About this Research Topic
Transport systems are hydrophobic proteins localized in cell membranes. The concerted activity of transporters with different substrate specificity is crucial for the maintenance of solute homeostasis and metabolic pathways in cells and tissues, by mediating the uptake, efflux and intracellular sequestration of nutrients and metabolites. Furthermore, membrane transporters are capable of interacting with xenobiotics. These molecules may have structures that mimic substrates or adapt to alternative binding sites. Indeed, in some cases, xenobiotics can form covalent bonds with reactive amino acid residues of transporters, such as cysteine residues. This interaction is particularly important, as the membrane transporters are located at the boundary between the outside and the inside of the body. Numerous studies have shown the causal link or the association between membrane transporter expression and function and pathological conditions such as primary carnitine deficiency, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic syndrome, neurological disorders, and cancer.
Natural compounds that can be efficiently delivered in supraphysiological concentrations into cells expressing the related transporter, to prevent and/or treat the progression of numerous diseases, showing minimal, if any side effect, are known as Nutraceuticals. A paradigmatic example of the potential impact of Nutraceuticals on public health is that of folate supplementation, which represents the most effective approach to help prevent newborn's neural tube defects, such as anencephaly and spina bifida, and a seemingly valid approach also to facilitate the degradation of homocysteine, a non-proteogenic amino acid linked to cardiovascular and Alzheimer's diseases. In some instances, nutraceuticals exert their effect by modulating the expression and/or activity of numerous transporters present on cell and/or organelle membranes that have been linked to metabolic (e.g. NAFLD), degenerative (e.g. Alzheimer's) and genetic (e.g. cancer) disorders. For example, inhibition of the glutamine transporters by natural compounds, such as delta-tocotrienol, is known to block cell proliferation and induce apoptosis. Rigorous, in vivo and in vitro studies on the interactions(s) between membrane transporters and nutraceuticals could expand our knowledge on the etiopathogenesis of various diseases and metabolic disorders, with important preventive and therapeutic ramifications.
The present Research Topic aims to raise the awareness of the scientific community about the potential of Nutraceuticals, with a focus on the interaction between natural compounds and membrane transport systems in health and disease. The collection welcomes original articles and review articles dealing with the effect of Nutraceuticals on the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of membrane transporters and the biochemical interaction between transporters and known or novel natural compounds, and the physiological, pharmacological and toxicological ramifications thereof.
Important note: All manuscripts submitted through the section Experimental Pharmacology and Drug Discovery will need to follow the Guidelines for the conception/peer-review of submissions of this Section. Studies carried out with crude extracts/multiherbal preparations or Original Research based solely on in silico techniques will not be considered for review.
Keywords: Membrane transporter, Nutraceuticals, Molecular mechanism, Pathophysiology, Human health
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