Determination of tissue levels of a neuroprotectant drug: The cell permeable JNK inhibitor peptide

Enrico Davoli, Alessandra Sclip, Matteo Cecchi, Sara Cimini, Andrea Carrà, Mario Salmona, Tiziana Borsello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Introduction: Cell permeable peptides (CPPs) represent a novel tool for the delivery of bioactive molecules into scarcely accessible organs, such as the brain. CPPs have been successfully used in pre-clinical studies for a variety of diseases, ranging from cancer to neurological disorders. However, the mechanisms by which CPPs cross biological membranes, as well as their pharmacokinetic properties, have been poorly explored due to the lack of specific and sensitive analytical methods. Methods: In this paper we describe a protocol to quantitatively determine the amount of CPPs in in vitro and in vivo experimental models. To this end we selected the peptide D-JNKI1 that was shown to prevent neurodegeneration in both acute and chronic degenerative disorders. This method allows an accurate quantitative analysis of D-JNKI1 in both neuronal lysates and tissue homogenates using mass spectrometry and stable isotope dilution approach. Results: We found that D-JNKI1 crosses cellular membranes with fast kinetics, through an active and passive mechanism. After acute intraperitoneal (ip) administration of D-JNKI1 in mice, the peptide was found in the main organs with particular regard to the liver and kidney. Interestingly, D-JNKI1 crosses the blood brain barrier (BBB) and reaches the brain, where it remains for one week. Discussion: The challenge lies in developing the clinical application of therapeutic cell permeable peptides. Discerning pharmacokinetic properties is a high priority to produce a powerful therapeutic strategy. Overall, our data shed light on the pharmacokinetic properties of D-JNKI1 and supports its powerful neuroprotective effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-61
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by CARIPLO Foundation ( N.2009-2425 ) (Cassa di risparmio delle provincie Lombarde) and Foundation 2009–2425, ADDF (Alzheimer's Drugs Discovery Foundation).


  • Cell permeable peptide
  • D-JNKI1
  • In vivo sensitive analytic method
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Neurons
  • Pharmacokinetics


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