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1.  Berberine Protects against Neuronal Damage via Suppression of Glia-Mediated Inflammation in Traumatic Brain Injury 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115694.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) triggers a series of neuroinflammatory processes that contribute to evolution of neuronal injury. The present study investigated the neuroprotective effects and anti-inflammatory actions of berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid, in both in vitro and in vivo TBI models. Mice subjected to controlled cortical impact injury were injected with berberine (10 mg·kg−1) or vehicle 10 min after injury. In addition to behavioral studies and histology analysis, blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability and brain water content were determined. Expression of PI3K/Akt and Erk signaling and inflammatory mediators were also analyzed. The protective effect of berberine was also investigated in cultured neurons either subjected to stretch injury or exposed to conditioned media with activated microglia. Berberine significantly attenuated functional deficits and brain damage associated with TBI up to day 28 post-injury. Berberine also reduced neuronal death, apoptosis, BBB permeability, and brain edema at day 1 post-injury. These changes coincided with a marked reduction in leukocyte infiltration, microglial activation, matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity, and expression of inflammatory mediators. Berberine had no effect on Akt or Erk 1/2 phosphorylation. In mixed glial cultures, berberine reduced TLR4/MyD88/NF-κB signaling. Berberine also attenuated neuronal death induced by microglial conditioned media; however, it did not directly protect cultured neurons subjected to stretch injury. Moreover, administration of berberine at 3 h post-injury also reduced TBI-induced neuronal damage, apoptosis and inflammation in vivo. Berberine reduces TBI-induced brain damage by limiting the production of inflammatory mediators by glial cells, rather than by a direct neuroprotective effect.
PMCID: PMC4278716  PMID: 25546475
2.  Impulse Conduction Increases Mitochondrial Transport in Adult Mammalian Peripheral Nerves In Vivo 
PLoS Biology  2013;11(12):e1001754.
Observations of nerve axons in vivo reveal that electrical activity increases the number and speed of transported mitochondria, showing how sudden increases in energy demand may be satisfied.
Matching energy supply and demand is critical in the bioenergetic homeostasis of all cells. This is a special problem in neurons where high levels of energy expenditure may occur at sites remote from the cell body, given the remarkable length of axons and enormous variability of impulse activity over time. Positioning mitochondria at areas with high energy requirements is an essential solution to this problem, but it is not known how this is related to impulse conduction in vivo. Therefore, to study mitochondrial trafficking along resting and electrically active adult axons in vivo, confocal imaging of saphenous nerves in anaesthetised mice was combined with electrical and pharmacological stimulation of myelinated and unmyelinated axons, respectively. We show that low frequency activity induced by electrical stimulation significantly increases anterograde and retrograde mitochondrial traffic in comparison with silent axons. Higher frequency conduction within a physiological range (50 Hz) dramatically further increased anterograde, but not retrograde, mitochondrial traffic, by rapidly increasing the number of mobile mitochondria and gradually increasing their velocity. Similarly, topical application of capsaicin to skin innervated by the saphenous nerve increased mitochondrial traffic in both myelinated and unmyelinated axons. In addition, stationary mitochondria in axons conducting at higher frequency become shorter, thus supplying additional mitochondria to the trafficking population, presumably through enhanced fission. Mitochondria recruited to the mobile population do not accumulate near Nodes of Ranvier, but continue to travel anterogradely. This pattern of mitochondrial redistribution suggests that the peripheral terminals of sensory axons represent sites of particularly high metabolic demand during physiological high frequency conduction. As the majority of mitochondrial biogenesis occurs at the cell body, increased anterograde mitochondrial traffic may represent a mechanism that ensures a uniform increase in mitochondrial density along the length of axons during high impulse load, supporting the increased metabolic demand imposed by sustained conduction.
Author Summary
As mitochondria are the main power source for most cells, their correct localization is vital for cellular homeostasis. The morphological and functional complexity of neurons, and the unpredictability of energy demand resulting from sustained impulse activity, means that correct mitochondrial function and location is particularly important for these cells. However, it is unclear how mitochondrial transport responds to the wide range of physiological conduction frequencies experienced by an intact nervous system. Here we image mitochondria moving along mouse saphenous nerve axons in vivo and observe the effects of sustained trains of impulses, evoked either by electrical stimulation of myelinated axons at physiological frequencies (1 and 50 Hz), or chemical stimulation (cutaneous capsaicin) in unmyelinated axons. We find that the number and speed of mitochondria moving towards the peripheral sensory terminals dramatically increases in active axons. The increased numbers of mobile mitochondria seem to originate from “pinched off” segments of stationary mitochondria (mitochondrial fission), and from recruitment of small stationary mitochondria. The transported mitochondria appear to accumulate in sensory nerve terminals in the skin. This study suggests that mitochondrial fission is involved in rapidly supplying mobile mitochondria to aid their re-distribution to regions of increased metabolic demand along axons.
PMCID: PMC3876979  PMID: 24391474
3.  Salidroside Improves Behavioral and Histological Outcomes and Reduces Apoptosis via PI3K/Akt Signaling after Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45763.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) induces a complex sequence of apopototic cascades that contribute to secondary tissue damage. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of salidroside, a phenolic glycoside with potent anti-apoptotic properties, on behavioral and histological outcomes, brain edema, and apoptosis following experimental TBI and the possible involvement of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Mice subjected to controlled cortical impact injury received intraperitoneal salidroside (20, or 50 mg/kg) or vehicle injection 10 min after injury. Behavioral studies, histology analysis and brain water content assessment were performed. Levels of PI3K/Akt signaling-related molecules, apoptosis-related proteins, cytochrome C (CytoC), and Smac/DIABLO were also analyzed. LY294002, a PI3K inhibitor, was administered to examine the mechanism of protection. The protective effect of salidroside was also investigated in primary cultured neurons subjected to stretch injury. Treatment with 20 mg/kg salidroside_significantly improved functional recovery and reduced brain tissue damage up to post-injury day 28. Salidroside_also significantly reduced neuronal death, apoptosis, and brain edema at day 1. These changes were associated with significant decreases in cleaved caspase-3, CytoC, and Smac/DIABLO at days 1 and 3. Salidroside increased phosphorylation of Akt on Ser473 and the mitochondrial Bcl-2/Bax ratio at day 1, and enhanced phosphorylation of Akt on Thr308 at day 3. This beneficial effect was abolished by pre-injection of LY294002. Moreover, delayed administration of salidroside at 3 or 6 h post-injury reduced neuronal damage at day 1. Salidroside treatment also decreased neuronal vulnerability to stretch-induced injury in vitro.
Post-injury salidroside improved long-term behavioral and histological outcomes and reduced brain edema and apoptosis following TBI, at least partially via the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3454376  PMID: 23029230

Results 1-3 (3)