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1.  Localized diffusion magnetic resonance micro-imaging of the live mouse brain 
NeuroImage  2014;91:12-20.
High-resolution diffusion MRI (dMRI) is useful for resolving complex microstructures in the mouse brain, but technically challenging for in vivo studies due to the long scan time. In this study, selective excitation and a three-dimensional fast imaging sequence were used to achieve in vivo high-resolution dMRI of the mouse brain at 11.7 Tesla. By reducing the field of view using spatially selective radio frequency pulses, we were able to focus on targeted brain structures and acquire high angular resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI) data at an isotropic resolution of 0.1 mm and 30 diffusion encoding directions in approximately one hour. We investigated the complex tissue microstructures of the mouse hippocampus, cerebellum, and several cortical areas using this localized dMRI approach, and compared the results with histological sections stained with several axonal and dendritic markers. In the mouse visual cortex, the results showed predominately radially arranged structures in an outer layer and tangentially arranged structures in an inner layer, similar to observations from postmortem human brain specimens.
PMCID: PMC3965599  PMID: 24440780
2.  On the Use of Biaxial Properties in Modeling Annulus as a Holzapfel–Gasser–Ogden Material 
Besides the biology, stresses and strains within the tissue greatly influence the location of damage initiation and mode of failure in an intervertebral disk. Finite element models of a functional spinal unit (FSU) that incorporate reasonably accurate geometry and appropriate material properties are suitable to investigate such issues. Different material models and techniques have been used to model the anisotropic annulus fibrosus, but the abilities of these models to predict damage initiation in the annulus and to explain clinically observed phenomena are unclear. In this study, a hyperelastic anisotropic material model for the annulus with two different sets of material constants, experimentally determined using uniaxial and biaxial loading conditions, were incorporated in a 3D finite element model of a ligamentous FSU. The purpose of the study was to highlight the biomechanical differences (e.g., intradiscal pressure, motion, forces, stresses, strains, etc.) due to the dissimilarity between the two sets of material properties (uniaxial and biaxial). Based on the analyses, the biaxial constants simulations resulted in better agreements with the in vitro and in vivo data, and thus are more suitable for future damage analysis and failure prediction of the annulus under complex multiaxial loading conditions.
PMCID: PMC4453479  PMID: 26090359
functional spinal unit; finite element modeling of intervertebral disk; annulus material modeling; hyperelastic and anisotropic behavior; uniaxial vs. biaxial stress state
3.  MEF2C Haploinsufficiency features consistent hyperkinesis, variable epilepsy, and has a role in dorsal and ventral neuronal developmental pathways 
Neurogenetics  2013;14(2):99-111.
MEF2C haploinsufficiency syndrome is an emerging neurodevelopmental disorder associated with intellectual disability, autistic features, epilepsy, and abnormal movements. We report 16 new patients with MEF2C haploinsufficiency, including the oldest reported patient with MEF2C deletion at 5q14.3. We detail the neurobehavioral phenotype, epilepsy, and abnormal movements, and compare our subjects with those previously reported in the literature. We also investigate Mef2c expression in the developing mouse forebrain. A spectrum of neurofunctional deficits emerges, with hyperkinesis a consistent finding. Epilepsy varied from absent to severe, and included intractable myoclonic seizures and infantile spasms. Subjects with partial MEF2C deletion were statistically less likely to have epilepsy. Finally, we confirm that Mef2c is present both in dorsal primary neuroblasts and ventral gamma-aminobutyric acid(GABA)ergic interneurons in the forebrain of the developing mouse. Given interactions with several key neurodevelopmental genes such as ARX, FMR1, MECP2, and TBR1, it appears that MEF2C plays a role in several developmental stages of both dorsal and ventral neuronal cell types.
PMCID: PMC3773516  PMID: 23389741
MEF2C haploinsufficiency; Intellectual disability; Autism; Infant-onset myoclonic epilepsy; Infantile spasms; Hyperkinesis; Deletion 5q14.3
4.  Neonatal Neuroimaging Findings in Inborn Errors of Metabolism 
Individually, metabolic disorders are rare, but overall they account for a significant number of neonatal disorders affecting the central nervous system. The neonatal clinical manifestations of inborn errors of metabolism (IEMs) are characterized by nonspecific systemic symptoms that may mimic more common acute neonatal disorders like sepsis, severe heart insufficiency, or neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. Certain IEMs presenting in the neonatal period may also be complicated by sepsis and cardiomyopathy. Early diagnosis is mandatory to prevent death and permanent long-term neurological impairments. Although neuroimaging findings are rarely specific, they play a key role in suggesting the correct diagnosis, limiting the differential diagnosis, and may consequently allow early initiation of targeted metabolic and genetic laboratory investigations and treatment. Neuroimaging may be especially helpful to distinguish metabolic disorders from other more common causes of neonatal encephalopathy, as a newborn may present with an IEM prior to the availability of the newborn screening results. It is therefore important that neonatologists, pediatric neurologists, and pediatric neuroradiologists are familiar with the neuroimaging findings of metabolic disorders presenting in the neonatal time period.
PMCID: PMC4000315  PMID: 22566357
inborn errors of metabolism; neonates; neuroimaging; brain; MRI
Translational stroke research  2013;4(2):137-148.
Perinatal brain injuries are a leading cause of cerebral palsy worldwide. The potential of stem cell therapy to prevent or reduce these impairments has been widely discussed within the medical and scientific communities and an increasing amount of research is being conducted in this field. Animal studies support the idea that a number of stem cells types, including cord blood and mesenchymal stem cells have a neuroprotective effect in neonatal hypoxia-ischemia. Both these cell types are readily available in a clinical setting. The mechanisms of action appear to be diverse, including immunomodulation, activation of endogenous stem cells, release of growth factors, and anti-apoptotic effects. Here, we review the different types of stem cells and progenitor cells that are potential candidates for therapeutic strategies in perinatal brain injuries, and summarize recent preclinical and clinical studies.
PMCID: PMC3692557  PMID: 23814628
Stem Cell; Cerebral Palsy; neonate; brain injury; hypoxia ischemia
6.  Ischemia Induced Neuroinflammation is Associated with Disrupted Development of Oligodendrocyte Progenitors in a Model of Periventricular Leukomalacia 
Developmental neuroscience  2013;35(0):182-196.
Microglial activation in crossing white matter tracts is a hallmark of noncystic periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), the leading pathology underlying cerebral palsy in prematurely born infants. Recent studies indicate that neuroinflammation within an early time-window can produce long-lasting defects in oligodendroglial maturation, myelination-deficit, as well as disruption of transcription factors important in oligodendroglial maturation. We recently reported an ischemic mouse model of PVL, induced by unilateral neonatal carotid artery ligation, leading to selective long lasting bilateral myelination deficits, ipsilateral thinning of the corpus callosum, ventriculomegaly, as well as evidence of axonopathy.
Here, we report that permanent unilateral carotid ligation on postnatal day 5 (P5) in CD-1 mice induces an inflammatory response, as defined by microglial activation and recruitment, as well as significant changes in cytokine expression (increased IL-1b, IL-6, TGF-b1, and TNF-a) following ischemia. Transient reduction in counts of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) at 24 and 48 hours post-ischemia, a shift in OPC cell size and morphology towards the more immature form, as well as likely migration of OPCs were found. These OPC changes were topographically associated with areas showing microglial activation, and OPC counts negatively correlated with increased microglial staining.
The presented data shows a striking neuroinflammatory response in an ischemia-induced model of PVL, associated with oligodendroglial injury. Future studies modulating the neuroinflammatory response in this model, may contribute to a better understanding of the interaction between microglia and OPCs in PVL and open opportunities for future therapies.
PMCID: PMC3764456  PMID: 23445614
Infants; inflammation; ischemia; microglia; neonatal; oligodendrocyte progenitor; white matter
7.  Ethnicity and suicide attempt: analysis in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:252.
Evidence is mixed as to whether White Europeans are at a higher risk for suicide attempts or completions compared to other ethnic groups. The present analysis assessed whether risk for suicide attempt was associated with White European ethnicity in 907 subjects with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
Subjects were diagnosed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV, and ethnicity was determined by self-report. Subjects were recruited from psychiatric care centers in Toronto, Canada. Logistic regression correcting for clinical covariates like age, gender and diagnosis, was used in this study.
We found no difference in suicide attempter status in white and non-white subjects who were diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Our study does not support the evidence that White-European patients in North America are at higher risk for suicide attempt compared to non-European descent subjects. However, this result has to be replicated in larger studies in patients with these disorders.
PMCID: PMC4016491  PMID: 24103351
Ethnicity; Suicide attempt; Schizophrenia; Bipolar disorder; Schizoaffective disorder
8.  Treatment advances in neonatal neuroprotection and neurointensive care 
Lancet neurology  2011;10(4):372-382.
Knowledge of the nature, prognosis, and ways to treat brain lesions in neonatal infants has increased remarkably. Neonatal hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) in term infants, mirrors a progressive cascade of excito-oxidative events that unfold in the brain after an asphyxial insult. In the laboratory, this cascade can be blocked to protect brain tissue through the process of neuroprotection. However, proof of a clinical effect was lacking until the publication of three positive randomised controlled trials of moderate hypothermia for term infants with HIE. These results have greatly improved treatment prospects for babies with asphyxia and altered understanding of the theory of neuroprotection. The studies show that moderate hypothermia within 6 h of asphyxia improves survival without cerebral palsy or other disability by about 40% and reduces death or neurological disability by nearly 30%. The search is on to discover adjuvant treatments that can further enhance the effects of hypothermia.
PMCID: PMC3757153  PMID: 21435600
9.  In vivo magnetization transfer MRI shows dysmyelination in an ischemic mouse model of periventricular leukomalacia 
Periventricular leukomalacia, PVL, is the leading cause of cerebral palsy in prematurely born infants, and therefore more effective interventions are required. The objective of this study was to develop an ischemic injury model of PVL in mice and to determine the feasibility of in vivo magnetization transfer (MT) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as a potential monitoring tool for the evaluation of disease severity and experimental therapeutics. Neonatal CD-1 mice underwent unilateral carotid artery ligation on postnatal day 5 (P5); at P60, in vivo T2-weighted (T2w) and MT-MRI were performed and correlated with postmortem histopathology. In vivo T2w MRI showed thinning of the right corpus callosum, but no significant changes in hippocampal and hemispheric volumes. Magnetization transfer MRI revealed significant white matter abnormalities in the bilateral corpus callosum and internal capsule. These quantitative MT-MRI changes correlated highly with postmortem findings of reduced myelin basic protein in bilateral white matter tracts. Ventriculomegaly and persistent astrogliosis were observed on the ligated side, along with evidence of axonopathy and fewer oligodendrocytes in the corpus callosum. We present an ischemia-induced mouse model of PVL, which has pathologic abnormalities resembling autopsy reports in infants with PVL. We further validate in vivo MRI techniques as quantitative monitoring tools that highly correlate with postmortem histopathology.
PMCID: PMC3208153  PMID: 21540870
brain ischemia; glial cells; MRI; perinatal hypoxia; white matter disease
10.  Derivation of Glial Restricted Precursors from E13 mice 
This is a protocol for derivation of glial restricted precursor (GRP) cells from the spinal cord of E13 mouse fetuses. These cells are early precursors within the oligodendrocytic cell lineage. Recently, these cells have been studied as potential source for restorative therapies in white matter diseases. Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is the leading cause of non-genetic white matter disease in childhood and affects up to 50% of extremely premature infants. The data suggest a heightened susceptibility of the developing brain to hypoxia-ischemia, oxidative stress and excitotoxicity that selectively targets nascent white matter. Glial restricted precursors (GRP), oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPC) and immature oligodendrocytes (preOL) seem to be key players in the development of PVL and are the subject of continuing studies. Furthermore, previous studies have identified a subset of CNS tissue that has increased susceptibility to glutamate excitotoxicity as well as a developmental pattern to this susceptibility. Our laboratory is currently investigating the role of oligodendrocyte progenitors in PVL and use cells at the GRP stage of development. We utilize these derived GRP cells in several experimental paradigms to test their response to select stresses consistent with PVL. GRP cells can be manipulated in vitro into OPCs and preOL for transplantation experiments with mouse PVL models and in vitro models of PVL-like insults including hypoxia-ischemia. By using cultured cells and in vitro studies there would be reduced variability between experiments which facilitates interpretation of the data. Cultured cells also allows for enrichment of the GRP population while minimizing the impact of contaminating cells of non-GRP phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3399460  PMID: 22760029
Neuroscience;  Issue 64;  Physiology;  Medicine;  periventricular leukomalacia;  oligodendrocytes;  glial restricted precursors;  spinal cord;  cell culture
11.  Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy in the Term Infant 
Clinics in perinatology  2009;36(4):835-vii.
Hypoxia-ischemia in the perinatal period is an important cause of cerebral palsy and associated disabilities in children. There has been significant research progress in hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy over the last two decades and many new molecular mechanisms have been identified. Despite all these advances, therapeutic interventions are still limited. In this review paper, we discuss a number of molecular pathways involved in hypoxia-ischemia, and potential therapeutic targets.
PMCID: PMC2849741  PMID: 19944838
Hypoxia ischemia; neonatal encephalopathy; apoptosis; oxidative stress; hypothermia
Magnetization transfer (MT) imaging has assessed myelin integrity in the brain and spinal cord; however, quantitative MT (qMT) has been confined to the brain or excised tissue. We characterized spinal cord tissue with qMT in vivo, and as a first application, qMT-derived metrics were examined in adults with the genetic disorder Adrenomyeloneuropathy (AMN). AMN is a progressive disease marked by demyelination of the white matter tracts of the cervical spinal cord, and a disease in which conventional MRI has been limited. MT data were acquired at 1.5T using 10 radiofrequency offsets at one power in the cervical cord at C2 in 6 healthy volunteers and 9 AMN patients. The data were fit to a two-pool MT model and the macromolecular fraction (Mob), macromolecular transverse relaxation time (T2b) and the rate of MT exchange (R) for lateral and dorsal column white matter and gray matter were calculated. Mob for healthy volunteers was: WM=13.9±2.3%, GM=7.9±1.5%. In AMN, dorsal column Mob was significantly decreased (p<0.03). T2b for volunteers was: 9±2µs and the rate of MT exchange (R) was: WM=56±11Hz, GM=67±12Hz. Neither T2b nor R showed significant differences between healthy and diseased cords. Comparisons are made between qMT, and conventional MT acquisitions.
PMCID: PMC2632947  PMID: 19097204
magnetization transfer; spinal cord; MT exchange; adrenomyeloneuropathy

Results 1-12 (12)