A cannabidiol aminoquinone derivative activates the PP2A/B55α/HIF pathway and shows protective effects in a murine model of traumatic brain injury.

Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is characterized by a primary mechanical injury and a secondary injury associated with neuroinflammation, blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption and neurodegeneration. We have developed a novel cannabidiol aminoquinone derivative, VCE-004.8, which is a dual PPARγ/CB2 agonist that also activates the hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) pathway. VCE-004.8 shows potent antifibrotic, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective activities and it is now in Phase II clinical trials for systemic sclerosis and multiple sclerosis. Herein, we investigated the mechanism of action of VCE-004.8 in the HIF pathway and explored its efficacy in a preclinical model of TBI. Using a phosphoproteomic approach, we investigated the effects of VCE-004.8 on prolyl hydroxylase domain-containing protein 2 (PHD2) posttranslational modifications. The potential role of PP2A/B55α in HIF activation was analyzed using siRNA for B55α. To evaluate the angiogenic response to the treatment with VCE-004.8 we performed a Matrigel plug in vivo assay. Transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER) as well as vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM), and zonula occludens 1 (ZO-1) tight junction protein expression were studied in brain microvascular endothelial cells. The efficacy of VCE-004.8 in vivo was evaluated in a controlled cortical impact (CCI) murine model of TBI. Herein we provide evidence that VCE-004.8 inhibits PHD2 Ser125 phosphorylation and activates HIF through a PP2A/B55α pathway. VCE-004.8 induces angiogenesis in vivo increasing the formation of functional vessel (CD31/α-SMA) and prevents in vitro blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption ameliorating the loss of ZO-1 expression under proinflammatory conditions. In CCI model VCE-004.8 treatment ameliorates early motor deficits after TBI and attenuates cerebral edema preserving BBB integrity. Histopathological analysis revealed that VCE-004.8 treatment induces neovascularization in pericontusional area and prevented immune cell infiltration to the brain parenchyma. In addition, VCE-004.8 attenuates neuroinflammation and reduces neuronal death and apoptosis in the damaged area. This study provides new insight about the mechanism of action of VCE-004.8 regulating the PP2A/B55α/PHD2/HIF pathway. Furthermore, we show the potential efficacy for TBI treatment by preventing BBB disruption, enhancing angiogenesis, and ameliorating neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration after brain injury.
DeCS Terms
CIE Terms
Brain–blood barrier, Hypoxia-inducible factor, Neuroprotection, Prolyl-hydroxylases, Protein phosphatase 2A, Traumatic brain injury