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1.  Small Molecule p75NTR Ligands Reduce Pathological Phosphorylation and Misfolding of Tau, Inflammatory Changes, Cholinergic Degeneration, and Cognitive Deficits in AβPPL/S Transgenic Mice 
The p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR ) is involved in degenerative mechanisms related to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In addition, p75NTR levels are increased in AD and the receptor is expressed by neurons that are particularly vulnerable in the disease. Therefore, modulating p75NTR function may be a significant disease-modifying treatment approach. Prior studies indicated that the non-peptide, small molecule p75NTR ligands LM11A-31, and chemically unrelated LM11A-24, could block amyloid-β-induced deleterious signaling and neurodegeneration in vitro, and LM11A-31 was found to mitigate neuritic degeneration and behavioral deficits in a mouse model of AD. In this study, we determined whether these in vivo findings represent class effects of p75NTR ligands by examining LM11A-24 effects. In addition, the range of compound effects was further examined by evaluating tau pathology and neuroinflammation. Following oral administration, both ligands reached brain concentrations known to provide neuroprotection in vitro. Compound induction of p75NTR cleavage provided evidence for CNS target engagement. LM11A-31 and LM11A-24 reduced excessive phosphorylation of tau, and LM11A-31 also inhibited its aberrant folding. Both ligands decreased activation of microglia, while LM11A-31 attenuated reactive astrocytes. Along with decreased inflammatory responses, both ligands reduced cholinergic neurite degeneration. In addition to the amelioration of neuropathology in AD model mice, LM11A-31, but not LM11A-24, prevented impairments in water maze performance, while both ligands prevented deficits in fear conditioning. These findings support a role for p75NTR ligands in preventing fundamental tau-related pathologic mechanisms in AD, and further validate the development of these small molecules as a new class of therapeutic compounds.
PMCID: PMC4278429  PMID: 24898660
Alzheimer’s disease; LM11A-31; LM11A-24; p75 neurotrophin receptor
2.  Behavioral Abnormalities and Circuit Defects in the Basal Ganglia of a Mouse Model of 16p11.2 Deletion Syndrome 
Cell reports  2014;7(4):1077-1092.
A deletion on human chromosome 16p11.2 is associated with autism spectrum disorders. We deleted the syntenic region on mouse chromosome 7F3. MRI and high-throughput single-cell transcriptomics revealed anatomical and cellular abnormalities, particularly in cortex and striatum of juvenile mutant mice (16p11+/−). We found elevated numbers of striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs) expressing the dopamine D2 receptor (Drd2+) and fewer dopamine-sensitive (Drd1+) neurons in deep layers of cortex. Electrophysiological recordings of Drd2+ MSN revealed synaptic defects, suggesting abnormal basal ganglia circuitry function in 16p11+/− mice. This is further supported by behavioral experiments showing hyperactivity, circling, and deficits in movement control. Strikingly, 16p11+/− mice showed a complete lack of habituation reminiscent of what is observed in some autistic individuals. Our findings unveil a fundamental role of genes affected by the 16p11.2 deletion in establishing the basal ganglia circuitry and provide insights in the pathophysiology of autism.
PMCID: PMC4251471  PMID: 24794428
3.  Human resources for health: task shifting to promote basic health service delivery among internally displaced people in ethnic health program service areas in eastern Burma/Myanmar 
Global Health Action  2014;7:10.3402/gha.v7.24937.
Burma/Myanmar was controlled by a military regime for over 50 years. Many basic social and protection services have been neglected, specifically in the ethnic areas. Development in these areas was led by the ethnic non-state actors to ensure care and the availability of health services for the communities living in the border ethnic-controlled areas. Political changes in Burma/Myanmar have been ongoing since the end of 2010. Given the ethnic diversity of Burma/Myanmar, many challenges in ensuring health service coverage among all ethnic groups lie ahead.
A case study method was used to document how existing human resources for health (HRH) reach the vulnerable population in the ethnic health organizations’ (EHOs) and community-based organizations’ (CBHOs) service areas, and their related information on training and services delivered. Mixed methods were used. Survey data on HRH, service provision, and training were collected from clinic-in-charges in 110 clinics in 14 Karen/Kayin townships through a rapid-mapping exercise. We also reviewed 7 organizational and policy documents and conducted 10 interviews and discussions with clinic-in-charges.
Despite the lack of skilled medical professionals, the EHOs and CBHOs have been serving the population along the border through task shifting to less specialized health workers. Clinics and mobile teams work in partnership, focusing on primary care with some aspects of secondary care. The rapid-mapping exercise showed that the aggregate HRH density in Karen/Kayin state is 2.8 per 1,000 population. Every mobile team has 1.8 health workers per 1,000 population, whereas each clinic has between 2.5 and 3.9 health workers per 1,000 population. By reorganizing and training the workforce with a rigorous and up-to-date curriculum, EHOs and CBHOs present a viable solution for improving health service coverage to the underserved population.
Despite the chronic conflict in Burma/Myanmar, this report provides evidence of the substantive system of health care provision and access in the Karen/Kayin State over the past 20 years. It underscores the climate of vulnerability of the EHOs and CBHOs due to lack of regional and international understanding of the political complexities in Burma/Myanmar. As Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration gathers pace, this case study highlights potential issues relating to migration and health access. The case also documents the challenge of integrating indigenous and/or cross-border health systems, with the ongoing risk of deepening ethnic conflicts in Burma/Myanmar as the peace process is negotiated.
PMCID: PMC4185086  PMID: 25280737
health system strengthening; health workforce; task shifting; internally displaced people; Burma/Myanmar
4.  Health and human rights in eastern Myanmar prior to political transition: a population-based assessment using multistaged household cluster sampling 
Myanmar/Burma has received increased development and humanitarian assistance since the election in November 2010. Monitoring the impact of foreign assistance and economic development on health and human rights requires knowledge of pre-election conditions.
From October 2008-January 2009, community-based organizations conducted household surveys using three-stage cluster sampling in Shan, Kayin, Bago, Kayah, Mon and Tanintharyi areas of Myanmar. Data was collected from 5,592 heads of household on household demographics, reproductive health, diarrhea, births, deaths, malaria, and acute malnutrition of children 6–59 months and women aged 15–49 years. A human rights focused survey module evaluated human rights violations (HRVs) experienced by household members during the previous year.
Estimated infant and under-five rates were 77 (95% CI 56 to 98) and 139 (95% CI 107 to 171) deaths per 1,000 live births; and the crude mortality rate was 13 (95% CI 11 to 15) deaths per thousand persons. The leading respondent-reported cause of death was malaria, followed by acute respiratory infection and diarrhea, causing 21.2% (95% CI 16.5 to 25.8), 16.6% (95% CI 11.8 to 21.4), and 12.3% (95% CI 8.7 to 15.8), respectively. Over a third of households suffered at least one human rights violation in the preceding year (36.2%; 30.7 to 41.7). Household exposure to forced labor increased risk of death among infants (rate ratio (RR) = 2.2; 95% CI 1.1 to 4.4) and children under five (RR = 2.1; 95% CI 1.3 to 3.6). The proportion of children suffering from moderate to severe acute malnutrition was higher among households that were displaced (prevalence ratio (PR) = 3.3; 95% CI 1.9 to 5.6).
Prior to the 2010 election, populations of eastern Myanmar experienced high rates of disease and death and high rates of HRVs. These population-based data provide a baseline that can be used to monitor national and international efforts to improve the health and human rights situation in the region.
PMCID: PMC4022419  PMID: 24885540
Burma; Myanmar; Human Rights; Health; Mortality; Malaria
5.  Comprehensive Behavioral Phenotyping of Ts65Dn Mouse Model of Down Syndrome: Activation of β1-Adrenergic Receptor by Xamoterol as a Potential Cognitive Enhancer 
Neurobiology of disease  2011;43(2):397-413.
Down Syndrome (DS) is the most prevalent form of mental retardation caused by genetic abnormalities in humans. This has been successfully modeled in mice to generate the Ts65Dn mouse, a genetic model of DS. This transgenic mouse model shares a number of physical and functional abnormalities with people with DS, including changes in the structure and function of neuronal circuits. Significant abnormalities in noradrenergic (NE-ergic) afferents from the locus coeruleus to the hippocampus, as well as deficits in NE-ergic neurotransmission are detected in these animals.
In the current study we characterized in detail the behavioral phenotype of Ts65Dn mice, in addition to using pharmacological tools for identification of target receptors mediating the learning and memory deficits observed in this model of DS. We undertook a comprehensive approach to mouse phenotyping using a battery of standard and novel tests encompassing: i) locomotion (Activity Chamber, PhenoTyper, and CatWalk), ii) learning and memory (spontaneous alternation, delayed matching-to-place water maze, fear conditioning, and Intellicage), and iii) social behavior.
Ts65Dn mice showed increased locomotor activity in novel and home cage environments. There were significant and reproducible deficits in learning and memory tests including spontaneous alternation, delayed matching-to-place water maze, Intellicage place avoidance and contextual fear conditioning. Although Ts65Dn mice showed no deficit in sociability in the 3-chamber test, a marked impairment in social memory was detected. Xamoterol, a β1-adrenergic receptor (β1-ADR) agonist, effectively restored the memory deficit in contextual fear conditioning, spontaneous alternation and novel object recognition. These behavioral improvements were reversed by betaxolol, a selective β1-ADR antagonist.
In conclusion, our results demonstrate that this mouse model of Down Syndrome display cognitive deficits which is mediated by imbalance in noradrenergic system. In this experimental model of Down Syndrome a selective activation of β1-ADR does restore some of these behavioral deficits. Further mechanistic studies will be needed to investigate the failure of noradrenergic system and the role of β1-ADR in cognitive deficit and pathogenesis of DS in people. Restoring NE neurotransmission or a selective activation of β1-ADR need to be further investigated for development of any potential therapeutic strategies for symptomatic relieve of memory deficit in DS. Furthermore, due to the significant involvement of noradrenergic system in the cardiovascular function further safety and translational studies will be needed to ensure the safety and efficacy of this approach.
PMCID: PMC3539757  PMID: 21527343
Down Syndrome; behavior; Ts65Dn mouse; memory; social interaction; xamoterol; betaxolol; noradrenergic system; neurodegenerative disorder
6.  Npas4: A Neuronal Transcription Factor with a Key Role in Social and Cognitive Functions Relevant to Developmental Disorders 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46604.
Npas4 is a transcription factor, which is highly expressed in the brain and regulates the formation and maintenance of inhibitory synapses in response to excitatory synaptic activity. A deregulation of the inhibitory-excitatory balance has been associated with a variety of human developmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. However, not much is known about the role played by inhibitory synapses and inhibitory pathways in the development of nervous system disorders. We hypothesized that alterations in the inhibitory pathways induced by the absence of Npas4 play a major role in the expression of the symptoms observed in psychiatric disorders. To test this hypothesis we tested mice lacking the transcription factor (Npas4 knock-out mice (Npas4-KO)) in a battery of behavioral assays focusing on general activity, social behaviors, and cognitive functions. Npas4-KO mice are hyperactive in a novel environment, spend less time exploring an unfamiliar ovariectomized female, spend more time avoiding an unfamiliar male during a first encounter, show higher social dominance than their WT littermates, and display pre-pulse inhibition, working memory, long-term memory, and cognitive flexibility deficits. These behavioral deficits may replicate schizophrenia-related symptomatology such as social anxiety, hyperactivity, and cognitive and sensorimotor gating deficits. Immunohistochemistry analyses revealed that Npas4 expression is induced in the hippocampus after a social encounter and that Npas4 regulates the expression of c-Fos in the CA1 and CA3 regions of the hippocampus after a cognitive task. Our results suggest that Npas4 may play a major role in the regulation of cognitive and social functions in the brain with possible implications for developmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.
PMCID: PMC3460929  PMID: 23029555
7.  Thy1-hAPPLond/Swe+ mouse model of Alzheimer's disease displays broad behavioral deficits in sensorimotor, cognitive and social function 
Brain and Behavior  2012;2(2):142-154.
Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common form of dementia, is an age-dependent progressive neurodegenerative disorder. β-amyloid, a metabolic product of the amyloid precursor protein (APP), plays an important role in the pathogenesis of AD. The Thy1-hAPPLond/Swe+ (line 41) transgenic mouse overexpresses human APP751 and contains the London (V717I) and Swedish (K670M/N671L) mutations. Here, we used a battery of behavioral tests to evaluate general activity, cognition, and social behavior in six-month-old male Thy1-hAPPLond/Swe+ mice. We found hyperactivity in a novel environment as well as significant deficits in spontaneous alternation behavior. In fear conditioning (FC), Thy1-hAPPLond/Swe+ mice did not display deficits in acquisition or in memory retrieval in novel context of tone-cued FC, but they showed significant memory retrieval impairment during contextual testing in an identical environment. Surprisingly, in a standard hidden platform water maze, no significant deficit was detected in mutant mice. However, a delayed-matching-to-place paradigm revealed a significant deficit in Thy1-hAPPLond/Swe+ mice. Lastly, in the social novelty session of a three-chamber test, Thy1-hAPPLond/Swe+ mice exhibited a significantly decreased interest in a novel versus a familiar stranger compared to control mice. This could possibly be explained by decreased social memory or discrimination and may parallel disturbances in social functioning in human AD patients. In conclusion, the Thy1-hAPPLond/Swe+ mouse model of AD displayed a behavioral phenotype that resembles, in part, the cognitive and psychiatric symptoms experienced in AD patients.
PMCID: PMC3345358  PMID: 22574282
Alzheimer's disease; amyloid precursor protein; behavior; learning and memory; neurodegenerative disorder; social interaction
8.  Investigation of Phenolic Acids in Suspension Cultures of Vitis vinifera Stimulated with Indanoyl-Isoleucine, N-Linolenoyl-L-Glutamine, Malonyl Coenzyme A and Insect Saliva 
Metabolites  2012;2(1):165-177.
Vitis vinifera c.v. Muscat de Frontignan (grape) contains various high valuable bioactive phenolic compounds with pharmaceutical properties and industrial interest which are not fully exploited. The focus of this investigation consists in testing the effects of various biological elicitors on a non-morphogenic callus suspension culture of V. vinifera. The investigated elicitors: Indanoyl-isoleucine (IN), N-linolenoyl-L-glutamine (LG), insect saliva (IS) and malonyl coenzyme A (MCoA) were aimed at mimicking the influence of environmental pathogens on plants in their natural habitats and at provoking exogenous induction of the phenylpropanoid pathway. The elicitors’ indanoyl-isoleucine (IN), N-linolenoyl-L-glutamine (LG) and insect saliva (IS), as well as malonyl coenzyme A (MCoA), were independently inoculated to stimulate the synthesis of phenylpropanoids. All of the enhancers positively increased the concentration of phenolic compounds in grape cells. The highest concentration of phenolic acids was detected after 2 h for MCoA, after 48 h for IN and after 24 h for LG and IS respectively. At the maximum production time, treated grape cells had a 3.5-fold (MCoA), 1.6-fold (IN) and 1.5-fold (IS) higher phenolic acid content compared to the corresponding control samples. The HPLC results of grape cells showed two major resveratrol derivatives: 3-O-Glucosyl-resveratrol and 4-(3,5-dihydroxyphenyl)-phenol. Their influences of the different elicitors, time of harvest and biomass concentration (p < 0.0001) were statistically significant on the synthesis of phenolic compounds. The induction with MCoA was found to demonstrate the highest statistical effect corresponding to the strongest stress response within the phenylpropanoid pathway in grape cells.
PMCID: PMC3901193  PMID: 24957372
indanoyl-isoleucine; N-linolenoyl-L-glutamine; malonyl coenzyme A; insect saliva; Vitis vinifera; phenolic acids

Results 1-8 (8)