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Pharmaceuticals, Volume 9, Issue 3 (September 2016)

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Open AccessReview
Antimicrobial Peptides Targeting Gram-Positive Bacteria
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030059 - 20 Sep 2016
Cited by 61 | Viewed by 4125
Abstract
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have remarkably different structures as well as biological activity profiles, whereupon most of these peptides are supposed to kill bacteria via membrane damage. In order to understand their molecular mechanism and target cell specificity for Gram-positive bacteria, it is essential [...] Read more.
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have remarkably different structures as well as biological activity profiles, whereupon most of these peptides are supposed to kill bacteria via membrane damage. In order to understand their molecular mechanism and target cell specificity for Gram-positive bacteria, it is essential to consider the architecture of their cell envelopes. Before AMPs can interact with the cytoplasmic membrane of Gram-positive bacteria, they have to traverse the cell wall composed of wall- and lipoteichoic acids and peptidoglycan. While interaction of AMPs with peptidoglycan might rather facilitate penetration, interaction with anionic teichoic acids may act as either a trap for AMPs or a ladder for a route to the cytoplasmic membrane. Interaction with the cytoplasmic membrane frequently leads to lipid segregation affecting membrane domain organization, which affects membrane permeability, inhibits cell division processes or leads to delocalization of essential peripheral membrane proteins. Further, precursors of cell wall components, especially the highly conserved lipid II, are directly targeted by AMPs. Thereby, the peptides do not inhibit peptidoglycan synthesis via binding to proteins like common antibiotics, but form a complex with the precursor molecule, which in addition can promote pore formation and membrane disruption. Thus, the multifaceted mode of actions will make AMPs superior to antibiotics that act only on one specific target. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antimicrobial Peptides: Expanded Activity Spectrum and Applications)
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Open AccessReview
TRPV3 in Drug Development
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030055 - 09 Sep 2016
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 3065
Abstract
Transient receptor potential vanilloid 3 (TRPV3) is a member of the TRP (Transient Receptor Potential) super-family. It is a relatively underexplored member of the thermo-TRP sub-family (Figure 1), however, genetic mutations and use of gene knock-outs and selective pharmacological tools are [...] Read more.
Transient receptor potential vanilloid 3 (TRPV3) is a member of the TRP (Transient Receptor Potential) super-family. It is a relatively underexplored member of the thermo-TRP sub-family (Figure 1), however, genetic mutations and use of gene knock-outs and selective pharmacological tools are helping to provide insights into its role and therapeutic potential. TRPV3 is highly expressed in skin, where it is implicated in skin physiology and pathophysiology, thermo-sensing and nociception. Gain of function TRPV3 mutations in rodent and man have enabled the role of TRPV3 in skin health and disease to be particularly well defined. Pre-clinical studies provide some rationale to support development of TRPV3 antagonists for therapeutic application for the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions, itch and pain. However, to date, only one compound directed towards block of the TRPV3 receptor (GRC15300) has progressed into clinical trials. Currently, there are no known clinical trials in progress employing a TRPV3 antagonist. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Preparation of Temozolomide-Loaded Nanoparticles for Glioblastoma Multiforme Targeting—Ideal Versus Reality
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030054 - 08 Sep 2016
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2354
Abstract
Temozolomide (TMZ) is one of the most effective chemotherapeutic agents for glioblastoma multiforme, but the required high administration dose is accompanied by side effects. To overcome this problem and to further improve TMZ’s efficacy, targeted delivery of TMZ by using polymeric nanoparticles has [...] Read more.
Temozolomide (TMZ) is one of the most effective chemotherapeutic agents for glioblastoma multiforme, but the required high administration dose is accompanied by side effects. To overcome this problem and to further improve TMZ’s efficacy, targeted delivery of TMZ by using polymeric nanoparticles has been explored. We synthesised the PLGA-PEG-FOL copolymer and attempted encapsulation of TMZ into PLGA-PEG-FOL nanoparticles using the emulsion solvent evaporation method and the nanoprecipitation method. Conjugation of PEG and FOL to PLGA has been reported to be able to increase the delivery of TMZ to the brain as well as targeting the glioma cells. However, despite making numerous modifications to these methods, the loading of TMZ in the nanoparticles only ranged between 0.2% and 2%, and the nanoparticles were between 400 nm and 600 nm in size after freeze-drying. We proceed with determining the release profile of TMZ in phosphate buffered saline (PBS). Our initial data indicated that TMZ was slowly released from the nanoparticles. The metabolite of TMZ rather than the parent compound was detected in PBS. Our study suggests that while PLGA-PEG-FOL can be used as a polymeric or encapsulation material for central delivery of TMZ, a practical and cost effective formulation method is still far from reach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanobiotechnology in Medicinal Chemistry)
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Open AccessArticle
1H and 15N NMR Analyses on Heparin, Heparan Sulfates and Related Monosaccharides Concerning the Chemical Exchange Regime of the N-Sulfo-Glucosamine Sulfamate Proton
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030058 - 07 Sep 2016
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2605
Abstract
Heparin and heparan sulfate are structurally related glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Both GAGs present, although in different concentrations, N-sulfo-glucosamine (GlcNS) as one of their various composing units. The conditional fast exchange property of the GlcNS sulfamate proton in these GAGs has been pointed as [...] Read more.
Heparin and heparan sulfate are structurally related glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Both GAGs present, although in different concentrations, N-sulfo-glucosamine (GlcNS) as one of their various composing units. The conditional fast exchange property of the GlcNS sulfamate proton in these GAGs has been pointed as the main barrier to its signal detection via NMR experiments, especially 1H-15N HSQC. Here, a series of NMR spectra is collected on heparin, heparan sulfate and related monosaccharides. The N-acetyl glucosamine-linked uronic acid types of these GAGs were properly assigned in the 1H-15N HSQC spectra. Dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) was employed in order to facilitate 1D spectral acquisition of the sulfamate 15N signal of free GlcNS. Analyses on the multiplet pattern of scalar couplings of GlcNS 15N has helped to understand the chemical properties of the sulfamate proton in solution. The singlet peak observed for GlcNS happens due to fast chemical exchange of the GlcNS sulfamate proton in solution. Analyses on kinetics of alpha-beta anomeric mutarotation via 1H NMR spectra have been performed in GlcNS as well as other glucose-based monosaccharides. 1D 1H and 2D 1H-15N HSQC spectra recorded at low temperature for free GlcNS dissolved in a proton-rich solution showed signals from all exchangeable protons, including those belonging to the sulfamate group. This work suits well to the current grand celebration of one-century-anniversary of the discovery of heparin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grand Celebration: 100th Anniversary of the Discovery of Heparin)
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Open AccessReview
Targeting TRPM2 in ROS-Coupled Diseases
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030057 - 07 Sep 2016
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2535
Abstract
Under pathological conditions such as inflammation and ischemia-reperfusion injury large amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated which, in return, contribute to the development and exacerbation of disease. The second member of the transient receptor potential (TRP) melastatin subfamily, TRPM2, is a [...] Read more.
Under pathological conditions such as inflammation and ischemia-reperfusion injury large amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated which, in return, contribute to the development and exacerbation of disease. The second member of the transient receptor potential (TRP) melastatin subfamily, TRPM2, is a Ca2+-permeable non-selective cation channel, activated by ROS in an ADP-ribose mediated fashion. In other words, TRPM2 functions as a transducer that converts oxidative stress into Ca2+ signaling. There is good evidence that TRPM2 plays an important role in ROS-coupled diseases. For example, in monocytes the influx of Ca2+ through TRPM2 activated by ROS contributes to the aggravation of inflammation via chemokine production. In this review, the focus is on TRPM2 as a molecular linker between ROS and Ca2+ signaling in ROS-coupled diseases. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Therapeutic Potential of Gramicidin S in the Treatment of Root Canal Infections
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030056 - 07 Sep 2016
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2338
Abstract
An intrinsic clindamycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis, the most common single species present in teeth after failed root canal therapy, often possesses acquired tetracycline resistance. In these cases, root canal infections are commonly treated with Ledermix® paste, which contains demeclocycline, or the new [...] Read more.
An intrinsic clindamycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis, the most common single species present in teeth after failed root canal therapy, often possesses acquired tetracycline resistance. In these cases, root canal infections are commonly treated with Ledermix® paste, which contains demeclocycline, or the new alternative endodontic paste Odontopaste, which contains clindamycin; however, these treatments are often ineffective. We studied the killing activity of the cyclic antimicrobial peptide gramicidin S (GS) against planktonic and biofilm cells of tetracycline-resistant clinical isolates of E. faecalis. The high therapeutic potential of GS for the topical treatment of problematic teeth is based on the rapid bactericidal effect toward the biofilm-forming, tetracycline-resistant E. faecalis. GS reduces the cell number of planktonic cells within 20–40 min at a concentration of 40–80 μg/mL. It kills the cells of pre-grown biofilms at concentrations of 100–200 μg/mL, such that no re-growth is possible. The translocation of the peptide into the cell interior and its complexation with intracellular nucleotides, including the alarmon ppGpp, can explain its anti-biofilm effect. The successful treatment of persistently infected root canals of two volunteers confirms the high effectiveness of GS. The broad GS activity towards resistant, biofilm-forming E. faecalis suggests its applications for approval in root canal medication. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antimicrobial Peptides: Expanded Activity Spectrum and Applications)
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Open AccessReview
The Role of Antimicrobial Peptides in Influenza Virus Infection and Their Potential as Antiviral and Immunomodulatory Therapy
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030053 - 06 Sep 2016
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 2413
Abstract
Influenza A virus (IAV) remains a major threat that can cause severe morbidity and mortality due to rapid genomic variation. Resistance of IAVs to current anti-IAV drugs has been emerging, and antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have been considered to be potential candidates for novel [...] Read more.
Influenza A virus (IAV) remains a major threat that can cause severe morbidity and mortality due to rapid genomic variation. Resistance of IAVs to current anti-IAV drugs has been emerging, and antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have been considered to be potential candidates for novel treatment against IAV infection. AMPs are endogenous proteins playing important roles in host defense through direct antimicrobial and antiviral activities and through immunomodulatory effects. In this review, we will discuss the anti-IAV and immunomodulatory effects of classical AMPs (defensins and cathelicidins), and proteins more recently discovered to have AMP-like activity (histones and Alzheimer’s associated β-amyloid). We will discuss the interactions between AMPs and other host defense proteins. Major emphasis will be placed on novel synthetic AMPs derived from modification of natural proteins, and on potential methods of increasing expression of endogenous AMPs, since these approaches may lead to novel antiviral therapeutics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antimicrobial Peptides: Expanded Activity Spectrum and Applications)
Open AccessReview
TRPV1: A Target for Rational Drug Design
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030052 - 23 Aug 2016
Cited by 37 | Viewed by 3588
Abstract
Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) is a non-selective, Ca2+ permeable cation channel activated by noxious heat, and chemical ligands, such as capsaicin and resiniferatoxin (RTX). Many compounds have been developed that either activate or inhibit TRPV1, but none of them are [...] Read more.
Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) is a non-selective, Ca2+ permeable cation channel activated by noxious heat, and chemical ligands, such as capsaicin and resiniferatoxin (RTX). Many compounds have been developed that either activate or inhibit TRPV1, but none of them are in routine clinical practice. This review will discuss the rationale for antagonists and agonists of TRPV1 for pain relief and other conditions, and strategies to develop new, better drugs to target this ion channel, using the newly available high-resolution structures. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030049 - 18 Aug 2016
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3096
Abstract
The plant maca, grown at 4000 m altitude in the Peruvian Central Andes, contains hypocotyls that have been used as food and in traditional medicine for centuries. The aim of this research was to provide results on some health effects of oral administration [...] Read more.
The plant maca, grown at 4000 m altitude in the Peruvian Central Andes, contains hypocotyls that have been used as food and in traditional medicine for centuries. The aim of this research was to provide results on some health effects of oral administration of spray-dried extracts of black or red maca (Lepidium meyenii) in adult human subjects living at low (LA) and high altitude (HA). A total of 175 participants were given 3 g of either placebo, black, or red maca extract daily for 12 weeks. Primary outcomes were changes in sexual desire, mood, energy, health-related quality of life score (HRQL), and chronic mountain sickness (CMS) score, or in glycaemia, blood pressure, and hemoglobin levels. Secondary outcomes were acceptability and safety, assessed using the Likert test and side effect self-recording, respectively, and the effect of altitude. At low altitude, 32, 30, and 32 participants started the study receiving placebo, red maca, or black maca, respectively. At high altitudes, 33, 35, and 31 participants started the study receiving placebo, red maca, and black maca, respectively. Consumption of spray-dried extracts of red and black maca resulted in improvement in mood, energy, and health status, and reduced CMS score. Fatty acids and macamides were higher in spray-dried extracts of black maca than in red maca. GABA predominated in spray-dried extracts of red maca. Effects on mood, energy, and CMS score were better with red maca. Black maca and, in smaller proportions, red maca reduced hemoglobin levels only in highlanders with abnormally high hemoglobin levels; neither variety of maca reduced hemoglobin levels in lowlanders. Black maca reduced blood glucose levels. Both varieties produced similar responses in mood, and HRQL score. Maca extracts consumed at LA or HA had good acceptability and did not show serious adverse effects. In conclusion, maca extract consumption relative to the placebo improved quality of life parameters. Differences in the level of improvement between red and black maca are probably due to differences in the composition of these two plant varieties. Both maca extracts were well tolerated and safe. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Design and Prototype of an Automated Column-Switching HPLC System for Radiometabolite Analysis
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030051 - 17 Aug 2016
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2399
Abstract
Column-switching high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is extensively used for the critical analysis of radiolabeled ligands and their metabolites in plasma. However, the lack of streamlined apparatus and consequently varying protocols remain as a challenge among positron emission tomography laboratories. We report here [...] Read more.
Column-switching high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is extensively used for the critical analysis of radiolabeled ligands and their metabolites in plasma. However, the lack of streamlined apparatus and consequently varying protocols remain as a challenge among positron emission tomography laboratories. We report here the prototype apparatus and implementation of a fully automated and simplified column-switching procedure to allow for the easy and automated determination of radioligands and their metabolites in up to 5 mL of plasma. The system has been used with conventional UV and coincidence radiation detectors, as well as with a single quadrupole mass spectrometer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Challenges in Radiochemistry)
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Open AccessReview
TRP Channels as Therapeutic Targets in Diabetes and Obesity
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030050 - 17 Aug 2016
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2481
Abstract
During the last three to four decades the prevalence of obesity and diabetes mellitus has greatly increased worldwide, including in the United States. Both the short- and long-term forecasts predict serious consequences for the near future, and encourage the development of solutions for [...] Read more.
During the last three to four decades the prevalence of obesity and diabetes mellitus has greatly increased worldwide, including in the United States. Both the short- and long-term forecasts predict serious consequences for the near future, and encourage the development of solutions for the prevention and management of obesity and diabetes mellitus. Transient receptor potential (TRP) channels were identified in tissues and organs important for the control of whole body metabolism. A variety of TRP channels has been shown to play a role in the regulation of hormone release, energy expenditure, pancreatic function, and neurotransmitter release in control, obese and/or diabetic conditions. Moreover, dietary supplementation of natural ligands of TRP channels has been shown to have potential beneficial effects in obese and diabetic conditions. These findings raised the interest and likelihood for potential drug development. In this mini-review, we discuss possibilities for better management of obesity and diabetes mellitus based on TRP-dependent mechanisms. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Nutraceutical Improvement Increases the Protective Activity of Broccoli Sprout Juice in a Human Intestinal Cell Model of Gut Inflammation
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030048 - 12 Aug 2016
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2132
Abstract
Benefits to health from a high consumption of fruits and vegetables are well established and have been attributed to bioactive secondary metabolites present in edible plants. However, the effects of specific health-related phytochemicals within a complex food matrix are difficult to assess. In [...] Read more.
Benefits to health from a high consumption of fruits and vegetables are well established and have been attributed to bioactive secondary metabolites present in edible plants. However, the effects of specific health-related phytochemicals within a complex food matrix are difficult to assess. In an attempt to address this problem, we have used elicitation to improve the nutraceutical content of seedlings of Brassica oleracea grown under controlled conditions. Analysis, by LC-MS, of the glucosinolate, isothiocyanate and phenolic compound content of juices obtained from sprouts indicated that elicitation induces an enrichment of several phenolics, particularly of the anthocyanin fraction. To test the biological activity of basal and enriched juices we took advantage of a recently developed in vitro model of inflamed human intestinal epithelium. Both sprouts’ juices protected intestinal barrier integrity in Caco-2 cells exposed to tumor necrosis factor α under marginal zinc deprivation, with the enriched juice showing higher protection. Multivariate regression analysis indicated that the extent of rescue from stress-induced epithelial dysfunction correlated with the composition in bioactive molecules of the juices and, in particular, with a group of phenolic compounds, including several anthocyanins, quercetin-3-Glc, cryptochlorogenic, neochlorogenic and cinnamic acids. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Resiniferatoxin: The Evolution of the “Molecular Scalpel” for Chronic Pain Relief
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030047 - 11 Aug 2016
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2653
Abstract
Control of chronic pain is frequently inadequate or can be associated with debilitating side effects. Ablation of certain nociceptive neurons, while retaining all other sensory modalities and motor function, represents a new therapeutic approach to controlling severe pain while avoiding off-target side effects. [...] Read more.
Control of chronic pain is frequently inadequate or can be associated with debilitating side effects. Ablation of certain nociceptive neurons, while retaining all other sensory modalities and motor function, represents a new therapeutic approach to controlling severe pain while avoiding off-target side effects. transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TRPV1) is a calcium permeable nonselective cation channel expressed on the peripheral and central terminals of small-diameter sensory neurons. Highly selective chemoablation of TRPV1-containing peripheral nerve endings, or the entire TRPV1-expressing neuron itself, can be used to control chronic pain. Administration of the potent TRPV1 agonist resiniferatoxin (RTX) to neuronal perikarya or nerve terminals induces calcium cytotoxicity and selective lesioning of the TRPV1-expressing nociceptive primary afferent population. This selective neuroablation has been coined “molecular neurosurgery” and has the advantage of sparing motor, proprioceptive, and other somatosensory functions that are so important for coordinated movement, performing activities of daily living, and maintaining quality of life. This review examines the mechanisms and preclinical data underlying the therapeutic use of RTX and examples of such use for the management of chronic pain in clinical veterinary and human pain states. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Differential Activation of TRP Channels in the Adult Rat Spinal Substantia Gelatinosa by Stereoisomers of Plant-Derived Chemicals
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030046 - 28 Jul 2016
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1781
Abstract
Activation of TRPV1, TRPA1 or TRPM8 channel expressed in the central terminal of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neuron increases the spontaneous release of l-glutamate onto spinal dorsal horn lamina II (substantia gelatinosa; SG) neurons which play a pivotal role in regulating nociceptive [...] Read more.
Activation of TRPV1, TRPA1 or TRPM8 channel expressed in the central terminal of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neuron increases the spontaneous release of l-glutamate onto spinal dorsal horn lamina II (substantia gelatinosa; SG) neurons which play a pivotal role in regulating nociceptive transmission. The TRP channels are activated by various plant-derived chemicals. Although stereoisomers activate or modulate ion channels in a distinct manner, this phenomenon is not fully addressed for TRP channels. By applying the whole-cell patch-clamp technique to SG neurons of adult rat spinal cord slices, we found out that all of plant-derived chemicals, carvacrol, thymol, carvone and cineole, increase the frequency of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic current, a measure of the spontaneous release of l-glutamate from nerve terminals, by activating TRP channels. The presynaptic activities were different between stereoisomers (carvacrol and thymol; (−)-carvone and (+)-carvone; 1,8-cineole and 1,4-cineole) in the extent or the types of TRP channels activated, indicating that TRP channels in the SG are activated by stereoisomers in a distinct manner. This result could serve to know the properties of the central terminal TRP channels that are targets of drugs for alleviating pain. Full article
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Open AccessReview
TRPV1 and TRPM8 in Treatment of Chronic Cough
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030045 - 28 Jul 2016
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2838
Abstract
Chronic cough is common in the population, and among some there is no evident medical explanation for the symptoms. Such a refractory or idiopathic cough is now often regarded as a neuropathic disease due to dysfunctional airway ion channels, though the knowledge in [...] Read more.
Chronic cough is common in the population, and among some there is no evident medical explanation for the symptoms. Such a refractory or idiopathic cough is now often regarded as a neuropathic disease due to dysfunctional airway ion channels, though the knowledge in this field is still limited. Persistent coughing and a cough reflex easily triggered by irritating stimuli, often in combination with perceived dyspnea, are characteristics of this disease. The patients have impaired quality of life and often reduced work capacity, followed by social and economic consequences. Despite the large number of individuals suffering from such a persisting cough, there is an unmet clinical need for effective cough medicines. The cough treatment available today often has little or no effect. Adverse effects mostly follow centrally acting cough drugs comprised of morphine and codeine, which demands the physician’s awareness. The possibilities of modulating airway transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels may indicate new ways to treat the persistent cough “without a reason”. The TRP ion channel vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) and the TRP melastin 8 (TRPM8) appear as two candidates in the search for cough therapy, both as single targets and in reciprocal interaction. Full article
Open AccessReview
TRPM8 Puts the Chill on Prostate Cancer
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030044 - 09 Jul 2016
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1882
Abstract
Prostate cancer (PCa) is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers in developed countries. Several studies suggest that variations in calcium homeostasis are involved in carcinogenesis. Interestingly, (Transient Receptor Potential Melastatin member 8) TRPM8 calcium permeable channel expression is differentially regulated during prostate [...] Read more.
Prostate cancer (PCa) is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers in developed countries. Several studies suggest that variations in calcium homeostasis are involved in carcinogenesis. Interestingly, (Transient Receptor Potential Melastatin member 8) TRPM8 calcium permeable channel expression is differentially regulated during prostate carcinogenesis, thereby suggesting a potential functional role for this channel in those cell processes, which are important for PCa evolution. Indeed, several studies have shown that TRPM8 plays a key role in processes such as the proliferation, viability and cell migration of PCa cells. Where cell migration is concerned, TRPM8 seems to have a protective anti-invasive effect and could be a particularly promising therapeutic target. The goal of this review is to inventory advances in understanding of the role of TRPM8 in the installation and progression of PCa. Full article
Open AccessCommunication
Convergent Synthesis of Two Fluorescent Ebselen-Coumarin Heterodimers
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030043 - 08 Jul 2016
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2749
Abstract
The organo-seleniumdrug ebselen exhibits a wide range of pharmacological effects that are predominantly due to its interference with redox systems catalyzed by seleno enzymes, e.g., glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase. Moreover, ebselen can covalently interact with thiol groups of several enzymes. According to [...] Read more.
The organo-seleniumdrug ebselen exhibits a wide range of pharmacological effects that are predominantly due to its interference with redox systems catalyzed by seleno enzymes, e.g., glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase. Moreover, ebselen can covalently interact with thiol groups of several enzymes. According to its pleiotropic mode of action, ebselen has been investigated in clinical trials for the prevention and treatment of different ailments. Fluorescence-labeled probes containing ebselen are expected to be suitable for further biological and medicinal studies. We therefore designed and synthesized two coumarin-tagged activity-based probes bearing the ebselen warhead. The heterodimers differ by the nature of the spacer structure, for which—in the second compound—a PEG/two-amide spacer was introduced. The interaction of this probe and of ebselen with two cysteine proteases was investigated. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Polylactic Acid—Lemongrass Essential Oil Nanocapsules with Antimicrobial Properties
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030042 - 07 Jul 2016
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3669
Abstract
Polylactic acid was combined with lemongrass essential oil (EO) to produce functional nanocapsules (NCs). The obtained polylactic acid nanoparticles showed antimicrobial activity both with and without the presence of lemongrass oil; however, the presence of EO improved the activity of the NCs. The [...] Read more.
Polylactic acid was combined with lemongrass essential oil (EO) to produce functional nanocapsules (NCs). The obtained polylactic acid nanoparticles showed antimicrobial activity both with and without the presence of lemongrass oil; however, the presence of EO improved the activity of the NCs. The presence of lemongrass assisted the formation of well-separated NCs and also provided enhanced antimicrobial properties, since lemongrass is known for its antimicrobial character. Fluorescence microscopy was used to optically observe the nanoparticles and NCs and revealed the attachment of lemongrass oil with the polylactic acid NCs. Dynamic light scattering was used to determine their size. UV absorption was used to determine the exact amount of lemongrass oil found in the polylactic acid—lemongrass oil NCs, which was important for understanding the minimum inhibitory concentration for the antimicrobial experiments. A series of clinically important microbial species were used in the study and the obtained NCs proved to have very good antimicrobial properties against all tested strains. Such NCs can be used for the design of ecological strategies, based on natural alternatives, which may be efficient against severe infections, including those that involve resistant pathogens and biofilms or those with difficult to reach localization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanobiotechnology in Medicinal Chemistry)
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Open AccessReview
Multiple Functions of the New Cytokine-Based Antimicrobial Peptide Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin (TSLP)
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030041 - 05 Jul 2016
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3155
Abstract
Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) is a pleiotropic cytokine, hitherto mostly known to be involved in inflammatory responses and immunoregulation. The human tslp gene gives rise to two transcription and translation variants: a long form (lfTSLP) that is induced by inflammation, and a short, [...] Read more.
Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) is a pleiotropic cytokine, hitherto mostly known to be involved in inflammatory responses and immunoregulation. The human tslp gene gives rise to two transcription and translation variants: a long form (lfTSLP) that is induced by inflammation, and a short, constitutively-expressed form (sfTSLP), that appears to be downregulated by inflammation. The TSLP forms can be produced by a number of cell types, including epithelial and dendritic cells (DCs). lfTSLP can activate mast cells, DCs, and T cells through binding to the lfTSLP receptor (TSLPR) and has a pro-inflammatory function. In contrast, sfTSLP inhibits cytokine secretion of DCs, but the receptor mediating this effect is unknown. Our recent studies have demonstrated that both forms of TSLP display potent antimicrobial activity, exceeding that of many other known antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), with sfTSLP having the strongest effect. The AMP activity is primarily mediated by the C-terminal region of the protein and is localized within a 34-mer peptide (MKK34) that spans the C-terminal α-helical region in TSLP. Fluorescent studies of peptide-treated bacteria, electron microscopy, and liposome leakage models showed that MKK34 exerted membrane-disrupting effects comparable to those of LL-37. Expression of TSLP in skin, oral mucosa, salivary glands, and intestine is part of the defense barrier that aids in the control of both commensal and pathogenic microbes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antimicrobial Peptides: Expanded Activity Spectrum and Applications)
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Open AccessReview
Functions of Cationic Host Defense Peptides in Immunity
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030040 - 04 Jul 2016
Cited by 32 | Viewed by 2183
Abstract
Cationic host defense peptides are a widely distributed family of immunomodulatory molecules with antimicrobial properties. The biological functions of these peptides include the ability to influence innate and adaptive immunity for efficient resolution of infections and simultaneous modulation of inflammatory responses. This unique [...] Read more.
Cationic host defense peptides are a widely distributed family of immunomodulatory molecules with antimicrobial properties. The biological functions of these peptides include the ability to influence innate and adaptive immunity for efficient resolution of infections and simultaneous modulation of inflammatory responses. This unique dual bioactivity of controlling infections and inflammation has gained substantial attention in the last three decades and consequent interest in the development of these peptide mimics as immunomodulatory therapeutic candidates. In this review, we summarize the current literature on the wide range of functions of cationic host defense peptides in the context of the mammalian immune system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antimicrobial Peptides: Expanded Activity Spectrum and Applications)
Open AccessCommunication
Odanacatib, a Cathepsin K Cysteine Protease Inhibitor, Kills Hookworm In Vivo
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030039 - 04 Jul 2016
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2996
Abstract
Hookworm infection is chief among soil-transmitted helminthiases (STHs) for the chronic morbidly inflicted. Deworming via mass drug administration (MDA) programs most often employs single doses of benzimidazole drugs to which resistance is a constant threat. To discover new drugs, we employ a hamster [...] Read more.
Hookworm infection is chief among soil-transmitted helminthiases (STHs) for the chronic morbidly inflicted. Deworming via mass drug administration (MDA) programs most often employs single doses of benzimidazole drugs to which resistance is a constant threat. To discover new drugs, we employ a hamster model of hookworm infection with Ancylostoma ceylanicum and use albendazole (ABZ; 10 mg/kg orally) as the gold standard therapy. We previously showed that a single oral 100 mg/kg dose of the cathepsin cysteine protease (CP) inhibitor, K11777, offers near cure of infection that is associated with a 95% reduction in the parasite’s resident CP activity. We confirm these findings here and demonstrate that odanacatib (ODN), Merck’s cathepsin K inhibitor and post-clinical Phase III drug candidate for treatment of osteoporosis, decreases worm burden by 73% at the same dose with a 51% reduction in the parasite’s CP activity. Unlike K11777, ODN is a modest inhibitor of both mammalian cathepsin B and the predominant cathepsin B-like activity measureable in hookworm extracts. ODN’s somewhat unexpected efficacy, therefore, may be due to its excellent pharmacokinetic (PK) profile which allows for sustained plasma exposure and, possibly, sufficient perturbation of hookworm cathepsin B activity to be detrimental to survival. Accordingly, identifying a CP inhibitor(s) that combines the inhibition potency of K11777 and the PK attributes of ODN could lead to a drug that is effective at a lower dose. Achieving this would potentially provide an alternative or back-up to the current anti-hookworm drug, albendazole. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Heparin: Past, Present, and Future
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030038 - 04 Jul 2016
Cited by 34 | Viewed by 3535
Abstract
Heparin, the most widely used anticoagulant drug in the world today, remains an animal-derived product with the attendant risks of adulteration and contamination. A contamination crisis in 2007–2008 increased the impetus to provide non-animal-derived sources of heparin, produced under cGMP conditions. In addition, [...] Read more.
Heparin, the most widely used anticoagulant drug in the world today, remains an animal-derived product with the attendant risks of adulteration and contamination. A contamination crisis in 2007–2008 increased the impetus to provide non-animal-derived sources of heparin, produced under cGMP conditions. In addition, recent studies suggest that heparin may have significant antineoplastic activity, separate and distinct from its anticoagulant activity, while other studies indicate a role for heparin in treating inflammation, infertility, and infectious disease. A variety of strategies have been proposed to produce a bioengineered heparin. In this review, we discuss several of these strategies including microbial production, mammalian cell production, and chemoenzymatic modification. We also propose strategies for creating “designer” heparins and heparan-sulfates with various biochemical and physiological properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grand Celebration: 100th Anniversary of the Discovery of Heparin)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Strategies to Overcome Heparins’ Low Oral Bioavailability
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030037 - 29 Jun 2016
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2844
Abstract
Even after a century, heparin is still the most effective anticoagulant available with few side effects. The poor oral absorption of heparins triggered the search for strategies to achieve oral bioavailability since this route has evident advantages over parenteral administration. Several approaches emerged, [...] Read more.
Even after a century, heparin is still the most effective anticoagulant available with few side effects. The poor oral absorption of heparins triggered the search for strategies to achieve oral bioavailability since this route has evident advantages over parenteral administration. Several approaches emerged, such as conjugation of heparins with bile acids and lipids, formulation with penetration enhancers, and encapsulation of heparins in micro and nanoparticles. Some of these strategies appear to have potential as good delivery systems to overcome heparin’s low oral bioavailability. Nevertheless, none have reached the market yet. Overall, this review aims to provide insights regarding the oral bioavailability of heparin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grand Celebration: 100th Anniversary of the Discovery of Heparin)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Site-Specific Labeling of Protein Kinase CK2: Combining Surface Display and Click Chemistry for Drug Discovery Applications
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030036 - 27 Jun 2016
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3158
Abstract
Human CK2 is a heterotetrameric constitutively active serine/threonine protein kinase and is an emerging target in current anti-cancer drug discovery. The kinase is composed of two catalytic CK2α subunits and two regulatory CK2β subunits. In order to establish an assay to identify protein-protein-interaction [...] Read more.
Human CK2 is a heterotetrameric constitutively active serine/threonine protein kinase and is an emerging target in current anti-cancer drug discovery. The kinase is composed of two catalytic CK2α subunits and two regulatory CK2β subunits. In order to establish an assay to identify protein-protein-interaction inhibitors (PPI) of the CK2α/CK2β interface, a bioorthogonal click reaction was used to modify the protein kinase α-subunit with a fluorophore. By expanding the genetic code, the unnatural amino acid para azidophenylalanine (pAzF) could be incorporated into CK2α. Performing the SPAAC click reaction (Strain-Promoted Azide-Alkyne Cycloaddition) by the use of a dibenzylcyclooctyne-fluorophore (DBCO-fluorophore) led to a specifically labeled human protein kinase CK2α. This site-specific labeling does not impair the phosphorylation activity of CK2, which was evaluated by capillary electrophoresis. Furthermore a dissociation constant (KD) of 631 ± 86.2 nM was determined for the substrate αS1-casein towards CK2α. This labeling strategy was also applied to CK2β subunit on Escherichia coli, indicating the site-specific modifications of proteins on the bacterial cell surface when displayed by Autodisplay. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Announcing the 2016 Pharmaceuticals Travel Award for Young Investigators
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030035 - 27 Jun 2016
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1486
Abstract
For the first time in its short history, our journal is able, this year, to support a young researcher in the field of medicinal chemistry by offering a travel grant of 800 CHF.[...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Relationship between Surface Properties and In Vitro Drug Release from a Compressed Matrix Containing an Amphiphilic Polymer Material
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030034 - 24 Jun 2016
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 1855
Abstract
The performance of compressed tablet drug delivery systems made using polymeric materials depend on multiple factors, such as surface properties like contact angle, surface free energy and water absorption rate, besides the release mechanisms driven by the kind of polymer used. Hence, it [...] Read more.
The performance of compressed tablet drug delivery systems made using polymeric materials depend on multiple factors, such as surface properties like contact angle, surface free energy and water absorption rate, besides the release mechanisms driven by the kind of polymer used. Hence, it should be possible to establish a relationship between the surface properties and the drug release kinetics. Compressed tablets with different proportions of poly(maleic acid-alt-octadecene) potassium salt (0%, 10%, 20%, 30% and 40%) were prepared. Blends of a model drug (ampicillin trihydrate) and the polymer material were analyzed by DSC. The surface properties of the tablets were determined by the sessile drop method, while the surface energy was determined using the semi-empirical Young-Dupre, Neumann and OWRK models. The release profiles were determined simulating in vitro conditions (buffer solutions pH 1.2 and pH 7.4 with ionic strength of 1.5 M at 37 °C (310.15 K)). A kinetic analysis of the dissolution profiles using different models (zero order, first order, Higuchi and Korsmeyer-Peppas) was realized. The results showed a significant effect of the proportion of polymer in both the surface properties of the tablets and the dissolution release, indicating a relationship between the kinetic and thermodynamic properties. Full article
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