Ependymin Peptide Mimetics That Assuage Ischemic Damage Increase Gene Expression of the Anti-Oxidative Enzyme SOD Public
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Ependymin (EPN) is a goldfish brain neurotrophic factor (NTF) previously shown to function in a variety of cellular events related to long-term memory formation and neuronal regeneration. Because of these functions, EPN and other NTFs have potential applications for treating neuro-degenerative conditions, including stroke. In previous experiments, our lab in collaboration with Victor Shashoua of Ceremedix Inc (Boston, MA), designed short synthetic peptide CMX-8933 (a proteolytic cleavage product of EPN) and CMX-9236 (an EPN-Calmodulin combination peptide) that mimic the action of full-length EPN. In a rat stroke model, administration of these peptides i.v. significantly lowered brain ischemic volume (Shashoua et al., 2003). Because oxidative stress is one of the primary mediators of cell damage following a stroke, we hypothesized that NTFs, and in particular our therapeutic peptides, may act in part by reducing neuronal oxidative stress. Thus, the purpose of this thesis was to determine whether CMX-8933 and CMX-9236 increase the cellular titers of anti-oxidative enzymes. A hybridization array was used as a ""hypothesis generator"" to obtain candidates for further analysis. This approach applied to rat primary brain cortical cells treated with CMX-8933 identified superoxide dismutase (SOD) as strongly upregulated. SOD immunoblots on whole cell lysates, and RT-PCR on total cellular RNA, were used to confirm this observation. In time-course and dose-response experiments, treatment of rat primary cortical cultures with either peptide showed an optimal 8.5 fold (N = 5, p < 0.001) increase in SOD protein, while administration of CMX-8933 to murine neuroblastoma cells caused a 6.5 fold (N = 3, p = 0.001) increase in SOD mRNA levels. Previous work in other laboratories indicated that systemic (i.v.) administration of full-length NTFs allows only an inefficient delivery across the blood brain barrier (BBB). We hypothesized that our short synthetic peptides may cross the BBB more efficiently. Immunoblot analysis of brains and hearts excised from mice treated i.v. with various doses of CMX-8933 confirmed the elevated SOD titers (10 fold in brain, and 8 fold in heart, at a 6 mg/kg dose for 5 hr; N = 5, p < 0.001). Furthermore, we hypothesized that conjugation of CMX-8933 to BBB carrier DHA, a natural neuronal membrane fatty acid shown previously to enhance the delivery of dopamine to the brain (Shashoua and Hesse, 1996), might further enhance the NTF therapy. Delivery of DHA-8933 increased SOD expression by 3 fold (N = 4, p < 0.001) relative to non-conjugated CMX-8933. Recently, the use of special incubators that allow the culture of cells under low oxygen conditions (anoxia) has been used as an in vitro model for stroke. When we tested our peptides in this new in vitro model, surprisingly SOD was upregulated 3 fold (N = 3, p = 0.003) in rat primary cortical cells cultured for 24 hr under oxygen deprivation, compared to normoxic conditions. This implies that these rat cultures may have an endogenous cellular system for responding to oxygen stress, a finding worthy of further investigation. Treatment of anoxic cells with CMX-8933 increased SOD levels another 2.8 fold (N = 3, p < 0.001) compared to the levels for anoxia alone (for a total of 8.5 fold relative to normoxic cells). Altogether, the data from this thesis illustrate that small NTF EPN peptide mimetics increase the cellular titers of the mRNA and protein for the anti-oxidative enzyme SOD, which may be an important step in their known therapeutic benefits.
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