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1.  The spatiotemporal localization of JAM-C following sciatic nerve crush in adult rats 
Brain and Behavior  2012;2(4):402-414.
JAM-C is a junctional adhesion molecule, enriched at tight junctions on endothelial and epithelial cells, and also localized to Schwann cells at junctions between adjoining myelin end loops. The role of JAM-C following peripheral nerve injury (PNI) is currently unknown. We examined the localization of JAM-C after sciatic nerve crush injury in adult rats. JAM-C immunoreactivity was present in paranodes and incisures in sham surgery control nerve, but distal to the crush injury significantly decreased at three and 14 days. JAM-C was re-expressed at 28 days and, by 56 days, was significantly increased in the distal nerve compared to controls. In a 7-mm length of sciatic nerve sampled distal to the crush site, the densities of JAM-C immunoreactive paranodes increased in the distal direction. Conversely, the densities of JAM-C immunoreactive incisures were highest immediately distal to the crush site and decreased in the more distal direction. Further analysis revealed a strong correlation between JAM-C localization and remyelination. Fifty-six days after crush injury, greater densities of JAM-C paranodes were seen compared to the nodal marker jacalin, suggesting that paranodal JAM-C precedes node formation. Our data are the first to demonstrate a potential role of JAM-C in remyelination after PNI.
PMCID: PMC3432963  PMID: 22950044
JAM-C; paranodes; peripheral nerve injury; remyelination; Schwann cells
2.  Laminin promotes vascular network formation in 3D in vitro collagen scaffolds by regulating VEGF uptake 
Experimental Cell Research  2014;327(1):68-77.
Angiogenesis is an essential neovascularisation process, which if recapitulated in 3D in vitro, will provide better understanding of endothelial cell (EC) behaviour. Various cell types and growth factors are involved, with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptors VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 key components. We were able to control the aggregation pattern of ECs in 3D collagen hydrogels, by varying the matrix composition and/or having a source of cells signalling angiogenic proteins. These aggregation patterns reflect the different developmental pathways that ECs take to form different sized tubular structures. Cultures with added laminin and thus increased expression of α6 integrin showed a significant increase (p<0.05) in VEGFR2 positive ECs and increased VEGF uptake. This resulted in the end-to-end network aggregation of ECs. In cultures without laminin and therefore low α6 integrin expression, VEGFR2 levels and VEGF uptake were significantly lower (p<0.05). These ECs formed contiguous sheets, analogous to the ‘wrapping’ pathway in development. We have identified a key linkage between integrin expression on ECs and their uptake of VEGF, regulated by VEGFR2, resulting in different aggregation patterns in 3D.
•HBMSCs and laminin promote endothelial cell network aggregation.•Laminin increases endothelial cell VEGF uptake in collagen hydrogels.•There are more VEGFR2 positive endothelial cells in collagen-laminin hydrogels on day 2 in culture.•VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 receptors per cell are higher in collagen-laminin cultures than collagen only.
PMCID: PMC4155934  PMID: 24907654
Endothelial cells; Angiogenesis; VEGF; Receptors; Integrin; Collagen; Laminin
3.  Docosahexaenoic acid attenuates the early inflammatory response following spinal cord injury in mice: in-vivo and in-vitro studies 
Two families of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), omega-3 (ω-3) and omega-6 (ω-6), are required for physiological functions. The long chain ω-3 PUFAs, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have significant biological effects. In particular, DHA is a major component of cell membranes in the brain. It is also involved in neurotransmission. Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a highly devastating pathology that can lead to catastrophic dysfunction, with a significant reduction in the quality of life. Previous studies have shown that EPA and DHA can exert neuroprotective effects in SCI in mice and rats. The aim of this study was to analyze the mechanism of action of ω-3 PUFAs, such as DHA, in a mouse model of SCI, with a focus on the early pathophysiological processes.
In this study, SCI was induced in mice by the application of an aneurysm clip onto the dura mater via a four-level T5 to T8 laminectomy. Thirty minutes after compression, animals received a tail vein injection of DHA at a dose of 250 nmol/kg. All animals were killed at 24 h after SCI, to evaluate various parameters implicated in the spread of the injury.
Our results in this in-vivo study clearly demonstrate that DHA treatment reduces key factors associated with spinal cord trauma. Treatment with DHA significantly reduced: (1) the degree of spinal cord inflammation and tissue injury, (2) pro-inflammatory cytokine expression (TNF-α), (3) nitrotyrosine formation, (4) glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) expression, and (5) apoptosis (Fas-L, Bax, and Bcl-2 expression). Moreover, DHA significantly improved the recovery of limb function.
Furthermore, in this study we evaluated the effect of oxidative stress on dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cells using a well-characterized in-vitro model. Treatment with DHA ameliorated the effects of oxidative stress on neurite length and branching.
Our results, in vivo and in vitro, clearly demonstrate that DHA treatment reduces the development of inflammation and tissue injury associated with spinal cord trauma.
PMCID: PMC3895696  PMID: 24405628
DHA; Inflammation; Omega-3; Oxidative stress; Spinal cord injury
4.  Schwann cell-specific JAM-C-deficient mice reveal novel expression and functions for JAM-C in peripheral nerves 
The FASEB Journal  2012;26(3):1064-1076.
Junctional adhesion molecule-C (JAM-C) is an adhesion molecule expressed at junctions between adjacent endothelial and epithelial cells and implicated in multiple inflammatory and vascular responses. In addition, we recently reported on the expression of JAM-C in Schwann cells (SCs) and its importance for the integrity and function of peripheral nerves. To investigate the role of JAM-C in neuronal functions further, mice with a specific deletion of JAM-C in SCs (JAM-C SC KO) were generated. Compared to wild-type (WT) controls, JAM-C SC KO mice showed electrophysiological defects, muscular weakness, and hypersensitivity to mechanical stimuli. In addressing the underlying cause of these defects, nerves from JAM-C SC KO mice were found to have morphological defects in the paranodal region, exhibiting increased nodal length as compared to WTs. The study also reports on previously undetected expressions of JAM-C, namely on perineural cells, and in line with nociception defects of the JAM-C SC KO animals, on finely myelinated sensory nerve fibers. Collectively, the generation and characterization of JAM-C SC KO mice has provided unequivocal evidence for the involvement of SC JAM-C in the fine organization of peripheral nerves and in modulating multiple neuronal responses.—Colom, B., Poitelon, Y., Huang, W., Woodfin, A., Averill, S., Del Carro, U., Zambroni, D., Brain, S. D., Perretti, M., Ahluwalia, A., Priestley, J. V., Chavakis, T., Imhof, B. A., Feltri, M. L., Nourshargh, S. Schwann cell-specific JAM-C-deficient mice reveal novel expression and functions for JAM-C in peripheral nerves.
PMCID: PMC3370675  PMID: 22090315
adhesion molecules; tight junctions; peripheral nerves
5.  20-Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic Acid (20-HETE) Is a Novel Activator of Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) Channel* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(17):13868-13876.
Background: The P450 arachidonic acid metabolite, 20-HETE, is potently vasoactive and structurally related to known TRPV1 agonists.
Results: 20-HETE activates native murine and heterologously expressed human TRPV1, and sensitizes both wild-type and the hTRPV1 S502A mutant to stimulation by capsaicin and acidic pH.
Conclusion: 20-HETE is a novel potential endogenous activator of TRPV1.
Significance: The biological activity of 20-HETE may be partly mediated by its action on TRPV1.
TRPV1 is a member of the transient receptor potential ion channel family and is gated by capsaicin, the pungent component of chili pepper. It is expressed predominantly in small diameter peripheral nerve fibers and is activated by noxious temperatures >42 °C. 20-Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (20-HETE) is a cytochrome P-450 4A/4F-derived metabolite of the membrane phospholipid arachidonic acid. It is a powerful vasoconstrictor and has structural similarities with other TRPV1 agonists, e.g. the hydroperoxyeicosatetraenoic acid 12-HPETE, and we hypothesized that it may be an endogenous ligand for TRPV1 in sensory neurons innervating the vasculature. Here, we demonstrate that 20-HETE both activates and sensitizes mouse and human TRPV1, in a kinase-dependent manner, involving the residue Ser502 in heterologously expressed hTRPV1, at physiologically relevant concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3340178  PMID: 22389490
Arachidonic Acid; Neurons; Patch Clamp; Protein Expression; TRP Channels; Sensory Neuron
6.  The human G93A-SOD1 mutation in a pre-symptomatic rat model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis increases the vulnerability to a mild spinal cord compression 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:633.
Traumatic injuries can undermine neurological functions and act as risk factors for the development of irreversible and fatal neurodegenerative disorders like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In this study, we have investigated how a mutation of the superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) gene, linked to the development of ALS, modifies the acute response to a gentle mechanical compression of the spinal cord. In a 7-day post-injury time period, we have performed a comparative ontological analysis of the gene expression profiles of injured spinal cords obtained from pre-symptomatic rats over-expressing the G93A-SOD1 gene mutation and from wild type (WT) littermates.
The steady post-injury functional recovery observed in WT rats was accompanied by the early activation at the epicenter of injury of several growth-promoting signals and by the down-regulation of intermediate neurofilaments and of genes involved in the regulation of ion currents at the 7 day post-injury time point. The poor functional recovery observed in G93A-SOD1 transgenic animals was accompanied by the induction of fewer pro-survival signals, by an early activation of inflammatory markers, of several pro-apoptotic genes involved in cytochrome-C release and by the persistent up-regulation of the heavy neurofilament subunits and of genes involved in membrane excitability. These molecular changes occurred along with a pronounced atrophy of spinal cord motor neurones in the G93A-SOD1 rats compared to WT littermates after compression injury.
In an experimental paradigm of mild mechanical trauma which causes no major tissue damage, the G93A-SOD1 gene mutation alters the balance between pro-apoptotic and pro-survival molecular signals in the spinal cord tissue from the pre-symptomatic rat, leading to a premature activation of molecular pathways implicated in the natural development of ALS.
PMCID: PMC3020590  PMID: 21078175
7.  Comparative analysis of the time-dependent functional and molecular changes in spinal cord degeneration induced by the G93A SOD1 gene mutation and by mechanical compression 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:500.
Mutations of the superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) gene are linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an invariably fatal neurological condition involving cortico-spinal degeneration. Mechanical injury can also determine spinal cord degeneration and act as a risk factor for the development of ALS.
We have performed a comparative ontological analysis of the gene expression profiles of thoracic cord samples from rats carrying the G93A SOD1 gene mutation and from wild-type littermates subjected to mechanical compression of the spinal cord. Common molecular responses and gene expression changes unique to each experimental paradigm were evaluated against the functional development of each animal model. Gene Ontology categories crucial to protein folding, extracellular matrix and axonal formation underwent early activation in both experimental paradigms, but decreased significantly in the spinal cord from animals recovering from injury after 7 days and from the G93A SOD1 mutant rats at end-stage disease. Functional improvement after compression coincided with a massive up-regulation of growth-promoting gene categories including factors involved in angiogenesis and transcription, overcoming the more transitory surge of pro-apoptotic components and cell-cycle genes. The cord from G93A SOD1 mutants showed persistent over-expression of apoptotic and stress molecules with fewer neurorestorative signals, while functional deterioration was ongoing.
this study illustrates how cytoskeletal protein metabolism is central to trauma and genetically-induced spinal cord degeneration and elucidates the main molecular events accompanying functional recovery or decline in two different animal models of spinal cord degeneration.
PMCID: PMC2585103  PMID: 18947433

Results 1-7 (7)