Mitigation of nitrogen mustard mediated skin injury by a novel indomethacin bifunctional prodrug

Gabriella M. Composto, Jeffrey D. Laskin, Debra L. Laskin, Donald R. Gerecke, Robert P. Casillas, Ned D. Heindel, Laurie B. Joseph, Diane E. Heck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Nitrogen mustard (NM) is a bifunctional alkylating agent that is highly reactive in the skin causing extensive tissue damage and blistering. In the present studies, a modified cutaneous murine patch model was developed to characterize NM-induced injury and to evaluate the efficacy of an indomethacin pro-drug in mitigating toxicity. NM (20 μmol) or vehicle control was applied onto 6 mm glass microfiber filters affixed to the shaved dorsal skin of CD-1 mice for 6 min. This resulted in absorption of approximately 4 μmol of NM. NM caused localized skin damage within 1 d, progressing to an eschar within 2-3 d, followed by wound healing after 4-5 d. NM-induced injury was associated with increases in skin thickness, inflammatory cell infiltration, reduced numbers of sebocytes, basal keratinocyte double stranded DNA breaks, as measured by phospho-histone 2A.X expression, mast cell degranulation and increases in inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). Wound healing was characterized by epidermal hyperplasia and marked increases in basal cells expressing proliferating cell nuclear antigen. A novel indomethacin-anticholinergic prodrug (4338) designed to target cyclooxygenases and acetylcholinesterase (AChE), was found to markedly suppress NM toxicity, decreasing wound thickness and eschar formation. The prodrug also inhibited mast cell degranulation, suppressed keratinocyte expression of iNOS and COX-2, as well as markers of epidermal proliferation. These findings indicate that a novel bifunctional pro-drug is effective in limiting NM mediated dermal injury. Moreover, our newly developed cutaneous patch model is a sensitive and reproducible method to assess the mechanism of action of countermeasures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)522-531
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental and Molecular Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


  • Anti-cholinergic
  • Countermeasures
  • Epidermis
  • Sulfur mustard
  • Vesicants


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