Stephen M Massa

University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States

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Publications (60)293.62 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Cisplatin is an effective and widely used first-line chemotherapeutic drug for treating cancers. However, many patients sustain cisplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), often leading to a reduction in drug dosages or complete cessation of treatment altogether. Therefore, it is important to understand cisplatin mechanisms in peripheral nerve tissue mediating its toxicity and identify signaling pathways for potential intervention. Rho GTPase activation is increased following trauma in several models of neuronal injury. Thus, we investigated whether components of the Rho signaling pathway represent important neuroprotective targets with the potential to ameliorate CIPN and thereby optimize current chemotherapy treatment regimens. We have developed a novel CIPN model in the mouse. Using this model and primary neuronal culture, we determined whether LM11A-31, a small-molecule, orally bioavailable ligand of the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75(NTR)), can modulate Rho GTPase signaling and reduce CIPN. Von Frey filament analysis of sural nerve function showed that LM11A-31 treatment prevented decreases in peripheral nerve sensation seen with cisplatin treatment. Morphometric analysis of harvested sural nerves revealed that cisplatin-induced abnormal nerve fiber morphology and the decreases in fiber area were alleviated with concurrent LM11A-31 treatment. Cisplatin treatment increased RhoA activity accompanied by the reduced tyrosine phosphorylation of SHP-2, which was reversed by LM11A-31. LM11A-31 also countered the effects of calpeptin, which activated RhoA by inhibiting SHP-2 tyrosine phosphatase. Therefore, suppression of RhoA signaling by LM11A-31 that blocks proNGF binding to p75(NTR) or activates SHP-2 tyrosine phosphatase downstream of NGF receptor enhances neuroprotection in experimental CIPN in mouse model.
    NeuroToxicology 09/2014; 45. DOI:10.1016/j.neuro.2014.09.005 · 3.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Degeneration of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons contributes significantly to the cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and has been attributed to aberrant signaling through the neurotrophin receptor p75 (p75NTR). Thus, modulating p75NTR signaling is considered a promising therapeutic strategy for AD. Accordingly, our laboratory has developed small molecule p75NTR ligands that increase survival signaling and inhibit amyloid-β-induced degenerative signaling in in vitro studies. Previous work found that a lead p75NTR ligand, LM11A-31, prevents degeneration of cholinergic neurites when given to an AD mouse model in the early stages of disease pathology. To extend its potential clinical applications, we sought to determine whether LM11A-31 could reverse cholinergic neurite atrophy when treatment begins in AD mouse models having mid- to late stages of pathology. Reversing pathology may have particular clinical relevance as most AD studies involve patients that are at an advanced pathological stage. In this study, LM11A-31 (50 or 75 mg/kg) was administered orally to two AD mouse models, Thy-1 hAPPLond/Swe (APPL/S) and Tg2576, at age ranges during which marked AD-like pathology manifests. In mid-stage male APPL/S mice, LM11A-31 administered for 3 months starting at 6-8 months of age prevented and/or reversed atrophy of basal forebrain cholinergic neurites and cortical dystrophic neurites. Importantly, a 1 month LM11A-31 treatment given to male APPL/S mice (12-13 months old) with late-stage pathology reversed the degeneration of cholinergic neurites in basal forebrain, ameliorated cortical dystrophic neurites, and normalized increased basal forebrain levels of p75NTR. Similar results were seen in female Tg2576 mice. These findings suggest that LM11A-31 can reduce and/or reverse fundamental AD pathologies in late-stage AD mice. Thus, targeting p75NTR is a promising approach to reducing AD-related degenerative processes that have progressed beyond early stages.
    PLoS ONE 08/2014; 9(8):e102136. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0102136 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR) is involved in degenerative mechanisms related to Alzheimer's disease (AD). In addition, p75NTR levels are increased in AD and the receptor is expressed by neurons that are particularly vulnerable in the disease. Therefore, modulating p75NTR function may be a significant disease-modifying treatment approach. Prior studies indicated that the non-peptide, small molecule p75NTR ligands LM11A-31, and chemically unrelated LM11A-24, could block amyloid-β-induced deleterious signaling and neurodegeneration in vitro, and LM11A-31 was found to mitigate neuritic degeneration and behavioral deficits in a mouse model of AD. In this study, we determined whether these in vivo findings represent class effects of p75NTR ligands by examining LM11A-24 effects. In addition, the range of compound effects was further examined by evaluating tau pathology and neuroinflammation. Following oral administration, both ligands reached brain concentrations known to provide neuroprotection in vitro. Compound induction of p75NTR cleavage provided evidence for CNS target engagement. LM11A-31 and LM11A-24 reduced excessive phosphorylation of tau, and LM11A-31 also inhibited its aberrant folding. Both ligands decreased activation of microglia, while LM11A-31 attenuated reactive astrocytes. Along with decreased inflammatory responses, both ligands reduced cholinergic neurite degeneration. In addition to the amelioration of neuropathology in AD model mice, LM11A-31, but not LM11A-24, prevented impairments in water maze performance, while both ligands prevented deficits in fear conditioning. These findings support a role for p75NTR ligands in preventing fundamental tau-related pathologic mechanisms in AD, and further validate the development of these small molecules as a new class of therapeutic compounds.
    Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD 06/2014; 42(2). DOI:10.3233/JAD-140036 · 3.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Loss of neurotrophic support in the striatum caused by reduced brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels plays a critical role in Huntington's disease (HD) pathogenesis. BDNF acts via TrkB and p75 neurotrophin receptors (NTR), and restoring its signaling is a prime target for HD therapeutics. Here we sought to determine whether a small molecule ligand, LM22A-4, specific for TrkB and without effects on p75(NTR), could alleviate HD-related pathology in R6/2 and BACHD mouse models of HD. LM22A-4 was administered to R6/2 mice once daily (5-6 d/week) from 4 to 11 weeks of age via intraperitoneal and intranasal routes simultaneously to maximize brain levels. The ligand reached levels in the R6/2 forebrain greater than the maximal neuroprotective dose in vitro and corrected deficits in activation of striatal TrkB and its key signaling intermediates AKT, PLCγ, and CREB. Ligand-induced TrkB activation was associated with a reduction in HD pathologies in the striatum including decreased DARPP-32 levels, neurite degeneration of parvalbumin-containing interneurons, inflammation, and intranuclear huntingtin aggregates. Aggregates were also reduced in the cortex. Notably, LM22A-4 prevented deficits in dendritic spine density of medium spiny neurons. Moreover, R6/2 mice given LM22A-4 demonstrated improved downward climbing and grip strength compared with those given vehicle, though these groups had comparable rotarod performances and survival times. In BACHD mice, long-term LM22A-4 treatment (6 months) produced similar ameliorative effects. These results support the hypothesis that targeted activation of TrkB inhibits HD-related degenerative mechanisms, including spine loss, and may provide a disease mechanism-directed therapy for HD and other neurodegenerative conditions.
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 11/2013; 33(48):18712-18727. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1310-13.2013 · 6.75 Impact Factor
  • Jian Shi, Frank M Longo, Stephen M Massa
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    ABSTRACT: The p75 neurotrophin receptor influences the proliferation, survival and differentiation of neuronal precursors and its expression is induced in injured brain, where it regulates cell survival. Here we test the hypotheses that pharmacologic modulation of p75(NTR) signaling will promote neural progenitor survival and proliferation, and improve outcomes of traumatic brain injury. LM11A-31, an orally available, blood-brain barrier-permeant small-molecule p75(NTR) signaling modulator, significantly increased proliferation and survival, and decreased JNK phosphorylation, in hippocampal neural stem/progenitor cells in culture expressing wildtype p75(NTR) , but had no effect on cells expressing a mutant neurotrophin-unresponsive form of the receptor. The compound also enhanced the production of mature neurons from adult hippocampal neural progenitors in vitro. In vivo, intranasal administration of LM11A-31 decreased post-injury hippocampal and cortical neuronal death, neural progenitor cell death, gliogenesis, and microglial activation, and enhanced long-term hippocampal neurogenesis and reversed spatial memory impairments. LM11A-31 diminished the post-injury increase of SOX2 expressing cells, but protected and increased the proliferation of endogenous PSA-NCAM positive progenitors, and restored the long-term production of mature granule neurons. These findings suggest that modulation of p75(NTR) actions using small molecules such as LM11A-31 may constitute a potent therapeutic strategy for traumatic brain injury. Stem Cells 2013.
    Stem Cells 11/2013; 31(11). DOI:10.1002/stem.1516 · 7.70 Impact Factor
  • Frank M Longo, Stephen M Massa
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    ABSTRACT: Neurotrophins and their receptors modulate multiple signalling pathways to regulate neuronal survival and to maintain axonal and dendritic networks and synaptic plasticity. Neurotrophins have potential for the treatment of neurological diseases. However, their therapeutic application has been limited owing to their poor plasma stability, restricted nervous system penetration and, importantly, the pleiotropic actions that derive from their concomitant binding to multiple receptors. One strategy to overcome these limitations is to target individual neurotrophin receptors — such as tropomyosin receptor kinase A (TRKA), TRKB, TRKC, the p75 neurotrophin receptor or sortilin — with small-molecule ligands. Such small molecules might also modulate various aspects of these signalling pathways in ways that are distinct from the programmes triggered by native neurotrophins. By departing from conventional neurotrophin signalling, these ligands might provide novel therapeutic options for a broad range of neurological indications.
    dressNature Reviews Drug Discovery 07/2013; 12(7):507-25. DOI:10.1038/nrd4024 · 37.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: . Effective recovery from functional impairments caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI) requires appropriate rehabilitation therapy. Multiple pathways are involved in secondary injury and recovery suggesting a role for multimodal approaches. OBJECTIVE: . Here, we examined the efficacy of the anti-inflammatory agent minocycline and botulinum toxin (botox)-induced limb constraint with structured physical therapy, delivered alone or in combination, after a severe TBI produced by a controlled cortical impact in rats. METHODS: . Minocycline was administered at 25 mg/kg daily for 2 weeks beginning 1 day after TBI or sham surgery. For constraint/physical therapy, botox-type A was injected into the nonaffected forearm muscle 1 day after injury and 2 weeks of physical therapy commenced at 5 days after injury. Functional evaluations were conducted 8 weeks after injury. RESULTS: . Minocycline, either as a monotherapy or as combination treatment with botox/physical therapy significantly reduced impairments of spatial learning and memory in the water maze test, whereas botox/physical therapy reduced forelimb motor asymmetry and improved manual dexterity in the cylinder and vermicelli handling tests, A synergistic effect between the 2 treatments was observed when rats performed tasks requiring dexterity. Inflammation was attenuated in the peri-contusion cortex and hippocampus in all TBI groups receiving mono or combination therapies, though there was no significant difference in lesion size among groups. CONCLUSION: . These data provide a rationale for incorporating anti-inflammatory treatment during rehabilitation therapy.
    Neurorehabilitation and neural repair 06/2013; 27(9). DOI:10.1177/1545968313491003 · 4.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75(NTR)) is associated with multiple mechanisms linked to Alzheimer's disease (AD); hence, modulating its function might confer therapeutic effects. In previous in vitro work, we developed small molecule p75(NTR) ligands that inhibited amyloid-β-induced degenerative signaling and prevented neurite degeneration. In the present study, a prototype p75(NTR) ligand, LM11A-31, was administered orally to the Thy-1 hAPP(Lond/Swe) (APP(L/S)) AD mouse model. LM11A-31 reached brain concentrations known to inhibit degenerative signaling without toxicity or induction of hyperalgesia. It prevented deficits in novel object recognition after 2.5 months and, in a separate cohort, deficits in Y-maze performance after 3 months of treatment. Stereology studies found that the number and size of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons, which are normal in APP(L/S) mice, were unaffected. Neuritic dystrophy, however, was readily apparent in the basal forebrain, hippocampus and cortex, and was significantly reduced by LM11A-31, with no effect on amyloid levels. These studies reveal that p75(NTR) is an important and tractable in vivo drug target for AD, with LM11A-31 representing a novel class of therapeutic candidates.
    Neurobiology of aging 03/2013; 34(8). DOI:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.02.015 · 4.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The lack of effective therapies for spinal cord injury points to the need for identifying novel targets for therapeutic intervention. Here we report that a small molecule, LM11A-31, developed to block proNGF-p75 interaction and p75-mediated cell death crosses the blood-brain barrier efficiently when delivered orally. Administered starting 4 h postinjury, LM11A-31 promotes functional recovery without causing any toxicity or increased pain in a mouse model of spinal contusion injury. In both weight-bearing open-field tests and nonweight-bearing swim tests, LM11A-31 was effective in improving motor function and coordination. Such functional improvement correlated with a >50% increase in the number of surviving oligodendrocytes and myelinated axons. We also demonstrate that LM11A-31 indeed inhibits proNGF-p75 interaction in vivo, thereby curtailing the JNK3-mediated apoptotic cascade. These results thus highlight p75 as a novel therapeutic target for an orally delivered treatment for spinal cord injury.
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 01/2013; 33(2):397-410. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0399-12.2013 · 6.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States, yet no drugs are available that are proven to improve recovery. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor stimulates neurogenesis and plasticity, processes that are implicated in stroke recovery. It binds to both the tropomyosin-related kinase B and p75 neurotrophin receptors. However, brain-derived neurotrophic factor is not a feasible therapeutic agent, and no small molecule exists that can reproduce its binding to both receptors. We tested the hypothesis that a small molecule (LM22A-4) that selectively targets tropomyosin-related kinase B would promote neurogenesis and functional recovery after stroke. Four-month-old mice were trained on motor tasks before stroke. After stroke, functional test results were used to randomize mice into 2 equally, and severely, impaired groups. Beginning 3 days after stroke, mice received LM22A-4 or saline vehicle daily for 10 weeks. LM22A-4 treatment significantly improved limb swing speed and accelerated the return to normal gait accuracy after stroke. LM22A-4 treatment also doubled both the number of new mature neurons and immature neurons adjacent to the stroke. Drug-induced differences were not observed in angiogenesis, dendritic arborization, axonal sprouting, glial scar formation, or neuroinflammation. A small molecule agonist of tropomyosin-related kinase B improves functional recovery from stroke and increases neurogenesis when administered beginning 3 days after stroke. These findings provide proof-of-concept that targeting of tropomyosin-related kinase B alone is capable of promoting one or more mechanisms relevant to stroke recovery. LM22A-4 or its derivatives might therefore serve as "pro-recovery" therapeutic agents for stroke.
    Stroke 04/2012; 43(7):1918-24. DOI:10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.641878 · 6.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) induces activation of microglia. Activated microglia can in turn increase secondary injury and impair recovery. This innate immune response requires hours to days to become fully manifest, thus providing a clinically relevant window of opportunity for therapeutic intervention. Microglial activation is regulated in part by poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1). Inhibition of PARP-1 activity suppresses NF-kB-dependent gene transcription and thereby blocks several aspects of microglial activation. Here we evaluated the efficacy of a PARP inhibitor, INO-1001, in suppressing microglial activation after cortical impact in the rat. Rats were subjected to controlled cortical impact and subsequently treated with 10 mg/kg of INO-1001 (or vehicle alone) beginning 20 - 24 hours after the TBI. Brains were harvested at several time points for histological evaluation of inflammation and neuronal survival, using markers for microglial activation (morphology and CD11b expression), astrocyte activation (GFAP), and neuronal survival (NeuN). Rats were also evaluated at 8 weeks after TBI using measures of forelimb dexterity: the sticky tape test, cylinder test, and vermicelli test. Peak microglial and astrocyte activation was observed 5 to 7 days after this injury. INO-1001 significantly reduced microglial activation in the peri-lesion cortex and ipsilateral hippocampus. No rebound inflammation was observed in rats that were treated with INO-1001 or vehicle for 12 days followed by 4 days without drug. The reduced inflammation was associated with increased neuronal survival in the peri-lesion cortex and improved performance on tests of forelimb dexterity conducted 8 weeks after TBI. Treatment with a PARP inhibitor for 12 days after TBI, with the first dose given as long as 20 hours after injury, can reduce inflammation and improve histological and functional outcomes.
    Journal of Neuroinflammation 02/2012; 9:31. DOI:10.1186/1742-2094-9-31 · 4.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Rett syndrome (RTT) results from loss-of-function mutations in the gene encoding the methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2) and is characterized by abnormal motor, respiratory and autonomic control, cognitive impairment, autistic-like behaviors and increased risk of seizures. RTT patients and Mecp2-null mice exhibit reduced expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which has been linked in mice to increased respiratory frequency, a hallmark of RTT. The present study was undertaken to test the hypotheses that BDNF deficits in Mecp2 mutants are associated with reduced activation of the BDNF receptor, TrkB, and that pharmacologic activation of TrkB would improve respiratory function. We characterized BDNF protein expression, TrkB activation and respiration in heterozygous female Mecp2 mutant mice (Het), a model that recapitulates the somatic mosaicism for mutant MECP2 found in typical RTT patients, and evaluated the ability of a small molecule TrkB agonist, LM22A-4, to ameliorate biochemical and functional abnormalities in these animals. We found that Het mice exhibit (1) reduced BDNF expression and TrkB activation in the medulla and pons and (2) breathing dysfunction, characterized by increased frequency due to periods of tachypnea, and increased apneas, as in RTT patients. Treatment of Het mice with LM22A-4 for 4 weeks rescued wild-type levels of TrkB phosphorylation in the medulla and pons and restored wild-type breathing frequency. These data provide new insight into the role of BDNF signaling deficits in the pathophysiology of RTT and highlight TrkB as a possible therapeutic target in this disease.
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 02/2012; 32(5):1803-10. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0865-11.2012 · 6.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) activates the receptor tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) with high potency and specificity, promoting neuronal survival, differentiation, and synaptic function. Correlations between altered BDNF expression and/or function and mechanism(s) underlying numerous neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer disease and traumatic brain injury, suggest that TrkB agonists might have therapeutic potential. Using in silico screening with a BDNF loop-domain pharmacophore, followed by low-throughput in vitro screening in mouse fetal hippocampal neurons, we have efficiently identified small molecules with nanomolar neurotrophic activity specific to TrkB versus other Trk family members. Neurotrophic activity was dependent on TrkB and its downstream targets, although compound-induced signaling activation kinetics differed from those triggered by BDNF. A selected prototype compound demonstrated binding specificity to the extracellular domain of TrkB. In in vitro models of neurodegenerative disease, it prevented neuronal degeneration with efficacy equal to that of BDNF, and when administered in vivo, it caused hippocampal and striatal TrkB activation in mice and improved motor learning after traumatic brain injury in rats. These studies demonstrate the utility of loop modeling in drug discovery and reveal what we believe to be the first reported small molecules derived from a targeted BDNF domain that specifically activate TrkB.We propose that these compounds constitute a novel group of tools for the study of TrkB signaling and may provide leads for developing new therapeutic agents for neurodegenerative diseases.
    The Journal of clinical investigation 05/2010; 120(5):1774-85. DOI:10.1172/JCI41356 · 13.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Oligomeric forms of amyloid-beta (Abeta) are thought to play a causal role in Alzheimer's disease (AD), and the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75(NTR)) has been implicated in Abeta-induced neurodegeneration. To further define the functions of p75(NTR) in AD, we examined the interaction of oligomeric Abeta(1-42) with p75(NTR), and the effects of that interaction on neurite integrity in neuron cultures and in a chronic AD mouse model. Atomic force microscopy was used to ascertain the aggregated state of Abeta, and fluorescence resonance energy transfer analysis revealed that Abeta oligomers interact with the extracellular domain of p75(NTR). In vitro studies of Abeta-induced death in neuron cultures isolated from wild-type and p75(NTR-/-) mice, in which the p75(NTR) extracellular domain is deleted, showed reduced sensitivity of mutant cells to Abeta-induced cell death. Interestingly, Abeta-induced neuritic dystrophy and activation of c-Jun, a known mediator of Abeta-induced deleterious signaling, were completely prevented in p75(NTR-/-) neuron cultures. Thy1-hAPP(Lond/Swe) x p75(NTR-/-) mice exhibited significantly diminished hippocampal neuritic dystrophy and complete reversal of basal forebrain cholinergic neurite degeneration relative to those expressing wild-type p75(NTR). Abeta levels were not affected, suggesting that removal of p75(NTR) extracellular domain reduced the ability of excess Abeta to promote neuritic degeneration. These findings indicate that although p75(NTR) likely does not mediate all Abeta effects, it does play a significant role in enabling Abeta-induced neurodegeneration in vitro and in vivo, establishing p75(NTR) as an important therapeutic target for AD.
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 09/2009; 29(34):10627-37. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0620-09.2009 · 6.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Signaling through the Rho family of small GTPases has been increasingly investigated for their involvement in a wide variety of diseases such as cardiovascular, pulmonary, and neurological disorders as well as cancer. Rho GTPases are a subfamily of the Ras superfamily proteins which play essential roles in a number of biological processes, especially in the regulation of cell shape change, cytokinesis, cell adhesion, and cell migration. Many of these processes demonstrate a common theme: the rapid and dynamic reorganization of actin cytoskeleton of which Rho signaling has now emerged as a major switch control. The involvement of dynamic changes of Rho GTPases in disease states underscores the need to produce effective inhibitors for their therapeutic applications. Fasudil and Y-27632, with many newer additions, are two classes of widely used chemical compounds that inhibit Rho kinase (ROCK), an important downstream effector of RhoA subfamily GTPases. These inhibitors have been successful in many preclinical studies, indicating the potential benefit of clinical Rho pathway inhibition. On the other hand, except for Rac1 inhibitor NSC23766, there are few effective inhibitors directly targeting Rho GTPases, likely due to the lack of optimal structural information on individual Rho-RhoGEF, Rho-RhoGAP, or Rho-RhoGDI interaction to achieve specificity. Recently, LM11A-31 and other derivatives of peptide mimetic ligands for p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75(NTR)) show promising effects upstream of Rho GTPase signaling in neuronal regeneration. CCG-1423, a chemical compound showing profiles of inhibiting downstream of RhoA, is a further attempt for the development of novel pharmacological tools to disrupt Rho signaling pathway in cancer. Because of a rapidly growing number of studies deciphering the role of the Rho proteins in many diseases, specific and potent pharmaceutical modulators of various steps of Rho GTPase signaling pathway are critically needed to target for therapeutic intervention in cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, and cancer progression.
    Current Medicinal Chemistry 02/2009; 16(11):1355-65. DOI:10.2174/092986709787846569 · 3.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Many chemotherapy drugs are known to cause significant clinical neurotoxicity, which can result in the early cessation of treatment. To identify and develop more effective means of neuroprotection it is important to understand the toxicity of these drugs at the molecular and cellular levels. In the present study, we examine the effects of paclitaxel (taxol), cisplatin, and methotrexate on primary rat neurons including hippocampal, cortical, and dorsal horn/dorsal root ganglion neuronal cultures. We found that all of these anti-cancer drugs induce substantial neurotoxicity evidenced by neurite degeneration. The neurons are capable of recovering after treatment withdrawal, but taxol exerts a biphasic effect that results in the collapse of processes days after treatment is withdrawn. After cisplatin and methotrexate treatment, we observed the degeneration of neuronal processes including the reduction of dendritic branching, length, and altered growth cone formation, indicating an abnormal arrangement of the actin cytoskeleton consistent with the involvement of Rho family small GTPases. Inhibiting RhoA downstream effector p160 ROCK/Rho kinase using Y-27632, or activating p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75 NTR) using non-peptide mimetic LM11A-31, were able to reverse the degeneration caused by cisplatin and methotrexate. Therefore, the neurotoxicity resulting from exposure to the anti-cancer drugs cisplatin and methotrexate can be alleviated by inhibiting Rho signaling pathway.
    NeuroToxicology 08/2008; 29(4):605-12. DOI:10.1016/j.neuro.2008.04.008 · 3.05 Impact Factor
  • Frank M Longo, Stephen M Massa
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    ABSTRACT: Ligand-independent and/or proNGF-induced p75(NTR) signaling has emerged as a potential major contributor to a number of pathological states, including axotomy-induced death, motor neuron degeneration, neuronal degeneration in Alzheimer's disease and oligodendrocyte death following spinal cord injury. A long standing goal in the neurotrophin field has been the development of non-peptide, small molecules capable of functioning as specific ligands at neurotrophin receptors such as p75(NTR) to promote desired biological outcomes. Synthetic peptides modeled on neurotrophin protein domains have been found to bind to and activate various neurotrophin receptors, raising the possibility that active, non-peptide, small molecule ligands might also be identified; however, traditional high-throughput screening approaches have been largely ineffective in identifying such compounds. Using pharmacophores derived from the structure of loop 1 of nerve growth factor, non-peptide, small molecules that function as p75(NTR) ligands to promote survival and block proNGF-induced death have recently been identified. Small molecule p75(NTR) ligands, with high potency and specificity, may provide novel therapeutic approaches for neurodegenerative diseases, neurotrauma and other pathologic states.
    CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets - CNS & Neurological Disorders) 03/2008; 7(1):63-70. DOI:10.2174/187152708783885093 · 2.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75(NTR)) is expressed by neurons particularly vulnerable in Alzheimer's disease (AD). We tested the hypothesis that non-peptide, small molecule p75(NTR) ligands found to promote survival signaling might prevent Abeta-induced degeneration and synaptic dysfunction. These ligands inhibited Abeta-induced neuritic dystrophy, death of cultured neurons and Abeta-induced death of pyramidal neurons in hippocampal slice cultures. Moreover, ligands inhibited Abeta-induced activation of molecules involved in AD pathology including calpain/cdk5, GSK3beta and c-Jun, and tau phosphorylation, and prevented Abeta-induced inactivation of AKT and CREB. Finally, a p75(NTR) ligand blocked Abeta-induced hippocampal LTP impairment. These studies support an extensive intersection between p75(NTR) signaling and Abeta pathogenic mechanisms, and introduce a class of specific small molecule ligands with the unique ability to block multiple fundamental AD-related signaling pathways, reverse synaptic impairment and inhibit Abeta-induced neuronal dystrophy and death.
    PLoS ONE 02/2008; 3(11):e3604. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0003604 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A number of factors limit the therapeutic application of neurotrophin proteins, such as nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived growth factor (BDNF), for Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases. These factors include unfavorable pharmacological properties typical of proteins and the pleiotropic effects mediated by protein-ligand interactions with p75(NTR), Trk, and sortilin neurotrophin receptors. Targeted modulation of p75(NTR) provides a strategy for preventing degeneration without promoting TrkA-mediated deleterious effects, and targeted activation of TrkB might achieve more favorable neurotrophic effects than those achieved by concomitant activation of p75(NTR) and TrkB. The discovery of small molecules functioning as ligands at specific neurotrophin receptors has made possible for the first time approaches for modulating selected components of neurotrophin signaling processes for the purpose of modulating underlying Alzheimer's disease mechanisms.
    Current Alzheimer Research 01/2008; 4(5):503-6. DOI:10.2174/156720507783018316 · 3.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Adult neural stem and progenitor cells may help remodel the brain in response to injury. The pro-apoptotic molecule Bax has recently been identified as a key player in adult neural stem cell survival. In Bax-deficient mice that have undergone traumatic brain injury, we find increased numbers of neural progenitor cells in the dentate gyrus and improved remodeling of the hippocampus. Exogenous potassium chloride mimics spreading depression (SD)-like events in vitro, and Bax-deficient neural stem cells proliferate in response to these events more robustly than wild-type neural stem cells. Selective potassium channel blockers interrupt SD-mediated stimulation of stem cells. In addition, the potassium channel Kv4.1 is expressed within neural stem and progenitor cells in the dentate gyrus and is increased in Bax-deficiency. These data suggest that the neuroprotection observed after injury in Bax-deficiency may be due to increased neurogenesis via activation of the Kv4 family of potassium channels.
    European Journal of Neuroscience 07/2007; 25(12):3499-512. DOI:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2007.05624.x · 3.67 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

3k Citations
293.62 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1992–2014
    • University of California, San Francisco
      • • Department of Neurology
      • • Veterans Affairs Medical Center
      • • Department of Psychiatry
      San Francisco, California, United States
  • 2013
    • Stanford University
      • Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences
      Palo Alto, CA, United States
  • 2003–2010
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      • Department of Neurology
      North Carolina, United States
  • 1995–2007
    • San Francisco VA Medical Center
      San Francisco, California, United States
  • 2006
    • CSU Mentor
      • Department of Neurology
      Long Beach, California, United States