Exploring the Role of Drug Repurposing in Bridging the Hypoxia–Depression Connection

Publication: Membranes
Software: ADMET Predictor®
Therapeutic Areas: CNS


High levels of oxidative stress are implicated in hypoxia, a physiological response to low levels of oxygen. Evidence supports a connection between this response and depression. Previous studies indicate that tryptophan hydroxylase can be negatively affected in hypoxia, impairing serotonin synthesis and downstream pathways. Some studies also hypothesize that increasing hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) levels may be a new therapeutic modality for depression. Hence, this study delved into the influence of hypoxia on the cellular response to drugs designed to act in depression. By the induction of hypoxia in SH-SY5Y cells through a hypoxia incubator chamber or Cobalt Chloride treatment, the effect of Mirtazapine, an antidepressant, and other drugs that interact with serotonin receptors (TCB-2, Dextromethorphan, Ketamine, Quetiapine, Scopolamine, Celecoxib, and Lamotrigine) on SH-SY5Y cellular viability and morphology was explored. The selection of drugs was initially conducted by literature search, focusing on compounds with established potential for employment in depression therapy. Subsequently, we employed in silico approaches to forecast their ability to traverse the blood–brain barrier (BBB). This step was particularly pertinent as we aimed to assess their viability for inducing potential antidepressant effects. The effect of these drugs in hypoxia under the inhibition of HIF-1 by Echinomycin was also tested. Our results revealed that all the potential repurposed drugs promoted cell viability, especially when hypoxia was chemically induced. When combined with Echinomycin, all drugs decreased cellular viability, possibly by the inability to interact with HIF-1.

By Ana Salomé Correia, Lara Marques, Armando Cardoso, and Nuno Vale