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    ABSTRACT: Impaired responsivity to hypercapnia or hypoxia is commonly considered a mechanism of failure in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The search for deficient brain structures mediating flawed chemosensitivity typically focuses on medullary regions; however, a network that includes Purkinje cells of the cerebellar cortex and its associated cerebellar nuclei also helps mediate responses to carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen (O2) challenges and assists integration of cardiovascular and respiratory interactions. Although cerebellar nuclei contributions to chemoreceptor challenges in adult models are well described, Purkinje cell roles in developing models are unclear. We used a model of developmental cerebellar Purkinje cell loss to determine if such loss influenced compensatory ventilatory responses to hypercapnic and hypoxic challenges. Twenty-four Lurcher mutant mice and wild-type controls were sequentially exposed to 2 % increases in CO2 (0-8 %) or 2 % reductions in O2 (21-13 %) over 4 min, with return to room air (21 % O2/79 % N2/0 % CO2) between each exposure. Whole body plethysmography was used to continuously monitor tidal volume (TV) and breath frequency (f). Increased f to hypercapnia was significantly lower in mutants, slower to initiate, and markedly lower in compensatory periods, except for very high (8 %) CO2 levels. The magnitude of TV changes to increasing CO2 appeared smaller in mutants but only approached significance. Smaller but significant differences emerged in response to hypoxia, with mutants showing smaller TV when initially exposed to reduced O2 and lower f following exposure to 17 % O2. Since cerebellar neuropathology appears in SIDS victims, developmental cerebellar neuropathology may contribute to SIDS vulnerability.
    The Cerebellum 08/2014; · 2.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: IntroductionA total of 38 brain cytoarchitectonic subdivisions, representing subcortical and cortical structures, cerebellum, and brainstem, were examined in 4- to 60-year-old subjects diagnosed with autism and control subjects (a) to detect a global pattern of developmental abnormalities and (b) to establish whether the function of developmentally modified structures matches the behavioral alterations that are diagnostic for autism. The volume of cytoarchitectonic subdivisions, neuronal numerical density, and total number of neurons per region of interest were determined in 14 subjects with autism and 14 age-matched controls by using unbiased stereological methods.ResultsThe study revealed that significant differences between the group of subjects with autism and control groups are limited to a few brain regions, including the cerebellum and some striatum and amygdala subdivisions. In the group of individuals with autism, the total number and numerical density of Purkinje cells in the cerebellum were reduced by 25% and 24%, respectively. In the amygdala, significant reduction of neuronal density was limited to the lateral nucleus (by 12%). Another sign of the topographic selectivity of developmental alterations in the brain of individuals with autism was an increase in the volumes of the caudate nucleus and nucleus accumbens by 22% and 34%, respectively, and the reduced numerical density of neurons in the nucleus accumbens and putamen by 15% and 13%, respectively.Conclusions The observed pattern of developmental alterations in the cerebellum, amygdala and striatum is consistent with the results of magnetic resonance imaging studies and their clinical correlations, and of some morphometric studies that indicate that detected abnormalities may contribute to the social and communication deficits, and repetitive and stereotypical behaviors observed in individuals with autism.
    Acta neuropathologica communications. 09/2014; 2(1):141.
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    ABSTRACT: IntroductionCharacterization of the type and topography of structural changes and their alterations throughout the lifespan of individuals with autism is essential for understanding the mechanisms contributing to the autistic phenotype. The aim of this stereological study of neurons in 16 brain structures of 14 autistic and 14 control subjects from 4 to 64 years of age was to establish the course of neuronal nuclear and cytoplasmic volume changes throughout the lifespan of individuals with autism.ResultsOur data indicate that a deficit of neuronal soma volume in children with autism is associated with deficits in the volume of the neuronal nucleus and cytoplasm. The significant deficits of neuronal nuclear and cytoplasmic volumes in 13 of 16 examined subcortical structures, archicortex, cerebellum, and brainstem in 4- to 8-year-old autistic children suggest a global nature of brain developmental abnormalities, but with region-specific differences in the severity of neuronal pathology. The observed increase in nuclear volumes in 8 of 16 structures in the autistic teenagers/young adults and decrease in nuclear volumes in 14 of 16 regions in the age-matched control subjects reveal opposite trajectories throughout the lifespan. The deficit in neuronal nuclear volumes, ranging from 7% to 42% in the 16 examined regions in children with autism, and in neuronal cytoplasmic volumes from 1% to 31%, as well as the broader range of interindividual differences for the nuclear than the cytoplasmic volume deficits, suggest a partial distinction between nuclear and cytoplasmic pathology.Conclusions The most severe deficit of both neuronal nucleus and cytoplasm volume in 4-to 8-year-old autistic children appears to be a reflection of early developmental alterations that may have a major contribution to the autistic phenotype. The broad range of functions of the affected structures implies that their developmental and age-associated abnormalities contribute not only to the diagnostic features of autism but also to the broad spectrum of clinical alterations associated with autism. Lack of clinical improvement in autistic teenagers and adults indicates that the observed increase in neuron nucleus and cytoplasm volume close to control level does not normalize brain function.
    Acta neuropathologica communications. 01/2015; 3(1):2.

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May 15, 2014