Energy metabolism is emerging as a driving force for cellular events underlying cognitive processing. The hypothalamus integrates metabolic signals with the function of centers related to cognitive processing such as the hippocampus.
Hypothalamic activity can influence molecular systems important for processing synaptic plasticity underlying cognition in the hippocampus. The neurotrophin BDNF may act as a mediator for the effects of energy metabolism on synaptic plasticity and cognitive function.
The hypothalamus of rats confined to a respiratory chamber was electrically stimulated, and energy expenditure (EE) was assessed via indirect calorimetry. MRNA levels for BDNF and molecules related to synaptic plasticity and control of cellular energy metabolism were assessed in the hippocampus.
Electrical stimulation of the rat hypothalamus elevates mRNA levels of hippocampal BDNF. BDNF mRNA levels increased according to the metabolic rate of the animals, and in proportion to the mRNA of molecules involved in control of cellular energy metabolism such as ubiquitous mitochondrial creatine kinase (uMtCK).
Results show a potential mechanism by which cellular energy metabolism impacts the substrates of cognitive processing, and may provide molecular basis for therapeutic treatments based on stimulation of deep brain structures.
Energy metabolism; cognition; diabetes; hippocampus; trophic factors
JAK2 activity is tightly controlled through a self-inhibitory effect via its JAK homology domain 2 (JH2), which restricts the strength and duration of JAK2/STAT3 signaling under physiological conditions. Although multiple mutations within JAK2, which abrogate the function of JH2 and sustain JAK2 activation, are widely observed in hematological malignancies, comparable mutations have not been detected in solid tumors. How solid tumor cells override the autoinhibitory effect of the JH2 domain to maintain constitutive activation of JAK2/STAT3 signaling remains puzzling. Herein, we demonstrate that AGK directly interacted with the JH2 domain to relieve inhibition of JAK2 and activate JAK2/STAT3 signaling. Overexpression of AGK sustained constitutive JAK2/STAT3 activation, consequently promoting the cancer stem cell population and augmenting the tumorigenicity of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) cells both in vivo and in vitro. Furthermore, AGK levels significantly correlated with increased STAT3 phosphorylation, poorer disease-free survival, and shorter overall survival in primary ESCC. More importantly, AGK expression was significantly correlated with JAK2/STAT3 hyperactivation in ESCC, as well as in lung and breast cancer. These findings uncover a mechanism for constitutive activation of JAK2/STAT3 signaling in solid tumors and may represent a prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target.
Although traumatic brain injury (TBI) is often associated with gait deficits, the effects of TBI on spinal cord centers are poorly understood. We seek to determine the influence of TBI on the spinal cord and the potential of dietary omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids to counteract these effects. Male rodents exposed to diets containing adequate or deficient levels of n-3 since gestation received a moderate fluid percussion injury when becoming 14 weeks old. TBI reduced levels of molecular systems important for synaptic plasticity (BDNF, TrkB, and CREB) and plasma membrane homeostasis (4-HNE, iPLA2, syntaxin-3) in the lumbar spinal cord. These effects of TBI were more dramatic in the animals exposed to the n-3 deficient diet. Results emphasize the comprehensive action of TBI across the neuroaxis, and the critical role of dietary n-3 as a means to build resistance against the effects of TBI.
The pathology of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is characterized by the decreased capacity of neurons to metabolize energy and sustain synaptic function, likely resulting in cognitive and emotional disorders. Based on the broad nature of the pathology, we have assessed the potential of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to counteract the effects of concussive injury on important aspects of neuronal function and cognition. Fluid percussion injury (FPI) or sham injury was performed, and rats were then maintained on a diet high in DHA (1.2% DHA) for 12 days. We found that DHA supplementation, which elevates brain DHA content, normalized levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), synapsin I (Syn-1), cAMP-responsive element-binding protein (CREB), and calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CaMKII), and improved learning ability in FPI rats. It is known that BDNF facilitates synaptic transmission and learning ability by modulating Syn-I, CREB, and CaMKII signaling. The DHA diet also counteracted the FPI-reduced manganese superoxide dismutase (SOD) and Sir2 (a NAD+-dependent deacetylase). Given the involvement of SOD and Sir2 in promoting metabolic homeostasis, DHA may help the injured brain by providing resistance to oxidative stress. Furthermore, DHA normalized levels of calcium-independent phospholipase A2 (iPLA2) and syntaxin-3, which may help preserve membrane homeostasis and function after FPI. The overall results emphasize the potential of dietary DHA to counteract broad and fundamental aspects of TBI pathology that may translate into preserved cognitive capacity.
brain-derived neurotrophic factor; plasticity; Sir2; superoxide dismutase; traumatic brain injury
Exercise has been shown to impact brain plasticity and function by involving the action of BDNF; however, mechanisms involved are poorly understood. Two types of BDNF coexist in the brain, the precursor (proBDNF) and its mature product (mBDNF), which preferentially bind specific receptors and exert distinct functions. It is crucial to understand how exercise affects crucial steps in the BDNF processing and signaling to evaluate therapeutic applications. We found that 7 days of voluntary exercise increased both pro and mature BDNF in the rat hippocampus. Exercise also increased the activity of tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA), a serine proteinase shown to facilitate proBDNF cleavage into mBDNF. The blockade of tPA activity reduced the exercise effects on proBDNF and mBDNF. The tPA blocking also inhibited the activation of TrkB receptor, and the TrkB signaling downstream effectors phospho-ERK, phospho-Akt, and phospho-CaMKII. The blocking of tPA also counteracted the effects of exercise on the plasticity markers phospho-synapsin I and GAP-43. These results indicate that the effects of exercise on hippocampal plasticity are dependent on BDNF processing and subsequent TrkB signaling, with important implications for neuronal function.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor; hippocampus; rat; signaling; synaptic plasticity
The strength and duration of NF-κB signaling are tightly controlled by multiple negative feedback mechanisms. However, in cancer cells, these feedback loops are overridden through unclear mechanisms to sustain oncogenic activation of NF-κB signaling. Previously, we demonstrated that overexpression of miR-30e* directly represses IκBα expression and leads to hyperactivation of NF-κB. Here, we report that miR-182 was overexpressed in a different set of gliomas with relatively lower miR-30e* expression and that miR-182 directly suppressed cylindromatosis (CYLD), an NF-κB negative regulator. This suppression of CYLD promoted ubiquitin conjugation of NF-κB signaling pathway components and induction of an aggressive phenotype of glioma cells both in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, we found that TGF-β induced miR-182 expression, leading to prolonged NF-κB activation. Importantly, the results of these experiments were consistent with an identified significant correlation between miR-182 levels with TGF-β hyperactivation and activated NF-κB in a cohort of human glioma specimens. These findings uncover a plausible mechanism for sustained NF-κB activation in malignant gliomas and may suggest a new target for clinical intervention in human cancer.
Given that the spinal cord is capable of learning sensorimotor tasks and that dietary interventions can influence learning involving supraspinal centers, we asked whether the presence of omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the curry spice curcumin (Cur) by themselves or in combination with voluntary exercise could affect spinal cord learning in adult spinal mice. Using an instrumental learning paradigm to assess spinal learning we observed that mice fed a diet containing DHA/Cur performed better in the spinal learning paradigm than mice fed a diet deficient in DHA/Cur. The enhanced performance was accompanied by increases in the mRNA levels of molecular markers of learning, i.e., BDNF, CREB, CaMKII, and syntaxin 3. Concurrent exposure to exercise was complementary to the dietary treatment effects on spinal learning. The diet containing DHA/Cur resulted in higher levels of DHA and lower levels of omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA) in the spinal cord than the diet deficient in DHA/Cur. The level of spinal learning was inversely related to the ratio of AA∶DHA. These results emphasize the capacity of select dietary factors and exercise to foster spinal cord learning. Given the non-invasiveness and safety of the modulation of diet and exercise, these interventions should be considered in light of their potential to enhance relearning of sensorimotor tasks during rehabilitative training paradigms after a spinal cord injury.
We have previously demonstrated that exposure of adult rat to a type of enriched environment, known as ‘naturalistic habitat’ (NH), induces extensive functional plasticity in the whiskers’ representations within the primary somatosensory cortex. Here we have investigated the molecular basis for such functional plasticity involved in this model. Based on the role of BDNF on synaptic plasticity and neuronal growth, the focus of this study is on BDNF and its downstream effectors CREB, synapsin I, and GAP-43. In particular, we determined the effects of natural whiskers use during 2, 7 or 28 days exposure to a NH on barrel cortex and hippocampus, as compared to standard cage controls. Naturalistic whiskers use resulted in increased levels of mRNAs and proteins for BDNF and its downstream effectors. Level changes for these markers were already detected after 2 days in the naturalistic habitat and grew larger over longer exposures (7 and 28 days). The cerebral cortex was found to be sensitive to the naturalistic habitat exposure at all time points, and more sensitive than the hippocampus to the trimming of the whiskers. Trimming of the whiskers decreased the level of most of the markers under study suggesting that whiskers exert a tonic influence on plasticity markers that can be further enhanced by naturalistic use. These results implicate BDNF and its downstream effectors in the plasticity induced by the naturalistic habitat. The critical action of experience on molecular substrates of plasticity seems to provide molecular basis for the design of experienced-based rehabilitative strategies to enhance brain function.
Rat; somatosensory cortex; hippocampus; environmental enrichment; cortical plasticity
We have investigated the effects of a spinal cord injury on the brain and spinal cord, and whether exercise provided before the injury could organize a protective reaction across the neuroaxis. Animals were exposed to 21 days of voluntary exercise, followed by a full spinal transection (T7–T9) and sacrificed two days later. Here we show that the effects of spinal cord injury go beyond the spinal cord itself and influence the molecular substrates of synaptic plasticity and learning in the brain. The injury reduced BDNF levels in the hippocampus in conjunction with the activated forms of p-synapsin I, p-CREB and p-CaMK II, while exercise prior to injury prevented these reductions. Similar effects of the injury were observed in the lumbar enlargement region of the spinal cord, where exercise prevented the reductions in BDNF, and p-CREB. Furthermore, the response of the hippocampus to the spinal lesion appeared to be coordinated to that of the spinal cord, as evidenced by corresponding injury-related changes in BDNF levels in the brain and spinal cord. These results provide an indication for the increased vulnerability of brain centers after spinal cord injury. These findings also imply that the level of chronic activity prior to a spinal cord injury could determine the level of sensory-motor and cognitive recovery following the injury. In particular, exercise prior to the injury onset appears to foster protective mechanisms in the brain and spinal cord.
In addition to cognitive dysfunction, locomotor deficits are prevalent in traumatic brain injured (TBI) patients; however, it is unclear how a concussive injury can affect spinal cord centers. Moreover, there are no current efficient treatments that can counteract the broad pathology associated with TBI.
The authors have investigated potential molecular basis for the disruptive effects of TBI on spinal cord and hippocampus and the neuroprotection of a curcumin derivative to reduce the effects of experimental TBI.
The authors performed fluid percussion injury (FPI) and then rats were exposed to dietary supplementation of the curcumin derivative (CNB-001; 500 ppm). The curry spice curcumin has protective capacity in animal models of neurodegenerative diseases, and the curcumin derivative has enhanced brain absorption and biological activity.
The results show that FPI in rats, in addition to reducing learning ability, reduced locomotor performance. Behavioral deficits were accompanied by reductions in molecular systems important for synaptic plasticity underlying behavioral plasticity in the brain and spinal cord. The post-TBI dietary supplementation of the curcumin derivative normalized levels of BDNF, and its downstream effectors on synaptic plasticity (CREB, synapsin I) and neuronal signaling (CaMKII), as well as levels of oxidative stress–related molecules (SOD, Sir2).
These studies define a mechanism by which TBI can compromise centers related to cognitive processing and locomotion. The findings also show the influence of the curcumin derivative on synaptic plasticity events in the brain and spinal cord and emphasize the therapeutic potential of this noninvasive dietary intervention for TBI.
traumatic brain injury; hippocampus; learning; BDNF; curcumin derivative
Constitutive activation of NF-κB is a frequent event in human cancers, playing important roles in cancer development and progression. In nontransformed cells, NF-κB activation is tightly controlled by IκBs. IκBs bind NF-κB in the cytoplasm, preventing it from translocating to the nucleus to modulate gene expression. Stimuli that activate NF-κB signaling trigger IκB degradation, enabling nuclear translocation of NF-κB. Among the genes regulated by NF-κB are those encoding the IκBs, providing a negative feedback loop that limits NF-κB activity. How transformed cells override this NF-κB/IκB negative feedback loop remains unclear. Here, we report in human glioma cell lines that microRNA-30e* (miR-30e*) directly targets the IκBα 3ι-UTR and suppresses IκBα expression. Overexpression of miR-30e* in human glioma cell lines led to hyperactivation of NF-κB and enhanced expression of NF-κB–regulated genes, which promoted glioma cell invasiveness in in vitro assays and in an orthotopic xenotransplantation model. These effects of miR-30e* were shown to be clinically relevant, as miR-30e* was found to be upregulated in primary human glioma cells and correlated with malignant progression and poor survival. Hence, miR-30e* provides an epigenetic mechanism that disrupts the NF-κB/IκBα loop and may represent a new therapeutic target and prognostic marker.
Omega-3-fatty acid DHA is a structural component of brain plasma membranes, thereby crucial for neuronal signaling; however, the brain is inefficient at synthesizing DHA. We have asked how levels of dietary n-3 fatty acids during brain growth would affect brain function and plasticity during adult life. Pregnant rats and their male offspring were fed an n-3 adequate diet or n-3 deficient diets for 15 weeks. Results showed that the n-3 deficiency increased parameters of anxiety-like behavior using open field and elevated plus maze tests in the male offspring. Behavioral changes were accompanied by a level reduction in the anxiolytic-related neuropeptide Y-1 receptor, and an increase in the anxiogenic-related glucocorticoid receptor in the cognitive related frontal cortex, hypothalamus and hippocampus. The n-3 deficiency reduced brain levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and increased the ratio n-6/n-3 assessed by gas chromatography. The n-3 deficiency reduced the levels of BDNF and signaling through the BDNF receptor TrkB, in proportion to brain DHA levels, and reduced the activation of the BDNF-related signaling molecule CREB in selected brain regions. The n-3 deficiency also disrupted the insulin signaling pathways as evidenced by changes in insulin receptor (IR) and insulin receptor substrate (IRS). DHA deficiency during brain maturation reduces plasticity and compromises brain function in adulthood. Adequate levels of dietary DHA seem crucial for building long-term neuronal resilience for optimal brain performance and aiding in the battle against neurological disorders.
Given the robust influence of diet and exercise on brain plasticity and disease, we conducted studies to determine their effects on molecular systems important for control of brain homeostasis. Studies were centered on a battery of proteins implicated in metabolic homeostasis that have the potential to modulate brain plasticity and cognitive function, in rat hypothalamus and hippocampus. Adult male rats were exposed to a docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) enriched diet (1.25% DHA) with or without voluntary exercise for 14 days. Here we report that the DHA diet and exercise influence protein levels of molecular systems important for the control of energy metabolism (primarily phospho - AMPK, silent information regulator type 1), food intake (primarily leptin and ghrelin receptors), stress (primarily glucocorticoid receptors, and 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 (11βHSD1). Exercise or DHA dietary supplementation had differential effects on several of these class proteins, and the concurrent application of both altered the pattern of response elicited by the single applications of diet or exercise. For example, exercise elevated levels of glucocorticoids receptors in the hypothalamus and the DHA diet had opposite effects, while the concurrent application of diet and exercise counteracted the single effects of diet or exercise. In most of the cases, the hypothalamus and the hippocampus had a distinctive pattern of response to the diet or exercise. The results harmonize with the concept that exercise and dietary DHA exert specific actions on the hypothalamus and hippocampus, with implications for the regulations of brain plasticity and cognitive function.
Stress; metabolism; synaptic plasticity; homeostasis; mood; depression; anxiety
We have assessed potential mechanisms associated with the deleterious effects of TBI on the integrity of plasma membranes in the hippocampus, together with consequences for behavioral function. In addition, we have investigated the efficacy of a dietary intervention based on a pyrazole curcumin derivative with demonstrated bioactivity and brain absorption, to re-establish membrane integrity. We report that moderate fluid percussion injury (FPI) increases levels of 4-Hydroxynonenal (HNE), an intermediary for the harmful effects of lipid peroxidation on neurons. A more direct action of FPI on membrane homeostasis was evidenced by a reduction in calcium-independent phospholipase A2 (iPLA2) important for metabolism of membrane phospholipids such as DHA, and an increase in the fatty acid transport protein (FATP) involved in translocation of long-chain fatty acids across the membrane. A potential association between membrane disruption and neuronal function was suggested by reduced levels of the NR2B subunit of the transmembrane NMDA receptor, in association with changes in iPLA2 and syntaxin-3 (STX-3, involved in the action of membrane DHA on synaptic membrane expansion). In addition, changes in iPLA2, 4-HNE, and STX-3 were proportional to reduced performance in a spatial learning task. In turn, the dietary supplementation with the curcumin derivative counteracted all the effects of FPI, effectively restoring parameters of membrane homeostasis. Results show the potential of the curcumin derivative to promote membrane homeostasis following TBI, which may foster a new line of non-invasive therapeutic treatments for TBI patients by endogenous up-regulation of molecules important for neural repair and plasticity.
rat; membrane damage; curcumin; 4-hydoxynonenal; cognition
Since its discovery, nearly one decade of research on astrocyte elevated gene 1 (AEG-1) has witnessed expanding knowledge of this molecule, ranging from its role in cancer biology to molecular mechanisms underlying the biological functions. As a multifunctional oncoprotein, AEG-1 has been shown to overexpress in multiple types of human cancer, and the elevation of AEG-1 in tumor cells leads to enhanced phenotypes characteristic of malignant aggressiveness, including increased abilities to proliferate robustly, to invade surrounding tissues, to migrate, to induce neovascularization, and to enhance chemoresistance. The multifunctional role of AEG-1 in tumor development and progression has been found to be associated with several signaling cascades, namely, 1) activation of NF-kappa B, partially through direct interaction with p65; 2) PI3K/AKT signaling triggered by AEG-1 indirectly; 3) enhancement of the transcriptional activity of beta-catenin by indirect activation of MAPK and induction of LEF1; 4) regulation of mi/siRNA-mediated gene silencing by interacting with SND1; and 5) promotion of protective autophagy; in addition to possibly unknown mechanisms. Elevated AEG-1 expression is seen in nearly all tumor types, and in most cases AEG-1 positively correlates with tumor progression and poorer patient survival. Taken together, AEG-1 might represent a potential prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target.
Omega-3 fatty acids (i.e., docosahexaenoic acid; DHA), similar to exercise, improve cognitive function, promote neuroplasticity, and protect against neurological lesion. In this study, we investigated a possible synergistic action between DHA dietary supplementation and voluntary exercise on modulating synaptic plasticity and cognition. Rats received DHA dietary supplementation (1.25% DHA) with or without voluntary exercise for 12 days. We found that the DHA-enriched diet significantly increased spatial learning ability, and these effects were enhanced by exercise. The DHA-enriched diet increased levels of pro-BDNF and mature BDNF, whereas the additional application of exercise boosted the levels of both. Furthermore, the levels of the activated forms of CREB and synapsin I were incremented by the DHA-enriched diet with greater elevation by the concurrent application of exercise. While the DHA diet reduced hippocampal oxidized protein levels, a combination of a DHA diet and exercise resulted in a greater reduction rate. The levels of activated forms of hippocampal Akt and CaMKII were increased by the DHA-enriched diet, and with even greater elevation by a combination of diet and exercise. Akt and CaMKII signaling are crucial step by which BDNF exerts its action on synaptic plasticity and learning and memory. These results indicate that the DHA diet enhance the effects of exercise on cognition and BDNF-related synaptic plasticity, a capacity that may be used to promote mental health and reduce risk of neurological disorders.
DHA; exercise; BDNF; omega-3 fatty acids; cognition
Dietary omega-3 fatty acid (i.e. docosohexaenoic acid (DHA)) and exercise are gaining recognition for supporting brain function under normal and challenging conditions. Here we evaluate the possibility that the interaction of DHA and exercise can involve specific elements of the synaptic plasma membrane. We found that voluntary exercise potentiated the effects of a 12-day DHA dietary supplementation regimen on increasing the levels of syntaxin 3 (STX-3) and the growth-associated protein (GAP-43) in the adult rat hippocampus region. STX-3 is a synaptic membrane-bound protein involved in the effects of DHA on membrane expansion. The DHA diet and exercise also elevated levels of the NMDA receptor subunit NR2B, which is important for synaptic function underlying learning and memory. The actions of exercise and DHA dietary supplementation reflected on enhanced learning performance in the Morris water maze as learning ability was associated with higher levels of STX-3 and NR2B. The overall findings reveal a mechanism by which exercise can interact with the function of DHA dietary enrichment to elevate the capacity of the adult brain for axonal growth, synaptic plasticity, and cognitive function.
Omega-3 fatty acid; Voluntary exercise; Syntaxin; Synaptic membrane; Hippocampus
Brain trauma is associated with long-term decrements in synaptic plasticity and cognitive function, which likely reside on the acute effects of the injury on protein structure and function. Based on the action of proteasome on protein synthesis and degradation we have examined the effects of brain injury on proteasome level/activity and the potential of exercise to interact with the effects of the injury. Exercise has a healing ability but its action on proteasome function is not understood. Male Sprague-Dawley adult rats (n=19) were performed mild brain fluid percussion injury (FPI) prior to exercise. Animals were assigned to four groups: sedentary (Sed) or exercise (Exc) with sham surgery (Sham) or FPI: Sham/Sed, Sham/Exc, FPI/Sed, FPI/Exc. Animals were sacrificed after 14 days of treatment. FPI elevated levels of carbonyl (160.1±9.6% SEM, p<0.01) and reduced synapsin I levels (58.3±4.3% SEM, p<0.01) in the ipsilateral side of caudal cerebral cortex (FPI/Sed compared to Sham/Sed controls), and it appears that increased levels of carbonyls were associated with increased chymotripsin like activity. These results seem to indicate that proteasome function may be associated with levels of oxidative stress, and that these events may contribute to the action of exercise on synaptic plasticity. Interestingly, exercise attenuated changes in carbonyls, proteasome activity, and synapsin I following FPI, which may indicate an action of exercise on the molecular substrates that control protein turnover following brain trauma. Levels of the regulatory transcription factor of proteasome, Zif 268 were reduced by exercise in Sham and FPI animals and changed in proportion with proteasome activity/content. The overall results indicate that the action of exercise interfaces with that of brain injury on molecular systems involved with protein fate and function, which may be significant for synaptic plasticity.
Fluid percussion injury; Proteasome; Synaptic plasticity; Oxidative stress; Exercise
Reactive oxygen species induce neuronal damage, and their role in reducing synaptic plasticity and function is beginning to be understood. Vitamin E is a potent reactive oxygen species scavenger, which has the potential to reduce oxidative damage encountered after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) can facilitate synaptic function and support learning by modulating the CaMKII system, synapsin I, and cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB). The elevation of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and Sir2 (silent information regulator 2) play an important role in resistance to oxidative stress.
We examined the possibility that vitamin E supplemented in the diet may help counteract the effects of TBI on the molecular substrates underlying synaptic plasticity and cognitive function in the hippocampus.
Rats were fed a regular diet with or without 500 IU/kg of vitamin E for 4 weeks (n = 6-8 per group) before a mild fluid percussion injury (FPI) was performed.
FPI increased protein oxidation as evidenced by elevated levels of protein carbonyls and reduced levels of SOD and Sir2. In addition, FPI resulted in poor performance in the Morris water maze, which was accompanied by reduced levels of BDNF and its downstream effectors on synaptic plasticity, synapsin I, CREB, and CaMKII. Supplementation of vitamin E in the diet counteracted all the observed effects of FPI.
These results suggest that vitamin E dietary supplementation can protect the brain against the effects of mild TBI on synaptic plasticity and cognition, using molecular systems associated with the maintenance of long-term plasticity, such as BDNF and Sir2.
traumatic brain injury; hippocampus; learning; BDNF; vitamin E
We found that a single week of exercise enhanced cognitive function on the Morris water maze (MWM), such that exercise animals were significantly better than sedentary controls at learning and recalling the location of the platform. In order to elucidate the role that calcium calmodulin protein kinase II (CAMKII) holds in mediating the exercise-induced enhancement in learning and memory, a specific antagonist of CAMKII, KN-62, was used to block CAMKII in the hippocampus during a 1-week voluntary exercise period. Following, a 2-trial-per-day MWM was performed for 5 consecutive days, succeeded by a probe trial 2 days later. Inhibiting CAMKII action during exercise blocked the ability of exercise to enhance memory retention on the MWM; the recall abilities of exercise animals receiving the CAMKII blocker were significantly worse than those of both sedentary and exercise controls. Conversely, CAMKII may not play a significant role in mediating the effects of exercise on learning acquisition as inhibiting CAMKII failed to block the exercise-induced enhancement in learning acquisition. Our results also show that CAMKII activation early during MWM learning may be counterproductive to learning acquisition, as exercising animals given the CAMKII inhibitor performed significantly (p < 0.001) better than exercising control animals and sedentary controls only on day 2 of the MWM. Inhibiting CAMKII also blocked the exercise-induced upregulation of molecules critical for learning and memory, BDNF and the transcription activator CREB, which is regulated by and downstream to BDNF action. These findings indicate that hippocampal CAMKII may have a refined role in mediating the effects of exercise on cognition, selectively functioning to regulate memory retention.
BDNF; CREB; Morris water maze; learning and memory; exercise
Clinical evidence indicates that motor training facilitates functional recovery after a spinal cord injury (SCI). Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a powerful synaptic facilitator and likely plays a key role on motor and sensory functions. Spinal cord hemisection decreases the levels of BDNF below the injury site, and exercise can counteract this decrease (Ying et al., 2005). It is not clear, however, whether the exercise-induced increases in BDNF play a role in mediating the recovery of locomotion after a SCI. We performed a lateral cervical (∼C4) hemisection in adult rats. Seven days after hemisection, the BDNF inhibitor trkB IgG was injected into the cervical spinal cord below the lesion (∼C5-C6). Half of the rats were exposed to voluntary running wheels for 14 days. Locomotor ability was assessed by determining the symmetry between the contralateral (unaffected) vs. the ipsilateral (affected) forelimb at the most optimum treadmill speed for each rat. Sedentary and exercised rats with BDNF inhibition showed a higher level of asymmetry during the treadmill locomotion test than rats not treated with the BDNF inhibitor. In hemisected rats, exercise normalized the levels of molecules important for synaptic function, such as cyclic AMP response element binding protein (CREB) and synapsin I, in the ipsilateral cervical enlargement, whereas the BDNF blocker lessened these exercise-associated effects. The results indicate that BDNF levels play an important role in shaping the synaptic plasticity and in defining the level of recovery of locomotor performance after a SCI.
spinal cord injury; locomotion; TrkB IgG; synaptic plasticity; neurotrophin
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been shown to mediate the effects of exercise on synaptic plasticity and cognitive function, in a process in which energy metabolism probably plays an important role. The purpose of the present study was to examine the influence of exercise on rat hippocampal expression of molecules involved in the regulation of energy management and cognitive function, and to determine the role of BDNF in these events. One week of voluntary exercise that enhanced learning and memory performance elevated the expression of molecular systems involved in the metabolism of energy [AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), ubiquitous mitochondrial creatine kinase (uMtCK) and uncoupling protein 2] and molecules that work at the interface of energy and synaptic plasticity [BDNF, insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and ghrelin]. The levels of BDNF mRNA were associated with the mRNA levels of AMPK, uMtCK, IGF-I and ghrelin. Inhibiting the action of BDNF during exercise abolished an exercise-mediated enhancement in spatial learning and increased the expression of all of the molecular systems studied. BDNF blocking also disrupted the association between learning speed and levels of AMPK, uMtCK, ghrelin and IGF-I mRNAs. These findings suggest that the effects of exercise on synaptic plasticity and cognitive function involve elements of energy metabolism, and that BDNF seems to work at the interface between the two processes as a metabotrophin.
AMP-activated protein kinase; energy; metabolism; rat; synaptic plasticity
To successfully grow, neurons need to overcome the effects of hostile environments, such as the inhibitory action of myelin. We have evaluated the potential of exercise to overcome the intrinsic limitation of the central nervous system for axonal growth. In line with the demonstrated ability of exercise to increase the regenerative potential of neurons, here we show that exercise reduces the inhibitory capacity of myelin. Cortical neurons grown on myelin from exercised rats showed a more pronounced neurite extension compared with neurons grown on poly-D-lysine, or on myelin extracted from sedentary animals. The activity of cyclin-dependent kinase 5, a kinase involved in neurite outgrowth, was found to be increased in cortical neurons grown on exercise-myelin and in the lumbar spinal cord enlargement of exercised animals. Exercise significantly decreased the levels of myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG), a potent axonal growth inhibitor, suggesting that downregulation of MAG is part of the mechanism through which exercise reduces growth inhibition. It is known that exercise elevates brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) spinal cord levels and that BDNF acts to overcome the inhibitory effects of myelin. Accordingly, we blocked the action of BDNF during exercise, which suppressed the exercise-related MAG decrease. Protein kinase A (PKA) has been related to the ability of BDNF to overcome growth inhibition; in agreement, we found that exercise increased PKA levels and this effect was reverted by blocking BDNF. Overall, these results show that exercise promotes a permissive cellular environment for axonal growth in the adult spinal cord requiring BDNF action.
spinal cord injury; BDNF; MAG; neurite outgrowth; cdk5
Studies were conducted to determine the possibility that voluntary exercise could enhance regenerative effects of gene therapy via Schwann cells (SC) over-expressing FGF-2. Sedentary or exercise rehabilitation conditions were therefore provided shortly after reconstructing 10 mm sciatic nerve gaps in rats with silicone grafts. Exercise for 7 days elevated mRNA levels of regeneration associated proteins (GAP-43 and synapsin I) in lumbar spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia of SC transplanted, in contrast to non-cellular reconstructed rats. FGF-2 gene therapy followed by 25–27 days of exercise did enhance regeneration of myelinated axons in comparison to sedentary animals. Four weeks after surgery mRNA levels of regeneration associated proteins were significantly higher in lumbar spinal cord of running compared to sedentary SC transplanted animals. Our results suggest that voluntary exercise could reinforce the beneficial effects of SC transplantation and FGF-2 gene therapy in peripheral nerve reconstruction approaches.
Ex vivo gene therapy; Schwann cells; peripheral nerve regeneration; transplantation
We investigated whether a learning impairment after a controlled cortical impact (CCI) injury was associated with alterations in molecules involved in synaptic plasticity and learning and memory. Adult male rats with moderate CCI to the left parietal cortex, tested in a Morris water maze (MWM) beginning at postinjury day 10, showed impaired cognitive performance compared with sham-treated rats. Tissue was extracted for mRNA analysis on postinjury day 21. The expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), synapsin I, cyclic-AMP response element binding protein (CREB), and calcium-calmodulin–dependent protein kinase II (α-CAMKII) were all significantly decreased compared with sham injury levels within the ipsilateral hippocampus after CCI. No significant molecular level changes were found in the contralateral hippocampus. Decreased expression of BDNF and synapsin I was also found within the ipsilateral parietal cortex of CCI-injured rats compared with shams. However, BDNF and synapsin I expressions were significantly increased in the contralateral parietal cortex of the CCI rats. CREB expression was significantly decreased within the contralateral cortex of the CCI group. These findings show enduring reductions in the expression of BDNF, synapsin I, CREB, and α-CAMKII ipsilateral to a CCI injury, which seem associated with the spatial learning deficits observed in this injury model. In addition, the delayed increase in the expression of BDNF and synapsin I within the cortex contralateral to CCI may reflect restorative processes in areas homotypical to the injury.
BDNF; injury; synapsin I; CREB; CAMKII; rat