Alastair Compston

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (223)2033.8 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Neural conversion from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) has been demonstrated in a variety of systems including chemically defined suspension culture, not requiring extrinsic signals, as well as in an adherent culture method that involves dual SMAD inhibition using Noggin and SB431542 (an inhibitor of activin/nodal signaling). Previous studies have also determined a role for activin/nodal signaling in development of the neural plate and anterior fate specification. We therefore sought to investigate the independent influence of SB431542 both on neural commitment of hESCs and positional identity of derived neural progenitors in chemically defined substrate-free conditions. We show that in non-adherent culture conditions, treatment with SB431542 alone for 8 days is sufficient for highly efficient and accelerated neural conversion from hESCs with negligible mesendodermal, epidermal or trophectodermal contamination. In addition the resulting neural progenitor population has a predominantly caudal identity compared to the more anterior positional fate of non-SB431542 treated cultures. Finally we demonstrate that resulting neurons are electro-physiologically competent. This study provides a platform for the efficient generation of caudal neural progenitors under defined conditions for experimental study.
    PLoS ONE 10/2009; 4(10):e7327. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0007327 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the results of a meta-analysis of genome-wide association scans for multiple sclerosis (MS) susceptibility that includes 2,624 subjects with MS and 7,220 control subjects. Replication in an independent set of 2,215 subjects with MS and 2,116 control subjects validates new MS susceptibility loci at TNFRSF1A (combined P = 1.59 x 10(-11)), IRF8 (P = 3.73 x 10(-9)) and CD6 (P = 3.79 x 10(-9)). TNFRSF1A harbors two independent susceptibility alleles: rs1800693 is a common variant with modest effect (odds ratio = 1.2), whereas rs4149584 is a nonsynonymous coding polymorphism of low frequency but with stronger effect (allele frequency = 0.02; odds ratio = 1.6). We also report that the susceptibility allele near IRF8, which encodes a transcription factor known to function in type I interferon signaling, is associated with higher mRNA expression of interferon-response pathway genes in subjects with MS.
    Nature Genetics 08/2009; 41(7):776-82. DOI:10.1038/ng.401 · 29.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Phase II clinical trials revealed that the lymphocyte-depleting humanized monoclonal antibody alemtuzumab (Campath-1H) is highly effective in the treatment of early relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. However, 30% of patients develop autoimmunity months to years after pulsed exposure to alemtuzumab, usually targeting the thyroid gland and, more rarely, blood components. In this study, we show that autoimmunity arose in those patients with greater T cell apoptosis and cell cycling in response to alemtuzumab-induced lymphocyte depletion, a phenomenon that is driven by higher levels of IL-21. Before treatment, patients who went on to develop secondary autoimmunity had more than 2-fold greater levels of serum IL-21 than the nonautoimmune group. We suggest that serum IL-21 may, therefore, serve as a biomarker for the risk of developing autoimmunity months to years after alemtuzumab treatment. This has implications for counseling those patients with multiple sclerosis who are considering lymphocyte-depleting therapy with alemtuzumab. Finally, we demonstrate through genotyping that IL-21 expression is genetically predetermined. We propose that, by driving cycles of T cell expansion and apoptosis to excess, IL-21 increases the stochastic opportunities for T cells to encounter self antigen and, hence, for autoimmunity.
    The Journal of clinical investigation 07/2009; 119(7):2052-61. DOI:10.1172/JCI37878 · 13.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although progression in multiple sclerosis is pathologically dominated by neurodegeneration, the underlying mechanism is unknown. Abnormal hyperphosphorylation of tau is implicated in the aetiopathogenesis of some common neurodegenerative disorders. We recently demonstrated the association of insoluble tau with established secondary progressive MS, raising the hypothesis that its accumulation is relevant to disease progression. In order to begin to determine the temporal emergence of abnormal tau with disease progression in MS, we examined tau phosphorylation in cerebral tissue from a rare case of early aggressive MS. We report tau hyperphosphorylation occurring in multiple cell types, with biochemical analysis confirming restriction to the soluble fraction. The absence of sarcosyl-insoluble tau fraction in early disease and its presence in secondary progression raises the possibility that insoluble tau accumulates with disease progression.
    Acta Neuropathologica 06/2009; 117(5):583-9. DOI:10.1007/s00401-009-0515-2 · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In a recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) based on 12,374 non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms we identified a number of candidate multiple sclerosis susceptibility genes. Here, we describe the extended analysis of 17 of these loci undertaken using an additional 4234 patients, 2983 controls and 2053 trio families. In the final analysis combining all available data, we found that evidence for association was substantially increased for one of the 17 loci, rs34536443 from the tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2) gene (P=2.7 x 10(-6), odds ratio=1.32 (1.17-1.47)). This single nucleotide polymorphism results in an amino acid substitution (proline to alanine) in the kinase domain of TYK2, which is predicted to influence the levels of phosphorylation and therefore activity of the protein and so is likely to have a functional role in multiple sclerosis.
    European journal of human genetics: EJHG 04/2009; 17(10):1309-13. DOI:10.1038/ejhg.2009.41 · 4.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system associated with demyelination and axonal loss. A whole genome association scan suggested that allelic variants in the CD58 gene region, encoding the costimulatory molecule LFA-3, are associated with risk of developing MS. We now report additional genetic evidence, as well as resequencing and fine mapping of the CD58 locus in patients with MS and control subjects. These efforts identify a CD58 variant that provides further evidence of association with MS (P = 1.1 x 10(-6), OR 0.82) and the single protective effect within the CD58 locus is captured by the rs2300747(G) allele. This protective rs2300747(G) allele is associated with a dose-dependent increase in CD58 mRNA expression in lymphoblastic cell lines (P = 1.1 x 10(-10)) and in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from MS subjects (P = 0.0037). This protective effect of enhanced CD58 expression on circulating mononuclear cells in patients with MS is supported by finding that CD58 mRNA expression is higher in MS subjects during clinical remission. Functional investigations suggest a potential mechanism whereby increases in CD58 expression, mediated by the protective allele, up-regulate the expression of transcription factor FoxP3 through engagement of the CD58 receptor, CD2, leading to the enhanced function of CD4(+)CD25(high) regulatory T cells that are defective in subjects with MS.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2009; 106(13):5264-9. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0813310106 · 9.81 Impact Factor
  • Journal of Neurology 02/2009; 256(1):132-3. DOI:10.1007/s00415-009-0899-x · 3.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Familial clustering of autoimmune disease is well recognized and raises the possibility that some susceptibility genes may predispose to autoimmunity in general. In light of this observation, it might be expected that some of the variants of established relevance in one autoimmune disease may also be relevant in other related conditions. On the basis of this hypothesis, we tested seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are known to be associated with type I diabetes in a large multiple sclerosis data set consisting of 2369 trio families, 5737 cases and 10 296 unrelated controls. Two of these seven SNPs showed evidence of association with multiple sclerosis; that is rs12708716 from the CLEC16A gene (P=1.6 × 10−16) and rs763361 from the CD226 gene (P=5.4 × 10−8). These findings thereby identify two additional multiple sclerosis susceptibility genes and lend support to the notion of autoimmune susceptibility genes.
    Genes and Immunity 11/2008; 10(1):11-14. DOI:10.1038/gene.2008.83 · 3.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DRB1*1501 allele has long been established as the main genetic risk factor for multiple sclerosis (MS), and it therefore follows that stratification of study populations for this allele could aid in the identification of novel susceptibility genes and/or in establishing interactions. To this end, we have developed a simple Taqman-based assay allowing cost-efficient medium-throughput HLA-DRB1*1501 genotyping. We have validated this assay in 444 trio families with MS and 1066 individuals from the UK 1958 birth cohort (3908 independent chromosomes). In this validation cohort, the correlation coefficient (r(2)) between rs3135388*A and HLA-DRB1*1501 was >0.94. Subsequently, applying the assay to a group of MS patients and controls from Belgium confirmed the association of HLA-DRB1*1501 and MS in this population (P = 5 x 10(-21)).
    Tissue Antigens 10/2008; 72(4):401-3. DOI:10.1111/j.1399-0039.2008.01101.x · 2.35 Impact Factor
  • Alastair Compston, Alasdair Coles
    The Lancet 10/2008; 372(9648):1502-1517. DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61620-7 · 45.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Multiple sclerosis (MS) represents a considerable challenge to experimentally model due to its twin pathologies of inflammatory demyelination and neurodegeneration along with its multifocal and multiphasic nature. Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in Biozzi ABH mice has previously been shown to reproduce many clinical features also found in secondary progressive MS. In this study we sought to characterise the pathology of chronic EAE in ABH mice. In addition to marked gliosis, we report substantial demyelination, remyelination and axonal and neuronal loss. Together with the clinical pattern, our findings identify chronic EAE as an excellent model of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.
    Journal of Neuroimmunology 08/2008; 201-202:200-11. DOI:10.1016/j.jneuroim.2008.05.034 · 2.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Skin-derived precursor cells (SKPs) are multipotent neural crest-related stem cells that grow as self-renewing spheres and are capable of generating neurons and myelinating glial cells. SKPs are of clinical interest because they are accessible and potentially autologous. However, although spheres can be readily isolated from embryonic and neonatal skin, SKP frequency falls away sharply in adulthood, and primary sphere generation from adult human skin is more problematic. In addition, the culture-initiating cell population is undefined and heterogeneous, limiting experimental studies addressing important aspects of these cells such as the behavior of endogenous precursors in vivo and the molecular mechanisms of neural generation. Using a combined fate-mapping and microdissection approach, we identified and characterized a highly enriched niche of neural crest-derived sphere-forming cells within the dermal papilla of the hair follicle of adult skin. We demonstrated that the dermal papilla of the rodent vibrissal follicle is 1,000-fold enriched for sphere-forming neural crest-derived cells compared with whole facial skin. These "papillaspheres" share a phenotypic and developmental profile similar to that of SKPs, can be readily expanded in vitro, and are able to generate both neuronal and glial cells in response to appropriate cues. We demonstrate that papillaspheres can be efficiently generated and expanded from adult human facial skin by microdissection of a single hair follicle. This strategy of targeting a highly enriched niche of sphere-forming cells provides a novel and efficient method for generating neuronal and glial cells from an accessible adult somatic source that is both defined and minimally invasive.
    Stem Cells 02/2008; 26(1):163-72. DOI:10.1634/stemcells.2007-0281 · 7.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Several lines of evidence suggest that mitochondrial genetic factors may influence susceptibility to multiple sclerosis. To explore this hypothesis further, we re-sequenced the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) from 159 patients with multiple sclerosis and completed a haplogroup analysis including a further 835 patients and 1,506 controls. A trend towards over-representation of super-haplogroup U was the only evidence for association with mtDNA that we identified in these samples. In a parallel analysis of nuclear encoded mitochondrial genes, we also found a trend towards association with the complex I gene, NDUFS2. These results add to the evidence suggesting that variation in mtDNA and nuclear encoded mitochondrial genes may contribute to disease susceptibility in multiple sclerosis.
    PLoS ONE 02/2008; 3(8):e2891. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0002891 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Multiple sclerosis is the most common potential cause of neurological disability in young adults. The disease has two distinct clinical phases, each reflecting a dominant role for separate pathological processes: inflammation drives activity during the relapsing-remitting stage and axon degeneration represents the principal substrate of progressive disability. Recent advances in disease-modifying treatments target only the inflammatory process. They are ineffective in the progressive stage, leaving the science of disease progression unsolved. Here, the requirement is for strategies that promote remyelination and prevent axonal loss. Pathological and experimental studies suggest that these processes are tightly linked, and that remyelination or myelin repair will both restore structure and protect axons. This review considers the basic and clinical biology of remyelination and the potential contribution of stem and precursor cells to enhance and supplement spontaneous remyelination.
    Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences 02/2008; 363(1489):171-83. DOI:10.1098/rstb.2006.2019 · 6.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: During normal development oligodendrocyte precursors (OPCs) are generated in the ventral spinal cord in response to Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signalling. There is also a second, late wave of oligodendrogenesis in the dorsal spinal cord independent of Shh activity. Two signalling pathways, controlled by bone morphogenetic protein and fibroblast growth factor (FGF), are active players in dorsal spinal cord specification. In particular, BMP signalling from the roof plate has a crucial role in setting up dorsal neural identity and its inhibition is sufficient to generate OPCs both in vitro and in vivo. In contrast, FGF signalling can induce OPC production from dorsal spinal cord cultures in vitro. In this study, we examined the cross-talk between mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and BMP signalling in embryonic dorsal spinal cord cultures at the SMAD1/5/8 (SMAD1) transcription factor level, the main effectors of BMP activity. We have previously shown that FGF2 treatment of neural precursor cells (NPCs) derived from rat E14 dorsal spinal cord is sufficient to generate OPCs in vitro. Utilising the same system, we now show that FGF prevents BMP-induced nuclear localisation of SMAD1-phosphorylated at the C-terminus (C-term-pSMAD1). This nuclear exclusion of C-term-pSMAD1 is dependent on MAPK activity and correlates with OLIG2 upregulation, the obligate transcription factor for oligodendrogenesis. Furthermore, inhibition of the MAPK pathway abolishes OLIG2 expression. We also show that SMAD4, which acts as a common partner for receptor-regulated Smads including SMAD1, associates with a Smad binding site in the Olig2 promoter and dissociates from it upon differentiation. Taken together, these results suggest that FGF can promote OPC generation from embryonic NPCs by counteracting BMP signalling at the Smad1 transcription factor level and that Smad-containing transcriptional complexes may be involved in direct regulation of the Olig2 promoter.
    PLoS ONE 02/2008; 3(8):e2863. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0002863 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Genome-wide association studies involve several hundred thousand markers and, even when quality control is scrupulous, are invariably confounded by residual uncorrected errors that can falsely inflate the apparent difference between cases and controls (so-called genomic inflation). As a consequence such studies inevitably generate false positives alongside genuine associations. By use of Bayesian logic and empirical data, the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium suggested that association studies in complex disease should involve at least 2000 cases and 2000 controls, at which level they predicted that p values of less than 5×10<sup>−7</sup> would more commonly signify true positives than false positives.
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    ABSTRACT: We have genotyped 14,436 nonsynonymous SNPs (nsSNPs) and 897 major histocompatibility complex (MHC) tag SNPs from 1,000 independent cases of ankylosing spondylitis (AS), autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD), multiple sclerosis (MS) and breast cancer (BC). Comparing these data against a common control dataset derived from 1,500 randomly selected healthy British individuals, we report initial association and independent replication in a North American sample of two new loci related to ankylosing spondylitis, ARTS1 and IL23R, and confirmation of the previously reported association of AITD with TSHR and FCRL3. These findings, enabled in part by increased statistical power resulting from the expansion of the control reference group to include individuals from the other disease groups, highlight notable new possibilities for autoimmune regulation and suggest that IL23R may be a common susceptibility factor for the major 'seronegative' diseases.
    Nature Genetics 12/2007; 39(11):1329-37. DOI:10.1038/ng.2007.17 · 29.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) on chromosome 6 is associated with susceptibility to more common diseases than any other region of the human genome, including almost all disorders classified as autoimmune. In type 1 diabetes the major genetic susceptibility determinants have been mapped to the MHC class II genes HLA-DQB1 and HLA-DRB1 (refs 1-3), but these genes cannot completely explain the association between type 1 diabetes and the MHC region. Owing to the region's extreme gene density, the multiplicity of disease-associated alleles, strong associations between alleles, limited genotyping capability, and inadequate statistical approaches and sample sizes, which, and how many, loci within the MHC determine susceptibility remains unclear. Here, in several large type 1 diabetes data sets, we analyse a combined total of 1,729 polymorphisms, and apply statistical methods - recursive partitioning and regression - to pinpoint disease susceptibility to the MHC class I genes HLA-B and HLA-A (risk ratios >1.5; P combined = 2.01 × 10 -19 and 2.35 × 10 -13, respectively) in addition to the established associations of the MHC class II genes. Other loci with smaller and/or rarer effects might also be involved, but to find these, future searches must take into account both the HLA class II and class I genes and use even larger samples. Taken together with previous studies, we conclude that MHC-class-I-mediated events, principally involving HLA-B*39, contribute to the aetiology of type 1 diabetes.
    Nature 11/2007; 450(7171):887-892. DOI:10.1038/nature06406 · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) are widely regarded as the best characterized cell population in the mammalian CNS and until recently were believed to be a lineage-restricted precursor terminally differentiating to postmitotic oligodendrocytes. Recent evidence has suggested that OPCs may have in vitro and in vivo neuronal potential. In this report we examine the differentiation potential of cortical OPC populations following transplantation into the neurogenic environment of the intact neonatal and adult hippocampus. Donor OPCs were minimally manipulated and not subjected to long-term ex vivo manipulation such as expansion or treatment with mitogens. Minimally manipulated OPCs did not exhibit any intrinsic neuronal potential in vitro prior to transplantation. Following transplantation of GFP-OPCs into intact neonatal and adult hippocampus, cells were able to survive and integrate for at least 14 weeks but did not exhibit neuronal differentiation. Induction of a focal neurotoxic lesion also did not result in neuronal differentiation of graft-derived OPCs. These findings show that unselected and unmanipulated populations of cortical OPCs remain as precursor cells, commit to the oligodendrocyte lineage and fail to respond to the extrinsic cues of a neurogenic or injured environment.
    European Journal of Neuroscience 11/2007; 26(7):1791-800. DOI:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2007.05823.x · 3.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Multiple sclerosis has a clinically significant heritable component. We conducted a genomewide association study to identify alleles associated with the risk of multiple sclerosis. We used DNA microarray technology to identify common DNA sequence variants in 931 family trios (consisting of an affected child and both parents) and tested them for association. For replication, we genotyped another 609 family trios, 2322 case subjects, and 789 control subjects and used genotyping data from two external control data sets. A joint analysis of data from 12,360 subjects was performed to estimate the overall significance and effect size of associations between alleles and the risk of multiple sclerosis. A transmission disequilibrium test of 334,923 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 931 family trios revealed 49 SNPs having an association with multiple sclerosis (P<1x10(-4)); of these SNPs, 38 were selected for the second-stage analysis. A comparison between the 931 case subjects from the family trios and 2431 control subjects identified an additional nonoverlapping 32 SNPs (P<0.001). An additional 40 SNPs with less stringent P values (<0.01) were also selected, for a total of 110 SNPs for the second-stage analysis. Of these SNPs, two within the interleukin-2 receptor alpha gene (IL2RA) were strongly associated with multiple sclerosis (P=2.96x10(-8)), as were a nonsynonymous SNP in the interleukin-7 receptor alpha gene (IL7RA) (P=2.94x10(-7)) and multiple SNPs in the HLA-DRA locus (P=8.94x10(-81)). Alleles of IL2RA and IL7RA and those in the HLA locus are identified as heritable risk factors for multiple sclerosis.
    New England Journal of Medicine 08/2007; 357(9):851-62. DOI:10.1056/NEJMoa073493 · 54.42 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

16k Citations
2,033.80 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1993–2014
    • University of Cambridge
      • • Department of Clinical Neurosciences
      • • Neurology Unit
      • • Brain Repair Centre
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2010
    • University of California, Berkeley
      • Division of Epidemiology
      Berkeley, California, United States