M C Morale

University of Catania, Catania, Sicily, Italy

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Publications (72)315.84 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Wnt/β-catenin signaling is required for specification and neurogenesis of midbrain dopaminergic (mDA) neurons, the pivotal neuronal population that degenerates in Parkinson's disease (PD) and in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) mouse model of PD. Wnt/β-catenin signaling plays a vital role in adult neurogenesis but whether it might engage DA neurogenesis/neurorepair in the affected PD brain is yet unresolved. Recently, the adult midbrain aqueduct periventricular regions (Aq-PVRs) were shown to harbor neural stem/progenitor cells (mNPCs) with DA potential in vitro, but restrictive mechanisms in vivo are believed to limit their DA regenerative capacity. Using in vitro mNPC culture systems we herein demonstrate that aging is one most critical factor restricting mNPC neurogenic potential via dysregulation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Co-coculture paradigms between young/aged (Y/A) mNPCs and Y/A astrocytes identified glial age and a decline of glial-derived factors including Wnts as key determinants of impaired neurogenic potential, whereas Wnt activation regimens efficiently reversed the diminished proliferative, neuronal and DA differentiation potential of A-mNPCs. Next, in vivo studies in wild (Wt) and transgenic β-catenin reporter mice uncovered Wnt/β-catenin signaling activation and remarkable astrocyte remodeling of Aq-PVR in response to MPTP-induced DA neuron death. Spatio-temporal analyses unveiled β-catenin signaling in predopaminergic (Nurr1+/TH-) and imperiled or rescuing DAT+ neurons during MPTP-induced DA neuron injury and self-repair. Aging inhibited Wnt signaling, whereas β-catenin activation in situ with a specific GSK-3β antagonist promoted a significant degree of DA neurorestoration associated with reversal of motor deficit, with implications for neurorestorative approaches in PD. Stem Cells 2014
    Stem Cells 03/2014; · 7.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: During the past three decades, the Wingless-type MMTV integration site (Wnt) signaling cascade has emerged as an essential system regulating multiple processes in developing and adult brain. Accumulating evidence points to a dysregulation of Wnt signaling in major neurodegenerative pathologies including Parkinson's disease (PD), a common neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the progressive loss of midbrain dopaminergic (mDA) neurons and deregulated activation of astrocyte and microglial. This review highlights the emerging link between Wnt signaling and key inflammatory pathways during mDA neuron damage/repair in PD progression. In particular, we summarize recent evidence documenting that aging and neurotoxicant exposure strongly antagonize Wnt/¦Â-catenin signaling in mDA neurons and subventricular zone (SVZ) neuroprogenitors via astrocyte-microglial interactions. Dysregulation of the crosstalk between Wnt/¦Â-catenin signaling and anti-oxidant/anti-inflammatory pathways delineate novel mechanisms driving the decline of SVZ plasticity with age and the limited nigrostrial dopaminergic self-repair in PD. These findings hold a promise in developing therapies that target Wnt/¦Â-catenin signaling to enhance endogenous restoration and neuronal outcome in age-dependent diseases, such as PD.
    Journal of Molecular Cell Biology 01/2014; · 7.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Parkinson's disease (PD) is a common neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive loss of dopaminergic (DAergic) neuronal cell bodies in the substantia nigra pars compacta and gliosis. The cause and mechanisms underlying the demise of nigrostriatal DAergic neurons are ill-defined, but interactions between genes and environmental factors are recognized to play a critical role in modulating the vulnerability to PD. Current evidence points to reactive glia as a pivotal factor in PD pathophysiology, playing both protective and destructive roles. Here, the contribution of reactive astrocytes and their ability to modulate DAergic neurodegeneration, neuroprotection and neurorepair in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) rodent model of PD will be discussed in the light of novel emerging evidence implicating wingless-type mouse mammary tumor virus integration site (Wnt)/β-catenin signaling as a strong candidate in MPTP-induced nigrostriatal DAergic plasticity. In this work, we highlight an intrinsic Wnt1/frizzled-1/β-catenin tone that critically contributes to the survival and protection of adult midbrain DAergic neurons, with potential implications for drug design or drug action in PD. The dynamic interplay between astrocyte-derived factors and neurogenic signals in MPTP-induced nigrostriatal DAergic neurotoxicity and repair will be summarized, together with recent findings showing a critical role of glia-neural stem/progenitor cell (NPC) interactions aimed at overcoming neurodegeneration and inducing neurorestoration. Understanding the intrinsic plasticity of nigrostriatal DAergic neurons and deciphering the signals facilitating the crosstalk between astrocytes, microglia, DAergic neurons and NPCs may have major implications for the role of stem cell technology in PD, and for identifying potential therapeutic targets to induce endogenous neurorepair.
    European Journal of Neuroscience 03/2013; · 3.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Parkinsons'disease (PD), a common neurodegenerative disorder, is characterized by progressive loss of dopaminergic (DAergic) neurons in the subtantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) and gliosis. The cause and mechanisms underlying the demise of nigrostriatal DAergic neurons are not completely clarified, but interactions between genes and environmental factors are recognized to play a critical role in modulating the vulnerability to PD. Current evidence points to reactive glia as a pivotal factor in PD, but whether astroglia activation may protect or exacerbate DAergic neuron loss is presently the subject of much debate. Astrocytes and microglia are the key players in neuroinflammatory responses, by secreting an array of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, anti-oxidant and neurotrophic factors. Here, the contribution of astrocytes and their ability to influence DAergic neurodegeneration, neuroprotection and neurorepair will be discussed. In particular, the dynamic interplay between astrocyte-derived factors and neurogenic signals in MPTP-induced plasticity of nigrostriatal DAergic neurons will be summarized together with recent findings showing that reactive astrocytes may contribute to promote DAergic neurogenesis from midbrain adult neural stem/precursor cells (NPCs). Within a host of astrocyte- derived factors, we unveiled Wingless-type MMTV integration site (Wnt)/β-catenin signalling was unveiled, as a strong candidate in MPTP-induced DAergic neuroplasticty/neurorepair. Understanding the intrinsic plasticity of nigrostriatal DAergic neurons and decifering the signals facilitating the crosstalk between astrocytes and midbrain neuroprogenitors may have implications for the role of stem cells technology in PD and for identifying potential therapeutic targets to promote endogenous neurorepair.
    Current Aging Science 02/2013; 6(1):45-55.
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    ABSTRACT: Aging and exposure to environmental toxins including MPTP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine) are strong risk factors for developing Parkinson's disease (PD), a common neurologic disorder characterized by selective degeneration of midbrain dopaminergic (DAergic) neurons and astrogliosis. Aging and PD impair the subventricular zone (SVZ), one of the most important brain regions for adult neurogenesis. Because inflammation and oxidative stress are the hallmarks of aging and PD, we investigated the nature, timing, and signaling mechanisms contributing to aging-induced SVZ stem/neuroprogenitor cell (NPC) inhibition in aging male mice and attempted to determine to what extent manipulation of these pathways produces a functional response in the outcome of MPTP-induced DAergic toxicity. We herein reveal an imbalance of Nrf2-driven antioxidant/anti-inflammatory genes, such as Heme oxygenase1 in the SVZ niche, starting by middle age, amplified upon neurotoxin treatment and associated with an exacerbated proinflammatory SVZ microenvironment converging to dysregulate the Wingless-type MMTV integration site (Wnt)/β-catenin signaling, a key regulatory pathway for adult NPCs. In vitro experiments using coculture paradigms uncovered aged microglial proinflammatory mediators as critical inhibitors of NPC proliferative potential. We also found that interruption of PI3K (phosphatidylinositol3-kinase)/Akt and the Wnt/Fzd/β-catenin signaling cascades, which switch glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK-3β) activation on and off, were causally related to the impairment of SVZ-NPCs. Moreover, a synergy between dysfunctional microglia of aging mice and MPTP exposure further inhibited astrocyte proneurogenic properties, including the expression of key Wnts components. Last, pharmacological activation/antagonism studies in vivo and in vitro suggest the potential that aged SVZ manipulation is associated with DAergic functional recovery.
    Journal of Neuroscience 01/2013; 33(4):1462-1485. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In Parkinson's disease (PD), neurogenesis is impaired in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of postmortem human PD brains, in primate nonhuman and rodent models of PD. The vital role of Wingless-type MMTV integration site (Wnt)/β-catenin signaling in the modulation of neurogenesis, neuroprotection, and synaptic plasticity coupled to our recent findings uncovering an active role for inflammation and Wnt/β-catenin signaling in MPTP-induced loss and repair of nigrostriatal dopaminergic (DAergic) neurons prompted us to study the impact of neuroinflammation and the Wnt/β-catenin pathway in the response of SVZ neuroprogenitors (NPCs) in MPTP-treated mice. In vivo experiments, using bromodeoxyuridine and cell-specific markers, and ex vivo time course analyses documented an inverse correlation between the reduced proliferation of NPCs and the generation of new neuroblasts with the phase of maximal exacerbation of microglia reaction, whereas a shift in the microglia proinflammatory phenotype correlated with a progressive NPC recovery. Ex vivo and in vitro experiments using microglia-NPC coculture paradigms pointed to NADPH-oxidase (gpPHOX(91)), a major source of microglial ROS, and reactive nitrogen species as candidate inhibitors of NPC neurogenic potential via the activation of glycogen synthase 3 (pGSK-3β(Tyr216)), leading to loss of β-catenin, a chief downstream transcriptional effector. Accordingly, MPTP/MPP(+) (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine) caused β-catenin downregulation and pGSK-3β(Tyr216) overexpression, whereas manipulation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling with RNA interference-mediated GSK-3β knockdown or GSK-3β antagonism reversed MPTP-induced neurogenic impairment ex vivo/in vitro or in vivo. Reciprocally, pharmacological modulation of inflammation prevented β-catenin downregulation and restored neurogenesis, suggesting the possibility to modulate this endogenous system with potential consequences for DAergic neuroprotection and self-repair.
    Journal of Neuroscience 02/2012; 32(6):2062-85. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aging represents a major risk factor for the development and progression of Parkinson disease (PD), a chronic degenerative disorder characterized by the selective loss of dopaminergic (DAergic) neurons in the subtantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc). Emerging evidence highlights the glia as a pivotal factor in PD etiology, and epidemiological studies indicate that certain nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may prevent or delay the progression of PD. Given that the exaggerated inflammatory response observed in old age may play a critical role in exacerbating DAergic vulnerability, we hypothesize here that switching the harmful glial response to inflammation and oxidative stress might increase the ability of the SN to resist inflammatory attacks. To this end, we developed a treatment in which we combined the effects of nitric oxide (NO) with nonsteroidal antiinflammatory activity by using HCT1026, a NO-donating derivative of flurbiprofen that has a safe profile and additional immunomodulatory properties. Young and aged mice fed with control or HCT1026 (30 mg kg(-1) day(-1)) diet were exposed to a single systemic injection of a subtoxic dose (0.2 mg kg(-1)) of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), one of the most extensively used glial activators. HCT1026 efficiently reversed the age-dependent increase of microglial activation in response to LPS to levels measured in younger mice. In aged mice, LPS induced a progressive loss of DAergic neurons with no recovery for their entire life span, whereas younger mice or aged mice fed with HCT1026 were resistant to systemic LPS-induced DAergic neurodegeneration, underscoring glia as a key pharmacological target for DAergic neuroprotection.
    Rejuvenation Research 08/2011; 14(4):411-24. · 2.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dopamine-synthesizing (dopaminergic, DA) neurons in the ventral midbrain (VM) constitute a pivotal neuronal population controlling motor behaviors, cognitive and affective brain functions, which generation critically relies on the activation of Wingless-type MMTV integration site (Wnt)/β-catenin pathway in their progenitors. In Parkinson's disease, DA cell bodies within the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) progressively degenerate, with causes and mechanisms poorly understood. Emerging evidence suggests that Wnt signaling via Frizzled (Fzd) receptors may play a role in different degenerative states, but little is known about Wnt signaling in the adult midbrain. Using in vitro and in vivo model systems of DA degeneration, along with functional studies in both intact and SN lesioned mice, we herein highlight an intrinsic Wnt1/Fzd-1/β-catenin tone critically contributing to the survival and protection of adult midbrain DA neurons. In vitro experiments identifie Fzd-1 receptor expression at a mRNA and protein levels in dopamine transporter (DAT) expressing neurons, and demonstrate the ability of exogenous Wnt1 to exert robust neuroprotective effects against Caspase-3 activation, the loss of tyrosine hydroxylase-positive (TH+) neurons and [3H] dopamine uptake induced by different DA-specific insults, including serum and growth factor deprivation, 6-hydroxydopamine and MPTP/MPP+. Co-culture of DA neurons with midbrain astrocytes phenocopies Wnt1 neuroprotective effects, whereas RNA interference-mediated knockdown of Wnt1 in midbrain astrocytes markedly reduces astrocyte-induced TH+ neuroprotection. Likewise, silencing β-catenin mRNA or knocking down Fzd-1 receptor expression in mesencephalic neurons counteract astrocyte-induced TH+ neuroprotection. In vivo experiments document Fzd-1 co-localization with TH+ neurons within the intact SNpc and blockade of Fzd/β-catenin signaling by unilateral infusion of a Fzd/β-catenin antagonist within the SN induces reactive astrocytosis and acutely inhibits TH+ neuron survival in ipsilateral SNpc, an effect efficiently prevented by pharmacological activation of β-catenin signaling within the SNpc. These results defining a novel Wnt1/Fzd-1/β-catenin astrocyte-DA autoprotective loop provide a new mechanistic inside into the regulation of pro-survival processes, with potentially relevant consequences for drug design or drug action in Parkinson's disease.
    Molecular Neurodegeneration 07/2011; 6:49. · 4.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Emerging evidence points to reactive glia as a pivotal factor in Parkinson's disease (PD) and 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-lesioned mouse model of basal ganglia injury, but whether astrocytes and microglia activation may exacerbate dopaminergic (DAergic) neuron demise and/or contribute to DAergic repair is presently the subject of much debate. Here, we have correlated the loss and recovery of the nigrostriatal DAergic functionality upon acute MPTP exposure with extensive gene expression analysis at the level of the ventral midbrain (VM) and striata (Str) and found a major upregulation of pro-inflammatory chemokines and wingless-type MMTV integration site1 (Wnt1), a key transcript involved in midbrain DAergic neurodevelopment. Wnt signaling components (including Frizzled-1 [Fzd-1] and β-catenin) were dynamically regulated during MPTP-induced DAergic degeneration and reactive glial activation. Activated astrocytes of the ventral midbrain were identified as candidate source of Wnt1 by in situ hybridization and real-time PCR in vitro. Blocking Wnt/Fzd signaling with Dickkopf-1 (Dkk1) counteracted astrocyte-induced neuroprotection against MPP(+) toxicity in primary mesencephalic astrocyte-neuron cultures, in vitro. Moreover, astroglial-derived factors, including Wnt1, promoted neurogenesis and DAergic neurogenesis from adult midbrain stem/neuroprogenitor cells, in vitro. Conversely, lack of Wnt1 transcription in response to MPTP in middle-aged mice and failure of DAergic neurons to recover were reversed by pharmacological activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling, in vivo, thus suggesting MPTP-reactive astrocytes in situ and Wnt1 as candidate components of neuroprotective/neurorescue pathways in MPTP-induced nigrostriatal DAergic plasticity.
    Neurobiology of Disease 11/2010; 41(2):508-27. · 5.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Parkinson's disease (PD) is a common neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the presence of tremor, muscle rigidity, slowness of voluntary movements and postural instability. One of the pathological hallmarks of PD is loss of dopaminergic (DAergic) neurons in the subtantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc). The cause and mechanisms underlying the demise of nigrostriatal DAergic neurons are not fully understood, but interactions between genes and environmental factors are recognized to play a critical role in modulating the vulnerability to PD. Current evidence points to reactive glia as a pivotal factor in PD, but whether astroglia activation may protect or exacerbate DAergic neuron loss is the subject of much debate. Astrocytes and microglia are the key players in neuroinflammatory responses, secreting an array of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, anti-oxidants and neurotrophic factors. These mediators act as double-edged swords, exerting both detrimental and neuroprotective effects. Here, the contribution of astrocytes and microglia in mediating the effects of both genetic and environmental factors, including hormones, endotoxins and neurotoxins, and their ability to influence DAergic neurodegeneration, neuroprotection and neurorepair will be discussed. Approaches capable to regulate glial-associated oxidative stress and mitochondrial damage, by decreasing inflammatory burden, restoring mitochondrial function and DAergic neuron metabolism, might hold great promise for therapeutic interventions. Therapies that support astrocyte function, replacing astrocytes either modified or unmodified in culture, may represent novel approaches targeting astrocytes to promote DAergic neurorescue. Dissecting the molecular determinants of glia-neuron crosstalk will give us the possibility to test novel strategies to promote restoration of injured nigrostriatal DAergic neurons.
    CNS & neurological disorders drug targets 07/2010; 9(3):349-72. · 3.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Current evidence suggests a role of neuroinflammation in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD) and in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) model of basal ganglia injury. Reportedly, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) mitigate DAergic neurotoxicity in rodent models of PD. Consistent with these findings, epidemiological analysis indicated that certain NSAIDs may prevent or delay the progression of PD. However, a serious impediment of chronic NSAID therapy, particularly in the elderly, is gastric, renal and cardiac toxicity. Nitric oxide (NO)-donating NSAIDs, have a safer profile while maintaining anti-inflammatory activity of parent compounds. We have investigated the oral activity of the NO-donating derivative of flurbiprofen, [2-fluoro-α-methyl (1,1'-biphenyl)-4-acetic-4-(nitrooxy)butyl ester], HCT1026 (30 mg kg(-1) daily in rodent chow) in mice exposed to the parkinsonian neurotoxin MPTP. Ageing mice were fed with a control, flurbiprofen, or HCT1026 diet starting ten days before MPTP administration and continuing for all the experimental period. Striatal high affinity synaptosomal dopamine up-take, motor coordination assessed with the rotarod, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)- and dopamine transporter (DAT) fiber staining, stereological cell counts, immunoblotting and gene expression analyses were used to assess MPTP-induced nigrostriatal DAergic toxicity and glial activation 1-40 days post-MPTP. HCT1026 was well tolerated and did not cause any measurable toxic effect, whereas flurbiprofen fed mice showed severe gastrointestinal side-effects. HCT1026 efficiently counteracted motor impairment and reversed MPTP-induced decreased synaptosomal [3H]dopamine uptake, TH- and DAT-stained fibers in striatum and TH+ neuron loss in substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc), as opposed to age-matched mice fed with a control diet. These effects were associated to a significant decrease in reactive macrophage antigen-1 (Mac-1)-positive microglial cells within the striatum and ventral midbrain, decreased expression of iNOS, Mac-1 and NADPH oxidase (PHOX), and downregulation of 3-Nitrotyrosine, a peroxynitrite finger print, in SNpc DAergic neurons. Oral treatment with HCT1026 has a safe profile and a significant efficacy in counteracting MPTP-induced dopaminergic (DAergic) neurotoxicity, motor impairment and microglia activation in ageing mice. HCT1026 provides a novel promising approach towards the development of effective pharmacological neuroprotective strategies against PD.
    Journal of Neuroinflammation 01/2010; 7:83. · 4.35 Impact Factor
  • Parkinsonism & Related Disorders - PARKINSONISM RELAT DISORD. 01/2009; 15.
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    ABSTRACT: The final step in the physiological synthesis of 17beta estradiol (E(2)) is aromatization of precursor testosterone by a CYP19 gene product, cytochrome P450 estrogen aromatase in the C19 steroid metabolic pathway. Within the central nervous system (CNS) the presence, distribution, and activity of aromatase have been well characterized. Developmental stage and injury are known modulators of brain enzyme activity, where both neurons and glial cells reportedly have the capability to synthesize this key estrogenic enzyme. The gonadal steroid E(2) is a critical survival, neurotrophic and neuroprotective factor for dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc), the cells that degenerate in Parkinson's disease (PD). In previous studies we underlined a crucial role for the estrogenic status at the time of injury in dictating vulnerability to the parkinsonian neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). Our ongoing studies address the contribution of brain aromatase and extragonadal E(2) as vulnerability factors for PD pathology in female brain, by exposing aromatase knockout (ArKO, -/-) female mice which are unable to synthesize estrogens to MPTP. Our initial results indicate that aromatase deficiency from early embryonic life significantly impairs the functional integrity of SNpc tyrosine hydroxylase-positive neurons and dopamine transporter innervation of the caudate-putamen in adulthood. In addition, ArKO females exhibited a far greater vulnerability to MPTP-induced nigrostriatal damage as compared to their Wt type gonadally intact and gonadectomized counterparts. Characterization of this novel implication of P450 aromatase as determining factor for PD vulnerability may unravel new avenues for the understanding and development of novel therapeutic approaches for Parkinson's disease.
    Brain Research Reviews 04/2008; 57(2):431-43. · 7.82 Impact Factor
  • Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 06/2007; 719(1):308 - 327. · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Several epidemiological investigations conducted in Sardinia, insular Italy, indicate that the strong selective pressure of malaria along the centuries may have concurred to the elevated genetic MS-risk in this region. To test such hypothesis in an experimental setting, we have compared the immune response to P. falciparum (the causative agent of malaria) in Sardinian MS patients relative to their ethnic healthy controls and control MS patients of different ethnicity. To this purpose, the P. falciparum-driven peripheral mononuclear cell proliferation, the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines of the innate immunity such as TNF-alpha, IL-6 and IL-12 and the ability to inhibit the parasite growth have been tested in relation to HLA-DR alleles and TNF promoter polymorphisms known of being associated to MS. We found that P. falciparum-induced proliferation, cytokine production and parasite killing are significantly augmented in Sardinian MS patients as compared to controls (p<0.01). Additionally, a correlation is found with genes associated to Sardinian MS, namely the TNF(-376A) promoter polymorphism and the class II HLA-DRB1*0405 allele. In conclusion, we have found evidences that some genetic traits formerly selected to confer a protective responses to P. falciparum now partially contribute to the elevated MS susceptibility amongst Sardinians.
    Journal of Neuroimmunology 04/2007; 185(1-2):201-7. · 3.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The significant proportion of depressed patients that are resistant to monoaminergic drug therapy and the slow onset of therapeutic effects of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)/serotonin/noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are two major reasons for the sustained search for new antidepressants. In an attempt to identify common underlying mechanisms for fast- and slow-acting antidepressant modalities, we have examined the transcriptional changes in seven different brain regions of the rat brain induced by three clinically effective antidepressant treatments: electro convulsive therapy (ECT), sleep deprivation (SD), and fluoxetine (FLX), the most commonly used slow-onset antidepressant. Each of these antidepressant treatments was applied with the same regimen known to have clinical efficacy: 2 days of ECT (four sessions per day), 24 h of SD, and 14 days of daily treatment of FLX, respectively. Transcriptional changes were evaluated on RNA extracted from seven different brain regions using the Affymetrix rat genome microarray 230 2.0. The gene chip data were validated using in situ hybridization or autoradiography for selected genes. The major findings of the study are: 1. The transcriptional changes induced by SD, ECT and SSRI display a regionally specific distribution distinct to each treatment. 2. The fast-onset, short-lived antidepressant treatments ECT and SD evoked transcriptional changes primarily in the catecholaminergic system, whereas the slow-onset antidepressant FLX treatment evoked transcriptional changes in the serotonergic system. 3. ECT and SD affect in a similar manner the same brain regions, primarily the locus coeruleus, whereas the effects of FLX were primarily in the dorsal raphe and hypothalamus, suggesting that both different regions and pathways account for fast onset but short lasting effects as compared to slow-onset but long-lasting effects. However, the similarity between effects of ECT and SD is somewhat confounded by the fact that the two treatments appear to regulate a number of transcripts in an opposite manner. 4. Multiple transcripts (e.g. brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), serum/glucocorticoid-regulated kinase (Sgk1)), whose level was reported to be affected by antidepressants or behavioral manipulations, were also found to be regulated by the treatments used in the present study. Several novel findings of transcriptional regulation upon one, two or all three treatments were made, for the latter we highlight homer, erg2, HSP27, the proto oncogene ret, sulfotransferase family 1A (Sult1a1), glycerol 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GPD3), the orphan receptor G protein-coupled receptor 88 (GPR88) and a large number of expressed sequence tags (ESTs). 5. Transcripts encoding proteins involved in synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus were strongly affected by ECT and SD, but not by FLX. The novel transcripts, concomitantly regulated by several antidepressant treatments, may represent novel targets for fast onset, long-duration antidepressants.
    Molecular Psychiatry 03/2007; 12(2):167-89. · 14.90 Impact Factor
  • Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 12/2006; 621(1):159 - 173. · 4.38 Impact Factor
  • Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 12/2006; 594(1):309 - 325. · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Reduction of core body temperature has been proposed to contribute to the increased life span and the antiaging effects conferred by calorie restriction (CR). Validation of this hypothesis has been difficult in homeotherms, primarily due to a lack of experimental models. We report that transgenic mice engineered to overexpress the uncoupling protein 2 in hypocretin neurons (Hcrt-UCP2) have elevated hypothalamic temperature. The effects of local temperature elevation on the central thermostat resulted in a 0.3 degrees to 0.5 degrees C reduction of the core body temperature. Fed ad libitum, Hcrt-UCP2 transgenic mice had the same caloric intake as their wild-type littermates but had increased energy efficiency and a greater median life span (12% increase in males; 20% increase in females). Thus, modest, sustained reduction of core body temperature prolonged life span independent of altered diet or CR.
    Science 12/2006; 314(5800):825-8. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Post-menopausal estrogen deficiency is recognized to play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of a number of age-related diseases in women, such as osteoporosis, coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. There are also sexual differences in the progression of diseases associated with the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system, such as Parkinson’s disease, a chronic progressive degenerative disorder characterized by the selective degeneration of mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons in the substancia nigra pars compacta. The mechanism(s) responsible for dopaminergic neuron degeneration in Parkinson’s disease are still unknown, but oxidative stress and neuroinflammation are believed to play a key role in nigrostriatal dopaminergic neuron demise. Estrogen neuroprotective effects have been widely reported in a number of neuronal cell systems including the nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons, via both genomic and non-genomic effects, however, little is known on estrogen modulation of astrocyte and microglia function in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine model of Parkinson’s disease. We here highlight estrogen modulation of glial neuroinflammatory reaction in the protection of mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons and emphasize the cardinal role of glia-neuron crosstalk in directing neuroprotection vs neurodegeneration. In particular, the specific role of astroglia and its pro-/anti-inflammatory mechanisms in estrogen neuroprotection are presented. This study shows that astrocyte and microglia response to 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine injury vary according to the estrogenic status with direct consequences for dopaminergic neuron survival, recovery and repair. These findings provide a new insight into the protective action of estrogen that may possibly contribute to the development of novel therapeutic treatment strategies for Parkinson’s disease.
    Neuroscience 02/2006; · 3.12 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
315.84 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1989–2007
    • University of Catania
      • Department of Chemical Sciences
      Catania, Sicily, Italy
  • 2005–2006
    • Oasi Città Aperta
      Troina, Sicily, Italy
  • 2000–2001
    • Università degli Studi di Sassari
      Sassari, Sardinia, Italy