Publications by authors named "Manuj Ahuja"

21 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Challenges and Limitations of Targeting the Keap1-Nrf2 Pathway for Neurotherapeutics: Bach1 De-Repression to the Rescue.

Front Aging Neurosci 2021 8;13:673205. Epub 2021 Apr 8.

Darby Children's Research Institute, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, United States.

The Keap1-Nrf2 signaling axis is a validated and promising target for cellular defense and survival pathways. This minireview discusses the potential off-target effects and their impact on future drug development originating from Keap1-targeting small molecules that function as displacement activators of the redox-sensitive transcription factor Nrf2. We argue that small-molecule displacement activators, similarly to electrophiles, will release both Nrf2 and other Keap1 client proteins from the ubiquitin ligase complex. This non-specificity is likely unavoidable and may result in off-target effects during Nrf2 activation by targeting Keap1. The small molecule displacement activators may also target Kelch domains in proteins other than Keap1, causing additional off-target effects unless designed to ensure specificity for the Kelch domain only in Keap1. A potentially promising and alternative therapeutic approach to overcome this non-specificity emerging from targeting Keap1 is to inhibit the Nrf2 repressor Bach1 for constitutive activation of the Nrf2 pathway and bypass the Keap1-Nrf2 complex.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2021.673205DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8060438PMC
April 2021

An Emerging Role of miRNAs in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Mechanisms and Perspectives on .

Antioxid Redox Signal 2021 Feb 15. Epub 2021 Feb 15.

Darby Children's Research Institute, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA.

Advancements in and access to health care have led to unprecedented improvements in the quality of life and increased lifespan of human beings in the past century. However, aging is a significant risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases (NDs). Hence, improved life expectancy has led to an increased incidence of NDs. Despite intense research, effective treatments for NDs remain elusive. The future of neurotherapeutics development depends on effective disease modification strategies centered on carefully scrutinized targets. As a promising new direction, recent evidence has demonstrated that epigenetic processes modify diverse biochemical pathways, including those related to NDs. Small non-coding RNAs, known as microRNAs (miRNAs), are components of the epigenetic system that alter the expression of target genes at the post-transcriptional level. miRNAs are expressed abundantly in the central nervous system and are critical for the normal functioning and survival of neurons. Here, we review recent advances in elucidating miRNAs' roles in NDs and discuss their potential as therapeutic targets. In particular, neuroinflammation is a major pathological hallmark of NDs and is a crucial regulator of inflammation. Finally, we explore the possibilities of developing as a potential biomarker and therapeutic target where additional research may help facilitate the detection and amelioration of neuroinflammation in NDs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/ars.2020.8256DOI Listing
February 2021

Crosstalk between Nrf2 signaling and mitochondrial function in Parkinson's disease.

Mol Cell Neurosci 2019 12 20;101:103413. Epub 2019 Oct 20.

Darby Research Institute, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, United States of America; Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, United States of America; Department of Neuroscience, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, United States of America; Department of Drug Discovery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, United States of America. Electronic address:

Search for a definitive cure for neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's disease (PD) has met with little success. Mitochondrial dysfunction and elevated oxidative stress precede characteristic loss of dopamine-producing neurons from the midbrain in PD. The majority of PD cases are classified as sporadic (sPD) with an unknown etiology, whereas mutations in a handful of genes cause monogenic form called familial (fPD). Both sPD and fPD is characterized by proteinopathy and mitochondrial dysfunction leading to increased oxidative stress. These pathophysiological mechanisms create a vicious cycle feeding into each other, ultimately tipping the neurons to its demise. Effect of iron accumulation and dopamine oxidation adds an additional dimension to mitochondrial oxidative stress and apoptotic pathways affected. Nrf2 is a redox-sensitive transcription factor which regulates basal as well as inducible expression of antioxidant enzymes and proteins involved in xenobiotic detoxification. Recent advances, however, shows a multifaceted role for Nrf2 in the regulation of genes connected with inflammatory response, metabolic pathways, protein homeostasis, iron management, and mitochondrial bioenergetics. Here we review the role of mitochondria and oxidative stress in the PD etiology and the potential crosstalk between Nrf2 signaling and mitochondrial function in PD. We also make a case for the development of therapeutics that safely activates Nrf2 pathway in halting the progression of neurodegeneration in PD patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mcn.2019.103413DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6981291PMC
December 2019

Benfotiamine treatment activates the Nrf2/ARE pathway and is neuroprotective in a transgenic mouse model of tauopathy.

Hum Mol Genet 2018 08;27(16):2874-2892

Brain and Mind Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, NY 10065, USA.

Impaired glucose metabolism, decreased levels of thiamine and its phosphate esters, and reduced activity of thiamine-dependent enzymes, such as pyruvate dehydrogenase, alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase and transketolase occur in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Thiamine deficiency exacerbates amyloid beta (Aβ) deposition, tau hyperphosphorylation and oxidative stress. Benfotiamine (BFT) rescued cognitive deficits and reduced Aβ burden in amyloid precursor protein (APP)/PS1 mice. In this study, we examined whether BFT confers neuroprotection against tau phosphorylation and the generation of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) in the P301S mouse model of tauopathy. Chronic dietary treatment with BFT increased lifespan, improved behavior, reduced glycated tau, decreased NFTs and prevented death of motor neurons. BFT administration significantly ameliorated mitochondrial dysfunction and attenuated oxidative damage and inflammation. We found that BFT and its metabolites (but not thiamine) trigger the expression of Nrf2/antioxidant response element (ARE)-dependent genes in mouse brain as well as in wild-type but not Nrf2-deficient fibroblasts. Active metabolites were more potent in activating the Nrf2 target genes than the parent molecule BFT. Docking studies showed that BFT and its metabolites (but not thiamine) bind to Keap1 with high affinity. These findings demonstrate that BFT activates the Nrf2/ARE pathway and is a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of diseases with tau pathology, such as AD, frontotemporal dementia and progressive supranuclear palsy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddy201DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6077804PMC
August 2018

Hsp90 Co-chaperone p23 contributes to dopaminergic mitochondrial stress via stabilization of PHD2: Implications for Parkinson's disease.

Neurotoxicology 2018 03 20;65:166-173. Epub 2018 Feb 20.

Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Novato, CA, 94945, United States. Electronic address:

The heat shock factor 90 (hsp90) complex has long been associated with neuropathological phenotypes linked to Parkinson's disease (PD) and its inhibition is neuroprotective in disease models. Hsp90 is conventionally believed to act by suppressing induction of hsp70. Here, we report a novel hsp70-independent mechanism by which Hsp90 may also contribute to PD-associated neuropathology. We previously reported that inhibition of the enzyme prolyl hydroxylase domain 2 (PHD2) in conjunction with increases in hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF1α) results in protection of vulnerable dopaminergic substantia nigra pars compacta (DAergic SNpc) neurons in in vitro and in vivo models of PD. We discovered an increased interaction between PHD2 and the p23:Hsp90 chaperone complex in response to mitochondrial stress elicited by the mitochondrial neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridine (MPP) within cultured DAergic cells. Genetic p23 knockdown was found to result in decreases in steady-state PHD2 protein and activity and reduced susceptibility to MPP neurotoxicity. Administration of the p23 inhibitor gedunin was also neuroprotective in these cells as well as in human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neurons. Our data suggests that mitochondrial stress-mediated elevations in PHD2 interaction with the p23-hsp90 complex have detrimental effects on the survival of DAergic neurons, while p23 inhibition is neuroprotective. We propose that neurotoxic effects are tied to enhanced PHD2 stabilization by the hsp90-p23 chaperone complex that is abrogated by p23 inhibition. This demonstrates a novel connection between two independent pathways previously linked to PD, hsp90 and PHD2-HIF1α, which could have important implications for here-to-fore unexplored mechanisms underlying PD neuropathology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuro.2018.02.012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5857252PMC
March 2018

Activation of Nrf2 and Hypoxic Adaptive Response Contribute to Neuroprotection Elicited by Phenylhydroxamic Acid Selective HDAC6 Inhibitors.

ACS Chem Neurosci 2018 05 17;9(5):894-900. Epub 2018 Jan 17.

D. Rogachev Federal Scientific and Clinical Centre of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Immunology , Samora Mashela 1 , Moscow 117997 , Russian Federation.

Activation of HIF-1α and Nrf2 is a primary component of cellular response to oxidative stress, and activation of HIF-1α and Nrf2 provides neuroprotection in models of neurodegenerative disorders, including ischemic stroke, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Screening a library of CNS-targeted drugs using novel reporters for HIF-1α and Nrf2 elevation in neuronal cells revealed histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors as potential activators of these pathways. We report the identification of phenylhydroxamates as single agents exhibiting tripartite inhibition of HDAC6, inhibition of HIF-1 prolyl hydroxylase (PHD), and activation of Nrf2. Two superior tripartite agents, ING-6 and ING-66, showed neuroprotection against various cellular insults, associated with stabilization of both Nrf2 and HIF-1, and expression of their respective target genes in vitro and in vivo. Discovery of the innate ability of phenylhydroxamate HDAC inhibitors to activate Nrf2 and HIF provides a novel route to multifunctional neuroprotective agents and cautions against HDAC6 selective inhibitors as chemical probes of specific HDAC isoform function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acschemneuro.7b00435DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5955769PMC
May 2018

L-ascorbic acid: A true substrate for HIF prolyl hydroxylase?

Biochimie 2018 Apr 28;147:46-54. Epub 2017 Dec 28.

Department of Chemical Enzymology, Faculty of Chemistry, M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, 119992, Russian Federation; Bach Institute of Biochemistry, Research Center of Biotechnology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 33, bld. 2 Leninsky Ave., Moscow 119071, Russian Federation; Innovations and High Technologies MSU Ltd, Tsymlyanskaya, 16, of 96, Moscow, 109599, Russian Federation.

L-Ascorbate (L-Asc), but not D-isoascorbate (D-Asc) and N-acetylcysteine (NAC) suppress HIF1 ODD-luc reporter activation induced by various inhibitors of HIF prolyl hydroxylase (PHD). The efficiency of suppression by L-Asc was sensitive to the nature of HIF PHD inhibitor chosen for reporter activation. In particular, the inhibitors developed to compete with alpha-ketoglutarate (αKG), were less sensitive to suppression by the physiological range of L-Asc (40-100 μM) than those having a strong iron chelation motif. Challenging those HIF activators in the reporter system with D-Asc demonstrated that the D-isomer, despite exhibiting the same reducing potency with respect to ferric iron, had almost no effect compared to L-Asc. Similarly, no effect on reporter activation was observed with cell-permeable reducing agent NAC up to 1 mM. Docking of L-Asc and D-Asc acid into the HIF PHD2 crystal structure showed interference of Tyr310 with respect to D-Asc. This suggests that L-Asc is not merely a reducing agent preventing enzyme inactivation. Rather, the overall results identify L-Asc as a co-substrate of HIF PHD that may compete for the binding site of αKG in the enzyme active center. This conclusion is in agreement with the results obtained recently in cell-based systems for TET enzymes and jumonji histone demethylases, where L-Asc has been proposed to act as a co-substrate and not as a reducing agent preventing enzyme inactivation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biochi.2017.12.011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6460286PMC
April 2018

Immunological alteration & toxic molecular inductions leading to cognitive impairment & neurotoxicity in transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.

Life Sci 2017 May 9;177:49-59. Epub 2017 Mar 9.

Department of Drug Discovery and Development, Harrison School of Pharmacy (HSOP), Auburn University, AL 36849, USA. Electronic address:

Aims: Inflammation is considered to be one of the crucial pathological factors associated with the development of Alzheimer's disease, although supportive experimental evidence remains undiscovered. Therefore, the current study was carried out to better understand and establish the pathophysiological involvement of chronic inflammation in a double transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.

Main Methods: We analyzed amyloid-beta deposition, oxidative stress, biochemical, neurochemical and immunological markers in a 10month old (APΔE9) mouse model. Memory functions were assessed by behavioral testing followed by measurement of synaptic plasticity via extracellular field recordings.

Key Findings: Substantial increases in amyloid-beta levels, beta-secretase activity, and oxidative stress, along with significant neurochemical alterations in glutamate and GABA levels were detected in the brain of APΔE9 mice. Interestingly, marked elevations of pro-inflammatory cytokines in whole brain lysate of APΔE9 mice were observed. Flow cytometric analysis revealed a higher frequency of CD4+ IL-17a and IFN-γ secreting T-cells in APΔE9 brain, indicating a robust T-cell infiltration and activation. Behavioral deficits in learning and memory tasks, along with impairment in long-term potentiation and associated biochemical changes in the expression of glutamatergic receptor subunits were evident.

Significance: Thus, this study establishes the role by which oxidative stress, alterations in glutamate and GABA levels and inflammation increases hippocampal and cortical neurotoxicity resulting in the cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer's disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2017.03.004DOI Listing
May 2017

Distinct Nrf2 Signaling Mechanisms of Fumaric Acid Esters and Their Role in Neuroprotection against 1-Methyl-4-Phenyl-1,2,3,6-Tetrahydropyridine-Induced Experimental Parkinson's-Like Disease.

J Neurosci 2016 06;36(23):6332-51

Departments of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Neurology,

Unlabelled: A promising approach to neurotherapeutics involves activating the nuclear-factor-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)/antioxidant response element signaling, which regulates expression of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cytoprotective genes. Tecfidera, a putative Nrf2 activator, is an oral formulation of dimethylfumarate (DMF) used to treat multiple sclerosis. We compared the effects of DMF and its bioactive metabolite monomethylfumarate (MMF) on Nrf2 signaling and their ability to block 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-induced experimental Parkinson's disease (PD). We show that in vitro DMF and MMF activate the Nrf2 pathway via S-alkylation of the Nrf2 inhibitor Keap1 and by causing nuclear exit of the Nrf2 repressor Bach1. Nrf2 activation by DMF but not MMF was associated with depletion of glutathione, decreased cell viability, and inhibition of mitochondrial oxygen consumption and glycolysis rates in a dose-dependent manner, whereas MMF increased these activities in vitro However, both DMF and MMF upregulated mitochondrial biogenesis in vitro in an Nrf2-dependent manner. Despite the in vitro differences, both DMF and MMF exerted similar neuroprotective effects and blocked MPTP neurotoxicity in wild-type but not in Nrf2 null mice. Our data suggest that DMF and MMF exhibit neuroprotective effects against MPTP neurotoxicity because of their distinct Nrf2-mediated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and mitochondrial functional/biogenetic effects, but MMF does so without depleting glutathione and inhibiting mitochondrial and glycolytic functions. Given that oxidative damage, neuroinflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction are all implicated in PD pathogenesis, our results provide preclinical evidence for the development of MMF rather than DMF as a novel PD therapeutic.

Significance Statement: Almost two centuries since its first description by James Parkinson, Parkinson's disease (PD) remains an incurable disease with limited symptomatic treatment. The current study provides preclinical evidence that a Food and Drug Administration-approved drug, dimethylfumarate (DMF), and its metabolite monomethylfumarate (MMF) can block nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurodegeneration in a 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine mouse model of PD. We elucidated mechanisms by which DMF and its active metabolite MMF activates the redox-sensitive transcription factor nuclear-factor-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) to upregulate antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, mitochondrial biosynthetic and cytoprotective genes to render neuroprotection via distinct S-alkylating properties and depletion of glutathione. Our data suggest that targeting Nrf2-mediated gene transcription using MMF rather than DMF is a promising approach to block oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction for therapeutic intervention in PD while minimizing side effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0426-16.2016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4899530PMC
June 2016

Methamphetamine-induced dopaminergic toxicity prevented owing to the neuroprotective effects of salicylic acid.

Life Sci 2016 Jun 27;154:24-9. Epub 2016 Feb 27.

Department of Drug Discovery and Development, Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA. Electronic address:

Aims: Methamphetamine (Schedule-II drug, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) is one of the most abused illicit drug following cocaine, marijuana, and heroin in the USA. There are numerous health impairments and substantial economic burden caused by methamphetamine abuse. Salicylic acid, potent anti-inflammatory drug and a known neuroprotectant has shown to protect against toxicity-induced by other dopaminergic neurotoxins. Hence, in this study we investigated the neuroprotective effects of salicylic acid against methamphetamine-induced toxicity in mice.

Main Methods: The current study investigated the effects of sodium salicylate and/or methamphetamine on oxidative stress, monoamine oxidase, mitochondrial complex I & IV activities using spectrophotometric and fluorimetric methods. Behavioral analysis evaluated the effect on movement disorders-induced by methamphetamine. Monoaminergic neurotransmitter levels were evaluated using high pressure liquid chromatography-electrochemical detection.

Key Findings: Methamphetamine caused significant generation of reactive oxygen species and decreased complex-I activity leading to dopamine depletion. Striatal dopamine depletion led to significant behavioral changes associated with movement disorders. Sodium salicylate (50 & 100mg/kg) significantly scavenged reactive oxygen species, blocked mitochondrial dysfunction and exhibited neuroprotection against methamphetamine-induced neurotoxicity. In addition, sodium salicylate significantly blocked methamphetamine-induced behavioral changes related to movement abnormalities.

Significance: One of the leading causative theories in nigral degeneration associated with movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease is exposure to stimulants, drugs of abuse, insecticide and pesticides. These neurotoxic substances can induce dopaminergic neuronal insult by oxidative stress, apoptosis, mitochondrial dysfunction and inflammation. Salicylic acid due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects could provide neuroprotection against the stimulants or drugs of abuse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2016.02.072DOI Listing
June 2016

Central activation of PPAR-gamma ameliorates diabetes induced cognitive dysfunction and improves BDNF expression.

Neurobiol Aging 2015 Mar 2;36(3):1451-61. Epub 2014 Oct 2.

Department of Drug Discovery and Development, Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA. Electronic address:

Diabetes and Alzheimer's disease share pathologic links toward cognitive deficits. Pharmacologic agonist of the nuclear receptor, peroxisomal proliferator-activating receptor gamma (PPARγ), that is, rosiglitazone (rosi), are insulin sensitizing agents that improve memory in Alzheimer's disease. However, direct molecular signaling targets that improve memory by PPARγ in the hippocampus have not been investigated. We compared outcomes from oral versus intracerebroventricular (ICV) administration of rosi on memory and changes in synaptic plasticity in type 2 diabetic (db/db) mice. Db/db mice treated with rosi (ICV) showed significant improvement in memory, long-term potentiation, and post-tetanic potentiation but did not improve peripheral insulin sensitivity. Gene and protein analysis revealed increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in db/db mice treated with rosi (ICV). Transcriptional activation of exon IX as determined by luciferase assays confirmed PPARγ regulation of BDNF promoter activity. Transient transfection of constitutively active PPARγ plasmid in hippocampal neuronal cells induced increased BDNF, AMPA, and NMDA receptors expression and spine formation. Findings from the present study implicate a novel PPARγ-BDNF molecular signaling mechanism as a potential therapeutic target for cognitive impairment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2014.09.028DOI Listing
March 2015

Elucidating the neurotoxic effects of MDMA and its analogs.

Life Sci 2014 Apr 19;101(1-2):37-42. Epub 2014 Feb 19.

Department of Pharmacal Sciences, Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA. Electronic address:

Aims: There is a rapid increase in the use of methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and its structural congeners/analogs globally. MDMA and MDMA-analogs have been synthesized illegally in furtive dwellings and are abused due to its addictive potential. Furthermore, MDMA and MDMA-analogs have shown to have induced several adverse effects. Hence, understanding the mechanisms mediating this neurotoxic insult of MDMA-analogs is of immense importance for the public health in the world.

Main Methods: We synthesized and investigated the neurotoxic effects of MDMA and its analogs [4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), 2, 6-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDMA), and N-ethyl-3, 4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDEA)]. The stimulatory or the dopaminergic agonist effects of MDMA and MDMA-analogs were elucidated using the established 6-hydroxydopamine lesioned animal model. Additionally, we also investigated the neurotoxic mechanisms of MDMA and MDMA-analogs on mitochondrial complex-I activity and reactive oxygen species generation.

Key Findings: MDMA and MDMA-analogs exhibited stimulatory activity as compared to amphetamines and also induced several behavioral changes in the rodents. MDMA and MDMA-analogs enhanced the reactive oxygen generation and inhibited mitochondrial complex-I activity which can lead to neurodegeneration. Hence the mechanism of neurotoxicity, MDMA and MDMA-analogs can enhance the release of monoamines, alter the monoaminergic neurotransmission, and augment oxidative stress and mitochondrial abnormalities leading to neurotoxicity.

Significance: Thus, our study will help in developing effective pharmacological and therapeutic approaches for the treatment of MDMA and MDMA-analog abuse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2014.02.010DOI Listing
April 2014

Bisphenol A regulation of testicular endocrine function in male rats is affected by diet.

Toxicol Lett 2014 Mar 26;225(3):479-87. Epub 2014 Jan 26.

Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology, Auburn AL 36849, United States. Electronic address:

There is concern that early-life exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) may alter developmental programming and predispose individuals to obesity and reproductive anomalies. The present study was designed to determine if a high fat diet at sexual maturation moderates testicular toxicity occasioned by exposure to BPA during reproductive development. Therefore, male rats were exposed to BPA by maternal gavage (0, 2.5 or 25 μg/kg body weight/day) from gestational day 12 to postnatal day 21. At weaning, control and BPA-exposed animals were placed on a regular normal fat diet (NFD) until 70 days of age when they were continued on the NFD or were maintained on a high fat diet (HFD) until euthanasia at 98 days. Adult male rats maintained on HFD were generally heavier than NFD animals due to greater energy intake but energy intake per unit body weight gain was similar in all animals. However, perinatal exposure to BPA decreased (P<0.05) serum adiponectin as well as adiponectin and AdipoR2 protein expression levels in Leydig cells. Importantly, the combination of BPA exposure and HFD consumption promoted lipid peroxidation evidenced by elevated serum thiobarbituric acid reactive substances and glutathione concentrations. These findings imply that interaction between BPA and HFD potentially causes testicular dysfunction to a greater degree than would be due to BPA exposure or HFD consumption. Given the relationship that exists between energy homeostasis and reproductive activity, additional studies are warranted to investigate the consequences of BPA-diet interactions on testicular function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.toxlet.2014.01.024DOI Listing
March 2014

Evaluation of differential cytotoxic effects of the oil spill dispersant Corexit 9500.

Life Sci 2014 Jan 17;95(2):108-17. Epub 2013 Dec 17.

Department of Pharmacal Sciences, Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA. Electronic address:

Aims: The British Petroleum (BP) oil spill has raised several ecological and health concerns. As the first response, BP used a chemical dispersant, Corexit-9500, to disperse the crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico to limit shoreline contamination problems. Nevertheless, portions of this oil/Corexit mixture reached the shoreline and still remain in various Gulf shore environments. The use of Corexit itself has become a significant concern since its impacts on human health and environment is unclear.

Main Methods: In this study, in vitro cytotoxic effects of Corexit were evaluated using different mammalian cells.

Key Findings: Under serum free conditions, the LC50 value for Corexit in BL16/BL6 cell was 16 ppm, in 1321N1 cell was 33 ppm, in H19-7 cell was 70 ppm, in HEK293 was 93 ppm, and in HK-2 cell was 95 ppm. With regard to the mechanisms of cytotoxicity, we hypothesize that Corexit can possibly induce cytotoxicity in mammalian cells by altering the intracellular oxidative balance and inhibiting mitochondrial functions. Corexit induced increased reactive oxygen species and lipid peroxide levels; also, it depleted glutathione content and altered catalase activity in H19-7 cells. In addition, there was mitochondrial complex-I inhibition and increase in the pro-apoptotic factors including caspase-3 and BAX expression.

Significance: The experimental results show changes in intracellular oxidative radicals leading to mitochondrial dysfunctions and apoptosis in Corexit treatments, possibly contributing to cell death. Our findings raise concerns about using large volumes of Corexit, a potential environmental toxin, in sensitive ocean environments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2013.12.010DOI Listing
January 2014

Anti-oxidative and DNA protecting effects of flavonoids-rich Scutellaria lateriflora.

Nat Prod Commun 2013 Oct;8(10):1415-8

Department of Pharmacal Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, USA.

Scutellaria lateriflora (American skullcap), a native plant of North America, has been used by Americans and Europeans as a nerve tonic for more than 200 years. In vivo studies have shown anxiolytic activity ofS. lateriflora in animals and humans. However, the neuroprotective mechanisms ofS. lateriflora are not fully understood. Oxidative stress plays a vital role in the neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases such as anxiety, Alzheimer's disease, depression, and Parkinson's disease. Bioactive compounds present in various medicinal plants neutralize or scavenge toxic free radicals and thus suppress oxidative stress. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the antioxidant effects of S. lateriflora. The antioxidant potential of aqueous or ethanolic extracts of S. lateriflora was determined in mouse brain tissue using various biochemical assays. Protective effects of S. lateriflora against oxidative stress induced DNA fragmentation was determined using plasmid DNA. The ethanolic and aqueous extracts scavenged the 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radicals. The ethanolic extract reduced tert-butyl peroxide-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) and lipid peroxides in the mouse brain homogenates. Furthermore, the ethanolic extract of S. lateriflora protected hydrogen peroxide-UV induced cleavage of supercoiled plasmid DNA. In conclusion, S. lateriflora exhibited significant antioxidant effects. The current findings posit S. lateriflora as one of the potential experimental herbal drugs that should be screened for its therapeutic potential against various oxidative stress associated mental disorders.
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October 2013

Assessment of therapeutic potential of amantadine in methamphetamine induced neurotoxicity.

Neurochem Res 2013 Oct 6;38(10):2084-94. Epub 2013 Aug 6.

Department of Pharmacal Sciences, Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, 4306 Walker Building, Auburn, AL, 36849, USA.

Methamphetamine epidemic has a broad impact on world's health care system. Its abusive potential and neurotoxic effects remain a challenge for the anti-addiction therapies. In addition to oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptosis, excitotoxicity is also involved in methamphetamine induced neurotoxicity. The N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) type of glutamate receptor is thought to be one of the predominant mediators of excitotoxicity. There is growing evidence that NMDA receptor antagonists could be one of the therapeutic options to manage excitotoxicity. Amantadine, a well-tolerated and modestly effective antiparkinsonian agent, was found to possess NMDA antagonistic properties and has shown to release dopamine from the nerve terminals. The current study aimed to evaluate the effect of amantadine pre-treatment against methamphetamine induced neurotoxicity. Results showed that methamphetamine treatment had depleted striatal dopamine, generated of reactive oxygen species and decreased activity of complex I in the mitochondria. Interestingly, amantadine, at high dose (10 mg/kg), did not prevent dopamine depletion moreover it exacerbated the behavioral manifestations of methamphetamine toxicity such as akinesia and catalepsy. Only lower dose of amantadine (1 mg/kg) produced significant scavenging of the reactive oxygen species induced by methamphetamine. Overall results from the present study suggest that amantadine should not be used concomitantly with methamphetamine as it may results in excessive neurotoxicity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11064-013-1117-xDOI Listing
October 2013

Selective inhibition of phosphodiesterase 5 enhances glutamatergic synaptic plasticity and memory in mice.

Synapse 2013 Nov 3;67(11):741-7. Epub 2013 Jun 3.

Department of Pharmacal Sciences, Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama; Department of Pharmacology, Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, DC.

Phosphodiesterases (PDEs) belong to a family of proteins that control metabolism of cyclic nucleotides. Targeting PDE5, for enhancing cellular function, is one of the therapeutic strategies for male erectile dysfunction. We have investigated whether in vivo inhibition of PDE5, which is expressed in several brain regions, will enhance memory and synaptic transmission in the hippocampus of healthy mice. We have found that acute administration of sildenafil, a specific PDE5 inhibitor, enhanced hippocampus-dependent memory tasks. To elucidate the underlying mechanism in the memory enhancement, effects of sildenafil on long-term potentiation (LTP) were measured. The level of LTP was significantly elevated, with concomitant increases in basal synaptic transmission, in mice treated with sildenafil (1 mg/kg/day) for 15 days compared to control mice. These results suggest that moderate PDE5 inhibition enhances memory by increasing synaptic plasticity and transmission in the hippocampus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/syn.21676DOI Listing
November 2013

Investigate the chronic neurotoxic effects of diquat.

Neurochem Res 2012 May 14;37(5):1102-11. Epub 2012 Feb 14.

Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Department of Pharmacal Sciences, Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, USA.

Chronic exposure to agricultural chemicals (pesticides/herbicides) has been shown to induce neurotoxic effects or results in accumulation of various toxic metabolic by-products. These substances have the relevant ability to cause or increase the risk for neurodegeneration. Diquat is an herbicide that has been extensively used in the United States of America and other parts of the world. Diquat is constantly released into the environment during its use as a contact herbicide. Diquat structurally resembles 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6 tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) and paraquat. Rotenone, paraquat, maneb and MPTP reproduce features of movement disorders in experimental animal models. Based on the structural similarity to other neurotoxins, chronic exposure of diquat can induce behavioral and neurochemical alterations associated with dopaminergic neurotoxicity. However, in the present study, diquat unlike other neurotoxins (rotenone, 6-hydroxydopamine, MPTP, paraquat and maneb) did not induce dopamine depletion in the mouse striatum. Although, notable exacerbation in motor impairment (swimming score, akinesia and open field) were evident that may be due to the decreased dopamine turnover and mild nigrostriatal neurodegeneration. These data indicate that, despite the apparent structural similarity to other dopaminergic neurotoxins, diquat did not exert severe deleterious effects on dopamine neurons in a manner that is unique to rotenone and MPTP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11064-012-0715-3DOI Listing
May 2012

Methamphetamine-induced neurotoxicity: the road to Parkinson's disease.

Pharmacol Rep 2009 Nov-Dec;61(6):966-77

Department of Pharmacological Sciences, Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, 4306 Walker building, Auburn, AL 36849, USA.

Studies have implicated methamphetamine exposure as a contributor to the development of Parkinson's disease. There is a significant degree of striatal dopamine depletion produced by methamphetamine, which makes the toxin useful in the creation of an animal model of Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder associated with selective degeneration of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons. The immediate need is to understand the substances that increase the risk for this debilitating disorder as well as these substances'neurodegenerative mechanisms. Currently, various approaches are being taken to develop a novel and cost-effective anti-Parkinson's drug with minimal adverse effects and the added benefit of a neuroprotective effect to facilitate and improve the care of patients with Parkinson's disease. Amethamphetamine-treated animal model for Parkinson's disease can help to further the understanding of the neurodegenerative processes that target the nigrostriatal system. Studies on widely used drugs of abuse, which are also dopaminergic toxicants, may aid in understanding the etiology, pathophysiology and progression of the disease process and increase awareness of the risks involved in such drug abuse. In addition, this review evaluates the possible neuroprotective mechanisms of certain drugs against methamphetamine-induced toxicity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s1734-1140(09)70158-6DOI Listing
March 2010

Protective effect of minocycline, a semi-synthetic second-generation tetracycline against 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NP)-induced neurotoxicity.

Toxicology 2008 Feb 13;244(2-3):111-22. Epub 2007 Nov 13.

Pharmacology Division, University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Punjab University, Chandigarh 160014, India.

3-Nitropropionic acid (3-NP) is an irreversible inhibitor of the electron transport enzyme succinate dehydrogenase, a mitochondrial Complex II enzyme. Minocycline is a semi-synthetic second-generation tetracycline with neuroprotective activity and has the capability to effectively cross the blood-brain barrier. We investigated the effects of minocycline on behavioral, biochemical, inflammation related and neurochemical alterations induced by the sub-chronic administration of 3-nitropropionic acid to rats. Chronic pre-administration of minocycline (50 and 100mg/kg) dose dependently prevented 3-NP-induced dysfunction behavioral (hypoactivity, memory retention, locomotor and rota-rod activity). In addition, 3-NP produced a marked increase in lipid peroxidation levels whereas decreased the activities of catalase and succinate dehydrogenase. In contrast, pretreatment of 3-NP injected rats with minocycline resulted in the attenuation of all these alterations. A marked increase in an inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha by 3-NP was also decreased by minocycline treatment. Neurochemically, the administration of 3-NP significantly decreased the levels of catecholamines in the brain homogenates (dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin) which were reversed by pretreatment of minocycline. The present finding explains the neuroprotective effect of minocycline against 3-NP toxicity by virtue of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tox.2007.11.003DOI Listing
February 2008

Inflammatory and neurochemical changes associated with 3-nitropropionic Acid neurotoxicity.

Toxicol Mech Methods 2008 ;18(4):335-9

Pharmacology Division, University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India, 160014.

ABSTRACT Administration of 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NP), a hemotoxin of fungal origin, is associated with a rare neurodegenerative disease, Huntington disease. The present study was carried out to investigate the inflammatory and neurochemical changes associated with the subchronic administration of 3-nitropropionic acid in rats. The administration of 3-nitropropionic acid (20 mg/kg SC and 15 mg/kg IP for 7 days) resulted in a significant increase in inflammatory mediators such as tissue necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, total nitric oxide, and nitrite levels in brain homogenate. It also resulted in a significant decrease in catecholamine neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin (5-HT) and an increase in turnover of these neurotransmitters as compared to the control group, estimated by HPLC with ECD detector. Inflammatory and neurochemical changes were in accordance to the behavioral and biochemical changes induced by 3-NP. The present study suggests the involvement of inflammatory changes as an important causal factor for neurodegeneration associated with 3-NP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15376510701563738DOI Listing
October 2012