A preferential dysfunction/loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) accounts for the main motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD), the most common degenerative movement disorder. However, the neuronal loss is not stochastic, but rather displays regionally selectivity, indicating the existence of different DA subpopulations in the SNpc. To identify the underlying molecular determinants is thereby instrumental in understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms of PD-related neuron dysfunction/loss and offering new therapeutic targets. Recently, we have demonstrated that aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1A1) is one such molecular determinant that defines and protects an SNpc DA neuron subpopulation preferentially affected in PD. In this review, we provide further analysis and discussion on the roles of ALDH1A1 in the function and survival of SNpc DA neurons in both rodent and human brains. We also explore the feasibility of ALDH1A1 as a potential biomarker and therapeutic target for PD.
Parkinson’s disease; Substantia nigra pars compacta; Dopaminergic neuron; Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1; α-synuclein; Neurodegeneration; Aging
The substitution of Proline with Serine at residue 56 (P56S) of vesicle-associated membrane protein-associated protein B (VAPB) has been linked to an atypical autosomal dominant form of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 8 (ALS8). To investigate the pathogenic mechanism of P56S VAPB in ALS, we generated transgenic (Tg) mice that heterologously express human wild-type (WT) and P56S VAPB under the control of a pan-neuronal promoter Thy1.2. While WT VAPB Tg mice did not exhibit any overt motor behavioral phenotypes, P56S VAPB Tg mice developed progressive hyperactivities and other motor abnormalities. VAPB protein was accumulated as large punctate in the soma and proximal dendrites of both corticospinal motor neurons (CSMNs) and spinal motor neurons (SMNs) in P56S VAPB Tg mice. Concomitantly, a significant increase of endoplasmic reticulum stress and unfolded protein response and the resulting up-regulation of pro-apoptotic factor CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein homologous protein expression were observed in the CSMNs and SMNs of P56S VAPB Tg mice. However, only a progressive loss of CSMNs but not SMNs was found in P56S VAPB Tg mice. In SMNs, P56S VAPB promoted a rather selective translocation of VAPB protein onto the postsynaptic site of C-boutons that altered the morphology of C-boutons and impaired the spontaneous rhythmic discharges of SMNs. Therefore, these findings provide new pathophysiological mechanisms of P56S VAPB that differentially affect the function and survival of CSMNs and SMNs in ALS8.
Calcium triggers dopamine release from presynaptic terminals of midbrain dopaminergic (mDA) neurons in the striatum. However, calcium transients within mDA axons and axon terminals are difficult to study and little is known about how they are regulated. Here we use a newly-developed method to measure presynaptic calcium transients (PreCaTs) in axons and terminals of mDA neurons with a genetically encoded calcium indicator (GECI) GCaMP3 expressed in transgenic mice. Using a photomultiplier tube-based system, we measured electrical stimulation-induced PreCaTs of mDA neurons in dorsolateral striatum slices from these mice. Single-pulse stimulation produced a transient increase in fluorescence that was completely blocked by a combination of N- and P/Q-type calcium channel blockers. DA and cholinergic, but not serotoninergic, signaling pathways modulated the PreCaTs in mDA fibers. These findings reveal heretofore unexplored dynamic modulation of presynaptic calcium in nigrostriatal terminals.
Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) is enriched in the striatal projection neurons (SPNs). Here we show that LRRK2 negatively regulates protein kinase A (PKA) activity in the SPNs during synaptogenesis and in response to dopamine receptor Drd1 activation. LRRK2 interacted with PKA regulatory subunit IIβ (PKARIIβ). A lack of LRRK2 promoted the synaptic translocation of PKA and increased PKA-mediated phosphorylation of actin-disassembling enzyme cofilin and glutamate receptor GluR1, resulting in abnormal synaptogenesis and transmission in the developing SPNs. Furthermore, PKA-dependent phosphorylation of GluR1 was also aberrantly enhanced in the striatum of young and aged LRRK2-null mice after treatment with a Drd1 agonist. Notably, a Parkinson’s disease-related LRRK2 R1441C missense mutation that impaired the interaction of LRRK2 with PKARIIβ also induced excessive PKA activity in the SPNs. Our findings reveal a new regulatory role of LRRK2 in PKA signaling, and provide a new pathogenic mechanism of SPN dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease.
Subpopulations of dopaminergic (DA) neurons within the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) display a differential vulnerability to loss in Parkinson’s disease (PD); however, it is not clear why these subsets are preferentially selected in PD-associated neurodegeneration. In rodent SNpc, DA neurons can be divided into two subpopulations based on the expression of aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1A1). Here, we have shown that, in α-synuclein transgenic mice, a murine model of PD-related disease, DA neurodegeneration occurs mainly in a dorsomedial ALDH1A1-negative subpopulation that is also prone to cytotoxic aggregation of α-synuclein. Notably, the topographic ALDH1A1 pattern observed in α-synuclein transgenic mice was conserved in human SNpc. Postmortem evaluation of brains of patients with PD revealed a severe reduction of ALDH1A1 expression and neurodegeneration in the ventral ALDH1A1-positive DA subpopulations. ALDH1A1 expression was also suppressed in α-synuclein transgenic mice. Deletion of Aldh1a1 exacerbated α-synuclein–mediated DA neurodegeneration and α-synuclein aggregation, whereas Aldh1a1-null and control DA neurons were comparably susceptible to 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium–, glutamate-, or camptothecin-induced cell death. ALDH1A1 overexpression appeared to preferentially protect against α-synuclein–mediated DA neurodegeneration but did not rescue α-synuclein–induced loss of cortical neurons. Together, our findings suggest that ALDH1A1 protects subpopulations of SNpc DA neurons by preventing the accumulation of dopamine aldehyde intermediates and formation of cytotoxic α-synuclein oligomers.
The aim of the present study was to establish a novel animal model of osteonecrosis of the femoral head (ONFH) using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided argon-helium cryotherapy system. A total of 48 rabbits were used to generate the ONFH models. In group I, the left femoral head of the rabbits received two cycles of argon-helium freezing-thawing under MRI guidance, while in group II, the right femoral head of each rabbit received only one cycle of argon-helium freezing-thawing. X-ray and histological examinations were performed. The percentages of lacunae in the femoral heads of group I at weeks 4, 8 and 12 following surgery (49.75±3.17, 62.06±4.12 and 48.25±2.76%, respectively) were higher than those in group II (39.13±4.48, 50.69±3.84 and 37.50±3.86%, respectively). In addition, the percentage of empty lacunae in group I was 62.06% at week 8 following surgery. Therefore, an animal model of ONFH was successfully established using an argon-helium cryotherapy system. The percentage of empty lacunae in group I was higher than that in group II at weeks 4, 8 and 12 after surgery.
osteonecrosis; femoral head; magnetic resonance imaging; cryotherapy; animal model
Recent genome-wide association studies indicate that a simple alteration of Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene expression may contribute to the etiology of sporadic Parkinson's disease (PD). However, the expression and regulation of LRRK2 protein in the sporadic PD brains remain to be determined. Here, we found that the expression of LRRK2 protein was enhanced in the sporadic PD patients using the frontal cortex tissue from a set of 16 PD patients and 7 control samples. In contrast, no significant difference was detected in the level of LRRK2 mRNA expression between the control and PD cases, suggesting a potential post-transcriptional modification of the LRRK2 protein expression in the sporadic PD brains. Indeed, it was identified that microRNA-205 (miR-205) suppressed the expression of LRRK2 protein through a conserved-binding site at the 3′-untranslated region (UTR) of LRRK2 gene. Interestingly, miR-205 expression was significantly downregulated in the brains of patients with sporadic PD, showing the enhanced LRRK2 protein levels. Also, in vitro studies in the cell lines and primary neuron cultures further established the role of miR-205 in modulating the expression of LRRK2 protein. In addition, introduction of miR-205 prevented the neurite outgrowth defects in the neurons expressing a PD-related LRRK2 R1441G mutant. Together, these findings suggest that downregulation of miR-205 may contribute to the potential pathogenic elevation of LRRK2 protein in the brains of patients with sporadic PD, while overexpression of miR-205 may provide an applicable therapeutic strategy to suppress the abnormal upregulation of LRRK2 protein in PD.
Autism is a childhood neuro-developmental disorder, and Reelin (RELN) is an important candidate gene for influencing autism. This study aimed at investigating the influence of genetic variants of the RELN gene on autism susceptibility. In this study, 205 autism patients and 210 healthy controls were recruited and the genetic variants of the RELN gene were genotyped by the created restriction site-polymerase chain reaction (CRS-PCR) method. The influence of genetic variants on autism susceptibility was analyzed by association analysis, and the g.296596G > A genetic variant in exon10 of the RELN gene was detected. The frequencies of allele/genotype in autistic patients were significantly different from those in healthy controls, and a statistically significant association was detected between this genetic variant and autism susceptibility. Our data lead to the inference that the g.296596G > A genetic variant in the RELN gene has a potential influence on autism susceptibility in the Chinese Han population.
autism; susceptibility; association analysis; RELN gene; genetic variants
α-synuclein(α-syn) plays a prominent role in the degeneration of midbrain dopaminergic (mDA) neurons in Parkinson disease (PD). However, only a few studies on α-syn have been carried out in the mDA neurons in vivo, which may be attributed to a lack of α-syn transgenic mice that develop PD-like severe degeneration of mDA neurons. To gain mechanistic insights into the α-syn-induced mDA neurodegeneration, we generated a new line of tetracycline-regulated inducible transgenic mice that overexpressed the PD-related α-syn A53T missense mutation in the mDA neurons. Here we show that the mutant mice developed profound motor disabilities and robust mDA neurodegeneration, resembling some key motor and pathological phenotypes of PD. We further systematically examined the subcellular abnormalities appeared in the mDA neurons of mutant mice, and observed a profound decrease of dopamine release, the fragmentation of Golgi apparatus, and impairments of autophagy/lysosome degradation pathways in these neurons. To further understand the specific molecular events leading to the α-syn-dependent degeneration of mDA neurons, we found that over-expression of α-syn promoted a proteasome-dependent degradation of nuclear receptor related 1 protein (Nurr1); while inhibition of Nurr1 degradation ameliorated the α-syn-induced loss of mDA neurons. Given that Nurr1 plays an essential role in maintaining the normal function and survival of mDA neurons, our studies suggest that the α-syn-mediated suppression of Nurr1 protein expression may contribute to the preferential vulnerability of mDA neurons in the pathogenesis of PD.
Years of education are inversely related to the prevalence of major depressive disorder (MDD), but the relationship between the clinical features of MDD and educational status is poorly understood. We investigated this in 1970 Chinese women with recurrent MDD identified in a clinical setting.
Clinical and demographic features were obtained from 1970 Han Chinese women with DSM-IV major depression between 30 and 60 years of age across China. Analysis of linear, logistic and multiple logistic regression models were used to determine the association between educational level and clinical features of MDD.
Subjects with more years of education are more likely to have MDD, with an odds ratio of 1.14 for those with more than ten years. Low educational status is not associated with an increase in the number of episodes, nor with increased rates of co-morbidity with anxiety disorders. Education impacts differentially on the symptoms of depression: lower educational attainment is associated with more biological symptoms and increased suicidal ideation and plans to commit suicide.
Findings may not generalize to males or to other patient populations. Since the threshold for treatment seeking differs as a function of education there may an ascertainment bias in the sample.
The relationship between symptoms of MDD and educational status in Chinese women is unexpectedly complex. Our findings are inconsistent with the simple hypothesis from European and US reports that low levels of educational attainment increase the risk and severity of MDD.
Major depressive disorder; Education; Socio-economic status; Symptom
Mutations in α-synuclein and Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) are linked to autosomal dominant forms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, little is known about any potential pathophysiological interplay between these two PD-related genes. Here we show in transgenic mice that although over-expression of LRRK2 alone did not cause neurodegeneration, the presence of excess LRRK2 greatly accelerated the progression of neuropathological abnormalities developed in PD-related A53T α-synuclein transgenic mice. Moreover, we found that LRRK2 promoted the abnormal aggregation and somatic accumulation of α-synuclein in A53T mice, likely resulted from the impairment of microtubule dynamics, Golgi organization, and ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Conversely, genetic ablation of LRRK2 preserved the Golgi structure, suppressed the aggregation and somatic accumulation of α-synuclein, and thereby delayed the progression of neuropathology in A53T mice. These findings demonstrate that over-expression of LRRK2 enhances α-synuclein-mediated cytotoxicity and suggest inhibition of LRRK2 expression as a potential therapeutic option for ameliorating α-synuclein-induced neurodegeneration.
LRRK2; G2019S; α-synuclein; A53T; Golgi apparatus; microtubule; ubiquitin; mitochondria; aggregation; transgenic; knockout; Parkinson’s disease
Bile acids are important regulatory molecules that can activate specific nuclear receptors and cell signaling pathways in the liver and gastrointestinal tract. In the current study, the chronic bile fistula (CBF) rat model and primary rat hepatocytes (PRH) were used to study the regulation of gluconeogenic genes phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) and glucose-6-phosphatase (G-6-Pase) and the gene encoding short heterodimeric partner (SHP) by taurocholate (TCA). The intestinal infusion of TCA into the CBF rat rapidly (1 h) activated the AKT (∼9-fold) and ERK1/2 (3- to 5-fold) signaling pathways, downregulated (∼50%, 30 min) the mRNA levels of PEPCK and G-6-Pase, and induced (14-fold in 3 h) SHP mRNA. TCA rapidly (∼50%, 1–2 h) downregulated PEPCK and G-6-Pase mRNA levels in PRH. The downregulation of these genes by TCA was blocked by pretreatment of PRH with pertussis toxin (PTX). In PRH, TCA plus insulin showed a significantly stronger inhibition of glucose secretion/synthesis from lactate and pyruvate than either alone. The induction of SHP mRNA in PRH was strongly blocked by inhibition of PI3 kinase or PKCζ by specific chemical inhibitors or knockdown of PKCζ by siRNA encoded by a recombinant lentivirus. Activation of the insulin signaling pathway appears to be linked to the upregulation of farnesoid X receptor functional activity and SHP induction.
protein kinase C zeta; GW4064; chronic bile fistula rat; primary rat hepatocyte; serine/threonine kinase AKT (protein kinase B)
HIV Protease inhibitor (PI)-associated cardiovascular risk, especially atherosclerosis, has become a major concern in the clinic. Macrophages are key players in the inflammatory response and atherosclerosis formation. We have previously shown that HIV PIs induce endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, activate the unfolded protein response (UPR), and increase the synthesis of the inflammatory cytokines, TNF-α and IL-6, by regulating the intracellular translocation of RNA binding protein HuR in macrophages. However, the underlying signaling mechanisms remain unclear. We show here that the HIV PI lopinavir significantly activated the extracellular-signal regulated protein kinase (ERK), but not c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 MAPK. Lopinavir-induced cytosolic translocation of HuR and TNF-α and IL-6 synthesis were attenuated by specific chemical inhibitor of MEK (PD98058) or over-expression of dominant negative mutant of MEK1. In addition, we demonstrated that lopinavir-induced ERK activation and TNF-a and IL-6 expression were completely inhibited in macrophages from CHOP null mice. Taken together, these results indicate activation of the UPR plays an essential role in HIV PI-induced inflammatory cytokine synthesis and release by activating ERK, which increases the cytosolic translocation of HuR and subsequent binding to the 3′UTR of TNF-α and IL-6 mRNAs in macrophages.
HIV protease inhibitor; inflammatory cytokines; ERK; ER stress; the UPR; RNA binding protein
Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) functions as a putative protein kinase of ezrin, radixin, and moesin (ERM) family proteins. A Parkinson's disease-related G2019S substitution in the kinase domain of LRRK2 further enhances the phosphorylation of ERM proteins. The phosphorylated ERM proteins (pERM) are restricted to the filopodia of growing neurites where they tether filamentous actin (F-actin) to the cytoplasmic membrane and regulate the dynamics of filopodia protrusion. Here, we show that in cultured neurons derived from LRRK2 G2019S transgenic mice, the number of pERM-positive and F-actin-enriched filopodia was significantly increased, and this correlates with the retardation of neurite outgrowth. Conversely, deletion of LRRK2, which lowered the pERM and F-actin contents in filopodia, promoted neurite outgrowth. Furthermore, inhibition of ERM phosphorylation or actin polymerization rescued the G2019S-dependent neuronal growth defects. These data support a model in which the G2019S mutation of LRRK2 causes a gain of function effect that perturbs the homeostasis of pERM and F-actin in sprouting neurites critical for neuronal morphogenesis.
LRRK2; G2019S; ERM; phosphorylation; filamentous actin; neuronal morphogenesis; Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease (PD) is the most common movement disorder. While neuronal deposition of α-synuclein serves as a pathological hallmark of PD and Dementia with Lewy Bodies, α-synuclein-positive protein aggregates are also present in astrocytes. The pathological consequence of astrocytic accumulation of α-synuclein, however, is unclear.
Here we show that PD-related A53T mutant α-synuclein, when selectively expressed in astrocytes, induced rapidly progressed paralysis in mice. Increasing accumulation of α-synuclein aggregates was found in presymptomatic and symptomatic mouse brains and correlated with the expansion of reactive astrogliosis. The normal function of astrocytes was compromised as evidenced by cerebral microhemorrhage and down-regulation of astrocytic glutamate transporters, which also led to increased inflammatory responses and microglial activation. Interestingly, the activation of microglia was mainly detected in the midbrain, brainstem and spinal cord, where a significant loss of dopaminergic and motor neurons was observed. Consistent with the activation of microglia, the expression level of cyclooxygenase 1 (COX-1) was significantly up-regulated in the brain of symptomatic mice and in cultured microglia treated with conditioned medium derived from astrocytes over-expressing A53T α-synuclein. Consequently, the suppression of COX-1 activities extended the survival of mutant mice, suggesting that excess inflammatory responses elicited by reactive astrocytes may contribute to the degeneration of neurons.
Our findings demonstrate a critical involvement of astrocytic α-synuclein in initiating the non-cell autonomous killing of neurons, suggesting the viability of reactive astrocytes and microglia as potential therapeutic targets for PD and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Parkinson’s disease (PD), a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by bradykinesia, rigidity, and resting tremor, is the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder. Although the majority of PD cases are sporadic, some are inherited, including those caused by leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) mutations. The substitution of serine for glycine at position 2019 (G2019S) in the kinase domain of LRRK2 represents the most prevalent genetic mutation in both familial and apparently sporadic cases of PD. Because mutations in LRRK2 are likely associated with a toxic gain of function, destabilization of LRRK2 may be a novel way to limit its detrimental effects. Here we show that LRRK2 forms a complex with heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) in vivo and that inhibition of Hsp90 disrupts the association of Hsp90 with LRRK2 and leads to proteasomal degradation of LRRK2. Hsp90 inhibitors may therefore limit the mutant LRRK2-elicited toxicity to neurons. As a proof of principle, we show that Hsp90 inhibitors rescue the axon growth retardation caused by overexpression of the LRRK2 G2019S mutation in neurons. Therefore, inhibition of LRRK2 kinase activity can be achieved by blocking Hsp90-mediated chaperone activity and Hsp90 inhibitors may serve as potential anti-PD drugs.
Hsp90; LRRK2; G2019S; Parkinson’s disease; protein degradation; chaperone
Neural stem/progenitor cell (NSPC) migration toward sites of damaged central nervous system (CNS) tissue may represent an adaptive response for the purpose of limiting and/or repairing damage. Little is known of the mechanisms responsible for this migratory response. We constructed a cDNA library of injured mouse forebrain using subtractive suppression hybridization (SSH) to identify genes that were selectively upregulated in the injured hemisphere. We demonstrate that stem cell factor (SCF) mRNA and protein are highly induced in neurons within the zone of injured brain. Additionally, the SCF receptor c-kit is expressed on NSPCs in vitro and in vivo. Finally, we demonstrate that recombinant SCF induces potent NSPC migration in vitro and in vivo through the activation of c-kit on NSPCs. These data suggest that the SCF/c-kit pathway is involved in the migration of NSPCs to sites of brain injury and that SCF may prove useful for inducing progenitor cell recruitment to specific areas of the CNS for cell-based therapeutic strategies.
Although the diagnosis of melancholia has had a long history, the validity of the current DSM-IV definition remains contentious. We report here the first detailed comparison of melancholic and nonmelancholic major depression (MD) in a Chinese population examining in particular whether these two forms of MD differ quantitatively or qualitatively.
DSM-IV criteria for melancholia were applied to 1,970 Han Chinese women with recurrent MD recruited from 53 provincial mental health centers and psychiatric departments of general medical hospitals in 41 cities. Statistical analyses, utilizing Student's t-tests and Pearson's χ2, were calculated using SPSS 13.0.
Melancholic patients with MD were distinguished from nonmelancholic by being older, having a later age at onset, more episodes of illness and meeting more A criteria. They also had higher levels of neuroticism and rates of lifetime generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social and agoraphobia. They had significantly lower rates of childhood sexual abuse but did not differ on other stressful life events or rates of MD in their families.
Consistent with most prior findings in European and US populations, we find that melancholia is a more clinically severe syndrome than nonmelancholic depression with higher rates of comorbidity. The evidence that it is a more “biological” or qualitatively distinct syndrome, however, is mixed.
major depression; melancholia; symptom; stressful life events