Publications by authors named "Janet R Nicholson"

20 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Characterisation of a rat model of mechanical low back pain at an advanced stage using immunohistochemical methods.

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 2020 Sep 5. Epub 2020 Sep 5.

Faculty of Medicine, School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Chronic low back pain (LBP) has high prevalence in the adult population which is associated with enormous disability. Hence, our aim was to further characterise our LBP rat model by using immunohistological and immunohistochemical methods at an advanced stage (day 49) of the model. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were anaesthetised and their lumbar L4/L5 and L5/L6 intervertebral discs (IVDs) were punctured (0.5 mm outer diameter, 2 mm-deep) 10 times per disc. Sham-rats underwent similar surgery, but no discs were punctured. For LBP- but not sham-rats, noxious pressure hyperalgesia was fully developed in the lumbar axial deep tissues on day 21 post-surgery, which was maintained until at least day 49. In the lumbar (L4-L6) dorsal root ganglia (DRGs), somatostatin (SRIF) and the somatostatin receptor type 4 (SST receptor) were co-localised with substance P and IB4, markers of small diameter unmyelinated peptidergic and non-peptidergic C-fibres respectively as well as with NF200, a marker of medium to large diameter neurons. On day 49, there was increased expression of SRIF but not the somatostatin receptor type 4 (SST receptor) in the lumbar DRGs and the spinal dorsal horns. There were increased DRG expression levels of the putative pro-nociceptive mediators: phosphorylated p38 (pp38) mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphorylated p44/p42 MAPK (pp44/pp42 MAPK) as well as pp38 MAPK expression levels in the lumbar spinal cord. Taken together, the increased expression of SRIF in the lumbar DRGs and spinal cord and its co-localisation with nociceptive fibres in DRG sections suggest a potential role of SRIF in modulating chronic mechanical LBP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1440-1681.13402DOI Listing
September 2020

Assessment of the anti-allodynic efficacy of a glycine transporter 2 inhibitor relative to pregabalin and duloxetine in a rat model of prostate cancer-induced bone pain.

Pharmacol Rep 2020 Oct 26;72(5):1418-1425. Epub 2020 Jul 26.

Centre for Integrated Preclinical Drug Development, School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

Background: The pathobiology of prostate cancer-induced bone pain (PCIBP) is underpinned by both inflammatory and neuropathic components. Here, we used a rat model of PCIBP to assess the analgesic efficacy of a glycine transporter 2 (GlyT2) inhibitor (N-(6-((1,3-dihydroxypropan-2-yl)amino)-2-(dimethylamino)pyridin-3-yl)-3,5-dimethoxy-4-(4-(trifluoromethyl)phenoxy) benzamide) relative to two clinically available adjuvant drugs that are recommended for the relief of neuropathic pain, viz, pregabalin and duloxetine.

Methods: PCIBP was induced in male Wistar Han rats following intra-tibial injection (ITI) of rat prostate cancer (AT3B) cells into the left tibia. Sham-rats received an ITI of heat-killed AT3B cells. PCIBP rats with fully developed mechanical allodynia in the ipsilateral hindpaws as assessed using von Frey filaments, received single oral (p.o.) bolus doses of the GlyT2 inhibitor (3-30 mg/kg), pregabalin (3-100 mg/kg), duloxetine (3-100 mg/kg), or vehicle. Baseline paw withdrawal thresholds (PWTs) were determined in the ipsilateral (injured side) and contralateral hindpaws immediately prior to dosing and at scheduled times for 3 h post dosing in individual animals.

Results: Single oral bolus doses of the GlyT2 inhibitor (3-30 mg/kg) evoked partial pain relief at the doses tested in the ipsilateral hindpaws of PCIBP rats without any discernible behavioural side effects. By contrast, single oral bolus doses of pregabalin at 10-100 mg/kg evoked dose-dependent and complete alleviation of mechanical allodynia. By comparison, single oral bolus doses of duloxetine at doses up to 100 mg/kg lacked efficacy.

Conclusion: Oral administration of this GlyT2 inhibitor evoked partial pain relief in PCIBP rats and did not evoke central nervous system side effects in contrast to GlyT2 inhibitors reported by others.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s43440-020-00145-8DOI Listing
October 2020

Assessment of the anti-hyperalgesic efficacy of J-2156, relative to clinically available analgesic/adjuvant agents in a rat model of mild to moderate chronic mechanical low back pain (LBP).

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 2020 Dec 4;47(12):1912-1922. Epub 2020 Aug 4.

Centre for Integrated Preclinical Drug Development, School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

Chronic mechanical low back pain (cLBP) is a leading cause of disability and a major socio-economic burden internationally. The lifetime prevalence of non-specific LBP is approximately 84%, with the prevalence of cLBP at about 23%. Clinically available analgesic/adjuvant medications often provide inadequate pain relief in patients experiencing cLBP. Hence, the urgency for discovery of effective and better tolerated medications. Fourteen days after the induction of five shallow annular punctures (5X) in the lumbar intervertebral discs at L4/L5 and L5/L6 in male Sprague-Dawley rats, mechanical hyperalgesia was fully developed in the lumbar axial deep tissues at L4/L5 (primary) and L1 (secondary). Importantly, mechanical allodynia in the hindpaws was absent. From day 28, we assessed the face validity of our mild to moderate LBP-5X rat model using four clinically available analgesic/adjuvant drugs, namely gabapentin, morphine, meloxicam and amitriptyline relative to vehicle. Additionally, the anti-hyperalgesic effects of J-2156, a highly selective small molecule somatostatin type 4 receptor agonist was assessed. Single i.p. bolus doses of gabapentin and meloxicam at the highest doses tested (100 and 30 mg/kg, respectively) alleviated secondary hyperalgesia (L1) but not primary hyperalgesia (L4/5). Morphine at 1 mg/kg alleviated both primary and secondary hyperalgesia in these tissues, whereas amitriptyline at the doses tested, lacked efficacy. These findings attest to the face validity of our model. J-2156 at 10 and 30 mg/kg alleviated secondary hyperalgesia in the lumbar axial deep tissues at L1 with a non-significant trend for relief of primary hyperalgesia in the corresponding tissues at L4/L5 in these animals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1440-1681.13383DOI Listing
December 2020

Diminished Myoinositol in Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex Modulates the Endophenotype of Impulsivity.

Cereb Cortex 2020 05;30(5):3392-3402

Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK.

Maladaptive impulsivity manifests in a variety of disorders, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, and substance use disorder. However, the etiological mechanisms of impulsivity remain poorly understood. In the present study, we used in-vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) to investigate neurometabolite content in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and striatum of rats exhibiting low- versus high-impulsive (LI, HI) behavior on a visual attentional task. We validated our 1H-MRS findings using regionally resolved ex-vivo mass spectroscopy, transcriptomics, and site-directed RNA interference in the ventromedial PFC. We report a significant reduction in myoinositol levels in the PFC but not the striatum of HI rats compared with LI rats. Reduced myoinositol content was localized to the infralimbic (IL) cortex, where significant reductions in transcript levels of key proteins involved in the synthesis and recycling of myoinositol (IMPase1) were also present. Knockdown of IMPase1in the IL cortex increased impulsivity in nonimpulsive rats when the demand on inhibitory response control was increased. We conclude that diminished myoinositol levels in ventromedial PFC causally mediate a specific form of impulsivity linked to vulnerability for stimulant addiction in rodents. Myoinositol and related signaling substrates may thus offer novel opportunities for treating neuropsychiatric disorders comorbid with impulsive symptomology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhz317DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7197196PMC
May 2020

Minimum Information in In Vivo Research.

Handb Exp Pharmacol 2020 ;257:197-222

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG, Biberach an der Riss, Germany.

Data quality, reproducibility and reliability are a matter of concern in many scientific fields including biomedical research. Robust, reproducible data and scientific rigour form the foundation on which future studies are built and determine the pace of knowledge gain and the time needed to develop new and innovative drugs that provide benefit to patients. Critical to the attainment of this is the precise and transparent reporting of data. In the current chapter, we will describe literature highlighting factors that constitute the minimum information that is needed to be included in the reporting of in vivo research. The main part of the chapter will focus on the minimum information that is essential for reporting in a scientific publication. In addition, we will present a table distinguishing information necessary to be recorded in a laboratory notebook or another form of internal protocols versus information that should be reported in a paper. We will use examples from the behavioural literature, in vivo studies where the use of anaesthetics and analgesics are used and finally ex vivo studies including histological evaluations and biochemical assays.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/164_2019_285DOI Listing
March 2020

Transcriptomic characterisation of the optimised rat model of Walker 256 breast cancer cell-induced bone pain.

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 2019 12 15;46(12):1201-1215. Epub 2019 Sep 15.

Faculty of Medicine, School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

In patients with breast cancer, metastases of cancer cells to the axial skeleton may cause excruciating pain, particularly in the advanced stages. The current drug treatments available to alleviate this debilitating pain condition often lack efficacy and/or produce undesirable side effects. Preclinical animal models of cancer-induced bone pain are key to studying the mechanisms that cause this pain and for the success of drug discovery programs. In a previous study conducted in our laboratory, we validated and characterised the rat model of Walker 256 cell-induced bone pain, which displayed several key resemblances to the human pain condition. However, gene level changes that occur in the pathophysiology of cancer-induced bone pain in this preclinical model are unknown. Hence, in this study, we performed the transcriptomic characterisation of the Walker 256 cell line cultured in vitro to predict the molecular genetic profile of this cell line. We also performed transcriptomic characterisation of the Walker 256 cell-induced bone pain model in rats using the lumbar spinal cord and lumbar dorsal root ganglia tissues. Here we show that the Walker 256 cell line resembles the basal-B molecular subtype of human breast cancer cell lines. We also identify several genes that may underpin the progression of pain hypersensitivities in this condition, however, this needs further confirmatory studies. These transcriptomic insights have the potential to direct future studies aimed at identifying various mechanisms underpinning pain hypersensitivities in this model that may also assist in discovery of novel pain therapeutics for breast cancer-induced bone pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1440-1681.13165DOI Listing
December 2019

J-2156, a somatostatin receptor type 4 agonist, alleviates mechanical hyperalgesia in a rat model of chronic low back pain.

Biomed Pharmacother 2019 Sep 7;117:109056. Epub 2019 Jun 7.

School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Level 3, Steele Building, St Lucia Campus, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. Electronic address:

Chronic low back pain (LBP) ranks among the most common reasons for patient visits to healthcare providers. Drug treatments often provide only partial pain relief and are associated with considerable side-effects. J-2156 [(1'S,2S)-4amino-N-(1'-carbamoyl-2'-phenylethyl)-2-(4"-methyl-1"-naphthalenesulfonylamino)butanamide] is an agonist that binds with nanomolar affinity to the rat and human somatostatin receptor type 4 (SST receptor). Hence, our aim was to assess the efficacy of J-2156 for relief of chronic mechanical LBP in a rat model. Male Sprague Dawley rats were anaesthetised and their lumbar L4/L5 and L5/L6 intervertebral discs (IVDs) were punctured (0.5 mm outer diameter, 2 mm-deep) 10 times per disc. Sham-rats underwent similar surgery, but without disc puncture. For LBP-rats, noxious pressure hyperalgesia developed in the lumbar axial deep tissues from day 7 to day 21 post-surgery, which was maintained until study completion. Importantly, mechanical hyperalgesia did not develop in the lumbar axial deep tissues of sham-rats. In LBP-rats, single intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of J-2156 (3, 10, 30 mg kg) alleviated primary and secondary hyperalgesia in the lumbar axial deep tissues at L4/L5 and L1, respectively. This was accompanied by a reduction in the otherwise augmented lumbar (L4-L6) dorsal root ganglia expression levels of the pro-nociceptive mediators: phosphorylated p38 (pp38) mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphorylated p44/p42 MAPK and a reduction in pp38 MAPK in the lumbar enlargement of the spinal cord. The SST receptor is worthy of further investigation as a target for discovery of novel analgesics for the relief of chronic LBP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2019.109056DOI Listing
September 2019

Establishment and characterisation of a stavudine (d4T)-induced rat model of antiretroviral toxic neuropathy (ATN) using behavioural and pharmacological methods.

Inflammopharmacology 2019 Apr 1;27(2):387-396. Epub 2019 Jan 1.

Centre for Integrated Preclinical Drug Development, School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus, Brisbane, QLD, 4072, Australia.

Human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) associated sensory neuropathy (SN) is a frequent complication of HIV infection. It is extremely difficult to alleviate and hence the quality of life of affected individuals is severely and adversely impacted. Stavudine (d4T) is an antiretroviral drug that was widely used globally prior to 2010 and that is still used today in resource-limited settings. Its low cost and relatively good efficacy when included in antiretroviral dosing regimens means that there is a large population of patients with d4T-induced antiretroviral toxic neuropathy (ATN). As there are no FDA approved drugs for alleviating ATN, it is important to establish rodent models to probe the pathobiology and to identify potentially efficacious new drug treatments. In the model establishment phase, d4T administered intravenously at a cumulative dose of 375 mg/kg in male Wistar Han rats evoked temporal development of sustained mechanical allodynia in the hindpaws from day 10 to day 30 after initiation of d4T treatment. As this d4T dosing regimen was also well tolerated, it was used for ATN model induction for subsequent pharmacological profiling. Both gabapentin at 30-100 mg/kg and morphine at 0.3-2 mg/kg given subcutaneously produced dose-dependent relief of mechanical allodynia with estimated ED's of 19 mg/kg and 0.4 mg/kg, respectively. In contrast, intraperitoneal administration of meloxicam or amitriptyline up to 30 mg/kg and 7 mg/kg, respectively, lacked efficacy. Our rat model of ATN is suitable for investigation of the pathophysiology of d4T-induced SN as well as for profiling novel molecules from analgesic drug discovery programs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10787-018-00551-8DOI Listing
April 2019

The research domain criteria framework in drug discovery for neuropsychiatric diseases: focus on negative valence.

Brain Neurosci Adv 2018 Jan-Dec;2:2398212818804030. Epub 2018 Nov 7.

CNS Diseases Research, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG, Biberach an der Riss, Germany.

Drug discovery, particularly in the field of central nervous system, has had very limited success in the last few decades. A likely contributor is the poor translation between preclinical and clinical phases. The Research Domain Criteria of the National Institutes of Mental Health is a framework which aims to identify new ways of classifying mental illnesses that are based on observable behaviour and neurobiological measures, and to provide a guiding and evolving framework to improve the translation from preclinical to clinical research. At the core of the Research Domain Criteria approach is the assumption that the dimensional constructs described can be assessed across different units of analysis, thus enabling a more precise quantitative understanding of their neurobiological underpinnings, increasing the likelihood of identifying new and effective therapeutic approaches. In the present review, we discuss how the Research Domain Criteria can be applied to drug discovery with the domain Negative Valence, construct Potential Threat ('Anxiety') as an example. We will discuss the evidence supporting the utility of the Research Domain Criteria approach and evaluate how close we are to achieving a common thread of translational research from gene to self-report.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2398212818804030DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7058263PMC
November 2018

The Somatostatin Receptor-4 Agonist J-2156 Alleviates Mechanical Hypersensitivity in a Rat Model of Breast Cancer Induced Bone Pain.

Front Pharmacol 2018 15;9:495. Epub 2018 May 15.

Faculty of Medicine, School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

In the majority of patients with breast cancer in the advanced stages, skeletal metastases are common, which may cause excruciating pain. Currently available drug treatments for relief of breast cancer-induced bone pain (BCIBP) include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and strong opioid analgesics along with inhibitors of osteoclast activity such as bisphosphonates and monoclonal antibodies such as denosumab. However, these medications often lack efficacy and/or they may produce serious dose-limiting side effects. In the present study, we show that J-2156, a somatostatin receptor type 4 (SST4 receptor) selective agonist, reverses pain-like behaviors in a rat model of BCIBP induced by unilateral intra-tibial injection of Walker 256 breast cancer cells. Following intraperitoneal administration, the ED of J-2156 for the relief of mechanical allodynia and mechanical hyperalgesia in the ipsilateral hindpaws was 3.7 and 8.0 mg/kg, respectively. Importantly, the vast majority of somatosensory neurons in the dorsal root ganglia including small diameter C-fibers and medium-large diameter fibers, that play a crucial role in cancer pain hypersensitivities, expressed the SST4 receptor. J-2156 mediated pain relief in BCIBP-rats was confirmed by observations of a reduction in the levels of phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (pERK), a protein essential for central sensitization and persistent pain, in the spinal dorsal horn. Our results demonstrate the potential of the SST4 receptor as a pharmacological target for relief of BCIBP and we anticipate the present work to be a starting point for further mechanism-based studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.00495DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5962878PMC
May 2018

Comparative analgesic efficacy of pregabalin administered according to either a prevention protocol or an intervention protocol in rats with cisplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy.

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 2018 10 28;45(10):1067-1075. Epub 2018 Jun 28.

School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a type of peripheral neuropathic pain that may be dose-limiting in patients administered potentially curative cancer chemotherapy dosing regimens. In cancer survivors, persistent CIPN adversely affects patient quality of life and so adjuvant drugs (anticonvulsants eg pregabalin or antidepressants eg amitriptyline) are recommended for the relief of CIPN. However, most studies in rodent models of CIPN involve administration of single bolus doses of adjuvant drugs to assess pain-relieving efficacy. Hence this study was designed to assess the efficacy of pregabalin administered to CIPN-rats according to either a prevention or an intervention protocol. Groups of male Sprague-Dawley rats received four single intraperitoneal bolus doses of cisplatin at 3 mg/kg at once-weekly intervals to induce CIPN. For the prevention protocol, oral pregabalin (or vehicle) was administered to CIPN-rats once-daily for 21 consecutive days from day 0 to day 20 inclusive. For the intervention protocol, oral pregabalin was administered once-daily for 21 consecutive days from day 28 to day 48, inclusive. Mechanical allodynia and mechanical hyperalgesia in the bilateral hindpaws were assessed just prior to each dose of cisplatin and at least once weekly until study completion (day 27, prevention protocol; or day 48, intervention protocol). Mechanical allodynia and mechanical hyperalgesia were also determined at the time of peak effect at about 2 hours post pregabalin/vehicle administration, once weekly until study completion. For the prevention protocol in CIPN-rats, pregabalin alleviated mechanical hyperalgesia but not mechanical allodynia. For the intervention protocol, pregabalin alleviated both mechanical allodynia and mechanical hyperalgesia in the hindpaws.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1440-1681.12971DOI Listing
October 2018

Establishment and Characterization of a Novel Rat Model of Mechanical Low Back Pain Using Behavioral, Pharmacologic and Histologic Methods.

Front Pharmacol 2017 27;8:493. Epub 2017 Jul 27.

Centre for Integrated Preclinical Drug Development, The University of Queensland, BrisbaneQLD, Australia.

Chronic low back pain (LBP), the leading cause of disability globally, is notoriously difficult to treat. Most rodent models of LBP mimic lumbar radicular pain rather than mechanical LBP. Here, we describe establishment of a new rat model of mechanical LBP that is devoid of a neuropathic component. Groups of adult male Sprague Dawley rats were anesthetized and their lumbar L4/L5 and L5/L6 intervertebral disks (IVDs) were punctured (0.5 mm outer diameter, 2mm-deep) 5 (LPB-5X), or 10 (LBP-10X) times per disk. Sham-rats underwent similar surgery, but without disk puncture. Baseline noxious pressure hyperalgesia of lumbar axial deep tissues, mechanical allodynia in the hindpaws and gait were assessed prior to surgery and once-weekly until study completion on day 49. The model was also characterized using pharmacologic and histologic methods. Good animal health was maintained for ≥ 49 days post-surgery. For LBP- but not sham-rats, there was temporal development of noxious pressure hyperalgesia in lumbar axial deep tissues at days 14-49 post-surgery. Importantly, there were no between-group differences in von Frey paw withdrawal thresholds or gait parameters until study completion. On day 49, significant histologic changes were observed in the L4/L5 and L5/L6 IVDs for LBP-10X rats, but not sham-rats. In LBP-10X rats, single bolus doses of morphine produced dose-dependent relief of primary and secondary mechanical hyperalgesia in lumbar axial deep tissues at L4/L5 and L1, respectively. In conclusion, our new rat model has considerable potential for providing novel insight on the pathobiology of mechanical LBP and for analgesic efficacy assessment of novel compounds.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2017.00493DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5529395PMC
July 2017

Selective and interactive effects of D receptor antagonism and positive allosteric mGluR4 modulation on waiting impulsivity.

Neuropharmacology 2017 Sep 6;123:249-260. Epub 2017 May 6.

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG, Div. Research Germany, Birkendorfer Strasse 65, 88397 Biberach an der Riss, Germany. Electronic address:

Background: Metabotropic glutamate receptor 4 (mGluR4) and dopamine D receptors are specifically expressed within the indirect pathway neurons of the striato-pallidal-subthalamic pathway. This unique expression profile suggests that mGluR4 and D receptors may play a cooperative role in the regulation and inhibitory control of behaviour. We investigated this possibility by testing the effects of a functionally-characterised positive allosteric mGluR4 modulator, 4-((E)-styryl)-pyrimidin-2-ylamine (Cpd11), both alone and in combination with the D receptor antagonist eticlopride, on two distinct forms of impulsivity.

Methods: Rats were trained on the five-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT) of sustained visual attention and segregated according to low, mid, and high levels of motor impulsivity (LI, MI and HI, respectively), with unscreened rats used as an additional control group. A separate group of rats was trained on a delay discounting task (DDT) to assess choice impulsivity.

Results: Systemic administration of Cpd11 dose-dependently increased motor impulsivity and impaired attentional accuracy on the 5-CSRTT in all groups tested. Eticlopride selectively attenuated the increase in impulsivity induced by Cpd11, but not the accompanying attentional impairment, at doses that had no significant effect on behavioural performance when administered alone. Cpd11 also decreased choice impulsivity on the DDT (i.e. increased preference for the large, delayed reward) and decreased locomotor activity.

Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that mGluR4s, in conjunction with D receptors, affect motor- and choice-based measures of impulsivity, and therefore may be novel targets to modulate impulsive behaviour associated with a number of neuropsychiatric syndromes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2017.05.006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5522528PMC
September 2017

Comparison of Burrowing and Stimuli-Evoked Pain Behaviors as End-Points in Rat Models of Inflammatory Pain and Peripheral Neuropathic Pain.

Front Behav Neurosci 2016 10;10:88. Epub 2016 May 10.

Centre for Integrated Preclinical Drug Development, The University of QueenslandBrisbane, QLD, Australia; School of Pharmacy, The University of Queensland, St Lucia CampusBrisbane, QLD, Australia.

Establishment and validation of ethologically-relevant, non-evoked behavioral end-points as surrogate measures of spontaneous pain in rodent pain models has been proposed as a means to improve preclinical to clinical research translation in the pain field. Here, we compared the utility of burrowing behavior with hypersensitivity to applied mechanical stimuli for pain assessment in rat models of chronic inflammatory and peripheral neuropathic pain. Briefly, groups of male Sprague-Dawley rats were habituated to the burrowing environment and trained over a 5-day period. Rats that burrowed ≤ 450 g of gravel on any 2 days of the individual training phase were excluded from the study. The remaining rats received either a unilateral intraplantar injection of Freund's complete adjuvant (FCA) or saline, or underwent unilateral chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve- or sham-surgery. Baseline burrowing behavior and evoked pain behaviors were assessed prior to model induction, and twice-weekly until study completion on day 14. For FCA- and CCI-rats, but not the corresponding groups of sham-rats, evoked mechanical hypersensitivity developed in a temporal manner in the ipsilateral hindpaws. Although burrowing behavior also decreased in a temporal manner for both FCA-and CCI- rats, there was considerable inter-animal variability. By contrast, mechanical hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia in the ipsilateral hindpaws of FCA- and CCI-rats respectively, exhibited minimal inter-animal variability. Our data collectively show that burrowing behavior is altered in rodent models of chronic inflammatory pain and peripheral neuropathic pain. However, large group sizes are needed to ensure studies are adequately powered due to considerable inter-animal variability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00088DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4862327PMC
May 2016

Dissociable effects of mGluR5 allosteric modulation on distinct forms of impulsivity in rats: interaction with NMDA receptor antagonism.

Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2015 Sep 12;232(18):3327-44. Epub 2015 Jun 12.

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG, Div. Research Germany, Birkendorfer Strasse 65, 88397, Biberach an der Riss, Germany.

Rationale: Impaired N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor signalling underlies several psychiatric disorders that express high levels of impulsivity. Although synergistic interactions exist between NMDA receptors and metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5), the significance of this interaction for impulsivity is unknown.

Objective: This study aims to investigate the effects of negative and positive allosteric mGluR5 modulation (NAM/PAM) on trait impulsivity and impulsivity evoked by NMDA receptor antagonism in rats.

Methods: Motor and choice impulsivity were assessed using the five-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT) and delayed-discounting task (DDT), respectively. The effects of RO4917523 and 3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl)ethynyl]pyridine (MTEP) (NAMs) and ADX47273 (PAM) were investigated in non-impulsive rats and in trait high- and low-impulsive rats. The effects of these compounds on impulsivity induced by NMDA receptor antagonism (MK801) in the 5-CSRTT were also investigated.

Results: RO4917523 (0.1-1 mg/kg) decreased premature responding and increased omissions but had no effect on locomotor activity up to 0.1 mg/kg. MTEP significantly increased omissions, decreased accuracy and slowed responding but had no effect on premature responding. ADX47273 decreased premature responding at doses that had no effect on locomotor activity. MK801 increased premature responding and impaired attentional accuracy; these deficits were dose dependently rescued by ADX47273 pre-treatment. Allosteric modulation of mGluR5 had no significant effect on choice impulsivity, nor did it modulate general task performance.

Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that mGluR5 allosteric modulation selectively dissociates motor and choice impulsivity. We further show that mGluR5 PAMs may have therapeutic utility in selectively targeting specific aspects of impulsivity and executive dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00213-015-3984-0DOI Listing
September 2015

Antibodies against the melanocortin-4 receptor act as inverse agonists in vitro and in vivo.

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 2007 Jun 22;292(6):R2151-8. Epub 2007 Feb 22.

Applied Pharmacology, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.

Functionally active antibodies (Abs) against central G-protein-coupled receptors have not yet been reported. We selected the hypothalamic melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4-R) as a target because of its crucial role in the regulation of energy homeostasis. A 15 amino acid sequence of the N-terminal (NT) domain was used as an antigen. This peptide showed functional activity in surface plasmon resonance experiments and in studies on HEK-293 cells overexpressing the human MC4-R (hMC4-R). Rats immunized against the NT peptide produced specific antibodies, which were purified and characterized in vitro. In HEK-293 cells, rat anti-NT Abs showed specific immunofluorescence labeling of hMC4-R. They reduced the production of cAMP under basal conditions and after stimulation with a synthetic MC4-R agonist. Rats immunized against the NT peptide developed a phenotype consistent with MC4-R blockade, that is, increased food intake and body weight, increased liver and fat pad weight, and elevated plasma triglycerides. In a separate experiment in rats, an increase in food intake could be produced after injection of purified Abs into the third ventricle. Similar results were obtained in rats injected with anti-NT Abs raised in rabbits. Our data show for the first time that active immunization of rats against the NT sequence of the MC4-R results in specific Abs, which appear to stimulate food intake by acting as inverse agonists in the hypothalamus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.00878.2006DOI Listing
June 2007

Insufficient sleep reversibly alters bidirectional synaptic plasticity and NMDA receptor function.

J Neurosci 2006 Nov;26(48):12456-65

Department of Pharmacology and Neurobiology, Biozentrum, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland.

Insufficient sleep impairs cognitive functions in humans and animals. However, whether long-term synaptic plasticity, a cellular substrate of learning and memory, is compromised by sleep loss per se remains unclear because of confounding factors related to sleep deprivation (SD) procedures in rodents. Using an ex vivo approach in C57BL/6J mice, we show that sleep loss rapidly and reversibly alters bidirectional synaptic plasticity in the CA1 area of the hippocampus. A brief (approximately 4 h) total SD, respecting the temporal parameters of sleep regulation and maintaining unaltered low corticosterone levels, shifted the modification threshold for long-term depression/long-term potentiation (LTP) along the stimulation frequency axis (1-100 Hz) toward the right. Reducing exposure to sensory stimuli by whisker trimming did not affect the SD-induced changes in synaptic plasticity. Recovery sleep reversed the effects induced by SD. When SD was combined with moderate stress, LTP induction was not only impaired but also occluded. Both electrophysiological analysis and immunoblotting of purified synaptosomes revealed that an alteration in the molecular composition of synaptically activated NMDA receptors toward a greater NR2A/NR2B ratio accompanied the effects of SD. This change was reversed after recovery sleep. By using an unparalleled, particularly mild form of SD, this study describes a novel approach toward dissociating the consequences of insufficient sleep on synaptic plasticity from nonspecific effects accompanying SD in rodents. We establish a framework for cellular models of cognitive impairment related to sleep loss, a major problem in modern society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2702-06.2006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6674891PMC
November 2006

The obesity epidemic: current and future pharmacological treatments.

Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol 2007 ;47:565-92

Applied Pharmacology, Biozentrum/Pharmazentrum, University of Basel, CH 4056 Basel, Switzerland.

The unabated rise in the prevalence of obesity is a challenge for global health care systems. Efforts to reverse this trend by dietary or behavioral counseling have not been successful, which has stimulated efforts to find a role for pharmacotherapy. Currently only a small number of antiobesity drugs are approved for long-term use and only a few compounds are in clinical development. Despite recent progress in the understanding of the regulation of energy balance, drug discovery has been less productive than expected. In the present review, the clinically available antiobesity agents are discussed. Examples of drug candidates that are currently in development are given and the possible future range of antiobesity agents is illustrated by the targets being addressed in drug discovery. Finally, the efficacy of antiobesity agents and their value in the treatment of obesity are assessed in comparison with other therapeutic approaches, such as surgery and changes in lifestyle.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.47.120505.105256DOI Listing
April 2007

Peripheral administration of a melanocortin 4-receptor inverse agonist prevents loss of lean body mass in tumor-bearing mice.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2006 May 25;317(2):771-7. Epub 2006 Jan 25.

Applied Pharmacology, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 50, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland.

Cachexia affects many different chronically ill patient populations, including those with cancer. It results in loss of body weight, particularly of lean body mass (LBM), and is estimated to be responsible for over 20% of all cancer-related deaths. Currently, available drugs are ineffective, and new therapies are urgently needed. Melanocortin 4-receptor (MC4-R) blockade has been shown recently to be effective in preventing cancer cachexia in rodent models. In the present study, we have tested a MC4-R blocker, ML00253764 [2-{2-[2-(5-bromo-2-methoxyphenyl)-ethyl]-3-fluorophenyl}-4,5-dihydro-1H-imidazolium hydrochloride] (Vos et al., 2004), in vitro and in vivo. In membranes of human embryonic kidney 293 cells expressing human MC4-R, ML00253764 displaced [Nle(4), d-Phe(7)]-alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone binding with an IC(50) of 0.32 microM. At concentrations above 1 microM, ML00253764 decreased cAMP accumulation (maximal reduction of -20%) indicative of inverse agonist activity. ML00253764 was administered twice daily (15 mg/kg s.c.) for 13 days to C57BL6 mice bearing s.c. Lewis lung carcinoma tumors. Food intake and body weight were measured, and body composition was assessed using magnetic resonance relaxometry. ML00253764 stimulated light-phase food intake relative to vehicle-treated controls (p < 0.05), although no effect was observed on 24-h food intake. During the 21 days of the experiment, the LBM of tumor vehicle-treated mice decreased (p < 0.05). In contrast, the tumor-bearing mice treated with ML00253764 maintained their LBM. These data support the view that MC4-R blockade may be a suitable approach for the treatment of cancer cachexia and that MC4-R inverse agonists may have potential as drug candidates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/jpet.105.097725DOI Listing
May 2006

Cardiovascular responses to melanocortin 4-receptor stimulation in conscious unrestrained normotensive rats.

Peptides 2006 Feb 7;27(2):438-43. Epub 2005 Nov 7.

Chair for Applied Pharmacology, Biozentrum/Pharmazentrum, University of Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 50-70, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland.

In the present studies, we used a non-selective melanocortin MC3/4 receptor agonist (HP228) and a novel selective melanocortin MC4 receptor (MC4-R) agonist (MK-cpd1) to study the cardiovascular, temperature, locomotor and feeding responses to melanocortin receptor stimulation in comparison to sibutramine in rats instrumented with a telemetry transmitter. Moreover, norepinephrine turnover rates in heart and brown adipose tissue were determined. HP228 (1, 3 and 10mg/kg, i.p.) reduced 24h food intake dose-dependently and increased heart rate and mean arterial pressure (maximal differences: +60+/-8beats/min and +8+/-1mmHg, means+/-S.E.M., p<0.001 and p<0.01, respectively). After 10mg/kg HP228 showed a three-fold increase in norepinephrine turnover in the heart. The selective MC4-R agonist MK-cpd1 tended to decrease 24h food intake only at the highest dose tested (10mg/kg, i.p., p=0.06) and increased both heart rate (+17+/-4 and +22+/-5beats/min at 3 and 10mg/kg, p<0.01) and mean arterial pressure (+4+/-1mmHg at 10mg/kg, p<0.05). Sibutramine reduced food intake at all doses tested (1, 3 and 10mg/kg, i.p.). It did not change mean arterial pressure significantly, and increased heart rate only at the highest dose tested (+36+/-6beats/min, p<0.05). If also observed in humans, the pharmacological profile of MC4-R agonists would not offer a significant therapeutic advantage over currently used appetite suppressants such as sibutramine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.peptides.2005.01.026DOI Listing
February 2006