The intracellular sensor NOD1 has important host defense functions relating to a variety of pathogens. In studies antecedent to the present study we showed that this molecule also participated in the induction of a non-infectious pancreatitis via its response to commensal organisms. In particular, we showed first that pancreatitis induced by high-dose cerulein (a cholecystokinin receptor agonist) administration depends on NOD1 stimulation by gut microflora. We then analyzed this NOD1 activity using a model of pancreatitis wherein the latter is induced by the simultaneous administration of low-dose of cerulein (that does not itself induce pancreatitis) and FK156, an activator of NOD1 that mimics the effect of gut bacteria that have breached the mucosal barrier. We found that such """"""""low-dose"""""""" cerulein pancreatitis was dependent on acinar cell production of the chemokine MCP-1 and the intra-pancreatic influx of CCR2+ inflammatory cells. Moreover, we established that MCP-1 production involved activation of the transcription factors NF-κB and STAT3, each requiring complementary NOD1 and cerulein signaling. These studies thus established that gut commensals enable non-infectious pancreatic inflammation via NOD1 signaling in pancreatic acinar cells. In the light of the above studies showing that NOD1 can be a factor in the induction of an inflammatory state (in this case pancreatitis), it became of interest to try to identify inhibitors of NOD1 that could conceivable prevent experimental pancreatitis and thus ultimately find use as an agent that would be use of treatment of NOD1-dependent human inflammatory disease. Recently, Correa et al (Correa RG Chem Biol 2011, 18:825-832)employed high through-put screening of an NIH library containing >300,000 compounds to identify such NOD1 inhibitors using HEK cells containing an NF-kappaB reporter construct. Using this approach, a 2-aminobenzimidazole compound designated Nodinitib-1 (ML130) has been identified as a potent and specific NOD1 inhibitor that acts by disturbing the ability of NOD1 to perform intra-cellular trafficking. It should be noted, however, that such inhibition has only been demonstrated by in vitro testing not in the whole animal. We have entered into an M-CRADA with the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute the sponsors of the above described screening study to obtain ML130 for use in studies of the ability of ML130 to prevent experimental pancreatitis. This M-CRADA is now fully executed and sufficient M130 has been sent to us for appropriate studies. The latter will consist of administration of high dose cerulein or low dose cerulein plus NOD1 ligand together with ML130 to determine if the latter can prevent high dose and low dose cerulein pancreatitis respectively. To facilitate these studies we will utilize mice with permanently implaced intravenous catheters so that we can monitor the effects of ML130 on pancreatitis development by measuring blood levels of amylase and MCP-1 (as well as other cytokines and chemokines).
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