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1.  Epigenome-wide differences in pathology-free regions of multiple sclerosis–affected brains 
Nature neuroscience  2013;17(1):121-130.
Using the Illumina 450K array and a stringent statistical analysis with age and gender correction, we report genome-wide differences in DNA methylation between pathology-free regions derived from human multiple sclerosis–affected and control brains. Differences were subtle, but widespread and reproducible in an independent validation cohort. The transcriptional consequences of differential DNA methylation were further defined by genome-wide RNA-sequencing analysis and validated in two independent cohorts. Genes regulating oligodendrocyte survival, such as BCL2L2 and NDRG1, were hypermethylated and expressed at lower levels in multiple sclerosis–affected brains than in controls, while genes related to proteolytic processing (for example, LGMN, CTSZ) were hypomethylated and expressed at higher levels. These results were not due to differences in cellular composition between multiple sclerosis and controls. Thus, epigenomic changes in genes affecting oligodendrocyte susceptibility to damage are detected in pathology-free areas of multiple sclerosis–affected brains.
PMCID: PMC3934491  PMID: 24270187
2.  Gene expression changes underlying cortical pathology: clues to understanding neurological disability in multiple sclerosis 
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system with an unknown etiology. The clinical disease course is variable, with the majority of patients experiencing reversible episodes of neurological disability in the third or fourth decade of life, eventually followed by a state of irreversible progression. Continuous axonal and neuronal loss is thought to be the major cause of this progression. Over the last decade, extensive research has targeted the grey matter and its role in MS pathogenesis. While pathological and imaging studies have begun to reveal important clues about the role of cortical pathology, gene expression studies in MS cortex are still emerging. Microarray-based comparative gene expression profiling provides a snapshot of genes underlying a particular condition and has been performed using brain tissues from patients with progressive MS. In this review, we summarize existing data from gene expression changes in cortical tissues from MS brains and how they may provide clues to the pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3777669  PMID: 23996595
MS; microarray; neuron; cortex; demyelination
3.  Discrepancy in CCL2 and CCR2 expression in white versus grey matter hippocampal lesions of Multiple Sclerosis patients 
A remarkable pathological difference between grey matter lesions (GML) and white matter lesions (WML) in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients is the paucity of infiltrating leukocytes in GML. To better understand these pathological differences, we hypothesize that the chemokine monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1 or CCL2), of importance for leukocyte migration, and its receptor CCR2 are more abundantly expressed in WML than in GML of MS patients. To this end, we analyzed CCL2 and CCR2 expression in the hippocampus, comprising WML and GML, of post-mortem MS patients, and of control subjects.
CCL2 and CCR2 mRNA were significantly increased in demyelinated MS hippocampus. Semi-quantification of CCL2 and CCR2 immunoreactivity showed that CCL2 is present in astrocytes only in active WML. CCR2 is upregulated in monocytes/macrophages or amoeboid microglia in active WML, and in ramified microglia in active GML, although to a lesser extent. As a follow-up, we observed a significantly increased CCL2 production by WM-, but not GM-derived astrocytes upon stimulation with bz-ATP in vitro. Finally, upon CCL2 stimulation, GM-derived microglia significantly increased their proliferation rate.
We conclude that within hippocampal lesions, CCL2 expression is mainly restricted to WML, whereas the receptor CCR2 is upregulated in both WML and GML. The relative absence of CCL2 in GML may explain the lack of infiltrating immune cells in this type of lesions. We propose that the divergent expression of CCL2 and CCR2 in WML and GML explains or contributes to the differences in WML and GML formation in MS.
PMCID: PMC4158064  PMID: 25149422
Multiple sclerosis; Hippocampus; Monocyte chemotactic protein-1; Microglia; Astrocyte; Proliferation
4.  Hippocampal demyelination and memory dysfunction are associated with increased levels of the neuronal microRNA miR-124 and reduced AMPA receptors 
Annals of neurology  2013;73(5):637-645.
Hippocampal demyelination, a common feature of postmortem multiple sclerosis (MS) brains, reduces neuronal gene expression and is a likely contributor to the memory impairment that is found in greater than 40% of individuals with (MS). How demyelination alters neuronal gene expression is unknown.
To explore if loss of hippocampal myelin alters expression of neuronal microRNAs (miRNA), we compared miRNA profiles from myelinated and demyelinated hippocampi from postmortem MS brains and performed validation studies.
A network-based interaction analysis depicts a correlation between increased neuronal miRNAs and decreased neuronal genes identified in our previous study. The neuronal miRNA miR-124, was increased in demyelinated MS hippocampi and targets mRNAs encoding 26 neuronal proteins that were decreased in demyelinated hippocampus, including the ionotrophic glutamate receptors, AMPA 2 and AMPA3. Hippocampal demyelination in mice also increased miR-124, reduced expression of AMPA receptors and decreased memory performance in water maze tests. Remyelination of the mouse hippocampus reversed these changes.
We establish here that myelin alters neuronal gene expression and function by modulating the levels of the neuronal miRNA miR-124. Inhibition of miR-124 in hippocampal neurons may provide a therapeutic approach to improve memory performance in MS patients.
PMCID: PMC3679350  PMID: 23595422
Multiple sclerosis; myelin; microRNA
Annals of neurology  2012;72(6):918-926.
Generation and differentiation of new oligodendrocytes in demyelinated white matter is the best described repair process in the adult human brain. However, remyelinating capacity falters with age in patients with multiple sclerosis. (MS). Since demyelination of cerebral cortex is extensive in brains from MS patients, we investigated the capacity of cortical lesions to remyelinate and directly compared the extent of remyelination in lesions that involve cerebral cortex and adjacent subcortical white matter.
Postmortem brain tissue from 22 patients with MS (age 27 to 77 years) and 6 subjects without brain disease were analyzed. Regions of cerebral cortex with reduced myelin were examined for remyelination, oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, reactive astrocytes, and molecules that inhibit remyelination.
“New” oligodendrocytes that were actively forming myelin sheaths were identified in 30/42 remyelinated subpial cortical lesions, including lesions from three patients in their 70's. Oligodendrocyte progenitor cells were not decreased in demyelinated or remyelinated cortices when compared to adjacent normal-appearing cortex or controls. In demyelinated lesions involving cortex and adjacent white matter, the cortex showed greater remyelination, more actively remyelinating oligodendrocytes and fewer reactive astrocytes. Astrocytes in the white-matter, but not in cortical portions of these lesions, significantly up-regulate CD44, hyaluronan, and versican, molecules that form complexes that inhibit oligodendrocyte maturation and remyelination.
Endogenous remyelination of the cerebral cortex occurs in individuals with MS regardless of disease duration or chronological age of the patient. Cortical remyelination should be considered as a primary outcome measure in future clinical trials testing remyelination therapies.
PMCID: PMC3535551  PMID: 23076662
multiple sclerosis; remyelination
6.  Gene Expression Profiling in Multiple Sclerosis Brain 
Neurobiology of disease  2010;45(1):108-114.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system and the leading cause of non-traumatic neurological disability in young adults in the United States and Europe. The clinical disease course is variable and starts with reversible episodes of neurological disability in the third or fourth decade of life. Microarray-based comparative gene profiling provides a snapshot of genes underlying a particular condition. Several large scale microarray studies have been conducted using brain tissue from MS patients. In this review, we summarize existing data from different gene expression profiling studies and how they relate to understanding the pathogenesis of MS.
PMCID: PMC3066282  PMID: 21147224
Multiple sclerosis; microarray; myelin
7.  Identification of VHY/Dusp15 as a Regulator of Oligodendrocyte Differentiation through a Systematic Genomics Approach 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40457.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neuroinflammatory disease characterized by a progressive loss of myelin and a failure of oligodendrocyte (OL)-mediated remyelination, particularly in the progressive phases of the disease. An improved understanding of the signaling mechanisms that control differentiation of OL precursors may lead to the identification of new therapeutic targets for remyelination in MS. About 100 mammalian Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases (PTPs) are known, many of which are involved in signaling both in health and disease. We have undertaken a systematic genomic approach to evaluate PTP gene activity in multiple sclerosis autopsies and in related in vivo and in vitro models of the disease. This effort led to the identification of Dusp15/VHY, a PTP previously believed to be expressed only in testis, as being transcriptionally regulated during OL differentiation and in MS lesions. Subsequent RNA interference studies revealed that Dusp15/VHY is a key regulator of OL differentiation. Finally, we identified PDGFR-beta and SNX6 as novel and specific Dusp15 substrates, providing an indication as to how this PTP might exert control over OL differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3394735  PMID: 22792334
8.  Demyelination Causes Synaptic Alterations in Hippocampi from Multiple Sclerosis Patients 
Annals of neurology  2011;69(3):445-454.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the human central nervous system. While the clinical impact of gray matter pathology in MS brains is unknown, 30–40% of MS patients demonstrate memory impairment. The molecular basis of this memory dysfunction has not yet been investigated in MS patients.
To investigate possible mechanisms of memory impairment in MS patients, we compared morphological and molecular changes in myelinated and demyelinated hippocampi from postmortem MS brains.
Demyelinated hippocampi had minimal neuronal loss but significant decreases in synaptic density. Neuronal proteins essential for axonal transport, synaptic plasticity, glutamate neurotransmission, glutamate homeostasis and memory/learning were significantly decreased in demyelinated hippocampi, but not in demyelinated motor cortices from MS brains.
Collectively, these data support hippocampal demyelination as a cause of synaptic alterations in MS patients and establish that the neuronal genes regulated by myelination reflect specific functions of neuronal subpopulations.
PMCID: PMC3073544  PMID: 21446020
Multiple Sclerosis; hippocampus; demyelination; memory
9.  Mechanisms of Neuronal Dysfunction and Degeneration in Multiple Sclerosis 
Progress in neurobiology  2010;93(1):1-12.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. Due to its high prevalence, MS is the leading cause of non-traumatic neurological disability in young adults in the United States and Europe. The clinical disease course is variable and starts with reversible episodes of neurological disability in the third or fourth decade of life. This transforms into a disease of continuous and irreversible neurological decline by the sixth or seventh decade. Available therapies for MS patients have little benefit for patients who enter this irreversible phase of the disease. It is well established that irreversible loss of axons and neurons are the major cause of the irreversible and progressive neurological decline that most MS patients endure. This review discusses the etiology, mechanisms and progress made in determining the cause of axonal and neuronal loss in MS.
PMCID: PMC3030928  PMID: 20946934
Multiple sclerosis; neurons; axons; myelin
10.  Alteration in Marrow Stromal Microenvironment and Apoptosis Mechanisms Involved in Aplastic Anemia: An Animal Model to Study the Possible Disease Pathology 
Stem Cells International  2010;2010:932354.
Aplastic anemia (AA) is a heterogeneous disorder of bone marrow failure syndrome. Suggested mechanisms include a primary stem cell deficiency or defect, a secondary stem cell defect due to abnormal regulation between cell death and differentiation, or a deficient microenvironment. In this study, we have tried to investigate the alterations in hematopoietic microenvironment and underlying mechanisms involved in such alterations in an animal model of drug induced AA. We presented the results of studying long term marrow culture, marrow ultra-structure, marrow adherent and hematopoietic progenitor cell colony formation, flowcytometric analysis of marrow stem and stromal progenitor populations and apoptosis mechanism involved in aplastic anemia. The AA marrow showed impairment in cellular proliferation and maturation and failed to generate a functional stromal microenvironment even after 19 days of culture. Ultra-structural analysis showed a degenerated and deformed marrow cellular association in AA. Colony forming units (CFUs) were also severely reduced in AA. Significantly decreased marrow stem and stromal progenitor population with subsequently increased expression levels of both the extracellular and intracellular apoptosis inducer markers in the AA marrow cells essentially pointed towards the defective hematopoiesis; moreover, a deficient and apoptotic microenvironment and the microenvironmental components might have played the important role in the possible pathogenesis of AA.
PMCID: PMC2963319  PMID: 21048856
11.  An Animal Model of Chronic Aplastic Bone Marrow Failure Following Pesticide Exposure in Mice 
The wide use of pesticides for agriculture, domestic and industrial purposes and evaluation of their subsequent effect is of major concern for public health. Human exposure to these contaminants especially bone marrow with its rapidly renewing cell population is one of the most sensitive tissues to these toxic agents represents a risk for the immune system leading to the onset of different pathologies. In this experimental protocol we have developed a mouse model of pesticide(s) induced hypoplastic/aplastic marrow failure to study quantitative changes in the bone marrow hematopoietic stem cell (BMHSC) population through flowcytometric analysis, defects in the stromal microenvironment through short term adherent cell colony (STACC) forming assay and immune functional capacity of the bone marrow derived cells through cell mediated immune (CMI) parameter study. A time course dependent analysis for consecutive 90 days were performed to monitor the associated changes in the marrow’s physiology after 30th, 60th and 90th days of chronic pesticide exposure. The peripheral blood showed maximum lowering of the blood cell count after 90 days which actually reflected the bone marrow scenario. Severe depression of BMHSC population, immune profile of the bone marrow derived cells and reduction of adherent cell colonies pointed towards an essentially empty and hypoplastic marrow condition that resembled the disease aplastic anemia. The changes were accompanied by splenomegaly and splenic erythroid hyperplasia. In conclusion, this animal model allowed us a better understanding of clinico-biological findings of the disease aplastic anemia following toxic exposure to the pesticide(s) used for agricultural and industrial purposes.
PMCID: PMC4022690  PMID: 24855541
Pesticide; Bone marrow failure; Aplastic anemia; Stem cells; Adherent stromal cells
12.  Primitive Sca-1 Positive Bone Marrow HSC in Mouse Model of Aplastic Anemia: A Comparative Study through Flowcytometric Analysis and Scanning Electron Microscopy 
Stem Cells International  2009;2010:614395.
Self-renewing Hematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs) are responsible for reconstitution of all blood cell lineages. Sca-1 is the “stem cell antigen” marker used to identify the primitive murine HSC population, the expression of which decreases upon differentiation to other mature cell types. Sca-1+ HSCs maintain the bone marrow stem cell pool throughout the life. Aplastic anemia is a disease considered to involve primary stem cell deficiency and is characterized by severe pancytopenia and a decline in healthy blood cell generation system. Studies conducted in our laboratory revealed that the primitive Sca-1+ BM-HSCs (bone marrow hematopoietic stem cell) are significantly affected in experimental Aplastic animals pretreated with chemotherapeutic drugs (Busulfan and Cyclophosphamide) and there is increased Caspase-3 activity with consecutive high Annexin-V positivity leading to premature apoptosis in the bone marrow hematopoietic stem cell population in Aplastic condition. The Sca-1bright, that is, “more primitive” BM-HSC population was more affected than the “less primitive” BM-HSC Sca-1dim  population. The decreased cell population and the receptor expression were directly associated with an empty and deranged marrow microenvironment, which is evident from scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The above experimental evidences hint toward the manipulation of receptor expression for the benefit of cytotherapy by primitive stem cell population in Aplastic anemia cases.
PMCID: PMC2963143  PMID: 21048851
13.  Microglial displacement of inhibitory synapses provides neuroprotection in the adult brain 
Nature Communications  2014;5:4486.
Microglia actively survey the brain microenvironment and play essential roles in sculpting synaptic connections during brain development. While microglial functions in the adult brain are less clear, activated microglia can closely appose neuronal cell bodies and displace axosomatic presynaptic terminals. Microglia-mediated stripping of presynaptic terminals is considered neuroprotective, but the cellular and molecular mechanisms are poorly defined. Using 3D electron microscopy, we demonstrate that activated microglia displace inhibitory presynaptic terminals from cortical neurons in adult mice. Electrophysiological recordings further establish that the reduction in inhibitory GABAergic synapses increased synchronized firing of cortical neurons in γ-frequency band. Increased neuronal activity results in the calcium-mediated activation of CaM kinase IV, phosphorylation of CREB, increased expression of antiapoptotic and neurotrophic molecules and reduced apoptosis of cortical neurons following injury. These results indicate that activated microglia can protect the adult brain by migrating to inhibitory synapses and displacing them from cortical neurons.
Microglia play essential roles in sculpting synaptic connections during brain development but their role in the adult brain is less clear. Here the authors show that activated microglia can prophylactically protect the adult rodent brain from injury by migrating to and displacing inhibitory synapses from cortical neurons.
PMCID: PMC4109015  PMID: 25047355

Results 1-13 (13)