Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) reflect the spectrum of neural impairments seen during chronic viral infection. Current research efforts focus on improving antiretroviral and adjunctive therapies, defining disease onset and progression, facilitating drug delivery, and halting neurodegeneration and viral resistance. As HIV is species-specific, generating disease in small animal models has proved challenging. After two decades of research, rodent HAND models now include those containing a human immune system. Antiviral responses, neuroinflammation and immunocyte blood-brain barrier (BBB) trafficking follow HIV infection in these rodent models. Here, we review these and other rodent models of HAND and discuss their unmet potential in reflecting human pathobiology and in facilitating disease monitoring and therapeutic discoveries.
human immunodeficiency virus type one; rodent model; neuroinflammation; cognitive impairment; HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders
Intraneuronal inclusions containing alpha-synuclein (a-syn) constitute one of the pathological hallmarks of Parkinson's disease (PD) and are accompanied by severe neurodegeneration of A9 dopaminergic neurons located in the substantia nigra. Although to a lesser extent, A10 dopaminergic neurons are also affected. Neurodegeneration of other neuronal populations, such as the cholinergic, serotonergic and noradrenergic cell groups, has also been documented in PD patients. Studies in human post-mortem PD brains and in rodent models suggest that deficits in cholinergic and dopaminergic systems may be associated with the cognitive impairment seen in this disease. Here, we investigated the consequences of targeted overexpression of a-syn in the mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic and septohippocampal cholinergic pathways. Rats were injected with recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors encoding for either human wild-type a-syn or green fluorescent protein (GFP) in the ventral tegmental area and the medial septum/vertical limb of the diagonal band of Broca, two regions rich in dopaminergic and cholinergic neurons, respectively. Histopathological analysis showed widespread insoluble a-syn positive inclusions in all major projections areas of the targeted nuclei, including the hippocampus, neocortex, nucleus accumbens and anteromedial striatum. In addition, the rats overexpressing human a-syn displayed an abnormal locomotor response to apomorphine injection and exhibited spatial learning and memory deficits in the Morris water maze task, in the absence of obvious spontaneous locomotor impairment. As losses in dopaminergic and cholinergic immunoreactivity in both the GFP and a-syn expressing animals were mild-to-moderate and did not differ from each other, the behavioral impairments seen in the a-syn overexpressing animals appear to be determined by the long term persisting neuropathology in the surviving neurons rather than by neurodegeneration.
Non-human primates are valuable for modelling human disorders and for developing therapeutic strategies; however, little work has been reported in establishing transgenic non-human primate models of human diseases. Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder characterized by motor impairment, cognitive deterioration and psychiatric disturbances followed by death within 10-15 years of the onset of the symptoms1-4. HD is caused by the expansion of cytosineadenine-guanine (CAG, translated into glutamine) trinucleotide repeats in the first exon of the human huntingtin (HTT) gene5. Mutant HTT with expanded polyglutamine (polyQ) is widely expressed in the brain and peripheral tissues2,6, but causes selective neurodegeneration that is most prominent in the striatum and cortex of the brain. Although rodent models of HD have been developed, these models do not satisfactorily parallel the brain changes and behavioural features observed in HD patients. Because of the close physiological7, neurological and genetic similarities8,9 between humans and higher primates, monkeys can serve as very useful models for understanding human physiology and diseases10,11. Here we report our progress in developing a transgenic model of HD in a rhesus macaque that expresses polyglutamine-expanded HTT. Hallmark features of HD, including nuclear inclusions and neuropil aggregates, were observed in the brains of the HD transgenic monkeys. Additionally, the transgenic monkeys showed important clinical features of HD, including dystonia and chorea. A transgenic HD monkey model may open the way to understanding the underlying biology of HD better, and to the development of potential therapies. Moreover, our data suggest that it will be feasible to generate valuable non-human primate models of HD and possibly other human genetic diseases.
Tauopathies are a group of neurological disorders characterized by the presence of intraneuronal hyperphosphorylated and filamentous tau. Mutations in the tau gene have been found in kindred with tauopathy. The expression of the human tau mutant in transgenic mice induced neurodegeneration, indicating that tau plays a central pathological role. However, the molecular mechanism leading to tau-mediated neurodegeneration is poorly understood. To gain insights into the role that tau plays in neurodegeneration, human tau proteins were immunoprecipitated from brain lysates of the tauopathy mouse model JNPL3, which develops neurodegeneration in age-dependent manner. In the present work, a novel EF-hand domain-containing protein was found associated with tau proteins in brain lysate of 12-month-old JNPL3 mice. The association between tau proteins and the novel identified protein appears to be induced by the neurodegeneration process as these two proteins were not found associated in young JNPL3 mice. Consistently, the novel protein co-purified with the pathological sarkosyl insoluble tau in terminally ill JNPL3 mice. Calcium-binding assays demonstrated that this protein binds calcium effectively. Finally, the association between tau and the novel calcium-binding protein is conserved in human and enriched in Alzheimer's disease brain. Taken together, the identification of a novel calcium-binding protein associated with tau protein in terminally ill tauopathy mouse model and its confirmation in human brain lysate suggests that this association may play an important physiological and/or pathological role.
Alzheimer's disease; calcium; EF-hand domain; tau; tauopathy
Ketogenic diets are high in fat and low in carbohydrates, and have long been used as an anticonvulsant therapy for drug-intractable and pediatric epilepsy. Additionally, ketogenic diets have been shown to provide neuroprotective effects against acute and chronic brain injury, including beneficial effects in various rodent models of neurodegeneration. Huntington’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by neurological, behavioral and metabolic dysfunction, and ketogenic diets have been shown to increase energy molecules and mitochondrial function. We tested the effects of a ketogenic diet in a transgenic mouse model of Huntington’s disease (R6/2 1J), with a focus on life-long behavioral and physiological effects. Matched male and female wild-type and transgenic mice were maintained on a control diet or were switched to a ketogenic diet fed ad libitum starting at six weeks of age. We found no negative effects of the ketogenic diet on any behavioral parameter tested (locomotor activity and coordination, working memory) and no significant change in lifespan. Progressive weight loss is a hallmark feature of Huntington’s disease, yet we found that the ketogenic diet - which generally causes weight loss in normal animals - delayed the reduction in body weight of the transgenic mice. These results suggest that metabolic therapies could offer important benefits for Huntington’s disease without negative behavioral or physiological consequences.
body weight; ketones; lifespan; motor coordination; spontaneous alternation; sex differences; working memory
Identification of biomarkers of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is a critical priority to efficiently diagnose the patients, to stage the progression of neurodegeneration in living subjects, and to assess the effects of disease-modifier treatments. This paper addresses the development and usefulness of preclinical neuroimaging biomarkers of AD. It is today possible to image in vivo the brain of small rodents at high resolution and to detect the occurrence of macroscopic/microscopic lesions in these species, as well as of functional alterations reminiscent of AD pathology. We will outline three different types of imaging biomarkers that can be used in AD mouse models: biomarkers with clear translational potential, biomarkers that can serve as in vivo readouts (in particular in the context of drug discovery) exclusively for preclinical research, and finally biomarkers that constitute new tools for fundamental research on AD physiopathogeny.
Numerous epidemiological studies demonstrate that genetic background modifies the onset and the progression of Alzheimer's disease and related neurodegenerative disorders. The efficacious influence of genetic background on the disease pathway of amyloid beta has been meticulously described in rodent models. Since the impact of genetic modifiers on the neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory cascade induced by misfolded tau protein is yet to be elucidated, we have addressed the issue by using transgenic lines expressing the same human truncated tau protein in either spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) or Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) genetic background.
Brains of WKY and SHR transgenic rats in the terminal stage of phenotype and their age-matched non-transgenic littermates were examined by means of immunohistochemistry and unbiased stereology. Basic measures of tau-induced neurodegeneration (load of neurofibrillary tangles) and neuroinflammation (number of Iba1-positive microglia, their activated morphology, and numbers of microglia immunoreactive for MHCII and astrocytes immunoreactive for GFAP) were quantified with an optical fractionator in brain areas affected by neurofibrillary pathology (pons, medulla oblongata). The stereological data were evaluated using two-way ANOVA and Student's t-test.
Tau neurodegeneration (neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), axonopathy) and neuroinflammation (microgliosis, astrocytosis) appeared in both WKY and SHR transgenic rats. Although identical levels of transgene expression in both lines were present, terminally-staged WKY transgenic rats displayed significantly lower final NFT loads than their SHR transgenic counterparts. Interestingly, microglial responses showed a striking difference between transgenic lines. Only 1.6% of microglia in SHR transgenic rats expressed MHCII in spite of having a robust phagocytic phenotype, whereas in WKY transgenic rats, 23.2% of microglia expressed MHCII despite displaying a considerably lower extent of transformation into phagocytic phenotype.
These results show that the immune response represents a pivotal and genetically variable modifying factor that is able to influence vulnerability to neurodegeneration. Therefore, targeted immunomodulation could represent a prospective therapeutic approach to Alzheimer's disease.
Kainic acid (KA)-induced status epilepticus (SE) was involved with release of free radicals. Sesamin is a well-known antioxidant from sesame seeds and it scavenges free radicals in several brain injury models. However the neuroprotective mechanism of sesamin to KA-induced seizure has not been studied.
Rodents (male FVB mice and Sprague-Dawley rats) were fed with sesamin extract (90% of sesamin and 10% sesamolin), 15 mg/kg or 30 mg/kg, for 3 days before KA subcutaneous injection. The effect of sesamin on KA-induced cell injury was also investigated on several cellular pathways including neuronal plasticity (RhoA), neurodegeneration (Caspase-3), and inflammation (COX-2) in PC12 cells and microglial BV-2 cells.
Treatment with sesamin extract (30 mg/kg) significantly increased plasma α-tocopherol level 50% and 55.8% from rats without and with KA treatment, respectively. It also decreased malondialdehyde (MDA) from 145% to 117% (p = 0.017) and preserved superoxide dismutase from 55% of the vehicle control mice to 81% of sesamin-treated mice, respectively to the normal levels (p = 0.013). The treatment significantly decreased the mortality from 22% to 0% in rats. Sesamin was effective to protect PC12 cells and BV-2 cells from KA-injury in a dose-dependent manner. It decreased the release of Ca2+, reactive oxygen species, and MDA from PC12 cells. Western blot analysis revealed that sesamin significantly reduced ERK1/2, p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases, Caspase-3, and COX-2 expression in both cells and RhoA expression in BV-2 cells. Furthermore, Sesamin was able to reduce PGE2 production from both cells under KA-stimulation.
Taken together, it suggests that sesamin could protect KA-induced brain injury through anti-inflammatory and partially antioxidative mechanisms.
Status epilepticus; PC12 cells; BV-2 cells; sesamin; kainic acid; reactive oxygen species; thiobarbituric acid reactive substances; nitric acid; superoxide dismutase; mitogen-activated protein kinases; COX-2
The striato-nigral projecting pathway contains the highest concentrations of dynorphin in the brain. The functional role of this opioid peptide in the regulation of mesencephalic dopaminergic (DAergic) neurons is not clear. We reported previously that exogenous dynorphin exerts potent neuroprotective effects against inflammation-induced dopaminergic neurodegeneration in vitro. The present study was performed to investigate whether endogenous dynorphin has neuroprotective roles in vivo.
1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) and methamphetamine (MA), two commonly used neurotoxins in rodent models of Parkinson’s disease, were administered to wild-type (Dyn+/+) and prodynorphin-deficient mice (Dyn−/−). We examined dopaminergic neurotoxicity by using an automated video tracking system, HPLC, immunocytochemistry, and reverse transcription and polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
Treatment with MPTP resulted in behavioral impairments in both strains. However, these impairments were more pronounced in Dyn-l- than in Dyn+/+. Dyn−/− showed more severe MPTP-induced dopaminergic neuronal loss in the substantia nigra and striatum than Dyn+/+. Similarly, the levels of dopamine and its metabolites in the striatum were depleted to a greater extent in Dyn−/− than in Dyn+/+. Additional mechanistic studies revealed that MPTP treatment caused a higher degree of microglial activation and M1 phenotype differentiation in Dyn−/− than in Dyn+/+. Consistent with these observations, prodynorphin deficiency also exacerbated neurotoxic effects induced by MA, although this effect was less pronounced than that of MPTP.
The in vivo results presented here extend our previous in vitro findings and further indicate that endogenous dynorphin plays a critical role in protecting dopaminergic neurons through its anti-inflammatory effects.
Parkinson’s disease; 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine; methamphetamine; neuroinflammation; microglia; dynorphin; prodynorphin-deficient mice; nigrostriatal dopaminergic toxicity; behavioral deficit.
Apoptosis is an essential cellular process in multiple diseases and a major pathway for neuronal death in neurodegeneration. The detailed signaling events/pathways leading to apoptosis, especially in neurons, require further elucidation. Here we identify a β-amyloid precursor protein (APP)-interacting protein, designated as appoptosin, whose levels are upregulated in brain samples from Alzheimer’s disease and infarct patients, and in rodent stroke models, as well as in neurons treated with β-amyloid (Aβ) and glutamate. We further demonstrate that appoptosin induces reactive oxygen species release and intrinsic caspase-dependent apoptosis. The physiological function of appoptosin is to transport/exchange glycine/5-amino-levulinic acid across the mitochondrial membrane for heme synthesis. Downregulation of appoptosin prevents cell death and caspase activation caused by glutamate or Aβ insults. APP modulates appoptosin-mediated apoptosis through interaction with appoptosin. Our study identifies appoptosin as a crucial player in apoptosis and a novel proapoptotic protein involved in neuronal cell death, providing a possible new therapeutic target for neurodegenerative disorders and cancers.
Gene therapy, in its current configuration, is irreversible and does not allow control over transgene expression in case of side effects. Only few regulated vector systems are available, and none of these has reached clinical applicability yet. The mifepristone (Mfp)-regulated Gene Switch (GS) system is characterized by promising features such as being composed of mainly human components and an approved small-molecule drug as an inducer. However, it has not yet been evaluated in adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors, neither has it been tested for applicability in viral vectors in the central nervous system (CNS). Here, we demonstrate that the GS system can be used successfully in AAV vectors in the brain, and that short-term induced glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) expression prevented neurodegeneration in a rodent model of Parkinson's disease (PD). We also demonstrate repeated responsiveness to the inducer Mfp and absence of immunological tissue reactions in the rat brain. Human equivalent dosages of Mfp used in this study were lower than those used safely for treatment of psychiatric threats, indicating that the inducer could be safely applied in patients. Our results suggest that the GS system in AAV vectors is well suited for further development towards clinical applicability.
AAV; Gene Switch; regulated expression
Obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) can be complicated by cognitive impairment and neurodegeneration. Experimentally, high fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity with T2DM causes mild neurodegeneration with brain insulin resistance. Since ceramides are neurotoxic, cause insulin resistance, and are increased in T2DM, we investigated the potential role of ceramides as mediators of neurodegeneration in the HFD obesity/T2DM model. We pair-fed C57BL/6 mice with a HFD or control diet for 4–20 weeks and examined pro-ceramide gene expression in liver and brain and neurodegeneration in the temporal lobe. HFD feeding gradually increased body weight, but after 16 weeks, liver weight surged (P < 0.001) due to lipid (triglyceride) accumulation (P < 0.001), and brain weight declined (P < 0.0001-Trend analysis). HFD feeding increased ceramide synthase, serine palmitoyl transferase, and sphingomyelinase expression in liver (P < 0.05 – P < 0.001), but not brain. In HFD fed mice, temporal lobe levels of ubiquitin (P < 0.001) and 4-hydroxynonenal (P < 0.05 or P < 0.01) increased, and tau, β-actin, and choline acetyltransferase levels decreased (P < 0.05 – P < 0.001) with development of NASH. In obesity, T2DM, or NASH, neurodegeneration with brain insulin resistance may be mediated by excess hepatic production of neurotoxic ceramides that readily cross the blood-brain barrier.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid; diabetes mellitus; high fat diet; insulin resistance; neurodegeneration; non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; obesity
The transient exposure of immature rodents to ethanol during postnatal day 7 (P7), which is comparable to the third trimester human pregnancy, induces synaptic dysfunctions. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these dysfunctions are still poorly understood. Although the endocannabinoid system has been shown to be an important modulator of ethanol sensitivity in adult mice, its potential role in synaptic dysfunctions in mice exposed to ethanol during early brain development is not examined. In this study, we investigated the potential role of endocannabinoids and the cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1R) in neonatal neurodegeneration and adult synaptic dysfunctions in mice exposed to ethanol at P7. Ethanol treatment at P7, which induces neurodegeneration, increased anandamide (AEA) but not 2-arachidonylglycerol biosynthesis and CB1R protein expression in the hippocampus and cortex, two brain areas that are important for memory formation and storage, respectively. N-arachidonoyl phosphatidylethanolamine-phospholipase D (NAPE-PLD), glycerophosphodiesterase (GDE1) and CB1Rs protein expression were enhanced by transcriptional activation of the genes encoding NAPE-PLD, GDE1 and CB1R proteins respectively. In addition, ethanol inhibited ERK1/2 and AKT phosphorylation. The blockade of CB1Rs prior to ethanol treatment at P7 relieved ERK1/2 but not AKT phosphorylation and prevented neurodegeneration. CB1R knockout mice exhibited no ethanol-induced neurodegeneration and inhibition of ERK1/2-phosphorylation. The protective effects of CB1R blockade through pharmacological or genetic deletion resulted in normal adult synaptic plasticity and novel object recognition memory in mice exposed to ethanol at P7. The AEA/CB1R/pERK1/2 signaling pathway may be directly responsible for the synaptic and memory deficits associated with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is predominantly characterized by progressive neuronal loss in the brain. It has been recently found that adult neurogenesis in the hippocampal dentate gyrus of AD patients is significantly enhanced, while its functional significance is still unknown. By using an AD-like neurodegeneration mouse model, we show here that neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus was neurodegenerative stage-dependent. At early stages of neurodegeneration, neurogenesis was significantly enhanced and newly generated neurons migrated into the local neuronal network. Up to late stages of neurodegeneration, however, the survival of newly generated neurons was impaired so that the enhanced neurogenesis could not be detected any more. Most interestingly, these dynamic changes in neurogenesis were correlated with the severity of neuronal loss in the dentate gyrus, indicating that neurogenesis may work as a self-repairing mechanism to compensate for neurodegeneration. Therefore, to enhance endogenous neurogenesis at early stages of neurodegeneration may be a valuable strategy to delay neurodegenerative progress.
Alzheimer’s disease; adult neurogenesis; neuronal loss; presenilin 1; neurodegeneration; conditional knockout; mice
What drives the gradual degeneration of dopamine neurons in Parkinson's disease (PD), the second most common neurodegenerative disease, remains elusive. Here, we demonstrated, for the first time, that persistent neuroinflammation was indispensible for such neurodegenerative process. 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and rotenone, three toxins often used to create PD models, produced acute but nonprogressive neurotoxicity in neuron-enriched cultures. In the presence of microglia (brain immune cells), these toxins induced progressive dopaminergic neurodegeneration. More importantly, such neurodegeneration was prevented by removing activated microglia. Collectively, chronic neuroinflammation may be a driving force of progressive dopaminergic neurodegeneration. On the other hand, ongoing neurodegeneration sustained microglial activation. Microglial activation persisted only in the presence of neuronal damage in LPS-treated neuron-glia cultures, but not in LPS-treated mixed-glia cultures. Thus, activated microglia and damaged neurons formed a vicious cycle mediating chronic, progressive neurodegeneration. Mechanistic studies indicated that HMGB1 (high-mobility group box 1), released from inflamed microglia and/or degenerating neurons, bound to microglial Mac1 (macrophage antigen complex 1) and activated NF-κB pathway and NADPH oxidase to stimulate production of multiple inflammatory and neurotoxic factors. The treatment of microglia with HMGB1 led to membrane translocation of p47 (a cytosolic subunit of NADPH oxidase) and consequent superoxide release, which required the presence of Mac1. Neutralization of HMGB1 and genetic ablation of Mac1 and gp91phox (the catalytic submit of NADPH oxidase) blocked the progressive neurodegeneration. Our findings indicated that HMGB1-Mac1-NADPH oxidase signaling axis bridged chronic neuroinflammation and progressive dopaminergic neurodegeneration, thus identifying a mechanistic basis for chronic PD progression.
Parkinson's disease; microglia; Mac1; HMGB1; NADPH oxidase; neurodegeneration
Chemokines are implicated in the neuroinflammation of several chronic neurodegenerative disorders. However, the precise role of chemokines in neurodegeneration is unknown. Thiamine deficiency (TD) causes abnormal oxidative metabolism in the brain as well as a well-defined microglia activation and neurodegeneration in the submedial thalamus nucleus (SmTN), which are common features of neurodegenerative diseases. We evaluated the role of chemokines in neurodegeneration and the underlying mechanism in a TD model. Among the chemokines examined, TD selectively induced neuronal expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) in the SmTN prior to microglia activation and neurodegeneration. The conditioned medium collected from TD-induced neurons caused microglia activation. With a neuron/microglia co-culture system, we showed that MCP-1-induced neurotoxicity required the presence of microglia and exogenous MCP-1 was able to activate microglia and stimulated microglia to produce cytokines. A MCP-1 neutralizing antibody inhibited MCP-1-induced microglia activation and neuronal death in culture and in the thalamus. MCP-1 knock-out mice were resistant to TD-induced neuronal death in SmTN. TD selectively induced the accumulation of reactive oxygen species in neurons, and antioxidants blocked TD-induced MCP-1 expression. Together, our results indicated an induction of neuronal MCP-1 during mild impairment of oxidative metabolism caused microglia recruitment/activation, which exacerbated neurodegeneration.
Thiamine deficiency; chemokines; microglia activation; neurodegeneration; oxidative stress
The ts1 mutant of the Moloney murine leukemia virus (MoMuLV) causes neurodegeneration in infected mice that resembles HIV-associated dementia. We have shown previously that ts1 infects glial cells in the brain, but not neurons. The most likely mechanism for ts1-mediated neurodegeneration is loss of glial redox support and glial cell toxicity to neurons. Minocycline has been shown to have neuroprotective effects in various models of neurodegeneration. This study was designed to determine whether and how minocycline prevents paralysis and death in ts1-infected mice. We show here that minocycline delays neurodegeneration in ts1 -infected mice, and that it prevents death of cultured astrocyte infected by ts1 through attenuating oxidative stress, inflammation and apoptosis. Although minocycline reduces virus titers in the CNS of infected mice, it does not affect virus titers in infected mice thymi, spleens or infected C1 astrocytes. In addition, minocycline prevents death of primary neurons when they are cocultured with ts1 -infected astrocytes, through mechanisms involving both inhibition of oxidative stress and upregulation of the transcription factor NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), which confers the cell the antioxidant defense. We conclude that minocycline delays retrovirus ts1 -induced neurodegeneration involving antioxidant, anti-inflammation and anti-apoptotic mechanisms.
Moloney murine leukemia virus -ts1; Minocycline; Oxidative stress; Inflammation; Apoptosis; Nrf2
Neurodegeneration is a hallmark of many neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and the polyglutamine diseases, which are all caused by misfolded proteins that accumulate in neuronal cells of the brain. Although apoptosis is believed to contribute to neurodegeneration in these cases, genetic mouse models of these diseases often fail to replicate apoptosis and overt neurodegeneration in the brain. Using nuclear transfer, we generated transgenic Huntington's disease (HD) pigs that express N-terminal (208 amino acids) mutant huntingtin with an expanded polyglutamine tract (105Q). Postnatal death, dyskinesia and chorea-like movement were observed in some transgenic pigs that express mutant huntingtin. Importantly, the transgenic HD pigs, unlike mice expressing the same transgene, displayed typical apoptotic neurons with DNA fragmentation in their brains. Also, expression of mutant huntingtin resulted in more neurons with activated caspase-3 in transgenic pig brains than that in transgenic mouse brains. Our findings suggest that species differences determine neuropathology and underscore the importance of large mammalian animals for modeling neurological disorders.
Clinical studies indicate that alcohol dependence has an additive effect on cognitive deficits associated with HIV-1 infection. Findings in humans and animal models suggest that alcohol, similar to HIV-1, induces inflammatory processes in the brain leading to neurodegeneration. The causes of HIV-1-associated neurotoxicity are comparable to those mediating alcohol-induced neuronal injury. This review aims to present the mechanisms of the combined effects of HIV-1 and alcohol abuse in the brain and to discuss neuroprotective therapies. Oxidative stress, overproduction of pro-inflammatory factors, impairment of blood brain barrier and glutamate associated neurotoxicity appear to play important roles in alcohol driven neurodegeneration. Diminution of neuroinflammation constitutes a logical approach for prevention of HIV-1 and alcohol mediated neurodegeneration. Agonists of cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) possess potent anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. We address multifaceted beneficial effects of CB2 activation in the setting of HIV-1 brain infection and alcohol abuse.
HIV-1; alcohol abuse; neuroinflammation; cannabinoid receptor 2; glial cells; blood brain barrier
Currently available evidence strongly supports the position that the initiating event in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is related to abnormal processing of β-amyloid (Aβ) peptide, ultimately leading to formation of Aβ plaques in the brain. This process occurs while individuals are still cognitively normal. Biomarkers of brain β-amyloidosis are reductions in CSF Aβ42 and increased amyloid PET tracer retention. After a lag period, which varies from patient to patient, neuronal dysfunction and neurodegeneration become the dominant pathological processes. Biomarkers of neuronal injury and neurodegeneration are increased CSF tau and structural MRI measures of cerebral atrophy. Neurodegeneration is accompanied by synaptic dysfunction, which is indicated by decreased fluorodeoxyglucose uptake on PET. We propose a model that relates disease stage to AD biomarkers in which Aβ biomarkers become abnormal first, before neurodegenerative biomarkers and cognitive symptoms, and neurodegenerative biomarkers become abnormal later, and correlate with clinical symptom severity.
Accumulation of β-amyloid peptide (Aβ) in the brain is believed to trigger a complex and poorly understood pathologic reaction that results in the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Despite intensive study, there is no consensus as to how Aβ accumulation causes neurodegeneration in AD. In this issue of the JCI, Tesseur et al. report that the expression of TGF-β type II receptor (TβRII) by neurons is reduced very early in the course of AD and that reduced TGF-β signaling increased Aβ deposition and neurodegeneration in a mouse model of AD (see the related article beginning on page 3060). Intriguingly, reduced TGF-β signaling in neuroblastoma cells resulted in neuritic dystrophy and increased levels of secreted Aβ. Collectively, these data suggest that dysfunction of the TGF-β/TβRII signaling axis in the AD brain may accelerate Aβ deposition and neurodegeneration.
Markers of oxidative damage have been detected in brain tissue from patients with Alzheimer disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative disorders. These findings implicate oxidative injury in the neurodegenerative process, but whether oxidative stress is a cause or a consequence of neurotoxicity remains unclear. We used a Drosophila model of human tauopathies to investigate the role of oxidative stress in neurodegeneration. Genetic and pharmacological manipulation of antioxidant defense mechanisms significantly modified neurodegeneration in our model, suggesting that oxidative stress plays a causal role in neurotoxicity. We demonstrate that the JNK signaling pathway is activated in our model, which is in agreement with previous findings in AD tissue. Furthermore, we show that the extent of JNK activation correlates with the degree of tau-induced neurodegeneration. Finally, our findings suggest that oxidative stress acts not to promote tau phosphorylation, but to enhance tau-induced cell cycle activation. In summary, our study identifies oxidative stress as a causal factor in tau-induced neurodegeneration in Drosophila.
Excessive alcohol intake, characteristic of an alcohol use disorder (AUD), results in neurodegeneration as well as cognitive deficits that may recover in abstinence. Neurodegeneration in psychiatric disorders such as AUDs is due to various effects on tissue integrity. Several groups report that alcohol-induced neurodegeneration and recovery include a role for adult neurogenesis. Therefore, the initial purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of alcohol on the temporal profile of neural progenitor cells using the radial glia marker, vimentin, in a model of an AUD. However, striking vimentin expression throughout corticolimbic regions led, instead, to the discovery of a significant gliosis response in this model. Adult male rats were subjected to a four-day binge model of an AUD and brains harvested for immunohistochemistry at 0, 2, 4, 7, 14, and 28 days following the last dose of ethanol. A prominent increase in vimentin immunoreactivity was apparent at 4 and 7 days post-binge that returned to control levels by 14 days in the corticolimbic regions examined. Vimentin-positive cells co-labeled with glial fibrillary acidic protein, which suggested that cells were reactive astrocytes. A second experiment supported that increased vimentin was not primarily due to alcohol withdrawal seizures and is more likely due to alcohol-induced cell death. As this gliosis was remarkably distinct in regions where cell death had not previously been reported in this model, adjacent tissue sections were processed for FluoroJade B staining for cell death. FluoroJade B-positive cells were evident immediately following the last ethanol dose as expected, but were significantly elevated in the hippocampal dentate gyrus and CA3 regions and corticolimbic regions from 2 to 7 days post binge. Intriguingly, vimentin labeling of astrogliosis is more widespread than FluoroJade B labeling of cell death, which suggests that four-day binge ethanol consumption is more damaging than originally realized.
Alcoholism; neural stem cell; adult neurogenesis; astrogliosis; ethanol
Ethanol consumption during pregnancy can lead to FetalAlcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), which consists of the complete spectrum of developmental deficits including neurological dysfunction. FASD is associated with a variety of neurobehavioral disturbances dependent on the age and duration of exposure. Ethanol exposure in neonatal rodents can alsoinduce widespread apoptotic neurodegeneration and long-lasting behavioral abnormalities similar to FASD. The developmental stage of neonatal rodent brains that are at the peak of synaptogenesis is equivalent to the third trimester of human gestation.
Male and female C57BL/6By mice were injected with ethanol (20%, 2.5g/kg, two s.c. injections) or an equal volume of saline (controls) on postnatal day 7 (P7). Animals were allowed to mature and at 3 months were tested on an olfactory habituation task known to be dependent on piriform cortex function, a hippocampal-dependent object place memory task, and used for electrophysiological testing of spontaneous and odor-evoked local field potential (LFP) activity in the olfactory bulb, piriform cortex and dorsal hippocampus.
P7 ethanol induced widespread cell death within 1 day of exposure, with highest levels in the neocortex, intermediate levels in the dorsal hippocampus and relatively low levels in the primary olfactory system.No impairment of odor investigation or odor habituation was detected in P7 ethanol exposed 3 months old mice compared to saline controls. However, hippocampal-dependent object place memory was significantly impaired in the P7 ethanol treated adult mice. Odor-evoked LFP activity was enhanced throughout the olfacto-hippocampal pathway, primarily within the theta frequency band, although the hippocampus also showed elevated evoked delta frequency activity. In addition, functional coherence between the piriform cortex and olfactory bulb and between the piriform cortex and dorsal hippocampus was enhanced in the beta frequency range in P7 ethanol treated adult mice compared to controls.
P7 ethanol induces an immediate wave of regionally selective cell death followed by long-lasting, changes in local circuit and regional network function that are accompanied by changes in neurobehavioral performance. The results suggest that both the activity of local neural circuits within a brain region and the flow of information between brain regions can be modified by early alcohol exposure which may contribute to long-lasting behavioral abnormalities known to rely on those circuits.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders; Olfactory bulb; Piriform cortex; Hippocampus; Local field potentials; Memory; Alcohol
Autophagy is the principal cellular pathway for degradation of long-lived proteins and organelles and regulates cell fate in response to stress. Recently, autophagy has been implicated in neurodegeneration, but whether it is detrimental or protective remains unclear. Here we report that beclin 1, a protein with a key role in autophagy, was decreased in affected brain regions of patients with Alzheimer disease (AD) early in the disease process. Heterozygous deletion of beclin 1 (Becn1) in mice decreased neuronal autophagy and resulted in neurodegeneration and disruption of lysosomes. In transgenic mice that express human amyloid precursor protein (APP), a model for AD, genetic reduction of Becn1 expression increased intraneuronal amyloid β (Aβ) accumulation, extracellular Aβ deposition, and neurodegeneration and caused microglial changes and profound neuronal ultrastructural abnormalities. Administration of a lentiviral vector expressing beclin 1 reduced both intracellular and extracellular amyloid pathology in APP transgenic mice. We conclude that beclin 1 deficiency disrupts neuronal autophagy, modulates APP metabolism, and promotes neurodegeneration in mice and that increasing beclin 1 levels may have therapeutic potential in AD.