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
The neuroendocrine response to episodes of acute stress is crucial for survival whereas the prolonged response to chronic stress can be detrimental. Learning and memory are particularly susceptible to stress with cognitive deficits being well characterized consequences of chronic stress. Although there is good evidence that acute stress can enhance cognitive performance, the mechanism(s) for this are unclear. We find that hippocampal slices, either prepared from rats following 30 min restraint stress or directly exposed to glucocorticoids, exhibit an N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptor-independent form of long-term potentiation. We demonstrate that the mechanism involves an NMDA receptor and PKA-dependent insertion of Ca2+-permeable AMPA receptors into synapses. These then trigger the additional NMDA receptor-independent form of LTP during high frequency stimulation.
long-term potentiation; metaplasticity; glucocorticoids; glutamate receptor; calcium
Classical accounts of the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease have emphasized degeneration of dopaminergic nigrostriatal neurons with consequent dysfunction of cortico–striatal–thalamic loops. In contrast, post-mortem studies indicate that pathological changes in Parkinson’s disease (Lewy neurites and Lewy bodies) first appear primarily in the lower brainstem with subsequent progression to more rostral parts of the neuraxis. The nigrostriatal and histological perspectives are not incompatible, but they do emphasize different anatomical structures. To address the question of which brain structures are functionally most affected by Parkinson’s disease, we performed a resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging study focused on striatal functional connectivity. We contrasted 13 patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease versus 19 age-matched control subjects, using methodology incorporating scrupulous attention to minimizing the effects of head motion during scanning. The principal finding in the Parkinson’s disease group was markedly lower striatal correlations with thalamus, midbrain, pons and cerebellum. This result reinforces the importance of the brainstem in the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease. Focally altered functional connectivity also was observed in sensori-motor and visual areas of the cerebral cortex, as well the supramarginal gyrus. Striatal functional connectivity with the brainstem was graded (posterior putamen > anterior putamen > caudate), in both patients with Parkinson’s disease and control subjects, in a manner that corresponds to well-documented gradient of striatal dopaminergic function loss in Parkinson’s disease. We hypothesize that this gradient provides a clue to the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease; functional MRI; striatum; brainstem; functional reorganization
Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating cureless neurodegenerative disorder affecting >35 million people worldwide. The disease is caused by toxic oligomers and aggregates of amyloid β protein and the microtubule-associated protein tau. Recently, the Lys-specific molecular tweezer CLR01 has been shown to inhibit aggregation and toxicity of multiple amyloidogenic proteins, including amyloid β protein and tau, by disrupting key interactions involved in the assembly process. Following up on these encouraging findings, here, we asked whether CLR01 could protect primary neurons from Alzheimer’s disease-associated synaptotoxicity and reduce Alzheimer’s disease–like pathology in vivo. Using cell culture and brain slices, we found that CLR01 effectively inhibited synaptotoxicity induced by the 42-residue isoform of amyloid β protein, including ∼80% inhibition of changes in dendritic spines density and long-term potentiation and complete inhibition of changes in basal synaptic activity. Using a radiolabelled version of the compound, we found that CLR01 crossed the mouse blood–brain barrier at ∼2% of blood levels. Treatment of 15-month-old triple-transgenic mice for 1 month with CLR01 resulted in a decrease in brain amyloid β protein aggregates, hyperphosphorylated tau and microglia load as observed by immunohistochemistry. Importantly, no signs of toxicity were observed in the treated mice, and CLR01 treatment did not affect the amyloidogenic processing of amyloid β protein precursor. Examining induction or inhibition of the cytochrome P450 metabolism system by CLR01 revealed minimal interaction. Together, these data suggest that CLR01 is safe for use at concentrations well above those showing efficacy in mice. The efficacy and toxicity results support a process-specific mechanism of action of molecular tweezers and suggest that these are promising compounds for developing disease-modifying therapy for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid; inhibitor; synaptotoxicity; drug development
Meaningful speech, as exemplified in object naming, calls on knowledge of the mappings between word meanings and phonological forms. Phonological errors in naming (e.g. GHOST named as ‘goath’) are commonly seen in persisting post-stroke aphasia and are thought to signal impairment in retrieval of phonological form information. We performed a voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping analysis of 1718 phonological naming errors collected from 106 individuals with diverse profiles of aphasia. Voxels in which lesion status correlated with phonological error rates localized to dorsal stream areas, in keeping with classical and contemporary brain-language models. Within the dorsal stream, the critical voxels were concentrated in premotor cortex, pre- and postcentral gyri and supramarginal gyrus with minimal extension into auditory-related posterior temporal and temporo-parietal cortices. This challenges the popular notion that error-free phonological retrieval requires guidance from sensory traces stored in posterior auditory regions and points instead to sensory-motor processes located further anterior in the dorsal stream. In a separate analysis, we compared the lesion maps for phonological and semantic errors and determined that there was no spatial overlap, demonstrating that the brain segregates phonological and semantic retrieval operations in word production.
aphasia; dual-stream; voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping; naming; phonological errors; semantic errors
A distinguishing feature of Broca’s aphasia is non-fluent halting speech typically involving one to three words per utterance. Yet, despite such profound impairments, some patients can mimic audio-visual speech stimuli enabling them to produce fluent speech in real time. We call this effect ‘speech entrainment’ and reveal its neural mechanism as well as explore its usefulness as a treatment for speech production in Broca’s aphasia. In Experiment 1, 13 patients with Broca’s aphasia were tested in three conditions: (i) speech entrainment with audio-visual feedback where they attempted to mimic a speaker whose mouth was seen on an iPod screen; (ii) speech entrainment with audio-only feedback where patients mimicked heard speech; and (iii) spontaneous speech where patients spoke freely about assigned topics. The patients produced a greater variety of words using audio-visual feedback compared with audio-only feedback and spontaneous speech. No difference was found between audio-only feedback and spontaneous speech. In Experiment 2, 10 of the 13 patients included in Experiment 1 and 20 control subjects underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging to determine the neural mechanism that supports speech entrainment. Group results with patients and controls revealed greater bilateral cortical activation for speech produced during speech entrainment compared with spontaneous speech at the junction of the anterior insula and Brodmann area 47, in Brodmann area 37, and unilaterally in the left middle temporal gyrus and the dorsal portion of Broca’s area. Probabilistic white matter tracts constructed for these regions in the normal subjects revealed a structural network connected via the corpus callosum and ventral fibres through the extreme capsule. Unilateral areas were connected via the arcuate fasciculus. In Experiment 3, all patients included in Experiment 1 participated in a 6-week treatment phase using speech entrainment to improve speech production. Behavioural and functional magnetic resonance imaging data were collected before and after the treatment phase. Patients were able to produce a greater variety of words with and without speech entrainment at 1 and 6 weeks after training. Treatment-related decrease in cortical activation associated with speech entrainment was found in areas of the left posterior-inferior parietal lobe. We conclude that speech entrainment allows patients with Broca’s aphasia to double their speech output compared with spontaneous speech. Neuroimaging results suggest that speech entrainment allows patients to produce fluent speech by providing an external gating mechanism that yokes a ventral language network that encodes conceptual aspects of speech. Preliminary results suggest that training with speech entrainment improves speech production in Broca’s aphasia providing a potential therapeutic method for a disorder that has been shown to be particularly resistant to treatment.
Broca’s aphasia; functional MRI; speech production; tractography; treatment
Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease type 1B is caused by mutations in myelin protein zero. R98C mice, an authentic model of early onset Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease type 1B, develop neuropathy in part because the misfolded mutant myelin protein zero is retained in the endoplasmic reticulum where it activates the unfolded protein response. Because oral curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric, has been shown to relieve endoplasmic reticulum stress and decrease the activation of the unfolded protein response, we treated R98C mutant mice with daily gastric lavage of curcumin or curcumin derivatives starting at 4 days of age and analysed them for clinical disability, electrophysiological parameters and peripheral nerve morphology. Heterozygous R98C mice treated with curcumin dissolved in sesame oil or phosphatidylcholine curcumin performed as well as wild-type littermates on a rotarod test and had increased numbers of large-diameter axons in their sciatic nerves. Treatment with the latter two compounds also increased compound muscle action potential amplitudes and the innervation of neuromuscular junctions in both heterozygous and homozygous R98C animals, but it did not improve nerve conduction velocity, myelin thickness, G-ratios or myelin period. The expression of c-Jun and suppressed cAMP-inducible POU (SCIP)—transcription factors that inhibit myelination when overexpressed—was also decreased by treatment. Consistent with its role in reducing endoplasmic reticulum stress, treatment with curcumin dissolved in sesame oil or phosphatidylcholine curcumin was associated with decreased X-box binding protein (XBP1) splicing. Taken together, these data demonstrate that treatment with curcumin dissolved in sesame oil or phosphatidylcholine curcumin improves the peripheral neuropathy of R98C mice by alleviating endoplasmic reticulum stress, by reducing the activation of unfolded protein response and by promoting Schwann cell differentiation.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease 1B; curcumin; myelin protein zero; peripheral neuropathy; unfolded protein response
A growing body of evidence demonstrates an association between vascular risk factors and Alzheimer’s disease. This study investigated the frequency and severity of atherosclerotic plaques in the circle of Willis in Alzheimer’s disease and multiple other neurodegenerative diseases. Semi-quantitative data from gross and microscopic neuropathological examinations in 1000 cases were analysed, including 410 with a primary diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, 230 with synucleinopathies, 157 with TDP-43 proteinopathies, 144 with tauopathies and 59 with normal ageing. More than 77% of subjects with Alzheimer’s disease had grossly apparent circle of Willis atherosclerosis, a percentage that was significantly higher than normal (47%), or other neurodegenerative diseases (43–67%). Age- and sex-adjusted atherosclerosis ratings were highly correlated with neuritic plaque, paired helical filaments tau neurofibrillary tangle and cerebral amyloid angiopathy ratings in the whole sample and within individual groups. We found no associations between atherosclerosis ratings and α-synuclein or TDP-43 lesion ratings. The association between age-adjusted circle of Willis atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease–type pathology was more robust for female subjects than male subjects. These results provide further confirmation and specificity that vascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease are interrelated and suggest that common aetiologic or reciprocally synergistic pathophysiological mechanisms promote both vascular pathology and plaque and tangle pathology.
atherosclerosis; neuritic plaques; neurofibrillary tangles; synuclein; TDP-43
It is not known whether there is a core abnormality that occurs in all cases of schizophrenia. The cognitive dysmetria hypothesis proposes that there is such an abnormality which is characterized cognitively by a disruption in control and coordination processes, and functionally by abnormal inter-regional connectivity within the cortico-cerebellar-thalamo-cortical circuit (CCTCC). In the current study, we used functional MRI (fMRI) to investigate these two key aspects of the hypothesis. Since patients with schizophrenia show deficits in attention which have been characterized extensively using the continuous performance task (CPT) and since functional imaging studies have also demonstrated that this task engages the CCTCC, we used this task to investigate whether two patient groups with distinct symptom profiles would show functional dysconnectivity within this network. Three groups of subjects participated in the study: healthy volunteers (n = 12), schizophrenia patients with both negative and positive symptoms (n = 11) and schizophrenia patients with primarily positive symptoms (n = 11). Patient groups were matched for age of illness onset and medication, and to the control group for age, gender and handedness. Subjects were scanned using fMRI whilst they performed a modified version of the CPT, involving both degraded and non-degraded stimuli. Stimulus degradation has been shown to produce decrements in sensitivity, which is thought to reflect increased demands on the limited capacity of visual attention. Between-group comparisons revealed that patients with schizophrenia, irrespective of symptomatology, showed attenuation of the anterior cingulate and cerebellar response to stimulus degradation in comparison with control subjects. We also observed disruptions of inter-regional brain integration in schizophrenia. A task-specific relationship between the medial superior frontal gyrus and both anterior cingulate and the cerebellum was disrupted in both patient groups in comparison with controls. In addition, patients with negative symptoms showed impaired behavioural performance, and abnormal task-related connectivity between anterior cingulate and supplementary motor area. These findings are consistent with theoretical accounts of schizophrenia as a disorder of functional integration, and with the cognitive dysmetria hypothesis, which posits a disconnection within the CCTCC as a fundamental abnormality in schizophrenia, independent of diagnostic subtype. Furthermore, these data show evidence of additional functional deficits in patients with negative symptoms, deficits which may explain the accompanying attentional impairment.
schizophrenia; functional imaging; cognitive function; attention deficit
Masked prime tasks have shown that sensory information that has not been consciously perceived can nevertheless trigger the preactivation of a motor response. Automatic inhibitory control processes prevent such response tendencies from interfering with behaviour. The present study investigated the possibility that these inhibitory control processes are mediated by a cortico-striatal-pallidal-thalamic pathway by using a masked prime task with Huntington’s disease patients (Experiment 1) and with healthy volunteers in a functional MRI (fMRI) study (Experiment 2). In the masked prime task, clearly visible left- or right-pointing target arrows are preceded by briefly presented and subsequently masked prime arrows. Participants respond quickly with a left or right key-press to each target. Trials are either compatible (prime and target pointing in the same direction) or incompatible (prime and target pointing in different directions). Prior behavioural and electrophysiological results show that automatic inhibition of the initially primed response tendency is reflected in a ‘negative compatibility effect’ (faster reaction times for incompatible trials than for compatible trials), and is shown to consist of three distinct processes (prime activation, response inhibition and response conflict) occurring within 300 ms. Experiment 1 tested the hypothesis that lesions of the striatum would interrupt automatic inhibitory control by studying early-stage Huntington’s disease patients. Findings supported the hypothesis: there was a bimodal distribution for patients, with one-third (choreic) showing disinhibition, manifested as an absent negative compatibility effect, and two-thirds (non-choreic) showing excessive inhibition, manifested as a significantly greater negative compatibility effect than that in controls. Experiment 2 used fMRI and a region of interest (ROI) template-based method to further test the hypothesis that structures of the striatal-pallidal-thalamic pathway mediate one or more of the processes of automatic inhibitory control. Neither prime activation nor response conflict significantly engaged any ROIs, but the response inhibition process led to significant modulation of both the caudate and thalamus. Taken together, these experiments indicate a causal role for the caudate nucleus and thalamus in automatic inhibitory motor control, and the results are consistent with performance of the task requiring both direct and indirect striatal-pallidalthalamic pathways. The finding that Huntington’s disease patients with greater chorea were disinhibited is consistent with the theory that chorea arises from selective degeneration of striatal projections to the lateral globus pallidus, while the exaggerated inhibitory effect for patients with little or no chorea may be due to additional degeneration of projections to the medial globus pallidus.
priming; striatum; motor control; subliminal; compatibility
Cortico-striato-thalamic (CST) systems are anatomical substrates for many motor and executive functions and are implicated in diverse neuropsychiatric disorders. Electrophysiological studies in rats, monkeys and patients with Parkinson’s disease have shown that power and coherence of low frequency oscillations in CST systems can be profoundly modulated by dopaminergic drugs. We combined functional MRI with correlational and path analyses to investigate functional and effective connectivity, respectively, of a prefronto-striato-thalamic system activated by object location learning in healthy elderly human subjects (n = 23; mean age = 72 years). Participants were scanned in a repeated measures, randomized, placebo-controlled design to measure modulation of physiological connectivity between CST regions following treatment with drugs which served both to decrease (sulpiride) and increase (methylphenidate) dopaminergic transmission, as well as non-dopaminergic treatments (diazepam and scopolamine) to examine non-specific effects. Functional connectivity of caudate nucleus was modulated specifically by dopaminergic drugs, with opposing effects of sulpiride and methylphenidate. The more salient effect of sulpiride was to increase functional connectivity between caudate and both thalamus and ventral midbrain. A path diagram based on prior knowledge of unidirectional anatomical projections between CST components was fitted satisfactorily to the observed inter-regional covariance matrix. The effect of sulpiride was defined more specifically in the context of this model as increased strength of effective connection from ventral midbrain to caudate nucleus. In short, we have demonstrated enhanced functional and effective connectivity of human caudate nucleus following sulpiride treatment, which is compatible both with the anatomy of ascending dopaminergic projections and with electrophysiological studies indicating abnormal coherent oscillations of CST neurons in parkinsonian states.
cortico-striato-thalamic loops; functional/effective connectivity; pharmacological MRI; dopamine; path analysis
Delusions are maladaptive beliefs about the world. Based upon experimental evidence that prediction error—a mismatch between expectancy and outcome—drives belief formation, this study examined the possibility that delusions form because of disrupted prediction-error processing. We used fMRI to determine prediction-error-related brain responses in 12 healthy subjects and 12 individuals (7 males) with delusional beliefs. Frontal cortex responses in the patient group were suggestive of disrupted prediction-error processing. Furthermore, across subjects, the extent of disruption was significantly related to an individual’s propensity to delusion formation. Our results support a neurobiological theory of delusion formation that implicates aberrant prediction-error signalling, disrupted attentional allocation and associative learning in the formation of delusional beliefs.
prediction error; associative learning; fMRI; delusions; psychosis
We studied a two-generation family presenting with conditions that included progressive permanent weakness, myopathic myopathy, exercise-induced contracture before normokalaemic periodic paralysis or, if localized to the tibial anterior muscle group, transient compartment-like syndrome (painful acute oedema with neuronal compression and drop foot). 23Na and 1H magnetic resonance imaging displayed myoplasmic sodium overload, and oedema. We identified a novel familial Cav1.1 calcium channel mutation, R1242G, localized to the third positive charge of the domain IV voltage sensor. Functional expression of R1242G in the muscular dysgenesis mouse cell line GLT revealed a 28% reduced central pore inward current and a −20 mV shift of the steady-state inactivation curve. Both changes may be at least partially explained by an outward omega (gating pore) current at positive potentials. Moreover, this outward omega current of 27.5 nS/nF may cause the reduction of the overshoot by 13 mV and slowing of the upstroke of action potentials by 36% that are associated with muscle hypoexcitability (permanent weakness and myopathic myopathy). In addition to the outward omega current, we identified an inward omega pore current of 95 nS/nF at negative membrane potentials after long depolarizing pulses that shifts the R1242G residue above the omega pore constriction. A simulation reveals that the inward current might depolarize the fibre sufficiently to trigger calcium release in the absence of an action potential and therefore cause an electrically silent depolarization-induced muscle contracture. Additionally, evidence of the inward current can be found in 23Na magnetic resonance imaging-detected sodium accumulation and 1H magnetic resonance imaging-detected oedema. We hypothesize that the episodes are normokalaemic because of depolarization-induced compensatory outward potassium flux through both delayed rectifiers and omega pore. We conclude that the position of the R1242G residue before elicitation of the omega current is decisive for its conductance: if the residue is located below the gating pore as in the resting state then outward currents are observed; if the residue is above the gating pore because of depolarization, as in the inactivated state, then inward currents are observed. This study shows for the first time that functional characterization of omega pore currents is possible using a cultured cell line expressing mutant Cav1.1 channels. Likewise, it is the first calcium channel mutation for complicated normokalaemic periodic paralysis.
periodic paralyses; omega pore; voltage sensor; calcium channel
The neurovascular unit provides a dynamic interface between the circulation and central nervous system. Disruption of neurovascular integrity occurs in numerous brain pathologies including neurotrauma and ischaemic stroke. Tissue plasminogen activator is a serine protease that converts plasminogen to plasmin, a protease that dissolves blood clots. Besides its role in fibrinolysis, tissue plasminogen activator is abundantly expressed in the brain where it mediates extracellular proteolysis. However, proteolytically active tissue plasminogen activator also promotes neurovascular disruption after ischaemic stroke; the molecular mechanisms of this process are still unclear. Tissue plasminogen activator is naturally inhibited by serine protease inhibitors (serpins): plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, neuroserpin or protease nexin-1 that results in the formation of serpin:protease complexes. Proteases and serpin:protease complexes are cleared through high-affinity binding to low-density lipoprotein receptors, but their binding to these receptors can also transmit extracellular signals across the plasma membrane. The matrix metalloproteinases are the second major proteolytic system in the mammalian brain, and like tissue plasminogen activators are pivotal to neurological function but can also degrade structures of the neurovascular unit after injury. Herein, we show that tissue plasminogen activator potentiates neurovascular damage in a dose-dependent manner in a mouse model of neurotrauma. Surprisingly, inhibition of activity following administration of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 significantly increased cerebrovascular permeability. This led to our finding that formation of complexes between tissue plasminogen activator and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 in the brain parenchyma facilitates post-traumatic cerebrovascular damage. We demonstrate that following trauma, the complex binds to low-density lipoprotein receptors, triggering the induction of matrix metalloproteinase-3. Accordingly, pharmacological inhibition of matrix metalloproteinase-3 attenuates neurovascular permeability and improves neurological function in injured mice. Our results are clinically relevant, because concentrations of tissue plasminogen activator: plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 complex and matrix metalloproteinase-3 are significantly elevated in cerebrospinal fluid of trauma patients and correlate with neurological outcome. In a separate study, we found that matrix metalloproteinase-3 and albumin, a marker of cerebrovascular damage, were significantly increased in brain tissue of patients with neurotrauma. Perturbation of neurovascular homeostasis causing oedema, inflammation and cell death is an important cause of acute and long-term neurological dysfunction after trauma. A role for the tissue plasminogen activator–matrix metalloproteinase axis in promoting neurovascular disruption after neurotrauma has not been described thus far. Targeting tissue plasminogen activator: plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 complex signalling or downstream matrix metalloproteinase-3 induction may provide viable therapeutic strategies to reduce cerebrovascular permeability after neurotrauma.
neurovascular unit; traumatic brain injury; tissue plasminogen activator; plasminogen activator inhibitor-1; matrix metalloproteinase-3
An important goal of addiction research and treatment is to predict behavioural responses to drug-related stimuli. This goal is especially important for patients with impaired insight, which can interfere with therapeutic interventions and potentially invalidate self-report questionnaires. This research tested (i) whether event-related potentials, specifically the late positive potential, predict choice to view cocaine images in cocaine addiction; and (ii) whether such behaviour prediction differs by insight (operationalized in this study as self-awareness of image choice). Fifty-nine cocaine abusers and 32 healthy controls provided data for the following laboratory components that were completed in a fixed-sequence (to establish prediction): (i) event-related potential recordings while passively viewing pleasant, unpleasant, neutral and cocaine images, during which early (400–1000 ms) and late (1000–2000 ms) window late positive potentials were collected; (ii) self-reported arousal ratings for each picture; and (iii) two previously validated tasks: one to assess choice for viewing these same images, and the other to group cocaine abusers by insight. Results showed that pleasant-related late positive potentials and arousal ratings predicted pleasant choice (the choice to view pleasant pictures) in all subjects, validating the method. In the cocaine abusers, the predictive ability of the late positive potentials and arousal ratings depended on insight. Cocaine-related late positive potentials better predicted cocaine image choice in cocaine abusers with impaired insight. Another emotion-relevant event-related potential component (the early posterior negativity) did not show these results, indicating specificity of the late positive potential. In contrast, arousal ratings better predicted respective cocaine image choice (and actual cocaine use severity) in cocaine abusers with intact insight. Taken together, the late positive potential could serve as a biomarker to help predict drug-related choice—and possibly associated behaviours (e.g. drug seeking in natural settings, relapse after treatment)—when insight (and self-report) is compromised.
cocaine addiction; insight; choice behaviour; event-related potentials; late positive potential; unconscious motivation
The molecular diagnosis of mitochondrial disorders still remains elusive in a large proportion of patients, but advances in next generation sequencing are significantly improving our chances to detect mutations even in sporadic patients. Syndromes associated with mitochondrial DNA multiple deletions are caused by different molecular defects resulting in a wide spectrum of predominantly adult-onset clinical presentations, ranging from progressive external ophthalmoplegia to multi-systemic disorders of variable severity. The mutations underlying these conditions remain undisclosed in half of the affected subjects. We applied next-generation sequencing of known mitochondrial targets (MitoExome) to probands presenting with adult-onset mitochondrial myopathy and harbouring mitochondrial DNA multiple deletions in skeletal muscle. We identified autosomal recessive mutations in the DGUOK gene (encoding mitochondrial deoxyguanosine kinase), which has previously been associated with an infantile hepatocerebral form of mitochondrial DNA depletion. Mutations in DGUOK occurred in five independent subjects, representing 5.6% of our cohort of patients with mitochondrial DNA multiple deletions, and impaired both muscle DGUOK activity and protein stability. Clinical presentations were variable, including mitochondrial myopathy with or without progressive external ophthalmoplegia, recurrent rhabdomyolysis in a young female who had received a liver transplant at 9 months of age and adult-onset lower motor neuron syndrome with mild cognitive impairment. These findings reinforce the concept that mutations in genes involved in deoxyribonucleotide metabolism can cause diverse clinical phenotypes and suggest that DGUOK should be screened in patients harbouring mitochondrial DNA deletions in skeletal muscle.
DGUOK; mitochondrial DNA instability; autosomal recessive progressive external ophthalmoplegia; multiple mitochondrial DNA deletions
Transplantation of neural stem cells provides a promising therapy for stroke. Its efficacy, however, might be limited because of massive grafted-cell death after transplantation, and its insufficient capability for tissue repair. Interleukin 6 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine involved in the pathogenesis of various neurological disorders. Paradoxically, interleukin 6 promotes a pro-survival signalling pathway through activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3. In this study, we investigated whether cellular reprogramming of neural stem cells with interleukin 6 facilitates the effectiveness of cell transplantation therapy in ischaemic stroke. Neural stem cells harvested from the subventricular zone of foetal mice were preconditioned with interleukin 6 in vitro and transplanted into mouse brains 6 h or 7 days after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. Interleukin 6 preconditioning protected the grafted neural stem cells from ischaemic reperfusion injury through signal transducer and activator of transcription 3-mediated upregulation of manganese superoxide dismutase, a primary mitochondrial antioxidant enzyme. In addition, interleukin 6 preconditioning induced secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor from the neural stem cells through activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3, resulting in promotion of angiogenesis in the ischaemic brain. Furthermore, transplantation of interleukin 6-preconditioned neural stem cells significantly attenuated infarct size and improved neurological performance compared with non-preconditioned neural stem cells. This interleukin 6-induced amelioration of ischaemic insults was abolished by transfecting the neural stem cells with signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 small interfering RNA before transplantation. These results indicate that preconditioning with interleukin 6, which reprograms neural stem cells to tolerate oxidative stress after ischaemic reperfusion injury and to induce angiogenesis through activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3, is a simple and beneficial approach for enhancing the effectiveness of cell transplantation therapy in ischaemic stroke.
cytokine preconditioning; oxidative stress; angiogenesis; ischaemic stroke; transplantation
Brain responses (from functional magnetic resonance imaging) and components of information processing were investigated in nine cortically blind observers performing a global direction discrimination task. Three of these subjects had responses in perilesional cortex in response to blind field stimulation, whereas the others did not. We used the EZ-diffusion model of decision making to understand how cortically blind subjects make a perceptual decision on stimuli presented within their blind field. We found that these subjects had slower accumulation of information in their blind fields as compared with their good fields and to intact controls. Within cortically blind subjects, activity in perilesional tissue, V3A and hMT+ was associated with a faster accumulation of information for deciding direction of motion of stimuli presented in the blind field. This result suggests that the rate of information accumulation is a critical factor in the degree of impairment in cortical blindness and varies greatly among affected individuals. Retraining paradigms that seek to restore visual functions might benefit from focusing on increasing the rate of information accumulation.
functional MRI; stroke; brain lesions; motion processing; visual cortex
Although an insidious history of episodic memory difficulty is a typical presenting symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, detailed neuropsychological profiling frequently demonstrates deficits in other cognitive domains, including language. Previous studies from our group have shown that language changes may be reflected in connected speech production in the earliest stages of typical Alzheimer’s disease. The aim of the present study was to identify features of connected speech that could be used to examine longitudinal profiles of impairment in Alzheimer’s disease. Samples of connected speech were obtained from 15 former participants in a longitudinal cohort study of ageing and dementia, in whom Alzheimer’s disease was diagnosed during life and confirmed at post-mortem. All patients met clinical and neuropsychological criteria for mild cognitive impairment between 6 and 18 months before converting to a status of probable Alzheimer’s disease. In a subset of these patients neuropsychological data were available, both at the point of conversion to Alzheimer’s disease, and after disease severity had progressed from the mild to moderate stage. Connected speech samples from these patients were examined at later disease stages. Spoken language samples were obtained using the Cookie Theft picture description task. Samples were analysed using measures of syntactic complexity, lexical content, speech production, fluency and semantic content. Individual case analysis revealed that subtle changes in language were evident during the prodromal stages of Alzheimer’s disease, with two-thirds of patients with mild cognitive impairment showing significant but heterogeneous changes in connected speech. However, impairments at the mild cognitive impairment stage did not necessarily entail deficits at mild or moderate stages of disease, suggesting non-language influences on some aspects of performance. Subsequent examination of these measures revealed significant linear trends over the three stages of disease in syntactic complexity, semantic and lexical content. The findings suggest, first, that there is a progressive disruption in language integrity, detectable from the prodromal stage in a subset of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and secondly that measures of semantic and lexical content and syntactic complexity best capture the global progression of linguistic impairment through the successive clinical stages of disease. The identification of disease-specific language impairment in prodromal Alzheimer’s disease could enhance clinicians’ ability to distinguish probable Alzheimer’s disease from changes attributable to ageing, while longitudinal assessment could provide a simple approach to disease monitoring in therapeutic trials.
Alzheimer’s disease; aphasia; neuropsychological tests; language; connected speech analysis
Our aim was to investigate the natural evolution of cataplexy and polysomnographic features in untreated children with narcolepsy with cataplexy. To this end, clinical, polysomnographic, and cataplexy-video assessments were performed at diagnosis (mean age of 10 ± 3 and disease duration of 1 ± 1 years) and after a median follow-up of 3 years from symptom onset (mean age of 12 ± 4 years) in 21 children with narcolepsy with cataplexy and hypocretin 1 deficiency (tested in 19 subjects). Video assessment was also performed in two control groups matched for age and sex at first evaluation and follow-up and was blindly scored for presence of hypotonic (negative) and active movements. Patients’ data at diagnosis and at follow-up were contrasted, compared with controls, and related with age and disease duration. At diagnosis children with narcolepsy with cataplexy showed an increase of sleep time during the 24 h; at follow-up sleep time and nocturnal sleep latency shortened, in the absence of other polysomnographic or clinical (including body mass index) changes. Hypotonic phenomena and selected facial movements decreased over time and, tested against disease duration and age, appeared as age-dependent. At onset, childhood narcolepsy with cataplexy is characterized by an abrupt increase of total sleep over the 24 h, generalized hypotonia and motor overactivity. With time, the picture of cataplexy evolves into classic presentation (i.e. brief muscle weakness episodes triggered by emotions), whereas total sleep time across the 24 h decreases, returning to more age-appropriate levels.
children; narcolepsy; cataplexy; sleep; sleepiness