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Xie X.S.,AfaSci Research Laboratories | Xie X.S.,Stanford University
Vitamins and Hormones | Year: 2015

The neuropeptide nociceptin/orphanin FQ (N/OFQ), acting on its receptors (NOP), modulates a variety of biological functions and neurobehavior including nociception, stress responses, water and food-intake, locomotor activity, and spatial attention. N/OFQ is conventionally regarded as an "antiopiate" peptide in the brain because central administration of N/OFQ attenuates stress-induced analgesia (SIA) and produces anxiolytic effects. However, naloxone-irreversible SIA and anxiolytic action are unlikely to be mediated by the opiate system.Both N/OFQ and NOP receptors are expressed most abundantly in the hypothalamus, where two other neuropeptides, the hypocretins/orexins (Hcrts), are exclusively synthesized in the lateral hypothalamic area. N/OFQ and Hcrt regulate most cellular physiological responses in opposite directions (e.g., ion channel modulation and second messenger coupling), and produce differential modulations for almost all neurobehavior assessed, including sleep/wake, locomotion, and rewarding behaviors. This chapter focuses on recent studies that provide evidence at a neuroanatomical level showing that a local neuronal circuit linking N/OFQ to Hcrt neurons exists. Functionally, N/OFQ depresses Hcrt neuronal activity at the cellular level, and modulates stress responses, especially SIA and anxiety-related behavior in the whole organism. N/OFQ exerts its attenuation of SIA and anxiolytic action on fear-induced anxiety through direct modulation of Hcrt neuronal activity. The information obtained from these studies has provided insights into how interaction between the Hcrt and N/OFQ systems positively and negatively modulates the complex and integrated stress responses. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.

Lu J.,Kansas State University | Aguilar A.,Kansas State University | Zou B.,AfaSci Research Laboratories | Bao W.,Kansas State University | And 6 more authors.
Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry | Year: 2015

A class of tetracyclic terpenes was synthesized and evaluated for antagonistic activity of endothelin-1 (ET-1) induced vasoconstriction and inhibitory activity of voltage-activated Ca2+ channels. Three repeated Robinson annulation reactions were utilized to construct the tetracyclic molecules. A stereoselective reductive Robinson annulation was discovered for the formation of optically pure tricyclic terpenes. Stereoselective addition of cyanide to the hindered α-face of tetracyclic enone (-)-18 was found and subsequent transformation into the aldehyde function was affected by the formation of bicyclic hemiiminal (-)-4. Six selected synthetic tetracyclic terpenes show inhibitory activities in ET-1 induced vasoconstriction in the gerbil spiral modiolar artery with putative affinity constants ranging between 93 and 319nM. Moreover, one compound, (-)-3, was evaluated further and found to inhibit voltage-activated Ca2+ currents but not to affect Na+ or K+ currents in dorsal root ganglion cells under similar concentrations. These observations imply a dual mechanism of action. In conclusion, tetracyclic terpenes represent a new class of hit molecules for the discovery of new drugs for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension and vascular related diseases. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Yang L.,AfaSci Research Laboratories | Zou B.,AfaSci Research Laboratories | Xiong X.,Stanford University | Pascual C.,AfaSci Research Laboratories | And 7 more authors.
Annals of Internal Medicine | Year: 2013

Hypocretin/orexin (Hcrt)-producing neurons in the lateral hypothalamus project throughout the brain, including to the hippocampus, where Hcrt receptors are widely expressed. Hcrt neurons activate these targets to orchestrate global arousal state, wake-sleep architecture, energy homeostasis, stress adaptation, and reward behaviors. Recently, Hcrt has been implicated in cognitive functions and social interaction. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that Hcrt neurons are critical to social interaction, particularly social memory, using neurobehavioral assessment and electrophysiological approaches. The validated "two-enclosure homecage test" devices and procedure were used to test sociability, preference for social novelty (social novelty), and recognition memory. Aconventional direct contact social test was conducted to corroborate the findings. We found that adult orexin/ataxin-3-transgenic (AT) mice, in which Hcrt neurons degenerate by 3 months of age, displayed normal sociability and social novelty with respect to their wild-type littermates. However, AT mice displayed deficits in long-term social memory. Nasal administration of exogenous Hcrt-1 restored social memory to an extent in AT mice. Hippocampal slices taken from AT mice exhibited decreases in degree of paired-pulse facilitation and magnitude of long-term potentiation, despite displaying normal basal synaptic neurotransmission in the CA1 area compared to wild-type hippocampal slices. AT hippocampi had lower levels of phosphorylated cAMP response element-binding protein (pCREB), an activity-dependent transcription factor important for synaptic plasticity and long-term memory storage. Our studies demonstrate that Hcrt neurons play an important role in the consolidation of social recognition memory, at least in part through enhancements of hippocampal synaptic plasticity and cAMP response element-binding protein phosphorylation. ©2013 the authors.

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