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Showing posts with label IBD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IBD. Show all posts

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Amino Acids in Autism


Amino Acids (AAs) are very important to health and it is important that all 20 are within the reference ranges, or there can be serious consequences.  Inborn errors of amino acid metabolism do exist and there are metabolic disorders which impair either the synthesis and/or degradation of amino acids.
It has been suggested that a lack of certain amino acids might underlie some people’s autism. This seems to be the basis of one new autism drug, CM-AT, being developed in the US, but this idea remains somewhat controversial.

In those people who have normal levels of amino acids, potential does exist to modify their level for some therapeutic effect. 

Examples include:-

·        Using histidine to inhibit mast cells de-granulating and so reducing symptoms of allergy

·       Using the 3 branch chained AAs to reduce the level of the AA, phenylanine, which can drive movement disorders/tics

·       Methionine seems to promote speech in regressive autism, but for no known reason.

·        Some AAs, such as leucine, activate mTOR. It is suggested that others (histidine, lysine and threonine) can inhibit it, which might have a therapeutic benefit in those with too much mTOR signaling.

·        D-Serine, synthesized in the brain by from L-serine, serves as a neuromodulator by co-activating NMDA receptors.  D-serine has been suggested for the treatment of negative symptoms of schizophrenia

·        Aspartic acid is an NMDA agonist

·       Threonine is being studied as a possible therapy for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), because it may increase intestinal mucin synthesis.


Amino acids, the building blocks for proteins

To make a protein, a cell must put a chain of amino acids together in the right order. It makes a copy of the relevant DNA instruction in the cell nucleus, and takes it into the cytoplasm, where the cell decodes the instruction and makes many copies of the protein, which fold into shape as they are produced.

There are 20 standard or “canonical” amino acids, which can be thought of as protein building blocks.
Humans can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids; the others must be supplied in the food and are called “essential”. The human body does not store excess amino acids for later use, so these amino acids must be in your food every day.

The 10 amino acids that we can produce are alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine. Tyrosine is produced from phenylalanine, so if the diet is deficient in phenylalanine, tyrosine will be required as well.

The essential amino acids (marked * below) are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

The three so-called branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are leucine, isoleucine and valine

The so-called aromatic amino acids (AAAs) are histidine, phenylanine, tryptophan and tyrosine

When plasma levels of BCAAs increase, this reduces the absorption of aromatic AAs; so the level of tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylalanine will fall and this directly affects the synthesis and release of serotonin and catecholamines.
Many sportsmen, and indeed soldiers, take BCAA supplements in an attempt to build stronger muscles, but within the brain this will cause a cascade of other effects.
In people with tardive dyskinesia, which is a quite common tic disorder found in schizophrenia and autism, taking phenylalanine may make their tics worse.  It seems that taking BCAA supplements may make their tics reduce, because reducing the level of phenylalanine will impact dopamine (a catecholamine). Most movement disorders ultimately relate to dopamine.



In effect, BCAA supplements affect the synthesis and release of serotonin and catecholamines.  This might be good for you, or might be bad for you; it all depends where you started from.

   Alanine
   Arginine *
   Asparagine
   Aspartic acid
   Cysteine
   Glutamic acid
   Glutamine
   Glycine
   Histidine * Aromatic
   Isoleucine * BCAA
   Leucine * BCAA
   Lysine *
   Methionine *
   Phenylalanine *  Aromatic
   Proline
   Serine
   Threonine *
   Tryptophan * Aromatic
   Tyrosine  Aromatic
   Valine
*  BCAA


Blood levels of the BCAAs are elevated in people with obesity and those with insulin resistance, suggesting the possibility that BCAAs contribute to the pathogenesis of obesity and diabetes.  BCAA-restricted diets improve glucose tolerance and promote leanness in mice.


In the brain, BCAAs have two important influences on the production of neurotransmitters. As nitrogen donors, they contribute to the synthesis of excitatory glutamate and inhibitory gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) They also compete for transport across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) with tryptophan (the precursor to serotonin), as well as tyrosine and phenylalanine (precursors for catecholamines)Ingestion of BCAAs therefore causes rapid elevation of the plasma concentrations and increases uptake of BCAAs to the brain, but diminishes tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylalanine uptake. The decrease in these aromatic amino acids directly affects the synthesis and release of serotonin and catecholamines. The reader is referred to Fernstrom (2005) for a review of the biochemistry of BCAA transportation to the brain. Oral BCAAs have been examined as treatment for neurological diseases such as mania, motor malfunction, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and spinocerebral degeneration. Excitotoxicity as a result of excessive stimulation by neurotransmitters such as glutamate results in cellular damage after traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, because BCAAs also contribute to the synthesis of inhibitory neurotransmitters, it is unclear to what extent the role of BCAAs in synthesis of both excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters might contribute to their potential effects in outcomes of TBI.

A list of human studies (years 1990 and beyond) evaluating the effectiveness of BCAAs in providing resilience or treating TBI or related diseases or conditions (i.e., subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracranial aneurysm, stroke, anoxic or hypoxic ischemia, epilepsy) in the acute phase is presented in Table 8-1; this also includes supporting evidence from animal models of TBI. The occurrence or absence of adverse effects in humans is included if reported by the authors.

Cell Signaling

Leucine indirectly activates p70 S6 kinase as well as stimulates assembly of the eIF4F complex, which are essential for mRNA binding in translational initiation. P70 S6 kinase is part of the mammalian target of rapamycin complex (mTOR) signaling pathway.



The present study provides the first evidence that mTOR signalling is enhanced in response to an acute stimulation with the proteinogenic amino acid, leucine, within cultured human myotubes. While these actions appear transient at the leucine dose utilised, activation of mTOR and p70S6K occurred at physiologically relevant concentrations independently of insulin stimulation. Interestingly, activation of mTOR signalling by leucine occurred in the absence of changes in the expression of genes encoding both the system A and system L carriers, which are responsible for amino acid transport. Thus, additional analyses are required to investigate the molecular mechanisms controlling amino acid transporter expression within skeletal muscle. Of note was the increased protein expression of hVps34, a putative leucine-sensitive kinase which intersects with mTOR. These results demonstrate the need for further clinical analysis to be performed specifically investigating the role of hVps34 as a nutrient sensing protein for mTOR signalling.

Skeletal muscle mass is determined by the balance between the synthesis and degradation of muscle proteins. Several hormones and nutrients, such as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), stimulate protein synthesis via the activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR).
BCAAs (i.e., leucine, isoleucine, and valine) also exert a protective effect against muscle atrophy. We have previously reported that orally administered BCAA increases the muscle weight and cross-sectional area (CSA) of the muscle in rats



3.4. BCAAs in Brain Functions
BCAAs may also play important roles in brain function. BCAAs may influence brain protein synthesis and production of energy and may influence synthesis of different neurotransmitters, that is, serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and so forth, directly or indirectly. Major portion of dietary BCAAs is not metabolized by liver and comes into systemic circulation after a meal. BCAAs and aromatic AA, such as tryptophan (Trp), tyrosine (Tyr), and phenylalanine (Phe), share the same transporter protein to transport into brain. Trp is the precursor of neurotransmitter serotonin; Tyr and Phe are precursors of catecholamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine). When plasma concentration of BCAAs increases, the brain absorption of BCAAs also increases with subsequent reduction of aromatic AA absorption. That may lead to decrease in synthesis of these related neurotransmitters [3]. Catecholamines are important in lowering blood pressure. When hypertensive rats were injected with Tyr, their blood pressure dropped markedly and injection with equimolar amount of valine blocks that action [49]. In vigorous working persons, such as in athletes, depletion of muscle and plasma BCAAs is normal. And that depletion of muscle and plasma BCAAs may lead to increase in Trp uptake by brain and release of serotonin. Serotonin on the other hand leads to central fatigue. So, supplementation of BCAAs to vigorously working person may be beneficial for their performance and body maintenance


Example of a treatable Amino Acid variant of Autism


Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a genetically heterogeneous constellation of syndromes characterized by impairments in reciprocal social interaction. Available somatic treatments have limited efficacy. We have identified inactivating mutations in the gene BCKDK (Branched Chain Ketoacid Dehydrogenase Kinase) in consanguineous families with autism, epilepsy and intellectual disability (ID). The encoded protein is responsible for phosphorylation-mediated inactivation of the E1-alpha subunit of branched chain ketoacid dehydrogenase (BCKDH). Patients with homozygous BCKDK mutations display reductions in BCKDK mRNA and protein, E1-alpha phosphorylation and plasma branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). Bckdk knockout mice show abnormal brain amino acid profiles and neurobehavioral deficits that respond to dietary supplementation. Thus, autism presenting with intellectual disability and epilepsy caused by BCKDK mutations represents a potentially treatable syndrome.

The data suggest that the neurological phenotype may be treated by dietary supplementation with BCAAs. To test this hypothesis, we studied the effect of a chow diet containing 2% BCAAs or a BCAA-enriched diet, consisting of 7% BCAAs, on the neurological phenotypes of the Bckdk−/− mice. Mice raised on the BCAA-enriched diet were phenotypically normal. On the 2% BCAA diet, however, Bckdk−/− mice had clear neurological abnormalities not seen in wild-type mice, such as seizures and hindlimb clasping, that appeared within 4 days of instituting the 2% BCAA diet (Fig. 3B). These neurological deficits were completely abolished within a week of the Bckdk−/− mice starting the BCAA-enriched diet, which suggests that they have an inducible yet reversible phenotype (Fig. 3C).

Our experiments have identified a Mendelian form of autism with comorbid ID and epilepsy that is associated with low plasma BCAAs. Although the incidence of this disease among patients with autism and epilepsy remains to be determined, it is probably quite a rare cause of this condition. We have shown that murine Bckdk−/− brain has a disrupted amino acid profile, suggesting a role for the BBB in the pathophysiology of this disorder. The mechanism by which abnormal brain amino acid levels lead to autism, ID, and epilepsy remains to be investigated. We have shown that dietary supplementation with BCAAs reverses some of the neurological phenotypes in mice. Finally, by supplementing the diet of human cases with BCAAs, we have been able to normalize their plasma BCAA levels (table S10), which suggests that it may be possible to treat patients with mutations in BCKDK with BCAA supplementation.


(Look at the three red rows, the BCAAs, all lower than the reference range, before supplementation)


Threonine, Mucin and Akkermansia muciniphila in Autism
Mucins are secreted as principal components of mucus by mucous membranes, like the lining of the intestines.  People with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) have mucus barrier changes.

The low levels of the mucolytic bacterium Akkermansia muciniphila found in children with autism, apparently suggests mucus barrier changes.

The amino acid Threonine is a component of mucin and Nestle have been researching for some time the idea of a threonine supplement to treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), being a serious Swiss company they publish their research.      

Threonine Requirement in Healthy Adult Subjects and in Patients With Crohn's Disease and With Ulcerative Colitis Using the Indicator Amino Acid Oxidation (IAAO) Methodology

Threonine is an essential amino acid which must be obtained from the diet. It is a component of mucin. Mucin, in turn, is a key protein in the mucous membrane that protects the lining of the intestine.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of inflammatory conditions that affect the colon and small intestine. IBD primarily includes ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD). In UC, the inflammation is usually in the colon whereas in CD inflammation may occur anywhere along the digestive tract. Studies in animals have shown that more threonine is used when there is inflammation in the intestine.

The threonine requirement in healthy participants and in IBD patients will be determined using the indicator amino acid oxidation method. The requirement derived in healthy participants will be compared to that derived in patients with IBD.

Each participant will take part in two x 3 day study periods. The first two days are called adaptation days where the subjects will consume a liquid diet specially designed for him. The diet will be consumed at home. It contains all vitamins, minerals, protein and all other nutrients required. On the third day, the participant will come to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Subjects will consume hourly meals for a total of 8 meals and a stable isotope 13C-phenylalanine. Breath and urine samples will be collected to measure the oxidation of phenylalanine from which the threonine requirement will be determined. 



We determined whether the steady-state levels of intestinal mucins are more sensitive than total proteins to dietary threonine intake. For 14 d, male Sprague-Dawley rats (158 ± 1 g, n = 32) were fed isonitrogenous diets (12.5% protein) containing 30% (group 30), 60% (group 60), 100% (control group), or 150% (group 150) of the theoretical threonine requirement for growth. All groups were pair-fed to the mean intake of group 30. The mucin and mucosal protein fractional synthesis rates (FSR) did not differ from controls in group 60. By contrast, the mucin FSR was significantly lower in the duodenum, ileum, and colon of group 30 compared with group 100, whereas the corresponding mucosal protein FSR did not differ. Because mucin mRNA levels did not differ between these 2 groups, mucin production in group 30 likely was impaired at the translational level. Our results clearly indicate that restriction of dietary threonine significantly and specifically impairs intestinal mucin synthesis. In clinical situations associated with increased threonine utilization, threonine availability may limit intestinal mucin synthesis and consequently reduce gut barrier function.
  


It has been proposed that excessive mucin degradation by intestinal bacteria may contribute to intestinal disorders, as access of luminal antigens to the intestinal immune system is facilitated. However, it is not known whether all mucin-degraders have the same effect. For example A. muciniphila may possess anti-inflammatory properties, as a high proportion of the bacteria has been correlated to protection against inflammation in diseases such as type 1 diabetes mellitus, IBD, atopic dermatitis, autism , type 2 diabetes mellitus, and.



Gastrointestinal disturbance is frequently reported for individuals with autism. We used quantitative real-time PCR analysis to quantify fecal bacteria that could influence gastrointestinal health in children with and without autism. Lower relative abundances of Bifidobacteria species and the mucolytic bacterium Akkermansia muciniphila were found in children with autism, the latter suggesting mucus barrier changes. 

Previous studies in rats by MacFabe et al. have shown that intraventricular administration of propionate induces behaviors resembling autism (e.g., repetitive dystonic behaviors, retropulsion, seizures, and social avoidance) (12, 13). We have also reported increased fecal propionate concentrations in ASD children compared with that in controls in the same fecal samples (25). However, the abundance of a key propionate-producing bacterium, Prevotella sp., was not significantly different between the study groups. This suggests that other untargeted bacteria, such as those from Clostridium cluster IX, which also includes major propionate producers (24), may be responsible for the observed differences in fecal propionate concentrations. Moreover, it is possible that the activities of the bacteria responsible for producing propionate, rather than bacterial numbers, have been altered. Other factors, such as differences in GI function that change GI transit time in ASD children, should also be considered.
In summary, the current findings of depleted populations of A. muciniphila and Bifidobacterium spp. add to our knowledge of the changes in the GI tracts of ASD children. These findings could potentially guide implementation of dietary/probiotic interventions that impact the gut microbiota and improve GI health in individuals with ASD.


Conclusion
I think that modifying levels of amino acids can have merit for some people, but it looks like another case for personalized medicine, rather than the same mix of powders given to everyone.
Threonine is interesting given the incidence of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in autism.  IBD mainly describes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
The research into Threonine, is being funded by Nestle, the giant Swiss food company, who fortunately do publish their research.
The trial in the US of CM-AT is unusual because no results have ever been published in the literature, so we just have press releases. It likely that CM-AT is a mixture of pancreatic enzymes from pigs and perhaps some added amino acids.



This 14-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 3 study is being conducted to determine if CM-AT may help improve core and non-core symptoms of Autism. CM-AT, which has been granted Fast Track designation by FDA, is designed to enhance protein digestion thereby potentially restoring the pool of essential amino acids. Essential amino acids play a critical role in the expression of several genes important to neurological function and serve as precursors to key neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.


Based on the study I referred to early this year:-


·        Amino acids, his, lys and thr, inhibited mTOR pathway in antigen-activated mast cells

·     Amino acids, his, lys and thr inhibited degranulation and cytokine production of mast cells

·     Amino acid diet reversed mTOR activity in the brain and behavioral deficits in allergic and BTBR mice.

in my post:



I for one will be evaluating both lysine and threonine, having already found a modest dose histidine very beneficial in allergy (stabilizing mast cells).




Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Regulation of the Arachidonic Acid (AA) Cascade to treat Inflammatory Disease via aspirin, diet, lithium or better still calcium channels

A rather simpler type of cascade

Today’s post was really to explain why for some people with autism their GI problems disappear when they take the calcium channel blocker verapamil.  Along the way, we will see that a similar mechanism is behind the effectiveness of both low dose aspirin and even high doses of omega 3 oil, when combined with lower dietary intake of omega 6.
There have been several studies regarding omega 3 oil in autism, but overall they are not very conclusive.  A small number of people with autism and ADHD seem to benefit.
Low dose aspirin is now very commonly prescribed to people at risk of a heart attack.
In essence you can say that too much of the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA) is potentially bad for you;  it allows for the body to become inflamed, but more important seems to be the AA cascade which determines whether the AA is converted to prostaglandins or leukotrienes.  Fortunately prostaglandins and leukotrienes tend to act locally rather than circulate throughout your body because they degrade quickly.
You can inhibit this cascade for therapeutic benefit.
In inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), prostaglandins are mucosal protective whereas leukotrienes are pro-inflammatory.
IBD and IBS are common in autism.  In some people with autism it appears that too much arachidonic acid in the gut is being converted to leukotrienes and too little to prostaglandins, the result is inflammation.
The calcium channel blocker, verapamil, has a mucosal-protective effect that occurs as a consequence of reduced mucosal leukotriene synthesis and increased prostaglandin synthesis.
This very likely explains why some people’s chronic GI problems disappear when they take verapamil.
Arachidonic acid (AA) is also present in the brain and it appears to be dysfunctional in many neurological conditions, including autism, bipolar and Alzheimer’s.
We already know that some people with autism or bipolar respond well to verapamil.
We also know that mood stabilizing drugs, like lithium, work by affecting the arachidonic acid cascade in the brain.  
Aspirin enters the brain and inhibits the AA metabolism.  Aspirin is now being trialed as an add-on therapy in bipolar to decrease inflammation suggested to be present in the brain.  Some people do not tolerate aspirin.
In research models a diet high in omega 3 and low in omega 6 oils has been shown to reduce brain AA metabolism.  This would suggest eating fish and olive oil and avoiding junk food.
Modern western diets typically have ratios of omega 6 to omega 3 in excess of 10 to 1, the average ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 in the Western diet is 15:1.  Humans are thought to have evolved with a diet of a 1-to-1 ratio of omega-6 to omega 3 and the optimal ratio is thought to be 4 to 1 or lower.
The source of excessive omega-6 for most people is vegetable oil (corn, sunflower etc.) in junk food.
Most people eat so much omega 6, that buying some expensive omega 3 capsules is going to have minimal impact.  Maybe time to embrace a more Mediterranean diet?
For those trying to influence the AA cascade, you have plenty of choices.  I am happy with verapamil, and plenty of olive oil.

Conclusion
Treating IBS/IBD with a calcium channel blocker looks an interesting avenue for some researcher to develop.  It would be an extremely cheap therapy, so I do not see anyone rushing in that direction.
The many people giving their child expensive omega 3 supplements for autism or ADHD, might want to start by reducing excessive omega 6 consumed in fried food and processed food. 
If you have IBS/IBD yourself and a relative with autism you might well benefit from occasional use of moderate dose verapamil.
You might wonder how come so many things respond to verapamil; it seems that dysfunctional calcium signaling is at the core of many conditions including autism.  You will see in a later post that even autophagy/mitophagy, the cellular garbage collection service, that is dysfunctional in autism, can be treated via calcium channels.

The science
For those interested in the science here follows the more complicated part.

Arachidonic acid (AA) is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid.  It is abundant in the brain and performs very important roles.  docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is present in the brain in similar quantities.



AA then undergoes a cascade forming so-called eicosanoids this happens by either producing prostaglandins or leukotrienes.  These eicosanoids have various roles in inflammation, fever, regulation of blood pressure, blood clotting, immune system modulation, control of reproductive processes and tissue growth, and regulation of the sleep/wake cycle.
Eicosanoids, derived from arachidonic acid, are formed when your cells are damaged or are under threat of damage. This stimulus activates enzymes that transform the arachidonic acid into eicosanoids such as prostaglandin, thromboxane and leukotrienes. Eicosanoids cause inflammation. Therefore, the more arachidonic acid that is present, the greater capacity your body has to become inflamed. Eicosanoids tend to act locally rather than circulate throughout your body because they degrade quickly. 
Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory because they prevent inducible Phospholipase A2 expression, reducing AA release
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and derivatives of ibuprofen, inhibit Cyclooxygenase activity of PGH2 Synthase. They inhibit formation of prostaglandins involved in fever, pain and inflammation. They inhibit blood clotting by blocking thromboxane formation in blood platelets.

Arachidonic Acid and the Brain
In adults, the disturbed metabolism of ARA contributes to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Bipolar disorder. This involves significant alterations in the conversion of arachidonic acid to other bioactive molecules (overexpression or disturbances in the ARA enzyme cascade).


Altered arachidonic acid cascade enzymes in postmortem brain from bipolar disorder patients

Mood stabilizers that are approved for treating bipolar disorder (BD), when given chronically to rats, decrease expression of markers of the brain arachidonic metabolic cascade, and reduce excitotoxicity and neuroinflammation-induced upregulation of these markers. These observations, plus evidence for neuroinflammation and excitotoxicity in BD, suggest that arachidonic acid (AA) cascade markers are upregulated in the BD brain. To test this hypothesis, these markers were measured in postmortem frontal cortex from 10 BD patients and 10 age-matched controls. Mean protein and mRNA levels of AA-selective cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2) IVA, secretory sPLA2 IIA, cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 and membrane prostaglandin E synthase (mPGES) were significantly elevated in the BD cortex. Levels of COX-1 and cytosolic PGES (cPGES) were significantly reduced relative to controls, whereas Ca2+-independent iPLA2VIA, 5-, 12-, and 15-lipoxygenase, thromboxane synthase and cytochrome p450 epoxygenase protein and mRNA levels were not significantly different. These results confirm that the brain AA cascade is disturbed in BD, and that certain enzymes associated with AA release from membrane phospholipid and with its downstream metabolism are upregulated. As mood stabilizers downregulate many of these brain enzymes in animal models, their clinical efficacy may depend on suppressing a pathologically upregulated cascade in BD. An upregulated cascade should be considered as a target for drug development and for neuroimaging in BD

Lithium and the other mood stabilizers effective in bipolar disorder target the rat brain arachidonic acid cascade.


This Review evaluates the arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4n-6) cascade hypothesis for the actions of lithium and other FDA-approved mood stabilizers in bipolar disorder (BD). The hypothesis is based on evidence in unanesthetized rats that chronically administered lithium, carbamazepine, valproate, or lamotrigine each downregulated brain AA metabolism, and it is consistent with reported upregulated AA cascade markers in post-mortem BD brain. In the rats, each mood stabilizer reduced AA turnover in brain phospholipids, cyclooxygenase-2 expression, and prostaglandin E2 concentration. Lithium and carbamazepine also reduced expression of cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2) IVA, which releases AA from membrane phospholipids, whereas valproate uncompetitively inhibited in vitro acyl-CoA synthetase-4, which recycles AA into phospholipid. Topiramate and gabapentin, proven ineffective in BD, changed rat brain AA metabolism minimally. On the other hand, the atypical antipsychotics olanzapine and clozapine, which show efficacy in BD, decreased rat brain AA metabolism by reducing plasma AA availability. Each of the four approved mood stabilizers also dampened brain AA signaling during glutamatergic NMDA and dopaminergic D2receptor activation, while lithium enhanced the signal during cholinergic muscarinic receptor activation. In BD patients, such signaling effects might normalize the neurotransmission imbalance proposed to cause disease symptoms. Additionally, the antidepressants fluoxetine and imipramine, which tend to switch BD depression to mania, each increased AA turnover and cPLA2 IVA expression in rat brain, suggesting that brain AA metabolism is higher in BD mania than depression. The AA hypothesis for mood stabilizer action is consistent with reports that low-dose aspirin reduced morbidity in patients taking lithium, and that high n-3 and/or low n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid diets, which in rats reduce brain AA metabolism, were effective in BD and migraine patients.

3.1. Low Dose Aspirin

In a pharmacoepidemiological study of patients taking lithium for an average duration of 847 days, patients receiving low-dose (30 or 80 mg/day) acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) were significantly less likely to have a “medication event” (evidence of disease worsening) than patients on lithium alone, independently of use duration.44 High dose aspirin given for short periods of time, nonselective COX inhibitors, selective COX-2 inhibitors, or glucocorticoids were not beneficial. As low dose aspirin does not increase serum lithium,52aspirin’s synergistic effect with lithium likely was centrally mediated, particularly because it can enter the brain and inhibit AA metabolism.53 Clinical trials with aspirin in BD currently are underway.54
A central positive effect of aspirin in BD is consistent with a report that aspirin given to men undergoing coronary angiography reduced depression and anxiety.55 Of relevance, the COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib, although having low brain penetrability,56 showed significant positive effects as adjunctive therapy in BD patients experiencing depressive or mixed episodes, and in depressed patients.57
The clinical data are consistent with the AA cascade hypothesis. Acetylation of COX-2 by aspirin reduces the ability of the enzyme to convert AA to pro-inflammatory PGE2. Additionally, acylated COX-2 can convert AA to anti-inflammatory mediators such as lipoxin A4 and 15-epi-lipoxin A4, as well as DHA to anti-inflammatory 17-(R)-OH-DHA.43a Lithium similarly reduces rat brain COX-2 activity and PGE2concentration (Table 2), while increasing brain concentrations of 17-hydroxy-DHA and other potential DHA-derived anti-inflammatory metabolites.43b

3.2. Changing Dietary PUFA Composition Can Suppress Brain Arachidonic Acid Cascade

Brain concentrations of AA and DHA can be altered reciprocally by changing dietary PUFA concentrations, since brain AA and DHA concentrations depend on dietary intake and hepatic elongation from nutritionally essential LA and α-LNA, respectively.49 Furthermore, decreases in dietary LA and increases in dietary α-LNA have been reported to be neuroprotective in animal models. In rats, reducing dietary α-LNA below a level considered to be PUFA “adequate” reduces brain DHA concentration and uptake, expression of DHA-selective iPLA2 VIA, and of brain derived growth factor (BDNF) critical for neuronal integrity,58 while it increases AA-metabolizing cPLA2 IVA, sPLA2 IIA and COX-2 activities. In contrast, reducing dietary LA below the “adequate” level reduces brain AA concentration, kinetics and enzyme expression, while reciprocally increasing corresponding DHA parameters.59
While data are controversial with regard to dietary intervention in the clinic, a cross-national study did identify a significant relation between greater DHA-containing seafood consumption and lower prevalence rates of BD.60 Also, a review of clinical trials reported that increased dietary n-3 PUFA in combination with standard treatment improved bipolar depression, even taking into account sample bias.61 In the future, one might maximize effects of dietary intervention by combining dietary n-3 PUFA supplementation with reduced dietary n-6 PUFA, which when compared to a standard diet was effective in a phase III trial in patients with migraine.62 Migraine occurs in 30% of BD patients.63

Inhibitors of the Arachidonic Acid Cascade: Interfering with Multiple Pathways


Modulators of the arachidonic acid cascade have been in the focus of research for treatments of inflammation and pain for several decades. Targeting this complex pathway experiences a paradigm change towards the design and development of multi-target inhibitors, exhibiting improved efficacy and less undesired side effects. This minireview summarizes recent developments in the field of designed multi-target ligands of the arachidonic acid cascade. In addition to the well-known dual inhibitors of 5-lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase-2 such as licofelone, very recent developments are discussed. Especially, multi-target inhibitors interfering with the cytochrome P450 pathway via inhibition of soluble epoxide hydrolase seem to offer a novel opportunity for development of novel anti-inflammatory drugs.




  

Low-dose aspirin(acetylsalicylate) prevents increases in brain PGE2, 15-epi-lipoxinA4 and 8-isoprostane concentrations in 9 month-old HIV-1 transgenic rats, a model for HIV-1 associated neurocognitive disorders

Conclusion

Chronic low-dose ASA reduces AA-metabolite markers of neuroinflammation and oxidative stress in a rat model for HAND.


Aspirin:a review of its neurobiological properties and therapeutic potential for mentalillness

There is compelling evidence to support an aetiological role for inflammation, oxidative and nitrosative stress (O&NS), and mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathophysiology of major neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer's disease (AD). These may represent new pathways for therapy. Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is an irreversible inhibitor of both cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2, It stimulates endogenous production of anti-inflammatory regulatory 'braking signals', including lipoxins, which dampen the inflammatory response and reduce levels of inflammatory biomarkers, including C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin (IL)--6, but not negative immunoregulatory cytokines, such as IL-4 and IL-10. Aspirin can reduce oxidative stress and protect against oxidative damage. Early evidence suggests there are beneficial effects of aspirin in preclinical and clinical studies in mood disorders and schizophrenia, and epidemiological data suggests that high-dose aspirin is associated with a reduced risk of AD. Aspirin, one of the oldest agents in medicine, is a potential new therapy for a range of neuropsychiatric disorders, and may provide proof-of-principle support for the role of inflammation and O&NS in the pathophysiology of this diverse group of disorders.


Inflammation, particularly the M1 macrophage response, is accompanied by increased levels of free radicals and O&NS, creating a state in which levels of available antioxidants are reduced. Activation of the immune-inflammatory and O&NS pathways and lowered levels of antioxidants are key phenomena in clinical depression (both unipolar and bipolar), autism, and schizophrenia [2, 3, 4]. Indeed, there is now strong evidence of the involvement of a progressive neuropathologic process in these conditions, with stage-related structural and neurocognitive changes well described for each. Incorporation of these wider factors into traditional monoamine neurotransmitter-system models has facilitated a more comprehensive model of disease, capable of explaining the observed process of neuroprogression. This understanding has facilitated the identification of new therapeutic targets and treatments that have the potential to interrupt the identified neurotoxic cascades [5, 6, 7, 8]. The neuroprotective potential is one of the key promises of agents that target the components of the cascade.

Working mechanisms of aspirin

Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and an irreversible inhibitor of both COX-1 and COX-2. It is more potent in its inhibition of COX-1 than COX-2, and targeting COX-2 alone may be a less viable therapeutic approach in neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression [102]. COX-2 inhibitors may theoretically cause neuroinflammatory reactions, and potentially might augment the Th1 predominance, increase O&NS levels and O&NS-induced damage, decrease antioxidant defenses, and even aggravate neuroprogression [102]. In addition, COX-2 inhibition may interfere with the resolution of inflammation [103]. Thus, COX-2 inhibition decreases the production of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which drives the negative immunoregulatory effects on ongoing inflammatory responses. In autoimmune arthritis, for example, PGE2 is part of a negative-feedback mechanism that attenuates the chronic inflammatory response [103]. Therefore, in order to understand the clinical efficacy of aspirin in neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia, it is more important to consider how its inhibition of COX-1 affects the five aforementioned pathways. This is supported by data suggesting lower response rates to antidepressants in people receiving NSAIDs [104], but is at odds with some recent studies suggesting a benefit for celecoxib, a COX-2 inhibitor, in several disorders including autism and depression [105, 106]. In the following sections, we will discuss the effects of aspirin on these pathways. 
 Arachidonic acid is a type of omega-6 fatty acid that is involved in inflammation. Like other omega-6 fatty acids, arachidonic acid is essential to your health. Omega-6 fatty acids help maintain your brain function and regulate growth. Eating a diet that has a combination of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids will lower your risk of developing heart disease. Arachidonic acid in particular helps regulate neuronal activity, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology explains.

Arachidonic Acid and Eicosanoids

Eicosanoids, derived from arachidonic acid, are formed when your cells are damaged or are under threat of damage. This stimulus activates enzymes that transform the arachidonic acid into eicosanoids such as prostaglandin, thromboxane and leukotrienes. Eicosanoids cause inflammation. Therefore, the more arachidonic acid that is present, the greater capacity your body has to become inflamed. Eicosanoids tend to act locally rather than circulate throughout your body because they degrade quickly.

Other Functions

Arachidonic acid and its metabolites help regulate neurotransmitter release, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology writes. Arachidonic acid is metabolized so that it may be used to modulate ion channel activities, protein kinases and neurotransmitter uptake systems. Arachidonic acid acts as a substrate that is changed to useful metabolites.
   

Arachidonic Acid and the Gut

In inflammatory bowel disease, prostaglandins are mucosal protective whereas leukotrienes are proinflammatory.
   

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a highly prevalent functional bowel disorder routinely encountered by healthcare providers. Although not life-threatening, this chronic disorder reduces patients’ quality of life and imposes a significant economic burden to the healthcare system. IBS is no longer considered a diagnosis of exclusion that can only be made after performing a battery of expensive diagnostic tests. Rather, IBS should be confidently diagnosed in the clinic at the time of the first visit using the Rome III criteria and a careful history and physical examination. Treatment options for IBS have increased in number in the past decade and clinicians should not be limited to using only fiber supplements and smooth muscle relaxants. Although all patients with IBS have symptoms of abdominal pain and disordered defecation, treatment needs to be individualized and should focus on the predominant symptom. This paper will review therapeutic options for the treatment of IBS using a tailored approach based on the predominant symptom. Abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea are the four main symptoms that can be addressed using a combination of dietary interventions and medications. Treatment options include probiotics, antibiotics, tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and agents that modulate chloride channels and serotonin. Each class of agent will be reviewed using the latest data from the literature

The efficacy of the calcium channel blocker verapamil was prospectively studied in a group of 129 nonconstipated IBS patients meeting Rome II criteria [Quigley et al. 2007]. In this double-blind study, 12-week study, patients were randomized to receive either placebo or the r-enantiomer of verapamil. Doses were adjusted at 4-week intervals, increasing from 20 mg p.o. t.i.d. to 80 mg p.o. t.i.d. as tolerated. The authors reported that the medication was generally well tolerated, without any significant adverse events being reported. Intention-to-treat analysis showed a significant improvement for the r-verapamil group for both primary efficacy variables compared with control, including global symptom scores (p¼0.0057) and abdominal pain/discomfort (p ¼ 0.05). Although not discussed in this preliminary report, verapamil may improve symptoms by modulating smooth muscle function in the gastrointestinal tract. Further studies are forthcoming from this active research group.



Verapamil alters eicosanoid synthesis and accelerates healing during experimental colitis inrats.


In inflammatory bowel disease, prostaglandins are mucosal protective whereas leukotrienes are proinflammatory. Recent evidence suggests that the formation and action of leukotrienes are calcium-dependent, whereas the formation and action of prostaglandins are not. To examine the possibility that, because of differential regulation of arachidonic acid metabolism, calcium channel blockade might alter mucosal eicosanoid synthesis and accelerate healing during inflammatory bowel disease, we treated a 4% acetic acid-induced colitis model with verapamil and/or misoprostol and determined the effects on colonic macroscopic injury, mucosal inflammation as measured by myeloperoxidase activity, in vivo intestinal fluid absorption, and mucosal prostaglandin E2 and leukotriene B4 (LTB4) levels as measured by in vivo rectal dialysis. In colitic animals, verapamil treatment significantly improved colonic fluid absorption and macroscopic ulceration. This mucosal-protective effect of verapamil occurred in the presence of a twofold reduction in mucosal LTB4 synthesis. In noncolitic animals, verapamil alone had no effect on in vivo fluid absorption, macroscopic ulceration, or myeloperoxidase activity but did induce a threefold reduction in LTB4 synthesis in addition to shifting arachidonic acid metabolism towards a sixfold stimulation of prostaglandin E2 synthesis. Our results show that, when administered before the experimental induction of colitis, the calcium channel blocker, verapamil, has a mucosal-protective effect that occurs as a consequence of reduced mucosal leukotriene synthesis and increased prostaglandin synthesis. This differential regulation of arachidonic acid metabolism may play an important role in the development of novel therapeutic agents for inflammatory bowel disease.





Background/aims: In this study two calcium channel blockers (CCB), diltiazem and verapamil, which demonstrate their effects on two different receptor blockage mechanisms, were assessed comparatively in an experimental colitis model regarding the local and systemic effect spectrum. Methods: Eighty male Swiss albino rats were divided into eight groups (n:10 each): Group I) colitis was induced with 1 ml 4% acetic acid without any medication. Group II) Sham group. Group III) Intra-muscular (IM) diltiazem was administered daily for five days before inducing colitis. Group IV) IM verapamil was administered daily for five days before inducing colitis. Group V) Transrectal (TR) diltiazem was administered with enema daily for two days before inducing colitis. Group VI) TR saline was administered four hours before inducing colitis. Group VII) TR diltiazem was administered with enema four hours before inducing colitis. Group VIII) TR verapamil was administered with enema four hours before inducing colitis. All subjects were sacrified 48 hours after the colitis induction. The distal colon segment was assessed macroscopically and microscopically for the grade of damage, and myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity was measured. Results: All the data of the control colitis group (group I), including the microscopic, macroscopic and MPO activity measurements, were significantly higher than in the groups in which verapamil and diltiazem were administered over seven days (3.100±0.7379 to 1.300+0.9487 and 1.600±0.9661) (p


Background Gastrointestinal inflammation significantly affects the electrical excitability of smooth muscle cells. Considerable progress over the last few years have been made to establish the mechanisms by which ion channel function is altered in the setting of gastrointestinal inflammation. Details have begun to emerge on the molecular basis by which ion channel function may be regulated in smooth muscle following inflammation. These include changes in protein and gene expression of the smooth muscle isoform of L-type Ca2+ channels and ATP-sensitive K+ channels. Recent attention has also focused on post-translational modifications as a primary means of altering ion channel function in the absence of changes in protein/gene expression. Protein phosphorylation of serine/theronine or tyrosine residues, cysteine thiol modifications, and tyrosine nitration are potential mechanisms affected by oxidative/nitrosative stress that alter the gating kinetics of ion channels. Collectively, these findings suggest that inflammation results in electrical remodeling of smooth muscle cells in addition to structural remodeling. Purpose The purpose of this review is to synthesize our current understanding regarding molecular mechanisms that result in altered ion channel function during gastrointestinal inflammation and to address potential areas that can lead to targeted new therapies.

CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS Inflammation induced changes in electrical excitability of gastrointestinal smooth muscle cells were first established over twenty years ago by sharp microelectrode studies in whole tissue segments.74 We now know of specific changes in both protein expression and post-translational modifications of ion channels that results in electrical remodeling in pathophysiological settings. Important questions still remain with regard to identifying these changes in human GI smooth muscle cells, and what alterations occur in the acute vs. the chronic phases of inflammation. Studies to delineate the pathways for membrane trafficking and ion channel degradation and the influence of inflammation need to be established. It is important to note that each individual ion channel may be modulated at various sites by different ‘oxidative’ elements. Although oxidative stress has been recognized as a key component in gastrointestinal inflammation and alterations in endogenous anti-oxidants have been reported in inflammatory bowel disease, antioxidant therapy still remains in its infancy.  The focus of this review was to highlight the possible mechanisms involved in altered ion channel activity and the different facets of post-translational modifications. The latter also brings into question the role of various endogenous anti-oxidant mechanisms. For example, de-nitrosylation requires specific thioredoxins, oxidation of cysteine residues may be reduced by ascorbate and glutathione, while S-sulfhydration appears to be more stable. Recent studies have also addressed the potential of a ‘denitrase’ which may allow for recovery of tyrosine nitrated proteins. A combination that takes into account the various antioxidant mechanisms could provide an important therapeutic approach in the treatment of gastrointestinal inflammatory disorders particularly towards restoring cellular excitability



Arachidonic Acid and Asthma

Arachidonic acid metabolites: mediators of inflammation in asthma.



Asthma is increasingly recognized as a mediator-driven inflammatory process in the lungs. The leukotrienes (LTs) and prostaglandins (PGs), two families of proinflammatory mediators arising via arachidonic acid metabolism, have been implicated in the inflammatory cascade that occurs in asthmatic airways. The PG pathway normally maintains a balance in the airways; both PGD2 and thromboxane A2 are bronchoconstrictors, whereas PGE2 and prostacyclin are bronchoprotective. The actions of the LTs, however, appear to be exclusively proinflammatory in nature. The dihydroxy-LT, LTB4, may play an important role in attracting neutrophils and eosinophils into the airways, whereas the sulfidopeptide leukotrienes (LTC4, LTD4, and LTE4) produce effects that are characteristic of asthma, such as potent bronchoconstriction, increased endothelial membrane permeability leading to airway edema, and enhanced secretion of thick, viscous mucus. Given the significant role of the inflammatory process in asthma, newer pharmacologic agents, such as the sulfidopeptide-LT antagonists, zafirlukast, montelukast, and pranlukast and the 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) inhibitor, zileuton, have been developed with the goal of targeting specific elements of the inflammatory cascade. These drugs appear to represent improvements to the existing therapeutic armamentarium. In addition, the results of clinical trials with these agents have helped to expand our understanding of the pathogenesis of asthma.


Arachidonic Acid metabolites and inflammation generally

Prostaglandins and Inflammation



Prostanoids can promote or restrain acute inflammation. Products of COX-2 in particular may also contribute to resolution of inflammation in certain settings. Presently, we have little information on which products of COX-2 might subserve this role or indeed if the dominant factors reflect rediversion of the arachidonic acid substrate to other metabolic pathways consequent to deletion or inhibition of COX-2. As with cyclopentanone prostanoids, many arachidonate derivatives, including transcellular products, when synthesized and administered as exogenous compounds, can promote resolution in models of inflammation. However, rigorous physico-chemical evidence for the formation of the endogenous species in relevant quantities to subserve this role in vivo is limited. Elucidation of whether and how prostanoids might restrain inflammation and how substrate modification, such as with fish oils, might exploit this understanding is currently a focus of much research from which novel therapeutic strategies are likely to emerge.