K. P. Mohanakumar, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist, Cell Biology & Physiology Division, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Kolkata
Neuroprotective and neurodestructive effects of Ayurvedic drug constituents: Parkinson’s disease
The present study reports the good and the bad entities in an Indian traditional medicine used for treating Parkinson’s disease (PD). A prospective clinical trial on the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medication in a population of PD patients revealed significant benefits, which has been attributed to L-DOPA present in the herbs . Later studies revealed better benefits with one of the herbs alone, compared to pure L-DOPA in a clinical trial conducted in UK , and in several studies conducted on animal models of PD in independent laboratories world over [3-5]. We have adapted strategies to segregate molecules from the herb, and then carefully removed L-DOPA contained therein, and tested each of these sub-fractions for anti-PD activity in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine, rotenone and 6-hydroxydopamine -induced parkinsonian animal models, and transgenic mitochondrial cybrids. We report here two classes of molecules contained in the herb, one of which possessed severe pro-parkinsonian (phenolic amine derivatives) and the other having excellent anti-parkinsonian potential (substituted tetrahydroisoquinoline derivatives). The former has been shown to cause severe dopamine depletion in the striatum of rodents, when administered acutely or chronically. It also caused significant behavioral aberrations, leading to anxiety and depression . The latter class of molecules administered in PD animal model , caused reversal of behavioral dysfunctions and significant attenuation of striatal dopamine loss. These effects were comparable or better than the effects of the anti-PD drugs, selegiline or L-DOPA. The mechanism of action of the molecule has been found to be novel, at the postsynaptic receptor signaling level, as well as cellular α-synuclein oligomerization and specifically at mitochondria. The molecule helped in maintaining mitochondrial ETC complex activity and stabilized cellular respiration, and mitochondrial fusion-fission machinery with specific effect on the dynamin related protein 1. Although there existed significant medical benefits that could be derived to patients due to the synergistic actions of several molecules present in a traditional preparation, accumulated data in our hands suggest complicated mechanisms of actions of Ayurvedic medication. Our results also provide great hope for extracting, synthesizing and optimizing the activity of anti-parkinsonian molecules present in traditional Ayurvedic herbs, and for designing novel drugs with novel mechanisms of action.
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Tim Guilliams, Ph.D.
Junior Associate Fellow at the Centre for Science and Policy, University of Cambridge
From Camels to Worms: Novel Approaches for Drug Discovery in Parkinson’s Disease
The discovery of novel treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, represents one of the biggest scientific challenges of the 21st century. The development of new tools and models to study the mechanisms underlying neurotoxicity is therefore essential. During my talk, I will outline new strategies for drug design and innovation used during my PhD at the University of Cambridge, which include the combination of fluorescent nematode worms, camelid antibody fragment technology and chemical compounds. These novel approaches will help us to gain insights into the key pathogenic steps involved in Parkinson’s disease and potentially lead to new therapeutic strategies.
Aswath Balakrishnan, Kapaettu Satyamoorthy and Manjunath B Joshi
Insulin resistance is a hall mark of metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Reduced insulin response in vasculature leads to disruption of IR/Akt/eNOS signaling pathway resulting in vasoconstriction and subsequently to cardiovascular diseases. Recent studies have demonstrated that inflammatory regulator interleukin-6 (IL-6), as one of the potential mediators that can link chronic inflammation with insulin resistance. Accumulating evidences suggest a significant role of epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation in progression of metabolic disorders. Hence the present study aimed to understand the role of epigenetic mechanisms involved during IL-6 induced vascular insulin resistance and its consequences in cardiovascular diseases.
Materials and Methods
Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) and Human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HDMEC) were used for this study. Endothelial cells were treated in presence or absence of IL-6 (20ng/ml) for 36 hours and followed by insulin (100nM) stimulation for 15 minutes. Using immunoblotting, cell lysates were stained for phosphor- and total Akt levels to measure insulin resistance. To investigate changes in DNA methylation, cells were treated with or without neutrophil conditioned medium (NCM) as a physiological source of inflammation or IL-6 (at various concentrations) for 36 hours. Genomic DNA was processed for HPLC analysis for methyl cytosine content and cell lysates were analyzed for DNMT1 (DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase 1) and DNMT3A (DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase 3A) levels using immunoblotting.
Endothelial cells stimulated with insulin exhibited an increase in phosphorylation of Aktser 473 in serum free conditions but such insulin response was not observed in cells treated with IL-6, suggesting chronic exposure of endothelial cells to IL-6 leads to insulin resistance. HPLC analysis for global DNA methylation resulted in decreased levels of 5-methyl cytosine in cells treated with pro-inflammatory molecules (both by NCM and IL-6) as compared to untreated controls. Subsequently, analysis in cells treated with IL-6 showed a significant decrease in DNMT1 levels but not in DNMT3A. Other pro-inflammatory marker such as TNF-Î± did not exhibit such changes.
Our study suggests: a) Chronic treatment of endothelial cells with IL-6 results in insulin resistance b) Neutrophil conditioned medium and IL-6 decreases methyl cytosine levels c) DNMT1 but not DNMT3a levels are reduced in cells treated with IL-6.