The definitive Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis requires post-mortem confirmation of neuropathological hallmarks – amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs). The advent of radiotracers for amyloid imaging presents an opportunity to investigate amyloid deposition in vivo. The 11C-Pittsburgh Compound-B (PiB) PET ligand remains the most widely studied to date; however, regional variations in 11C-PiB binding and the extent of agreement with neuropathological assessment have not been thoroughly investigated. We examined the correspondence among quantitative immunohistological assessments of Aβ and NFTs, regional 11C-PiB load, and brain atrophy (MRI) in six older Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging participants who came to autopsy (imaging-autopsy interval range 0.2–2.4 years). The total number of Aβ plaques (6E10) and NFTs (PHF1) in paraffin sections from hippocampus, orbito-frontal cortex, anterior and posterior cingulate gyrus, precuneus and cerebellum were quantified using a technique guided by unbiased stereological principles. We report a general agreement between the regional measures of amyloid obtained via stereological assessment and imaging, with significant relationships evident for the anterior (r=0.87; p=0.02) and posterior (r=0.93; p=0.007) cingulate gyri, and the precuneus (r=0.98; p=0.001). Moreover, higher Aβ count in the hippocampus was associated with lower hippocampal volume (r= −0.86; p=0.03). No associations were observed between 11C-PiB load and NFT count for any of the regions examined (p>0.2 in all regions) or between regional NFT count and corresponding brain volumes. The strong associations of PiB retention with region-matched, quantitative analyses of Aβ in post-mortem tissue offer support for the validity of 11C-PiB-PET imaging as a method for evaluation of plaque burden in vivo.
plaques; tangles; stereology; PiB; Alzheimer; neuroimaging
Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings and high resolution morphometry were used to assess functional and structural properties of layer 3 pyramidal neurons in early (< 4 months) and advanced (> 8 months) stages of tauopathy in frontal cortical slices prepared from rTg4510 tau mutant (P301L) mice. In early tauopathy, dendritic architecture is preserved. In advanced tauopathy, neurons can be categorized as either “atrophic” (58%)- exhibiting marked atrophy of the apical tuft, or “intact” (42%)- with normal apical tufts and, in some instances, proliferative sprouting of oblique branches of the apical trunk. Approximately equal numbers of atrophic and intact neurons contain neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) or are tangle-free, lending further support to the idea that NFTs per se are not toxic. Spine density is decreased due to a specific reduction in mushroom spines, but filopodia are increased in both atrophic and intact neurons. By contrast to these morphological changes, which are robust only in the advanced stage, significant electrophysiological changes are present in the early stage and persist in the advanced stage in both atrophic and intact neurons. The most marked of these changes are: a depolarized resting membrane potential, an increased depolarizing sag potential and increased action potential firing rates- all indicative of hyperexcitability. Spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents are not reduced in frequency or amplitude in either stage. The difference in the time course of functionally important electrophysiological changes versus regressive morphological changes implies differences in pathogenic mechanisms underlying functional and structural changes to neurons during progressive tauopathy.
in vitro slice; whole-cell patch-clamp; dendrite; dendritic spine; excitability
brain tumor; classification; grading; molecular diagnostic
Gastrointestinal dysfunction is a prominent non-motor feature of Parkinson’s disease (PD) that contributes directly to the morbidity of patients, complicates management of motor symptoms, and may herald incipient PD in patients without motor disability. Although PD has traditionally been considered a disease of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra, analyses of gastrointestinal samples from PD patients have consistently revealed pathology in the enteric nervous system (ENS). The relationship of PD pathology to GI dysmotility is poorly understood, and this lack of understanding has led to limited success in developing treatments for PD-related GI symptoms. We have quantitatively compared myenteric neuron density and relative abundance of NO, VIP, and catecholamine neurons between patients with PD and control individuals along the length of the GI tract. In addition, we have examined the frequency of GI α-synuclein neuritic pathology and its co-localization with the same neuronal markers. We have included a comparison with a small population of patients with incidental Lewy bodies (ILB) found at autopsy. These data indicate there is no neuronal loss in the myenteric plexus in PD. Lewy body pathology parallels parasympathetic autonomic input from the DMV, not the distribution of extrinsic sympathetic input or intrinsic enteric neurons, and is only rarely co-localized with tyrosine hydroxylase. These data provide a critical background to which further analyses of the effect of PD on the GI tract may be compared and suggest that neuropathology in myenteric neurons is unlikely to be a causative factor in PD-related GI dysmotility.
enteric; gastrointestinal; nitric oxide; vasoactive intestinal peptide; catecholamine; acetylcholine; constipation; gastroparesis; Lewy body; synuclein
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) can be classified based on the relative density of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) in the hippocampus and association cortices into three subtypes: typical AD, hippocampal-sparing AD (HpSp AD), and limbic-predominant AD (LP AD). AD subtypes not only have pathologic, but also demographic, clinical, and genetic differences. Neurofibrillary tangle-predominant dementia (NFTD), a disorder with NFTs relatively restricted to limbic structures, shares this feature with LP AD raising the possibility that NFTD is a variant of AD. The objective criteria for pathologic diagnosis of NFTD are not available. A goal of this study was to design a mathematical algorithm that could diagnose NFTD from NFT and senile plaque (SP) counts in hippocampus and association cortices, analogous to that used to subtype AD. Moreover, we aimed to compare pathologic, demographic, clinical, and genetic features of NFTD (n = 18) with LP AD (n = 19), as well as the other AD subtypes, typical AD (n = 52) and HpSp AD (n = 17). Using digital microscopy, we confirmed that burden of phospho-tau (CP13) and of an NFT conformational epitope (Ab39) correlated with NFT densities and showed expected patterns across AD subtypes. HpSp AD had the highest and LP AD had the lowest burden of cortical CP13 and Ab39 immunoreactivity. On the other hand, cortical β-amyloid burden did not significantly differ between AD subtypes. Semi-quantitative assessment of SPs in the basal ganglia did show HpSp AD to have significantly more frequent presence of SPs compared to typical AD, which was more frequent than LP AD. Compared to LP AD, NFTD had an older age at disease onset and shorter disease duration, as well as lower Braak NFT stage. NFTs and SPs on thioflavin-S fluorescent microscopy, as well as CP13, Ab39, and Aβ immunoreactivities were very low in the frontal cortex of NFTD, differentiating NFTD from AD subtypes, including LP AD. MAPT H1H1 genotype frequency was high (~70 %) in NFTD and LP AD, and similar to typical AD, while APOE ε4 carrier state was low in NFTD. While it shares clinical similarities with regard to female sex predominance, onset in advanced age, and a slow cognitive decline, NFTD has significant pathologic differences from LP AD, suggesting that it may not merely be a variant of AD.
Alzheimer disease; Neurofibrillary tangle-predominant dementia; APOE; Digital microscopy; MAPT; Neurofibrillary tangles; Amyloid plaques; Basal ganglia
Tangle-predominant dementia (TPD) patients exhibit cognitive decline that is clinically similar to early to moderate-stage Alzheimer disease (AD), yet autopsy reveals neurofibrillary tangles in the medial temporal lobe composed of the microtubule-associated protein tau without significant amyloid-beta (Aβ)-positive plaques. We performed a series of neuropathological, biochemical and genetic studies using autopsy brain tissue drawn from a cohort of 34 TPD, 50 AD and 56 control subjects to identify molecular and genetic signatures of this entity. Biochemical analysis demonstrates a similar tau protein isoform composition in TPD and AD, which is compatible with previous histological and ultrastructural studies. Further, biochemical analysis fails to uncover elevation of soluble Aβ in TPD frontal cortex and hippocampus compared to control subjects, demonstrating that non-plaque-associated Aβ is not a contributing factor. Unexpectedly, we also observed high levels of secretory amyloid precursor protein α (sAPPα) in the frontal cortex of some TPD patients compared to AD and control subjects, suggesting differences in APP processing. Finally, we tested whether TPD is associated with changes in the tau gene (MAPT). Haplotype analysis demonstrates a strong association between TPD and the MAPT H1 haplotype, a genomic inversion associated with some tauopathies and Parkinson disease (PD), when compared to age-matched control subjects with mild degenerative changes, i.e., successful cerebral aging. Next-generation resequencing of MAPT followed by association analysis shows an association between TPD and two polymorphisms in the MAPT 3′ untranslated region (UTR). These results support the hypothesis that haplotype-specific variation in the MAPT 3′ UTR underlies an Aβ-independent mechanism for neurodegeneration in TPD.
Dementia; Neurofibrillary tangle; Tau; Amyloid; MAPT; 3′ Untranslated region; Aging; Alzheimer’s disease; sAPPα
Dendritic cells (DC) are the professional antigen-presenting cells of the immune system. In their quiescent and mature form, the presentation of self-antigens by DC leads to tolerance; whereas, antigen presentation by mature DC, after stimulation by pathogen-associated molecular patterns, leads to the onset of antigen-specific immunity. DC have been found in many of the major organs in mammals (e.g. skin, heart, lungs, intestines and spleen), while the brain has long been considered devoid of DC in the absence of neuroinflammation. Consequently, microglia, the resident immune cell of the brain, have been charged with many functional attributes commonly ascribed to DC. Recent evidence has challenged the notion that DC are either absent or minimal players in brain immune surveillance. This review will discuss the recent literature examining DC involvement within both the young and aged steady-state brain. We will also examine DC contributions during various forms of neuroinflammation resulting from neurodegenerative autoimmune disease, injury, and CNS infections. This review also touches upon DC trafficking between the central nervous system and peripheral immune compartments during viral infections, the new molecular technologies that could be employed to enhance our current understanding of brain DC ontogeny, and some potential therapeutic uses of DC within the CNS.
Dendritic cells; Steady-state; Neuroinflammation; Pathogens
Telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) promoter mutations were recently shown to drive telomerase activity in various cancer types, including medulloblastoma. However, the clinical and biological implications of TERT mutations in medulloblastoma have not been described. Hence, we sought to describe these mutations and their impact in a subgroup-specific manner. We analyzed the TERT promoter by direct sequencing and genotyping in 466 medulloblastomas. The mutational distributions were determined according to subgroup affiliation, demographics, and clinical, prognostic, and molecular features. Integrated genomics approaches were used to identify specific somatic copy number alterations in TERT promoter-mutated and wild-type tumors. Overall, TERT promoter mutations were identified in 21 % of medulloblastomas. Strikingly, the highest frequencies of TERT mutations were observed in SHH (83 %; 55/66) and WNT (31 %; 4/13) medulloblastomas derived from adult patients. Group 3 and Group 4 harbored this alteration in <5 % of cases and showed no association with increased patient age. The prognostic implications of these mutations were highly subgroup-specific. TERT mutations identified a subset with good and poor prognosis in SHH and Group 4 tumors, respectively. Monosomy 6 was mostly restricted to WNT tumors without TERT mutations. Hallmark SHH focal copy number aberrations and chromosome 10q deletion were mutually exclusive with TERT mutations within SHH tumors. TERT promoter mutations are the most common recurrent somatic point mutation in medulloblastoma, and are very highly enriched in adult SHH and WNT tumors. TERT mutations define a subset of SHH medulloblastoma with distinct demographics, cytogenetics, and outcomes.
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TERT promoter mutations; SHH pathway; Adult; Medulloblastoma
An expanded GGGGCC repeat in a non-coding region of the C9orf72 gene is a common cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Non-coding repeat expansions may cause disease by reducing the expression level of the gene they reside in, by producing toxic aggregates of repeat RNA termed RNA foci, or by producing toxic proteins generated by repeat-associated non-ATG translation. We present the first definitive report of C9orf72 repeat sense and antisense RNA foci using a series of C9FTLD cases, and neurodegenerative disease and normal controls. A sensitive and specific fluorescence in situ hybridisation protocol was combined with protein immunostaining to show that both sense and antisense foci were frequent, specific to C9FTLD, and present in neurons of the frontal cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum. High-resolution imaging also allowed accurate analyses of foci number and subcellular localisation. RNA foci were most abundant in the frontal cortex, where 51 % of neurons contained foci. RNA foci also occurred in astrocytes, microglia and oligodendrocytes but to a lesser degree than in neurons. RNA foci were observed in both TDP-43- and p62-inclusion bearing neurons, but not at a greater frequency than expected by chance. RNA foci abundance in the frontal cortex showed a significant inverse correlation with age at onset of disease. These data establish that sense and antisense C9orf72 repeat RNA foci are a consistent and specific feature of C9FTLD, providing new insight into the pathogenesis of C9FTLD.
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FTLD; FTD; ALS; RNA foci; Antisense; C9orf72
Individuals carrying (GGGGCC) expanded repeats in the C9orf72 gene represent a significant portion of patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Elucidating how these expanded repeats cause “c9FTD/ALS” has since become an important goal of the field. Toward this end, we sought to investigate whether epigenetic changes are responsible for the decrease in C9orf72 expression levels observed in c9FTD/ALS patients. We obtained brain tissue from ten c9FTD/ALS individuals, nine FTD/ALS cases without a C9orf72 repeat expansion, and nine disease control participants, and generated fibroblastoid cell lines from seven C9orf72 expanded repeat carriers and seven participants carrying normal alleles. Chromatin immunoprecipitation using antibodies for histone H3 and H4 trimethylated at lysines 9 (H3K9), 27 (H3K27), 79 (H3K79), and 20 (H4K20) revealed that these trimethylated residues bind strongly to C9orf72 expanded repeats in brain tissue, but not to non-pathogenic repeats. Our finding that C9orf72 mRNA levels are reduced in the frontal cortices and cerebella of c9FTD/ALS patients is consistent with trimethylation of these histone residues, an event known to repress gene expression. Moreover, treating repeat carrier-derived fibroblasts with 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine, a DNA and histone demethylating agent, not only decreased C9orf72 binding to trimethylated histone residues, but also increased C9orf72 mRNA expression. Our results provide compelling evidence that trimethylation of lysine residues within histones H3 and H4 is a novel mechanism involved in reducing C9orf72 mRNA expression in expanded repeat carriers. Of importance, we show that mutant C9orf72 binding to trimethylated H3K9 and H3K27 is detectable in blood of c9FTD/ALS patients. Confirming these exciting results using blood from a larger cohort of patients may establish this novel epigenetic event as a biomarker for c9FTD/ALS.
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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal dementia; C9orf72; Epigenetic modification; Repeat expansion; Histone methylation
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are devastating neurodegenerative disorders with clinical, genetic, and neuropathological overlap. A hexanucleotide (GGGGCC) repeat expansion in a non-coding region of C9ORF72 is the major genetic cause of both diseases. The mechanisms by which this repeat expansion causes “c9FTD/ALS” are not definitively known, but RNA-mediated toxicity is a likely culprit. RNA transcripts of the expanded GGGGCC repeat form nuclear foci in c9FTD/ALS, and also undergo repeat-associated non-ATG (RAN) translation resulting in the production of three aggregation-prone proteins. The goal of this study was to examine whether antisense transcripts resulting from bidirectional transcription of the expanded repeat behave in a similar manner. We show that ectopic expression of (CCCCGG)66 in cultured cells results in foci formation. Using novel polyclonal antibodies for the detection of possible (CCCCGG)exp RAN proteins [poly(PR), poly(GP) and poly(PA)], we validated that (CCCCGG)66 is also subject to RAN translation in transfected cells. Of importance, foci composed of antisense transcripts are observed in the frontal cortex, spinal cord and cerebellum of c9FTD/ALS cases, and neuronal inclusions of poly(PR), poly(GP) and poly(PA) are present in various brain tissues in c9FTD/ALS, but not in other neurodegenerative diseases, including CAG repeat disorders. Of note, RNA foci and poly(GP) inclusions infrequently co-occur in the same cell, suggesting these events represent two distinct ways in which the C9ORF72 repeat expansion may evoke neurotoxic effects. These findings provide mechanistic insight into the pathogenesis of c9FTD/ALS, and have significant implications for therapeutic strategies.
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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Bidirectional transcription; C9ORF72; Expanded repeat; Frontotemporal dementia; Repeat-associated non-ATG translation; RNA foci
Mutations in the gene encoding leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) are the most frequent cause of familial Parkinson’s disease (PD). The neuropathology of LRRK2-related PD is heterogeneous and can include aberrant tau phosphorylation or neurofibrillary tau pathology. Recently, LRRK2 has been shown to phosphorylate tau in vitro; however, the major epitopes phosphorylated by LRRK2 and the physiological or pathogenic consequences of these modifications in vivo are unknown. Using mass spectrometry, we identified multiple sites on recombinant tau that are phosphorylated by LRRK2 in vitro, including pT149 and pT153, which are phospho-epitopes that to date have been largely unexplored. Importantly, we demonstrate that expression of transgenic LRRK2 in a mouse model of tauopathy increased the aggregation of insoluble tau and its phosphorylation at T149, T153, T205, and S199/S202/T205 epitopes. These findings indicate that tau can be a LRRK2 substrate and that this interaction can enhance salient features of human disease.
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The suppressive effect of neural stem cells (NSCs) on experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of multiple sclerosis (MS), has been reported. However, the migration of NSCs to inflammatory sites was relatively slow as was the onset of rather limited clinical benefit. Lack of, or low expression of particular chemokine receptors on NSCs could be an important factor underlying the slow migration of NSCs. To enhance the therapeutic effect of NSCs, in the present study we transduced bone marrow (BM)-derived NSCs with CCR5, a receptor for CCL3, CCL4, and CCL5, chemokines that are abundantly produced in CNS-inflamed foci of MS/EAE. After i.v. injection, CCR5-NSCs rapidly reached EAE foci in larger numbers, and more effectively suppressed CNS inflammatory infiltration, myelin damage, and clinical EAE than GFP-NSCs used as controls. CCR5-NSC-treated mice also exhibited augmented remyelination and neuron/oligodendrocyte repopulation compared to PBS- or GFP-NSC-treated mice. We inferred that the critical mechanism underlying enhanced effect of CCR5-transduced NSCs on EAE is the early migration of chemokine receptor-transduced NSCs into the inflamed foci. Such migration at an earlier stage of inflammation enables NSCs to exert more effective immunomodulation, to reduce the extent of early myelin/neuron damage by creating a less hostile environment for remyelinating cells, and possibly to participate in the remyelination/neural re-population process. These features of BM-derived transduced NSCs, combined with their easy availability (the subject’s own BM) and autologous properties, may lay the groundwork for an innovative approach to rapid and highly effective MS therapy.
Neural stem cells; Chemokine receptor; MS/EAE
Development of the cerebellum occurs postnatally and is marked by a rapid proliferation of cerebellar granule neuron precursors (CGNPs). CGNPs are the cells-of-origin for SHH-driven medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children. Here, we investigated the role of ERK, JNK, and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) in CGNP proliferation. We found high levels of p38α in proliferating CGNPs. Concomitantly, members of the p38 pathway, such as ASK1, MKK3 and ATF-2, were also elevated. Inhibition of the Shh pathway or CGNP proliferation blunts p38α levels, irrespective of Shh treatment. Strikingly, p38α levels were high in vivo in the external granule layer (EGL) of the postnatal cerebellum, Shh-dependent mouse medulloblastomas and human medulloblastomas of the SHH subtype. Finally, knocking down p38α by short hairpin RNA-carrying lentiviruses as well as the pharmacologically inhibiting of its kinase activity caused a marked decrease in CGNP proliferation, underscoring its requirement for Shh-dependent proliferation in CGNPs. The inhibition of p38α also caused a decrease in Gli1 and N-myc transcript levels, consistent with reduced proliferation. These findings suggest p38 inhibition as a potential way to increase the efficacy of treatments available for malignancies associated with deregulated SHH signaling, such as basal cell carcinoma and medulloblastoma.
Sonic hedgehog; p38 MAPK; proliferation; neural precursor; cerebellum; medulloblastoma
Epilepsy is a frequent neurological disorder, although onset and progression of seizures remain difficult to predict in affected patients, irrespective of their epileptogenic condition. Previous studies in animal models as well as human epileptic brain tissue revealed a remarkably diverse pattern of gene expression implicating epigenetic changes to contribute to disease progression. Here we mapped for the first time global DNA methylation patterns in chronic epileptic rats and controls. Using methyl-CpG capture associated with massive parallel sequencing (Methyl-Seq) we report the genomic methylation signature of the chronic epileptic state. We observed a predominant increase, rather than loss of DNA methylation in chronic rat epilepsy. Aberrant methylation patterns were inversely correlated with gene expression changes using mRNA sequencing from same animals and tissue specimens. Administration of a ketogenic, high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet attenuated seizure progression and ameliorated DNA methylation mediated changes in gene expression. This is the first report of unsupervised clustering of an epigenetic mark being used in epilepsy research to separate epileptic from non-epileptic animals as well as from animals receiving anti-convulsive dietary treatment. We further discuss the potential impact of epigenetic changes as a pathogenic mechanism of epileptogenesis.
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Epilepsy; Hippocampus; Epigenetic; DNA methylation; Massive parallel sequencing; Ketogenic diet
There has been tremendous progress toward understanding the genetic basis of Parkinson’s disease and related movement disorders. We summarize the genetic, clinical and pathological findings of autosomal dominant disease linked to mutations in SNCA, LRRK2, ATXN2, ATXN3, MAPT, GCH1, DCTN1 and VPS35. We then discuss the identification of mutations in PARK2, PARK7, PINK1, ATP13A2, FBXO7, PANK2 and PLA2G6 genes. In particular we discuss the clinical and pathological characterization of these forms of disease, where neuropathology has been important in the likely coalescence of pathways highly relevant to typical PD. In addition to the identification of the causes of monogenic forms of PD, significant progress has been made in defining genetic risk loci for PD; we discuss these here, including both risk variants at LRRK2 and GBA, in addition to discussing the results of recent genome-wide association studies and their implications for PD. Finally, we discuss the likely path of genetic discovery in PD over the coming period and the implications of these findings from a clinical and etiological perspective.
Parkinson’s disease; Genetics; Pathology; Synuclein; LRRK2; PARK2; PARK6; PARK7
Here we review the genetic causes and risks for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Early work identified mutations in three genes that cause AD: APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2. Although mutations in these genes are rare causes of AD, their discovery had a major impact on our understanding of molecular mechanisms of AD. Early work also revealed the ε4 allele of the APOE as a strong risk factor for AD. Subsequently, SORL1 also was identified as an AD risk gene. More recently, advances in our knowledge of the human genome, made possible by technological advances and methods to analyze genomic data, permit systematic identification of genes that contribute to AD risk. This work, so far accomplished through single nucleotide polymorphism arrays, has revealed nine new genes implicated in AD risk (ABCA7, BIN1, CD33, CD2AP, CLU, CR1, EPHA1, MS4A4E/MS4A6A, and PICALM). We review the relationship between these mutations and genetic variants and the neuropathologic features of AD and related disorders. Together, these discoveries point toward a new era in neurodegenerative disease research that impacts not only AD but also related illnesses that produce cognitive and behavioral deficits.
Alzheimer’s disease; genetics; genome-wide association studies; neuropathology
Head and neck paragangliomas, rare neoplasms of the paraganglia composed of nests of neurosecretory and glial cells embedded in vascular stroma, provide a remarkable example of organoid tumor architecture. To identify genes and pathways commonly deregulated in head and neck paraganglioma, we integrated high-density genome-wide copy number variation (CNV) analysis with microRNA and immunomorphological studies. Gene-centric CNV analysis of 24 cases identified a list of 104 genes most significantly targeted by tumor-associated alterations. The “NOTCH signaling pathway” was the most significantly enriched term in the list (P = 0.002 after Bonferroni or Benjamini correction). Expression of the relevant NOTCH pathway proteins in sustentacular (glial), chief (neuroendocrine) and endothelial cells was confirmed by immunohistochemistry in 47 head and neck paraganglioma cases. There were no relationships between level and pattern of NOTCH1/JAG2 protein expression and germline mutation status in the SDH genes, implicated in paraganglioma predisposition, or the presence/absence of immunostaining for SDHB, a surrogate marker of SDH mutations. Interestingly, NOTCH upregulation was observed also in cases with no evidence of CNVs at NOTCH signaling genes, suggesting altered epigenetic modulation of this pathway. To address this issue we performed microarray-based microRNA expression analyses. Notably 5 microRNAs (miR-200a,b,c and miR-34b,c), including those most downregulated in the tumors, correlated to NOTCH signaling and directly targeted NOTCH1 in in vitro experiments using SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. Furthermore, lentiviral transduction of miR-200s and miR-34s in patient-derived primary tympano-jugular paraganglioma cell cultures was associated with NOTCH1 downregulation and increased levels of markers of cell toxicity and cell death. Taken together, our results provide an integrated view of common molecular alterations associated with head and neck paraganglioma and reveal an essential role of NOTCH pathway deregulation in this tumor type.
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Paraganglioma; Head and neck; NOTCH signaling; CNV; MicroRNA; Paraganglioma cell culture
α-Synuclein (α-syn) is a protein prevalent in neural tissue and known to undergo axonal transport. Intracellular α-syn aggregates are a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Braak and collaborators have suggested that in people who are destined to eventually develop PD, α-syn aggregate pathology progresses following a stereotypic pattern, starting in the olfactory bulb (OB) and the gut. α-Synuclein aggregates are postulated to spread to interconnected brain regions over several years. Thus, propagation of the pathology via neural pathways can potentially explain how α-syn aggregates spread in PD. We have now studied if α-syn can transfer from the OB to other brain structures through neural connections, by injecting different molecular species of human α-syn (monomers, oligomers, fibrils) into the OB of wild-type mice. We found that non-fibrillar human α-syn is taken up very quickly by OB neurons. Within minutes to hours, it is also found in neurons in structures connected to the OB. Conversely, when we injected bovine serum albumin used as a control protein, we found that it does not diffuse beyond the OB, is rarely taken up by OB cells, and does not transfer to other structures. Taken together, our results show that OB cells readily take up α-syn, and that monomeric and oligomeric, but not fibrillar, forms of α-syn are rapidly transferred to interconnected structures within the timeframe we explored. Our results support the idea that α-syn can transfer along neural pathways and thereby contribute to the progression of the α-syn-related pathology.
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α-Synuclein; Olfactory pathway; Olfactory bulb; Transfer; Microglia; Parkinson’s disease
Protein misfolding, aggregation and deposition are common disease mechanisms in many neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s disease. Accumulation of damaged or abnormally modified proteins may lead to perturbed cellular function and eventually to cell death. Thus neurons rely on elaborated pathways of protein quality control and removal to maintain intracellular protein homeostasis. Molecular chaperones, the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and the autophagy-lysosomal pathway (ALP) are critical pathways that mediate the refolding or removal of abnormal proteins.
The successive failure of these protein degradation pathways, as a cause or consequence of early pathological alterations in vulnerable neurons at risk, may present a key step in the pathological cascade that leads to spreading neurodegeneration. A growing number of studies in disease models and patients have implicated dysfunction of the UPS and ALP in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease and related disorders. Deciphering the exact mechanism by which the different proteolytic systems contribute to the elimination of pathogenic proteins, like α-synuclein, is therefore of paramount importance. We herein review the role of protein degradation pathways in Parkinson’s disease and elaborate on the different contributions of the UPS and the ALP to the clearance of altered proteins. We examine the interplay between different degradation pathways and provide a model for the role of the UPS and ALP in the evolution and progression of α-synuclein pathology. With regards to exciting recent studies we also discuss the putative potential of using protein degradation pathways as novel therapeutic targets in Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease; neurodegeneration; α-synuclein; autophagy; lysosome; ubiquitin-proteasome system; molecular chaperones
We report a retrospective case series of four patients with genetically confirmed Huntington’s disease (HD) and sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), examining the brain and spinal cord in two cases. Neuropathological assessment included a polyglutamine recruitment method to detect sites of active polyglutamine aggregation, and biochemical and immunohistochemical assessment of TDP-43 pathology. The clinical sequence of HD and ALS varied, with the onset of ALS occurring after the mid-fifties in all cases. Neuropathologic features of HD and ALS coexisted in both cases examined pathologically: neuronal loss and gliosis in the neostriatum and upper and lower motor neurons, with Bunina bodies and ubiquitin-immunoreactive skein-like inclusions in remaining lower motor neurons. One case showed relatively early HD pathology while the other was advanced. Expanded polyglutamine-immunoreactive inclusions and TDP-43-immunoreactive inclusions were widespread in many regions of the CNS, including the motor cortex and spinal anterior horn. Although these two different inclusions coexist in a small number of neurons, the two proteins did not co-localize within inclusions. The regional distribution of TDP-43-immunoreactive inclusions in the cerebral cortex was somewhat similar to that of expanded polyglutamine-immunoreactive inclusions. In the one case examined by TDP-43 immunoblotting, similar TDP-43 isoforms were observed as in ALS. Our findings suggest the possibility that a rare subset of older HD patients is prone to develop features of ALS with an atypical TDP-43 distribution that resembles that of aggregated mutant huntingtin. Age-dependent neuronal dysfunction induced by mutant polyglutamine protein expression may contribute to later-life development of TDP-43 associated motor neuron disease in a small subset of patients with HD.
Huntington’s disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; polyglutamine; TDP-43
No reliable classification exists for the therapeutic stratification of children with ependymoma, such that disease-risk might be identified and patients treated to ensure a combination of maximal cure rates and minimal adverse therapeutic effects. This study examined associations between clinicopathological and cytogenetic variables and outcome in a trial cohort of children with ependymoma, with the aim of defining a practical scheme for grading this heterogeneous tumor.
Intracranial ependymomas (n=146) from children treated on the RT1 trial at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital were evaluated for the status of multiple pathological features. Interphase FISH (iFISH) defined the status of chromosomes 1q, 6q (LATS1), and 9p21 (CDKN2A). Data relating to these variables were compared with survival data in order to model disease-risk groups.
Extent of surgical resection was a significant determinant of outcome. Tumor cell density and mitotic count were associated with outcome among children with posterior fossa ependymomas (n=119). Among pathologic factors, only brain invasion was associated with outcome in children with supratentorial ependymomas (n=27). Gain of 1q was independently associated with outcome and in combination with clinicopathological variables defined a three-tier system of disease-risk for posterior fossa tumors.
Among children developing posterior fossa ependymomas treated with maximal surgical resection and conformal radiotherapy, key clinicopathological variables and chromosome 1q status can be used to define tiers of disease-risk. In contrast, risk factors for pediatric supratentorial tumors are limited to subtotal resection and brain invasion.
The current classification of human sporadic prion diseases recognizes six major phenotypic subtypes with distinctive clinicopathological features, which largely correlate at the molecular level with the genotype at the polymorphic codon 129 (methionine, M, or valine, V) in the prion protein gene and with the size of the protease-resistant core of the abnormal prion protein, PrPSc (i.e. type 1 migrating at 21 kDa and type 2 at 19 kDa). We previously demonstrated that PrPSc typing by Western blotting is a reliable means of strain typing and disease classification. Limitations of this approach, however, particularly in the interlaboratory setting, are the association of PrPSc types 1 or 2 with more than one clinicopathological phenotype, which precludes definitive case classification if not supported by further analysis, and the difficulty of fully recognizing cases with mixed phenotypic features. In this study, we tested the inter-rater reliability of disease classification based only on histopathological criteria. Slides from 21 cases covering the whole phenotypic spectrum of human sporadic prion diseases, and also including two cases of variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD), were distributed blindly to 13 assessors for classification according to given instructions. The results showed good-to-excellent agreement between assessors in the classification of cases. In particular, there was full agreement (100 %) for the two most common sporadic CJD subtypes and variant CJD, and very high concordance in general for all pure phenotypes and the most common subtype with mixed phenotypic features. The present data fully support the basis for the current classification of sporadic human prion diseases and indicate that, besides molecular PrPSc typing, histopathological analysis permits reliable disease classification with high interlaboratory accuracy.