Article

Doping control analysis of TB-500, a synthetic version of an active region of thymosin β4, in equine urine and plasma by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry

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Abstract

A veterinary preparation known as TB-500 and containing a synthetic version of the naturally occurring peptide LKKTETQ has emerged. The peptide segment (17)LKKTETQ(23) is the active site within the protein thymosin β(4) responsible for actin binding, cell migration and wound healing. The key ingredient of TB-500 is the peptide LKKTETQ with artificial acetylation of the N-terminus. TB-500 is claimed to promote endothelial cell differentiation, angiogenesis in dermal tissues, keratinocyte migration, collagen deposition and decrease inflammation. In order to control the misuse of TB-500 in equine sports, a method to definitely identify its prior use in horses is required. This study describes a method for the simultaneous detection of N-acetylated LKKTETQ and its metabolites in equine urine and plasma samples. The possible metabolites of N-acetylated LKKTETQ were first identified from in vitro studies. The parent peptide and its metabolites were isolated from equine urine or plasma by solid-phase extraction using ion-exchange cartridges, and analysed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC/MS). These analytes were identified according to their LC retention times and relative abundances of the major product ions. The peptide N-acetylated LKKTETQ could be detected and confirmed at 0.02ng/mL in equine plasma and 0.01ng/mL in equine urine. This method was successful in confirming the presence of N-acetylated LKKTETQ and its metabolites in equine urine and plasma collected from horses administered with a single dose of TB-500 (containing 10mg of N-acetylated LKKTETQ). To our knowledge, this is the first identification of TB-500 and its metabolites in post-administration samples from horses.

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... Liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) and solid-phase extraction (SPE) are the two universal extraction techniques used in analytical laboratories. However, LLE has not gained popularity for peptide extraction, as the majority of peptides, except those with a cyclic structure or peptides with modified C-and N-termini, are not only highly polar, but also amphoteric and exist mainly as zwitterions [36]. ...
... Nevertheless, several other types of extraction media have been evaluated. Extractions based on the use of strong cation mixed-mode (MCX) sorbents were tested and described by several research groups [36,45]. However, the application of MCX sorbents was not found versatile for the effective extraction of a wide range of SPs. ...
... Mixed-mode strong anion exchangers were successfully applied by one research group [36,50] for the extraction of limited numbers of analytes (<10), however, others found this type of sorbent inefficient for extracting a larger number of SPs [45]. To the best of our knowledge applications based on weak anion exchange sorbents have not been described, and literature shows that to date the original approach using mixed-mode XCW sorbents has remained the most popular. ...
Article
Small peptides are handled in the field of sports drug testing analysis as a separate group doping substances. It is a diverse group, which includes but is not limited to growth hormone releasing-factors and gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues. Significant progress has been achieved during the past decade in the doping control analysis of these peptides. In this article, achievements in the application of liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry-based methodologies are reviewed. To meet the augmenting demands for analyzing an increasing number of samples for the presence of an increasing number of prohibited small peptides, testing methods have been drastically simplified, whilst their performance level remained constant. High-resolution mass spectrometers have been installed in routine laboratories and became the preferred detection technique. The discovery and implementation of metabolites/catabolites in testing methods led to extended detection windows of some peptides, thus, contributed to more efficient testing in the anti-doping community.
... GHRPs mimic the bioactivity of ghrelin, a peptide hormone which stimulates the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland [3,4]. TB-500 is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring peptide segment of the protein thymosin β, which is responsible for wound healing, cell migration and actin binding [5]. With the ability to synthesise designer peptides of any amino acid sequence it is very likely that many more of these peptide variations will be misused in the horse racing industry [2]. ...
... While SPE is the most effective and prevalent dispersive clean-up technique for the screening of dermorphin, its analogues, GHRP and TB-500 peptides in horse urine in the literature [4,5,7] it is labour-intensive due to the need for several washes, conditioning, rinsing and elution steps. An alternative to cartridge-based SPE is dispersive solid phase extraction (dSPE), where the finely divided silica particles coated with stationary phase are added directly to the sample [12]. ...
... Forty-three targeted peptides were included of which 27 were selected from the studies of Timms et al. [4] and Steel et al. [7], and 16 new peptides were identified from the literature as potential performance enhancing drugs of interest to the horse racing industry [5,19,20]. For example, a dermorphin-type peptide D-Arg2, β-Ala4Dermorphin [1-4]-OH (TAPA) has a high affinity for the µ-opiod receptor and has an antinociceptive activity 9.1 times greater than morphine when administered subcutaneously [19]. ...
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Article
PurposeDermorphin, growth hormone releasing peptide (GHRP), TB-500 and their analogues have been used illegally in the horse racing industry to improve the performance of the horses. This study aims to present dispersive solid phase extraction (dSPE) as an alternative to solid phase extraction (SPE) for the clean-up of equine urine samples prior to liquid chromatography combined with tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) screening of 43 illegal performance enhancing peptides.Methods Sorbent types and mass, washing and eluting solvents were tested to obtain the optimal clean-up conditions for these peptides in horse urine matrices.ResultsThe resulting dSPE clean-up method gave optimal recovery and reproducibility of 43 target peptides; for the first time dSPE is proven as a viable alternative to SPE and achieves limits of detection (LOD) that are sufficient for the screening of these peptides. The LODs for all dermorphin, TB-500 and GHRP peptides were 1 ng/mL. Recoveries of the 43 target analytes extracted from 3 spiked urine samples ranged from 8.9 to 58.8%. The intra-day and inter-day precision for all target analytes ranged from 0.6 to 24.1% and 1.4 to 27.8% respectively.Conclusions Using dSPE as a clean-up method, 43 peptide analytes of interest were successfully screened by LC–MS/MS.
... This antibody-based approach, although effective, suffers from the disadvantages of lengthy method development, the availability and high cost of the required antibodies, and single-target methodology . For smaller peptides, such as growth hormonereleasing peptides (GHRPs) [12, 13] , synthetic adrenocorticoptropic hormone (Synacthen) [14] , and TB-500 (N-acetylated LKKTETQ) [15, 16], extraction of multiple target analytes using solid-phase extraction (SPE) is a viable alternative to obtain clean extracts for subsequent LC/MS analysis with adequate limits of detection. The peptides GHRP-1, GHRP-2, GHRP-6, ipamorelin, and hexarelin, belonging to a class of growth hormone secretagogue (GHS) [17], are synthetic peptides that act on specific ghrelin/G-protein-coupled receptors and stimulate the secretion of growth hormone (GH) from the pituitary [18] . ...
... Samples from TB-500 administration Plasma samples were collected from subcutaneous administration of a single dose of TB-500 (10 mg of N-acetylated LKKTETQ) to two thoroughbred geldings. The administration details have been published earlier by the authors' laboratory [16]. Validation ...
... A mixedmode polymer-based SPE cartridge with reversed-phase and anion-exchange functionalities was chosen in our study due to its selectivity in removing interfering matrix components from biological samples to give relatively clean extracts [26]. In the authors' laboratory, the mixed-mode anionic exchange SPE cartridge was successfully applied to the extraction of TB-500 in horse plasma [16], and such extraction method has been modified, including the use of a new internal standard and a drying step for the SPE eluate at lower temperature, in order to cover additional bioactive peptides in this study. The chromatographic separation of the target peptides was run at a flow rate of 300 μL/min using a peptide separation technology C18 UPLC® column with 300 Å pore size, which gave narrow and symmetrical peaks for a range of peptides with short LC retention times. ...
Article
In recent years, there has been an ongoing focus for both human and equine doping control laboratories on developing detection methods to control the misuse of peptide therapeutics. Immunoaffinity purification is a common extraction method to isolate peptides from biological matrices and obtain sufficient detectability in subsequent instrumental analysis. However, monoclonal or polyclonal antibodies for immunoaffinity purification may not be commercially available, and even if available, such antibodies are usually very costly. In our study, a simple mixed-mode anion exchange solid-phase extraction cartridge was employed for the extraction of seven target peptides (GHRP-1, GHRP-2, GHRP-6, ipamorelin, hexarelin, CJC-1295, and N-acetylated LKKTETQ (active ingredient of TB-500)) and their in vitro metabolites from horse plasma. The final extract was subject to ultra-high-performance liquid chromatographic separation and analysed with a hybrid high-resolution mass spectrometer. The limits of detection for all seven peptides were estimated to be less than 50 pg/mL. Method validation was performed with respect to specificity, precision, and recovery. The applicability of this multi-analyte method was demonstrated by the detection of N-acetylated LKKTETQ and its metabolite N-acetylated LK from plasma samples obtained after subcutaneous administration of TB-500 (10 mg N-acetylated LKKTETQ) to two thoroughbred geldings. This method could easily be modified to cover more bioactive peptides, such as dermorphin, β-casomorphin, and desmopressin. With the use of high-resolution mass spectrometry, the full-scan data acquired can also be re-processed retrospectively to search for peptides and their metabolites that have not been targeted at the time of analysis. To our knowledge, this is the first identification of in vitro metabolites of all the studied peptides other than TB-500 in horses.
... Analysis with LC-IT-MS n of the native preparations and tryptic digests of AOD-9604, the hGH-RH-analogues and thymosine β4 pointed out that all preparations indeed contained the claimed API, except for the polypeptide thymosine β4. For this polypeptide, the label of the different preparations stated"thymosin β4 (TB-500)", "TB-500" and "thymosin Beta 4" on the vials of respectively vendor X, Y and Z. TB-500 (Ac-LKKTETQ) is known in literature as the synthetic N-acetylated fragment (AA 17-23) of thymosine β4 [19,45]. Interestingly, the N-acetylated 43 amino acid long native polypeptide was found and not the heptapeptide TB-500. ...
... Nonetheless, in Germany also thymosin β4 was found in samples distributed as 'TB-500' [16]. Other reports in literature however report that TB-500 was indeed identified in confiscated vials in Belgium and Germany [19,45]. Moreover, both thymosin β4 and TB-500 are not authorized for medicinal use and the latter has no track record of its efficacy and safety. ...
... It has been reported that GHRPs can boost testosterone levels by stimulating the release of growth hormone [4], GnHR agonists can alter the production of gonadotropin-releasing hormone [5], and vasopressin and its synthetic analogue desmopressin can regulate urine production and thus can be used as a masking agent [6]. The thymosin beta-4 analogue TB-500 might help in faster recovery of muscle fibers and cells [7,8]. Taking into account the potential benefits, these compounds are being used by athletes, and methods to detect them should be developed. ...
... Also in the field of anti-doping analysis, this technique has become the gold standard for the analysis of peptide drugs [10]. Hence, several comprehensive LC-MS detection methods have been described for the detection of small peptides in human urine [11][12][13][14][15][16] and in equine urine [7,17,18]. ...
Article
The mobile phase additive (DMSO) has been described as a useful tool to enhance electrospray ionization (ESI) of peptides and proteins. So far, this technique has mainly been used in proteomic/peptide research, and its applicability in a routine clinical laboratory setting (i.e., doping control analysis) has not been described yet. This work provides a simple, easy to implement screening method for the detection of doping relevant small peptides (GHRPs, GnRHs, GHS, and vasopressin-analogues) with molecular weight less than 2 kDa applying DMSO in the mobile phase. The gain in sensitivity was sufficient to inject the urine samples after a 2-fold dilution step omitting a time consuming sample preparation. The employed analytical procedure was validated for the qualitative determination of 36 compounds, including 13 metabolites. The detection limits (LODs) ranged between 50 and 1000 pg/mL and were compliant with the 2 ng/mL minimum detection level required by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for all the target peptides. To demonstrate the feasibility of the work, urine samples obtained from patients who have been treated with desmopressin or leuprolide and urine samples that have been declared as adverse analytical findings were analyzed.
... The mixed-mode SPE adsorbents and reversed-phase SPE adsorbents can be used efficiently to extract peptides from diverse biological [3,11,37]. Moreover, the use of C 18 -modified silica as a common adsorbent has been reported for peptide extraction [38]. Besides, the reported study indicated that a medium chain of fatty acids could be used as an adsorption enhancer for the protein and peptide delivery process [39]. ...
Article
Therapeutic peptides have an important effect on physiological function and human health, so it is momentous to quantify and detect low levels of these biomolecules in biological samples for treatment and diagnostic purposes. In the present study, an efficient magnetic solid-phase extraction (MSPE) method was developed based on stearic acid–functionalized magnetic hydroxyapatite nanocomposite (MHAP/SA) as a novel and cost-effective adsorbent for extraction of five hypothalamic-related peptides (goserelin, octreotide, triptorelin, somatostatin, and cetrorelix) from biological samples. To characterize the morphology and physicochemical properties of MHAP/SA, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), field emission scanning microscopy (FE-SEM), CHNS elemental analysis, Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET), and vibrating sample magnetometry (VSM) were applied. Under optimum conditions, the proposed method (MSPE–HPLC–UV) represented favorable linearity with R2 ≥ 0.9987, suitable intra- and inter-day precisions (RSD ≤ 6.9% and RSD ≤ 8.1%, respectively, n = 3), and limits of detection and quantification in the range of 0.75–1.12 ng mL−1 and 2.50–3.75 ng mL−1, respectively. Eventually, the proposed method was used for the extraction and quantification of target therapeutic peptides in plasma and urine samples, and satisfactory relative recoveries were achieved in the range of 90.6–110.3%.Graphical abstract
... While F-actinemia is present in sepsis, TB4, as an actin-binding protein, inhibited polymerization of F-actin. Currently, ongoing studies utilize the peptide's regenerative power in the infected or injured eye (Pseudomonas aeruginosainduced keratitis [100], corneal wound healing [101]) or, as a doping agent, to enhance performance and skeletal muscle regeneration (TB500) [102]. In dermal phase II trials, TB4 promoted wound healing by accelerating the rate of repair. ...
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Article
Our dream of defeating the processes of aging has occupied the curious and has challenged scientists globally for hundreds of years. The history is long, and sadly, the solution is still elusive. Our endeavors to reverse the magnitude of damaging cellular and molecular alterations resulted in only a few, yet significant advancements. Furthermore, as our lifespan increases, physicians are facing more mind-bending questions in their routine practice than ever before. Although the ultimate goal is to successfully treat the body as a whole, steps towards regenerating individual organs are even considered significant. As our initial approach to enhance the endogenous restorative capacity by delivering exogenous progenitor cells appears limited, we propose, utilizing small molecules critical during embryonic development may prove to be a powerful tool to increase regeneration and to reverse the processes associated with aging. In this review, we introduce Thymosin beta-4, a 43aa secreted peptide fulfilling our hopes and capable of numerous regenerative achievements via systemic administration in the heart. Observing the broad capacity of this small, secreted peptide, we believe it is not the only molecule which nature conceals to our benefit. Hence, the discovery and postnatal administration of developmentally relevant agents along with other approaches may result in reversing the aging process.
... Urine analysis represents the most common strategy in doping controls, thus, the metabolism of the administered compound must be taken into consideration when new assays are developed. [4,[8][9][10] While the liver plays an essential role in the metabolism of non-peptidic small molecules, this differs for peptides and proteins. [11] Here, various enzymes such as endo-, exoproteinases, or amidases are mainly responsible for the degradation and, thus, the inactivation of the hormone. ...
Article
With an increasing number of prohibited substances in doping controls, knowledge about their metabolism is crucial for efficient analysis. While for low molecular mass molecules, standard protocols for in-vitro metabolism experiments are well established, the situation with peptidic drugs has been shown to be substantially more heterogeneous and complex. Two principle strategies aiming at simulating the metabolism of lower molecular mass peptides in-vitro are presented within this study. The prohibited peptides ARA-290, GHRP-3 and Peforelin, with a to date unknown metabolism, were chosen as model compounds for these experiments and metabolism after incubation with different blood specimens (EDTA-, heparin-, citrate-plasma and serum) and exposure to recombinant amidase were investigated. The characterization of in- vitro generated drug-derived peptidic analytes was accomplished by means of liquid chromatography coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry. Identification of the generated metabolites was ensured by dedicated high resolution product ion experiments after liquid chromatographic separation. While extensive exopeptidase-driven metabolism was observed for ARA-290 (with one main metabolite PyrEQLERALN), GHRP-3 and Peforelin were found to exhibit a considerable metabolic stability with a low tendency for deamidation only.
... TB-500 is claimed to promote actin binding, skin keratinocyte migration, collagen deposition and decrease inflammation regarding accelerating of wound healing. After that, this injectable drug is used for doping in human or equine sports 44 . In conclusion, TMSB4X is presented in fresh-frozen HNSCC tissues and can be detected by bottom-up approach via the MALDI IMS system combined with a protein library from HNSCC cell lines collected by LC-MS/MS system. ...
Full-text available
Article
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) represents a major health concern worldwide. We applied the matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) to analyze paired normal (N) and tumor (T) samples from head and neck squamous cell carcinoma as well as liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis in HNSCC cell lines to identify tumor-associated biomarkers. Our results showed a number of proteins found to be over-expressed in HNSCC. We identified thymosin beta-4 X-linked (TMSB4X) is one of the most significant candidate biomarkers. Higher TMSB4X expression in the tumor was found by N/T-paired HNSCC samples at both RNA and protein level. Overexpression of TMSB4X was found significantly associated with poor prognosis of overall survival (OS, P = 0.006) and recurrence-free survival (RFS, P = 0.013) in HNSCC patients. Silencing of TMSB4X expression in HNSCC cell line reduced the proliferation and invasion ability in vitro, as well as inhibited the cervical lymph node metastasis in vivo. Altogether, our global proteomics analysis identified that TMSB4X is a newly discovered biomarker in HNSCC whose functions resulted in enhanced proliferation and metastasis in vitro and in vivo. TMSB4X may be a potential therapeutic target for treating HNSCC patients.
... GHRP-2 and GHRP-6 were detected in human urine samples from athletes [8]. TB-500 is another peptide that might be given to racehorses to try to enhance performance [9]. In consideration of both immediate availability of any ("designer") peptides with any amino acid sequence and instant distribution of them via internet at the present time, it is not difficult to conceive that more and more bioactive peptides would be misused in sports. ...
Article
The ability to analyze biological samples for multitudinous exogenous peptides with a single analytical method is desired for doping control in horse racing. The key to achieving this goal is the capability of extracting all target peptides from the sample matrix. In the present study, theory of mixed-mode solid-phase extraction (SPE) of peptides from plasma is described, and a generic mixed-mode SPE procedure has been developed for recovering multitudinous exogenous peptides with remarkable sequence diversity, from equine plasma and urine in a single procedure. Both the theory and the developed SPE procedure have led to the development of a novel analytical method for comprehensive detection of multitudinous bioactive peptides in equine plasma and urine using liquid chromatography coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS). Thirty nine bioactive peptides were extracted with strong anion-exchange mixed-mode SPE sorbent, separated on a reversed-phase C18 column and detected by HRMS and data-dependent tandem mass spectrometry. The limit of detection (LOD) was 10–50 pg mL⁻¹ in plasma for most of the peptides and 100 pg mL⁻¹ for the remaining. For urine, LOD was 20–400 pg mL⁻¹ for most of the peptides and 1–4 ng mL⁻¹ for the others. In vitro degradation of the peptides in equine plasma and urine was examined at ambient temperature; the peptides except those with a D-amino acid at position 2 were unstable not only in plasma but also in urine. The developed method was successful in analysis of plasma and urine samples from horses administered with dermorphin. Additionally, dermorphin metabolites were identified in the absence of reference standards. The developed SPE procedure and LC-HRMS method can theoretically detect virtually all peptides present at a sufficient concentration in a sample. New peptides can be readily included in the method to be detected without method re-development. The developed method also generates such data that can be retrospectively analyzed for peptides unknown at the time of sample analysis. It is the first generic analytical method for comprehensive detection of multitudinous exogenous peptides in biological samples, to the authors' knowledge.
... As strict zero-tolerance has been held for many years, anabolic-androgenic steroids might seem to be an issue of the past as new and possibly more effective 'designer' drugs have been developed over the years (e.g. AICAR, a metabolic modulator and TB-500, a synthetic peptide stimulating muscle development in horses [16,17]). However, recent cases of steroid abuse (FEI equine anti-doping decisions, 2013-2016) prove that, although AAS abuse is better under control than it was some decades ago, it will be of all times. ...
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Chapter
The higher the pressure to win, the more athletes are inclined to take steps to improve one’s performance through questionable means. To minimize this, strict anti‐doping and medication rules are being enforced. All human and equine athletes are regularly subjected to doping analysis to prevent abuse of forbidden substances from affecting their performance. Anabolic‐androgenic steroids (AASs) have been part of the forbidden substances list for years, because of their muscle building and performance‐enhancing capacities and possible side effects. For most of the AAS, zero‐tolerance is held. However, some AASs can be endogenous to the athletes, such as for example testosterone in males. These endogenous steroids can render it very difficult to reveal steroid abuse. Specific mass spectrometric (MS) methods, including ultra‐high performance liquid chromatography‐MS (UHPLC‐MS/MS), high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) and gas chromatography–combustion‐isotope ratio MS (GC‐C‐IRMS), have been put forward to overcome these analytical difficulties. Currently, high‐tech metabolomic methods are being used to build athlete specific biological passports. In the near future, these passports might allow putting a stop to abuse, by staying ahead of the cheats. These are bright prospects, leading towards clean and fair sports competitions worldwide.
... Another example of a peptide with potential for abuse to enhance muscle growth is the synthetic peptide TB-500, which contains the active site of the protein thymosin beta-4, and has been reported to stimulate muscle growth in horses (Ho et al., 2012,Kwok et al., 2013. ...
Article
Detection of misuse of peptides and proteins as growth promoters is a major issue for sport and food regulatory agencies. The limitations of current analytical detection strategies for this class of compounds, in combination with their efficacy in growth-promoting effects, make peptide and protein drugs highly susceptible to abuse by either athletes or farmers who seek for products to illicitly enhance muscle growth. Mass spectrometry (MS) for qualitative analysis of peptides and proteins is well-established, particularly due to tremendous efforts in the proteomics community. Similarly, due to advancements in targeted proteomic strategies and the rapid growth of protein-based biopharmaceuticals, MS for quantitative analysis of peptides and proteins is becoming more widely accepted. These continuous advances in MS instrumentation and MS-based methodologies offer enormous opportunities for detection and confirmation of peptides and proteins. Therefore, MS seems to be the method of choice to improve the qualitative and quantitative analysis of peptide and proteins with growth-promoting properties. This review aims to address the opportunities of MS for peptide and protein analysis in veterinary control and sports-doping control with a particular focus on detection of illicit growth promotion. An overview of potential peptide and protein targets, including their amino acid sequence characteristics and current MS-based detection strategies is, therefore, provided. Furthermore, improvements of current and new detection strategies with state-of-the-art MS instrumentation are discussed for qualitative and quantitative approaches. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Mass Spec Rev.
Article
Peptidic drugs with wide spectrum of physiological activity are of interest for cheating athletes and can be misused as doping in sports. A growing number of small peptide drugs capable of enhancing performance are included in the prohibited list issued by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), therefore the improvement of the detection methods is constantly needed. In the present study, a screening assay was developed comprising 54 prohibited small peptides and the related substances in urine by means of the alkaline pre-activated weak cation exchange-solid phase extraction (WCX-SPE) with liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry (LCHRMS). This method performed good enrichment and purification effect of traditional WCX for basic peptides, and also improve the purification power of acidic peptides, which significantly expanded the coverage of detection substances. The method was validated in accordance with WADA relevant criteria and validated with a main focus on qualitative parameters including selectivity, limits of detection (0.02-0.2 ng/mL), linearity (0.1-20 ng/mL for 46 analytes and 0.2-20 ng/mL for 9 analytes), accuracy and precision (RE% and RSD% < 20% at 1, 5 and 10 ng/mL), recovery (39.2%-100.1% except for the TB500(1-2) free acid: 9.2%), matrix effects (ion suppression effect: 0 to 49.4% and ion enhancement effect: 100% and 264.6%), carryover, reliability and sample extract stability. As a proof-of-principle, urine samples from two patients received a single injection of leuprorelin acetate microspheres (3.75 mg) 30 days before were analyzed and the results proved the applicability of the method.
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PurposeThymosin β4 is a highly active protein that exerts multiple biological activities such as tissue repair, anti-inflammation, and cell maturation. Thymosin β4 has also been listed as a prohibited drug by the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA). Based on its biological activities, thymosin β4 has a high potential of abuse for the performance enhancement among athletes. This study aimed to investigate and characterize the metabolism of thymosin β4 in vitro system.MethodsTB4 protein was metabolized in six different enzyme–buffer systems in vitro. After TB4 was metabolized with an appropriate buffer system, the resulting metabolites were detected by high resolution LC–MS/MS. The mass spectrum data of the observed metabolites were characterized in silico, and confirmed the structures based on synthesized authentic standards.ResultsTotal 13 new metabolites, some of which were detected in more than one enzyme system, were found. This study characterized all of the detected metabolites according to their in silico m/z ions and compared our findings with synthesized standards. Finally, metabolites M1, M5, M7, M11, M12, and M13 were confirmed based on their synthesized authentic standards.Conclusion By using an approach for metabolizing a protein to detect, characterize and identify new peptide metabolites, 6 metabolites are identified among 13 expected potential metabolites. Newly detected metabolites may have the potential for biological activities after further screening compared to their parent protein.
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This study described a reliable analytical method, which combines solid-phase extraction (SPE) with liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS) employing the parallel reaction monitoring (PRM) mode, for screening 41 small peptides and 3 non-peptide growth hormone secretagogues in human urine. Additionally 36 small peptides and 3 non-peptide growth hormone secretagogues were also confirmed in the same way. For the whole screening procedure, the PRM mode was applied to the HRMS detection of small peptides, which reduces the background noise from matrix compounds to a large extent and thus improves the selectivity and reliability of the peptide analytes. Meanwhile, competent chromatographic separation was achieved within a total runtime of 14 minutes, indicating an improvement in the detection efficiency. Moreover, the PRM mode could also be applied to the confirmation procedure due to its strong identification power with a low risk of generating false positives or negatives and good selectivity. Validation was performed according to the relevant World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) criteria, including selectivity and reliability, limit of detection (LOD), limit of identification (LOI), recovery, extraction stability and carryover. The LODs of the peptide analytes ranged between 0.20 ng mL-1 and 0.92 ng mL-1 in urine, while their LOIs ranged between 0.20 ng mL-1 and 2.00 ng mL-1, which met the corresponding Minimum Required Performance Levels (MRPLs) as defined by WADA. The developed method furnished the rapid and sensitive detection of small peptides in urine for more than 5000 samples with no false-positive or false-negative, indicating that it is an eligible method for doping control analysis.
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Despite the impressive innate physical abilities of horses, camels, greyhounds or pigeons, doping agents might be administered to these animals to improve their performance. To control these illegal practices, anti‐doping analytical methodologies have been developed. This review compiles the analytical methods that have been published for the detection of prohibited substances administered to animals involved in sports, over 30 years. Relevant papers meeting the search criteria that discussed analytical methods aiming to detect and/or quantify doping substances in animal biological matrices, published from 1990 to 2019 were considered. A total of 317 studies were included, of which 298 were related to horses, demonstrating significant advances towards the development of doping detection methods for equine sports. However, analytical methods for the detection of doping agents in sports involving other species are lacking. Due to enhanced accuracy and specificity, chromatographic analysis coupled to mass spectrometry detection is preferred over immunoassays. Regarding biological matrices, blood and urine remain the first choice, although alternative biological matrices, such as hair and faeces, have been considered. With the increasing number and type of drugs used as doping agents, the analytes addressed in the published papers are diverse. It is very important to continue to detect and quantify these drugs, recognizing those that are most frequently used, in order to punish the abusers, protect animals’ health, and ensure a healthier and genuine competition.
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The use of bioactive peptides as a doping agent in both human and animal sports has become increasingly popular in recent years. As such, methods to control the misuse of bioactive peptides in equine sports have received attention. This paper describes a sensitive accurate mass method for the detection of 40 bioactive peptides and 2 non‐peptide growth hormone secretagogues (<2 kDa) at low pg/mL level in horse urine using ultra‐high performance liquid chromatography‐high resolution mass spectrometry (UHPLC/HRMS). A simple mixed‐mode cation exchange solid‐phase extraction (SPE) cartridge was employed for the extraction of 42 targets and/or their in vitro metabolites from horse urine. The final extract was analysed using UHPLC/HRMS in positive electrospray ionisation (ESI) mode under both full scan and data independent acquisition (DIA, for MS²). The estimated limits of detection (LoD) for most of the targets could reach down to 10 pg/mL in horse urine. This method was validated for qualitative detection purpose. The validation data, including method specificity, method sensitivity, extraction recovery, method precision and matrix effect were reported. A thorough in vitro study was also performed on four gonadotrophin‐releasing factors (GnRHs), namely leuprorelin, buserelin, goserelin and nafarelin, using the S9 fraction isolated from horse liver. The identified in vitro metabolites have been incorporated into the method for controlling the misuse of GnRHs. The applicability of this method was demonstrated by the identification of leuprorelin and one of its metabolites, Leu M4, in urine obtained after intramuscular administration of leuprorelin to a thoroughbred gelding (castrated horse).
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CJC‐1295 is a peptide‐based drug that stimulates the production of growth hormone (GH) from the pituitary gland. It incorporates a functional maleimido group at the C‐terminus that allows it to covalently bind plasma proteins such as serum albumin. These CJC‐1295‐protein conjugates have a much greater half‐life compared to the unconjugated peptide and are capable of stimulating GH production for more than six days in humans after a single administration. Conjugated CJC‐1295 is difficult to detect in blood by mass spectrometry due to its low abundance, high molecular weight and conjugation to a range of different protein substrates. Previously we described a screening procedure for the detection of CJC‐1295 in equine plasma using an immuno‐PCR assay. Here we demonstrate the confirmation of CJC‐1295 in equine plasma by LC/MS/MS after immuno‐affinity capture and tryptic digestion. Using this method, CJC‐1295 was identified down to concentrations as low as 180 pg/mL in 1ml of equine plasma.
Article
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and its small peptide synthetic analogues included at Section S2 of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List as they stimulate pituitary LH and testicular testosterone (T) secretion. Both following approaches can be applied for determination of these peptides abuse: direct identification of intact compounds and their metabolites in athletes' biofluids along with evaluation of LH and T concentrations as mediate markers of drug intake. To develop an effective concept for GnRH and its analogues determination in anti-doping control in vitro and in vivo studies were conducted. New method was applied to the evaluation of the slow release profile of buserelin, goserelin and leuprolide biodegradable microspheres after the intramuscular injection in male volunteers. Eight metabolites of ten GnRH analogues were identified after incubation with human kidney microsomes, most of them were leuprolide degradation products. Obtained data were added into UPLC-MS/MS method for GnRH analogues determination. The detection time windows for administered peptides and its metabolites in urine samples were evaluated with two various sample preparation techniques: dilute&shoot and solid-phase extraction. To support the second hypothesis the measurement of LH and main parameters of steroid profile were performed in urine samples. Just one compound among investigated resulted in LH concentration dropping to non-physiological levels. Thus, for doping-control purposes monitoring of hormone levels fluctuations could be applied only together with longitudinal passport steroid profile data.
Article
Biological significance: Currently, >60 peptide medicines are FDA approved and marketed in the United States as biopharmaceutical products. Approximately 140 peptide drugs are in clinical trials and about 500 therapeutic peptides in preclinical development. There is an emerging interest in small peptides with a molecular weight of <2kDa, which can be used as doping in modern sport due a wide spectrum of their physiological activity. Most of peptide doping products are not yet approved for human use and some of them undergo preclinical or clinical trials, which complicates the study of metabolism in vivo. The investigation of the metabolism with in vitro methods is an alternative that does not require a human participation and an approval by the Ethics Committee.
Article
The analysis of low-molecular-mass peptides in doping controls has become a mandatory aspect in sports drug testing and, thus, the number of samples that has to be tested for these analytes has been steadily increasing. Several peptides < 2 kDa with performance-enhancing properties are covered by the list of prohibited substances of the World Anti-Doping Agency including Desmopressin, LH-RH, Buserelin, Triptorelin, Leuprolide, GHRP-1, GHRP-2, GHRP-3, GHRP-4, GHRP-5,GHRP-6,Alexamorelin, Ipamorelin, Hexarelin, ARA-290, AOD-9604,, TB-500 and Anamorelin. With the presented method employing direct urine injection into a liquid chromatograph followed by ion-mobility time-of-flight mass spectrometry, a facile, specific, and sensitive assay for the aforementioned peptidic compounds is provided. The accomplished sensitivity allows for limits of detection between 50 and 500 pg/mL and thus covers the minimum required performance level of 2 ng/mL accordingly. The method is precise (imprecision < 20%) and linear in the estimated working range between 0 and 10 ng/mL. The stability of the peptides in urine was tested also and -20°C was found to be the appropriate storage temperature for sports drug testing. Finally, proof-of-concept was shown by analysing elimination study urine samples collected from individuals having administered GHRP-6, GHRP-2, or LHRH. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Article
A synthetic Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist peptide with the sequence Acetyl-Phe-Glu-Trp-Thr-Pro-Gly-Tyr-Trp-Gln-Pro-Tyr-Ala-Leu-Pro-Leu-OH has been identified in a vial seized during a stable inspection. The use of peptide-based Interleukin-1 receptor antagonists as anti-inflammatory agents has not been previously reported, making this peptide the first in a new class of sports doping peptides. The peptide has been characterized by high-resolution mass spectrometry and a detection method developed based on solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography - triple quadrupole mass spectrometry. Using in vitro and in vivo models to study the properties of the peptide after administration, the peptide was shown to be highly unstable in plasma and was not detected in urine after administration in a rat. The poor stability of the peptide makes detection challenging but also suggests that it has limited effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory drug. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
Peptide hormones represent an emerging class of potential doping agents. Detection of their misuse is difficult due to their short half-life in plasma and rapid elimination. Therefore, investigating their metabolism can improve detectability. Unfortunately, pharmacokinetic studies with human volunteers are often not allowed because of ethical constraints, and therefore alternative models are needed. This study was performed in order to evaluate in vitro models (human liver microsomes and S9 fraction) for the prediction of the metabolism of peptidic doping agents and to compare them with the established models. The peptides that were investigated include desmopressin, TB-500, GHRP-2, GHRP-6, hexarelin, LHRH and leuprolide. Several metabolites were detected for each peptide after incubation with human liver microsomes, S9 fraction, and serum, which all showed endopeptidase and exopeptidase activity. In vitro models from different organs (liver vs. kidney) were compared, but no significant differences were recorded. Deamidation was not observed in any of the models and was therefore evaluated by incubation with α-chymotrypsin. In conclusion, in vitro models are useful tools for forensic and clinical analysts to detect peptidic metabolic markers in biological fluids. Copyright © 2014 European Peptide Society and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Copyright © 2014 European Peptide Society and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
The number and diversity of potentially performance-enhancing substances is continuously growing, fueled by new pharmaceutical developments but also by the inventiveness and, at the same time, unscrupulousness of black-market (designer) drug producers and providers. In terms of sports drug testing, this situation necessitates reactive as well as proactive research and expansion of the analytical armamentarium to ensure timely, adequate, and comprehensive doping controls. This review summarizes literature published over the past 5 years on new drug entities, discontinued therapeutics, and 'tailored' compounds classified as doping agents according to the regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency, with particular attention to analytical strategies enabling their detection in human blood or urine. Among these compounds, low- and high-molecular mass substances of peptidic (e.g. modified insulin-like growth factor-1, TB-500, hematide/peginesatide, growth hormone releasing peptides, AOD-9604, etc.) and non-peptidic (selective androgen receptor modulators, hypoxia-inducible factor stabilizers, siRNA, S-107 and ARM036/aladorian, etc.) as well as inorganic (cobalt) nature are considered and discussed in terms of specific requirements originating from physicochemical properties, concentration levels, metabolism, and their amenability for chromatographic-mass spectrometric or alternative detection methods.
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Article
We performed differential cDNA hybridization using RNA from endothelial cells cultured for 4 hours on either plastic or basement membrane matrix (Matrigel), and identified early genes induced during the morphological differentiation into capillary-like tubes. The mRNA for one clone, thymosin beta 4, was increased 5-fold. Immunostaining localized thymosin beta 4 in vivo in both growing and mature vessels as well as in other tissues. Endothelial cells transfected with thymosin beta 4 showed an increased rate of attachment and spreading on matrix components, and an accelerated rate of tube formation on Matrigel. An antisense oligo to thymosin beta 4 inhibited tube formation on Matrigel. The results suggest that thymosin beta 4 is induced and likely involved in differentiating endothelial cells. Thymosin beta 4 may play a role in vessel formation in vivo.
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Article
Heart disease is a leading cause of death in newborn children and in adults. Efforts to promote cardiac repair through the use of stem cells hold promise but typically involve isolation and introduction of progenitor cells. Here, we show that the G-actin sequestering peptide thymosin beta4 promotes myocardial and endothelial cell migration in the embryonic heart and retains this property in postnatal cardiomyocytes. Survival of embryonic and postnatal cardiomyocytes in culture was also enhanced by thymosin beta4. We found that thymosin beta4 formed a functional complex with PINCH and integrin-linked kinase (ILK), resulting in activation of the survival kinase Akt (also known as protein kinase B). After coronary artery ligation in mice, thymosin beta4 treatment resulted in upregulation of ILK and Akt activity in the heart, enhanced early myocyte survival and improved cardiac function. These findings suggest that thymosin beta4 promotes cardiomyocyte migration, survival and repair and the pathway it regulates may be a new therapeutic target in the setting of acute myocardial damage.
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Article
The peptide thymosin beta4 (Tbeta4) promotes angiogenesis and wound healing. Mast cells are involved in these processes as well and therefore we investigated the effect of Tbeta4 on mast cells. Exposure to 0.2-2000nM Tbeta4 induced mediator release (up to 23%) in murine peritoneal and human HMC-1 mast cells in a concentration-dependent manner. While the peptide AcSDKP, matching the 4 N-terminal amino acid residues of Tbeta4, mediated low but detectable mediator release, peptides corresponding to the Tbeta4 amino acid sequences 16-38 and 17-23 stimulated mast cells mediator release on a level equal to or higher than that observed with native Tbeta4. These observations and certain characteristics of Tbeta4-mediated mast cell activation suggest that the actin-binding motif LKKTET present in Tbeta4 (amino acid 17-22) might be implicated in this process. Thus, Tbeta4 activates mediator release in mast cells by a process that possibly involves an actin-binding motif and this could be important for understanding the mechanisms of Tbeta4-mediated effects in vivo.
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Article
Thymosin beta4 is a ubiquitous 43 amino acid, 5 kDa polypeptide that is an important mediator of cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation. It is the most abundant member of the beta-thymosin family in mammalian tissue and is regarded as the main G-actin sequestering peptide. Thymosin beta4 is angiogenic and can promote endothelial cell migration and adhesion, tubule formation, aortic ring sprouting, and angiogenesis. It also accelerates wound healing and reduces inflammation when applied in dermal wound-healing assays. Using naturally occurring thymosin beta4, proteolytic fragments, and synthetic peptides, we find that a seven amino acid actin binding motif of thymosin beta4 is essential for its angiogenic activity. Migration assays with human umbilical vein endothelial cells and vessel sprouting assays using chick aortic arches show that thymosin beta4 and the actin-binding motif of the peptide display near-identical activity at ~50 nM, whereas peptides lacking any portion of the actin motif were inactive. Furthermore, adhesion to thymosin beta4 was blocked by this seven amino acid peptide demonstrating it as the major thymosin beta4 cell binding site on the molecule. The adhesion and sprouting activity of thymosin beta4 was inhibited with the addition of 5-50 nM soluble actin. These results demonstrate that the actin binding motif of thymosin beta4 is an essential site for its angiogenic activity.
Article
The study of the metabolism of drugs, in particular steroids, by both in vitro and in vivo methods has been carried out in the authors' laboratory for many years. For in vitro metabolic studies, the microsomal fraction isolated from horse liver is often used. However, the process of isolating liver microsomes is cumbersome and tedious. In addition, centrifugation at high speeds (over 100 000 g) may lead to loss of enzymes involved in phase I metabolism, which may account for the difference often observed between in vivo and in vitro results. We have therefore investigated the feasibility of using homogenized horse liver instead of liver microsomes with the aim of saving preparation time and improving the correlation between in vitro and in vivo results. Indeed, the preparation of the homogenized horse liver was very simple, needing only to homogenize the required amount of liver. Even though no further purification steps were performed before the homogenized liver was used, the cleanliness of the extracts obtained, based on gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis, was similar to that for liver microsomes. Herein, the results of the in vitro experiments carried out using homogenized horse liver for five anabolic steroids-turinabol, methenolone acetate, androst-4-ene-3,6,17-trione, testosterone, and epitestosterone-are discussed. In addition to the previously reported in vitro metabolites, some additional known in vivo metabolites in the equine could also be detected. As far as we know, this is the first report of the successful use of homogenized liver in the horse for carrying out in vitro metabolism experiments. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
A family of small peptides has reached the focus of doping controls representing a comparably new strategy for cheating sportsmen. These growth hormone releasing peptides (GHRP) are orally active and induce an increased production of endogenous growth hormone (GH). While the established test for exogenous GH fails, the misuse of these prohibited substances remains unrecognized. The present study provides data for the efficient extraction of a variety of known drug candidates (GHRP-1, GHRP-2, GHRP-4, GHRP-5, GHRP-6, alexamorelin, ipamorelin, and hexarelin) from human urine with subsequent mass spectrometric detection after liquid chromatographic separation. The used method potentially enables the retrospective evaluation of the acquired data for unknown metabolites by means of a non-targeted approach with high-resolution/high-accuracy full-scan mass spectrometry with additional higher collision energy dissociation experiments. This is of great importance due to the currently unknown metabolism of most of the targets and, thus, the method is focused on the intact peptidic drugs. Only the already characterised major metabolite of GHRP-2 (D-Ala-D-2-naphthylAla-L-Ala, as well as its stable isotope-labelled analogue) was synthesised and implemented in the detection assay. Method validation for qualitative purpose was performed with respect to specificity, precision (<20%), intermediate precision (<20%), recovery (47-95%), limit of detection (0.2-1 ng/mL), linearity, ion suppression and stability. Two stable isotope-labelled internal standards were used (deuterium-labelled GHRP-4 and GHRP-2 metabolite). The proof-of-principle was obtained by the analysis of excretion study urine samples obtained from a single oral administration of 10 mg of GHRP-2. Here, the known metabolite was detectable over 20 h after administration while the intact drug was not observed.
Article
Insulin and its analogues have been banned in both human and equine sports owing to their potential for misuse. Insulin administration can increase muscle glycogen by utilising hyperinsulinaemic clamps prior to sports events or during the recovery phases, and increase muscle size by its chalonic action to inhibit protein breakdown. In order to control insulin abuse in equine sports, a method to effectively detect the use of insulins in horses is required. Besides the readily available human insulin and its synthetic analogues, structurally similar insulins from other species can also be used as doping agents. The author's laboratory has previously reported a method for the detection of bovine, porcine and human insulins, as well as the synthetic analogues Humalog (Lispro) and Novolog (Aspart) in equine plasma. This study describes a complementary method for the simultaneous detection of five exogenous insulins and their possible metabolites in equine urine. Insulins and their possible metabolites were isolated from equine urine by immunoaffinity purification, and analysed by nano liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS). Insulin and its analogues were detected and confirmed by comparing their retention times and major product ions. All five insulins (human insulin, Humalog, Novolog, bovine insulin and porcine insulin), which are exogenous in horse, could be detected and confirmed at 0.05ng/mL. This method was successfully applied to confirm the presence of human insulin in urine collected from horses up to 4h after having been administered a single low dose of recombinant human insulin (Humulin R, Eli Lilly). To our knowledge, this is the first identification of exogenous insulin in post-administration horse urine samples.
Article
Thymosin beta(4), a small ubiquitous protein containing 43 aa, has structure/function activity via its actin-binding domain and numerous biological affects on cells. Since it is the major actin-sequestering molecule in eukaryotic cells and is found essentially in all cells and body fluids, thymosin beta(4) has the potential for significant roles in tissue development, maintenance, repair, and pathology. Several active sites with unique functions have been identified, including the amino-terminal site containing 4 aa (Ac-SDKP) that generally blocks inflammation and reduces fibrosis. Another active site at the amino terminus contains 15 aa, including Ac-SDKP, and promotes cell survival and blocks apoptosis, while a short sequence containing LKKTETQ, the central actin-binding domain (aa 17-23) plus 1 additional amino acid (Q), promotes angiogenesis, wound healing, and cell migration. Several additional biological activities have been identified but not yet localized in the molecule, including its antimicrobial activity, the induction of various genes (including laminin-5, MMPs, TGF beta, zyxin, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase, and angiogenesis-related proteins), and the ability to activate ILK/PINCH/Akt, and other signaling molecules important in both apoptosis and inflammatory pathways. This review details these important physiologically and pathologically active sites and their potential therapeutic uses.
Article
The beta-thymosins are N-terminally acetylated peptides of about 5 kDa molecular mass and composed of about 40-44 amino acid residues. The first member of the family, thymosin beta4, was initially isolated from thymosin fraction 5, prepared in five steps from calf thymus. Thymosin beta4 was supposed to be specifically produced and released by the thymic gland and to possess hormonal activities modulating the immune response. Various paracrine effects have indeed been reported for these peptides such as cardiac protection, angiogenesis, stimulation of wound healing, and hair growth. Besides these paracrine effects, it was noted that beta-thymosins occur in high concentration in the cytoplasm of many eukaryotic cells and bind to the cytoskeletal component actin. Subsequently it became apparent from in vitro experiments that they preferentially bind to monomeric (G-)actin and stabilize it in its monomeric form. Due to this ability the beta-thymosins are the main intracellular actin sequestering factor, i.e., they posses the ability to remove monomeric actin from the dynamic assembly and disassembly processes of the actin cytoskeleton that constantly occur in activated cells. In this review we will concentrate on the intracellular activity and localization of the beta-thymosins, i.e., their modulating effect on the actin cytoskeleton.
Article
With the growing interest for peptides and proteins in different kinds of fields, e.g. pharmacy, clinical diagnostics or food industry, the quantification of these compounds is becoming more and more important. Quantitative analysis of these analytes in biological matrices, however, remains a challenging task, due to the complexity of both the matrix and the analytical characteristics of these large bio-molecules. Liquid chromatography coupled to (tandem) mass spectrometry (LC-MS or LC-MS/MS) is the preferred analytical technique for peptide analysis as it allows very selective and sensitive measurements. This article summarizes the numerous published LC-MS applications for the quantification of peptides in biological matrices and discusses all different issues herewith concerned. This includes chromatographic aspects as the selection and effects of mobile and stationary phase, flow rate and temperature, as well as mass spectrometric characteristics such as ionization and detection modes, collision-induced dissociation of peptides and factors influencing the mass spectrometric response. For both techniques the main properties of all described methods have been listed, creating a comprehensive overview with the peptide analytes divided into different classes. Likewise, all other issues concerned with quantitative bioanalysis have been evaluated in detail, including extensive consideration of several different applied sample pre-treatment techniques and reflection of subjects as the choice for an internal standard and assay validation. Furthermore, several issues which are of particular interest for the quantitative bioanalysis of peptide compounds like peptide adsorption and degradation have been regarded.
Article
Thymosin beta 4 (T beta 4) is a 4.9 kDa polypeptide that interacts with G-actin and is thought to be an important mediator in cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation. T beta 4 has been identified as a factor involved in the differentiation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) cultured on Matrigel. Here we have used various in vitro and in vivo migration assays to demonstrate the role of T beta 4 in endothelial cell migration. Our results demonstrate that T beta 4 acts as a chemoattractant for endothelial cells, stimulating the migration of HUVECs in Boyden chambers four- to sixfold over that observed with media alone. Of the primary cell types tested, only human coronary artery cells responded to T beta 4 treatment, suggesting that the migration activity of T beta 4 was endothelial cell-specific. T beta 4 significantly accelerated the rate of migration into the scratch wounded area of a HUVEC monolayer. T beta 4 treatment also increased the production of matrix metalloproteinases that may degrade the basement membrane during angiogenesis. Additional experiments using subcutaneously implanted Matrigel showed that T beta 4 stimulated cell migration in vivo. These results provide the first direct evidence that T beta 4 has chemoattractive activity and promotes angiogenesis by stimulating the migration of endothelial cells.
Article
Impaired wound healing is a problem for immobilized patients, diabetics, and the elderly. Thymosin beta 4 has previously been found to promote dermal and corneal repair in normal rats. Here we report that thymosin beta 4 was also active in accelerating wound repair in full-thickness dermal wounds in both db/db diabetic and aged mice. We found that thymosin beta 4 in either phosphate-buffered saline or a hydrogel formulation is active in promoting dermal wound repair in normal rats. In diabetic mice, where healing is delayed, we found that wound contracture and collagen deposition were significantly increased in the mice treated with thymosin beta 4 in either phosphate buffered saline solution or a hydrogel formulation. No difference was observed in keratinocyte migration, with all of the diabetic animals showing almost complete coverage of the wound at 8 days. Wound healing in 26-month-old (aged) animals was significantly delayed. Thymosin beta 4 accelerated wound healing in these aged mice, with increases in keratinocyte migration, wound contracture, and collagen deposition. The hydrogel formulation generally showed similar wound healing activity with thymosin beta 4 in PBS. The actin-binding domain of thymosin beta 4 duplicated in a seven-amino acid synthetic peptide, LKKTETQ, was able to promote repair in the aged animals comparable to that observed with the parent molecule. These studies show that thymosin beta 4 is active for wound repair in models of impaired healing and may have efficacy in chronic wounds in humans.
Article
Here, we review the biochemical and molecular properties of thymosin beta(4) (Tbeta(4)), the major actin-sequestering molecule in eukaryotic cells, and its key role in dermal- and corneal-wound healing. Tbeta(4) has several, novel, potential clinical applications in the repair and remodeling of ulcerated tissues and solid organs following hypoxic injuries, such as myocardial infarction and stroke. It might also have important repair functions in the pathophysiologic sequelae that are associated with actin toxicity and with septic shock, such as respiratory distress syndrome, multi-organ failure and severe tissue trauma.
Article
The identification of in vivo secreted proteins is a major challenge in systems biology. Here we report a novel technique using capillary ultrafiltration (CUF) probes to identify the secreted proteins involved in wound healing. CUF probes, which use semipermeable membrane hollow fibers to continuously capture secreted proteins, were used to sample skin wound fluids. To identify low-abundance proteins, we digested the CUF probe-collected wound fluid with trypsin and then directly subjected it to MS without using 2-DE separation. Two protein fragments with masses of 1565.7 and 1694.8 Da were identified by MS as peptides of thymosin beta10 and beta4, respectively. This is the first identification of thymosin beta10 as an in vivo constituent of the skin wound fluid. The LKKTETQ peptide, a common actin-binding domain of thymosin beta4 and beta10, significantly enhanced skin wound healing in vitro and in vivo. Our data suggest that the enhancement of wound healing by LKKTETQ may be mediated by purinergic receptors. The technique of using CUF probes linked to mass spectrometric proteomics represents a powerful method to identify in vivo secreted proteins, and may be applicable for identification of proteins relevant in various human diseases.
Article
Cardiac failure has a principal underlying aetiology of ischaemic damage arising from vascular insufficiency. Molecules that regulate collateral growth in the ischaemic heart also regulate coronary vasculature formation during embryogenesis. Here we identify thymosin beta4 (Tbeta4) as essential for all aspects of coronary vessel development in mice, and demonstrate that Tbeta4 stimulates significant outgrowth from quiescent adult epicardial explants, restoring pluripotency and triggering differentiation of fibroblasts, smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells. Tbeta4 knockdown in the heart is accompanied by significant reduction in the pro-angiogenic cleavage product N-acetyl-seryl-aspartyl-lysyl-proline (AcSDKP). Although injection of AcSDKP was unable to rescue Tbeta4 mutant hearts, it significantly enhanced endothelial cell differentiation from adult epicardially derived precursor cells. This study identifies Tbeta4 and AcSDKP as potent stimulators of coronary vasculogenesis and angiogenesis, and reveals Tbeta4-induced adult epicardial cells as a viable source of vascular progenitors for continued renewal of regressed vessels at low basal level or sustained neovascularization following cardiac injury.
Article
The cornea epithelium responds to injury by synthesizing several cytokines, growth factors, and tissue remodeling molecules. Proinflammatory cytokines have been implicated in the inflammation that follows corneal epithelial injury and cytokine-mediated processes play a significant role in corneal epithelial wound healing. Poorly regulated corneal inflammatory reactions that occur after injury can retard healing. In turn, persistent corneal epithelial defects and inflammation may lead to ocular morbidity and permanent visual loss. Therefore, treatments with agents that enhance corneal reepithelialization and regulate the inflammatory response without the deleterious side effects of currently used agents, such as corticosteroids, would result in improved clinical outcome and would represent a major advance in the field. Evidence is mounting to support the idea that thymosin beta-4 (Tbeta-4) has multiple, seemingly diverse, cellular functions. In the cornea, as in other tissues, Tbeta-4 promotes cell migration and wound healing, has anti-inflammatory properties, and suppresses apoptosis. Prior studies from our laboratory have demonstrated the potent wound healing and anti-inflammatory effects of Tbeta-4 in numerous models of corneal injury. Recently, we demonstrated that Tbeta-4 suppresses the activation of the transcription factor, nuclear factor-kappa b (NF-kappaB) in TNF-alpha-stimulated cells. TNF-alpha initiates cell signaling pathways that converge on the activation of NF-kappaB, thus both are known mediators of the inflammatory process. These results have important clinical implications for the potential role of Tbeta-4 as a corneal anti-inflammatory and wound-healing agent.
Article
A liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) method was developed for the analysis of vancomycin (VCM) in human serum. The method was based on full scan data with extracted ions for the accurate masses of VCM and the atenolol internal standard obtained by Fourier transform MS. VCM was extracted from serum using strong cation exchange (SCX) solid phase extraction (SPE). The method was found to be linear in the range 0.05-10 microg/ml, which was adequate for quantification of VCM in serum samples, with a limit of quantification (LOQ) of 0.005 microg/ml and a limit of detection (LOD) of 0.001 microg/ml. Intra-day precision (n=5) was +/-3.5%, +/-2.5%, +/-0.7% at 0.05, 0.5 and 5 microg/ml, respectively. Inter-day precision (n=5) was +/-7.6%, +/-6.4%, +/-3.9% at 0.05, 0.5 and 5 microg/ml, respectively. The process efficiency for VCM was in the range 89.2-98.1% with the recovery for the atenolol internal standard (IS) being 97.3%. The method was used to determine VCM levels in patients during peri-operative infusion of the drug, which was found to result in drug levels within the required therapeutic window.
Article
The aim of this study was to evaluate the possible neuroprotective effects of thymosin beta(4) in different models of excitotoxicity. The application of thymosin beta(4) significantly attenuated glutamate-induced toxicity both in primary cultures of cortical neurons and in rat hippocampal slices. In in vivo experiments, the intracerebroventricular administration of thymosin beta(4) significantly reduced hippocampal neuronal loss induced by kainic acid. These results show that thymosin beta(4) induced a protective effect in models of excitotoxicity. The mechanisms underlying such an effect, as well as the real neuroprotective potential of thymosin beta(4), are worthy of further investigations.
Article
Thymosin beta(4) (Tbeta4) is a major actin-sequestering peptide widely distributed in mammalian tissues including the nervous system. The presence of this peptide in the nervous system likely plays a role in synaptogensis, axon growth, cell migration, and plastic changes in dendritic spine. However, the effects of Tbeta4 on the survival of neurons and axonal outgrowth have still not been fully understood. So far it is not clear if the effects of Tbeta4 are associated with L1 functions. In the present study, we hypothesized that Tbeta4-induced up-regulation of L1 synthesis could be involved in the survival and axon outgrowth of cultured spinal cord neurons. To test this hypothesis, primarily cultured neurons were prepared from the mouse spinal cord and treated with various concentrations of Tbeta4 ranging from 0.1 to 10 microg/ml. The analysis of L1 mRNA expression and protein synthesis in neurons was then carried out using RT-PCR and western blot assays, respectively. After the addition of Tbeta4 to cultures, cells were then treated with antibodies against distinct domains of L1-Fc. Subsequently, beta-tubulin III and L1 double-labeled indirect immunofluorescence was carried out. Meanwhile, L1 immunofluorescent reactivity was analyzed and compared in cells treated with Tbeta4. Furthermore, the number of beta-tubulin III-positive cells and neurite lengths were measured. We found that Tbeta4 enhanced L1 expression in a dose-dependent manner, and the highest L1 mRNA and protein synthesis in cells increased by more than 2.1- and 2.3-fold in the presence of Tbeta4 at identical concentrations, respectively. Moreover, it also dose dependently enhanced neurite outgrowth and neuronal survival. Compared to conditions without Tbeta4, the length of neurite and neuronal survival increased markedly in presence of 0.5, 1, and 5 microg/ml Tbeta4, respectively, whereas the effects of Tbeta4 were significantly attenuated or inhibited in the process of L1-Fc antibodies treatment. These above results indicate that the promotive effect of Tbeta4 on the survival and neurite outgrowth of cultured spinal cord neurons might be mediated, at least in part via a stimulation of the production of L1 in the neurons.
Article
The ability to scavenge reactive oxygen species (ROS) is crucial for cornea epithelial cells to resist oxidative damage. The authors previously demonstrated that exogenous thymosin beta-4 (T beta(4)) was able to protect human cornea epithelial (HCE-T) cells against H(2)O(2)-induced oxidative damage, and its cellular internalisation was essential. The aim of this study is to further elucidate its protective mechanism. HCE-T cells with or without T beta(4) pretreatment were exposed to H(2)O(2), and the differences in caspase activity, intracellular ROS levels, cell viability, and the expression of anti-oxidative enzymes, were measured and compared. Besides reducing caspase-9 activation and intracellular ROS levels induced by H(2)O(2), treatment of T beta(4) could also increase cell viability and stimulate the expression of manganese superoxide dismutase (SOD) and copper/zinc SOD. Moreover, both transcription and translation levels of catalase were also upregulated by T beta(4) in the presence of exogenous H(2)O(2). Furthermore, it was demonstrated that the addition of catalase inhibitor abrogated the protective effect of T beta(4) against H(2)O(2)-induced oxidative damage. To the best of the authors' knowledge, this is the first report to show that T beta(4 )was capable of upregulating anti-oxidative enzymes in human corneal epithelial cells, and these findings further support its role in cornea protection.
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