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1.  Delayed Nerve Stimulation Promotes Axon-Protective Neurofilament Phosphorylation, Accelerates Immune Cell Clearance and Enhances Remyelination In Vivo in Focally Demyelinated Nerves 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110174.
Rapid and efficient axon remyelination aids in restoring strong electrochemical communication with end organs and in preventing axonal degeneration often observed in demyelinating neuropathies. The signals from axons that can trigger more effective remyelination in vivo are still being elucidated. Here we report the remarkable effect of delayed brief electrical nerve stimulation (ES; 1 hour @ 20 Hz 5 days post-demyelination) on ensuing reparative events in a focally demyelinated adult rat peripheral nerve. ES impacted many parameters underlying successful remyelination. It effected increased neurofilament expression and phosphorylation, both implicated in axon protection. ES increased expression of myelin basic protein (MBP) and promoted node of Ranvier re-organization, both of which coincided with the early reappearance of remyelinated axons, effects not observed at the same time points in non-stimulated demyelinated nerves. The improved ES-associated remyelination was accompanied by enhanced clearance of ED-1 positive macrophages and attenuation of glial fibrillary acidic protein expression in accompanying Schwann cells, suggesting a more rapid clearance of myelin debris and return of Schwann cells to a nonreactive myelinating state. These benefits of ES correlated with increased levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the acute demyelination zone, a key molecule in the initiation of the myelination program. In conclusion, the tremendous impact of delayed brief nerve stimulation on enhancement of the innate capacity of a focally demyelinated nerve to successfully remyelinate identifies manipulation of this axis as a novel therapeutic target for demyelinating pathologies.
PMCID: PMC4195712  PMID: 25310564
2.  Injury-Associated PACAP Expression in Rat Sensory and Motor Neurons Is Induced by Endogenous BDNF 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100730.
Peripheral nerve injury results in dramatic upregulation in pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP) expression in adult rat dorsal root ganglia and spinal motor neurons mirroring that described for the neurotrophin brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Thus, we posited that injury-associated alterations in BDNF expression regulate the changes in PACAP expression observed in the injured neurons. The role of endogenous BDNF in induction and/or maintenance of PACAP mRNA expression in injured adult rat motor and sensory neurons was examined by intrathecally infusing or intraperitoneally injecting BDNF-specific antibodies or control IgGs immediately at the time of L4-L6 spinal nerve injury, or in a delayed fashion one week later for 3 days followed by analysis of impact on PACAP expression. PACAP mRNA in injured lumbar sensory and motor neurons was detected using in situ hybridization, allowing quantification of relative changes between experimental groups, with ATF-3 immunofluorescence serving to identify the injured subpopulation of motor neurons. Both the incidence and level of PACAP mRNA expression were dramatically reduced in injured sensory and motor neurons in response to immediate intrathecal anti-BDNF treatment. In contrast, neither intraperitoneal injections nor delayed intrathecal infusions of anti-BDNF had any discernible impact on PACAP expression. This impact on PACAP expression in response to BDNF immunoneutralization in DRG was confirmed using qRT-PCR or by using BDNF selective siRNAs to reduce neuronal BDNF expression. Collectively, our findings support that endogenous injury-associated BDNF expression is critically involved in induction, but not maintenance, of injury-associated PACAP expression in sensory and motor neurons.
PMCID: PMC4072603  PMID: 24968020
3.  Zhangfei/CREB-ZF – A Potential Regulator of the Unfolded Protein Response 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77256.
Cells respond to perturbations in the microenvironment of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and to the overloading of its capacity to process secretory and membrane-associate proteins, by activating the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR). Genes that mediate the UPR are regulated by three basic leucine-zipper (bLZip) motif-containing transcription factors – Xbp1s, ATF4 and ATF6. A failure of the UPR to achieve homeostasis and its continued stimulation leads to apoptosis. Mechanisms must therefore exist to turn off the UPR if it successfully restores normalcy. The bLZip protein Zhangfei/CREBZF/SMILE is known to suppress the ability of several, seemingly structurally unrelated, transcription factors. These targets include Luman/CREB3 and CREBH, ER-resident bLZip proteins known to activate the UPR in some cell types. Here we show that Zhangfei had a suppressive effect on most UPR genes activated by the calcium ionophore thapsigargin. This effect was at least partially due to the interaction of Zhangfei with Xbp1s. The leucine zipper of Zhangfei was required for this interaction, which led to the subsequent proteasomal degradation of Xbp1s. Zhangfei suppressed the ability of Xbp1s to activate transcription from a promoter containing unfolded protein response elements and significantly reduced the ability to Xbp1s to activate the UPR as measured by RNA and protein levels of UPR-related genes. Finally, specific suppression of endogenous Zhangfei in thapsigargin-treated primary rat sensory neurons with siRNA directed to Zhangfei transcripts, led to a significant increase in transcripts and proteins of UPR genes, suggesting a potential role for Zhangfei in modulating the UPR.
PMCID: PMC3796484  PMID: 24155933
4.  Neurotrophin-3 significantly reduces sodium channel expression linked to neuropathic pain states 
Experimental neurology  2008;213(2):303-314.
Neuropathic pain resulting from chronic constriction injury (CCI) is critically linked to sensitization of peripheral nociceptors. Voltage gated sodium channels are major contributors to this state and their expression can be upregulated by nerve growth factor (NGF). We have previously demonstrated that neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) acts antagonistically to NGF in modulation of aspects of CCI-induced changes in trkA-associated nociceptor phenotype and thermal hyperalgesia. Thus, we hypothesized that exposure of neurons to increased levels of NT-3 would reduce expression of Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 in DRG neurons subject to CCI. In adult male rats, Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 mRNAs are expressed at high levels in predominantly small to medium size neurons. One week following CCI, there is reduced incidence of neurons expressing detectable Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 mRNA, but without a significant decline in mean level of neuronal expression, and similar findings observed immunohistochemically. There is also increased accumulation/redistribution of channel protein in the nerve most apparent proximal to the first constriction site. Intrathecal infusion of NT-3 significantly attenuates neuronal expression of Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 mRNA contralateral and most notably, ipsilateral to CCI, with a similar impact on relative protein expression at the level of the neuron and constricted nerve. We also observe reduced expression of the common neurotrophin receptor p75 in response to CCI that is not reversed by NT-3 in small to medium sized neurons and may confer an enhanced ability of NT-3 to signal via trkA, as has been previously shown in other cell types. These findings are consistent with an analgesic role for NT-3.
PMCID: PMC2751854  PMID: 18601922
Nav1.8; Nav1.9; DRG; sciatic nerve; CCI; nociceptor; nerve growth factor

Results 1-4 (4)