Children with autism exhibit a host of motor disorders including poor coordination, poor tool use and delayed learning of complex motor skills like riding a tricycle. Theory suggests that one of the crucial steps in motor learning is the ability to form internal models: to predict the sensory consequences of motor commands and learn from errors to improve performance on the next attempt. The cerebellum appears to be an important site for acquisition of internal models, and indeed the development of the cerebellum is abnormal in autism. Here, we examined autistic children on a range of tasks that required a change in the motor output in response to a change in the environment. We first considered a prism adaptation task in which the visual map of the environment was shifted. The children were asked to throw balls to visual targets with and without the prism goggles. We next considered a reaching task that required moving the handle of a novel tool (a robotic arm). The tool either imposed forces on the hand or displaced the cursor associated with the handle position. In all tasks, the children with autism adapted their motor output by forming a predictive internal model, as exhibited through after-effects. Surprisingly, the rates of acquisition and washout were indistinguishable from normally developing children. Therefore, the mechanisms of acquisition and adaptation of internal models in self-generated movements appeared normal in autism. Sparing of adaptation suggests that alternative mechanisms contribute to impaired motor skill development in autism. Furthermore, the findings may have therapeutic implications, highlighting a reliable mechanism by which children with autism can most effectively alter their behaviour.
reach adaptation; prism adaptation; motor control; autism
Depression represents one of the most common comorbidities in patients with epilepsy. However, the mechanisms of depression in epilepsy patients are poorly understood. Establishment of animal models of this comorbidity is critical for both understanding the mechanisms of the condition, and for preclinical development of effective therapies. The current study examined whether a commonly used animal model of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is characterized by behavioural and biochemical alterations involved in depression. Male Wistar rats were subjected to LiCl and pilocarpine status epilepticus (SE). The development of chronic epileptic state was confirmed by the presence of spontaneous seizures and by enhanced brain excitability. Post-SE animals exhibited increase in immobility time under conditions of forced swim test (FST) which was indicative of despair-like state, and loss of taste preference in saccharin solution consumption test which pointed to the symptomatic equivalence of anhedonia. Biochemical studies revealed compromised serotonergic transmission in the raphe-hippocampal serotonergic pathway: decrease of serotonin (5-HT) concentration and turnover in the hippocampus, measured by high performance liquid chromatography, and decrease of 5-HT release from the hippocampus in response to raphe stimulation, measured by fast cyclic voltammetry. Administration of fluoxetine (FLX, 20 mg/kg/day for 10 days) to naive animals significantly shortened immobility time under conditions of FST, and inhibited 5-HT turnover in the hippocampus. In post-SE rats FLX treatment led to a further decrease of hippocampal 5-HT turnover; however, performance in FST was not improved. At the same time, FLX reversed SE-induced increase in brain excitability. In summary, our studies provide initial evidence that post-SE model of TLE might serve as a model of the comorbidity of epilepsy and depression. The finding that behavioural equivalents of depression were resistant to an antidepressant medication suggested that depression in epilepsy might have distinct underlying mechanisms beyond alterations in serotonergic pathways.
comorbidity; depression; epilepsy; hippocampus; serotonin
Depression represents one of the most common comorbidities in patients with epilepsy. However, the mechanisms of depression in epilepsy patients are poorly understood. Establishment of animal models of this comorbidity is critical for both understanding the mechanisms of the condition, and for preclinical development of effective therapies. The current study examined whether a commonly used animal model of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is characterized by behavioral and biochemical alterations involved in depression. Male Wistar rats were subjected to LiCl and pilocarpine status epilepticus (SE). The development of chronic epileptic state was confirmed by the presence of spontaneous seizures and by enhanced brain excitability. Post-SE animals exhibited increase in immobility time under conditions of forced swim test (FST) which was indicative of despair-like state, and loss of taste preference in saccharin solution consumption test which pointed to the symptomatic equivalence of anhedonia. Biochemical studies revealed compromised serotonergic transmission in the raphe-hippocampal serotonergic pathway: decrease of serotonin (5-HT) concentration and turnover in the hippocampus, measured by high performance liquid chromatography, and decrease of 5-HT release from the hippocampus in response to raphe stimulation, measured by fast cyclic voltammetry. Administration of fluoxetine (FLX, 20 mg/kg/day for 10 days) to naïve animals significantly shortened immobility time under conditions of FST, and inhibited 5-HT turnover in the hippocampus. In post-SE rats FLX treatment led to a further decrease of hippocampal 5-HT turnover; however, performance in FST was not improved. At the same time, FLX reversed SE-induced increase in brain excitability. In summary, our studies provide initial evidence that post-SE model of TLE might serve as a model of the comorbidity of epilepsy and depression. The finding that behavioral equivalents of depression were resistant to an antidepressant medication suggested that depression in epilepsy might have distinct underlying mechanisms beyond alterations in serotonergic pathways.
Comorbidity; depression; epilepsy; hippocampus; serotonin
Children with autism exhibit a host of motor disorders including poor coordination, poor tool use, and delayed learning of complex motor skills like riding a tricycle. Theory suggests that one of the crucial steps in motor learning is the ability to form internal models: to predict the sensory consequences of motor commands and learn from errors to improve performance on the next attempt. The cerebellum appears to be an important site for acquisition of internal models, and indeed the development of the cerebellum is abnormal in autism. Here, we examined autistic children on a range of tasks that required a change in the motor output in response to a change in the environment. We first considered a prism adaptation task in which the visual map of the environment was shifted. The children were asked to throw balls to visual targets with and without the prism goggles. We next considered a reaching task that required moving the handle of a novel tool (a robotic arm). The tool either imposed forces on the hand or displaced the cursor associated with the handle position. In all tasks, the children with autism adapted their motor output by forming a predictive internal model, as exhibited through after-effects. Surprisingly, the rates of acquisition and washout were indistinguishable from normally developing children. Therefore, the mechanisms of acquisition and adaptation of internal models in self-generated movements appeared normal in autism. Sparing of adaptation suggests that alternative mechanisms contribute to impaired motor skill development in autism. Furthermore, the findings may have therapeutic implications, highlighting a reliable mechanism by which children with autism can most effectively alter their behavior.
reach adaptation; prism adaptation; motor control; autism
Robson et al. use fMRI to investigate preserved written word and picture comprehension in Wernicke’s aphasia (impaired verbal comprehension following left temporoparietal damage). Bilaterally enhanced activation in the ventral and anterior temporal lobes as patients semantically process visually presented material emphasizes the importance of these regions for multimodal comprehension.
Wernicke’s aphasia occurs after a stroke to classical language comprehension regions in the left temporoparietal cortex. Consequently, auditory–verbal comprehension is significantly impaired in Wernicke’s aphasia but the capacity to comprehend visually presented materials (written words and pictures) is partially spared. This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the neural basis of written word and picture semantic processing in Wernicke’s aphasia, with the wider aim of examining how the semantic system is altered after damage to the classical comprehension regions. Twelve participants with chronic Wernicke’s aphasia and 12 control participants performed semantic animate–inanimate judgements and a visual height judgement baseline task. Whole brain and region of interest analysis in Wernicke’s aphasia and control participants found that semantic judgements were underpinned by activation in the ventral and anterior temporal lobes bilaterally. The Wernicke’s aphasia group displayed an ‘over-activation’ in comparison with control participants, indicating that anterior temporal lobe regions become increasingly influential following reduction in posterior semantic resources. Semantic processing of written words in Wernicke’s aphasia was additionally supported by recruitment of the right anterior superior temporal lobe, a region previously associated with recovery from auditory-verbal comprehension impairments. Overall, the results provide support for models in which the anterior temporal lobes are crucial for multimodal semantic processing and that these regions may be accessed without support from classic posterior comprehension regions.
Wernicke’s aphasia; semantic processing; language comprehension; anterior temporal lobe; Wernicke’s area
The β-tropomyosin gene encodes a component of the sarcomeric thin filament. Rod-shaped dimers of tropomyosin regulate actin-myosin interactions and β-tropomyosin mutations have been associated with nemaline myopathy, cap myopathy, Escobar syndrome and distal arthrogryposis types 1A and 2B. In this study, we expand the allelic spectrum of β-tropomyosin-related myopathies through the identification of a novel β-tropomyosin mutation in two clinical contexts not previously associated with β-tropomyosin. The first clinical phenotype is core-rod myopathy, with a β-tropomyosin mutation uncovered by whole exome sequencing in a family with autosomal dominant distal myopathy and muscle biopsy features of both minicores and nemaline rods. The second phenotype, observed in four unrelated families, is autosomal dominant trismus-pseudocamptodactyly syndrome (distal arthrogryposis type 7; previously associated exclusively with myosin heavy chain 8 mutations). In all four families, the mutation identified was a novel 3-bp in-frame deletion (c.20_22del) that results in deletion of a conserved lysine at the seventh amino acid position (p.K7del). This is the first mutation identified in the extreme N-terminus of β-tropomyosin. To understand the potential pathogenic mechanism(s) underlying this mutation, we performed both computational analysis and in vivo modelling. Our theoretical model predicts that the mutation disrupts the N-terminus of the α-helices of dimeric β-tropomyosin, a change predicted to alter protein–protein binding between β-tropomyosin and other molecules and to disturb head-to-tail polymerization of β-tropomyosin dimers. To create an in vivo model, we expressed wild-type or p.K7del β-tropomyosin in the developing zebrafish. p.K7del β-tropomyosin fails to localize properly within the thin filament compartment and its expression alters sarcomere length, suggesting that the mutation interferes with head-to-tail β-tropomyosin polymerization and with overall sarcomeric structure. We describe a novel β-tropomyosin mutation, two clinical-histopathological phenotypes not previously associated with β-tropomyosin and pathogenic data from the first animal model of β-tropomyosin-related myopathies.
nemaline; myopathies; muscle and nerve pathology; mutation; neuromuscular disorders
Eleven of 69 prospectively enrolled primary progressive aphasics were selected for this study because of peak atrophy sites located predominantly or exclusively within the anterior left temporal lobe. Cortical volumes in these areas were reduced to less than half of control values, whereas average volume elsewhere in the left hemisphere deviated from control values by only 8%. Failure to name objects emerged as the most consistent and severe deficit. Naming errors were attributed to pure retrieval failure if the object could not be named even when the denoting word was understood, the object recognized and the two accurately matched. Surprisingly many of the naming errors reflected pure retrieval failures, without discernible semantic or associative component. The remaining set of errors had associative components. These errors reflected the inability to define the word denoting the object more often than the inability to define the nature of the pictured object. In a separate task where the same object had to be linked to verbal or non-verbal associations, performance was abnormal only in the verbal format. Excessive taxonomic interference was observed for picture–word, but not picture–picture, matching tasks. This excessive interference reflected a blurring of intra- rather than inter-category distinctions as if the acuity of word–object associations had been diminished so that correspondences were easier to recognize at generic than specific levels. These dissociations between verbal and non-verbal markers of object knowledge indicate that the reduced neural mass at peak atrophy sites of the left temporal tip, accounting for half or more of the presumed premorbid volume, was unlikely to have contained domain-independent semantic representations of the type that would be expected in a strictly amodal hub. A more likely arrangement entails two highly interactive routes—a strongly left lateralized temporosylvian language network for verbal concepts, and a presumably more bilateral or right-sided inferotemporal/fusiform object recognition network, which remained relatively spared because peak atrophy sites were concentrated on the left. The current results also suggest that the left anterior temporal neocortex should be inserted into the language network where it is likely to play a major role in selecting verbal labels for objects and mediating the progression of word comprehension from generic to specific levels of precision.
dementia; semantic; language; naming; frontotemporal
Four subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 immunoreactive inclusions have been described (types A–D). Of these four subtypes, motor neuron disease is more commonly associated with type B pathology, but has also been reported with type A pathology. We have noted, however, the unusual occurrence of cases of type C pathology having corticospinal tract degeneration. We aimed to assess the severity of corticospinal tract degeneration in a large cohort of cases with type C (n = 31). Pathological analysis included semi-quantitation of myelin loss of fibres of the corticospinal tract and associated macrophage burden, as well as axonal loss, at the level of the medullary pyramids. We also assessed for motor cortex degeneration and fibre loss of the medial lemniscus/olivocerebellar tract. All cases were subdivided into three groups based on the degree of corticospinal tract degeneration: (i) no corticospinal tract degeneration; (ii) equivocal corticospinal tract degeneration; and (iii) moderate to very severe corticospinal tract degeneration. Clinical, genetic, pathological and imaging comparisons were performed across groups. Eight cases had no corticospinal tract degeneration, and 14 cases had equivocal to mild corticospinal tract degeneration. Nine cases, however, had moderate to very severe corticospinal tract degeneration with myelin and axonal loss. In these nine cases, there was degeneration of the motor cortex without lower motor neuron degeneration or involvement of other brainstem tracts. These cases most commonly presented as semantic dementia, and they had longer disease duration (mean: 15.3 years) compared with the other two groups (10.8 and 9.9 years; P = 0.03). After adjusting for disease duration, severity of corticospinal tract degeneration remained significantly different across groups. Only one case, without corticospinal tract degeneration, was found to have a hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the C9ORF72 gene. All three groups were associated with anterior temporal lobe atrophy on MRI; however, the cases with moderate to severe corticospinal tract degeneration showed right-sided temporal lobe asymmetry and greater involvement of the right temporal lobe and superior motor cortices than the other groups. In contrast, the cases with no or equivocal corticospinal tract degeneration were more likely to show left-sided temporal lobe asymmetry. For comparison, the corticospinal tract was assessed in 86 type A and B cases, and only two cases showed evidence of corticospinal tract degeneration without lower motor neuron degeneration. These findings confirm that there exists a unique association between frontotemporal lobar degeneration with type C pathology and corticospinal tract degeneration, with this entity showing a predilection to involve the right temporal lobe.
TDP-43 type C; corticospinal tract; MRI; semantic dementia; right temporal lobe
Missense mutations in TUBB3, the gene that encodes the neuronal-specific protein β-tubulin isotype 3, can cause isolated or syndromic congenital fibrosis of the extraocular muscles, a form of complex congenital strabismus characterized by cranial nerve misguidance. One of the eight TUBB3 mutations reported to cause congenital fibrosis of the extraocular muscles, c.1228G>A results in a TUBB3 E410K amino acid substitution that directly alters a kinesin motor protein binding site. We report the detailed phenotypes of eight unrelated individuals who harbour this de novo mutation, and thus define the ‘TUBB3 E410K syndrome’. Individuals harbouring this mutation were previously reported to have congenital fibrosis of the extraocular muscles, facial weakness, developmental delay and possible peripheral neuropathy. We now confirm by electrophysiology that a progressive sensorimotor polyneuropathy does indeed segregate with the mutation, and expand the TUBB3 E410K phenotype to include Kallmann syndrome (hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and anosmia), stereotyped midface hypoplasia, intellectual disabilities and, in some cases, vocal cord paralysis, tracheomalacia and cyclic vomiting. Neuroimaging reveals a thin corpus callosum and anterior commissure, and hypoplastic to absent olfactory sulci, olfactory bulbs and oculomotor and facial nerves, which support underlying abnormalities in axon guidance and maintenance. Thus, the E410K substitution defines a new genetic aetiology for Moebius syndrome, Kallmann syndrome and cyclic vomiting. Moreover, the c.1228G>A mutation was absent in DNA from ∼600 individuals who had either Kallmann syndrome or isolated or syndromic ocular and/or facial dysmotility disorders, but who did not have the combined features of the TUBB3 E410K syndrome, highlighting the specificity of this phenotype–genotype correlation. The definition of the TUBB3 E410K syndrome will allow clinicians to identify affected individuals and predict the mutation based on clinical features alone.
Kallmann syndrome; cyclic vomiting; peripheral neuropathy; CFEOM; TUBB3
Oligodendrocytes are well known targets for immune-mediated and infectious diseases, and have been suggested to play a role in neurodegeneration. Here, we report the involvement of oligodendrocytes and their progenitor cells in the ventral grey matter of the spinal cord in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease of motor neurons. Degenerative changes in oligodendrocytes were abundantly present in human patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and in an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mouse model. In the mouse model, morphological changes in grey matter oligodendrocytes became apparent before disease onset, increasingly so during disease progression, and oligodendrocytes ultimately died. This loss was compensated by increased proliferation and differentiation of oligodendrocyte precursor cells. However, these newly differentiated oligodendrocytes were dysfunctional as suggested by their reduced myelin basic protein and monocarboxylate transporter 1 expression. Mutant superoxide dismutase 1 was found to directly affect monocarboxylate transporter 1 protein expression. Our data suggest that oligodendroglial dysfunction may be a contributor to motor neuron degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
motor neuron disease; ALS; NG2 cell; oligodendrocyte; dysfunction
An on-going debate surrounds the relationship between specific language impairment and developmental dyslexia, in particular with respect to their phonological abilities. Are these distinct disorders? To what extent do they overlap? Which cognitive and linguistic profiles correspond to specific language impairment, dyslexia and comorbid cases? At least three different models have been proposed: the severity model, the additional deficit model and the component model. We address this issue by comparing children with specific language impairment only, those with dyslexia-only, those with specific language impairment and dyslexia and those with no impairment, using a broad test battery of language skills. We find that specific language impairment and dyslexia do not always co-occur, and that some children with specific language impairment do not have a phonological deficit. Using factor analysis, we find that language abilities across the four groups of children have at least three independent sources of variance: one for non-phonological language skills and two for distinct sets of phonological abilities (which we term phonological skills versus phonological representations). Furthermore, children with specific language impairment and dyslexia show partly distinct profiles of phonological deficit along these two dimensions. We conclude that a multiple-component model of language abilities best explains the relationship between specific language impairment and dyslexia and the different profiles of impairment that are observed.
specific language impairment; dyslexia; phonology; morphology; syntax
Conversion of soluble α-synuclein into insoluble and fibrillar inclusions is a
hallmark of Parkinson’s disease and other synucleinopathies. Accumulating evidence
points towards a relationship between its generation at nerve terminals and structural
synaptic pathology. Little is known about the pathogenic impact of α-synuclein
conversion and deposition at nigrostriatal dopaminergic synapses in transgenic mice,
mainly owing to expression limitations of the α-synuclein construct. Here, we
explore whether both the rat as a model and expression of the bacterial artificial
chromosome construct consisting of human full-length wild-type α-synuclein could
exert dopaminergic neuropathological effects. We found that the human promoter induced a
pan-neuronal expression, matching the rodent α-synuclein expression pattern,
however, with prominent C-terminally truncated fragments. Ageing promoted conversion of
both full-length and C-terminally truncated α-synuclein species into insolube and
proteinase K-resistant fibres, with strongest accumulation in the striatum, resembling
biochemical changes seen in human Parkinson’s disease. Transgenic rats develop early
changes in novelty-seeking, avoidance and smell before the progressive motor deficit.
Importantly, the observed pathological changes were associated with severe loss of the
dopaminergic integrity, thus resembling more closely the human pathology.
Parkinson’s disease; dopamine; animal models; alpha-synuclein; synapse function
Mutations in the mitochondrial fission factor GDAP1 are associated with severe peripheral neuropathies, but why the CNS remains unaffected is unclear. Using a Gdap1−/− mouse, Niemann et al. demonstrate that a CNS-expressed Gdap1 paralogue changes its subcellular localisation under oxidative stress conditions to also act as a mitochondrial fission factor.
The ganglioside-induced differentiation-associated protein 1 (GDAP1) is a mitochondrial fission factor and mutations in GDAP1 cause Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease. We found that Gdap1 knockout mice (Gdap1−/−), mimicking genetic alterations of patients suffering from severe forms of Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease, develop an age-related, hypomyelinating peripheral neuropathy. Ablation of Gdap1 expression in Schwann cells recapitulates this phenotype. Additionally, intra-axonal mitochondria of peripheral neurons are larger in Gdap1−/− mice and mitochondrial transport is impaired in cultured sensory neurons of Gdap1−/− mice compared with controls. These changes in mitochondrial morphology and dynamics also influence mitochondrial biogenesis. We demonstrate that mitochondrial DNA biogenesis and content is increased in the peripheral nervous system but not in the central nervous system of Gdap1−/− mice compared with control littermates. In search for a molecular mechanism we turned to the paralogue of GDAP1, GDAP1L1, which is mainly expressed in the unaffected central nervous system. GDAP1L1 responds to elevated levels of oxidized glutathione by translocating from the cytosol to mitochondria, where it inserts into the mitochondrial outer membrane. This translocation is necessary to substitute for loss of GDAP1 expression. Accordingly, more GDAP1L1 was associated with mitochondria in the spinal cord of aged Gdap1−/− mice compared with controls. Our findings demonstrate that Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease caused by mutations in GDAP1 leads to mild, persistent oxidative stress in the peripheral nervous system, which can be compensated by GDAP1L1 in the unaffected central nervous system. We conclude that members of the GDAP1 family are responsive and protective against stress associated with increased levels of oxidized glutathione.
animal models; Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease; mitochondria; axonal transport; demyelinating disease
In a study based on 96% of the roughly 28,000 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) in Sweden, Westerlind et al. report relative and absolute MS risks for relatives of patients. Risks were lower than most of those previously reported, with an MS sibling risk seven times that of randomly selected controls.
Data on familial recurrence rates of complex diseases such as multiple sclerosis give important hints to aetiological factors such as the importance of genes and environment. By linking national registries, we sought to avoid common limitations of clinic-based studies such as low numbers, poor representation of the population and selection bias. Through the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Registry and a nationwide hospital registry, a total of 28 396 patients with multiple sclerosis were identified. We used the national Multi-Generation Registry to identify first and second degree relatives as well as cousins, and the Swedish Twin Registry to identify twins of patients with multiple sclerosis. Crude and age corrected familial risks were estimated for cases and found to be in the same range as previously published figures. Matched population-based controls were used to calculate relative risks, revealing lower estimates of familial multiple sclerosis risks than previously reported, with a sibling recurrence risk (λs = 7.1; 95% confidence interval: 6.42–7.86). Surprisingly, despite a well-established lower prevalence of multiple sclerosis amongst males, the relative risks were equal among maternal and paternal relations. A previously reported increased risk in maternal relations could thus not be replicated. An observed higher transmission rate from fathers to sons compared with mothers to sons suggested a higher transmission to offspring from the less prevalent sex; therefore, presence of the so-called ‘Carter effect’ could not be excluded. We estimated the heritability of multiple sclerosis using 74 757 twin pairs with known zygosity, of which 315 were affected with multiple sclerosis, and added information from 2.5 million sibling pairs to increase power. The heritability was estimated to be 0.64 (0.36–0.76), whereas the shared environmental component was estimated to be 0.01 (0.00–0.18). In summary, whereas multiple sclerosis is to a great extent an inherited trait, the familial relative risks may be lower than usually reported.
familial recurrence; multiple sclerosis; familial risk; twin study
The recent public awareness of the incidence and possible long-term consequences of traumatic brain injury only heightens the need to develop effective approaches for treating this neurological disease. In this report, we identify a new therapeutic target for traumatic brain injury by studying the role of astrocytes, rather than neurons, after neurotrauma. We use in vivo multiphoton imaging and show that mechanical forces during trauma trigger intercellular calcium waves throughout the astrocytes, and these waves are mediated by purinergic signalling. Subsequent in vitro screening shows that astrocyte signalling through the ‘mechanical penumbra’ affects the activity of neural circuits distant from the injury epicentre, and a reduction in the intercellular calcium waves within astrocytes restores neural activity after injury. In turn, the targeting of different purinergic receptor populations leads to a reduction in hippocampal cell death in mechanically injured organotypic slice cultures. Finally, the most promising therapeutic candidate from our in vitro screen (MRS 2179, a P2Y1 receptor antagonist) also improves histological and cognitive outcomes in a preclinical model of traumatic brain injury. This work shows the potential of studying astrocyte signalling after trauma to yield new and effective therapeutic targets for treating traumatic brain injury.
neuroprotection; calcium waves; in vivo imaging; MRS 2179; astrocytes
To assess the role of DNA repair in maintenance of hearing function and neurological integrity, we examined hearing status, neurological function, DNA repair complementation group and history of acute burning on minimal sun exposure in all patients with xeroderma pigmentosum, who had at least one complete audiogram, examined at the National Institutes of Health from 1971 to 2012. Seventy-nine patients, aged 1–61 years, were diagnosed with xeroderma pigmentosum (n = 77) or xeroderma pigmentosum/Cockayne syndrome (n = 2). A total of 178 audiograms were included. Clinically significant hearing loss (>20 dB) was present in 23 (29%) of 79 patients. Of the 17 patients with xeroderma pigmentosum-type neurological degeneration, 13 (76%) developed hearing loss, and all 17 were in complementation groups xeroderma pigmentosum type A or type D and reported acute burning on minimal sun exposure. Acute burning on minimal sun exposure without xeroderma pigmentosum-type neurological degeneration was present in 18% of the patients (10/55). Temporal bone histology in a patient with severe xeroderma pigmentosum-type neurological degeneration revealed marked atrophy of the cochlear sensory epithelium and neurons. The 19-year mean age of detection of clinically significant hearing loss in the patients with xeroderma pigmentosum with xeroderma pigmentosum-type neurological degeneration was 54 years younger than that predicted by international norms. The four frequency (0.5/1/2/4 kHz) pure-tone average correlated with degree of neurodegeneration (P < 0.001). In patients with xeroderma pigmentosum, aged 4–30 years, a four-frequency pure-tone average ≥10 dB hearing loss was associated with a 39-fold increased risk (P = 0.002) of having xeroderma pigmentosum-type neurological degeneration. Severity of hearing loss parallels neurological decline in patients with xeroderma pigmentosum-type neurological degeneration. Audiometric findings, complementation group, acute burning on minimal sun exposure and age were important predictors of xeroderma pigmentosum-type neurological degeneration. These results provide evidence that DNA repair is critical in maintaining neurological integrity of the auditory system.
xeroderma pigmentosum; sensorineural hearing loss; neurodegeneration; photosensitivity; DNA repair
A single traumatic brain injury is associated with an increased risk of dementia and, in a proportion of patients surviving a year or more from injury, the development of hallmark Alzheimer’s disease-like pathologies. However, the pathological processes linking traumatic brain injury and neurodegenerative disease remain poorly understood. Growing evidence supports a role for neuroinflammation in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In contrast, little is known about the neuroinflammatory response to brain injury and, in particular, its temporal dynamics and any potential role in neurodegeneration. Cases of traumatic brain injury with survivals ranging from 10 h to 47 years post injury (n = 52) and age-matched, uninjured control subjects (n = 44) were selected from the Glasgow Traumatic Brain Injury archive. From these, sections of the corpus callosum and adjacent parasaggital cortex were examined for microglial density and morphology, and for indices of white matter pathology and integrity. With survival of ≥3 months from injury, cases with traumatic brain injury frequently displayed extensive, densely packed, reactive microglia (CR3/43- and/or CD68-immunoreactive), a pathology not seen in control subjects or acutely injured cases. Of particular note, these reactive microglia were present in 28% of cases with survival of >1 year and up to 18 years post-trauma. In cases displaying this inflammatory pathology, evidence of ongoing white matter degradation could also be observed. Moreover, there was a 25% reduction in the corpus callosum thickness with survival >1 year post-injury. These data present striking evidence of persistent inflammation and ongoing white matter degeneration for many years after just a single traumatic brain injury in humans. Future studies to determine whether inflammation occurs in response to or, conversely, promotes white matter degeneration will be important. These findings may provide parallels for studying neurodegenerative disease, with traumatic brain injury patients serving as a model for longitudinal investigations, in particular with a view to identifying potential therapeutic interventions.
inflammation; diffuse axonal injury; traumatic brain injury; axonal pathology; microglia
X-linked isolated lissencephaly sequence and subcortical band heterotopia are allelic human disorders associated with mutations of doublecortin (DCX), giving both familial and sporadic forms. DCX encodes a microtubule-associated protein involved in neuronal migration during brain development. Structural data show that mutations can fall either in surface residues, likely to impair partner interactions, or in buried residues, likely to impair protein stability. Despite the progress in understanding the molecular basis of these disorders, the prognosis value of the location and impact of individual DCX mutations has largely remained unclear. To clarify this point, we investigated a cohort of 180 patients who were referred with the agyria–pachygyria subcortical band heterotopia spectrum. DCX mutations were identified in 136 individuals. Analysis of the parents’ DNA revealed the de novo occurrence of DCX mutations in 76 cases [62 of 70 females screened (88.5%) and 14 of 60 males screened (23%)], whereas in the remaining cases, mutations were inherited from asymptomatic (n = 14) or symptomatic mothers (n = 11). This represents 100% of families screened. Female patients with DCX mutation demonstrated three degrees of clinical–radiological severity: a severe form with a thick band (n = 54), a milder form (n = 24) with either an anterior thin or an intermediate thickness band and asymptomatic carrier females (n = 14) with normal magnetic resonance imaging results. A higher proportion of nonsense and frameshift mutations were identified in patients with de novo mutations. An analysis of predicted effects of missense mutations showed that those destabilizing the structure of the protein were often associated with more severe phenotypes. We identified several severe- and mild-effect mutations affecting surface residues and observed that the substituted amino acid is also critical in determining severity. Recurrent mutations representing 34.5% of all DCX mutations often lead to similar phenotypes, for example, either severe in sporadic subcortical band heterotopia owing to Arg186 mutations or milder in familial cases owing to Arg196 mutations. Taken as a whole, these observations demonstrate that DCX-related disorders are clinically heterogeneous, with severe sporadic and milder familial subcortical band heterotopia, each associated with specific DCX mutations. There is a clear influence of the individual mutated residue and the substituted amino acid in determining phenotype severity.
band heterotopia; lissencephaly; doublecortin; microtubules
The aim of this cross-sectional study was to analyse disease progression in Friedreich’s ataxia as measured by the International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale. Single ratings from 603 patients with Friedreich’s ataxia were analysed as a function of disease duration, age of onset and GAA repeat lengths. The relative contribution of items and subscales to the total score was studied as a function of disease progression. In addition, the scaling properties were assessed using standard statistical measures. Average total scale progression per year depends on the age of disease onset, the time since diagnosis and the GAA repeat length. The age of onset inversely correlates with increased GAA repeat length. For patients with an age of onset ≤14 years associated with a longer repeat length, the average yearly rate of decline was 2.5 ± 0.18 points in the total International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale for the first 20 years of disease duration, whereas patients with a later onset progress more slowly (1.8 ± 0.27 points/year). Ceiling effects in posture, gait and lower limb scale items lead to a reduced sensitivity of the scale in the severely affected population with a total score of >60 points. Psychometric scaling analysis shows generally favourable properties for the total scale, but the subscale grouping could be improved. This cross-sectional study provides a detailed characterization of the International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale. The analysis further provides rates of change separated for patients with early and late disease onset, which is driven by the GAA repeat length. Differences in the subscale dynamics merit consideration in the design of future clinical trials applying this scale as a neurological assessment instrument in Friedreich’s ataxia.
Friedreich’s ataxia; ratings scale; ICARS; disease progression; natural history