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1.  Loss of cerebellar neurons in the progression of lentiviral disease: effects of CNS-permeant antiretroviral therapy 
The majority of investigations on HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) neglect the cerebellum in spite of emerging evidence for its role in higher cognitive functions and dysfunctions in common neurodegenerative diseases.
We systematically investigated the molecular and cellular responses of the cerebellum as contributors to lentiviral infection-induced neurodegeneration, in the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected rhesus macaque model for HIV infection and HAND. Four cohorts of animals were studied: non-infected controls, SIV-infected asymptomatic animals, and SIV-infected AIDS-diseased animals with and without brain-permeant antiretroviral treatment. The antiretroviral utilized was 6-chloro-2′,3′-dideoxyguanosine (6-Cl-ddG), a CNS-permeable nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor. Quantitation of granule cells and Purkinje cells, of an established biomarker of SIV infection (gp41), of microglial/monocyte/macrophage markers (IBA-1, CD68, CD163), and of the astroglial marker (GFAP) were used to reveal cell-specific cerebellar responses to lentiviral infection and antiretroviral therapy (ART). The macromolecular integrity of the blood brain barrier was tested by albumin immunohistochemistry.
Productive CNS infection was observed in the symptomatic stage of disease, and correlated with extensive microglial/macrophage and astrocyte activation, and widespread macromolecular blood brain barrier defects. Signs of productive infection, and inflammation, were reversed upon treatment with 6-Cl-ddG, except for a residual low-grade activation of microglial cells and astrocytes. There was an extensive loss of granule cells in the SIV-infected asymptomatic cohort, which was further increased in the symptomatic stage of the disease and persisted after 6-Cl-ddG (administered after the onset of symptoms of AIDS). In the symptomatic stage, Purkinje cell density was reduced. Purkinje cell loss was likewise unaffected by 6-Cl-ddG treatment at this time.
Our findings suggest that neurodegenerative mechanisms are triggered by SIV infection early in the disease process, i. e., preceding large-scale cerebellar productive infection and marked neuroinflammation. These affect primarily granule cells early in disease, with later involvement of Purkinje cells, indicating differential vulnerability of the two neuronal populations. The results presented here indicate a role for the cerebellum in neuro-AIDS. They also support the conclusion that, in order to attenuate the development of motor and cognitive dysfunctions in HIV-positive individuals, CNS-permeant antiretroviral therapy combined with anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective treatment is indicated even before overt signs of CNS inflammation occur.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12974-016-0726-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5064958  PMID: 27737697
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); Neuro-AIDS; Dementia; Neurodegeneration; Antiretroviral therapy
2.  Impact of PACAP and PAC1 Receptor Deficiency on the Neurochemical and Behavioral Effects of Acute and Chronic Restraint Stress in Male C57BL/6 Mice 
Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands)  2015;18(4):408-418.
Acute restraint stress (ARS) for 3 hours causes CORT elevation in venous blood, which is accompanied by Fos up-regulation in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of male C57BL/6 mice. CORT elevation by ARS is attenuated in PACAP-deficient mice, but unaffected in PAC1-deficient mice. Correspondingly, Fos up-regulation by ARS is greatly attenuated in PACAP-deficient mice, but much less so in PAC1-deficient animals. We noted that both PACAP- and PAC1-deficiency greatly attenuate CORT elevation after ARS when CORT measurements are performed on trunk blood following euthanasia by abrupt cervical separation: this latter observation is of critical importance in assessing the role of PACAP neurotransmission in ARS, based on previous reports in which serum CORT was sampled from trunk blood. Seven days of chronic restraint stress (CRS) induces non-habituating CORT elevation, and weight loss consequent to hypophagia, in wild-type male C57BL/6 mice. Both CORT elevation and weight loss following seven day CRS are severely blunted in PACAP-deficient mice, but only slightly in PAC1 deficient mice. However, longer periods of daily restraint (14–21 days) resulted in sustained weight loss and elevated CORT in wild-type mice, and these effects of long-term chronic stress were attenuated or abolished in both PACAP- and PAC1-deficient mice. We conclude that while a PACAP receptor in addition to PAC1 may mediate some of the PACAP-dependent central effects of acute restraint stress and short-term (<7 days) chronic restraint stress on the HPA axis, the PAC1 receptor plays a prominent role in mediating PACAP-dependent HPA axis activation, and hypophagia, during long-term (>7 days) chronic restraint stress.
PMCID: PMC4834918  PMID: 25853791
acute psychogenic stress; chronic psychogenic stress; HPA axis; pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide; PAC1 receptor; restraint
3.  Chemical coding and chemosensory properties of cholinergic brush cells in the mouse gastrointestinal and biliary tract 
The mouse gastro-intestinal and biliary tract mucosal epithelia harbor choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)-positive brush cells with taste cell-like traits. With the aid of two transgenic mouse lines that express green fluorescent protein (EGFP) under the control of the ChAT promoter (EGFPChAT) and by using in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry we found that EGFPChAT cells were clustered in the epithelium lining the gastric groove. EGFPChAT cells were numerous in the gall bladder and bile duct, and found scattered as solitary cells along the small and large intestine. While all EGFPChAT cells were also ChAT-positive, expression of the high-affinity choline transporter (ChT1) was never detected. Except for the proximal colon, EGFPChAT cells also lacked detectable expression of the vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT). EGFPChAT cells were found to be separate from enteroendocrine cells, however they were all immunoreactive for cytokeratin 18 (CK18), transient receptor potential melastatin-like subtype 5 channel (TRPM5), and for cyclooxygenases 1 (COX1) and 2 (COX2). The ex vivo stimulation of colonic EGFPChAT cells with the bitter substance denatonium resulted in a strong increase in intracellular calcium, while in other epithelial cells such an increase was significantly weaker and also timely delayed. Subsequent stimulation with cycloheximide was ineffective in both cell populations. Given their chemical coding and chemosensory properties, EGFPChAT brush cells thus may have integrative functions and participate in induction of protective reflexes and inflammatory events by utilizing ACh and prostaglandins for paracrine signaling.
PMCID: PMC4371653  PMID: 25852573
brush cell; cholinergic; ChAT; VAChT; ChT1; intestine; gall bladder; bile duct
4.  Satb2-Independent Acquisition of the Cholinergic Sudomotor Phenotype in Rodents 
Expression of Satb2 (Special AT-rich sequence-binding protein-2) elicits expression of the vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) and choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) in cultured rat sympathetic neurons exposed to soluble differentiation factors. Here, we determined whether or not Satb2 plays a similar role in cholinergic differentiation in vivo, by comparing the postnatal profile of Satb2 expression in the rodent stellate ganglion to that of VAChT and ChAT. Throughout postnatal development, VAChT and ChAT were found to be co-expressed in a numerically stable subpopulation of rat stellate ganglion neurons. Nerve fibers innervating rat forepaw sweat glands on P1 were VAChT immunoreactive, while ChAT was detectable at this target only after P5. The postnatal abundance of VAChT transcripts in the stellate ganglion was at maximum already on P1, whereas ChAT mRNA levels increased from low levels on P1 to reach maximum levels between P5 and P21. Satb2 mRNA was detected in cholinergic neurons in the stellate ganglion beginning with P8, thus coincident with the onset of unequivocal detection of ChAT immunoreactivity in forepaw sweat gland endings. Satb2 knockout mice exhibited no change in the P1 cholinergic VAChT/ChAT co-phenotype in stellate ganglion neurons. Thus, cholinergic phenotype maturation involves first, early target (sweat-gland)-independent expression and trafficking of VAChT, and later, potentially target- and Satb2-dependent elevation of ChAT mRNA and protein transport into sweat gland endings. In rat sudomotor neurons that, unlike mouse sudomotor neurons, co-express calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), Satb2 may also be related to the establishment of species-specific neuropeptide co-phenotypes during postnatal development.
PMCID: PMC4340764  PMID: 25239161
Acetylcholine; Catecholamine; Cholinergic gene locus; Development; Neuropeptide; Sudomotor; Sympathetic
5.  Cholinergic epithelial cell with chemosensory traits in murine thymic medulla 
Cell and Tissue Research  2014;358(3):737-748.
Specialized epithelial cells with a tuft of apical microvilli (“brush cells”) sense luminal content and initiate protective reflexes in response to potentially harmful substances. They utilize the canonical taste transduction cascade to detect “bitter” substances such as bacterial quorum-sensing molecules. In the respiratory tract, most of these cells are cholinergic and are approached by cholinoceptive sensory nerve fibers. Utilizing two different reporter mouse strains for the expression of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), we observed intense labeling of a subset of thymic medullary cells. ChAT expression was confirmed by in situ hybridization. These cells showed expression of villin, a brush cell marker protein, and ultrastructurally exhibited lateral microvilli. They did not express neuroendocrine (chromogranin A, PGP9.5) or thymocyte (CD3) markers but rather thymic epithelial (CK8, CK18) markers and were immunoreactive for components of the taste transduction cascade such as Gα-gustducin, transient receptor potential melastatin-like subtype 5 channel (TRPM5), and phospholipase Cβ2. Reverse transcription and polymerase chain reaction confirmed the expression of Gα-gustducin, TRPM5, and phospholipase Cβ2. Thymic “cholinergic chemosensory cells” were often in direct contact with medullary epithelial cells expressing the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit α3. These cells have recently been identified as terminally differentiated epithelial cells (Hassall’s corpuscle-like structures in mice). Contacts with nerve fibers (identified by PGP9.5 and CGRP antibodies), however, were not observed. Our data identify, in the thymus, a previously unrecognized presumptive chemosensitive cell that probably utilizes acetylcholine for paracrine signaling. This cell might participate in intrathymic infection-sensing mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4233111  PMID: 25300645
Acetylcholine; Brush cell; Chemosensory; Taste transduction; Thymus; Mouse
6.  VMAT2: a dynamic regulator of brain monoaminergic neuronal function interacting with drugs of abuse 
The monoaminergic neuron, in particular the dopaminergic neuron, is central to mediating the hedonic and addictive properties of drugs of abuse. The effects of amphetamine (AMPH) and cocaine (COC), for example, depend on the ability to increase dopamine in the synapse, by effects on either the plasma membrane transporter DAT or the vesicular transporter for monoamine storage, VMAT2. The potential role of DAT as a target for AMPH and COC has been reviewed extensively. Here, we present VMAT2 as a target that enables the rewarding and addictive actions of these drugs, based on imaging, neurochemical, biochemical, cell biological, genetic, and immunohistochemical evidence. The presence of VMAT2 in noradrenergic, serotoninergic, histaminergic, and potentially trace aminergic neurons invites consideration of a wider role for aminergic neurotransmission in AMPH and COC abuse and addiction.
PMCID: PMC4183197  PMID: 21272013
VMAT2; amphetamine; cocaine; addiction; monoamines; vesicular transporter
7.  Three Types of Tyrosine Hydroxylase-Positive CNS Neurons Distinguished by Dopa Decarboxylase and VMAT2 Co-Expression 
1. We investigate here for the first time in primate brain the combinatorial expression of the three major functionally relevant proteins for catecholaminergic neurotrans-mission tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), aromatic acid acid decarboxylase (AADC), and the brain-specific isoform of the vesicular monoamine transporter, VMAT2, using highly specific antibodies and immunofluorescence with confocal microscopy to visualize combinatorial expression of these proteins.
2. In addition to classical TH, AADC, and VMAT2-copositive catecholaminergic neurons, two unique kinds of TH-positive neurons were identified based on co-expression of AADC and VMAT2.
3. TH and AADC co-positive, but VMAT2-negative neurons, are termed “nonexocytotic catecholaminergic TH neurons.” These were found in striatum, olfactory bulb, cerebral cortex, area postrema, nucleus tractus solitarius, and in the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus.
4. TH-positive neurons expressing neither AADC nor VMAT2 are termed “dopaergic TH neurons.” We identified these neurons in supraoptic, paraventricular and periventricular hypothalamic nuclei, thalamic paraventicular nucleus, habenula, parabrachial nucleus, cerebral cortex and spinal cord. We were unable to identify any dopaergic (TH-positive, AADC-negative) neurons that expressed VMAT2, suggesting that regulatory mechanisms exist for shutting off VMAT2 expression in neurons that fail to biosynthesize its substrates.
5. In several cases, the corresponding TH phenotypes were identified in the adult rat, suggesting that this rodent is an appropriate experimental model for further investigation of these TH-positive neuronal cell groups in the adult central nervous system. Thus, no examples of TH and VMAT2 co-positive neurons lacking AADC expression were found in rodent adult nervous system.
6. In conclusion, the adult mammalian nervous system contains in addition to classical catecholaminergic neurons, cells that can synthesize dopamine, but cannot transport and store it in synaptic vesicles, and neurons that can synthesize only L-dopa and lack VMAT2 expression. The presence of these additional populations of TH-positive neurons in the adult primate CNS has implications for functional catecholamine neurotransmission, its derangement in disease and drug abuse, and its rescue by gene therapeutic maneuvers in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease.
PMCID: PMC4183211  PMID: 16741673
aromatic amino acid decarboxylase/dopa decarboxylase; CNS neuronal phenotypes; dopaergic; dopaminergic; tyrosine hydroxylase; vesicular monoamine transporter
8.  PACAP signaling exerts opposing effects on neuroprotection and neuroinflammation during disease progression in the SOD1(G93A) mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis☆ 
Neurobiology of disease  2013;54:32-42.
Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) is a pleiotropic peptide with autocrine neuroprotective and paracrine anti-inflammatory properties in various models of acute neuronal damage and neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, we examined a possible beneficial role of endogenous PACAP in the superoxide dismutase 1, SOD1(G93A), mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a lethal neurodegenerative disease particularly affecting somatomotor neurons. In wild-type mice, somatomotor and visceromotor neurons in brain stem and spinal cord were found to express the PACAP specific receptor PAC1, but only visceromotor neurons expressed PACAP as a potential autocrine source of regulation of these receptors. In SOD1(G93A) mice, only a small subset of the surviving somatomotor neurons showed induction of PACAP mRNA, and somatomotor neuron degeneration was unchanged in PACAP-deficient SOD1(G93A) mice. Pre-ganglionic sympathetic visceromotor neurons were found to be resistant in SOD1(G93A) mice, while pre-ganglionic parasympathetic neurons degenerated during ALS disease progression in this mouse model. PACAP-deficient SOD1(G93A) mice showed even greater pre-ganglionic parasympathetic neuron loss compared to SOD1(G93A) mice, and additional degeneration of pre-ganglionic sympathetic neurons. Thus, constitutive expression of PACAP and PAC1 may confer neuroprotection to central visceromotor neurons in SOD1(G93A) mice via autocrine pathways. Regarding the progression of neuroinflammation, the switch from amoeboid to hypertrophic microglial phenotype observed in SOD1(G93A) mice was absent in PACAP-deficient SOD1(G93A) mice. Thus, endogenous PACAP may promote microglial cytodestructive functions thought to drive ALS disease progression. This hypothesis was consistent with prolongation of life expectancy and preserved tongue motor function in PACAP-deficient SOD1(G93A) mice, compared to SOD1(G93A) mice. Given the protective role of PACAP expression in visceromotor neurons and the opposing effect on microglial function in SOD1(G93A) mice, both PACAP agonism and antagonism may be promising therapeutic tools for ALS treatment, if stage of disease progression and targeting the specific auto- and paracrine signaling pathways are carefully considered.
PMCID: PMC3955759  PMID: 23466699
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Microglia; Neuroinflammation; Neuroprotection; Neuropeptide; Parasympathetic; Sympathetic
9.  Localization and Expression of VMAT2 Aross Mammalian Species: A Translational Guide for Its Visualization and Targeting in Health and Disease 
VMAT2 is the vesicular monoamine transporter that allows DA, NE, Epi, His, and 5-HT uptake into neurons and endocrine cells. A second isoform, VMAT1, has similar structure and function, but does not recognize histamine as a substrate. VMAT1 is absent from neurons, and its major function appears to be in endocrine cells, that is, enterochromaffin cells, which scavenge 5-HT, but not histamine, from dietary sources. This chapter provides an update on the neuroanatomical distribution of VMAT2 across various mammalian species, including human, primate, pig, rat, and mouse. When necessary, VMAT1 expression is provided as a contrast. The main purpose of this chapter is to allow clinicians, in particular endocrinologists and diagnosing neuroradiologists and neuropathologists, an acquaintanceship with the possibilities for VMAT2 as a target for in vivo imaging, and drug development, based on this updated information.
PMCID: PMC3928124  PMID: 24054151
10.  New Model for Gastroenteropancreatic Large-Cell Neuroendocrine Carcinoma: Establishment of Two Clinically Relevant Cell Lines 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88713.
Recently, a novel WHO-classification has been introduced that divided gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (GEP-NEN) according to their proliferation index into G1- or G2-neuroendocrine tumors (NET) and poorly differentiated small-cell or large-cell G3-neuroendocrine carcinomas (NEC). Our knowledge on primary NECs of the GEP-system is limited due to the rarity of these tumors and chemotherapeutic concepts of highly aggressive NEC do not provide convincing results. The aim of this study was to establish a reliable cell line model for NEC that could be helpful in identifying novel druggable molecular targets. Cell lines were established from liver (NEC-DUE1) or lymph node metastases (NEC-DUE2) from large cell NECs of the gastroesophageal junction and the large intestine, respectively. Morphological characteristics and expression of neuroendocrine markers were extensively analyzed. Chromosomal aberrations were mapped by array comparative genomic hybridization and DNA profiling was analyzed by DNA fingerprinting. In vitro and in vivo tumorigenicity was evaluated and the sensitivity against chemotherapeutic agents assessed. Both cell lines exhibited typical morphological and molecular features of large cell NEC. In vitro and in vivo experiments demonstrated that both cell lines retained their malignant properties. Whereas NEC-DUE1 and -DUE2 were resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs such as cisplatin, etoposide and oxaliplatin, a high sensitivity to 5-fluorouracil was observed for the NEC-DUE1 cell line. Taken together, we established and characterized the first GEP large-cell NEC cell lines that might serve as a helpful tool not only to understand the biology of these tumors, but also to establish novel targeted therapies in a preclinical setup.
PMCID: PMC3925161  PMID: 24551139
11.  Lentiviral Infection of Rhesus Macaques Causes Long-Term Injury to Cortical and Hippocampal Projections of Prostaglandin-Expressing Cholinergic Basal Forebrain Neurons 
The simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) macaque model resembles human HIV-AIDS and associated brain dysfunction. Altered expression of synaptic markers and transmitters in neuro-AIDS has been reported, but limited data exist for the cholinergic system and lipid mediators such as prostaglandins. Here, we analyzed cholinergic basal forebrain neurons with their telencephalic projections and the rate-limiting enzymes for prostaglandin synthesis, cyclooxygenases 1 and 2 (COX1 and 2) in brains of SIV-infected macaques with and without encephalitis and antiretroviral therapy, and uninfected controls. COX1 but not COX2 was co-expressed with markers of cholinergic phenotype, i.e. choline acetyltransferase and vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT), in basal forebrain neurons of monkey, as well as human samples. COX1 was decreased in basal forebrain neurons in macaques with AIDS vs. uninfected and asymptomatic SIV-infected macaques. VAChT-positive fiber density was reduced in frontal, parietal and hippocampal-entorhinal cortex. Although brain SIV burden and associated COX1- and COX2-positive mononuclear and endothelial inflammatory reactions were mostly reversed in AIDS-diseased macaques that received 6-chloro-2′,3′-dideoxyguanosine treatment, decreased VAChT-positive terminal density and reduced cholinergic COX1 expression were not. Thus, COX1 expression is a feature of primate cholinergic basal forebrain neurons; it may be functionally important and a critical biomarker of cholinergic dysregulation accompanying lentiviral encephalopathy. These results imply that insufficiently prompt initiation of antiretroviral therapy in lentiviral infection may lead to neurostructurally unremarkable but neurochemically prominent, irreversible brain damage.
PMCID: PMC3258462  PMID: 22157616
AIDS; Antiretroviral treatment; Cholinergic; Dementia; Encephalitis; Prostaglandins
12.  Embalmed and fresh frozen human bones in orthopedic cadaveric studies: which bone is authentic and feasible? 
Acta Orthopaedica  2012;83(5):543-547.
Background and purpose
The most frequently used bones for mechanical testing of orthopedic and trauma devices are fresh frozen cadaveric bones, embalmed cadaveric bones, and artificial composite bones. Even today, the comparability of these different bone types has not been established.
We tested fresh frozen and embalmed cadaveric femora that were similar concerning age, sex, bone mineral density, and stiffness. Artificial composite femora were used as a reference group. Testing parameters were pullout forces of cortex and cancellous screws, maximum load until failure, and type of fracture generated.
Stiffness and type of fracture generated (Pauwels III) were similar for all 3 bone types (fresh frozen: 969 N/mm, 95% confidence interval (CI): 897–1,039; embalmed: 999 N/mm, CI: 875–1,121; composite: 946 N/mm, CI: 852–1,040). Furthermore, no significant differences were found between fresh frozen and embalmed femora concerning pullout forces of cancellous screws (fresh frozen: 654 N, CI: 471–836; embalmed: 595 N, CI: 365–823) and cortex screws (fresh frozen: 1,152 N, CI: 894–1,408; embalmed: 1,461 N, CI: 880–2,042), and axial load until failure (fresh frozen: 3,427 N, CI: 2,564–4290; embalmed: 3,603 N, CI: 2,898–4,306). The reference group showed statistically significantly different results for pullout forces of cancellous screws (2,344 N, CI: 2,068–2,620) and cortex screws (5,536 N, CI: 5,203–5,867) and for the axial load until failure (> 7,952 N).
Embalmed femur bones and fresh frozen bones had similar characteristics by mechanical testing. Thus, we suggest that embalmed human cadaveric bone is a good and safe option for mechanical testing of orthopedic and trauma devices.
PMCID: PMC3488184  PMID: 22978564
13.  COX1 and COX2 Expression in Non-neuronal Cellular Compartments of the Rhesus Macaque Brain during Lentiviral Infection 
Neurobiology of disease  2011;42(1):108-115.
Recent evidence suggest that cyclooxygenases, COX1 and COX2, differentially affect brain immunity. Limited data exist about their expressional changes in neurodegenerative diseases like in neuro-AIDS. Here, we analyzed the regulation of non-neuronal COX1/2 expression in rhesus macaque brain during infection with SIVδ670 and antiretroviral treatment. COX1 was constitutively expressed in microglia and endothelial cells, and was not changed in early SIV infection. Late stage of disease was characterized by increased COX1 expression in globally activated microglia, macrophage nodules, infiltrates and multinucleated giant cells. Endothelial COX1 expression was unaltered. In contrast, COX2 was not expressed in non-neuronal cells in the brain of uninfected and asymptomatically SIV-infected monkeys, but was induced in nodule and syncitium forming macrophages and in endothelial cells in areas with infiltrates and SIV in monkeys with AIDS. Antiretroviral treatment of AIDS-diseased monkeys with 6-chloro-2',3'-dideoxyguanosine markedly reduced SIV burden, appearance of COX1-positive macrophage nodules, giant cells and infiltrates, and COX2 induction in the brain. But the number of COX1-positive diffuse microglia was still increased in antiretrovirally treated animals as compared to uninfected or asymptomatic SIV-infected monkeys. Our data implicate that both COX isoforms are differentially regulated, and may distinctly modulate local immune responses in the brain during lenitiviral disease.
PMCID: PMC3066154  PMID: 21220019
AIDS; Antiretroviral treatment; Encephalitis; Microglia; Prostaglandins
14.  STC1 induction by PACAP is mediated through cAMP and ERK1/2 but not PKA in cultured cortical neurons 
The neuroprotective actions of PACAP (pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide) in vitro and in vivo suggest that activation of its cognate G protein-coupled receptor PAC1 or downstream signaling molecules, and thus activation of PACAP target genes, could be of therapeutic benefit. Here we show, that cultured rat cortical neurons predominantly expressed the PAC1hop and null variants, activation of which resulted in elevation of the two second messengers cAMP and Ca2+ and expression of the putative neuroprotectant stanniocalcin 1 (STC1). PACAP signaling to the STC1 gene proceeded through the extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2), but not through the cAMP dependent protein kinase (PKA), and was mimicked by the adenylate cyclase activator forskolin. PACAP- and forskolin-mediated activation of ERK1/2 occurred through cAMP, but not PKA. These results suggest that STC1 gene induction proceeds through cAMP and ERK1/2, independently of PKA, the canonical cAMP effector. In contrast, PACAP signaling to the BDNF gene proceeded through PKA, suggesting that two different neuroprotective cAMP pathways co-exist in differentiated cortical neurons. The selective activation of a potentially neuroprotective cAMP dependent pathway different from the canonical cAMP pathway used in many physiological processes, such as memory storage, has implications for pharmacological activation of neuroprotection in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3256285  PMID: 21975601
PACAP; cAMP; PKA; ERK; STC1 gene induction; signaling
15.  Intravenous Inoculation of a Bat-Associated Rabies Virus Causes Lethal Encephalopathy in Mice through Invasion of the Brain via Neurosecretory Hypothalamic Fibers 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(6):e1000485.
The majority of rabies virus (RV) infections are caused by bites or scratches from rabid carnivores or bats. Usually, RV utilizes the retrograde transport within the neuronal network to spread from the infection site to the central nervous system (CNS) where it replicates in neuronal somata and infects other neurons via trans-synaptic spread. We speculate that in addition to the neuronal transport of the virus, hematogenous spread from the site of infection directly to the brain after accidental spill over into the vascular system might represent an alternative way for RV to invade the CNS. So far, it is unknown whether hematogenous spread has any relevance in RV pathogenesis. To determine whether certain RV variants might have the capacity to invade the CNS from the periphery via hematogenous spread, we infected mice either intramuscularly (i.m.) or intravenously (i.v.) with the dog-associated RV DOG4 or the silver-haired bat-associated RV SB. In addition to monitoring the progression of clinical signs of rabies we used immunohistochemistry and quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) to follow the spread of the virus from the infection site to the brain. In contrast to i.m. infection where both variants caused a lethal encephalopathy, only i.v. infection with SB resulted in the development of a lethal infection. While qRT-PCR did not reveal major differences in virus loads in spinal cord or brain at different times after i.m. or i.v. infection of SB, immunohistochemical analysis showed that only i.v. administered SB directly infected the forebrain. The earliest affected regions were those hypothalamic nuclei, which are connected by neurosecretory fibers to the circumventricular organs neurohypophysis and median eminence. Our data suggest that hematogenous spread of SB can lead to a fatal encephalopathy through direct retrograde invasion of the CNS at the neurovascular interface of the hypothalamus-hypophysis system. This alternative mode of virus spread has implications for the post exposure prophylaxis of rabies, particularly with silver-haired bat-associated RV.
Author Summary
Rabies virus (RV) infects mammalian neurons and cycles in regionally distinct animal populations such as the red fox in Europe, domestic canines in Asia, or raccoons, skunks and bats in Northern America. Although human rabies can be prevented by pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis, more than 50,000 people die annually from the severe encephalopathy caused by RV. Recently, two cases of RV transmission by organ transplantation were reported. In our study, using intravenous inoculation of mice, we evaluated the pathogenetic relevance of virions that reach the bloodstream. Mice inoculated intravenously with a canine-derived RV survived the infection in contrast to intramuscularly injected mice, while mice infected with a silver-haired bat-related RV succumbed to the disease regardless of the route of inoculation. We found that the silver-haired bat-related RV was able to transit from the blood to the brain by invading neurosecretory fibers of the hypothalamus, which form neurohemal synapses lacking a blood-brain-barrier. This newly described route of brain invasion might reflect how RV reached the central nervous system from transplanted organs, since it takes longer to establish the neural connections between host and grafted tissue necessary for classical RV migration than the time until the infection became symptomatic in the two reported cases.
PMCID: PMC2691950  PMID: 19543379
16.  C1q, the recognition subcomponent of the classical pathway of complement, drives microglial activation 
Journal of neuroscience research  2009;87(3):644-652.
Microglia, central nervous system (CNS) resident phagocytic cells, persistently police the integrity of CNS tissue and respond to any kind of damage and pathophysiological changes. These cells sense and rapidly respond to danger and inflammatory signals by changing their cell morphology, by release of cytokines, chemokines or nitric oxide, and by changing their MHC expression profile. We have shown previously, that microglial biosynthesis of the complement subcomponent C1q may serve as a reliable marker of microglial activation ranging from undetectable levels of C1q biosynthesis in resting microglia to abundant C1q expression in activated, non-ramified microglia. In this study, we demonstrate that cultured microglial cells respond to extrinsic C1q with a marked intracellular Ca2+ increase. A shift towards proinflammatory microglial activation is indicated by the release of IL6, TNF-α, and nitric oxide and the oxidative burst in rat primary microglial cells, an activation and differentiation process similar to pro-inflammatory response of microglia to exposure to LPS. Our findings indicate (i) that extrinsic plasma C1q is involved in the initiation of microglial activation in the course of CNS diseases with blood brain barrier impairment and (ii) C1q synthesized and released by activated microglia is likely to contribute in an autocrine/paracrine way to maintain and balance microglial activation in the diseased CNS tissue.
PMCID: PMC2635544  PMID: 18831010
microglia; MBL; C1q; Calcium increase; TNF-alpha; IL6; proliferation
17.  Co-expression of Cholinergic and Noradrenergic Phenotypes in Human and Non-Human Autonomic Nervous System 
It has long been known that the sympathetic innervation of the sweat glands is cholinergic in most mammalian species, and that during development, rodent sympathetic cholinergic sweat gland innervation transiently expresses noradrenergic traits. We show here that some noradrenergic traits persist in cholinergic sympathetic innervation of the sweat glands in rodents, but that lack of expression of the vesicular monoamine transporter renders these cells functionally non-noradrenergic. Adult human sweat gland innervation, however, is not only cholinergic, but co-expresses all of the proteins required for full noradrenergic function as well, including tyrosine hydroxylase, aromatic amino acid decarboxylase, dopamine ß-hydroxylase, and the vesicular monoamine transporter VMAT2. Thus, cholinergic/noradrenergic co-transmission is apparently a unique feature of the primate autonomic sympathetic nervous system. Furthermore, sympathetic neurons innervating specifically the cutaneous arteriovenous anastomoses (Hoyer Grosser organs) in humans also possess a full cholinergic/noradrenergic co-phenotype. Cholinergic/noradrenergic co-expression is absent from other portions of the human sympathetic nervous system, but is extended in the parasympathetic nervous system to the intrinsic neurons innervating the heart. These observations suggest a mode of autonomic regulation, based on co-release of norepinephrine and acetylcholine at parasympathocardiac, sudomotor, and selected vasomotor neuroeffector junctions, that is unique to the primate peripheral nervous system.
PMCID: PMC2593918  PMID: 16217790
co-transmission; vesicular neurotransmitter transporter; sympathetic; parasympathetic; skin nerves; cardiac innervation
18.  Overexpression of Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha by a Recombinant Rabies Virus Attenuates Replication in Neurons and Prevents Lethal Infection in Mice 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(24):15405-15416.
The effect of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) on rabies virus (RV) infection of the mouse central nervous system (CNS) was studied, using recombinant RV engineered to express either soluble TNF-α [SPBN-TNF-α(+)] or insoluble membrane-bound TNF-α [SPBN-TNF-α(MEM)]. Growth curves derived from infections of mouse neuroblastoma NA cells revealed significantly less spread and production of SPBN-TNF-α(+) than of SPBN-TNF-α(MEM) or SPBN-TNF-α(−), which carries an inactivated TNF-α gene. The expression of soluble or membrane-bound TNF-α was not associated with increased cell death or induction of alpha/beta interferons. Brains of mice infected intranasally with SPBN-TNF-α(+) showed significantly less virus spread than did mouse brains after SPBN-TNF-α(−) infection, and none of the SPBN-TNF-α(+)-infected mice succumbed to RV infection, whereas 80% of SPBN-TNF-α(−)-infected mice died. Reduced virus spread in SPBN-TNF-α(+)-infected mouse brains was paralleled by enhanced CNS inflammation, including T-cell infiltration and microglial activation. These data suggest that TNF-α exerts its protective activity in the brain directly through an as yet unknown antiviral mechanism and indirectly through the induction of inflammatory processes in the CNS.
PMCID: PMC1316002  PMID: 16306612
19.  A Single Amino Acid Change in Rabies Virus Glycoprotein Increases Virus Spread and Enhances Virus Pathogenicity 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(22):14141-14148.
Several rabies virus (RV) vaccine strains containing an aspartic acid (Asp) or glutamic acid (Glu) instead of an arginine (Arg) at position 333 of the RV glycoprotein (G) are apathogenic for immunocompetent mice even after intracranial inoculation. However, we previously showed that the nonpathogenic phenotype of the highly attenuated RV strain SPBNGA, which contains a Glu at position 333 of G, is unstable when this virus is passaged in newborn mice. While the Glu333 remained unchanged after five mouse passages, an Asn194→Lys194 mutation occurred in RV G. This mutation was associated with increased pathogenicity for adult mice. Using site-directed mutagenesis to exchange Asn194 with Lys194 in the G protein of SPBNGA, resulting in SPBNGA-K, we show here that this mutation is solely responsible for the increase in pathogenicity and that the Asn194→Lys194 mutation does not arise when Asn194 is exchanged with Ser194 (SPBNGA-S). Our data presented indicate that the increased pathogenicity of SPBNGA-K is due to increased viral spread in vivo and in vitro, faster internalization of the pathogenic virus into cells, and a shift in the pH threshold for membrane fusion. These results are consistent with the notion that the RV G protein is a major contributor to RV pathogenesis and that the more pathogenic RVs escape the host responses by a faster spread than that of less pathogenic RVs.
PMCID: PMC1280225  PMID: 16254349
20.  Overexpression of Cytochrome c by a Recombinant Rabies Virus Attenuates Pathogenicity and Enhances Antiviral Immunity 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(22):10800-10807.
The pathogenicity of individual rabies virus strains appears to correlate inversely with the extent of apoptotic cell death they induce and with the expression of rabies virus glycoprotein, a major inducer of an antiviral immune response. To determine whether the induction of apoptosis by rabies virus contributes to a decreased pathogenicity by stimulating antiviral immunity, we have analyzed these parameters in tissue cultures and in mice infected with a recombinant rabies virus construct that expresses the proapoptotic protein cytochrome c. The extent of apoptosis was strongly increased in primary neuron cultures infected with the recombinant virus carrying the active cytochrome c gene [SPBN-Cyto c(+)], compared with cells infected with the recombinant virus containing the inactive cytochrome c gene [SPBN-Cyto c(−)]. Mortality in mice infected intranasally with SPBN-Cyto c(+) was substantially lower than in SPBN-Cyto c(−)-infected mice. Furthermore, virus-neutralizing antibody (VNA) titers were significantly higher in mice immunized with SPBN-Cyto c(+) at the same dose. The VNA titers induced by these recombinant viruses paralleled their protective activities against a lethal rabies virus challenge infection, with SPBN-Cyto c(+) revealing an effective dose 20 times lower than that of SPBN-Cyto c(−). The strong increase in immunogenicity, coupled with the marked reduction in pathogenicity, identifies the SPBN-Cyto c(+) construct as a candidate for a live rabies virus vaccine.
PMCID: PMC114661  PMID: 11602721
21.  Collaboration of Antibody and Inflammation in Clearance of Rabies Virus from the Central Nervous System 
Journal of Virology  1998;72(5):3711-3719.
To investigate the involvement of various cellular and humoral aspects of immunity in the clearance of rabies virus from the central nervous system, (CNS), we studied the development of clinical signs and virus clearance from the CNS in knockout mice lacking either B and T cells, CD8+ cytotoxic T cells, B cells, alpha/beta interferon (IFN-α/β) receptors, IFN-γ receptors, or complement components C3 and C4. Following intranasal infection with the attenuated rabies virus CVS-F3, normal adult mice of different genetic backgrounds developed a transient disease characterized by loss of body weight and appetite depression which peaked at 13 days postinfection (p.i.). While these animals had completely recovered by day 21 p.i., mice lacking either B and T cells or B cells alone developed a progressive disease and succumbed to infection. Mice lacking either CD8+ T cells, IFN receptors, or complement components C3 and C4 showed no significant differences in the development of clinical signs by comparison with intact counterparts having the same genetic background. However, while infectious virus and viral RNA could be detected in normal control mice only until day 8 p.i., in all of the gene knockout mice studied except those lacking C3 and C4, virus infection persisted through day 21 p.i. Analysis of rabies virus-specific antibody production together with histological assessment of brain inflammation in infected animals revealed that clearance of CVS-F3 by 21 days p.i. correlated with both a strong inflammatory response in the CNS early in the infection (day 8 p.i.), and the rapid (day 10 p.i.) production of significant levels of virus-neutralizing antibody (VNA). These studies confirm that rabies VNA is an absolute requirement for clearance of an established rabies virus infection. However, for the latter to occur in a timely fashion, collaboration between VNA and inflammatory mechanisms is necessary.
PMCID: PMC109593  PMID: 9557653

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