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1.  The Immunological Challenges of Cell Transplantation for the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease 
Brain Research Bulletin  2012;88(4):320-331.
Dopaminergic cell transplantation is an experimental therapy for Parkinson’s disease (PD). It has many potential theoretical advantages over current treatment strategies such as providing continuous local dopaminergic replenishment, eliminating motor fluctuations and medication-induced dyskinesias, slowing down disease progression or even reversing disease pathology in the host. Recent studies also show that dopaminergic cell transplants provide long-term neuromodulation in the basal ganglia that simulates the combined effects of oral dopaminergic therapy and surgical therapies like deep brain stimulation, the contemporary therapeutic approach to advanced PD. However, dopaminergic cell transplantation in PD as not been optimized and current experimental techniques have many drawbacks. In published experiments to date of attempted dopaminergic grafting in PD, the major challenges are unacceptable graft-induced dyskinesias or failure of such grafts to exceed the benefits afforded by sham surgery. A deleterious host immune response to the transplant has been implicated as a major putative cause for these adverse outcomes. This article focuses on recent advances in understanding the immunology of the transplantation in PD and possible methods to overcome adverse events such that we could translate cell replacement strategies into viable clinical treatments in the future.
PMCID: PMC3376210  PMID: 22521427
dopamine; nigrostriatal degeneration; central nervous system; immunosuppression; stem cells; retinal pigment epithelial cells
2.  Quadrature RF Coil for In Vivo Brain MRI of a Macaque Monkey in a Stereotaxic Head Frame 
We present a quadrature volume coil designed for brain imaging of a macaque monkey fixed in a sphinx position (facing down the bore) within a stereotactic frame at 3 T, where the position of the monkey and presence of the frame preclude use of existing coils. Requirements include the ability to position and remove the coil without disturbing the position of the monkey in the frame. A saddle coil and a solenoid were combined on a modified cylindrical former and connected in quadrature as to produce a homogeneous circularly polarized field throughout the brain. To allow the loops of the saddle coil to encompass the ear posts, partial disassembly and reassembly were facilitated by embedding pin and socket contacts into separate pieces of the former. Coil design included simulation of the electromagnetic fields for the coil containing a 3D model of a monkey’s head. The resulting coil produced adequate homogeneity and signal-to-noise ratio throughout the brain.
PMCID: PMC3354963  PMID: 22611340
monkey; MRI; coil; brain; stereotaxy
3.  The interhemispheric connections of the striatum: implications for Parkinson’s disease and drug-induced dyskinesias 
Brain research bulletin  2011;87(1):1-9.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by loss of nigrostriatal neurons and depletion of dopamine. This pathological feature leads to alterations to basal ganglia circuitry and subsequent motor disability. Pharmacological dopamine replacement therapy with medications such as levodopa ameliorates the symptoms of PD but can lead to motor complications known as drug-induced dyskinesias. We have recently shown that clinically hemiparkinsonian rhesus monkeys do not develop levodopa-induced dyskinesias despite chronic intermittent exposure and significant unilateral loss of nigrostriatal neurons and dopamine. It is currently unclear what mechanisms prevent the onset of dyskinesias in these animals. However, based on our study and results from previous lesioning studies in both the rat and monkey models of PD, we hypothesize that one potential mechanism that may prevent the genesis of dyskinesias in these animals is interhemispheric inhibition. Two potential interhemispheric connections that may modulate dyskinesias are the interhemispheric nigrostriatal and corticostriatal pathways. Few investigators have examined the interhemispheric nigrostriatal and corticostriatal connections and the functional role they may play in drug-induced dyskinesias in PD. Therefore, in the following review, we assess the neuroanatomical, electrophysiological and behavioral properties of these interhemispheric connections. Future studies evaluating these interhemispheric striatal pathways and the pathophysiological changes that occur to these pathways in the dyskinetic state are warranted to further develop treatments that prevent or mitigate drug-induced dyskinesias in PD.
PMCID: PMC3246032  PMID: 21963946
basal ganglia; nigrostriatal degeneration; movement disorders; dopamine replacement therapy
4.  The effect of striatal dopaminergic grafts on the neuronal activity in the substantia nigra pars reticulata and subthalamic nucleus in hemiparkinsonian rats 
Brain  2011;134(11):3276-3289.
The electrophysiological correlates of parkinsonism in the basal ganglia have been well studied in patients with Parkinson's disease and animal models. Separately, striatal dopaminergic cell transplantation has shown promise in ameliorating parkinsonian motor symptoms. However, the effect of dopaminergic grafts on basal ganglia electrophysiology has not thoroughly been investigated. In this study, we transplanted murine foetal ventral mesencephalic cells into rats rendered hemiparkinsonian by 6-hydroxydopamine injection. Three months after transplantation, extracellular and local field potential recordings were taken under urethane anaesthesia from the substantia nigra pars reticulata and subthalamic nucleus along with cortical electroencephalograms and were compared to recordings from normal and hemiparkinsonian controls. Recordings from cortical slow-wave activity and global activation states were analysed separately. Rats with histologically confirmed xenografts showed behavioural improvement measured by counting apomorphine-induced rotations and with the extended body axis test. Firing rates in both nuclei were not significantly different between control and grafted groups. However, burst firing patterns in both nuclei in the slow-wave activity state were significantly reduced (P < 0.05) in rats with large surviving grafts, compared to hemiparkinsonian controls. The neuronal firing entropies and oscillations in both nuclei were restored to normal levels in the large-graft group. Electroencephalogram spike-triggered averages also showed normalization in the slow-wave activity state (P < 0.05). These results suggest that local continuous dopaminergic stimulation exerts a normalizing effect on the downstream parkinsonian basal ganglia firing patterns. This novel finding is relevant to future preclinical and clinical investigations of cell transplantation and the development of next-generation therapies for Parkinson's disease that ameliorate pathophysiological neural activity and provide optimal recovery of function.
PMCID: PMC3212711  PMID: 21911417
neural transplantation; Parkinson's disease; substantia nigra pars reticulata; subthalamic nucleus; electrophysiology
5.  The Antiparkinsonian and Antidyskinetic Mechanisms of Mucuna pruriens in the MPTP-Treated Nonhuman Primate 
Chronic treatment with levodopa (LD) in Parkinson's disease (PD) can cause drug induced dyskinesias. Mucuna pruriens endocarp powder (MPEP) contains several compounds including natural LD and has been reported to not cause drug-induced dyskinesias. We evaluated the effects of Mucuna pruriens to determine if its underlying mechanistic actions are exclusively due to LD. We first compared MPEP with and without carbidopa (CD), and LD+CD in hemiparkinsonian (HP) monkeys. Each treatment ameliorated parkinsonism. We then compared the neuronal firing properties of the substantia nigra reticulata (SNR) and subthalamic nucleus (STN) in HP monkeys with MPEP+CD and LD+CD to evaluate basal ganglia circuitry alterations. Both treatments decreased SNR firing rate compared to HP state. However, LD+CD treatments significantly increased SNR bursting firing patterns that were not seen with MPEP+CD treatments. No significant changes were seen in STN firing properties. We then evaluated the effects of a water extract of MPEP. Oral MPWE ameliorated parkinsonism without causing drug-induced dyskinesias. The distinctive neurophysiological findings in the basal ganglia and the ability to ameliorate parkinsonism without causing dyskinesias strongly suggest that Mucuna pruriens acts through a novel mechanism that is different from that of LD.
PMCID: PMC3445014  PMID: 22997535
7.  Multiscale Autoregressive Identification of Neuroelectrophysiological Systems 
Electrical signals between connected neural nuclei are difficult to model because of the complexity and high number of paths within the brain. Simple parametric models are therefore often used. A multiscale version of the autoregressive with exogenous input (MS-ARX) model has recently been developed which allows selection of the optimal amount of filtering and decimation depending on the signal-to-noise ratio and degree of predictability. In this paper, we apply the MS-ARX model to cortical electroencephalograms and subthalamic local field potentials simultaneously recorded from anesthetized rodent brains. We demonstrate that the MS-ARX model produces better predictions than traditional ARX modeling. We also adapt the MS-ARX results to show differences in internuclei predictability between normal rats and rats with 6OHDA-induced parkinsonism, indicating that this method may have broad applicability to other neuroelectrophysiological studies.
PMCID: PMC3286901  PMID: 22400052
8.  Dyskinesias Do Not Develop after Chronic Intermittent Levodopa Therapy in Clinically Hemiparkinsonian Rhesus Monkeys 
The stable 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-induced hemiparkinsonian (HP) rhesus monkey model of Parkinson’s disease (PD) has been frequently used to test preclinical experimental therapeutics targeted to treat patients with advanced PD who suffer from motor fluctuations and drug-induced dyskinesias. We retrospectively analyzed data from 17 stable HP rhesus monkeys treated long-term with chronic intermittent dosing of levodopa (LD) in an attempt to induce choreoathetoid and dystonic dyskinesias. Rhesus monkeys in stable HP state for greater than 6 months as confirmed by multiple blinded behavioral ratings and 18F-dopa Positron Emission Tomography (PET) were treated with optimal doses of LD to provide maximal amelioration of unilateral clinical parkinsonism without any adverse effects. Thereafter, each animal was given chronic intermittent daily challenge with doses of LD up to 700 mg/day orally or with 300 mg/kg/day parenteral injections. LD treatments failed to induce choreoathetoid and dystonic dyskinesias in these animals despite chronic intermittent high dose administration. These results suggest that the stable strictly unilateral HP rhesus monkey model of PD may not be a suitable animal model to test experimental therapeutics targeted against dyskinesias, and that bilateral parkinsonian rhesus models that readily demonstrate drug-induced dyskinesias and clinically relevant motor fluctuations are more appropriate for preclinical experimental testing of therapies designed to treat patients with advanced PD.
PMCID: PMC3053121  PMID: 21074478
Movement disorders; Macaca mulatta; basal ganglia; nigrostriatal degeneration; dopamine replacement therapy
9.  A Water Extract of Mucuna pruriens Provides Long-Term Amelioration of Parkinsonism with Reduced Risk for Dyskinesias 
Parkinsonism & related disorders  2010;16(7):458-465.
Dopaminergic anti-parkinsonian medications, such as levodopa (LD) cause drug-induced dyskinesias (DID) in majority of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Mucuna pruriens, a legume extensively used in Ayurveda to treat PD, is reputed to provide anti-parkinsonian benefits without inducing DID. We compared the behavioral effects of chronic parenteral administration of a water extract of Mucuna pruriens seed powder (MPE) alone without any additives, MPE combined with the peripheral dopa-decarboxylase inhibitor (DDCI) benserazide (MPE+BZ), LD+BZ and LD alone without BZ in the hemiparkinsonian rat model of PD. A battery of behavioral tests assessed by blinded investigators served as outcome measures in these randomized trials. In experiment 1, animals that received LD+BZ or MPE+BZ at high (6mg/Kg) and medium (4mg/Kg) equivalent doses demonstrated significant alleviation of parkinsonism, but, developed severe dose-dependent DID. LD+BZ at low doses (2mg/Kg) did not provide significant alleviation of parkinsonism. In contrast, MPE+BZ at an equivalent low dose significantly ameliorated parkinsonism. In experiment 2, MPE without any additives (12mg/Kg and 20mg/Kg LD equivalent dose) alleviated parkinsonism with significantly less DID compared to LD+BZ or MPE+BZ. In experiment 3, MPE without additives administered chronically provided long-term anti-parkinsonian benefits without causing DID. In experiment 4, MPE alone provided significantly more behavioral benefit when compared to the equivalent dose of synthetic LD alone without BZ. In experiment 5, MPE alone reduced the severity of DID in animals initially primed with LD+BZ. These findings suggest that Mucuna pruriens contains water soluble ingredients that either have an intrinsic DDCI-like activity or mitigate the need for an add-on DDCI to ameliorate parkinsonism. These unique long-term antiparkinsonian effects of a parenterally administered water extract of Mucuna pruriens seed powder may provide a platform for future drug discoveries and novel treatment strategies in PD.
PMCID: PMC2909380  PMID: 20570206
basal ganglia; 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA); nigrostriatal degeneration; movement disorders; complementary and alternative medicine
10.  Detection of MPTP-induced Substantia Nigra Hyperechogenicity in Rhesus Monkeys by Transcranial Ultrasound 
Ultrasound in medicine & biology  2010;36(4):604-609.
Detection of substantia nigra (SN) hyperechogenicity by transcranial ultrasound has been proposed as a putative biomarker to differentiate between idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other forms of parkinsonism. In the present study, we evaluated the feasibility of using transcranial ultrasound to detect SN echogenicity in normal and 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-treated Rhesus monkeys, a well-established model of PD. All animals had natural temporal bone windows for transcranial sonography. We could show that it is possible to visualize major brain landmarks including the “butterfly shaped” midbrain, basal cisterns, third and lateral ventricles in all animals by transcranial ultrasound. Blinded assessments showed that all normal monkeys had no SN hyperechogenicity. Bilaterally parkinsonian (overlesioned) monkeys showed hyperechogenicity of both SN, whereas right hemiparkinsonian monkeys only showed left nigral hyperechogenicity. These findings confirm the feasibility of transcranial ultrasound to detect SN hyperechogenicity in MPTP-treated Rhesus monkeys and suggest that this animal model may provide a platform for understanding the pathophysiological basis of nigral hyperechogenicity.
PMCID: PMC2862281  PMID: 20211515
basal ganglia; nigrostriatal degeneration; movement disorders; Macaca mulatta; non-human primate
11.  Manual rat sleep classification in principal component space 
Neuroscience letters  2009;469(1):97.
A simple method is described for using principal component analysis (PCA) to score rat sleep recordings as awake, rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, or non-REM (NREM) sleep. PCA was used to reduce the dimensionality of the features extracted from each epoch to three, and the projections were then graphed in a scatterplot where the clusters were visually apparent. The clusters were then directly manually selected, classifying the entire recording at once. The method was tested in a set of ten 24-hour rat sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) and electromyogram (EMG) recordings. Classifications by two human raters performing traditional epoch-by-epoch scoring were blindly compared with classifications by another two human raters using the new PCA method. Overall inter-rater median percent agreements ranged between 93.7% and 94.9%. Median Cohen’s kappa coefficient ranged from 0.890 to 0.909. The PCA method on average required about five minutes for classification of each 24-hour recording. The combination of good accuracy and reduced time compared to traditional sleep scoring suggests that the method may be useful for sleep research.
PMCID: PMC2815242  PMID: 19944737
Rat; Sleep scoring; Principal Component Analysis; Electroencephalogram; Electromyogram

Results 1-11 (11)