Changes in reproductive status place varied functional demands on the vagina. These include receptivity to male intromission and sperm transport in estrus, barrier functions during early pregnancy, and providing a conduit for fetal passage at parturition. Peripheral innervation regulates vaginal function, which in turn may be influenced by circulating reproductive hormones. We assessed vaginal innervation in diestrus and estrus (before and after the estrous cycle surge in estrogen), and in the early (low estrogen) and late (high estrogen) stages in pregnancy. In vaginal sections from cycling rats, axons immunoreactive for the pan-neuronal marker protein gene product 9.5 (PGP 9.5) showed a small reduction at estrus relative to diestrus, but this difference did not persist after correcting for changes in target size. No changes were detected in axons immunoreactive for tyrosine hydroxylase (sympathetic), vesicular acetylcholine transporter (parasympathetic), or calcitonin gene-related peptide and transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV-1; sensory nociceptors). In rats at 10 days of pregnancy, innervation was similar to that observed in cycling rats. However, at 21 days of pregnancy, axons immunoreactive for PGP 9.5 and each of the subpopulation-selective markers were significantly reduced both when expressed as percentage of sectional area or after correcting for changes in target size. Because peripheral nerves regulate vaginal smooth muscle tone, blood flow, and pain sensitivity, reductions in innervation may represent important adaptive mechanisms facilitating parturition.
autonomic innervation; estrous cycle; parturition; sensory innervation
The Fanconi Anemia (FA) pathway is required for repair of DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICLs). FA pathway-deficient cells are hypersensitive to DNA ICL-inducing drugs such as Cisplatin. Conversely, hyperactivation of the FA pathway is a mechanism that may underlie cellular resistance to DNA ICL agents. Modulating FANCD2 monoubiquitination, a key step in the FA pathway, may be an effective therapeutic approach to conferring cellular sensitivity to ICL agents. Here, we show that inhibition of the Nedd8 conjugation system increases cellular sensitivity to DNA ICL-inducing agents. Mechanistically, the Nedd8 inhibition, either by siRNA-mediated knockdown of Nedd8 conjugating enzymes or treatment with a Nedd8 activating enzyme inhibitor MLN4924, suppressed DNA damage-induced FANCD2 monoubiquitination and CHK1 phosphorylation. Our data indicate that inhibition of the FA pathway is largely responsible for the heightened cellular sensitivity to DNA ICLs upon Nedd8 inhibition. These results suggest that a combination of Nedd8 inhibition with ICL-inducing agents may be an effective strategy for sensitizing a subset of drug-resistant cancer cells.
Fanconi Anemia; Nedd8; Chemosensitization
Radiotherapy is used in locally advanced pancreatic cancers where it can improve survival in combination with gemcitabine. However, prognosis is still poor in this setting where more effective therapies remain needed. MLN4924 is an investigational small molecule currently in Phase I clinical trials. MLN4924 inhibits NAE (NEDD8 Activating Enzyme), a pivotal regulator of the E3 ubiquitin ligase SCF (SKP1, Cullins, and F-box protein), that has been implicated recently in DNA repair. In this study, we provide evidence that MLN4924 can be used as an effective radiosensitizer in pancreatic cancer. Specifically, MLN4924 (20–100 nM) effectively inhibited cullin neddylation and sensitized pancreatic cancer cells to ionizing radiation in vitro with a sensitivity enhancement ratio (SER) of ~1.5. Mechanistically, MLN4924 treatment stimulated an accumulation of several SCF substrates, including CDT1, WEE1 and NOXA, in parallel with an enhancement of radiation-induced DNA damage, aneuploidy, G2/M phase cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. RNAi-mediated knockdown of CDT1 and WEE1 partially abrogated MLN4924-induced aneuploidy, G2/M arrest, and radiosensization, indicating a causal effect. Further, MLN4924 was an effective radiosensitizer in mouse xenograft models of human pancreatic cancer. Our findings offer proof of concept for use of MLN4924 as a novel class of radiosensitizer for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
NAE inhibitor; MLN4924; CRL/SCF E3 ubiquitin ligase; radiosensitization; DNA damage; pancreatic cancer cells
Vitamin D insufficiency impacts sensory processes including pain and proprioception, but little is known regarding vitamin D signaling in adult sensory neurons. We analyzed female rat dorsal root ganglia (DRG) for vitamin receptor (VDR) and the vitamin D metabolizing enzymes CYP27B1 and CYP24. Western blots and immunofluorescence revealed the presence of these proteins in sensory neurons. Nuclear VDR immunoreactivity was present within nearly all neurons, while cytoplasmic VDR was found preferentially in unmyelinated calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-positive neurons, colocalizing with CYP27B1 and CYP24. These data suggest that 1,25(OH)2D3 may affect sensory neurons through nuclear or extranuclear signaling pathways. In addition, local vitamin D metabolite concentrations in unmyelinated sensory neurons may be controlled through expression of CYP27B1 and CYP24. Because vitamin D deficiency appears to exacerbate some peri-menopausal pain syndromes, we assessed the effect of ovariectomy on vitamin D-related proteins. Two weeks following ovariectomy, total VDR expression in DRG dropped significantly, owing to a slight decrease in the percentage of total neurons expressing nuclear VDR and a large drop in unmyelinated CGRP-positive neurons expressing cytoplasmic VDR. Total CYP27B1 expression dropped significantly, predominantly due to decreased expression within unmyelinated CGRP-positive neurons. CYP24 expression remained unchanged. Therefore, unmyelinated CGRP-positive neurons appear to have a distinct vitamin D phenotype with hormonally-regulated ligand and receptor levels. These findings imply that vitamin D signaling may play a specialized role in a neural cell population that is primarily nociceptive.
1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3; reproductive hormones; pain; sensory; CYP27B1; CYP24
Beta-adrenoceptor antagonists are used widely to reduce cardiovascular sympathetic tone, but withdrawal is accompanied by sympathetic hyperactivity. Receptor supersensitivity accounts for some but not all aspects of this withdrawal syndrome. Therefore, we investigated effects of β-blockers on sympathetic innervation. Rats received infusions of adrenergic receptor blockers or saline for one week. The nonselective β-blocker propranolol and the β1-antagonist metoprolol both increased myocardial sympathetic axon density. At 2 days following propranolol discontinuation, β-receptor sensitivity and responsiveness to isoproterenol were similar to controls. However, tyramine-induced mobilization of norepinephrine stores produced elevated ventricular contractility consistent with enhanced sympathetic neuroeffector properties. In addition, rats undergoing discontinuation showed exaggerated increases in mean arterial pressure in response to air puff or noise startle. In sympathetic neuronal cell cultures, both propranolol and metoprolol increased axon outgrowth but the β2-blocker ICI 118,551did not. Norepinephrine synthesis suppression by α-methyl p-tyrosine also increased sprouting and concurrent dobutamine administration reduced it, confirming that locally synthesized norepinephrine inhibits outgrowth via β1 adrenoceptors. Immunohistochemistry revealed β1 adrenoceptor protein on sympathetic axon terminations. In rats with coronary artery ligation, propranolol reversed heart failure-induced ventricular myocardial sympathetic axon depletion, but did not affect infarct-associated sympathetic hyperinnervation. We conclude that sympathetic neurons possess β1 autoreceptors that negatively regulate axon outgrowth. Chronic β-adrenoceptor blockade disrupts this feedback system, leading to ventricular sympathetic axon proliferation and increased neuroeffector gain, which are likely to contribute to β-blocker withdrawal syndrome.
Beta-blocker; outgrowth; adrenergic receptor; cardiovascular; autoreceptors; hyperinnervation
Sympathetic innervation mediates tonic contraction of proximal urethral smooth muscle, thus contributing to urinary continence. Urethral innervation is particularly susceptible to damage during vaginal delivery, a time characterized by decreasing estrogen levels. Because regeneration of other nerves types can be influenced by estrogen, the present study was conducted to assess whether sympathetic reinnervation of the rat proximal urethra is affected by differences in estrogen levels.
Adult female rats were ovariectomized and implanted with pellets containing vehicle or estrogen to achieve serum levels similar to rodent pregnancy. Rats were injected intravenously with vehicle or the selective sympathetic neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine, which produces uniform and complete destruction of terminal sympathetic axons. At 1, 4, 12 and 25 days, tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive sympathetic innervation of the proximal urethral smooth muscle was assessed quantitatively.
In rats with intact innervation, the proximal urethra is densely innervated, and nerve density is comparable irrespective of estrogen status. 6-Hydroxydopamine induced marked sympathetic axon disruption by 1 day and complete denervation by 4 days post-injection in ovariectomized rats receiving vehicle or estrogen. In vehicle-treated rats, few nerves were present at 12 days post-sympathectomy, and innervation remained substantially below normal levels at 25 days. In estrogen-treated rats, sympathetic reinnervation was 2-fold greater at 12 days, and by 25 days was comparable to controls.
Estrogen improves sympathetic reinnervation of the proximal urethra. Estrogen titers in individuals with urethral sympathetic nerve damage may therefore influence the rate and extent of urethral smooth muscle reinnervation.
Noradrenergic; urethral sphincter; regeneration; 17β-estradiol
Studies of human tissue show that many chronic pain syndromes are accompanied by abnormal increases in numbers of peripheral sensory nerve fibers. It is not known if sensory nerve sprouting occurs as a result of inflammation present in these conditions, or other factors such as infection or extensive tissue damage. In the present study, we used a well established model of inflammation to examine cutaneous innervation density in relation to mechanical and thermal hypersensitivity. Adult female rats were ovariectomized to eliminate fluctuations in female reproductive hormones and one week later, a hind paw was injected with carrageenan or saline vehicle. Behavioral testing showed that saline vehicle injection did not alter thermal or mechanical thresholds compared to pre-injection baselines. Carrageenan injections resulted in markedly reduced paw withdrawal thresholds at 24 and 72 h after injection; this was accompanied by increased mechanical sensitivity of the contralateral paw at 72h. Analysis of innervation density using PGP9.5 as a pan-neuronal marker at 72h showed that inflammation resulted in a 2-fold increase in cutaneous innervation density. We conclude that inflammation alone is sufficient to induce sprouting of sensory cutaneous axon endings leading local tissue hyperinnervation, which may contribute to hypersensitivity that occurs in painful inflammatory conditions.
Pain; sensory nerves; axon sprouting; skin
Musculoskeletal pain affects nearly half of all adults, most of whom are vitamin D deficient. Previous findings demonstrated that putative nociceptors (“pain-sensing” nerves) express vitamin D receptors (VDRs), suggesting responsiveness to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. In the present study, rats receiving vitamin D-deficient diets for 2– 4 weeks showed mechanical deep muscle hypersensitivity, but not cutaneous hypersensitivity. Muscle hypersensitivity was accompanied by balance deficits and occurred before onset of overt muscle or bone pathology. Hypersensitivity was not due to hypocalcemia and was actually accelerated by increased dietary calcium. Morphometry of skeletal muscle innervation showed increased numbers of presumptive nociceptor axons (peripherin-positive axons containing calcitonin gene-related peptide), without changes in sympathetic or skeletal muscle motor innervation. Similarly, there was no change in epidermal innervation. In culture, sensory neurons displayed enriched VDR expression in growth cones, and sprouting was regulated by VDR-mediated rapid response signaling pathways, while sympathetic outgrowth was not affected by different concentrations of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. These findings indicate that vitamin D deficiency can lead to selective alterations in target innervation, resulting in presumptive nociceptor hyperinnervation of skeletal muscle, which in turn is likely to contribute to muscular hypersensitivity and pain.
Cullin RING E3 ligases require covalent modification with Nedd8 for activity. Neddylation is reversed by the COP9 signalosome (CSN). We characterize the role of CSN-dependent deneddylation in vivo and propose a model in which CSN binds to cullin ligases in their active conformation and functions to recruit important regulatory factors.
Cullin RING ligases (CRLs) are the largest family of cellular E3 ubiquitin ligases and mediate polyubiquitination of a number of cellular substrates. CRLs are activated via the covalent modification of the cullin protein with the ubiquitin-like protein Nedd8. This results in a conformational change in the cullin carboxy terminus that facilitates the ubiquitin transfer onto the substrate. COP9 signalosome (CSN)-mediated cullin deneddylation is essential for CRL activity in vivo. However, the mechanism through which CSN promotes CRL activity in vivo is currently unclear. In this paper, we provide evidence that cullin deneddylation is not intrinsically coupled to substrate polyubiquitination as part of the CRL activation cycle. Furthermore, inhibiting substrate-receptor autoubiquitination is unlikely to account for the major mechanism through which CSN regulates CRL activity. CSN also did not affect recruitment of the substrate-receptor SPOP to Cul3, suggesting it may not function to facilitate the exchange of Cul3 substrate receptors. Our results indicate that CSN binds preferentially to CRLs in the neddylation-induced, active conformation. Binding of the CSN complex to active CRLs may recruit CSN-associated proteins important for CRL regulation. The deneddylating activity of CSN would subsequently promote its own dissociation to allow progression through the CRL activation cycle.
MLN4924 is a first-in-class experimental cancer drug that inhibits the NEDD8-activating enzyme, thereby inhibiting cullin-RING E3 ubiquitin ligases and stabilizing many cullin substrates. The mechanism by which MLN4924 inhibits cancer cell proliferation has not been defined, although it is accompanied by DNA re-replication and attendant DNA damage. Here we show that stabilization of the DNA replication factor Cdt1, a substrate of Cullins 1 and 4, is critical for MLN4924 to trigger DNA re-replication and inhibit cell proliferation. Even only one hour of exposure to MLN4924, which was sufficient to elevate Cdt1 for 4–5 hours, was found to be sufficient to induce DNA re-replication and to activate apoptosis and senescence pathways. Cells in S phase were most susceptible, suggesting that MLN4924 will be most toxic on highly proliferating cancers. Although MLN4924-induced cell senescence appears to be dependent on induction of p53 and its downstream effector p21Waf1, we found that p53−/−and p21−/− cells were even more susceptible than wild-type cells to MLN4924. Our results suggested that apoptosis, not senescence, may be more important for the anti-proliferative effect of MLN4924. Further, our findings show that transient exposure to this new investigational drug should be useful for controlling p53-negative cancer cells, which often pose significant clinical challenge.
MLN4924; re-replication; senescence
Vaccines against human helminths are being developed but the choice of optimal parasitological endpoints and effect measures to assess their efficacy has received little attention. Assuming negative binomial distributions for the parasite counts, we rank the statistical power of three measures of efficacy: ratio of mean parasite intensity at the end of the trial, the odds ratio of infection at the end of the trial, and the rate ratio of incidence of infection during the trial. We also use a modelling approach to estimate the likely impact of trial interventions on the force of infection, and hence statistical power. We conclude that (1) final mean parasite intensity is a suitable endpoint for later phase vaccine trials, and (2) mass effects of trial interventions are unlikely to appreciably reduce the force of infection in the community – and hence statistical power – unless there is a combination of high vaccine efficacy and a large proportion of the population enrolled.
Helminth vaccines; Parasitological endpoints; Mathematical model
AmBisome® is an efficacious, safe anti-leishmanial treatment. There is growing interest in its use, either as a single dose or in combination treatments. In East Africa, the minimum optimal single-dosage has not been identified.
An open-label, 2-arm, non-inferiority, multi-centre randomised controlled trial is being conducted to determine the optimal single-dose treatment with AmBisome®.
Patients in the single-dose arm will receive one infusion on day 1, at a dose depending on body weight. For the first group of patients entered to the trial, the dose will be 7.5 mg/kg, but if this dose is found to be ineffective then in subsequent patient series the dose will be escalated progressively to 10, 12.5 and 15 mg/kg. Patients in the reference arm will receive a multi-dose regimen of AmBisome® (3 mg/kg/day on days 1-5, 14 and 21: total dose 21 mg/kg). Patients will be hospitalised for approximately one month after the start of treatment and then followed up at three and six months. The primary endpoint is the status of patients six months after treatment. A secondary endpoint is assessment at day 30. Treatment success is determined as the absence of parasites on microscopy samples taken from bone marrow, lymph node or splenic aspirates. Interim analyses to assess the comparative efficacy of the single dose are planned after recruitment of 20 and 40 patients per arm. The final non-inferiority analysis will include 120 patients per arm, to determine if the single-dose efficacy 6 months after treatment is not more than 10% inferior to the multi-dose.
An effective, safe single-dose treatment would reduce hospitalization and treatment costs. Results will inform the design of combination treatment studies.
We have developed the web based tool GOAPhAR (Gene Ontology, Annotations and Pathways for Array Research), that integrates information from disparate sources regarding gene annotations, protein annotations, identifiers associated with probe sets, functional pathways, protein interactions, Gene Ontology, publicly available microarray datasets and tools for statistically validating clusters in microarray data. Genes of interest can be input as Affymetrix probe identifiers, Genbank, or Unigene identifiers for human, mouse or rat genomes. Results are provided in a user friendly interface with hyperlinks to the sources of information.
GOAPhAR: Gene ontology, Annotations and pathways for array research
Cancer cells depend on signals that promote cell cycle progression and prevent programmed cell death that would otherwise result from cumulative, aberrant stress. These activities require the temporally controlled destruction of specific intracellular proteins by the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS). To a large extent, the control points in this process include a family of E3 ubiquitin ligases called cullin-RING ligases (CRLs). The ligase activity of these multicomponent complexes requires modification of the cullin protein situated at their core with a ubiquitin-like protein called NEDD8. Neddylation results in conformational rearrangements within the CRL, which are necessary for ubiquitin transfer to a substrate. The NEDD8 pathway thus has a critical role in mediating the ubiquitination of numerous CRL substrate proteins involved in cell cycle progression and survival including the DNA replication licensing factor Cdt-1, the NF-κB transcription factor inhibitor pIκBα, and the cell cycle regulators cyclin E and p27. The initial step required for attachment of NEDD8 to a cullin is catalyzed by the E1, NEDD8-activating enzyme (NAE). The first-in-class inhibitor of NAE, MLN4924, has been shown to block the activity of NAE and prevent the subsequent neddylation of cullins. Preclinical studies have demonstrated antitumor activity in various solid tumors and hematological malignancies, and preliminary clinical data have shown the anticipated pharmacodynamic effects in humans. Here, we review the NEDD8 pathway, its importance in cancer, and the therapeutic potential of NAE inhibition.
NEDD8; ubiquitin; cullin-RING ligase; DNA rereplication
Drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis has emerged as a global threat. In resource-constrained settings, patients with a history of tuberculosis (TB) treatment may have drug-resistant disease and may experience poor outcomes. There is a need to measure the extent of and risk factors for drug resistance in such patients.
From July 2003 through November 2006, we enrolled 410 previously treated patients with TB in Kampala, Uganda. We measured the prevalence of resistance to first- and second-line drugs and analyzed risk factors associated with baseline and acquired drug resistance.
The prevalence of multidrug-resistant TB was 12.7% (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 9.6%–16.3%). Resistance to second-line drugs was low. Factors associated with multidrug-resistant TB at enrollment included a history of treatment failure (odds ratio, 23.6; 95% CI, 7.7–72.4), multiple previous TB episodes (odds ratio, 15.6; 95% CI, 5.0–49.1), and cavities present on chest radiograph (odds ratio, 5.9; 95% CI, 1.2–29.5). Among a cohort of 250 patients, 5.2% (95% CI, 2.8%–8.7%) were infected with M. tuberculosis that developed additional drug resistance. Amplification of drug resistance was associated with existing drug resistance at baseline (P<.01) and delayed sputum culture conversion (P<.01).
The burden of drug resistance in previously treated patients with TB in Uganda is sizeable, and the risk of generating additional drug resistance is significant. There is an urgent need to improve the treatment for such patients in low-income countries.
The Malaria Clinical Trials Alliance (MCTA), a programme of INDEPTH network of demographic surveillance centres, was launched in 2006 with two broad objectives: to facilitate the timely development of a network of centres in Africa with the capacity to conduct clinical trials of malaria vaccines and drugs under conditions of good clinical practice (GCP); and to support, strengthen and mentor the centres in the network to facilitate their progression towards self-sustaining clinical research centres.
Sixteen research centres in 10 African malaria-endemic countries were selected that were already working with the Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) or the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV). All centres were visited to assess their requirements for research capacity development through infrastructure strengthening and training. Support provided by MCTA included: laboratory and facility refurbishment; workshops on GCP, malaria diagnosis, strategic management and media training; and training to support staff to undertake accreditation examinations of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP). Short attachments to other network centres were also supported to facilitate sharing practices within the Alliance. MCTA also played a key role in the creation of the African Media & Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), which aims to promote interaction between researchers and the media for appropriate publicity and media reporting of research and developments on malaria, including drug and vaccine trials.
In three years, MCTA strengthened 13 centres to perform GCP-compliant drug and vaccine trials, including 11 centres that form the backbone of a large phase III malaria vaccine trial. MCTA activities have demonstrated that centres can be brought up to GCP compliance on this time scale, but the costs are substantial and there is a need for further support of other centres to meet the growing demand for clinical trial capacity. The MCTA experience also indicates that capacity development in clinical trials is best carried out in the context of preparation for specific trials. In this regard MCTA centres involved in the phase III malaria vaccine trial were, on average, more successful at consolidating the training and infrastructure support than those centres focussing only on drug trials.
Cardiac function is regulated by interactions among intrinsic and extrinsic autonomic neurons, and the mechanisms responsible for organizing these circuits are poorly understood. Parasympathetic neurons elsewhere synthesize the neurotrophin NGF, which may promote postganglionic axonal associations where parasympathetic axons inhibit sympathetic transmitter release. Previous studies have shown that parasympathetic NGF content and neurochemical phenotype are regulated by sympathetic innervation. In this study we assessed contributions of sympathetic input on cardiac ganglion neuronal phenotype and NGF expression. Because cardiac ganglia are reported to contain putative noradrenergic neurons, we eliminated sympathetic input both surgically (extrinsic) and chemically (extrinsic plus intrinsic). In controls, most cardiac ganglion neurons expressed vesicular acetylcholine transporter, frequently colocalized with vesicular monoamine transporter, but lacked catecholamine histofluorescence. Most cardiac ganglion neurons expressed NGF transcripts, and 40% contained mature and 47% proNGF immunoreactivity. Guanethidine treatment for 7 days decreased numbers of neurons expressing vesicular acetylcholine transporter, NGF transcripts and NGF immunoreactivity, but did not affect proNGF or vesicular monoamine transporter immunoreactivity. Stellate ganglionectomy had comparable effects on neurochemical phenotype and mature NGF immunoreactivity, but proNGF expression was additionally reduced.
These findings show that individual cardiac ganglion neurons display markers of both cholinergic and noradrenergic transmission. Sympathetic noradrenergic innervation maintains levels of cholinergic but not noradrenergic marker protein. Sympathetic innervation also promotes cardiac ganglion neuronal NGF synthesis. Because chemical blockade of all noradrenergic transmission is no more effective than extrinsic sympathectomy, local intrinsic noradrenergic transmission is not a factor in regulating ganglion neuron phenotype.
Nerve Growth Factor; ProNGF; Stellate Ganglionectomy; Guanethidine; Parasympathetic Nervous System
Mechanisms underlying axon degeneration in peripheral neuropathies and during normal remodeling are poorly understood. Because estrogen induces widespread sympathetic axon degeneration within female reproductive tract smooth muscle, we surveyed estrogen-regulated genes in rat myometrium. Microarray analysis revealed that the neural cell adhesion protein neurotrimin (Ntm) was markedly upregulated at 6h and down-regulated by 24h after injection of 17β-estradiol and real time RT-PCR confirmed this pattern of expression. Protein analysis by western blotting showed that uterine Ntm protein is also upregulated in vivo at 6−24h following estrogen injection, and that Ntm protein is increased selectively in the myometrium during the high-estrogen phase of the estrous cycle. Cultured myometrial smooth muscle cells display peri-nuclear accumulations of Ntm protein, and 17β-Estradiol also increases intracellular levels of Ntm and its secretion into the culture medium. To determine if neurotrimin is required for estrogen-induced sympathetic pruning, sympathetic neurons were co-cultured with uterine smooth muscle cells transfected with siRNA directed against Ntm. While estrogen inhibited neurite outgrowth in non-transfected co-cultures, estrogen's ability to reduce sympathetic outgrowth was impaired substantially following Ntm downregulation. This supports a role for neurotrimin in mediating estrogen-induced sympathetic pruning in some peripheral targets. Together with earlier studies, these findings support the idea that physiological sympathetic axon degeneration is a multifactorial process requiring dynamic regulation of multiple repellant proteins.
neurodegeneration; estrogen; sympathetic; IgLON
Recent years have seen publication of a considerable number of clinical trials of preventive interventions against clinical malaria in children. There has been variability in the specification of end-points, case definitions, analysis methods and reporting and the relative lack of standardization complicates the ability to make comparative evaluations between trials.
To prepare for a WHO consultation on design issues in malaria vaccine trials, controlled trials of preventive interventions against malaria in children in endemic countries were identified in which clinical malaria, or death, had been one of the main end-points. Trials were included that evaluated the impact of vaccines, insecticide-treated bed nets (ITN), intermittent presumptive or preventive therapy in infants (IPTi) or, in one instance, vitamin A supplementation. Methods that had been used in these trials were summarized and compared in order to identify issues that were directly relevant to the design of malaria vaccine trials.
29 controlled trials of preventive malaria interventions were identified, of which eight were vaccine trials. Vaccine trials that were designed to detect an effect on clinical malaria all reported the incidence rate of first episodes of clinical malaria as their primary endpoint. Only one trial of a preventive intervention (of ITN) was identified that was designed to detect an effect on severe malaria. A group of larger trials were designed to detect an effect of impregnated bed nets or curtains on all-cause mortality as the primary end-point. Key methodological and reporting differences between trials are noted in the text. Two issues have been identified that are of some concern. Firstly, the choice of primary endpoint is not stated in the reports of a number of the trials and, secondly, the relationship between pre-specified analysis plans and trial reports is rarely made clear.
This article reports an investigation into the ways in which trial design and reporting could be improved and standardized to enable comparative evaluation of the relative merits of malaria control measures, and specifically with respect to the design of malaria vaccine trials. The need for standardization of clinical trial design, conduct, analysis and reporting has been also affirmed as a priority area by the Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap.
Sympathetic hyperinnervation occurs in human ventricular tissue after myocardial infarction and may contribute to arrhythmias. Aberrant sympathetic sprouting is associated with elevated nerve growth factor (NGF) in many contexts, including ventricular hyperinnervation. However, it is unclear whether cardiomyocytes or other cell types are responsible for increased NGF synthesis. In this study, left coronary arteries were ligated and ventricular tissue examined in rats 1-28 days post-infarction. Infarct and peri-infarct tissue was essentially devoid of sensory and parasympathetic nerves at all time points. However, areas of increased sympathetic nerve density were observed in the peri-infarct zone between post-ligation days 4-14. Hyperinnervation occurred in regions containing accumulations of macrophages and myofibroblasts. To assess whether these inflammatory cells synthesize NGF, sections were processed for NGF in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. Both macrophage1 antigen-positive macrophages and α-smooth muscle actin immunoreactive myofibroblasts expressed NGF in areas where they were closely proximate to sympathetic nerves. To investigate whether NGF produced by peri-infarct cells induces sympathetic outgrowth, we co-cultured adult sympathetic ganglia with peri-infarct explants. Neurite outgrowth from sympathetic ganglia was significantly greater at post-ligation days 7-14 as compared to control tissue. Addition of an NGF function-blocking antibody prevented the increased neurite outgrowth induced by peri-infarct tissue. These findings provide evidence that inflammatory cell NGF synthesis plays a causal role in sympathetic hyperinnervation following myocardial infarction.
Section: Disease-Related Neuroscience
Myocardial Infarction; Nerve Sprouting; Sympathetic Nervous System; Nerve Growth Factor; Inflammation
The scale-up of antiretroviral therapy is progressing rapidly in Africa but with a limited evidence-base. We report the baseline results from a large pragmatic cluster-randomised trial comparing different strategies of ART delivery. The trial is integrated in normal health service delivery.
1453 subjects were recruited into the study. Significantly more women (71%) than men (29%) were recruited. The WHO HIV clinical stage at presentation did not differ significantly between men and women: 58% and 53% respectively were at WHO stage III or IV (p=0.9). Median CD4 counts (IQR) x 106cells/l were 98 (28, 160) among men and 111 (36, 166) among women. Sixty-four percent of women and 61% men had plasma viral load ≥100,000 copies. Baseline characteristics did not change over time.
Considerably fewer men than women presented for treatment. Both men and women presented at an advanced stage with very low median CD4 count and high plasma viral load.
Cluster-randomised trial; antiretroviral therapy; effectiveness trial; Africa; Home-based HIV care; baseline characteristics; equity.
There has been concern that the incidence of autism and other pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) is increasing. Previous studies have been smaller, restricted to autism (excluding other pervasive developmental disorders such as Asperger's syndrome), included boys only, or have not been based on a national sample. We investigated time trends in the rates of diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorders.
We analysed the rates of first diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorders among people registered with a practice contributing to the United Kingdom General Practice Research Database during the period 1988 to 2001. We included 1410 cases from over 14 million person-years of observation. The main outcome measures were rates of diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorders by year of diagnosis, year of birth, gender and geographical region.
The rate increased progressively from 0.40/10,000 person-years (95% CI 0.30 to 0.54) in 1991 to 2.98/10,000 (95% CI 2.56 to 3.47) in 2001. A similar change occurred in the age standardised incidence ratios, from 35 (95% CI: 26–47) in 1991 to 365 (95% CI: 314–425) in 2001. The temporal increase was not limited to children born during specific years nor to children diagnosed in a specific time period. The rate of diagnosis of PDDs other than autism rose from zero for the period 1988–1992 to 1.06/10,000 person-years in 2001. The rate of diagnosis of autism also increased but to a lesser extent. There was marked geographical variation in rates, with standardised incidence ratios varying from 66 for Wales to 141 for the South East of England.
Better ascertainment of diagnosis is likely to have contributed to the observed temporal increase in rates of diagnosis of PDD, but we cannot exclude a real increase.
Experiences from a national case-control study of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease show the tensions between protecting individual patients' confidentiality and the access required for the benefit of public health
We report on the validity of the computerized diagnoses of autism in a large case-control study investigating the possible association between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in the UK using the General Practitioner Research Database (GPRD). We examined anonymized copies of all relevant available clinical reports, including general practitioners' (GP) notes, consultant, speech therapy and educational psychologists reports, on 318 subjects born between 1973 and 1997 with a diagnosis of autism or a related disorder recorded in their electronic general practice record.
Data were abstracted to a case validation form allowing for the identification of developmental symptoms relevant to the diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). Information on other background clinical and familial features was also abstracted. A subset of 50 notes was coded independently by 2 raters to derive reliability estimates for key clinical characteristics.
For 294 subjects (92.5%) the diagnosis of PDD was confirmed after review of the records. Of these, 180 subjects (61.2%) fulfilled criteria for autistic disorder. The mean age at first recording of a PDD diagnosis in the GPRD database was 6.3 years (SD = 4.6). Consistent with previous estimates, the proportion of subjects experiencing regression in the course of their development was 19%. Inter-rater reliability for the presence of a PDD diagnosis was good (kappa = .73), and agreement on clinical features such as regression, age of parental recognition of first symptoms, language delay and presence of epilepsy was also good (kappas ranging from .56 to 1.0).
This study provides evidence that the positive predictive value of a diagnosis of autism recorded in the GPRD is high.
autism; pervasive developmental disorders; epidemiology; case-control study; regression; computerized database; validity; validation; positive predictive value
This study extended the findings of Ketten et al. [Ann. Otol. Rhinol. Laryngol. Suppl. 175:1–16 (1998)] by estimating the three-dimensional (3D) cochlear lengths, electrode array intracochlear insertion depths, and characteristic frequency ranges for 13 more Nucleus-22 implant recipients based on in vivo computed tomography (CT) scans. Array insertion depths were correlated with NU-6 word scores (obtained one year after SPEAK strategy use) by these patients and the 13 who used the SPEAK strategy from the Ketten et al. study. For these 26 patients, the range of cochlear lengths was 29.1–37.4 mm. Array insertion depth range was 11.9–25.9 mm, and array insertion depth estimated from the surgeon's report was 1.14 mm longer than CT-based estimates. Given the assumption that the human hearing range is fixed (20–20,000 Hz) regardless of cochlear length, characteristic frequencies at the most apical electrode (estimated with Greenwood's equation [Greenwood DD (1990) A cochlear frequency–position function of several species–29 years later. J Acoust. Soc. Am. 33: 1344–1356] and a patient-specific constant as) ranged from 308 to 3674 Hz. Patients' NU-6 word scores were significantly correlated with insertion depth as a percentage of total cochlear length (R = 0.452; r2 = 0.204; p = 0.020), suggesting that part of the variability in word recognition across implant recipients can be accounted for by the position of the electrode array in the cochlea. However, NU-6 scores ranged from 4% to 81% correct for patients with array insertion depths between 47% and 68% of total cochlear length. Lower scores appeared related to low spiral ganglion cell survival (e.g., lues), aberrant current paths that produced facial nerve stimulation by apical electrodes (i.e., otosclerosis), central auditory processing difficulty, below-average verbal abilities, and early Alzheimer's disease. Higher scores appeared related to patients' high-average to above-average verbal abilities. Because most patients' scores increased with SPEAK use, it is hypothesized that they accommodated to the shift in frequency of incoming sound to a higher pitch percept with the implant than would normally be perceived acoustically.