[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The tubulin gene family is mainly expressed in post-mitotic neurons during cortical development with a specific spatial and temporal expression pattern. Members of this family encode dimeric proteins consisting of two closely related subunits (α and β), representing the major constituents of microtubules. Tubulin genes play a crucial role in the mechanisms of the Central Nervous System development such as neuronal migration and axonal guidance (axon outgrowth and maintenance). Different mutations in α/β-tubulin genes (TUBA1A, TUBA8, TUBB2A, TUBB4A, TUBB2B, TUBB3, and TUBB) might alter the dynamic properties and functions of microtubules in several ways, effecting a reduction in the number of functional tubulin heterodimers and causing alterations in GTP binding and disruptions of the binding of other proteins to microtubules (motor proteins and other microtubule interacting proteins). In recent years an increasing number of brain malformations has been associated with mutations in tubulin genes: malformations of cortical development such as lissencephaly and various grades of gyral disorganization, focal or diffuse polymicrogyria and open or closed-lips schizencephaly as likely consequences of an altered neuronal migration process; abnormalities or agenesis of the midline commissural structures (anterior commissure, corpus callosum and fornix), hypoplasia of the oculomotor and optic nerves, dysmorphisms of the hind-brain as expression of axon guidance disorders. Dysmorphisms of the basal ganglia (fusion between the caudate nucleus and putamen with absence of the anterior limb of the internal capsule) and hippocampi were also observed. A rare form of leukoencephalopathy characterized by hypomyelination with atrophy of the basal ganglia an cerebellum (H-ABC) was also recently described. The present review, describing the structural and functional features of tubulin genes, aims to revise the main cerebral associated malformations and related clinical aspects, suggesting a genotype-phenotype correlation.
Brain and Development 07/2014; · 1.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is used for exploring brain functionality, and recently it was applied for mapping the brain connection patterns. To give a meaningful neurobiological interpretation to the connectivity network, it is fundamental to properly define the network framework. In particular, the choice of the network nodes may affect the final connectivity results and the consequent interpretation.
. We introduce a novel method for the intra subject topological characterization of the nodes of fMRI brain networks, based on a whole brain parcellation scheme. The proposed whole brain parcellation algorithm divides the brain into clusters that are homogeneous from the anatomical and functional point of view, each of which constitutes a node. The functional parcellation described is based on the Tononi's cluster index, which measures instantaneous correlation in terms of intrinsic and extrinsic statistical dependencies.
The method performance and reliability were first tested on simulated data, then on a real fMRI dataset acquired on healthy subjects during visual stimulation. Finally, the proposed algorithm was applied to epileptic patients' fMRI data recorded during seizures, to verify its usefulness as preparatory step for effective connectivity analysis. For each patient, the nodes of the network involved in ictal activity were defined according to the proposed parcellation scheme and Granger Causality Analysis (GCA) was applied to infer effective connectivity.
We showed that the algorithm 1) performed well on simulated data, 2) was able to produce reliable inter-subjects results and 3) led to a detailed definition of the effective connectivity pattern.
Journal of neuroscience methods 03/2014; · 2.30 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to determine the frequency of mutations in tubulin genes (TUBB2B, TUBA1A, and TUBB3) in patients with malformations of cortical development (MCDs) of unknown origin.
In total, 79 out of 156 patients (41 males, 38 females; age range 8mo-55y (mean age 13y 3mo, SD 11y 2mo) with a neuroradiological diagnosis of MCDs were enrolled in the study. The 77 excluded patients were excluded for the following reasons: suspected or proven diagnosis of pre- or perinatal ischaemic insult (n=13); syndromic disease (n=10); congenital infection (n=14); pregnancy complicated by twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (n=2); proven mutations in known genes (n=13); poor magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) quality, or lack of informed consent (n=25). A genetic analysis of the TUBA1A, TUBB2B and TUBB3 genes was carried out by direct sequencing of the coding regions of the relevant genes for each participant. Previously described patients with mutations in the TUBB2B and TUBA1A genes were reviewed; clinical and neuroradiological findings were compared and discussed.
Two novel heterozygous mutations were detected: a heterozygous mutation in exon 4 of the TUBA1A gene (c.1160C>T) in a 5-year-old female with microcephaly, severe intellectual disability, and absence of language, and a c.1080 _1084del CCTGAinsACATCTTC in exon 4 of the TUBB2B gene in a 31-year-old female with microcephaly, spastic tetraparesis, severe intellectual disability, and scoliosis. Different types of cortical abnormalities, cerebellar vermis hypoplasia, and optic nerve hypoplasia/atrophy were detected on MRI. Dysmorphisms of the basal ganglia and the hippocampi with abnormalities of the midline commissural structures were present in both cases.
The consistent presence of hypoplastic and disorganized white matter tracts suggests that, in addition to defects in neuronal migration, disruption of axon growth and guidance is a peculiar feature of tubulin-related disorders.
Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 01/2014; · 2.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this paper we propose a Multiple Kernel Learning (MKL) classifier to detect malformations of the Corpus Callosum (CC) and apply it in a pediatric population. Furthermore, we extend the concept of discriminative direction to the linear MKL methods, implementing it in a single subject analysis framework. The CC is characterized using different measures derived from Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) data and the MKL approach is used to efficiently combine them. The discriminative direction analysis highlights those features that lead the classification for each given subject. In the case of a CC with malformation this means highlighting the abnormal characteristics of the CC that guide the diagnosis. Experiments show that the method correctly identifies the malformative aspects of the CC. Moreover, it is able to identify dishomogeneus, localized or widespread abnormalities among the different features. The proposed method is therefore suitable for supporting neuroradiologists in the decision-making process, providing them not only with a suggested diagnosis, but also with a description of the pathology.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Complicated hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSP) are a heterogeneous group of HSP characterized by spasticity associated with a variable combination of neurologic and extra-neurologic signs and symptoms. Among them, HSP with thin corpus callosum and intellectual disability is a frequent subtype, often inherited as a recessive trait (ARHSP-TCC). Within this heterogeneous subgroup, SPG11 and SPG15 represent the most frequent subtypes. We analyzed the mutation frequency of three genes associated with early-onset forms of ARHSP with and without TCC, CYP2U1/SPG56, DDHD2/SPG54 and GBA2/SPG46, in a large population of selected complicated HSP patients by using a combined approach of traditional-based and amplicon-based high-throughput pooled-sequencing. Three families with mutations were identified, one for each of the genes analyzed. Novel homozygous mutations were identified in CYP2U1 (c.1A>C/p.Met1?) and in GBA2 (c.2048G>C/p.Gly683Arg), while the homozygous mutation found in DDHD2 (c.1978G>C/p.Asp660His) had been previously reported in a compound heterozygous state. The phenotypes associated with the CYP2U1 and DDHD2 mutations overlap the SPG56 and the SPG54 subtypes, respectively, with few differences. By contrast, the GBA2 mutated patients show phenotypes combining typical features of both the SPG46 subtype and the recessive ataxia form, with marked intrafamilial variability thereby expanding the spectrum of clinical entities associated with GBA2 mutations. Overall, each of three genes analyzed shows a low mutation frequency in a general population of complicated HSP (<1 % for either CYP2U1 or DDHD2 and approximately 2 % for GBA2). These findings underline once again the genetic heterogeneity of ARHSP-TCC and the clinical overlap between complicated HSP and the recessive ataxia syndromes.
Journal of Neurology 12/2013; · 3.58 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Homozygous and compound heterozygous mutations in SETX are associated with AOA2 disease, a recessive form of ataxia with oculomotor apraxia and neuropathy with onset of ataxia between the first and second decade of life. The majority of the AOA2 mutated cell lines tested show hypersensitivity to oxidative DNA damaging agents, with one exception. Results: We describe a patient presenting with early-onset progressive ataxia, oculomotor apraxia, axonal sensory-motor neuropathy, optic atrophy, delayed psychomotor development, and a behavior disorder. The patient carries two novel missense variants in the SETX gene. Based on the hypothesis that the patient's clinical phenotype may represent an atypical form of the AOA2 disease, we tested the patient-derived cell line for hypersensitivity to oxidative DNA damaging agents, with negative results. Conclusions: The lack of hypersensitivity we observed may be explained either by considering the atypical clinical picture of the patient analyzed or, alternatively, by hypothesizing that the variants detected are not the cause of the observed phenotype. Consistent with the first hypothesis of an atypical AOA2 form and based on the multiple functions of senataxin reported so far, it is likely that different sets of SETX mutations/variants may have variable functional effects that still need to be functionally characterized. The possibility that the severe and complicated clinical picture presented by the patient described here represents a clinical entity differing from the known recessive ataxias should be considered as well.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in STXBP1 gene, encoding the syntaxin binding protein 1, have been recently described in Ohtahara syndrome, or early infantile epileptic encephalopathy with suppression-burst pattern, and in other early-onset epileptic encephalopathies. A 3-year-old boy affected by epileptic encephalopathy started at 8 months of age is described. Focal epilepsy was characterized by drug resistance seizures with multifocal interictal and ictal electroencephalographic (EEG) features and variable EEG focus. Direct sequencing of the STXBP1 gene showed a novel de novo mutation (c.751G>A), leading to a p.Ala251Thr substitution. Based on reported data, treatment with vigabatrin was attempted and patient became immediately seizure free for 4 months. The present case further expands the clinical spectrum of "STXBP1-related encephalopathy" suggesting molecular analysis of STXBP1 in early onset epileptic encephalopathies of unknown etiology (with onset within the first year of life). In addition, the case provides valuable suggestions on seizures treatment in STXBP1 mutated subjects.
Journal of child neurology 10/2013; · 1.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) in combination with Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) is finding widespread use in the analysis of brain function. While most of the studies deal with the detection of positive responses, here we focus on negative responses to visual stimulation. In a group fMRI study on Intermittent Photic Stimulation (IPS) we detected a sustained Negative BOLD Response (NBR) in the extrastriate visual cortex. To confirm and better characterize NBR, we repeated the same protocol during NIRS recordings. In this paper we show fMRI results and demonstrate the NBR on the basis of NIRS findings.
Conference proceedings: ... Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Conference 07/2013; 2013:1378-1381.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) was employed for the detection of possible residual functional activations in two patients in minimally conscious state. An "ad hoc" protocol for somatosensory and motor stimulations was created and administered to the patients, synchronously to NIRS recordings. One healthy subject was also assessed with the same task for comparison. Results from the healthy subject globally agree with the literature. Moreover, we could obtain significant results from the patients data. Indeed, in one patient, the NIRS channels showing activation completely correspond to regions of residual cortex underneath. In the second patient, though, together with possible residual intact cortex insulae, some channels match large cystic formations, with fluid gathering.
Conference proceedings: ... Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Conference 07/2013; 2013:3551-3554.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in the conserved telomere maintenance component 1 (CTC1) gene were recently described in Coats plus syndrome and in cerebroretinal microangiopathy with calcifications and cysts. Norrie disease protein (NDP) gene was found mutated in Norrie disease, in Familial Exudative Vitreoretinopathy, and in Coats syndrome. Here we describe a boy affected by Norrie disease who developed typical features of cerebroretinal microangiopathy with calcifications and cysts. Direct sequencing of the CTC1 and NDP genes in this patient shows the presence of compound heterozygosity for 2 mutations in CTC1 (c.775G>A, pV259M and a novel microdeletion c.1213delG) and a missense mutation in the NDP gene (c.182T>C, p.L61P). Based on these genetic findings and on the expression of both genes in endothelial cells, we postulate that microangiopathy might be a primary underlying pathologic abnormality in cerebroretinal microangiopathy with calcifications and cysts. This hypothesis is further supported by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data showing multiple minute calcifications in the deep gray nuclei and in terminal arteriolar zones.
Journal of child neurology 12/2012; · 1.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neurological disorders characterized by abnormal neuronal migration, organization, axon guidance, and maintenance have recently been associated with missense and splice-site mutations in the genes encoding α- and β-tubulin isotypes TUBA1A, TUBB2B, TUBB3, and TUBA8. We found a novel heterozygous mutation c.419G > C in exon 4 of the gene encoding TUBB2B in a female with microcephaly, agenesis of the corpus callosum, open-lip schizencephaly of the left parietal lobe, extensive polymicrogyria, basal ganglia and thalami dysmorphisms, and vermis and right third nerve hypoplasia. The missense change results in a glycine to alanine substitution; the mutated residue falls within an invariant glycine-rich region and therefore is likely to result in impaired protein function and possibly microtubule formation. This study expands the spectrum of brain malformations associated with mutations in the β-tubulin gene TUBB2B, supporting its critical role in migration/organization and axon guidance processes. In addition, it suggests a possible genetic aetiology of schizencephaly, thus strengthening the hypothesis that there is a common pathophysiological base in polymicrogyria and schizencephaly.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ventriculomegaly (VM) is the most common brain anomaly in prenatal ultrasound (US) diagnosis. There is a general trend to perform fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) when VM is severe (greater than 15 mm) and/or it is not isolated. The role of MRI is debated when VM is borderline (between 10 and 15 mm) and isolated. Some authors have subdivided borderline VM into mild (10 to 12 mm) and moderate (>12 to 15 mm). The aim of the study was to evaluate the role of MR in the imaging protocol of fetal cases characterized by mild isolated VM and no risk factors.
As a retrospective study, 179 fetal MRI exams (mean gestational age: 26 weeks), performed for mild, isolated VM on US, were analyzed to search additional or different findings with respect to ultrasound. The potential impact of MRI results on prenatal counselling is described.
In 49/179 cases, MRI and US results differed, but only in two of these cases did MRI studies provide clinically consistent additional information. In 130/179 cases, MRI confirmed US findings.
In this extremely selected group of fetuses with isolated, mild VM and no risk factors, MRI may not be indicated in the prenatal imaging protocol.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Limited information is available about the development of focal cortical gyration anomalies in the human brain. Using prenatal MRI, we characterized focal cortical gyration anomalies at an early formative stage and sought clues about the mechanisms of their development.
From a large prenatal MRI database, 30 cases (gestational age, ≤ 24 weeks) with reported focal distortion of the cortical rim profile were selected. Eight cases were matched with histologic examinations; another seven had prenatal MRI, MRI autopsy, or postnatal MRI follow-up; and 15 had no follow-up but did present analogous abnormal cortical features. Focal cortical gyration anomalies were detectable when the brain was still smooth (i.e., physiological lissencephaly).
Four patterns of cortical plate anomaly were identified: wartlike (11 cases), abnormal invaginating sulcus (11 cases), sawtooth (six cases), and single or multiple bumps (two cases). A thinned or blurred subplate and intermediate zone in the focal cortical gyration anomaly site was detected in 80% of cases. All but two cases had other intracranial anomalies. Seven cases were classified as hypoxic-ischemic, five as genetic, and three as infective. In 15 cases, the cause could not be established. In five fetuses with further intrauterine or postnatal MRI, focal cortical gyration anomalies increased in complexity, fulfilling postnatal imaging criteria of polymicrogyria.
Focal cortical gyration anomalies can be detected at the early sulcation process stage. The process leading to abnormal gyration may evolve faster than physiologic ones and seems to be related to alterations of parenchymal layering occurring before 24 weeks' gestation. Most focal cortical gyration anomalies evolve toward what is currently considered polymicrogyria.
American Journal of Roentgenology 02/2012; 198(2):439-47. · 2.90 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Oral-Facial-Digital Syndrome type VI (OFD VI) represents a rare phenotypic subtype of Joubert syndrome and related disorders (JSRD). In the original report polydactyly, oral findings, intellectual disability, and absence of the cerebellar vermis at post-mortem characterized the syndrome. Subsequently, the molar tooth sign (MTS) has been found in patients with OFD VI, prompting the inclusion of OFD VI in JSRD. We studied the clinical, neurodevelopmental, neuroimaging, and genetic findings in a cohort of 16 patients with OFD VI. We derived the following inclusion criteria from the literature: 1) MTS and one oral finding and polydactyly, or 2) MTS and more than one typical oral finding. The OFD VI neuroimaging pattern was found to be more severe than in other JSRD subgroups and includes severe hypoplasia of the cerebellar vermis, hypoplastic and dysplastic cerebellar hemispheres, marked enlargement of the posterior fossa, increased retrocerebellar collection of cerebrospinal fluid, abnormal brainstem, and frequently supratentorial abnormalities that occasionally include characteristic hypothalamic hamartomas. Additionally, two new JSRD neuroimaging findings (ascending superior cerebellar peduncles and fused thalami) have been identified. Tongue hamartomas, additional frenula, upper lip notch, and mesoaxial polydactyly are specific findings in OFD VI, while cleft lip/palate and other types of polydactyly of hands and feet are not specific. Involvement of other organs may include ocular findings, particularly colobomas. The majority of the patients have absent motor development and profound cognitive impairment. In OFD VI, normal cognitive functions are possible, but exceptional. Sequencing of known JSRD genes in most patients failed to detect pathogenetic mutations, therefore the genetic basis of OFD VI remains unknown. Compared with other JSRD subgroups, the neurological findings and impairment of motor development and cognitive functions in OFD VI are significantly worse, suggesting a correlation with the more severe neuroimaging findings. Based on the literature and this study we suggest as diagnostic criteria for OFD VI: MTS and one or more of the following: 1) tongue hamartoma(s) and/or additional frenula and/or upper lip notch; 2) mesoaxial polydactyly of one or more hands or feet; 3) hypothalamic hamartoma.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fetal magnetic resonance (MR) imaging may add to ultrasonography some valuable information in the assessment of Chiari malformations during their developmental stage. In Chiari type I, MR imaging role seems mainly related to research on pathophysiology issues rather than to real clinical applications. Some Chiari type II features may be better characterized in utero by MR imaging: such as the degree of downward displacement of cerebellum, possible abnormal signal changes within brain parenchyma and the type of meningocele (covered or uncovered).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Different and specific MR imaging patterns of lesions involving WM are widely defined in neonatal encephalopathy. The aim of this study was to describe a novel MR imaging pattern of damage characterized by the abnormal prominence of DMVs in premature and full-term neonates.
Twenty-one (11 premature and 10 full-term) neonates with MR imaging evidence of linear radially oriented fan-shaped lesions in the periventricular WM and without dural venous thrombosis were enrolled in this retrospective study. A total of 37 MR imaging examinations were performed at ages ranging from day 0 to 24 months.
According to the appearance of linear anomalies on T2-weighted images, we identified 2 main patterns: T2 hypointense lesions without WM cavitations and T2 hypointense lesions associated with linear cysts. The first pattern was found in 17 examinations performed between 0 and 44 days of life; the second pattern was found in another 14 examinations performed between 6 days and 4 months of life. Five examinations performed between 9 and 24 months of life showed a reduction in volume and hyperintense signal intensity of the periventricular WM on T2-weighted and FLAIR images.
Subtle linear WM lesions with the same anatomic distribution of DMVs may be evident in premature and full-term neonates without signs of major venous thrombosis, both in the acute and subacute phases. Their appearance and evolution suggest that transient DMV engorgement/thrombosis may be responsible for WM damage that can lead to a PVL-like pattern.
American Journal of Neuroradiology 09/2011; 32(11):2030-6. · 3.17 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Looking for anomalies distributed in DMV territory, we reviewed 78 fetal MR imaging examinations performed at our institution reporting unequivocal cerebral clastic lesions. We selected 3 cases, all of which had severe cardiocirculatory failure and parenchymal frontoparietal WM hemorrhagic lesions with characteristic fan-shaped distribution. Brain edema and other signs of venous hypertension were also evident. Our data suggest that in utero transient venous hypertension may be responsible for the onset of atypical frontal-located PVL.
American Journal of Neuroradiology 09/2011; 32(8):E146-9. · 3.17 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The main purpose was to investigate any early diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) changes in corpus callosum (CC) associated with acute cerebral hemisphere lesions in term newborns.
We retrospectively analysed 19 cases of term newborns acutely affected by focal or multi-focal lesions: hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, hypoglycaemic encephalopathy, focal ischemic stroke and deep medullary vein associated lesions. DTI was acquired at 1.5 Tesla with dedicated neonatal coil. DTI metrics (apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), fractional anisotropy (FA), axial λ(∐) and radial λ(⟂) diffusivity) were measured in the hemisphere lesions and in the CC. The control group included seven normal newborns.
The following significant differences were found between patients and normal controls in the CC: mean ADC was lower in patients (0.88 SD 0.23 versus 1.18 SD 0.07 μm(2)/s) and so was mean FA (0.50 SD 0.1 versus 0.67 SD 0.05) and mean λ(∐) value (1.61 SD 0.52 versus 2.36 SD 0.14 μm(2)/s). In CC the percentage of ADC always diminished independently of lesion age (with one exception), whereas in hemisphere lesions, it was negative in earlier lesions, but exceeded normal values in the older lesions.
CC may undergo early DTI changes in newborns with acute focal or multi-focal hemisphere lesions of different aetiology. Although a direct insult to CC cannot be totally ruled out, DTI changes in CC (in particular λ(∐)) may also be compatible with very early Wallerian degeneration or pre-Wallerian degeneration.