Publications by authors named "Timothy Lovenberg"

121 Publications

Discovery and SAR studies of 2-alkyl-3-phenyl-2,4,5,6,7,8-hexahydropyrazolo[3,4-d]azepines as 5-HT inhibitors leading to the identification of a clinical candidate.

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2021 01 7;31:127669. Epub 2020 Nov 7.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, CA 92121, United States.

We report here the synthesis and characterization of a dual 5-HT / 5-HT receptor antagonist 3-(4-Fluoro-phenyl)-2-isopropyl-2,4,5,6,7,8-hexahydro-1,2,6-triaza-azulene (4j). 4j is a high affinity 5-HT and 5-HT receptor ligand having a pK = 8.1 at both receptors. It behaves as an antagonist in an in vitro functional assay for 5-HT and as an inverse agonist in an in vitro functional assay for 5-HT. In a validated in vivo model for central 5-HT activity in rats, blockade of 5-carboxamidotryptamine (5-CT) induced hypothermia, 4j shows efficacy at low doses (ED = 0.05 mg/kg, p.o., 1 h) and maximal efficacy was observed at 0.3 mg/kg p.o. with a corresponding plasma concentration of ~27 ng/ml. In a validated in vivo model for central 5-HT activity, blockade of 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine (DOI) induced head-twitches in mice, 4j shows efficacy at low doses with an ED = 0.3 mg/kg p.o. Ex vivo receptor binding studies demonstrate that 4j occupied 5-HT receptor binding sites in the frontal cortex of the rat brain with an ED in good agreement with the ED value for central functional effect mediated by 5-HT receptor (ED = 0.8 mg/kg, p.o., 1 h).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2020.127669DOI Listing
January 2021

Screening for modulators of neural network activity in 3D human iPSC-derived cortical spheroids.

PLoS One 2020 22;15(10):e0240991. Epub 2020 Oct 22.

Neuroscience Discovery, Janssen Research and Development, LLC., San Diego, California, United States of America.

Human induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) are a powerful tool to dissect the biology of complex human cell types such as those of the central nervous system (CNS). However, robust, high-throughput platforms for reliably measuring activity in human iPSC-derived neuronal cultures are lacking. Here, we assessed 3D cultures of cortical neurons and astrocytes displaying spontaneous, rhythmic, and highly synchronized neural activity that can be visualized as calcium oscillations on standard high-throughput fluorescent readers as a platform for CNS-based discovery efforts. Spontaneous activity and spheroid structure were highly consistent from well-to-well, reference compounds such as TTX, 4-AP, AP5, and NBQX, had expected effects on neural spontaneous activity, demonstrating the presence of functionally integrated neuronal circuitry. Neurospheroid biology was challenged by screening the LOPAC®1280 library, a collection of 1280 pharmacologically active small molecules. The primary screen identified 111 compounds (8.7%) that modulated neural network activity across a wide range of neural and cellular processes and 16 of 17 compounds chosen for follow-up confirmed the primary screen results. Together, these data demonstrate the suitability and utility of human iPSC-derived neurospheroids as a screening platform for CNS-based drug discovery.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0240991PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7581002PMC
December 2020

Substituted Azabicyclo[2.2.1]heptanes as Selective Orexin-1 Antagonists: Discovery of JNJ-54717793.

ACS Med Chem Lett 2020 Oct 27;11(10):2002-2009. Epub 2020 Apr 27.

Janssen Research & Development L.L.C., 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121, United States.

The orexin system consists of two neuropeptides (orexin-A and orexin-B) that exert their mode of action on two receptors (orexin-1 and orexin-2). While the role of the orexin-2 receptor is established as an important modulator of sleep wake states, the role of the orexin-1 receptor is believed to play a role in addiction, panic, or anxiety. In this manuscript, we describe the optimization of a nonselective substituted azabicyclo[2.2.1]heptane dual orexin receptor antagonist (DORA) into orally bioavailable, brain penetrating, selective orexin-1 receptor (OX1R) antagonists. This resulted in the discovery of our first candidate for clinical development, JNJ-54717793.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsmedchemlett.0c00085DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7549262PMC
October 2020

Putative role of GPR139 on sleep modulation using pharmacological and genetic rodent models.

Eur J Pharmacol 2020 Sep 9;882:173256. Epub 2020 Jun 9.

Department of Neuroscience, Janssen Research & Development, L.L.C, San Diego, CA, USA. Electronic address:

GPR139 is a G-protein coupled receptor expressed in circumventricular regions of the habenula and septum. Amino acids L-tryptophan and L-phenylalanine have been shown to activate GPR139 at physiologically relevant concentrations. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of GPR139 on sleep modulation using pharmacological and genetic (GPR139 knockout mice, KO) rodent models. To evaluate the effects of GPR139 pharmacological activation on sleep, rats were orally dosed with the selective GPR139 agonist JNJ-63533054 (3-30 mg/kg). When acutely administered at the beginning of the light phase, the GPR139 agonist dose-dependently reduced non-rapid eye movement (NREM) latency and increased NREM sleep duration without altering rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This effect progressively dissipated upon 7-day repeated dosing, suggesting functional desensitization. Under baseline conditions, GPR139 KO mice spent less time in REM sleep compared to their wild type littermates during the dark phase, whereas NREM sleep was not altered. Under conditions of pharmacologically enhanced monoamine endogenous tone, GPR139 KO mice showed a blunted response to citalopram or fluoxetine induced REM sleep suppression and an attenuated response to the wake promoting effect of amphetamine. These findings indicate an emerging role of GPR139 in the modulation of sleep states.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2020.173256DOI Listing
September 2020

The PAR2 signal peptide prevents premature receptor cleavage and activation.

PLoS One 2020 20;15(2):e0222685. Epub 2020 Feb 20.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, San Diego, California, United States of America.

Unlike closely related GPCRs, protease-activated receptors (PAR1, PAR2, PAR3, and PAR4) have a predicted signal peptide at their N-terminus, which is encoded by a separate exon, suggesting that the signal peptides of PARs may serve an important and unique function, specific for PARs. In this report, we show that the PAR2 signal peptide, when fused to the N-terminus of IgG-Fc, effectively induced IgG-Fc secretion into culture medium, thus behaving like a classical signal peptide. The presence of PAR2 signal peptide has a strong effect on PAR2 cell surface expression, as deletion of the signal peptide (PAR2ΔSP) led to dramatic reduction of the cell surface expression and decreased responses to trypsin or the synthetic peptide ligand (SLIGKV). However, further deletion of the tethered ligand region (SLIGKV) at the N-terminus rescued the cell surface receptor expression and the response to the synthetic peptide ligand, suggesting that the signal peptide of PAR2 may be involved in preventing PAR2 from intracellular protease activation before reaching the cell surface. Supporting this hypothesis, an Arg36Ala mutation on PAR2ΔSP, which disabled the trypsin activation site, increased the receptor cell surface expression and the response to ligand stimulation. Similar effects were observed when PAR2ΔSP expressing cells were treated with protease inhibitors. Our findings indicated that there is a role of the PAR2 signal peptide in preventing the premature activation of PAR2 from intracellular protease cleavage before reaching the cells surface. The same mechanism may also apply to PAR1, PAR3, and PAR4.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0222685PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7032737PMC
April 2020

Pharmacologic Characterization of JNJ-42226314, [1-(4-Fluorophenyl)indol-5-yl]-[3-[4-(thiazole-2-carbonyl)piperazin-1-yl]azetidin-1-yl]methanone, a Reversible, Selective, and Potent Monoacylglycerol Lipase Inhibitor.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2020 03 9;372(3):339-353. Epub 2019 Dec 9.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, San Diego, California.

The serine hydrolase monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) is the rate-limiting enzyme responsible for the degradation of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) into arachidonic acid and glycerol. Inhibition of 2-AG degradation leads to elevation of 2-AG, the most abundant endogenous agonist of the cannabinoid receptors (CBs) CB1 and CB2. Activation of these receptors has demonstrated beneficial effects on mood, appetite, pain, and inflammation. Therefore, MAGL inhibitors have the potential to produce therapeutic effects in a vast array of complex human diseases. The present report describes the pharmacologic characterization of [1-(4-fluorophenyl)indol-5-yl]-[3-[4-(thiazole-2-carbonyl)piperazin-1-yl]azetidin-1-yl]methanone (JNJ-42226314), a reversible and highly selective MAGL inhibitor. JNJ-42226314 inhibits MAGL in a competitive mode with respect to the 2-AG substrate. In rodent brain, the compound time- and dose-dependently bound to MAGL, indirectly led to CB1 occupancy by raising 2-AG levels, and raised norepinephrine levels in cortex. In vivo, the compound exhibited antinociceptive efficacy in both the rat complete Freund's adjuvant-induced radiant heat hypersensitivity and chronic constriction injury-induced cold hypersensitivity models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain, respectively. Though 30 mg/kg induced hippocampal synaptic depression, altered sleep onset, and decreased electroencephalogram gamma power, 3 mg/kg still provided approximately 80% enzyme occupancy, significantly increased 2-AG and norepinephrine levels, and produced neuropathic antinociception without synaptic depression or decreased gamma power. Thus, it is anticipated that the profile exhibited by this compound will allow for precise modulation of 2-AG levels in vivo, supporting potential therapeutic application in several central nervous system disorders. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Potentiation of endocannabinoid signaling activity via inhibition of the serine hydrolase monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) is an appealing strategy in the development of treatments for several disorders, including ones related to mood, pain, and inflammation. [1-(4-Fluorophenyl)indol-5-yl]-[3-[4-(thiazole-2-carbonyl)piperazin-1-yl]azetidin-1-yl]methanone is presented in this report to be a novel, potent, selective, and reversible noncovalent MAGL inhibitor that demonstrates dose-dependent enhancement of the major endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol as well as efficacy in models of neuropathic and inflammatory pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/jpet.119.262139DOI Listing
March 2020

Integrative Analysis of DiseaseLand Omics Database for Disease Signatures and Treatments: A Bipolar Case Study.

Front Genet 2019 30;10:396. Epub 2019 Apr 30.

Computational Sciences, Discovery Sciences, Janssen Research & Development, LLC, La Jolla, CA, United States.

Transcriptomics technologies such as next-generation sequencing and microarray platforms provide exciting opportunities for improving diagnosis and treatment of complex diseases. Transcriptomics studies often share similar hypotheses, but are carried out on different platforms, in different conditions, and with different analysis approaches. These factors, in addition to small sample sizes, can result in a lack of reproducibility. A clear understanding and unified picture of many complex diseases are still elusive, highlighting an urgent need to effectively integrate multiple transcriptomic studies for disease signatures. We have integrated more than 3,000 high-quality transcriptomic datasets in oncology, immunology, neuroscience, cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and from both public and internal sources (DiseaseLand database). We established a systematic data integration and meta-analysis approach, which can be applied in multiple disease areas to create a unified picture of the disease signature and prioritize drug targets, pathways, and compounds. In this bipolar case study, we provided an illustrative example using our approach to combine a total of 30 genome-wide gene expression studies using postmortem human brain samples. First, the studies were integrated by extracting raw FASTQ or CEL files, then undergoing the same procedures for preprocessing, normalization, and statistical inference. Second, both -value and effect size based meta-analysis algorithms were used to identify a total of 204 differentially expressed (DE) genes (FDR < 0.05) genes in the prefrontal cortex. Among these were , , , , , , and , which have previously been implicated in bipolar disorder. Finally, pathway enrichment analysis revealed a role for GPCR, MAPK, immune, and Reelin pathways. Compound profiling analysis revealed MAPK and other inhibitors may modulate the DE genes. The ability to robustly combine and synthesize the information from multiple studies enables a more powerful understanding of this complex disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2019.00396DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6503737PMC
April 2019

GPR139 and Dopamine D2 Receptor Co-express in the Same Cells of the Brain and May Functionally Interact.

Front Neurosci 2019 26;13:281. Epub 2019 Mar 26.

Janssen Research and Development, LLC, San Diego, CA, United States.

GPR139, a G-coupled receptor that is activated by the essential amino acids L-tryptophan and L-phenylalanine, is predominantly expressed in the brain and pituitary. The physiological function of GPR139 remains elusive despite the availability of pharmacological tool agonist compounds and knock-out mice. Whole tissue RNA sequencing data from human, mouse and rat tissues revealed that GPR139 and the dopamine D receptor (DRD2) exhibited some similarities in their distribution patterns in the brain and pituitary gland. To determine if there was true co-expression of these two receptors, we applied double hybridization in mouse tissues using the RNAscope technique. GPR139 and DRD2 mRNA co-expressed in a majority of same cells within part of the dopaminergic mesolimbic pathways (ventral tegmental area and olfactory tubercle), the nigrostriatal pathway (compact part of substantia nigra and caudate putamen), and also the tuberoinfundibular pathway (arcuate hypothalamic nucleus and anterior lobe of pituitary). Both receptors mRNA also co-express in the same cells of the brain regions involved in responses to negative stimulus and stress, such as lateral habenula, lateral septum, interpeduncular nucleus, and medial raphe nuclei. GPR139 mRNA expression was detected in the dentate gyrus and the pyramidal cell layer of the hippocampus as well as the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus. The functional interaction between GPR139 and DRD2 was studied using a calcium mobilization assay in cells co-transfected with both receptors from several species (human, rat, and mouse). The dopamine DRD2 agonist did not stimulate calcium response in cells expressing DRD2 alone consistent with the G signaling transduction pathway of this receptor. In cells co-transfected with DRD2 and GPR139 the DRD2 agonist was able to stimulate calcium response and its effect was blocked by either a DRD2 or a GPR139 antagonist supporting an interaction between GPR139 and DRD2. Taken together, these data showed that GPR139 and DRD2 are in position to functionally interact in native tissue.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2019.00281DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6443882PMC
March 2019

Pharmacology of JNJ-28583113: A novel TRPM2 antagonist.

Eur J Pharmacol 2019 Jun 6;853:299-307. Epub 2019 Apr 6.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, CA, 92121, USA.

Transient receptor potential melastatin type 2 (TRPM2) is a cation channel activated by free intracellular ADP-ribose and reactive oxygen species. TRPM2 signaling has been linked to the pathophysiology of CNS disorders such as neuropathic pain, bipolar disorder and Alzheimer's disease. In this manuscript, we describe the discovery of JNJ-28583113, a potent brain penetrant TRPM2 antagonist. Ca flux assays in cells overexpressing TRPM2 and electrophysiological recordings were used to test the pharmacology of JNJ-28583113. JNJ-28583113 was assayed in vitro on GSK-3 phosphorylation levels, cell death, cytokine release in microglia and unbiased morphological phenotypic analysis. Finally, we dosed animals to evaluate its pharmacokinetic properties. Our results showed that JNJ-28583113 is a potent (126 ± 0.5 nM) TRPM2 antagonist. Blocking TRPM2 caused phosphorylation of GSK3α and β subunits. JNJ-28583113 also protected cells from oxidative stress induced cell death as well as morphological changes induced by non-cytotoxic concentrations of HO. In addition, inhibiting TRPM2 blunted cytokine release in response to pro-inflammatory stimuli in microglia. Lastly, we showed that JNJ-28583113 was brain penetrant but not suitable for systemic dosing as it was rapidly metabolized in vivo. While the in-vitro pharmacology of JNJ-28583113 is the best in class, its in-vivo properties would need optimization to assist in further probing key roles of TRPM2 in CNS pathophysiology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2019.03.043DOI Listing
June 2019

Characterization of a Selective, Orally Available, and Brain Penetrant Small Molecule GPR139 Agonist.

Front Pharmacol 2019 21;10:273. Epub 2019 Mar 21.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, San Diego, CA, United States.

Recently, our group along with another demonstrated that GPR139 can be activated by L-phenylalanine (L-Phe) and L-tryptophan (L-Trp) at physiologically relevant concentrations. GPR139 is discretely expressed in brain, with highest expression in medial habenula. Not only are the endogenous ligands catecholamine/serotonin precursors, but GPR139 expressing areas can directly/indirectly regulate the activity of catecholamine/serotonin neurons. Thus, GPR139 appears expressed in an interconnected circuit involved in mood, motivation, and anxiety. The aim of this study was to characterize a selective and brain penetrant GPR139 agonist (JNJ-63533054) in relevant models. JNJ-63533054 was tested for its effect on c-fos activation in the habenula and dorsal striatum. microdialysis experiments were performed in freely moving rats to measure basal levels of serotonin or dopamine (DA) in prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and nucleus accumbens (NAc). Finally, the compound was profiled in behavioral models of anxiety, despair, and anhedonia. The agonist (10-30 mg/kg, p.o.) did not alter c-fos expression in medial habenula or dorsal striatum nor neurotransmitter levels in mPFC or NAc. JNJ-63533054 (10 mg/kg p.o.) produced an anhedonic-like effect on urine sniffing, but had no significant effect in tail suspension, with no interaction with imipramine, no effect on naloxone place aversion, and no effect on learned helplessness. In the marble burying test, the agonist (10 mg/kg p.o.) produced a small anxiolytic-like effect, with no interaction with fluoxetine, and no effect in elevated plus maze (EPM). Despite GPR139 high expression in medial habenula, an area with connections to limbic and catecholaminergic/serotoninergic areas, the GPR139 agonist had no effect on c-fos in medial habenula. It did not alter catecholamine/serotonin levels and had a mostly silent signal in models commonly associated with these pathways. The physiological function of GPR139 remains elusive.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2019.00273DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6437111PMC
March 2019

Discovery of Imidazo[1,2-]pyrazines and Pyrazolo[1,5-]pyrimidines as TARP γ-8 Selective AMPAR Negative Modulators.

ACS Med Chem Lett 2019 Mar 26;10(3):267-272. Epub 2018 Dec 26.

Janssen Research & Development L.L.C., 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121 United States.

This report discloses the discovery and characterization of imidazo[1,2-]pyrazines and pyrazolo[1,5-]pyrimidines as selective negative modulators of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionate receptors (AMPARs) associated with transmembrane AMPAR regulatory protein γ-8. Imidazopyrazine was initially identified as a promising γ-8 selective high-throughput screening hit, and subsequent structure-activity relationship optimization yielded subnanomolar, brain penetrant leads. Replacement of the imidazopyrazine core with an isosteric pyrazolopyrimidine scaffold improved microsomal stability and efflux liabilities to provide , JNJ-61432059. Following oral administration, exhibited time- and dose-dependent AMPAR/γ-8 receptor occupancy in mouse hippocampus, which resulted in robust seizure protection in corneal kindling and pentylenetetrazole (PTZ) anticonvulsant models.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsmedchemlett.8b00599DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6421542PMC
March 2019

Allosteric Modulation of Ionotropic Glutamate Receptors Special Issue.

ACS Med Chem Lett 2019 Mar 14;10(3):226. Epub 2019 Mar 14.

Department of Pharmacology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, United States.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsmedchemlett.9b00047DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6421527PMC
March 2019

Calcium Imaging Reveals That Cortisol Treatment Reduces the Number of Place Cells in Thy1-GCaMP6f Transgenic Mice.

Front Neurosci 2019 1;13:176. Epub 2019 Mar 1.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC., San Diego, CA, United States.

The hippocampus, a structure essential for spatial navigation and memory undergoes anatomical and functional changes during chronic stress. Here, we investigate the effects of chronic stress on the ability of place cells to encode the neural representation of a linear track. To model physiological conditions of chronic stress on hippocampal function, transgenic mice expressing the genetically encoded calcium indicator GCaMP6f in CA1 pyramidal neurons were chronically administered with 40 μg/ml of cortisol for 8 weeks. Cortisol-treated mice exhibited symptoms typically observed during chronic stress, including diminished reward seeking behavior and reduced adrenal gland and spleen weights. imaging of hippocampal cellular activity during linear track running behavior revealed a reduced number of cells that could be recruited to encode spatial position, despite an unchanged overall number of active cells, in cortisol-treated mice. The properties of the remaining place cells that could be recruited to encode spatial information, however, was unperturbed. Bayesian decoders trained to estimate the mouse's position on the track using single neuron activity data demonstrated reduced performance in a cue richness-dependent fashion in cortisol-treated animals. The performance of decoders utilizing data from the entire neuronal ensemble was unaffected by cortisol treatment. Finally, to test the hypothesis that an antidepressant drug could prevent the effects of cortisol, we orally administered a group of mice with 10 mg/kg citalopram during cortisol administration. Citalopram prevented the cortisol-induced decrease in single-neuron decoder performance but failed to significantly prevent anhedonia and the cortisol-induced reduction in the proportion place cells. The dysfunction observed at the single-neuron level indicates that chronic stress may impair the ability of the hippocampus to encode individual neural representations of the mouse's spatial position, a function pivotal to forming an accurate navigational map of the mouse's external environment; however, the hippocampal ensemble as a whole is resilient to any cortisol-induced insults to single neuronal place cell function on the linear track.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2019.00176DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6405689PMC
March 2019

Mutagenesis of GPR139 reveals ways to create gain or loss of function receptors.

Pharmacol Res Perspect 2019 02 7;7(1):e00466. Epub 2019 Feb 7.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC San Diego California.

GPR139 is a Gq-coupled receptor activated by the essential amino acids L-tryptophan (L-Trp) and L-phenylalanine (L-Phe). We carried out mutagenesis studies of the human GPR139 receptor to identify the critical structural motifs required for GPR139 activation. We applied site-directed and high throughput random mutagenesis approaches using a double addition normalization strategy to identify novel GPR139 sequences coding receptors that have altered sensitivity to endogenous ligands. This approach resulted in GPR139 clones with gain-of-function, reduction-of-function or loss-of-function mutations. The agonist pharmacology of these mutant receptors was characterized and compared to wild-type receptor using calcium mobilization, radioligand binding, and protein expression assays. The structure-activity data were incorporated into a homology model which highlights that many of the gain-of-function mutations are either in or immediately adjacent to the purported orthosteric ligand binding site, whereas the loss-of-function mutations were largely in the intracellular G-protein binding area or were disrupters of the helix integrity. There were also some reduction-of-function mutations in the orthosteric ligand binding site. These findings may not only facilitate the rational design of novel agonists and antagonists of GPR139, but also may guide the design of transgenic animal models to study the physiological function of GPR139.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/prp2.466DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6367278PMC
February 2019

Utilizing Miniature Fluorescence Microscopy to Image Hippocampal Place Cell Ensemble Function in Thy1.GCaMP6f Transgenic Mice.

Curr Protoc Pharmacol 2018 09 20;82(1):e42. Epub 2018 Aug 20.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, San Diego, California.

Imaging neuronal activity in awake behaving mice with miniature fluorescence microscopes requires the implementation of a variety of procedures. Surgeries are performed to gain access to the cell population of interest and to implant microscope components. After a recovery period, mice are trained to exhibit a desired behavior. Finally, neuronal activity is imaged and synchronized with that behavior. To take full advantage of the technology, selection of the calcium indicator and experimental design must be carefully considered. In this article, we explain the procedures and considerations that are critical for obtaining high-quality calcium imaging data. As an example, we describe how to utilize miniature fluorescence microscopy to image hippocampal place cell activity during linear track running in Thy1.GCaMP6f transgenic mice. © 2018 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cpph.42DOI Listing
September 2018

Lead Optimization of 5-Aryl Benzimidazolone- and Oxindole-Based AMPA Receptor Modulators Selective for TARP γ-8.

ACS Med Chem Lett 2018 Aug 13;9(8):821-826. Epub 2018 Jul 13.

Janssen Research & Development L.L.C., 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121, United States.

Glutamate mediates fast excitatory neurotransmission via ionotropic α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors. The trafficking and gating properties of AMPA receptors (AMPARs) can be amplified by transmembrane AMPAR regulatory proteins (TARPs), which are often expressed in localized brain regions. Herein, we describe the discovery, lead optimization, and preclinical characterization of 5-arylbenzimidazolone and oxindole-based negative modulators of AMPARs associated with TARP γ-8, the primary TARP found in hippocampus. High-throughput screen lead was optimized for potency and brain penetration to provide benzimidazolone , JNJ-55511118.1 Replacement of the benzimidazolone core in with an oxindole mitigated reactive metabolite formation and led to the identification of (GluA1/γ-8 pIC = 9.7). Following oral dosing in rats, demonstrated robust target engagement in hippocampus as assessed by autoradiography (ED = 0.6 mg/kg, plasma EC = 9 ng/mL).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsmedchemlett.8b00215DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6088354PMC
August 2018

Neuropsychopharmacology of JNJ-55308942: evaluation of a clinical candidate targeting P2X7 ion channels in animal models of neuroinflammation and anhedonia.

Neuropsychopharmacology 2018 12 9;43(13):2586-2596. Epub 2018 Jul 9.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC. Neuroscience Therapeutic Area, San Diego, CA, 92131, USA.

Emerging data continues to point towards a relationship between neuroinflammation and neuropsychiatric disorders. ATP-induced activation of P2X7 results in IL-1β release causing neuroinflammation and microglial activation. This study describes the in-vitro and in-vivo neuropharmacology of a novel brain-penetrant P2X7 antagonist, JNJ-55308942, currently in clinical development. JNJ-55308942 is a high-affinity, selective, brain-penetrant (brain/plasma of 1) P2X7 functional antagonist. In human blood and in mouse blood and microglia, JNJ-55308942 attenuated IL-1β release in a potent and concentration-dependent manner. After oral dosing, the compound exhibited both dose and concentration-dependent occupancy of rat brain P2X7 with an ED of 0.07 mg/kg. The P2X7 antagonist (3 mg/kg, oral) blocked Bz-ATP-induced brain IL-1β release in conscious rats, demonstrating functional effects of target engagement in the brain. JNJ-55308942 (30 mg/kg, oral) attenuated LPS-induced microglial activation in mice, assessed at day 2 after a single systemic LPS injection (0.8 mg/kg, i.p.), suggesting a role for P2X7 in microglial activation. In a model of BCG-induced depression, JNJ-55308942 dosed orally (30 mg/kg), reversed the BCG-induced deficits of sucrose preference and social interaction, indicating for the first time a role of P2X7 in the BCG model of depression, probably due to the neuroinflammatory component induced by BCG inoculation. Finally, in a rat model of chronic stress induced sucrose intake deficit, JNJ-55308942 reversed the deficit with concurrent high P2X7 brain occupancy as measured by autoradiography. This body of data demonstrates that JNJ-55308942 is a potent P2X7 antagonist, engages the target in brain, modulates IL-1β release and microglial activation leading to efficacy in two models of anhedonia in rodents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41386-018-0141-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6224414PMC
December 2018

The Zinc Transporter SLC39A7 (ZIP7) Is Essential for Regulation of Cytosolic Zinc Levels.

Mol Pharmacol 2018 09 6;94(3):1092-1100. Epub 2018 Jul 6.

Neuroscience Discovery, Janssen Research and Development, San Diego, California (G.W., T.L., P.B., A.W.H.); and Department of Psychiatry, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (C.G.B., F.M.V., S.A.K.)

Zinc homeostasis is a highly regulated process in mammalian cells that is critical for normal growth and development. Movement of zinc across cell compartments is controlled by two classes of transporters: Slc39a family members transport zinc into the cytosol from either the extracellular space or intracellular stores such as the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), whereas the SLC30A family mediates zinc efflux from the cytosol. In this study, we report that genetic ablation of SLC39A7 (ZIP7) results in decreased cytosolic zinc levels, increased ER zinc levels, impaired cell proliferation, and induction of ER stress. Confirmatory of impaired zinc transport as the causal mechanism, both the increased ER stress and impaired cell proliferation were rescued by increasing cytosolic zinc. Furthermore, using these robust cellular phenotypes, we implemented a small-molecule library screen with 2800 compounds and identified one small molecule capable of rescuing ER stress and cell proliferation in ZIP7-deficient cells in the low micromolar range.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/mol.118.112557DOI Listing
September 2018

Allosteric Modulation of Ionotropic Glutamate Receptors Special Issue.

ACS Med Chem Lett 2018 May 10;9(5):398-399. Epub 2018 May 10.

Department of Pharmacology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, United States.

Call for papers! is now accepting manuscript submissions for a special issue entitled "Allosteric Modulation of Ionotropic Glutamate Receptors". This special issue is a cross-thematic issue with and . The special issue is scheduled for publication in early 2019.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsmedchemlett.8b00174DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5949834PMC
May 2018

RNA sequencing analysis reveals quiescent microglia isolation methods from postnatal mouse brains and limitations of BV2 cells.

J Neuroinflammation 2018 May 22;15(1):153. Epub 2018 May 22.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC., Neuroscience Drug Discovery, 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, CA, 92121, USA.

Background: Microglia play key roles in neuron-glia interaction, neuroinflammation, neural repair, and neurotoxicity. Currently, various microglial in vitro models including primary microglia derived from distinct isolation methods and immortalized microglial cell lines are extensively used. However, the diversity of these existing models raises difficulty in parallel comparison across studies since microglia are sensitive to environmental changes, and thus, different models are likely to show widely varied responses to the same stimuli. To better understand the involvement of microglia in pathophysiological situations, it is critical to establish a reliable microglial model system.

Methods: With postnatal mouse brains, we isolated microglia using three general methods including shaking, mild trypsinization, and CD11b magnetic-associated cell sorting (MACS) and applied RNA sequencing to compare transcriptomes of the isolated cells. Additionally, we generated a genome-wide dataset by RNA sequencing of immortalized BV2 microglial cell line to compare with primary microglia. Furthermore, based on the outcomes of transcriptional analysis, we compared cellular functions between primary microglia and BV2 cells including immune responses to LPS by quantitative RT-PCR and Luminex Multiplex Assay, TGFβ signaling probed by Western blot, and direct migration by chemotaxis assay.

Results: We found that although the yield and purity of microglia were comparable among the three isolation methods, mild trypsinization drove microglia in a relatively active state, evidenced by high amount of amoeboid microglia, enhanced expression of microglial activation genes, and suppression of microglial quiescent genes. In contrast, CD11b MACS was the most reliable and consistent method, and microglia isolated by this method maintained a relatively resting state. Transcriptional and functional analyses revealed that as compared to primary microglia, BV2 cells remain most of the immune functions such as responses to LPS but showed limited TGFβ signaling and chemotaxis upon chemoattractant C5a.

Conclusions: Collectively, we determined the optimal isolation methods for quiescent microglia and characterized the limitations of BV2 cells as an alternative of primary microglia. Considering transcriptional and functional differences, caution should be taken when extrapolating data from various microglial models. In addition, our RNA sequencing database serves as a valuable resource to provide novel insights for appropriate application of microglia as in vitro models.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12974-018-1195-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5964710PMC
May 2018

Re-evaluation of Adrenocorticotropic Hormone and Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone Activation of GPR139 .

Front Pharmacol 2018 2;9:157. Epub 2018 Mar 2.

Janssen Research and Development, LLC, San Diego, CA, United States.

It is now well established that GPR139, a G-protein coupled receptor exclusively expressed in the brain and pituitary, is activated by the essential amino acids L-tryptophan (L-Trp) and L-phenylalanine (L-Phe) via G-coupling. The affinity and potency values of L-Trp and L-Phe are within the physiological concentration ranges of L-Trp and L-Phe. A recent paper suggests that adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), α and β melanocyte stimulating hormones (α-MSH and β-MSH) and derivatives α-MSH/α-MSH can also activate GPR139 . We tested this hypothesis using guanosine 5'--(3-[S]thio)-triphosphate binding (GTPγS), calcium mobilization and [H]JNJ-63533054 radioligand binding assays. In the GTPγS binding assay, α-MSH, α-MSH/α-MSH, and β-MSH had no effect on [S]GTPγS incorporation in cell membranes expressing GPR139 up to 30 μM in contrast to the concentration dependent activation produced by L-Trp, JNJ-63533054, and TC-09311 (two small molecule GPR139 agonists). ACTH slightly decreased the basal level of [S]GTPγS incorporation at 30 μM. In the GPR139 radioligand binding assay, a moderate displacement of [H]JNJ-63533054 binding by ACTH and β-MSH was observed at 30 μM (40 and 30%, respectively); α-MSH, α-MSH/α-MSH did not displace any specific binding at 30 μM. In three different host cell lines stably expressing GPR139, α-MSH, and β-MSH did not stimulate calcium mobilization in contrast to L-Trp, JNJ-63533054, and TC-09311. ACTH, α-MSH/α-MSH only weakly stimulated calcium mobilization at 30 μM (<50% of EC). We then co-transfected GPR139 with the three melanocortin (MC) receptors (MC3R, MC4R, and MC5R) to test the hypothesis that ACTH, α-MSH, and β-MSH might stimulate calcium mobilization through a MCR/GPR139 interaction. All three MC peptides stimulated calcium response in cells co-transfected with GPR139 and MC3R, MC4R, or MC5R. The MC peptides did not stimulate calcium response in cells expressing MC3R or MC5R alone consistent with the G signaling transduction pathway of these receptors. In agreement with the previously reported multiple signaling pathways of MC4R, including G transduction pathway, the MC peptides produced a calcium response in cells expressing MC4R alone. Together, our findings do not support that GPR139 is activated by ACTH, α-MSH, and β-MSH at physiologically relevant concentration but we did unravel an interaction between GPR139 and the MCRs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.00157DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5863515PMC
March 2018

Evaluation of JNJ-54717793 a Novel Brain Penetrant Selective Orexin 1 Receptor Antagonist in Two Rat Models of Panic Attack Provocation.

Front Pharmacol 2017 9;8:357. Epub 2017 Jun 9.

Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, IndianapolisIN, United States.

Orexin neurons originating in the perifornical and lateral hypothalamic area are highly reactive to anxiogenic stimuli and have strong projections to anxiety and panic-associated circuitry. Recent studies support a role for the orexin system and in particular the orexin 1 receptor (OX1R) in coordinating an integrative stress response. However, no selective OX1R antagonist has been systematically tested in two preclinical models of using panicogenic stimuli that induce panic attack in the majority of people with panic disorder, namely an acute hypercapnia-panic provocation model and a model involving chronic inhibition of GABA synthesis in the perifornical hypothalamic area followed by intravenous sodium lactate infusion. Here we report on a novel brain penetrant, selective and high affinity OX1R antagonist JNJ-54717793 (1S,2R,4R)-7-([(3-fluoro-2-pyrimidin-2-ylphenyl)carbonyl]--[5-(trifluoromethyl)pyrazin-2-yl]-7-azabicyclo[2.2.1]heptan-2-amine). JNJ-54717793 is a high affinity/potent OX1R antagonist and has an excellent selectivity profile including 50 fold versus the OX2R. receptor binding studies demonstrated that after oral administration JNJ-54717793 crossed the blood brain barrier and occupied OX1Rs in the rat brain. While JNJ-54717793 had minimal effect on spontaneous sleep in rats and in wild-type mice, its administration in OX2R knockout mice, selectively promoted rapid eye movement sleep, demonstrating target engagement and specific OX1R blockade. JNJ-54717793 attenuated CO and sodium lactate induced panic-like behaviors and cardiovascular responses without altering baseline locomotor or autonomic activity. These data confirm that selective OX1R antagonism may represent a novel approach of treating anxiety disorders, with no apparent sedative effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2017.00357DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465257PMC
June 2017

Selective Inhibition of Orexin-2 Receptors Prevents Stress-Induced ACTH Release in Mice.

Front Behav Neurosci 2017 8;11:83. Epub 2017 May 8.

Department of Neuroscience, Janssen Research and Development, L.L.C.San Diego, CA, USA.

Orexins peptides exert a prominent role in arousal-related processes including stress responding, by activating orexin-1 (OX1R) and orexin-2 (OX2R) receptors located widely throughout the brain. Stress or orexin administration stimulates hyperarousal, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and corticosterone release, and selective OX1R blockade can attenuate several stress-induced behavioral and cardiovascular responses but not the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activation. As opposed to OX1R, OX2R are preferentially expressed in the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus which is involved in the HPA axis regulation. In the present study, we investigated the effects of a psychological stress elicited by cage exchange (CE) on ACTH release in two murine models (genetic and pharmacological) of selective OX2R inhibition. CE-induced stress produced a significant increase in ACTH serum levels. Mice lacking the OX2R exhibited a blunted stress response. Stress-induced ACTH release was absent in mice pre-treated with the selective OX2R antagonist JNJ-42847922 (30 mg/kg po), whereas pre-treatment with the dual OX1/2R antagonist SB-649868 (30 mg/kg po) only partially attenuated the increase of ACTH. To assess whether the intrinsic and distinct sleep-promoting properties of each antagonist could account for the differential stress response, a separate group of mice implanted with electrodes for standard sleep recording were orally dosed with JNJ-42847922 or SB-649868 during the light phase. While both compounds reduced the latency to non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep without affecting its duration, a prevalent REM-sleep promoting effect was observed only in mice treated with the dual OX1/2R antagonist. These data indicate that in a psychological stress model, genetic or pharmacological inhibition of OX2R markedly attenuated stress-induced ACTH secretion, as a separately mediated effect from the NREM sleep induction of OX2R antagonism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2017.00083DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5420581PMC
May 2017

4-Methyl-6,7-dihydro-4H-triazolo[4,5-c]pyridine-Based P2X7 Receptor Antagonists: Optimization of Pharmacokinetic Properties Leading to the Identification of a Clinical Candidate.

J Med Chem 2017 06 25;60(11):4559-4572. Epub 2017 May 25.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC , 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121, United States.

The synthesis and preclinical characterization of novel 4-(R)-methyl-6,7-dihydro-4H-triazolo[4,5-c]pyridines that are potent and selective brain penetrant P2X7 antagonists are described. Optimization efforts based on previously disclosed unsubstituted 6,7-dihydro-4H-triazolo[4,5-c]pyridines, methyl substituted 5,6,7,8-tetrahydro[1,2,4]triazolo[4,3-a]pyrazines, and several other series lead to the identification of a series of 4-(R)-methyl-6,7-dihydro-4H-triazolo[4,5-c]pyridines that are selective P2X7 antagonists with potency at the rodent and human P2X7 ion channels. These novel P2X7 antagonists have suitable physicochemical properties, and several analogs have an excellent pharmacokinetic profile, good partitioning into the CNS and show robust in vivo target engagement after oral dosing. Improvements in metabolic stability led to the identification of JNJ-54175446 (14) as a candidate for clinical development. The drug discovery efforts and strategies that resulted in the identification of the clinical candidate are described herein.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.7b00408DOI Listing
June 2017

Identification of (R)-(2-Chloro-3-(trifluoromethyl)phenyl)(1-(5-fluoropyridin-2-yl)-4-methyl-6,7-dihydro-1H-imidazo[4,5-c]pyridin-5(4H)-yl)methanone (JNJ 54166060), a Small Molecule Antagonist of the P2X7 receptor.

J Med Chem 2016 09 8;59(18):8535-48. Epub 2016 Sep 8.

Janssen Pharmaceutical Research & Development, LLC , 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121 United States.

The synthesis and SAR of a series of 4,5,6,7-tetrahydro-imidazo[4,5-c]pyridine P2X7 antagonists are described. Addressing P2X7 affinity and liver microsomal stability issues encountered with this template afforded methyl substituted 4,5,6,7-tetrahydro-imidazo[4,5-c]pyridines ultimately leading to the identification of 1 (JNJ 54166060). 1 is a potent P2X7 antagonist with an ED50 = 2.3 mg/kg in rats, high oral bioavailability and low-moderate clearance in preclinical species, acceptable safety margins in rats, and a predicted human dose of 120 mg of QD. Additionally, 1 possesses a unique CYP profile and was found to be a regioselective inhibitor of midazolam CYP3A metabolism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b00989DOI Listing
September 2016

Reply to "A Comment on 'Discovery and Characterization of AMPA Receptor Modulators Selective for TARP-γ8'".

J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2016 09;358(3):527

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, Neuroscience Therapeutic Area, San Diego, California.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/jpet.116.234815DOI Listing
September 2016

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

Direct Imaging of Hippocampal Epileptiform Calcium Motifs Following Kainic Acid Administration in Freely Behaving Mice.

Front Neurosci 2016 29;10:53. Epub 2016 Feb 29.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC San Diego, CA, USA.

Prolonged exposure to abnormally high calcium concentrations is thought to be a core mechanism underlying hippocampal damage in epileptic patients; however, no prior study has characterized calcium activity during seizures in the live, intact hippocampus. We have directly investigated this possibility by combining whole-brain electroencephalographic (EEG) measurements with microendoscopic calcium imaging of pyramidal cells in the CA1 hippocampal region of freely behaving mice treated with the pro-convulsant kainic acid (KA). We observed that KA administration led to systematic patterns of epileptiform calcium activity: a series of large-scale, intensifying flashes of increased calcium fluorescence concurrent with a cluster of low-amplitude EEG waveforms. This was accompanied by a steady increase in cellular calcium levels (>5 fold increase relative to the baseline), followed by an intense spreading calcium wave characterized by a 218% increase in global mean intensity of calcium fluorescence (n = 8, range [114-349%], p < 10(-4); t-test). The wave had no consistent EEG phenotype and occurred before the onset of motor convulsions. Similar changes in calcium activity were also observed in animals treated with 2 different proconvulsant agents, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and pentylenetetrazol (PTZ), suggesting the measured changes in calcium dynamics are a signature of seizure activity rather than a KA-specific pathology. Additionally, despite reducing the behavioral severity of KA-induced seizures, the anticonvulsant drug valproate (VA, 300 mg/kg) did not modify the observed abnormalities in calcium dynamics. These results confirm the presence of pathological calcium activity preceding convulsive motor seizures and support calcium as a candidate signaling molecule in a pathway connecting seizures to subsequent cellular damage. Integrating in vivo calcium imaging with traditional assessment of seizures could potentially increase translatability of pharmacological intervention, leading to novel drug screening paradigms and therapeutics designed to target and abolish abnormal patterns of both electrical and calcium excitation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2016.00053DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4770289PMC
March 2016

Direct Imaging of Hippocampal Epileptiform Calcium Motifs Following Kainic Acid Administration in Freely Behaving Mice.

Front Neurosci 2016 29;10:53. Epub 2016 Feb 29.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC San Diego, CA, USA.

Prolonged exposure to abnormally high calcium concentrations is thought to be a core mechanism underlying hippocampal damage in epileptic patients; however, no prior study has characterized calcium activity during seizures in the live, intact hippocampus. We have directly investigated this possibility by combining whole-brain electroencephalographic (EEG) measurements with microendoscopic calcium imaging of pyramidal cells in the CA1 hippocampal region of freely behaving mice treated with the pro-convulsant kainic acid (KA). We observed that KA administration led to systematic patterns of epileptiform calcium activity: a series of large-scale, intensifying flashes of increased calcium fluorescence concurrent with a cluster of low-amplitude EEG waveforms. This was accompanied by a steady increase in cellular calcium levels (>5 fold increase relative to the baseline), followed by an intense spreading calcium wave characterized by a 218% increase in global mean intensity of calcium fluorescence (n = 8, range [114-349%], p < 10(-4); t-test). The wave had no consistent EEG phenotype and occurred before the onset of motor convulsions. Similar changes in calcium activity were also observed in animals treated with 2 different proconvulsant agents, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and pentylenetetrazol (PTZ), suggesting the measured changes in calcium dynamics are a signature of seizure activity rather than a KA-specific pathology. Additionally, despite reducing the behavioral severity of KA-induced seizures, the anticonvulsant drug valproate (VA, 300 mg/kg) did not modify the observed abnormalities in calcium dynamics. These results confirm the presence of pathological calcium activity preceding convulsive motor seizures and support calcium as a candidate signaling molecule in a pathway connecting seizures to subsequent cellular damage. Integrating in vivo calcium imaging with traditional assessment of seizures could potentially increase translatability of pharmacological intervention, leading to novel drug screening paradigms and therapeutics designed to target and abolish abnormal patterns of both electrical and calcium excitation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2016.00053DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4770289PMC
March 2016

Substituted 5,6-(Dihydropyrido[3,4-d]pyrimidin-7(8H)-yl)-methanones as P2X7 Antagonists.

ACS Chem Neurosci 2016 Apr 19;7(4):498-504. Epub 2016 Jan 19.

Janssen Research & Development L.L.C. , 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121, United States.

We describe the synthesis of a novel class of brain penetrating P2X7 antagonists with high potency at both the rat and human P2X7 receptors. Disclosed herein are druglike molecules with demonstrated target engagement of the rat P2X7 receptors after an oral dose. Specifically, compound 20 occupied the P2X7 receptors >80% over the 6 h time course as measured by an ex vivo radioligand binding experiment. In a dose-response assay, this molecule has a plasma EC50 of 8 ng/mL. Overall, 20 has suitable druglike properties and pharmacokinetics in rat and dog. This molecule and others disclosed herein will serve as additional tools to elucidate the role of the P2X7 receptor in neuropsychiatric disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acschemneuro.5b00304DOI Listing
April 2016