Meditation practices may impact physiological pathways that are modulated by stress and relevant to disease. While much attention has been paid to meditation practices that emphasize calming the mind, improving focused attention, or developing mindfulness, less is known about meditation practices that foster compassion. Accordingly, the current study examined the effect of compassion meditation on innate immune, neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress and evaluated the degree to which engagement in meditation practice influenced stress-reactivity. Sixty-one healthy adults were randomized to 6 weeks of training in compassion meditation (n=33) or participation in a health discussion control group (n=28) followed by exposure to a standardized laboratory stressor (Trier Social Stress Test [TSST]). Physiologic and behavioral responses to the TSST were determined by repeated assessments of plasma concentrations of interleukin (IL)-6 and cortisol as well as total distress scores on the Profile of Mood States (POMS). No main effect of group assignment on TSST responses was found for IL-6, cortisol or POMS scores. However, within the meditation group, increased meditation practice was correlated with decreased TSST-induced IL-6 (rp =-0.46, p=0.008) and POMS distress scores (rp =-0.43, p=0.014). Moreover, individuals with meditation practice times above the median exhibited lower TSST-induced IL-6 and POMS distress scores compared to individuals below the median, who did not differ from controls. These data suggest that engagement in compassion meditation may reduce stress-induced immune and behavioral responses, although future studies are required to determine whether individuals who engage in compassion meditation techniques are more likely to exhibit reduced stress reactivity.
meditation; compassion; mindfulness; Trier Social Stress Test; cortisol; interleukin-6
Physical exercise has been shown to increase neurogenesis, to decrease neuronal injury and to improve memory in animal models of stroke and head trauma. Therefore, we investigated the effect of voluntary wheel running on survival, neuronal damage and cell proliferation in a mouse model of pneumococcal meningitis. Mice were housed in cages equipped with voluntary running wheels or in standard cages before induction of bacterial meningitis by a subarachnoid injection of a Streptococcus pneumoniae type 3 strain. 24 hours later antibiotic treatment was initiated with ceftriaxone (100 mg/kg twice daily). Experiments were terminated either 30 hours or 4 days (short-term) or 7 weeks (long-term) after infection, and the survival time, inflammatory cytokines and corticosterone levels, neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampal formation and the cognitive function were evaluated in surviving mice. Survival time was significantly increased in running mice compared to control animals (p = 0.0087 in short-term and p = 0.016 in long-term experiments, log-rank test). At the end of the long-term experiment, mortality was lower in trained than in sedentary animals (p = 0.031, Fisher’s Exact test). Hippocampal neurogenesis – assessed by the density of doublecortin-, TUC-4- and BrdU + NeuN-colabeled cells - was significantly increased in running mice in comparison to the sedentary group after meningitis. However, Morris water maze performance of both groups 6 weeks after bacterial meningitis did not reveal differences in learning ability. In conclusion, physical exercise prior to infection increased survival in a mouse model of bacterial meningitis and stimulated neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampal formation.
Exercise; Survival; Mortality; Neurogenesis; Streptococcus pneumoniae; Bacterial meningitis
The t(10;11)(p13;q14) translocation results in the fusion of the CALM (clathrin assembly lymphoid myeloid leukemia protein) and AF10 genes. This translocation is observed in acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML M6), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and malignant lymphoma. Using a yeast two-hybrid screen, the four and a half LIM domain protein 2 (FHL2) was identified as a CALM interacting protein. Recently, high expression of FHL2 in breast, gastric, colon, lung as well as in prostate cancer was shown to be associated with an adverse prognosis. The interaction between CALM and FHL2 was confirmed by glutathione S-transferase-pulldown assay and co-immunoprecipitation experiments. The FHL2 interaction domain of CALM was mapped to amino acids 294–335 of CALM. The transcriptional activation capacity of FHL2 was reduced by CALM, but not by CALM/AF10, which suggests that regulation of FHL2 by CALM might be disturbed in CALM/AF10-positive leukemia. Extremely high expression of FHL2 was seen in acute erythroid leukemia (AML M6). FHL2 was also highly expressed in chronic myeloid leukemia and in AML with complex aberrant karyotype. These results suggest that FHL2 may play an important role in leukemogenesis, especially in the case of AML M6.
CALM; AF10; FHL2
Aerobic exercise can serve as an alternative, non-drug reinforcer in laboratory animals and has been recommended as a potential intervention for substance abusing populations. Unfortunately, relatively little empirical data have been collected that specifically address the possible protective effects of voluntary, long-term exercise on measures of drug self-administration. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of chronic exercise on sensitivity to the positive-reinforcing effects of cocaine in the drug self-administration procedure. Female rats were obtained at weaning and immediately divided into two groups. Sedentary rats were housed individually in standard laboratory cages that permitted no exercise beyond normal cage ambulation; exercising rats were housed individually in modified cages equipped with a running wheel. After 6 weeks under these conditions, rats were surgically implanted with venous catheters and trained to self-administer cocaine on a fixed-ratio schedule of reinforcement. Once self-administration was acquired, cocaine was made available on a progressive ratio schedule and breakpoints were obtained for various doses of cocaine. Sedentary and exercising rats did not differ in the time to acquire cocaine self-administration or responding on the fixed-ratio schedule of reinforcement. However, on the progressive ratio schedule, breakpoints were significantly lower in exercising rats than sedentary rats when responding was maintained by both low (0.3 mg/kg/infusion) and high (1.0 mg/kg/infusion) doses of cocaine. In exercising rats, greater exercise output prior to catheter implantation was associated with lower breakpoints at the high dose of cocaine. These data indicate that chronic exercise decreases the positive-reinforcing effects of cocaine and support the possibility that exercise may be an effective intervention in drug abuse prevention and treatment programs.
cocaine; exercise; progressive ratio; rat; self-administration
Anxiety disorders commonly present in primary care where evidence-based mental health treatments often are unavailable or suboptimally delivered.
Compare evidence-based treatment for anxiety disorders to usual care in primary care, for principal and comorbid generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), social anxiety disorder (SAD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We hypothesized superiority of CALM for principal anxiety disorders and comorbid disorders.
A randomized, controlled trial comparing CALM intervention with Usual Care, at baseline, 6-month, 12-month and 18-month follow-ups.
17 primary care clinics in the United States.
Referred primary care sample, 1004 patients, with principal DSM-IV diagnoses of GAD (n=549), PD (n=262), SAD (n=132), or PTSD (n=61), mean 43.7 years (SD=13.7), 70.9% female,. 80% completed 18-month follow-up.
CALM (computer-guided CBT and/or pharmacotherapy recommendations) and Usual Care.
Main Outcome Measures
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Severity Scale, Panic Disorder Severity-Self Report scale, Social Phobia Inventory, and PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version.
CALM was superior to Usual Care for principal GAD at 6-month (−1.61; 95% CI = −2.42 to −.79), 12-month (−2.34; 95% CI = −3.22 to −1.45) and 18-month (−2.37; 95% CI = −3.24 to −1.50), PD at 6-month (−2.00; 95% CI = −3.55 to −0.44) and 12-month (−2.71; 95% CI = −4.29 to −1.14), and SAD at 6-month (−7.05; 95% CI = −12.11 to −2.00) outcomes. CALM was superior to Usual Care for comorbid SAD at 6-month (−4.26; 95% CI = −7.96 to −0.56), 12-month (−8.12, 95% CI = −11.84 to −4.40) and 18- month (−6.23, 95% CI = −9.90 to −2.55) outcomes. Effect sizes favored CALM, but were not statistically significant for other comorbid disorders.
CALM (CBT and psychotropic recommendations) is more effective than Usual Care for principal anxiety disorders, and to a lesser extent, comorbid anxiety disorders that present in primary care.
Fibulin-4 is an extracellular matrix protein expressed by vascular smooth muscle cells that is essential for maintaining arterial integrity. Fibulin-4−/− mice die just before birth due to arterial hemorrhage, but fibulin-4+/− mice appear to be outwardly normal. Experiments were therefore performed to determine whether fibulin-4+/− mice display arterial pathologies on a microscopic scale. After preliminary experiments were performed, a second purpose developed, which was to test the hypothesis that any observed pathologies would be ameliorated by housing the animals in enriched cages.
Fibulin-4+/− and wild-type mice were housed either four/cage in standard cages or two per cage in larger cages, each cage containing a tunnel and a wheel. After three weeks the mice were sacrificed, and the aortas perfusion-fixed and excised for light and electron microscopy.
When the mice were in standard cages, localized regions of disorganized extracellular matrix and collagen fibers consistently appeared between some of the medial smooth muscle cells in the fibulin-4+/− mice. In the wild-type mice, the smooth muscle cells were closely connected to each other and the media was more compact. The number of disorganized regions per square mm was significantly greater for fibulin-4+/− mice (172±43 (SEM)) than for wild-type mice (15±8) (p<0.01, n = 8). When the mice were in enriched cages, the fibulin-4+/− mice showed significantly fewer disorganized regions than those in standard cages (35±12) (p<0.05, n = 8). The wild type mice also showed fewer disorganized regions (3±2), but this difference was not significant.
These results indicate that arterial pathologies manifested in fibulin-4+/− mice can be reduced by enriching the housing conditions, and imply that appropriate environments may counteract the effects of some genetic deficiencies.
Emerging data suggest that, much like epithelial cells, the polarized growth of neurons requires both the secretory and endocytic pathways. The clathrin assembly proteins AP180 and CALM are known to be involved in clathrin-mediated endocytosis, but their roles in mammalian neurons, and, in particular, in developmental processes prior to synaptogenesis, are unknown. Here we provide evidence that AP180 and CALM play critical roles in establishing the polarity and controlling the growth of axons and dendrites in embryonic hippocampal neurons. Knockdown of AP180 primarily impairs axonal development, while reducing CALM levels results in dendritic dystrophy. Conversely, neurons that overexpress AP180 or CALM generate multiple axons. Ultrastructural analysis shows that CALM affiliates with wider range of intracellular trafficking organelles than does AP180. Functional analysis shows that endocytosis is reduced in both AP180-deficient and CALM-deficient neurons. Additionally, CALM-deficient neurons show disrupted secretory transport. Our data demonstrate previously unknown functions for AP180 and CALM in intracellular trafficking that is essential in the growth of neurons.
AP180; CALM; trafficking; neuron; polarity; development
Cafe-au-lait macules (CALMs) in NF1 are an early and accessible phenotype in NF1, but have not been extensively studied.
To more fully characterize the phenotype of CALMs in patients with NF1.
Twenty-four patients with a diagnosis of NF1 confirmed through clinical diagnosis or molecular genetic testing were recruited from patients seen in the Genetics Department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. CALM locations were mapped using standard digital photography. Pigment intensity was measured with a narrowband spectrophotometer, which estimates the relative amount of melanin (M) based on its absorption of visible light. The major response was defined as the difference between the mean M from the CALM and the mean M from the surrounding skin. The major response for each spot was compared to spots within an individual and across individuals in the study population.
There was significant variability of the major response, primarily attributable to intrapersonal variability (48.4%, <0.0001) and secondly to interpersonal variability (33.0%, <0.0094). Subsequent analysis based on genetic mutation type showed significantly darker spots in individuals with germline mutations leading to haploinsufficiency.
The study was performed on a small population of patients and the method utilized has not yet been used extensively for this purpose.
CALMs vary in pigment intensity not only across individuals, but also within individuals and this variability was unrelated to sun exposure. Further studies may help elucidate the molecular basis of this finding, leading to an increased understanding of the pathogenesis of CALMs in NF1.
The foraging behaviour of sub-adult Nucella lapillus originating from different field populations, was monitored for ten alternating, biweekly, periods of calm and wave action simulated in a tidal aquarium. Because the dogwhelks were reared under standard laboratory conditions, any behavioural differences among the experimental populations could reasonably be inferred to be linked to some genetically based mechanism. In order to forage, the dogwhelks had to leave a refugium, traverse empty 'habitat' and enter a patch of mussels serving as prey. Wave action markedly depressed foraging activity, increased foraging latency and lowered the patch-residence-time index. Dogwhelks derived from populations naturally occurring on shores exposed to wave action reduced their foraging activity less strongly than those derived from sheltered-shore populations, but geographical origin (Plymouth or Anglesey) had no significant influence on foraging behaviour. A simple interpretation was offered, linking the differential behavioural response to habitat-specific shell morphology, known to be heritable. According to this interpretation, all dogwhelks react similarly to the drag forces generated by wave action, but the relatively shorter-spired shells of exposed-shore dogwhelks cause weaker resultant forces than the taller-spired shells of sheltered-shore individuals. Consequently, exposed-shore dogwhelks tolerate higher levels of wave action than sheltered-shore morphs before suppressing their foraging behaviour. As exposed-shore dogwhelks have greater tenacity associated with relatively larger pedal area, the increased tolerance of wave action extends opportunities for foraging without incurring extra risk of dislodgement. The sheltered-shore morphology, which imparts greater resistance to desiccation, coincidentally increases drag and so makes dogwhelks more likely to seek refuge during occasional periods of heavy wave action. Exposed- and sheltered-shore morphologies therefore represent genotype/environment interaction that is apparently adaptive, in part, through its effect on foraging behaviour.
Laboratory Rearing Refuging Wave Action Shore Type Provenance
To determine the effect of innate activity level and running wheel access on food consumption in high-active (SWR/J) low-active (DBA/2J) mice.
Two strains of inbred mice were used in this study due to their high activity level (SWR/J) and low activity level (DBA/2J). The mice were housed in individual cages, and half of the mice in each strain had free access to running wheels in their cages, while the other mice received no running wheel. All mice consumed standard chow and water ad libitum for 13 weeks during the study period. Running-wheel activity (daily), food consumption (bi-weekly), and body mass (weekly) were recorded.
SWR/J runners consumed more food (6.0±0.4g/day) than SWR/J non-runners (4.7±0.2g/day; p=0.03), DBA/2J runners (4.6±0.2g/day; p=0.02), and DBA/2J non-runners (4.2±0.2g/day; p=0.006). SWR/J non-runners consumed more food than DBA/2J non-runners (p=0.03). Average daily distance and duration were significantly greater for the SWR/J runners (6.4±0.7km/day and 333.6±40.5min/day, respectively) compared to the DBA/2J runners (1.6±0.4km/day and 91.3±23.0min/day, respectively). There was a significant correlation between food consumption and distance (r=0.74, p<0.001), duration (r=0.68, p<0.001), and speed (r=0.58, p<0.001), respectively, in all mice. However, when considering the individuals strains, the relationship between running-wheel activity and food consumption was only statistically significant for the SWR/J mice.
Higher running-wheel activity in mice was associated with increased food consumption in the SWR/J mice but not the DBA/2J mice. In DBA/2J mice the addition of a running wheel did not result in increased food consumption, suggesting energy expenditure of non-wheel cage activity in the control DBA/2J mice was similar to the energy expenditure of the wheel activity since body mass was similar between the two groups.
voluntary exercise; running wheel; SWR mice; DBA mice
The Tub gene was originally identified as a spontaneous mutation in C57Bl/6J mice, and associated with adult-onset obesity (Tub MUT mice). Although the original Tub MUT mouse was identified over 15 years ago, there have been few reports on the animal’s food intake, body fat percentage or energy expenditure. In this study, we report food intake, body weight from 5–20 weeks, body fat, body temperature and three different measures of physical activity behavior. Tub MUT mice display reduced food intake, uncharacteristic of many obese mouse models, and reduced voluntary wheel running with normal home cage ambulatory behavior. We conclude that motivation for food and exercise is an underlying defect in TUB MUT mice.
locomotor activity; food intake; body temperature; wheel running; body fat; obesity
Chronic renal failure (CRF) results in diminished physical activity and increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD risk factors are raised by sedentary life style and ameliorated by physical fitness in the general population. Accordingly, exercise improves hypertension, endothelial dysfunction, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, inflammation and oxidative stress in high-risk populations. This study was designed to explore the effect of exercise on oxidative and inflammatory mediators in the left ventricle (LV) of CRF rats.
Methods and Results
One week after 5/6 nephrectomy female rats were housed in either regular cages or cages equipped with running wheels for 4 weeks. Sham-operated rats housed in regular cages served as controls. Sedentary CRF rats exhibited azotemia, hypertension, anemia, oxidative stress, activation of NF-κB and upregulations of reactive oxygen species-generating enzyme, NAD(P)H oxidase, MCP-1, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), and PAI-1 in LV. The CRF rats assigned to the exercise group ran 6.8 ± 0.7 km/day and 72 ± 8 min/day. Voluntary exercise reversed NF-κB activation and lowered NAD(P)H oxidase, PAI-1, MCP-1 and COX-2 abundance, increased LV mass by raising myofibrillar proteins and ameliorated anemia without affecting renal function or arterial pressure.
CRF resulted in upregulation of prooxidant/proinflammatory pathways in LV. These changes were ameliorated by exercise, which indicates the potential cardiovascular benefit of exercise in renal insufficiency.
Cardiovascular disease; Oxidative stress; Inflammation; Renin-angiotensin system; Hypertension
Epidemiological studies suggest that physical activity reduces the risk of colon cancer in humans. Results from animal studies, however, are inconclusive. The present study investigated the effects of voluntary exercise on intestinal tumor formation in two different animal models, ApcMin/+ mice and azoxymethane (AOM)/dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-treated mice.
In Experiments 1 and 2, five-week old female ApcMin/+ mice were either housed in regular cages or cages equipped with a running wheel for 6 weeks (for mice maintained on the AIN93G diet; Experiment 1) or 9 weeks (for mice on a high-fat diet; Experiment 2). In Experiment 3, male CF-1 mice at 6 weeks of age were given a dose of AOM (10 mg/kg body weight, i.p.) and, 12 days later, 1.5% DSS in drinking fluid for 1 week. The mice were then maintained on a high-fat diet and housed in regular cages or cages equipped with a running wheel for 16 weeks.
In the ApcMin/+ mice maintained on either the AIN93G or the high-fat diet, voluntary exercise decreased the number of small intestinal tumors. In the AOM/DSS-treated mice maintained on a high-fat diet, voluntary exercise also decreased the number of colon tumors. In ApcMin/+ mice, voluntary exercise decreased the ratio of serum insulin like growth factor (IGF)-1 to IGF binding protein (BP)-3 levels. It also decreased prostaglandin E2 and nuclear β-catenin levels, but increased E-cadherin levels in the tumors.
These results indicate hat voluntary exercise inhibited intestinal tumorigenesis in ApcMin/+ mice and AOM/DSS-treated mice, and the inhibitory effect is associated with decreased IGF-1/IGFBP-3 ratio, aberrant β-catenin signaling, and arachidonic acid metabolism.
SNAREs provide a large part of the specificity and energy needed for membrane fusion and, to do so, must be localized to their correct membranes. Here, we show that the R-SNAREs VAMP8, VAMP3, and VAMP2, which cycle between the plasma membrane and endosomes, bind directly to the ubiquitously expressed, PtdIns4,5P2-binding, endocytic clathrin adaptor CALM/PICALM. X-ray crystallography shows that the N-terminal halves of their SNARE motifs bind the CALMANTH domain as helices in a manner that mimics SNARE complex formation. Mutation of residues in the CALM:SNARE interface inhibits binding in vitro and prevents R-SNARE endocytosis in vivo. Thus, CALM:R-SNARE interactions ensure that R-SNAREs, required for the fusion of endocytic clathrin-coated vesicles with endosomes and also for subsequent postendosomal trafficking, are sorted into endocytic vesicles. CALM's role in directing the endocytosis of small R-SNAREs may provide insight into the association of CALM/PICALM mutations with growth retardation, cognitive defects, and Alzheimer's disease.
► Binding to CALM selects VAMPs 8, 3, and 2 for incorporation into endocytic CCVs ► The CALM ANTH domain binds VAMPs and PtdIns4,5P2 simultaneously ► Helical N-terminal halves of VAMP SNARE motifs displace the CALM ANTH final helix ► VAMP endocytosis is blocked by mutation of residues in the CALM:SNARE interface
CALM recognizes the SNARE motif of small R-SNARE proteins as a sorting signal to direct R-SNARE endocytosis and trafficking to the appropriate intracellular compartment while simultaneously shielding the SNARE motif from inappropriate interactions. This unique role for CALM, distinct from other clathrin adaptors, may explain the genetic association of the CALM/PICALM gene with neurological disorders.
The PICALM (CALM) gene, whose product is involved in clathrin-mediated endocytosis, has been identified in two recurring chromosomal translocations, involving either MLL or MLLT10 (AF10). We developed a mouse model of CALM-AF10+ leukemia to examine the hypothesis that disruption of endocytosis contributes to leukemogenesis. Exclusion of the C-terminal portion of CALM from the fusion protein, which is required for optimal binding to clathrin, resulted in the development of a myeloproliferative disease, while inclusion of this domain led to the development of acute myeloid leukemia and changes in gene expression of several cancer-related genes, notably Pim1 and Crebbp. Nonetheless, the development of leukemia could not be attributed directly to interference with endocytosis or consequential changes in proliferation and signaling. In leukemia cells, full-length CALM-AF10 localized to the nucleus with no consistent effect on growth factor endocyctosis, and suppressed H3K79 methylation regardless of the presence of clathrin. Using FRET analysis, we show that CALM-AF10 has a propensity to homo-oligomerize, raising the possibility that the function of endocytic proteins involved in chimeric fusions may be to provide dimerization properties, a recognized mechanism for unleashing oncogenic properties of chimeric transcription factors, rather than disrupting the internalization of growth factor receptors.
AML; MPD; endocytosis; Dot1l; H3K79 methylation; oligomerization
Introduction. Obtaining blood pressures in pediatric emergency department patients is the standard of care; however, there is little evidence to support its utility. This prospective study assesses the benefit of BP acquisition in patients ≤5 years. Methods. Data were collected by the ED triage nurses on 649 patients in two community hospital EDs. Relationships between abnormal blood pressures and the patients' age, acuity, and calm versus not-calm emotional state were analyzed. Results. There were significant differences in the rate of elevated BPs in the calm and not-calm groups of patients. Overall, one- and two-year-old patients were more likely to have elevated BPs than those in other age groups. Very few patients in the sample had hypotension (1%). There was no relationship between Emergency Severity Index (ESI) acuity level and an abnormal BP. Nineteen percent of calm patients had elevated BPs, with 3.6% of patients in the stage two class of hypertension. Conclusions. There is limited benefit in obtaining BPs in children age of five or less regardless of whether the child is calm or not in ESI acuity levels 3 and 4.
Regular bouts of physical activity may cause changes in gene expression that accumulate over time and ultimately affect phenotypes, such as body weight, blood lipid profile, and tumor development. Furthermore, acute activity may affect gene expression and phenotypes differently depending on whether the individual is regularly inactive or active. One-month old male Sprague-Dawley rats (n=72) were equally divided into SED (standard laboratory cage, n=24), PA (large activity box, n=24), and EX (exercise wheel inside standard cage, n=24) groups. At three months of age, half the animals from each group were sacrificed at rest and the other half following 30 minutes of physical activity. RNA was extracted from cardiac tissue, and microarray analysis was performed on 27,000 genes. Select gene results were validated using qPCR. No gene expression differences occurred when comparing all 3-month old groups at rest. A relatively small percentage of genes (1.9%) were differentially expressed (p<0.05) following acute swim activity in all groups but only 37 unique and identifiable genes reached or exceeded two fold differences in expression. The genes Atf3, Fos, Apold1, and Pxdn were expressed differently among SED, PA and EX following acute activity, with a clear separation of the magnitude in gene expression with SED > PA > EX. Differences in gene expression levels in young physically inactive and active animals following acute activity have different regulatory roles in gene networks that affect health-related phenotypes.
acute exercise; gene expression; physical activity
The objective of this study was to determine the effect of environmental enrichment on the sensorimotor function of rats with chronic spinal cord injuries.
Adult Sprague-Dawley rats received a contusive injury of moderate severity at vertebral level T8 using a weight-drop device. Three months after injury, 1 randomized group (n = 16) of rats was placed in an enriched environment, whereas the control group (n = 16) remained housed in standard laboratory cages (2/cage).
Animals were placed in an enriched environment for 4 weeks beginning at 3 months after injury. The enriched environment consisted of a large cage (5–6 rats/cage) with access to items such as tubes, ramps, and running wheel, with items changed daily.
Main Outcome Measures:
Functional evaluation consisted of the open field Basso, Beattie and Bresnahan (BBB) locomotor test and the tests that form the combined behavioral score (CBS). The CBS includes motor score, toe spread, placing, withdrawal, righting, inclined plane, hot plate, and swim tests. Behavioral testing was repeated 7 times before and after the period of intervention.
The group placed in the enriched environment scored significantly better on the BBB (ANOVA repeated-measures, P < 0.01) test and CBS (ANOVA repeated-measures, P < 0.01).
Environmental enrichment results in significant functional improvement in animals with spinal cord injury even with a substantial delay in initiating treatment after injury. The features of an enriched environment that may be responsible for the improvement include social interactions, exercise, and novel items in an interesting environment. These findings suggest a continued plasticity of the chronically injured rat spinal cord and a possible therapeutic intervention for people with spinal cord injury.
Spinal cord injuries; Rats; Motor score; Locomotor testing; Enriched environment; Exercise; Rehabilitation
During experimental Eimeria infections in chickens, facilities are often contaminated by fecal oocysts known to be highly resistant to both chemical and enzymatic treatments. Thus, studies using experimental Eimeria infections have been limited due to the difficulty of complete elimination of residual oocysts from both cages and facilities. To overcome this limitation, simple, inexpensive, and disposable cages were constructed from cardboard boxes and tested during experimental Eimeria maxima infections. The cages were used in animal rooms with only a 1.7% evidence of coccidia contamination between adjacent cages. No significant differences in fecal oocyst output and body weight gain were noted between animals housed in disposable cages and animals housed in wire control cages. This cage design is a useful means for preventing oocyst contamination during experimental conditions, suggesting that this disposable cage design could be used for other avian infectious disease studies.
Eimeria maxima; disposable cage; chickens; cardboard
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is characterized by progressive degeneration of lower motor neurons resulting in paralysis and death. Epidemiological and clinical findings suggest that a decline in athletic performance may presage the clinical onset of ALS, but this possibility has not been tested in an animal model. By placing running wheels in each mouse’s cage to measure their exercise activity, we show that presymptomatic G93A SOD1 ALS mice are more active runners (15–20 km/day) than control mice (7–9 km/day). The ALS mice then exhibit a sharp decline in daily running distance 10–20 days prior to the onset of clinical disease. Within the group of ALS mice there were no significant correlations between cumulative lifetime running distance and age at clinical disease onset or age at death, suggesting that amount of exercise did not affect the course of the disease process. Our data show that presymptomatic ALS mice have a propensity for running long distances, and then dramatically reduce the amount they run prior to the appearance of clinical symptoms. The monitoring of voluntary running distance may provide a valuable biomarker to evaluate the efficacy of potential therapeutic interventions for ALS in preclinical studies.
ALS; exercise; mutant SOD1
To determine whether local politicians influence the distribution of traffic calming measures.
Longitudinal ecological study in two UK cities. Local political constituencies were categorized by representation by members of the cabinet structure as a marker of influence. The density of traffic calming features per political area, adjusted for the historical pattern of road injuries, was compared between cabinet represented and non‐represented areas.
Traffic calming density was significantly associated with cabinet representation status, adjusted for historical collision risk (risk ratio 2.77, 95% confidence interval 1.37 to 5.61).
These results support the hypothesis that senior local politicians are effective advocates for enhancing safety in their areas.
pedestrian; safety; politics; public advocacy
The overproduction and extracellular buildup of amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) is a critical step in the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease. Recent data suggest that intracellular trafficking is of central importance in the production of Aβ. Here we use a neuronal cell line to examine two structurally similar clathrin assembly proteins, AP180 and CALM. We show that RNA interference-mediated knockdown of AP180 reduces the generation of Aβ 1-40 and Aβ 1-42, whereas CALM knockdown has no effect on Aβ generation. Thus AP180 is among the traffic controllers that oversee and regulate amyloid precursor protein processing pathways. Our results also suggest that AP180 and CALM, while similar in their domain structures and biochemical properties, are in fact dedicated to separate trafficking pathways in neurons.
amyloid-β peptide; APP; AP180; CALM; clathrin assembly protein; neuron; Alzheimer’s disease
Environmental enrichment of laboratory animals influences brain plasticity, stimulates neurogenesis, increases neurotrophic factor expression, and protects against the effects of brain insult. However, these positive effects are not constantly observed, probably because standardized procedures of environmental enrichment are lacking. Therefore, we engineered an enriched cage (the Marlau™ cage), which offers: (1) minimally stressful social interactions; (2) increased voluntary exercise; (3) multiple entertaining activities; (4) cognitive stimulation (maze exploration), and (5) novelty (maze configuration changed three times a week). The maze, which separates food pellet and water bottle compartments, guarantees cognitive stimulation for all animals. Compared to rats raised in groups in conventional cages, rats housed in Marlau™ cages exhibited increased cortical thickness, hippocampal neurogenesis and hippocampal levels of transcripts encoding various genes involved in tissue plasticity and remodeling. In addition, rats housed in Marlau™ cages exhibited better performances in learning and memory, decreased anxiety-associated behaviors, and better recovery of basal plasma corticosterone level after acute restraint stress. Marlau™ cages also insure inter-experiment reproducibility in spatial learning and brain gene expression assays. Finally, housing rats in Marlau™ cages after severe status epilepticus at weaning prevents the cognitive impairment observed in rats subjected to the same insult and then housed in conventional cages. By providing a standardized enriched environment for rodents during housing, the Marlau™ cage should facilitate the uniformity of environmental enrichment across laboratories.
Voluntary exercise, in the form of free access to a running wheel in the home cage, has been shown to improve several forms of learning and memory. Acrobatic training, in the form of learning to traverse an elevated obstacle course, has been shown to induce markers of neural plasticity in the cerebellar cortex in rodents. In three experiments, we examined the effects of these two forms of physical activity on delay eyeblink conditioning in rats. In Experiment 1, exercising rats were given 17 days of free access to a running wheel in their home cage prior to 10 days of delay eyeblink conditioning. Rats that exercised conditioned significantly better and showed a larger reflexive eyeblink unconditioned response to the periocular stimulation unconditioned stimulus than rats that did not exercise. In Experiment 2, exercising rats were given 17 days of free access to a running wheel in their home cage prior to 10 days of explicitly unpaired stimulus presentations. Rats that exercised responded the same to tone, light, and periocular stimulation as rats that did not exercise. In Experiment 3, acrobatic training rats were given 15 days of daily training on an elevated obstacle course prior to 10 days of eyeblink conditioning. Activity control rats underwent 15 days of yoked daily running in an open field. Rats that underwent acrobatic training did not differ in eyeblink conditioning from activity control rats. The ability to measure the learned response precisely, and the well-mapped neural circuitry of eyeblink conditioning offer some advantages for the study of exercise effects on learning and memory.
eyeblink classical conditioning; voluntary exercise; wheel running; acrobatic training; cerebellum; amygdala
Some of the benefits of exercise appear to be mediated through modulation of neuronal excitability in central autonomic control circuits. Previously, we identified that six weeks of voluntary wheel running had a protective effect during hemorrhage (HEM), limiting both the hypotensive phase of HEM and enhancing recovery. The present study was undertaken to evaluate the role of opioid release in the lateral parabrachial nucleus (LPBN) on the response to severe HEM in chronically exercised (EX, voluntary) versus sedentary (SED) controls. Male Sprague Dawley rats were allowed either free access to running wheels (EX) or normal cage conditions (SED). After 6 weeks of “training” animals were instrumented with a bilateral cannula directed toward the dorsolateral pons and arterial catheters. After a recovery period, animals underwent central microinjection of either vehicle (VEH; n=3/group) or the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone (NAL; n=6/group) followed by withdrawal of 30% of their total estimated blood volume. Following VEH injection, the drop in MAP during and following HEM was significantly attenuated in the EX vs SED animals. Alternatively, NAL microinjection in the dorsolateral pons (20μM, 200–500 nl) reversed the beneficial effect of EX on the HEM response. NAL microinjection in SED rats did not significantly alter the response to HEM. These data suggest chronic voluntary EX has a beneficial effect on the autonomic response to severe HEM which is mediated, in part, via EX-induced plasticity of the opioid system within the dorsolateral pons.
voluntary exercise; exercise training; dorsolateral pons; hemorrhage; hypotension; opioids