A study was conducted of the relationships among neuroprotective factors and cytokines in brain tissue of mice at different ages that were examined on the effect of dietary restriction on protection after experimentally induced brain stroke. It was of interest to assess whether the cross-product of the slopes of pairs of variables vs. age was positive or negative. To accomplish this, the product of the slopes was estimated and tested to determine if it is significantly different from zero. Since the measurements are taken on the same animals, the models used must account for the non-independence of the measurements within animals. A number of approaches are illustrated. First a multivariate multiple regression model is employed. Since we are interested in a nonlinear function of the parameters (the product) the delta method is used to obtain the standard error of the estimate of the product. Second, a linear mixed-effects model is fit that allows for the specification of an appropriate correlation structure among repeated measurements. The delta method is again used to obtain the standard error. Finally, a non-linear mixed-effects approach is taken to fit the linear-mixed-effects model and conduct the test. A simulation study investigates the properties of the procedure.
Multivariate multiple regression; linear mixed-effects model; non-linear mixed effects model; repeated measures; delta method
The formation, maintenance, and reorganization of synapses are critical for brain development and the responses of neuronal circuits to environmental challenges. Here we describe a novel role for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma co-activator (PGC-1α), a master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis, in the formation and maintenance of dendritic spines in hippocampal neurons. In cultured hippocampal neurons, PGC-1α overexpression increases dendritic spines and enhances the molecular differentiation of synapses, whereas knockdown of PGC-1α inhibits spinogenesis and synaptogenesis.. PGC-1α knockdown also reduces the density of dendritic spines in hippocampal dentate granule neurons in vivo. We further show that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) stimulates PGC-1α-dependent mitochondrial biogenesis by activating ERKs and CREB. PGC-1α knockdown inhibits BDNF to promote dendritic spine formation without affecting expression and activation of the BDNF receptor TrkB. Our findings suggest that PGC-1α and mitochondrial biogenesis play important roles in the formation and maintenance of hippocampal dendritic spines and synapses.
mitochondria; biogenesis; BDNF; PGC-1α; dendritic spines; hippocampus; synaptogenesis; CREB; TFAM
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) involves progressive accumulation of amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) and neurofibrillary pathologies, and glucose hypometabolism in brain regions critical for memory. The 3xTgAD mouse model was used to test the hypothesis that a ketone ester–based diet can ameliorate AD pathogenesis. Beginning at a presymptomatic age, 2 groups of male 3xTgAD mice were fed a diet containing a physiological enantiomeric precursor of ketone bodies (KET) or an isocaloric carbohydrate diet. The results of behavioral tests performed at 4 and 7 months after diet initiation revealed that KET-fed mice exhibited significantly less anxiety in 2 different tests. 3xTgAD mice on the KET diet also exhibited significant, albeit relatively subtle, improvements in performance on learning and memory tests. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed that KET-fed mice exhibited decreased Aβ deposition in the subiculum, CA1 and CA3 regions of the hippocampus, and the amygdala. KET-fed mice exhibited reduced levels of hyperphosphorylated tau deposition in the same regions of the hippocampus, amygdala, and cortex. Thus, a novel ketone ester can ameliorate proteopathic and behavioral deficits in a mouse AD model.
Cognitive deficits; Hippocampus; Amygdala; 3xTgAD; Frontotemporal lobe dementia; Energy Metabolism; Anxiety
Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients often exhibit impaired regulation of heart rate by the autonomic nervous system (ANS) that may precede motor symptoms in many cases. Results of autopsy studies suggest that brainstem pathology, including the accumulation of α-synuclein, precedes damage to dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra in PD. However, the molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for the early dysfunction of brainstem autonomic neurons are unknown. Here we report that mice expressing a mutant form of α-synuclein that causes familial PD exhibit aberrant autonomic control of the heart characterized by elevated resting heart rate and an impaired cardiovascular stress response, associated with reduced parasympathetic activity and accumulation of α-synuclein in the brainstem. These ANS abnormalities occur early in the disease process. Adverse effects of α-synuclein on the control of heart rate are exacerbated by a high energy diet and ameliorated by intermittent energy restriction. Our findings establish a mouse model of early dysregulation of brainstem control of the cardiovascular system in PD, and further suggest the potential for energy restriction to attenuate ANS dysfunction, particularly in overweight individuals.
α-synuclein; acetylcholine; ANS; BDNF; brainstem; parasympathetic; Parkinson’s disease
Although high amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS) can damage cells, ROS can also play roles as second messengers, regulating diverse cellular processes. Here we report that embryonic mouse cerebral cortical neural progenitor cells (NPCs) exhibit intermittent spontaneous bursts of mitochondrial superoxide (SO) generation (mitochondrial SO flashes) that require transient opening of membrane permeability transition pores (mPTP). This quantal SO production negatively regulates NPC self-renewal. Mitochondrial SO scavengers and mPTP inhibitors reduce SO flash frequency and enhance NPC proliferation, whereas prolonged mPTP opening and SO generation increase SO flash incidence and decrease NPC proliferation. The inhibition of NPC proliferation by mitochondrial SO involves suppression of extracellular signal-regulated kinases. Moreover, mice lacking SOD2 (SOD2−/− mice) exhibit significantly fewer proliferative NPCs and differentiated neurons in the embryonic cerebral cortex at mid-gestation compared with wild type littermates. Cultured SOD2−/− NPCs exhibit a significant increase in SO flash frequency and reduced NPC proliferation. Taken together, our findings suggest that mitochondrial SO flashes negatively regulate NPC self-renewal in the developing cerebral cortex.
cpYFP; manganese SOD; extracellular signal-regulated kinases; mitochondrial permeability transition pore; neural progenitor cells; self renewal, proliferation, neurospheres
Glucocorticoids (GC)--corticosterone (CORT) in rodents and cortisol in primates--are stress-induced hormones secreted by adrenal glands that interact with the hypothalamic pituitary axis. High levels of cortisol in humans are observed in neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD), as well as in diabetes, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and major depression. Experimental models of diabetes in rats and mice have demonstrated that reduction of CORT reduces learning and memory deficits and attenuates loss of neuronal viability and plasticity. In contrast to the negative associations of elevated GC levels, CORT is moderately elevated in dietary restriction (DR) paradigms which are associated with many healthy anti-aging effects including neuroprotection. We demonstrate here in rats that ablating CORT by adrenalectomy (ADX) with replenishment to relatively low levels (30% below that of controls) prior to the onset of a DR regimen (ADX-DR) followed by central administration of the neurotoxin, kainic acid (KA), significantly attenuates learning deficits in a 14-unit T-maze task. The performance of the ADX-DR KA group did not differ from a control group (CON) that did not receive KA and was fed ad libitum (AL). By contrast, the sham-operated DR (SHAM-DR KA) group, SHAM-AL KA group, and ADX-AL KA group demonstrated poorer learning behavior in this task compared to the CON group. Stereological analysis revealed equivalent DR-induced neuroprotection in the SH-DR KA and ADX-DR KA groups, as measured by cell loss in the CA2/CA3 region of the hippocampus, while substantial cell loss was observed in SH-AL and ADX-AL rats. A separate set of experiments was conducted with similar dietary and surgical treatment conditions but without KA administration to examine markers of neurotrophic activity, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), transcriptions factors (pCREB), and chaperone proteins (HSP-70). Under these conditions, we noted elevations in both BDNF and pCREB in ADX DR rats compared to the other groups; whereas, HSP-70, was equivalently elevated in ADX-DR and SH-DR groups and was higher than observed in both SH-AL and ADX-AL groups. These results support findings that DR protects hippocampal neurons against KA-induced cellular insult. However, this neuroprotective effect was further enhanced in rats with a lower-than control level of CORT resulting from ADX and maintained by exogenous CORT supplementation. Our results then suggest that DR-induced physiological elevation of GC may have negative functional consequences to DR-induced beneficial effects. These negative effects, however, can be compensated by other DR-produced cellular and molecular protective mechanisms.
Overweight sedentary individuals are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some neurological disorders. Beneficial effects of dietary energy restriction (DER) and exercise on brain structural plasticity and behaviors have been demonstrated in animal models of aging and acute (stroke and trauma) and chronic (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases) neurological disorders. The findings described below, and evolutionary considerations, suggest brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays a critical role in the integration and optimization of behavioral and metabolic responses to environments with limited energy resources and intense competition. In particular, BDNF signaling mediates adaptive responses of the central, autonomic, and peripheral nervous systems from exercise and DER. In the hypothalamus, BDNF inhibits food intake and increases energy expenditure. By promoting synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis in the hippocampus, BDNF mediates exercise- and DER-induced improvements in cognitive function and neuroprotection. DER improves cardiovascular stress adaptation by a mechanism involving enhancement of brainstem cholinergic activity. Collectively, findings reviewed in this article provide a rationale for targeting BDNF signaling for novel therapeutic interventions in a range of metabolic and neurological disorders.
autonomic nervous system; brain-derived neurotrophic factor; cognition; diabetes; exercise; neurogenesis; synaptic plasticity
Huntington’s disease (HD) is associated with profound autonomic dysfunction including dysregulation of cardiovascular control often preceding cognitive or motor symptoms. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels are decreased in HD brain, and restoring BDNF levels prevents neuronal loss and extends lifespan. We reasoned that heart rate changes in HD may be associated with altered BDNF signalling in cardiovascular control nuclei in the brainstem. Here we show that heart rate is elevated in HD (N171-82Q) mice at presymptomatic and early disease stages, and heart rate responses to restraint stress are attenuated. BDNF and TrkB mRNA and protein levels were significantly decreased in brainstem cardiovascular nuclei in HD mice. Central administration of BDNF restored the heart rate to control levels. Our findings establish a link between diminished BDNF expression in brainstem cardiovascular nuclei and abnormal heart rates in HD mice, and suggest a novel therapeutic target for correcting cardiovascular dysfunction in HD.
Huntington’s disease; brainstem; BDNF
Adiponectin exerts multiple regulatory functions in the body and in the hypothalamus primarily through activation of its two receptors, adiponectin receptor1 and adiponectin receptor 2. Recent studies have shown that adiponectin receptors are widely expressed in other areas of the brain including the hippocampus. However, the functions of adiponectin in brain regions other than the hypothalamus are not clear. Here, we report that adiponectin can protect cultured hippocampal neurons against kainic acid-induced (KA) cytotoxicity. Adiponectin reduced the level of reactive oxygen species, attenuated apoptotic cell death, and also suppressed activation of caspase-3 induced by KA. Pretreatment of hippocampal primary neurons with an AMPK inhibitor, compound C, abolished adiponectin-induced neuronal protection. The AMPK activator, 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-beta-D-ribofuranoside, attenuated KA-induced caspase-3 activity. These findings suggest that the AMPK pathway is critically involved in adiponectin-induced neuroprotection and may mediate the antioxidative and anti-apoptotic properties of adiponectin.
Adiponectin; Neuroprotection; Hippocampus; Kainic acid; AMPK
Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is an incretin hormone released from the gut in response to food intake. Whereas GLP-1 acts in the periphery to inhibit glucagon secretion and stimulate insulin release, it also acts in the central nervous system to mediate autonomic control of feeding, body temperature, and cardiovascular function. Because of its role as an incretin hormone, GLP-1 receptor analogs are used as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. Central or peripheral administration of GLP-1 increases blood pressure and heart rate, possibly by activating brainstem autonomic nuclei and increasing vagus nerve activity. However, the mechanism(s) by which GLP-1 receptor stimulation affects cardiovascular function are unknown. We used the long-lasting GLP-1 receptor agonist Exendin-4 (Ex-4) to test the hypothesis that GLP-1 signalling modulates central parasympathetic control of heart rate.
Methods and results
Using a telemetry system, we assessed heart rate in mice during central Ex-4 administration. Heart rate was increased by both acute and chronic central Ex-4 administration. Spectral analysis indicated that the high frequency and low frequency powers of heart rate variability were diminished by Ex-4 treatment. Finally, Ex-4 decreased both excitatory glutamatergic and inhibitory glycinergic neurotransmission to preganglionic parasympathetic cardiac vagal neurons.
These data suggest that central GLP-1 receptor stimulation diminishes parasympathetic modulation of the heart thereby increasing heart rate.
Nucleus ambiguus; Parasympathetic; Glucagon-like peptide 1; Medulla; Vagus
Based on animal experiments and limited data from few human trials, alternate day fasting (ADF) resulted in weight loss; prolonged life; reduced metabolic risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases; and reduced prevalence of age-related diseases. The present study is the first comprehensive examination of the long-term effects of ADF on general cardiovascular fitness in rats.
Methods and Results
Four months old male Sprague-Dawley rats were started on ADF or continued on ad libitum diets and followed for 6 months with serial echocardiography. A comprehensive hemodynamic evaluation including a combined dobutamine - volume stress test was performed at the end of the study, and hearts were harvested for histological assessment. The six-month long ADF diet resulted in a 9% reduction (p<0.01) of cardiomyocyte diameter and 3 fold increase in interstitial myocardial fibrosis. Left ventricular chamber size was not affected by ADF and ejection fraction was not reduced, but left atrial diameter was increased 16%, and the E/A in Doppler-measured mitral flow was reduced (p<0.01). Pressure-volume loop analyses revealed a “stiff” heart during diastole in ADF rats, while combined dobutamine and volume loading showed a significant reduction in LV diastolic compliance and a lack of increase in systolic pump function, indicating a diminished cardiac reserve.
Chronic ADF in rats results in development of diastolic dysfunction with diminished cardiac reserve. ADF is a novel and unique experimental model of diet-induced diastolic dysfunction. The deleterious effect of ADF in rats suggests that additional studies of ADF effects on cardiovascular functions in humans are warranted.
diastolic dysfunction; heart failure; animal model; nutrition
The subependymal zone (SEZ) of the lateral ventricles is one of the areas of the adult brain where new neurons are continuously generated from neural stem cells (NSCs), via rapidly dividing precursors. This neurogenic niche is a complex cellular and extracellular microenvironment, highly vascularized compared to non-neurogenic periventricular areas, within which NSCs and precursors exhibit distinct behavior. Here, we investigate the possible mechanisms by which extracellular matrix molecules and their receptors might regulate this differential behavior. We show that NSCs and precursors proceed through mitosis in the same domains within the SEZ of adult male mice—albeit with NSCs nearer ependymal cells—and that distance from the ventricle is a stronger limiting factor for neurogenic activity than distance from blood vessels. Furthermore, we show that NSCs and precursors are embedded in a laminin-rich extracellular matrix, to which they can both contribute. Importantly, they express differential levels of extracellular matrix receptors, with NSCs expressing low levels of α6β1 integrin, syndecan-1, and lutheran, and in vivo blocking of β1 integrin selectively induced the proliferation and ectopic migration of precursors. Finally, when NSCs are activated to reconstitute the niche after depletion of precursors, expression of laminin receptors is upregulated. These results indicate that the distinct behavior of adult NSCs and precursors is not necessarily regulated via exposure to differential extracellular signals, but rather via intrinsic regulation of their interaction with their microenvironment.
Age and excessive energy intake/obesity are risk factors for cerebrovascular disease, but it is not known if and how these factors affect the extent of brain damage and outcome in ischemic stroke. We therefore determined the interactions of age and energy intake on the outcome of ischemic brain injury, and elucidated the underlying mechanisms.
We utilized a novel microchip-based immunoaffinity capillary electrophoresis technology to measure a panel of neurotrophic factors, cytokines and cellular stress resistance proteins in brain tissue samples from young, middle age and old mice that had been maintained on control or energy restricted diets prior to middle cerebral artery occlusion and reperfusion (I/R).
Mortality from focal ischemic stroke was increased with advancing age and reduced by an intermittent fasting (IF) diet. Brain damage and functional impairment were reduced by IF in young and middle age mice, but not in old mice. The basal and post-stroke levels of neurotrophic factors (BDNF and bFGF), protein chaperones (HSP70 and GRP78) and the antioxidant enzyme HO-1 were decreased, while levels of inflammatory cytokines were increased in the cerebral cortex and striatum of old mice compared to younger mice. IF coordinately increased levels of protective proteins and decreases inflammatory cytokines in young, but not in old mice.
Reduction in dietary energy intake differentially modulates neurotrophic and inflammatory pathways to protect neurons against ischemic injury, and these beneficial effects of IF are compromised during aging resulting in increased brain damage and poorer functional outcome.
It has been reported that dietary energy restriction, including intermittent fasting (IF), can protect heart and brain cells against injury and improve functional outcome in animal models of myocardial infarction and stroke. Here we report that IF improves glycemic control and protects the myocardium against ischemia-induced cell damage and inflammation in rats. Echocardiographic analysis of heart structural and functional variables revealed that IF attenuates the growth-related increase in posterior ventricular wall thickness, , end systolic and diastolic volumes, and reduces the ejection fraction. The size of the ischemic infarct 24 hours following permanent ligation of a coronary artery was significantly smaller, and markers of inflammation (infiltration of leukocytes in the area at risk and plasma IL-6 levels) were less, in IF rats compared to rats on the control diet. IF resulted in increased levels of circulating adiponectin prior to and after myocardial infarction. Because recent studies have shown that adiponectin can protect the heart against ischemic injury, our findings suggest a potential role for adiponectin as a mediator of the cardioprotective effect of IF.
apoptosis; dietary energy restriction; echocardiography; inflammation; myocardial infarction
Overweight sedentary individuals are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some neurological disorders. Beneficial effects of dietary energy restriction (DER) and exercise on brain structural plasticity and behaviors have been demonstrated in animal models of aging and acute (stroke and trauma) and chronic (Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases) neurological disorders. The findings described later, and evolutionary considerations, suggest brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays a critical role in the integration and optimization of behavioral and metabolic responses to environments with limited energy resources and intense competition. In particular, BDNF signaling mediates adaptive responses of the central, autonomic, and peripheral nervous systems from exercise and DER. In the hypothalamus, BDNF inhibits food intake and increases energy expenditure. By promoting synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis in the hippocampus, BDNF mediates exercise- and DER-induced improvements in cognitive function and neuroprotection. DER improves cardiovascular stress adaptation by a mechanism involving enhancement of brainstem cholinergic activity. Collectively, findings reviewed in this paper provide a rationale for targeting BDNF signaling for novel therapeutic interventions in a range of metabolic and neurological disorders.
autonomic nervous system; brain-derived neurotrophic factor; cognition; diabetes; exercise; neurogenesis; synaptic plasticity