[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Homeodomain-interacting protein kinase 2 (HIPK2) is a multitalented coregulator of an increasing number of transcription factors and cofactors involved in cell death and proliferation in several organs and systems. As Hipk2-/- mice show behavioral abnormalities consistent with cerebellar dysfunction, we investigated whether Hipk2 is involved in these neurological symptoms. To this aim, we characterized the postnatal developmental expression profile of Hipk2 in the brain cortex, hippocampus, striatum, and cerebellum of mice by real-time PCR, western blot analysis, and immunohistochemistry. Notably, we found that whereas in the brain cortex, hippocampus, and striatum, HIPK2 expression progressively decreased with age, that is, from postnatal day 1 to adulthood, it increased in the cerebellum. Interestingly, mice lacking Hipk2 displayed atrophic lobules and a visibly smaller cerebellum than did wild-type mice. More important, the cerebellum of Hipk2-/- mice showed a strong reduction in cerebellar Purkinje neurons during adulthood. Such reduction is due to the activation of an apoptotic process associated with a compromised proteasomal function followed by an unpredicted accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins. In particular, Purkinje cell dysfunction was characterized by a strong accumulation of ubiquitinated β-catenin. Moreover, our behavioral tests showed that Hipk2-/- mice displayed muscle and balance impairment, indicative of Hipk2 involvement in cerebellar function. Taken together, these results indicate that Hipk2 exerts a relevant role in the survival of cerebellar Purkinje cells and that Hipk2 genetic ablation generates cerebellar dysfunction compatible with an ataxic-like phenotype.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Cell Death & Disease
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Methylmercury (MeHg) is a highly neurotoxic compound that, in adequate doses, can cause damage to the brain, including developmental defects and in severe cases cell death. The RE-1-silencing transcription factor (REST) has been found to be involved in the neurotoxic effects of environmental pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In this study, we investigated the effects of MeHg treatment on REST expression and its role in MeHg-induced neurotoxicity in neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells. We found that MeHg exposure caused a dose- and time- dependent apoptotic cell death, as evidenced by the appearance of apoptotic hallmarks including caspase-3 processing and annexin V uptake. Moreover, MeHg increased REST gene and gene product expression. MeHg-induced apoptotic cell death was completely abolished by REST knockdown. Interestingly, MeHg (1μM/24h) increased the expression of REST Corepressor (Co-REST) and its binding with REST whereas the other REST cofactor mammalian SIN3 homolog A transcription regulator (mSin3A) was not modified. In addition, we demonstrated that the acetylation of histone protein H4 was reduced after MeHg treatment and was critical for MeHg-induced apoptosis. Accordingly, the pan-histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin-A (TSA) prevented MeHg-induced histone protein H4 deacetylation, thereby reverting MeHg-induced neurotoxic effect. Male mice subcutaneously injected with 10mg/kg of MeHg for 10 days showed an increase in REST expression in the granule cell layer of the cerebellum together with a decrease in histone H4 acetylation. Collectively, we demonstrated that methylmercury exposure can cause neurotoxicity by activating REST gene expression and H4 deacetylation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Three different Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCX) isoforms, NCX1, NCX2, and NCX3, are expressed in brain where they play a relevant role in maintaining Na+ and Ca2+ homeostasis. Although the neuroprotective roles of NCX2 and NCX3 in stroke have been elucidated, the relevance of NCX1 is still unknown because of embryonic lethality of its knocking-out, heart dysfunctions when it is overexpressed, and the lack of selectivity in currently available drugs. To overcome these limitations we generated two conditional genetically modified mice that upon tamoxifen administration showed a selective decrease or increase of NCX1 in cortical and hippocampal neurons. Interestingly, in cortex and hippocampus NCX1 overexpression increased, where NCX1 knock-out reduced, both exchanger activity and Akt1 phosphorylation, a neuronal survival signaling. More important, mice overexpressing NCX1 showed a reduced ischemic volume and an amelioration of focal and general deficits when subjected to transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. Conversely, NCX1-knock-out mice displayed a worsening of brain damage, focal and neurological deficits with a decrease in Akt phosphorylation. These results support the idea that NCX1 overexpression/activation may represent a feasible therapeutic opportunity in stroke intervention.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We investigated the effect of the VEGF-mimetic peptide QK on ischemic brain damage and on blood brain barrier permeability in the rat. QK administered by either intracerebroventricular, intravenous or intranasal route, caused a 40% decrease respect to controls in ischemic brain damage induced by permanent occlusion of middle cerebral artery. No increase in the volume of the ischemic compared to the contralateral non-ischemic hemisphere was observed in rats treated with QK suggesting that this peptide did not cause brain edema. The effect of QK on vessel permeability was evaluated by intravital pial microvessel videoimaging, a technique allowing the visualization of pial vessels through a surgically-prepared open cranial window. Results showed that after intracarotid administration or topical application on brain cortex, QK did not cause any leakage of intravenously-injected fluorescein-dextran conjugates. Collectively these data suggest that QK may exert a relevant neuroprotective activity in stroke without promoting any increase in vascular permeability. Considering that VEGF neuroprotective activity may be, instead, overshadowed by the appearance of brain edema and microbleeds, QK could represent a significant progress for stroke treatment respect to this growth factor.
No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · ACS Chemical Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCX), a 10-transmembrane domain protein mainly involved in the regulation of intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis, plays a crucial role in cerebral ischemia. In the present paper we characterized the effect of the newly synthesized compound 5-Amino-N-butyl-2-(4-ethoxyphenoxy)-benzamide hydrochloride (BED) on the activity of the three NCX isoforms and on the evolution of cerebral ischemia. BED inhibited NCX isoform 3 (NCX3) activity (IC50 = 1.9 nM) recorded with the help of single-cell microflorimetry, 45Ca2+ radiotracer fluxes and patch-clamp in whole-cell configuration. Furthermore, this drug displayed negligible effect on NCX2, the other isoform expressed within the CNS and it failed to modulate the ubiquitously expressed NCX1 isoform. Concerning the molecular site of action, the use of chimera strategy and deletion mutagenesis showed that α1 and α2 repeats of NCX3 represented relevant molecular determinants for BED inhibitory action, whereas the intracellular regulatory f-loop was not involved. At 10 nM, BED worsened the damage induced by oxygen/glucose deprivation (OGD) followed by reoxygenation in cortical neurons through a dysregulation of [Ca2+]i. Furthermore, at the same concentration, BED significantly enhanced cell death in CA3 subregion of hippocampal organotypic slices exposed to OGD and aggravated infarct injury after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion in mice. These results showed that the newly synthesized 5-amino-n-butyl-2-(4-ethoxyphenoxy)-benzamide hydrochloride is one of the most potent inhibitor of NCX3 so far identified, representing an useful tool to dissect the role played by NCX3 in the control of Ca2+ homeostasis under physiological and pathological conditions.
No preview · Article · May 2015 · ACS Chemical Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recently, the Na(+)/Ca(+2) exchanger NCX1 and the calcium binding protein calretinin have emerged as new molecular effectors of delayed preconditioning in the brain. In the present study, we investigated whether NCX1 and calretinin cooperate within the preconditioned striatum to confer neurons greater resistance to degeneration. Confocal microscopy analysis revealed that NCX1 expression was upregulated in calretinin-positive interneurons in the rat striatum after tolerance induction. Consistently, coimmunoprecipitation assays performed on human SHSY-5Y cells, a neuronal cell line which constitutively expresses calretinin, revealed a binding between NCX1 and calretinin. Finally, silencing of calretinin expression, both in vitro and in vivo, significantly prevented preconditioning-induced neuroprotection. Interestingly, our biochemical and functional studies showed that the selective silencing of calretinin in brain cells significantly prevented not only the preconditioning-induced upregulation of NCX1 expression and activity but also the activation of the prosurvival protein kinase Akt, which is involved in calretinin and NCX1 protective actions. Collectively, our results indicate that the Na(+)/Ca(+2) exchanger NCX1 and the calcium binding protein calretinin cooperate within the striatum to confer tolerance against cerebral ischemia.
No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Molecular Neurobiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The plasma membrane Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger (NCX) is a high-capacity ionic transporter that exchanges 3Na(+) ions for 1Ca(2+) ion. The first 20 amino acids of the f-loop, named exchanger inhibitory peptide (XIPNCX1), represent an autoinhibitory region involved in the Na(+)-dependent inactivation of the exchanger. Previous research has shown that an exogenous peptide having the same amino acid sequence as the XIPNCX1 region exerts an inhibitory effect on NCX activity. In this study, we identified another regulatory peptide, named P1, which corresponds to the 562-688aa region of the exchanger. Patch-clamp analysis revealed that P1 increased the activity of the exchanger, whereas the XIP inhibited it. Furthermore, P1 colocalized with NCX1 thus suggesting a direct binding interaction. In addition, site-directed mutagenesis experiments revealed that the binding and the stimulatory effect of P1 requires a functional XIPNCX1 domain on NCX1 thereby suggesting that P1 increases the exchanger activity by counteracting the action of this autoinhibitory sequence. Taken together, these results open a new strategy for developing peptidomimetic compounds that, by mimicking the functional pharmacophore of P1, might increase NCX1 activity and thus exert a therapeutic action in those diseases in which an increase in NCX1 activity might be helpful.Molecular Therapy (2015); doi:10.1038/mt.2014.231.
No preview · Article · Dec 2014 · Molecular Therapy
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Protein kinase A (PKA) controls major aspects of neurite outgrowth and morphogenesis and plays an essential role in synaptic plasticity and memory. However, the molecular mechanism(s) of PKA action on neurite sprouting and activity are still unknown. Here, we report that in response to neurotrophin or cAMP stimulation the RING ligase praja2 ubiquitinates and degrades NOGO-A, a major inhibitor of neurite outgrowth in mammalian brain. Genetic silencing of praja2 severely inhibited neurite extension of differentiating neuroblastoma cells and mesencephalic neurons and axon outgrowth and sprouting of striatal terminals in developing rat brain. This phenotype was rescued when both praja2 and NOGO-A were depleted, suggesting that NOGO-A is, indeed, a biologically relevant target of praja2 in neuronal cells. Our findings unveil a novel mechanism that functionally couples cAMP signaling with the proteolytic turnover of NOGO-A, positively impacting on neurite outgrowth in mammalian brain.
Preview · Article · Oct 2014 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL), a member of the TNF superfamily released by microglia, appears to be involved in the induction of apoptosis following focal brain ischemia. Indeed, brain ischemia is associated with progressive enlargement of damaged areas and prominent inflammation. As ischemic preconditioning reduces inflammatory response to brain ischemia and ameliorates brain damage, the purpose of the present study was to evaluate the role of TRAIL and its receptors in stroke and ischemic preconditioning and to propose, by modulating TRAIL pathway, a new therapeutic strategy in stroke. In order to achieve this aim a rat model of harmful focal ischemia, obtained by subjecting animals to 100 min of transient occlusion of middle cerebral artery followed by 24 h of reperfusion and a rat model of ischemic preconditioning in which the harmful ischemia was preceded by 30 mins of tMCAO, which represents the preconditioning protective stimulus, were used. Results show that the neuroprotection elicited by ischemic preconditioning occurs through both upregulation of TRAIL decoy receptors and downregulation of TRAIL itself and of its death receptors. As a counterproof, immunoneutralization of TRAIL in tMCAO animals resulted in significant restraint of tissue damage and in a marked functional recovery. Our data shed new light on the mechanisms that propagate ongoing neuronal damage after ischemia in the adult mammalian brain and provide new molecular targets for therapeutic intervention. Strategies aimed to repress the death-inducing ligands TRAIL, to antagonize the death receptors, or to activate the decoy receptors open new perspectives for the treatment of stroke.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The antiepileptic drug Levetiracetam (Lev) has neuroprotective properties in experimental stroke, cerebral hemorrhage and neurotrauma. In these conditions, non-convulsive seizures (NCSs) propagate from the core of the focal lesion into perilesional tissue, enlarging the damaged area and promoting epileptogenesis. Here, we explore whether Lev neuroprotective effect is accompanied by changes in NCS generation or propagation. In particular, we performed continuous EEG recordings before and after the permanent occlusion of the middle cerebral artery (pMCAO) in rats that received Lev (100 mg/kg) or its vehicle immediately before surgery. Both in Lev-treated and in control rats, EEG activity was suppressed after pMCAO. In control but not in Lev-treated rats, EEG activity reappeared approximately 30-45 min after pMCAO. It initially consisted in single spikes and, then, evolved into spike-and-wave and polyspike-and-wave discharges. In Lev-treated rats, only rare spike events were observed and the EEG power was significantly smaller than in controls. Approximately 24 hours after pMCAO, EEG activity increased in Lev-treated rats because of the appearance of polyspike events whose power was, however, significantly smaller than in controls. In rats sacrificed 24 hours after pMCAO, the ischemic lesion was approximately 50% smaller in Lev-treated than in control rats. A similar neuroprotection was observed in rats sacrificed 72 hours after pMCAO. In conclusion, in rats subjected to pMCAO, a single Lev injection suppresses NCS occurrence for at least 24 hours. This electrophysiological effect could explain the long lasting reduction of ischemic brain damage caused by this drug.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ligneous conjunctivitis is a severe and rare chronic "idiopathic membraneous" conjunctivitis, characterized by the formation of pseudomembranes mostly on the palpebral surfaces that progressively replace the normal mucosa. Evidence has been provided that ligneous conjunctivitis is caused by a severe systemic plasminogen deficiency with decreased plasminogen antigen and decreased plasminogen functional activities. Objective of the present study is to verify the hypothesis that a topical eye application of plasminogen is able to ameliorate the consequences of this disease. Here we report the results of pre-clinical studies performed to investigate the therapeutic effectiveness of an eye-drop plasminogen preparation in B6.129P2-Plgtm1Jld transgenic mice, a model of ligneous conjunctivitis. The entity of protection mediated by plasminogen was evaluated by measuring the extent of the eye lesion by means of a computerized system and a dedicated software. The results of the present study clearly showed that the administration for six times a day of plasminogen eye-drop solution in the lesioned eye of animals knock-out for plasminogen gene and developing ligneous conjunctivitis caused a dose and time related reduction of the extent of the ocular lesion. These findings may pave the road for the pharmacological treatment of the ocular lesion associated to the ligneous conjunctivitis that at the present is surgically treated by removing the pseudomembranes generated on the eye.
Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Pharmacological Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It has recently been hypothesized that a sub-lethal ischemic insult induced in one organ is able to protect from a harmful ischemia occurring in a different organ. Objective of this study is to identify new putative mechanisms of neuroprotection elicited by remote ischemic femoral postconditioning. A 50% reduction in the infarct volume was observed when 100 minutes of middle cerebral artery occlusion were followed,10 minutes later, by the remote postconditioning stimulus represented by 20 minutes of femoral artery occlusion. The use of in vivo silencing strategy allowed to demonstrate that NO production through nNOS mediates part of the neuroprotection. Indeed, whereas CNS nNOS expression was up-regulated by remote postconditioning, the pharmacological inhibition of nNOS or its silencing-mediated knocking-down partially prevented this neuroprotective effect. This nNOS overexpression seemed to be p-ERK dependent. In fact, p-ERK expression increased in brain cortex after remote postconditioning, and its pharmacological inhibition prevented both nNOS overexpression and remote postconditioning-mediated neuroprotection. Interestingly, neuroprotection induced by remote postconditioning was partially prevented when ganglion transmission was pharmacologically interrupted by hexamethonium, thus showing that neural factors are involved in this phenomenon. Collectively, the present study demonstrates that p-ERK and nNOS take part to the complex cascade of events triggered by ischemic remote postconditioning.
No preview · Article · Feb 2013 · Neurobiology of Disease
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ischemic preconditioning is a neuroprotective mechanism in which a brief non-injurious episode of ischemia protects the brain from a subsequent lethal insult. Recently, it has been reported that modified reperfusion subsequent to a prolonged ischemic episode may also confer neuroprotection, a phenomenon termed postconditioning. Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) play a key role in these two neuroprotective mechanisms. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchangers (NCXs), a family of ionic transporters that contribute to the maintenance of intracellular ionic homeostasis, contribute to the neuroprotection elicited by ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning.Results of this study indicated that (1) NCX1 and NCX3 are upregulated in those brain regions protected by preconditioning, while (2) postconditioning treatment induces an upregulation only in NCX3 expression. (3) NCX1 upregulation and NCX3 upregulation are mediated by p-AKT since its inhibition reverted the neuroprotective effect of preconditioning and postconditioning and prevented NCXs overexpression. (4) The involvement of NCX in preconditioning and postconditioning neuroprotection is further supported by the results of experiments showing that a partial reversion of the protective effect induced by preconditioning was obtained by silencing NCX1 or NCX3, while the silencing of NCX3 was able to mitigate the protection induced by ischemic postconditioning.Altogether, the data presented here suggest that NCX1 and NCX3 -represent two promising druggable targets for setting on new strategies in stroke therapy.
No preview · Article · Jan 2013 · Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Because no isoform-specific blocker of NCX has ever been synthesized, a more selective strategy to identify the role of each antiporter isoform in the brain was represented by the generation of knockout and knockin mice for the different isoforms of the antiporter.Experiments performed in NCX2 and NCX3 knockout mice provided evidence that these two isoforms participate in spatial learning and memory consolidation, although in an opposite manner. These new data from ncx2-/- and ncx3-/- mice may open new experimental avenues for the development of effective therapeutic compounds that, by selectively inhibiting or activating these molecular targets, could treat patients affected by cognitive impairment including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's diseases, and infarct dementia.More importantly, knockout and knockin mice also provided new relevant information on the role played by NCX in maintaining the intracellular Na(+) and Ca(2+) homeostasis and in protecting neurons during brain ischemia. In particular, both ncx2-/- and ncx3-/- mice showed an increased neuronal vulnerability after the ischemic insult induced by transient middle cerebral artery occlusion.As the ubiquitous deletion of NCX1 brings about to an early death of embryos because of a lack of heartbeat, this strategy could not be successfully pursued. However, information on the role of NCX1 in normal and ischemic brain could be obtained by developing conditional knockout mice lacking NCX1 in the brain. Preliminarily results obtained in these conditional mice suggest that also NCX1 protects neurons from ischemic cell death.Overall, the use of genetic-modified mice for NCX1, NCX2, and NCX3 represents a fruitful strategy to characterize the physiological role exerted by NCX in CNS and to identify the isoforms of the antiporter as potential molecular targets for therapeutic intervention in cerebral ischemia.
No preview · Article · Jan 2013 · Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous studies have demonstrated that the knock-down or knock-out of the three Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger (NCX) isoforms, NCX1, NCX2 and NCX3, worsens ischemic brain damage. This suggests that the activation of these antiporters exerts a neuroprotective action against stroke damage. However, drugs able to increase the activity of NCXs are not yet available. We have here succeeded in synthesizing a new compound, named neurounina-1 (7-nitro-5-phenyl-1-(pyrrolidin-1-ylmethyl)-1H-benzo[e][1,4]diazepin-2(3H)-one), provided with an high lipophilicity index and able to increase NCX activity. Ca(2+)-radiotracer, Fura-2-microfluorimetry, and patch-clamp techniques revealed that neurounina-1 stimulated NCX1 and NCX2 activities with an EC(50) in the picomolar-low-nanomolar range, whereas it did not affect NCX3 activity. Furthermore, by using chimera strategy and site-directed mutagenesis, three specific molecular determinants of NCX1 responsible for neurounina-1 activity were identified in the α-repeats. Interestingly, NCX3 became responsive to neurounina-1 when both α-repeats were replaced with the corresponding regions of NCX1. In vitro studies showed that 10nM neurounina-1 reduced cell death of primary cortical neurons exposed to oxygen-glucose deprivation followed by reoxygenation. Moreover, in vitro, neurounina-1 also reduced GABA release, enhanced GABA(A)-currents, and inhibited both glutamate release and NMDA receptors. More important, neurounina-1 proved to have a wide therapeutic window in vivo. Indeed, when administered i.p. at doses ranging 0.003-30 μg/kg, it was able to reduce the infarct volume of mice subjected to transient middle cerebral artery occlusion even up to 3-5h after stroke onset. Collectively, the present study shows that neurounina-1 exerts a remarkable neuroprotective effect during stroke and increases NCX1 and NCX2 activities.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · Molecular pharmacology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) p50/RelA is a key molecule with a dual effect in the progression of ischemic stroke. In harmful ischemia, but not in preconditioning insult, neurotoxic activation of p50/RelA is characterized by RelA-specific acetylation at Lys310 (K310) and deacetylation at other Lys residues. The derangement of RelA acetylation is associated with activation of Bim promoter. OBJECTIVE: With the aim of producing neuroprotection by correcting altered acetylation of RelA in brain ischemia, we combined the pharmacological inhibition of histone deacetylase (HDAC) 1-3, the enzymes known to reduce global RelA acetylation, and the activation of sirtuin 1, endowed with a specific deacetylase activity on the K310 residue of RelA. To afford this aim, we tested the clinically used HDAC 1-3 inhibitor entinostat (MS-275) and the sirtuin 1 activator resveratrol. METHODS: We used the mouse model of transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) and primary cortical neurons exposed to oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD). RESULTS: The combined use of MS-275 and resveratrol, by restoring normal RelA acetylation, elicited a synergistic neuroprotection in neurons exposed to OGD. This effect correlated with MS-275 capability to increase total RelA acetylation and resveratrol capability to reduce RelA K310 acetylation through the activation of an AMP-activated protein kinase-sirtuin 1 pathway. The synergistic treatment reproduced the acetylation state of RelA peculiar of preconditioning ischemia. Neurons exposed to the combined drugs totally recovered the optimal histone H3 acetylation. Neuroprotection was reproduced in mice subjected to MCAO and treated with MS-275 (20μg/kg and 200μg/kg) or resveratrol (6800μg/kg) individually. However, the administration of lowest doses of MS-275 (2μg/kg) and resveratrol (68μg/kg) synergistically reduced infarct volume and neurological deficits. Importantly, the treatment was effective even when administered 7h after the stroke onset. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis of cortices harvested from treated mice showed that the RelA binding and histone acetylation increased at the Bcl-x(L) promoter and decreased at the Bim promoter. CONCLUSION: Our study reveals that epigenetic therapy shaping acetylation of both RelA and histones may be a promising strategy to limit post-ischemic injury with an extended therapeutic window.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2012 · Neurobiology of Disease