The discovery of novel biomarkers has emerged as a critical need for therapeutic development in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). For some subsets of ALS, such as the genetic superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) form, exciting new treatment strategies, such as antisense oligonucleotide–mediated (ASO-mediated) SOD1 silencing, are being tested in clinical trials, so the identification of pharmacodynamic biomarkers for therapeutic monitoring is essential. We identify increased levels of a 7–amino acid endogenous peptide of SOD1 in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of human SOD1 mutation carriers but not in other neurological cases or nondiseased controls. Levels of peptide elevation vary based on the specific SOD1 mutation (ranging from 1.1-fold greater than control in D90A to nearly 30-fold greater in V148G) and correlate with previously published measurements of SOD1 stability. Using a mass spectrometry–based method (liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry), we quantified peptides in both extracellular samples (CSF) and intracellular samples (spinal cord from rat) to demonstrate that the peptide distinguishes mutation-specific differences in intracellular SOD1 degradation. Furthermore, 80% and 63% reductions of the peptide were measured in SOD1G93A and SOD1H46R rat CSF samples, respectively, following treatment with ASO, with an improved correlation to mRNA levels in spinal cords compared with the ELISA measuring intact SOD1 protein. These data demonstrate the potential of this peptide as a pharmacodynamic biomarker.
Ilya Gertsman, Joanne Wuu, Melissa McAlonis-Downes, Majid Ghassemian, Karen Ling, Frank Rigo, Frank Bennett, Michael Benatar, Timothy M. Miller, Sandrine Da Cruz
Copy number increase or decrease of certain dosage-sensitive genes may cause genetic diseases with distinct phenotypes, conceptually termed genomic disorders. The most common cause of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD), an X-linked hypomyelinating leukodystrophy, is genomic duplication encompassing the entire proteolipid protein 1 (PLP1) gene. Although the exact molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying PLP1 duplication, which causes severe hypomyelination in the central nervous system, remain largely elusive, PLP1 overexpression is likely the fundamental cause of this devastating disease. Here, we investigated if adeno-associated virus–mediated (AAV-mediated) gene-specific suppression may serve as a potential cure for PMD by correcting quantitative aberrations in gene products. We developed an oligodendrocyte-specific Plp1 gene suppression therapy using artificial microRNA under the control of human CNP promoter in a self-complementary AAV (scAAV) platform. A single direct brain injection achieved widespread oligodendrocyte-specific Plp1 suppression in the white matter of WT mice. AAV treatment in Plp1-transgenic mice, a PLP1 duplication model, ameliorated cytoplasmic accumulation of Plp1, preserved mature oligodendrocytes from degradation, restored myelin structure and gene expression, and improved survival and neurological phenotypes. Together, our results provide evidence that AAV-mediated gene suppression therapy can serve as a potential cure for PMD resulting from PLP1 duplication and possibly for other genomic disorders.
Heng Li, Hironori Okada, Sadafumi Suzuki, Kazuhisa Sakai, Hitomi Izumi, Yukiko Matsushima, Noritaka Ichinohe, Yu-ichi Goto, Takashi Okada, Ken Inoue
Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide–gated (HCN) channels are dually gated channels that are operated by voltage and by neurotransmitters via the cAMP system. cAMP-dependent HCN regulation has been proposed to play a key role in regulating circuit behavior in the thalamus. By analyzing a knockin mouse model (HCN2EA), in which binding of cAMP to HCN2 was abolished by 2 amino acid exchanges (R591E, T592A), we found that cAMP gating of HCN2 is essential for regulating the transition between the burst and tonic modes of firing in thalamic dorsal-lateral geniculate (dLGN) and ventrobasal (VB) nuclei. HCN2EA mice display impaired visual learning, generalized seizures of thalamic origin, and altered NREM sleep properties. VB-specific deletion of HCN2, but not of HCN4, also induced these generalized seizures of the absence type, corroborating a key role of HCN2 in this particular nucleus for controlling consciousness. Together, our data define distinct pathological phenotypes resulting from the loss of cAMP-mediated gating of a neuronal HCN channel.
Verena Hammelmann, Marc Sebastian Stieglitz, Henrik Hülle, Karim Le Meur, Jennifer Kass, Manuela Brümmer, Christian Gruner, René Dominik Rötzer, Stefanie Fenske, Jana Hartmann, Benedikt Zott, Anita Lüthi, Saskia Spahn, Markus Moser, Dirk Isbrandt, Andreas Ludwig, Arthur Konnerth, Christian Wahl-Schott, Martin Biel
Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) triggers an acute-phase response that leads to systemic inflammation and rapid mobilization of bone marrow (BM) neutrophils into the blood. These mobilized neutrophils then accumulate in visceral organs and the injured spinal cord where they cause inflammatory tissue damage. The receptor for complement activation product 3a, C3aR1, has been implicated in negatively regulating the BM neutrophil response to tissue injury. However, the mechanism via which C3aR1 controls BM neutrophil mobilization, and also its influence over SCI outcomes, are unknown. Here, we show that the C3a/C3aR1 axis exerts neuroprotection in SCI by acting as a physiological antagonist against neutrophil chemotactic signals. We show that C3aR1 engages phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), a negative regulator of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT pathway, to restrain C-X-C chemokine receptor type 2–driven BM neutrophil mobilization following trauma. These findings are of direct clinical significance as lower circulating neutrophil numbers at presentation were identified as a marker for improved recovery in human SCI. Our work thus identifies C3aR1 and its downstream intermediary, PTEN, as therapeutic targets to broadly inhibit neutrophil mobilization/recruitment following tissue injury and reduce inflammatory pathology.
Faith H. Brennan, Trisha Jogia, Ellen R. Gillespie, Linda V. Blomster, Xaria X. Li, Bianca Nowlan, Gail M. Williams, Esther Jacobson, Geoff W. Osborne, Frederic A. Meunier, Stephen M. Taylor, Kate E. Campbell, Kelli P.A. MacDonald, Jean-Pierre Levesque, Trent M. Woodruff, Marc J. Ruitenberg
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) causes cortical dysfunction and can lead to post-traumatic epilepsy. Multiple studies demonstrate that GABAergic inhibitory network function is compromised following TBI, which may contribute to hyperexcitability and motor, behavioral, and cognitive deficits. Preserving the function of GABAergic interneurons, therefore, is a rational therapeutic strategy to preserve cortical function after TBI and prevent long-term clinical complications. Here, we explored an approach based on the ketogenic diet, a neuroprotective and anticonvulsant dietary therapy which results in reduced glycolysis and increased ketosis. Utilizing a pharmacologic inhibitor of glycolysis (2-deoxyglucose, or 2-DG), we found that acute in vitro application of 2-DG decreased the excitability of excitatory neurons, but not inhibitory interneurons, in cortical slices from naïve mice. Employing the controlled cortical impact (CCI) model of TBI in mice, we found that in vitro 2-DG treatment rapidly attenuated epileptiform activity seen in acute cortical slices 3 to 5 weeks after TBI. One week of in vivo 2-DG treatment immediately after TBI prevented the development of epileptiform activity, restored excitatory and inhibitory synaptic activity, and attenuated the loss of parvalbumin-expressing inhibitory interneurons. In summary, 2-DG may have therapeutic potential to restore network function following TBI.
Jenny B. Koenig, David Cantu, Cho S. Low, Mary E. Sommer, Farzad Noubary, Danielle Croker, Michael Whalen, Dong Kong, Chris G. Dulla
BACKGROUND. Cutaneous neurofibromas (cNF) are physically disfiguring, painful, and cause extensive psychologic harm in patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). There is currently no effective medical treatment and surgical procedures are inaccessible to most NF1 patients globally. OBJECTIVE. While research is underway to find an effective medical treatment for cNF, there is an urgent need to develop surgical approach that is accessible to all NF1 patients in the world with the skill set and equipment found in most general medical office settings. Here, we present a robust surgical approach to remove cNF that does not require sterile surgical field, utilizes accessible clinical equipment, and can be performed by any health care providers including family practitioners, and physician assistants. METHODS. In a prospective case-series, patients with NF1 underwent this surgical procedure which removes multiple cutaneous neurofibromas. The Dermatology Life Quality Index was given to subjects before and after the procedure as surrogate for patient satisfaction. RESULTS. 83 tumors were removed throughout the body from twelve individuals. Examination at follow-up visits revealed well-healed scars without infection or adverse events including aberrant scarring. Patient satisfaction with the procedure was high with significant improvements in symptoms, daily activities, leisure, personal relationships, and treatment experience (P = 0.00062). CONCLUSION. This study demonstrates a robust surgical approach to management cutaneous neurofibromas which can be accessed world-wide to individuals with NF1 and performed by a wide-variety of medical specialists with high clinical efficacy and patient satisfaction.
Bahir H. Chamseddin, La’Nette Hernandez, Dezehree Solorzano, Juan Vega, Lu Q. Le
Oligodendrocyte processes wrap axons to form neuroprotective myelin sheaths, and damage to myelin in disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), leads to neurodegeneration and disability. There are currently no approved treatments for MS that stimulate myelin repair. During development, thyroid hormone (TH) promotes myelination through enhancing oligodendrocyte differentiation; however, TH itself is unsuitable as a remyelination therapy due to adverse systemic effects. This problem is overcome with selective TH agonists, sobetirome and a CNS-selective prodrug of sobetirome called Sob-AM2. We show here that TH and sobetirome stimulated remyelination in standard gliotoxin models of demyelination. We then utilized a genetic mouse model of demyelination and remyelination, in which we employed motor function tests, histology, and MRI to demonstrate that chronic treatment with sobetirome or Sob-AM2 leads to significant improvement in both clinical signs and remyelination. In contrast, chronic treatment with TH in this model inhibited the endogenous myelin repair and exacerbated disease. These results support the clinical investigation of selective CNS-penetrating TH agonists, but not TH, for myelin repair.
Meredith D. Hartley, Tania Banerji, Ian J. Tagge, Lisa L. Kirkemo, Priya Chaudhary, Evan Calkins, Danielle Galipeau, Mitra D. Shokat, Margaret J. DeBell, Shelby Van Leuven, Hannah Miller, Gail Marracci, Edvinas Pocius, Tapasree Banerji, Skylar J. Ferrara, J. Matthew Meinig, Ben Emery, Dennis Bourdette, Thomas S. Scanlan
Recently, by utilizing conventional and tamoxifen inducible Bmal1 (Brain and muscle Arnt-like protein 1) knockout mice, we found that delaying the loss of circadian rhythms to adulthood attenuates the impact on general integrity and survival at least under 12h light/12h dark conditions (LD). To understand further the contribution of Bmal1 in post-natal life under conditions of circadian disruption, we subjected inducible knockout mice (KO) and their littermate controls (Ctrl) to forced desynchrony protocols including cycles with non-24h periods, randomized light/dark cycles, and jet lag, and monitored their locomotor activity using radiotelemetry. Under these conditions, control mice cannot be entrained, as reflected by their maintenance of circadian behavior irrespective of schedules. By contrast, KO mice displayed higher activity levels in the dark phases of most cycles. Under a 3h light/3h dark regime, Ctrls displayed higher activity levels in the dark phases of all cycles although there were still obvious circadian rhythms, suggesting that an ultradian mechanism is also involved. Insulin sensitivity was markedly reduced by disrupted light schedules as expected in Ctrls, but not in the KOs. Thus, Bmal1 deletion in adult mice facilitates adaptation to new light/dark schedules and protects from insulin resistance induced by circadian disruption.
Guangrui Yang, Lihong Chen, Jiayang Zhang, Baoyin Ren, Garret A. FitzGerald
The prefrontal cortex controls food reward seeking and ingestion, playing important roles in directing attention, regulating motivation towards reward pursuit, and the assignment of reward salience and value. The cell types that mediate these behavioral functions, however, are not well described. We report here that optogenetic activation of vasoactive peptide expressing (VIP) interneurons in both the infralimbic (IL) and prelimbic (PL) divisions of the medial prefrontal cortex in mice is sufficient to reduce acute, binge-like intake of high calorie palatable food in the absence of any effect on low calorie rodent chow intake in the sated animal. In addition, we discovered that the behavioral mechanisms associated with these changes in feeding differed between animals that underwent either IL or PL VIPergic stimulation. While IL VIP neurons showed the ability to reduce palatable food intake, this effect was dependent upon the novelty and relative value of the food source. In addition, IL VIP neuron activation significantly reduced novel object- and novel social investigative behavior. Activation of PL VIP neurons, however, produced a reduction in high calorie palatable food intake that was independent of food novelty. Neither IL nor PL VIP excitation changed motivation to obtain food reward. Our data show how neurochemically-defined populations of cortical interneurons can regulate specific aspects of food reward-driven behavior, resulting in a selective reduction in intake of highly valued food.
Brandon A. Newmyer, Ciarra M. Whindleton, Peter M. Klein, Mark P. Beenhakker, Marieke K. Jones, Michael M. Scott
Drug refractory epilepsy (RE) is a chronic neurological disease with varied etiology that represents a group of patients whose seizures do not respond to anti-epileptic drugs. The immune system may have a role in seizure and epilepsy development, but the specific mechanisms of inflammation that lead to epileptogenesis and contribute to RE are unknown. Here, we used mass cytometry to comprehensively study the immune system of pediatric patients with RE and compared their immune profile and function with patients with age-matched autoimmune encephalitis (AIE) and healthy controls. Patients with RE and AIE displayed similar immune profiles overall, with changes in CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell subsets and an unbalance toward pro-inflammatory IL-17 production. In addition, patients with RE uniquely showed an altered balance in natural killer cell subsets. A systems level intercellular network analysis identified rewiring of the immune system leading to loss of inhibitory/regulatory intercellular connections and emergence of pro-inflammatory pathogenic functions in neuro-inflammatory immune-cell networks in patients with AIE and RE. These data underscore the contribution of systemic inflammation to the pathogenesis of seizures and epileptogenesis and have direct translational implications in advancing diagnostics and therapeutics design.
Pavanish Kumar, Derrick Wei Shih Chan, Amanda Lim, Bhairav Paleja, Simon Ling, Lai Li Yun, Su Li Poh, Adeline Ngoh, Thaschawee Arkachaisri, Joo Guan Yeo, Salvatore Albani
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