Succinate-driven oxidation via complex II (CII) may have a significant contribution towards the high rates of production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by mitochondria. Here, we show that the CII Q site inhibitor thenoyltrifluoroacetone (TTFA) blocks succinate + rotenone-driven ROS production, whereas the complex III (CIII) Qo inhibitor stigmatellin has no effect, indicating that CII, not CIII, is the ROS-producing site. The complex I (CI) inhibitor rotenone partially reduces the ROS production driven by high succinate levels (5 mM), which is commonly interpreted as being due to inhibition of a reverse electron flow from CII to CI. However, experimental evidence presented here contradicts the model of reverse electron flow. First, ROS levels produced using succinate + rotenone were significantly higher than those produced using glutamate + malate + rotenone. Second, in tumor mitochondria, succinate-driven ROS production was significantly increased (not decreased) by rotenone. Third, in liver mitochondria, rotenone had no effects on succinate-driven ROS production. Fourth, using isolated heart or hepatoma (AS-30D) mitochondria, the CII Qp anticancer drug mitochondrially targeted vitamin E succinate (MitoVES) induced elevated ROS production in the presence of low levels of succinate (0.5 mM), but rotenone had no effect. Using sub-mitochondrial particles, the Cu-based anti-cancer drug Casiopeina II-gly enhanced succinate-driven ROS production. Thus, the present results are inconsistent with and question the interpretation of reverse electron flow from CII to CI and the rotenone effect on ROS production supported by succinate oxidation. Instead, a thermodynamically more favorable explanation is that, in the absence of CIII or complex IV (CIV) inhibitors (which, when added, facilitate reverse electron flow by inducing accumulation of ubiquinol, the CI product), the CII redox centers are the major source of succinate-driven ROS production.
Prolactin (PRL) is a peptidic hormone that displays pleiotropic functions in the organism including different actions in the brain. PRL exerts a neuroprotective effect against excitotoxicity produced by glutamate (Glu) or kainic acid in both in vitro and in vivo models. It is well known that Glu excitotoxicity causes cell death through apoptotic or necrotic pathways due to intracellular calcium ([Ca2+] i) overload. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to assess the molecular mechanisms by which PRL maintains cellular viability of primary cultures of rat hippocampal neurons exposed to Glu excitotoxicity. We determined cell viability by monitoring mitochondrial activity and using fluorescent markers for viable and dead cells. The intracellular calcium level was determined by a fluorometric assay and proteins involved in the apoptotic pathway were determined by immunoblot. Our results demonstrated that PRL afforded neuroprotection against Glu excitotoxicity, as evidenced by a decrease in propidium iodide staining and by the decrease of the LDH activity. In addition, the MTT assay shows that PRL maintains normal mitochondrial activity even in neurons exposed to Glu. Furthermore, the Glu-induced intracellular [Ca2+]i overload was attenuated by PRL. These data correlate with the reduction found in the level of active caspase-3 and the pro-apoptotic ratio (Bax/Bcl-2). Concomitantly, PRL elicited the nuclear translocation of the transcriptional factor NF-κB, which was detected by immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy. To our knowledge, this is the first report demonstrating that PRL prevents Glu excitotoxicity by a mechanism involving the restoration of the intracellular calcium homeostasis and mitochondrial activity, as well as an anti-apoptotic action possibly mediated by the activity of NF-κB. Overall, the current results suggest that PRL could be of potential therapeutic advantage in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cellular invasiveness are two pivotal processes for the development of metastatic tumor phenotypes. The metastatic profile of non-metastatic MCF-7 cells growing as multi-cellular tumor microspheroids (MCTSs) was analyzed by determining the contents of the EMT, invasive and migratory proteins, as well as their migration and invasiveness potential and capacity to secrete active cytokines such as the glucose phosphate isomerase/AMF (GPI/AMF). As for the control, the same analysis was also performed in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 (highly metastatic, MDA) monolayer cells, and in stage IIIB and IV human metastatic breast biopsies. The proliferative cell layers (PRL) of mature MCF-7 MCTSs, MDA monolayer cells and metastatic biopsies exhibited increased cellular contents (2-15 times) of EMT (β-catenin, SNAIL), migratory (vimentin, cytokeratin, and fibronectin) and invasive (MMP-1, VEGF) proteins versus MCF-7 monolayer cells, quiescent cell layers of mature MCF-7 MCTS and non-metastatic breast biopsies. The increase in metastatic proteins correlated with substantially elevated cellular abilities for migration (18-times) and invasiveness (13-times) and with the higher level (6-times) of the cytokine GPI/AMF in the extracellular medium of PRL, as compared to MCF-7 monolayer cells. Interestingly, the addition of the GPI/AMF inhibitors erythrose-4-phosphate or 6-phosphogluconate at micromolar doses significantly decreased its extracellular activity (>80%), with a concomitant diminution in the metastatic protein content and migratory tumor cell capacity, and with no inhibitory effect on tumor lactate production or toxicity on 3T3 mouse fibroblasts. The present findings provide new insights into the discovery of metabolic inhibitors to be used as complementary therapy against metastatic and aggressive tumors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already taken the lives of more than 2 million people worldwide, causing several political and socio-economic disturbances in our daily life. At the time of publication, there are non-effective pharmacological treatments, and vaccine distribution represents an important challenge for all countries. In this sense, research for novel molecules becomes essential to develop treatments against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In this context, Mexican natural products have proven to be quite useful for drug development; therefore, in the present study, we perform an in silico screening of 100 compounds isolated from the most commonly used Mexican plants, against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As results, we identify ten compounds that meet leadlikeness criteria (emodin anthrone, kaempferol, quercetin, aesculin, cichoriin, luteolin, matricin, riolozatrione, monocaffeoyl tartaric acid, aucubin). According to the docking analysis, only three compounds target the key proteins of SARS-CoV-2 (quercetin, riolozatrione and cichoriin), but only one appears to be safe (cichoriin). ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion) properties and the physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model show that cichoriin reaches higher lung levels (100 mg/Kg, IV); therefore, it may be considered in developing therapeutic tools.
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