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Toxicological Sciences

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1,3-Dichloropropene (1,3-D) is a soil fumigant used primarily for preplanting control of parasitic nematodes. In a previous chronic dietary exposure study, 1,3-D induced an increased incidence of hepatocellular adenomas in male rats at a dose of 25 mg/kg/day. Although the mechanism for tumor induction in the rat liver by 1,3-D has not been specifically elucidated, available data suggested that the observed liver tumorigenesis was through a nongenotoxic mode of action at the tumor promotion stage. Fischer 344 rats containing preneoplastic lesions were treated (via gavage) with 25 mg/kg/day 1,3-D or 80 mg/kg/day phenobarbital (PB) for 30 days and 60 days, or for 30 days followed by a 30-day recovery period (no compound exposure). Following treatment, placental form glutathione S-transferase (GSTP) positive and GSTP-negative liver focal lesions were quantitated as to size and number. 1,3-D treatment had no effect on GSTP-positive foci number or relative size but significantly increased the number, labeling index, and relative size of GSTP-negative focal lesions (identified by H and E staining) after 30 and 60 days of treatment. Following the 30-day recovery period, the number, labeling index, and relative size of the GSTP-negative lesions in 1,3-D-treated animals returned to control levels. As expected, PB treatment produced an increase in number and relative size of the GSTP-positive lesions. The results of this study are consistent with 1,3-D inducing liver carcinogenesis through a nongenotoxic mode of action by functioning as a tumor promoter specifically through induction of a non-GSTP staining focal hepatocyte population.

Current drinking water standards for chromium are for the combined total of both hexavalent and trivalent chromium (Cr(VI) and Cr(III)). However, recent studies have shown that Cr(III) is not carcinogenic to rodents, whereas mice chronically exposed to high levels of Cr(VI) developed duodenal tumors. These findings may suggest the need for environmental standards specific for Cr(VI). Whether the intestinal tumors arose through a mutagenic or non-mutagenic mode of action (MOA) greatly impacts how drinking water standards for Cr(VI) are derived. Herein, X-ray fluorescence (spectro)microscopy (µ-XRF) was used to image the Cr content in the villus and crypt regions of duodena from B6C3F1 mice exposed to 180 mg/l Cr(VI) in drinking water for 13 weeks. DNA damage was also assessed by -H2AX immunostaining. Exposure to Cr(VI) induced villus blunting and crypt hyperplasia in the duodenum—the latter evidenced by lengthening of the crypt compartment by ~2-fold with a concomitant 1.5-fold increase in the number of crypt enterocytes. -H2AX immunostaining was elevated in villi, but not in the crypt compartment. µ-XRF maps revealed mean Cr levels >30 times higher in duodenal villi than crypt regions; mean Cr levels in crypt regions were only slightly above background signal. Despite the presence of Cr and elevated -H2AX immunoreactivity in villi, no aberrant foci indicative of transformation were evident. These findings do not support a MOA for intestinal carcinogenesis involving direct Cr-DNA interaction in intestinal stem cells, but rather support a non-mutagenic MOA involving chronic wounding of intestinal villi and crypt cell hyperplasia.

The nonessential metal cadmium (Cd) is toxic only after entering the cell. Proteins possibly relevant to intracellular Cd accumulation include the divalent metal transporter-1 (DMT1) and all 14 zinc-like iron-like protein (ZIP) importers, 10 zinc transporter (ZnT) exporters, and metallothionein chaperones MT1 and MT2. Comparing oral Cd-treated ZIP14 knockout (KO) with wild-type (WT) mice, we predicted Cd uptake and distribution would be diminished in the KO—because ZIP14 is very highly expressed in GI tract and liver; this was indeed observed for Cd content in liver. However, the reverse was found in kidney and lung from 6 or 12 h through 10 days of Cd exposure; at these times, Cd accumulation was unexpectedly greater in KO than WT mice; mRNA levels of the 27 above-mentioned genes were thus examined in proximal small intestine (PSI) versus kidney to see if these paradoxical effects could be explained by substantial alterations in any of the other 26 genes. PSI genes highly expressed in untreated WT animals included seven ZIP and five ZnT transporters, DMT1, MT1, and MT2; kidney genes included 11 ZIP and 7 ZnT transporters, DMT1, MT1, and MT2. Over 10 days of oral Cd, a bimodal response was seen for Cd content in PSI and for various mRNAs; initially, acute effects caused by the toxic metal; subsequently, the up- or down-regulation of important genes presumably to combat the sustained adversity. These data underscore the complex interplay between the gastrointestinal tract and renal proteins that might be relevant to Cd uptake and distribution in animals exposed to oral Cd.

In mammals, lactation is a rich source of nutrients and antibodies for newborn animals. However, millions of mothers each year experience an inability to breastfeed. Exposure to several environmental toxicants, including 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), has been strongly implicated in impaired mammary differentiation and lactation. TCDD and related polyhalogenated aromatic hydrocarbons are widespread industrial pollutants that activate the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR). Despite many epidemiological and animal studies, the molecular mechanism through which AHR signaling blocks lactation remains unclear. We employed in vitro models of mammary differentiation to recapitulate lactogenesis in the presence of toxicants. We demonstrate AHR agonists directly block milk production in isolated mammary epithelial cells. Moreover, we define a novel role for the aryl hydrocarbon receptor repressor (AHRR) in mediating this response. Our mechanistic studies suggest AHRR is sufficient to block transcription of the milk gene β-casein. As TCDD is a prevalent environmental pollutant that affects women worldwide, our results have important public health implications for newborn nutrition.

Paraoxonase 1 (PON1) is a calcium-dependent hydrolase associated with serum high-density lipoprotein particles. PON1 hydrolyzes some organophosphates (OPs), including some nerve agents, through nucleophilic attack of hydroxide ion (from water) in the active site. Most OPs are hydrolyzed inefficiently. This project seeks to identify nucleophiles that can enhance PON1-mediated OP degradation. A series of novel nucleophiles, substituted phenoxyalkyl pyridinium oximes, has been synthesized which enhance the degradation of surrogates of sarin (nitrophenyl isopropyl methylphosphonate; NIMP) and VX (nitrophenyl ethyl methylphosphonate; NEMP). Two types of in vitro assays have been conducted, a direct assay using millimolar concentrations of substrate with direct spectrophotometric quantitation of a hydrolysis product (4-nitrophenol) and an indirect assay using submicromolar concentrations of substrate with quantitation by the level of inhibition of an exogenous source of acetylcholinesterase from non-hydrolyzed substrate. Neither NIMP nor NEMP is hydrolyzed effectively by PON1 if one of these novel oximes is absent. However, in the presence of eight novel oximes, PON1-mediated degradation of both surrogates occurs. Computational modeling has created a model of PON1 embedded in phospholipid and has indicated general agreement of the binding enthalpies with the relative efficacy as PON1 enhancers. PON1 enhancement of degradation of OPs could be a unique and unprecedented mechanism of antidotal action.

Hexavalent chromium is a human respiratory carcinogen that undergoes intracellular activation in vivo primarily via reduction with ascorbate. Replication of Cr-adducted DNA triggers mismatch repair that generates toxic DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) as secondary lesions. Here, we examined the intranuclear distribution of chromate-induced breaks and a central DSB signaling branch targeting histone H2AX. Using ascorbate-restored cells (H460 human lung epithelial cells, normal human lung and normal mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs)), we found that Cr(VI) produced a typical DSB-associated spectrum of H2AX modifications, including its Ser139-phosphorylated (known as H2AX) and mono- and diubiquitinated forms. However, whereas canonical DSB signaling relies on ATM, the formation of H2AX and its ubiquitinated products by Cr(VI) was dependent on ATR kinase. Based on the established mode of ATR activation, this suggests that Cr-induced DSB are not blunt-ended and likely contain single-stranded tails. Confocal imaging with markers of active and inactive chromatin revealed a selective formation of Cr-induced DSB in euchromatin of mouse and human cells. In contrast to DSB, Cr-DNA adducts were produced in both types of chromatin. The euchromatin targeting of Cr-induced DSB makes these lesions particularly dangerous by increasing the probability of deleting active tumor suppressors and producing oncogenic translocations. Accumulation of transcription-inhibiting ubiquitinated forms of H2AX in euchromatin is expected to contribute to the ability of Cr(VI) to suppress upregulation of inducible genes.

Environmental pollutants act as risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), mainly affecting the aging population. We investigated early manifestations of AD-like pathology by a mixture of arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), and lead (Pb), reported to impair neurodevelopment. We treated rats with As+Cd+Pb at their concentrations detected in groundwater of India, ie, 0.38, 0.098, and 0.22 ppm or 10 times of each, respectively, from gestation-05 to postnatal day-180. We identified dose-dependent increase in amyloid-beta (Aβ) in frontal cortex and hippocampus as early as post-weaning. The effect was strongly significant during early-adulthood, reaching levels comparable to an Aβ-infused AD-like rat model. The metals activated the proamyloidogenic pathway, mediated by increase in amyloid precursor protein (APP), and subsequent beta secretase (BACE) and presenilin (PS)-mediated APP-processing. Investigating the mechanism of Aβ-induction revealed an augmentation in oxidative stress-dependent neuroinflammation that stimulated APP expression through interleukin-responsive-APP-mRNA 5'-untranslated region. We then examined the effects of individual metals and binary mixtures in comparison with the tertiary. Among individual metals, Pb triggered maximum induction of Aβ, whereas individual As or Cd had a relatively non-significant effect on Aβ despite enhanced APP, owing to reduced induction of BACE and PS. Interestingly, when combined the metals demonstrated synergism, with a major contribution by As. The synergistic effect was significant and consistent in tertiary mixture, resulting in the augmentation of Aβ. Eventually, increase in Aβ culminated in cognitive impairments in the young rats. Together, our data demonstrate that exposure to As+Cd+Pb induces premature manifestation of AD-like pathology that is synergistic, and oxidative stress and inflammation dependent.

Rotenone, a common pesticide and inhibitor of mitochondrial complex I, induces loss of dopaminergic neurons and consequential aspects of Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, the exact mechanism of rotenone neurotoxicity is not fully elucidated. Here, we show that rotenone induced reactive oxygen species (ROS), leading to apoptotic cell death in PC12 cells and primary neurons. Pretreatment with catalase (CAT), a hydrogen peroxide-scavenging enzyme, attenuated rotenone-induced ROS and neuronal apoptosis, implying hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) involved, which was further verified by imaging intracellular H2O2 using a peroxide-selective probe H2DCFDA. Using thenoyltrifluoroacetone (TTFA), antimycin A, or Mito-TEMPO, we further demonstrated rotenone-induced mitochondrial H2O2-dependent neuronal apoptosis. Rotenone dramatically inhibited mTOR-mediated phosphorylation of S6K1 and 4E-BP1, which was also attenuated by CAT in the neuronal cells. Of interest, ectopic expression of wild-type mTOR or constitutively active S6K1, or downregulation of 4E-BP1 partially prevented rotenone-induced H2O2 and cell apoptosis. Furthermore, we noticed that rotenone-induced H2O2 was linked to the activation of caspase-3 pathway. This was evidenced by the finding that pretreatment with CAT partially blocked rotenone-induced cleavages of caspase-3 and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase. Of note, zVAD-fmk, a pan caspase inhibitor, only partially prevented rotenone-induced apoptosis in PC12 cells and primary neurons. Expression of mTOR-wt, S6K1-ca, or silencing 4E-BP1 potentiated zVAD-fmk protection against rotenone-induced apoptosis in the cells. The results indicate that rotenone induction of H2O2 inhibits mTOR-mediated S6K1 and 4E-BP1/eIF4E pathways, resulting in caspase-dependent and -independent apoptosis in neuronal cells. Our findings suggest that rotenone-induced neuronal loss in PD may be prevented by activating mTOR signaling and/or administering antioxidants.

Prenatal exposure to inorganic arsenic (iAs) is detrimental to the health of newborns and increases the risk of disease development later in life. Here we examined a subset of newborn cord blood leukocyte samples collected from subjects enrolled in the Biomarkers of Exposure to ARsenic (BEAR) pregnancy cohort in Gómez Palacio, Mexico, who were exposed to a range of drinking water arsenic concentrations (0.456–236 µg/l). Changes in iAs-associated DNA 5-methylcytosine methylation were assessed across 424 935 CpG sites representing 18 761 genes and compared with corresponding mRNA expression levels and birth outcomes. In the context of arsenic exposure, a total of 2919 genes were identified with iAs-associated differences in DNA methylation. Site-specific analyses identified DNA methylation changes that were most predictive of gene expression levels where CpG methylation within CpG islands positioned within the first exon, the 5' untranslated region and 200 bp upstream of the transcription start site yielded the most significant association with gene expression levels. A set of 16 genes was identified with correlated iAs-associated changes in DNA methylation and mRNA expression and all were highly enriched for binding sites of the early growth response (EGR) and CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) transcription factors. Furthermore, DNA methylation levels of 7 of these genes were associated with differences in birth outcomes including gestational age and head circumference.These data highlight the complex interplay between DNA methylation, functional changes in gene expression and health outcomes and underscore the need for functional analyses coupled to epigenetic assessments.

Acetaminophen (APAP) overdose is the most frequent cause of drug-induced acute liver failure. Schisandra sphenanthera is a traditional hepato-protective Chinese medicine and Schisandrol B (SolB) is one of its major active constituents. In this study, the protective effect of SolB against APAP-induced acute hepatotoxicity in mice and the involved mechanisms were investigated. Morphological and biochemical assessments clearly demonstrated a protective effect of SolB against APAP-induced liver injury. SolB pretreatment significantly attenuated the increases in alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase activity, and prevented elevated hepatic malondialdehyde formation and the depletion of mitochondrial glutathione (GSH) in a dose-dependent manner. SolB also dramatically altered APAP metabolic activation by inhibiting the activities of CYP2E1 and CYP3A11, which was evidenced by significant inhibition of the formation of the oxidized APAP metabolite NAPQI–GSH. A molecular docking model also predicted that SolB had potential to interact with the CYP2E1 and CYP3A4 active sites. In addition, SolB abrogated APAP-induced activation of p53 and p21, and increased expression of liver regeneration and antiapoptotic-related proteins such as cyclin D1 (CCND1), PCNA, and BCL-2. This study demonstrated that SolB exhibited a significant protective effect toward APAP-induced liver injury, potentially through inhibition of CYP-mediated APAP bioactivation and regulation of the p53, p21, CCND1, PCNA, and BCL-2 to promote liver regeneration.

Crizotinib (Xalkori®) is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor of both anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) and mesenchymal–epithelial transition factor (c-Met). Though not predicted from standard nonclinical toxicological evaluation, visual disturbance became a frequently observed adverse event in humans. To understand the possible mechanism of this vision effect, an in vivo electroretinogram (ERG) study was conducted to assess retinal functional changes following oral administration of crizotinib. Immunohistochemical (IHC) staining of ALK and c–Met in the neural retinas of human, non-human primate, dog, rat, and mouse was used to aid in the animal model selection. ALK IHC staining was identified predominantly in the ganglion cell and inner nuclear layers of most species evaluated, in the inner plexiform layer in human and rodent, and in the nerve fiber layer in human and rat only. There was no apparent staining of any layer of the neural retina for c-Met in any of the species evaluated. ERG measurements identified a significant reduction in b-wave amplitude during the initial phase of dark adaptation in the crizotinib–treated rats. ERGs were also taken following oral administration of PF-06463922 (an ALK-selective inhibitor), for an understanding of potential kinase involvement. ERG effects were not observed in PF–06463922-treated animals when comparable exposures in the vitreous humor were achieved. Collectively, our results suggest that the ERG b–wave amplitude decreases during dark adaption following crizotinib administration may be related to signaling changes within the retina in rats, likely independent of ALK inhibition.

Several pesticides suspected or known to have endocrine disrupting effects were screened for pro- or antiandrogenic properties by determining their effects on proliferation, prostatic-specific antigen (PSA) secretion and androgen receptor (AR) expression, and AR phosphorylation in androgen-dependent LNCaP human prostate cancer cells, as well as on the expression and catalytic activity of the enzyme CYP17 in H295R human adrenocortical carcinoma cells, an in vitro model of steroidogenesis. Effects on SRD5A gene expression were determined in both cell lines. Benomyl, vinclozolin, and prochloraz, but not atrazine, concentration dependently (1-30 μM) decreased dihydrotestosterone (DHT)-stimulated proliferation of LNCaP cells. All pesticides except atrazine decreased DHT-stimulated PSA secretion, AR nuclear accumulation, and AR phosphorylation on serines 81 and 213 in LNCaP cells. Benomyl and prochloraz, but not vinclozolin or atrazine, decreased levels of CYP17 gene and protein expression, as well as catalytic activity in H295R cells. In the case of prochloraz, some of these effects corresponded with cytotoxicity. H295R cells expressed AR protein and SRD5A1, but not SRD5A2 transcripts. SRD5A1 gene expression in H295R cells was increased by 10 nM DHT, whereas in LNCaP cells significant induction was observed by 0.1 nM DHT. AR protein expression in H295R cells was not increased by DHT. Vinclozolin decreased DHT-induced SRD5A1 gene expression in LNCaP, but not H295R cells, indicating a functional difference of AR between the cell lines. In conclusion, pesticides may exert antiandrogenic effects through several mechanisms that are cell type-specific, including AR antagonism and down-regulation or catalytic inhibition of androgen biosynthetic enzymes, such as CYP17 and SRD5A1.

Addition of a protein corona (PC) or protein adsorption layer on the surface of nanomaterials following their introduction into physiological environments may modify their activity, bio-distribution, cellular uptake, clearance, and toxicity. We hypothesize that silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) will associate with proteins common to human serum and cell culture media forming a PC that will impact cell activation and cytotoxicity. Furthermore, the role of scavenger receptor BI (SR-BI) in mediating this toxicity was evaluated. Citrate-suspended 20 nm AgNPs were incubated with human serum albumin (HSA), bovine serum albumin (BSA), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or water (control) to form a PC. AgNPs associated with each protein (HSA, BSA, and HDL) forming PCs as assessed by electron microscopy, hyperspectral analysis, -potential, and hydrodynamic size. Addition of the PC decreased uptake of AgNPs by rat lung epithelial and rat aortic endothelial cells. Hyperspectral analysis demonstrated a loss of the AgNP PC following internalization. Cells demonstrated concentration-dependent cytotoxicity following exposure to AgNPs with or without PCs (0, 6.25, 12.5, 25 or 50 μg/ml). All PC-coated AgNPs were found to activate cells by inducing IL-6 mRNA expression. A small molecule SR-BI inhibitor was utilized to determine the role of SR-BI in the observed effects. Pretreatment with the SR-BI inhibitor decreased internalization of AgNPs with or without PCs, and reduced both cytotoxicity and IL-6 mRNA expression. This study characterizes the formation of a PC on AgNPs and demonstrates its influence on cytotoxicity and cell activation through a cell surface receptor.

Ponatinib, a multi-targeted TKI and potent pan-ABL inhibitor, approved for the treatment of Ph + ALL and CML, was temporarily withdrawn from the U.S. market due to severe vascular adverse events. Cardiac-specific toxicities including myocardial infarction, severe congestive heart failure, and cardiac arrhythmias have also been shown with ponatinib. Targeted oncology agents such as ponatinib have transformed cancer treatment but often induce toxicity due to inhibition of survival pathways shared by both cancer and cardiac cells. These toxicities are often missed by the standard preclinical toxicity assessment methods, which include human Ether-à-go-go-related gene (hERG) and animal toxicity testing. In this study, we show that a multiparameter in vitro toxicity screening approach using human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CM) accurately predicted the cardiac toxicity potential of ponatinib. This in vitro model evaluated ponatinib’s effect on the overall cell health, mitochondrial stress, and function of hiPSC-CM and also provided mechanistic insight into the signaling pathways and cellular structures altered with treatment. We show here that ponatinib rapidly inhibits prosurvival signaling pathways, induces structural cardiac toxicity (as shown by actin cytoskeleton damage, mitochondrial stress, cell death, and troponin secretion), and disrupts cardiac cell beating. Most of these effects occurred at doses between 10x and 50x ponatinib’s Cmax, a dose range shown to be relevant for accurate prediction of in vivo toxicity. Together these studies show that a comprehensive in vitro screening tool in a more relevant human cardiac cell model can improve the detection of cardiac toxicity with targeted oncology agents such as ponatinib.

The elevation of cancer stem cells (CSCs)-like properties is involved in the initiation and progression of various human cancers. Current standard practices for treatment of cancers are less than satisfactory because of CSCs-mediated recurrence. For this reason, targeting the CSCs or the cancer cells with CSCs-like properties has become the new approach for the cancer treatments. In addition to treating leukemia, arsenic trioxide (As2O3) also suppresses other solid tumors. However, the roles of As2O3 in the regulation of CSCs-like properties remain largely uninvestigated. Here by using sphere formation assay, luciferase reporter assay, and some other molecular biology approaches, we found that As2O3 attenuated the CSCs-like properties in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Briefly, in HCC cells and mice xenograft models, As2O3 improved the expression of miR-491 by DNA-demethylation. MiR-491, which targeted the SMAD3-3'-UTR, decreased the expressions of SMAD3, and inhibited the CSCs-like properties in HCC cells. Knockdown of either miR-491 or SMAD3 attenuated the As2O3-induced inhibition of endogenous transforming growth factor beta signal and the CSCs-like properties. Further, in HCC patients, miR-491 is inversely correlated with the expressions of SMAD3, CD133, and the metastasis/recurrence outcome. By understanding a novel mechanism whereby As2O3 inhibits the CSCs-like properties in HCC, our study would help in the design of future strategies of developing As2O3 as a potential HCC chemopreventive agent when used alone or in combination with other current drugs.

The number of individuals exposed to high levels of tungsten is increasing, yet there is limited knowledge of the potential human health risks. Recently, a cohort of breast cancer patients was left with tungsten in their breasts following testing of a tungsten-based shield during intraoperative radiotherapy. While monitoring tungsten levels in the blood and urine of these patients, we utilized the 66Cl4 cell model, in vitro and in mice to study the effects of tungsten exposure on mammary tumor growth and metastasis. We still detect tungsten in the urine of patients’ years after surgery (mean urinary tungsten concentration at least 20 months post-surgery = 1.76 ng/ml), even in those who have opted for mastectomy, indicating that tungsten does not remain in the breast. In addition, standard chelation therapy was ineffective at mobilizing tungsten. In the mouse model, tungsten slightly delayed primary tumor growth, but significantly enhanced lung metastasis. In vitro, tungsten did not enhance 66Cl4 proliferation or invasion, suggesting that tungsten was not directly acting on 66Cl4 primary tumor cells to enhance invasion. In contrast, tungsten changed the tumor microenvironment, enhancing parameters known to be important for cell invasion and metastasis including activated fibroblasts, matrix metalloproteinases, and myeloid-derived suppressor cells. We show, for the first time, that tungsten enhances metastasis in an animal model of breast cancer by targeting the microenvironment. Importantly, all these tumor microenvironmental changes are associated with a poor prognosis in humans.

Rationale: Sulfur mustard (SM) is a chemical weapon stockpiled today in volatile regions of the world. SM inhalation causes a life-threatening airway injury characterized by airway obstruction from fibrin casts, which can lead to respiratory failure and death. Mortality in those requiring intubation is more than 80%. No therapy exists to prevent mortality after SM exposure. Our previous work using the less toxic analog of SM, 2-chloroethyl ethyl sulfide, identified tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) an effective rescue therapy for airway cast obstruction (Veress, L. A., Hendry-Hofer, T. B., Loader, J. E., Rioux, J. S., Garlick, R. B., and White, C. W. (2013). Tissue plasminogen activator prevents mortality from sulfur mustard analog-induced airway obstruction. Am. J. Respir. Cell Mol. Biol. 48, 439–447). It is not known if exposure to neat SM vapor, the primary agent used in chemical warfare, will also cause death due to airway casts, and if tPA could be used to improve outcome. Methods: Adult rats were exposed to SM, and when oxygen saturation reached less than 85% (median: 6.5 h), intratracheal tPA or placebo was given under isoflurane anesthesia every 4 h for 48 h. Oxygen saturation, clinical distress, and arterial blood gases were assessed. Microdissection was done to assess airway obstruction by casts. Results: Intratracheal tPA treatment eliminated mortality (0% at 48 h) and greatly improved morbidity after lethal SM inhalation (100% death in controls). tPA normalized SM-associated hypoxemia, hypercarbia, and lactic acidosis, and improved respiratory distress. Moreover, tPA treatment resulted in greatly diminished airway casts, preventing respiratory failure from airway obstruction. Conclusions: tPA given via airway more than 6 h after exposure prevented death from lethal SM inhalation, and normalized oxygenation and ventilation defects, thereby rescuing from respiratory distress and failure. Intra-airway tPA should be considered as a life-saving rescue therapy after a significant SM inhalation exposure incident.

Lithium-induced neurotoxicity may be life threatening. Three patterns have been described, including acute, acute-on-chronic, and chronic poisoning, with unexplained discrepancies in the relationship between clinical features and plasma lithium concentrations. Our objective was to investigate differences in plasma, erythrocyte, cerebrospinal fluid, and brain lithium pharmacokinetics using a multicompartmental approach in rat models mimicking the three human intoxication patterns. We developed acute (intraperitoneal administration of 185 mg/kg Li2CO3 in naive rats), acute-on-chronic (intraperitoneal administration of 185 mg/kg Li2CO3 in rats receiving 800 mg/l Li2CO3 in water during 28 days), and chronic poisoning models (intraperitoneal administration of 74 mg/kg Li2CO3 during 5 days in rats with 15 mg/kg K2Cr2O7-induced renal failure). Delayed absorption (4.03 vs 0.31 h), increased plasma elimination (0.65 vs 0.37 l/kg/h) and shorter half-life (1.75 vs 2.68 h) were observed in acute-on-chronically compared with acutely poisoned rats. Erythrocyte and cerebrospinal fluid kinetics paralleled plasma kinetics in both models. Brain lithium distribution was rapid (as early as 15 min), inhomogeneous and with delayed elimination (over 78 h). However, brain lithium accumulation was more marked in acute-on-chronically than acutely poisoned rats [area-under-the-curve of brain concentrations (379 ± 41 vs 295 ± 26, P < .05) and brain-to-plasma ratio (45 ± 10 vs 8 ± 2, P < .0001) at 54 h]. Moreover, brain lithium distribution was increased in chronically compared with acute-on-chronically poisoned rats (brain-to-plasma ratio: 9 ± 1 vs 3 ± 0, P < .01). In conclusion, prolonged rat exposure results in brain lithium accumulation, which is more marked in the presence of renal failure. Our data suggest that differences in plasma and brain kinetics may at least partially explain the observed variability between human intoxication patterns.

Excess accumulation of endogenous all-trans-retinal (atRAL) contributes to degeneration of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and photoreceptor cells, and plays a role in the etiologies of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Stargardt’s disease. In this study, we reveal that human RPE cells tolerate exposure of up to 5 µM atRAL without deleterious effects, but higher concentrations are detrimental and induce cell apoptosis. atRAL treatment significantly increased production of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and up-regulated mRNA expression of Nrf2, HO-1, and -GCSh within RPE cells, thereby causing oxidative stress. ROS localized to mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum (ER). ER-resident molecular chaperone BiP, a marker of ER stress, was up-regulated at the translational level, and meanwhile, the PERK-eIF2α-ATF4 signaling pathway was activated. Expression levels of ATF4, CHOP, and GADD34 in RPE cells increased in a concentration-dependent manner after incubation with atRAL. Salubrinal, a selective inhibitor of ER stress, alleviated atRAL-induced cell death. The antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) effectively blocked RPE cell loss and ER stress activation, suggesting that atRAL-induced ROS generation is responsible for RPE degeneration and is an early trigger of ER stress. Furthermore, the mitochondrial transmembrane potential was lost after atRAL exposure, and was followed by caspase-3 activation and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage. The results demonstrate that atRAL-driven ROS overproduction-induced ER stress is involved in cellular mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptosis of RPE cells.

3,4-(±)-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, Ecstasy) is a ring-substituted amphetamine derivative with potent psychostimulant properties. The neuropharmacological effects of MDMA are biphasic in nature, initially causing synaptic monoamine release, primarily of serotonin (5-HT). Conversely, the long-term effects of MDMA manifest as prolonged depletions in 5-HT, and reductions in 5-HT reuptake transporter (SERT), indicative of serotonergic neurotoxicity. MDMA-induced 5-HT efflux relies upon disruption of vesicular monoamine storage, which increases cytosolic 5-HT concentrations available for release via a carrier-mediated mechanism. The vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2) is responsible for packaging monoamine neurotransmitters into cytosolic vesicles. Thus, VMAT2 is a molecular target for a number of psychostimulant drugs, including methamphetamine and MDMA. We investigated the effects of depressed VMAT2 activity on the adverse responses to MDMA, via reversible inhibition of the VMAT2 protein with Ro4-1284. A single dose of MDMA (20 mg/kg, subcutaneous) induced significant hyperthermia in rats. Ro4-1284 (10 mg/kg, intraperitoneal) pretreatment prevented the thermogenic effects of MDMA, instead causing a transient decrease in body temperature. MDMA-treated rats exhibited marked increases in horizontal velocity and rearing behavior. In the presence of Ro4-1284, MDMA-mediated horizontal hyperlocomotion was delayed and attenuated, whereas rearing activity was abolished. Finally, Ro4-1284 prevented deficits in 5-HT content in rat cortex and striatum, and reduced depletions in striatal SERT staining, 7 days after MDMA administration. In summary, acute inhibition of VMAT2 by Ro4-1284 protected against MDMA-mediated hyperthermia, hyperactivity, and serotonergic neurotoxicity. The data suggest the involvement of VMAT2 in the thermoregulatory, behavioral, and neurotoxic effects of MDMA.

Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is implicated as a significant contributor to neurodegeneration and cognitive dysfunction. Previously, we reported that the widely used pyrethroid pesticide deltamethrin causes ER stress-mediated apoptosis in SK-N-AS neuroblastoma cells. Whether or not this occurs in vivo remains unknown. Here, we demonstrate that repeated deltamethrin exposure (3 mg/kg every 3 days for 60 days) causes hippocampal ER stress and learning deficits in adult mice. Repeated exposure to deltamethrin caused ER stress in the hippocampus as indicated by increased levels of C/EBP-homologous protein (131%) and glucose-regulated protein 78 (96%). This was accompanied by increased levels of caspase-12 (110%) and activated caspase-3 (50%). To determine whether these effects resulted in learning deficits, hippocampal-dependent learning was evaluated using the Morris water maze. Deltamethrin-treated animals exhibited profound deficits in the acquisition of learning. We also found that deltamethrin exposure resulted in decreased BrdU-positive cells (37%) in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, suggesting potential impairment of hippocampal neurogenesis. Collectively, these results demonstrate that repeated deltamethrin exposure leads to ER stress, apoptotic cell death in the hippocampus, and deficits in hippocampal precursor proliferation, which is associated with learning deficits.