Publications by authors named "Marco Niello"

7 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Effects of Hydroxylated Mephedrone Metabolites on Monoamine Transporter Activity .

Front Pharmacol 2021 9;12:654061. Epub 2021 Apr 9.

Institute of Applied Synthetic Chemistry, TU Wien, Vienna, Austria.

Mephedrone is a largely abused psychostimulant. It elicits the release of monoamines via the high affinity transporters for dopamine (DAT), norepinephrine (NET) and serotonin (SERT). Stereoselective metabolic reactions are involved in the inactivation and the elimination of its chemical structure. However, during these processes, several structures are generated and some of them have been reported to be still pharmacologically active. In this study 1) we have newly synthetized several putative mephedrone metabolites, 2) compared their activity at monoamine transporters, 3) generated quantitative structure activity relationships, and 4) exploited the chemical structure of the putative metabolites to screen a urine sample from a drug user and dissect mephedrone metabolism. We have found that most of the tested metabolites are weak inhibitors of monoamine transporters and that all of them are more potent at DAT and NET in comparison to SERT. The only exception is represented by the COOH-metabolite which shows no pharmacological activity at all three monoamine transporters. The enantioselectivity of mephedrone and its metabolites is present mainly at SERT, with only minor effects at DAT and NET being introduced when the β-keto group is reduced to an OH-group. Importantly, while at DAT the putative metabolites did not show changes in inhibitory potencies, but rather changes in their substrate/blocker profile, at SERT they showed mainly changes in inhibitory potencies. Molecular modeling suggests that the hydrophobic nature of a specific SERT subpocket may be involved in such loss of affinity. Finally, the assessment of the putative metabolites in one urine sample of mephedrone user displayed two previously uncharacterized metabolites, 4-COOH-nor-mephedrone (4-COOH-MC) and dihydro-4- nor-mephedrone (dihydro-4-MC). These results confirm and expand previous studies highlighting the importance of the stereochemistry in the pharmacodynamics of phase-1 metabolites of mephedrone, established their structure-activity relationships at DAT, NET and SERT and pave the way for a systematic dissection of mephedrone metabolic routes. Given the number of structures found having residual and modified pharmacological profiles, these findings may help in understanding the complex subjective effects of administered mephedrone. Moreover, the dissection of mephedrone metabolic routes may help in developing new therapies for treating psychostimulants acute intoxications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2021.654061DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8063026PMC
April 2021

α-PPP and its derivatives are selective partial releasers at the human norepinephrine transporter: A pharmacological characterization of interactions between pyrrolidinopropiophenones and uptake1 and uptake2 monoamine transporters.

Neuropharmacology 2021 Apr 20;190:108570. Epub 2021 Apr 20.

Medical University of Vienna, Center for Physiology and Pharmacology, Institute of Pharmacology, Währingerstraße 13A, 1090, Vienna, Austria; AddRess Centre for Addiction Research and Science, Medical University of Vienna, Währingerstraße 13A, 1090, Vienna, Austria. Electronic address:

While classical cathinones, such as methcathinone, have been shown to be monoamine releasing agents at human monoamine transporters, the subgroup of α-pyrrolidinophenones has thus far solely been characterized as monoamine transporter reuptake inhibitors. Herein, we report data from previously undescribed α-pyrrolidinopropiophenone (α-PPP) derivatives and compare them with the pharmacologically well-researched α-PVP (α-pyrrolidinovalerophenone). Radiotracer-based in vitro uptake inhibition assays in HEK293 cells show that the investigated α-PPP derivatives inhibit the human high-affinity transporters of dopamine (hDAT) and norepinephrine (hNET) in the low micromolar range, with α-PVP being ten times more potent. Similar to α-PVP, no relevant pharmacological activity was found at the human serotonin transporter (hSERT). Unexpectedly, radiotracer-based in vitro release assays reveal α-PPP, MDPPP and 3Br-PPP, but not α-PVP, to be partial releasing agents at hNET (EC values in the low micromolar range). Furthermore, uptake inhibition assays at low-affinity monoamine transporters, i.e., the human organic cation transporters (hOCT) 1-3 and human plasma membrane monoamine transporter (hPMAT), bring to light that all compounds inhibit hOCT1 and 2 (IC values in the low micromolar range) while less potently interacting with hPMAT and hOCT3. In conclusion, this study describes (i) three new hybrid compounds that efficaciously block hDAT while being partial releasers at hNET, and (ii) highlights the interactions of α-PPP-derivatives with low-affinity monoamine transporters, giving impetus to further studies investigating the interaction of drugs of abuse with OCT1-3 and PMAT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2021.108570DOI Listing
April 2021

Allosteric Modulation of Neurotransmitter Transporters as a Therapeutic Strategy.

Trends Pharmacol Sci 2020 07 26;41(7):446-463. Epub 2020 May 26.

Centre for Physiology and Pharmacology, Institute of Pharmacology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria; AddRess, Centre for Addiction Research and Science, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. Electronic address:

Neurotransmitter transporters (NTTs) are involved in the fine-tuning of brain neurotransmitter homeostasis. As such, they are implicated in a plethora of complex behaviors, including reward, movement, and cognition. During recent decades, compounds that modulate NTT functions have been developed. Some of them are in clinical use for the management of different neuropsychiatric conditions. The majority of these compounds have been found to selectively interact with the orthosteric site of NTTs. Recently, diverse allosteric sites have been described in a number of NTTs, modulating their function. A more complex NTT pharmacology may be useful in the development of novel therapeutics. Here, we summarize current knowledge on such modulatory allosteric sites, with specific focus on their pharmacological and therapeutic potential.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tips.2020.04.006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7610661PMC
July 2020

para-Trifluoromethyl-methcathinone is an allosteric modulator of the serotonin transporter.

Neuropharmacology 2019 12 24;161:107615. Epub 2019 Apr 24.

Institute of Pharmacology, Medical University, Vienna, Austria. Electronic address:

The transporters for dopamine (DAT) and serotonin (SERT) are important targets in the treatment of psychiatric disorders including major depression, anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Drugs acting at these transporters can act as inhibitors or as releasers. In addition, it has been recently appreciated that some compounds are less efficacious releasers than amphetamine. Thus, they are classified as partial releasers. Compounds can act on both SERT and DAT or display exquisite selectivity for either SERT or DAT, but the structural basis for selectivity is poorly understood. The trifluoromethyl-substitution of methcathinone in the para-position has been shown to dramatically shift the selectivity of methcathinone (MCAT) towards SERT. Here, we examined MCAT, para-trifluoromethyl-methcathinone (pCFMCAT) and other analogues to understand (i) the determinants of selectivity and (ii) the effects of the para-CF-substitution of MCAT on the transport cycle. We systematically tested different para-substituted MCATs by biochemical, computational and electrophysiological approaches: addition of the pCFgroup, but not of other substituents with larger van der Waal's volume, lipophilicity or polarity, converted the DAT-selective MCAT into a SERT-selective partial releaser. Electrophysiological and superfusion experiments, together with kinetic modelling, showed that pCFMCAT, but not MCAT, trapped a fraction of SERTs in an inactive state by occupying the S2-site. These findings define a new mechanism of action for partial releasers, which is distinct from the other two known binding modes underlying partial release. Our observations highlight the fact that the substrate permeation pathway of monoamine transporters supports multiple binding modes, which can be exploited for drug design. This article is part of the issue entitled 'Special Issue on Neurotransmitter Transporters'.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2019.04.021DOI Listing
December 2019

Neuropharmacology of Synthetic Cathinones.

Handb Exp Pharmacol 2018;252:113-142

Center for Physiology and Pharmacology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Synthetic cathinones are derivatives of the naturally occurring compound cathinone, the main psychoactive ingredient in the khat plant Catha edulis. Cathinone is the β-keto analog of amphetamine, and all synthetic cathinones display a β-keto moiety in their structure. Several synthetic cathinones are widely prescribed medications (e.g., bupropion, Wellbutrin), while others are problematic drugs of abuse (e.g., 4-methylmethcathinone, mephedrone). Similar to amphetamines, synthetic cathinones are psychomotor stimulants that exert their effects by impairing the normal function of plasma membrane transporters for dopamine (DAT), norepinephrine (NET), and 5-HT (SERT). Ring-substituted cathinones like mephedrone are transporter substrates that evoke neurotransmitter release by reversing the normal direction of transporter flux (i.e., releasers), whereas pyrrolidine-containing cathinones like 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) are potent transporter inhibitors that block neurotransmitter uptake (i.e., blockers). Regardless of molecular mechanism, all synthetic cathinones increase extracellular monoamine concentrations in the brain, thereby enhancing cell-to-cell monoamine signaling. Here, we briefly review the mechanisms of action, structure-activity relationships, and in vivo pharmacology of synthetic cathinones. Overall, the findings show that certain synthetic cathinones are powerful drugs of abuse that could pose significant risk to users.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/164_2018_178DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7257813PMC
June 2019

Pronounced Hyperactivity, Cognitive Dysfunctions, and BDNF Dysregulation in Dopamine Transporter Knock-out Rats.

J Neurosci 2018 02 18;38(8):1959-1972. Epub 2018 Jan 18.

St. Petersburg State University, Institute of Translational Biomedicine, Universitetskaya Emb. 7-9, 199034 St. Petersburg, Russia,

Dopamine (DA) controls many vital physiological functions and is critically involved in several neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The major function of the plasma membrane dopamine transporter (DAT) is the rapid uptake of released DA into presynaptic nerve terminals leading to control of both the extracellular levels of DA and the intracellular stores of DA. Here, we present a newly developed strain of rats in which the gene encoding DAT knockout Rats (DAT-KO) has been disrupted by using zinc finger nuclease technology. Male and female DAT-KO rats develop normally but weigh less than heterozygote and wild-type rats and demonstrate pronounced spontaneous locomotor hyperactivity. While striatal extracellular DA lifetime and concentrations are significantly increased, the total tissue content of DA is markedly decreased demonstrating the key role of DAT in the control of DA neurotransmission. Hyperactivity of DAT-KO rats can be counteracted by amphetamine, methylphenidate, the partial Trace Amine-Associated Receptor 1 (TAAR1) agonist RO5203648 ((S)-4-(3,4-Dichloro-phenyl)-4,5-dihydro-oxazol-2-ylamine) and haloperidol. DAT-KO rats also demonstrate a deficit in working memory and sensorimotor gating tests, less propensity to develop obsessive behaviors and show strong dysregulation in frontostriatal BDNF function. DAT-KO rats could provide a novel translational model for human diseases involving aberrant DA function and/or mutations affecting DAT or related regulatory mechanisms. Here, we present a newly developed strain of rats in which the gene encoding the dopamine transporter (DAT) has been disrupted (Dopamine Transporter Knockout rats [DAT-KO rats]). DAT-KO rats display functional hyperdopaminergia accompanied by pronounced spontaneous locomotor hyperactivity. Hyperactivity of DAT-KO rats can be counteracted by amphetamine, methylphenidate, and a few other compounds exerting inhibitory action on dopamine-dependent hyperactivity. DAT-KO rats also demonstrate cognitive deficits in working memory and sensorimotor gating tests, less propensity to develop compulsive behaviors, and strong dysregulation in frontostriatal BDNF function. These observations highlight the key role of DAT in the control of brain dopaminergic transmission. DAT-KO rats could provide a novel translational model for human diseases involving aberrant dopamine functions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1931-17.2018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5824739PMC
February 2018

Are reprogrammed cells a useful tool for studying dopamine dysfunction in psychotic disorders? A review of the current evidence.

Eur J Neurosci 2017 01 19;45(1):45-57. Epub 2016 Oct 19.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical University of Vienna, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, 1090, Vienna, Austria.

Since 2006, reprogrammed cells have increasingly been used as a biomedical research technique in addition to neuro-psychiatric methods. These rapidly evolving techniques allow for the generation of neuronal sub-populations, and have sparked interest not only in monogenetic neuro-psychiatric diseases, but also in poly-genetic and poly-aetiological disorders such as schizophrenia (SCZ) and bipolar disorder (BPD). This review provides a summary of 19 publications on reprogrammed adult somatic cells derived from patients with SCZ, and five publications using this technique in patients with BPD. As both disorders are complex and heterogeneous, there is a plurality of hypotheses to be tested in vitro. In SCZ, data on alterations of dopaminergic transmission in vitro are sparse, despite the great explanatory power of the so-called DA hypothesis of SCZ. Some findings correspond to perturbations of cell energy metabolism, and observations in reprogrammed cells suggest neuro-developmental alterations. Some studies also report on the efficacy of medicinal compounds to revert alterations observed in cellular models. However, due to the paucity of replication studies, no comprehensive conclusions can be drawn from studies using reprogrammed cells at the present time. In the future, findings from cell culture methods need to be integrated with clinical, epidemiological, pharmacological and imaging data in order to generate a more comprehensive picture of SCZ and BPD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ejn.13418DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5811827PMC
January 2017