[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neurological and psychiatric disorders are frequently associated with disruption of various cognitive functions, but development of effective drug treatments for these conditions has proven challenging. One of the main obstacles is the poor predictive validity of our preclinical animal models. In the present study the effects of the γ-secretase inhibitor semagacestat was evaluated in preclinical in vivo electrophysiological models. Recently disclosed Phase III findings on semagacestat indicated that Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients on this drug showed significantly worsened cognitive function compared to those treated with placebo. Since previous studies have shown that drugs impairing cognitive function (including scopolamine, NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor antagonists, and nociceptin receptor agonists) disrupt or decrease power of elicited theta oscillation in the hippocampus, we tested the effects of acute and sub-chronic administration of semagacestat in this assay. Field potentials were recorded across the hippocampal formation with NeuroNexus multi-site silicon probes in urethane anesthetized male C57BL/6 mice; hippocampal CA1 theta oscillation was elicited by electrical stimulation of the brainstem nucleus pontis oralis. Sub-chronic administration of semagacestat twice daily over 12 days at a dose known to reduce beta-amyloid peptide (Aβ) level [100 mg/kg, p.o. (per oral)] diminished power of elicited hippocampal theta oscillation. Acute, subcutaneous administration of semagacestat (100 mg/kg) produced a similar effect on hippocampal activity. We propose that the disruptive effect of semagacestat on hippocampal function could be one of the contributing mechanisms to its worsening of cognition in patients with AD. As it has been expected, both acute and sub-chronic administrations of semagacestat significantly decreased Aβ40 and Aβ42 levels but the current findings do not reveal the mode of action of semagacestat in disrupting hippocampal oscillignificantly reduced braination.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Replacement of the central, para-substituted fluorophenyl ring in the γ-secretase inhibitor 1 (BMS-708,163) with the bicyclo[1.1.1]pentane motif led to the discovery of compound 3, an equipotent enzyme inhibitor with significant improvements in passive permeability and aqueous solubility. The modified biopharmaceutical properties of 3 translated into excellent oral absorption characteristics (~4-fold ↑ C(max) and AUC values relative to 1) in a mouse model of γ-secretase inhibition. In addition, SAR studies into other fluorophenyl replacements indicate the intrinsic advantages of the bicyclo[1.1.1]pentane moiety over conventional phenyl ring replacements with respect to achieving an optimal balance of properties (e.g., γ-secretase inhibition, aqueous solubility/permeability, in vitro metabolic stability). Overall, this work enhances the scope of the [1.1.1]-bicycle beyond that of a mere "spacer" unit and presents a compelling case for its broader application as a phenyl group replacement in scenarios where the aromatic ring count impacts physicochemical parameters and overall drug-likeness.
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 03/2012; 55(7):3414-24. · 5.61 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transgenic mice are used to model increased brain amyloid-β (Aβ) and amyloid plaque formation reflecting Alzheimer's disease pathology. In our study hippocampal network oscillations, population spikes, and long-term potentiation (LTP) were recorded in APPswe/PS1dE9 (APP/PS1) and presenilin1 (PS1) transgenic and wild type mice at 2, 4, and 8 months of age under urethane anesthesia. Hippocampal theta oscillations elicited by brainstem stimulation were similar in wild type and PS1 mice at all age groups. In contrast, APP/PS1 mice showed an age-dependent decrease in hippocampal activity, characterized by a significant decline in elicited theta power and frequency at 4 and 8 months. Magnitudes of population spikes and long-term potentiation in the dentate gyrus were similar across groups at both 4 and 8 months. In APP/PS1 mice, soluble and insoluble Aβ, and hippocampal and cortical plaque load increased with age, and the disruption in hippocampal theta oscillation showed a significant correlation with plaque load. Our study shows that, using in vivo electrophysiological methods, early Aβ-related functional deficits can be robustly detected in the brainstem-hippocampus multisynaptic network.
Neurobiology of aging 01/2012; 33(7):1481.e13-23. · 5.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: γ-Secretase is involved in the final processing of the amyloid precursor protein into a heterogeneous pool of β-amyloid (Aβ) peptides. Current Alzheimer’s disease drug discovery efforts include targeting γ-secretase activity in brain to at-tenuate production of the neurotoxic Aβ species. The resulting pharmacology may be affected by species-specific dif-ferences in the γ-secretase core complex or its associated proteins. Therefore, we utilized partially purified γ-secretase membranes derived from the brains of different species, including human cortex, to quantitatively assess the de novo production of both Aβ42 and Aβ40 following treatment with known γ-secretase inhibitors and modulators. We deter-mined that the inhibitory activity of a Notch-1 sparing γ-secretase inhibitor and the modulatory activity of two classes of γ-secretase modulators were equipotent at affecting the production of Aβ across rodent and human brain membrane preparations. Additionally, the observed modulator-specific Aβ profile in isolated brain membranes across species was similar to that observed in HeLa cell membranes, and the brain and CSF of guinea pigs following oral administration. By utilizing rapidly purified γ-secretase, we were able to probe and compare the complex pharmacology of γ-secretase in the brain across common rodent species and human cortex.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A metabolism-based approach toward the optimization of a series of N-arylsulfonamide-based γ-secretase inhibitors is reported. The lead cyclohexyl analogue 6 suffered from extensive oxidation on the cycloalkyl motif by cytochrome P450 3A4, translating into poor human liver microsomal stability. Knowledge of the metabolic pathways of 6 triggered a structure-activity relationship study aimed at lowering lipophilicity through the introduction of polarity. This effort led to several tetrahydropyran and tetrahydrofuran analogues, wherein the 3- and 4-substituted variants exhibited greater microsomal stability relative to their 2-substituted counterparts. Further reduction in lipophilicity led to the potent γ-secretase inhibitor and 3-substituted oxetane 1 with a reduced propensity toward oxidative metabolism, relative to its 2-substituted isomer. The slower rates of metabolism with 3-substituted cyclic ethers most likely originate from reductions in lipophilicity and/or unfavorable CYP active site interactions with the heteroatom. Preliminary animal pharmacology studies with a representative oxetane indicate that the series is generally capable of lowering Aβ in vivo. As such, the study also illustrates the improvement in druglikeness of molecules through the use of the oxetane motif.
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 11/2011; 54(22):7772-83. · 5.61 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease (AD) poses a serious public health threat to the United States. Disease-modifying drugs slowing AD progression are in urgent need, but they are still unavailable. According to the amyloid cascade hypothesis, inhibition of β- or γ-secretase, key enzymes for the production of amyloid β (Aβ), may be viable mechanisms for the treatment of AD. For the discovery of γ-secretase inhibitors (GSIs), the APP-overexpressing Tg2576 mouse has been the preclinical model of choice, in part because of the ease of detection of Aβ species in its brain, plasma, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Some biological observations and practical considerations, however, argue against the use of the Tg2576 mouse. We reasoned that an animal model would be suitable for GSI discovery if the pharmacokinetic (PK)/pharmacodynamic (PD) relationship of a compound for Aβ lowering in this model is predictive of that in human. In this study, we assessed whether the background 129/SVE strain is a suitable preclinical pharmacology model for identifying new GSIs by evaluating the translatability of the intrinsic PK/PD relationships for brain and CSF Aβ across the Tg2576 and 129/SVE mouse and human. Using semimechanistically based PK/PD modeling, our analyses indicated that the intrinsic PK/PD relationship for brain Aβx-42 and CSF Aβx-40 in the 129/SVE mouse is indicative of that for human CSF Aβ. This result, in conjunction with practical considerations, strongly suggests that the 129/SVE mouse is a suitable model for GSI discovery. Concurrently, the necessity and utilities of PK/PD modeling for rational interpretation of Aβ data are established.
Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 09/2011; 339(3):922-34. · 3.89 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The presenilin containing gamma-secretase complex is responsible for the regulated intramembraneous proteolysis of the amyloid precursor protein (APP), the Notch receptor, and a multitude of other substrates. gamma-Secretase catalyzes the final step in the generation of Abeta(40) and Abeta(42) peptides from APP. Amyloid beta-peptides (Abeta peptides) aggregate to form neurotoxic oligomers, senile plaques, and congophilic angiopathy, some of the cardinal pathologies associated with Alzheimer's disease. Although inhibition of this protease acting on APP may result in potentially therapeutic reductions of neurotoxic Abeta peptides, nonselective inhibition of the enzyme may cause severe adverse events as a result of impaired Notch receptor processing. Here, we report the preclinical pharmacological profile of GSI-953 (begacestat), a novel thiophene sulfonamide gamma-secretase inhibitor (GSI) that selectively inhibits cleavage of APP over Notch. This GSI inhibits Abeta production with low nanomolar potency in cellular and cell-free assays of gamma-secretase function, and displaces a tritiated analog of GSI-953 from enriched gamma-secretase enzyme complexes with similar potency. Cellular assays of Notch cleavage reveal that this compound is approximately 16-fold selective for the inhibition of APP cleavage. In the human APP-overexpressing Tg2576 transgenic mouse, treatment with this orally active compound results in a robust reduction in brain, plasma, and cerebral spinal fluid Abeta levels, and a reversal of contextual fear-conditioning deficits that are correlated with Abeta load. In healthy human volunteers, oral administration of a single dose of GSI-953 produces dose-dependent changes in plasma Abeta levels, confirming pharmacodynamic activity of GSI-953 in humans.
Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 09/2009; 331(2):598-608. · 3.89 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: gamma-Secretase inhibitors have been shown to reduce the production of beta-amyloid, a component of the plaques that are found in brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease. A novel series of heterocyclic sulfonamide gamma-secretase inhibitors that reduce beta-amyloid levels in cells is reported. Several examples of compounds within this series demonstrate a higher propensity to inhibit the processing of amyloid precursor protein compared to Notch, an alternative gamma-secretase substrate.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Accumulation of beta-amyloid (Abeta), produced by the proteolytic cleavage of amyloid precursor protein (APP) by beta- and gamma-secretase, is widely believed to be associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Research around the high-throughput screening hit (S)-4-chlorophenylsulfonyl isoleucinol led to the identification of the Notch-1-sparing (9.5-fold) gamma-secretase inhibitor (S)-N-(5-chlorothiophene-2-sulfonyl)-beta,beta-diethylalaninol 7.b.2 (Abeta(40/42) EC(50)=28 nM), which is efficacious in reduction of Abeta production in vivo.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Inheritance of the apoE4 allele (epsilon4) increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease; however, the mechanisms underlying this association remain elusive. Recent data suggest that inheritance of epsilon4 may lead to reduced apoE protein levels in the CNS. We therefore examined apoE protein levels in the brains, CSF and plasma of epsilon2/2, epsilon3/3, and epsilon4/4 targeted replacement mice. These apoE mice showed a genotype-dependent decrease in apoE levels; epsilon2/2 >epsilon3/3 >epsilon4/4. Next, we sought to examine the relative contributions of apoE4 and apoE3 in the epsilon3/4 mouse brains. ApoE4 represented 30-40% of the total apoE. Moreover, the absolute amount of apoE3 per allele was similar between epsilon3/3 and epsilon3/4 mice, implying that the reduced levels of total apoE in epsilon3/4 mice can be explained by the reduction in apoE4 levels. In culture medium from epsilon3/4 human astrocytoma or epsilon3/3, epsilon4/4 and epsilon3/4 primary astrocytes, apoE4 levels were consistently lower than apoE3. Secreted cholesterol levels were also lower from epsilon4/4 astrocytes. Pulse-chase experiments showed an enhanced degradation and reduced half-life of newly synthesized apoE4 compared with apoE3. Together, these data suggest that astrocytes preferentially degrade apoE4, leading to reduced apoE4 secretion and ultimately to reduced brain apoE levels. Moreover, the genotype-dependent decrease in CNS apoE levels, mirror the relative risk of developing AD, and suggest that low levels of total apoE exhibited by epsilon4 carriers may directly contribute to the disease progression, perhaps by reducing the capacity of apoE to promote synaptic repair and/or Abeta clearance.
Journal of Neuroscience 12/2008; 28(45):11445-53. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: SAR on HTS hits 1 and 2 led to the potent, Notch-1-sparing GSI 9, which lowered brain Abeta in Tg2576 mice at 100 mg/kg po. Converting the metabolically labile methyl groups in 9 to trifluoromethyl groups afforded the more stable analogue 10, which had improved in vivo potency. Further side chain modification afforded the potent Notch-1-sparing GSI begacestat (5), which was selected for development for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 12/2008; 51(23):7348-51. · 5.61 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Using a cell-based assay, we have identified a new series of Notch-sparing gamma-secretase inhibitors from HTS screening leads 2a and 2e. Lead optimization studies led to the discovery of analog 8e with improved gamma-secretase inhibitory potency and Notch-sparing selectivity.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The amyloid hypothesis states that a variety of neurotoxic beta-amyloid (Abeta) species contribute to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Accordingly, a key determinant of disease onset and progression is the appropriate balance between Abeta production and clearance. Enzymes responsible for the degradation of Abeta are not well understood, and, thus far, it has not been possible to enhance Abeta catabolism by pharmacological manipulation. We provide evidence that Abeta catabolism is increased after inhibition of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) and may constitute a viable therapeutic approach for lowering brain Abeta levels. PAI-1 inhibits the activity of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), an enzyme that cleaves plasminogen to generate plasmin, a protease that degrades Abeta oligomers and monomers. Because tPA, plasminogen and PAI-1 are expressed in the brain, we tested the hypothesis that inhibitors of PAI-1 will enhance the proteolytic clearance of brain Abeta. Our data demonstrate that PAI-1 inhibitors augment the activity of tPA and plasmin in hippocampus, significantly lower plasma and brain Abeta levels, restore long-term potentiation deficits in hippocampal slices from transgenic Abeta-producing mice, and reverse cognitive deficits in these mice.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2008; 105(25):8754-9. · 9.74 Impact Factor