Temporal lobe epilepsy is the most common form of epilepsy in humans. Caspase activation is a mechanism of cell death induced by seizures. Tellurium (IV) compounds present antitumoral, immunomodulatory and neuroprotective effects due to their ability to inhibit cysteine proteases. We studied the activity of caspase-1, -3 and -8 in the hippocampus of rats exhibiting status epilepticus induced by pilocarpine. All three caspases were activated. Tellurium (IV) compounds RF-07, RF-03 and AS-101 inhibited caspases in vitro, showing high second-order inhibition rate constants. The intraperitoneal injection of RF-07 prior to pilocarpine suppressed the behavioral and electroencephalographic seizure occurrence. According to our results, the caspases are activated as early as 90 min following SE. Tellurium (IV) compounds exerted anticonvulsant effects associated with the inhibition of caspases. These results suggest a promising therapeutic potential of organotellurium (IV) compounds as antiepileptogenic agents.
The identification of novel molecular targets crucially involved in motor neuron degeneration/survival is a necessary step for the development of hopefully more effective therapeutic strategies for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients. In this view, S1R, an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-resident receptor with chaperone-like activity, has recently attracted great interest. S1R is involved in several processes leading to acute and chronic neurodegeneration, including ALS pathology. Treatment with the S1R agonist PRE-084 improves locomotor function and motor neuron survival in presymptomatic and early symptomatic mutant SOD1-G93A ALS mice. Here, we tested the efficacy of PRE-084 in a model of spontaneous motor neuron degeneration, the wobbler mouse (wr) as a proof of concept that S1R may be regarded as a key therapeutic target also for ALS cases not linked to SOD1 mutation. Increased staining for S1R was detectable in morphologically spared cervical spinal cord motor neurons of wr mice both at early (6th week) and late (12th week) phases of clinical progression. S1R signal was also detectable in hypertrophic astrocytes and reactive microglia of wr mice. Chronic treatment with PRE-084 (three times a week, for 8weeks), starting at symptom onset, significantly increased the levels of BDNF in the gray matter, improved motor neuron survival and ameliorated paw abnormality and grip strength performance. In addition, the treatment significantly reduced the number of reactive astrocytes whereas, that of CD11b+ microglial cells was increased. A deeper evaluation of microglial markers revealed significant increased number of cells positive for the pan-macrophage marker CD68 and of CD206+ cells, involved in tissue restoration, in the white matter of PRE-084-treated mice. The mRNA levels of TNF-α and IL-1β were not affected by PRE-084 treatment. Thus, our results support pharmacological manipulation of S1R as a promising strategy to cure ALS and point to increased availability of growth factors and modulation of astrocytosis and of macrophage/microglia as part of the mechanism involved in S1R-mediated neuroprotection.
Neuropathic pain is a devastating neurological disease that seriously affects quality of life in patients. The mechanisms leading to the development and maintenance of neuropathic pain are still poorly understood. However, recent evidence points towards a role of spinal microglia in the modulation of neuronal mechanisms. In this context, cannabinoids are thought to modulate synaptic plasticity as well as glial functions. Here, we have investigated the effect of chronic treatment with a selective agonist of cannabinoid type 2 receptor (CB2), 1-(2',4'-dichlorophenyl)-6-methyl-N-cyclohexylamine-1,4-dihydroindeno[1,2-c]pyrazole-3 carboxamide (NESS400), on pain thresholds in the spared nerve injury (SNI) model in the mouse and on the distribution and activation of spinal microglia. Repeated treatment with NESS400 (4 mg/kg) significantly alleviated neuropathic mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia. In the dorsal horn (L4-L6) of neuropathic mice microglia activation (quantification of the length of microglial processes) and astrocytosis were associated with CB2 receptor over-expression on both cell types. Treatment with NESS400 significantly reduced the number of hypertrophic microglia while leaving microglial cell number unaffected and reduced astrogliosis. Moreover, prolonged administration of NESS400 reduced mRNA expression of pro-inflammatory markers and enhanced anti-inflammatory marker gene expression in dorsal horn extracts. In conclusion, we show that selective CB2 receptor stimulation prevents thermal hyperalgesia, alleviates mechanical allodynia and facilitates the proliferation of anti-inflammatory microglial phenotype in the ipsilateral dorsal horn of the spinal cord in SNI mice.
Environmental enrichment has been shown to be both neuroprotective and neurorestorative in 1-methyl-2-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) mouse models of Parkinson's disease (PD). However, whether social interaction or novel physical stimulation is responsible for this recovery is controversial. In the current study, we have investigated the effects of only social enrichment (SocE) in progressively MPTP-lesioned mice. After mice were lesioned using a progressively increased dose (4 mg/kg, 8 mg/kg, 16 mg/kg and 32 mg/kg; each dose daily for 5 days), the MPTP-induced behavioral deficits, after the 32 mg/kg dose, were reversed with acute L-DOPA. This acute behavioral recovery suggests that this progressive MPTP-induced neurodegeneration is an appropriate murine model of PD. Mice were housed four per cage for the first 2 weeks of progressive lesioning or vehicle treatment. After the 8 mg/kg MPTP dose (prior to SocE intervention) mice showed a significant decrease in rearing and foot fault behaviors (FF/BB) compared to the vehicle group. Additionally, there was a 38% decrease in mean number of tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactive (TH-ir) substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) neurons/section, and a 50% decrease in the optical density of TH-ir dorsolateral caudate putamen (CPu) terminals compared to the vehicle group. Mice were then housed either two (socially limited environment; SLE) or twelve (SocE) mice per cage during continued MPTP lesioning for the next 2 weeks at 16 mg/kg and 32 mg/kg MPTP. MPTP treatment was then discontinued, while mice remained in the SLE or SocE cages for an additional week. Rearing behavior was further impaired in SLE-MPTP mice following progressive MPTP, accompanied by additional decreases in the mean number of TH-ir SNpc neurons/section and CPu TH-ir terminals. CPu TH and dopamine transporter (DAT) protein expression, as well as dopamine tissue and TH protein levels was significantly decreased compared to either vehicle group. However, the deficit in rearing behavior in SLE-MPTP mice was reversed with acute L-DOPA following the intervention period. SocE-MPTP mice showed rearing and FF/BB behaviors similar to vehicle levels, although FF/BB was not significantly different from pre-intervention levels. The reversal from pre-intervention rearing deficits was correlated with an attenuated decrease in the mean number of SNpc TH-ir neurons/section and CPu TH and DAT protein, and with a blocked decrease in CPu TH-ir terminals compared to pre-intervention levels. Our findings show that SocE mice not only resist further nigrostriatal lesioning and FF/BB deficit, but rearing behavior is recovered to the level of the vehicle group despite continued MPTP treatment. In contrast, SLE mice showed continued loss of nigrostriatal TH-ir and decline of motor behaviors with progressive MPTP. The data suggest that non-pharmacological intervention that started at an early stage of dopamine loss is effective at slowing or blocking further nigrostriatal degeneration.
Promethazine (PMZ) is an FDA-approved antihistaminergic drug that was identified as a potentially neuroprotective compound in the NINDS screening program. PMZ accumulates in brain mitochondria in vivo and inhibits Ca2+-induced mitochondrial permeability transition pore (PTP) in rat liver mitochondria in vitro. We hypothesized that PMZ may have a protective effect in a mitochondrial toxin model of Parkinson's disease (PD). Mice treated with 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) sustained a significant loss of dopaminergic neurons within the SNpc that was strongly attenuated by PMZ treatment. However, neither striatal MPP+ concentrations nor MPTP-induced inhibition of mitochondrial complex I were affected by PMZ treatment. In isolated mouse brain mitochondria, PMZ partially prevented and reversed MPP+-induced depolarization of membrane potential and inhibited the Ca2+-induced PTP in brain mitochondria. The sum of data indicates that PMZ is a strong neuroprotective agent capable of protecting dopaminergic neurons against MPTP toxicity in vivo.
GABA and enkephalin-utilizing efferents from the striatum to the external segment of the pallidal complex (GPe) are thought to be overactive in Parkinson's disease (PD). This overactivity is generally held to play a major role in the genesis of parkinsonian symptoms, which are thought to appear when dopaminergic neuronal death exceeds a critical threshold. Little is known, however, regarding the activity of this pathway during disease progression and more particularly, prior to the emergence of parkinsonian symptoms. In order to test the hypothesis that an upregulation of striatal preproenkephalin-A (PPE-A) mRNA levels occurs before the appearance of parkinsonian motor disabilities, the present study assessed PPE-A mRNA expression and striatal dopamine (DA) content following a chronic 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) administration protocol in monkeys that produces a progressive parkinsonian state. Groups ranged from normal to full parkinsonian through asymptomatic lesioned monkeys. The key finding of this study is that PPE-A expression is already upregulated in asymptomatic-lesioned monkeys showing a marked DA depletion (56%). Importantly, this up-regulation is restricted to motor regions of the basal ganglia circuitry. The increased PPE-A mRNA expression observed in asymptomatic, but DA-depleted animals, supports our initial hypothesis of such an upregulation occurring before the appearance of parkinsonian motor disabilities. Furthermore, when considered with recent electrophysiological and histochemical data, these findings question the functional significance of upregulated enkephalin transmission in the indirect striatopallidal pathway.
Exercise has been shown to be beneficial for Parkinson's disease (PD). A major interest in our lab has been to investigate how exercise modulates basal ganglia function and modifies disease progression. Dopamine (DA) depletion leads to loss of dendritic spines within the caudate nucleus and putamen (striatum) in PD and its animal models and contributes to motor impairments. Striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs) can be delineated into two populations, the dopamine D1 receptor (DA-D1R)-containing MSNs of the direct pathway and dopamine D2 receptor (DA-D2R)-containing MSNs of the indirect pathway. There is evidence to suggest that the DA-D2R-indirect pathway MSNs may be preferentially affected after DA-depletion with a predominate loss of dendritic spine density when compared to MSNs of the DA-D1R-direct pathway in rodents; however, others have reported that both pathways may be affected in primates. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of intensive exercise on dendritic spine density and arborization in MSNs of these two pathways in the MPTP mouse model of PD. We found that MPTP led to a decrease in dendritic spine density in both DA-D1R- and DA-D2R-containing MSNs and 30days of intensive treadmill exercise led to increased dendritic spine density and arborization in MSNs of both pathways. In addition, exercise increased the expression of synaptic proteins PSD-95 and synaptophysin. Taken together these findings support the potential effect of exercise in modifying synaptic connectivity within the DA-depleted striatum and in modifying disease progression in individuals with PD.
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.
The 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-lesioned mouse serves as a model of basal ganglia injury and Parkinson's disease. The present study investigated the effects of MPTP-induced lesioning on associative memory, conditioned fear, and affective behavior. Male C57BL/6 mice were administered saline or MPTP and separate groups were evaluated at either 7 or 30 days post-lesioning. In the social transmission of food preference test, mice showed a significant decrease in preference for familiar food 30 days post-MPTP compared to controls. Mice at both 7 and 30 days post-MPTP lesioning had increased fear extinction compared to controls. High Performance Liquid Chromatography analysis of tissues homogenates showed dopamine and serotonin were depleted in the striatum, frontal cortex, and amygdala. No changes in anxiety or depression were detected by the tail suspension, sucrose preference, light-dark preference, or hole-board tests. In conclusion, acute MPTP lesioning regimen in mice causes impairments in associative memory and conditioned fear, no mood changes, and depletion of dopamine and serotonin throughout the brain.
The diazoxide derivative 7-chloro-3-methyl-3,4-dihydro-2H-1,2,4-benzothiadiazine-S,S-dioxide (IDRA21) enhances memory and learning in rodents, most likely by potentiating AMPAergic synaptic activity. We examined IDRA21's effect upon AMPAergic synaptic currents and whole-cell glutamate currents in cultured rat hippocampal neurons to determine whether IDRA21 was a partial modulator of AMPA receptor desensitization and deactivation. Comparable to cyclothiazide, IDRA21 prolonged AMPAergic autaptic currents (5.6 times control, EC50 150 microM) and slowed the rate of AMPA deactivation (3 times control) following 1-ms applications of 1 mM glutamate to excised, outside-out membrane patches. IDRA21 also augmented autaptic GABA currents by 27 +/- 8.1%, although it had two opposing effects, reducing the peak amplitude versus prolonging autaptic GABA currents. IDRA21 (200 microM) inhibited whole-cell GABA currents elicited by exogenously applied 1 mM GABA by 41 +/- 11%. At sufficient concentrations, IDRA21 reduced AMPA receptor desensitization and slowed the rate of deactivation, most consistent with full agonist activity with lower potency compared to cyclothiazide. IDRA21 slightly augments GABAergic synaptic currents.
In human disease, channelopathies involving functional reduction of the delayed rectifier potassium channel α-subunit Kv1.1 - either by mutation or autoimmune inhibition - result in temporal lobe epilepsy. Kv1.1 is prominently expressed in the axons of the hippocampal tri-synaptic pathway, suggesting its absence will result in widespread effects on normal network oscillatory activity. Here, we performed in vitro extracellular recordings using a multielectrode array to determine the effects of loss of Kv1.1 on spontaneous sharp waves (SPWs) and high frequency oscillations (HFOs). We found that Kcna1-null hippocampi generate SPWs and ripples (80-200 Hz bandwidth) with a 50% increased rate of incidence and 50% longer duration, and that epilepsy-associated pathologic HFOs in the fast ripple bandwidth (200-600 Hz) are also present. Furthermore, Kcna1-null CA3 has enhanced coupling of excitatory inputs and population spike generation and CA3 principal cells have reduced spike timing reliability. Removing the influence of mossy fiber and perforant path inputs by micro-dissecting the Kcna1-null CA3 region mostly rescued the oscillatory behavior and improved spike timing. We found that Kcna1-null mossy fibers and medial perforant path axons are hyperexcitable and produce greater pre- and post-synaptic responses with reduced paired-pulse ratios suggesting increased neurotransmitter release at these terminals. These findings were recapitulated in wild-type slices exposed to the Kv1.1 inhibitor dendrotoxin-κ. Collectively, these data indicate that loss of Kv1.1 enhances synaptic release in the CA3 region, which reduces spike timing precision of individual neurons leading to disorganization of network oscillatory activity and promotes the emergence of fast ripples.
Dravet syndrome is an intractable epileptic encephalopathy characterized by early onset epileptic seizures followed by cognitive decline, hyperactivity, autistic behaviors and ataxia. Most Dravet syndrome patients possess heterozygous mutations of SCN1A gene encoding voltage-gated sodium channel α(I) subunit (Na(v)1.1). We have previously reported that mice heterozygous for a nonsense mutation in Scn1a developed early onset epileptic seizures. However, the learning ability and sociability of the mice remained to be investigated. In the present study, we subjected heterozygous Scn1a mice to a comprehensive behavioral test battery. We found that while heterozygous Scn1a mice had lowered spontaneous motor activity in home cage, they were hyperactive in novel environments. Moreover, the mice had low sociability and poor spatial learning ability that correspond to the autistic behaviors and cognitive decline seen in Dravet syndrome patients. These results suggest that Na(v)1.1 haploinsufficiency intrinsically contributes to not only epileptic seizures but also lowered sociability and learning impairment in heterozygous Scn1a mutant mice, as it should also be the case in patients with Dravet syndrome.
In the present study, we prepared a SCA3 animal model by generating transgenic mice expressing polyglutamine-expanded ataxin-3-Q79. Ataxin-3-Q79 was expressed in brain areas implicated in SCA3 neurodegeneration, including cerebellum, pontine nucleus and substantia nigra. Ataxin-3-Q79 transgenic mice displayed motor dysfunction with an onset age of 5-6 months, and neurological symptoms deteriorated in the following months. A prominent neuronal loss was not found in the cerebellum of 10 to 11-month-old ataxin-3-Q79 mice displaying pronounced ataxic symptoms, suggesting that instead of neuronal demise, ataxin-3-Q79 causes neuronal dysfunction of the cerebellum and resulting ataxia. To test the involvement of transcriptional dysregulation in ataxin-3-Q79-induced cerebellar malfunction, microarray analysis and real-time RT-PCR assays were performed to identify altered cerebellar mRNA expressions of ataxin-3-Q79 mice. Compared to non-transgenic mice or mice expressing wild-type ataxin-3-Q22, 10 to 11-month-old ataxin-3-Q79 mice exhibited downregulated mRNA expressions of proteins involved in glutamatergic neurotransmission, intracellular calcium signaling/mobilization or MAP kinase pathways, GABA(A/B) receptor subunits, heat shock proteins and transcription factor regulating neuronal survival and differentiation. Upregulated expressions of Bax, cyclin D1 and CDK5-p39, which may mediate neuronal death, were also observed in ataxin-3-Q79 transgenic mice. The involvement of transcriptional abnormality in initiating the pathological process of SCA3 was indicated by the finding that 4 to 5-month-old ataxin-3-Q79 mice, which did not display neurological phenotype, exhibited downregulated mRNA levels of genes involved in glutamatergic signaling and signal transduction. Our study suggests that polyglutamine-expanded ataxin-3 causes cerebellar dysfunction and ataxia by disrupting the normal pattern of gene transcriptions.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by accumulation and deposition of Abeta peptides in the brain. Abeta deposition in cerebral vessels occurs in many AD patients and results in cerebral amyloid angiopathy (AD/CAA). Abeta deposits evoke neuro- and neurovascular inflammation contributing to neurodegeneration. In this study, we found that exposure of cultured human brain endothelial cells (HBEC) to Abeta(1-40) elicited expression of inflammatory genes MCP-1, GRO, IL-1beta and IL-6. Up-regulation of these genes was confirmed in AD and AD/CAA brains by qRT-PCR. Profiling of 54 transcription factors indicated that AP-1 was strongly activated not only in Abeta-treated HBEC but also in AD and AD/CAA brains. AP-1 complex in nuclear extracts from Abeta-treated HBEC bound to AP-1 DNA-binding sequence and activated the reporter gene of a luciferase vector carrying AP-1-binding site from human MCP-1 gene. AP-1 is a dimeric protein complex and supershift assay identified c-Jun as a component of the activated AP-1 complex. Western blot analyses showed that c-Jun was activated via JNK-mediated phosphorylation, suggesting that as a result of c-Jun phosphorylation, AP-1 was activated and thus up-regulated MCP-1 expression. A JNK inhibitor SP600125 strongly inhibited Abeta-induced c-Jun phosphorylation, AP-1 activation, AP-1 reporter gene activity and MCP-1 expression in cells stimulated with Abeta peptides. The results suggested that JNK-AP1 signaling pathway is responsible for Abeta-induced neuroinflammation in HBEC and Alzheimer's brain and that this signaling pathway may serve as a therapeutic target for relieving Abeta-induced inflammation.
Alzheimer's disease and prion diseases (e.g., Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) display profound neural lesions associated with aberrant protein processing and extracellular amyloid deposits. However, the intracellular events in prion diseases and their relation with the processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and beta-amyloid generation are unknown. The adaptor protein Dab1 may regulate intracellular trafficking and secretase-mediated proteolysis in APP processing. However, a putative relationship between prion diseases and Dab1/APP interactions is lacking. Thus, we examined, in inoculated animals, whether Dab1 and APP processing are targets of the intracellular events triggered by extracellular exposure to PrP(106-126) peptide. Our in vitro results indicate that PrP(106-126) peptide induces tyrosine phosphorylation of Dab1 by activated members of the Src family of tyrosine kinases (SFK), which implies further Dab1 degradation. We also corroborate these results in Dab1 protein levels in prion-inoculated hamsters. Finally, we show that fibrillar prion peptides have a dual effect on APP processing and beta-amyloid production. First, they block APP trafficking at the cell membrane, thus decreasing beta-amyloid production. In parallel, they reduce Dab1 levels, which also alter APP processing. Lastly, neuronal cultures from Dab1-deficient mice showed severe impairment of APP processing with reduced sAPP secretion and A beta production after prion peptide incubation. Taken together, these data indicate a link between intracellular events induced by exposure to extracellular fibrillar peptide or PrP(res), and APP processing and implicate Dab1 in this link.
Prion diseases are neurodegenerative pathologies characterized by the accumulation, in the brain, of altered forms of the prion protein (PrP), named PrP(Sc). A synthetic peptide homologous to residues 106-126 of PrP (PrP106-126) was reported to maintain the neurodegenerative characteristics of PrP(Sc). We investigated the intracellular mechanisms involved in PrP106-126-dependent degeneration of primary cultures of cerebellar granule neurons. Prolonged exposure of such neurons to PrP106-126 induced apoptotic cell death. The L-type voltage-sensitive calcium channel blocker nicardipine reproduced this effect, suggesting that blockade of Ca(2+) entry through this class of calcium channels may be responsible for the granule cell degeneration. Microfluorometric analysis showed that PrP106-126 caused a reduction in cytosolic calcium levels, elicited by depolarizing K(+) concentrations in these neurons. Electrophysiological studies demonstrated that PrP106-126 and nicardipine selectively reduce the L-type calcium channel current. These data demonstrate that PrP106-126 alters the activity of L-type voltage-sensitive calcium channels in rat cerebellar granule cells and suggest that this phenomenon is related to the cell death induced by the peptide.
In Huntington's disease (HD) mutant huntingtin protein impairs the function of several transcription factors, in particular the cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB). CREB activation can be increased by targeting phosphodiesterases such as phospohodiesterase 4 (PDE4) and phosphodiesterase 10A (PDE10A). Indeed, both PDE4 inhibition (DeMarch et al., 2008) and PDE10A inhibition (Giampà et al., 2010) proved beneficial in the R6/2 mouse model of HD. However, Hebb et al. (2004) reported PDE10A decline in R6/2 mice. These findings raise the issue of how PDE10A inhibition is beneficial in HD if such enzyme is lost.
Dopaminergic depletion in the nigrostriatal system is the neurochemical hallmark of Parkinson's disease (PD). Although numerous efforts have been made to determine the evolution of dopaminergic depletion in PD, "in vivo" data concerning the stages of this process are still scarce. We evaluated 6-[18F]-fluoro-l-DOPA ((18)F-DOPA) and 11C-(+)-alpha-dihydrotetrabenazine ((11)C-DTBZ) using PET in a model of chronically MPTP-induced parkinsonism in non-human primates.
Sixty-seven cynomolgus monkeys (Macacafascicularis) were included in the study. Progressive parkinsonism was induced by repeated administration of small doses of MPTP (iv) over several months. Animals were classified as controls, asymptomatic, recovered (having exhibited parkinsonian features transiently) and stable parkinsonian, according to their motor status. Analysis of striatal dopaminergic activity was conducted by regions of interest (ROI) and statistical parametric mapping (SPM) over normalized parametric images.
A progressive loss of striatal uptake was evident among groups for both radiotracers, which correlated significantly with the clinical motor status. Changes occurred earlier, i.e. in the less affected stages, with (11)C-DTBZ. Similar results were achieved by ROI and SPM analysis. Uptake was similar with both radiotracers for the asymptomatic and recovered groups.
Serial assessment with (18)F-DOPA and (11)C-DTBZ PETs provides an effective approach to evaluate evolution of dopaminergic depletion in monkeys with MPTP-induced parkinsonism. This approach could be useful to perform studies aiming to test the effect of early therapeutic intervention and putative neuroprotective treatments.
Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) is a recently identified gene that, when mutated at specific locations, results in the onset of parkinsonian symptoms with clinical features indistinguishable from idiopathic Parkinson's disease. Based on structural and domain analysis, LRRK2 is predicted to function as a stress-responsive protein scaffold mediating the regulation of mitogen activating protein kinase (MAPK) pathways. Consistent with this notion, our results supported the notion that expression of wild-type LRRK2 but not Y1699C or G2019S mutants enhanced the tolerance of HEK293 and SH-SY5Y cells towards H(2)O(2)-induced oxidative stress. This increase in stress tolerance was dependent on the presence of the kinase domain of the LRRK2 gene and manifested through the activation of the ERK pathway. Collectively, our results indicated that cells expressing LRRK2 mutants suffer a loss of protection normally derived from wild-type LRRK2, making them more vulnerable to oxidative stress.
Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) is a retinal neurodegenerative disorder caused by mitochondrial DNA point mutations. Complex I of the respiratory chain affected by the mutation results in a decrease in ATP and an increase of reactive oxygen species production. Evaluating the efficacy of minocycline in LHON, the drug increased the survival of cybrid cells in contrast to the parental cells after thapsigargin-induced calcium overload. Similar protection was observed by treatment with cyclosporine A, a blocker of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP). Ratiometric Ca(2+) imaging reveals that acetylcholine/thapsigargin triggered elevation of the cytosolic calcium concentration is alleviated by minocycline and cyclosporine A. The mitochondrial membrane potential of LHON cybrids was significantly conserved and the active-caspase-3/procaspase-3 ratio was decreased in both treatments. Our observations show that minocycline inhibits permeability transition induced by thapsigargin in addition to its antioxidant effects. In relation with its high safety profile, these results would suggest minocycline as a promising neuroprotective agent in LHON.
Idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder associated with akinesia, tremor and rigidity. While the characteristic Lewy body pathology targets pigmented and other brainstem nuclei at post-mortem, activated microglia are found in both subcortical and cortical areas. [11C](R)-PK11195 is a positron emission tomography (PET) marker of peripheral benzodiazepine sites (PBBS), which are selectively expressed by activated microglia. We examined 18 PD patients clinically and with [11C](R)-PK11195 and [18F]-dopa PET. Compared to 11 normal controls, the PD patients showed significantly increased mean levels of [11C](R)-PK11195 binding in the pons, basal ganglia and frontal and temporal cortical regions. Eight PD patients were examined longitudinally, and their [11C](R)-PK11195 signal remained stable over 2 years. Levels of microglial activation did not correlate with clinical severity or putamen [18F]-dopa uptake. Our in vivo findings confirm that widespread microglial activation is associated with the pathological process in PD. The absence of significant longitudinal changes suggests that microglia are activated early in the disease process, and levels then remain relatively static, possibly driving the disease via cytokine release.
Thirty Parkinson's disease (PD) patients were divided into three equal groups according to their disease duration while 10 normal healthy volunteers matched for age and sex served as a control group. Striatal and extrastriatal serotonergic function was studied with (11)C-DASB PET, a marker of serotonin transporter availability. (11)C-DASB binding was correlated with disease disability and exposure to dopaminergic therapy. We found significant (11)C-DASB binding reductions in striatal, brainstem, and cortical regions in PD but no correlations were evident between (11)C-DASB binding and UPDRS scores, Hoehn &Yahr staging, disease duration and level of exposure to dopaminergic therapy. Our results suggest that progressive non-linear serotonergic dysfunction occurs in PD but it does not determine levels of disability. Additionally, chronic exposure to dopaminergic therapy does not appear to influence SERT binding.