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1.  1731, a new retrotransposon with hormone modulated expression. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1986;14(22):9017-9033.
We report here the characterisation of 1731, a new copia-like element of Drosophila melanogaster. 1731 was first isolated in a screening for ecdysterone modulated genes. This element is about 4.6 Kb long and is flanked by two long terminal repeats (LTRs) 336 base pairs in length. The whole 1731 element is transcribed into polyA+ RNAs, and these transcripts decrease rapidly upon hormonal treatment. 1731 is moderately repeated in the fly genome and slightly amplified in Kc/cells where extrachromosomal circular forms are found. The LTRs were sequenced in one cloned copy of 1731 and show a structural organisation similar to that of several other copia-like elements and retroviral proviruses. Small nucleotide stretches, similar to those found in Mouse Mammary Tumor Virus LTRs and known to be important in its regulation by a steroid hormone, occur in 1731 LTRs.
PMCID: PMC311926  PMID: 3024127
2.  Amyloid Deposition Is Linked to Aberrant Entorhinal Activity among Cognitively Normal Older Adults 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(15):5200-5210.
Normal aging is often difficult to distinguish from the earliest stages of Alzheimer's disease. Years before clinical memory deficits manifest, amyloid-β deposits in the cortex in many older individuals. Neuroimaging studies indicate that a set of densely connected neocortical regions, referred to as the default network, is especially vulnerable to amyloid-β deposition. Yet, the impact of amyloid-β on age-related changes within the medial temporal lobe (MTL) memory system is less clear. Here we demonstrate that cognitively normal older humans, compared with young adults, show reduced ability to modulate hippocampal activations and entorhinal deactivations during an episodic memory task. Among older adults, amyloid-β deposition was associated with failure to modulate activity in entorhinal cortex, but not hippocampus. Furthermore, we show that entorhinal regions demonstrating amyloid-β-related dysfunction are directly connected to the neocortical regions of the default network. Together these findings link neocortical amyloid-β deposition to neuronal dysfunction specifically in entorhinal cortex, while aging is associated with more widespread functional changes across the MTL.
PMCID: PMC3983800  PMID: 24719099
amyloid; default network; entorhinal cortex; fMRI; memory; preclinical Alzheimer's disease
3.  Imaging amyloid deposition in Lewy body diseases 
Neurology  2008;71(12):903-910.
Extrapyramidal motor symptoms precede dementia in Parkinson disease (PDD) by many years, whereas dementia occurs early in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Despite this clinical distinction, the neuropsychological and neuropathologic features of these conditions overlap. In addition to widespread distribution of Lewy bodies, both diseases have variable burdens of neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles characteristic of Alzheimer disease (AD).
To determine whether amyloid deposition, as assessed by PET imaging with the β-amyloid–binding compound Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB), can distinguish DLB from PDD, and to assess whether regional patterns of amyloid deposition correlate with specific motor or cognitive features.
Eight DLB, 7 PDD, 11 Parkinson disease (PD), 15 AD, and 37 normal control (NC) subjects underwent PiB-PET imaging and neuropsychological assessment. Amyloid burden was quantified using the PiB distribution volume ratio.
Cortical amyloid burden was higher in the DLB group than in the PDD group, comparable to the AD group. Amyloid deposition in the PDD group was low, comparable to the PD and NC groups. Relative to global cortical retention, occipital PiB retention was lower in the AD group than in the other groups. For the DLB, PDD, and PD groups, amyloid deposition in the parietal (lateral and precuneus)/posterior cingulate region was related to visuospatial impairment. Striatal PiB retention in the DLB and PDD groups was associated with less impaired motor function.
Global cortical amyloid burden is high in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) but low in Parkinson disease dementia. These data suggest that β-amyloid may contribute selectively to the cognitive impairment of DLB and may contribute to the timing of dementia relative to the motor signs of parkinsonism.
= Automated Anatomic Labeling;
= Alzheimer disease;
= Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center;
= American version of the National Adult Reading Test;
= analysis of covariance;
= Blessed Dementia Scale;
= cerebral amyloid angiopathy;
= Clinical Dementia Rating;
= Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes;
= dementia with Lewy bodies;
= distribution volume ratio;
= Cued Selective Reminding Test;
= Free Selective Reminding Test;
= Hoehn and Yahr;
= Massachusetts General Hospital;
= Mini-Mental State Examination;
= normal control;
= neurofibrillary tangle;
= Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire;
= not significant;
= Parkinson disease;
= Parkinson disease dementia;
= Pittsburgh Compound B;
= region of interest;
= Statistical Parametric Mapping;
= UK Parkinson’s Disease Society Brain Bank Research Center;
= United Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale;
= Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale–Revised.
PMCID: PMC2637553  PMID: 18794492
4.  Imaging amyloid deposition in Lewy body diseases 
Neurology  2008;71(12):903-910.
Extrapyramidal motor symptoms precede dementia in Parkinson disease (PDD) by many years, whereas dementia occurs early in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Despite this clinical distinction, the neuropsychological and neuropathologic features of these conditions overlap. In addition to widespread distribution of Lewy bodies, both diseases have variable burdens of neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles characteristic of Alzheimer disease (AD).
To determine whether amyloid deposition, as assessed by PET imaging with the β-amyloid–binding compound Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB), can distinguish DLB from PDD, and to assess whether regional patterns of amyloid deposition correlate with specific motor or cognitive features.
Eight DLB, 7 PDD, 11 Parkinson disease (PD), 15 AD, and 37 normal control (NC) subjects underwent PiB-PET imaging and neuropsychological assessment. Amyloid burden was quantified using the PiB distribution volume ratio.
Cortical amyloid burden was higher in the DLB group than in the PDD group, comparable to the AD group. Amyloid deposition in the PDD group was low, comparable to the PD and NC groups. Relative to global cortical retention, occipital PiB retention was lower in the AD group than in the other groups. For the DLB, PDD, and PD groups, amyloid deposition in the parietal (lateral and precuneus)/posterior cingulate region was related to visuospatial impairment. Striatal PiB retention in the DLB and PDD groups was associated with less impaired motor function.
Global cortical amyloid burden is high in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) but low in Parkinson disease dementia. These data suggest that β-amyloid may contribute selectively to the cognitive impairment of DLB and may contribute to the timing of dementia relative to the motor signs of parkinsonism.
PMCID: PMC2637553  PMID: 18794492
5.  Acceleration of cerebral ventricular expansion in the Cardiovascular Health Study 
Neurobiology of aging  2006;28(9):1316-1321.
Interactions between prevalent late-life medical conditions and expansion of the cerebral ventricles are not well understood. Thirty elderly subjects received three magnetic resonance (MR) scans each, in 1997–1999, 2002–2004, and 2003–2005. A linear expansion model of MR-measured lateral ventricle volume was estimated for each subject by fitting a line to a plot of their 1997–1999 and 2002–2004 volumes as a function of time. Acceleration in ventricular expansion was defined as the deviation between the 2003–2005 volumes measured from MR and the 2003–2005 volumes predicted by the linear expansion model. Ventricular acceleration was analyzed in a multivariate model with age, race, history of heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension as fixed effects. Ventricular acceleration was significantly higher in non-whites, diabetics, and those without heart disease (p < 0.05). Ventricular acceleration was higher in subjects with a history of hypertension, but the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.08). Acceleration of ventricular expansion in the elderly may be related to demographic and cardiovascular factors.
PMCID: PMC2877585  PMID: 16875759
Magnetic resonance imaging; Lateral ventricles; Aging; Diabetes; Heart disease
6.  Cognitive activity relates to cognitive performance but not to Alzheimer disease biomarkers 
Neurology  2015;85(1):48-55.
We aimed to determine whether there was a relationship between lifestyle factors and Alzheimer disease biomarkers.
In a cross-sectional study, we evaluated self-reported histories of recent and past cognitive activity, self-reported history of recent physical activity, and objective recent walking activity in 186 clinically normal individuals with mean age of 74 ± 6 years. Using backward elimination general linear models, we tested the hypotheses that greater cognitive or physical activity would be associated with lower Pittsburgh compound B–PET retention, greater 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose–PET metabolism, and larger hippocampal volume, as well as better cognitive performance on neuropsychological testing.
Linear regression demonstrated that history of greater cognitive activity was correlated with greater estimated IQ and education, as well as better neuropsychological testing performance. Self-reported recent physical activity was related to objective exercise monitoring. However, contrary to hypotheses, we did not find evidence of an association of Pittsburgh compound B retention, 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose uptake, or hippocampal volume with past or current levels of cognitive activity, or with current physical activity.
We conclude that a history of lifelong cognitive activity may support better cognitive performance by a mechanism that is independent of brain β-amyloid burden, brain glucose metabolism, or hippocampal volume.
PMCID: PMC4501938  PMID: 26062627
7.  Updated research nosology for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders 
Neurology  2007;69(18):1789-1799.
In 1991, the AIDS Task Force of the American Academy of Neurology published nomenclature and research case definitions to guide the diagnosis of neurologic manifestations of HIV-1 infection. Now, 16 years later, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke have charged a working group to critically review the adequacy and utility of these definitional criteria and to identify aspects that require updating. This report represents a majority view, and unanimity was not reached on all points. It reviews our collective experience with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND), particularly since the advent of highly active antiretroviral treatment, and their definitional criteria; discusses the impact of comorbidities; and suggests inclusion of the term asymptomatic neurocognitive impairment to categorize individuals with subclinical impairment. An algorithm is proposed to assist in standardized diagnostic classification of HAND.
PMCID: PMC4472366  PMID: 17914061
8.  Genetic contributions to variation in general cognitive function: a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in the CHARGE consortium (N=53 949) 
Davies, G | Armstrong, N | Bis, J C | Bressler, J | Chouraki, V | Giddaluru, S | Hofer, E | Ibrahim-Verbaas, C A | Kirin, M | Lahti, J | van der Lee, S J | Le Hellard, S | Liu, T | Marioni, R E | Oldmeadow, C | Postmus, I | Smith, A V | Smith, J A | Thalamuthu, A | Thomson, R | Vitart, V | Wang, J | Yu, L | Zgaga, L | Zhao, W | Boxall, R | Harris, S E | Hill, W D | Liewald, D C | Luciano, M | Adams, H | Ames, D | Amin, N | Amouyel, P | Assareh, A A | Au, R | Becker, J T | Beiser, A | Berr, C | Bertram, L | Boerwinkle, E | Buckley, B M | Campbell, H | Corley, J | De Jager, P L | Dufouil, C | Eriksson, J G | Espeseth, T | Faul, J D | Ford, I | Scotland, Generation | Gottesman, R F | Griswold, M E | Gudnason, V | Harris, T B | Heiss, G | Hofman, A | Holliday, E G | Huffman, J | Kardia, S L R | Kochan, N | Knopman, D S | Kwok, J B | Lambert, J-C | Lee, T | Li, G | Li, S-C | Loitfelder, M | Lopez, O L | Lundervold, A J | Lundqvist, A | Mather, K A | Mirza, S S | Nyberg, L | Oostra, B A | Palotie, A | Papenberg, G | Pattie, A | Petrovic, K | Polasek, O | Psaty, B M | Redmond, P | Reppermund, S | Rotter, J I | Schmidt, H | Schuur, M | Schofield, P W | Scott, R J | Steen, V M | Stott, D J | van Swieten, J C | Taylor, K D | Trollor, J | Trompet, S | Uitterlinden, A G | Weinstein, G | Widen, E | Windham, B G | Jukema, J W | Wright, A F | Wright, M J | Yang, Q | Amieva, H | Attia, J R | Bennett, D A | Brodaty, H | de Craen, A J M | Hayward, C | Ikram, M A | Lindenberger, U | Nilsson, L-G | Porteous, D J | Räikkönen, K | Reinvang, I | Rudan, I | Sachdev, P S | Schmidt, R | Schofield, P R | Srikanth, V | Starr, J M | Turner, S T | Weir, D R | Wilson, J F | van Duijn, C | Launer, L | Fitzpatrick, A L | Seshadri, S | Mosley, T H | Deary, I J
Molecular Psychiatry  2015;20(2):183-192.
General cognitive function is substantially heritable across the human life course from adolescence to old age. We investigated the genetic contribution to variation in this important, health- and well-being-related trait in middle-aged and older adults. We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of 31 cohorts (N=53 949) in which the participants had undertaken multiple, diverse cognitive tests. A general cognitive function phenotype was tested for, and created in each cohort by principal component analysis. We report 13 genome-wide significant single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associations in three genomic regions, 6q16.1, 14q12 and 19q13.32 (best SNP and closest gene, respectively: rs10457441, P=3.93 × 10−9, MIR2113; rs17522122, P=2.55 × 10−8, AKAP6; rs10119, P=5.67 × 10−9, APOE/TOMM40). We report one gene-based significant association with the HMGN1 gene located on chromosome 21 (P=1 × 10−6). These genes have previously been associated with neuropsychiatric phenotypes. Meta-analysis results are consistent with a polygenic model of inheritance. To estimate SNP-based heritability, the genome-wide complex trait analysis procedure was applied to two large cohorts, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (N=6617) and the Health and Retirement Study (N=5976). The proportion of phenotypic variation accounted for by all genotyped common SNPs was 29% (s.e.=5%) and 28% (s.e.=7%), respectively. Using polygenic prediction analysis, ~1.2% of the variance in general cognitive function was predicted in the Generation Scotland cohort (N=5487; P=1.5 × 10−17). In hypothesis-driven tests, there was significant association between general cognitive function and four genes previously associated with Alzheimer's disease: TOMM40, APOE, ABCG1 and MEF2C.
PMCID: PMC4356746  PMID: 25644384
9.  Striatal and extrastriatal dopamine transporter levels relate to cognition in Lewy body diseases: an 11C altropane positron emission tomography study 
The biological basis of cognitive impairment in parkinsonian diseases is believed to be multifactorial. We investigated the contribution of dopamine deficiency to cognition in Parkinson disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) with dopamine transporter (DAT) imaging.
We acquired 11C altropane PET, magnetic resonance imaging and cognitive testing in 19 nondemented subjects with PD, 10 DLB and 17 healthy control subjects (HCS). We analyzed DAT concentration in putamen, caudate, anterior cingulate (AC), orbitofrontal and prefrontal regions, using the Standardized Uptake Volume Ratio with partial volume correction, and we related DAT concentration and global cortical thickness to neuropsychological performance.
DAT concentration in putamen and in caudate were similar in PD and DLB groups and significantly lower than in HCS. Reduced caudate DAT concentration was associated with worse Clinical Dementia Rating Scale–sum of boxes (CDR-SB) scores and visuospatial skills in DLB but not in PD or HCS groups. Adjusting for putamen DAT concentration, as a measure of severity of motor disease, caudate DAT concentration was lower in DLB than in PD. Higher AC DAT concentration was associated with lower putamen DAT concentration in DLB and with higher putamen DAT concentration in PD. Higher AC DAT concentration in DLB correlated with greater impairment in semantic memory and language.
Caudate and AC dopamine dysfunction contribute in opposing directions to cognitive impairment in DLB.
PMCID: PMC4245149  PMID: 25429309
10.  Selective suppression of excessive GluN2C expression rescues early epilepsy in a tuberous sclerosis murine model 
Nature Communications  2014;5:4563.
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), caused by dominant mutations in either TSC1 or TSC2 tumour suppressor genes is characterized by the presence of brain malformations, the cortical tubers that are thought to contribute to the generation of pharmacoresistant epilepsy. Here we report that tuberless heterozygote Tsc1+/− mice show functional upregulation of cortical GluN2C-containing N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) in an mTOR-dependent manner and exhibit recurrent, unprovoked seizures during early postnatal life (
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a rare genetic condition characterized by epileptic seizures that start in infancy. Here, the authors show that these seizures are modulated by GluN2C-containing NMDA receptors in the cortex of a mouse model of TSC, and that suppressing their activity attenuates seizures.
PMCID: PMC4143949  PMID: 25081057
Impairment in instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) begins as individuals with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) transition to Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementia. IADL impairment in AD dementia has been associated with inferior parietal, inferior temporal, and superior occipital hypometabolism using 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET).
To investigate the relationship between regional FDG metabolism and IADL in clinically normal (CN) elderly, MCI, and mild AD dementia subjects cross-sectionally and longitudinally.
One hundred and four CN, 203 MCI, and 95 AD dementia subjects from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative underwent clinical assessments every 6 to 12 months for up to three years and baseline FDG PET. The subjective, informant-based Functional Activities Questionnaire was used to assess IADL. General linear models and mixed effects models were used, covarying for demographics, cogniton, and behavior.
The cross-sectional analysis revealed middle frontal and orbitofrontal hypometabolism were significantly associated with greater IADL impairment. Additionally, the interaction of diagnosis with posterior cingulate and with parahippocampal hypometabolism showed a greater decline in IADL performance as metabolism decreased for the AD dementia relative to the MCI group, and the MCI group relative to the CN group. The longitudinal analysis showed that baseline middle frontal and posterior cingulate hypometabolism were significantly associated with greater rate of increase in IADL impairment over time.
These results suggest that regional synaptic dysfunction, including the Alzheimer-typical medial parietal and less typical frontal regions, relates to daily functioning decline at baseline and over time across the early AD spectrum.
PMCID: PMC4133312  PMID: 24898635
18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography; Alzheimer's disease; instrumental activities of daily living; mild cognitive impairment
Genesis (New York, N.Y. : 2000)  2013;51(8):562-574.
In mice, homozygous deletion of the cardiac sodium channel Scn5a results in defects in cardiac morphology and embryonic death before robust sodium current can be detected. In zebrafish, morpholino knockdown of cardiac sodium channel orthologs scn5Laa and scn5Lab perturbs specification of pre-cardiac mesoderm and inhibits growth of the embryonic heart. It is not known which developmental processes are perturbed by sodium channel knockdown and whether reduced cell number is from impaired migration of cardiac progenitors into the heart, impaired myocyte proliferation, or both. We found that embryos deficient in scn5Lab displayed defects in primary cardiogenesis specific to loss of nkx2.5, but not nkx2.7. We generated kaede reporter fish and demonstrated that embryos treated with anti-scn5Lab morpholino showed normal secondary differentiation of cardiomyocytes at the arterial pole between 30 and 48 hours post-fertilization. However, while proliferating myocytes were readily detected at 48 hpf in wild type embryos, there were no BrdU-positive cardiomyocytes in embryos subjected to anti-scn5Lab treatment. Proliferating myocytes were present in embryos injected with anti-tnnt2 morpholino to phenocopy the silent heart mutation, and absent in embryos injected with anti-tnnt2 and anti-scn5Lab morpholinos, indicating cardiac contraction is not required for the loss of proliferation. These data demonstrate that the role of scn5Lab in later heart growth does not involve contribution of the secondary heart field, but rather proliferation of cardiomyocytes, and appears unrelated to the role of the channel in cardiac electrogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3750094  PMID: 23650201
heart; development; sodium channel; myocardium
Neuroscience  2014;273:199-209.
Physical activity influences inflammation, and both affect brain structure and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) risk. We hypothesized that older adults with greater reported physical activity intensity and lower serum levels of the inflammatory marker tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) would have larger regional brain volumes on subsequent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. In 43 cognitively intact older adults (79.3 ± 4.8 years) and 39 patients with AD (81.9 ± 5.1 years at the time of MRI) participating in the Cardiovascular Health Study, we examined year-1 reported physical activity intensity, year-5 blood serum TNFα measures, and year-9 volumetric brain MRI scans. We examined how prior physical activity intensity and TNFα related to subsequent total and regional brain volumes. Physical activity intensity was measured using the modified Minnesota Leisure Time Physical Activities questionnaire at year 1 of the study, when all subjects included here were cognitively intact. Stability of measures was established for exercise intensity over 9 years and TNFα over 3 years in a subset of subjects who had these measurements at multiple time points. When considered together, more intense physical activity intensity and lower serum TNFα were both associated with greater total brain volume on follow-up MRI scans. TNFα, but not physical activity, was associated with regional volumes of the inferior parietal lobule, a region previously associated with inflammation in AD patients. Physical activity and TNFα may independently influence brain structure in older adults.
PMCID: PMC4076831  PMID: 24836855
tumor necrosis factor (TNFα); exercise; MRI; supramarginal gyrus; inferior parietal lobule; Alzheimer’s disease
Apathy is the most common neuropsychiatric symptom in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia. We sought to determine whether apathy is associated with cortical amyloid burden measured by Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) positron emission tomography (PET) and regional hypometabolism measured by 18F-fluorodeoxyglocuse (FDG) PET in MCI. We found a significant association between increased apathy (lower Apathy Evaluation Scale score) and greater cortical PiB retention independent of age (prs=−0.46, p=0.03), but no significant association between apathy and regional FDG metabolism. These results suggest that increased apathy is associated with greater amyloid burden but not regional hypometabolism in MCI.
PMCID: PMC3957217  PMID: 24247857
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid; apathy; 18F-flourodeoxyglucose; mild cognitive impairment; Pittsburgh Compound B; positron emission tomography
Translational Psychiatry  2014;4(2):e358-.
To follow-up loci discovered by the International Genomics of Alzheimer's Disease Project, we attempted independent replication of 19 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a large Spanish sample (Fundació ACE data set; 1808 patients and 2564 controls). Our results corroborate association with four SNPs located in the genes INPP5D, MEF2C, ZCWPW1 and FERMT2, respectively. Of these, ZCWPW1 was the only SNP to withstand correction for multiple testing (P=0.000655). Furthermore, we identify TRIP4 (rs74615166) as a novel genome-wide significant locus for Alzheimer's disease risk (odds ratio=1.31; confidence interval 95% (1.19–1.44); P=9.74 × 10−9).
PMCID: PMC3944635  PMID: 24495969
dementia risk; DNA; GWAS; molecular epidemiology; SNP; thyroid receptor
Amyloid burden and white matter hyperintensities (WMH) are two common markers of neurodegeneration present in advanced aging. Each represents a potential early indicator of an age-related neurological disorder that impacts cognition. The presence of amyloid is observed in a substantial subset of cognitively normal older adults, but the literature remains equivocal regarding whether amyloid in nondemented populations is deleterious to cognition. Similarly, WMH are detected in many nondemented older adults and there is a body of evidence indicating that WMH are associated with decreased executive function and other cognitive domains. The current study investigated amyloid burden and WMH in clinically normal older adult humans aged 65 to 86 (N=168) and examined each biomarker’s relation with cognitive domains of episodic memory, executive function, and speed of processing. Factors for each domain were derived from a neuropsychological battery on a theoretical basis without reference to the relation between cognition and the biomarkers. Amyloid burden and WMH were not correlated with one another. Age was associated with lower performance in all cognitive domains, while higher estimated verbal intelligence was associated with higher performance in all domains. Hypothesis-driven tests revealed that amyloid burden and WMH had distinct cognitive profiles, with amyloid burden having a specific influence on episodic memory and WMH being primarily associated with executive function but having broad (but lesser) effects on the other domains. These findings suggest that even prior to clinical impairment, amyloid burden and WMH likely represent neuropathological cascades with distinct etiologies and dissociable influences on cognition.
PMCID: PMC3523110  PMID: 23152607
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58702.
Background and Aims
Hereditary disorders associated with metal overload or unwanted toxic accumulation of heavy metals can lead to morbidity and mortality. Patients with hereditary hemochromatosis or Wilson disease for example may develop severe hepatic pathology including fibrosis, cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma. While relevant disease genes are identified and genetic testing is applicable, liver biopsy in combination with metal detecting techniques such as energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) is still applied for accurate diagnosis of metals. Vice versa, several metals are needed in trace amounts for carrying out vital functions and their deficiency due to rapid growth, pregnancy, excessive blood loss, and insufficient nutritional or digestive uptake results in organic and systemic shortcomings. Established in situ techniques, such as EDX-ray spectroscopy, are not sensitive enough to analyze trace metal distribution and the quantification of metal images is difficult.
In this study, we developed a quantitative biometal imaging technique of human liver tissue by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) in order to compare the distribution of selected metals in cryo-sections of healthy and fibrotic/cirrhotic livers.
Most of the metals are homogeneous distributed within the normal tissue, while they are redirected within fibrotic livers resulting in significant metal deposits. Moreover, total iron and copper concentrations in diseased liver were found about 3-5 times higher than in normal liver samples.
Biometal imaging via LA-ICP-MS is a sensitive innovative diagnostic tool that will impact clinical practice in identification and evaluation of hepatic metal disorders and to detect subtle metal variations during ongoing hepatic fibrogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3591358  PMID: 23505552
Translational Psychiatry  2013;3(2):e229-.
The ability to perform mathematical tasks is required in everyday life. Although heritability estimates suggest a genetic contribution, no previous study has conclusively identified a genetic risk variant for mathematical performance. Research has shown that the prevalence of mathematical disabilities is increased in children with dyslexia. We therefore correlated genome-wide data of 200 German children with spelling disability, with available quantitative data on mathematic ability. Replication of the top findings in additional dyslexia samples revealed that rs133885 was a genome-wide significant marker for mathematical abilities (Pcomb=7.71 × 10−10, n=699), with an effect size of 4.87%. This association was also found in a sample from the general population (P=0.048, n=1080), albeit with a lower effect size. The identified variant encodes an amino-acid substitution in MYO18B, a protein with as yet unknown functions in the brain. As areas of the parietal cortex, in particular the intraparietal sulcus (IPS), are involved in numerical processing in humans, we investigated whether rs133885 was associated with IPS morphology using structural magnetic resonance imaging data from 79 neuropsychiatrically healthy adults. Carriers of the MYO18B risk-genotype displayed a significantly lower depth of the right IPS. This validates the identified association between rs133885 and mathematical disability at the level of a specific intermediate phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3591001  PMID: 23423138
dyscalculia; dyslexia; genomic imaging; mathematics; quantitative trait; sulcal morphology
Neuropsychologia  2012;50(12):2880-2886.
Accumulating evidence suggests that subjective cognitive complaints (SCC) may indicate subtle cognitive decline characteristic of individuals with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In this study, we sought to build upon previous studies by associating SCC and amyloid-β deposition using Positron Emission Tomography with Pittsburg Compound B (PiB-PET) in cognitively normal older individuals. One-hundred thirty one subjects (mean age 73.5 ± 6) were administered three subjective cognitive questionnaires and a brief neuropsychological battery. A relationship between a subjective memory complaints composite score and cortical PiB binding was found to be significant, even after controlling for depressive symptoms. By contrast, there were no significant relationships between objective cognitive measures of memory and executive functions and cortical PiB binding. Our study suggests that SCC may be an early indicator of AD pathology detectable prior to significant objective impairment.
PMCID: PMC3473106  PMID: 22940426
preclinical Alzheimer’s disease; early detection; amyloid imaging; subjective cognitive complaints
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46420.
Replant disease often occurs when certain crops are “replanted” in a soil that had previously supported the same or similar plant species. This disease typically leads to reductions in plant growth, crop yields, and production duration, and its etiology remains ill-defined. The objective of this study was to identify microorganisms associated with peach replant disease symptoms at a field location in California, USA. Soil samples were subjected to treatments to create various levels of replant disease symptoms. Clonal peach seedlings were grown in the treated soils in greenhouse trials. After 6 weeks, plant growth parameters were measured, and both culture and culture-independent analyses were performed to identify root-associated bacteria, fungi and stramenopiles.
A total of 295,785 bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTU) were identified by an Illumina-based, high throughput sequence analysis of rRNA genes. Among the 60 most abundant OTUs, 27 showed significant (P<0.05) negative correlation with peach shoot weights while 10 were positively correlated. Most of these OTUs belonged to the bacterial phylum Proteobacteria (96%), including the classes Gammaproteobacteria (44.4%), Betaproteobacteria (33.3%) and Alphaproteobacteria (22.2%), and the orders Pseudomonadales, Burkholderiales, Chromatiales, Rhodocyclales, and Sphingomonadales. The most abundant fungi were Trichoderma asperellum, Trichoderma virens, Fusarium oxysporum, Ceratocystis fimbriata and Fusarium solani. The most abundant stramenopiles were Pythium vexans, Pythium violae and an unidentified Aplanochytrium species. Validation experiments using sequence-selective quantitative PCR analyses identified negative and positive associations between P. vexans and Trichoderma spp. and peach shoot weights, respectively.
This study identified numerous microorganisms associated with peach replant symptoms, some of which have been previously identified while others represent new candidates. Subsequent Koch's postulates investigations will assess their possible roles in this replant disease.
PMCID: PMC3465339  PMID: 23071565
Journal of Nematology  2012;44(3):237-244.
A series of experiments were performed to examine the population dynamics of the sugarbeet cyst nematode, Heterodera schachtii, and the nematophagus fungus Dactylella oviparasitica. After two nematode generations, the population densities of H. schachtii were measured in relation to various initial infestation densities of both D. oviparasitica and H. schachtii. In general, higher initial population densities of D. oviparasitica were associated with lower final population densities of H. schachtii. Regression models showed that the initial densities of D. oviparasitica were only significant when predicting the final densities of H. schachtii J2 and eggs as well as fungal egg parasitism, while the initial densities of J2 were significant for all final H. schachtii population density measurements. We also showed that the densities of H. schachtii-associated D. oviparasitica fluctuate greatly, with rRNA gene numbers going from zero in most field-soil-collected cysts to an average of 4.24 x 108 in mature females isolated directly from root surfaces. Finally, phylogenetic analysis of rRNA genes suggested that D. oviparasitica belongs to a clade of nematophagous fungi that includes Arkansas Fungus strain L (ARF-L) and that these fungi are widely distributed. We anticipate that these findings will provide foundational data facilitating the development of more effective decision models for sugar beet planting.
PMCID: PMC3547341  PMID: 23481664
Dactylella oviparasitica; Heterodera schachtii; nematophagous; sugarbeet cyst nematode; suppressive soil; Arkansas Fungus (ARF)
Instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) impairment in Alzheimer's disease has been associated with global amyloid deposition in postmortem studies. We sought to determine whether IADL impairment is associated with increased cortical Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) retention.
Fifty-five subjects (19 normal older controls, NC, and 36 with mild cognitive impairment, MCI) underwent clinical assessments and dynamic PiB positron emission tomography imaging.
A linear multiple regression model showed that greater IADL impairment was associated with greater global PiB retention in all subjects (R2 = 0.40; unstandardized partial regression coefficient, β = 5.8; p = 0.0002) and in MCI subjects only (R2 = 0.28; β = 6.1; p = 0.003), but not in NC subjects only.
These results suggest that daily functional impairment is related to greater amyloid burden in MCI.
PMCID: PMC3150869  PMID: 21778725
Alzheimer's disease; Amyloid; Instrumental activities of daily living; Mild cognitive impairment; Pittsburgh compound B; Positron emission tomography
Neuropsychologia  2011;49(9):2776-2783.
Cerebral amyloid beta (Aβ) deposition occurs in a substantial fraction of cognitively normal (CN) older individuals. However, it has been difficult to reliably detect evidence of amyloid-related cognitive alterations in CN using standard neuropsychological measures. We sought to determine whether a highly demanding face-name associative memory exam (FNAME) could detect evidence of Aβ-related memory impairment in CN. We studied 45 CN subjects (mean age = 71.7 ± 8.8) with Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) scores = 0 and MMSE ≥ 28, using Positron Emission Tomography with Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB PET). Memory factor scores were derived from a principal components analysis for FNAME name retrieval (FN-N), FNAME occupation retrieval (FN-O) and the 6-Trial Selective Reminding Test (SRT). Using multiple linear and logistic regression analyses, we related the memory factor scores to PiB distribution volume ratios (DVR, cerebellar reference) as either a continuous or a dichotomous variable in frontal cortex and a posterior cortical region representing the precuneus, posterior cingulate and lateral parietal cortices (PPCLP), co-varying for age and AMNART IQ (a proxy of cognitive reserve (CR)). A significant inverse relationship for FN-N was found with Aβ deposition in frontal (R2 = .29, β = −2.2, p = 0.02) and PPCLP cortices (R2 = .26, β = −2.4, p = 0.05). In contrast, neither FN-O nor the SRT were significantly related to Aβ deposition. Performance on a demanding test of face-name associative memory was related to Aβ burden in brain regions associated with memory systems. Associative memory for faces and names, a common complaint among older adults, may be a sensitive marker of early Aβ-related impairment.
PMCID: PMC3137730  PMID: 21689670
Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease; Early Detection; Normal Aging; Amyloid Imaging
Translational Psychiatry  2012;2(7):e136-.
Previous studies have shown that individuals with schizophrenia and dyslexia display common neurocognitive abnormalities. The aim of the present study was to determine whether known schizophrenia-risk genes contribute to dyslexia risk or to disease-relevant cognitive functions. For this purpose, we genotyped the schizophrenia-associated risk variants within zinc-finger protein 804A (ZNF804A), transcription-factor 4 and neurogranin in a large dyslexia case–control sample. We tested all variants for association with dyslexia (927 cases, 1096 controls), and with eight language-relevant cognitive processes (1552 individuals). We observed six significant associations between language-relevant traits and the ZNF804A-variant rs1344706. Interestingly, the ZNF804A schizophrenia risk variant was associated with a better cognitive performance in our data set. This finding might be consistent with a previously reported ZNF804A association in schizophrenia, in which patients carrying the schizophrenia-risk allele at rs1344706 showed a better performance in two memory tests. In conclusion, the present study provides evidence that ZNF804A might have a role in cognitive traits of relevance to reading and spelling, and underlines the phenotypic complexity that might be associated with ZNF804A.
PMCID: PMC3410625  PMID: 22781169
cognitive processes; dyslexia; genetic association; reading and spelling; schizophrenia; ZNF804A
Neurology  2005;64(9):1548-1552.
The authors evaluated 3,375 participants without dementia at the time of MRI in 1991 to 1994 over 5.7 years for incident dementia and type of dementia.
Incidence of and risk factors for vascular dementia (VaD) were measured using both pre-MRI and modified State of California Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centers (ADDTC) post-MRI review and further classified Alzheimer disease (AD) by the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke and the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association (NINCDSADRDA) criteria.
Approximately 44% (213) of 480 incident dementia cases were classified as possible or probable VaD by ADDTC. The incidence of VaD increased with age and was greater in blacks than whites. Risk factors for VaD included age, Modified Mini-Mental State Examination, high white matter grade, number of MRI infarcts, ventricular size, and history of stroke.
Vascular disease in the brain is prevalent among incident dementia cases. There is a substantial overlap between cases classified as Alzheimer disease by Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke and the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association and vascular dementia (VaD) by modified State of California Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centers criteria. The substantial contribution of vascular disease would be missed without inclusion of MRI. Treatment of risk factors for VaD could have an important impact on incidence of dementia.
PMCID: PMC3378359  PMID: 15883315

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