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1.  Elevated Blood Harmane (1-methyl-9H-pyrido[3,4-b]indole) Concentrations In Parkinson's Disease 
Neurotoxicology  2013;40:52-56.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a late-life neurodegenerative disease. Genetic and environmental factors play an etiological role. Harmane (1-methyl-9H-pyrido[3,4-b]indole) is a potent tremor-producing neurotoxin that shows structural resemblance to 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP).
In 2002 and 2007, we demonstrated elevated blood harmane concentrations [HA] in essential tremor (ET) cases. We now assessed whether blood [HA] were elevated in Parkinson's disease (PD) as well.
Blood [HA] were quantified by high performance liquid chromatography. Subjects comprised 113 PD cases and 101 controls.
Mean log blood [HA] in PD cases was double that of controls (0.59 ± 0.63 g −10/ml vs. 0.27 ± 0.63 g−10/ml, p <0.001). A non-parametric test on non-transformed data (median blood [HA] = 3.31 g −10/ml in cases and 1.44 g −10/ml in controls) also showed this difference (p <0.001). In unadjusted and then adjusted logistic regression analyses, log blood [HA] was associated with PD (odds ratio [OR]unadjusted 2.31, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.46 – 3.67, p <0.001; ORadjusted 2.54, 95% CI 1.55 – 4.16, p <0.001). In PD, log blood [HA] co-varied with family history, being lowest in PD cases with no family history (0.54 ± 0.60 g−10/ml) and highest in PD cases with a family history of both ET and PD (0.84 ± 0.68 g−10/ml)(p = 0.06).
Blood harmane appears to be elevated in PD. The finding needs to be reproduced in additional cohorts to assess its generalizability. The higher concentration in familial PD suggests that the mechanism may involve genetic factors.
PMCID: PMC3915406  PMID: 24300779
blood harmane concentration; Parkinson's disease
2.  Components of Air Pollution and Cognitive Function in Middle-aged and Older Adults in Los Angeles 
Neurotoxicology  2013;40:1-7.
While experiments in animals demonstrate neurotoxic effects of particulate matter (PM) and ozone (O3), epidemiologic evidence is sparse regarding the relationship between different constituencies of air pollution mixtures and cognitive function in adults. We examined cross-sectional associations between various ambient air pollutants [O3, PM2.5 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2)] and six measures of cognitive function and global cognition among healthy, cognitively intact individuals (n=1,496, mean age 60.5 years) residing in the Los Angeles Basin. Air pollution exposures were assigned to each residential address in 2000–06 using a geographic information system that included monitoring data. A neuropsychological battery was used to assess cognitive function; a principal components analysis defined six domain-specific functions and a measure of global cognitive function was created. Regression models estimated effects of air pollutants on cognitive function, adjusting for age, gender, race, education, income, study and mood. Increasing exposure to PM2.5 was associated with lower verbal learning (β = −0.32 per 10 ug/m3 PM2.5, 95% CI = −0.63, 0.00; p = 0.05). Ambient exposure to NO2 >20 ppb tended to be associated with lower logical memory. Compared to the lowest level of exposure to ambient O3, exposure above 49 ppb was associated with lower executive function. Including carotid artery intima-media thickness, a measure of subclinical atherosclerosis, in models as a possible mediator did not attenuate effect estimates. This study provides support for cross-sectional associations between increasing levels of ambient O3, PM2.5 and NO2 and measures of domain-specific cognitive abilities.
PMCID: PMC3946571  PMID: 24148924
air pollution; cognitive dysfunction; dementia; particulate matter; ozone; verbal learning
3.  Bortezomib alters microtubule polymerization and axonal transport in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons 
Neurotoxicology  2013;0:10.1016/j.neuro.2013.09.001.
Bortezomib is part of a newer class of chemotherapeutic agents whose mechanism of action is inhibition of the proteasome-ubiquitination system. Primarily used in multiple myeloma, bortezomib causes a sensory-predominant axonal peripheral neuropathy in approximately 30% of patients. There are no established useful preventative agents for bortezomib-induced peripheral neuropathy (BIPN), and the molecular mechanisms of BIPN are unknown. We have developed an in vitro model of BIPN using rat dorsal root ganglia neuronal cultures. At clinically–relevant dosages, bortezomib produces a sensory axonopathy as evidenced by whole explant outgrowth and cell survival assays. This sensory axonopathy is associated with alterations in tubulin and results in accumulation of somatic tubulin without changes in microtubule ultrastructure. Furthermore, we observed an increased proportion of polymerized tubulin, but not total or acetylated tubulin, in bortezomib-treated DRG neurons. Similar findings are observed with lactacystin, an unrelated proteasome-inhibitor, which argues for a class effect of proteasome inhibition on dorsal root ganglion neurons. Finally, there is a change in axonal transport of mitochondria induced by bortezomib in a time-dependent fashion. In summary, we have developed an in vitro model of BIPN that recapitulates the clinical sensory axonopathy; this model demonstrates that bortezomib induces an alteration in microtubules and axonal transport. This robust model will be used in future mechanistic studies of BIPN and its prevention.
PMCID: PMC3844018  PMID: 24035926
bortezomib; chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy; peripheral neuropathy; neurotoxicity; dorsal root ganglia; rat
4.  Enhanced taupathy and AD-like pathology in aged primate brains decades after infantile exposure to Lead (Pb) 
Neurotoxicology  2013;0:10.1016/j.neuro.2013.07.010.
Late Onset Alzheimer Disease (LOAD) constitutes the majority of AD cases (~90%). Amyloidosis and tau pathology, which are present in AD brains, appear to be sporadic in nature. We have previously shown that infantile lead (Pb) exposure is associated with a change in the expression and regulation of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and its beta amyloid (Aβ) products in old age. Here we report that infantile Pb exposure elevated the mRNA and protein levels of tau as well as its transcriptional regulators namely specificity protein 1 and 3 (Sp1 and Sp3) in aged primates. These changes were also accompanied by an enhancement in site-specific tau phosphorylation as well as an increase in the mRNA and protein levels of cyclin dependent kinase 5 (cdk5). There was also a change in the protein ratio of p35/p25 with more Serine/Threonine phosphatase activity present in aged primates exposed to Pb as infants. These molecular alterations favored abundant tau phosphorylation and immunoreactivity in the frontal cortex of aged primates with prior Pb exposure. These findings provide more evidence that neurodegenerative diseases may be products of environmental influences that occur during the development.
PMCID: PMC3844042  PMID: 23973560
aging; Alzheimer’s disease; cdk5; hyperphosphorylation; lead; tau protein
5.  Dichlorvos exposure to the Kölliker-Fuse Nuclei is sufficient but not necessary for OP induced apnea 
Neurotoxicology  2013;0:10.1016/j.neuro.2013.06.009.
Patients exposed to organophosphate (OP) compounds demonstrate a central apnea. The Kölliker-fuse nuclei (KF) are cholinergic nuclei in the brainstem involved in central respiratory control. We hypothesize that exposure of the KF is both necessary and sufficient for OP induced central apnea. We performed an animal study of acute OP exposure. Anesthetized and spontaneously breathing Wistar rats (n=24) were exposed to a lethal dose of dichlorvos using three experimental models. Experiment 1 (n=8) involved systemic OP poisoning using subcutaneous (SQ) 2,2-dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate (dichlorvos) at 100mg/kg or 3x LD50. Experiment 2 (n=8) involved isolated poisoning of the KF using stereotactic microinjections of dichlorvos (625 micrograms in 50 microliters) into the KF. Experiment 3 (n=8) involved systemic OP poisoning with isolated protection of the KF using SQ dichlorvos (100mg/kg) and stereotactic microinjections of organophosphatase A (OpdA), an enzyme that degrades dichlorvos. Respiratory and cardiovascular parameters were recorded continuously. Animals were followed post exposure for 1 hour or until death. There was no difference in respiratory depression between animals with SQ dichlorvos and those with dichlorvos microinjected into the KF. Despite differences in amount of dichlorvos (100mg/kg vs 1.8mg/kg) and method of exposure (SQ vs CNS microinjection), 10 min following dichlorvos both groups (SQ vs microinjection respectively) demonstrated a similar percent decrease in respiratory rate (51.5 vs 72.2), minute ventilation (49.2 vs 68.8) and volume of expired gas (17.5 vs 0.0). Animals with OpdA exposure to the KF during systemic OP exposure demonstrated less respiratory depression, compared to SQ dichlorvos alone (p<0.04). No animals with SQ dichlorvos survived past 25 min post exposure, compared to 50% of animals with OpdA exposure to the KF. In conclusion, exposure of the KF is sufficient but not necessary for OP induced apnea. Protection of the KF during systemic OP exposure mitigates OP induced apnea.
PMCID: PMC3844078  PMID: 23928117
Organophosphate; Kolliker-fuse; Organophosphatase; Central apnea; Respiratory failure
6.  Modifying roles of glutathione S-transferase polymorphisms on the association between cumulative lead exposure and cognitive function 
Neurotoxicology  2013;0:10.1016/j.neuro.2013.08.002.
Glutathione-S-transferase gene (GST) polymorphisms can result in variable ability of these enzymes to remove electrophilic substrates. We investigated whether the GSTP1 Val105 and GSTM1 deletion polymorphisms modify the lead-cognitive function association.
We used repeated measures analysis to compare the association between cumulative lead biomarkers—bone lead measured using K-shell X-Ray Fluorescence—and Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) score by GST variants, adjusted for covariates, among Normative Aging Study participants, a Boston-based prospective cohort of men. We had complete data for 698 men (providing 1292 observations) for GSTM1 analyses and 595 men (providing 1142 observations) for GSTP1 analyses.
A 15 μg/g higher tibia lead concentration (interquartile range of tibia lead) was associated with a 0.24 point decrement in MMSE score among GSTP1 Val105 variant carriers, which was significantly stronger than the association among men with only wild-type alleles (p=0.01). The association among GSTP1 Val105 carriers was comparable to that of 3 years of age in baseline MMSE scores. The association between tibia lead and MMSE score appeared progressively steeper in participants with increasingly more GSTP1 Val105 alleles. A modest association between tibia lead and lower MMSE score was seen among participants with the GSTM1 deletion polymorphism. Neither of the glutathione S-transferase variants was independently associated with cognitive function, nor with lead biomarker measures. The results pertaining to patella lead were similar to those observed for tibia lead.
Our results suggest that the GSTP1 Val105 polymorphism confers excess susceptibility to the cognitive effects of cumulative lead exposure.
PMCID: PMC3844089  PMID: 23958642
Lead; Glutathione S-transferase; Cognitive function; Environmental exposure; Gene-environment interaction
7.  Brain Levels of the Neurotoxic Pyridinium Metabolite HPP+ and Extrapyramidal Symptoms in Haloperidol-Treated Mice 
Neurotoxicology  2013;39:10.1016/j.neuro.2013.09.005.
The typical antipsychotic haloperidol is a highly effective treatment for schizophrenia but its use is limited by a number of serious, and often irreversible, motor side effects. These adverse drug reactions, termed extrapyramidal syndromes (EPS), result from an unknown pathophysiological mechanism. One theory relates to the observation that the haloperidol metabolite HPP+ (4-(4-chlorophenyl)-1-[4-(4-fluorophenyl)-4-oxobutyl]-pyridinium) is structurally similar to MPP+ (1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium), a neurotoxin responsible for an irreversible neurodegenerative condition similar to Parkinson's disease. To determine whether HPP+ contributes to haloperidol-induced EPS, we measured brain HPP+ and haloperidol levels in strains of mice at high (C57BL/6J and NZO/HILtJ) and low (BALB/cByJ and PWK/PhJ) liability to haloperidol-induced EPS following chronic treatment (7–10 adult male mice per strain). Brain levels of HPP+ and the ratio of HPP+ to haloperidol were not significantly different between the haloperidol-sensitive and haloperidol-resistant strain groups (P = 0.50). Within each group, however, strain differences were seen (P < 0.01), indicating that genetic variation regulating steady-state HPP+ levels exists. Since the HPP+ levels that we observed in mouse brain overlap the range of those detected in post-mortem human brains following chronic haloperidol treatment, the findings from this study are physiologically relevant to humans. The results suggest that strain differences in steady-state HPP+ levels do not explain sensitivity to haloperidol-induced EPS in the mice we studied.
PMCID: PMC3853124  PMID: 24107597
haloperidol; adverse drug reaction; tardive dyskinesia; mouse; HPTP; HPP+
8.  Neurodevelopmental effects in children associated with exposure to organophosphate pesticides: A systematic review 
Neurotoxicology  2013;39:158-168.
Many studies have investigated the neurodevelopmental effects of prenatal and early childhood exposures to organophosphate (OP) pesticides among children, but they have not been collectively evaluated. The aim of the present article is to synthesize reported evidence over the last decade on OP exposure and neurodevelopmental effects in children. The Data Sources were PubMed, Web of Science, EBSCO, SciVerse Scopus, SpringerLink, SciELO and DOAJ. The eligibility criteria considered were studies assessing exposure to OP pesticides and neurodevelopmental effects in children from birth to 18 years of age, published between 2002 and 2012 in English or Spanish. Twenty-seven articles met the eligibility criteria. Studies were rated for evidential consideration as high, intermediate, or low based upon the study design, number of participants, exposure measurement, and neurodevelopmental measures. All but one of the 27 studies evaluated showed some negative effects of pesticides on neurobehavioral development. A positive dose–response relationship between OP exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes was found in all but one of the 12 studies that assessed dose–response. In the ten longitudinal studies that assessed prenatal exposure to OPs, cognitive deficits (related to working memory) were found in children at age 7 years, behavioral deficits (related to attention) seen mainly in toddlers, and motor deficits (abnormal reflexes) seen mainly in neonates. No meta-analysis was possible due to different measurements of exposure assessment and outcomes. Eleven studies (all longitudinal) were rated high, 14 studies were rated intermediate, and two studies were rated low. Evidence of neurological deficits associated with exposure to OP pesticides in children is growing. The studies reviewed collectively support the hypothesis that exposure to OP pesticides induces neurotoxic effects. Further research is needed to understand effects associated with exposure in critical windows of development.
PMCID: PMC3899350  PMID: 24121005
Environmental exposure; Organophosphate pesticides; Neurotoxicant; Neurodevelopment; Children; Health
9.  Prostaglandin D2 toxicity in primary neurons is mediated through its bioactive cyclopentenone metabolites 
Neurotoxicology  2013;39:35-44.
Prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) is the most abundant prostaglandin in brain but its effect on neuronal cell death is complex and not completely understood. PGD2 may modulate neuronal cell death via activation of DP receptors or its metabolism to the cyclopentenone prostaglandins (CyPGs) PGJ2, Δ12-PGJ2 and 15-deoxy-Δ12,14-PGJ2, inducing cell death independently of prostaglandin receptors. This study aims to elucidate the effect of PGD2 on neuronal cell death and its underlying mechanisms. PGD2 dose-dependently induced cell death in rat primary neuron-enriched cultures in concentrations of ≥ 10 μM, and this effect was not reversed by treatment with either DP1 or DP2 receptor antagonists. Antioxidants N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and glutathione which contain sulfhydryl groups that can bind to CyPGs, but not ascorbate or tocopherol, attenuated PGD2-induced cell death. Conversion of PGD2 to CyPGs was detected in neuronal culture medium; treatment with these CyPG metabolites alone exhibited effects similar to those of PGD2, including apoptotic neuronal cell death and accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins. Disruption of lipocalin-type prostaglandin D synthase (L-PGDS) protected neurons against hypoxia. These results support the hypothesis that PGD2 elicits its cytotoxic effects through its bioactive CyPG metabolites rather than DP receptor activation in primary neuronal culture.
PMCID: PMC3904641  PMID: 23973622
Cell death; Cyclopentenone prostaglandins; DP receptors; Primary neuron; Prostaglandin D2; Ubiquitinated protein
10.  Methamphetamine alters reference gene expression in nigra and striatum of adult rat brain 
Neurotoxicology  2013;39:138-145.
The nigrostriatal dopaminergic system is a major lesion target for methamphetamine (MA), one of the most addictive and neurotoxic drugs of abuse. High doses of MA alter the expression of a large number of genes. Reference genes (RGs) are considered relatively stable and are often used as standards for quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) reactions. The purpose of this study was to determine whether MA altered the expression of RGs and to identify the appropriate RGs for gene expression studies in animals receiving MA. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were treated with high doses of MA or saline. Striatum and substantia nigra were harvested at 2 hours or 24 hours after MA administration. The expression and stability of 10 commonly used RGs were examined using qRT-PCR and then evaluated by geNorm and Normfinder. We found that MA altered the expression of selected RGs. These candidate RGs presented differential stability in the striatum and in substantia nigra at both 2 hours and 24 hours after MA injection. Selection of an unstable RG as a standard altered the significance of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) mRNA expression after MA administration. In conclusion, our data show that MA site- and time- dependently altered the expression of RGs in nigrostriatal dopaminergic system. These temporal and spatial factors should be considered when selecting appropriate RGs for interpreting the expression of target genes in animals receiving MA.
PMCID: PMC3918345  PMID: 24042092
Methamphetamine; Housekeeping genes; Nigra; Real-time PCR; Reference genes; Striatum
11.  Different effects of selective dopamine uptake inhibitors, GBR 12909 and WIN 35428 on HIV-1 Tat toxicity in rat fetal midbrain neurons 
Neurotoxicology  2008;29(6):971-977.
Drug abuse is a risk factor for neurological complications in HIV infection. Cocaine has been shown to exacerbate HIV-associated brain pathology and enhance neurotoxicity of HIV-1 Tat and gp120 proteins. In this study, we found that the selective inhibitor of dopamine transporter (DAT) function, 1-[2-[bis(4- fluorophenyl) methoxy]ethyl]-4-(3-phenylpropyl) piperazine (GBR 12909, vanoxerine), but not the selective inhibitors of serotonin and norepinephrine (SERT and NET) transporters, sertraline and nizoxetine, emulated cocaine-mediated enhancement of Tat neurotoxicity in rat fetal midbrain primary cell cultures. Similar to cocaine, the significant increase of Tat toxicity in midbrain cell cultures was observed at micromolar dose (5 μM) of GBR 12909. However, different doses of another selective dopamine uptake inhibitor, WIN 35428 did not affect Tat neurotoxicity. The study supports the hypothesis that changes in control of dopamine (DA) homeostasis are important for the cocaine-mediated enhancement of HIV-1 Tat neurotoxicity. Our results also demonstrate that the inhibitors of DA uptake, which can bind to different domains of DAT, differ in their ability to mimic synergistic toxicity of cocaine and HIV-1 Tat in the midbrain cell culture.
PMCID: PMC4205582  PMID: 18606182
12.  Fluoxetine treatment ameliorates depression induced by perinatal arsenic exposure via a neurogenic mechanism 
Neurotoxicology  2014;44:98-109.
Several epidemiological studies have reported an association between arsenic exposure and increased rates of psychiatric disorders, including depression, in exposed populations. We have previously demonstrated that developmental exposure to low amounts of arsenic induces depression in adulthood along with several morphological and molecular aberrations, particularly associated with the hippocampus and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis. The extent and potential reversibility of this toxin-induced damage has not been characterized to date. In this study, we assessed the effects of fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant, on adult animals exposed to arsenic during development. Perinatal arsenic exposure (PAE) induced depressive-like symptoms in a mild learned helplessness task and in the forced swim task after acute exposure to a predator odor (2,4,5-trimethylthiazoline, TMT). Chronic fluoxetine treatment prevented these behaviors in both tasks in arsenic-exposed animals and ameliorated arsenic-induced blunted stress responses, as measured by corticosterone (CORT) levels before and after TMT exposure. Morphologically, chronic fluoxetine treatment reversed deficits in adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) after PAE, specifically differentiation and survival of neural progenitor cells. Protein expression of BDNF, CREB, the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), and HDAC2 was significantly increased in the dentate gyrus of arsenic animals after fluoxetine treatment. This study demonstrates that damage induced by perinatal arsenic exposure is reversible with chronic fluoxetine treatment resulting in restored resiliency to depression via a neurogenic mechanism.
PMCID: PMC4180420  PMID: 24952232
Arsenic; Psychiatric disorders; Neurogenesis; Fluoxetine; Stress
13.  Effects of eribulin, vincristine, paclitaxel and ixabepilone on fast axonal transport and kinesin-1 driven microtubule gliding: Implications for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy 
Neurotoxicology  2013;37:231-239.
Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a serious, painful and dose-limiting side effect of cancer drugs that target microtubules. The mechanisms underlying the neuronal damage are unknown, but may include disruption of fast axonal transport, an essential microtubule-based process that moves cellular components over long distances between neuronal cell bodies and nerve terminals. This idea is supported by the “dying back” pattern of degeneration observed in CIPN, and by the selective vulnerability of sensory neurons bearing the longest axonal projections. In this study, we test the hypothesis that microtubule-targeting drugs disrupt fast axonal transport using vesicle motility assays in isolated squid axoplasm and a cell-free microtubule gliding assay with defined components. We compare four clinically-used drugs, eribulin, vincristine, paclitaxel and ixabepilone. Of these, eribulin is associated with a relatively low incidence of severe neuropathy, while vincristine has a relatively high incidence. In vesicle motility assays, we found that all four drugs inhibited anterograde (conventional kinesin-dependent) fast axonal transport, with the potency being vincristine = ixabepilone > paclitaxel = eribulin. Interestingly, eribulin and paclitaxel did not inhibit retrograde (cytoplasmic dynein-dependent) fast axonal transport, in contrast to vincristine and ixabepilone. Similarly, vincristine and ixabepilone both exerted significant inhibitory effects in an in vitro microtubule gliding assay consisting of recombinant kinesin (kinesin-1) and microtubules composed of purified bovine brain tubulin, whereas paclitaxel and eribulin had negligible effects. Our results suggest that (i) inhibition of microtubule-based fast axonal transport may be a significant contributor to neurotoxicity induced by microtubule-targeting drugs, and (ii) that individual microtubule-targeting drugs affect fast axonal transport through different mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4169189  PMID: 23711742
Peripheral neuropathy; Axonal transport; Microtubule; Kinesin; Dynein; Chemotherapy drugs; CIPN
14.  Vanadium Exposure-Induced Neurobehavioral Alterations among Chinese Workers 
Neurotoxicology  2013;36:49-54.
Vanadium-containing products are manufactured and widely used in the modern industry. Yet the neurobehavioral toxicity due to occupational exposure to vanadium remained elusive. This cross-sectional study was designed to examine the neurotoxic effects of occupational vanadium exposure. A total of 463 vanadium-exposed workers (exposed group) and 251 non-exposed workers (control group) were recruited from a Steel and Iron Group in Sichuan, China. A WHO-recommended neurobehavioral core test battery (NCTB) and event-related auditory evoked potentials test (P300) were used to assess the neurobehavioral functions of all study subjects. A general linear model was used to compare outcome scores between the two groups while controlling for possible confounders. The exposed group showed a statistically significant neurobehavioral alteration more than the control group in the NCTB tests. The exposed workers also exhibited an increased anger-hostility, depression-dejection and fatigue-inertia on the profile of mood states (p<0.05). Performances in the Simple Reaction Time, Digit Span, Benton Visual Retention and Pursuit Aiming were also poorer among exposed workers as compared to unexposed control workers(p<0.05). Some of these poor performances in tests were also significantly related to workers’ exposure duration. P300 latencies were longer in the exposed group than in the control (p<0.05). Longer mean reaction times and more counting errors were also found in the exposed workers (p<0.05). Given the findings of our study and the limitations of neurobehavioral workplace testing, we found evidence of altered neurobehavioral outcomes by occupational exposure to vanadium.
PMCID: PMC4160152  PMID: 23500660
Vanadium; Occupational exposure; NCTB; P300; Neurotoxicity; neurobehavior
15.  Elevated Brain Harmane (1-methyl-9H-pyrido[3,4-b]indole) in Essential Tremor Cases vs. Controls 
Neurotoxicology  2013;38:131-135.
Harmane (1-methyl-9H-pyrido[3,4-β]indole), a potent neurotoxin that has tremor-producing properties in animal models, is present in many foods; Although we have demonstrated a difference in tissue harmane concentrations in ET cases vs. controls, all work to date has involved blood samples.
We quantified harmane concentrations in human cerebellum, a brain region of particular pathogenic interest in essential tremor (ET), comparing ET to control brains.
Cerebellar cortex was snap frozen and stored at -80ºC in aliquots for biochemical analyses. Harmane concentration was assessed using high performance liquid chromatography.
Geometric mean brain harmane concentrations (adjusted for postmortem interval [PMI] and freezer time) were higher in ET cases than controls: 1.0824 (95% confidence interval = 0.9405 – 1.2457) vs. 0.8037 (0.6967 – 0.9272), p = 0.004. Geometric mean of brain harmane concentrations (adjusting for PMI and freezer time) was highest in ET cases who reported other relatives with tremor (1.2005 [0.8712 – 1.6541]), intermediate in ET cases without family history (1.0312 ([0.8879 – 1.1976]), and both were significantly higher than controls (p= 0.02).
This study provides additional evidence of a possible etiological importance of this toxin in some cases of the human disease ET.
PMCID: PMC3784356  PMID: 23911942
brain; epidemiology; essential tremor; harmane; pathology; toxicant
16.  Low level Methylmercury enhances CNTF-evoked STAT3 signaling and glial differentiation in cultured cortical progenitor cells 
Neurotoxicology  2013;38:91-100.
Although many previous investigations have studied how mercury compounds cause cell death, sub-cytotoxic levels may affect mechanisms essential for the proper development of the nervous system. The present study investigates whether low doses of methylmercury (MeHg) and mercury chloride (HgCl2) can modulate the activity of JAK/STAT signaling, a pathway that promotes gliogenesis. We report that sub-cytotoxic doses of MeHg enhance ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) evoked STAT3 phosphorylation in human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma and mouse cortical neural progenitor cells (NPCs). This effect is specific for MeHg, since HgCl2 fails to enhance JAK/STAT signaling. Exposing NPCs to these low doses of MeHg (30-300 nM) enhances CNTF-induced expression of STAT3-target genes such as glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and suppressors of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3), and increases the proportion of cells expressing GFAP following two days of differentiation. Higher, near-cytotoxic concentrations of MeHg and HgCl2 inhibit STAT3 phosphorylation and lead to increased production of superoxide. Lower concentrations of MeHg effective in enhancing JAK/STAT signaling (30 nM) do not result in a detectable increase in superoxide nor increased expression of the oxidant-responsive genes, heme oxygenase 1, heat shock protein A5 and sirtuin 1. These findings suggest that low concentrations of MeHg inappropriately enhance STAT3 phosphorylation and glial differentiation, and that the mechanism causing this enhancement is distinct from the reactive oxygen species -associated cell death observed at higher concentrations of MeHg and HgCl2.
PMCID: PMC3802548  PMID: 23845766
methylmercury; GFAP; neural progenitor cells; STAT3; gliogenesis; developmental neurotoxicity
17.  Neurophysiologic measures of auditory function in fish consumers: associations with long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and methylmercury 
Neurotoxicology  2012;38:147-157.
Determining if associations exist between child neurodevelopment and environmental exposures, especially low level or background ones, is challenging and dependent upon being able to measure specific and sensitive endpoints. Psychometric or behavioral measures of CNS function have traditionally been used in such studies, but do have some limitations. Auditory neurophysiologic measures examine different nervous system structures and mechanisms, have fewer limitations, can more easily by quantified, and might be helpful testing additions. To date, their use in human epidemiological studies has been limited. We reviewed the use of auditory brainstem responses (ABR) and otoacoustic emissions (OAE) in studies designed to determine the relationship of exposures to methyl mercury (MeHg) and nutrients from fish consumption with neurological development. We included studies of experimental animals and humans in an effort to better understand the possible benefits and risks of fish consumption.
We reviewed the literature on the use of ABR and OAE to measure associations with environmental exposures that result from consuming a diet high in fish. We focused specifically on long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) and MeHg.
We performed a comprehensive review of relevant studies using web-based search tools and appropriate search terms.
Gestational exposure to both LCPUFA and MeHg has been reported to influence the developing auditory system. In experimental studies supplemental LCPUFA is reported to prolong ABR latencies and human studies also suggest an association. Experimental studies of acute and gestational MeHg exposure are reported to prolong ABR latencies and impair hair cell function. In humans, MeHg exposure is reported to prolong ABR latencies, but the impact on hair cell function is unknown.
The auditory system can provide objective measures and may be useful in studying exposures to nutrients and toxicants and whether they are associated with children’s neurodevelopment.
PMCID: PMC3657326  PMID: 23064205
Methylmercury; Fish Consumption; LCPUFA; Auditory Brainstem Response
18.  Effect modification by Transferrin C2 polymorphism on lead exposure, hemoglobin levels, and IQ 
Neurotoxicology  2013;38:17-22.
Iron deficiency and lead exposure remain significant public health issues in many parts of the world and are both independently associated with neurocognitive deficits. Polymorphisms in iron transport pathways have been shown to modify the absorption and toxicity of lead.
We hypothesized that the transferrin (TF) C2 polymorphism modifies the effects of lead and hemoglobin on intelligence.
Children aged 3–7 years (N=708) were enrolled from 12 primary schools in Chennai, India. The Binet-Kamat Scale of Intelligence were administered to ascertain intelligence quotient (IQ). Venous blood was analyzed for lead and hemoglobin levels. Genotyping for the TF C2 polymorphism (rs1049296) was carried out using a MassARRAY iPLEXTM platform. Stratified analyses and interaction models, using generalized estimating equations, were examined to explore interactions between lead, hemoglobin, and TF C2 categories.
A one-unit increase in log blood lead and 1 g/dl higher hemoglobin was associated with −7.7 (95% CI: −13.6, −1.8) and 1.7 (95% CI 1.4, 2.1) IQ points, respectively, among children carrying the C2 variant. In comparison, among children who had the homozygous wildtype allele, the same increment of lead and hemoglobin were associated with -−2.1(95% CI: −6.5, 2.4) and 2.8(95% CI:1.5, 4.0) IQ points, respectively. There was a significant interaction between lead (p=0.04) and hemoglobin (p=0.07) with the C2 variant.
Children who carry the TF C2 variant may be more susceptible to the neurotoxic effects of lead exposure and less protected by higher levels of hemoglobin.
PMCID: PMC3770761  PMID: 23732512
lead; hemoglobin; iron; transferrin; intelligence quotient (IQ); genotype
19.  Urinary delta-ALA: a potential biomarker of exposure and neurotoxic effect in rats co-treated with a mixture of lead, arsenic and manganese 
Neurotoxicology  2013;38:33-41.
Lead (Pb), arsenic (As) and manganese (Mn) are neurotoxic elements that often occur in mixtures for which practically no information is available on biomarkers (BMs) for the evaluation of exposure/effects. Exposures to these metals may increase delta-aminolevulinic acid (delta-ALA), which in itself may potentiate neurotoxicity. The objective of this study was to investigate the utility of urinary delta-ALA (delta-ALA-U) levels as BM of exposure and/or neurotoxic effects induced by this mixture. Five groups of Wistar rats were treated for 8 days with Pb (5 mg/kg), As (60 mg/L), Mn (10 mg/kg), the 3-metal mixture (same doses of the single metals), and control group. Motor activity was evaluated and 24-h urine collected before and after the treatment. 24-hours (h) after the last dose, the rats were sacrificed and the brains removed for analyses. Delta-ALA and metal levels were determined in brain and urine. Co-treated rats showed a significant (p<0.05) correlation between increased Pb, As, Mn and delta-ALA levels in the brain and decreased motor activity. Delta-ALA-U concentrations were higher in the mixture-treated group than the sum of the delta-ALA-U levels in each single-treated groups and discriminated (p<0.05) between the mixture and untreated rats. Moreover, delta-ALA-U was correlated (p<0.05) with brain delta-ALA levels. These results establish that treatments with this metal mixture exacerbate behavioral dysfunction, increasing most prominently brain Pb levels. This study is the first to establish that delta-ALA-U levels represent a sensitive BM of exposure/neurotoxic effect to this metal mixture.
PMCID: PMC3770785  PMID: 23764341
metal mixtures; lead; arsenic and manganese; neurotoxicity; biomarkers; delta-aminolevulinic acid
20.  Cerebrospinal fluid of newly diagnosed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients exhibits abnormal levels of selenium species including elevated selenite 
Neurotoxicology  2013;38:25-32.
Exposure to selenium, and particularly to its inorganic forms, has been hypothesized as a risk factor for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fast progressing motor neuron disease with poorly understood etiology. However, no information is known about levels of inorganic and some organic selenium species in the central nervous system of ALS patients, and recent observations suggest that peripheral biomarkers of exposure are unable to predict these levels for several Se species including the inorganic forms. Using a hospital-referred cases-control series and advanced selenium speciation methods, we compared the chemical species of selenium in cerebrospinal fluid from thirty-eight ALS patients to those of thirty-eight reference neurological patients matched on age and gender. We found that higher concentrations of inorganic selenium in the form of selenite and of human serum albumin-bound selenium were associated with increased ALS risk (relative risks 3.9 (95% confidence interval 1.2–11.0) and 1.7 (1.0–2.9) for 0.1µg/l increase). Conversely, lower concentrations of selenoprotein P-bound selenium were associated with increased risk (relative risk 0.2 for 1µg/l increase, 95% confidence interval 0.04–0.8). The associations were stronger among cases age 50 years or older, who are postulated to have lower rates of genetic disease origin. These results suggest that excess selenite and human serum albumin bound-selenium and low levels of selenoprotein P-bound selenium in the central nervous system, which may be related, may play a role in ALS etiology.
PMCID: PMC3770807  PMID: 23732511
selenium; selenite; selenoprotein-P; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; case-control study; cerebrospinal fluid; risk; environment; speciation analysis
21.  Iron depletion increases manganese uptake and potentiates apoptosis through ER stress 
Neurotoxicology  2013;38:67-73.
Iron deficiency is a risk factor for manganese (Mn) accumulation. Excess Mn promotes neurotoxicity but the mechanisms involved and whether iron depletion might affect these pathways is unknown. To study Mn intoxication in vivo, iron deficient and control rats were intranasally instilled with 60 mg MnCl2/kg over 3 weeks. TUNEL staining of olfactory tissue revealed that Mn exposure induced apoptosis and that iron deficiency potentiated this effect. In vitro studies using the dopaminergic SH-SY5Y cell line confirmed that Mn-induced apoptosis was enhanced by iron depletion using the iron chelator desferrioxamine. Mn has been reported to induce apoptosis through endoplasmic reticulum stress. In SH-SY5Y cells, Mn exposure induced the ER stress genes glucose regulated protein 94 (GRP94) and C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP). Increased phosphorylation of the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (phospho-eIF2α) was also observed. These effects were accompanied by the activation of ER resident enzyme caspase-12, and the downstream apoptotic effector caspase-3 was also activated. All of the Mn-induced responses were enhanced by DFO treatment. Inhibitors of ER stress and caspases significantly blocked Mn-induced apoptosis and its potentiation by DFO, indicating that ER stress and subsequent caspase activation underlie cell death. Taken together, these data reveal that Mn induces neuronal cell death through ER stress and the UPR response pathway and that this apoptotic effect is potentiated by iron deficiency most likely through upregulation of DMT1.
PMCID: PMC3770814  PMID: 23764342
DMT1; Iron deficiency; Endoplasmic reticulum; SH-SY5Y cells
22.  A residue in the transmembrane segment 6 of domain I in insect and mammalian sodium channels regulate differential sensitivities to pyrethroid insecticides 
Neurotoxicology  2013;38:42-50.
Voltage-gated sodium channels are critical for electrical signaling in the nervous system. Pyrethroid insecticides exert their toxic action by modifying the gating of sodium channels. A valine to methionine mutation in the transmembrane segment 6 of domain I (IS6) of sodium channels from tobacco budworms (Heliothis virescens) has been shown to alter channel gating and reduce insect sodium channel sensitivity to pyrethroids. A valine to leucine substitution was subsequently reported in pyrethroid-resistant bedbug populations. Intriguingly, pyrethroid-resistant mammalian sodium channels possess an isoleucine at the corresponding position. To determine whether different substitutions at this position alter channel gating and confer pyrethroid resistance, we made valine to methionine, isoleucine or leucine substitutions at the corresponding position, V409, in a cockroach sodium channel and examined the gating properties and pyrethroid sensitivity of the three mutants in Xenopus oocytes. All three mutations reduced the channel sensitivity to three pyrethroids (permethrin, cismethrin and deltamethrin). V409M, but not V409I or V409L, caused 6-7 mV depolarizing shifts in the voltage dependences of both activation and inactivation. V409M and V409L slowed channel activation kinetics and accelerated open-state deactivation kinetics, but V409I did not. Furthermore, the substitution of isoleucine with valine, but not with methionine nor leucine, at the corresponding position in a rat skeletal muscle sodium channel, rNav1.4, enhanced channel sensitivity to deltamethrin. Collectively, our study highlights an important role of residues at 409 in regulating not only sodium channel gating, but also the differential sensitivities of insect and mammalian sodium channels to pyrethroids.
PMCID: PMC3773218  PMID: 23764339
voltage-gated ion channels; pyrethroids; knockdown resistance; kdr mutations
23.  The Nrf2/SKN-1-dependent Glutathione S-transferase π Homologue GST-1 Inhibits Dopamine Neuron Degeneration in a Caenorhabditis elegans Model of Manganism 
Neurotoxicology  2013;38:51-60.
Exposure to high levels of manganese (Mn) results in a neurological condition termed manganism, which is characterized by oxidative stress, abnormal dopamine (DA) signaling, and cell death. Epidemiological evidence suggests correlations with occupational exposure to Mn and the development of the movement disorder Parkinson's disease (PD), yet the molecular determinants common between the diseases are ill-defined. Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) of the class pi (GSTπ) are phase II detoxification enzymes that conjugate both endogenous and exogenous compounds to glutathione to reduce cellular oxidative stress, and their decreased expression has recently been implicated in PD progression. In this study we demonstrate that a Caenorhabditis elegans GSTπ homologue, GST-1, inhibits Mn-induced DA neuron degeneration. We show that GST-1 is expressed in DA neurons, Mn induces GST-1 gene and protein expression, and GST-1-mediated neuroprotection is dependent on the PD-associated transcription factor Nrf2/SKN-1, as a reduction in SKN-1 gene expression results in a decrease in GST-1 protein expression and an increase in DA neuronal death. Furthermore, decreases in gene expression of the SKN-1 inhibitor WDR-23 or the GSTTπ-binding cell death activator JNK/JNK-1 result in an increase in resistance to the metal. Finally, we show that the Mn-induced DA neuron degeneration is independent of the dopamine transporter DAT, but is largely dependent on the caspases CED-3 and the novel caspase CSP-1. This study identifies a C. elegans Nrf2/SKN-1-dependent GSTπ homologue, cell death effectors of GSTTπ-associated xenobiotic-induced pathology, and provides the first in vivo evidence that a phase II detoxification enzyme may modulate DA neuron vulnerability in manganism.
PMCID: PMC3773487  PMID: 23721876
manganism; neurodegeneration; neurotoxicity; caspase; Nrf2; Parkinson's disease
24.  Vanadium Exposure Induces Olfactory Dysfunction in an Animal Model of Metal Neurotoxicity 
Neurotoxicology  2013;43:73-81.
Epidemiological evidence indicates chronic environmental exposure to transition metals may play a role in chronic neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). Chronic inhalation exposure to welding fumes containing metal mixtures may be associated with development of PD. A significant amount of vanadium is present in welding fumes, as vanadium pentoxide (V2O5), and incorporation of vanadium in the production of high strength steel has become more common. Despite the increased vanadium use in recent years, the neurotoxicological effects of this metal are not well characterized. Recently, we demonstrated that V2O5 induces dopaminergic neurotoxicity via protein kinase C delta (PKCδ)-dependent oxidative signaling mechanisms in dopaminergic neuronal cells. Since anosmia (inability to perceive odors) and non-motor deficits are considered to be early symptoms of neurological diseases, in the present study, we examined the effect of V2O5 on the olfactory bulb in animal models. To mimic the inhalation exposure, we intranasally administered C57 black mice a low-dose of 182 µg of V2O5 three times a week for one month, and behavioral, neurochemical and biochemical studies were performed. Our results revealed a significant decrease in olfactory bulb weights, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) levels, levels of dopamine (DA) and its metabolite, 3, 4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) and increases in astroglia of the glomerular layer of the olfactory bulb in the treatment groups relative to vehicle controls. Neurochemical changes were accompanied by impaired olfaction and locomotion. These findings suggest that nasal exposure to V2O5 adversely affects olfactory bulbs, resulting in neurobehavioral and neurochemical impairments. These results expand our understanding of vanadium neurotoxicity in environmentally-linked neurological conditions.
PMCID: PMC4062607  PMID: 24362016
vanadium; metals; olfactory system; neurotoxicity; non-motor symptoms; risk assessment; Parkinson’s disease
25.  Genetic aspects of behavioral neurotoxicology 
Neurotoxicology  2009;30(5):741-753.
Considerable progress has been made over the past couple of decades concerning the molecular bases of neurobehavioral function and dysfunction. The field of neurobehavioral genetics is becoming mature. Genetic factors contributing to neurologic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease have been found and evidence for genetic factors contributing to other diseases such as schizophrenia and autism are likely. This genetic approach can also benefit the field of behavioral neurotoxicology. It is clear that there is substantial heterogeneity of response with behavioral impairments resulting from neurotoxicants. Many factors contribute to differential sensitivity, but it is likely that genetic variability plays a prominent role. Important discoveries concerning genetics and behavioral neurotoxicity are being made on a broad front from work with invertebrate and piscine mutant models to classic mouse knockout models and human epidemiologic studies of polymorphisms. Discovering genetic factors of susceptibility to neurobehavioral toxicity not only helps identify those at special risk, it also advances our understanding of the mechanisms by which toxicants impair neurobehavioral function in the larger population. This symposium organized by Edward Levin and Annette Kirshner, brought together researchers from the laboratories of Michael Aschner, Douglas Ruden, Ulrike Heberlein, Edward Levin and Kathleen Welsh-Bohmer conducting studies with Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila, fish, rodents and humans studies to determine the role of genetic factors in susceptibility to behavioral impairment from neurotoxic exposure.
PMCID: PMC4086839  PMID: 19647018
Genetics; Behavioral neurotoxicology; C. elegans; Drosophilia; Zebrafish; Mice

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