Activation of HIF-1α and Nrf2 is a primary component of cellular response to oxidative stress, and activation of HIF-1α and Nrf2 provides neuroprotection in models of neurodegenerative disorders, including ischemic stroke, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Screening a library of CNS-targeted drugs using novel reporters for HIF-1α and Nrf2 elevation in neuronal cells revealed histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors as potential activators of these pathways. We report the identification of phenylhydroxamates as single agents exhibiting tripartite inhibition of HDAC6, inhibition of HIF-1 prolyl hydroxylase (PHD), and activation of Nrf2. Two superior tripartite agents, ING-6 and ING-66, showed neuroprotection against various cellular insults, associated with stabilization of both Nrf2 and HIF-1, and expression of their respective target genes in vitro and in vivo. Discovery of the innate ability of phenylhydroxamate HDAC inhibitors to activate Nrf2 and HIF provides a novel route to multifunctional neuroprotective agents and cautions against HDAC6 selective inhibitors as chemical probes of specific HDAC isoform function.
Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (NNRs) of the α7 subtype have been shown to contribute to the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. The site of action and the underlying mechanism, however, are unclear. Here we applied a circuit modeling approach, supported by electrochemical in vivo recordings, to clarify this issue. Modeling revealed two potential mechanisms for the drop in accumbal dopamine efflux evoked by the selective α7 partial agonist TC-7020. TC-7020 could desensitize α7 NNRs located predominantly on dopamine neurons or glutamatergic afferents to them or, alternatively, activate α7 NNRs located on the glutamatergic afferents to GABAergic interneurons in the ventral tegmental area. Only the model based on desensitization, however, was able to explain the neutralizing effect of coapplied PNU-120596, a positive allosteric modulator. According to our results, the most likely sites of action are the preterminal α7 NNRs controlling glutamate release from cortical afferents to the nucleus accumbens. These findings offer a rationale for the further investigation of α7 NNR agonists as therapy for diseases associated with enhanced mesolimbic dopaminergic tone, such as schizophrenia and addiction.