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Ancistrobrevidines A-C and related naphthylisoquinoline alkaloids with cytotoxic activities against HeLa and pancreatic cancer cells, from the liana Ancistrocladus abbreviatus

From the leaves of Ancistrocladus abbreviatus (Ancistrocladaceae), six 5,1′-coupled naphthyldihydroisoquinoline alkaloids were isolated, ancistrobrevidines A-C (5–7), 5-epi-dioncophyllidine C2 (10), 6-O-methylhamatinine (8), and 6-O-methylancistectorine A3 (9); the two latter compounds were already known from related plants. Most strikingly, this series comprises alkaloids belonging to three different subclasses of naphthylisoquinolines. Ancistrobrevidine C (7) and the alkaloids 8 and 9, displaying the S-configuration at C-3 and an oxygen function at C-6, are three further representatives of the large subgroup of 5,1′-coupled Ancistrocladaceae-type compounds found in nature. 5-epi-Dioncophyllidine C2 (10), lacking an oxygen function at C-6 and having the R-configu-ration at C-3, is only the third representative of a 5,1′-linked Dioncophyllaceae-type naphthylisoquinoline. Likewise rare are 5,1′-coupled hybrid-type alkaloids, which are 6-oxygenated and 3R-configured. The ancis-trobrevidines A (5) and B (6) are the only second and third examples of such 5,1′-linked naphthylisoquinolines in Ancistrocladus species showing the landmarks of both, Ancistrocladaceae- and Dioncophyllaceae-type naph-thylisoquinolines. In the roots of A. abbreviatus, two further unprecedented 5,1′-coupled alkaloids were discov-ered, ancistrobreviquinones A (11) and B (12), consisting of a 3,4-naphthoquinone portion coupled to a tetrahydroisoquinoline subunit. They are the very first quinoid naphthylisoquinolines possessing an ortho- diketone entity. Ancistrobrevidine C (7) exerted pronounced antiproliferative activities against HeLa cervical cancer cells and preferential cytotoxicity towards PANC-1 human pancreatic cancer cells under nutrient-deprived conditions following the antiausterity approach. Moreover, 7 suppressed the migration of PANC-1 cells and significantly inhibited colony formation under nutrient-rich conditions in a concentration-dependent manner, and induced dramatic alteration in cell morphology, leading to cell death.

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Hyperthermia induced by gold nanoparticles and visible light photothermy combined with chemotherapy to tackle doxorubicin sensitive and resistant colorectal tumor 3D spheroids

Current cancer therapies are frequently ineffective and associated with severe side effects and with acquired cancer drug resistance. The development of effective therapies has been hampered by poor correlations between pre-clinical and clinical outcomes. Cancer cell-derived spheroids are three-dimensional (3D) structures that mimic layers of tumors in terms of oxygen and nutrient and drug resistance gradients. Gold nanoparticles (AuNP) are promising therapeutic agents which permit diminishing the emergence of secondary effects and increase therapeutic efficacy. In this work, 3D spheroids of Doxorubicin (Dox)-sensitive and -resistant colorectal carcinoma cell lines (HCT116 and HCT116-DoxR, respectively) were used to infer the potential of the combination of chemotherapy and Au-nanoparticle photothermy in the visible (green laser of 532 nm) to tackle drug resistance in cancer cells. Cell viability analysis of 3D tumor spheroids suggested that AuNPs induce cell death in the deeper layers of spheroids, further potentiated by laser irradiation. The penetration of Dox and earlier spheroid disaggregation is potentiated in combinatorial therapy with Dox, AuNP functionalized with polyethylene glycol (AuNP@PEG) and irradiation. The time point of Dox administration and irradiation showed to be important for spheroids destabilization. In HCT116-sensitive spheroids, pre-irradiation induced earlier disintegration of the 3D structure, while in HCT116 Dox-resistant spheroids, the loss of spheroid stability occurred almost instantly in post-irradiated spheroids, even with lower Dox concentrations. These results point towards the application of new strategies for cancer therapeutics, reducing side effects and resistance acquisition.

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Autologous culture method improves retention of tumors' native properties

No current in vitro tumor model replicates a tumor’s in vivo microenvironment. A culturing technique that better preserves a tumor’s pathophysiological conditions is needed for some important clinical applications, including personalized drug-sensitivity/resistance assays. In this study, we utilized autologous serum or body fuid to build a 3D scaffold and grow a patient’s tumor. We named this technique “3D-ACM” (autologous culture method). Forty-five clinical samples from biopsies, surgically removed tumor tissues and malignant body fuids were cultured with 3D-ACM. Traditional 3D-FBS (fetal bovine serum) cultures were performed side-by-side for comparison. The results were that cells cultured in 3D-ACM rebuilt tissue-like structures, and retained their immuno-phenotypes and cytokine productions. In contrast, the 3D-FBS method promoted mesenchymal cell proliferation. In preliminary chemo drug-sensitivity assays, signifcantly higher mortality was always associated with FBS-cultured cells. Accordingly, 3D-ACM appears to more reliably preserve a tumor’s biological characteristics, which might improve the accuracy of drug-testing for personalized cancer treatment.

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Production of elastin-like recombinamer-based nanoparticles for docetaxel encapsulation and use as smart drug-delivery systems using a supercritical anti-solvent process

This study presents a new groundbreaking methodology for integrating innovative concepts todevelop novel drug-delivery strategies. This methodology combines genetically engineered elastin-likerecombinamers (ELRs) with supercritical fluid (SCF) techniques to encapsulate a poorly water-solubledrug in a one-step process. The chemotherapeutic agent docetaxel (DTX) is encapsulated with a blockcopolymer ELR containing the RGD peptide, a specific target sequence for cancer cells, using thesupercritical anti-solvent (SAS) technique in a high process yield of up to 70%. SEM studies showspherical microparticles of 10 mm after encapsulation. After dispersion under physiological conditions,microparticles disaggregate into stable monodisperse nanoparticles of 40 nm size and 30 mVz-potential. This protects the drug, as confirmed by NMR analysis, thereby increasing the watersolubility of DTX up to fifty orders of magnitude. The delivery process is governed by the Fick diffusionmechanism and indicates that the presence of DTX on the particles surface is practically negligible.Cellular assays showed that, due to the presence of the cancer target sequence RGD, breast cancer cellswere more affected than human endothelial cells, thus meaning that the strategy developed in thiswork opens the way to new controlled release systems more precise than non-selectivechemotherapeutic drugs.

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A new acetylated triterpene saponin from Agrostemma githago L. modulates gene delivery efficiently and shows a high cellular tolerance

Transfection is the process to deliver nucleic acid into eukaryotic cells. Different transfection techniques already exist. However, they can be expensive and toxic toward subjected cells. Previous research shed light on natural occurring molecules called triterpene saponins that have great potential for the non-viral gene delivery. Using a combination of different chromatographic techniques and in vitro transfection bioassays, a new triterpenoid saponin (agrostemmoside E) from the plant Agrostemma githago L. was isolated. Agrostemmoside E was characterized by mass spectrometry, intense NMR spectroscopy and was identified as 3-{O-ß-D-Galactopyranosyl-(1→2)]-[ß-D-xylopyranosyl-(1→3)]-ß-D-glucuronopyranosyl} quillaic acid 28-O-{[ß-D-4,6-di-(O-acetyl)-glucopyranosyl-(1→3)]-[ß-D-xylopyranosyl-(1→4)]-α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1→2)}-[3,4-di-(O-acetyl)-ß-D-quinovopyranosyl-(1→4)]-ß-D-fucopyranoside ester. Agrostemmoside E has a great potential for delivery of gene loaded nanoplexes and increased the transfection efficiency by 70% compared to 2% without agrostemmoside E. By comparative toxicity studies, we show that agrostemmoside E can be applied at high concentrations without toxicity, justifying its use as a new tool for gene transfections.

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High-content imaging to phenotype human primary and iPSC-derived cells

Increasingly powerful microscopy, liquid handling, and computational techniques have enabled cell imaging in high throughput. Microscopy images are quantified using high-content analysis platforms linking object features to cell behavior. This can be attempted on physiologically relevant cell models, including stem cells and primary cells, in complex environments, and conceivably in the presence of perturbations. Recently, substantial focus has been devoted to cell profiling for cell therapy, assays for drug discovery or biomarker identification for clinical decision-making protocols, bringing this wealth of information into translational applications. In this chapter, we focus on two protocols enabling to (1) benchmark human cells, in particular human endothelial cells as a case study and (2) extract cells from blood for follow-up experiments including image-based drug testing. We also present concepts of high-content imaging and discuss the benefits and challenges, with the aim of enabling readers to tailor existing pipelines and bring such approaches closer to translational research and the clinic.

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Verbascoside-rich Abeliophyllum distichum Nakai leaf extracts prevents LPS-induced preterm birth through inhibiting the expression of proinflammatory cytokines from macrophages and cell death of trophoblasts induced by TNF-α

Background: Preterm birth is a known leading cause of neonatal mortality and morbidity. The underlying causes of pregnancy-associated complications are numerous, but infection and inflammation are the essential high-risk factors. However, there are no safe and effective preventive drugs that can be applied to pregnant women. Objective: The objectives of the study were to investigate a natural product, Abeliophyllum distichum leaf (ADL) extract, to examine the possibility of preventing preterm birth caused by inflammation. Methods: We used a mouse preterm birth model by intraperitoneally injecting lipopolysaccharides (LPS). ELISA, Western blot, real-time PCR and immunofluorescence staining analyses were performed to confirm the anti-inflammatory efficacy and related mechanisms of the ADL extracts. Cytotoxicity and cell death were measured using Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK-8) analysis and flow cytometer. Results: A daily administration of ADL extract significantly reduced preterm birth, fetal loss, and fetal growth restriction after an intraperitoneal injection of LPS in mice. The ADL extract prevented the LPS-induced expression of TNF-α in maternal serum and amniotic fluid and attenuated the LPS-induced upregulation of placental proinflammatory genes, including IL-1β, IL-6, IL-12p40, and TNF-α and the chemokine gene CXCL-1, CCL-2, CCL3, and CCL-4. LPS-treated THP-1 cell-conditioned medium accelerated trophoblast cell death, and TNF-α played an essential role in this effect. The ADL extract reduced LPS-treated THP-1 cell-conditioned medium-induced trophoblast cell death by inhibiting MAPKs and the NF-κB pathway in macrophages. ADL extract prevented exogenous TNF-α-induced increased trophoblast cell death and decreased cell viability. Conclusions: We have demonstrated that the inhibition of LPS-induced inflammation by ADL extract can prevent preterm birth, fetal loss, and fetal growth restriction.

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A practical toolkit to study the aspects of the metastatic cascade in vitro

While metastasis – the spread of cancer from the primary location to distant sites in the body – remains the principle cause of cancer death, it is incompletely understood. It is a complex process, requiring the metastati-cally successful cancer cell to negotiate a formidable series of interconnected steps, which are described in this paper. For each step, we review the range of in vitro assays that may be used to study them. We also provide a range of detailed, step-by-step protocols that can be undertaken in most modestly-equipped laboratories, including methods for converting qualitative observations into quantitative data for analysis. Assays include: (1) a gelatin degradation assay to study the ability of endothelial cells to degrade extracellular matrix during tumour angiogenesis; (2) the morphological characterisation of cells undergoing epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) as they acquire motility; (3) a ‘scratch’ or ‘wound-healing’ assay to study cancer cell migration; (4) a transwell assay to study cancer cell invasion through extracellular matrix; and (5) a static adhesion assay to examine cancer cell interactions with, and adhesion to, endothelial monolayers. This toolkit of protocols will enable researchers who are interested in metastasis to begin to focus on defined aspects of the process. It is only by further understanding this complex, fascinating and clinically relevant series of events that we may ultimately devise ways of better treating, or even preventing, cancer metastasis. The assays may also be of more broad interest to researchers interested in studying aspects of cellular behaviour in relation to other developmental and disease processes

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Dicamba elevates concentrations of S-adenosyl methionine but does not induce oxidative stress or alter DNA methylation in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) hepatocytes

Dicamba is a benzoic acid herbicide used to target woody and broadleaf weeds in industrial, domestic, and municipal spheres. Because of its widespread use, dicamba is frequently detected in surface waters near sites of application. However, little is known regarding the effects of dicamba on freshwater fishes. In the present study, primary cultures of hepatocytes from rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) were exposed to either an en-vironmentally relevant (0.22 or 2.2 μg L−1) or supra-environmental (22 μg L−1) concentration of dicamba for 48 h to investigate if oxidative stress is a mechanism of toxicity. mRNA abundances of genes involved in the response to oxidative stress, levels of lipid peroxidation, and concentrations of glutathione and s-adenosyl methionine (SAM) were quantified. Results indicate that dicamba does not induce oxidative stress. However, exposure to 2.2 μg L−1 of dicamba did cause a 5.24-fold increase in concentrations of SAM. To investigate the mechanisms of increased SAM, effects of dicamba on global and genome-wide DNA methylation were quantified. Dicamba did not cause changes to DNA methylation. Overall, dicamba was not acutely toxic to hepatocytes and did not cause oxidative stress or changes in DNA methylation at environmentally relevant concentrations.

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A triterpene lactone from Callistemon citrinus inhibits the PANC-1 human pancreatic cancer cells viability through suppression of unfolded protein response

Human pancreatic tumor cells such as PANC‐1 are known for their ability to tolerate nutrient starvation and thrive under the hypovascular tumor microenvironment, a phenomenon termed as ‘austerity’. A search of agents that preferentially inhibit the cancer cell viability under the starvation condition without toxicity in the nutrient‐rich condition is a promising approach in anticancer drug discovery. In this study, a triterpene lactone, 3β‐hydroxy‐13,28‐epoxyurs‐11‐en‐28‐one (ursenolide), isolated from a Callistemon citrinus extract has shown strong preferential cytotoxicity against PANC‐1 cells under nutrient starvation with PC50 value of 0.4 μm. Ursenolide‐induced rounding of PANC‐1 cell morphology followed by rupture of the cell membrane leading to cell death. In a real‐time cell migration study, ursenolide was found to inhibit PANC‐1 cell migration significantly. Mechanistically, it inhibited GRP78 and GRP94 under the starvation condition suggesting inhibition of unfolded protein response (UPR), an adaptive process of cell survival during starvation. It also inhibited the phosphorylation of the key survival protein Akt and mTOR. Overall results suggested that ursenolide is a potential anticancer agent against pancreatic cancer.

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