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  1. Agarwal R, Mohd Ismail N
    Introduction: The study attempts to evaluate the students’ perception of pharmacology as a
    subject, its usefulness in future practice, teaching methods currently used, and their patterns of
    learning and preparing for exams. Methods: A structured, self-administered questionnaire was
    distributed to second year medical students. Results: Of the 125 students who participated,
    22.73 % considered pharmacology more important than any other subject. The students found
    small group sessions most interesting followed by directed self-learning, computer aided
    learning and lectures. Of those who responded, 79 and 66 % suggested to increase the small
    group and directed-self-learning sessions respectively. Up to 40 % of the students felt that
    pharmacology teaching must be through case-based discussions and 20 % requested for more
    practical sessions. Conclusions: It appears that majority of students entering the medical
    schools has little prior knowledge of pharmacology. While going through the preclinical years
    they understood the importance of pharmacology and its application in future practice,
    however, they tend to develop interest in one or other topics. Students prefer to have a greater
    number of small group sessions as they feel that these sessions are most useful for learning.
    Majority of the students tend to use both the textbooks and lecture notes and study regularly
    for better performance in examinations. The students also preferred to have more case-based
    learning sessions incorporated into the small group sessions.
    KEYWORDS: Pharmacology teaching, student perception, teaching methodologies
  2. Agarwal R, Daher AM, Mohd Ismail N
    Malays J Med Sci, 2013 Mar;20(2):52-61.
    PMID: 23983578 MyJurnal
    The study aimed to determine current status of knowledge, practices, and attitudes towards adverse drug reaction (ADR) reporting among private practitioners in Klang region of Malaysia.
  3. Mohd Fahami NA, Ibrahim IA, Kamisah Y, Mohd Ismail N
    BMC Gastroenterol, 2012;12:54.
    PMID: 22639913 DOI: 10.1186/1471-230X-12-54
    This study examined the effects of Palm vitamin E (PVE) and α-tocopherol (α-TF) supplementations on adrenalin, noradrenalin, xanthine oxidase plus dehydrogenase (XO + XD) activities and gastric lesions in rats exposed to water-immersion restraint stress (WIRS).
  4. Agarwal R, Krasilnikova AV, Raja IS, Agarwal P, Mohd Ismail N
    Eur J Pharmacol, 2014 May 5;730:8-13.
    PMID: 24583339 DOI: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2014.02.021
    Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) have been shown to lower intraocular pressure (IOP). Since, the ACEIs cause increased tissue prostaglandin levels, we hypothesized that the mechanisms of ACEI-induced IOP reduction have similarity with those of prostaglandin analogs. The present study investigated the involvement of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and cytokine activity modulation as the underlying mechanisms of ACEI-induced ocular hypotension. The IOP lowering effect of single drop of enalaprilat dehydrate 1% was evaluated in rats pretreated with a broad spectrum MMP inhibitor or a cytokine inhibitor. Effect of angiotensin receptor blocker, losartan potassium 2%, was also studied to evaluate involvement of angiotensin II receptor type 1 (AT1) in IOP lowering effect of ACEI. Topical treatment with single drop of enalaprilat resulted in significant IOP reduction in treated eye with mean peak reduction 20.3% at 3h post-instillation. Treatment with losartan resulted in a peak IOP reduction of 13.3%, which was significantly lower than enalaprilat, indicating involvement of mechanisms in addition to AT1 blockade. Pretreatment with a broad spectrum MMP inhibitor or a cytokine inhibitor significantly attenuated the enalprilat-induced IOP reduction with mean peak IOP reduction of 11.2% and 13.6% respectively. The IOP-lowering effect of enalaprilat seems to be attributed to reduced angiotensin II type 1 receptor stimulation and modulation of MMP and cytokines activities.
  5. Nor Arfuzir NN, Agarwal R, Iezhitsa I, Agarwal P, Sidek S, Spasov A, et al.
    Curr. Eye Res., 2018 08;43(8):1032-1040.
    PMID: 29676937 DOI: 10.1080/02713683.2018.1467933
    PURPOSE: Retinal ganglion cell apoptosis in glaucoma is associated with elevated levels of endothelin-1 (ET1), a potent vasoconstrictor. ET1-induced retinal ischemia leads to altered expression of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms leading to increased formation of nitric oxide (NO) and retinal nitrosative stress. Since magnesium (Mg) is known to improve endothelial functions and reduce oxidative stress and taurine (TAU) possesses potent antioxidant properties, we investigated the protective effects of magnesium acetyltaurate (MgAT) against ET1-induced nitrosative stress and retinal damage in rats. We also compared the effects of MgAT with that of TAU alone.

    METHODS: Sprague Dawley rats were intravitreally injected with ET1. MgAT and TAU were administered as pre-, co-, or posttreatment. Subsequently, the expression of NOS isoforms was detected in retina by immunohistochemistry, retinal nitrotyrosine level was estimated using ELISA, and retinal cell apoptosis was detected by TUNEL staining.

    RESULTS: Intravitreal ET1 caused a significant increase in the expressions of nNOS and iNOS while eNOS expression was significantly reduced compared to vehicle treated group. Administration of both MgAT and TAU restored the altered levels of NOS isoform expression, reduced retinal nitrosative stress and retinal cell apoptosis. The effect of MgAT, however, was greater than that of TAU alone.

    CONCLUSIONS: MgAT and TAU prevent ET1-induced retinal cell apoptosis by reducing retinal nitrosative stress in Sprague Dawley rats. Addition of TAU to Mg seems to enhance the efficacy of TAU compared to when given alone. Moreover, the pretreatment with MgAT/TAU showed higher efficacy compared to co- or posttreatment.

  6. Marcus AJ, Iezhitsa I, Agarwal R, Vassiliev P, Spasov A, Zhukovskaya O, et al.
    Data Brief, 2018 Jun;18:523-554.
    PMID: 29896529 DOI: 10.1016/j.dib.2018.03.019
    This data is to document the intraocular pressure (IOP) lowering activity of imidazo[1,2-a]benzimidazole and pyrimido[1,2-a]benzimidazole compounds in ocular normotensive rats. Effects of single drop application of imidazo[1,2-a]benzimidazole and pyrimido[1,2-a]benzimidazole compounds on IOP in ocular normotensive rats are presented at 3 different concentrations (0.1%, 0.2% and 0.4%). Time course of changes in IOP is presented over 6 h period post-instillation. The IOP lowering activities of test compounds were determined by assessing maximum decrease in IOP from baseline and corresponding control, duration of IOP lowering and area under curve (AUC) of time versus response curve. Data shown here may serve as benchmarks for other researchers studying IOP-lowering effect of imidazo[1,2-a]benzimidazole and pyrimido[1,2-a]benzimidazole compounds and would be useful in determining therapeutic potential of these test compounds as IOP lowering agents.
  7. Mohd Lazaldin MA, Iezhitsa I, Agarwal R, Bakar NS, Agarwal P, Mohd Ismail N
    Int J Neurosci, 2018 Oct;128(10):952-965.
    PMID: 29488424 DOI: 10.1080/00207454.2018.1446953
    PURPOSE: Amyloid beta (Aβ) is known to contribute to the pathophysiology of retinal neurodegenerative diseases such as glaucoma. Effects of intravitreal Aβ(1-42) on retinal and optic nerve morphology in animal models have widely been studied but not those of Aβ(1-40). Hence, we evaluated the time- and dose-related effects of intravitreal Aβ(1-40) on retinal and optic nerve morphology. Since oxidative stress and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are associated with Aβ-induced neuronal damage, we also studied dose and time-related effects of Aβ(1-40) on retinal oxidative stress and BDNF levels.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: Five groups of rats were intravitreally administered with vehicle or Aβ(1-40) in doses of 1.0, 2.5, 5 and 10 nmol. Animals were sacrificed and eyes were enucleated at weeks 1, 2 and 4 post-injection. The retinae were subjected to morphometric analysis and TUNEL staining. Optic nerve sections were stained with toluidine blue and were graded for neurodegenerative effects. The estimation of BDNF and markers of oxidative stress in retina were done using ELISA technique.

    RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: It was observed that intravitreal Aβ(1-40) causes significant retinal and optic nerve damage up to day 14 post-injection and there was increasing damage with increase in dose. However, on day 30 post-injection both the retinal and optic nerve morphology showed a trend towards normalization. The observations made for retinal cell apoptosis, retinal glutathione, superoxide dismutase activity and BDNF were in accordance with those of morphological changes with deterioration till day 14 and recovery by day 30 post-injection. The findings of this study may provide a guide for selection of appropriate experimental conditions for future studies.

  8. Mohd Lazaldin MA, Iezhitsa I, Agarwal R, Bakar NS, Agarwal P, Mohd Ismail N
    Eur J Neurosci, 2020 06;51(12):2394-2411.
    PMID: 31883161 DOI: 10.1111/ejn.14662
    Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) could be considered a potential neuroprotective therapy in amyloid beta (Aβ)-associated retinal and optic nerve degeneration. Hence, in this study we investigated the neuroprotective effect of BDNF against Aβ1-40-induced retinal and optic nerve injury. In this study, exposure to Aβ1-40 was associated with retinal and optic nerve injury. TUNEL staining showed significant reduction in the apoptotic cell count in the BDNF-treated group compared with Aβ1-40 group. H&E-stained retinal sections also showed a striking reduction in neuronal cells in the ganglion cell layer (GCL) of retinas fourteen days after Aβ1-40 exposure. By contrast, number of retinal cells was preserved in the retinas of BDNF-treated animals. After Aβ1-40 exposure, visible axonal swelling was observed in optic nerve sections. However, the BDNF-treated group showed fewer changes in optic nerve; axonal swelling was less frequent and less marked. In the present study, exposure to Aβ was associated with oxidative stress, whereas levels of retinal glutathione (GSH), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase were significantly increased in BDNF-treated than in Aβ1-40-treated rats. Both visual object recognition tests using an open-field arena and a Morris water maze showed that BDNF improved rats' ability to recognise visual cues (objects with different shapes) after Aβ1-40 exposure, thus demonstrating that the visual performance of rats was relatively preserved following BDNF treatment. In conclusion, intravitreal treatment with BDNF prevents Aβ1-40-induced retinal cell apoptosis and axon loss in the optic nerve of rats by reducing retinal oxidative stress and restoring retinal BDNF levels.
  9. Abdul Nasir NA, Agarwal P, Agarwal R, Iezhitsa I, Alyautdin R, Nukolova NN, et al.
    Drug Deliv, 2016 Oct;23(8):2765-71.
    PMID: 26289215
    Topical administration is the preferred route of drug delivery for ophthalmic ailments. However, poor permeation through ocular surface and significant systemic absorption, makes the topical drug delivery challenging. Furthermore, distribution of topically delivered drugs varies with their physicochemical properties and the type of formulation used. Hence, this study was done to understand the pattern of ocular drug distribution of topically applied hydrophilic and lipophilic substances in two different formulations.
  10. Marcus AJ, Iezhitsa I, Agarwal R, Vassiliev P, Spasov A, Zhukovskaya O, et al.
    Eur J Pharm Sci, 2018 Mar 01;114:245-254.
    PMID: 29274441 DOI: 10.1016/j.ejps.2017.12.015
    In an effort to find new ocular hypotensive drug candidates, a total of 27 condensed benzimidazoles based compounds were screened. This study was done in normotensive rats and rebound tonometry was used to estimate IOP. All compounds were topically applied as a single drop, unilaterally, at 3 different concentrations (0.1%, 0.2% and 0.4%). The contralateral eye was instilled with vehicle and served as control. The IOP reduction was measured up to 6h. It was observed that with a single topical instillation, compounds RU 551, RU 555, RU839 (pyrimido[1,2-a]benzimidazole derivatives), and RU 615 (imidazo[1,2-a]benzimidazole derivative) showed significant IOP lowering activities in ocular normotensive rats. All other compounds showed none, weak and inconsistent IOP lowering effect. The relationship between ability of IOP lowering and hypotensive activities was studied. According to the pharmacophore analysis, the class of pyrimido[1,2-a]benzimidazole is more promising than the class of imidazo[1,2-a]benzimidazole as a source of compounds with high IOP lowering activity. Pharmacophore analysis also showed that the critical features of high IOP lowering activity are methoxyphenyl and [phenyl]alkyl fragments, and non-conjugated six-membered heterocyclic ring.
  11. Agarwal R, Iezhitsa I, Awaludin NA, Ahmad Fisol NF, Bakar NS, Agarwal P, et al.
    Exp Eye Res, 2013 May;110:35-43.
    PMID: 23428743 DOI: 10.1016/j.exer.2013.02.011
    Cataract, a leading cause of blindness, is characterized by lenticular opacities resulting from denaturation of lens proteins due to activation of calcium-dependent enzyme, calpain. Magnesium (Mg(2+)) plays an important role not only in maintaining a low lenticular calcium (Ca(2+)) and sodium concentration but also in preserving the lens redox status. Taurine has also been shown to reduce lenticular oxidative stress. Present study evaluated the anticataract effects of magnesium taurate in vivo and in vitro. Among the five groups of 9 Sprague Dawley rats each, two groups received 30% galactose diet with topical (GDMT) or oral treatment (GDMO) with magnesium taurate. Two groups received 30% galactose diet with topical (GDT) or oral vehicle (GDO). Remaining 1 group received normal diet (ND). Weekly slit lamp examination was done during 21 days experimental period and then all rats were sacrificed; Ca/Mg ratio and antioxidant parameters including reduced glutathione (GSH), catalase and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities were measured in the isolated lenses using ELISA. In the in vitro study, 2 groups of 10 normal rat lenses were incubated in Dulbecco's Modified Eagle's Medium (DMEM) with galactose while 1 similar group was incubated in DMEM without galactose. In one of the groups, galactose containing medium was supplemented with magnesium taurate. After 48 h of incubation, lenses were photographed and Ca(2+)/Mg(2+) ratio and antioxidant parameters were measured as for in vivo study. The in vivo study, at the end of experimental period, demonstrated delay in the development of cataract with a mean opacity index of 0.53 ± 0.04 and 0.51 ± 0.03 in GDMO (p < 0.05 versus GDO) and GDMT (p < 0.01 versus GDT) respectively. Histopathological grading showed a lower mean value in treated groups, however, the differences from corresponding controls were not significant. Lenticular Ca(2+)/Mg(2+) ratio with a mean value of 1.20 ± 0.26 and 1.05 ± 0.26 in GDMO and GDMT was significantly lower than corresponding controls (p < 0.05) and in GDMT no significant difference was observed from ND. Lenticular GSH and catalase activities were significantly lower and SOD activity was significantly higher in all galactose fed groups. However, in GDMT, GSH and catalase were significantly higher than corresponding control with mean values of 0.96 ± 0.30 μmol/gm lens weight and 56.98 ± 9.86 μmol/g lens protein respectively (p < 0.05 for GSH and p < 0.01 for catalase). SOD activity with mean values of 13.05 ± 6.35 and 13.27 ± 7.61 units/mg lens protein in GDMO and GDMT respectively was significantly lower compared to corresponding controls (p < 0.05) signifying lesser upregulation of SOD due to lesser oxidative stress in treated groups. In the in vitro study, lenses incubated in magnesium taurate containing medium showed less opacity and a lower mean Ca(2+)/Mg(2+) ratio of 1.64 ± 0.03, which was not significantly different from lenses incubated in DMEM without galactose. Lens GSH and catalase activities were restored to normal in lenses incubated in magnesium taurate containing medium. Both in vivo and in vitro studies demonstrated that treatment with magnesium taurate delays the onset and progression of cataract in galactose fed rats by restoring the lens Ca(2+)/Mg(2+) ratio and lens redox status.
  12. Arfuzir NN, Lambuk L, Jafri AJ, Agarwal R, Iezhitsa I, Sidek S, et al.
    Neuroscience, 2016 06 14;325:153-64.
    PMID: 27012609 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.03.041
    Vascular dysregulation has long been recognized as an important pathophysiological factor underlying the development of glaucomatous neuropathy. Endothelin-1 (ET1) has been shown to be a key player due to its potent vasoconstrictive properties that result in retinal ischemia and oxidative stress leading to retinal ganglion cell (RGC) apoptosis and optic nerve (ON) damage. In this study we investigated the protective effects of magnesium acetyltaurate (MgAT) against retinal cell apoptosis and ON damage. MgAT was administered intravitreally prior to, along with or after administration of ET1. Seven days post-injection, animals were euthanized and retinae were subjected to morphometric analysis, TUNEL and caspase-3 staining. ON sections were stained with toluidine blue and were graded for neurodegenerative effects. Oxidative stress was also estimated in isolated retinae. Pre-treatment with MgAT significantly lowered ET1-induced retinal cell apoptosis as measured by retinal morphometry and TUNEL staining. This group of animals also showed significantly lesser caspase-3 activation and significantly reduced retinal oxidative stress compared to the animals that received intravitreal injection of only ET1. Additionally, the axonal degeneration in ON was markedly reduced in MgAT pretreated animals. The animals that received MgAT co- or post-treatment with ET1 also showed improvement in all parameters; however, the effects were not as significant as observed in MgAT pretreated animals. The current study showed that the intravitreal pre-treatment with MgAT reduces caspase-3 activation and prevents retinal cell apoptosis and axon loss in ON induced by ET1. This protective effect of ET1 was associated with reduced retinal oxidative stress.
  13. Abdul Nasir NA, Agarwal R, Sheikh Abdul Kadir SH, Vasudevan S, Tripathy M, Iezhitsa I, et al.
    PLoS One, 2017;12(3):e0174542.
    PMID: 28350848 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0174542
    Cataract, a leading cause of blindness, is of special concern in diabetics as it occurs at earlier onset. Polyol accumulation and increased oxidative-nitrosative stress in cataractogenesis are associated with NFκB activation, iNOS expression, ATP depletion, loss of ATPase functions, calpain activation and proteolysis of soluble to insoluble proteins. Tocotrienol was previously shown to reduce lens oxidative stress and inhibit cataractogenesis in galactose-fed rats. In current study, we investigated anticataract effects of topical tocotrienol and possible mechanisms involved in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Diabetes was induced in Sprague Dawley rats by intraperitoneal injection of streptozotocin. Diabetic rats were treated with vehicle (DV) or tocotrienol (DT). A third group consists of normal, non-diabetic rats were treated with vehicle (NV). All treatments were given topically, bilaterally, twice daily for 8 weeks with weekly slit lamp monitoring. Subsequently, rats were euthanized and lenses were subjected to estimation of polyol accumulation, oxidative-nitrosative stress, NFκB activation, iNOS expression, ATP levels, ATPase activities, calpain activity and total protein levels. Cataract progression was delayed from the fifth week onwards in DT with lower mean of cataract stages compared to DV group (p<0.01) despite persistent hyperglycemia. Reduced cataractogenesis in DT group was accompanied with lower aldose reductase activity and sorbitol level compared to DV group (p<0.01). DT group also showed reduced NFκB activation, lower iNOS expression and reduced oxidative-nitrosative stress compared to DV group. Lenticular ATP and ATPase and calpain 2 activities in DT group were restored to normal. Consequently, soluble to insoluble protein ratio in DT group was higher compared to DV (p<0.05). In conclusion, preventive effect of topical tocotrienol on development of cataract in STZ-induced diabetic rats could be attributed to reduced lens aldose reductase activity, polyol levels and oxidative-nitrosative stress. These effects of tocotrienol invlove reduced NFκB activation, lower iNOS expression, restoration of ATP level, ATPase activities, calpain activity and lens protein levels.
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