Recently, pathological prion protein PrPSc, the putative key constituent of infectious agents causing transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), was found in muscles of rodents experimentally infected with scrapie and in patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). For the assessment of risk scenarios originating from these findings (e.g., alimentary transmission of pathogens associated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy [BSE] and chronic wasting disease [CWD] via tainted beef and game or iatrogenic dissemination of CJD agent through contaminated surgical instruments) more detailed information about the time course of PrPSc accumulation in muscles at preclinical and clinical stages of incubation is needed. Here we show that PrPSc in muscles of hamsters fed with scrapie can be detected prior to the onset of clinical symptoms, but that the bulk of PrPSc was deposited late in clinical disease. Additionally, regarding the question of how muscles become invaded, we report on the intramuscular location of PrPSc and substantial indications for centrifugal spread of infection from spinal motor neurons to myofibers. Our findings in a well-established animal model for TSEs contribute to a better assessment of the risks for public health emanating from “Prions in skeletal muscle” and provide new insights into the pathophysiological spread of TSE agents through the body.
Achim Thomzig, Walter Schulz-Schaeffer, Christine Kratzel, Jessica Mai, Michael Beekes
Control of cancer, neuropathic, and postoperative pain is frequently inadequate or compromised by debilitating side effects. Inhibition or removal of certain nociceptive neurons, while retaining all other sensory modalities and motor function, would represent a new therapeutic approach to control severe pain. The enriched expression of transient receptor potential cation channel, subfamily V, member 1 (TRPV1; also known as the vanilloid receptor, VR1) in nociceptive neurons of the dorsal root and trigeminal ganglia allowed us to test this concept. Administration of the potent TRPV1 agonist resiniferatoxin (RTX) to neuronal perikarya induces calcium cytotoxicity by opening the TRPV1 ion channel and selectively ablates nociceptive neurons. This treatment blocks experimental inflammatory hyperalgesia and neurogenic inflammation in rats and naturally occurring cancer and debilitating arthritic pain in dogs. Sensations of touch, proprioception, and high-threshold mechanosensitive nociception, as well as locomotor function, remained intact in both species. In separate experiments directed at postoperative pain control, subcutaneous administration of RTX transiently disrupted nociceptive nerve endings, yielding reversible analgesia. In human dorsal root ganglion cultures, RTX induced a prolonged increase in intracellular calcium in vanilloid-sensitive neurons, while leaving other, adjacent neurons unaffected. The results suggest that nociceptive neuronal or nerve terminal deletion will be effective and broadly applicable as strategies for pain management.
Laszlo Karai, Dorothy C. Brown, Andrew J. Mannes, Stephen T. Connelly, Jacob Brown, Michael Gandal, Ofer M. Wellisch, John K. Neubert, Zoltan Olah, Michael J. Iadarola
Eleven studies now report significant associations between schizophrenia and certain haplotypes of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the gene encoding dysbindin-1 at 6p22.3. Dysbindin-1 is best known as dystrobrevin-binding protein 1 (DTNBP1) and may thus be associated with the dystrophin glycoprotein complex found at certain postsynaptic sites in the brain. Contrary to expectations, however, we found that when compared to matched, nonpsychiatric controls, 73–93% of cases in two schizophrenia populations displayed presynaptic dysbindin-1 reductions averaging 18–42% (P = 0.027–0.0001) at hippocampal formation sites lacking neuronal dystrobrevin (i.e., β-dystrobrevin). The reductions, which were not observed in the anterior cingulate of the same schizophrenia cases, occurred specifically in terminal fields of intrinsic, glutamatergic afferents of the subiculum, the hippocampus proper, and especially the inner molecular layer of the dentate gyrus (DGiml). An inversely correlated increase in vesicular glutamate transporter-1 (VGluT-1) occurred in DGiml of the same schizophrenia cases. Those changes occurred without evidence of axon terminal loss or neuroleptic effects on dysbindin-1 or VGluT-1. Our findings indicate that presynaptic dysbindin-1 reductions independent of the dystrophin glycoprotein complex are frequent in schizophrenia and are related to glutamatergic alterations in intrinsic hippocampal formation connections. Such changes may contribute to the cognitive deficits common in schizophrenia.
Konrad Talbot, Wess L. Eidem, Caroline L. Tinsley, Matthew A. Benson, Edward W. Thompson, Rachel J. Smith, Chang-Gyu Hahn, Steven J. Siegel, John Q. Trojanowski, Raquel E. Gur, Derek J. Blake, Steven E. Arnold
Neural stem/progenitor cell (NSPC) migration toward sites of damaged central nervous system (CNS) tissue may represent an adaptive response for the purpose of limiting and/or repairing damage. Little is known of the mechanisms responsible for this migratory response. We constructed a cDNA library of injured mouse forebrain using subtractive suppression hybridization (SSH) to identify genes that were selectively upregulated in the injured hemisphere. We demonstrate that stem cell factor (SCF) mRNA and protein are highly induced in neurons within the zone of injured brain. Additionally, the SCF receptor c-kit is expressed on NSPCs in vitro and in vivo. Finally, we demonstrate that recombinant SCF induces potent NSPC migration in vitro and in vivo through the activation of c-kit on NSPCs. These data suggest that the SCF/c-kit pathway is involved in the migration of NSPCs to sites of brain injury and that SCF may prove useful for inducing progenitor cell recruitment to specific areas of the CNS for cell-based therapeutic strategies.
Lixin Sun, Jeongwu Lee, Howard A. Fine
Programmed cell death pathways have been implicated in the mechanism by which neurons die following brief and prolonged seizures, but the significance of proapoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins in the process remains poorly defined. Expression of the death agonist Bcl-2–interacting mediator of cell death (Bim) is under the control of the forkhead in rhabdomyosarcoma (FKHR) transcription factors. This prompted us to examine the response of this pathway to experimental seizures and in hippocampi from patients with intractable temporal lobe epilepsy. A short period of status epilepticus in rats that damaged the hippocampus activated FKHR/FKHRL-1 and induced a significant increase in expression of Bim. Blocking of FKHR/FKHRL-1 dephosphorylation after seizures improved hippocampal neuronal survival in vivo, and Bim antisense oligonucleotides were neuroprotective against seizures in vitro. Inhibition of Akt increased the FKHR/Bim response and DNA fragmentation within the normally resistant cortex. Analysis of hippocampi from patients with intractable epilepsy revealed that Bim levels were significantly lower than in controls and FKHR was inhibited; we were able to reproduce these results experimentally in rats by evoking multiple brief, noninjurious electroshock seizures. We conclude that Bim expression may be a critical determinant of whether seizures damage the brain, and that its control may be neuroprotective in status epilepticus and epilepsy.
Sachiko Shinoda, Clara K. Schindler, Robert Meller, Norman K. So, Tomohiro Araki, Akitaka Yamamoto, Jing-Quan Lan, Waro Taki, Roger P. Simon, David C. Henshall
Cerebellar ataxia, a devastating neurological disease, may be initiated by hyperexcitability of deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN) secondary to loss of inhibitory input from Purkinje neurons that frequently degenerate in this disease. This mechanism predicts that intrinsic DCN hyperexcitability would cause ataxia in the absence of upstream Purkinje degeneration. We report the generation of a transgenic (Tg) model that supports this mechanism of disease initiation. Small-conductance calcium-activated potassium (SK) channels, regulators of firing frequency, were silenced in the CNS of Tg mice with the dominant-inhibitory construct SK3-1B-GFP. Transgene expression was restricted to the DCN within the cerebellum and was detectable beginning on postnatal day 10, concomitant with the onset of cerebellar ataxia. Neurodegeneration was not evident up to the sixth month of age. Recordings from Tg DCN neurons revealed loss of the apamin-sensitive after-hyperpolarization current (IAHP) and increased spontaneous firing through SK channel suppression, indicative of DCN hyperexcitability. Spike duration and other electrogenic conductance were unaffected. Thus, a purely electrical alteration is sufficient to cause cerebellar ataxia, and SK openers such as the neuroprotective agent riluzole may reduce neuronal hyperexcitability and have therapeutic value. This dominant-inhibitory strategy may help define the in vivo role of SK channels in other neuronal pathways.
Vikram G. Shakkottai, Chin-hua Chou, Salvatore Oddo, Claudia A. Sailer, Hans-Günther Knaus, George A. Gutman, Michael E. Barish, Frank M. LaFerla, K. George Chandy
Mice containing a disruption of the Hexb gene have provided a useful model system for the study of the human lysosomal storage disorder known as Sandhoff disease (SD). Hexb–/– mice rapidly develop a progressive neurologic disease of ganglioside GM2 and GA2 storage. Our study revealed that the disease states in this model are associated with the appearance of antiganglioside autoantibodies. Both elevation of serum antiganglioside autoantibodies and IgG deposition to CNS neurons were found in the advanced stages of the disease in Hexb–/– mice; serum transfer from these mice showed IgG binding to neurons. To determine the role of these autoantibodies, the Fc receptor γ gene (FcRγ) was additionally disrupted in Hexb–/– mice, as it plays a key role in immune complex–mediated autoimmune diseases. Clinical symptoms were improved and life spans were extended in the Hexb–/–FcRγ–/– mice; the number of apoptotic cells was also decreased. The level of ganglioside accumulation, however, did not change. IgG deposition was also confirmed in the brain of an autopsied SD patient. Taken together, these findings suggest that the production of autoantibodies plays an important role in the pathogenesis of neuropathy in SD and therefore provides a target for novel therapies.
Akira Yamaguchi, Kayoko Katsuyama, Kiyotaka Nagahama, Toshiyuki Takai, Ichiro Aoki, Shoji Yamanaka
In several neurodegenerative diseases, axonal degeneration occurs before neuronal death and contributes significantly to patients’ disability. Hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) is a genetically heterogeneous condition characterized by selective degeneration of axons of the corticospinal tracts and fasciculus gracilis. HSP may therefore be considered an exemplary disease to study the local programs mediating axonal degeneration. We have developed a mouse model for autosomal recessive HSP due to mutations in the SPG7 gene encoding the mitochondrial ATPase paraplegin. Paraplegin-deficient mice are affected by a distal axonopathy of spinal and peripheral axons, characterized by axonal swelling and degeneration. We found that mitochondrial morphological abnormalities occurred in synaptic terminals and in distal regions of axons long before the first signs of swelling and degeneration and correlated with onset of motor impairment during a rotarod test. Axonal swellings occur through massive accumulation of organelles and neurofilaments, suggesting impairment of anterograde axonal transport. Retrograde axonal transport is delayed in symptomatic mice. We speculate that local failure of mitochondrial function may affect axonal transport and cause axonal degeneration. Our data suggest that a timely therapeutic intervention may prevent the loss of axons.
Fatima Ferreirinha, Angelo Quattrini, Marinella Pirozzi, Valentina Valsecchi, Giorgia Dina, Vania Broccoli, Alberto Auricchio, Fiorella Piemonte, Giulia Tozzi, Laura Gaeta, Giorgio Casari, Andrea Ballabio, Elena I. Rugarli
We produced and analyzed mice deficient for Na/Ca exchanger 3 (NCX3), a protein that mediates cellular Ca2+ efflux (forward mode) or Ca2+ influx (reverse mode) and thus controls intracellular Ca2+ concentration. NCX3-deficient mice (Ncx3–/–) present a skeletal muscle fiber necrosis and a defective neuromuscular transmission, reflecting the absence of NCX3 in the sarcolemma of the muscle fibers and at the neuromuscular junction. The defective neuromuscular transmission is characterized by the presence of electromyographic abnormalities, including low compound muscle action potential amplitude, a decremental response at low-frequency nerve stimulation, an incremental response, and a prominent postexercise facilitation at high-frequency nerve stimulation, as well as neuromuscular blocks. The analysis of quantal transmitter release in Ncx3–/– neuromuscular junctions revealed an important facilitation superimposed on the depression of synaptic responses and an elevated delayed release during high-frequency nerve stimulation. It is suggested that Ca2+ entering nerve terminals is cleared relatively slowly in the absence of NCX3, thereby enhancing residual Ca2+ and evoked and delayed quantal transmitter release during repetitive nerve stimulation. Our findings indicate that NCX3 plays an important role in vivo in the control of Ca2+ concentrations in the skeletal muscle fibers and at the neuromuscular junction.
Sophie Sokolow, Mario Manto, Philippe Gailly, Jordi Molgó, Clarisse Vandebrouck, Jean-Marie Vanderwinden, Andre Herchuelz, Stéphane Schurmans
The regulation of cerebrovascular permeability is critical for normal brain homeostasis, and the “breakdown” of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is associated with the development of vasogenic edema and intracranial hypertension in a number of neurological disorders. In this study we demonstrate that an increase in endogenous tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) activity in the perivascular tissue following cerebral ischemia induces opening of the BBB via a mechanism that is independent of both plasminogen (Plg) and MMP-9. We also show that injection of tPA into the cerebrospinal fluid in the absence of ischemia results in a rapid dose-dependent increase in vascular permeability. This activity is not seen with urokinase-type Plg activator (uPA) but is induced in Plg–/– mice, confirming that the effect is Plg-independent. However, the activity is blocked by antibodies to the LDL receptor–related protein (LRP) and by the LRP antagonist, receptor-associated protein (RAP), suggesting a receptor-mediated process. Together these studies demonstrate that tPA is both necessary and sufficient to directly increase vascular permeability in the early stages of BBB opening, and suggest that this occurs through a receptor-mediated cell signaling event and not through generalized degradation of the vascular basement membrane.
Manuel Yepes, Maria Sandkvist, Elizabeth G. Moore, Thomas H. Bugge, Dudley K. Strickland, Daniel A. Lawrence