Peter Holzer

Medical University of Graz, Gratz, Styria, Austria

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Publications (409)

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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Environmental enrichment (EE) refers to the provision of a complex and stimulating housing condition which improves well-being, behaviour and brain function of laboratory animals. The mechanisms behind these beneficial effects of EE are only partially understood. In the current report, we describe a link between EE and neuropeptide Y (NPY), based on findings from NPY knockout (KO) mice exposed to EE. Relative to EE-housed wildtype (WT) animals, NPY KO mice displayed altered behaviour as well as molecular and morphological changes in amygdala and hippocampus. Exposure of WT mice to EE reduced anxiety and decreased central glucocorticoid receptor expression, effects which were absent in NPY KO mice. In addition, NPY deletion altered the preference of EE items, and EE-housed NPY KO mice responded to stress with exaggerated hyperthermia, displayed impaired spatial memory, had higher hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA levels and altered hippocampal synaptic plasticity, effects which were not seen in WT mice. Accordingly, these findings suggest that NPY contributes to the anxiolytic effect of EE and that NPY deletion reverses the beneficial effects of EE into a negative experience. The NPY system could thus be a target for “enviromimetics”, therapeutics which reproduce the beneficial effects of enhanced environmental stimulation.
    Full-text Article · Jul 2016 · Scientific Reports
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    Full-text Dataset · Jun 2016
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    Full-text Dataset · Jun 2016
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    Full-text Dataset · Jun 2016
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    Esther E. Fröhlich · Aitak Farzi · Raphaela Mayerhofer · [...] · Peter Holzer
    Full-text Dataset · Mar 2016
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    Esther E. Fröhlich · Aitak Farzi · Raphaela Mayerhofer · [...] · Peter Holzer
    Full-text Dataset · Mar 2016
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    Esther E. Fröhlich · Aitak Farzi · Raphaela Mayerhofer · [...] · Peter Holzer
    Full-text Dataset · Mar 2016
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    Esther E. Fröhlich · Aitak Farzi · Raphaela Mayerhofer · [...] · Peter Holzer
    Full-text Dataset · Mar 2016
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    Esther E. Fröhlich · Aitak Farzi · Raphaela Mayerhofer · [...] · Peter Holzer
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Emerging evidence indicates that disruption of the gut microbial community (dysbiosis) impairs mental health. Germ-free mice and antibiotic-induced gut dysbiosis are two approaches to establish causality in gut microbiota-brain relationships. However, both models have limitations, as germ-free mice display alterations in blood-brain barrier and brain ultrastructure and antibiotics may act directly on the brain. We hypothesized that the concerns related to antibiotic-induced gut dysbiosis can only adequately be addressed if the effect of intragastric treatment of adult mice with multiple antibiotics on (i) gut microbial community, (ii) metabolite profile in the colon, (iii) circulating metabolites, (iv) expression of neuronal signaling molecules in distinct brain areas and (v) cognitive behavior is systematically investigated. Of the antibiotics used (ampicillin, bacitracin, meropenem, neomycin, vancomycin), ampicillin had some oral bioavailability but did not enter the brain. 16S rDNA sequencing confirmed antibiotic-induced microbial community disruption, and metabolomics revealed that gut dysbiosis was associated with depletion of bacteria-derived metabolites in the colon and alterations of lipid species and converted microbe-derived molecules in the plasma. Importantly, novel object recognition, but not spatial, memory was impaired in antibiotic-treated mice. This cognitive deficit was associated with brain region-specific changes in the expression of cognition-relevant signaling molecules, notably brain-derived neurotrophic factor, N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunit 2B, serotonin transporter and neuropeptide Y system. We conclude that circulating metabolites and the cerebral neuropeptide Y system play an important role in the cognitive impairment and dysregulation of cerebral signaling molecules due to antibiotic-induced gut dysbiosis.
    Full-text Article · Feb 2016 · Brain Behavior and Immunity
  • Article · Feb 2016 · Neuropeptides
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Monoglyceride lipase (MGL) is required for efficient hydrolysis of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG) in the brain generating arachidonic acid (AA) and glycerol. This metabolic function makes MGL an interesting target for the treatment of neuroinflammation, since 2-AG exhibits anti-inflammatory properties and AA is a precursor for pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. Astrocytes are an important source of AA and 2-AG, and highly express MGL. In the present study, we dissected the distinct contribution of MGL in astrocytes on brain 2-AG and AA metabolism by generating a mouse model with genetic deletion of MGL specifically in astrocytes (MKO(GFAP)). MKO(GFAP) mice exhibit moderately increased 2-AG and reduced AA levels in brain. Minor accumulation of 2-AG in the brain of MKO(GFAP) mice does not cause cannabinoid receptor desensitization as previously observed in mice globally lacking MGL. Importantly, MKO(GFAP) mice exhibit reduced brain prostaglandin E2 and pro-inflammatory cytokines levels upon peripheral lipopolysaccharide (LPS) administration. These observations indicate that MGL-mediated degradation of 2-AG in astrocytes provides AA for prostaglandin synthesis promoting LPS-induced neuroinflammation. The beneficial effect of astrocyte-specific MGL-deficiency is not fully abrogated by the inverse cannabinoid receptor 1 agonist SR141716 (Rimonabant) suggesting that the anti-inflammatory effects are rather caused by reduced prostaglandin synthesis than by activation of cannabinoid receptors. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that MGL in astrocytes is an important regulator of 2-AG levels, AA availability, and neuroinflammation.
    Full-text Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
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    Piyush Jain · Romina Nassini · Serena Materazzi · [...] · Peter Holzer
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are associated with pain symptoms also described in rodent models of IBD such as that induced by dextran sulfate sodium (DSS). Central sensitization has been proposed to contribute to the somatic pain symptoms in IBD and related rodent models. The transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) channel expressed by a subpopulation of primary sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and trigeminal ganglion (TG) is a major transducer of nociceptive signals produced by inflammation and tissue injury and is involved in hypersensitivity conditions. There is indication that TRPA1 contributes to visceral pain-like behavior in DSS-evoked colitis. The present study was designed to investigate the role of TRPA1 channels in the colitis-evoked mechanical and thermal hypersensi-tivity at the somatic level. Methods: Colitis was induced in C57BL/6 male mice by adding 2 % DSS to the drinking water for 7 days. Following this treatment, on day 8, control and DSS-treated mice were tested for various parameters of colitis as well as mechanical sensitivity in the abdominal and facial skin and thermal sensitivity in the plantar skin. Pharmacological blockade of TRPA1 by the selective antagonist HC-030031 (100 mg/kg, i. p.) and genetic deletion of TRPA1 were used to investigate the role of TRPA1 in DSS-induced colitis. The pain sensitivity to mechanical stimuli was evaluated with von Frey hairs (facial and abdominal region) and to thermal stimuli with the hot-and cold-plate method (plantar skin). Colitis-associated parameters, such as body weight, disease activity score, colon length, colon weight and colonic myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, were measured. The expression of mRNA of various TRP channels (TRPA1, TRPV1 and TRPV4) was quantified in isolated DRGs and TGs of control and DSS-treated mice. On day 8, control and DSS-treated mice were also tested for behavioural (freezing, locomotion, rearing) and molecular changes (c-Fos in spinal cord) in response to a chemical pain stimulus (intrarectal instillation of 2 % allylisothiocyanate; AITC) in the presence or absence of HC-030031 (100 mg/kg, i. p.). Results: Induction of colitis was confirmed by a decrease in body weight and colon length and an increase in colon weight, disease activity score and MPO activity. DSS increased the mechanical (abdominal and facial) and thermal (hot) sensitivity in mice. The TRPA1 antagonist reduced mechanical sensitivity of both the abdominal and facial region. DSS treatment caused an increase in TRPA1 mRNA expression in the DRG. Intrarectal AITC evoked freezing behaviour which was reduced in the presence of the TRPA1 antagonist. Discussion: Taken together, the current findings indicate that the TRPA1 channel participates in colitis-associated pain hypersensitivity at the somatic level. Acknowledgements: P. J. is a recipient of a Marietta Blau Fellowship , Federal Ministry
    Full-text Conference Paper · Sep 2015
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    Peter Holzer · Ahmed M Hassan · Piyush Jain · [...] · Aitak Farzi
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intestinal inflammation is a major health problem which impairs the quality of life, impacts mental health and is exacerbated by stress and psychiatric disturbances which, in turn, can affect disease prognosis and response to treatment. Accumulating evidence indicates that the immune system is an important interface between intestinal inflammation and the enteric, sensory, central and autonomic nervous systems. In addition, the neuroimmune interactions originating from the gastrointestinal tract are orchestrated by the gut microbiota. This article reviews some major insights into this complex homeostatic network that have been achieved during the past two years and attempts to put these advances into perspective with novel opportunities of pharmacological intervention.
    Full-text Article · Sep 2015 · Current Opinion in Pharmacology
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    Florian Reichmann · Peter Holzer
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stress is defined as an adverse condition that disturbs the homeostasis of the body and activates adaptation responses. Among the many pathways and mediators involved, neuropeptide Y (NPY) stands out due to its unique stress-relieving, anxiolytic and neuroprotective properties. Stress exposure alters the biosynthesis of NPY in distinct brain regions, the magnitude and direction of this effect varying with the duration and type of stress. NPY is expressed in particular neurons of the brainstem, hypothalamus and limbic system, which explains why NPY has an impact on stress-related changes in emotional-affective behaviour and feeding as well as on stress coping. The biological actions of NPY in mammals are mediated by the Y1, Y2, Y4 and Y5 receptors, Y1 receptor stimulation being anxiolytic whereas Y2 receptor activation is anxiogenic. Emerging evidence attributes NPY a role in stress resilience, the ability to cope with stress. Thus there is a negative correlation between stress-induced behavioural disruption and cerebral NPY expression in animal models of post-traumatic stress disorder. Exogenous NPY prevents the negative consequences of stress, and polymorphisms of the NPY gene are predictive of impaired stress processing and increased risk of neuropsychiatric diseases. Stress is also a factor contributing to, and resulting from, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's disease, in which NPY appears to play an important neuroprotective role. This review summarizes the evidence for an implication of NPY in stress-related and neurodegenerative pathologies and addresses the cerebral NPY system as a therapeutic target.
    Full-text Article · Sep 2015 · Neuropeptides
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    Piyush Jain · Ahmed M. Hassan · Chintan N. Koyani · [...] · Peter Holzer
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gastrointestinal disorders with abdominal pain are associated with central sensitization and psychopathologies that are often exacerbated by stress. Here we investigated the impact of colitis induced by dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) and repeated water avoidance stress (WAS) on spontaneous and nociception-related behavior and molecular signaling in the mouse brain. DSS increased the mechanical pain sensitivity of the abdominal skin while both WAS and DSS enhanced the mechanical and thermal pain sensitivity of the plantar skin. These manifestations of central sensitization were associated with augmented c-Fos expression in spinal cord, thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala and prefrontal cortex. While WAS stimulated phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) p42/44, DSS activated another signaling pathway, both of which converged on c-Fos. The DSS- and WAS-induced hyperalgesia in the abdominal and plantar skin and c-Fos expression in the brain disappeared when the mice were subjected to WAS+DSS treatment. Intrarectal allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) evoked aversive behavior (freezing, reduction of locomotion and exploration) in association with p42/44 MAPK and c-Fos activation in spinal cord and brain. These effects were inhibited by morphine, which attests to their relationship with nociception. DSS and WAS exerted opposite effects on AITC-evoked p42/44 MAPK and c-Fos activation, which indicates that these transduction pathways subserve different aspects of visceral pain processing in the brain. In summary, behavioral perturbations caused by colitis and psychological stress are associated with distinct alterations in cerebral signaling. These findings provide novel perspectives on central sensitization and the sensory and emotional processing of visceral pain stimuli in the brain.
    Full-text Article · Jul 2015 · Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
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    Florian Reichmann · Ahmed Mostafa Hassan · Aitak Farzi · [...] · Peter Holzer
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Psychological stress causes disease exacerbation and relapses in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients. Since studies on stress processing during visceral inflammation are lacking, we investigated the effects of experimental colitis as well as psychological stress on neurochemical and neuroendocrine changes as well as behaviour in mice. Dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis and water avoidance stress (WAS) were used as mouse models of colitis and mild psychological stress, respectively. We measured WAS-associated behaviour, gene expression and proinflammatory cytokine levels within the amygdala, hippocampus and hypothalamus as well as plasma levels of cytokines and corticosterone in male C57BL/6N mice. Animals with DSS-induced colitis presented with prolonged immobility during the WAS session, which was associated with brain region-dependent alterations of neuropeptide Y (NPY), NPY receptor Y1, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), CRH receptor 1, brain-derived neurotrophic factor and glucocorticoid receptor gene expression. Furthermore, the combination of DSS and WAS increased interleukin-6 and growth regulated oncogene-α levels in the brain. Altered gut-brain signalling in the course of DSS-induced colitis is thought to cause the observed distinct gene expression changes in the limbic system and the aberrant molecular and behavioural stress responses. These findings provide new insights into the effects of stress during IBD.
    Full-text Article · Jun 2015 · Scientific Reports
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    Piyush Jain · Ahmed M. Hassan · Chintan N. Koyani · [...] · Peter Holzer
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective: Gastrointestinal disorders with abdominal pain are associated with central sensitization and psycho pathologies that are often exacerbated by stress. The current study set out to investigate the interaction of experimental colitis (colitis induced by adding 2% dextran sulfate sodium/DSS in drinking water for 7 days) and psychological stress (water avoidance stress/WAS 1 h daily for 7 days) in their impact on nociception-relevant behavior and molecular signaling in the mouse brain.Methods: Four groups of mice were studied: control mice, mice treated with DSS, mice exposed to WAS, and mice treated with DSS+WAS. Following these treatments, various dimensions of behavior, pain sensitivity and neurochemical alterations (c-Fos, (p)p38 and (p)p42/44 MAPKs) in the CNS were measured. Behavioral changes (freezing, locomotion, rearing) and the expression of c-Fos and MAPKs in the CNS were also determined in response to a chemical pain stimulus(intrarectal instillation of 2% allyl isothiocyanate =AITC) following pretreatment with an opioid analgesic(morphine) or its vehicle.Results: DSS increased the mechanical pain sensitivityof the abdominal skin while both WAS and DSS enhanced the mechanical and thermal pain sensitivity of the plantar skin. These manifestations of central sensitization were associated with augmented c-Fos expression in spinal cord, thalamus, hypothalamus,amygdala and prefrontal cortex. While WAS activated p38 and p42/44 MAPKs, DSS activated another signaling pathway, both of which converged on c-Fos. The DSS-and WAS-induced hyperalgesia in the abdominal and plantar skin and c-Fos expression in the brain disappeared when the mice were subjected to WAS+DSS treatment. Intrarectal allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) evoked aversive behavior (freezing, reduction of loco-motion and exploration) in association with MAPK andc-Fos activation in spinal cord and brain. These effects were inhibited by morphine, which attests to their relationship with nociception. DSS and WAS exerted opposite effects on AITC-evoked MAPK and c-Fos activation, which indicates that these transduction pathways subserve different aspects of visceral pain processing in the brain.Conclusion: In summary, behavioral perturbations caused by colitis and psychological stress are associated with distinct alterations in cerebral signaling. These findings provide novel perspectives on central sensitization and the sensory and emotional processing of visceral pain stimuli in the brain.
    Full-text Conference Paper · Jun 2015
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    Aitak Farzi · Juraj Halicka · Raphaela Mayerhofer · [...] · Peter Holzer
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Opioids rank among the most potent analgesic drugs but gastrointestinal side effects, especially constipation, limit their therapeutic utility. The adverse effects of opioids have been attributed to stimulation of opioid receptors, but emerging evidence suggests that opioids interact with the innate immune receptor Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and its signalling pathway. As TLR4 signalling affects gastrointestinal motility, we examined the involvement of TLR4 in morphine-induced depression of peristaltic motility in the guinea-pig intestine in vitro and male C57BL/6N mice in vivo. While the TLR4 antagonist TAK-242 (0.1 μM and 1 μM) did not alter the morphine-induced inhibition of peristalsis in the isolated guinea-pig small intestine, the morphine-induced decrease in pellet propulsion velocity in colonic segments was attenuated by TAK-242 (0.1 μM). The ability of TAK-242 (4 mg/kg) to mitigate the morphine-induced suppression of colonic motility was replicated in mice in vivo by measuring the expulsion time of beads inserted in the distal colon. The inhibition of upper gastrointestinal transit of mice by morphine was not affected by pre-treatment with TAK-242 (4 mg/kg) in vivo. This is the first report that morphine-induced inhibition of colonic peristalsis is alleviated by TLR4 antagonism. We therefore conclude that TLR4 may contribute to opioid-induced constipation.
    Full-text Article · Mar 2015 · Scientific Reports
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: With microbiome research being a fiercely contested playground in science, new data are being published at tremendous pace. The review at hand serves to critically revise four microbial metabolites widely applied in research: butyric acid, flagellin, lipoteichoic acid, and propionic acid. All four metabolites are physiologically present in healthy humans. Nevertheless, all four are likewise involved in pathologies ranging from cancer to mental retardation. Their inflammatory potential is equally friend and foe. The authors systematically analyze positive and negative attributes of the aforementioned substances, indicating chances and dangers with the use of pre- and probiotic therapeutics. Furthermore, the widespread actions of microbial metabolites on distinct organs and diseases are reconciled. Moreover, the review serves as critical discourse on scientific methods commonly employed in microbiome research and comparability as well as reproducibility issues arising thereof.
    Full-text Article · Mar 2015 · European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
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    Peter Holzer
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gastric acid is of paramount importance for digestion and protection from pathogens but, at the same time, is a threat to the integrity of the mucosa in the upper gastrointestinal tract and may give rise to pain if inflammation or ulceration ensues. Luminal acidity in the colon is determined by lactate production and microbial transformation of carbohydrates to short chain fatty acids as well as formation of ammonia. The pH in the oesophagus, stomach and intestine is surveyed by a network of acid sensors among which acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) and acid-sensitive members of transient receptor potential ion channels take a special place. In the gut, ASICs (ASIC1, ASIC2, ASIC3) are primarily expressed by the peripheral axons of vagal and spinal afferent neurons and are responsible for distinct proton-gated currents in these neurons. ASICs survey moderate decreases in extracellular pH and through these properties contribute to a protective blood flow increase in the face of mucosal acid challenge. Importantly, experimental studies provide increasing evidence that ASICs contribute to gastric acid hypersensitivity and pain under conditions of gastritis and peptic ulceration but also participate in colonic hypersensitivity to mechanical stimuli (distension) under conditions of irritation that are not necessarily associated with overt inflammation. These functional implications and their upregulation by inflammatory and non-inflammatory pathologies make ASICs potential targets to manage visceral hypersensitivity and pain associated with functional gastrointestinal disorders.
    Full-text Article · Jan 2015 · Neuropharmacology

Publication Stats

16k Citations

Institutions

  • 2014
    • Medical University of Graz
      • Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology
      Gratz, Styria, Austria
  • 1980-2012
    • Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
      • Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
      Gratz, Styria, Austria
  • 2008
    • The University of Sheffield
      Sheffield, England, United Kingdom
  • 2004
    • University of Innsbruck
      • Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
      Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria
  • 2002
    • University of Wuerzburg
      • Department of Anaesthesia and Critical Care
      Würzburg, Bavaria, Germany
  • 1995
    • Ruhr-Universität Bochum
      Bochum, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany