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The role of the N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAr) as a contributor to maladaptive neuroplasticity underlying the maintenance of chronic pain is well established. Agmatine, an NMDAr antagonist, has been shown to reverse tactile hypersensitivity in rodent models of neuropathic pain while lacking the side effects characteristic of global NMDAr antagonism, including sedation and motor impairment, indicating a likely subunit specificity of agmatine's NMDAr inhibition. The present study assessed whether agmatine inhibits subunit-specific NMDAr-mediated current in the dorsal horn of mouse spinal cord slices. We isolated NMDAr-mediated excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in small lamina II dorsal horn neurons evoked by optogenetic stimulation of Na1.8-containing nociceptive afferents. We determined that agmatine abbreviated the amplitude, duration, and decay constant of NMDAr-mediated EPSCs similarly to the application of the GluN2B antagonist ifenprodil. In addition, we developed a site-specific knockdown of the GluN2B subunit of the NMDAr. We assessed whether agmatine and ifenprodil were able to inhibit NMDAr-mediated current in the spinal cord dorsal horn of mice lacking the GluN2B subunit of the NMDAr by analysis of electrically evoked EPSCs. In control mouse spinal cord, agmatine and ifenprodil both inhibited amplitude and accelerated the decay kinetics. However, agmatine and ifenprodil failed to attenuate the decay kinetics of NMDAr-mediated EPSCs in the GluN2B-knockdown mouse spinal cord. The present study indicates that agmatine preferentially antagonizes GluN2B-containing NMDArs in mouse dorsal horn neurons. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Our study is the first to report that agmatine preferentially antagonizes the GluN2B receptor subunit of the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor in spinal cord. The preferential targeting of GluN2B receptor is consistent with the pharmacological profile of agmatine in that it reduces chronic pain without the motor side effects commonly seen with non-subunit-selective NMDA receptor antagonists.
Recent studies have demonstrated anxiolytic potential of pharmacological endocannabinoid (eCB) augmentation approaches in a variety of preclinical models. Pharmacological inhibition of endocannabinoid-degrading enzymes, such as fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), elicit promising anxiolytic effects in rodent models with limited adverse behavioral effects, however, the efficacy of dual FAAH/MAGL inhibition has not been investigated. In the present study, we compared the effects of FAAH (PF-3845), MAGL (JZL184) and dual FAAH/MAGL (JZL195) inhibitors on (1) anxiety-like behaviors under non-stressed and stressed conditions, (2) locomotor activity and body temperature, (3) lipid levels in the brain and (4) cognitive functions. Behavioral analysis showed that PF-3845 or JZL184, but not JZL195, was able to prevent restraint stress-induced anxiety in the light-dark box assay when administered before stress exposure. Moreover, JZL195 treatment was not able to reverse foot shock-induced anxiety-like behavior in the elevated zero maze or light-dark box. JZL195, but not PF-3845 or JZL184, decreased body temperature and increased anxiety-like behavior in the open-field test. Overall, JZL195 did not show anxiolytic efficacy and the effects of JZL184 were more robust than that of PF-3845 in the models examined. These results showed that increasing either endogenous AEA or 2-AG separately produces anti-anxiety effects under stressful conditions but the same effects are not obtained from simultaneously increasing both AEA and 2-AG.
The pharmacology of the M muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) is the least understood of the five mAChR subtypes due to a historic lack of selective small molecule tools. To address this shortcoming, we have continued the optimization effort around the prototypical M positive allosteric modulator (PAM) ML380 and have discovered and optimized a new series of M PAMs based on a chiral N-(indanyl)piperidine amide core with robust SAR, human and rat M PAM EC values <100 nM and rat brain/plasma K values of ∼0.40. Interestingly, unlike M and M PAMs with unprecedented mAChR subtype selectivity, this series of M PAMs displayed varying degrees of PAM activity at the other two natively G-coupled mAChRs, M and M, yet were inactive at M and M.
This Letter details the discovery and subsequent optimization of a novel M PAM scaffold based on an 6-fluoro-4-(piperidin-1-yl)quinoline-3-carbonitrile core, which represents a distinct departure from the classical M PAM chemotypes. Optimized compounds in this series demonstrated improved M PAM potency on both human and rat M (4 to 5-fold relative to HTS hit), and displayed attractive physicochemical and DMPK profiles, including good CNS penetration (rat brain:plasma K=5.3, K=2.4; MDCK-MDR1 (P-gp) ER=1.1).
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Circuits in the auditory cortex are highly susceptible to acoustic influences during an early postnatal critical period. The auditory cortex selectively expands neural representations of enriched acoustic stimuli, a process important for human language acquisition. Adults lack this plasticity. Here we show in the murine auditory cortex that juvenile plasticity can be reestablished in adulthood if acoustic stimuli are paired with disruption of ecto-5'-nucleotidase-dependent adenosine production or A-adenosine receptor signaling in the auditory thalamus. This plasticity occurs at the level of cortical maps and individual neurons in the auditory cortex of awake adult mice and is associated with long-term improvement of tone-discrimination abilities. We conclude that, in adult mice, disrupting adenosine signaling in the thalamus rejuvenates plasticity in the auditory cortex and improves auditory perception.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.
BACKGROUND - Increasing the available repertoire of effective treatments for mood and anxiety disorders represents a critical unmet need. Pharmacological augmentation of endogenous cannabinoid (eCB) signaling has been suggested to represent a novel approach to the treatment of anxiety disorders; however, the functional interactions between two canonical eCB pathways mediated via anandamide (N-arachidonylethanolamine [AEA]) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) in the regulation of anxiety are not well understood.
METHODS - We utilized pharmacological augmentation and depletion combined with behavioral and electrophysiological approaches to probe the role of 2-AG signaling in the modulation of stress-induced anxiety and the functional redundancy between AEA and 2-AG signaling in the modulation of anxiety-like behaviors in mice.
RESULTS - Selective 2-AG augmentation reduced anxiety in the light/dark box assay and prevented stress-induced increases in anxiety associated with limbic AEA deficiency. In contrast, acute 2-AG depletion increased anxiety-like behaviors, which was normalized by selective pharmacological augmentation of AEA signaling and via direct cannabinoid receptor 1 stimulation with Δ-tetrahydrocannabinol. Electrophysiological studies revealed 2-AG modulation of amygdala glutamatergic transmission as a key synaptic correlate of the anxiolytic effects of 2-AG augmentation.
CONCLUSIONS - Although AEA and 2-AG likely subserve distinct physiological roles, a pharmacological and functional redundancy between these canonical eCB signaling pathways exists in the modulation of anxiety-like behaviors. These data support development of eCB-based treatment approaches for mood and anxiety disorders and suggest a potentially wider therapeutic overlap between AEA and 2-AG augmentation approaches than was previously appreciated.
Copyright © 2017 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Stress is a ubiquitous risk factor for the exacerbation and development of affective disorders including major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Understanding the neurobiological mechanisms conferring resilience to the adverse consequences of stress could have broad implications for the treatment and prevention of mood and anxiety disorders. We utilize laboratory mice and their innate inter-individual differences in stress-susceptibility to demonstrate a critical role for the endogenous cannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) in stress-resilience. Specifically, systemic 2-AG augmentation is associated with a stress-resilient phenotype and enhances resilience in previously susceptible mice, while systemic 2-AG depletion or CB1 receptor blockade increases susceptibility in previously resilient mice. Moreover, stress-resilience is associated with increased phasic 2-AG-mediated synaptic suppression at ventral hippocampal-amygdala glutamatergic synapses and amygdala-specific 2-AG depletion impairs successful adaptation to repeated stress. These data indicate amygdala 2-AG signalling mechanisms promote resilience to adverse effects of acute traumatic stress and facilitate adaptation to repeated stress exposure.
Zinc is vastly present in the mammalian brain and controls functions of various cell surface receptors to regulate neurotransmission. A distinctive characteristic of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors containing a GluN2A subunit is that their ion channel activity is allosterically inhibited by a nano-molar concentration of zinc that binds to an extracellular domain called an amino-terminal domain (ATD). Despite physiological importance, the molecular mechanism underlying the high-affinity zinc inhibition has been incomplete because of the lack of a GluN2A ATD structure. Here we show the first crystal structures of the heterodimeric GluN1-GluN2A ATD, which provide the complete map of the high-affinity zinc-binding site and reveal distinctive features from the ATD of the GluN1-GluN2B subtype. Perturbation of hydrogen bond networks at the hinge of the GluN2A bi-lobe structure affects both zinc inhibition and open probability, supporting the general model in which the bi-lobe motion in ATD regulates the channel activity in NMDA receptors.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This Letter describes the further lead optimization of the CHT inhibitor probe, ML352 (VU0476201), and the development of VU6001221, an improved in vivo tool. A multi-dimensional optimization effort encountered steep SAR, and ultimately, subtle tuning of the electronics of the central phenyl core provided VU6001221, a CHT inhibitor with comparable potency for choline uptake inhibition as ML352, yet improved PK and CNS penetration. Moreover, VU6001221 enabled evaluation, for the first time, of a CHT inhibitor in a standard preclinical rodent cognition model, novel object recognition (NOR). We observed VU6001221 to elicit a dose-responsive increase in NOR, raising the possibility of agonism of synaptic α7 nicotinic ACh receptors by elevated extracellular choline, that if confirmed would represent a novel molecular strategy to enhance cognition.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This Letter describes the chemical optimization of a novel series of M4 positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) based on a 5,6-dimethyl-4-(piperidin-1-yl)thieno[2,3-d]pyrimidine core, identified from an MLPCN functional high-throughput screen. The HTS hit was potent and selective, but not CNS penetrant. Potency was maintained, while CNS penetration was improved (rat brain:plasma Kp=0.74), within the original core after several rounds of optimization; however, the thieno[2,3-d]pyrimidine core was subject to extensive oxidative metabolism. Ultimately, we identified a 6-fluoroquinazoline core replacement that afforded good M4 PAM potency, muscarinic receptor subtype selectivity and CNS penetration (rat brain:plasma Kp>10). Moreover, this campaign provided fundamentally distinct M4 PAM chemotypes, greatly expanding the available structural diversity for this exciting CNS target.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.