The β2 auxiliary subunit of voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs) appears at early stages of brain development. It is abundantly expressed in the mammalian central nervous system where it forms complexes with different channel isoforms, including Nav1.2. From the structural point of view, β2 is a transmembrane protein: at its extracellular N-terminus an Ig-like type C2 domain mediates the binding to the pore-forming alpha subunit with disulfide bonds and the interactions with the extracellular matrix. Given this structural versatility, β2 has been suggested to play multiple functions ranging from channel targeting to the plasma membrane and gating modulation to control of cell adhesion. We report that, when expressed in Chinese Hamster Ovary cells CHO-K1, the subunit accumulates at the perimetral region of adhesion and particularly in large lamellipodia-like membrane processes where it induces formation of filopodia-like structures. When overexpressed in developing embryonic rat hippocampal neurons in vitro, β2 specifically promotes formation of filopodia-like processes in dendrites leading to expansion of the arborization tree, while axonal branching remains unaltered. In contrast to this striking and highly specific effect on dendritic morphology, the targeting of functional sodium channels to the plasma membrane, including the preferential localization of Nav1.2 at the axon, and their gating properties are only minimally affected. From these and previously reported observations it is suggested that β2, among its multiple functions, may contribute to promote dendritic outgrowth and to regulate neuronal wiring at specific stages of neuronal development.
sodium channel; β2 subunit; filopodia; rat hippocampal neuron; CHO-K1
While it is now well-established that resident populations of stem and progenitor cells drive neurogenesis in the adult brain, a growing body of evidence indicates that these new neurons play a pivotal role in spatial learning, memory, and mood regulation. As such, interest is gathering to develop strategies to harness the brain's endogenous reservoir of stem and progenitor cells, with the view that newborn neurons may help overcome the loss of neural and cognitive function that occurs during neurodegenerative disease and psychiatric illness. Here we review evidence for the presence of endogenous stem cell populations in the adult hippocampus, especially large pools of latent stem and precursor cells, and the ways in which these populations can be stimulated to produce new neurons. While the translation of this research from animal models to human application is still in its infancy, understanding in detail the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate endogenous neurogenesis, offers the potential to use this innate reservoir of precursors to produce neurons that may be able to mitigate against cognitive decline and mood disorders.
hippocampus; neural stem cell; neural precursor cell; stem cell therapy; endogenous adult neurogenesis
Analysis of presynaptic protein expression in glutamatergic and GABAergic central synapses performed in several laboratories and with different techniques is unveiling a complex scenario, largely because each presynaptic protein exists in several isoforms. The interpretation of these findings is generally based on the notion that each synapse and each synaptic vesicle contains one of the isoforms of each family of presynaptic proteins. We verified whether this interpretation is tenable by performing triple labeling and immunoisolation studies with the aim of detecting two isoforms of a given presynaptic protein in glutamatergic or GABAergic axon terminals and/or synaptic vesicles (SVs). Here, we show that: (1) the possibility that not all families of presynaptic proteins are expressed in all terminals must be taken into serious account; (2) the expression of a given protein isoform in a terminal does not exclude the expression of other isoforms of the same protein in the same terminal and in the same vesicle. These conclusions open new and interesting problems; their experimental analysis might improve our understanding of the physiology and pathophysiology of central synapses.
GABA synapse; glutamate synapse; heterogeneity; SVs; isoforms
It is well established that microglial form and function are inextricably linked. In recent years, the traditional view that microglial form ranges between “ramified resting” and “activated amoeboid” has been emphasized through advancing imaging techniques that point to microglial form being highly dynamic even within the currently accepted morphological categories. Moreover, microglia adopt meaningful intermediate forms between categories, with considerable crossover in function and varying morphologies as they cycle, migrate, wave, phagocytose, and extend and retract fine and gross processes. From a quantitative perspective, it is problematic to measure such variability using traditional methods, but one way of quantitating such detail is through fractal analysis. The techniques of fractal analysis have been used for quantitating microglial morphology, to categorize gross differences but also to differentiate subtle differences (e.g., amongst ramified cells). Multifractal analysis in particular is one technique of fractal analysis that may be useful for identifying intermediate forms. Here we review current trends and methods of fractal analysis, focusing on box counting analysis, including lacunarity and multifractal analysis, as applied to microglial morphology.
microglia; cell shape; image interpretation: computer-assisted; fractals; models: biological; box counting; lacunarity; multifractal analysis
Microglia are the resident brain macrophages and they have been traditionally studied as orchestrators of the brain inflammatory response during infections and disease. In addition, microglia has a more benign, less explored role as the brain professional phagocytes. Phagocytosis is a term coined from the Greek to describe the receptor-mediated engulfment and degradation of dead cells and microbes. In addition, microglia phagocytoses brain-specific cargo, such as axonal and myelin debris in spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis, amyloid-β deposits in Alzheimer's disease, and supernumerary synapses in postnatal development. Common mechanisms of recognition, engulfment, and degradation of the different types of cargo are assumed, but very little is known about the shared and specific molecules involved in the phagocytosis of each target by microglia. More importantly, the functional consequences of microglial phagocytosis remain largely unexplored. Overall, phagocytosis is considered a beneficial phenomenon, since it eliminates dead cells and induces an anti-inflammatory response. However, phagocytosis can also activate the respiratory burst, which produces toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS). Phagocytosis has been traditionally studied in pathological conditions, leading to the assumption that microglia have to be activated in order to become efficient phagocytes. Recent data, however, has shown that unchallenged microglia phagocytose apoptotic cells during development and in adult neurogenic niches, suggesting an overlooked role in brain remodeling throughout the normal lifespan. The present review will summarize the current state of the literature regarding the role of microglial phagocytosis in maintaining tissue homeostasis in health as in disease.
microglia; phagocytosis; apoptosis; synapses; debris; myelin; amyloid; inflammation
Selective suppression of protein function in the brain can be achieved using specific silencing RNAs administered in vivo. A viral delivery system is often employed to transfect neurons with small hairpin RNA (shRNA) directed against specific proteins, and intervals of several days are allowed between microinjection of the shRNA-containing virus into the brain and experiments to assess suppression of gene function. Here we report studies using extracellular recording of dopaminergic neurons of the ventral tegmental area (DA VTA neurons) recorded in brain slices in which lentivirus containing shRNA directed against Gq was included in the recording pipette, and suppression of Gq-related function was observed within the time frame of the recording. The action of neurotensin (NT) is associated with activation of Gq, and the firing rate of DA VTA neurons is increased by NT. With shRNA directed against Gq in the pipette, there was a significant reduction of NT excitation within 2 h. Likewise, time-dependent dopamine desensitization, which we have hypothesized to be Gq-dependent, was not observed when shRNA directed against Gq was present in the pipette and dopamine was tested 2 h after initiation of recording. As the time interval (2 h) is relatively short, we tested whether blockade of protein synthesis with cycloheximide delivered via the recording pipette would alter Gq-linked responses similarly. Both NT-induced excitation and dopamine desensitization were inhibited in the presence of cycloheximide. Inclusion of shRNA in the recording pipette may be an efficient and selective way to dampen responses linked to Gq, and, more generally, the use of lentiviral-packaged shRNA in the recording pipette is a means to produce selective inhibition of the function of specific proteins in experiments.
desensitization; dopamine D2 receptor; ventral tegmental area; neurotensin; Gq; shRNA; lentivirus
Ligands for ErbB1-4 receptor tyrosine kinases, such as epidermal growth factor (EGF) and neuregulins, regulate brain development and function. Thus, abnormalities in their signaling are implicated in the etiology or pathology of schizophrenia and Parkinson's disease. Among the ErbB receptors, ErbB1, and ErbB4 are expressed in dopamine and GABA neurons, while ErbB1, 2, and/or 3 are mainly present in oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, and their precursors. Thus, deficits in ErbB signaling might contribute to the neurological and psychiatric diseases stemming from these cell types. By incorporating the latest cancer molecular biology as well as our recent progress, we discuss signal cross talk between the ErbB1-4 subunits and their neurobiological functions in each cell type. The potential contribution of virus-derived cytokines (virokines) that mimic EGF and neuregulin-1 in brain diseases are also discussed.
ErbB1-4; dopamine; GABA; virokine; schizophrenia; Parkinson's disease
Striatal functions depend on the activity balance between the dopamine and glutamate neurotransmissions. Glutamate inputs activate cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5), which inhibits postsynaptic dopamine signaling by phosphorylating DARPP-32 (dopamine- and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein, 32 kDa) at Thr75 in the striatum. c-Abelson tyrosine kinase (c-Abl) is known to phosphorylate Cdk5 at Tyr15 (Tyr15-Cdk5) and thereby facilitates the Cdk5 activity. We here report that Cdk5 with Tyr15 phosphorylation (Cdk5-pTyr15) is enriched in the mouse striatum, where dopaminergic stimulation inhibited phosphorylation of Tyr15-Cdk5 by acting through the D2 class dopamine receptors. Moreover, in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,4,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) mouse model, dopamine deficiency caused increased phosphorylation of both Tyr15-Cdk5 and Thr75-DARPP-32 in the striatum, which could be attenuated by administration of L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine and imatinib (STI-571), a selective c-Abl inhibitor. Our results suggest a functional link of Cdk5-pTyr15 with postsynaptic dopamine and glutamate signals through the c-Abl kinase activity in the striatum.
cyclin-dependent kinase 5; phosphorylation; striatum; cell signaling
Cell replacement therapy using embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) is a promising strategy for the treatment of neurologic diseases such as Parkinson's disease (PD). However, a limiting factor for effective cell transplantation is the low survival rate of grafted cells, especially neurons. In this study, we modified the host environment and investigated whether the simultaneous administration of soluble factors can improve the survival and differentiation of murine iPSC-derived dopaminergic (DA) neurons in host brains. With the goal of applying this technology in clinical settings in the near future, we selected drugs that were already approved for clinical use. The drugs included two commonly used anti-convulsants, valproic acid (VPA) and zonisamide (ZNS), and estradiol (E2), also known as biologically active estrogen. Following neural induction of murine iPSCs, we collected neural progenitor cells (NPCs) by sorting PSA-NCAM+ cells, then treated the PSA-NCAM+ cells with drugs for 4 days. An immunofluorescence study revealed that 0.01 mM and 0.1 mM of VPA and 10 nM of E2 increased the percentage of tyrosine hydroxylase+ (TH: a DA neuron marker) cells in vitro. Furthermore, 0.1 mM of VPA increased the percentage of TH+ cells that simultaneously express the midbrain markers FOXA2 and NURR1. Next, in order to determine the effects of the drugs in vivo, the iPSC-derived NPCs were transplanted into the striata of intact SD rats. The animals received intraperitoneal injections of one of the drugs for 4 weeks, then were subjected to an immunofluorescence study. VPA administration (150 mg/kg/daily) increased the number of NeuN+ post-mitotic neurons and TH+ DA neurons in the grafts. Furthermore, VPA (150 mg/kg/daily) and ZNS (30 mg/kg/daily) increased the number of TH+FOXA2+ midbrain DA neurons. These results suggest that the systemic administration of VPA and ZNS may improve the efficiency of cell replacement therapy using iPSCs to treat PD.
induced pluripotent stem cells; valproic acid; zonisamide; estradiol; transplantation; dopaminergic neurons
Excitotoxicity is a major component of neurodegenerative diseases and is typically accompanied by an inflammatory response. Cytokines IL-1alpha and IL-1beta are key regulators of this inflammatory response and modulate the activity of numerous cell types, including neurons. IL-1RAcPb is an isoform of IL-1RAcP expressed specifically in neurons and promotes their survival during acute inflammation. Here, we investigated in vivo whether IL-1RAcPb also promotes neuronal survival in a model of excitotoxicity. Intrastriatal injection of kainic acid (KA) in mice caused a strong induction of IL-1 cytokines mRNA in the brain. The stress response of cortical neurons at 12 h post-injection, as measured by expression of Atf3, FoxO3a, and Bdnf mRNAs, was similar in WT and AcPb-deficient mice. Importantly however, a delayed upregulation in the transcription of calpastatin was significantly higher in WT than in AcPb-deficient mice. Finally, although absence of AcPb signaling had no effect on damage to neurons in the cortex at early time points, it significantly impaired their long-term survival. These data suggest that in a context of excitotoxicity, stimulation of IL-1RAcPb signaling may promote the activity of a key neuroprotective mechanism.
interleukin-1; IL-1RAcPb; excitotoxicity; neuronal death; kainic acid; calcium; calpastatin; brain-derived neurotrophic factor
We have previously reported that the surface expression of K+-dependent Na+/Ca2+ exchanger 2 (NCKX2) in the somatodendritic compartment is kept low by constitutive endocytosis, which results in the polarization of surface NCKX2 to the axon. Clathrin-mediated endocytosis is initiated by interaction of the μ subunit of adaptor protein complex 2 (AP-2) with the canonical tyrosine motif (YxxΦ) of a target molecule. We examined whether endocytosis of NCKX2 involves two putative tyrosine motifs (365YGKL and 371YDTM) in the cytoplasmic loop of NCKX2. Coimmunoprecipitation assay revealed that the 365YGKL motif is essential for the interaction with the μ subunit of AP-2 (AP2M1). Consistently, either overexpression of NCKX2-Y365A mutant or knockdown of AP2M1 in cultured hippocampal neurons significantly reduced the internalization of NCKX2 from the somatodendritic surface and thus abolished the axonal polarization of surface NCKX2. Next, we tested whether the interaction between the tyrosine motif and AP2M1 is regulated by phosphorylation of the 365th tyrosine residue (Tyr-365). Tyrosine phosphorylation of heterologously expressed NCKX2-WT, but not NCKX2-Y365A, was increased by carbachol (CCh) in PC-12 cells. The effect of CCh was inhibited by PP2, a Src family kinase (SFK) inhibitor. Moreover, PP2 facilitated the endocytosis of NCKX2 in both the somatodendritic and axonal compartments, suggesting that tyrosine phosphorylation of NCKX2 by SFK negatively regulates its endocytosis. Supporting this idea, activation of SFK enhanced the NCKX activity in the proximal dendrites of dentate granule cells (GCs). These results suggest that endocytosis of somatodendritic NCKX2 is regulated by SFK-dependent phosphorylation of Tyr-365.
NCKX2; AP-2; tyrosine phosphorylation; endocytosis; Src family kinase; dendrite; calcium clearance
The link between cannabis and psychosis has been debated although there is substantial epidemiological evidence showing that cannabis increases the risk of psychosis. It has been hypothesized that schizophrenia patients carrying particular risk genes might be more sensitive to the psychosis-inducing effects of cannabis than other patients and healthy test subjects. Here we review the effects of cannabinoids on a mutant mouse model for the schizophrenia candidate gene neuregulin 1 (Nrg1). The studies suggest a complex interaction between cannabis and Nrg1: the neuro-behavioral effects of cannabinoids were different in Nrg1 mutant and control mice and depended on exposure time, sex, and age of test animals. This research provides the first evidence of complex cannabis-Nrg1 interactions suggesting Nrg1 as a prime target for future clinical investigations. Furthermore, it highlights that animal model research can broaden our understanding of the complex multi-factorial etiology of schizophrenia. Finally, the findings are important to preventive psychiatry: if the genes that confer genetic vulnerability to cannabis-induced psychosis were identified patients at-high risk could be forewarned of the potential dangers of cannabis abuse.
schizophrenia; cannabis; neuregulin 1; gene-environment interactions; mouse model
Neuregulin 1 (NRG1) is linked to an increased risk of developing schizophrenia and cannabis dependence. Mice that are hypomorphic for Nrg1 (Nrg1 HET mice) display schizophrenia-relevant behavioral phenotypes and aberrant expression of serotonin and glutamate receptors. Nrg1 HET mice also display idiosyncratic responses to the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). To gain traction on the molecular pathways disrupted by Nrg1 hypomorphism and Nrg1-cannabinoid interactions we conducted a proteomic study. Adolescent wildtype (WT) and Nrg1 HET mice were exposed to repeated injections of vehicle or THC and their hippocampi were submitted to 2D gel proteomics. Comparison of WT and Nrg1 HET mice identified proteins linked to molecular changes in schizophrenia that have not been previously associated with Nrg1. These proteins are involved in vesicular release of neurotransmitters such as SNARE proteins; enzymes impacting serotonergic neurotransmission, and proteins affecting growth factor expression. Nrg1 HET mice treated with THC expressed a distinct protein expression signature compared to WT mice. Replicating prior findings, THC caused proteomic changes in WT mice suggestive of greater oxidative stress and neurodegeneration. We have previously observed that THC selectively increased hippocampal NMDA receptor binding of adolescent Nrg1 HET mice. Here we observed outcomes consistent with heightened NMDA-mediated glutamatergic neurotransmission. This included differential expression of proteins involved in NMDA receptor trafficking to the synaptic membrane; lipid raft stabilization of synaptic NMDA receptors; and homeostatic responses to dampen excitotoxicity. These findings uncover novel proteins altered in response to Nrg1 hypomorphism and Nrg1-cannabinoid interactions that improves our molecular understanding of Nrg1 signaling and Nrg1-mediated genetic vulnerability to the neurobehavioral effects of cannabinoids.
Nrg1; THC; mouse; hippocampus; schizophrenia; proteomics
Disinhibition-mediated long-term potentiation (LTP) in the CA1 region of the hippocampus involves GABAergic synaptic plasticity at feedforward inhibitory inputs, resulting in the reduced shunting of glutamatergic excitatory currents. The GABAergic plasticity which underlies disinhibition-mediated LTP results from a Ca2+-dependent decrease in the activity of the K+–Cl− cotransporter (KCC2), depolarizing the reversal potential for GABAA receptor-mediated currents (EGABA), thereby attenuating inhibition. Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) activation has previously been shown to regulate classic glutamatergic LTP, modulate intracellular [Ca2+] and signaling, and facilitate the excitability of GABAergic interneurons in the CA1. Based on these effects, and the ability of mAChR activation to regulate CA1 pyramidal neuron KCC2 expression, we proposed that mAChR activation would modulate disinhibition-mediated LTP. To test this prediction, we made whole cell recordings from CA1 pyramidal neurons in hippocampal slices. Disinhibition-mediated LTP was induced using a spike timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) protocol, which involved coincident pre-synaptic stimulation and post-synaptic current injection (at 5 Hz for 60 s). We found that mAChR activation via carbachol (CCh) prevented the induction of disinhibition-mediated LTP. Moreover, in the presence of CCh, EGABA failed to depolarize following plasticity induction. Lastly, we recorded the paired-pulse ratio (PPR) during the induction of disinhibition-mediated LTP and found that in the presence of CCh, plasticity induction induced a significant paired-pulse depression. This suggests that pre-synaptic mAChR activation may prevent the post-synaptic expression of disinhibition-mediated LTP.
acetylcholine; neuromodulation; STDP; LTP; IPSP; hippocampus; CA1; disinhibition
Neurogenesis in the adult rodent brain is largely restricted to the subependymal zone (SVZ) of the lateral ventricle and subgranular zone (SGZ) of the dentate gyrus (DG). We examined whether cholecystokinin (CCK) through actions mediated by CCK1 receptors (CCK1R) is involved in regulating neurogenesis. Proliferating cells in the SVZ, measured by 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) injected 2 h prior to death or by immunoreactivity against Ki67, were reduced by 37 and 42%, respectively, in female (but not male) mice lacking CCK1Rs (CCK1R−/−) compared to wild-type (WT). Generation of neuroblasts in the SVZ and rostral migratory stream (RMS) was also affected, since the number of doublecortin (DCX)-immunoreactive (ir) neuroblasts in these regions decreased by 29%. In the SGZ of female CCK1R−/− mice, BrdU-positive (+), and Ki67-ir cells were reduced by 38 and 56%, respectively, while DCX-ir neuroblasts were down 80%. Subsequently, the effect of reduced SVZ/SGZ proliferation on the generation and survival of mature adult-born cells in female CCK1R−/− mice was examined. In the OB granule cell layer (GCL), the number of neuronal nuclei (NeuN)-ir and calretinin-ir cells was stable compared to WT, and 42 days after BrdU injections, the number of BrdU+ cells co-expressing GABA- or NeuN-like immunoreactivity (LI) was similar. Compared to WT, the granule cell layer of the DG in female CCK1R−/− mice had a similar number of calbindin-ir cells and BrdU+ cells co-expressing calbindin-LI 42 days after BrdU injections. However, the OB glomerular layer (GL) of CCK1R−/− female mice had 11% fewer NeuN-ir cells, 23% less TH-ir cells, and a 38% and 29% reduction in BrdU+ cells that co-expressed TH-LI or GABA-LI, respectively. We conclude that CCK, via CCK1Rs, is involved in regulating the generation of proliferating cells and neuroblasts in the adult female mouse brain, and mechanisms are in place to maintain steady neuronal populations in the OB and DG when the rate of proliferation is altered.
cholecystokinin 1 receptor; neurogenesis; subventricular zone; rostral migratory stream; olfactory bulb; subgranular zone; interneurons; survival
The glutamate excitotoxicity, mediated through N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDARs), plays an important role in cerebral ischemia injury. Transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 (TRPV4) can be activated by multiple stimuli that may happen during stroke. The present study evaluated the effect of TRPV4 activation on NMDA-activated current (INMDA) and that of blocking TRPV4 on brain injury after focal cerebral ischemia in mice. We herein report that activation of TRPV4 by 4α-PDD and hypotonic stimulation increased INMDA in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons, which was sensitive to TRPV4 antagonist HC-067047 and NMDAR antagonist AP-5, indicating that TRPV4 activation potentiates NMDAR response. In addition, the increase in INMDA by hypotonicity was sensitive to the antagonist of NMDAR NR2B subunit, but not of NR2A subunit. Furthermore, antagonists of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) significantly attenuated hypotonicity-induced increase in INMDA, while antagonists of protein kinase C or casein kinase II had no such effect, indicating that phosphorylation of NR2B subunit by CaMKII is responsible for TRPV4-potentiated NMDAR response. Finally, we found that intracerebroventricular injection of HC-067047 after 60 min middle cerebral artery occlusion reduced the cerebral infarction with at least a 12 h efficacious time-window. These findings indicate that activation of TRPV4 increases NMDAR function, which may facilitate glutamate excitotoxicity. Closing TRPV4 may exert potent neuroprotection against cerebral ischemia injury through many mechanisms at least including the prevention of NMDAR-mediated glutamate excitotoxicity.
TRPV4; NMDA receptor; NR2B subunit; phosphorylation; excitotoxicity; cerebral ischemia
The excitatory action of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is considered to be a hallmark of the developing nervous system. However, in immature brain slices, excitatory GABA actions may be secondary to neuronal injury during slice preparation. Here, we explored GABA actions in the rodent intact hippocampal preparations and at different depths of hippocampal slices during the early post-natal period [post-natal days (P) 1–7]. We found that in the intact hippocampus at P1–3: (i) GABA exerts depolarizing action as seen in cell-attached single GABA(A) channel recordings; (ii) GABA(A) receptor (GABA(A)-R) agonist isoguvacine and synaptic activation of the GABA(A)-Rs increase the frequency of multiple unit activity and the frequency of the network-driven giant depolarizing potentials (GDPs); and that (iii) Na+–K+–2Cl- cotransporter (NKCC1) antagonist bumetanide suppresses GDPs and the excitatory actions of isoguvacine. In the hippocampal slices at P2–5, isoguvacine and synaptic activation of GABA(A)-Rs-evoked excitatory responses at all slice depths, including surface and core. Thus, GABA exerts excitatory actions in the intact hippocampus (P1–3) and at all depths of hippocampal slices (P2–5). Therefore, the excitatory actions of GABA in hippocampal slices during the first post-natal days are not due to neuronal injury during slice preparation, and the trauma-related excitatory GABA actions at the slice surface are a fundamentally different phenomenon observed during the second post-natal week.
GABA; development; hippocampus; giant depolarizing potentials; intracellular chloride; NKCC1; inhibitory post-synaptic potentials
Thrombin is a serine protease playing an essential role in the blood coagulation cascade. Recent work, however, has identified a novel role for thrombin-mediated signaling pathways in the central nervous system. Binding of thrombin to protease-activated receptors (PARs) in the brain appears to have multiple actions affecting both health and disease. Specifically, thrombin has been shown to lead to the onset of seizures via PAR-1 activation. In this perspective article, we review the putative mechanisms by which thrombin causes seizures and epilepsy. We propose a potential role of PAR-1 antagonists and novel thrombin inhibitors as new, possible antiepileptic drugs.
thrombin; PAR-1; seizures; blood–brain barrier; novel anticoagulants
Tonic GABA type A (GABAA) conductance is a key factor regulating neuronal excitability and computation in neuronal networks. The magnitude of the tonic GABAA conductance depends on the concentration of ambient GABA originating from vesicular and non-vesicular sources and is tightly regulated by GABA uptake. Here we show that the transport system regulating ambient GABA responsible for tonic GABAA conductances in hippocampal CA1 interneurons depends on its source. In mice, GABA from vesicular sources is regulated by mouse GABA transporter 1 (mGAT1), while that from non-vesicular sources by mouse GABA transporters 3/4 (mGAT3/4). This finding suggests that the two transporter systems do not just provide backup for each other, but regulate distinct signaling pathways. This allows individual tuning of the two signaling systems and indicates that drugs designed to act at specific transporters will have distinct therapeutic actions.
GABA transporter; tonic GABAA conductance; mutant α-latrotoxin; GABA source; extrasynaptic signaling; GABA; interneurons
Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), share two characteristics in common: (1) a disease prevalence that increases markedly with advancing age, and (2) neuroinflammatory changes in which microglia, the primary resident immune cell of the CNS, feature prominently. These characteristics have led to the hypothesis that pathogenic mechanisms underlying age-related neurodegenerative disease involve aging changes in microglia. If correct, targeting features of microglial senescence may constitute a feasible therapeutic strategy. This review explores this hypothesis and its implications by considering the current knowledge on how microglia undergo change during aging and how the emergence of these aging phenotypes relate to significant alterations in microglial function. Evidence and theories on cellular mechanisms implicated in driving senescence in microglia are reviewed, as are “rejuvenative” measures and strategies that aim to reverse or ameliorate the aging microglial phenotype. Understanding and controlling microglial aging may represent an opportunity for elucidating disease mechanisms and for formulating novel therapies.
microglia; aging; priming; neurodegeneration; rejuvenation; inflammation; activation; senescence
Cortical interneurons represent 20% of the cells in the cortex. These cells are local inhibitory neurons whose function is to modulate the firing activities of the excitatory projection neurons. Cortical interneuron dysfunction is believed to lead to runaway excitation underlying (or implicated in) seizure-based diseases, such as epilepsy, autism, and schizophrenia. The complex development of this cell type and the intricacies involved in defining the relative subtypes are being increasingly well defined. This has led to exciting experimental cell therapy in model organisms, whereby fetal-derived interneuron precursors can reverse seizure severity and reduce mortality in adult epileptic rodents. These proof-of-principle studies raise hope for potential interneuron-based transplantation therapies for treating epilepsy. On the other hand, cortical neurons generated from patient iPSCs serve as a valuable tool to explore genetic influences of interneuron development and function. This is a fundamental step in enhancing our understanding of the molecular basis of neuropsychiatric illnesses and the development of targeted treatments. Protocols are currently being developed for inducing cortical interneuron subtypes from mouse and human pluripotent stem cells. This review sets out to summarize the progress made in cortical interneuron development, fetal tissue transplantation and the recent advance in stem cell differentiation toward interneurons.
cortical interneurons; embryonic stem cells; cell therapy; proof-of-principle fetal transplant; seizure
What roles do astrocytes play in human disease?This question remains unanswered for nearly every human neurological disorder. Yet, because of their abundance and complexity astrocytes can impact neurological function in many ways. The differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) into neuronal and glial subtypes, including astrocytes, is becoming routine, thus their use as tools for modeling neurodevelopment and disease will provide one important approach to answer this question. When designing experiments, careful consideration must be given to choosing paradigms for differentiation, maturation, and functional analysis of these temporally asynchronous cellular populations in culture. In the case of astrocytes, they display heterogeneous characteristics depending upon species of origin, brain region, developmental stage, environmental factors, and disease states, all of which may render experimental results highly variable. In this review, challenges and future directions are discussed for using hPSC-derived astroglial progenitors and mature astrocytes for neurodevelopmental studies with a focus on exploring human astrocyte effects upon neuronal function. As new technologies emerge to measure the functions of astrocytes in vitro and in vivo, there is also a need for a standardized source of human astrocytes that are most relevant to the diseases of interest.
human stem cells; astrocytes; RASopathies; disease models; synaptogenic proteins; neurological disorders; regenerative medicine; developmental disorders of the brain
In cells cultured from neocortex of newborn rats, phosphoinositide-3-kinases of class I regulate the DNA synthesis in a subgroup of astroglial cells. We have studied the location of these cells as well as the kinase isoforms which facilitate the S phase entry. Using dominant negative (dn) isoforms as well as selective pharmacological inhibitors we quantified S phase entry by nuclear labeling with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU). Only in astroglial cells harvested from the marginal zone (MZ) of the neocortex inhibition of phosphoinositide-3-kinases reduced the nuclear labeling with BrdU, indicating that neocortical astroglial cells differ in the regulation of proliferation. The two kinase isoforms p110α and p110β were essential for S phase entry. p110α diminished the level of the p27Kip1 which inactivates the complex of cyclin E and CDK2 necessary for entry into the S phase. p110β phosphorylated and inhibited glycogen synthase kinase-3β which can prevent S-phase entry. Taken together, both isoforms mediated S phase in a subgroup of neocortical astroglial cells and acted via distinct pathways.
bromodeoxyuridine; glycogen synthase kinase-3β; p27Kip1; marginal zone; p110α; p110β; rat neocortex