Children with a history of a prolonged febrile seizure show signs of acute hippocampal injury on magnetic resonance imaging. In addition, animal studies have shown that adult rats who suffered febrile seizures during development reveal memory impairments. Together, these lines of evidence suggest that memory impairments related to hippocampal injury may be evident in human children after prolonged febrile seizures. The current study addressed this question by investigating memory abilities in 26 children soon after a prolonged febrile seizure (median: 37.5 days) and compared their results to those of 37 normally developing children. Fifteen patients were reassessed at a mean of 12.5 months after their first assessment to determine the transiency of any observed effects. We used the visual paired comparison task to test memory abilities in our group, as this task does not depend on verbal abilities and also because successful performance on the task has been proven to depend on the presence of functional hippocampi. Our findings show that patients perform as well as controls in the absence of a delay between the learning phase and the memory test, suggesting that both groups are able to form representations of the presented stimulus. However, after a 5-min delay, patients’ recognition memory is not different from chance, and comparison of patients and controls points to an accelerated forgetting rate in the prolonged febrile seizure group. The patients’ performance was not related to the time elapsed from the acute event or the duration of the prolonged febrile seizure, suggesting that the observed effect is not a by-product of the seizure itself or a delayed effect of medication administered to terminate the seizure. By contrast, performance was related to hippocampal size; participants with the smallest mean hippocampal volumes revealed the biggest drop in performance from the immediate to the delayed paradigm. At follow-up, children were still showing deficiencies in recognizing a face after a 5-min delay. Similarly, this suggests that the observed memory impairments are not a transient effect of the prolonged febrile seizures. This is the first report of such impairments in humans, and it is clinically significant given the links between mesial temporal sclerosis and prolonged febrile seizures. The persistence of these impairments a year onwards signals the potential benefits of intervention in these children who run the risk of developing episodic memory deficits in later childhood.
memory; hippocampus; prolonged febrile seizures
Temporal lobe seizures have a significant chance to induce impairment of normal brain functions. Even after the termination of ictal discharges, during the post-ictal period, loss of consciousness, decreased responsiveness or other cognitive dysfunctions can persist. Previous studies have found various anatomical and functional abnormalities accompanying temporal lobe seizures, including an abnormal elevation of cortical slow waves. Intracranial electroencephalography studies have shown a prominent increase of lower frequency components during and following seizures that impair (complex partial seizures) but not those that preserve (simple partial seizures) normal consciousness and responsiveness. However, due to the limited spatial coverage of intracranial electroencephalography, the investigation of cortical slow waves cannot be easily extended to the whole brain. In this study, we used scalp electroencephalography to study the spectral features and spatial distribution of post-ictal slow waves with comprehensive spatial coverage. We studied simple partial, complex partial and secondarily generalized seizures in 28 patients with temporal lobe seizures. We used dense-array electroencephalography and source imaging to reconstruct the post-ictal slow-wave distribution. In the studied cohort, we found that a ‘global’ spectral power shift to lower frequencies accompanied the increased severity of seizures. The delta spectral power relative to higher frequency bands was highest for secondarily generalized seizures, followed by complex partial seizures and lastly simple partial seizures. In addition to this ‘global’ spectral shift, we found a ‘regional’ spatial shift in slow-wave activity. Secondarily generalized seizures and complex partial seizures exhibited increased slow waves distributed to frontal areas with spread to contralateral temporal and parietal regions than in simple partial seizures. These results revealed that a widespread cortical network including temporal and fronto-parietal cortex is involved in abnormal slow-wave activity following temporal lobe seizures. The differential spectral and spatial shifts of post-ictal electroencephalography activity in simple partial, complex partial and secondarily generalized seizures suggest a possible connection between cortical slow waves and behavioural and cognitive changes in a human epilepsy model.
cortical slowing; temporal lobe seizure; post-ictal state; consciousness; responsiveness
Neuroimaging data demonstrate that carpal tunnel syndrome, a peripheral neuropathy, is accompanied by maladaptive central neuroplasticity. To further investigate this phenomenon, we collected magnetoencephalography data from 12 patients with carpal tunnel syndrome and 12 healthy control subjects undergoing somatosensory stimulation of the median nerve-innervated Digits 2 and 3, as well as Digit 5, which is innervated by the ulnar nerve. Nerve conduction velocity and psychophysical data were acquired to determine whether standard clinical measures correlated with brain response. In subjects with carpal tunnel syndrome, but not healthy controls, sensory nerve conduction velocity for Digits 2 and 3 was slower than Digit 5. However, somatosensory M20 latencies for Digits 2 and 3 were significantly longer than those of Digit 5. The extent of the M20 delay for median nerve-innervated Digit 2 was positively correlated with decreasing nerve conduction velocity and increasing pain severity. Thus, slower peripheral nerve conduction in carpal tunnel syndrome corresponds to greater delays in the first somatosensory cortical response. Furthermore, spectral analysis demonstrated weaker post-stimulus beta event-related desynchronization and earlier and shorter event-related synchronization in subjects with carpal tunnel syndrome. The extent of the decreased event-related desynchronization for median nerve-innervated digits was positively correlated with paraesthesia severity. We propose that ongoing paraesthesias in median nerve-innervated digits render their corresponding sensorimotor cortical areas ‘busy’, thus reducing their capacity to process external stimulation. Finally, subjects with carpal tunnel syndrome demonstrated a smaller cortical source separation for Digits 2 and 3 compared with healthy controls. This supports our hypothesis that ongoing paraesthesias promote blurring of median nerve-innervated digit representations through Hebbian plasticity mechanisms. In summary, this study reveals significant correlation between the clinical severity of carpal tunnel syndrome and the latency of the early M20, as well as the strength of long latency beta oscillations. These temporal magnetoencephalography measures are novel markers of neuroplasticity in carpal tunnel syndrome and could be used to study central changes that may occur following clinical intervention.
magnetoencephalography; neuropathic pain; somatosensory areas; plasticity; oscillations
Lewy bodies are common in the ageing brain and often co-occur with Alzheimer’s disease pathology. There is little known regarding the independent role of Lewy body pathology in cognition impairment, decline and fluctuations in community-dwelling older persons. We examined the contribution of Lewy body pathology to dementia, global cognition, cognitive domains, cognitive decline and fluctuations in 872 autopsied subjects (mean age = 87.9 years) from the Rush Religious Order Study (n = 491) and Memory and Aging Project (n = 381) longitudinal community-based clinical–pathological studies. Dementia was based on a clinical evaluation; annual cognitive performance tests were used to create a measure of global cognition and five cognitive domains. Lewy body type was determined by using α-synuclein immunostained sections of substantia nigra, limbic and neocortical regions. Statistical models included multiple regression models for dementia and cognition and mixed effects models for decline. Cognitive fluctuations were estimated by comparing standard deviations of individual residuals from mean trajectories of decline in those with and without Lewy bodies. All models controlled for age, sex, education, Alzheimer’s disease pathology and infarcts. One hundred and fifty-seven subjects (18%) exhibited Lewy body pathology (76 neocortical-type, 54 limbic-type and 27 nigra-predominant). One hundred and three (66%) subjects with Lewy body pathology had a pathologic diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Neocortical-type, but not nigral-predominant or limbic-type Lewy body pathology was related to an increased odds of dementia (odds ratio = 3.21; 95% confidence interval = 1.78–5.81) and lower cognition (P < 0.001) including episodic memory function (P < 0.001) proximate to death. Neocortical-type Lewy body pathology was also related to a faster decline in global cognition (P < 0.001), decline in all five specific cognitive domains (all P-values < 0.001), and to fluctuations in decline of working and semantic memory (P-values < 0.001). Limbic-type Lewy body pathology was related to lower and faster decline in visuospatial skills (P = 0.042). The relationship of Lewy body pathology to cognition and dementia was not modified by Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Neocortical-type Lewy body pathology is associated with increased odds of dementia; lower and more rapid decline in all cognitive domains including episodic memory and fluctuations in decline in semantic and working memory. Limbic-type Lewy body pathology is specifically associated with lower and more rapid decline in visuospatial skills. The effect of Lewy body pathology on cognition appears to be independent of Alzheimer’s disease pathology.
Lewy body pathology; cognition; dementia; cognitive decline; fluctuations
Mutations in the spastic paraplegia 7 (SPG7) gene encoding paraplegin are responsible for autosomal recessive hereditary spasticity. We screened 135 unrelated index cases, selected in five different settings: SPG7-positive patients detected during SPG31 analysis using SPG31/SPG7 multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (n = 7); previously reported ambiguous SPG7 cases (n = 5); patients carefully selected on the basis of their phenotype (spasticity of the lower limbs with cerebellar signs and/or cerebellar atrophy on magnetic resonance imaging/computer tomography scan and/or optic neuropathy and without other signs) (n = 24); patients with hereditary spastic paraparesis referred consecutively from attending neurologists and the national reference centre in a diagnostic setting (n = 98); and the index case of a four-generation family with autosomal dominant optic neuropathy but no spasticity linked to the SPG7 locus. We identified two SPG7 mutations in 23/134 spastic patients, 21% of the patients selected according to phenotype but only 8% of those referred directly. Our results confirm the pathogenicity of Ala510Val, which was the most frequent mutation in our series (65%) and segregated at the homozygous state with spastic paraparesis in a large family with autosomal recessive inheritance. All SPG7-positive patients tested had optic neuropathy or abnormalities revealed by optical coherence tomography, indicating that abnormalities in optical coherence tomography could be a clinical biomarker for SPG7 testing. In addition, the presence of late-onset very slowly progressive spastic gait (median age 39 years, range 18–52 years) associated with cerebellar ataxia (39%) or cerebellar atrophy (47%) constitute, with abnormal optical coherence tomography, key features pointing towards SPG7-testing. Interestingly, three relatives of patients with heterozygote SPG7 mutations had cerebellar signs and atrophy, or peripheral neuropathy, but no spasticity of the lower limbs, suggesting that SPG7 mutations at the heterozygous state might predispose to late-onset neurodegenerative disorders, mimicking autosomal dominant inheritance. Finally, a novel missense SPG7 mutation at the heterozygous state (Asp411Ala) was identified as the cause of autosomal dominant optic neuropathy in a large family, indicating that some SPG7 mutations can occasionally be dominantly inherited and be an uncommon cause of isolated optic neuropathy. Altogether, these results emphasize the clinical variability associated with SPG7 mutations, ranging from optic neuropathy to spastic paraplegia, and support the view that SPG7 screening should be carried out in both conditions.
SPG7; hereditary spastic paraparesis; optic neuropathy; cerebellar atrophy, optical coherence tomography
Benign familial neonatal epilepsy is a neuronal channelopathy most commonly caused by mutations in KCNQ2, which encodes the Kv7.2 subunit of the slow K+ channel. Kv7.2 is expressed in both central and peripheral nervous systems. Seizures occur in the neonatal period, often in clusters within the first few days of life, and usually remit by 12 months of age. The mechanism of involvement of Kv7.2 mutations in the process of seizure generation has not been established in vivo. In peripheral axons, Kv7.2 contributes to the nodal slow K+ current. The present study aimed to determine whether axonal excitability studies could detect changes in peripheral nerve function related to dysfunction or loss of slow potassium channel activity. Nerve excitability studies were performed on eight adults with KCNQ2 mutations and a history of benign familial neonatal epilepsy, now in remission. Studies detected distinctive changes in peripheral nerve, indicating a reduction in slow K+ current. Specifically, accommodation to long-lasting depolarizing currents was reduced in mutation carriers by 24% compared with normal controls, and the threshold undershoot after 100 ms depolarizing currents was reduced by 22%. Additional changes in excitability included a reduction in the relative refractory period, an increase in superexcitability and a tendency towards reduced sub-excitability. Modelling of the nerve excitability changes suggested that peripheral nerve hyperexcitability may have been ameliorated by upregulation of other potassium channels. We conclude that subclinical dysfunction of Kv7.2 in peripheral axons can be reliably detected non-invasively in adulthood. Related alterations in neuronal excitability may contribute to epilepsy associated with KCNQ2 mutations.
epilepsy; channelopathy; nerve excitability; neuromyotonia; potassium channel
Many neurological conditions are caused by immensely heterogeneous gene mutations. The diagnostic process is often long and complex with most patients undergoing multiple invasive and costly investigations without ever reaching a conclusive molecular diagnosis. The advent of massively parallel, next-generation sequencing promises to revolutionize genetic testing and shorten the ‘diagnostic odyssey’ for many of these patients. We performed a pilot study using heterogeneous ataxias as a model neurogenetic disorder to assess the introduction of next-generation sequencing into clinical practice. We captured 58 known human ataxia genes followed by Illumina Next-Generation Sequencing in 50 highly heterogeneous patients with ataxia who had been extensively investigated and were refractory to diagnosis. All cases had been tested for spinocerebellar ataxia 1–3, 6, 7 and Friedrich’s ataxia and had multiple other biochemical, genetic and invasive tests. In those cases where we identified the genetic mutation, we determined the time to diagnosis. Pathogenicity was assessed using a bioinformatics pipeline and novel variants were validated using functional experiments. The overall detection rate in our heterogeneous cohort was 18% and varied from 8.3% in those with an adult onset progressive disorder to 40% in those with a childhood or adolescent onset progressive disorder. The highest detection rate was in those with an adolescent onset and a family history (75%). The majority of cases with detectable mutations had a childhood onset but most are now adults, reflecting the long delay in diagnosis. The delays were primarily related to lack of easily available clinical testing, but other factors included the presence of atypical phenotypes and the use of indirect testing. In the cases where we made an eventual diagnosis, the delay was 3–35 years (mean 18.1 years). Alignment and coverage metrics indicated that the capture and sequencing was highly efficient and the consumable cost was ∼£400 (€460 or US$620). Our pathogenicity interpretation pathway predicted 13 different mutations in eight different genes: PRKCG, TTBK2, SETX, SPTBN2, SACS, MRE11, KCNC3 and DARS2 of which nine were novel including one causing a newly described recessive ataxia syndrome. Genetic testing using targeted capture followed by next-generation sequencing was efficient, cost-effective, and enabled a molecular diagnosis in many refractory cases. A specific challenge of next-generation sequencing data is pathogenicity interpretation, but functional analysis confirmed the pathogenicity of novel variants showing that the pipeline was robust. Our results have broad implications for clinical neurology practice and the approach to diagnostic testing.
ataxia; genetics; autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia; autosomal recessive cerebellar ataxia; diagnosis
The central nervous system has a pattern of gene expression that is closely regulated with respect to functional and anatomical regions. DNA methylation is a major regulator of transcriptional activity, and aberrations in the distribution of this epigenetic mark may be involved in many neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Herein, we have analysed 12 distinct mouse brain regions according to their CpG 5’-end gene methylation patterns and observed their unique epigenetic landscapes. The DNA methylomes obtained from the cerebral cortex were used to identify aberrant DNA methylation changes that occurred in two mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. We were able to translate these findings to patients with Alzheimer’s disease, identifying DNA methylation-associated silencing of three targets genes: thromboxane A2 receptor (TBXA2R), sorbin and SH3 domain containing 3 (SORBS3) and spectrin beta 4 (SPTBN4). These hypermethylation targets indicate that the cyclic AMP response element-binding protein (CREB) activation pathway and the axon initial segment could contribute to the disease.
DNA methylation; Alzheimer’s disease; brain regions; epigenetics
High frequency deep brain stimulation of the thalamus can help ameliorate severe essential tremor. Here we explore how the efficacy, efficiency and selectivity of thalamic deep brain stimulation might be improved in this condition. We started from the hypothesis that the effects of electrical stimulation on essential tremor may be phase dependent, and that, in particular, there are tremor phases at which stimuli preferentially lead to a reduction in the amplitude of tremor. The latter could be exploited to improve deep brain stimulation, particularly if tremor suppression could be reinforced by cumulative effects. Accordingly, we stimulated 10 patients with essential tremor and thalamic electrodes, while recording tremor amplitude and phase. Stimulation near the postural tremor frequency entrained tremor. Tremor amplitude was also modulated depending on the phase at which stimulation pulses were delivered in the tremor cycle. Stimuli in one half of the tremor cycle reduced median tremor amplitude by ∼10%, while those in the opposite half of the tremor cycle increased tremor amplitude by a similar amount. At optimal phase alignment tremor suppression reached 27%. Moreover, tremor amplitude showed a non-linear increase in the degree of suppression with successive stimuli; tremor suppression was increased threefold if a stimulus was preceded by four stimuli with a similar phase relationship with respect to the tremor, suggesting cumulative, possibly plastic, effects. The present results pave the way for a stimulation system that tracks tremor phase to control when deep brain stimulation pulses are delivered to treat essential tremor. This would allow treatment effects to be maximized by focussing stimulation on the optimal phase for suppression and by ensuring that this is repeated over many cycles so as to harness cumulative effects. Such a system might potentially achieve tremor control with far less power demand and greater specificity than current high frequency stimulation approaches, and may lower the risk for tolerance and rebound.
essential tremor; deep brain stimulation; thalamus; entrainment, plasticity
Surgical treatment of epilepsy is a challenge for patients with non-contributive brain magnetic resonance imaging. However, surgery is feasible if the seizure-onset zone is precisely delineated through intracranial electroencephalography recording. We recently described a method, volumetric imaging of epileptic spikes, to delineate the spiking volume of patients with focal epilepsy using magnetoencephalography. We postulated that the extent of the spiking volume delineated with volumetric imaging of epileptic spikes could predict the localizability of the seizure-onset zone by intracranial electroencephalography investigation and outcome of surgical treatment. Twenty-one patients with non-contributive magnetic resonance imaging findings were included. All patients underwent intracerebral electroencephalography investigation through stereotactically implanted depth electrodes (stereo-electroencephalography) and magnetoencephalography with delineation of the spiking volume using volumetric imaging of epileptic spikes. We evaluated the spatial congruence between the spiking volume determined by magnetoencephalography and the localization of the seizure-onset zone determined by stereo-electroencephalography. We also evaluated the outcome of stereo-electroencephalography and surgical treatment according to the extent of the spiking volume (focal, lateralized but non-focal or non-lateralized). For all patients, we found a spatial overlap between the seizure-onset zone and the spiking volume. For patients with a focal spiking volume, the seizure-onset zone defined by stereo-electroencephalography was clearly localized in all cases and most patients (6/7, 86%) had a good surgical outcome. Conversely, stereo-electroencephalography failed to delineate a seizure-onset zone in 57% of patients with a lateralized spiking volume, and in the two patients with bilateral spiking volume. Four of the 12 patients with non-focal spiking volumes were operated upon, none became seizure-free. As a whole, patients having focal magnetoencephalography results with volumetric imaging of epileptic spikes are good surgical candidates and the implantation strategy should incorporate volumetric imaging of epileptic spikes results. On the contrary, patients with non-focal magnetoencephalography results are less likely to have a localized seizure-onset zone and stereo electroencephalography is not advised unless clear localizing information is provided by other presurgical investigation methods.
partial seizures; intracranial EEG; epileptogenic zone; epilepsy surgery; EEG; MEG
Epilepsy comprises several syndromes, amongst the most common being mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis. Seizures in mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis are typically drug-resistant, and mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis is frequently associated with important co-morbidities, mandating the search for better understanding and treatment. The cause of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis is unknown, but there is an association with childhood febrile seizures. Several rarer epilepsies featuring febrile seizures are caused by mutations in SCN1A, which encodes a brain-expressed sodium channel subunit targeted by many anti-epileptic drugs. We undertook a genome-wide association study in 1018 people with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis and 7552 control subjects, with validation in an independent sample set comprising 959 people with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis and 3591 control subjects. To dissect out variants related to a history of febrile seizures, we tested cases with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis with (overall n = 757) and without (overall n = 803) a history of febrile seizures. Meta-analysis revealed a genome-wide significant association for mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis with febrile seizures at the sodium channel gene cluster on chromosome 2q24.3 [rs7587026, within an intron of the SCN1A gene, P = 3.36 × 10−9, odds ratio (A) = 1.42, 95% confidence interval: 1.26–1.59]. In a cohort of 172 individuals with febrile seizures, who did not develop epilepsy during prospective follow-up to age 13 years, and 6456 controls, no association was found for rs7587026 and febrile seizures. These findings suggest SCN1A involvement in a common epilepsy syndrome, give new direction to biological understanding of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis with febrile seizures, and open avenues for investigation of prognostic factors and possible prevention of epilepsy in some children with febrile seizures.
mesial temporal lobe epilepsy; mesial temporal sclerosis; SCN1A; association; complex genetics
Brown–Vialetto–Van Laere syndrome was first described in 1894 as a rare neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive sensorineural deafness in combination with childhood amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Mutations in the gene, SLC52A3 (formerly C20orf54), one of three known riboflavin transporter genes, have recently been shown to underlie a number of severe cases of Brown–Vialetto–Van Laere syndrome; however, cases and families with this disease exist that do not appear to be caused by SLC52A3 mutations. We used a combination of linkage and exome sequencing to identify the disease causing mutation in an extended Lebanese Brown–Vialetto–Van Laere kindred, whose affected members were negative for SLC52A3 mutations. We identified a novel mutation in a second member of the riboflavin transporter gene family (gene symbol: SLC52A2) as the cause of disease in this family. The same mutation was identified in one additional subject, from 44 screened. Within this group of 44 patients, we also identified two additional cases with SLC52A3 mutations, but none with mutations in the remaining member of this gene family, SLC52A1. We believe this strongly supports the notion that defective riboflavin transport plays an important role in Brown–Vialetto–Van Laere syndrome. Initial work has indicated that patients with SLC52A3 defects respond to riboflavin treatment clinically and biochemically. Clearly, this makes an excellent candidate therapy for the SLC52A2 mutation-positive patients identified here. Initial riboflavin treatment of one of these patients shows promising results.
motor neuron disease; ALS; riboflavin; BVVL; SLC52A2
Rett syndrome is a neurological disorder caused by mutation of the X-linked MECP2 gene. Mice lacking functional Mecp2 display a spectrum of Rett syndrome-like signs, including disturbances in motor function and abnormal patterns of breathing, accompanied by structural defects in central motor areas and the brainstem. Although routinely classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder, many aspects of the mouse phenotype can be effectively reversed by activation of a quiescent Mecp2 gene in adults. This suggests that absence of Mecp2 during brain development does not irreversibly compromise brain function. It is conceivable, however, that deep-seated neurological defects persist in mice rescued by late activation of Mecp2. To test this possibility, we have quantitatively analysed structural and functional plasticity of the rescued adult male mouse brain. Activation of Mecp2 in ∼70% of neurons reversed many morphological defects in the motor cortex, including neuronal size and dendritic complexity. Restoration of Mecp2 expression was also accompanied by a significant improvement in respiratory and sensory-motor functions, including breathing pattern, grip strength, balance beam and rotarod performance. Our findings sustain the view that MeCP2 does not play a pivotal role in brain development, but may instead be required to maintain full neurological function once development is complete.
Rett syndrome; MECP2; morphology; motor function; breathing
Autism spectrum disorders are developmental disorders characterized by impairments in social and communication abilities and repetitive behaviours. Converging neuroscientific evidence has suggested that the neuropathology of autism spectrum disorders is widely distributed, involving impaired connectivity throughout the brain. Here, we evaluate the hypothesis that decreased connectivity in high-functioning adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder relative to typically developing adolescents is concentrated within domain-specific circuits that are specialized for social processing. Using a novel whole-brain connectivity approach in functional magnetic resonance imaging, we found that not only are decreases in connectivity most pronounced between regions of the social brain but also they are selective to connections between limbic-related brain regions involved in affective aspects of social processing from other parts of the social brain that support language and sensorimotor processes. This selective pattern was independently obtained for correlations with measures of social symptom severity, implying a fractionation of the social brain in autism spectrum disorders at the level of whole circuits.
autism spectrum disorders; functional connectivity; resting state functional MRI; limbic system; cluster analysis
The neural substrates that enable individuals to achieve their fastest and strongest motor responses have long been enigmatic. Importantly, characterization of such activities may inform novel therapeutic strategies for patients with hypokinetic disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. Here, we ask whether the basal ganglia may play an important role, not only in the attainment of maximal motor responses under standard conditions but also in the setting of the performance enhancements known to be engendered by delivery of intense stimuli. To this end, we recorded local field potentials from deep brain stimulation electrodes implanted bilaterally in the subthalamic nuclei of 10 patients with Parkinson’s disease, as they executed their fastest and strongest handgrips in response to a visual cue, which was accompanied by a brief 96-dB auditory tone on random trials. We identified a striking correlation between both theta/alpha (5–12 Hz) and high-gamma/high-frequency (55–375 Hz) subthalamic nucleus activity and force measures, which explained close to 70% of interindividual variance in maximal motor responses to the visual cue alone, when patients were ON their usual dopaminergic medication. Loud auditory stimuli were found to enhance reaction time and peak rate of development of force still further, independent of whether patients were ON or OFF l-DOPA, and were associated with increases in subthalamic nucleus power over a broad gamma range. However, the contribution of this broad gamma activity to the performance enhancements observed was only modest (≤13%). The results implicate frequency-specific subthalamic nucleus activities as substantial factors in optimizing an individual’s peak motor responses at maximal effort of will, but much less so in the performance increments engendered by intense auditory stimuli.
subthalamic nucleus; local field potentials; peak force; paradoxical kinesia; motor vigor
Empathy refers to the ability to perceive and share another person’s affective state. Much neuroimaging evidence suggests that observing others’ suffering and pain elicits activations of the anterior insular and the anterior cingulate cortices associated with subjective empathetic responses in the observer. However, these observations do not provide causal evidence for the respective roles of anterior insular and anterior cingulate cortices in empathetic pain. Therefore, whether these regions are ‘necessary’ for empathetic pain remains unknown. Herein, we examined the perception of others’ pain in patients with anterior insular cortex or anterior cingulate cortex lesions whose locations matched with the anterior insular cortex or anterior cingulate cortex clusters identified by a meta-analysis on neuroimaging studies of empathetic pain perception. Patients with focal anterior insular cortex lesions displayed decreased discrimination accuracy and prolonged reaction time when processing others’ pain explicitly and lacked a typical interference effect of empathetic pain on the performance of a pain-irrelevant task. In contrast, these deficits were not observed in patients with anterior cingulate cortex lesions. These findings reveal that only discrete anterior insular cortex lesions, but not anterior cingulate cortex lesions, result in deficits in explicit and implicit pain perception, supporting a critical role of anterior insular cortex in empathetic pain processing. Our findings have implications for a wide range of neuropsychiatric illnesses characterized by prominent deficits in higher-level social functioning.
anterior cingulate cortex; anterior insular cortex; empathy; meta-analysis; necessity
Mutations in FLNC cause two distinct types of myopathy. Disease associated with mutations in filamin C rod domain leading to expression of a toxic protein presents with progressive proximal muscle weakness and shows focal destructive lesions of polymorphous aggregates containing desmin, myotilin and other proteins in the affected myofibres; these features correspond to the profile of myofibrillar myopathy. The second variant associated with mutations in the actin-binding domain of filamin C is characterized by weakness of distal muscles and morphologically by non-specific myopathic features. A frameshift mutation in the filamin C rod domain causing haploinsufficiency was also found responsible for distal myopathy with some myofibrillar changes but no protein aggregation typical of myofibrillar myopathies. Controversial data accumulating in the literature require re-evaluation and comparative analysis of phenotypes associated with the position of the FLNC mutation and investigation of the underlying disease mechanisms. This is relevant and necessary for the refinement of diagnostic criteria and developing therapeutic approaches. We identified a p.W2710X mutation in families originating from ethnically diverse populations and re-evaluated a family with a p.V930_T933del mutation. Analysis of the expanded database allows us to refine clinical and myopathological characteristics of myofibrillar myopathy caused by mutations in the rod domain of filamin C. Biophysical and biochemical studies indicate that certain pathogenic mutations in FLNC cause protein misfolding, which triggers aggregation of the mutant filamin C protein and subsequently involves several other proteins. Immunofluorescence analyses using markers for the ubiquitin–proteasome system and autophagy reveal that the affected muscle fibres react to protein aggregate formation with a highly increased expression of chaperones and proteins involved in proteasomal protein degradation and autophagy. However, there is a noticeably diminished efficiency of both the ubiquitin–proteasome system and autophagy that impairs the muscle capacity to prevent the formation or mediate the degradation of aggregates. Transfection studies of cultured muscle cells imitate events observed in the patient’s affected muscle and therefore provide a helpful model for testing future therapeutic strategies.
myofibrillar myopathy; filaminopathy; filamin C mutation; immunoglobulin-like domain; limb-girdle myopathy
The most common progressive myoclonus epilepsies are the late infantile and late infantile-variant neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (onset before the age of 6 years), Unverricht–Lundborg disease (onset after the age of 6 years) and Lafora disease. Lafora disease is a distinct disorder with uniform course: onset in teenage years, followed by progressively worsening myoclonus, seizures, visual hallucinations and cognitive decline, leading to a vegetative state in status myoclonicus and death within 10 years. Biopsy reveals Lafora bodies, which are pathognomonic and not seen with any other progressive myoclonus epilepsies. Lafora bodies are aggregates of polyglucosans, poorly constructed glycogen molecules with inordinately long strands that render them insoluble. Lafora disease is caused by mutations in the EPM2A or EPM2B genes, encoding the laforin phosphatase and the malin ubiquitin ligase, respectively, two cytoplasmically active enzymes that regulate glycogen construction, ensuring symmetric expansion into a spherical shape, essential to its solubility. In this work, we report a new progressive myoclonus epilepsy associated with Lafora bodies, early-onset Lafora body disease, map its locus to chromosome 4q21.21, identify its gene and mutation and characterize the relationship of its gene product with laforin and malin. Early-onset Lafora body disease presents early, at 5 years, with dysarthria, myoclonus and ataxia. The combination of early-onset and early dysarthria strongly suggests late infantile-variant neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, not Lafora disease. Pathology reveals no ceroid lipofuscinosis, but Lafora bodies. The subsequent course is a typical progressive myoclonus epilepsy, though much more protracted than any infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, or Lafora disease, patients living into the fourth decade. The mutation, c.781T>C (Phe261Leu), is in a gene of unknown function, PRDM8. We show that the PRDM8 protein interacts with laforin and malin and causes translocation of the two proteins to the nucleus. We find that Phe261Leu-PRDM8 results in excessive sequestration of laforin and malin in the nucleus and that it therefore likely represents a gain-of-function mutation that leads to an effective deficiency of cytoplasmic laforin and malin. We have identified a new progressive myoclonus epilepsy with Lafora bodies, early-onset Lafora body disease, 101 years after Lafora disease was first described. The results to date suggest that PRDM8, the early-onset Lafora body disease protein, regulates the cytoplasmic quantities of the Lafora disease enzymes.
Lafora disease; progressive myoclonus epilepsy; genetic study; PRDM8; Lafora bodies
Magnetic resonance imaging sequences such as diffusion and spectroscopy have been well studied in X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy, but no data exist on magnetic resonance perfusion imaging. Since inflammation is known to modulate the microcirculation, we investigated the hypothesis that changes in the local perfusion might be one of the earliest signs of lesion development. Twenty patients with different phenotypes of adrenoleukodystrophy and seven age-matched controls were evaluated between 2006 and 2011. Fluid attenuated inversion recovery, post-contrast T1-weighted and normalized dynamic susceptibility contrast magnetic resonance perfusion cerebral blood volume maps were co-registered, segmented when cerebral lesion was present, and normalized cerebral blood volume values were analysed using a Food and Drug Association approved magnetic resonance perfusion software (NordicICE). Clinical and imaging data were reviewed to determine phenotype and status of progression. All eight patients with cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy had an average 80% decrease in normalized cerebral blood volume at the core of the lesion (P < 0.0001). Beyond the leading edge of contrast enhancement cerebral perfusion varied, patients with progressive lesions showed an average 60% decrease in normalized cerebral blood volume (adults P < 0.05; children P < 0.001), while one child with arrested progression normalized cerebral blood volume in this region. In six of seven patients with cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy lesions and follow-up imaging (2–24 month interval period), we found progression of contrast enhancement into the formerly hypoperfused perilesional zone. Asymptomatic, adrenomyeloneuropathy and female heterozygote patients had no significant changes in cerebral perfusion. Our data indicate that decreased brain magnetic resonance perfusion precedes leakage of the blood–brain barrier as demonstrated by contrast enhancement in cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy and is an early sign of lesion progression.
MRI perfusion; demyelination; neuroinflammation; adrenoleukodystrophy; leukodystrophy
Gait disturbance is an early feature in Parkinson’s disease. Its pathophysiology is poorly understood; however, cholinergic dysfunction may be a non-dopaminergic contributor to gait. Short-latency afferent inhibition is a surrogate measure of cholinergic activity, allowing the contribution of cholinergic dysfunction to gait to be evaluated. We hypothesized that short-latency afferent inhibition would be an independent predictor of gait dysfunction in early Parkinson’s disease. Twenty-two participants with Parkinson’s disease and 22 age-matched control subjects took part in the study. Gait was measured objectively using an instrumented walkway (GAITRite), and subjects were asked to walk at their preferred speed for 2 min around a 25-m circuit. Spatiotemporal characteristics (speed, stride length, stride time and step width) and gait dynamics (variability described as the within subject standard deviation of: speed, stride time, stride length and step width) were determined. Short-latency afferent inhibition was measured by conditioning motor evoked potentials, elicited by transcranial magnetic stimulation of the motor cortex, with electrical stimuli delivered to the contralateral median nerve at intervals ranging from N20 (predetermined) to N20 + 4 ms. Short-latency afferent inhibition was determined as the percentage difference between test and conditioned response for all intervals and was described as the group mean. Participants were optimally medicated at the time of testing. Participants with Parkinson’s disease had significantly reduced gait speed (P = 0.002), stride length (P = 0.008) and stride time standard deviation (P = 0.001). Short-latency afferent inhibition was also significantly reduced in participants with Parkinson’s disease (P = 0.004). In participants with Parkinson’s disease, but not control subjects, significant associations were found between gait speed, short-latency afferent inhibition, age and postural instability and gait disorder score (Movement Disorders Society Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale) and attention, whereas global cognition and depression were marginally significant. No other gait variables were associated with short-latency afferent inhibition. A multiple hierarchical regression model explored the contribution of short-latency afferent inhibition to gait speed, controlling for age, posture and gait symptoms (Postural Instability and Gait Disorder score—Movement Disorders Society Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale), attention and depression. Regression analysis in participants with Parkinson’s disease showed that reduced short-latency afferent inhibition was an independent predictor of slower gait speed, explaining 37% of variability. The final model explained 72% of variability in gait speed with only short-latency afferent inhibition and attention emerging as independent determinants. The results suggest that cholinergic dysfunction may be an important and early contributor to gait dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease. The findings also point to the contribution of non-motor mechanisms to gait dysfunction. Our study provides new insights into underlying mechanisms of non-dopaminergic gait dysfunction, and may help to direct future therapeutic approaches.
Parkinson’s disease; gait; short-latency afferent inhibition; cholinergic dysfunction; attention
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder that is more prevalent in males than in females. A similar gender difference has been reported in some strains of transgenic mouse models of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis harbouring the G93A mutation in CuZn superoxide dismutase. Mitochondrial damage caused by pathological alterations in Ca2+ accumulation is frequently involved in neurodegenerative diseases, including CuZn superoxide dismutase-related amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but its association with gender is not firmly established. In this study, we examined the effects of genetic ablation of cyclophilin D on gender differences in mice expressing G93A mutant CuZn superoxide dismutase. Cyclophilin D is a mitochondrial protein that promotes mitochondrial damage from accumulated Ca2+. As anticipated, we found that cyclophilin D ablation markedly increased Ca2+ retention in brain mitochondria of both males and females. Surprisingly, cyclophilin D ablation completely abolished the phenotypic advantage of G93A females, with no effect on disease in males. We also found that the 17β-oestradiol decreased Ca2+ retention in brain mitochondria, and that cyclophilin D ablation abolished this effect. Furthermore, 17β-oestradiol protected G93A cortical neurons and spinal cord motor neurons against glutamate toxicity, but the protection was lost in neurons lacking cyclophilin D. Taken together, these results identify a novel mechanism of oestrogen-mediated neuroprotection in CuZn superoxide dismutase-related amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, whereby Ca2+ overload and mitochondrial damage are prevented in a cyclophilin D-dependent manner. Such a protective mechanism may contribute to the lower incidence and later onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and perhaps other chronic neurodegenerative diseases, in females.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; calcium; cyclophilin D; oestrogen; mitochondria; SOD1; transgenic mice
Mucolipidosis II is a neurometabolic lysosomal trafficking disorder of infancy caused by loss of mannose 6-phosphate targeting signals on lysosomal proteins, leading to lysosomal dysfunction and accumulation of non-degraded material. However, the identity of storage material and mechanisms of neurodegeneration in mucolipidosis II are unknown. We have generated ‘knock-in’ mice with a common mucolipidosis II patient mutation that show growth retardation, progressive brain atrophy, skeletal abnormalities, elevated lysosomal enzyme activities in serum, lysosomal storage in fibroblasts and brain and premature death, closely mimicking the mucolipidosis II disease in humans. The examination of affected mouse brains at different ages by immunohistochemistry, ultrastructural analysis, immunoblotting and mass spectrometric analyses of glycans and anionic lipids revealed that the expression and proteolytic processing of distinct lysosomal proteins such as α-l-fucosidase, β-hexosaminidase, α-mannosidase or Niemann–Pick C2 protein are more significantly impacted by the loss of mannose 6-phosphate residues than enzymes reaching lysosomes independently of this targeting mechanism. As a consequence, fucosylated N-glycans, GM2 and GM3 gangliosides, cholesterol and bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate accumulate progressively in the brain of mucolipidosis II mice. Prominent astrogliosis and the accumulation of organelles and storage material in focally swollen axons were observed in the cerebellum and were accompanied by a loss of Purkinje cells. Moreover, an increased neuronal level of the microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 and the formation of p62-positive neuronal aggregates indicate an impairment of constitutive autophagy in the mucolipidosis II brain. Our findings demonstrate the essential role of mannose 6-phosphate for selected lysosomal proteins to maintain the capability for degradation of sequestered components in lysosomes and autophagolysosomes and prevent neurodegeneration. These lysosomal proteins might be a potential target for a valid therapeutic approach for mucolipidosis II disease.
mucolipidosis; lysosomal storage disease; trafficking of lysosomal proteins; ganglioside; impaired autophagy
Working memory is essential to higher order cognition (e.g. fluid intelligence) and to performance of daily activities. Though working memory capacity was traditionally thought to be inflexible, recent studies report that working memory capacity can be trained and that offline processes occurring during sleep may facilitate improvements in working memory performance. We utilized a 48-h in-laboratory protocol consisting of repeated digit span forward (short-term attention measure) and digit span backward (working memory measure) tests and overnight polysomnography to investigate the specific sleep-dependent processes that may facilitate working memory performance improvements in the synucleinopathies. We found that digit span backward performance improved following a nocturnal sleep interval in patients with Parkinson's disease on dopaminergic medication, but not in those not taking dopaminergic medication and not in patients with dementia with Lewy bodies. Furthermore, the improvements in patients with Parkinson's disease on dopaminergic medication were positively correlated with the amount of slow-wave sleep that patients obtained between training sessions and negatively correlated with severity of nocturnal oxygen desaturation. The translational implication is that working memory capacity is potentially modifiable in patients with Parkinson's disease but that sleep disturbances may first need to be corrected.
consolidation; sleep; working memory; training; Parkinson's disease; dementia with Lewy bodies
In autism, heterogeneity is the rule rather than the exception. One obvious source of heterogeneity is biological sex. Since autism was first recognized, males with autism have disproportionately skewed research. Females with autism have thus been relatively overlooked, and have generally been assumed to have the same underlying neurobiology as males with autism. Growing evidence, however, suggests that this is an oversimplification that risks obscuring the biological base of autism. This study seeks to answer two questions about how autism is modulated by biological sex at the level of the brain: (i) is the neuroanatomy of autism different in males and females? and (ii) does the neuroanatomy of autism fit predictions from the ‘extreme male brain’ theory of autism, in males and/or in females? Neuroanatomical features derived from voxel-based morphometry were compared in a sample of equal-sized high-functioning male and female adults with and without autism (n = 120, n = 30/group). The first question was investigated using a 2 × 2 factorial design, and by spatial overlap analyses of the neuroanatomy of autism in males and females. The second question was tested through spatial overlap analyses of specific patterns predicted by the extreme male brain theory. We found that the neuroanatomy of autism differed between adult males and females, evidenced by minimal spatial overlap (not different from that occurred under random condition) in both grey and white matter, and substantially large white matter regions showing significant sex × diagnosis interactions in the 2 × 2 factorial design. These suggest that autism manifests differently by biological sex. Furthermore, atypical brain areas in females with autism substantially and non-randomly (P < 0.001) overlapped with areas that were sexually dimorphic in neurotypical controls, in both grey and white matter, suggesting neural ‘masculinization’. This was not seen in males with autism. How differences in neuroanatomy relate to the similarities in cognition between males and females with autism remains to be understood. Future research should stratify by biological sex to reduce heterogeneity and to provide greater insight into the neurobiology of autism.
autism; brain; sex differences; volumetric MRI
Closure of the neural tube during embryogenesis is a crucial step in development of the central nervous system. Failure of this process results in neural tube defects, including spina bifida and anencephaly, which are among the most common birth defects worldwide. Maternal use of folic acid supplements reduces risk of neural tube defects but a proportion of cases are not preventable. Folic acid is thought to act through folate one-carbon metabolism, which transfers one-carbon units for methylation reactions and nucleotide biosynthesis. Hence suboptimal performance of the intervening reactions could limit the efficacy of folic acid. We hypothesized that direct supplementation with nucleotides, downstream of folate metabolism, has the potential to support neural tube closure. Therefore, in a mouse model that exhibits folic acid-resistant neural tube defects, we tested the effect of specific combinations of pyrimidine and purine nucleotide precursors and observed a significant protective effect. Labelling in whole embryo culture showed that nucleotides are taken up by the neurulating embryo and incorporated into genomic DNA. Furthermore, the mitotic index was elevated in neural folds and hindgut of treated embryos, consistent with a proposed mechanism of neural tube defect prevention through stimulation of cellular proliferation. These findings may provide an impetus for future investigations of supplemental nucleotides as a means to prevent a greater proportion of human neural tube defects than can be achieved by folic acid alone.
neural tube defects; spina bifida; embryo; nucleotides; curly tail