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1.  Characterization of Neurophysiological and Behavioral Changes, MRI Brain Volumetry and 1H MRS in zQ175 Knock-In Mouse Model of Huntington's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50717.
Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by severe behavioral, cognitive, and motor deficits. Since the discovery of the huntingtin gene (HTT) mutation that causes the disease, several mouse lines have been developed using different gene constructs of Htt. Recently, a new model, the zQ175 knock-in (KI) mouse, was developed (see description by Menalled et al, [1]) in an attempt to have the Htt gene in a context and causing a phenotype that more closely mimics HD in humans. Here we confirm the behavioral phenotypes reported by Menalled et al [1], and extend the characterization to include brain volumetry, striatal metabolite concentration, and early neurophysiological changes. The overall reproducibility of the behavioral phenotype across the two independent laboratories demonstrates the utility of this new model. Further, important features reminiscent of human HD pathology are observed in zQ175 mice: compared to wild-type neurons, electrophysiological recordings from acute brain slices reveal that medium spiny neurons from zQ175 mice display a progressive hyperexcitability; glutamatergic transmission in the striatum is severely attenuated; decreased striatal and cortical volumes from 3 and 4 months of age in homo- and heterozygous mice, respectively, with whole brain volumes only decreased in homozygotes. MR spectroscopy reveals decreased concentrations of N-acetylaspartate and increased concentrations of glutamine, taurine and creatine + phosphocreatine in the striatum of 12-month old homozygotes, the latter also measured in 12-month-old heterozygotes. Motor, behavioral, and cognitive deficits in homozygotes occur concurrently with the structural and metabolic changes observed. In sum, the zQ175 KI model has robust behavioral, electrophysiological, and histopathological features that may be valuable in both furthering our understanding of HD-like pathophyisology and the evaluation of potential therapeutic strategies to slow the progression of disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050717
PMCID: PMC3527436  PMID: 23284644
2.  Accelerating drug discovery for Alzheimer's disease: best practices for preclinical animal studies 
Animal models have contributed significantly to our understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease (AD). As a result, over 300 interventions have been investigated and reported to mitigate pathological phenotypes or improve behavior in AD animal models or both. To date, however, very few of these findings have resulted in target validation in humans or successful translation to disease-modifying therapies. Challenges in translating preclinical studies to clinical trials include the inability of animal models to recapitulate the human disease, variations in breeding and colony maintenance, lack of standards in design, conduct and analysis of animal trials, and publication bias due to under-reporting of negative results in the scientific literature. The quality of animal model research on novel therapeutics can be improved by bringing the rigor of human clinical trials to animal studies. Research communities in several disease areas have developed recommendations for the conduct and reporting of preclinical studies in order to increase their validity, reproducibility, and predictive value. To address these issues in the AD community, the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation partnered with Charles River Discovery Services (Morrisville, NC, USA) and Cerebricon Ltd. (Kuopio, Finland) to convene an expert advisory panel of academic, industry, and government scientists to make recommendations on best practices for animal studies testing investigational AD therapies. The panel produced recommendations regarding the measurement, analysis, and reporting of relevant AD targets, th choice of animal model, quality control measures for breeding and colony maintenance, and preclinical animal study design. Major considerations to incorporate into preclinical study design include a priori hypotheses, pharmacokinetics-pharmacodynamics studies prior to proof-of-concept testing, biomarker measurements, sample size determination, and power analysis. The panel also recommended distinguishing between pilot 'exploratory' animal studies and more extensive 'therapeutic' studies to guide interpretation. Finally, the panel proposed infrastructure and resource development, such as the establishment of a public data repository in which both positive animal studies and negative ones could be reported. By promoting best practices, these recommendations can improve the methodological quality and predictive value of AD animal studies and make the translation to human clinical trials more efficient and reliable.
doi:10.1186/alzrt90
PMCID: PMC3218805  PMID: 21943025
3.  Cerebral blood volume alterations in the perilesional areas in the rat brain after traumatic brain injury—comparison with behavioral outcome 
In the traumatic brain injury (TBI) the initial impact causes both primary injury, and launches secondary injury cascades. One consequence, and a factor that may contribute to these secondary changes and functional outcome, is altered hemodynamics. The relative cerebral blood volume (CBV) changes in rat brain after severe controlled cortical impact injury were characterized to assess their interrelations with motor function impairment. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed 1, 2, 4 h, and 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, and 14 days after TBI to quantify CBV and water diffusion. Neuroscore test was conducted before, and 2, 7, and 14 days after the TBI. We found distinct temporal profile of CBV in the perilesional area, hippocampus, and in the primary lesion. In all regions, the first response was drop of CBV. Perifocal CBV was reduced for over 4 days thereafter gradually recovering. After the initial drop, the hippocampal CBV was increased for 2 weeks. Neuroscore demonstrated severely impaired motor functions 2 days after injury (33% decrease), which then slowly recovered in 2 weeks. This recovery parallelled the recovery of perifocal CBV. CBV MRI can detect cerebrovascular pathophysiology after TBI in the vulnerable perilesional area, which seems to potentially associate with time course of sensory-motor deficit.
doi:10.1038/jcbfm.2010.15
PMCID: PMC2949222  PMID: 20145657
cerebral blood volume; iron oxide MRI contrast agent; traumatic brain injury

Results 1-3 (3)