HIV-1 proteins, including the transactivator of transcription (Tat), are believed to be involved in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders by disrupting Ca2+ homeostasis, which leads to progressive dysregulation, damage, or death of neurons in the brain. We have found previously that bath-applied Tat abnormally increased Ca2+ influx through overactivated, voltage-sensitive L-type Ca2+ channels in pyramidal neurons within the rat medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). However, it is unknown whether the Tat-induced Ca2+ dysregulation was mediated by increased activity and/or the number of the L-channels. This study tested the hypothesis that transient/early exposure to Tat in vivo promoted enduring L-channel dysregulation in the mPFC without neuron loss. Accordingly, rats were administered a single intracerebroventricular injection of recombinant Tat (80 µg/20 µl; diluted by cerebrospinal fluids to pathophysiological concentrations) or vehicle. Rats were killed 14 days after injection for immunohistochemical assessments of the mPFC, motor cortex, caudate–putamen, and nucleus accumbens. Stereological estimates for positively stained cells indicated a significant increase in the number of cells expressing the pore-forming Cav1.2-α1c subunit of L-channels in the mPFC compared with other regions in Tat-treated or vehicle-treated rat brains. Optical density measurements showed a Tat-induced increase in glial fibrillary acidic protein expression, indicating astrogliosis in the cortical regions. There was no significant loss of neurons in any brain region investigated. These findings indicate that transient Tat exposure in vivo induced enduring L-channel dysregulation and astrogliosis in the mPFC without neuron loss. Such maladaptations may contribute toward dysregulated Ca2+ homeostasis and neuropathology in the PFC in the early stages of HIV infection.
astrogliosis; L-type Ca2+ channels; medial prefrontal cortex; neuroAIDS
Neurogenesis occurs continually throughout life in all mammals and the extent of neurogenesis is influenced by many factors including gonadal hormones. Most research regarding hormones and neurogenesis has been performed on non-primate species. To determine whether gonadal hormones can modulate endogenous neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampus in non-human primates, ovariectomized (OVX) female rhesus monkeys received continuous, unopposed β-estradiol (OVX-E-Con), cyclic unopposed β-estradiol (OVX-E-Cyc), continuous β-estradiol + cyclic progesterone (OVX-E-Con+P-Cyc), or control (OVX-Veh) treatments. At week 29, all monkeys received BrdU injections for four consecutive days, in addition to the ongoing treatment. Twenty days after the last BrdU injection, all animals were sacrificed for tissue collection. In DG of hippocampus, scattered BrdU-ir cells were observed mainly in the subgranular zone (SGZ) and in the granule cell layer and occasionally these BrdU-ir cells in the SGZ formed clusters containing between 2–5 cells. In the granule cell layer and SGZ, virtually none of the BrdU-ir cells were either Dcx, a marker of immature neurons, or GFAP positive. However, an occasional BrdU-ir cell was positive for both neuronal marker NeuN or β III-tubulin. Unbiased stereological analysis of BrdU-ir cells within the SGZ and the granule cell layer of DG revealed that among the experimental groups, there was no significant difference in number of BrdU-ir cells within the SGZ and the granule cell layer of the DG: OVX-E-Con (1801+218.7), OVX-E-Cyc (1783+415.6), OVX-E-Con+P-Cyc (1721+229.6), and OVX-Veh (1263+106.3), but a trend towards increased BrdU-ir cells was observed in all the experimental groups.
monkey; hippocampal neurogenesis; dentate gyrus; estrogen
Multiple laboratories have recently demonstrated that long-term dopaminergic transplants form Lewy bodies in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Debate has arisen as to whether these Lewy bodies form from the transfer of alpha synuclein from the host to the graft or whether they form from intrinsic responses of the graft from being placed into what was, or became, an inflammatory focus. To test whether the former hypothesis was possible, we grafted fetal rat ventral mesencephalon into the dopamine depleted striatum of rats that had previously received 6-hydroxydopamine lesions. One month after the transplant, rats received viral over expression of human alpha synuclein (AAV2/6 - alpha synuclein) or green fluorescent protein (AAV2/6-GFP) into the striatum rostral to the grafts. Care was taken to make sure the AAV injections were sufficiently distal to the graft so no cells would be directly transfected. All rats were sacrificed five weeks after the virus injections. Double label immunohistochemistry combined with confocal microscopy revealed that a small number of grafted tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) neurons (5.7%+ 1.5% (mean + SEM) of grafted dopamine cells) expressed host derived alpha synuclein but none of the grafted cells expressed host-derived GFP. The alpha synuclein in a few of these cells was misfolded and failed to be digested with proteinase K. These data indicate that it is possible for host derived alpha synuclein to transfer to grafted neurons supporting the concept that this is one possible mechanism by which grafted dopamine neurons form Lewy bodies in Parkinson’s disease patients.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder for which there is currently no effective neuroprotective therapy. Patients are typically treated with a combination of drug therapies and/or receive deep brain stimulation to combat behavioral symptoms. The ideal candidate therapy would be the one which prevents neurodegeneration in the brain, thereby halting the progression of debilitating disease symptoms. Neurotrophic factors have been in the forefront of PD research, and clinical trials have been initiated using members of the GDNF family of ligands (GFLs). GFLs have been shown to be trophic to ventral mesencephalic cells, thereby making them good candidates for PD research. This paper examines the use of GDNF and neurturin, two members of the GFL, in both animal models of PD and clinical trials.
neurotrophic factors; Parkinson’s disease; glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor family ligands; GDNF; neurturin; gene therapy; clinical trials
Little is known about the effects of aging, the strongest risk factor for Parkinson’s disease (PD), on glial responses to dopamine (DA) neuron degeneration in midbrain subregions that display selective vulnerability to degeneration. We evaluated the impact of aging on astrocytes and microglia in a regionally specific manner in a monkey model of PD. 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) was delivered unilaterally via the internal carotid artery of young, middle-aged, and old-aged rhesus monkeys. Astrocytes and microglia were identified using glial fibrillary acidic protein and human leukocyte antigen-DR (HLA-DR) immunolabeling, respectively. Glial reactivity was assessed using (1) stereological cell counting, (2) fluorescence intensity, and (3) a morphology rating scale. In the midbrain contralateral and ipsilateral to the MPTP injection, astrocyte number and intensity did not change with age. In both sides of the midbrain, cellular morphology suggested astrocyte hypertrophy in middle-age dissipated in old-age, irrespective of DA subregion and regional differences in vulnerability to degeneration. In the contralateral midbrain, microglia became mildly activated (increased cell number and intensity, and morphological changes) with advancing age. Inflammation was evident at 3 months postlesion by severe microglial activation in the ipsilateral midbrain. HLA-DR fluorescence intensity and an abundance of activated microglia (based on morphological criteria) were consistently exacerbated in the vtSN of both sides of the midbrain. These results suggest the glial responses accompanying aging and DA neuron degeneration following a toxic insult represent persistent alterations in the microenvironment of surviving DA neurons that are important factors in understanding regional differences in susceptibility to degeneration.
Parkinson’s disease; MPTP; aging; animal model; nonhuman primate; nigra; VTA; glia
Ageing is the greatest risk factor for the development of Parkinson’s disease. However, the current dogma holds that cellular mechanisms that are associated with ageing of midbrain dopamine neurons and those that are related to dopamine neuron degeneration in Parkinson’s disease are unrelated. We propose, based on evidence from studies of non-human primates, that normal ageing and the degeneration of dopamine neurons in Parkinson’s disease are linked by the same cellular mechanisms and, therefore, that markers of cellular risk factors accumulate with age in a pattern that mimics the pattern of degeneration observed in Parkinson’s disease. We contend that ageing induces a pre-parkinsonian state, and that the cellular mechanisms of dopamine neuron demise during normal ageing are accelerated or exaggerated in Parkinson’s disease through a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) are a promising source of cells for applications in regenerative medicine. Directed differentiation of hPSCs into specialized cells such as spinal motoneurons1 or midbrain dopamine (DA) neurons2 has been achieved. However, the effective use of hPSCs for cell therapy has lagged behind. While mouse PSC-derived DA neurons have shown efficacy in models of Parkinson’s disease (PD)3, 4, DA neurons from human PSCs generally display poor in vivo performance5. There are also considerable safety concerns for hPSCs related to their potential for teratoma formation or neural overgrowth6, 7
Here we present a novel floor plate-based strategy for the derivation of human DA neurons that efficiently engraft in vivo, suggesting that past failures were due to incomplete specification rather than a specific vulnerability of the cells. Midbrain floor plate precursors are derived from hPSCs in 11 days following exposure to small molecule activators of sonic hedgehog (SHH) and canonical WNT signaling. Engraftable midbrain DA neurons are obtained by day 25 and can be maintained in vitro for several months. Extensive molecular profiling, biochemical and electrophysiological data define developmental progression and confirm identity of hPSC-derived midbrain DA neurons. In vivo survival and function is demonstrated in PD models using three host species. Long-term engraftment in 6-OHDA-lesioned mice and rats demonstrates robust survival of midbrain DA neurons, complete restoration of amphetamine-induced rotation behavior and improvements in tests of forelimb use and akinesia. Finally, scalability is demonstrated by transplantation into Parkinsonian monkeys. Excellent DA neuron survival, function and lack of neural overgrowth in the three animal models indicate promise for the development of cell based therapies in PD.
In mammals, the transcription factor Nurr1 is expressed early in development and continues to be detectable throughout the organisms’ lifetime. Nurr1 is involved in the establishment and maintenance of the dopaminergic phenotype within specific central nervous system neuronal subpopulations including the nigrostriatal dopamine system. This protein is reduced over the course of normal aging, which is a major risk factor for Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, whether Nurr1 expression is affected by PD has not been documented. The present study examined the role of Nurr1 in the maintenance of the dopaminergic phenotype within neurons in substantia nigra in PD compared to patients with diagnoses of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), or age-matched-matched controls. In PD, the optical density (OD) of Nurr1 immunofluorescence was significantly decreased in nigral neurons containing α-synuclein-immunoreactive inclusions. Similarly, the OD of Nurr1 immunofluorescence intensity in the nigra of AD cases was decreased in neurons with neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs). In contrast to PD and AD, the OD of Nurr1 immunofluorescence intensity was severely decreased in the neurons with or without NFTs in PSP cases. Decline of Nurr1-ir neuronal number and optical density (OD) was observed within substantia nigra (SN) neurons in PD, but not within hippocampal neurons. The decline in Nurr1-ir expression was correlated with loss of TH immunofluorescence across the four groups. These data demonstrate that Nurr1 deficiency in dopaminergic neurons is associated with the intracellular pathology in both synucleinopathies and tauopathies.
transcription factor; dopaminergic neuron; α-synuclein; neurofilament; substantia nigra
Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder of aging. The pathological hallmark of PD is neuronal inclusions termed Lewy bodies whose main component is alpha-synuclein protein. The finding of these Lewy bodies in the intestinal enteric nerves led to the hypothesis that the intestine might be an early site of PD disease in response to an environmental toxin or pathogen. One potential mechanism for environmental toxin(s) and proinflammatory luminal products to gain access to mucosal neuronal tissue and promote oxidative stress is compromised intestinal barrier integrity. However, the role of intestinal permeability in PD has never been tested. We hypothesized that PD subjects might exhibit increased intestinal permeability to proinflammatory bacterial products in the intestine. To test our hypothesis we evaluated intestinal permeability in subjects newly diagnosed with PD and compared their values to healthy subjects. In addition, we obtained intestinal biopsies from both groups and used immunohistochemistry to assess bacterial translocation, nitrotyrosine (oxidative stress), and alpha-synuclein. We also evaluated serum markers of endotoxin exposure including LPS binding protein (LBP). Our data show that our PD subjects exhibit significantly greater intestinal permeability (gut leakiness) than controls. In addition, this intestinal hyperpermeability significantly correlated with increased intestinal mucosa staining for E. coli bacteria, nitrotyrosine, and alpha-synuclein as well as serum LBP levels in PD subjects. These data represent not only the first demonstration of abnormal intestinal permeability in PD subjects but also the first correlation of increased intestinal permeability in PD with intestinal alpha–synuclein (the hallmark of PD), as well as staining for gram negative bacteria and tissue oxidative stress. Our study may thus shed new light on PD pathogenesis as well as provide a new method for earlier diagnosis of PD and suggests potential therapeutic targets in PD subjects.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common dementia-causing disorder in the elderly, which may relate to multiple risk factors and is pathologically featured by cerebral hypometabolism, paravascular β-amyloid (Aβ) plaques, neuritic dystrophy and intra-neuronal aggregation of phosphorylated-tau. To explore potential pathogenic link among some of these lesions, we examined β-secretase-1 (BACE1) alteration relative to Aβ deposition, neuritic pathology and vascular organization in aged monkey and AD human cerebral cortex. Western blot analyses detected increased levels of BACE1 proteins and β-site-cleavage amyloid precursor protein C-terminal fragments in plaque-bearing human and monkey cortex relative to controls. In immunohistochemistry, locally elevated BACE1 immunoreactivity (IR) occurred in AD but not in control human cortex, with a trend of increased overall density among cases with greater plaque pathology. In double labeling preparations, BACE1 IR colocalized with immunolabeling for Aβ but not for phosphorylated tau. In perfusion-fixed monkey cortex, locally increased BACE1 IR co-existed with intra-axonal and extracellular Aβ IR among virtually all neuritic plaques ranging from primitive to typical cored forms. This BACE1 labeling localized to swollen/sprouting axon terminals that might co-express one or another neuronal phenotype marker (GABAergic, glutamatergic, cholinergic or catecholaminergic). Importantly, these BACE1-labeled dystrophic axons resided near or in direct contact with blood vessels. These finds implicate that plaque formation in AD or normal aging primates relate to a multisystem axonal pathogenesis that occurs in partnership with potential vascular or metabolic deficit. The data provide a tangible mechanistic explanation as to why senile plaques are present preferentially near cerebral vasculature.
Neuritic plaque; neuroplasticity; hypometabolism; aging; dementia; non-human primate
Aging remains the strongest risk factor for developing Parkinson’s disease (PD), and there is selective vulnerability in midbrain DA neuron degeneration in PD. By tracking normal aging-related changes with an emphasis on regional specificity, factors involved in selective vulnerability and resistance to degeneration can be studied. Towards this end, we sought to determine whether age-related changes in microglia and astrocytes in rhesus monkeys are region-specific, suggestive of involvement in regional differences in vulnerability to degeneration that may be relevant to PD pathogenesis. Gliosis in midbrain DA subregions was measured by estimating glia number using unbiased stereology, assessing fluorescence intensity for proteins upregulated during activation, and rating morphology. With normal aging, microglia exhibited increased staining intensity and a shift to more activated morphologies preferentially in the vulnerable substantia nigra-ventral tier (vtSN). Astrocytes did not exhibit age-related changes consistent with an involvement in regional vulnerability in any measure. Our results suggest advancing age is associated with chronic mild inflammation in the vtSN, which may render these DA neurons more vulnerable to degeneration.
aging; Parkinson’s disease; astrocyte; microglia; glia; midbrain; substantia nigra; ventral tegmental area; dopamine neuron; rhesus monkey; nonhuman primate; selective vulnerability
Abnormal expansion of a polyglutamine tract in huntingtin (Htt) protein results in Huntington's disease (HD), an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder involving progressive loss of motor and cognitive function. Contrasting with the ubiquitous tissue expression of polyglutamine-expanded Htt (polyQ-Htt), HD pathology is characterized by the increased vulnerability of specific neuronal populations within the striatum and the cerebral cortex. Morphological, biochemical, and functional characteristics of neurons affected in HD that might render these cells more vulnerable to the toxic effects of polyQ-Htt are covered in this review. The differential vulnerability of neurons observed in HD is discussed in the context of various major pathogenic mechanisms proposed to date, and in line with evidence showing a “dying-back” pattern of degeneration in affected neuronal populations.
Huntington's disease; medium-sized spiny neurons; huntingtin; axonal transport; dying back degeneration
DCX-immunoreactive (DCX+) cells occur in the piriform cortex in adult mice and rats, but also in the neocortex in adult guinea pigs and rabbits. Here we describe these cells in adult domestic cats and primates. In cats and rhesus monkeys, DCX+ cells existed across the allo- and neocortex, with an overall ventrodorsal high to low gradient at a given frontal plane. Labeled cells formed a cellular band in layers II and upper III, exhibiting dramatic differences in somal size (5–20 μm), shape (unipolar, bipolar, multipolar and irregular), neuritic complexity and labeling intensity. Cell clusters were also seen in this band, and those in the entorhinal cortex extended into deeper layers as chain-like structures. Densitometry revealed a parallel decline of the cells across regions with age in cats. Besides the cellular band, medium-sized cells with weak DCX reactivity resided sparsely in other layers. Throughout the cortex, virtually all DCX+ cells co-expressed polysialylated neural cell adhesion molecule. Medium to large mature-looking DCX+ cells frequently colocalized with neuron-specific nuclear protein and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and those with a reduced DCX expression also partially co-labeled for glutamic acid decarboxylase, parvalbumin, calbindin, β-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase and neuronal nitric oxide synthase. Similar to cats and monkeys, small and larger DCX+ cells were detected in surgically removed human frontal and temporal cortices. These data suggest that immature neurons persist into adulthood in many cortical areas in cats and primates, and that these cells appear to undergo development and differentiation to become functional subgroups of GABAergic interneurons.
Interneurons; GABAergic; Layer II; Neuroplasticity; Corticogenesis
This paper provides the first evidence that fresh water turtles are able to reconnect their completely transected spinal cord leading to some degree of recovery of the motor functions lost after injury. Videographic analysis showed that some turtles (5 out of 11) surviving more than 20 days after injury were able to initiate stepping locomotion. However the stepping movements were slower than those of normal animals and swimming patterns were not restored. Even though just 45% of the injured turtles recovered their stepping patterns, all showed axonal sprouting beyond the lesion site. Immunocytochemical and electron microscope images revealed the occurrence of regrowing axons crossing the severed region. A major contingent of the axons reconnecting the cord originated from sensory neurons lying in dorsal ganglia adjacent to the lesion site. The axons bridging the damaged region traveled on a cellular scaffold consisting of BLBP and GFAP positive cells and processes. Serotonergic varicose nerve fibers and endings were found at early stages of the healing process at the epicenter of the lesion. Interestingly, the glial scar commonly found in the damaged central nervous system of mammals was absent. In contrast GFAP and BLBP positive processes were found running parallel to the main axis of the cord accompanying the crossing axons.
spinal cord; spinal cord injury; nervous regeneration; axon regrowth; brain lipid binding protein; serotonin
The present investigation used an antibody directed against the extracellular domain of the signal transducing nerve growth factor receptor, trkA, to reveal immunoreactive perikarya or fibers within the olfactory bulb and tubercle, cingulate cortex, nucleus accumbens, striatum, endopiriform nucleus, septal/diagonal band complex, nucleus basalis, hippocampal complex, thalamic paraventricular and reunions nuclei, periventricular hypothalamus, interpeduncular nucleus, mesencephalic nucleus of the fifth nerve, dorsal nucleus of the lateral lemniscus, prepositus hypoglossal nucleus, ventral cochlear nucleus, ventral lateral tegmentum, medial vestibular nucleus, spinal trigeminal nucleus oralis, nucleus of the solitary tract, raphe nuclei, and spinal cord. Colocalization experiments revealed that virtually all striatal trkA-immunoreactive neurons (> 99%) coexpressed choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) but not p75 nerve growth factor receptor (NGFR). Within the septal/diagonal band complex virtually all trkA neurons (>95%) coexpressed both ChAT and p75 NGFR. More caudally, dual stained sections revealed numerous trkA/ChAT (> 80%) and trkA/p75 NGFR (> 95%) immunoreactive neurons within the nucleus basalis. In the brainstem, raphe serotonergic neurons (45%) coexpressed trkA. Sections stained with a pan-trk antibody that recognizes primarily trkA, as well as trkB and trkC, labeled neurons within all of these regions as well as within the hypothalamic arcuate, supramammilary, and supraoptic nuclei, hippocampus, inferior and superior colliculus, substantia nigra, ventral tegmental area of T’sai, and cerebellar Purkinje cells. Virtually all of these other regions with the exception of the cerebellum also expressed pan-trk immunoreactivity in the monkey. The widespread expression of trkA throughout the central neural axis suggests that this receptor may play a role in signal transduction mechanisms linked to NGF-related substances in cholinergic basal forebrain and non-cholinergic systems. These findings suggest that pharmacological use of ligands for trkA could have beneficial effects on the multiple neuronal systems that are affected in such disorders as Alzheimer’s disease.
tyrosine kinase receptors; nerve growth factor; basal forebrain; rat; monkey
A novel population of cells that express typical immature neuronal markers including doublecortin (DCX+) has been recently identified throughout the adult cerebral cortex of relatively large mammals (guinea pig, rabbit, cat, monkey and human). These cells are more common in the associative relative to primary cortical areas and appear to develop into interneurons including type II nitrinergic neurons. Here we further describe these cells in the cerebral cortex and amygdala, in comparison with DCX+ cells in the hippocampal dentate gyrus, in three age groups of rhesus monkeys: young adult (12.3 ± 0.2 years, n = 3), mid-age (21.2 ± 1.9 years, n = 3) and aged (31.3 ± 1.8 years, n = 4). DCX+ cells with a heterogeneous morphology persisted in layers II/III primarily over the associative cortex and amygdala in all groups (including in two old animals with cerebral amyloid pathology), showing a parallel decline in cell density with age across regions. In contrast to the cortex and amygdala, DCX+ cells in the subgranular zone diminished in the mid-age and aged groups. DCX+ cortical cells might arrange as long tangential migratory chains in the mid-age and aged animals, with apparently distorted cell clusters seen in the aged group. Cortical DCX+ cells colocalized commonly with polysialylated neural cell adhesion molecule and partially with neuron-specific nuclear protein and γ-aminobutyric acid, suggesting a potential differentiation of these cells into interneuron phenotype. These data suggest a life-long role for immature interneuron-like cells in the associative cerebral cortex and amygdala in nonhuman primates.
neuroplasticity; interneurons; neurogenesis; aging; neuropsychiatric disorders
Aging is the most prominent risk factor for Parkinson’s disease. Yet, consensus of how advancing age may predispose the dopamine (DA) system to parkinsonism is lacking. Three age-ranges of female rhesus monkeys, 8–9, 15–17 and 21–31 years, received unilateral DA depletion with intracarotid 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). Morphological and biochemical analyses of DA-depleted and intact hemispheres revealed three primary findings: 1) The intact striatum exhibited age-related declines in dopamine (DA) and homovanillic acid (HVA) that were present by middle-age; 2) In the MPTP-treated striatum, the compensatory increase in DA activity was absent in old monkeys; and, 3) Age-associated morphological changes included declines in the density of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) positive fibers in striatum, decreased nigral soma size and optical density of TH, but no significant loss of neurons. These findings suggest that aging produces changes in the nigrostriatal DA system that approach the threshold for expression of parkinsonian features, and that progressive impairment of plasticity may be central to the role of aging in development of parkinsonism.
aging; dopamine; substantia nigra; parkinsonism; MPTP; monkey