Shortened Spadin Analogs Display Better TREK-1 Inhibition, In Vivo Stability and Antidepressant Activity

Front Pharmacol. 2017 Sep 12:8:643. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2017.00643. eCollection 2017.


Depression is a devastating mental disorder that affects 20% of the population worldwide. Despite their proven efficacy, antidepressants present a delayed onset of action and serious adverse effects. Seven years ago, we described spadin (PE 12-28) as a promising endogenous peptide with antidepressant activity. Spadin specifically blocks the TREK-1 channel. Previously, we showed in vivo that, spadin activity disappeared beyond 7 h after administration. In order to improve in vivo spadin stability and bioavailability, we screened spadin analogs and derivatives. From the study of spadin blood degradation products, we designed a 7 amino-acid peptide, PE 22-28. In vitro studies on hTREK-1/HEK cells by using patch-clamp technique, showed that PE 22-28 displayed a better specificity and affinity for TREK-1 channel compared to spadin, IC50 of 0.12 nM vs. 40-60 nM for spadin. In the same conditions, we also pointed out that different modifications of its N or C-terminal ends maintained or abolished TREK-1 channel activity without affecting PE 22-28 affinity. In vivo, the antidepressant properties of PE 22-28 and its derivatives were demonstrated in behavioral models of depression, such as the forced swimming test. Mice treated with spadin-analogs showed a significant reduction of the immobility time. Moreover, in the novelty suppressed feeding test after a 4-day sub-chronic treatment PE 22-28 reduced significantly the latency to eat the food pellet. PE 22-28 and its analogs were able to induce neurogenesis after only a 4-day treatment with a prominent effect of the G/A-PE 22-28. On mouse cortical neurons, PE 22-28 and its derivatives enhanced synaptogenesis measured by the increase of PSD-95 expression level. Finally, the action duration of PE 22-28 and its analogs was largely improved in comparison with that of spadin, up to 23 h instead of 7 h. Taken together, our results demonstrated that PE 22-28 and its derivatives represent other promising molecules that could be an alternative to spadin in the treatment of depression.

Keywords: PE 22-28; TREK-1 channel; antidepressant; neurogenesis; spadin-analogs; synaptogenesis.