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    ABSTRACT: Neuroinflammation plays a main role in neurological deficits in rats with minimal hepatic encephalopathy (MHE) due to portacaval shunt (PCS). Treating PCS rats with SB239063, an inhibitor of MAP-kinase-p38, reduces microglial activation and brain inflammatory markers and restores cognitive and motor function. The translocator protein-(18-kDa) (TSPO) is considered a biomarker of neuroinflammation. TSPO is increased in brain of PCS rats and of cirrhotic patients that died in hepatic coma. Rats with MHE show strong microglial activation in cerebellum and milder in other areas when assessed by MHC-II immunohistochemistry. This work aims were assessing: 1) whether binding of TSPO ligands is selectively increased in cerebellum in PCS rats; 2) whether treatment with SB239063 reduces binding of TSPO ligands in PCS rats; 3) which cell type (microglia, astrocytes) increases TSPO expression. Quantitative autoradiography was used to assess TSPO-selective (3)H-(R)-PK11195 binding to different brain areas. TSPO expression increased differentially in PCS rats, reaching mild expression in striatum or thalamus and very high levels in cerebellum. TSPO was expressed in astrocytes and microglia. Treatment with SB239063 did not reduces (3)[H]-PK11195 binding in PCS rats. SB239063 reduces microglial activation and levels of inflammatory markers, but not binding of TSPO ligands. This indicates that SB239063-induced neuroinflammation reduction in PCS rats is not mediated by effects on TSPO. Also, enhanced TSPO expression is not always associated with cognitive or motor deficits. If enhanced TSPO expression plays a role in mechanisms leading to neurological alterations in MHE, SB239063 would interfere these mechanisms at a later step.
    Metabolic Brain Disease 12/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the study was to assess whether intermittent ethanol administration to adolescent rats activates innate immune response and TLRs signalling causing myelin disruption and long-term cognitive and behavioural deficits. We used a rat model of intermittent binge-like ethanol exposure during adolescence. Binge-like ethanol administration to adolescent rats increased the gene expression of TLR4 and TLR2 in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), as well as inflammatory cytokines TNFα and IL-1β. Up-regulation of TLRs and inflammatory mediators were linked with alterations in the levels of several myelin proteins in the PFC of adolescent rats. These events were associated with previously reported long-term cognitive dysfunctions. Conversely, the same ethanol treatment did not cause significant changes in either inflammatory mediators or myelin changes in the brain of adult rats. Activation of innate immune receptors TLRs in the PFC appears to be involved in the neuroinflammation and demyelination processes induced by ethanol exposure during adolescence. The findings support the vulnerability of the juvenile brain to the effects of ethanol and the long-term cognitive consequences of binge drinking. In addition, ethanol-induced PFC dysfunctions might underlie the propensity of adolescents for impulsivity and to ignore the negative consequences of their behaviour, both of which could increase the risk of substance abuse.
    Alcohol and Alcoholism 11/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Liver failure affects brain function, leading to neurological and psychiatric alterations; such alterations are referred to as hepatic encephalopathy (HE). Early diagnosis of minimal HE reveals an unexpectedly high incidence of mild cognitive impairment and psychomotor slowing in patients with liver cirrhosis - conditions that have serious health, social and economic consequences. The mechanisms responsible for the neurological alterations in HE are beginning to emerge. New therapeutic strategies acting on specific targets in the brain (phosphodiesterase 5, type A GABA receptors, cyclooxygenase and mitogen-activated protein kinase p38) have been shown to restore cognitive and motor function in animal models of chronic HE, and NMDA receptor antagonists have been shown to increase survival in acute liver failure. This article reviews the latest studies aimed at understanding how liver failure affects brain function and potential ways to ameliorate these effects.
    Nature Reviews Neuroscience 10/2013;

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Micron 10/2011; 43(5):589-99.
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Annals of Neurology 03/2004; 55(2):164-73.
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