Because the toxicological effects of mercury (Hg) are more serious in the developing central nervous system of children than adults, there are growing concerns about prenatal and early childhood Hg exposure. This study examined postnatal methylmercury (MeHg) exposure and cognition and behavior in 780 children enrolled in the Treatment of Lead (Pb) - exposed Children clinical trial (TLC) with 396 children allocated to the succimer and 384 to the placebo groups. Mercury exposure was determined from analyses of blood drawn 1 week before randomization and 1 week after treatment began when succimer had its maximal effect on blood Pb (PbB). The baseline MeHg concentrations were 0.54 μg/L and 0.52 μg/L and post-treatment concentrations were 0.51 μg/L and 0.48 μg/L for placebo and succimer groups respectively. Because the baseline characteristics in the two groups were balanced and because succimer had little effect on MeHg concentration and no effect on the cognitive or behavioral test scores, the groups were combined in the analysis of MeHg and neurodevelopment. The children's IQ and neurobehavioral performance were tested at age 2, 5 and 7 years. We saw weak, non-significant but consistently positive associations between blood MeHg and IQ test scores in stratified, spline regression and generalized linear model data analyses. The behavioral problem scores were constant or decreased slightly with increasing MeHg concentration. Additional adjustment for PbB levels in multivariable models did not alter the conclusion for MeHg and IQ scores, but did confirm that concurrent PbB was strongly associated with IQ and behavior in TLC children. The effects of MeHg on neurodevelopmental indices did not substantially differ by PbB strata. We conclude that at the present background postnatal MeHg exposure levels of US children, adverse effects on children's IQ and behavior are not detectable.
methylmercury; lead; children; neuropsychological tests; postnatal exposure
The exposure of the human population to environmental contaminants is recognized as a significant contributing factor for the development of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other forms of parkinsonism. While pesticides have repeatedly been identified as risk factors for PD, these compounds represent only a subset of environmental toxicants that we are exposed to on a regular basis. Thus, non-pesticide contaminants, such as metals, solvents, and other organohalogen compounds have also been implicated in the clinical and pathological manifestations of these movement disorders and it is these non-pesticide compounds that are the subject of this review. As toxic exposures to these classes of compounds can result in a spectrum of PD or PD-related disorders, it is imperative to appreciate shared clinico-pathological characteristics or mechanisms of action of these compounds in order to further delineate the resultant disorders as well as identify improved preventive strategies or therapeutic interventions.
Microglia are a heterogeneous group of monocyte-derived cells serving multiple roles within the brain, many of which are associated with immune and macrophage like properties. These cells are known to serve a critical role during brain injury and to maintain homeostasis; yet, their defined roles during development have yet to be elucidated. Microglial actions appear to influence events associated with neuronal proliferation and differentiation during development, as well as, contribute to processes associated with the removal of dying neurons or cellular debris and management of synaptic connections. These long-lived cells display changes during injury and with aging that are critical to the maintenance of the neuronal environment over the lifespan of the organism. These processes may be altered by changes in the colonization of the brain or by inflammatory events during development. This review addresses the role of microglia during brain development, both structurally and functionally, as well as the inherent vulnerability of the developing nervous system. A framework is presented considering microglia as a critical nervous system-specific cell that can influence multiple aspects of brain development (e.g., vascularization, synaptogenesis, and myelination) and have a long term impact on the functional vulnerability of the nervous system to a subsequent insult, whether environmental, physical, age-related, or disease-related.
microglia; ontogeny; developmental neurotoxicity; brain macrophages; pruning
Environmental or occupational exposure to high levels of manganese (Mn) can lead to manganism, a symptomatic neuro-degenerative disorder similar to idiopathic Parkinson’s disease. The underlying mechanism of Mn neurotoxicity remains unclear. In this study, we evaluate the primary toxicological events associated with MnCl2 toxicity in rat PC12 cells using whole genome cDNA microarray, RT-PCR, western blot and functional studies. The results show that a sub-lethal dose range (38–300 µM MnCl2) initiated slight metabolic stress evidenced by heightened glycolytic rate and induction of enolase / aldolase - gene expression. The largest shift observed in the transcriptome was MnCl2 induction of heme-oxygenase 1 (HO-1) [7.7 fold, p <0.001], which was further corroborated by RT-PCR and western blot studies. Concentrations in excess of 300 µM corresponded to dose dependent loss of cell viability which was associated with enhanced production of H2O2 concomitant to elevation of of gene expression for diverse antioxidant enzymes; biliverdin reductase, arsenite inducible RNA associated protein, dithiolethione-inducible gene-1 (DIG-1) and .thioredoxin reductase 1. Moreover, Mn initiated significant reduction of gene expression of mitochondrial glutaryl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase (GCDH) -, an enzyme involved with glutaric acidemia, oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation and striatal degeneration observed in association with severe dystonic dyskinetic movement disorder. Future research will be required to elucidate a defined role for HO-1 and GCDH in Mn toxicity.
manganese; dopamine; heme oxygenase; mitochondria; cDNA microarray whole genome; GCDH
Neurobehavioral deficits have been reported in Egyptian pesticide application teams using organophosphorus (OP) pesticides, but whether these effects are related to OP pesticide exposures has yet to be established. In preparation for a comprehensive study of the relationship between OP pesticide dose and neurobehavioral deficits, we assessed exposure within this population. We conducted occupational surveys and workplace observations, and collected air, dermal patch and biological samples from applicators, technicians and engineers involved in chlorpyrifos applications during cotton production to test the hypotheses that: 1) dermal exposure was an important contributor to internal dose and varied across body regions; and 2) substantial differences would be seen across the three job categories. Applicators were substantially younger and had shorter exposure histories than did technicians and engineers. Applicators and technicians were observed to have relatively high levels of skin or clothing contact with pesticide-treated foliage as they walked through the fields. Both dermal patch loadings of chlorpyrifos and measurements of a chlorpyrifos-specific metabolite (TCPy) in urine confirmed substantial exposure to and skin absorption of chlorpyrifos that varied according to job category; and dermal patch loading was significantly higher on the thighs than on the forearms. These findings support our hypotheses and support the need for research to examine neurobehavioral performance and exposures in this population. More importantly, the exposures reported here are sufficiently high to recommend urgent changes in work practices amongst these workers.
Organophosphorus pesticides; chlorpyrifos; pesticide applicators; biomonitoring; urinary metabolites; TCPy; dermal exposure; dermal patches
Excessive manganese (Mn) uptake by brain cells, particularly in regions like the basal ganglia, can lead to toxicity. Mn2+ is transported into cells via a number of mechanisms, while Mn3+ is believed to be transported similarly to iron (Fe) via the transferrin (Tf) mechanism. Cellular Mn uptake is therefore determined by the activity of the mechanisms transporting Mn into each type of cell and by the amounts of Mn2+, Mn3+ and their complexes to which these cells are exposed; this complicates understanding the contributions of each transporter to Mn toxicity. While uptake of Fe3+ via the Tf mechanism is well understood, uptake of Mn3+ via this mechanism has not been systematically studied. The stability of the Mn3+Tf complex allowed us to form and purify this complex and label it with a fluorescent (Alexa green) tag. Using purified and labeled Mn3+Tf and biophysical tools, we have developed a novel approach to study Mn3+Tf transport independently of other Mn transport mechanisms. This approach was used to compare the uptake of Mn3+Tf into neuronal cell lines with published descriptions of Fe3+ uptake via the Tf mechanism, and to obtain quantitative information on Mn uptake via the Tf mechanism. Results confirm that in these cell lines significant Mn3+ is transported by the Tf mechanism similarly to Fe3+Tf transport; although Mn3+Tf transport is markedly slower than other Mn transport mechanisms. This novel approach may prove useful for studying Mn toxicity in other systems and cell types.
manganese transport; transferrin; endosomal transport; mitochondria; manganese toxicity
Developmental exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), a component of polycarbonate and epoxy resins, has been purported to adversely impact reproductive function in female rodents. Because neonatal life is a critical window for the sexual dimorphic organization of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, interference with this process could underlie compromised adult reproductive physiology. The goal of the present study was to determine if neonatal BPA exposure interferes with sex specific gene expression of estrogen receptor alpha (ERα), ER beta (ERβ) and kisspeptin (Kiss1) in the anterior and mediobasal hypothalamus. Long Evans (LE) neonatal rats were exposed to vehicle, 10 µg estradiol benzoate (EB), 50 mg/kg BPA or 50µg/kg BPA by subcutaneous injection daily from postnatal day 0 (PND 0) to PND 2. Gene expression was assessed by in situ hybridization on PNDs 4 and 10. Within the anterior hypothalamus ERα expression was augmented by BPA in PND 4 females, then fell to male-typical levels by PND 10. ERβ expression was not altered by BPA on PND 4, but significantly decreased or eliminated in both sexes by PND 10. Kiss1 expression was diminished by BPA in the anterior hypothalamus, especially in females. There were no significant impacts of BPA in the mediobasal hypothalamus. Collectively, BPA effects did not mirror those of EB. The results show that neonatal hypothalamic ER and Kiss1 expression is sensitive to BPA exposure. This disruption may alter sexually dimorphic hypothalamic organization and underlie adult reproductive deficiencies. Additionally, the discordant effects of EB and BPA indicate that BPA likely disrupts hypothalamic organization by a mechanism other than simply acting as an estrogen mimic.
BPA; preoptic area (POA); arcuate nucleus (ARC); kisspeptin; estrogen receptor (ER); hypothalamus; development; sexual differentiation; brain; endocrine disruption
Drinking water manganese (WMn) is a potential threat to children’s health due to its associations with a wide range of outcomes including cognitive, behavioral and neuropsychological effects. Although adverse effects of Mn on cognitive function of the children indicate possible impact on their academic achievement little evidence on this issue is available.. Moreover, little is known regarding potential interactions between exposure to Mn and other metals, especially water arsenic (WAs). In Araihazar, a rural area of Bangladesh, we conducted a cross-sectional study of 840 children to investigate associations between WMn and WAs and academic achievement in mathematics and languages among elementary school-children, aged 8–11 years. Data on As and Mn exposure were collected from the participants at the baseline of an ongoing longitudinal study of school-based educational intervention. Annual scores of the study children in languages (Bangla and English) and mathematics were obtained from the academic achievement records of the elementary schools. WMn above the WHO standard of 400 μg/L was associated with 6.4 percentage score loss (95% CI=0.5, 12.3) in mathematics achievement test scores, adjusted for WAs and other sociodemographic variables. We did not find any significant associations between WMn and academic achievement in either language. Neither WAs nor urinary As was significantly related to any of the three academic achievement scores. Our finding suggests that a large number of children in rural Bangladesh may experience deficits in mathematics due to high concentrations of Mn exposure in drinking water.
Bangladesh; children; academic achievement; Math score; manganese; water; classroom behavior
Epilepsy or seizure disorder is one of the most common neurological diseases in humans. Although genetic mutations in ion channels and receptors and some other risk factors such as brain injury are linked to epileptogenesis, the underlying cause for the majority of epilepsy cases remains unknown. Gene-environment interactions are thought to play a critical role in the etiology of epilepsy. Exposure to environmental chemicals is an important risk factor. Methylmercury (MeHg) is a prominent environmental neurotoxicant, which targets primarily the central nervous system (CNS). Patients or animals with acute or chronic MeHg poisoning often display epileptic seizures or show increased susceptibility to seizures, suggesting that MeHg exposure may be associated with epileptogenesis. This mini-review highlights the effects of MeHg exposure, especially developmental exposure, on the susceptibility of humans and animals to seizures, and discusses the potential role of low level MeHg exposure in epileptogenesis. This review also proposes that a preferential effect of MeHg on the inhibitory GABAergic system, leading to disinhibition of excitatory glutamatergic function, may be one of the potential mechanisms underlying MeHg-induced changes in seizure susceptibility.
Methylmercury; environmental risk factors; seizures; epileptogenesis
Gender differences in sensitivity and toxicokinetics of multiple metals have been identified in humans. A recent study suggested that young girls performed worse on intellectual exams than young boys exposed to manganese (Mn) in the environment. Animal studies have shown that Mn exposure causes differential effects on behavior in male compared to female mice. We hypothesized that in response to Mn exposure striatal Mn accumulation and/or striatal medium spiny neuron (MSN) morphology show gender-dependent effects. We evaluated the contribution of gender to neuropathology by examining striatal MSN morphology in male and female mice exposed to Mn. We found that gender played a significant role in alterations of striatal MSN morphology in mice exposed to Mn. Gender-dependent changes were strongest when striatal Mn levels were elevated 24 hours following the final Mn exposure. Nevertheless, gender-dependent alterations in neuron morphology were still present 3 weeks after the final Mn exposure. Gender differences in neuron morphology were not due to differential striatal Mn accumulation between genders. We conclude that although gender does not affect striatal Mn accumulation, MSN morphology is differentially sensitive to elevated Mn levels.
Ortho-substituted polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a concern to human developmental health. Rat dams were exposed to an environmentally relevant mixture of PCBs, Aroclor 1254, or pure congener PCB 95 (6 mg/kg/day) during the perinatal period (GD 5 through PD 21). Hippocampal slices prepared from offspring 1-3 weeks post-weaning were tested for persisting changes in sensitivity to the excitotoxicant picrotoxin. Hippocampal slices were placed on multielectrode arrays. Field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs) were recorded from Schaffer Collateral/Commissural fibers in striatum radiatum of the CA1 region in response to single pulse stimuli. After recording baseline excitability, GABAA receptors were blocked by inclusion of picrotoxin (100 μM) in the aCSF perfusate. Picrotoxin produced negligible changes in fEPSP slope in slices isolated from offspring exposed to vehicle, whereas slices from either PCB test group invariably showed >200% (p<0.01) synaptic facilitation. Picrotoxin produced prominent after-discharges (epileptic wave forms) in the evoked potentials measured from PCB exposed, but not control, hippocampal slices. These results show that developmental exposure to non-coplanar PCBs is sufficient to produce changes in synaptic plasticity that can be unmasked in the presence of GABAA receptor deficits that persist 1-3 weeks after exposure ceased. Developmental exposure to PCBs may sensitize seizure susceptibility postnatally, especially in susceptible populations with GABAA receptor signaling deficits.
excitotoxicity; non-coplanar PCBs; picrotoxin; hippocampus; hippocampal slice; GABAA receptor; seizure activity; microelectrode array
Autism is a common neurodevelopmental disorder with genetic and environmental components. Though unproven, genetic susceptibility to high mercury (Hg) body burden has been suggested as an autism risk factor in a subset of children. We hypothesized that exposure to “safe” Hg levels could be implicated in the etiology of autism if genetic susceptibility altered Hg's metabolism or intracellular compartmentalization. Genetic sequences of four genes implicated in the transport and response to Hg were screened for variation and association with autism. LAT1 and DMT1 function in Hg transport, and Hg exposure induces MTF1 and MT1a. We identified and characterized 74 variants in MT1a, DMT1, LAT1 and MTF1. Polymorphisms identified through screening 48 unrelated individuals from the general and autistic populations were evaluated for differences in allele frequencies using Fisher's exact test. Three variants with suggestive p-values <0.1 and four variants with significant p-values <0.05 were followed-up with TaqMan genotyping in a larger cohort of 204 patients and 323 control samples. The pedigree disequilibrium test was used to examine linkage and association. Analysis failed to show association with autism for any variant evaluated in both the initial screening set and the expanded cohort, suggesting that variations in the ability of the four genes studied to process and transport Hg may not play a significant role in the etiology of autism.
Mercury; Autism; LAT1; DMT1; MTF1; MT1a
Methylmercury (MeHg) is a widespread environmental toxicant which affects the central nervous system. Among neurons reportedly affected in cases of mercury poisoning are motor neurons; however, direct cellular effects of MeHg on motor neurons have not been reported. Ratiometric fluorescence imaging and fura-2, were used to examine effects of MeHg on Ca2+ homeostasis in mouse spinal motor neuron primary cultures. In vitro MeHg exposure at concentrations (0.1 μM- 2μM/30–40 min) which affect other neurons in culture differentially, induced a biphasic rise in fura-2 fluorescence ratio indicating increased [Ca2+]i. Times-to-onset of these effects were inversely correlated with MeHg concentration. TPEN (20 μM), a non-Ca2+, divalent cation chelator, reduced the amplitude of the first phase increase induced by MeHg, indicating that both Ca2+ and non-Ca2+ divalent cations contribute to the MeHg-induced effect. Contributions of intra- and extracellular Ca2+ were compared using Ca2+i -free solutions containing 20 μM EGTA. The second phase resulted from Ca2+e influx. Among possible pathways contributing to Ca2+ influx, the excitatory amino acid (EAA) receptor blockers MK-801 (15 μM), and AP-5 (100μM)- both NMDA receptor-operated ion channel blockers, CNQX (20μM), a non-NMDA receptor blocker, and the voltage-dependent Ca2+ channel blockers nifedipine (1 μM) and ω-conotoxin-GVIA (1 μM) all significantly delayed the development of increased Ca2+ caused by MeHg. Tetrodotoxin (TTX, 1 μM) did not alter the MeHg-induced effects. Thus, MeHg alters [Ca2+]i in mouse spinal motor neurons through excitatory amino acid receptor-mediated pathways, and nifedipine and ω-conotoxin-GVIA-sensitive pathways.
Intracellular Ca2+ regulation; motor neurons; fura-2 fluorescence; divalent cations; excitatory amino acid receptors
People worldwide depend upon daily fish consumption as a major source of protein and other nutrients. Fish are high in nutrients essential for normal brain development, but they also contain methylmercury (MeHg), a neurotoxicant. Our studies in a population consuming fish daily have indicated no consistent pattern of adverse associations between prenatal MeHg and children’s development. For some endpoints we found performance improved with increasing prenatal exposure to MeHg. Follow up studies indicate this association is related to the beneficial nutrients present in fish.
To determine if the absence of adverse outcomes and the presence of beneficial associations between prenatal MeHg and developmental outcomes previously reported persists into adolescence.
This study was conducted on the Main Cohort of the Seychelles Child Development Study (SCDS). We examined the association between prenatal MeHg exposure and subjects’ performance at 17 years of age on 27 endpoints. The test battery included the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT), the Woodcock-Johnson (W-J-II) Achievement Test, subtests of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB), and measures of problematic behaviors. Analyses for all endpoints were adjusted for postnatal MeHg, sex, socioeconomic status, maternal IQ, and child’s age at testing and the child’s IQ was added for problematic behavioral endpoints.
Mean prenatal MeHg exposure was 6.9 ppm. There was no association between prenatal MeHg and 21 endpoints. Increasing prenatal MeHg was associated with better scores on four endpoints (higher W-J-II math calculation scores, reduced numbers of trials on the Intra-Extradimensional Shift Set of the CANTAB, fewer reports of substance use and incidents of and referrals for problematic behaviors in school. Increasing prenatal MeHg was adversely associated with one level of referrals to a school counselor.
At age 17 years there was no consistent pattern of adverse associations present between prenatal MeHg exposure and detailed domain specific neurocognitive and behavioral testing. There continues to be evidence of improved performance on some endpoints as prenatal MeHg exposure increases in the range studied, a finding that appears to reflect the role of beneficial nutrients present in fish as demonstrated previously in younger subjects. These findings suggest that ocean fish consumption during pregnancy is important for the health and development of children and that the benefits are long lasting.
We have shown that a single “binge” dose of methamphetamine (Meth) in mice has long-lasting effects on open-field behavior dependent on mouse strain and age. Here we further investigated the impact of genotype and age on tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) loss and dopamine (DA) metabolism due to a high binge dose of Meth (4 × 5 mg/kg × 2 hours × 2 days). Administration of high dose Meth or saline (Sal) to adolescent (PND 40) and adult (PND 80) C57BL/6 (B6), DBA/2 (DBA), and 129S6SvEv/Tac (129) mice was followed by a 1 mg/kg Meth or Sal (control) challenge 40 days later. Striatal and prefrontal cortex tissues were collected one hour following the challenge. Meth-pretreated adolescent B6 and DBA mice exhibited losses in striatal DA concentrations; DBA adolescents also showed losses in striatal 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) and increased DA turnover. Pre-exposed B6 and 129 adults demonstrated significant decreases in striatal DA, DOPAC, and increased DA turnover; DBA adults showed significant losses in striatal DA and increased DA turnover. 129 and DBA adults exhibited increases and decreases, respectively, in prefrontal cortex DA. Adult pretreated B6 mice produced significant losses in striatal TH. The results again show age and genotype dependent differences in Meth-induced DA alterations.
Methamphetamine; Dopamine; Tyrosine Hydroxylase; Age; Strain Survey
Excessive manganese (Mn) exposure increases output of glial-derived inflammatory products, which may indirectly contribute to the neurotoxic effects of this essential metal. In microglia, Mn increases hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) release and potentiates lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6) and nitric oxide (NO). Inducible heme-oxygenase (HO-1) plays a role in the regulation of inflammation and its expression is upregulated in response to oxidative stressors, including metals and LPS. Because Mn can oxidatively affect neurons both directly and indirectly, we investigated the effect of Mn exposure on the induction of HO-1 in resting and LPS-activated microglia (N9) and dopaminergic neurons (N27). In microglia, 24 h exposure to Mn (up to 250 μM) had minimal effects on its own, but it markedly potentiated LPS (100 ng/ml)-induced HO-1protein and mRNA. Inhibition of microglial HO-1 activity with two different inhibitors indicated that HO-1 is a positive regulator of the Mn-potentiated cytokine output and a negative regulator of the Mn-induced H2O2 output. Mn enhancement of LPS-induced HO-1 does not appear to be dependent on H2O2 or NO, as Mn+LPS-induced H2O2 release was not greater than the increase induced by Mn alone and inhibition of iNOS did not change Mn potentiation of HO-1. However, because Mn exposure potentiated the LPS-induced nuclear expression of small Maf proteins, this may be one mechanism Mn uses to affect the expression of HO-1 in activated microglia. Finally, the potentiating effects of Mn on HO-1 appear to be glia-specific for Mn, LPS, or Mn+LPS did not induce HO-1 in N27 neuronal cells.
manganese; microglia; N27 cells; heme oxygenase-1; cytokines; H2O2; nitric oxide; small Maf; Nrf2
Selenium is an essential micronutrient required for cellular antioxidant systems, yet at higher doses it induces oxidative stress. Additionally, in vertebrates environmental exposures to toxic levels of selenium can cause paralysis and death. Here we show that selenium-induced oxidative stress leads to decreased cholinergic signaling and degeneration of cholinergic neurons required for movement and egg-laying in Caenorhabditis elegans. Exposure to high levels of selenium leads to proteolysis of a soluble muscle protein through mechanisms suppressible by two pharmacological agents, levamisole and aldicarb which enhance cholinergic signaling in muscle. In addition, animals with reduction-of-function mutations in genes encoding post-synaptic levamisole-sensitive acetylcholine receptor subunits or the vesicular acetylcholine transporter developed impaired forward movement faster during selenium-exposure than normal animals, again confirming that selenium reduces cholinergic signaling. Finally, the antioxidant reduced glutathione, inhibits selenium-induced reductions in egg-laying through a cellular protective mechanism dependent on the C. elegans glutaredoxin, GLRX-21. These studies provide evidence that the environmental toxicant selenium induces neurodegeneration of cholinergic neurons through depletion of glutathione, a mechanism linked to the neuropathology of Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.
Cholinergic; Glutathione; Neurodegeneration; Oxidative stress; Selenium
γ-Glutamylcysteine (γ-GC) is an intermediate molecule of the glutathione (GSH) synthesis pathway. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that γ-GC pretreatment in cultured astrocytes and neurons protects against hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced oxidative injury. We demonstrate that pretreatment with γ-GC increases the ratio of reduced:oxidized GSH levels in both neurons and astrocytes and increases total GSH levels in neurons. In addition, γ-GC pretreatment decreases isoprostane formation both in neurons and astrocytes, as well as nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) nuclear translocation in astrocytes in response to H2O2-induced oxidative stress. Furthermore, GSH and isoprostane levels significantly correlate with increased neuron and astrocyte viability in cells pretreated with γ-GC. Finally, we demonstrate that administration of a single intravenous injection of γ-GC to mice significantly increases GSH levels in the brain, heart, lungs, liver, and in muscle tissues in vivo. These results support a potential therapeutic role for γ-GC in the reduction of oxidant stress-induced damage in tissues including the brain.
Parkinson disease (PD) is the most common movement disorder. It is characterized by bradykinesia, postural instability, resting tremor, and rigidity associated with the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta. Another pathological hallmark of PD is the presence of α-synuclein proteiniacous inclusions, known as Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites, in some of the remaining dopaminergic neurons. Mounting evidence indicates that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the etiology of PD. For example, genetic mutations (duplications, triplications or missense mutations) in the α-synuclein gene can lead to PD, but even in these patients age-dependent physiological changes or environmental exposures appear to be involved in disease presentation. Several additional alterations in many other genes have been established to either cause or increase the risk of Parkinson disease. More specifically, autosomal dominant missense mutations in the gene for leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2/PARK8) are the most common known cause of PD. Recently it was shown that G2019S, the most common diseasing-causing mutant of LRRK2, has dramatic effects on the kinase activity of LRRK2: while activity of wild-type LRRK2 is inhibited by manganese, the G2019S mutation abrogates this inhibition. Based on the in vitro kinetic properties of LRRK2 in the presence of manganese, we proposed that LRRK2 may be a sensor of cytoplasmic manganese levels and that the G2019S mutant has lost this function. This finding, alongside a growing number of studies demonstrating an interaction between PD-associated proteins and manganese, suggest that dysregulation of neuronal manganese homeostasis over a lifetime can play an important role in the etiology of PD.
Parkinson disease; mutation; α-synuclein; LRRK2; manganese; toxicity
In spite of the essentiality of manganese (Mn) as a trace element necessary for a variety of physiological processes, Mn in excess accumulates in the brain and has been associated with dysfunction and degeneration of the basal ganglia. Despite the high sensitivity, limited chemical interference, and multi-elemental advantages of traditional methods for measuring Mn levels, they lack the feasibility to assess Mn transport dynamics in a high-throughput manner. Our lab has previously reported decreased net Mn accumulation in a mutant striatal cell line model of Huntington’s disease (STHdhQ111/Q111) relative to wild-type following Mn exposure. To evaluate Mn transport dynamics in these striatal cell lines, we have developed a high-throughput fluorescence-quenching extraction assay (Cellular Fura-2 Manganese Extraction Assay - CFMEA). CFMEA utilizes changes in fura-2 fluorescence upon excitation at 360 nm (Ca2+ isosbestic point) and emission at 535 nm, as an indirect measurement of total cellular Mn content. Here, we report the establishment, development, and application of CFMEA. Specifically, we evaluate critical extraction and assay conditions (e.g. extraction buffer, temperature, and fura-2 concentration) required for efficient extraction and quantitative detection of cellular Mn from cultured cells. Mn concentrations can be derived from quenching of fura-2 fluorescence with standard curves based on saturation one-site specific binding kinetics. Importantly, we show that extracted calcium and magnesium concentrations below 10 μM have negligible influence on measurements of Mn by fura-2. CFMEA is able to accurately measure extracted Mn levels from cultured striatal cells over a range of at least 0.1 μM – 10 μM. We have used two independent Mn supplementation approaches to validate the quantitative accuracy of CFMEA over a 0 μM – 200 μM cellular Mn-exposure range. Finally, we have utilized CFMEA to experimentally confirm a deficit in net Mn accumulation in the mutant HD striatal cell line versus wild-type cells. To conclude, we have developed and applied a novel assay to assess Mn transport dynamics in cultured striatal cell lines. CFMEA provides a rapid means of evaluating Mn transport kinetics in cellular toxicity and disease models.
Manganese; Huntington’s disease; High-throughput assay; Metal transport; Fura-2
Pesticide exposure has been implicated as an environmental risk factor for the development of Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, few studies have identified specific pesticides. Previously, we identified elevated serum levels of the organochlorine pesticide β-hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH) in PD patients from a small clinical sample. Here, we conducted a case-control study to confirm the association between β-HCH and PD in a larger sample size (n=283) with serum samples of PD patients and controls obtained from UT Southwestern Medical Center and Emory University. Samples were obtained from two discrete periods at both sites, 2001–2003 and 2006–2008, and were analyzed for β-HCH levels. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for PD were estimated using logistic regression and generalized estimating equations. The mean serum β-HCH level across all cohorts in this study was 22.3 ng/mg cholesterol (Range: 0 to 376.7), and the levels were significantly higher between samples collected in 2001–2003 vs. 2006–2008. After controlling for age and gender, the OR for increased risk of PD for every 1 ng/mg increase in serum β-HCH ranged from 1.02 – 1.12 across the four different cohorts, and 1.03 (95% CI: 1.00–1.07, p value = 0.031) in the pooled analysis. Furthermore, the OR for increased risk of PD of subjects having serum β-HCH levels above the inter-quartile range of 39.08 ng/mg cholesterol was 2.85 (95% CI: 1.8, 4.48; p value < 0.001). These data are consistent with environmental decreases in β-HCH levels between 2001 and 2008, but they indicate that elevated levels of serum β-HCH are still associated with heightened risk for PD.
organochlorine; pesticide; Parkinson’s disease; beta-hexachlorocyclohexane
Oxidative stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of methylmercury (MeHg) neurotoxicity. Studies of mature neurons suggest that the mitochondrion may be a major source of MeHg-induced reactive oxygen species and a critical mediator of MeHg-induced neuronal death, likely by activation of apoptotic pathways. It is unclear, however, whether the mitochondria of developing and mature neurons are equally susceptible to MeHg. Murine embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells, which differentiate into neurons following exposure to retinoic acid, were used to compare the differentiation-dependent effects of MeHg on ROS production and mitochondrial depolarization. EC cells and their neuronal derivatives were pre-incubated with the ROS indicator 2’,7’-dichlorofluoroscin diacetate or tetramethylrhodamine methyl ester, an indicator of mitochondrial membrane potential, with or without cyclosporin A (CsA), an inhibitor of mitochondrial permeability transition pore opening, and examined by laser scanning confocal microscopy in the presence of 1.5 μM MeHg. To examine consequences of mitochondrial perturbation, immunohistochemical localization of cytochrome c (cyt c) was determined after incubation of cells in MeHg for 4 hours. MeHg treatment induced earlier and significantly higher levels of ROS production and more extensive mitochondrial depolarization in neurons than in undifferentiated EC cells. CsA completely inhibited mitochondrial depolarization by MeHg in EC cells but only delayed this response in the neurons. In contrast, CsA significantly inhibited MeHg-induced neuronal ROS production. Cyt c release was also more extensive in neurons, with less protection afforded by CsA. These data indicate that neuronal differentiation state influences mitochondrial transition pore dynamics and MeHg-stimulated production of ROS.
Methylmercury; Neurotoxicity; Mitochondrial Permeability Transition; Reactive Oxygen Species; Apoptosis
Various isoforms of myocyte enhancer factor-2 (MEF2) constitute a group of nuclear proteins found to play important roles in increasing types of cells. In neurons, MEF2s are required to regulate neuronal development, synaptic plasticity, as well as survival. MEF2s promote the survival of several types of neurons under different conditions. In cellular models, negative regulation of MEF2s by stress and toxic signals contributes to neuronal death. In contrast, enhancing MEF2 activity not only protects cultured primary neurons from death in vitro but also attenuates the loss of dopaminergic neurons in substantia nigra pars compacta in a 1-methyl 4-phenyl 1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. In this work, the mechanisms of regulation of MEF2 function by several well-known neurotoxins and their implications in various neurodegenerative diseases are reviewed.
myocyte enhancer factor-2; neurotoxins; neurodegenerative diseases