-dependent manner with similar pIC(50) values. The maximum of the I(Ba(L))-voltage relationship was shifted by 10 mV in the hyperpolarizing direction, but threshold remained unaffected. Cardamonin modified both the activation and the inactivation kinetics of I(Ba(L)) and shifted the voltage dependence of both inactivation and activation curves to more negative potentials by 19 and 7 mV, respectively, thus markedly decreasing the Ba(2+) window current. Block of I(Ba(L)) was frequency-dependent, and rate of recovery from inactivation was slowed. Cardamonin increased K(Ca)1.1 currents in a concentration-dependent manner; this stimulation was iberiotoxin- and BAPTA [1,2-bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N,N-tetraacetic acid]-sensitive. On the contrary, iberiotoxin did not modify cardamonin-induced relaxation of rings precontracted either with phenylephrine or with (S)-(-)-methyl-1,4-dihydro-2,6-dimethyl-3-nitro-4-(2-trifluoromethylphenyl)pyridine-5-carboxylate [(S)-(-)-Bay K 8644]. The overall effects of cardamonin were incompletely reversed by washout. In conclusion, cardamonin is a naturally occurring, bifunctional vasodilator that, by simultaneously inhibiting I(Ca(L)) and stimulating K(Ca)1.1 current, may represent a scaffold for the design of novel drugs of potential interest for treatment of systemic hypertension.
Zidovudine (AZT) is an antiretroviral drug widely used in the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients, whose prolonged administration was found to cause toxic lesions in cardiomyocytes in humans and experimental animals. Alterations in adrenocortical secretion were frequently observed in HIV patients, but it is not clear whether medication is involved in the production of these complications. Hence, we studied in vivo and in vitro, the effects of AZT on the rat adrenal cortex. The prolonged AZT administration (100 mg/kg per day for 4 months) did not cause overt qualitative morphological alterations of adrenocortical cells, which, however, underwent a net hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is associated with increases in the volume and surface area per cell of the mitochondrial compartment and smooth endoplasmic reticulum (where the enzymes of steroid synthesis are located), and a marked decrease in the volume of the lipid-droplet compartment (where cholesterol and its esters, the precursors of steroid hormones, are stored). AZT chronic treatment induced rises in the plasma concentrations of aldosterone and corticosterone, and in the basal and ACTH-stimulated in vitro secretion of these hormones from adrenal slices. The 24-h exposure to AZT (10(-5) M) did not significantly affect either secretory activity or proliferation and apoptotic rates of cultured rat adrenocortical cells. Taken together, these findings suggest that AZT chronic treatment enhances the growth and steroidogenic capacity of rat adrenal cortex, probably by activating the central branch of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The toxic activity of AZT is thought to depend on increased production of ROS. On these grounds, it is likely that the lack of toxic effect of AZT on adrenocortical cells is due to their very elevated content in vitamin C, which prevents the deleterious effect of the AZT-induced increase in intracellular ROS production.
Norbormides species-selective lethality displays 150-fold and 40-fold more sensitivity to rats than mice and guinea pigs, respectively. Our previous study revealed marked inter-species differences in rate and route of metabolism in liver preparations from different species, with hydroxylation the major route. To examine whether rapid metabolic clearance or species-dependent formation of a toxic metabolite play a role in the marked species-sensitivity, we initiated in vivo metabolic studies in rats and mice. After oral dosing, norbormide was detected in mouse but not rat blood. In contrast, liver analysis revealed that norbormide concentration was significantly higher in rat compared with mouse, and that it underwent extensive metabolism tentatively identified via hydroxylation in rat, whilst none was detected in mouse. Although an unidentified metabolite (M3) was detected in rat blood after oral dosing, no metabolites were detected 1min after intravenous dosing, which proved lethal at 0.5mg/kg. Taken together, the data indicate that the toxicity resides with the parent compound, rather species-dependent formation of a potent metabolite and that species sensitivity may be controlled at the pharmacodynamic level.
We investigated whether chronic zidovudine (AZT) administration in rats could impair cardiac function by affecting intercellular junctions and whether vitamin C could prevent these possible effects. Rats were treated for 8 months with AZT, vitamin C, and AZT plus vitamin C. Cardiac fractional shortening (FS) was assessed by echocardiographic examination, intercellular junctions morphology was detected by electron microscopy (EM) and immunocytochemistry (ICC). AZT-treated rats showed a reduced FS that was not prevented by vitamin C. EM revealed that AZT treatment did not affect coronary endothelial intercellular junctions whereas it caused an enlargement of fascia adherens of the intercalated discs that was prevented by vitamin C. AZT treatment did not induce either alterations of gap junctions morphology or distribution of connexin-43, the major protein expressed in the gap junctions. We conclude that AZT treatment may be potentially deleterious to the heart by inducing a ROS-mediated damage of cardiac intercalated discs.
L-Type Ca(2+) channels (LTCCs) play a key role in the regulation of vascular smooth muscle contraction, and substances that interfere with their function (Ca(2+) channel blockers) are widely used in the therapy of hypertension. Here, we report anthracene-maleimide derivatives as new LTCC blockers. Among these, 3, lacking intracellular effects, was investigated in more detail. The results show that 3 binds preferentially to inactivated LTCCs, directly interacting with the pore-forming subunit of the channel.
Differences between species in response to norbormide (NRB) may arise through differential pharmacodynamic and/or pharmacokinetic properties. We hypothesise that species-selectivity is at least partly determined by differences in metabolism based on in vitro data generated in liver preparations from rats, mice and guinea pigs. HPLC separation and LC/MS identification revealed that NRB undergoes metabolism primarily to hydroxylated form that was tentatively identified in both rat and non-rat species with NADPH as the preferred cofactor. However, the metabolic profile and the rate are different between species. Gender differences are also reported in the metabolic rate in rats and we postulate that this may be responsible for different toxic sensitivities seen between sexes. Using this knowledge, we aim to develop pharmacological tool(s) for use in designing a new class of drugs that can be targeted in a tissue-selective manner. Further in vivo pharmacokinetic with receptor affinity studies are warranted.
Regulation of smooth muscle contraction is driven by a number of protein kinases: the evidence for this often originates from studies that investigate the effects of extracellularly added specific protein kinase inhibitors. Six compounds, thought to be selective inhibitors of various kinases, were analysed for their effects on vascular L-type Ca(2+) channels because this potential subsidiary activity could strongly influence our understanding of the pathways involved in smooth muscle contraction. Whole-cell L-type Ba(2+) currents [I(Ba(L))] were recorded in single myocytes, and contractile responses were measured from endothelium-denuded rings taken from the rat tail artery. Although ML-7, ML-9, and wortmannin (MLCK inhibitors), HA-1077 and Y-27632 (Rho-associated kinase inhibitors), and GF-109203X (PKC inhibitor) relaxed rings pre-contracted with high KCl in a concentration-dependent manner, their effect on I(Ba(L)) intensity was surprisingly variable. Wortmannin showed negligible effects while HA-1077 and Y-27632 were ineffective. I(Ba(L)) was partly inhibited by GF-109203X and blocked by ML-7 and ML-9 in a concentration-dependent manner, with the blockade by ML-7 being voltage-dependent. Whilst ML-7, ML-9, and GF-109203X sped up the inactivation kinetics of I(Ba(L)), GF-109203X did not modify ML-7- or ML-9-induced effects, with both intensity and kinetics of the current remaining unchanged. In contrast, application of Bay K 8644 on myocytes pre-treated with ML-7 or ML-9 raised I(Ba(L)) beyond control values. In conclusion, ML-7 and ML-9 inhibit L-type Ca(2+) channels via a mechanism independent of MLCK, PKC or Rho kinase activities, and as such caution should be used in employing these agents to elucidate the role of kinases in smooth muscle contraction.
Norbormide [5-(?-hydroxy-?-2-pyridylbenzyl)-7-(?-2-pyridylbenzylidene)-5-norbornene-2,3-dicarboximide] (NRB), an existing but infrequently used rodenticide, is known to be uniquely toxic to rats but relatively harmless to other rodents and mammals. However, one major drawback of NRB as a viable rodenticide relates to an evolutionary aversion developed by the rat leading to sub-lethal dosing due to either its unpleasant taste or rapid onset of effects. A series of NRB prodrugs were prepared in an effort to mask this acute response. Their synthesis and biological evaluation (in vitro vasoconstrictory activity, in vitro hydrolytic and enzymatic stability and lethality/palatability in vivo) is described. Compound 19 displayed the most promising profile with respect to a delay in the onset of symptoms and was subsequently demonstrated to be significantly more palatable to rats.
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