[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Sensory and motor deficits resulting from peripheral nerve injury negatively impact quality of life and can require long-term rehabilitation and care. Despite the ability of nerves to robustly regenerate following peripheral nerve injury (PNI), functional recovery is often suboptimal. Surgery is required to treat patients in 50% of PNI cases, and there is no nonsurgical treatment strategy in clinical use today to treat PNI. Emerging evidence indicates that treatments affecting multiple targets and pathways have great potential. Here, we discuss data combining surgical repair with membrane fusion, electrical stimulation, and androgens to maintain appropriate channels for axons to regenerate back to their appropriate target and accelerate the regeneration process. Developing a therapy that impacts both axonal regeneration and functional recovery offers immediate translational opportunity in a clinical setting.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: After injury or insult to a motor system, gonadal steroids play a key role in regeneration and repair of motor function primarily through interactions with their intracellular receptors. This chapter highlights the protective and therapeutic effects that gonadal steroids have on neuronal functioning, ranging from motoneuron survival to enhancement of axonal and dendritic growth, as well as peripheral maintenance of bone and muscle. The systemic actions of gonadal steroids are truly multifaceted, modifying the entire synaptic response as well as targeting multiple tissues. We discuss the effects of gonadal steroids in both the central and the peripheral nervous systems ranging from their role in establishing important neuromuscular sex differences and their ability to protect against motoneuron death and disease, to triggering a regenerative response from both axons and dendrites, to enhancing bone growth and muscle mass after injury.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: After spinal cord injury (SCI), poor regeneration of damaged axons of the central nervous system (CNS) causes limited functional recovery. This limited spontaneous functional recovery has been attributed, to a large extent, to the plasticity of propriospinal neurons, especially the descending propriospinal neurons (dPSNs). Compared with the supraspinal counterparts, dPSNs have displayed significantly greater regenerative capacity, which can be further enhanced by glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF). In the present study, we applied a G-mutated rabies virus (G-Rabies) co-expressing green fluorescence protein (GFP) to reveal Golgi-like dendritic morphology of dPSNs. We also investigated the neurotransmitters expressed by dPSNs after labeling with a retrograde tracer Fluoro-Gold (FG). dPSNs were examined in animals with sham injuries or complete spinal transections with or without GDNF treatment. Bilateral injections of G-Rabies and FG were made into the 2nd lumbar (L2) spinal cord at 3days prior to a spinal cord transection performed at the 11th thoracic level (T11). The lesion gap was filled with Gelfoam containing either saline or GDNF in the injury groups. Four days post-injury, the rats were sacrificed for analysis. For those animals receiving G-rabies injection, the GFP signal in the T7-9 spinal cord was visualized via 2-photon microscopy. Dendritic morphology from stack images was traced and analyzed using a Neurolucida software. We found that dPSNs in sham injured animals had a predominantly dorsal-ventral distribution of dendrites. Transection injury resulted in alterations in the dendritic distribution with dorsal-ventral retraction and lateral-medial extension. Treatment with GDNF significantly increased the terminal dendritic length of dPSNs. The density of spine-like structures was increased after injury, and treatment with GDNF enhanced this effect. For the group receiving FG injections, immunohistochemistry for glutamate, choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), glycine, and GABA was performed in the T7-9 spinal cord. We show that the majority of FG retrogradely-labeled dPSNs were located in the Rexed Lamina VII. Over 90% of FG-labeled neurons were glutamatergic, with the other three neurotransmitters contributing less than 10% of the total. To our knowledge this is the first report describing the morphologic characteristics of dPSNs and their neurotransmitter expressions, as well as the dendritic response of dPSNs after transection injury and GDNF treatment.
Full-text Article · Dec 2015 · Experimental Neurology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Classic findings have demonstrated an important role for sex steroids as regulators of aggression, but this relationship is lacking within some environmental contexts. In mammals and birds, the adrenal androgen dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a non-gonadal precursor of biologically active steroids, has been linked to aggression. Although females, like males, use aggression when competing for limited resources, the mechanisms underlying female aggression remain understudied. Here, we propose a previously undescribed endocrine mechanism regulating female aggression via direct action of the pineal hormone melatonin on adrenal androgens. We examined this in a solitary hamster species, Phodopus sungorus, in which both sexes are highly territorial across the seasons, and display increased aggression concomitant with decreased serum levels of sex steroids in short 'winter-like' days. Short- but not long-day females had increased adrenal DHEA responsiveness co-occurring with morphological changes in the adrenal gland. Further, serum DHEA and total adrenal DHEA content were elevated in short days. Lastly, melatonin increased DHEA and aggression and stimulated DHEA release from cultured adrenals. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that DHEA is a key peripheral regulator of aggression and that melatonin coordinates a 'seasonal switch' from gonadal to adrenal regulation of aggression by direct action on the adrenal glands.
Full-text Article · Nov 2015 · Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Surviving motoneurons undergo dendritic atrophy after spinal cord injury (SCI), suggesting an important therapeutic target for neuroprotective strategies to improve recovery of function after SCI. Our previous studies showed that phospholipase A2 (PLA2) may play an important role in the pathogenesis of SCI. In the present study, we investigated whether blocking cPLA2 pharmacologically with arachidonyl trifluoromethyl ketone (ATK) or genetically using cPLA2 knockout (KO) mice attenuates motoneuron atrophy following SCI. C57BL/6 mice received either sham or contusive SCI at the T10 level. At 30 min after SCI, mice were treated with ATK or vehicle. Four weeks later, motoneurons innervating the vastus lateralis muscle of the quadriceps were labeled with cholera toxin-conjugated horseradish peroxidase, and dendritic arbors were reconstructed in three dimensions. Soma volume, motoneuron number, lesion volume, and tissue sparing were also assessed, as were muscle weight, fiber cross-sectional area, and motor endplate size and density. ATK administration reduced percent lesion volume and increased percent volume of spared white matter compared to the vehicle-treated control animals. SCI with or without ATK treatment had no effect on the number or soma volume of quadriceps motoneurons. However, SCI resulted in a decrease in dendritic length of quadriceps motoneurons in untreated animals, and this decrease was completely prevented by treatment with ATK. Similarly, the vastus lateralis muscle weights of untreated SCI animals were smaller than those of sham-surgery controls, and these reductions were prevented by ATK treatment. No effects on fiber cross-sectional areas, motor endplate area or density were observed across treatment groups. Remarkably, genetically deleting cPLA2 in cPLA2 KO mice attenuated dendritic atrophy after SCI. These findings suggest that after SCI, cord tissue damage and regressive changes in motoneuron and muscle morphology can be reduced by inhibition of cPLA2, further supporting a role for cPLA2 as a neurotherapeutic target for SCI treatment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: This chapter discusses the use of ribosome-inactivating protein (RIP) conjugates to understand the workings of the nervous systems. Different conjugates utilize different several different targeting agents, antibodies, peptide ligands, cytokines, or lectins, for elimination of specific cell types that express the target. This fits well with the history of neuroscientists who have lesioned a particular nervous system structure to determine its function from a loss or even gain of a behavioral process. We term the process Molecular Neurosurgery and here describe some of the ways researchers have used these materials in both research and therapeutic applications.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: There are sex differences in the rates of many stress-sensitive psychological disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As medial prefrontal cortex and amygdala are implicated in many of these disorders, understanding differential stress effects in these regions may shed light on the mechanisms underlying sex-dependent expression of disorders like depression and anxiety. Prefrontal cortex and amygdala are key regions in the neural circuitry underlying fear conditioning and extinction, which thus has emerged as a useful model of stress influences on the neural circuitry underlying regulation of emotional behavior. This review outlines the current literature on sex differences and stress effects on dendritic morphology within medial prefrontal cortex and basolateral amygdala. Such structural differences and/or alterations can have important effects on fear conditioning and extinction, behaviors that are mediated by the basolateral amygdala and prefrontal cortex, respectively. Given the importance of extinction-based exposure therapy as a treatment for anxiety disorders such as PTSD, understanding the neural mechanisms by which stress differentially influences fear learning and extinction in males and females is an important goal for developing sex-appropriate interventions for stress-related disorders.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Neurotrophic factors and steroid hormones interact to regulate a variety of neuronal processes such as neurite outgrowth, differentiation, and neuroprotection. The coexpression of steroid hormone and neurotrophin receptor mRNAs and proteins, as well as their reciprocal regulation provides the necessary substrates for such interactions to occur. This review will focus on androgen brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) interactions in the spinal cord, describing androgen regulation of BDNF in neuromuscular systems following castration, androgen manipulation, and injury. Androgens interact with BDNF during development to regulate normally-occurring motoneuron death, and in adulthood, androgen–BDNF interactions are involved in the maintenance of several features of neuromuscular systems. Androgens regulate BDNF and trkB expression in spinal motoneurons. Androgens also regulate BDNF levels in the target musculature, and androgenic action at the muscle regulates BDNF levels in motoneurons. These interactions have important implications for the maintenance of motoneuron morphology. Finally, androgens interact with BDNF after injury, influencing soma size, dendritic morphology, and axon regeneration. Together, these findings provide further insight into the development and maintenance of neuromuscular systems and have implications for the neurotherapeutic/neuroprotective roles of androgens and trophic factors in the treatment of motoneuron disease and recovery from injury.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: During the postpartum period, women experience significant changes in their neuroendocrine profiles and social behavior compared to before pregnancy. A common experience with motherhood is a decrease in sexual desire. Although the lifestyle and peripheral physiological changes associated with parturition might decrease a woman's sexual interest, we hypothesized that there are also hormone-mediated changes in women's neural response to sexual and infant stimuli with altered reproductive priorities. We predicted that amygdala activation to sexually arousing stimuli would be suppressed in postpartum versus nulliparous women, and altered with intranasal oxytocin administration. To test this, we measured amygdala activation using fMRI in response to sexually arousing pictures, infant pictures, and neutral pictures in 29 postpartum and 30 nulliparous women. Half of the women received a dose of exogenous oxytocin before scanning. As predicted, nulliparous women subjectively rated sexual pictures to be more arousing, and infant pictures to be less arousing, than did postpartum women. However, nulliparous women receiving the nasal oxytocin spray rated the infant photos as arousing as did postpartum women. Right amygdala activation was lower in postpartum versus nulliparous women in response to sexual, infant, and neutral images, suggesting a generalized decrease in right amygdala responsiveness to arousing images with parturition. There was no difference in right amygdala activation with nasal spray application. Postpartum women therefore appear to experience a decrease in sexual interest possibly as a feature of a more generalized decrease in amygdala responsiveness to arousing stimuli.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The neuroendocrine state of new mothers may alter their neural processing of stressors in the environment through modulatory actions of oxytocin on the limbic system. We predicted that amygdala sensitivity to negatively arousing stimuli would be suppressed in postpartum compared to nulliparous women and that this suppression would be modulated by administration of oxytocin nasal spray. We measured brain activation (fMRI) and subjective arousal in response to negatively arousing pictures in 29 postpartum and 30 nulliparous women who received either oxytocin nasal spray or placebo before scanning. Pre- and post-exposure urinary cortisol levels were also measured. Postpartum women (placebo) demonstrated lower right amygdala activation in response to negative images, lower cortisol and lower negative photo arousal ratings to nulliparous women. Nulliparous women receiving oxytocin had lower right amygdala activation compared to placebo. Cortisol levels in the placebo group, and ratings of arousal across all women, were positively associated with right amygdala activation. Together, these findings demonstrate reductions in both amygdala activation and subjective negative arousal in untreated postpartum vs nulliparous women, supporting the hypothesis of an attenuated neural response to arousing stimuli in postpartum women. A causal role of oxytocin and the timing of potential effects require future investigation.
Full-text Article · Sep 2012 · Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Treatment with testosterone is neuroprotective/neurotherapeutic after a variety of motoneuron injuries. Here we assessed whether testosterone might have similar beneficial effects after spinal cord injury (SCI). Young adult female rats received either sham or T9 spinal cord contusion injuries and were implanted with blank or testosterone-filled Silastic capsules. Four weeks later, motoneurons innervating the vastus lateralis muscle of the quadriceps were labeled with cholera toxin-conjugated horseradish peroxidase, and dendritic arbors were reconstructed in three dimensions. Soma volume, motoneuron number, lesion volume, and tissue sparing were also assessed, as were muscle weight, fiber cross-sectional area, and motor endplate size and density. Contusion injury resulted in large lesions, with no significant differences in lesion volume, percent total volume of lesion, or spared white or gray matter between SCI groups. SCI with or without testosterone treatment also had no effect on the number or soma volume of quadriceps motoneurons. However, SCI resulted in a decrease in dendritic length of quadriceps motoneurons in untreated animals, and this decrease was completely prevented by treatment with testosterone. Similarly, the vastus lateralis muscle weights and fiber cross-sectional areas of untreated SCI animals were smaller than those of sham-surgery controls, and these reductions were both prevented by testosterone treatment. No effects on motor endplate area or density were observed across treatment groups. These findings suggest that regressive changes in motoneuron and muscle morphology seen after SCI can be prevented by testosterone treatment, further supporting a role for testosterone as a neurotherapeutic agent in the injured nervous system.
Article · Aug 2012 · The Journal of Comparative Neurology