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1.  Tracing Superior Longitudinal Fasciculus Connectivity in the Human Brain using High Resolution Diffusion Tensor Tractography 
Brain structure & function  2013;219(1):10.1007/s00429-012-0498-y.
The major language pathways such as superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) pathways have been outlined by experimental and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies. The SLF I and some of the superior parietal lobule connections of the SLF pathways have not been depicted by prior DTI studies due to the lack of imaging sensitivity and adequate spatial resolution. In the current study, the trajectory of the SLF fibers has been delineated on five healthy human subjects using diffusion tensor tractography on a 3.0T scanner at high spatial resolution. We also demonstrate for the first time the trajectory and connectivity of the SLF fibers in relation to other language pathways as well as the superior parietal lobule connections of the language circuit using high spatial resolution diffusion tensor imaging in the healthy adult human brain.
PMCID: PMC3633629  PMID: 23288254
diffusion tensor imaging; high resolution; tractography; association fibers; superior longitudinal fasciculus
2.  Corpus callosum shape changes in early Alzheimer’s disease: an MRI study using the OASIS brain database 
Brain structure & function  2013;219(1):10.1007/s00429-013-0503-0.
The corpus callosum (CC) is the largest fiber bundle connecting the left and right cerebral hemispheres. It has been a region examined extensively for indications of various pathologies, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Almost all previous studies of the CC in AD have been concerned with its size, particularly its mid-sagittal cross-sectional area (CCA). In this study, we show that the CC shape, characterized by its circularity (CIR), may be affected more profoundly than its size in early AD. MRI scans (n = 196) were obtained from the publicly available Open Access Series of Imaging Studies database. The CC cross-sectional region on the mid-sagittal section of the brain was automatically segmented using a novel algorithm. The CCA and CIR were compared in 98 normal controls (NC) subjects, 70 patients with very mild AD (AD-VM), and 28 patients with mild AD (AD-M). Statistical analysis of covariance controlling for age and intracranial capacity showed that both the CIR and the CCA were significantly reduced in the AD-VM group relative to the NC group (CIR: p = 0.004; CCA: p = 0.005). However, only the CIR was significantly different between the AD-M and AD-VM groups (p = 0.006) being smaller in the former. The CCA was not significantly different between the AD-M and AD-VM groups. The results suggest that CC shape may be a more sensitive marker than its size for monitoring the progression of AD. In order to facilitate independent analyses, the CC segmentations and the CCA and CIR data used in this study have been made publicly available (
PMCID: PMC3657596  PMID: 23322167
Alzheimer’s disease; Brain; Corpus callosum; Shape analysis; Magnetic resonance imaging
3.  Neuronal loss in the caudal intralaminar thalamic nuclei in a primate model of Parkinson's disease 
Brain structure & function  2013;219(1):10.1007/s00429-013-0507-9.
In light of postmortem human studies showing extensive degeneration of the center median (CM) and parafascicular (Pf) thalamic nuclei in Parkinson's disease patients, the present study assessed the extent of neuronal loss in CM/Pf of non-human primates that were rendered parkinsonian by repeated injections of low doses of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). In order to determine the course of CM/Pf degeneration during the MPTP intoxication, motor-asymptomatic animals with partial striatal dopamine denervation were also used. The Cavalieri's principle for volume estimation and the unbiased stereological cell count method with the optical dissector technique were used to estimate the total number of neurons in the CM/Pf. We found substantial neurons loss in the CM/Pf in both, motor-symptomatic MPTP-treated monkeys in which the striatal dopamine innervation was reduced by more than 80 %, and in motor-asymptomatic MPTP-treated animals with 40–50 % striatal dopamine loss. In MPTP-treated parkinsonian monkeys, 60 and 62 % neurons loss was found in CM and Pf, respectively, while partially dopamine-depleted asymptomatic animals displayed 59 and 52 % neurons loss in the CM and Pf, respectively. Thus, our study demonstrates that the CM/Pf neurons loss is an early phenomenon that occurs prior to the development of parkinsonian motor symptoms in these animals. In contrast, the neighboring mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus was only mildly affected (18 % neurons loss) in the parkinsonian monkeys. Together with recent findings about the possible role of the CM/Pf-striatal system in cognition, our findings suggest that the pathology of the thalamostriatal system may precede the development of motor symptoms in PD, and may account for some of the cognitive deficits in attentional set-shifting often seen in these patients. Future studies in this animal model, and in monkeys with selective lesion of CM or Pf, are needed to further elucidate the role of the CM/Pf-striatal system in normal and parkinsonian conditions.
PMCID: PMC3864539  PMID: 23508713
Centromedian; Parafascicular; Thalamostriatal; Thalamus; Stereology; Monkey; MPTP
4.  Differential regulation of parvalbumin and calretinin interneurons in the prefrontal cortex during adolescence 
Brain structure & function  2013;219(1):10.1007/s00429-013-0508-8.
Determining the normal developmental trajectory of individual GABAergic components in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) during the adolescent transition period is critical because local GABAergic interneurons are thought to play an important role in the functional maturation of cognitive control that occurs in this developmental window. Based on the expression of calcium-binding proteins, 3 distinctive subtypes of interneurons have been identified in the PFC: parvalbumin (PV)-, calretinin (CR)-, and calbindin (CB)-positive cells. Using biochemical and histochemical measures, we found that the protein level of PV is lowest in juveniles (postnatal day -PD- 25–35) and increases during adolescence (PD45–55) to levels similar to those observed in adulthood (PD65–75). In contrast, the protein expression of CR is reduced in adults compared to juvenile and adolescent animals, whereas CB levels remain mostly unchanged across the developmental window studied here. Semi-quantitative immunostaining analyses revealed that the periadolescent upregulation of PV and the loss of the CR signal appear to be attributable to changes in PV- and CR-positive innervation, which are dissociable from the trajectory of PV- and CR-positive cell number. At the synaptic level, our electrophysiological data revealed that a developmental facilitation of spontaneous glutamatergic synaptic inputs onto PV-positive/fast-spiking interneurons parallels the increase in prefrontal PV signal during the periadolescent transition. In contrast, no age-dependent changes in glutamatergic transmission were observed in PV-negative/non fast-spiking interneurons. Together, these findings emphasize that GABAergic inhibitory interneurons in the PFC undergo a dynamic, cell-type specific remodeling during adolescence and provide a developmental framework for understanding alterations in GABAergic circuits that occur in psychiatric disorders.
PMCID: PMC3665762  PMID: 23400698
interneurons; calcium-binding proteins; prefrontal cortex; fast-spiking; non-fast spiking
5.  Full diffusion characterization implicates regionally disparate neuropathology in Mild Cognitive Impairment 
Brain structure & function  2013;219(1):10.1007/s00429-013-0506-x.
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is used to detect tissue pathology. In Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research, DTI has been used to elucidate differences in disease stages and to track progression over time and clinical severity. Many of these studies have identified the fornix as particularly vulnerable in the early stages of pathology associated with memory decline in prodromal AD. Emerging research suggests principal tensor components, axial (DA) and radial (DR) diffusivity, are more sensitive to underlying tissue pathology than are mean diffusivity (MD) and fractional anisotropy (FA). Given the established regionally specific tissue decline in MCI, we examined components of the full diffusion tensor (MD, FA, DR, and DA) for sensitivity to regional pathology associated with specific memory deficits in 18 individuals with MCI. We investigated multiple regions of interest, including fornix, temporal stem, and control regions for association with severity of impairment on multiple memory measures, including a type of neuropsychological task shown to be particularly sensitive to early memory decline in MCI. Better paired associate learning was selectively associated with lower DA (β = −0.663, p = 0.003), but not with DR, MD, or FA of the temporal stems. Conversely, better paired associate learning was associated with lower DR (β = −0.523, p = 0.026), higher FA (β = 0.498, p = 0.036), and lower MD (β =−0.513, p = 0.030), but not DA in the fornix. No association was found for control regions, or for control cognitive measures. These findings suggest disparate pathology of temporal stems and fornix white matter in association with early memory impairment in MCI. Further, they highlight the methodological importance of evaluating the full tensor, rather than only summative metrics in research using DTI.
PMCID: PMC3880601  PMID: 23344962
Mild Cognitive Impairment; Alzheimer’s disease; Associative learning; Diffusion tensor imaging; Fornix; Radial diffusivity
6.  Multi-region hemispheric specialization differentiates human from nonhuman primate brain function 
Brain structure & function  2013;219(6):2187-2194.
The human behavioral repertoire greatly exceeds that of nonhuman primates. Anatomical specializations of the human brain include an enlarged neocortex and prefrontal cortex (Semendeferi et al. in Am J Phys Anthropol 114:224–241, 2001), but regional enlargements alone cannot account for these vast functional differences. Hemispheric specialization has long believed to be a major contributing factor to such distinctive human characteristics as motor dominance, attentional control and language. Yet structural cerebral asymmetries, documented in both humans and some nonhuman primate species, are relatively minor compared to behavioral lateralization. Identifying the mechanisms that underlie these functional differences remains a goal of considerable interest. Here, we investigate the intrinsic connectivity networks in four primate species (humans, chimpanzees, baboons, and capuchin monkeys) using resting-state fMRI to evaluate the intra- and inter- hemispheric coherences of spontaneous BOLD fluctuation. All three nonhuman primate species displayed lateralized functional networks that were strikingly similar to those observed in humans. However, only humans had multi-region lateralized networks, which provide fronto-parietal connectivity. Our results indicate that this pattern of within-hemisphere connectivity distinguishes humans from nonhuman primates.
PMCID: PMC4219928  PMID: 23928747
Brain evolution; Brain connectivity; Functional connectivity; Resting-state networks; Primates; fMRI
7.  The rostral subcommissural ventral pallidum is a mix of ventral pallidal neurons and neurons from adjacent areas: an electrophysiological study 
Brain structure & function  2012;218(6):10.1007/s00429-012-0471-9.
The ventral pallidum (VP) is a part of the ventral striatopallidal system and is involved in reward-related behaviors. The VP is composed of a ventromedial (VPvm) and a dorsolateral (VPdl) subregion, and some rostral-caudal differences are reported. Study of the VP often focuses on the subcommissural VP, typically considered homogenous in spite of known subdivisions. In this work, we used slice electrophysiology combined with immunohistochemistry for marker neuropeptides to test whether the subcommissural VP is functionally homogenous. Using sagittal slices, we show that more lateral levels (2.40 mm) of the subcommissural VP are homogenous but that a more medial slice (1.90 mm) contains two types of neurons. One type, located more caudally, resembles neurons in the lateral subcommissural VP, with long aspiny dendrites, primarily GABAergic input, and characteristic electrophysiological properties, such as depolarized membrane potential and spontaneous action potential discharge. The second type of neuron, located mostly in the rostral subcommissural VP, shows properties that are akin to medium spiny neurons of adjacent regions, including spiny dendrites, major glutamatergic input, hyperpolarized membrane potential, and no spontaneous action potentials. The two types of neurons were present in both the VPvm and VPdl, implying that the mix is not a characteristic of histologically defined subregions. We conclude that at medial levels the rostral subcommissural VP contains a mix of typical ventral pallidal neurons and spiny neurons similar to those in adjacent regions. This observation needs to be considered when interpreting past experiments and designing future experiments in the subcommissural VP.
PMCID: PMC3600056  PMID: 23143342
Ventral pallidum; Electrophysiology; Nucleus accumbens; Extended amygdala
8.  Diffusion Tensor Imaging Reveals Evolution of Primate Brain Architectures 
Brain structure & function  2012;218(6):10.1007/s00429-012-0468-4.
Evolution of the brain has been an inherently interesting problem for centuries. Recent studies have indicated that neuroimaging is a powerful technique for studying brain evolution. In particular, a variety of reports have demonstrated that consistent white matter fiber connection patterns derived from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography reveal common brain architecture and are predictive of brain functions. In this paper, based on our recently discovered 358 Dense Individualized and Common Connectivity-based Cortical Landmarks (DICCCOL) defined by consistent fiber connection patterns in DTI datasets of human brains, we derived 65 DICCCOLs that are common in macaque monkey, chimpanzee and human brains and 175 DICCCOLs that exhibit significant discrepancies amongst these three primate species. Qualitative and quantitative evaluations not only demonstrated the consistencies of anatomical locations and structural fiber connection patterns of these 65 common DICCCOLs across three primates, suggesting an evolutionarily-preserved common brain architecture, but also revealed regional patterns of evolutionarily-induced complexity and variability of those 175 discrepant DICCCOLs across the three species.
PMCID: PMC3663907  PMID: 23135357
diffusion tensor imaging; brain evolution; brain architecture
9.  Spine pruning in 5xFAD mice starts on basal dendrites of layer 5 pyramidal neurons 
Brain structure & function  2013;219(2):571-580.
Transgenic mice with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) mutations have been widely used to model changes in neuronal structure and function. While there are clear gross structural changes in post-mortem brains of AD patients, most mouse models of AD do not recapitulate the considerable loss of neurons. Furthermore, possible connections between early subtle structural changes and the loss of neurons are difficult to study. In an attempt to start unraveling how neurons are affected during the early stages of what becomes full neurodegeneration, we crossed a mouse model of familial AD, which displays massive neocortical neurodegeneration (the 5xFAD mouse), with the fluorescent H-line YFP mouse. This novel bigenic mouse model of AD, which we have named the 5XY mouse, expresses YFP in principal neurons in the cortex such that even fine details of cells are clearly visible. Such bright fluorescence allowed us to use high-resolution confocal microscopy to quantify changes in spine density in the somatosensory cortex, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. A significant loss of spines on basal dendrites in the somatosensory and prefrontal cortices of 6-month-old 5XY female mice was found. There was no observed spine loss at 6 months of age on the oblique dendrites of the hippocampus in the same mice. These data suggest that spine loss is an early event in the degeneration of the neocortical neurons in 5xFAD mice, and a likely contributor to the cognitive impairments reported previously in this AD mouse model.
PMCID: PMC4157364  PMID: 23417057
spine density; spine type; Alzheimer’s disease; 5xFAD; neurodegeneration
10.  Retrieval of Contextual Memories Increases Activity-Regulated Cytoskeleton-Associated Protein in the Amygdala and Hippocampus 
Brain structure & function  2012;218(5):1177-1196.
Activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein (Arc) integrates information from multiple intracellular signaling cascades and, in turn, regulates cytoskeletal proteins involved in structural synaptic modifications. The purposes of the present study were: (a) to determine if the retrieval of contextual memories would induce Arc in hippocampal and amygdalar neurons; and (b) use unbiased stereology at the ultrastructural level to quantify synapses contacting Arc-labeled (Arc+) and unlabeled (Arc−) postsynaptic structures in brain regions in which the amount of Arc integrated density (ID) correlated strongly with the degree of amphetamine conditioned place preference (AMPH CPP). The retrieval of contextual memories increased the Arc ID in the dentate gyrus, cornu ammonis (CA)1, and CA3 fields of the hippocampus and the basolateral, lateral, and central nuclei of the amygdala but not the primary auditory cortex, a control region. Stereological quantification of Arc+ and Arc− synapses in the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA) was undertaken because the strongest relationship between the amount of Arc ID and AMPH CPP was observed in the BLA. The retrieval of contextual memories increased the number and density of asymmetric (presumed excitatory) synapses contacting Arc+ spines and dendrites of BLA neurons, symmetric (presumed inhibitory or modulatory) synapses contacting Arc+ dendrites of BLA neurons, and multisynaptic boutons contacting Arc+ postsynaptic structures. Thus, the retrieval of contextual memories increases Arc in the amygdala and hippocampus, an effect that could be important for approach behavior to a drug-associated context.
PMCID: PMC3540175  PMID: 22945419
amphetamine; classical conditioning; conditioned place preference; activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein; amygdala; hippocampus
11.  Zinc histochemistry reveals circuit refinement and distinguishes visual areas in the developing ferret cerebral cortex 
Brain structure & function  2012;218(5):1293-1306.
A critical question in brain development is whether different brain circuits mature concurrently or with different timescales. To characterize the anatomical and functional development of different visual cortical areas, one must be able to distinguish these areas. Here, we show that zinc histochemistry, which reveals a subset of glutamatergic processes, can be used to reliably distinguish visual areas in juvenile and adult ferret cerebral cortex, and that the postnatal decline in levels of synaptic zinc follows a broadly similar developmental trajectory in multiple areas of ferret visual cortex. Zinc staining in all areas examined (17, 18, 19, 21, and Suprasylvian) is greater in the 5-week-old than in the adult. Furthermore, there is less laminar variation in zinc staining in the 5-week-old visual cortex than in the adult. Despite differences in staining intensity, areal boundaries can be discerned in the juvenile as in the adult. By 6 weeks of age, we observe a significant decline in visual cortical synaptic zinc; this decline was most pronounced in layer IV of areas 17 and 18, with much less change in higher-order extrastriate areas during the important period in visual cortical development following eye opening. By 10 weeks of age, the laminar pattern of zinc staining in all visual areas is essentially adult like. The decline in synaptic zinc in the supra- and infragranular layers in all areas proceeds at the same rate, though the decline in layer IV does not. These results suggest that the timecourse of synaptic zinc decline is lamina specific, and further confirm and extend the notion that at least some aspects of cortical maturation follow a similar developmental timecourse in multiple areas. The postnatal decline in synaptic zinc we observe during the second postnatal month begins after eye opening, consistent with evidence that synaptic zinc is regulated by sensory experience.
PMCID: PMC3594002  PMID: 23052548
Visual cortex; Extrastriate; Synaptic zinc; Visual development
12.  Purkinje cell compartmentalization in the cerebellum of the spontaneous mutant mouse dreher 
Brain structure & function  2012;219(1):35-47.
The cerebellar morphological phenotype of the spontaneous neurological mutant mouse dreher (Lmx1adr-J) results from cell fate changes in dorsal midline patterning involving the roof plate and rhombic lip. Positional cloning revealed that the gene Lmx1a, which encodes a LIM homeodomain protein, is mutated in dreher, and is expressed in the developing roof plate and rhombic lip. Loss of Lmx1a causes reduction of the roof plate, an important embryonic signaling center, and abnormal cell fate specification within the embryonic cerebellar rhombic lip. In adult animals, these defects result in variable, medial fusion of the cerebellar vermis and posterior cerebellar vermis hypoplasia. It is unknown whether deleting Lmx1a results in displacement or loss of specific lobules in the vermis. To distinguish between an ectopic and an absent vermis, the expression patterns of two Purkinje cell specific compartmentation antigens, zebrin II/aldolase C and the small heat shock protein HSP25, were analyzed in dreher cerebella. The data reveal that despite the reduction in volume and abnormal foliation of the cerebellum, the transverse zones and parasagittal stripe arrays characteristic of the normal vermis are present in dreher, but may be highly distorted. In dreher mutants with a severe phenotype, zebrin II stripes are fragmented and distributed non-symmetrically about the cerebellar midline. We conclude that although Purkinje cell agenesis or selective Purkinje cell death may contribute to the dreher phenotype, our data suggest that aberrant anlage patterning and granule cell development lead to Purkinje cell ectopia, which ultimately causes abnormal cerebellar architecture in dreher.
PMCID: PMC4140632  PMID: 23160833
whole mount immunohistochemistry; HSP25; zebrin II; cerebellar development; Lmx1a
13.  Human middle longitudinal fascicle: variations in patterns of anatomical connections 
Brain structure & function  2012;218(4):951-968.
Based on high-resolution diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DTI) tractographic analyses in thirty-nine healthy adult subjects we derived patterns of connections and measures of volume and biophysical parameters, such as fractional anisotropy (FA) for the human middle longitudinal fascicle (MdLF). Compared to previous studies, we found that the cortical connections of the MdLF in humans appear to go beyond the superior temporal (STG) and angular (AG) gyri, extending to the temporal pole (TP), superior parietal lobule (SPL), supramarginal gyrus, precuneus and the occipital lobe (including the cuneus and lateral occipital areas). Importantly, the MdLF showed a striking lateralized pattern with predominant connections between the TP, STG and AG on the left and TP, STG and SPL on the right hemisphere. In light of the results of the present study, and of the known functional role of the cortical areas interconnected by the MdLF, we suggested that this fiber pathway might be related to language, high order auditory association, visuospatial and attention functions.
PMCID: PMC3500586  PMID: 22782432
Diffusion tensor tractography; Middle longitudinal fascicle; Angular gyrus; Superior parietal lobule; Superior temporal gyrus; Language
14.  Stimulus-specific and differential distribution of activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase in the nucleus accumbens core and shell during Pavlovian-instrumental transfer 
Brain structure & function  2012;218(4):913-927.
The ability of reward-predictive cues to potentiate reward-seeking behavior—a phenomenon termed Pavlovian-instrumental transfer (PIT)—depends on the activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Here, we utilized immunohistochemistry to investigate the subregional pattern of ERK activation during PIT, and the contribution of different elements in the PIT condition to the distribution of ERK signaling in the NAc of rats. We found that the occurrence of reward-seeking behavior (lever pressing) did not affect ERK activation in either the core or the shell of the NAc. In contrast, presentation of the reward-predictive cue (auditory conditioned stimulus) caused a significant increase in ERK activation in both subregions of the NAc, with the effectbeing slightly more robustin the core than the shell. Different from the pattern evoked by the reward-predictive cue, presentation of the reward itself (food pellets) had no effect on ERK activation in the core but caused a pronounced increase in ERK activation in the shell. Taken together, our results demonstrate that ERK signaling in the NAc during PIT involves both the core and the shell and is driven by the conditioned cue irrespective of whether the situation permits engagement in reward-seeking behavior. Furthermore, our results show that the subregional distribution of ERK signaling in the NAc evoked by rewards differs from that evoked by cues that predict them. The stimulus-specific differential pattern of ERK signaling described here may present the molecular complement to stimulus-specific increases in NAc cell firing reported previously.
PMCID: PMC3676472  PMID: 22763576
Reward; Motivation; Conditioned stimulus; MAP kinase; Immunohistochemistry
15.  ALE meta-analysis on facial judgments of trustworthiness and attractiveness 
Brain structure & function  2010;215(0):209-223.
Faces convey a multitude of information in social interaction, among which are trustworthiness and attractiveness. Humans process and evaluate these two dimensions very quickly due to their great adaptive importance. Trustworthiness evaluation is crucial for modulating behavior toward strangers; attractiveness evaluation is a crucial factor for mate selection, possibly providing cues for reproductive success. As both dimensions rapidly guide social behavior, this study tests the hypothesis that both judgments may be subserved by overlapping brain networks. To this end, we conducted an activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis on 16 functional magnetic resonance imaging studies pertaining to facial judgments of trustworthiness and attractiveness. Throughout combined, individual, and conjunction analyses on those two facial judgments, we observed consistent maxima in the amygdala which corroborates our initial hypothesis. This finding supports the contemporary paradigm shift extending the amygdala’s role from dominantly processing negative emotional stimuli to processing socially relevant ones. We speculate that the amygdala filters sensory information with evolutionarily conserved relevance. Our data suggest that such a role includes not only “fight-or-flight” decisions but also social behaviors with longer term pay-off schedules, e.g., trustworthiness and attractiveness evaluation.
PMCID: PMC4020344  PMID: 20978908
fMRI; Meta-analysis; Attractiveness; Trustworthiness; Amygdala
16.  Characterisation of cannabinoid 1 receptor expression in the perikarya, and peripheral and spinal processes of primary sensory neurons 
Brain structure & function  2012;218(3):733-750.
The cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptor is expressed by a sub-population of primary sensory neurons. However, data on the neurochemical identity of the CB1 receptor-expressing cells, and CB1 receptor expression by the peripheral and central terminals of these neurons are inconsistent and limited. We characterised CB1 receptor expression in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and spinal cord at the lumbar 4–5 level, as well as in the urinary bladder and glabrous skin of the hindpaw. About 1/3 of DRG neurons exhibited immunopositivity for the CB1 receptor, the majority of which showed positivity for the nociceptive markers calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) or/and Griffonia (bandeiraea) simplicifolia IB4 isolectin-binding. Virtually all CB1 receptor-immunostained fibres showed immunopositivity for CGRP in the skin, while almost none did in the urinary bladder. No CB1 receptor-immunopositive nerve fibres were IB4 positive in either peripheral tissue. Spinal laminae I and II-outer showed the highest density of CB1 receptor-immunopositive punctae, the majority of which showed positivity for CGRP or/and IB4 binding. These data indicate that a major sub-population of nociceptive primary sensory neurons expresses CB1 receptors that are transported to both peripheral and central terminals of these cells. Therefore, the present data suggest that manipulation of endogenous CB1 receptor agonist levels in these areas may significantly reduce nociceptive input into the spinal cord.
PMCID: PMC3703839  PMID: 22618437
Anti-nociception; Somatosensory; Viscerosensory; Peptidergic; Non-peptidergic
17.  Altered diffusion tensor imaging measurements in aged transgenic Huntington disease rats 
Brain structure & function  2012;218(3):767-778.
Rodent models of Huntington disease (HD) are valuable tools for investigating HD pathophysiology and evaluating new therapeutic approaches. Non-invasive characterization of HD-related phenotype changes is important for monitoring progression of pathological processes and possible effects of interventions. The first transgenic rat model for HD exhibits progressive late-onset affective, cognitive, and motor impairments, as well as neuropathological features reflecting observations from HD patients. In this report, we contribute to the anatomical phenotyping of this model by comparing high-resolution ex vivo DTI measurements obtained in aged transgenic HD rats and wild-type controls. By region of interest analysis supplemented by voxel-based statistics, we find little evidence of atrophy in basal ganglia regions, but demonstrate altered DTI measurements in the dorsal and ventral striatum, globus pallidus, entopeduncular nucleus, sub-stantia nigra, and hippocampus. These changes are largely compatible with DTI findings in preclinical and clinical HD patients. We confirm earlier reports that HD rats express a moderate neuropathological phenotype, and provide evidence of altered DTI measures in specific HD-related brain regions, in the absence of pronounced morphometric changes.
PMCID: PMC3586769  PMID: 22618438
Basal ganglia; Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging; Hippocampus; Magnetic resonance imaging; Neurodegenerative disease; Neuroimaging; Transgenic rat model
18.  Mapping of the Mouse Olfactory System with Manganese-Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Diffusion Tensor Imaging 
Brain structure & function  2012;218(2):527-537.
As the power of studying mouse genetics and behavior advances, research tools to examine systems level connectivity in the mouse are critically needed. In this study, we compared statistical mapping of the olfactory system in adult mice using manganese-enhanced MRI (MEMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) with probabilistic tractography. The primary goal was to determine whether these complementary techniques can determine mouse olfactory bulb connectivity consistent with known anatomical connections. For MEMRI, 3D T1 weighted images were acquired before and after bilateral nasal administration of MnCl2 solution. Concomitantly, high resolution diffusion-tensor images were obtained ex vivo from a second group of mice and processed with a probabilistic tractography algorithm originating in the olfactory bulb. Incidence maps were created by co-registering and overlaying data from the two scan modalities. The resulting maps clearly show pathways between the olfactory bulb and amygdala, piriform cortex, caudate putamen, and olfactory cortex in both the DTI and MEMRI techniques that are consistent with the known anatomical connections. These data demonstrate that MEMRI and DTI are complementary, high-resolution neuroimaging tools that can be applied to mouse genetic models of olfactory and limbic system connectivity.
PMCID: PMC3425724  PMID: 22527121
Statistical Mapping; Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI); Manganese Enhanced MRI (MEMRI); Olfactory System; Mouse
19.  Cholinergic neurons in the mouse rostral ventrolateral medulla target sensory afferent areas 
Brain structure & function  2012;218(2):455-475.
The rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) primarily regulates respiration and the autonomic nervous system. Its medial portion (mRVLM) contains many choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)-immunoreactive (ir) neurons of unknown function. We sought to clarify the role of these cholinergic cells by tracing their axonal projections. We first established that these neurons are neither parasympathetic preganglionic neurons nor motor neurons because they did not accumulate intraperitoneally administered Fluorogold. We traced their axonal projections by injecting a Cre-dependent vector (floxed-AAV2) expressing either GFP or mCherrry into the mRVLM of ChAT-Cre mice. Transduced neurons expressing GFP or mCherry were confined to the injection site and were exclusively ChAT-ir. Their axonal projections included the dorsal column nuclei, medullary trigeminal complex, cochlear nuclei, superior olivary complex and spinal cord lamina III. For control experiments, the floxed-AAV2 (mCherry) was injected into the RVLM of dopamine beta-hydroxylase-Cre mice. In these mice mCherry was exclusively expressed by RVLM catecholaminergic neurons. Consistent with data from rats, these catecholaminergic neurons targeted brain regions involved in autonomic and endocrine regulation. These regions were almost totally different from those innervated by the intermingled mRVLM-ChAT neurons.
This study emphasizes the advantages of using Cre-driver mouse strains in combination with floxed-AAV2 to trace the axonal projections of chemically defined neuronal groups. Using this technique, we revealed previously unknown projections of mRVLM-ChAT neurons and showed that despite their close proximity to the cardiorespiratory region of the RVLM, these cholinergic neurons regulate sensory afferent information selectively and presumably have little to do with respiration or circulatory control.
PMCID: PMC3459297  PMID: 22460939
medulla oblongata; acetylcholine; somatosensory processing
20.  Understanding the molecular basis of Alzheimer’s disease using a Caenorhabditis elegans model system 
Brain structure & function  2009;214(0):263-283.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the major cause of dementia in the United States. At the cellular level, the brains of AD patients are characterized by extracellular dense plaques and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles whose major components are the β-amyloid peptide and tau, respectively. The β-amyloid peptide is a cleavage product of the amyloid precursor protein (APP); mutations in APP have been correlated with a small number of cases of familial Alzheimer’s disease. APP is the canonical member of the APP family, whose functions remain unclear. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, one of the premier genetic workhorses, is being used in a variety of ways to address the functions of APP and determine how the β-amyloid peptide and tau can induce toxicity. First, the function of the C. elegans APP-related gene, apl-1, is being examined. Although different organisms may use APP and related proteins, such as APL-1, in different functional contexts, the pathways in which they function and the molecules with which they interact are usually conserved. Second, components of the γ-secretase complex and their respective functions are being revealed through genetic analyses in C. elegans. Third, to address questions of toxicity, onset of degeneration, and protective mechanisms, different human β-amyloid peptide and tau variants are being introduced into C. elegans and the resultant transgenic lines examined. Here, we summarize how a simple system such as C. elegans can be used as a model to understand APP function and suppression of β-amyloid peptide and tau toxicity in higher organisms.
PMCID: PMC3902020  PMID: 20012092
21.  Structure–function relationship of working memory activity with hippocampal and prefrontal cortex volumes 
Brain structure & function  2012;218(1):10.1007/s00429-012-0391-8.
A rapidly increasing number of studies are quantifying the system-level network architecture of the human brain based on structural-to-structural and functional-to-functional relationships. However, a largely unexplored area is the nature and existence of “cross-modal” structural–functional relationships, in which, for example, the volume (or other morphological property) of one brain region is related to the functional response to a given task either in that same brain region, or another brain region. The present study investigated whether the gray matter volume of a selected group of structures (superior, middle, and inferior frontal gyri, thalamus, and hippocampus) was correlated with the fMRI response to a working memory task, within a mask of regions previously identified as involved with working memory. The subjects included individuals with schizophrenia, their siblings, and healthy controls (n = 154 total). Using rigorous permutation testing to define the null distribution, we found that the volume of the superior and middle frontal gyri was correlated with working memory activity within clusters in the intraparietal sulcus (i.e., dorsal parietal cortex) and that the volume of the hippocampus was correlated with working memory activity within clusters in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and left inferior frontal gyrus. However, we did not find evidence that the identified structure–function relationships differed between subject groups. These results show that long-distance structural–functional relationships exist within the human brain. The study of such cross-modal relationships represents an additional approach for studying systems-level interregional brain networks.
PMCID: PMC3858000  PMID: 22362200
Structural MRI; Functional MRI; Working memory; Hippocampus; Prefrontal cortex; Connectivity
22.  Modulation of limbic-cerebellar functional connectivity enables alcoholics to recognize who is who 
Brain Structure & Function  2012;218(3):683-695.
Chronic alcoholism is known to disrupt functions served by distributed brain systems, including limbic and frontocerebellar circuits involved in resting-state and task-activated networks subserving component processes of memory often affected in alcoholics. Using an fMRI paradigm, we investigated whether memory performance by alcoholics on a face-name association test previously observed to be problematic for alcoholics could be explained by desynchronous activity between nodes of these specific networks.
While in the scanner, 18 alcoholics and 15 controls performed a face-name associative learning task with different levels of processing at encoding. This task was designed to activate the hippocampus, cerebellum, and frontal cortex. Alcoholics and controls were also scanned at rest.
Twelve alcoholics and 12 controls were selected to be matched on face-name recognition performance. Task-related fMRI analysis indicated that alcoholics had preserved limbic activation but lower cerebellar activation (Crus II) than controls in the face-name learning task. Crus II was, therefore, chosen as a seed for fcMRI analysis. At rest, the left hippocampus and left Crus II had positively synchronized activity in controls, while hippocampal and cerebellar activities were negatively synchronized in alcoholics. Task engagement resulted in hippocampal-cerebellar desynchronization in both groups.
We speculate that atypical cerebello-hippocampal activity synchronization during rest in alcoholics was reset to the normal pattern of asynchrony by task engagement. Aberrations from the normal pattern of resting-state default mode synchrony could be interpreted as enabling preserved face-name associative memory in alcoholism.
PMCID: PMC3819747  PMID: 22585315
Functional magnetic resonance imaging; functional connectivity; alcohol; associative learning; hippocampus; cerebellum.
23.  Optic radiation structure and anatomy in the normally developing brain determined using diffusion MRI and tractography 
Brain Structure & Function  2013;220:291-306.
The optic radiation (OR) is a component of the visual system known to be myelin mature very early in life. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and its unique ability to reconstruct the OR in vivo were used to study structural maturation through analysis of DTI metrics in a cohort of 90 children aged 5–18 years. As the OR is at risk of damage during epilepsy surgery, we measured its position relative to characteristic anatomical landmarks. Anatomical distances, DTI metrics and volume of the OR were investigated for age, gender and hemisphere effects. We observed changes in DTI metrics with age comparable to known trajectories in other white matter tracts. Left lateralization of DTI metrics was observed that showed a gender effect in lateralization. Sexual dimorphism of DTI metrics in the right hemisphere was also found. With respect to OR dimensions, volume was shown to be right lateralised and sexual dimorphism demonstrated for the extent of the left OR. The anatomical results presented for the OR have potentially important applications for neurosurgical planning.
PMCID: PMC4286633  PMID: 24170375
Probabilistic tractography; Diffusion imaging; DTI; Optic radiation; Maturation; Brain; Meyer’s loop; Lateral geniculate nucleus; Epilepsy surgery; Neurosurgery planning
24.  DISC1 Ser704Cys impacts thalamic-prefrontal connectivity 
Brain Structure & Function  2013;220:91-100.
The Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) gene has been thought as a putative susceptibility gene for various psychiatric disorders, and DISC1 Ser704Cys is associated with variations of brain morphology and function. Moreover, our recent diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) study reported that DISC1 Ser704Cys was associated with information transfer efficiency in the brain anatomical network. However, the effects of the DISC1 gene on functional brain connectivity and networks, especially for thalamic-prefrontal circuit, which are disrupted in various psychiatric disorders, are largely unknown. Using a functional connectivity density (FCD) mapping method based on functional magnetic resonance imaging data in a large sample of healthy Han Chinese subjects, we first investigated the association between DISC1 Ser704Cys and short- and long-range FCD hubs. Compared with Ser homozygotes, Cys-allele individuals had increased long-range FCD hubs in the bilateral thalami. The functional and anatomical connectivity of the thalamus to the prefrontal cortex was further analyzed. Significantly increased thalamic-prefrontal functional connectivity and decreased thalamic-prefrontal anatomical connectivity were found in DISC1 Cys-allele carriers. Our findings provide consistent evidence that the DISC1 Ser704Cys polymorphism influences the thalamic-prefrontal circuits in humans and may provide new insights into the neural mechanisms that link DISC1 and the risk for psychiatric disorders.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00429-013-0640-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4286634  PMID: 24146131
DISC1; Functional connectivity density; Anatomical connectivity; Thalamus; Thalamic-prefrontal circuit
25.  The multispecific thyroid hormone transporter OATP1C1 mediates cell-specific sulforhodamine 101-labeling of hippocampal astrocytes 
Brain Structure & Function  2013;220:193-203.
Sulforhodamine 101 (SR101) is widely used for astrocyte identification, though the labeling mechanism remains unknown and the efficacy of labeling in different brain regions is heterogeneous. By combining region-specific isolation of astrocytes followed by transcriptome analysis, two-photon excitation microscopy, and mouse genetics, we identified the thyroid hormone transporter OATP1C1 as the SR101-uptake transporter in hippocampus and cortex.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00429-013-0645-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4286632  PMID: 24129767
Astrocyte; Cell-specific markers; Transcriptome analysis

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