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    ABSTRACT: Ketamine, a non-competitive NMDA receptor antagonist, induces acute effects resembling the positive, negative and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. Chronic use has been suggested to lead to persistent schizophrenia-like neurobiological changes. This study aims to test the hypothesis that chronic ketamine users have changes in brain neurochemistry and increased subthreshold psychotic symptoms compared to matched poly-drug users. Fifteen ketamine users and 13 poly-drug users were included in the study. Psychopathology was assessed using the Comprehensive Assessment of At-Risk Mental State. Creatine-scaled glutamate (Glu/Cr), glutamate + glutamine (Glu + Gln/Cr) and N-acetyl aspartate (NAA/Cr) were measured in three brain regions-anterior cingulate, left thalamus and left medial temporal cortex using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Chronic ketamine users had higher levels of subthreshold psychotic symptoms (p < 0.005, Cohen's d = 1.48) and lower thalamic NAA/Cr (p < 0.01, d = 1.17) compared to non-users. There were no differences in medial temporal cortex or anterior cingulate NAA/Cr or in Glu/Cr or Glu + Gln/Cr in any brain region between the two groups. In chronic ketamine users, CAARMS severity of abnormal perceptions was directly correlated with anterior cingulate Glu/Cr (p < 0.05, r = 0.61-uncorrected), but NAA/Cr was not related to any measures of psychopathology. The finding of lower thalamic NAA/Cr in chronic ketamine users may be secondary to the effects of ketamine use compared to other drugs of abuse and resembles previous reports in individuals at genetic or clinical risk of schizophrenia.
    Psychopharmacology 11/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Background:Gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (GEP-NETs) are heterogeneous with respect to biological behaviour and prognosis. As angiogenesis is a renowned pathogenic hallmark as well as a therapeutic target, we aimed to investigate the prognostic and clinico-pathological role of tissue markers of hypoxia and angiogenesis in GEP-NETs.Methods:Tissue microarray (TMA) blocks were constructed with 86 tumours diagnosed from 1988 to 2010. Tissue microarray sections were immunostained for hypoxia inducible factor 1α (Hif-1α), vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A), carbonic anhydrase IX (Ca-IX) and somatostatin receptors (SSTR) 1-5, Ki-67 and CD31. Biomarker expression was correlated with clinico-pathological variables and tested for survival prediction using Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression methods.Results:Eighty-six consecutive cases were included: 51% male, median age 51 (range 16-82), 68% presenting with a pancreatic primary, 95% well differentiated, 51% metastatic. Higher grading (P=0.03), advanced stage (P<0.001), high Hif-1α and low SSTR-2 expression (P=0.03) predicted for shorter overall survival (OS) on univariate analyses. Stage, SSTR-2 and Hif-1α expression were confirmed as multivariate predictors of OS. Median OS for patients with SSTR-2+/Hif-1α-tumours was not reached after median follow up of 8.8 years, whereas SSTR-2-/Hif-1α+ GEP-NETs had a median survival of only 4.2 years (P=0.006).Conclusion:We have identified a coherent expression signature by immunohistochemistry that can be used for patient stratification and to optimise treatment decisions in GEP-NETs independently from stage and grading. Tumours with preserved SSTR-2 and low Hif-1α expression have an indolent phenotype and may be offered less aggressive management and less stringent follow up.British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, 14 November 2013; doi:10.1038/bjc.2013.682 www.bjcancer.com.
    British Journal of Cancer 11/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Aphasic deficits are usually only interpreted in terms of domain-specific language processes. However, effective human communication and tests that probe this complex cognitive skill are also dependent on domain-general processes. In the clinical context, it is a pragmatic observation that impaired attention and executive functions interfere with the rehabilitation of aphasia. One system that is important in cognitive control is the salience network, which includes dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and adjacent cortex in the superior frontal gyrus (midline frontal cortex). This functional imaging study assessed domain-general activity in the midline frontal cortex, which was remote from the infarct, in relation to performance on a standard test of spoken language in 16 chronic aphasic patients both before and after a rehabilitation programme. During scanning, participants heard simple sentences, with each listening trial followed immediately by a trial in which they repeated back the previous sentence. Listening to sentences in the context of a listen-repeat task was expected to activate regions involved in both language-specific processes (speech perception and comprehension, verbal working memory and pre-articulatory rehearsal) and a number of task-specific processes (including attention to utterances and attempts to overcome pre-response conflict and decision uncertainty during impaired speech perception). To visualize the same system in healthy participants, sentences were presented to them as three-channel noise-vocoded speech, thereby impairing speech perception and assessing whether this evokes domain general cognitive systems. As expected, contrasting the more difficult task of perceiving and preparing to repeat noise-vocoded speech with the same task on clear speech demonstrated increased activity in the midline frontal cortex in the healthy participants. The same region was activated in the aphasic patients as they listened to standard (undistorted) sentences. Using a region of interest defined from the data on the healthy participants, data from the midline frontal cortex was obtained from the patients. Across the group and across different scanning sessions, activity correlated significantly with the patients' communicative abilities. This correlation was not influenced by the sizes of the lesion or the patients' chronological ages. This is the first study that has directly correlated activity in a domain general system, specifically the salience network, with residual language performance in post-stroke aphasia. It provides direct evidence in support of the clinical intuition that domain-general cognitive control is an essential factor contributing to the potential for recovery from aphasic stroke.
    Brain 10/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: RNA interference (RNAi) is an essential method in molecular biology to reduce the expression of target genes and thereby determine their function. Since this tool is known to also have unspecific effects, control experiments are needed, chiefly among them the exclusion of off-targets effects and the reconstitution of the genes' expression for the rescue of the cellular RNAi effects. We show here that the knock-down of the mitochondrial creatine kinase-1 (CKMT1) by RNA interference causes the dissipation of the mitochondrial membrane potential ΔΨm. This was accomplished with 11 different RNAi constructs designed to target 7 distinct exons as well as exon/intron junctions making unspecific off-target effects unlikely. However, all our attempts failed to rescue human cells from ΔΨm dissipation by the expression of CKMT1 alleles not targeted by RNAi. This included the transient and stable expression of the murine CKMT1 homologue, the expression of human codon usage-modified alleles, the transfection of a novel splice-isoform of CKMT1, and even the introduction of a human genomic clone for CKMT1 with codon usage changes. Our results indicate that while off-target effects of RNA interference can easily be addressed, the rescue of the knock-down phenotype is not necessarily achievable.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 07/2013;
  • Biology of blood and marrow transplantation: journal of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation 06/2013;
  • Bone marrow transplantation 06/2013;
  • Acta Haematologica 06/2013; 130(3):192-195.
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    Schizophrenia Research 04/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: We test the hypothesis that brain networks associated with cognitive function shift away from a "small-world" organization following traumatic brain injury (TBI). METHODS: We investigated 20 TBI patients and 21 age-matched controls. Resting-state functional MRI was used to study functional connectivity. Graph theoretical analysis was then applied to partial correlation matrices derived from these data. The presence of white matter damage was quantified using diffusion tensor imaging. RESULTS: Patients showed characteristic cognitive impairments as well as evidence of damage to white matter tracts. Compared to controls, the graph analysis showed reduced overall connectivity, longer average path lengths, and reduced network efficiency. A particular impact of TBI is seen on a major network hub, the posterior cingulate cortex. Taken together, these results confirm that a network critical to cognitive function shows a shift away from small-world characteristics. CONCLUSIONS: We provide evidence that key brain networks involved in supporting cognitive function become less small-world in their organization after TBI. This is likely to be the result of diffuse white matter damage, and may be an important factor in producing cognitive impairment after TBI.
    Neurology 04/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The Salience Network (SN) consists of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and bilateral insulae. The network responds to behaviorally salient events, and an important question is how its nodes interact. One theory is that the dACC provides the earliest cortical signal of behaviorally salient events, such as errors. Alternatively, the anterior right insula (aRI) has been proposed to provide an early cognitive control signal. As these regions frequently coactivate, it has been difficult to disentangle their roles using conventional methods. Here we use dynamic causal modeling and a Bayesian model evidence technique to investigate the causal relationships between nodes in the SN after errors. Thirty-five human subjects performed the Simon task. The task has two conditions (congruent and incongruent) producing two distinct error types. Neural activity associated with errors was investigated using fMRI. Subjects made a total of 1319 congruent and 1617 incongruent errors. Errors resulted in robust activation of the SN. Dynamic causal modeling analyses demonstrated that input into the SN was most likely via the aRI for both error types and that the aRI was the only region intrinsically connected to both other nodes. Only incongruent errors produced behavioral adaptation, and the strength of the connection between the dACC and the left insulae correlated with the extent of this behavioral change. We conclude that the aRI, not the dACC, drives the SN after errors on an attentionally demanding task, and that a change in the effective connectivity of the dACC is associated with behavioral adaptation after errors.
    Journal of Neuroscience 04/2013; 33(16):7091-7098.
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