G-CSF is a potent hematopoietic factor that enhances survival and drives differentiation of myeloid lineage cells, resulting in the generation of neutrophilic granulocytes. Here, we show that G-CSF passes the intact blood-brain barrier and reduces infarct volume in 2 different rat models of acute stroke. G-CSF displays strong antiapoptotic activity in mature neurons and activates multiple cell survival pathways. Both G-CSF and its receptor are widely expressed by neurons in the CNS, and their expression is induced by ischemia, which suggests an autocrine protective signaling mechanism. Surprisingly, the G-CSF receptor was also expressed by adult neural stem cells, and G-CSF induced neuronal differentiation in vitro. G-CSF markedly improved long-term behavioral outcome after cortical ischemia, while stimulating neural progenitor response in vivo, providing a link to functional recovery. Thus, G-CSF is an endogenous ligand in the CNS that has a dual activity beneficial both in counteracting acute neuronal degeneration and contributing to long-term plasticity after cerebral ischemia. We therefore propose G-CSF as a potential new drug for stroke and neurodegenerative diseases.
Armin Schneider, Carola Krüger, Tobias Steigleder, Daniela Weber, Claudia Pitzer, Rico Laage, Jaroslaw Aronowski, Martin H. Maurer, Nikolaus Gassler, Walter Mier, Martin Hasselblatt, Rainer Kollmar, Stefan Schwab, Clemens Sommer, Alfred Bach, Hans-Georg Kuhn, Wolf-Rüdiger Schäbitz
Williams syndrome (WS), caused by microdeletion of some 21 genes on chromosome 7q11.23, is characterized by dysmorphic features, mental retardation or learning difficulties, elastin arteriopathy, and striking neurocognitive and social-behavioral abnormalities. Recent studies of murine knockouts of key genes in the microdeleted region, LIM kinase 1 (LIMK1) and cytoplasmatic linker protein 2 (CYLN2), demonstrated significant functional and metabolic abnormalities, but grossly normal structure, in the hippocampal formation (HF). Furthermore, deficits in spatial navigation and long-term memory, major cognitive domains dependent on hippocampal function, have been described in WS. We used multimodal neuroimaging to characterize hippocampal structure, function, and metabolic integrity in 12 participants with WS and 12 age-, sex-, and IQ-matched healthy controls. PET and functional MRI studies showed profound reduction in resting blood flow and absent differential response to visual stimuli in the anterior HF in WS. Spectroscopic measures of N-acetyl aspartate, considered a marker of synaptic activity, were reduced. Hippocampal size was preserved, but subtle alterations in shape were present. These data demonstrate abnormalities in HF in WS in agreement with murine models, implicate LIMK1 and CYLN2 in human hippocampal function, and suggest that hippocampal dysfunction may contribute to neurocognitive abnormalities in WS.
Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, Carolyn B. Mervis, Deepak Sarpal, Paul Koch, Sonya Steele, Philip Kohn, Stefano Marenco, Colleen A. Morris, Saumitra Das, Shane Kippenhan, Venkata S. Mattay, Daniel R. Weinberger, Karen Faith Berman
MS is a chronic inflammatory and demyelinating disease of the CNS with as yet unknown etiology. A hallmark of this disease is the occurrence of oligoclonal IgG antibodies in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). To assess the specificity of these antibodies, we screened protein expression arrays containing 37,000 tagged proteins. The 2 most frequent MS-specific reactivities were further mapped to identify the underlying high-affinity epitopes. In both cases, we identified peptide sequences derived from EBV proteins expressed in latently infected cells. Immunoreactivities to these EBV proteins, BRRF2 and EBNA-1, were significantly higher in the serum and CSF of MS patients than in those of control donors. Oligoclonal CSF IgG from MS patients specifically bound both EBV proteins. Also, CD8+ T cell responses to latent EBV proteins were higher in MS patients than in controls. In summary, these findings demonstrate an increased immune response to EBV in MS patients, which suggests that the virus plays an important role in the pathogenesis of disease.
Sabine Cepok, Dun Zhou, Rajneesh Srivastava, Stefan Nessler, Susanne Stei, Konrad Büssow, Norbert Sommer, Bernhard Hemmer
Blockade of prostaglandin (PG) production by COX inhibitors is the treatment of choice for inflammatory pain but is also prone to severe side effects. Identification of signaling elements downstream of COX inhibition, particularly of PG receptor subtypes responsible for pain sensitization (hyperalgesia), provides a strategy for better-tolerated analgesics. Here, we have identified PGE2 receptors of the EP2 receptor subtype as key signaling elements in spinal inflammatory hyperalgesia. Mice deficient in EP2 receptors (EP2–/– mice) completely lack spinal PGE2-evoked hyperalgesia. After a peripheral inflammatory stimulus, EP2–/– mice exhibit only short-lasting peripheral hyperalgesia but lack a second sustained hyperalgesic phase of spinal origin. Electrophysiological recordings identify diminished synaptic inhibition of excitatory dorsal horn neurons as the dominant source of EP2 receptor–dependent hyperalgesia. Our results thus demonstrate that inflammatory hyperalgesia can be treated by targeting of a single PG receptor subtype and provide a rational basis for new analgesic strategies going beyond COX inhibition.
Heiko Reinold, Seifollah Ahmadi, Ulrike B. Depner, Beate Layh, Cornelia Heindl, May Hamza, Andreas Pahl, Kay Brune, Shuh Narumiya, Ulrike Müller, Hanns Ulrich Zeilhofer
Essential tremor is the most common movement disorder and has an unknown etiology. Here we report that γ-aminobutyric acidA (GABAA) receptor α1–/– mice exhibit postural and kinetic tremor and motor incoordination that is characteristic of essential tremor disease. We tested mice with essential-like tremor using current drug therapies that alleviate symptoms in essential tremor patients (primidone, propranolol, and gabapentin) and several candidates hypothesized to reduce tremor, including ethanol; the noncompetitive N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist MK-801; the adenosine A1 receptor agonist 2-chloro-N6-cyclopentyladenosine (CCPA); the GABAA receptor modulators diazepam, allopregnanolone, and Ro15-4513; and the L-type Ca2+ channel antagonist nitrendipine. Primidone, propranolol, and gabapentin reduced the amplitude (power) of the pathologic tremor. Nonsedative doses of ethanol eliminated tremor in mice. Diazepam, allopregnanolone, Ro15-4513, and nitrendipine had no effect or enhanced tremor, whereas MK-801 and CCPA reduced tremor. To understand the etiology of tremor in these mice, we studied the electrophysiological properties of cerebellar Purkinje cells. Cerebellar Purkinje cells in GABAA receptor α1–/– mice exhibited a profound loss of all responses to synaptic or exogenous GABA, but no differences in abundance, gross morphology, or spontaneous synaptic activity were observed. This genetic animal model elucidates a mechanism of GABAergic dysfunction in the major motor pathway and potential targets for pharmacotherapy of essential tremor.
Jason E. Kralic, Hugh E. Criswell, Jessica L. Osterman, Todd K. O’Buckley, Mary E. Wilkie, Douglas B. Matthews, Kristin Hamre, George R. Breese, Gregg E. Homanics, A. Leslie Morrow
Mutations in genes encoding chromatin-remodeling proteins, such as the ATRX gene, underlie a number of genetic disorders including several X-linked mental retardation syndromes; however, the role of these proteins in normal CNS development is unknown. Here, we used a conditional gene-targeting approach to inactivate Atrx, specifically in the forebrain of mice. Loss of ATRX protein caused widespread hypocellularity in the neocortex and hippocampus and a pronounced reduction in forebrain size. Neuronal “birthdating” confirmed that fewer neurons reached the superficial cortical layers, despite normal progenitor cell proliferation. The loss of cortical mass resulted from a 12-fold increase in neuronal apoptosis during early stages of corticogenesis in the mutant animals. Moreover, cortical progenitors isolated from Atrx-null mice undergo enhanced apoptosis upon differentiation. Taken together, our results indicate that ATRX is a critical mediator of cell survival during early neuronal differentiation. Thus, increased neuronal loss may contribute to the severe mental retardation observed in human patients.
Nathalie G. Bérubé, Marie Mangelsdorf, Magdalena Jagla, Jackie Vanderluit, David Garrick, Richard J. Gibbons, Douglas R. Higgs, Ruth S. Slack, David J. Picketts
Neuritic plaques are a defining feature of Alzheimer disease (AD) pathology. These structures are composed of extracellular accumulations of amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) and other plaque-associated proteins, surrounded by large, swollen axons and dendrites (dystrophic neurites) and activated glia. Dystrophic neurites are thought to disrupt neuronal function, but whether this damage is static, dynamic, or reversible is unknown. To address this, we monitored neuritic plaques in the brains of living PDAPP;Thy-1:YFP transgenic mice, a model that develops AD-like pathology and also stably expresses yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) in a subset of neurons in the brain. Using multiphoton microscopy, we observed and monitored amyloid through cranial windows in PDAPP;Thy-1:YFP double-transgenic mice using the in vivo amyloid-imaging fluorophore methoxy-X04, and individual YFP-labeled dystrophic neurites by their inherent fluorescence. In vivo studies using this system suggest that amyloid-associated dystrophic neurites are relatively stable structures in PDAPP;Thy-1:YFP transgenic mice over several days. However, a significant reduction in the number and size of dystrophic neurites was seen 3 days after Aβ deposits were cleared by anti-Aβ antibody treatment. This analysis suggests that ongoing axonal and dendritic damage is secondary to Aβ and is, in part, rapidly reversible.
Robert P. Brendza, Brian J. Bacskai, John R. Cirrito, Kelly A. Simmons, Jesse M. Skoch, William E. Klunk, Chester A. Mathis, Kelly R. Bales, Steven M. Paul, Bradley T. Hyman, David M. Holtzman
Evidence suggests that Alzheimer disease (AD) begins as a disorder of synaptic function, caused in part by increased levels of amyloid β-peptide 1–42 (Aβ42). Both synaptic and cognitive deficits are reproduced in mice double transgenic for amyloid precursor protein (AA substitution K670N,M671L) and presenilin-1 (AA substitution M146V). Here we demonstrate that brief treatment with the phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor rolipram ameliorates deficits in both long-term potentiation (LTP) and contextual learning in the double-transgenic mice. Most importantly, this beneficial effect can be extended beyond the duration of the administration. One course of long-term systemic treatment with rolipram improves LTP and basal synaptic transmission as well as working, reference, and associative memory deficits for at least 2 months after the end of the treatment. This protective effect is possibly due to stabilization of synaptic circuitry via alterations in gene expression by activation of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA)/cAMP regulatory element–binding protein (CREB) signaling pathway that make the synapses more resistant to the insult inflicted by Aβ. Thus, agents that enhance the cAMP/PKA/CREB pathway have potential for the treatment of AD and other diseases associated with elevated Aβ42 levels.
Bing Gong, Ottavio V. Vitolo, Fabrizio Trinchese, Shumin Liu, Michael Shelanski, Ottavio Arancio
The most common form of human congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD) is caused by mutations in the laminin-α2 gene. Loss of laminin-α2 function in this autosomal recessive type 1A form of CMD results in neuromuscular dysfunction and, often, early death. Laminin-α2–deficient skeletal muscles in both humans and mice show signs of muscle cell death by apoptosis. To examine the significance of apoptosis in CMD1A pathogenesis, we determined whether pathogenesis in laminin-α2–deficient (Lama2–/–) mice could be ameliorated by inhibiting apoptosis through either (a) inactivation of the proapoptosis protein Bax or (b) overexpression of the antiapoptosis protein Bcl-2 from a muscle-specific transgene. We found that both of these genetic interventions produced a several-fold increase in the lifespan of Lama2–/– mice. Bax inactivation also improved postnatal growth rate and myofiber histology and decreased fixed contractures of Lama2–/– mice. Thus, Bcl-2 family–mediated apoptosis contributes significantly to pathogenesis in the mouse model of CMD1A, and antiapoptosis therapy may be a possible route to amelioration of neuromuscular dysfunction due to laminin-α2 deficiency in humans.
Mahasweta Girgenrath, Janice A. Dominov, Christine A. Kostek, Jeffrey Boone Miller
Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) are composed of abnormal aggregates of the cytoskeletal protein tau. Together with amyloid β (Aβ) plaques and neuronal and synaptic loss, NFTs constitute the primary pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer disease (AD). Recent evidence also suggests that caspases are activated early in the progression of AD and may play a role in neuronal loss and NFT pathology. Here we demonstrate that tau is cleaved at D421 (ΔTau) by executioner caspases. Following caspase-cleavage, ΔTau facilitates nucleation-dependent filament formation and readily adopts a conformational change recognized by the early pathological tau marker MC1. ΔTau can be phosphorylated by glycogen synthase kinase-3β and subsequently recognized by the NFT antibody PHF-1. In transgenic mice and AD brains, ΔTau associates with both early and late markers of NFTs and is correlated with cognitive decline. Additionally, ΔTau colocalizes with Aβ1–42 and is induced by Aβ1–42 in vitro. Collectively, our data imply that Aβ accumulation triggers caspase activation, leading to caspase-cleavage of tau, and that this is an early event that may precede hyperphosphorylation in the evolution of AD tangle pathology. These results suggest that therapeutics aimed at inhibiting tau caspase-cleavage may prove beneficial not only in preventing NFT formation, but also in slowing cognitive decline.
Robert A. Rissman, Wayne W. Poon, Mathew Blurton-Jones, Salvatore Oddo, Reidun Torp, Michael P. Vitek, Frank M. LaFerla, Troy T. Rohn, Carl W. Cotman