UA-45667900-1
Showing posts with label NSAID. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NSAID. Show all posts

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Acid-sensing Ion Channels (ASICs) and Autism – Acid in the Brain

Acid sensing ion channels (ASICs) are another emerging area of science where much remains known.  It would seem that ASICs have evolved for a good reason, when pH levels fall they trigger a reaction to compensate.  (The lower the pH the higher is the acidity)  In some cases, like seizures, this seems to work, but in other cases the reaction produced actually makes a bad situation worse.

Research is ongoing to find inhibitors of ASICs to treat specific conditions raging from MS (Multiple Sclerosis), Parkinson’s and Huntington’s to depression and anxiety. Perhaps autism should be added to the list.
NSAIDs like ibuprofen are inhibitors of ASICs.
The complicated-looking chart below explains the mechanism.  The ASIC is on the left, also present is a voltage-gated calcium channel (VGCC) and an NMDA receptor. We already know that VGCCs can play a key role in autism and mast cell degranulation. Similarly we know that in autism there is very often either too much or too little NMDA signaling. Here we have all three together.




  
The role of ASICs is to sense reduced levels of extracellular pH (i.e. acidity outside the cell) and result in a response from the neuron. Under increased acidic conditions, a proton (H+) binds to the channel in the extracellular region, activating the ion channel and opening transmembrane domain 2 (TMD2). This results in the influx of sodium ions.

All ASICs are specifically permeable to sodium ions. The only variant is ASIC1a which also has a low permeability to calcium ions. The influx of these cations results in membrane depolarization.

Voltage-gated Ca2+ channels are then activated resulting in an influx of calcium into the cell. This causes depolarization of the neuron and an excitatory response released.

NMDA receptors are also activated and this results in more influx of calcium into the cell.

This calcium inflow then triggers further reactions via CaMKII (calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II).

The overall effect is likely to damage the cell.

There is also an important effect on dendritic spines:-

“ASIC2 can affect the function of dendritic spines in two ways, by increasing ASIC1a at synapses and by altering the gating of heteromultimeric ASIC channels. As a result, ASIC2 influences acid-evoked elevations of [Ca2+]i in dendritic spines and modulates the number of synapses. Therefore, ASIC2 may also contribute to pathophysiological states where ASIC1a plays a role, including in mouse models of cerebral ischemia, multiple sclerosis, and seizures”


In general the research is looking to inhibit ASICs to improve a variety of neurological conditions.

Acid in the Brain

ASICs only become activated when there is acidity (low pH).  When the pH is more than 6.9 they do nothing at all.
Unfortunately, in many neurological disorders pH is found to be abnormally low and that includes autism.
ASIC1a channels specifically open in response to pH 5.0-6.9 and contribute to the pathology of ischemic brain injury because their activation causes a small increase in Ca2+permeability and an inward flow of Ca2+. ASIC1a channels additionally facilitate the activation of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels and NMDA receptor channels upon initial depolarization, contributing to the major increase in intracellular calcium that results in cell death.
However in the case of epilepsy, ASIC1a channels can be helpful.  Seizures cause increased, uncontrolled neuronal activity in the brain that releases large quantities of acidic vesicles. ASIC1a channels open in response and have shown to protect against seizures by reducing their progression. Studies researching this phenomenon have found that deleting the ASIC1a gene resulted in amplified seizure activity. 


Changes in the brain pH level have been considered an artifact, therefore substantial effort has been made to match the tissue pH among study participants and to control the effect of pH on molecular changes in the postmortem brain. However, given that decreased brain pH is a pathophysiological trait of psychiatric disorders, these efforts could have unwittingly obscured the specific pathophysiological signatures that are potentially associated with changes in pH, such as neuronal hyper-excitation and inflammation, both of which have been implicated in the etiology of psychiatric disorders. Therefore, the present study highlighting that decreased brain pH is a shared endophenotype of psychiatric disorders has significant implications on the entire field of studies on the pathophysiology of mental disorders.

This research raises new questions about changes in brain pH. For example, what are the mechanisms through which lactate is increased and pH is decreased? Are specific brain regions responsible for the decrease in pH? Is there functional significance to the decrease in brain pH observed in psychiatric disorders, and if so, is it a cause or result of the onset of the disorder?. Further studies are needed to address these issues.

The following paper is mainly by Japanese researchers and is very thorough; it will likely make you consider brain acidosis as almost inevitable in your case of autism. 

Lower pH is a well-replicated finding in the post-mortem brains of patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Interpretation of the data, however, is controversial as to whether this finding  reflects a primary feature of the diseases or is a result of confounding factors such as medication, post-mortem interval, and agonal state. To date, systematic investigation of brain pH has not been undertaken using animal models, which can be studied without confounds inherent in human studies.  In the present study, we first confirmed that the brains of patients with schizophrenia and bipolar  disorder exhibit lower pH values by conducting a meta-analysis of existing datasets. We then  utilized neurodevelopmental mouse models of psychiatric disorders in order to test the hypothesis  that lower brain pH exists in these brains compared to controls due to the underlying pathophysiology of the disorders. We measured pH, lactate levels, and related metabolite levels in brain homogenates from three mouse models of schizophrenia (Schnurri-2 KO, forebrain-specific  calcineurin KO, and neurogranin KO mice) and one of bipolar disorder (Camk2a HKO mice), and  one of autism spectrum disorders (Chd8 HKO mice). All mice were drug-naïve with the same post-mortem interval and agonal state at death. Upon post-mortem examination, we observed  significantly lower pH and higher lactate levels in the brains of model mice relative to controls. There was a significant negative correlation between pH and lactate levels. These results suggest that lower pH associated with increased lactate levels is a pathophysiology of such diseases rather than mere artefacts.
A number of postmortem studies have indicated that pH is lower in the brains of patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Lower brain pH has also been observed in patients with ASD. In general, pH balance is considered critical for maintaining optimal health, and low pH has been associated with a number of somatic disorders. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that lower pH may exert a negative impact on brain function and play a key role in the pathogenesis of various psychiatric disorders.            

Researches have revealed that brain acidosis influences a number of brain functions, such as anxiety, mood, and cognition. Acidosis may affect the structure and function of several types of brain cells, including the electrophysiological functioning of GABAergic  neurons and morphological properties of oligodendrocytes. Alterations in these types of cells have been well-documented in the brains of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and ASD and may underlie some of the cognitive deficits associated with these disorders. Deficits in GABAergic neurons and oligodendrocytes have been identified in the mouse models of the disorders, including Shn2 KO mice. Brain acidosis may therefore be associated with deficits in such cell types in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and ASD.

Interestingly, we observed that Wnt- and EGF-related pathways, which are highly implicated in somatic and brain cancers, are enriched in the genes whose expressions were altered among the  five mutant mouse strains.

These findings raise the possibility that elevated glycolysis underlies the increased lactate and pyruvate levels in the brains of the mouse models of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and ASD.

Dysregulation of the excitation-inhibition balance has been proposed as a candidate cause of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and ASD. A shift in the balance towards excitation would result in increased energy expenditure and may lead to increased glycolysis.


University of Iowa neuroscientist John Wemmie is interested in the effect of acid in the brain (not that kind of acid!). His studies suggest that increased acidity—or low pH—in the brain is linked to panic disorders, anxiety, and depression. But his work also indicates that changes in acidity are important for normal brain activity too.

“We are interested in the idea that pH might be changing in the functional brain because we’ve been hot on the trail of receptors that are activated by low pH,” says Wemmie, associate professor of psychiatry in the UI Carver College of Medicine. “The presence of these receptors implies the possibility that low pH might be playing a signaling role in normal brain function.”

Wemmie’s previous studies have suggested a role for pH changes in certain psychiatric diseases, including anxiety and depression. With the new method, he and his colleagues hope to explore how pH is involved in these conditions.
“Brain activity is likely different in people with brain disorders such as bipolar or depression, and that might be reflected in this measure,” Wemmie says. “And perhaps most important, at the end of the day: Could this signal be abnormal or perturbed in human psychiatric disease? And if so, might it be a target for manipulation and treatment?”

Panic attacks as a problem of pHhttps://d.adroll.com/cm/aol/outhttps://d.adroll.com/cm/index/outhttps://d.adroll.com/cm/n/out

An easy to read article from the Scientific American

Dendritic Spines and ASICS

The present results and previous studies suggest that ASIC2 can affect the function of dendritic spines in two ways, by increasing ASIC1a at synapses and by altering the gating of heteromultimeric ASIC channels. As a result, ASIC2 influences acid-evoked elevations of [Ca2+]i in dendritic spines and modulates the number of synapses. Therefore, ASIC2 may also contribute to pathophysiological states where ASIC1a plays a role, including in mouse models of cerebral ischemia, multiple sclerosis, and seizures (Xiong et al., 2004; Yermolaieva et al., 2004; Gao et al., 2005; Friese et al., 2007; Ziemann et al., 2008). Interestingly, one previous report suggested increased ASIC2a expression in neurons surviving ischemia, although the functional consequence of those changes are uncertain (Johnson et al., 2001). Moreover, recent studies suggest genetic associations between the ASIC2 locus and multiple sclerosis, autism and mental retardation (Bernardinelli et al., 2007; Girirajan et al., 2007; Stone et al., 2007). Thus, we speculate that ASIC1a and ASIC2, working in concert, may regulate neuronal function in a variety of disease states  

ASICs in neurologic disorders

Disease
Role of ASICs
Parkinson’s disease
Lactic acidosis occurs in the brains of patients with PD.
Amiloride helps protect against substantia nigra neuronal degeneration, inhibiting apoptosis.
Parkin gene mutations result in abnormal ASIC currents.
Huntington’s disease
ASIC1 inhibition enhances ubiquitin-proteasome system activity and reduces huntingtin-polyglutamine accumulation.
Pain
ASIC3 is involved in: 1) primary afferent gastrointestinal visceral pain, 2) chemical nociception of the upper gastrointestinal system, and 3) mechanical nociception of the colon.
Blocking neuronal ASIC1a expression in dorsal root ganglia may confer analgesia.
NSAIDs inhibit sensory neuronal ASIC expression.
Cerebral ischemia
Neuronal ASIC2 expression in the hypothalamus is upregulated after ischemia.
Blockade of ASIC1a exerts a neuroprotective effect in a middle cerebral artery occlusion model.
Migraine
Most dural afferent nerves express ASICs.
Multiple sclerosis
ASIC1a is upregulated in oligodendrocytes and in axons of an acute autoimmune encephalomyelitis mouse model, as well as in brain tissue from patients with multiple sclerosis.
Blockade of ASIC1a may attenuate myelin and neuronal damage in multiple sclerosis.
Seizure
Intraventricular injection of PcTX-1 increases the frequency of tonic-clonic seizures.
Low-pH stimulation increases ASIC1a inhibitory neuronal currents.
Malignant glioma
ASIC1a is widely expressed in malignant glial cells.
PcTx1 or ASIC1a knock-down inhibits cell migration and cell-cycle progression in gliomas.
Amiloride analogue benzamil also produces cell-cycle arrest in glioblastoma.



One logical question is whether the brain ASIC connection with autism connects to the common  gastrointestinal problems, some of which relate to acidity and are often treated with H2 antihistamines and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).

Gastric acid is of paramount importance for digestion and protection from pathogens but, at the same time, is a threat to the integrity of the mucosa in the upper gastrointestinal tract and may give rise to pain if inflammation or ulceration ensues. Luminal acidity in the colon is determined by lactate production and microbial transformation of carbohydrates to short chain fatty acids as well as formation of ammonia. The pH in the oesophagus, stomach and intestine is surveyed by a network of acid sensors among which acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) and acid-sensitive members of transient receptor potential ion channels take a special place. In the gut, ASICs (ASIC1, ASIC2, ASIC3) are primarily expressed by the peripheral axons of vagal and spinal afferent neurons and are responsible for distinct proton-gated currents in these neurons. ASICs survey moderate decreases in extracellular pH and through these properties contribute to a protective blood flow increase in the face of mucosal acid challenge. Importantly, experimental studies provide increasing evidence that ASICs contribute to gastric acid hypersensitivity and pain under conditions of gastritis and peptic ulceration but also participate in colonic hypersensitivity to mechanical stimuli (distension) under conditions of irritation that are not necessarily associated with overt inflammation. These functional implications and their upregulation by inflammatory and non-inflammatory pathologies make ASICs potential targets to manage visceral hypersensitivity and pain associated with functional gastrointestinal disorders.

It looks like it is still early days in the research into ASICs and GI problems. Best look again in decade or two.  

Too Much Lactic Acid – Lactic Acidosis 
One theory is that panic attacks are cause by too much lactic acid.
In earlier posts of mitochondrial disease and OXPHOS, we saw that when the mitochondria have too little oxygen they can continue to produce ATP, but lactate accumulates and this leads to lactic acidosis.
So people with mitochondrial disease might have some degree of lactic acidosis that would reduce extracellular pH and activate ASICs.
So perhaps along with those prone to panic attacks, people with regressive autism and high lactate might benefit from an ASIC inhibitor?
Aerobic exercise is suggested to reduce excess lactate, although extreme exercise like running a marathon will actually make more.  Moderate exercise has the added advantage of stimulating the production of more mitochondria.
So moderate exercise for panic disorders and regressive autism (mitochondrial disease).   Moderate exercise is then an indirect ASIC inhibitor, because it should increase pH (less acidic). 

ASICs in panic and anxiety?

Acid sensing ion channels (ASICs) generate H+-gated Na+ currents that contribute to neuronal function and animal behavior. Like ASIC1, ASIC2 subunits are expressed in the brain and multimerize with ASIC1 to influence acid-evoked currents and facilitate ASIC1 localization to dendritic spines. To better understand how ASIC2 contributes to brain function, we localized the protein and tested the behavioral consequences of ASIC2 gene disruption. For comparison, we also localized ASIC1 and studied ASIC1−/− mice. ASIC2 was prominently expressed in areas of high synaptic density, and with a few exceptions, ASIC1 and ASIC2 localization exhibited substantial overlap. Loss of ASIC1 or ASIC2 decreased freezing behavior in contextual and auditory cue fear conditioning assays, in response to predator odor, and in response to CO2 inhalation. In addition, loss of ASIC1 or ASIC2 increased activity in a forced swim assay. These data suggest that ASIC2, like ASIC1, plays a key role in determining the defensive response to aversive stimuli. They also raise the question of whether gene variations in both ASIC1 and ASIC2 might affect fear and panic in humans.

Recent genome-wide studies have associated SNPs near ASIC2 with autism (Stone et al., 2007), panic disorder (Gregersen et al., 2012), response to lithium treatment in bipolar disorder (Squassina et al., 2011) and citalopram treatment in depressive disorder (Hunter et al., 2013), and have implicated a copy number variant of ASIC2 with dyslexia (Veerappa et al., 2013). However, little is currently understood about whether ASIC2 is required for normal behavior.

The goals of this study were to better understand the role of ASIC2 in brain function. Thus our first aim was to localize ASIC2 subunits. Because ASIC2 subunits multimerize with ASIC1 subunits, we hypothesized that the distribution of the two subunits would show substantial overlap. In addition, given that ASIC channels in central neurons missing ASIC2 have altered trafficking and biophysical properties, we hypothesized that disrupting expression of ASIC2 would impact behavior. Therefore, we asked if mice missing ASIC2 would have altered behavioral phenotypes, and whether disrupting both ASIC1 and ASIC2 would have the same or greater behavioral effects than disrupting either gene alone. Because we found that ASIC2, like ASIC1, was highly expressed in brain regions that coordinate responses to threatening events, we focused on tests that evaluate defensive behaviors and reactions to stressful and aversive stimuli.
These results suggest that ASIC channels can influence synaptic transmission. We speculate that pH falls to the greatest extent with intense synaptic activity; the mechanism might involve release of the acidic contents of synaptic vesicles, transport of HCO3 or H+ across neuronal or glial cell membranes, and/or metabolism. The reduced pH could activate ASIC channels leading to an increased [Ca2+]i (Xiong et al., 2004; Yermolaieva et al., 2004; Zha et al., 2006). In this scenario, the main function of ASIC channels would be to enhance synaptic transmission in response to intense activity. This would explain the pattern of abnormal behavior in ASIC null mice when the stimulus is very aversive.

Translating ASIC research into therapy
As you may have noticed in the first chart in this post, there already exist ways to inhibit ASICs, ranging from a diuretic called Amiloride to NSAIDs, like ibuprofen.  The process of translating science into medicine has already begun in multiple sclerosis, as you can see in the following study:-

Our results extend evidence of the contribution of ASIC1 to neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis and suggest that amiloride may exert neuroprotective effects in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis. This pilot study is the first translational study on neuroprotection targeting ASIC1 and supports future randomized controlled trials measuring neuroprotection with amiloride in patients with multiple sclerosis. 


Agmatine and Spermine
In the graphic at the start of this post you might have noticed Agmatine and Spermine.  While ASICs are acid sensing and so activated by protons, they appear to be also activated by other substances.
The arginine metabolite agmatine may be an endogenous non-proton ligand for ASIC3 channels.
Extracellular spermine contributes significantly to ischemic neuronal injury through enhancing ASIC1a activity. Data suggest new neuroprotective strategies for stroke patients via inhibition of polyamine synthesis and subsequent spermine–ASIC interaction.
However, other research shows spermine promotes autophagy and has been shown to ameliorate ischemia/reperfusion injury  (IRI) and suggests its use in children to prevent IRI .  
So nothing is clear cut.
It looks like spermine, spermidine and agmatine all promote autophagy.            
Agmatine gets converted to a polyamine called putrescene.

Personally, I expect polyamines will generally be found beneficial in autism, but there will always be exceptions.  


Conclusion
There is a case to be made for the use of the diuretic amiloride to treat MS and indeed panic disorders.
Will amiloride help autism? You would not want to use it if there is comorbid epilepsy, since ASICs are “seizure protective”. 
If your genetic testing showed an anomaly with the ASIC2 gene, which is known to occur in both autism and MR/ID, then amiloride would seem a logical therapy.
I think we should not be surprised if people with neurological conditions have lower pH brains than NT people, just like we should expect them to show signs of oxidative stress.
If you do indeed happen to have a rather acidic brain, as seems to be quite often the case, damping down the response from ASICs might make things better or worse, or in indeed a mixture of the two. You would hope, at least in some people, that ASICs provide some beneficial response on sensing low pH.
It would be useful if a researcher did a trial of amiloride in different types of autism, then we might have some useful data. You would think the Japanese researchers would be the ones to do this.
One good thing about amiloride is that it increases the level of potassium in your blood and there even is a combined bumetanide/amiloride pill.  Bumetanide has the side effect of lowering potassium.
Many people with autism find NSAIDs beneficial, either long term or for flare-ups. NSAIDs have many beneficial effects; just how important is ASIC inhibition is an open question.
Is the anxiety that many people with autism seem to suffer, sometimes related to ASICs?  Perhaps it is just a minor panic disorder and it relates to ASIC1 and ASIC2.  I think there are numerous different dysfunctions that produce what we might term “anxiety”, among the long list one day you may well find ASICs.
Science has a long way to go before there is a complete understanding of this subject.
Moderate exercise again appears as a simple therapy with countless biological benefits, in this case reducing lactate and thus reducing acidity (increasing pH).






Friday, 3 June 2016

Mefenamic acid (Ponstan) for some Autism


Caution:-

Ponstan (Mefenamic Acid) contains a warning:-
Caution should be exercised when treating patients suffering from epilepsy.

At lower doses Ponstan is antiepileptic, but at high doses it can have the opposite effect.  This effect depends on the biological origin of the seizures.
In an earlier post I wrote about a paper by Knut Wittkowski who applied statistics to interpret the existing genetic data on autism. 


“Autism treatments proposed by clinical studies and human genetics are complementary” & the NSAID Ponstan as a Novel AutismTherapy




His analysis suggested the early use of Fenamate drugs could potentially reduce the neurological anomalies that develop in autism as the brain develops.  The natural question arose in the comments was to whether it is too late to use Fenamates in later life.

Knut was particularly looking at a handful of commonly affected genes (ANO 2/4/7 & KCNMA1) where defects should partially be remedied by use of fenamates.

I recently received a comment from a South African reader who finds that his children’s autism improves when he gives them Ponstan and he wondered why.  Ponstan (Mefenamic Acid) is a fenamate drug often used in many countries as a pain killer, particularly in young children.

Ponstan is a cheap NSAID-type drug very widely used in some countries and very rarely used in other countries like the US.  It is available without prescription in some English-speaking countries (try a pharmacy in New Zealand, who sell online) and, as Petra has pointed out, it is widely available in Greece.

I did some more digging and was surprised what other potentially very relevant effects Ponstan has.  Ponstan affects GABAA receptors, where it is a positive allosteric modulator (PAM).  This may be very relevant to many people with autism because we have seen that fine-tuning the response of the sub-units that comprise GABAA receptors you can potentially improve cognition and also modulate anxiety. 

Anxiety seems to be a core issue in Asperger’s, whereas in Classic Autism, or Strict Definition Autism (SDA) the core issue is often actually cognitive function rather than “autism” as such.

In this post I will bring together the science showing why Ponstan should indeed be helpful in some types of autism.

Professor Ritvo from UCLA read Knut’s paper and also the bumetanide research and suggested that babies could be treated with Ponstan and then, later on, with  Bumetanide.

Autism treatments proposed by clinical studies and human genetics are complementary



I do not think the professor or Knut are aware of Ponstan’s effect on GABA.

The benefits from Ponstan may very well be greater if given to babies at risk of autism, but there does seem to be potential benefit for older children and adults, depending on their type of autism.

Professor Ritvo points out that that Ponstan is safely used in 6 month old babies, so trialing it in children and adults with autism should not be troubling.

Being an NSAID, long term use at high doses may well cause GI side effects.  An open question is the dosage at which Ponstan modulates the calcium activated ion channels that are implicated in some autism and also what dosage affects GABAA receptors.  It might well be lower than that required for Ponstan’s known ant-inflammatory effects.


Ponstan vs Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is quite widely used in autism.  Ibuprofen is an NSAID but also a PPAR gamma agonist.  Ponstan is an NSAID but has no effect on PPAR gamma.

Research shows that some types of autism respond to PPAR gamma agonists.

So it is worth trying both Ponstan and Ibuprofen, but for somewhat different reasons.

They are both interesting to deal with autism flare-ups, which seem common.

Other drugs that people use short term, but are used long term in asthma therapy,  are Singulair (Montelukast) and an interesting Japanese drug called Ibudilast.  Singulair is a Western drug for maintenance therapy in asthma.  Ibudilast is widely used in Japan as maintenance therapy in Asthma, but works in a different way.  Ibudilast is being used in clinical trials in the US to treat Multiple Sclerosis.  Singulair is cheap and widely available, Ibudilast is more expensive and available mainly in Japan.


Pre-vaccination Immunomodulation

In spite of there being no publicly acknowledged link between vaccinations and autism secondary to mitochondrial disease (AMD), I read that short term immunomodulation is used prior to vaccination at Johns Hopkins, for some babies.

Singulair is used, as is apparently ibuprofen.  Ponstan and Ibudilast would also likely be protective.   Ponstan might well be the best choice; it lowers fevers better than ibuprofen.

For those open minded people, here is what a former head of the US National Institutes of Health, Bernadine Healy, had to say about the safe vaccination.  Not surprisingly she was another Johns Hopkins trained doctor, as is Hannah Poling’s Neurologist father.

The Vaccines-Autism War: Détente Needed

“Finally, are certain groups of people especially susceptible to side effects from vaccines, and can we identify them? Youngsters like Hannah Poling, for example, who has an underlying mitochondrial disorder and developed a sudden and dramatic case of regressive autism after receiving nine immunizations, later determined to be the precipitating factor. Other children may have a genetic predisposition to autism, a pre-existing neurological condition worsened by vaccines, or an immune system that is sent into overdrive by too many vaccines, and thus they might deserve special care. This approach challenges the notion that every child must be vaccinated for every pathogen on the government's schedule with almost no exception, a policy that means some will be sacrificed so the vast majority benefit.”


So if I was an American running the FDA/CDC I would suggest giving parents the option of paying a couple of dollars for 10 days of Ponstan prior to these megadose vaccinations and a few days afterwards.  No harm or good done in 99.9% of cases, but maybe some good done for the remainder.

The fact the fact that nobody paid any attention to the late Dr Healy on this subject tells you a lot.



Fenamates (ANO 2/4/7 & KCNMA1)

Here Knut is trying to target the ion channels expressed by the genes ANO 2/4/7 & KCNMA1. 

·        ANO 2/4/7 are calcium activated chloride channels. (CACCs)


·        KCNMA1 is a calcium activated potassium channel.  KCNMA1encodes the ion channel KCa1.1, otherwise known as BK (big potassium).  This was the subject of post that I never got round to publishing.
  
Fenamates are an important group of clinically used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), but they have other effects beyond being anti-inflammatory.  They act as CaCC inhibitors and also stimulate BKCa channel activity.


But fenamates also have a potent effect on what seems to be the most dysfunctional receptor in classic autism, the GABAA receptor.




The fenamate NSAID, mefenamic acid (MFA) prevents convulsions and protects rats from seizure-induced forebrain damage evoked by pilocarpine (Ikonomidou-Turski et al., 1988) and is anti-epileptogenic against pentylenetetrazol (PTZ)-induced seizure activity, but at high doses induces seizures (Wallenstein, 1991). In humans, MFA overdose can lead to convulsions and coma (Balali-Mood et al, 1981; Young et al., 1979; Smolinske et al., 1990). More recent data by Chen and colleagues (1998) have shown that the fenamates, flufenamic, meclofenamic and mefenamic acid, protect chick embryo retinal neurons against ischaemic and excitotoxic (kainate and NMDA) induced neuronal cell death in vitro (Chen et al., 1998a; 1998b). MFA has also been reported to reduce neuronal damage induced by intraventricular amyloid beta peptide (Aβ1-42) and improve learning in rats treated with Aβ1-42 (Joo et al., 2006). The mechanisms underlying these anti-epileptic and neuroprotective effects are not well understood but together suggest that fenamates may influence neuronal excitability through modulation of ligand and/or voltage-gated ion channels. In the present study, therefore, we have investigated this hypothesis by determining the actions of five representative fenamate NSAIDs at the major excitatory and inhibitory ligand-gated ion channels in cultured hippocampal neurons


This study demonstrates for the first time that mefenamic acid and 4 other representatives of the fenamate NSAIDs are highly effective and potent modulators of native hippocampal neuron GABAA receptors. MFA was the most potent and at concentrations equal to or greater than 10 μM was also able to directly activate the GABAA gated chloride channel. A previous study from this laboratory reported that mefenamic acid potentiated recombinant GABAA receptors expressed in HEK-293 cells and in Xenopus laevis oocytes (Halliwell et al., 1999). Together these studies lead to the conclusion that fenamate NSAIDs should now also be considered a robust class of GABAA receptor modulators.


Also demonstrated for the first time here is the direct activation of neuronal GABAA receptors by mefenamic acid. Other allosteric potentiators, including the neuroactive steroids and the depressant barbiturates share this property, with MFA at least equipotent to neurosteroids and significantly more potent than the barbiturates. The mechanism(s) of the direct gating of GABAA receptor chloride channels by MFA requires further investigation using ultra-fast perfusion techniques but may be distinct from that reported for neurosteroids (see, Hosie et al., 2006). Mefenamic acid induced a leftward shift in the GABA dose-response curve consistent with an increase in receptor affinity for the agonist. This is an action observed with other positive allosteric GABAA receptor modulators, including the benzodiazepine agonist, diazepam, the neuroactive steroid, allopregnanolone, and the intravenous anesthetics, pentobarbitone and propofol (e.g. Johnston, 2005). To our knowledge, a unique property of MFA was that it was significantly (F = 10.35; p≤ 0.001) more effective potentiating GABA currents at hyperpolarized holding potentials (especially greater than −60mV). Further experiments are required however to determine the underlying mechanism(s).

The highly effective modulation of GABAA receptors in cultured hippocampal neurons suggests the fenamates may have central actions. Consistent with this hypothesis, mefenamic acid concentrations are 40–80μM in plasma with therapeutic doses (Cryer & Feldman, 1998); fenamates can also cross the blood brain barrier (Houin et al., 1983; Bannwarth et al., 1989) Coyne et al. Page 5 Neurochem Int. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2008 November 1. NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript and in overdose in humans are associated with coma and convulsions (Smolinske et al., 1990). In animal studies, mefenamic acid is anticonvulsant and neuroprotective against seizureinduced forebrain damage in rodents (Ikonomidou-Turski et al., 1988). The present study would suggest that the anticonvulsant effects of fenamates may be related, in part, to their efficacy to potentiate native GABAA receptors in the brain, although a recent study has suggested that activation of M-type K+ channels may contribute to this action (Peretz et al., 2005) Finally, Joo and co-workers (2006) have recently reported that mefenamic acid provided neuroprotection against β-amyloid (Aβ1-42) induced neurodegeneration and attenuated cognitive impairments in this animal model of Alzheimer’s disease. The authors proposed that neuroprotection may have resulted from inhibition of cytochrome c release from mitochondria and reduced caspase-3 activation by mefenamic acid. Clearly it would also be of interest to evaluate the role of GABA receptor modulation in this in vivo model of Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, considerable evidence has emerged in the last few years indicating that GABA receptor subtypes are involved in distinct neuronal functions and subtype modulators may provide novel pharmacological therapies (Rudolf & Mohler, 2006). Our present data showing that fenamates are highly effective modulators of native GABAA receptors and that mefenamic acid is highly subtype-selective (Halliwell et al., 1999) suggests that further studies of its cognitive and behavioral effects would be of value.

  

Note in the above paper that NSAIDs other than mefenamic acid also modulate GABAA receptors.

Just a couple of months ago a rather complicated paper was published, again showing that NSAIDs modulate GABAA receptors and showing that this is achieved via the same calcium activated chloride channels (CaCC) referred to by Knut.

NSAIDs modulate GABA-activated currents via Ca2+-activated Cl channels in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons






"Schematic displaying the effects of CaCCs on GABA-activated inward currents and depolarization. GABA activates the GABAA receptor to open the Cl  channel and the Cl efflux induces the depolarization response (inward current) of the membrane of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Then, voltage dependent L-type Ca2+ channels are activated by the depolarization, and give rise to an increase in intracellular Ca2+. CaCCs are activated by an increase in intracellular Ca2+ concentration which, in turn, increases the driving force for Cl efflux. Finally, the synergistic action of the chloride ion efflux through GABAA receptors and NFA-sensitive CaCCs causes GABA-activated currents or depolarization response in rat DRG neurons."


Note in the complex explanation above the L-type calcium channels, which are already being targeted by Verapamil, in the PolyPill.



Mefenamic Acid and Potassium Channels

We know that Mefenamic acid also affects Kv7.1 (KvLQT1).

A closely related substance called meclofenamic acid is known to act as novel KCNQ2/Q3 channel openers and is seen as having potential for the treatment of neuronal hyper-excitability including epilepsy, migraine, or neuropathic pain.



The voltage-dependent M-type potassium current (M-current) plays a major role in controlling brain excitability by stabilizing the membrane potential and acting as a brake for neuronal firing. The KCNQ2/Q3 heteromeric channel complex was identified as the molecular correlate of the M-current. Furthermore, the KCNQ2 and KCNQ3 channel  subunits are mutated in families with benign familial neonatal convulsions, a neonatal form of epilepsy. Enhancement of KCNQ2/Q3 potassium currents may provide an important target for antiepileptic drug development. Here, we show that meclofenamic acid (meclofenamate) and diclofenac, two related molecules previously used as anti-inflammatory drugs, act as novel KCNQ2/Q3 channel openers. Extracellular application of meclofenamate (EC50  25 M) and diclofenac (EC50  2.6 M) resulted in the activation of KCNQ2/Q3 K currents, heterologously expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells. Both openers activated KCNQ2/Q3 channels by causing a hyperpolarizing shift of the voltage activation curve (23 and 15 mV, respectively) and by markedly slowing the deactivation kinetics. The effects of the drugs were stronger on KCNQ2 than on KCNQ3 channel  subunits. In contrast, they did not enhance KCNQ1 K currents. Both openers increased KCNQ2/Q3 current amplitude at physiologically relevant potentials and led to hyperpolarization of the resting membrane potential. In cultured cortical neurons, meclofenamate and diclofenac enhanced the M-current and reduced evoked and spontaneous action potentials, whereas in vivo diclofenac exhibited an anticonvulsant activity (ED50  43 mg/kg). These compounds potentially constitute novel drug templates for the treatment of neuronal hyperexcitability including epilepsy, migraine, or neuropathic pain. Volt




BK channel

KCNMA1encodes the ion channel KCa1.1, otherwise known as BK (big potassium). BK channels are implicated not only by Knut’s statistics, but numerous studies ranging from schizophrenia to Fragile X. 

Usually it is a case of too little BK channel activity.

The BK channel is implicated in some epilepsy.

  

Pharmacology

BK channels are pharmacological targets for the treatment of several medical disorders including stroke and overactive bladder. Although pharmaceutical companies have attempted to develop synthetic molecules targeting BK channels, their efforts have proved largely ineffective. For instance, BMS-204352, a molecule developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb, failed to improve clinical outcome in stroke patients compared to placebo. However, BKCa channels are reduced in patients suffering from the Fragile X syndrome and the agonist, BMS-204352, corrects some of the deficits observed in Fmr1 knockout mice, a model of Fragile X syndrome.
BK channels have also been found to be activated by exogenous pollutants and endogenous gasotransmitters carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide.
BK channels can be readily inhibited by a range of compounds including tetraethylammonium (TEA), paxilline and iberiotoxin.



Achieving a better understanding of BK channel function is important not only for furthering our knowledge of the involvement of these channels in physiological processes, but also for pathophysiological conditions, as has been demonstrated by recent discoveries implicating these channels in neurological disorders. One such disorder is schizophrenia where BK channels are hypothesized to play a role in the etiology of the disease due to the effects of commonly used antipsychotic drugs on enhancing K+ conductance [101]. Furthermore, this same study found that the mRNA expression levels of the BK channel were significantly lower in the prefrontal cortex of the schizophrenic group than in the control group [101]. Similarly, autism and mental retardation have been linked to haploinsufficiency of the Slo1 gene and decreased BK channel expression [102].
Two mutations in BK channel genes have been associated with epilepsy. One mutation has been identified on the accessory β3 subunit, which results in an early truncation of the protein and has been significantly correlated in patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy [103]. The other mutation is located on the Slo1gene, and was identified through genetic screening of a family with generalized epilepsy and paroxysmal dyskinesia [104]. The biophysical properties of this Slo1 mutation indicates enhanced sensitivity to Ca2+ and an increased average time that the channel remains open [104107]. This increased Ca2+ sensitivity is dependent on the specific type of β subunit associating with the BK channel [106, 107]. In association with the β3 subunit, the mutation does not alter the Ca2+-dependent properties of the channel, but with the β4 subunit the mutation increases the Ca2+ sensitivity [105107]. This is significant considering the relatively high abundance of the β4 subunit compared to the weak distribution of the β3 subunit in the brain [12, 13,15, 106, 107]. It has been proposed that a gain of BK channel function may result in increases in the firing frequency due to rapid repolarization of APs, which allows a quick recovery of Na+ channels from inactivation, thereby facilitating the firing of subsequent APs [104]. Supporting this hypothesis, mice null for the β4 subunit showed enhanced Ca2+ sensitivity of BK channels, resulting in temporal lobe epilepsy, which was likely due to a shortened duration and increased frequency of APs [108]. An interesting relevance to the mechanisms of BK channel activation as discussed above, the Slo1 mutation associated with epilepsy only alters Ca2+ dependent activation originated from the Ca2+ binding site in RCK1, but not from the Ca2+bowl, by altering the coupling mechanism between Ca2+ binding and gate opening [100]. Since Ca2+dependent activation originated from the Ca2+ binding site in RCK1 is enhanced by membrane depolarization, at the peak of an action potential the binding of Ca2+ to the site in RCK1 contributes much more than binding to the Ca2+ bowl to activating the channel [84, 109].
Although these associations between specific mutations in BK channel subunits and various neurological disorders have been demonstrated by numerous studies, it is also important to point out certain caveats with these studies, such as genetic linkage between BK channels and different diseases do not necessary show causation as these studies were performed based on correlation between changes in the protein/genetic marker and overall phenotype. Furthermore, studies performed using a mouse model also can fail to indicate what may happen in higher-order species, and this is especially true for BK channels, where certain β subunits are only primate specific [110].


  

Possible role of potassium channel, big K in etiology of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia (SZ), a common severe mental disorder, affecting about 1% of the world population. However, the etiology of SZ is still largely unknown. It is believed that molecules that are in an association with the etiology and pathology of SZ are neurotransmitters including dopamine, 5-HT and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). But several lines of evidences indicate that potassium large conductance calcium-activated channel, known as BK channel, is likely to be included. BK channel belongs to a group of ion channels that plays an important role in regulating neuronal excitability and transmitter releasing. Its involvement in SZ emerges as a great interest. For example, commonly used neuroleptics, in clinical therapeutic concentrations, alter calcium-activated potassium conductance in central neurons. Diazoxide, a potassium channel opener/activator, showed a significant superiority over haloperidol alone in the treatment of positive and general psychopathology symptoms in SZ. Additionally, estrogen, which regulates the activity of BK channel, modulates dopaminergic D2 receptor and has an antipsychotic-like effect. Therefore, we hypothesize that BK channel may play a role in SZ and those agents, which can target either BK channel functions or its expression may contribute to the therapeutic actions of SZ treatment.




Conclusion

It appears that Ponstan and related substances have some interesting effects that are only now emerging in the research.

People with autism, and indeed schizophrenia, may potentially benefit from Ponstan and for a variety of different reasons.

I think it will take many decades for any conclusive research to be published on this subject, because this is an off-patent generic drug.

As with most NSAIDS, it is simple to trial Ponstan.

Thanks to Knut for the idea, Professor Ritvo for his endorsement of the idea and our reader from South Africa for sharing his positive experience with Ponstan.