Chronic stress or long-term administration of glucocorticoids disrupts the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal system leading to continuous high levels of glucocorticoids and insulin resistance (IR). This pre-diabetic state can eventually develop into type 2 diabetes mellitus and has been associated with a higher risk to develop depressive disorders. The mechanisms underlying the link between chronic stress, IR and depression remains unclear. The present study aimed to establish a stress-depression model in mice to further study the effects of stress-induced changes upon insulin sensitivity and behavioural consequences. A pilot study was conducted to establish the optimal administration route and a pragmatic measurement of IR. Subsequently, 6-month-old C57BL/6NCrl mice were exposed to long-term oral corticosterone treatment via the drinking water. To evaluate insulin sensitivity changes, blood glucose and plasma insulin levels were measured at different time-points throughout treatment and mice were behaviourally assessed in the elevated zero maze (EZM), forced swimming test (FST) and open field test to reveal behavioural changes. Long-term corticosterone treatment increased body weight and decreased insulin sensitivity. The latter was revealed by a higher IR index and increased insulin in the plasma, whereas blood glucose levels remained unchanged. Corticosterone treatment induced longer immobility times in the FST, reflecting depressive-like behaviour. No effects were observed upon anxiety as measured in the EZM. The effect of the higher body weight of the CORT treated animals at time of testing did not influence behaviour in the EZM or FST, as no differences were found in general locomotor activity. Long-term corticosterone treatment via the drinking water reduces insulin sensitivity and induces depressive-like behaviour in the C57BL/6 mouse. This mouse model could thus be used to further explore the underlying mechanisms of chronic stress-induced T2DM and its association with increased prevalence of major depressive disorder on the short-term and other behavioural adaptations on the longer term.
To understand how microglial cell function may change with aging, various protocols have been developed to isolate microglia from the young and aged central nervous system (CNS). Here we report modification of an existing protocol that is marked by less debris contamination and improved yields and demonstrates that microglial functions are varied and dependent on age. Specifically, we found that microglia from aged mice constitutively secrete greater amounts of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) relative to microglia from younger mice and are less responsive to stimulation. Also, microglia from aged mice have reduced glutathione levels and internalize less amyloid beta peptide (Aβ) while microglia from mice of all ages do not retain the amyloid beta peptide for a significant length of time. These studies offer further support for the idea that microglial cell function changes with aging. They suggest that microglial Aβ phagocytosis results in Aβ redistribution rather than biophysical degradation in vivo and thereby provide mechanistic insight to the lack of amyloid burden elimination by parenchymal microglia in aged adults and those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Microglia; Alzheimer’s disease; Beta amyloid; Glutathione; Cytokine; IL-6; TNF-α; Aging
Transgenic mouse models with knock-in (KI) expression of human mutant amyloid precursor protein (APP) and/or human presenilin 1 (PS1) may be helpful to elucidate the cellular consequences of APP and PS1 misprocessing in the aging brain. Age-related alterations in total numbers of neurons and in numbers of synaptophysin-immunoreactive presynaptic boutons (SIPB), as well as the amyloid plaque load were analyzed in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG), CA3, and CA1–2 of 2- and 10-month-old APPSL/PS1 homozygous KI, APPSL (expressing human mutant APP751 carrying the Swedish [K670N/M671L] and London [V717I] mutations under Thy-1 promoter), and PS1 homozygous KI mice (expressing human PS1 mutations [M233T and L235P]). APPSL/PS1 homozygous KI mice, but neither APPSL mice nor PS1 homozygous KI mice, showed substantial age-related loss of neurons (−47.2%) and SIPB (−22.6%), specifically in CA1–2. PS1 homozygous KI mice showed an age-related increase in hippocampal granule cell numbers (+37.9%). Loss of neurons and SIPB greatly exceeded the amount of local extracellular Aβ aggregation and astrocytes, whereas region-specific accumulation of intraneuronal Aβ preceded neuron and synapse loss. An age-related increase in the ratio of SIPB to neuron numbers in CA1–2 of APPSL/PS1 homozygous KI mice was suggestive of compensatory synaptic plasticity. These findings indicate a region-selectivity in intra- and extraneuronal Aβ accumulation in connection with neuron and synapse loss in the hippocampus of APPSL/PS1 homozygous KI mice.
Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid precursor protein; Neuron loss; Synapse loss; Hippocampus; Presenilin-1; Stereology; Image analysis
The aging process in the hippocampus is associated with aberrant epigenetic marks, such as DNA methylation and histone tail alterations. Recent evidence suggests that caloric restriction (CR) can potentially delay the aging process, while upregulation of antioxidants may also have a beneficial effect in this respect. We have recently observed that CR attenuates age-related changes in the levels of the epigenetic molecules DNA methyltransferase 3a, 5-methylcytidine (5-mC) and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine in the mouse hippocampus while overexpression of the antioxidant Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) does not. However, the impact of aging on the levels of histone-modifying enzymes such as histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2) in the hippocampus has not been studied in much detail. Here, we investigated immunoreactivity (IR) of HDAC2 in three subregions of the hippocampus (dentate gyrus, CA3 and CA1-2) of mice taken from large cohorts of aging wild-type and transgenic mice overexpressing normal human SOD1, which were kept under normal diet or CR from weaning onwards. Independent from the genotype, aging (between 12 and 24 months) increased levels of HDAC2 IR in the hippocampus. Moreover, CR prevented this age-related increase, particularly in the CA3 and CA1-2 subregions, while SOD1 overexpression did not. Quantitative image analyses showed that HDAC2 IR correlated positively with 5-mC IR while these markers were shown to colocalize in the nucleus of hippocampal cells. Together with recent literature reports, these findings suggest that altered levels of epigenetic regulatory proteins including HDAC2 regulate age-related changes in the mouse hippocampus and that CR may prevent these age-related changes.
Aging; epigenesis; histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2); caloric restriction; hippocampus
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications are one of the most common treatments for mood disorders. In humans, these medications are taken orally, usually once per day. Unfortunately, administration of antidepressant medications in rodent models is often through injection, oral gavage, or minipump implant, all relatively stressful procedures. The aim of the present study was to investigate how administration of the commonly used SSRI, fluoxetine, via a wafer cookie, compares to fluoxetine administration using an osmotic minipump, with regards to serum drug levels and hippocampal plasticity. For this experiment, adult female Sprague-Dawley rats were divided over the two administration methods: (1) cookie and (2) osmotic minipump and three fluoxetine treatment doses: 0, 5, or 10 mg/kg/day. Results show that a fluoxetine dose of 5 mg/kg/day, but not 10 mg/kg/day, results in comparable serum levels of fluoxetine and its active metabolite norfluoxetine between the two administration methods. Furthermore, minipump administration of fluoxetine resulted in higher levels of cell proliferation in the granule cell layer (GCL) at a 5 mg dose compared to a 10 mg dose. Synaptophysin expression in the GCL, but not CA3, was significantly lower after fluoxetine treatment, regardless of administration method. These data suggest that the administration method and dose of fluoxetine can differentially affect hippocampal plasticity in the adult female rat.
Epigenetic dysregulation of gene expression is thought to be critically involved in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Recent studies indicate that DNA methylation and DNA hydroxymethylation are 2 important epigenetic mechanisms that regulate gene expression in the aging brain. However, very little is known about the levels of markers of DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation in the brains of patients with AD, the cell-type specificity of putative AD-related alterations in these markers, as well as the link between epigenetic alterations and the gross pathology of AD. The present quantitative immunohistochemical study investigated the levels of the 2 most important markers of DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation, that is, 5-methylcytidine (5-mC) and 5-hydroxymethylcytidine (5-hmC), in the hippocampus of AD patients (n = 10) and compared these to non demented, age-matched controls (n = 10). In addition, the levels of 5-hmC in the hippocampus of a pair of monozygotic twins discordant for AD were assessed. The levels of 5-mC and 5-hmC were furthermore analyzed in a cell-type and hippocampal subregion–specific manner, and were correlated with amyloid plaque load and neurofibrillary tangle load. The results showed robust decreases in the hippocampal levels of 5-mC and 5-hmC in AD patients (19.6% and 20.2%, respectively). Similar results were obtained for the twin with AD when compared to the non-demented co-twin. Moreover, levels of 5-mC as well as the levels of 5-hmC showed a significant negative correlation with amyloid plaque load in the hippocampus (rp = −0.539, p = 0.021 for 5-mC and rp = −0.558, p = 0.016 for 5-hmC). These human postmortem results thus strengthen the notion that AD is associated with alterations in DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation, and provide a basis for further epigenetic studies identifying the exact genetic loci with aberrant epigenetic signatures.
Alzheimer’s disease; Epigenetics; DNA methylation; DNA hydroxymethylation; Amyloid
Aberrations in epigenetic marks have been associated with aging of the brain while caloric restriction (CR) and upregulation of endogenous antioxidants have been suggested as tools to attenuate the aging process. We have recently observed age-related increases in levels of 5-methylcytidine (5-mC) and DNA methyltransferase 3a (Dnmt3a) in the mouse hippocampus. Most of those age-related changes in these epigenetic relevant markers were prevented by CR but not by transgenic overexpression of the endogenous antioxidant superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1). As recent work has suggested a distinct role for hydroxymethylation in epigenetic regulation of gene expression in the brain, the current study investigated age-related changes of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) in the mouse hippocampus, and furthermore tested whether CR and transgenic upregulation of SOD1 affected any age-related changes in 5-hmC. Immunohistochemical analyses of 5-hmC in 12- and 24-month-old wild-type and transgenic mice overexpressing SOD1, which were kept under either a control or a calorie restricted diet, revealed an increase of 5-hmC immunoreactivity occurring with aging in the hippocampal dentate gyrus, CA3 and CA1–2 regions. Moreover, CR, but not overexpression of SOD1, prevented the age-related increase in the CA3 region. These region-specific findings indicate that the aging process in mice is connected with epigenetic changes and suggest that the beneficial actions of CR may be mediated via epigenetic mechanisms such as methylation and hydroxymethylation of DNA.
Aging; Epigenesis; Epigenetics; DNA hydroxymethylation; 5-hydroxymethylcytosine; Caloric restriction; Antioxidants; superoxide dismutase (SOD); Hippocampus
Aberrant DNA methylation patterns have been linked to molecular and cellular alterations in the aging brain. Caloric restriction (CR) and upregulation of antioxidants have been proposed as interventions to prevent or delay age-related brain pathology. Previously, we have shown in large cohorts of aging mice, that age-related increases in DNA methyltransferase 3a (Dnmt3a) immunoreactivity in the mouse hippocampus were attenuated by CR, but not by overexpression of superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1). Here, we investigated age-related alterations of 5-methylcytidine (5-mC), a marker of DNA methylation levels, in a hippocampal subregion-specific manner. Examination of 5-mC immunoreactivity in 12- and 24-month-old wild type (WT) mice on control diet, mice overexpressing SOD1 on control diet, wild type mice on CR, and SOD1 mice on CR, indicated an age-related increase in 5-mC immunoreactivity in the hippocampal dentate gyrus, CA3, and CA1–2 regions, which was prevented by CR but not by SOD1 overexpression. Moreover, positive correlations between 5-mC and Dnmt3a immunoreactivity were observed in the CA3 and CA1–2. These findings suggest a crucial role for DNA methylation in hippocampal aging and in the mediation of the beneficial effects of CR on aging.
Aging; Epigenesis; Epigenetics; DNA methylation; 5-methylcytidine (5-mC); Caloric restriction; Antioxidants; Superoxide dismutase (SOD); Hippocampus
Chorioamnionitis is an important problem in perinatology today, leading to brain injury and neurological handicaps. However, there are almost no data available regarding chorioamnionitis and a specific damage of the cerebellum. Therefore, this study aimed at determining if chorioamnionitis causes cerebellar morphological alterations. Chorioamnionitis was induced in sheep by the intra-amniotic injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) at a gestational age (GA) of 110 days. At a GA of 140 days, we assessed the mean total and layer-specific volume and the mean total granule cell (GCs) and Purkinje cell (PC) number in the cerebelli of LPS-exposed and control animals using high-precision design-based stereology. Astrogliosis was assessed in the gray and white matter (WM) using a glial fibrillary acidic protein staining combined with gray value image analysis. The present study showed an unchanged volume of the total cerebellum as well as the molecular layer, outer and inner granular cell layers (OGL and IGL, respectively), and WM. Interestingly, compared with controls, the LPS-exposed brains showed a statistically significant increase (+20.4%) in the mean total number of GCs, whereas the number of PCs did not show any difference between the two groups. In addition, LPS-exposed animals showed signs of astrogliosis specifically affecting the IGL. Intra-amniotic injection of LPS causes morphological changes in the cerebellum of fetal sheep still detectable at full-term birth. In this study, changes were restricted to the inner granule layer. These cerebellar changes might correspond to some of the motor or non-motor deficits seen in neonates from compromised pregnancies.
Chorioamnionitis; LPS; Intra-amniotic; Fetal; Cerebellum; Granule cell loss; Astrocytes; Stereology
Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) is a principal mediator in pro-inflammatory processes that involve necrosis, apoptosis and proliferation. Experimental and clinical evidence demonstrate that peripheral nerve injury results in activation and morphological changes of microglial cells in the spinal cord. These adjustments occur in order to initiate an inflammatory cascade in response to the damage. Between the agents involved in this reaction, TNF-α is recognized as a key player in this process as it not only modulates lesion formation, but also because it is suggested to induce nociceptive signals. Nowadays, even though the function of TNF-α in inflammation and pain production seems to be generally accepted, diverse sources of literature point to different pathways and outcomes. In this review, we systematically searched and reviewed original articles from the past 10 years on animal models of peripheral nervous injury describing TNF-α expression in neural tissue and pain behavior.
TNF-α; Central sensitization; Neuropathic pain; Preclinical studies; Neuroinflammation
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by amyloid plaque accumulation, intracellular tangles and neuronal loss in selective brain regions. The frontal cortex, important for executive functioning, is one of the regions that are affected. Here, we investigated the neurodegenerative effects of mutant human amyloid precursor protein (APP) and presenilin 1 (PS1) on frontal cortex neurons in APP/PS1KI mice, a transgenic mouse model of AD, expressing two mutations in the human APP, as well as two human PS1 mutations knocked-in into the mouse PS1 gene in a homozygous (ho) manner. Although the hippocampus is significantly affected in these mice, very little is known about the effects of these mutations on selective neuronal populations and plaque load in the frontal cortex. In this study, cytoarchitectural changes were characterized using high precision design-based stereology to evaluate plaque load, total neuron numbers, as well as total numbers of parvalbumin- (PV) and calretinin- (CR) immunoreactive (ir) neurons in the frontal cortex of 2- and 10-month-old APP/PS1KI mice. The frontal cortex was divided into two subfields: layers II–IV and layers V–VI, the latter of which showed substantially more extracellular amyloid-beta aggregates. We found a 34% neuron loss in layers V–VI in the frontal cortex of 10-month-old APP/PS1KI mice compared to 2-month-old, while there was no change in PV- and CR-ir neurons in these mice. In addition, the plaque load in layers V–VI of 10-month-old APP/PS1KI mice was only 11% and did not fully account for the extent of neuronal loss. Interestingly, an increase was found in the total number of PV-ir neurons in all frontal cortical layers of single transgenic APP mice and in layers II–IV of single transgenic PS1ho mice between 2 and 10 months of age. In conclusion, the APP/PS1KI mice provide novel insights into the regional selective vulnerability in the frontal cortex during AD that, together with previous findings in the hippocampus, are remarkably similar to the human situation.
Alzheimer’s disease; Neuropathology; Stereology; Frontal cortex; Mouse model
Hippocampal atrophy and neuron loss are commonly found in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the underlying molecular mechanisms and the fate in the AD hippocampus of subpopulations of interneurons that express the calcium-binding proteins parvalbumin (PV) and calretinin (CR) has not yet been properly assessed. Using quantitative stereologic methods, we analyzed the regional pattern of age-related loss of PV- and CR-immunoreactive (ir) neurons in the hippocampus of mice that carry M233T/L235P knocked-in mutations in presenilin-1 (PS1) and overexpress a mutated human beta-amyloid precursor protein (APP), namely, the APPSL/PS1 KI mice, as well as in APPSL mice and PS1 KI mice. We found a loss of PV-ir neurons (40–50%) in the CA1-2, and a loss of CR-ir neurons (37–52%) in the dentate gyrus and hilus of APPSL/PS1 KI mice. Interestingly, comparable PV- and CR-ir neuron losses were observed in the dentate gyrus of postmortem brain specimens obtained from patients with AD. The loss of these interneurons in AD may have substantial functional repercussions on local inhibitory processes in the hippocampus.
Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid precursor protein; Calcium-binding proteins; Hippocampus; Presenilin-1; Stereology
Until recently, the cerebellum was primarily considered to be a structure involved in motor behaviour. New anatomical and clinical evidence has shown that the cerebellum is also involved in higher cognitive functions and non-motor behavioural changes. Functional imaging in patients with anxiety disorders and in cholecystokinin tetrapeptide-induced panic-attacks shows activation changes in the cerebellum. Deep brain stimulation of the dorsolateral periaqueductal grey (dlPAG) and the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) in rats has been shown to induce escape behaviour, which mimics a panic attack in humans. We used this animal model to study the neuronal activation in the deep cerebellar nuclei (DCbN) using c-Fos immunohistochemistry. c-Fos expression in the DCbN decreased significantly after inducing escape behaviour by stimulation of the dlPAG and the VMH, indicating that the DCbN were deactivated. This study demonstrates that the DCbN are directly or indirectly involved in panic attacks. We suggest that the cerebellum plays a role in the selection of relevant information, and that deactivation of the cerebellar nuclei is required to allow inappropriate behaviour to occur, such as panic attacks.
Cerebellum; Deep brain stimulation; Periaqueductal grey; Ventromedial hypothalamus; Escape behaviour
According to a long-standing hypothesis, aging is mainly caused by accumulation of nuclear (n) DNA damage in differentiated cells such as neurons due to insufficient nDNA repair during lifetime. In line with this hypothesis it was until recently widely accepted that neuron loss is a general consequence of normal aging, explaining some degree of decline in brain function during aging. However, with the advent of more accurate procedures for counting neurons, it is currently widely accepted that there is widespread preservation of neuron numbers in the aging brain, and the changes that do occur are relatively specific to certain brain regions and types of neurons. Whether accumulation of nDNA damage and decline in nDNA repair is a general phenomenon in the aging brain or also shows cell-type specificity is, however, not known. It has not been possible to address this issue with the biochemical and molecular-biological methods available to study nDNA damage and nDNA repair. Rather, it was the introduction of autoradiographic methods to study quantitatively the relative amounts of nDNA damage (measured as nDNA single-strand breaks) and nDNA repair (measured as unscheduled DNA synthesis) on tissue sections that made it possible to address this question in a cell-type-specific manner under physiological conditions. The results of these studies revealed a formerly unknown inverse relationship between age-related accumulation of nDNA damage and age-related impairment in nDNA repair on the one hand, and the age-related, selective, loss of neurons on the other hand. This inverse relation may not only reflect a fundamental process of aging in the central nervous system but also provide the molecular basis for a new approach to understand the selective neuronal vulnerability in neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.
Aging; Alzheimer’s disease; Brain; DNA damage; DNA repair
Major depressive disorder is one of the most disabling and common diagnoses amongst psychiatric disorders, with a current worldwide prevalence of 5–10% of the general population and up to 20–25% for the lifetime period.
Nowadays, conventional treatment includes psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy; however, more than 60% of the treated patients respond unsatisfactorily, and almost one fifth becomes refractory to these therapies at long-term follow-up.
Growing social incapacity and economic burdens make the medical community strive for better therapies, with fewer complications. Various nonpharmacological techniques like electroconvulsive therapy, vagus nerve stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, lesion surgery, and deep brain stimulation have been developed for this purpose.
We reviewed the literature from the beginning of the twentieth century until July 2009 and described the early clinical effects and main reported complications of these methods.
Major depressive disorder; Electroconvulsive therapy; Vagus nerve stimulation; Transcranial magnetic stimulation; Psychosurgery; Deep brain stimulation
One of the major complaints most people face during aging is an impairment in cognitive functioning. This has a negative impact on the quality of daily life and is even more prominent in patients suffering from neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and depression. So far, the majority of cognition enhancers are generally targeting one particular neurotransmitter system. However, recently phosphodiesterases (PDEs) have gained increased attention as a potential new target for cognition enhancement. Inhibition of PDEs increases the intracellular availability of the second messengers cGMP and/or cAMP.
The aim of this review was to provide an overview of the effects of phosphodiesterase inhibitors (PDE-Is) on cognition, the possible underlying mechanisms, and the relationship to current theories about memory formation.
Materials and methods
Studies of the effects of inhibitors of different PDE families (2, 4, 5, 9, and 10) on cognition were reviewed. In addition, studies related to PDE-Is and blood flow, emotional arousal, and long-term potentiation (LTP) were described.
PDE-Is have a positive effect on several aspects of cognition, including information processing, attention, memory, and executive functioning. At present, these data are likely to be explained in terms of an LTP-related mechanism of action.
PDE-Is are a promising target for cognition enhancement; the most suitable candidates appear to be PDE2-Is or PDE9-Is. The future for PDE-Is as cognition enhancers lies in the development of isoform-specific PDE-Is that have limited aversive side effects.
PDE inhibitors; Cognition; cAMP; cGMP; Memory; LTP
Neuroinflammation, initiated by cerebral infection, is increasingly postulated as an aetiological factor in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We investigated whether Chlamydia pneumoniae (Cpn) infection results in extracellular aggregation of amyloid beta (Aβ) in BALB/c mice. At 1 week post intranasal infection (p.i.), Cpn DNA was detected predominantly in the olfactory bulbs by PCR, whereas brains at 1 and 3 months p.i. were Cpn negative. At 1 and 3 months p.i., extracellular Aβ immunoreactivity was detected in the brain of Cpn-infected mice but also in the brain of mock-infected mice and mice that were neither Cpn infected nor mock infected. However, these extracellular Aβ aggregates showed morphological differences compared to extracellular Aβ aggregates detected in the brain of transgenic APP751SL/PS1M146L mice. These data do not unequivocally support the hypothesis that Cpn infection induces the formation of AD-like Aβ plaques in the brain of BALB/c mice, as suggested before. However, future studies are required to resolve these differences and to investigate whether Cpn is indeed an etiological factor in AD pathogenesis.
Neuroinflammation; Chlamydia pneumoniae; Amyloid-beta