Publications by authors named "Anna Cozzoli"

13 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Effect of a long-term treatment with metformin in dystrophic mdx mice: A reconsideration of its potential clinical interest in Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Biochem Pharmacol 2018 08 21;154:89-103. Epub 2018 Apr 21.

Section of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacy - Drug Sciences, University of Bari "Aldo Moro", Bari, Italy. Electronic address:

The pharmacological stimulation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) via metabolic enhancers has been proposed as potential therapeutic strategy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Metformin, a widely-prescribed anti-hyperglycemic drug which activates AMPK via mitochondrial respiratory chain, has been recently tested in DMD patients in synergy with nitric oxide (NO)-precursors, with encouraging results. However, preclinical data supporting the use of metformin in DMD are still poor, and its actions on skeletal muscle appear controversial. Therefore, we investigated the effects of a long-term treatment with metformin (200 mg/kg/day in drinking water, for 20 weeks) in the exercised mdx mouse model, characterized by a severe mechanical-metabolic maladaptation. Metformin significantly ameliorated histopathology in mdx gastrocnemius muscle, in parallel reducing TGF-β1 with a recovery score (r.s) of 106%; this was accompanied by a decreased plasma matrix-metalloproteinase-9 (r.s. 43%). In addition, metformin significantly increased mdx diaphragm twitch and tetanic tension ex vivo (r.s. 44% and 36%, respectively), in spite of minor effects on in vivo weakness. However, no clear protective actions on dystrophic muscle metabolism were observed, as shown by the poor metformin effect on AMPK activation measured by western blot, on the expression of mechanical-metabolic response genes analyzed by qPCR, and by the lack of fast-to-slow fiber-type-shift assessed by SDH staining in tibialis anterior muscle. Similar results were obtained in the milder phenotype of sedentary mdx mice. The lack of metabolic effects could be, at least partly, due to metformin inability to increase low mdx muscle levels of l-arginine, l-citrulline and taurine, found by HPLC. Our findings encourage to explore alternative, metabolism-independent mechanisms of action to differently repurpose metformin in DMD, supporting its therapeutic combination with NO-sources.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bcp.2018.04.022DOI Listing
August 2018

Ryanodine channel complex stabilizer compound S48168/ARM210 as a disease modifier in dystrophin-deficient mdx mice: proof-of-concept study and independent validation of efficacy.

FASEB J 2018 02 3;32(2):1025-1043. Epub 2018 Jan 3.

Pharmacology Unit, Department of Pharmacy-Drug Sciences, University of Bari, Bari, Italy.

Muscle fibers lacking dystrophin undergo a long-term alteration of Ca homeostasis, partially caused by a leaky Ca release ryanodine (RyR) channel. S48168/ARM210, an RyR calcium release channel stabilizer (a Rycal compound), is expected to enhance the rebinding of calstabin to the RyR channel complex and possibly alleviate the pathologic Ca leakage in dystrophin-deficient skeletal and cardiac muscle. This study systematically investigated the effect of S48168/ARM210 on the phenotype of mdx mice by means of a first proof-of-concept, short (4 wk), phase 1 treatment, followed by a 12-wk treatment (phase 2) performed in parallel by 2 independent laboratories. The mdx mice were treated with S48168/ARM210 at two different concentrations (50 or 10 mg/kg/d) in their drinking water for 4 and 12 wk, respectively. The mice were subjected to treadmill sessions twice per week (12 m/min for 30 min) to unmask the mild disease. This testing was followed by in vivo forelimb and hindlimb grip strength and fatigability measurement, ex vivo extensor digitorum longus (EDL) and diaphragm (DIA) force contraction measurement and histologic and biochemical analysis. The treatments resulted in functional (grip strength, ex vivo force production in DIA and EDL muscles) as well as histologic improvement after 4 and 12 wk, with no adverse effects. Furthermore, levels of cellular biomarkers of calcium homeostasis increased. Therefore, these data suggest that S48168/ARM210 may be a safe therapeutic option, at the dose levels tested, for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).-Capogrosso, R. F., Mantuano, P., Uaesoontrachoon, K., Cozzoli, A., Giustino, A., Dow, T., Srinivassane, S., Filipovic, M., Bell, C., Vandermeulen, J., Massari, A. M., De Bellis, M., Conte, E., Pierno, S., Camerino, G. M., Liantonio, A., Nagaraju, K., De Luca, A. Ryanodine channel complex stabilizer compound S48168/ARM210 as a disease modifier in dystrophin-deficient mdx mice: proof-of-concept study and independent validation of efficacy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.201700182RRRDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5888399PMC
February 2018

Contractile efficiency of dystrophic mdx mouse muscle: in vivo and ex vivo assessment of adaptation to exercise of functional end points.

J Appl Physiol (1985) 2017 Apr 5;122(4):828-843. Epub 2017 Jan 5.

Section of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacy and Drug Sciences, University of Bari "Aldo Moro," Bari, Italy;

Progressive weakness is a typical feature of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients and is exacerbated in the benign mdx mouse model by in vivo treadmill exercise. We hypothesized a different threshold for functional adaptation of mdx muscles in response to the duration of the exercise protocol. In vivo weakness was confirmed by grip strength after 4, 8, and 12 wk of exercise in mdx mice. Torque measurements revealed that exercise-related weakness in mdx mice correlated with the duration of the protocol, while wild-type (WT) mice were stronger. Twitch and tetanic forces of isolated diaphragm and extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles were lower in mdx compared with WT mice. In mdx, both muscle types exhibited greater weakness after a single exercise bout, but only in EDL after a long exercise protocol. As opposite to WT muscles, mdx EDL ones did not show any exercise-induced adaptations against eccentric contraction force drop. qRT-PCR analysis confirmed the maladaptation of genes involved in metabolic and structural remodeling, while damage-related genes remained significantly upregulated and angiogenesis impaired. Phosphorylated AMP kinase level increased only in exercised WT muscle. The severe histopathology and the high levels of muscular TGF-β1 and of plasma matrix metalloproteinase-9 confirmed the persistence of muscle damage in mdx mice. Therefore, dystrophic muscles showed a partial degree of functional adaptation to chronic exercise, although not sufficient to overcome weakness nor signs of damage. The improved understanding of the complex mechanisms underlying maladaptation of dystrophic muscle paves the way to a better managment of DMD patients. We focused on the adaptation/maladaptation of dystrophic mdx mouse muscles to a standard protocol of exercise to provide guidance in the development of more effective drug and physical therapies in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The mdx muscles showed a modest functional adaptation to chronic exercise, but it was not sufficient to overcome the progressive in vivo weakness, nor to counter signs of muscle damage. Therefore, a complex involvement of multiple systems underlies the maladaptive response of dystrophic muscle.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00776.2015DOI Listing
April 2017

Assessment of resveratrol, apocynin and taurine on mechanical-metabolic uncoupling and oxidative stress in a mouse model of duchenne muscular dystrophy: A comparison with the gold standard, α-methyl prednisolone.

Pharmacol Res 2016 Apr 27;106:101-113. Epub 2016 Feb 27.

Section of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacy & Drug Sciences, University of Bari "Aldo Moro", Bari, Italy. Electronic address:

Antioxidants have a great potential as adjuvant therapeutics in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, although systematic comparisons at pre-clinical level are limited. The present study is a head-to-head assessment, in the exercised mdx mouse model of DMD, of natural compounds, resveratrol and apocynin, and of the amino acid taurine, in comparison with the gold standard α-methyl prednisolone (PDN). The rationale was to target the overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) via disease-related pathways that are worsened by mechanical-metabolic impairment such as inflammation and over-activity of NADPH oxidase (NOX) (taurine and apocynin, respectively) or the failing ROS detoxification mechanisms via sirtuin-1 (SIRT1)-peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α) (resveratrol). Resveratrol (100mg/kg i.p. 5days/week), apocynin (38mg/kg/day per os), taurine (1g/kg/day per os), and PDN (1mg/kg i.p., 5days/week) were administered for 4-5 weeks to mdx mice in parallel with a standard protocol of treadmill exercise and the outcome was evaluated with a multidisciplinary approach in vivo and ex vivo on pathology-related end-points and biomarkers of oxidative stress. Resveratrol≥taurine>apocynin enhanced in vivo mouse force similarly to PDN. All the compounds reduced the production of superoxide anion, assessed by dihydroethidium staining, with apocynin being as effective as PDN, and ameliorated electrophysiological biomarkers of oxidative stress. Resveratrol also significantly reduced plasma levels of creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase. Force of isolated muscles was little ameliorated. However, the three compounds improved histopathology of gastrocnemius muscle more than PDN. Taurine>apocynin>PDN significantly decreased activated NF-kB positive myofibers. Thus, compounds targeting NOX-ROS or SIRT1/PGC-1α pathways differently modulate clinically relevant DMD-related endpoints according to their mechanism of action. With the caution needed in translational research, the results show that the parallel assessment can help the identification of best adjuvant therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2016.02.016DOI Listing
April 2016

Effects of Nandrolone in the Counteraction of Skeletal Muscle Atrophy in a Mouse Model of Muscle Disuse: Molecular Biology and Functional Evaluation.

PLoS One 2015 11;10(6):e0129686. Epub 2015 Jun 11.

Section of Pharmacology, Dept. of Pharmacy & Drug Sciences, University of Bari "Aldo Moro", Bari, Italy.

Muscle disuse produces severe atrophy and a slow-to-fast phenotype transition in the postural Soleus (Sol) muscle of rodents. Antioxidants, amino-acids and growth factors were ineffective to ameliorate muscle atrophy. Here we evaluate the effects of nandrolone (ND), an anabolic steroid, on mouse skeletal muscle atrophy induced by hindlimb unloading (HU). Mice were pre-treated for 2-weeks before HU and during the 2-weeks of HU. Muscle weight and total protein content were reduced in HU mice and a restoration of these parameters was found in ND-treated HU mice. The analysis of gene expression by real-time PCR demonstrates an increase of MuRF-1 during HU but minor involvement of other catabolic pathways. However, ND did not affect MuRF-1 expression. The evaluation of anabolic pathways showed no change in mTOR and eIF2-kinase mRNA expression, but the protein expression of the eukaryotic initiation factor eIF2 was reduced during HU and restored by ND. Moreover we found an involvement of regenerative pathways, since the increase of MyoD observed after HU suggests the promotion of myogenic stem cell differentiation in response to atrophy. At the same time, Notch-1 expression was down-regulated. Interestingly, the ND treatment prevented changes in MyoD and Notch-1 expression. On the contrary, there was no evidence for an effect of ND on the change of muscle phenotype induced by HU, since no effect of treatment was observed on the resting gCl, restCa and contractile properties in Sol muscle. Accordingly, PGC1α and myosin heavy chain expression, indexes of the phenotype transition, were not restored in ND-treated HU mice. We hypothesize that ND is unable to directly affect the phenotype transition when the specialized motor unit firing pattern of stimulation is lacking. Nevertheless, through stimulation of protein synthesis, ND preserves protein content and muscle weight, which may result advantageous to the affected skeletal muscle for functional recovery.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0129686PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4466268PMC
May 2016

Angiotensin II modulates mouse skeletal muscle resting conductance to chloride and potassium ions and calcium homeostasis via the AT1 receptor and NADPH oxidase.

Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 2014 Oct 30;307(7):C634-47. Epub 2014 Jul 30.

Unit of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacy and Drug Sciences, University of Bari "A. Moro," Bari, Italy; and

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 μM) 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.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpcell.00372.2013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4187056PMC
October 2014

Gene expression in mdx mouse muscle in relation to age and exercise: aberrant mechanical-metabolic coupling and implications for pre-clinical studies in Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Hum Mol Genet 2014 Nov 10;23(21):5720-32. Epub 2014 Jun 10.

Unit of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacy and Drug Sciences, University of Bari 'A. Moro', Via Orabona 4, 70125 Bari, Italy and

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 γ coactivator 1α (Pgc-1α) and Sirtuin1 (Sirt1) was higher in mdx versus WT mice at both ages. Exercise increased Pgc-1α expression in WT mice; Pgc-1α was downregulated by T12 exercise in mdx muscles, along with Sirt1, Pparγ 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), Tgfβ, Tnfα 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.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddu287DOI Listing
November 2014

Effects of prednisolone on the dystrophin-associated proteins in the blood-brain barrier and skeletal muscle of dystrophic mdx mice.

Lab Invest 2013 May 25;93(5):592-610. Epub 2013 Mar 25.

Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Neurosciences and Sensory Organs, Section of Human Anatomy and Histology, University of Bari Medical School, Bari, Italy.

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 α-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 α-β 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/β DG in both tissues; an increase of Dp71 protein content; and an increase of both mRNA and protein levels of the AQP4/α-β 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 β-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.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/labinvest.2013.46DOI Listing
May 2013

GLPG0492, a novel selective androgen receptor modulator, improves muscle performance in the exercised-mdx mouse model of muscular dystrophy.

Pharmacol Res 2013 Jun 22;72:9-24. Epub 2013 Mar 22.

Sezione di Farmacologia, Dipartimento di Farmacia - Scienze del Farmaco, Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy.

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 α-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.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2013.03.003DOI Listing
June 2013

Enalapril treatment discloses an early role of angiotensin II in inflammation- and oxidative stress-related muscle damage in dystrophic mdx mice.

Pharmacol Res 2011 Nov 13;64(5):482-92. Epub 2011 Jun 13.

Unit of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmaco-biology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Bari, Italy.

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 α-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-β1 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.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2011.06.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3184479PMC
November 2011

Daily treatment with SMTC1100, a novel small molecule utrophin upregulator, dramatically reduces the dystrophic symptoms in the mdx mouse.

PLoS One 2011 May 6;6(5):e19189. Epub 2011 May 6.

Summit plc, Abingdon, United Kingdom.

Background: 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.

Methodology And Principal Findings: We describe the in vivo activity of SMT C1100; the first orally bioavailable small molecule utrophin upregulator. Once-a-day daily-dosing with SMT C1100 reduces a number of the pathological effects of dystrophin deficiency. Treatment results in reduced pathology, better muscle physiology leading to an increase in overall strength, and an ability to resist fatigue after forced exercise; a surrogate for the six minute walk test currently recommended as the pivotal outcome measure in human trials for DMD.

Conclusions And Significance: This study demonstrates proof-of-principle for the use of in vitro screening methods in allowing identification of pharmacological agents for utrophin transcriptional upregulation. The best compound identified, SMT C1100, demonstrated significant disease modifying effects in DMD models. Our data warrant the full evaluation of this compound in clinical trials in DMD patients.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0019189PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3089598PMC
May 2011

Multiple pathological events in exercised dystrophic mdx mice are targeted by pentoxifylline: outcome of a large array of in vivo and ex vivo tests.

J Appl Physiol (1985) 2009 Apr 8;106(4):1311-24. Epub 2009 Jan 8.

Unit of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmaco-biology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Bari, Bari, Italy.

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.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.90985.2008DOI Listing
April 2009

Gentamicin treatment in exercised mdx mice: Identification of dystrophin-sensitive pathways and evaluation of efficacy in work-loaded dystrophic muscle.

Neurobiol Dis 2008 Nov 23;32(2):243-53. Epub 2008 Jul 23.

Unit of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacobiology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Bari, Italy.

Aminoglycosides force read through of premature stop codon mutations and introduce new mutation-specific gene-corrective strategies in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. A chronic treatment with gentamicin (32 mg/kg/daily i.p., 8-12 weeks) was performed in exercised mdx mice with the dual aim to clarify the dependence on dystrophin of the functional, biochemical and histological alterations present in dystrophic muscle and to verify the long term efficiency of small molecule gene-corrective strategies in work-loaded dystrophic muscle. The treatment counteracted the exercise-induced impairment of in vivo forelimb strength after 6-8 weeks. We observed an increase in dystrophin expression level in all the fibers, although lower than that observed in normal fibers, and found a concomitant recovery of aquaporin-4 at sarcolemma. A significant reduction in centronucleated fibers, in the area of necrosis and in the percentage of nuclear factor-kB-positive nuclei was observed in gastrocnemious muscle of treated animals. Plasma creatine kinase was reduced by 70%. Ex vivo, gentamicin restored membrane ionic conductance in mdx diaphragm and limb muscle fibers. No effects were observed on the altered calcium homeostasis and sarcolemmal calcium permeability, detected by electrophysiological and microspectrofluorimetric approaches. Thus, the maintenance of a partial level of dystrophin is sufficient to reinforce sarcolemmal stability, reducing leakiness, inflammation and fiber damage, while correction of altered calcium homeostasis needs greater expression of dystrophin or direct interventions on the channels involved.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nbd.2008.07.009DOI Listing
November 2008