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J Immunotoxicol ; 18(1): 23-29, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1593522


The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 of 2019 (COVID-19) causes a pandemic that has been diagnosed in more than 70 million people worldwide. Mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms include coughing, fever, myalgia, shortness of breath, and acute inflammatory lung injury (ALI). In contrast, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and respiratory failure occur in patients diagnosed with severe COVID-19. ARDS is mediated, at least in part, by a dysregulated inflammatory response due to excessive levels of circulating cytokines, a condition known as the "cytokine-storm syndrome." Currently, there are FDA-approved therapies that attenuate the dysregulated inflammation that occurs in COVID-19 patients, such as dexamethasone or other corticosteroids and IL-6 inhibitors, including sarilumab, tocilizumab, and siltuximab. However, the efficacy of these treatments have been shown to be inconsistent. Compounds that activate the vagus nerve-mediated cholinergic anti-inflammatory reflex, such as the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist, GTS-21, attenuate ARDS/inflammatory lung injury by decreasing the extracellular levels of high mobility group box-1 (HMGB1) in the airways and the circulation. It is possible that HMGB1 may be an important mediator of the "cytokine-storm syndrome." Notably, high plasma levels of HMGB1 have been reported in patients diagnosed with severe COVID-19, and there is a significant negative correlation between HMGB1 plasma levels and clinical outcomes. Nicotine can activate the cholinergic anti-inflammatory reflex, which attenuates the up-regulation and the excessive release of pro-inflammatory cytokines/chemokines. Therefore, we hypothesize that low molecular weight compounds that activate the cholinergic anti-inflammatory reflex, such as nicotine or GTS-21, may represent a potential therapeutic approach to attenuate the dysregulated inflammatory responses in patients with severe COVID-19.

Benzylidene Compounds/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Cholinergic Agents/pharmacology , Inflammation/drug therapy , Nicotine/metabolism , Pyridines/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Tobacco Use Disorder/drug therapy , Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized/therapeutic use , Cigarette Smoking/adverse effects , Dexamethasone/therapeutic use , HMGB1 Protein/blood , Humans , Pandemics , alpha7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor/agonists
Mol Med ; 26(1): 98, 2020 10 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-894987


BACKGROUND: Mechanical ventilation, in combination with supraphysiological concentrations of oxygen (i.e., hyperoxia), is routinely used to treat patients with respiratory distress, such as COVID-19. However, prolonged exposure to hyperoxia compromises the clearance of invading pathogens by impairing macrophage phagocytosis. Previously, we have shown that the exposure of mice to hyperoxia induces the release of the nuclear protein high mobility group box-1 (HMGB1) into the pulmonary airways. Furthermore, extracellular HMGB1 impairs macrophage phagocytosis and increases the mortality of mice infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA). The aim of this study was to determine whether GTS-21 (3-(2,4-dimethoxybenzylidene) anabaseine), an α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7nAChR) agonist, could (1) inhibit hyperoxia-induced HMGB1 release into the airways; (2) enhance macrophage phagocytosis and (3) increase bacterial clearance from the lungs in a mouse model of ventilator-associated pneumonia. METHOD: GTS-21 (0.04, 0.4, and 4 mg/kg) or saline were administered by intraperitoneal injection to mice that were exposed to hyperoxia (≥ 99% O2) and subsequently challenged with PA. RESULTS: The systemic administration of 4 mg/kg i.p. of GTS-21 significantly increased bacterial clearance, decreased acute lung injury and decreased accumulation of airway HMGB1 compared to the saline control. To determine the mechanism of action of GTS-21, RAW 264.7 cells, a macrophage-like cell line, were incubated with different concentrations of GTS-21 in the presence of 95% O2. The phagocytic activity of macrophages was significantly increased by GTS-21 in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, GTS-21 significantly inhibited the cytoplasmic translocation and release of HMGB1 from RAW 264.7 cells and attenuated hyperoxia-induced NF-κB activation in macrophages and mouse lungs exposed to hyperoxia and infected with PA. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that GTS-21 is efficacious in improving bacterial clearance and reducing acute lung injury via enhancing macrophage function by inhibiting the release of nuclear HMGB1. Therefore, the α7nAChR represents a possible pharmacological target to improve the clinical outcome of patients on ventilators by augmenting host defense against bacterial infections.

Benzylidene Compounds/pharmacology , Hyperoxia/immunology , Macrophages, Alveolar/drug effects , Pseudomonas Infections/drug therapy , Pyridines/pharmacology , Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury/drug therapy , alpha7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor/antagonists & inhibitors , Animals , Disease Models, Animal , HMGB1 Protein/metabolism , Hyperoxia/diet therapy , Macrophages, Alveolar/immunology , Macrophages, Alveolar/metabolism , Male , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Phagocytosis/drug effects , Pseudomonas aeruginosa , RAW 264.7 Cells
Mol Med ; 26(1): 63, 2020 06 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-617382


BACKGROUND: Oxygen therapy, using supraphysiological concentrations of oxygen (hyperoxia), is routinely administered to patients who require respiratory support including mechanical ventilation (MV). However, prolonged exposure to hyperoxia results in acute lung injury (ALI) and accumulation of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) in the airways. We previously showed that airway HMGB1 mediates hyperoxia-induced lung injury in a mouse model of ALI. Cholinergic signaling through the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7nAChR) attenuates several inflammatory conditions. The aim of this study was to determine whether 3-(2,4 dimethoxy-benzylidene)-anabaseine dihydrochloride, GTS-21, an α7nAChR partial agonist, inhibits hyperoxia-induced HMGB1 accumulation in the airways and circulation, and consequently attenuates inflammatory lung injury. METHODS: Mice were exposed to hyperoxia (≥99% O2) for 3 days and treated concurrently with GTS-21 (0.04, 0.4 and 4 mg/kg, i.p.) or the control vehicle, saline. RESULTS: The systemic administration of GTS-21 (4 mg/kg) significantly decreased levels of HMGB1 in the airways and the serum. Moreover, GTS-21 (4 mg/kg) significantly reduced hyperoxia-induced acute inflammatory lung injury, as indicated by the decreased total protein content in the airways, reduced infiltration of inflammatory monocytes/macrophages and neutrophils into the lung tissue and airways, and improved lung injury histopathology. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that GTS-21 can attenuate hyperoxia-induced ALI by inhibiting extracellular HMGB1-mediated inflammatory responses. This suggests that the α7nAChR represents a potential pharmacological target for the treatment regimen of oxidative inflammatory lung injury in patients receiving oxygen therapy.

Acute Lung Injury/etiology , Acute Lung Injury/metabolism , Benzylidene Compounds/pharmacology , HMGB1 Protein/metabolism , Hyperoxia/complications , Nicotinic Agonists/pharmacology , Pyridines/pharmacology , Acute Lung Injury/drug therapy , Acute Lung Injury/pathology , Animals , Biomarkers , Disease Susceptibility , HMGB1 Protein/blood , HMGB1 Protein/genetics , Immunohistochemistry , Male , Mice , Models, Biological