The overall goals of this project are to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying our recent discovery that serotonin 5-HT2A receptor activation super-potently inhibits TNFa-mediated inflammatory pathways, and to translate our findings to an animal model as a potential novel therapeutic approach to treat and/or prevent diseases like atherosclerosis that involve TNFa-mediated inflammation. TNF- a-mediated inflammatory pathways have been strongly implicated in a number of diseases including atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, type II diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease, and septicemia. Significantly, TNF-a and other cytokine induced inflammatory pathways also have been linked to psychiatric conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder, as well as schizophrenia, and neurodegenerative diseases. As such, inhibitors of TNF-a pro-inflammatory pathways represent potential therapeutics for each of these conditions. Currently, the only available therapeutic inhibitors of TNF-a pathways are monoclonal antibodies against TNF-a (infliximab and adalimumab) and soluble TNF-a receptor (etanercept), and the development of small molecules for this purpose is highly desirable. We have recently discovered that activation of 5-HT2A receptors in cardiovascular tissues including primary aortic smooth muscle, aortic endothelial, and macrophage cells by (R)-DOI, and likely additional 5-HT2A receptor agonists, represents a novel, and extraordinarily potent, therapeutic avenue to develop for the treatment of diseases and disorders involving TNF-a-mediated inflammation. Significantly, pro-inflammatory marker blockade occurs with IC50 drug levels of 10-20 picomolar. With the exception of a few natural toxins no current drugs or small molecule therapeutics demonstrate a comparable potency for any physiological effect. The experiments described in this proposal will elucidate the molecular signaling pathways linking activation of 5-HT2A receptors to inhibition of TNF- a-mediated pro-inflammatory process using molecular and biochemical approaches in primary cell culture experiments. Importantly, we will also perform translational studies in rodents to explore the anti-inflammatory effects of (R)-DOI in vivo. Results from these studies may lead to potential therapeutic strategies to not only prevent, but also treat existing pathological conditions like atherosclerosis via 5-HT2A receptor stimulation.

Public Health Relevance

Atherosclerosis and other cytokine-mediated inflammatory diseases like arthritis affect large percentages of Americans at a cost of over $100 billion to the US economy per year. New therapies and approaches to treating these conditions are urgently needed. Here, we propose experiments to develop an exciting and novel potential therapeutic avenue to treat diseases like atherosclerosis by elucidating the mechanism of action underlying our recent discovery that super-potent activation of specific serotonin receptors leads to blockade of cytokine mediated inflammation, and translating these findings to the whole animal.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-VH-F (90))
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Kirby, Ruth
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Louisiana State Univ Hsc New Orleans
Schools of Medicine
New Orleans
United States
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Nau Jr, Felix; Miller, Justin; Saravia, Jordy et al. (2015) Serotonin 5-HT? receptor activation prevents allergic asthma in a mouse model. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 308:L191-8
Nau Jr, Felix; Yu, Bangning; Martin, David et al. (2013) Serotonin 5-HT2A receptor activation blocks TNF-? mediated inflammation in vivo. PLoS One 8:e75426