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1.  Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy to Probe State- and Trait-Like Conditions in Chronic Tinnitus: A Proof-of-Principle Study 
Neural Plasticity  2014;2014:894203.
Objective. Several neuroscience tools showed the involvement of auditory cortex in chronic tinnitus. In this proof-of-principle study we probed the capability of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) for the measurement of brain oxygenation in auditory cortex in dependence from chronic tinnitus and from intervention with transcranial magnetic stimulation. Methods. Twenty-three patients received continuous theta burst stimulation over the left primary auditory cortex in a randomized sham-controlled neuronavigated trial (verum = 12; placebo = 11). Before and after treatment, sound-evoked brain oxygenation in temporal areas was measured with fNIRS. Brain oxygenation was measured once in healthy controls (n = 12). Results. Sound-evoked activity in right temporal areas was increased in the patients in contrast to healthy controls. Left-sided temporal activity under the stimulated area changed over the course of the trial; high baseline oxygenation was reduced and vice versa. Conclusions. By demonstrating that rTMS interacts with auditory evoked brain activity, our results confirm earlier electrophysiological findings and indicate the sensitivity of fNIRS for detecting rTMS induced changes in brain activity. Moreover, our findings of trait- and state-related oxygenation changes indicate the potential of fNIRS for the investigation of tinnitus pathophysiology and treatment response.
PMCID: PMC4248328  PMID: 25478237
3.  Redox Modulation of HMGB1-Related Signaling 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2014;20(7):1075-1085.
Significance: In the cells' nuclei, high-mobility group box protein 1 (HMGB1) is a nonhistone chromatin-binding protein involved in the regulation of transcription. Extracellularly, HMGB1 acts as a danger molecule with properties of a proinflammatory cytokine. It can be actively secreted from myeloid cells or passively leak from any type of injured, necrotic cell. Increased serum levels of active HMGB1 are often found in pathogenic inflammatory conditions and correlate with worse prognoses in cancer, sepsis, and autoimmunity. By damaging cells, superoxide and peroxynitrite promote leakage of HMGB1. Recent Advances: The activity of HMGB1 strongly depends on its redox state: Inflammatory-active HMGB1 requires an intramolecular disulfide bond (Cys23 and Cys45) and a reduced Cys106. Oxidation of the latter blocks its stimulatory activity and promotes immune tolerance. Critical Issues: Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species create an oxidative environment and can be detoxified by superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and peroxidases. Modifications of the oxidative environment influence HMGB1 activity. Future Directions: In this review, we hypothesize that manipulations of an oxidative environment by SOD mimics or by hydrogen sulfide are prone to decrease tissue damage. Both the concomitant decreased HMGB1 release and its redox chemical modifications ameliorate inflammation and tissue damage. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 20, 1075–1085.
PMCID: PMC3928832  PMID: 23373897
4.  Medial prefrontal cortex stimulation modulates the processing of conditioned fear 
The extinction of conditioned fear depends on an efficient interplay between the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). In rats, high-frequency electrical mPFC stimulation has been shown to improve extinction by means of a reduction of amygdala activity. However, so far it is unclear whether stimulation of homologues regions in humans might have similar beneficial effects. Healthy volunteers received one session of either active or sham repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) covering the mPFC while undergoing a 2-day fear conditioning and extinction paradigm. Repetitive TMS was applied offline after fear acquisition in which one of two faces (CS+ but not CS−) was associated with an aversive scream (UCS). Immediate extinction learning (day 1) and extinction recall (day 2) were conducted without UCS delivery. Conditioned responses (CR) were assessed in a multimodal approach using fear-potentiated startle (FPS), skin conductance responses (SCR), functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), and self-report scales. Consistent with the hypothesis of a modulated processing of conditioned fear after high-frequency rTMS, the active group showed a reduced CS+/CS− discrimination during extinction learning as evident in FPS as well as in SCR and arousal ratings. FPS responses to CS+ further showed a linear decrement throughout both extinction sessions. This study describes the first experimental approach of influencing conditioned fear by using rTMS and can thus be a basis for future studies investigating a complementation of mPFC stimulation to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
PMCID: PMC3927128  PMID: 24600362
fear conditioning; memory consolidation and extinction; learning; transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS); medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC)
5.  Tumor Immunotherapy: Lessons from Autoimmunity 
PMCID: PMC4026709  PMID: 24860574
immunotherapy; tumor vaccination; cell death; tumor microenvironment; autoimmunity; danger model
6.  The Progression of Cell Death Affects the Rejection of Allogeneic Tumors in Immune-Competent Mice – Implications for Cancer Therapy 
Large amounts of dead and dying cells are produced during cancer therapy and allograft rejection. Depending on the death pathway and stimuli involved, dying cells exhibit diverse features, resulting in defined physiological consequences for the host. It is not fully understood how dying and dead cells modulate the immune response of the host. To address this problem, different death stimuli were studied in B16F10 melanoma cells by regulated inducible transgene expression of the pro-apoptotic active forms of caspase-3 (revCasp-3), Bid (tBid), and the Mycobacterium tuberculosis-necrosis inducing toxin (CpnTCTD). The immune outcome elicited for each death stimulus was assessed by evaluating the allograft rejection of melanoma tumors implanted subcutaneously in BALB/c mice immunized with dying cells. Expression of all proteins efficiently killed cells in vitro (>90%) and displayed distinctive morphological and physiological features as assessed by multiparametric flow cytometry analysis. BALB/c mice immunized with allogeneic dying melanoma cells expressing revCasp-3 or CpnTCTD showed strong rejection of the allogeneic challenge. In contrast, mice immunized with cells dying either after expression of tBid or irradiation with UVB did not, suggesting an immunologically silent cell death. Surprisingly, immunogenic cell death induced by expression of revCasp-3 or CpnTCTD correlated with elevated intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels at the time point of immunization. Conversely, early mitochondrial dysfunction induced by tBid expression or UVB irradiation accounted for the absence of intracellular ROS accumulation at the time point of immunization. Although ROS inhibition in vitro was not sufficient to abrogate the immunogenicity in our allo-immunization model, we suggest that the point of ROS generation and its intracellular accumulation may be an important factor for its role as damage associated molecular pattern in the development of allogeneic responses.
PMCID: PMC4227513  PMID: 25426116
immunogenicity; apoptosis; cancer; ROS; caspase-3; tBid; necrosis; DAMPs
7.  The impact of task relevance and degree of distraction on stimulus processing 
BMC Neuroscience  2013;14:107.
The impact of task relevance on event-related potential amplitudes of early visual processing was previously demonstrated. Study designs, however, differ greatly, not allowing simultaneous investigation of how both degree of distraction and task relevance influence processing variations. In our study, we combined different features of previous tasks. We used a modified 1-back task in which task relevant and task irrelevant stimuli were alternately presented. The task irrelevant stimuli could be from the same or from a different category as the task relevant stimuli, thereby producing high and low distracting task irrelevant stimuli. In addition, the paradigm comprised a passive viewing condition. Thus, our paradigm enabled us to compare the processing of task relevant stimuli, task irrelevant stimuli with differing degrees of distraction, and passively viewed stimuli. EEG data from twenty participants was collected and mean P100 and N170 amplitudes were analyzed. Furthermore, a potential connection of stimulus processing and symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was investigated.
Our results show a modulation of peak N170 amplitudes by task relevance. N170 amplitudes to task relevant stimuli were significantly higher than to high distracting task irrelevant or passively viewed stimuli. In addition, amplitudes to low distracting task irrelevant stimuli were significantly higher than to high distracting stimuli. N170 amplitudes to passively viewed stimuli were not significantly different from either kind of task irrelevant stimuli. Participants with more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity showed decreased N170 amplitudes across all task conditions. On a behavioral level, lower N170 enhancement efficiency was significantly correlated with false alarm responses.
Our results point to a processing enhancement of task relevant stimuli. Unlike P100 amplitudes, N170 amplitudes were strongly influenced by enhancement and enhancement efficiency seemed to have direct behavioral consequences. These findings have potential implications for models of clinical disorders affecting selective attention, especially ADHD.
PMCID: PMC3851833  PMID: 24079268
Selective attention; Working memory; Cognitive control; P100; N170; ADHD
8.  The Effect of Emotional Content on Brain Activation and the Late Positive Potential in a Word n-back Task 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75598.
There is mounting evidence for the influence of emotional content on working memory performance. This is particularly important in light of the emotion processing that needs to take place when emotional content interferes with executive functions. In this study, we used emotional words of different valence but with similar arousal levels in an n-back task.
We examined the effects on activation in the prefrontal cortex by means of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and on the late positive potential (LPP). FNIRS and LPP data were examined in 30 healthy subjects.
Behavioral results show an influence of valence on the error rate depending on the difficulty of the task: more errors were made when the valence was negative and the task difficult. Brain activation was dependent both on the difficulty of the task and on the valence: negative valence of a word diminished the increase in activation, whereas positive valence did not influence the increase in activation, while difficulty levels increased. The LPP also differentiated between the different valences, and in addition was influenced by the task difficulty, the more difficult the task, the less differentiation could be observed.
Summarized, this study shows the influence of valence on a verbal working memory task. When a word contained a negative valence, the emotional content seemed to take precedence in contrast to words containing a positive valence. Working memory and emotion processing sites seemed to overlap and compete for resources even when words are carriers of the emotional content.
PMCID: PMC3784459  PMID: 24086584
9.  Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Consolidation of Fear Memory 
It has been shown that applying transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) influences declarative memory processes. This study investigates the efficacy of tDCS on emotional memory consolidation, especially experimental fear conditioning. We applied an auditory fear-conditioning paradigm, in which two differently colored squares (blue and yellow) were presented as conditioned stimuli (CS) and an auditory stimulus as unconditioned stimulus (UCS). Sixty-nine participants were randomly assigned into three groups: anodal, cathodal, and sham stimulation. The participants of the two active groups (i.e., anodal and cathodal) received tDCS over the left DLPFC for 12 min after fear conditioning. The effect of fear conditioning and consolidation (24 h later) was measured by assessing the skin conductance response (SCR) to the CS. The results provide evidence that cathodal stimulation of the left DLPFC leads to an inhibitory effect on fear memory consolidation compared to anodal and sham stimulation, as indicated by decreased SCRs to CS+ presentation during extinction training at day 2. In conclusion, current work suggests that cathodal stimulation interferes with processes of fear memory consolidation.
PMCID: PMC3781351  PMID: 24069003
transcranial direct current stimulation; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; fear conditioning; fear memory consolidation
10.  Galectin-3 binds Neisseria meningitidis and increases interaction with phagocytic cells 
Cellular microbiology  2012;14(11):1657-1675.
Galectin-3 is expressed and secreted by immune cells and has been implicated in multiple aspects of the inflammatory response. It is a glycan binding protein which can exert its functions within cells or exogenously by binding cell surface ligands, acting as a molecular bridge or activating signaling pathways. In addition, this lectin has been shown to bind to microorganisms. In this study we investigated the interaction between galectin-3 and Neisseria meningitidis, an important extracellular human pathogen, which is a leading cause of septicaemia and meningitis. Immunohistochemical analysis indicated that galectin-3 is expressed during meningococcal disease and co-localises with bacterial colonies in infected tissues from patients. We show that galectin-3 binds to N. meningitidis and we demonstrate that this interaction requires full length, intact lipopolysaccharide molecules. We found that neither exogenous nor endogenous galectin-3 contributes to phagocytosis of N. meningitidis; instead exogenous galectin-3 increases adhesion to monocytes and macrophages but not epithelial cells. Finally we used galectin-3 deficient (Gal-3−/−) mice to evaluate the contribution of galectin-3 to meningococcal bacteraemia. We found that Gal3−/−mice manifested significantly lower levels of bacteriaemia compared with wild-type mice after challenge with live bacteria, indicating that galectin-3 confers an advantage to N.meningitidis during systemic infection.
PMCID: PMC3749814  PMID: 22827322
11.  Magnetic Drug Targeting Reduces the Chemotherapeutic Burden on Circulating Leukocytes 
Magnetic drug targeting (MDT) improves the integrity of healthy tissues and cells during treatment with cytotoxic drugs. An anticancer drug is bound to superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION), injected into the vascular supply of the tumor and directed into the tumor by means of an external magnetic field. In this study, we investigated the impact of SPION, mitoxantrone (MTO) and SPIONMTO on cell viability in vitro and the nonspecific uptake of MTO into circulating leukocytes in vivo. MDT was compared with conventional chemotherapy. MTO uptake and the impact on cell viability were assessed by flow cytometry in a Jurkat cell culture. In order to analyze MTO loading of circulating leukocytes in vivo, we treated tumor-bearing rabbits with MDT and conventional chemotherapy. In vitro experiments showed a dose-dependent MTO uptake and reduction in the viability and proliferation of Jurkat cells. MTO and SPIONMTO showed similar cytotoxic activity. Non-loaded SPION did not have any effect on cell viability in the concentrations tested. Compared with systemic administration in vivo, MDT employing SPIONMTO significantly decreased the chemotherapeutic load in circulating leukocytes. We demonstrated that MDT spares the immune system in comparison with conventional chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3645689  PMID: 23549268
chemotherapy; iron oxide nanoparticles; mitoxantrone; magnetic drug targeting; immune system; leukocytes
12.  ADORA2A Gene Variation, Caffeine, and Emotional Processing: A Multi-level Interaction on Startle Reflex 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2011;37(3):759-769.
There is converging evidence for genetic, biochemical, and neuropsychological factors to increase the risk for anxiety and anxiety disorders. The pathogenesis of anxiety disorders is assumed to be influenced by a complex interaction of these individual risk factors on several levels, affecting intermediate phenotypes of anxiety such as the startle reflex. Thus, in the present double-blind, placebo-controlled study we attempted to paradigmatically investigate a multi-level pathogenetic model of anxiety by testing the effect of 300 mg caffeine citrate as an antagonist at the adenosine A2A receptor vs placebo on the emotion-potentiated (unpleasant, neutral, and pleasant International Affective Picture System pictures) startle reflex in 110 healthy individuals (male=56, female=54) stratified for the adenosine A2A receptor (ADORA2A) 1976T>C polymorphism (rs5751876). In addition to the expected main effect of picture category (highest startle amplitude for unpleasant, lowest for pleasant pictures) groups across all ADORA2A 1976T>C genotype and intervention (caffeine vs placebo) groups, an interaction effect of genotype, intervention, and picture category was discerned: In ADORA2A 1976TT risk genotype carriers, highest startle magnitudes were observed after caffeine administration in response to unpleasant pictures, with this effect arising particularly from the female subgroup. Our data point to a complex, multi-level, and potentially gender-specific pathogenetic model of anxiety, with genetic and biochemical factors interactively increasing the risk of maladaptive emotional processing and thereby possibly also anxiety disorders. The present findings may eventually aid in improving primary and secondary prevention by sharpening the risk profiles of anxiety-prone individuals.
PMCID: PMC3260968  PMID: 22012471
adenosine; caffeine; ADORA2A; panic disorder; emotional processing; startle; mood; anxiety; stress disorders; neurogenetics; neurophysiology; adenosine; caffeine; ADORA2A; panic disorder; emotional processing
13.  Cortical oxygen consumption in mental arithmetic as a function of task difficulty: a near-infrared spectroscopy approach 
The present study investigated changes in cortical oxygenation during mental arithmetic using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Twenty-nine male volunteers were examined using a 52-channel continuous wave system for analyzing activity in prefrontal areas. With the help of a probabilistic mapping method, three regions of interest (ROIs) on each hemisphere were defined: The inferior frontal gyri (IFG), the middle frontal gyri (MFG), and the superior frontal gyri (SFG). Oxygenation as an indicator of functional brain activation was compared over the three ROI and two levels of arithmetic task difficulty (simple and complex additions). In contrast to most previous studies using fMRI or NIRS, in the present study arithmetic tasks were presented verbally in analogue to many daily life situations. With respect to task difficulty, more complex addition tasks led to higher oxygenation in all defined ROI except in the left IFG compared to simple addition tasks. When compared to the channel positions covering different gyri of the temporal lobe, the observed sensitivity to task complexity was found to be restricted to the specified ROIs. As to the comparison of ROIs, the highest oxygenation was found in the IFG, while MFG and SFG showed significantly less activation compared to IFG. The present cognitive-neuroscience approach demonstrated that NIRS is a suitable and highly feasible research tool for investigating and quantifying neural effects of increasing arithmetic task difficulty.
PMCID: PMC3660659  PMID: 23734120
near-infrared spectroscopy; mental arithmetic; task difficulty; oxygen consumption; cortical activation
14.  Affect-Modulated Startle: Interactive Influence of Catechol-O-Methyltransferase Val158Met Genotype and Childhood Trauma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39709.
The etiology of emotion-related disorders such as anxiety or affective disorders is considered to be complex with an interaction of biological and environmental factors. Particular evidence has accumulated for alterations in the dopaminergic and noradrenergic system – partly conferred by catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene variation – for the adenosinergic system as well as for early life trauma to constitute risk factors for those conditions. Applying a multi-level approach, in a sample of 95 healthy adults, we investigated effects of the functional COMT Val158Met polymorphism, caffeine as an adenosine A2A receptor antagonist (300 mg in a placebo-controlled intervention design) and childhood maltreatment (CTQ) as well as their interaction on the affect-modulated startle response as a neurobiologically founded defensive reflex potentially related to fear- and distress-related disorders. COMT val/val genotype significantly increased startle magnitude in response to unpleasant stimuli, while met/met homozygotes showed a blunted startle response to aversive pictures. Furthermore, significant gene-environment interaction of COMT Val158Met genotype with CTQ was discerned with more maltreatment being associated with higher startle potentiation in val/val subjects but not in met carriers. No main effect of or interaction effects with caffeine were observed. Results indicate a main as well as a GxE effect of the COMT Val158Met variant and childhood maltreatment on the affect-modulated startle reflex, supporting a complex pathogenetic model of the affect-modulated startle reflex as a basic neurobiological defensive reflex potentially related to anxiety and affective disorders.
PMCID: PMC3382176  PMID: 22745815
15.  T cells as key players for bone destruction in gouty arthritis? 
The deposition of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals in synovial fluid and tissue leads to gouty arthritis frequently associated with synovial inflammation and bone erosions. The cellular mechanism that links MSU crystals to an increased number of osteoclasts has not yet been fully understood. In a recent issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy Lee and colleagues proposed that bone destruction in chronic gouty arthritis is at least in part dependent on expression by T cells of receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL). The authors showed that pro-resorptive cytokines such as IL-1β, IL-6, and TNFα are expressed within tophi and stromal infiltrates. In vitro stimulation with MSU crystals revealed monocytes as a source for these cytokines, whereas T cells produce RANKL, the major trigger of osteoclastogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3334629  PMID: 22136246
16.  Monosodium urate crystals induce extracellular DNA traps in neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils but not in mononuclear cells 
Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) are fibers of extracellular DNA released from neutrophils due to overwhelming phagocytic stimuli. The function of NETs is to trap and kill microbes to avoid spreading of potential pathogens. NETs are formed after encounter with various gram-positive and -negative bacteria but also in response to mediators causing sterile inflammation like interleukin-8 (IL-8), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and phorbol myristate acetate (PMA). Here we show the formation of NETs (NETting) in response to monosodium urate (MSU) crystals as further model for sterile inflammation. We identified monocytes, neutrophils, and eosinophils as MSU phagocytosing cells. Basophils did not take up the crystals, instead they upregulated their activation marker CD203c after contact with MSU. Nevertheless, MSU crystals induced extracellular trap formation also in basophils, like in eosinophils and neutrophils, which phagocytose the crystals. In contrast, monocytes do not form NETs despite uptake of the MSU crystals. In contrast to the canonical stimuli like bacteria and PMA, MSU-induced NETosis was not abrogated by plasma. Our data show that MSU crystals induce extracellular DNA trap formation in all three granulocytes lineages (NETs, EETs, and BETs) but not in monocytes, and DNA externalization does not necessitate the uptake of the crystals.
PMCID: PMC3432456  PMID: 22969769
neutrophil extracellular traps; NETs; MSU; granulocytes; bacteria; PMA; inflammation
17.  Dying cell clearance and its impact on the outcome of tumor radiotherapy 
Frontiers in Oncology  2012;2:116.
The induction of tumor cell death is one of the major goals of radiotherapy and has been considered to be the central determinant of its therapeutic outcome for a long time. However, accumulating evidence suggests that the success of radiotherapy does not only derive from direct cytotoxic effects on the tumor cells alone, but instead might also depend – at least in part – on innate as well as adaptive immune responses, which can particularly target tumor cells that survive local irradiation. The clearance of dying tumor cells by phagocytic cells of the innate immune system represents a crucial step in this scenario. Dendritic cells and macrophages, which engulf, process and present dying tumor cell material to adaptive immune cells, can trigger, skew, or inhibit adaptive immune responses, respectively. In this review we summarize the current knowledge of different forms of cell death induced by ionizing radiation, the multi-step process of dying cell clearance, and its immunological consequences with special regard toward the potential exploitation of these mechanisms for the improvement of tumor radiotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3438527  PMID: 22973558
Radiotherapy; apoptosis; necrosis; necroptosis; senescence; mitotic catastrophe; dying cell clearance
18.  Bonding the foe – NETting neutrophils immobilize the pro-inflammatory monosodium urate crystals 
In the presence of sodium, uric acid from purine metabolism precipitates as monosodium urate (MSU) needles and forms renal calculi or causes gouty arthritis in kidneys and joints, respectively. The latter is characterized by red, hot, and swollen arthritic joints. Here we report the in vitro effect of MSU crystals on blood granulocytes and analyze their contribution to granuloma formation and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) formation (NETosis) in synovial fluid of patients with gouty arthritis in vivo. We observed that MSU crystals induce NETosis in vitro in a reactive oxygen species (ROS)-dependent manner. Indeed, blocking ROS (e.g., the oxidative burst) by various anti-oxidants partially inhibited NETosis induced by MSU crystals. Analyses of synovial fluids and of tissue sections of patients suffering from gout revealed that NETs are also formed in vivo, especially during acute gouty flares and/or granuloma formation. Since prolonged exposure to NETs carries the risk for the development of chronic inflammation we also studied the opsonization of NETs, as a prerequisite for their clearance. The established dead cells’ opsonins C3b, galectin-9, and CRP decorated the residual dead cells’ corpses and opsonized these for disposal. Surprisingly, all three soluble pattern recognizing molecules spared the spread NET structures. We conclude that (i) MSU crystals are strong inducers of ROS-dependent NETosis and (ii) that the prolonged presence of NET-pathogen or NET-crystal aggregates observed in patients with systemic autoimmunity, especially in those with low serum DNase-1 activity, cannot be compensated by CRP, complement, and galectin-mediated phagocytic clearance.
PMCID: PMC3517988  PMID: 23233855
NETosis; NETs; MSU; opsonins; inflammation; ROS; gout
20.  Dopamine Transporter (DAT1) and Dopamine Receptor D4 (DRD4) Genotypes Differentially Impact on Electrophysiological Correlates of Error Processing 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28396.
Recent studies as well as theoretical models of error processing assign fundamental importance to the brain's dopaminergic system. Research about how the electrophysiological correlates of error processing—the error-related negativity (ERN) and the error positivity (Pe)—are influenced by variations of common dopaminergic genes, however, is still relatively scarce. In the present study, we therefore investigated whether polymorphisms in the DAT1 gene and in the DRD4 gene, respectively, lead to interindividual differences in these error processing correlates. One hundred sixty participants completed a version of the Eriksen Flanker Task while a 26-channel EEG was recorded. The task was slightly modified in order to increase error rates. During data analysis, participants were split into two groups depending on their DAT1 and their DRD4 genotypes, respectively. ERN and Pe amplitudes after correct responses and after errors as well as difference amplitudes between errors and correct responses were analyzed. We found a differential effect of DAT1 genotype on the Pe difference amplitude but not on the ERN difference amplitude, while the reverse was true for DRD4 genotype. These findings are in line with predictions from theoretical models of dopaminergic transmission in the brain. They furthermore tie results from clinical investigations of disorders impacting on the dopamine system to genetic variations known to be at-risk genotypes.
PMCID: PMC3230585  PMID: 22162768
23.  Prefrontal Brain Activation During Emotional Processing: A Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy Study (fNIRS) 
The limbic system and especially the amygdala have been identified as key structures in emotion induction and regulation. Recently research has additionally focused on the influence of prefrontal areas on emotion processing in the limbic system and the amygdala. Results from fMRI studies indicate that the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is involved not only in emotion induction but also in emotion regulation. However, studies using fNIRS only report prefrontal brain activation during emotion induction. So far it lacks the attempt to compare emotion induction and emotion regulation with regard to prefrontal activation measured with fNIRS, to exclude the possibility that the reported prefrontal brain activation in fNIRS studies are mainly caused by automatic emotion regulation processes. Therefore this work tried to distinguish emotion induction from regulation via fNIRS of the prefrontal cortex. 20 healthy women viewed neutral pictures as a baseline condition, fearful pictures as induction condition and reappraised fearful pictures as regulation condition in randomized order. As predicted, the view-fearful condition led to higher arousal ratings than the view-neutral condition with the reappraise-fearful condition in between. For the fNIRS results the induction condition showed an activation of the bilateral PFC compared to the baseline condition (viewing neutral). The regulation condition showed an activation only of the left PFC compared to the baseline condition, although the direct comparison between induction and regulation condition revealed no significant difference in brain activation. Therefore our study underscores the results of previous fNIRS studies showing prefrontal brain activation during emotion induction and rejects the hypothesis that this prefrontal brain activation might only be a result of automatic emotion regulation processes.
PMCID: PMC3109593  PMID: 21673974
fNIRS; Emotional processing; emotional regulation.
24.  Exploring the Neural Basis of Real-Life Joint Action: Measuring Brain Activation during Joint Table Setting with Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy 
Many every-day life situations require two or more individuals to execute actions together. Assessing brain activation during naturalistic tasks to uncover relevant processes underlying such real-life joint action situations has remained a methodological challenge. In the present study, we introduce a novel joint action paradigm that enables the assessment of brain activation during real-life joint action tasks using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). We monitored brain activation of participants who coordinated complex actions with a partner sitting opposite them. Participants performed table setting tasks, either alone (solo action) or in cooperation with a partner (joint action), or they observed the partner performing the task (action observation). Comparing joint action and solo action revealed stronger activation (higher [oxy-Hb]-concentration) during joint action in a number of areas. Among these were areas in the inferior parietal lobule (IPL) that additionally showed an overlap of activation during action observation and solo action. Areas with such a close link between action observation and action execution have been associated with action simulation processes. The magnitude of activation in these IPL areas also varied according to joint action type and its respective demand on action simulation. The results validate fNIRS as an imaging technique for exploring the functional correlates of interindividual action coordination in real-life settings and suggest that coordinating actions in real-life situations requires simulating the actions of the partner.
PMCID: PMC3168792  PMID: 21927603
joint action; fNIRS; neuroimaging; social interaction; real-life interaction; simulation
25.  CRP/anti-CRP Antibodies Assembly on the Surfaces of Cell Remnants Switches Their Phagocytic Clearance Toward Inflammation 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by the production of autoantibodies, formation of immune complexes (IC), and activation of complement that ultimately fuel acute and/or chronic inflammation. Accumulation in blood and tissues of post-apoptotic remnants is considered of etiological and pathological importance for patients with SLE. Besides receptors directly recognizing apoptotic cells, soluble opsonins of the innate immune system bind apoptotic material dependent on the stage of apoptosis. We describe the binding to the surface of secondary necrotic cells (SNEC) of the serum opsonin CRP and further opsonins. We show that anti-dsDNA and anti-CRP autoantibodies bind and sensitize SNEC. Autoantibody-sensitized SNEC were cleared by macrophages in vitro and induced a pro-inflammatory cytokine response. In conclusion, anti-CRP, CRP, and SNEC form a ternary pyrogen endowed with strong pro-inflammatory capabilities which is able to maintain and perpetuate chronic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3341995  PMID: 22566859
immune complexes; opsonins; CRP; anti-dsDNA; inflammation; SLE

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