Publications by authors named "Luc Ver Donck"

25 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Passive immunotherapy with a novel antibody against 3pE-modified Aβ demonstrates potential for enhanced efficacy and favorable safety in combination with BACE inhibitor treatment in plaque-depositing mice.

Neurobiol Dis 2021 Apr 10:105365. Epub 2021 Apr 10.

Department of Neuroscience, Janssen Research & Development, A division of Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Beerse, Belgium. Electronic address:

The imbalance between production and clearance of amyloid β (Aβ) peptides and their resulting accumulation in the brain is an early and crucial step in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Therefore, Aβ is strongly positioned as a promising and extensively validated therapeutic target for AD. Investigational disease-modifying approaches aiming at reducing cerebral Aβ concentrations include prevention of de novo production of Aβ through inhibition of β-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1), and clearance of Aβ deposits via passive Aβ immunotherapy. We have developed a novel, high affinity antibody against Aβ peptides bearing a pyroglutamate residue at amino acid position 3 (3pE), an Aβ species abundantly present in plaque deposits in AD brains. Here, we describe the preclinical characterization of this antibody, and demonstrate a significant reduction in amyloid burden in the absence of microhemorrhages in different mouse models with established plaque deposition. Moreover, we combined antibody treatment with chronic BACE1 inhibitor treatment and demonstrate significant clearance of pre-existing amyloid deposits in transgenic mouse brain, without induction of microhemorrhages and other histopathological findings. Together, these data confirm significant potential for the 3pE-specific antibody to be developed as a passive immunotherapy approach that balances efficacy and safety. Moreover, our studies suggest further enhanced treatment efficacy and favorable safety after combination of the 3pE-specific antibody with BACE1 inhibitor treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nbd.2021.105365DOI Listing
April 2021

Neuro-metabolite profiles of rodent models of psychiatric dysfunctions characterised by MR spectroscopy.

Neuropharmacology 2019 03 23;146:109-116. Epub 2018 Nov 23.

Singapore Bioimaging Consortium, Agency for Science, Technology & Research, Singapore. Electronic address:

Neuroimaging endophenotypes in animal models provide an objective and translationally-relevant alternative to cognitive/behavioral traits in human psychopathologies. Metabolic alterations, such as those involved in the glutamate-cycle, have been proposed to play a preponderant role in both depression and schizophrenia. Chronic Mild Unpredictable Stress (CMUS) and sub-chronic administration of NMDA receptor antagonist generate animal models of depression and schizophrenia, respectively. The models are based on etiologically-relevant factors related to the induction and support of these psychopathologies. To test metabolic alterations within the glutamate-cycle and in other major neurochemicals, single-voxel Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy was recorded within the hippocampus in both rat models and control animals. Surprisingly, altered glutamate-related metabolites were observed in the CMUS model, but not NMDA-based model, as indicated by decreased glutamine and increased GABA levels. However, both models presented elevated total visible choline and inositol levels relative to controls. These results indicate the presence cell membrane metabolic alterations and inflammatory processes shared in both models, comparable to evidence presented in schizophrenia and depression and other comparable animal models. These translationally-relevant biomarkers may thus form the basis for drug-development targets in both psychopathologies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2018.11.021DOI Listing
March 2019

Anti-Tau Monoclonal Antibodies Derived from Soluble and Filamentous Tau Show Diverse Functional Properties in vitro and in vivo.

J Alzheimers Dis 2018 ;65(1):265-281

Neuroscience Department, Janssen Research and Development, Beerse, Belgium.

The tau spreading hypothesis provides rationale for passive immunization with an anti-tau monoclonal antibody to block seeding by extracellular tau aggregates as a disease-modifying strategy for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and potentially other tauopathies. As the biochemical and biophysical properties of the tau species responsible for the spatio-temporal sequences of seeding events are poorly defined, it is not yet clear which epitope is preferred for obtaining optimal therapeutic efficacy. Our internal tau antibody collection has been generated by immunizations with different tau species: aggregated- and non-aggregated tau and human postmortem AD brain-derived tau fibrils. In this communication, we describe and characterize a set of these anti-tau antibodies for their biochemical and biophysical properties, including binding, tissue staining by immunohistochemistry, and epitope. The antibodies bound to different domains of the tau protein and some were demonstrated to be isoform-selective (PT18 and hTau56) or phospho-selective (PT84). Evaluation of the antibodies in cellular- and in vivo seeding assays revealed clear differences in maximal efficacy. Limited proteolysis experiments support the hypothesis that some epitopes are more exposed than others in the tau seeds. Moreover, antibody efficacy seems to depend on the structural properties of fibrils purified from tau Tg mice- and postmortem human AD brain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-180404DOI Listing
July 2019

A Bayesian K-PD model for synergy: A case study.

Pharm Stat 2018 11 19;17(6):674-684. Epub 2018 Jul 19.

I-BioStat, Hasselt University, Agoralaan building D, Diepenbeek, B-3590, Belgium.

Coadministration of 2 or more compounds can alter both the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of individual compounds. While experiments on pharmacodynamic drug-drug interactions are usually performed in an in vitro setting, this experiment focuses on an in vivo setting. The change over time of a safety biomarker is modeled using an indirect response model, in which the virtual pharmacokinetic profile of one compound drives the effect of the other. Several experiments at different dose level combinations were performed sequentially. While a traditional frequentist analysis consists of estimating the model parameters based on all the data simultaneously, in this work, we consider a Bayesian inference framework allowing to incorporate the results from a historical dose-response experiment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pst.1887DOI Listing
November 2018

Selective inhibition of intestinal guanosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate signaling by small-molecule protein kinase inhibitors.

J Biol Chem 2018 05 13;293(21):8173-8181. Epub 2018 Apr 13.

Shire-Movetis NV, Veedijk 58, B-2300 Turnhout, Belgium.

The guanosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cGMP)-dependent protein kinase II (cGKII) serine/threonine kinase relays signaling through guanylyl cyclase C (GCC) to control intestinal fluid homeostasis. Here, we report the discovery of small-molecule inhibitors of cGKII. These inhibitors were imidazole-aminopyrimidines, which blocked recombinant human cGKII at submicromolar concentrations but exhibited comparatively little activity toward the phylogenetically related protein kinases cGKI and cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA). Whereas aminopyrimidyl motifs are common in protein kinase inhibitors, molecular modeling of these imidazole-aminopyrimidines in the ATP-binding pocket of cGKII indicated an unconventional binding mode that directs their amine substituent into a narrow pocket delineated by hydrophobic residues of the hinge and the αC-helix. Crucially, this set of residues included the Leu-530 gatekeeper, which is not conserved in cGKI and PKA. In intestinal organoids, these compounds blocked cGKII-dependent phosphorylation of the vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP). In mouse small intestinal tissue, cGKII inhibition significantly attenuated the anion secretory response provoked by the GCC-activating bacterial heat-stable toxin (STa), a frequent cause of infectious secretory diarrhea. In contrast, both PKA-dependent VASP phosphorylation and intestinal anion secretion were unaffected by treatment with these compounds, whereas experiments with T84 cells indicated that they weakly inhibit the activity of cAMP-hydrolyzing phosphodiesterases. As these protein kinase inhibitors are the first to display selective inhibition of cGKII, they may expedite research on cGMP signaling and may aid future development of therapeutics for managing diarrheal disease and other pathogenic syndromes that involve cGKII.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.RA118.002835DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5971447PMC
May 2018

Repeated daily administration of increasing doses of lipopolysaccharide provides a model of sustained inflammation-induced depressive-like behaviour in mice that is independent of the NLRP3 inflammasome.

Behav Brain Res 2018 10 29;352:99-108. Epub 2017 Jul 29.

Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, University of Bath, Bath, UK. Electronic address:

Mounting preclinical evidence has implicated the NLRP3 inflammasome in depression-related behaviours elicited by chronic stress or acute lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge. However, the relevance of acute LPS as a model of depression has been questioned and behavioural time-courses of its effects can be inconsistent. The aims of this study were (1) to develop a novel protocol for repeated daily LPS administration and (2) to use this model to assess the involvement of NLRP3 inflammasome signalling in sustained inflammation-induced depressive-like behaviour in adult C57BL/6J mice deficient in NLRP3. Acute LPS (0.83mg/kg; i.p.) induced sickness behaviour evident as hypolocomotor activity. However, there was no significant increase in depressive-like behaviour in the forced swim test 24h post-administration. Interestingly, depressive-like behaviours were observed in the female urine sniffing test and in the sucrose preference test at 24h, but not 48h, post-administration of acute LPS. To mimic a period of sustained inflammation, 3-day repeated increasing LPS doses (0.1, 0.42 and 0.83mg/kg; i.p.) was compared to constant LPS doses (0.83mg/kg; i.p.). Sickness behaviour was seen in response to increasing doses, but tolerance developed to repeated constant doses of LPS. Furthermore, 3-day increasing doses of LPS resulted in a significant increase in immobility time in the forced swim test, consistent with depressive-like behaviour. When NLRP3 mice received this 3-day increasing dose regimen of LPS, sickness behaviours were attenuated compared to wild-type mice. The behaviour in the forced swim test was not significantly altered in NLRP3 mice. We propose that this increasing repeated dosing LPS model of inflammation-induced depressive-like behaviour may better model the sustained inflammation observed in depression and may provide a more translationally relevant paradigm to study the inflammatory mechanisms that contribute to depression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2017.07.041DOI Listing
October 2018

1,3,5-Trisubstituted Pyrazoles as Potent Negative Allosteric Modulators of the mGlu Receptors.

ChemMedChem 2017 06 10;12(12):905-912. Epub 2017 Apr 10.

Neuroscience, Janssen Research & Development, Turnhoutseweg 30, 2340, Beerse, Belgium.

The metabotropic glutamate subtype 2 (mGlu ) receptor is a presynaptic membrane receptor distributed widely in brain that provides feedback inhibitory control of glutamate release. Inhibition of the mGlu receptor function with a negative allosteric modulator (NAM) enhances activity-dependent glutamate release, which may be of therapeutic benefit for the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders. An attractive pyrazole hit was identified after a high-throughput screening (HTS) campaign. The evolution of this hit is described by structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies on specific parts of the molecule. From near micromolar potency we could obtain compounds with single-digit nanomolar activity in the mGlu NAM GTPγS assay. In addition to SAR on in vitro potency, a more detailed overview is given with a specific set of compounds on the excellent agreement between in vitro potency, free brain concentration, and ex vivo mGlu receptor occupancy. Finally, to obtain improved drug-like compounds, plans for future research are suggested toward increasing free brain concentration while maintaining high in vitro potency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cmdc.201700101DOI Listing
June 2017

Systematic Analysis of the Cytokine and Anhedonia Response to Peripheral Lipopolysaccharide Administration in Rats.

Biomed Res Int 2016 18;2016:9085273. Epub 2016 Jul 18.

Neuroscience, Janssen Research & Development, Division of Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Turnhoutseweg 30, 2340 Beerse, Belgium.

Inflammatory processes may cause depression in subsets of vulnerable individuals. Inflammation-associated behavioral changes are commonly modelled in rodents by administration of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). However, the time frame in which immune activation and depressive-like behavior occur is not very clear. In this study, we showed that systemic administration of LPS robustly increased circulating levels of corticosterone, leptin, pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, and chemokines. Serum concentrations of most analytes peaked within the first 6 h after LPS injection and returned to baseline values by 24 h. Chemokine levels, however, remained elevated for up to 96 h. Using an optimized sucrose preference test (SPT) we showed that sickness behavior was present from 2 to 24 h. LPS-induced anhedonia, as measured by decreased sucrose preference, lasted up to 96 h. To mimic the human situation, where depression develops after chronic inflammation, rats were preexposed to repeated LPS administration or subchronic restraint stress and subsequently challenged with LPS. While these procedures did not increase the duration of anhedonia, our results do indicate that inflammation may cause depressive symptoms such as anhedonia. Using our SPT protocol, more elaborate rodent models can be developed to study the mechanisms underlying inflammation-associated depression in humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/9085273DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4967699PMC
February 2017

Discovery and Characterization of AMPA Receptor Modulators Selective for TARP-γ8.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2016 May 17;357(2):394-414. Epub 2016 Mar 17.

Janssen Research and Development, LLC, Neuroscience Therapeutic Area, San Diego, California (M.P.M., N.W., S.R., M.K.A., B.M.S., C.L., B.L., R.M.W., J.A.M., C.D., S.Y., A.D.W., N.I.C., T.W.L.); and Janssen Research and Development, a Division of Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Neuroscience Therapeutic Area, Beerse, Belgium (L.V.D., T.S.).

Members of the α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionic acid (AMPA) subtype of ionotropic glutamate receptors mediate the majority of fast synaptic transmission within the mammalian brain and spinal cord, representing attractive targets for therapeutic intervention. Here, we describe novel AMPA receptor modulators that require the presence of the accessory protein CACNG8, also known as transmembrane AMPA receptor regulatory protein γ8 (TARP-γ8). Using calcium flux, radioligand binding, and electrophysiological assays of wild-type and mutant forms of TARP-γ8, we demonstrate that these compounds possess a novel mechanism of action consistent with a partial disruption of the interaction between the TARP and the pore-forming subunit of the channel. One of the molecules, 5-[2-chloro-6-(trifluoromethoxy)phenyl]-1,3-dihydrobenzimidazol-2-one (JNJ-55511118), had excellent pharmacokinetic properties and achieved high receptor occupancy following oral administration. This molecule showed strong, dose-dependent inhibition of neurotransmission within the hippocampus, and a strong anticonvulsant effect. At high levels of receptor occupancy in rodent in vivo models, JNJ-55511118 showed a strong reduction in certain bands on electroencephalogram, transient hyperlocomotion, no motor impairment on rotarod, and a mild impairment in learning and memory. JNJ-55511118 is a novel tool for reversible AMPA receptor inhibition, particularly within the hippocampus, with potential therapeutic utility as an anticonvulsant or neuroprotectant. The existence of a molecule with this mechanism of action demonstrates the possibility of pharmacological targeting of accessory proteins, increasing the potential number of druggable targets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/jpet.115.231712DOI Listing
May 2016

Peripheral Administration of Tumor Necrosis Factor-Alpha Induces Neuroinflammation and Sickness but Not Depressive-Like Behavior in Mice.

Biomed Res Int 2015 28;2015:716920. Epub 2015 Jul 28.

Neurosciences, Janssen Research & Development, Division of Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Turnhoutseweg 30, 2340 Beerse, Belgium.

Clinical observations indicate that activation of the TNF-α system may contribute to the development of inflammation-associated depression. Here, we tested the hypothesis that systemic upregulation of TNF-α induces neuroinflammation and behavioral changes relevant to depression. We report that a single intraperitoneal injection of TNF-α in mice increased serum and brain levels of the proinflammatory mediators TNF-α, IL-6, and MCP-1, in a dose- and time-dependent manner, but not IL-1β. Protein levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 increased in serum but not in the brain. The transient release of immune molecules was followed by glial cell activation as indicated by increased astrocyte activation in bioluminescent Gfap-luc mice and elevated immunoreactivity against the microglial marker Iba1 in the dentate gyrus of TNF-α-challenged mice. Additionally, TNF-α-injected mice were evaluated in a panel of behavioral tests commonly used to study sickness and depressive-like behavior in rodents. Our behavioral data imply that systemic administration of TNF-α induces a strong sickness response characterized by reduced locomotor activity, decreased fluid intake, and body weight loss. Depressive-like behavior could not be separated from sickness at any of the time points studied. Together, these results demonstrate that peripheral TNF-α affects the central nervous system at a neuroimmune and behavioral level.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/716920DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4531164PMC
April 2016

Inhibition of Heat-Stable Toxin-Induced Intestinal Salt and Water Secretion by a Novel Class of Guanylyl Cyclase C Inhibitors.

J Infect Dis 2015 Dec 21;212(11):1806-15. Epub 2015 May 21.

Shire-Movetis NV, Turnhout.

Background: Many enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli strains produce the heat-stable toxin, STa, which, by activation of the intestinal receptor-enzyme guanylyl cyclase (GC) C, triggers an acute, watery diarrhea. We set out to identify GCC inhibitors that may be of benefit for the treatment of infectious diarrheal disease.

Methods: Compounds that inhibit STa-induced cyclic guanosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cGMP) production were selected by performing cyclase assays on cells and membranes containing GCC, or the related GCA. The effect of leads on STa/GCC-dependent activation of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator anion channel was investigated in T84 cells, and in porcine and human intestinal tissue. Their effect on STa-provoked fluid transport was assessed in ligated intestinal loops in piglets.

Results: Four N-2-(propylamino)-6-phenylpyrimidin-4-one-substituted piperidines were shown to inhibit GCC-mediated cellular cGMP production. The half maximal inhibitory concentrations were ≤ 5 × 10(-7) mol/L, whereas they were >10 times higher for GCA. In T84 monolayers, these leads blocked STa/GCC-dependent, but not forskolin/adenylyl cyclase-dependent, cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator activity. GCC inhibition reduced STa-provoked anion secretion in pig jejunal tissue, and fluid retention and cGMP levels in STa-exposed loops. These GCC inhibitors blocked STa-provoked anion secretion in rectal biopsy specimens.

Conclusions: We have identified a novel class of GCC inhibitors that may form the basis for development of future therapeutics for (infectious) diarrheal disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiv300DOI Listing
December 2015

Preclinical evaluation of the antipsychotic potential of the mGlu2-positive allosteric modulator JNJ-40411813.

Pharmacol Res Perspect 2015 Mar 30;3(2):e00097. Epub 2015 Jan 30.

Janssen Research & Development, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV Beerse, Belgium.

JNJ-40411813/ADX71149 (1-butyl-3-chloro-4-(4-phenylpiperidin-1-yl) pyridin-2(1H)-one) is a positive allosteric modulator (PAM) of the mGlu2 receptor, which also displays 5-Hydroxytryptamine (5HT2A) antagonism after administration in rodents due to a rodent-specific metabolite. JNJ-40411813 was compared with the orthosteric mGlu2/3 agonist LY404039 (4-amino-2-thiabicyclo [3.1.0] hexane-4,6-dicarboxylic acid 2,2-dioxide), the selective mGlu2 PAM JNJ-42153605 (3-(cyclopropylmethyl)-7-(4-phenylpiperidin-1-yl)-8-(trifluoromethyl)[1,2,4]triazolo[4,3-a]pyridine) and the 5HT2A antagonist ritanserin in rodent models for antipsychotic activity and potential side effects, attempting to differentiate between the various compounds and mechanisms of action. In mice, JNJ-40411813, JNJ-42153605, and LY404039 inhibited spontaneous locomotion and phencyclidine- and scopolamine-induced but not d-amphetamine-induced hyperlocomotion; the 5HT2A antagonist ritanserin inhibited only spontaneous locomotion and phencyclidine-induced hyperlocomotion. As measured by 2-deoxyglucose uptake, all compounds reversed memantine-induced brain activation in mice. The two mGlu2 PAMs and LY404039, but not ritanserin, inhibited conditioned avoidance behavior in rats. Like ritanserin, the mGlu2 ligands antagonized 2,5-dimethoxy-4-methylamphetamine-induced head twitches in rats. LY404039 but not the mGlu2 PAMs impaired rotarod performance in rats and increased the acoustic startle response in mice. Our results show that although 5HT2A antagonism has effect in some models, mGlu2 receptor activation is sufficient for activity in several animal models of antipsychotic activity. The mGlu2 PAMs mimicked the in vivo pharmacodynamic effects observed with LY404039 except for effects on the rotarod and acoustic startle, suggesting that they produce a primary activity profile similar to that of the mGlu2/3 receptor agonist while they can be differentiated based on their secondary activity profile. The results are discussed in light of clinical data available for some of these molecules, in particular JNJ-40411813.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/prp2.97DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4324682PMC
March 2015

Effect of stress and peripheral immune activation on astrocyte activation in transgenic bioluminescent Gfap-luc mice.

Glia 2015 Jul 17;63(7):1126-37. Epub 2015 Feb 17.

Biomedical Research Institute, Hasselt University, Agoralaan C Building, Diepenbeek, Belgium; Neurosciences, Janssen Research & Development, A Division of Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Beerse, Belgium.

Neuroinflammation and the accompanying activation of glial cells is an important feature of many neurodegenerative conditions. It is known that factors such as peripheral infections and stress can influence immune processes in the brain. However, the effect of these stressors on astrocyte activation in vivo remains elusive. In this study, transgenic Gfap-luc mice expressing the luciferase gene under the transcriptional control of the glial fibrillary acidic protein promoter were used to quantify the kinetics of in vivo astrocyte activation following immune challenges relevant to clinical inflammation. It was found that astrocytes respond rapidly to peripheral immune activation elicited by either bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or the viral mimetic polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly(I:C)). By measuring bioluminescence and 18-kDa translocator protein radioligand binding in the same animal it was observed that LPS induces both astrocyte as well as microglial activation at 6 h post-administration. Furthermore, the astrocyte response decreased upon repeated systemic LPS injections, indicating development of tolerance to the LPS challenge. Finally, restraining Gfap-luc mice for 1 h daily on 5 consecutive days did not affect brain bioluminescence, thereby indicating that sub-chronic stress does not influence astrocyte activation under unchallenged conditions. However, stressed animals showed a reduced response to a subsequent systemic LPS injection, suggesting that the immune system is compromised in these animals. Here, we demonstrate that Gfap-luc mice can be used to study astrocyte activation in response to stimuli relevant for clinical inflammation and that this approach may provide a more complete characterization of existing and novel models of neuroinflammation
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/glia.22804DOI Listing
July 2015

Intracerebral injection of preformed synthetic tau fibrils initiates widespread tauopathy and neuronal loss in the brains of tau transgenic mice.

Neurobiol Dis 2015 Jan 16;73:83-95. Epub 2014 Sep 16.

Department of Neuroscience, Janssen Research and Development, A Division of Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, B-2340 Beerse, Belgium. Electronic address:

Neurofibrillary tangles composed of hyperphosphorylated fibrillized tau are found in numerous tauopathies including Alzheimer's disease. Increasing evidence suggests that tau pathology can be transmitted from cell-to-cell; however the mechanisms involved in the initiation of tau fibrillization and spreading of disease linked to progression of tau pathology are poorly understood. We show here that intracerebral injections of preformed synthetic tau fibrils into the hippocampus or frontal cortex of young tau transgenic mice expressing mutant human P301L tau induces tau hyperphosphorylation and aggregation around the site of injection, as well as a time-dependent propagation of tau pathology to interconnected brain areas distant from the injection site. Furthermore, we show that the tau pathology as a consequence of injection of tau preformed fibrils into the hippocampus induces selective loss of CA1 neurons. Together, our data confirm previous studies on the seeded induction and the spreading of tau pathology in a different tau transgenic mouse model and reveals neuronal loss associated with seeded tau pathology in tau transgenic mouse brain. These results further validate the utility of the tau seeding model in studying disease transmission, and provide a more complete in vivo tauopathy model with associated neurodegeneration which can be used to investigate the mechanisms involved in tau aggregation and spreading, as well as aid in the search for disease modifying treatments for Alzheimer's disease and related tauopathies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nbd.2014.08.032DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4303592PMC
January 2015

Systemic immune activation leads to neuroinflammation and sickness behavior in mice.

Mediators Inflamm 2013 10;2013:271359. Epub 2013 Jul 10.

BIOMED, Hasselt University, Agoralaan C Building, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium ; Neuroscience, Janssen Research & Development, A Division of Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Turnhoutseweg 30, 2340 Beerse, Belgium.

Substantial evidence indicates an association between clinical depression and altered immune function. Systemic administration of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is commonly used to study inflammation-associated behavioral changes in rodents. In these experiments, we tested the hypothesis that peripheral immune activation leads to neuroinflammation and depressive-like behavior in mice. We report that systemic administration of LPS induced astrocyte activation in transgenic GFAP-luc mice and increased immunoreactivity against the microglial marker ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule 1 in the dentate gyrus of wild-type mice. Furthermore, LPS treatment caused a strong but transient increase in cytokine levels in the serum and brain. In addition to studying LPS-induced neuroinflammation, we tested whether sickness could be separated from depressive-like behavior by evaluating LPS-treated mice in a panel of behavioral paradigms. Our behavioral data indicate that systemic LPS administration caused sickness and mild depressive-like behavior. However, due to the overlapping time course and mild effects on depression-related behavior per se, it was not possible to separate sickness from depressive-like behavior in the present rodent model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/271359DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3723093PMC
February 2014

Inactivation of the constitutively active ghrelin receptor attenuates limbic seizure activity in rodents.

Neurotherapeutics 2012 Jul;9(3):658-72

Center for Neurosciences, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Drug Analysis and Drug Information, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Brussels, Belgium.

Ghrelin is a pleiotropic neuropeptide that has been recently implicated in epilepsy. Animal studies performed to date indicate that ghrelin has anticonvulsant properties; however, its mechanism of anticonvulsant action is unknown. Here we show that the anticonvulsant effects of ghrelin are mediated via the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR). To our surprise, however, we found that the GHSR knockout mice had a higher seizure threshold than their wild-type littermates when treated with pilocarpine. Using both in vivo and in vitro models, we further discovered that inverse agonism and desensitization/internalization of the GHSR attenuate limbic seizures in rats and epileptiform activity in hippocampal slices. This constitutes a novel mechanism of anticonvulsant action, whereby an endogenous agonist reduces the activity of a constitutively active receptor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13311-012-0125-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3441926PMC
July 2012

JNJ-26070109 [(R)4-bromo-N-[1-(2,4-difluoro-phenyl)-ethyl]-2-(quinoxaline-5-sulfonylamino)-benzamide]: a novel, potent, and selective cholecystokinin 2 receptor antagonist with good oral bioavailability.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2011 Jul 14;338(1):328-36. Epub 2011 Apr 14.

Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, LLC San Diego, California 92101, USA.

JNJ-26070109 [(R)4-bromo-N-[1-(2,4-difluoro-phenyl)-ethyl]-2-(quinoxaline-5-sulfonylamino)-benzamide] is a representative of a new chemical class of competitive antagonists of cholecystokinin 2 (CCK2) receptors. In this study, the primary in vitro pharmacology of JNJ-26070109 was evaluated along with the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of this compound in rat and canine models of gastric acid secretion. JNJ-26070109 expressed high affinity for human (pK(I) = 8.49 ± 0.13), rat (pK(I) = 7.99 ± 0.08), and dog (pK(I) = 7.70 ± 0.14) CCK2 receptors. The selectivity of JNJ-26070109 at the CCK2 receptor versus the CCK1 receptor was species-dependent, with the greatest degree of selectivity (>1200-fold) measured at the human isoforms of the CCK1 receptor (selectivity at CCK2 versus CCK1 receptors: human, ∼1222-fold; rat, ∼324-fold; dog ∼336-fold). JNJ-26070109 behaved as a surmountable, competitive, antagonist of human CCK2 receptors in a calcium mobilization assay (pK(B) = 8.53 ± 0.05) and in pentagastrin-stimulated gastric acid secretion in the isolated, lumen-perfused, mouse stomach assay (pK(B) = 8.19 ± 0.13). The pharmacokinetic profile of this compound was determined in vivo in rats and dogs. JNJ-26070109 was shown to have high oral bioavailability (%F rat = 73 ± 16; %F dog = 92 ± 12) with half lives of 1.8 ± 0.3 and 1.2 ± 0.1 h in rat and dog, respectively. The pharmacodynamic properties of this compound were investigated using two in vivo models. In conscious rat and dog chronic gastric fistula models of pentagastrin-stimulated acid secretion, JNJ-26070109 had oral EC(50) values of 1.5 and 0.26 μM, respectively. Overall, we have demonstrated that JNJ-26070109 is a high-affinity, selective CCK2 receptor antagonist with good pharmacokinetic properties.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/jpet.110.178483DOI Listing
July 2011

Origin and propagation of the slow wave in the canine stomach: the outlines of a gastric conduction system.

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2009 Jun 9;296(6):G1200-10. Epub 2009 Apr 9.

Dept. of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, P.O.Box 17666, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates University, United Arab Emirates.

Slow waves are known to originate orally in the stomach and to propagate toward the antrum, but the exact location of the pacemaker and the precise pattern of propagation have not yet been studied. Using assemblies of 240 extracellular electrodes, simultaneous recordings of electrical activity were made on the fundus, corpus, and antrum in open abdominal anesthetized dogs. The signals were analyzed off-line, pathways of slow wave propagation were reconstructed, and slow wave velocities and amplitudes were measured. The gastric pacemaker is located in the upper part of the fundus, along the greater curvature. Extracellularly recorded slow waves in the pacemaker area exhibited large amplitudes (1.8 +/- 1.0 mV) and rapid velocities (1.5 +/- 0.9 cm/s), whereas propagation in the remainder of the fundus and in the corpus was slow (0.5 +/- 0.2 cm/s) with low-amplitude waveforms (0.8 +/- 0.5 mV). In the antrum, slow wave propagation was fast (1.5 +/- 0.6 cm/s) with large amplitude deflections (2.0 +/- 1.3 mV). Two areas were identified where slow waves did not propagate, the first in the oral medial fundus and the second distal in the antrum. Finally, recordings from the entire ventral surface revealed the presence of three to five simultaneously propagating slow waves. High resolution mapping of the origin and propagation of the slow wave in the canine stomach revealed areas of high amplitude and rapid velocity, areas with fractionated low amplitude and low velocity, and areas with no propagation; all these components together constitute the elements of a gastric conduction system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpgi.90581.2008DOI Listing
June 2009

Focal activities and re-entrant propagations as mechanisms of gastric tachyarrhythmias.

Gastroenterology 2008 Nov 22;135(5):1601-11. Epub 2008 Jul 22.

Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.

Background & Aims: Gastric arrhythmias occur in humans and experimental animals either spontaneously or induced by drugs or diseases. However, there is no information regarding the origin or the propagation patterns of the slow waves that underlie such arrhythmias.

Methods: To elucidate this, simultaneous recordings were made on the antrum and the distal corpus during tachygastrias in open abdominal anesthetized dogs using a 240 extracellular electrode assembly. After the recordings, the signals were analyzed, and the origin and path of slow wave propagations were reconstructed.

Results: Several types of arrhythmias could be distinguished, including (1) premature slow waves (25% of the arrhythmias), (2) single aberrant slow waves (4%), (3) bursts (18%), (4) regular tachygastria (11%), and (5) irregular tachygastria (10%). During regular tachygastria, rapid, regular slow waves emerged from the distal antrum or the greater curvature, whereas, during irregular tachygastria, numerous variations occurred in the direction of propagation, conduction blocks, focal activity, and re-entry. In 12 cases, the arrhythmia was initiated in the recorded area. In each case, after a normal propagating slow wave, a local premature slow wave occurred in the antrum. These premature slow waves propagated in various directions, often describing a single or a double loop that re-entered several times, thereby initiating additional slow waves.

Conclusions: Gastric arrhythmias resemble those in the heart and share many common features such as focal origin, re-entry, circular propagation, conduction blocks, and fibrillation-like behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2008.07.020DOI Listing
November 2008

Role of ghrelin in the relationship between hyperphagia and accelerated gastric emptying in diabetic mice.

Gastroenterology 2008 Oct 25;135(4):1267-76. Epub 2008 Jun 25.

Centre for Gastroenterological Research, Catholic University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Background & Aims: Ghrelin is an orexigenic peptide with gastroprokinetic effects. Mice with streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes exhibit hyperphagia, altered gastric emptying, and increased plasma ghrelin levels. We investigated the causative role of ghrelin herein by comparing changes in ghrelin receptor knockout (growth hormone secretagogue receptor [GHS-R](-/-)) and wild-type (GHS-R(+/+)) mice with STZ-induced diabetes.

Methods: Gastric emptying was measured with the [(13)C]octanoic acid breath test. The messenger RNA (mRNA) expression of neuropeptide Y (NPY), agouti-related peptide (AgRP), and proopiomelanocortin was quantified by real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. Neural contractions were elicited by electrical field stimulation in fundic smooth muscle strips.

Results: Diabetes increased plasma ghrelin levels to a similar extent in both genotypes. Hyperphagia was more pronounced in GHS-R(+/+) than in GHS-R(-/-) mice between days 12 and 21. Increases in NPY and AgRP mRNA expression were less pronounced in diabetic GHS-R(-/-) than in GHS-R(+/+) mice from day 15 on, whereas decreases in proopiomelanocortin mRNA levels were similar in both genotypes. Gastric emptying was accelerated to a similar extent in both genotypes, starting on day 16. In fundic smooth muscle strips of diabetic GHS-R(+/+) and GHS-R(-/-) mice, neuronal relaxations were reduced, whereas contractions were increased; this increase was related to an increased affinity of muscarinic and tachykinergic receptors.

Conclusions: Diabetic hyperphagia is regulated by central mechanisms in which the ghrelin-signaling pathway affects the expression of NPY and AgRP in the hypothalamus. The acceleration of gastric emptying, which is not affected by ghrelin signaling, is not the cause of diabetic hyperphagia and probably involves local contractility changes in the fundus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2008.06.044DOI Listing
October 2008

Obestatin induction of early-response gene expression in gastrointestinal and adipose tissues and the mediatory role of G protein-coupled receptor, GPR39.

Mol Endocrinol 2008 Jun 12;22(6):1464-75. Epub 2008 Mar 12.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

Obestatin was identified as a brain/gut peptide hormone encoded by the ghrelin gene and found to interact with the G protein-coupled receptor, GPR39. We investigated target cells for obestatin based on induction of an early-response gene c-fos in different tissues. After ip injection of obestatin, c-fos staining was found in the nuclei of gastric mucosa, intestinal villi, white adipose tissues, hepatic cords, and kidney tubules. Immunohistochemical analyses using GPR39 antibodies further revealed cytoplasmic staining in these tissues. In cultured 3T3-L1 cells, treatment with obestatin, but not motilin, induced c-fos expression. In these preadipocytes, treatment with obestatin also stimulated ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Because phenotypes of GPR39 null mice are partially consistent with a role of GPR39 in mediating obestatin actions, we hypothesized that inconsistencies on the binding of iodinated obestatin to GPR39 are due to variations in the bioactivity of iodinated obestatin. We obtained monoiodoobestatin after HPLC purification and demonstrated its binding to jejunum, stomach, ileum, pituitary, and white adipose tissue. Furthermore, human embryonic kidney 293T cells transfected with plasmids encoding human or mouse GPR39 or a human GPR39 isoform, but not the ghrelin receptor, exhibited high-affinity binding to monoiodoobestatin. Binding studies using jejunum homogenates and recombinant GPR39 revealed obestatin-specific displacement curves. Furthermore, treatment with obestatin induced c-fos expression in gastric mucosa of wild-type, but not GPR39 null, mice, underscoring a mediating role of this receptor in obestatin actions. The present findings indicate that obestatin is a metabolic hormone capable of binding to GPR39 to regulate the functions of diverse gastrointestinal and adipose tissues.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/me.2007-0569DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5419543PMC
June 2008

Altered gastrointestinal and metabolic function in the GPR39-obestatin receptor-knockout mouse.

Gastroenterology 2006 Oct;131(4):1131-41

Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, a Division of Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Turnhoutseweg 30, 2340 Beerse, Belgium.

Background & Aims: The G-protein-coupled receptor GPR39 is a member of a family that includes the receptors for ghrelin and motilin. Recently the peptide obestatin was identified as a natural ligand for GPR39. The objective of this study was to gain insight into the biological function of the GPR39 receptor.

Methods: GPR39(-/-) mice were generated and analyzed.

Results: Endogenous GPR39 expression was detected in the brain (septum-amygdala) and the gastrointestinal system (parietal cells, enterocytes, neurons, and pancreas). Gastric emptying of a solid meal (measured by the (14)C octanoic breath test) in GPR39(-/-) mice was accelerated significantly with a gastric half-emptying time of 49.5 +/- 2.2 minutes compared with 86.9 +/- 8.4 minutes in GPR39(+/+) mice. A more effective expulsion of distally located pellets (30%-75% of length) was observed in the colon of GPR39(-/-) mice. Four hours after pylorus ligation, the volume of gastric secretion was increased significantly (GPR39(-/-): 638 +/- 336 microL; GPR39(+/+): 225 +/- 170 microL), but gastric acid secretion was unchanged. The mature body weight and body fat composition of GPR39(-/-) mice was significantly higher compared with GPR39(+/+) mice, but this was not related to hyperphagia because 24-hour food intake did not differ between both genotypes. In contrast, deficiency of the GPR39 receptor led to reduced hyperphagia after fasting. The cholesterol levels were increased significantly in the GPR39(-/-) mice.

Conclusions: Our data partially confirm and extend the described in vivo effects of obestatin and suggest that this peptide plays a functional role in the regulation of gastrointestinal and metabolic function through interaction with the GPR39 receptor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2006.07.009DOI Listing
October 2006

Peripheral pacemakers and patterns of slow wave propagation in the canine small intestine in vivo.

Can J Physiol Pharmacol 2005 Nov;83(11):1031-43

Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.

In an anesthetized, open-abdomen, canine model, the propagation pattern of the slow wave and its direction, velocity, amplitude, and frequency were investigated in the small intestine of 8 dogs. Electrical recordings were made using a 240-electrode array from 5 different sites, spanning the length of the small intestine. The majority of slow waves propagated uniformly and aborally (84%). In several cases, however, other patterns were found including propagation in the oral direction (11%) and propagation block (2%). In addition, in 69 cases (3%), a slow wave was initiated at a local site beneath the electrode array. Such peripheral pacemakers were found throughout the entire intestine. The frequency, velocity, and amplitude of slow waves were highest in the duodenum and gradually declined along the intestine reaching lowest values in the distal ileum (from 17.4+/-1.7 c/min to 12.2+/-0.7 c/min; 10.5+/-2.4 cm/s to 0.8+/-0.2 cm/s, and 1.20+/-0.35 mV to 0.31+/-0.10 mV, respectively; all p<0.001). Consequently, the wavelength of the slow wave was strongly reduced from 36.4+/-0.8 cm to 3.7 +/- 0.1 cm (p<0.001). We conclude that the patterns of slow wave propagation are usually, though not always, uniform in the canine small intestine and that the gradient in the wavelength will influence the patterns of local contractions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/y05-084DOI Listing
November 2005

Subtractive hybridization unravels a role for the ion cotransporter NKCC1 in the murine intestinal pacemaker.

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2006 Jun 25;290(6):G1219-27. Epub 2005 Aug 25.

Laboratoire de Neurophysiology, Faculté de Médecine, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium.

In the small intestine, interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) surrounding the myenteric plexus generate the pacemaking slow waves that are essential for an efficient intestinal transit. The underlying molecular mechanisms of the slow wave are poorly known. Our aim was to identify ICC-specific genes and their function in the mouse jejunum. Suppression subtractive hybridization using two independent ICC-deficient mouse models identified 56 genes putatively downregulated in the muscularis propria compared with wild-type littermates. Differential expression was confirmed by real-time quantitative PCR for the tyrosine kinase receptor KIT, the established marker for ICC, and for the Na(+)-K(+)-2Cl(-) cotransporter (NKCC1). Immunoreactivity for NKCC1 was detected in myenteric ICC but not in the ICC population located at the deep muscular plexus. NKCC1 was also expressed in enteric neurons and mucosal crypts. Bumetanide, an NKCC1 inhibitor, reversibly affected the shape, amplitude, and frequency of the slow waves. Similar alterations were observed in NKCC1 knockout mice. These data support the hypothesis that NKCC1 expressed in myenteric ICC is involved in the mechanism of slow waves in the murine jejunum.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpgi.00032.2005DOI Listing
June 2006

Longitudinal and circumferential spike patches in the canine small intestine in vivo.

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2003 Nov 3;285(5):G1014-27. Epub 2003 Jul 3.

Dept. of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, P. O. Box 17666, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.

In an open-abdominal anesthetized and fasted canine model of the intact small intestine, the presence, location, shape, and frequency of spike patches were investigated. Recordings were performed with a 240-electrode array (24 x 10, 2-mm interelectrode distance) from several sites sequentially, spanning the whole length of the small intestine. All 240 electrograms were recorded simultaneously during periods of 5 min and were analyzed to reconstruct the origin and propagation of individual spikes. At every level in the small intestine, spikes propagated in all directions before stopping abruptly, thereby activating a circumscribed area termed a "patch." Two types of spikes were found: longitudinal spikes, which propagated predominantly in the longitudinal direction and occurred most often in the duodenum, and a second type, circumferential spikes, which propagated predominantly in the circular direction and occurred much more frequently in the jejunum and ileum. Circumferential spikes conducted faster than longitudinal spikes (17 +/- 6 and 7 +/- 2 cm/s, respectively; P < 0.001). Circumferential spikes originated in >90% of all cases from the antimesenteric border, whereas longitudinal spikes were initiated all around the circumference of the intestinal tube. Finally, the spatial sequence of spike patches after the slow wave was very irregular in the upper part of the intestine but much more regular in the lower part. In conclusion, spikes and spike patches occur throughout the small intestine, whereas their type, sites of origin, extent of propagation, and frequencies of occurrence differ along the length of the small intestine, suggesting differences in local patterns of motility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpgi.00138.2003DOI Listing
November 2003