In this study, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were applied to model the lipidic nanoscale droplets that form when self-emulsifying drug-delivery systems (SEDDS) disperse into microemulsions in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The influence of the excipient composition on the droplet nanostructure and on the localization of drug molecules was monitored by the drug immersion depth and the molecular association bias between hydrophilic and hydrophobic moieties. A SEDDS standard system consisting of capric (C10) fatty acid chain length triglycerides and drug molecule cyclosporin A (CyA) was compared to systematic excipient variations. Investigating the drug-loading capacity of droplets yielded a negligible influence of drug molecules on the droplet nanostructure; increasing the drug load merely resulted in increased drug exposure to the aqueous environment. The variation of triglyceride fatty acid chain lengths yielded clearly distinguishable droplet association patterns (random, lamellar-like, and vesicle-like), which could prove beneficial for predicting and engineering drug solubilization in SEDDS. The addition of surfactant poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG-6) revealed the formation of an encapsulating surfactant shell with a negligible impact on the droplet interior triglyceride nanostructure, which could potentially be utilized to protect drug molecules from digestion. Mono- and diglyceride molecules displayed an increased tendency to accumulate at the droplet surface as well, in accordance with their capacity to act as surfactants, while also significantly interfering with the interior droplet nanostructure. The addition of monoglyceride molecules in particular caused the CyA molecule to be solubilized in a hydrophilic droplet core region consisting of polar triglyceride moieties. This mode of drug localization was in stark contrast to that of other systems, where CyA was predominantly found in the interfacial region of the aqueous environment.
Understanding the neural circuitry of placebo analgesia in the context of visceral pain is increasingly important given evidence of clinical benefit of placebo treatment in IBS. This functional MRI study addressed placebo analgesia in IBS, UC and healthy control (HC) volunteers.
Inflammation-induced pain amplification and hypersensitivity play a role in the pathophysiology of numerous clinical conditions. Experimental endotoxemia has recently been implemented as model to analyze immune-mediated processes in human pain. In this study, we aimed to analyze dose- and time-dependent effects of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on clinically-relevant pain models for musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain as well as the interaction among LPS-induced changes in inflammatory markers, pain sensitivity and negative affect.
Sex differences in learned fear regarding aversive gastrointestinal stimuli could play a role in the female preponderance of chronic abdominal pain. In a fear conditioning model with rectal pain as unconditioned stimulus (US), we compared healthy males and females with respect to neural responses during aversive visceral learning, extinction and re-activation of fear memory (i.e., reinstatement). To do so, conditioned visual stimuli (CS(+)) were consistently paired with painful rectal distensions as US, while different visual stimuli (CS(-)) were presented without US. During extinction, both CSs were presented without US, whereas during reinstatement, a single, unpaired US was presented. In region-of-interest analyses, sexes were compared with respect to conditioned anticipatory neural activation (CS(+)>CS(-)). The results revealed that in late acquisition, CS+ presentation induced significantly greater anticipatory activation of the insula in women. During extinction, women demonstrated reduced activation of the posterior cingulate cortex. During reinstatement, the CS(+) led to greater activation of the hippocampus, thalamus and cerebellum in women. These group effects in neural activation during learning and memory processes were not accounted for by sex differences in pain thresholds, pain ratings, or stress parameters. In conclusion, this is the first study to support sex differences in neural processes mediating aversive visceral learning. Our finding of enhanced neural responses during reinstatement in key brain areas relevant for memory suggests enhanced reactivation of old fear memory trace in women. Sex differences in "gut memories" could play a role in the female preponderance of chronic abdominal pain.
A large number of unwanted adverse events and symptoms reported by patients in clinical trials are not caused by the drug provided, since most of adverse events also occur in corresponding placebo groups. These nocebo effects also play a major role in drug discontinuation in clinical practice, negatively affecting treatment efficacy as well as patient adherence and compliance. Experimental and clinical data document a large interindividual variability in nocebo responses, however, data on psychological, biological or genetic predictors of nocebo responses are lacking. Thus, with an established paradigm of behaviorally conditioned immunosuppressive effects we analyzed possible genetic predictors for nocebo responses. We focused on the genetic polymorphisms in the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene (Val158Met) and analyzed drug specific and general side effects before and after immunosuppressive medication and subsequent placebo intake in 62 healthy male subjects. Significantly more drug-specific as well as general side effects were reported from homozygous carriers of the Val158 variant during medication as well as placebo treatment compared to the other genotype groups. Val158/Val158 carriers also had significantly higher scores in the somatosensory amplification scale (SSAS) and the BMQ (beliefs about medicine questionnaire). Together these data demonstrate potential genetic and psychological variables predicting nocebo responses after drug and placebo intake, which might be utilized to minimize nocebo effects in clinical trials and medical practice.
To elucidate placebo and nocebo effects in visceral pain, we conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study to analyze effects of positive and negative treatment expectations in a rectal pain model. In 36 healthy volunteers, painful rectal distensions were delivered after intravenous application of an inert substance combined with either positive instructions of pain relief (placebo group) or negative instructions of pain increase (nocebo group), each compared to neutral instructions. Neural activation during cued-pain anticipation and pain was analyzed along with expected and perceived pain intensity. Expected and perceived pain intensity were significantly increased in the nocebo group and significantly decreased in the placebo group. In the placebo group, positive expectations significantly reduced activation of the somatosensory cortex during anticipation and of the insula, somatosensory cortex, and amygdala during pain delivery when compared to neutral expectations. Within the nocebo group, negative expectations led to significantly increased insula activation during painful stimulation. Direct group contrasts during expectation modulation revealed significantly increased distension-induced activation within the somatosensory cortex in the nocebo group. In conclusion, the experience and neural processing of visceral pain can be increased or decreased by drug-specific expectations. This first brain imaging study on nocebo effects in visceral pain has implications for the pathophysiology and treatment of patients with chronic abdominal complaints such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Fear conditioning is relevant for elucidating the pathophysiology of anxiety, but may also be useful in the context of chronic pain syndromes which often overlap with anxiety. Thus far, no fear conditioning studies have employed aversive visceral stimuli from the lower gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, we implemented a fear conditioning paradigm to analyze the conditioned response to rectal pain stimuli using fMRI during associative learning, extinction and reinstatement. In N?=?21 healthy humans, visual conditioned stimuli (CS(+)) were paired with painful rectal distensions as unconditioned stimuli (US), while different visual stimuli (CS(-)) were presented without US. During extinction, all CSs were presented without US, whereas during reinstatement, a single, unpaired US was presented. In region-of-interest analyses, conditioned anticipatory neural activation was assessed along with perceived CS-US contingency and CS unpleasantness. Fear conditioning resulted in significant contingency awareness and valence change, i.e., learned unpleasantness of a previously neutral stimulus. This was paralleled by anticipatory activation of the anterior cingulate cortex, the somatosensory cortex and precuneus (all during early acquisition) and the amygdala (late acquisition) in response to the CS(+). During extinction, anticipatory activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex to the CS(-) was observed. In the reinstatement phase, a tendency for parahippocampal activation was found. Fear conditioning with rectal pain stimuli is feasible and leads to learned unpleasantness of previously neutral stimuli. Within the brain, conditioned anticipatory activations are seen in core areas of the central fear network including the amygdala and the anterior cingulate cortex. During extinction, conditioned responses quickly disappear, and learning of new predictive cue properties is paralleled by prefrontal activation. A tendency for parahippocampal activation during reinstatement could indicate a reactivation of the old memory trace. Together, these findings contribute to our understanding of aversive visceral learning and memory processes relevant to the pathophysiology of chronic abdominal pain.
The underlying molecular mechanisms of macroscopic excess properties were studied by molecular dynamics simulations for different compositions of methanol-water mixtures. Structural data (nearest neighbor relationships, clustering analysis) and dynamic data (hydrogen bond lifetimes, rotational autocorrelation, translational diffusion) were evaluated. Nearest neighbor relationships provide quantitative evidence and a pictorial description of incomplete mixing at the molecular level as a source for mixture anomalies, while a comparative study of water surrounding methyl moieties versus water in the bulk-like environment provides evidence against the hydrophobicity model of clathrate-like hydration. Furthermore, the formation or breakdown of the system-wide hydrogen bonding network at a critical threshold of approximately equimolar mixture is perceived to separate the mixture system into two hydrogen bonding regimes: hydrogen-bonded water clusters embedded in methanol for mixtures with low water content and methanol molecules within a system-wide hydrogen-bonded water network for mixtures with high water content.
Placebo effects have been reported in type I allergic reactions. However the neuropsychological mechanisms steering placebo responses in allergies are largely unknown. The study analyzed whether and to what extend a conditioned placebo response is affecting type I allergic reactions and whether this response can be reproduced at multiple occasions.
This functional magnetic resonance imaging study analysed the behavioural and neural responses during expectation-mediated placebo analgesia in a rectal pain model in healthy subjects. In N=36 healthy subjects, the blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) response during cued anticipation and painful rectal stimulation was measured. Using a within-subject design, placebo analgesia was induced by changing expectations regarding the probability of receiving an analgesic drug to 0%, 50%, and 100%. Placebo responders were identified by median split based on pain reduction (0% to 100% conditions), and changes in neural activation correlating with pain reduction in the 0% and 100% conditions were assessed in a regions-of-interest analysis. Expectation of pain relief resulted in overall reductions in pain and urge to defecate, and this response was significantly more pronounced in responders. Within responders, pain reduction correlated with reduced activation of dorsolateral and ventrolateral prefrontal cortices, somatosensory cortex, and thalamus during cued anticipation (paired t tests on the contrast 0%>100%); during painful stimulation, pain reduction correlated with reduced activation of the thalamus. Compared with nonresponders, responders demonstrated greater placebo-induced decreases in activation of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during anticipation and in somatosensory cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, and thalamus during pain. In conclusion, the expectation of pain relief can substantially change perceived painfulness of visceral stimuli, which is associated with activity changes in the thalamus, prefrontal, and somatosensory cortices. Placebo analgesia constitutes a paradigm to elucidate psychological components of the pain response relevant to the pathophysiology and treatment of chronic abdominal pain.
Akin to other physiological responses, the immune system can be modified, via Pavlovian or behavioral conditioning. It is unknown, however, whether and to what extent learned immune responses can be repeatedly recalled over time. Here we demonstrate in both rats and humans that repeated contingent pairing of a novel taste (conditioned stimulus, CS) together with the immunosuppressive drug cyclosporine A as unconditioned stimulus (US) leads to the acquisition of a learned immunosuppression. Sole presentation of the CS caused a significant inhibition of interleukin (IL)-2 and interferon (IFN)-? production by rat splenic T cells and human peripheral T lymphocytes, closely mimicking the effect of the drug. More importantly, a comparable suppression of cytokine production was also observed after a second, unreinforced exposure to the CS that was separated from the first evocation by an interval of 6 (rats) or 11 (humans)days, respectively. Together, our findings demonstrate that a learned immunosuppression can be repeatedly recalled in both animals and humans, which is an important prerequisite for the implementation of conditioning paradigms as supportive therapy.
To investigate associations between active and passive coping, psychiatric symptoms of depression and anxiety, and quality of life in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). To assess the relative contribution of these coping strategies to reduced quality of life in an attempt to clarify the possible relevance of coping for impaired psychosocial well-being in PCOS.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) characterized by chronic anovulation and hyperandrogenism is highly associated with obesity and insulin resistance (IR), two key features of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH often leads to cirrhosis, including portal hypertension, liver failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma as long-term complications. The caspase 3-cleaved fragment of cytokeratin 18 (CK18) emerging from ongoing cell death during apoptosis process has been established as a serum marker for NASH. This study was conducted to evaluate the prevalence of NASH in PCOS patients by caspase-cleaved CK18 measurement.
Placebo responses are primarily mediated via two neuropsychological mechanisms: patients expectation towards the benefit of a treatment and associative learning processes. Immune functions, like other physiological responses, can be modulated through behavioral conditioning. However, it is unknown whether learned immune responses are affected by the number of re-expositions to the conditioned stimulus (CS) during evocation. Moreover, it is unclear whether immune functions can also be modulated through mere verbally induced expectation. In the experiments reported here, we investigated in healthy male volunteers with an established model of learned immunosuppression whether a single re-exposition to the CS is able to induce a behaviorally conditioned immunosuppression. This conditioned immunosuppression is reflected through a significantly decreased interleukin (IL)-2 production by anti-CD3 stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Our data revealed that in contrast to four CS re-expositions (control group n = 15; experimental group n = 17), a single CS re-exposition was not sufficient to significantly suppress IL-2 production (control group n = 9, experimental group n = 10). Furthermore, we could demonstrate that mere expectation of taking an immunosuppressant did not cause an immunosuppressive response (n = 8-9 per expectation condition). Together, these findings extend our knowledge about the kinetics and mechanisms of placebo-induced immunosuppression and provide therewith information for designing conditioning protocols, which might be employed as a supportive therapy in clinical settings.
For secondary adrenal insufficiency (SAI), established biochemical parameters for dosage control are lacking and no optimal substitution dosage and daily distribution have been determined yet. Therefore, in clinical practice, the individual total dose is often adjusted based on patients subjective well-being.
The administration of bacterial endotoxin (i.e., lipopolysaccharide, LPS) constitutes a well-established experimental approach to study the effects of an acute and transient immune activation on physiological, behavioral, and emotional aspects of sickness behavior in animals and healthy humans. However, little is known about possible effects of experimental endotoxemia on pain in humans. This knowledge gap is particularly striking in the context of visceral pain in functional as well as chronic-inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders. Although inflammatory processes have been implicated in the pathophysiology of visceral pain, it remains incompletely understood how inflammatory mediators interact with bottom-up (i.e., increased afferent input) and top-down (i.e., altered central pain processing) mechanisms of visceral hyperalgesia. Considering the recent findings of visceral hyperalgesia after LPS application in humans, in this review, we propose that experimental endotoxemia with its complex peripheral and central effects constitutes an experimental model to study neuroimmune communication in human pain research. We summarize and attempt to integrate relevant animal and human studies concerning neuroimmune communication in visceral and somatic pain, discuss putative mechanisms, and conclude with future research directions.
Growing evidence suggests that systemic immune activation plays a role in the pathophysiology of pain in functional bowel disorders. By implementing a randomized crossover study with an injection of endotoxin or saline, we aimed to test the hypothesis that endotoxin-induced systemic inflammation increases visceral pain sensitivity in humans. Eleven healthy men (mean ± standard error of the mean age 26.6 ± 1.1 years) received an intravenous injection of either lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 0.4 ng/kg) or saline on 2 otherwise identical study days. Blood samples were collected 15 min before and 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6h after injection to characterize changes in immune parameters including proinflammatory cytokines. Rectal sensory and pain thresholds and subjective pain ratings were assessed with barostat rectal distensions 2h after injection. LPS administration induced an acute inflammatory response indicated by transient increases in tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin 6, and body temperature (all P<.001). The LPS-induced immune activation increased sensitivity to rectal distensions as reflected by significantly decreased visceral sensory and pain thresholds (both P<.05) compared to saline control. Visceral stimuli were rated as more unpleasant (P<.05) and inducing increased urge to defecate (P<.01). Pain thresholds correlated with interleukin 6 at +1h (r=0.60, P<.05) and +3h (r=0.67, P<.05) within the LPS condition. This report is novel in that it demonstrates that a transient systemic immune activation results in decreased visceral sensory and pain thresholds and altered subjective pain ratings. Our results support the relevance of inflammatory processes in the pathophysiology of visceral hyperalgesia and underscore the need for studies to further elucidate immune-to-brain communication pathways in gastrointestinal disorders.
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