Zentrum für Arzneimittelforschung, Entwicklung und Sicherheit
Heavy ions and X-rays in brain tumor treatment : a comparison of their biological effects on tissue slice cultures
Michel Guy André Mittelbronn
Patrick Nikolaus Harter
- Background: In this interdisciplinary project, the biological effects of heavy ions are compared to those of X-rays using tissue slice culture preparations from rodents and humans. Advantages of this biological model are the conservation of an organotypic environment and the independency from genetic immortalization strategies used to generate cell lines. Its open access allows easy treatment and observation via live-imaging microscopy. Materials and methods: Rat brains and human brain tumor tissue are cut into 300 micro m thick tissue slices. These slices are cultivated using a membrane-based culture system and kept in an incubator at 37°C until treatment. The slices are treated with X-rays at the radiation facility of the University Hospital in Frankfurt at doses of up to 40 Gy. The heavy ion irradiations were performed at the UNILAC facility at GSI with different ions of 11.4 A MeV and fluences ranging from 0.5–10 x 106 particles/cm². Using 3D-confocal microscopy, cell-death and immune cell activation of the irradiated slices are analyzed. Planning of the irradiation experiments is done with simulation programs developed at GSI and FIAS. Results: After receiving a single application of either X-rays or heavy ions, slices were kept in culture for up to 9d post irradiation. DNA damage was visualized using gamma H2AXstaining. Here, a dose-dependent increase and time-dependent decrease could clearly be observed for the X-ray irradiation. Slices irradiated with heavy ions showed less gamma H2AX-positive cells distributed evenly throughout the slice, even though particles were calculated to penetrate only 90–100 micro m into the slice. Conclusions: Single irradiations of brain tissue, even at high doses of 40 Gy, will result neither in tissue damage visible on a macroscopic level nor necrosis. This is in line with the view that the brain is highly radio-resistant. However, DNA damage can be detected very well in tissue slices using gamma H2AX-immuno staining. Thus, slice cultures are an excellent tool to study radiation-induced damage and repair mechanisms in living tissues.
Conditional gene deletion reveals functional redundancy of GABAB receptors in peripheral nociceptors in vivo
- Background Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter which mainly mediates its effects on neurons via ionotropic (GABAA) and metabotropic (GABAB) receptors. GABAB receptors are widely expressed in the central and the peripheral nervous system. Although there is evidence for a key function of GABAB receptors in the modulation of pain, the relative contribution of peripherally- versus centrally-expressed GABAB receptors is unclear. Results In order to elucidate the functional relevance of GABAB receptors expressed in peripheral nociceptive neurons in pain modulation we generated and analyzed conditional mouse mutants lacking functional GABAB(1) subunit specifically in nociceptors, preserving expression in the spinal cord and brain (SNS-GABAB(1)-/- mice). Lack of the GABAB(1) subunit precludes the assembly of functional GABAB receptor. We analyzed SNS-GABAB(1)-/- mice and their control littermates in several models of acute and neuropathic pain. Electrophysiological studies on peripheral afferents revealed higher firing frequencies in SNS-GABAB(1)-/- mice compared to corresponding control littermates. However no differences were seen in basal nociceptive sensitivity between these groups. The development of neuropathic and chronic inflammatory pain was similar across the two genotypes. The duration of nocifensive responses evoked by intraplantar formalin injection was prolonged in the SNS-GABAB(1)-/- animals as compared to their control littermates. Pharmacological experiments revealed that systemic baclofen-induced inhibition of formalin-induced nociceptive behaviors was not dependent upon GABAB(1) expression in nociceptors. Conclusion This study addressed contribution of GABAB receptors expressed on primary afferent nociceptive fibers to the modulation of pain. We observed that neither the development of acute and chronic pain nor the analgesic effects of a systematically-delivered GABAB agonist was significantly changed upon a specific deletion of GABAB receptors from peripheral nociceptive neurons in vivo. This lets us conclude that GABAB receptors in the peripheral nervous system play a less important role than those in the central nervous system in the regulation of pain.
cGMP-dependent signaling pathways in spinal pain processing
- Oral presentation from 4th International Conference of cGMP Generators, Effectors and Therapeutic Implications ; Regensburg, Germany. 19–21 June 2009 Background: An exaggerated pain sensitivity is the dominant feature of inflammatory and neuropathic pain both in the clinical setting and in experimental animal models. It manifests as pain in response to normally innocuous stimuli (allodynia), increased response to noxious stimuli (hyperalgesia) or spontaneous pain, and can persist long after the initial injury is resolved. Research over the last decades has revealed that several signaling pathways in the spinal cord essentially contribute to the pain sensitization. To test the contribution of cGMP produced by NO-sensitive guanylyl cyclase (NO-GC) to pain sensitization, we investigated the localization of NO-GC in the spinal cord and in dorsal root ganglia, and we characterized the nociceptive behavior of mice deficient in NO-GC (GC-KO mice). Results: We show that NO-GC (β1 subunit) is distinctly expressed in neurons of the mouse spinal cord, while its distribution in dorsal root ganglia is restricted to non-neuronal cells. GC-KO mice exhibited a considerably reduced nociceptive behavior in models of inflammatory or neuropathic pain, but their responses to acute pain were not impaired. Moreover, GC-KO mice failed to develop pain sensitization induced by spinal administration of drugs releasing NO. Surprisingly, during spinal nociceptive processing cGMP produced by NO-GC may activate signaling pathways different from cGMP-dependent protein kinase I (cGKI), while cGKI can be activated by natriuretic peptide receptor-B (NPR-B) dependent cGMP production. Conclusion: Taken together, our results provide evidence that NO-GC has a dominant role in the development of exaggerated pain sensitivity during inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Furthermore, beside the NO-mediated cGMP synthesis, cGMP produced by NPR-B contributes to pain sensitization by activation of cGKI.
Transcriptional properties of human NANOG1 and NANOG2 in acute leukemic cells
- Transcripts of NANOG and OCT4 have been recently identified in human t(4;11) leukemia and in a model system expressing both t(4;11) fusion proteins. Moreover, downstream target genes of NANOG/OCT4/SOX2 were shown to be transcriptionally activated. However, the NANOG1 gene belongs to a gene family, including a gene tandem duplication (named NANOG2 or NANOGP1) and several pseudogenes (NANOGP2-P11). Thus, it was unclear which of the NANOG family members were transcribed in t(4;11) leukemia cells. 5'-RACE experiments revealed novel 5'-exons of NANOG1 and NANOG2, which could give rise to the expression of two different NANOG1 and three different NANOG2 protein variants. Moreover, a novel PCR-based method was established that allows distinguishing between transcripts deriving from NANOG1, NANOG2 and all other NANOG pseudogenes (P2–P11). By applying this method, we were able to demonstrate that human hematopoietic stem cells and different leukemic cells transcribe NANOG2. Furthermore, we functionally tested NANOG1 and NANOG2 protein variants by recombinant expression in 293 cells. These studies revealed that NANOG1 and NANOG2 protein variants are functionally equivalent and activate a regulatory circuit that activates specific stem cell genes. Therefore, we pose the hypothesis that the transcriptional activation of NANOG2 represents a ‘gain-of-stem cell function’ in acute leukemia.
I-kappaB-Kinase epsilon - ein neues Zielprotein für die Pharmakotherapie bei Schmerz und Entzündung?
Christine Verena Möser
- Der Transkriptionsfaktor NF-kappaB spielt eine wichtige Rolle bei der Regulation von Immunantworten, Apoptose und Entzündungen sowie bei der Entstehung und Verarbeitung von Schmerzen. Ein pharmakologischer Eingriff in die NF-kappaB-Aktivierungskaskade könnte daher eine Schmerzhemmung bewirken und so Ansätze für die Entwicklung neuer Therapien für pathophysiologische Schmerzen liefern. Die NF-kappaB-Signalübertragungskaskade bietet verschiedene Angriffspunkte für Pharmaka, wobei zurzeit IkappaB Kinasen (IKK) als hoffnungsvolle Zielmoleküle im Fokus der Untersuchungen stehen. Verschiedene IKKs regulieren die Aktivität von NF-kappaB über die Phosphorylierung des inhibitorischen Proteins IkappaB oder über die direkte Phosphorylierung von NF-kappaB. In der vorliegenden Arbeit wurde die Rolle der neu entdeckten IKK epsilon bei der Schmerzentstehung und -verarbeitung sowie deren Eignung als neues Zielmolekül für die Schmerztherapie näher untersucht. Es konnte gezeigt werden, dass IKK epsilon konstitutiv in Geweben der Maus, welche an der Entstehung und Verarbeitung von Schmerzen beteiligt sind, exprimiert ist. Im Rückenmark konnte die Lokalisation von IKK epsilon in den schmerzrelevanten Laminae I und II des Dorsalhorns nachgewiesen werden und auch in den Hinterwurzelganglien (Dorsal Root Ganglia (DRG’s)) war IKK epsilon in kleinen, nozizeptiven Neuronen exprimiert. Nach peripherer entzündlich-nozizeptiver Stimulation mit Formalin oder Zymosan kam es im Lumbalmark und den DRG’s zu einem signifikanten Anstieg der IKK epsilon-Expression sowohl auf mRNA- als auch auf Proteinebene. Diese Beobachtungen machten eine Beteiligung von IKK epsilon an der Prozessierung von Schmerz sehr wahrscheinlich. Um die Rolle von IKK epsilon während der Schmerzentstehung und -verarbeitung besser beurteilen zu können wurde das Verhalten von IKK epsilon defizienten Mäusen in akuten und inflammatorischen Schmerzmodellen charakterisiert. Es konnte gezeigt werden, dass der Knockout von IKK epsilon zu einem signifikant verringerten nozizeptiven Verhalten im Formalintest und einer Hemmung der mechanischen Hyperalgesie nach Zymosaninjektion im Vergleich zu Wildtyp-Mäusen führte. Gleichzeitig konnte kein Unterschied im akut nozizeptiven Verhalten festgestellt werden. Der Knockout von IKK epsilon hatte demnach keine Auswirkung auf den akuten physiologischen Nozizeptorschmerz, zeigte jedoch eine Verbesserung bei pathophysiologischen Schmerzen. Das verringerte nozizeptive Verhalten der IKK epsilon defizienten Mäuse im Formalintest ging mit einer Hemmung der NF-kappaB-Aktivierung im Rückenmark einher. Auch konnte eine verringerte mRNA-Expression der NF-kappaB-abhängigen Gene Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), Matrixmetalloprotease-9 (MMP-9) und induzierbare Stickstoffmonoxid-Synthase (iNOS), die an der Regulation von Entzündungsschmerzen beteiligt sind, im Rückenmark und den DRG’s nachgewiesen werden. Da IKK epsilon bisher hauptsächlich mit der Aktivierung des TypI Interferon-Signalweges in Zusammenhang gebracht wurde, wurde außerdem geprüft, ob es nach Injektion mit Formalin zu einer Aktivierung des Trankriptionsfaktors Interferon-regulierender Faktor (IRF)-3 in Wildtyp-Mäusen kommt, was nicht beobachtet werden konnte. Der Knockout von IKK epsilon scheint demnach seine antinozizeptive Wirkung direkt über eine fehlende Aktivierung von NF-kappaB zu entfalten, wonach IKK epsilon eine bedeutendere Rolle als bisher angenommen bei der Aktivierung von NF-kappaB spielt. Dies konnte durch in vitro Daten untermauert werden. Der Knockdown von IKK epsilon in Makrophagen-Zellkultur mit spezifischer siRNA verhinderte die Phosphorylierung von NF-kappaBp65 am Serinrest 536 nach Stimulation mit LPS. Anhand der vorliegenden Daten lässt sich also schlussfolgern, dass IKK epsilon an der Schmerzentstehung und verarbeitung bei Entzündungen beteiligt zu sein scheint. Eine Hemmung dieser Kinase könnte demnach ein neues, lohnendes Ziel für die Entwicklung neuer Medikamente für die Schmerztherapie sein.
Inter-strain differences of serotonergic inhibitory pain control in inbred mice
- Background: Descending inhibitory pain control contributes to the endogenous defense against chronic pain and involves noradrenergic and serotonergic systems. The clinical efficacy of antidepressants suggests that serotonin may be particularly relevant for neuropathic pain conditions. Serotonergic signaling is regulated by synthesis, metabolisms, reuptake and receptors. To address the complexity, we used inbred mouse strains, C57BL/6J, 129 Sv, DBA/2J and Balb/c, which differ in brain serotonin levels. Results: Serotonin analysis after nerve injury revealed inter-strain differences in the adaptation of descending serotonergic fibers. Upregulation of spinal cord and midbrain serotonin was apparent only in 129 Sv mice and was associated with attenuated nerve injury evoked hyperalgesia and allodynia in this strain. The increase of dorsal horn serotonin was blocked by hemisectioning of descending fibers but not by rhizotomy of primary afferents indicating a midbrain source. Para-chlorophenylalanine-mediated serotonin depletion in spinal cord and midbrain intensified pain hypersensitivity in the nerve injury model. In contrast, chronic inflammation of the hindpaw did not evoke equivalent changes in serotonin levels in the spinal cord and midbrain and nociceptive thresholds dropped in a parallel manner in all strains. Conclusion: The results suggest that chronic nerve injury evoked hypernociception may be contributed by genetic differences of descending serotonergic inhibitory control.
5-Lipoxygenase: underappreciated role of a pro-inflammatory enzyme in tumorigenesis
Astrid Stefanie Fischer
Svenja Dorothea Steinbrink
Thorsten Jürgen Maier
- Leukotrienes constitute a group of bioactive lipids generated by the 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) pathway. An increasing body of evidence supports an acute role for 5-LO products already during the earliest stages of pancreatic, prostate, and colorectal carcinogenesis. Several pieces of experimental data form the basis for this hypothesis and suggest a correlation between 5-LO expression and tumor cell viability. First, several independent studies documented an overexpression of 5-LO in primary tumor cells as well as in established cancer cell lines. Second, addition of 5-LO products to cultured tumor cells also led to increased cell proliferation and activation of anti-apoptotic signaling pathways. 5-LO antisense technology approaches demonstrated impaired tumor cell growth due to reduction of 5-LO expression. Lastly, pharmacological inhibition of 5-LO potently suppressed tumor cell growth by inducing cell cycle arrest and triggering cell death via the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. However, the documented strong cytotoxic off-target effects of 5-LO inhibitors, in combination with the relatively high concentrations of 5-LO products needed to achieve mitogenic effects in cell culture assays, raise concern over the assignment of the cause, and question the relationship between 5-LO products and tumorigenesis. Keywords: leukotriene, apoptosis, cell proliferation, mitogenic effects, cytotoxicity
Effect sizes in experimental pain produced by gender, genetic variants and sensitization procedures
- Background: Various effects on pain have been reported with respect to their statistical significance, but a standardized measure of effect size has been rarely added. Such a measure would ease comparison of the magnitude of the effects across studies, for example the effect of gender on heat pain with the effect of a genetic variant on pressure pain. Methodology/Principal Findings: Effect sizes on pain thresholds to stimuli consisting of heat, cold, blunt pressure, punctuate pressure and electrical current, administered to 125 subjects, were analyzed for 29 common variants in eight human genes reportedly modulating pain, gender and sensitization procedures using capsaicin or menthol. The genotype explained 0–5.9% of the total interindividual variance in pain thresholds to various stimuli and produced mainly small effects (Cohen's d 0–1.8). The largest effect had the TRPA1 rs13255063T/rs11988795G haplotype explaining >5% of the variance in electrical pain thresholds and conferring lower pain sensitivity to homozygous carriers. Gender produced larger effect sizes than most variant alleles (1–14.8% explained variance, Cohen's d 0.2–0.8), with higher pain sensitivity in women than in men. Sensitization by capsaicin or menthol explained up to 63% of the total variance (4.7–62.8%) and produced largest effects according to Cohen's d (0.4–2.6), especially heat sensitization by capsaicin (Cohen's d = 2.6). Conclusions: Sensitization, gender and genetic variants produce effects on pain in the mentioned order of effect sizes. The present report may provide a basis for comparative discussions of factors influencing pain.
R-flurbiprofen reduces neuropathic pain in rodents by restoring endogenous cannabinoids
Ingo Jürgen Bechmann
- Background: R-flurbiprofen, one of the enantiomers of flurbiprofen racemate, is inactive with respect to cyclooxygenase inhibition, but shows analgesic properties without relevant toxicity. Its mode of action is still unclear. Methodology/Principal Findings: We show that R-flurbiprofen reduces glutamate release in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord evoked by sciatic nerve injury and thereby alleviates pain in sciatic nerve injury models of neuropathic pain in rats and mice. This is mediated by restoring the balance of endocannabinoids (eCB), which is disturbed following peripheral nerve injury in the DRGs, spinal cord and forebrain. The imbalance results from transcriptional adaptations of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and NAPE-phospholipase D, i.e. the major enzymes involved in anandamide metabolism and synthesis, respectively. R-flurbiprofen inhibits FAAH activity and normalizes NAPE-PLD expression. As a consequence, R-Flurbiprofen improves endogenous cannabinoid mediated effects, indicated by the reduction of glutamate release, increased activity of the anti-inflammatory transcription factor PPAR gamma and attenuation of microglia activation. Antinociceptive effects are lost by combined inhibition of CB1 and CB2 receptors and partially abolished in CB1 receptor deficient mice. R-flurbiprofen does however not cause changes of core body temperature which is a typical indicator of central effects of cannabinoid-1 receptor agonists. Conclusion: Our results suggest that R-flurbiprofen improves the endogenous mechanisms to regain stability after axonal injury and to fend off chronic neuropathic pain by modulating the endocannabinoid system and thus constitutes an attractive, novel therapeutic agent in the treatment of chronic, intractable pain.
Quick discrimination of A delta and C fiber mediated pain based on three verbal descriptors
Bruno Georg Oertel
- Background: A delta and C fibers are the major pain-conducting nerve fibers, activate only partly the same brain areas, and are differently involved in pain syndromes. Whether a stimulus excites predominantly A delta or C fibers is a commonly asked question in basic pain research but a quick test was lacking so far. Methodology/Principal Findings: Of 77 verbal descriptors of pain sensations, "pricking", "dull" and "pressing" distinguished best (95% cases correctly) between A delta fiber mediated (punctate pressure produced by means of von Frey hairs) and C fiber mediated (blunt pressure) pain, applied to healthy volunteers in experiment 1. The sensation was assigned to A delta fibers when "pricking" but neither "dull" nor "pressing" were chosen, and to C fibers when the sum of the selections of "dull" or "pressing" was greater than that of the selection of "pricking". In experiment 2, with an independent cohort, the three-descriptor questionnaire achieved sensitivity and specificity above 0.95 for distinguishing fiber preferential non-mechanical induced pain (laser heat, exciting A delta fibers, and 5-Hz electric stimulation, exciting C fibers). Conclusion: A three-item verbal rating test using the words "pricking", "dull", and "pressing" may provide sufficient information to characterize a pain sensation evoked by a physical stimulus as transmitted via A delta or via C fibers. It meets the criteria of a screening test by being easy to administer, taking little time, being comfortable in handling, and inexpensive while providing high specificity for relevant information.