Children with autism exhibit a host of motor disorders including poor coordination, poor tool use and delayed learning of complex motor skills like riding a tricycle. Theory suggests that one of the crucial steps in motor learning is the ability to form internal models: to predict the sensory consequences of motor commands and learn from errors to improve performance on the next attempt. The cerebellum appears to be an important site for acquisition of internal models, and indeed the development of the cerebellum is abnormal in autism. Here, we examined autistic children on a range of tasks that required a change in the motor output in response to a change in the environment. We first considered a prism adaptation task in which the visual map of the environment was shifted. The children were asked to throw balls to visual targets with and without the prism goggles. We next considered a reaching task that required moving the handle of a novel tool (a robotic arm). The tool either imposed forces on the hand or displaced the cursor associated with the handle position. In all tasks, the children with autism adapted their motor output by forming a predictive internal model, as exhibited through after-effects. Surprisingly, the rates of acquisition and washout were indistinguishable from normally developing children. Therefore, the mechanisms of acquisition and adaptation of internal models in self-generated movements appeared normal in autism. Sparing of adaptation suggests that alternative mechanisms contribute to impaired motor skill development in autism. Furthermore, the findings may have therapeutic implications, highlighting a reliable mechanism by which children with autism can most effectively alter their behaviour.
reach adaptation; prism adaptation; motor control; autism
Depression represents one of the most common comorbidities in patients with epilepsy. However, the mechanisms of depression in epilepsy patients are poorly understood. Establishment of animal models of this comorbidity is critical for both understanding the mechanisms of the condition, and for preclinical development of effective therapies. The current study examined whether a commonly used animal model of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is characterized by behavioural and biochemical alterations involved in depression. Male Wistar rats were subjected to LiCl and pilocarpine status epilepticus (SE). The development of chronic epileptic state was confirmed by the presence of spontaneous seizures and by enhanced brain excitability. Post-SE animals exhibited increase in immobility time under conditions of forced swim test (FST) which was indicative of despair-like state, and loss of taste preference in saccharin solution consumption test which pointed to the symptomatic equivalence of anhedonia. Biochemical studies revealed compromised serotonergic transmission in the raphe-hippocampal serotonergic pathway: decrease of serotonin (5-HT) concentration and turnover in the hippocampus, measured by high performance liquid chromatography, and decrease of 5-HT release from the hippocampus in response to raphe stimulation, measured by fast cyclic voltammetry. Administration of fluoxetine (FLX, 20 mg/kg/day for 10 days) to naive animals significantly shortened immobility time under conditions of FST, and inhibited 5-HT turnover in the hippocampus. In post-SE rats FLX treatment led to a further decrease of hippocampal 5-HT turnover; however, performance in FST was not improved. At the same time, FLX reversed SE-induced increase in brain excitability. In summary, our studies provide initial evidence that post-SE model of TLE might serve as a model of the comorbidity of epilepsy and depression. The finding that behavioural equivalents of depression were resistant to an antidepressant medication suggested that depression in epilepsy might have distinct underlying mechanisms beyond alterations in serotonergic pathways.
comorbidity; depression; epilepsy; hippocampus; serotonin
Depression represents one of the most common comorbidities in patients with epilepsy. However, the mechanisms of depression in epilepsy patients are poorly understood. Establishment of animal models of this comorbidity is critical for both understanding the mechanisms of the condition, and for preclinical development of effective therapies. The current study examined whether a commonly used animal model of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is characterized by behavioral and biochemical alterations involved in depression. Male Wistar rats were subjected to LiCl and pilocarpine status epilepticus (SE). The development of chronic epileptic state was confirmed by the presence of spontaneous seizures and by enhanced brain excitability. Post-SE animals exhibited increase in immobility time under conditions of forced swim test (FST) which was indicative of despair-like state, and loss of taste preference in saccharin solution consumption test which pointed to the symptomatic equivalence of anhedonia. Biochemical studies revealed compromised serotonergic transmission in the raphe-hippocampal serotonergic pathway: decrease of serotonin (5-HT) concentration and turnover in the hippocampus, measured by high performance liquid chromatography, and decrease of 5-HT release from the hippocampus in response to raphe stimulation, measured by fast cyclic voltammetry. Administration of fluoxetine (FLX, 20 mg/kg/day for 10 days) to naïve animals significantly shortened immobility time under conditions of FST, and inhibited 5-HT turnover in the hippocampus. In post-SE rats FLX treatment led to a further decrease of hippocampal 5-HT turnover; however, performance in FST was not improved. At the same time, FLX reversed SE-induced increase in brain excitability. In summary, our studies provide initial evidence that post-SE model of TLE might serve as a model of the comorbidity of epilepsy and depression. The finding that behavioral equivalents of depression were resistant to an antidepressant medication suggested that depression in epilepsy might have distinct underlying mechanisms beyond alterations in serotonergic pathways.
Comorbidity; depression; epilepsy; hippocampus; serotonin
Children with autism exhibit a host of motor disorders including poor coordination, poor tool use, and delayed learning of complex motor skills like riding a tricycle. Theory suggests that one of the crucial steps in motor learning is the ability to form internal models: to predict the sensory consequences of motor commands and learn from errors to improve performance on the next attempt. The cerebellum appears to be an important site for acquisition of internal models, and indeed the development of the cerebellum is abnormal in autism. Here, we examined autistic children on a range of tasks that required a change in the motor output in response to a change in the environment. We first considered a prism adaptation task in which the visual map of the environment was shifted. The children were asked to throw balls to visual targets with and without the prism goggles. We next considered a reaching task that required moving the handle of a novel tool (a robotic arm). The tool either imposed forces on the hand or displaced the cursor associated with the handle position. In all tasks, the children with autism adapted their motor output by forming a predictive internal model, as exhibited through after-effects. Surprisingly, the rates of acquisition and washout were indistinguishable from normally developing children. Therefore, the mechanisms of acquisition and adaptation of internal models in self-generated movements appeared normal in autism. Sparing of adaptation suggests that alternative mechanisms contribute to impaired motor skill development in autism. Furthermore, the findings may have therapeutic implications, highlighting a reliable mechanism by which children with autism can most effectively alter their behavior.
reach adaptation; prism adaptation; motor control; autism
Brain magnetic resonance imaging is widely used as a diagnostic and monitoring tool in multiple sclerosis and provides a non-invasive, sensitive and reproducible way to track the disease. Topological characteristics relating to the distribution and shape of lesions are recognized as important neuroradiological markers in the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, although these have been much less well characterized quantitatively than have traditional measures such as T2 hyperintense or T1 hypointense lesion volumes. Here, we used voxel-level 3 T magnetic resonance imaging T1-weighted scans to reconstruct the 3D topology of lesions in 284 subjects with multiple sclerosis and tested whether this is a heritable phenotype. To this end, we extracted the genotypes from a published genome-wide association study on these same individuals and searched for genetic associations with lesion load, shape and topological distribution. Lesion probability maps were created to identify frequently affected areas and to assess the overall distribution of T1 lesions in the subject population as a whole. We then developed an original algorithm to cluster adjacent lesional voxels (cluxels) in each subject and tested whether cluxel topology was significantly associated with any single-nucleotide polymorphism in our data set. To focus on patterns of lesion distribution, we computed the first 10 principal components. Although principal component 1 correlated with lesion load, none of the remaining orthogonal components correlated with any other known variable. We then conducted genome-wide association studies on each of these and found 31 significant associations (false discovery rate <0.01) with principal component 8, which represents a mode of variation of lesion topology in the population. The majority of the loci can be linked to genes related to immune cell function and to myelin and neural growth; some (SYK, MYT1L, TRAPPC9, SLITKR6 and RIC3) have been previously associated with the distribution of white matter lesions in multiple sclerosis. Finally, we used a bioinformatics approach to identify a network of 48 interacting proteins showing genetic associations (P < 0.01) with cluxel topology in multiple sclerosis. This network also contains proteins expressed in immune cells and is enriched in molecules expressed in the central nervous system that contribute to neural development and regeneration. Our results show how quantitative traits derived from brain magnetic resonance images of patients with multiple sclerosis can be used as dependent variables in a genome-wide association study. With the widespread availability of powerful computing and the availability of genotyped populations, integration of imaging and genetic data sets is likely to become a mainstream tool for understanding the complex biological processes of multiple sclerosis and other brain disorders.
voxel-wise; GWAS; multiple sclerosis
We have proposed a model of motor lateralization, in which the left and right hemispheres are specialized for different aspects of motor control: the left hemisphere for predicting and accounting for limb dynamics and the right hemisphere for stabilizing limb position through impedance control mechanisms. Our previous studies, demonstrating different motor deficits in the ipsilesional arm of stroke patients with left or right hemisphere damage, provided a critical test of our model. However, motor deficits after stroke are most prominent on the contralesional side. Post-stroke rehabilitation has also, naturally, focused on improving contralesional arm impairment and function. Understanding whether contralesional motor deficits differ depending on the hemisphere of damage is, therefore, of vital importance for assessing the impact of brain damage on function and also for designing rehabilitation interventions specific to laterality of damage. We, therefore, asked whether motor deficits in the contralesional arm of unilateral stroke patients reflect hemisphere-dependent control mechanisms. Because our model of lateralization predicts that contralesional deficits will differ depending on the hemisphere of damage, this study also served as an essential assessment of our model. Stroke patients with mild to moderate hemiparesis in either the left or right arm because of contralateral stroke and healthy control subjects performed targeted multi-joint reaching movements in different directions. As predicted, our results indicated a double dissociation; although left hemisphere damage was associated with greater errors in trajectory curvature and movement direction, errors in movement extent were greatest after right hemisphere damage. Thus, our results provide the first demonstration of hemisphere specific motor control deficits in the contralesional arm of stroke patients. Our results also suggest that it is critical to consider the differential deficits induced by right or left hemisphere lesions to enhance post-stroke rehabilitation interventions.
lateralization; stroke; motor control; reaching movements; impairment
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) is emerging as a major regulator in neurological diseases. However, the role of (PPARγ) and its co-regulators in cerebrovascular endothelial dysfunction after stroke is unclear. Here, we have demonstrated that (PPARγ) activation by pioglitazone significantly inhibited both oxygen–glucose deprivation-induced cerebral vascular endothelial cell death and middle cerebral artery occlusion-triggered cerebrovascular damage. Consistent with this finding, selective (PPARγ) genetic deletion in vascular endothelial cells resulted in increased cerebrovascular permeability and brain infarction in mice after focal ischaemia. Moreover, we screened for (PPARγ) co-regulators using a genome-wide and high-throughput co-activation system and revealed KLF11 as a novel (PPARγ) co-regulator, which interacted with (PPARγ) and regulated its function in mouse cerebral vascular endothelial cell cultures. Interestingly, KLF11 was also found as a direct transcriptional target of (PPARγ). Furthermore, KLF11 genetic deficiency effectively abolished pioglitazone cytoprotection in mouse cerebral vascular endothelial cell cultures after oxygen–glucose deprivation, as well as pioglitazone-mediated cerebrovascular protection in a mouse middle cerebral artery occlusion model. Mechanistically, we demonstrated that KLF11 enhanced (PPARγ) transcriptional suppression of the pro-apoptotic microRNA-15a (miR-15a) gene, resulting in endothelial protection in cerebral vascular endothelial cell cultures and cerebral microvasculature after ischaemic stimuli. Taken together, our data demonstrate that recruitment of KLF11 as a novel (PPARγ) co-regulator plays a critical role in the cerebrovascular protection after ischaemic insults. It is anticipated that elucidating the coordinated actions of KLF11 and (PPARγ) will provide new insights into understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying (PPARγ) function in the cerebral vasculature and help to develop a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of stroke.
KLF11; PPARγ; miR-15a; cerebral vascular endothelial cell; cerebral ischaemia
It is notoriously difficult to name odours. Without the benefit of non-olfactory information, even common household smells elude our ability to name them. The neuroscientific basis for this olfactory language ‘deficit’ is poorly understood, and even basic models to explain how odour inputs gain access to transmodal representations required for naming have not been put forward. This study used patients with primary progressive aphasia, a clinical dementia syndrome characterized by primary deficits in language, to investigate the interactions between olfactory inputs and lexical access by assessing behavioural performance of olfactory knowledge and its relationship to brain atrophy. We specifically hypothesized that the temporal pole would play a key role in linking odour object representations to transmodal networks, given its anatomical proximity to olfactory and visual object processing areas. Behaviourally, patients with primary progressive aphasia with non-semantic subtypes were severely impaired on an odour naming task, in comparison with an age-matched control group. However, with the availability of picture cues or word cues, odour matching performance approached control levels, demonstrating an inability to retrieve but not to recognize the name and nature of the odorant. The magnitude of cortical thinning in the temporal pole was found to correlate with reductions in odour familiarity and odour matching to visual cues, whereas the inferior frontal gyrus correlated with both odour naming and matching. Volumetric changes in the mediodorsal thalamus correlated with the proportion of categorical mismatch errors, indicating a possible role of this region in error-signal monitoring to optimize recognition of associations linked to the odour. A complementary analysis of patients with the semantic subtype of primary progressive aphasia, which is associated with marked temporopolar atrophy, revealed much more pronounced impairments of odour naming and matching. In identifying the critical role of the temporal pole and inferior frontal gyrus in transmodal linking and verbalization of olfactory objects, our findings provide a new neurobiological foundation for understanding why even common odours are hard to name.
olfaction; odour object knowledge; recognition; naming; language; semantics; temporal pole; inferior frontal gyrus; primary progressive aphasia; human brain; MRI
Progressive alexia is an acquired reading deficit caused by degeneration of brain regions that are essential for written word processing. Functional imaging studies have shown that early processing of the visual word form depends on a hierarchical posterior-to-anterior processing stream in occipito-temporal cortex, whereby successive areas code increasingly larger and more complex perceptual attributes of the letter string. A region located in the left lateral occipito-temporal sulcus and adjacent fusiform gyrus shows maximal selectivity for words and has been dubbed the ‘visual word form area’. We studied two patients with progressive alexia in order to determine whether their reading deficits were associated with structural and/or functional abnormalities in this visual word form system. Voxel-based morphometry showed left-lateralized occipito-temporal atrophy in both patients, very mild in one, but moderate to severe in the other. The two patients, along with 10 control subjects, were scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging as they viewed rapidly presented words, false font strings, or a fixation crosshair. This paradigm was optimized to reliably map brain regions involved in orthographic processing in individual subjects. All 10 control subjects showed a posterior-to-anterior gradient of selectivity for words, and all 10 showed a functionally defined visual word form area in the left hemisphere that was activated for words relative to false font strings. In contrast, neither of the two patients with progressive alexia showed any evidence for a selectivity gradient or for word-specific activation of the visual word form area. The patient with mild atrophy showed normal responses to both words and false font strings in the posterior part of the visual word form system, but a failure to develop selectivity for words in the more anterior part of the system. In contrast, the patient with moderate to severe atrophy showed minimal activation of any part of the visual word form system for either words or false font strings. Our results suggest that progressive alexia is associated with a dysfunctional visual word form system, with or without substantial cortical atrophy. Furthermore, these findings demonstrate that functional MRI has the potential to reveal the neural bases of cognitive deficits in neurodegenerative patients at very early stages, in some cases before the development of extensive atrophy.
progressive alexia; letter-by-letter reading; posterior cortical atrophy; logopenic primary progressive aphasia; visual word form system
Deficits in cognitive control are implicated in cocaine dependence. Previously, combining functional magnetic resonance imaging and a stop signal task, we demonstrated altered cognitive control in cocaine-dependent individuals. However, the clinical implications of these cross-sectional findings and, in particular, whether the changes were associated with relapse to drug use, were not clear. In a prospective study, we recruited 97 treatment-seeking individuals with cocaine dependence to perform the stop signal task during functional magnetic resonance imaging and participate in follow-up assessments for 3 months, during which time cocaine use was evaluated with timeline follow back and ascertained by urine toxicology tests. Functional magnetic resonance imaging data were analysed using general linear models as implemented in Statistical Parametric Mapping 8, with the contrast ‘stop error greater than stop success trials’ to index error processing. Using voxelwise analysis with logistic and Cox regressions, we identified brain activations of error processing that predict relapse and time to relapse. In females, decreased error-related activations of the thalamus and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex predicted relapse and an earlier time to relapse. In males, decreased error-related activations of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and left insula predicted relapse and an earlier time to relapse. These regional activations were validated with data resampling and predicted relapse with an average area under the curve of 0.849 in receiver operating characteristic analyses. These findings provide direct evidence linking deficits in cognitive control to clinical outcome in a moderate-sized cohort of cocaine-dependent individuals. These results may provide a useful basis for future studies to examine how psychosocial factors interact with cognitive control to determine drug use and to evaluate the efficacy of pharmacological or behavioural treatment in remediating deficits of cognitive control in cocaine addicts.
cocaine; relapse; cognitive control; error processing; gender difference
Dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome is an SLC6A3-related progressive infantile-onset parkinsonism-dystonia that mimics cerebral palsy. Ng et al. describe clinical features and molecular findings in a new cohort of patients. They report infants with classical disease, as well as young adults manifesting as atypical juvenile-onset parkinsonism-dystonia, thereby expanding the disease spectrum.
Dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome due to SLC6A3 mutations is the first inherited dopamine ‘transportopathy’ to be described, with a classical presentation of early infantile-onset progressive parkinsonism dystonia. In this study we have identified a new cohort of patients with dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome, including, most significantly, atypical presentation later in childhood with a milder disease course. We report the detailed clinical features, molecular genetic findings and in vitro functional investigations undertaken for adult and paediatric cases. Patients presenting with parkinsonism dystonia or a neurotransmitter profile characteristic of dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome were recruited for study. SLC6A3 mutational analysis was undertaken in all patients. The functional consequences of missense variants on the dopamine transporter were evaluated by determining the effect of mutant dopamine transporter on dopamine uptake, protein expression and amphetamine-mediated dopamine efflux using an in vitro cellular heterologous expression system. We identified eight new patients from five unrelated families with dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome. The median age at diagnosis was 13 years (range 1.5–34 years). Most significantly, the case series included three adolescent males with atypical dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome of juvenile onset (outside infancy) and progressive parkinsonism dystonia. The other five patients in the cohort presented with classical infantile-onset parkinsonism dystonia, with one surviving into adulthood (currently aged 34 years) and labelled as having ‘juvenile parkinsonism’. All eight patients harboured homozygous or compound heterozygous mutations in SLC6A3, of which the majority are previously unreported variants. In vitro studies of mutant dopamine transporter demonstrated multifaceted loss of dopamine transporter function. Impaired dopamine uptake was universally present, and more severely impacted in dopamine transporter mutants causing infantile-onset rather than juvenile-onset disease. Dopamine transporter mutants also showed diminished dopamine binding affinity, reduced cell surface transporter, loss of post-translational dopamine transporter glycosylation and failure of amphetamine-mediated dopamine efflux. Our data series expands the clinical phenotypic continuum of dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome and indicates that there is a phenotypic spectrum from infancy (early onset, rapidly progressive disease) to childhood/adolescence and adulthood (later onset, slower disease progression). Genotype–phenotype analysis in this cohort suggests that higher residual dopamine transporter activity is likely to contribute to postponing disease presentation in these later-onset adult cases. Dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome remains under-recognized and our data highlights that dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome should be considered as a differential diagnosis for both infantile- and juvenile-onset movement disorders, including cerebral palsy and juvenile parkinsonism.
dopamine; dopamine transporter (DAT); juvenile; parkinsonism; dystonia; SLC6A3
The factors driving clinical heterogeneity in Alzheimer’s disease are not well understood. This study assessed the relationship between amyloid deposition, glucose metabolism and clinical phenotype in Alzheimer’s disease, and investigated how these relate to the involvement of functional networks. The study included 17 patients with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (age at onset <65 years), 12 patients with logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia and 13 patients with posterior cortical atrophy [whole Alzheimer’s disease group: age = 61.5 years (standard deviation 6.5 years), 55% male]. Thirty healthy control subjects [age = 70.8 (3.3) years, 47% male] were also included. Subjects underwent positron emission tomography with 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B and 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose. All patients met National Institute on Ageing–Alzheimer’s Association criteria for probable Alzheimer’s disease and showed evidence of amyloid deposition on 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography. We hypothesized that hypometabolism patterns would differ across variants, reflecting involvement of specific functional networks, whereas amyloid patterns would be diffuse and similar across variants. We tested these hypotheses using three complimentary approaches: (i) mass-univariate voxel-wise group comparison of 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose and 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B; (ii) generation of covariance maps across all subjects with Alzheimer’s disease from seed regions of interest specifically atrophied in each variant, and comparison of these maps to functional network templates; and (iii) extraction of 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B and 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose values from functional network templates. Alzheimer’s disease clinical groups showed syndrome-specific 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose patterns, with greater parieto-occipital involvement in posterior cortical atrophy, and asymmetric involvement of left temporoparietal regions in logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia. In contrast, all Alzheimer’s disease variants showed diffuse patterns of 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B binding, with posterior cortical atrophy additionally showing elevated uptake in occipital cortex compared with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The seed region of interest covariance analysis revealed distinct 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose correlation patterns that greatly overlapped with the right executive-control network for the early-onset Alzheimer’s disease region of interest, the left language network for the logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia region of interest, and the higher visual network for the posterior cortical atrophy region of interest. In contrast, 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B covariance maps for each region of interest were diffuse. Finally, 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose was similarly reduced in all Alzheimer’s disease variants in the dorsal and left ventral default mode network, whereas significant differences were found in the right ventral default mode, right executive-control (both lower in early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and posterior cortical atrophy than logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia) and higher-order visual network (lower in posterior cortical atrophy than in early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia), with a trend towards lower 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose also found in the left language network in logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia. There were no differences in 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B binding between syndromes in any of the networks. Our data suggest that Alzheimer’s disease syndromes are associated with degeneration of specific functional networks, and that fibrillar amyloid-β deposition explains at most a small amount of the clinico-anatomic heterogeneity in Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease; posterior cortical atrophy; logopenic variant of PPA; positron emission tomography (PET); functional networks
Myotonic dystrophy type 1 is a complex multisystemic inherited disorder, which displays multiple debilitating neurological manifestations. Despite recent progress in the understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of myotonic dystrophy type 1 in skeletal muscle and heart, the pathways affected in the central nervous system are largely unknown. To address this question, we studied the only transgenic mouse line expressing CTG trinucleotide repeats in the central nervous system. These mice recreate molecular features of RNA toxicity, such as RNA foci accumulation and missplicing. They exhibit relevant behavioural and cognitive phenotypes, deficits in short-term synaptic plasticity, as well as changes in neurochemical levels. In the search for disease intermediates affected by disease mutation, a global proteomics approach revealed RAB3A upregulation and synapsin I hyperphosphorylation in the central nervous system of transgenic mice, transfected cells and post-mortem brains of patients with myotonic dystrophy type 1. These protein defects were associated with electrophysiological and behavioural deficits in mice and altered spontaneous neurosecretion in cell culture. Taking advantage of a relevant transgenic mouse of a complex human disease, we found a novel connection between physiological phenotypes and synaptic protein dysregulation, indicative of synaptic dysfunction in myotonic dystrophy type 1 brain pathology.
myotonic dystrophy; transgenic mice; synaptic transmission; RAB3A; synapsin I
In visual search, the detection of pop-out targets is facilitated when the target-defining dimension remains the same compared with when it changes across trials. We tested the brain regions necessary for these dimensional carry-over effects using a voxel-based morphometry study with brain-lesioned patients. Participants had to search for targets defined by either their colour (red or blue) or orientation (right- or left-tilted), and the target dimension either stayed the same or changed on consecutive trials. Twenty-five patients were categorized according to whether they showed an effect of dimensional change on search or not. The two groups did not differ with regard to their performance on several working memory tasks, and the dimensional carry-over effects were not correlated with working memory performance. With spatial, sustained attention and working memory deficits as well as lesion volume controlled, damage within the right inferior parietal lobule (the angular and supramarginal gyri) extending into the intraparietal sulcus was associated with an absence of dimensional carry-over (P < 0.001, cluster-level corrected for multiple comparisons). The data suggest that these regions of parietal cortex are necessary to implement attention shifting in the context of visual dimensional change.
visual search; dimension weighting; brain lesions; voxel-based morphometry
Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, also known as Kennedy’s disease, is an adult-onset hereditary neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expansion of the polyglutamine repeat in the first exon in the androgen receptor gene. Pathologically, the disease is defined by selective loss of spinal and bulbar motor neurons causing bulbar, facial and limb weakness. Although the precise disease pathophysiology is largely unknown, it appears to be related to abnormal accumulation of the pathogenic androgen receptor protein within the nucleus, leading to disruption of cellular processes. Using a mouse model of spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy that exhibits many of the characteristic features of the human disease, in vivo physiological assessment of muscle function revealed that mice with the pathogenic expansion of the androgen receptor develop a motor deficit characterized by a reduction in muscle force, abnormal muscle contractile characteristics, loss of functional motor units and motor neuron degeneration. We have previously shown that treatment with arimoclomol, a co-inducer of the heat shock stress response, delays disease progression in the mutant superoxide dismutase 1 mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a fatal motor neuron disease. We therefore evaluated the therapeutic potential of arimoclomol in mice with spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy. Arimoclomol was administered orally, in drinking water, from symptom onset and the effects established at 18 months of age, a late stage of disease. Arimoclomol significantly improved hindlimb muscle force and contractile characteristics, rescued motor units and, importantly, improved motor neuron survival and upregulated the expression of the vascular endothelial growth factor which possess neurotrophic activity. These results provide evidence that upregulation of the heat shock response by treatment with arimoclomol may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy and may also be a possible approach for the treatment of other neurodegenerative diseases.
polyglutamine expansions; motor neuron disease; heat shock protein; protein aggregation; neuroprotective agents
Impulsivity is common in Parkinson’s disease. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with multi-modal imaging, Ye et al. reveal improved response inhibition in some patients receiving the SSRI citalopram, including those with advanced disease. Improvements correlated with preserved frontostriatal structural connectivity and drug-induced prefrontal activity, highlighting the need for patient stratification in trials.
Impulsivity is common in Parkinson’s disease even in the absence of impulse control disorders. It is likely to be multifactorial, including a dopaminergic ‘overdose’ and structural changes in the frontostriatal circuits for motor control. In addition, we proposed that changes in serotonergic projections to the forebrain also contribute to response inhibition in Parkinson’s disease, based on preclinical animal and human studies. We therefore examined whether the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram improves response inhibition, in terms of both behaviour and the efficiency of underlying neural mechanisms. This multimodal magnetic resonance imaging study used a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled crossover design with an integrated Stop-Signal and NoGo paradigm. Twenty-one patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (46–76 years old, 11 male, Hoehn and Yahr stage 1.5–3) received 30 mg citalopram or placebo in addition to their usual dopaminergic medication in two separate sessions. Twenty matched healthy control subjects (54–74 years old, 12 male) were tested without medication. The effects of disease and drug on behavioural performance and regional brain activity were analysed using general linear models. In addition, anatomical connectivity was examined using diffusion tensor imaging and tract-based spatial statistics. We confirmed that Parkinson’s disease caused impairment in response inhibition, with longer Stop-Signal Reaction Time and more NoGo errors under placebo compared with controls, without affecting Go reaction times. This was associated with less stop-specific activation in the right inferior frontal cortex, but no significant difference in NoGo-related activation. Although there was no beneficial main effect of citalopram, it reduced Stop-Signal Reaction Time and NoGo errors, and enhanced inferior frontal activation, in patients with relatively more severe disease (higher Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale motor score). The behavioural effect correlated with the citalopram-induced enhancement of prefrontal activation and the strength of preserved structural connectivity between the frontal and striatal regions. In conclusion, the behavioural effect of citalopram on response inhibition depends on individual differences in prefrontal cortical activation and frontostriatal connectivity. The correlation between disease severity and the effect of citalopram on response inhibition may be due to the progressive loss of forebrain serotonergic projections. These results contribute to a broader understanding of the critical roles of serotonin in regulating cognitive and behavioural control, as well as new strategies for patient stratification in clinical trials of serotonergic treatments in Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease; response inhibition; serotonin; citalopram; functional MRI
Deep brain stimulation is an established therapy for Parkinson’s disease, although its mechanism of action remains unclear. Kahan et al. use resting state fMRI and dynamic causal modelling to study changes in ‘effective’ connectivity within the basal ganglia. Analyses implicate subthalamic afferents and the direct pathway in the clinical response.
Depleted of dopamine, the dynamics of the parkinsonian brain impact on both ‘action’ and ‘resting’ motor behaviour. Deep brain stimulation has become an established means of managing these symptoms, although its mechanisms of action remain unclear. Non-invasive characterizations of induced brain responses, and the effective connectivity underlying them, generally appeals to dynamic causal modelling of neuroimaging data. When the brain is at rest, however, this sort of characterization has been limited to correlations (functional connectivity). In this work, we model the ‘effective’ connectivity underlying low frequency blood oxygen level-dependent fluctuations in the resting Parkinsonian motor network—disclosing the distributed effects of deep brain stimulation on cortico-subcortical connections. Specifically, we show that subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation modulates all the major components of the motor cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical loop, including the cortico-striatal, thalamo-cortical, direct and indirect basal ganglia pathways, and the hyperdirect subthalamic nucleus projections. The strength of effective subthalamic nucleus afferents and efferents were reduced by stimulation, whereas cortico-striatal, thalamo-cortical and direct pathways were strengthened. Remarkably, regression analysis revealed that the hyperdirect, direct, and basal ganglia afferents to the subthalamic nucleus predicted clinical status and therapeutic response to deep brain stimulation; however, suppression of the sensitivity of the subthalamic nucleus to its hyperdirect afferents by deep brain stimulation may subvert the clinical efficacy of deep brain stimulation. Our findings highlight the distributed effects of stimulation on the resting motor network and provide a framework for analysing effective connectivity in resting state functional MRI with strong a priori hypotheses.
Parkinson’s disease; subthalamic nucleus; deep brain stimulation; dynamic causal modelling; resting state functional MRI
Cations leaking through the voltage sensor of mutant sodium or calcium channels underlie hypokalaemic periodic paralysis. Groome et al. use muscle fibre recordings, voltage clamp, and molecular dynamics, to investigate recently discovered Nav1.4 channel mutations. They identify a novel voltage sensor movement that may explain the muscle pathology.
Hypokalaemic periodic paralysis is typically associated with mutations of voltage sensor residues in calcium or sodium channels of skeletal muscle. To date, causative sodium channel mutations have been studied only for the two outermost arginine residues in S4 voltage sensor segments of domains I to III. These mutations produce depolarization of skeletal muscle fibres in response to reduced extracellular potassium, owing to an inward cation-selective gating pore current activated by hyperpolarization. Here, we describe mutations of the third arginine, R3, in the domain III voltage sensor i.e. an R1135H mutation which was found in two patients in separate families and a novel R1135C mutation identified in a third patient in another family. Muscle fibres from a patient harbouring the R1135H mutation showed increased depolarization tendency at normal and reduced extracellular potassium compatible with the diagnosis. Additionally, amplitude and rise time of action potentials were reduced compared with controls, even for holding potentials at which all NaV1.4 are fully recovered from inactivation. These findings may be because of an outward omega current activated at positive potentials. Expression of R1135H/C in mammalian cells indicates further gating defects that include significantly enhanced entry into inactivation and prolonged recovery that may additionally contribute to action potential inhibition at the physiological resting potential. After S4 immobilization in the outward position, mutant channels produce an inward omega current that most likely depolarizes the resting potential and produces the hypokalaemia-induced weakness. Gating current recordings reveal that mutations at R3 inhibit S4 deactivation before recovery, and molecular dynamics simulations suggest that this defect is caused by disrupted interactions of domain III S2 countercharges with S4 arginines R2 to R4 during repolarization of the membrane. This work reveals a novel mechanism of disrupted S4 translocation for hypokalaemic periodic paralysis mutations at arginine residues located below the gating pore constriction of the voltage sensor module.
hypokalaemic periodic paralysis; molecular dynamics; omega pore current; sodium channel; voltage sensor
Robson et al. use fMRI to investigate preserved written word and picture comprehension in Wernicke’s aphasia (impaired verbal comprehension following left temporoparietal damage). Bilaterally enhanced activation in the ventral and anterior temporal lobes as patients semantically process visually presented material emphasizes the importance of these regions for multimodal comprehension.
Wernicke’s aphasia occurs after a stroke to classical language comprehension regions in the left temporoparietal cortex. Consequently, auditory–verbal comprehension is significantly impaired in Wernicke’s aphasia but the capacity to comprehend visually presented materials (written words and pictures) is partially spared. This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the neural basis of written word and picture semantic processing in Wernicke’s aphasia, with the wider aim of examining how the semantic system is altered after damage to the classical comprehension regions. Twelve participants with chronic Wernicke’s aphasia and 12 control participants performed semantic animate–inanimate judgements and a visual height judgement baseline task. Whole brain and region of interest analysis in Wernicke’s aphasia and control participants found that semantic judgements were underpinned by activation in the ventral and anterior temporal lobes bilaterally. The Wernicke’s aphasia group displayed an ‘over-activation’ in comparison with control participants, indicating that anterior temporal lobe regions become increasingly influential following reduction in posterior semantic resources. Semantic processing of written words in Wernicke’s aphasia was additionally supported by recruitment of the right anterior superior temporal lobe, a region previously associated with recovery from auditory-verbal comprehension impairments. Overall, the results provide support for models in which the anterior temporal lobes are crucial for multimodal semantic processing and that these regions may be accessed without support from classic posterior comprehension regions.
Wernicke’s aphasia; semantic processing; language comprehension; anterior temporal lobe; Wernicke’s area
The β-tropomyosin gene encodes a component of the sarcomeric thin filament. Rod-shaped dimers of tropomyosin regulate actin-myosin interactions and β-tropomyosin mutations have been associated with nemaline myopathy, cap myopathy, Escobar syndrome and distal arthrogryposis types 1A and 2B. In this study, we expand the allelic spectrum of β-tropomyosin-related myopathies through the identification of a novel β-tropomyosin mutation in two clinical contexts not previously associated with β-tropomyosin. The first clinical phenotype is core-rod myopathy, with a β-tropomyosin mutation uncovered by whole exome sequencing in a family with autosomal dominant distal myopathy and muscle biopsy features of both minicores and nemaline rods. The second phenotype, observed in four unrelated families, is autosomal dominant trismus-pseudocamptodactyly syndrome (distal arthrogryposis type 7; previously associated exclusively with myosin heavy chain 8 mutations). In all four families, the mutation identified was a novel 3-bp in-frame deletion (c.20_22del) that results in deletion of a conserved lysine at the seventh amino acid position (p.K7del). This is the first mutation identified in the extreme N-terminus of β-tropomyosin. To understand the potential pathogenic mechanism(s) underlying this mutation, we performed both computational analysis and in vivo modelling. Our theoretical model predicts that the mutation disrupts the N-terminus of the α-helices of dimeric β-tropomyosin, a change predicted to alter protein–protein binding between β-tropomyosin and other molecules and to disturb head-to-tail polymerization of β-tropomyosin dimers. To create an in vivo model, we expressed wild-type or p.K7del β-tropomyosin in the developing zebrafish. p.K7del β-tropomyosin fails to localize properly within the thin filament compartment and its expression alters sarcomere length, suggesting that the mutation interferes with head-to-tail β-tropomyosin polymerization and with overall sarcomeric structure. We describe a novel β-tropomyosin mutation, two clinical-histopathological phenotypes not previously associated with β-tropomyosin and pathogenic data from the first animal model of β-tropomyosin-related myopathies.
nemaline; myopathies; muscle and nerve pathology; mutation; neuromuscular disorders
Eleven of 69 prospectively enrolled primary progressive aphasics were selected for this study because of peak atrophy sites located predominantly or exclusively within the anterior left temporal lobe. Cortical volumes in these areas were reduced to less than half of control values, whereas average volume elsewhere in the left hemisphere deviated from control values by only 8%. Failure to name objects emerged as the most consistent and severe deficit. Naming errors were attributed to pure retrieval failure if the object could not be named even when the denoting word was understood, the object recognized and the two accurately matched. Surprisingly many of the naming errors reflected pure retrieval failures, without discernible semantic or associative component. The remaining set of errors had associative components. These errors reflected the inability to define the word denoting the object more often than the inability to define the nature of the pictured object. In a separate task where the same object had to be linked to verbal or non-verbal associations, performance was abnormal only in the verbal format. Excessive taxonomic interference was observed for picture–word, but not picture–picture, matching tasks. This excessive interference reflected a blurring of intra- rather than inter-category distinctions as if the acuity of word–object associations had been diminished so that correspondences were easier to recognize at generic than specific levels. These dissociations between verbal and non-verbal markers of object knowledge indicate that the reduced neural mass at peak atrophy sites of the left temporal tip, accounting for half or more of the presumed premorbid volume, was unlikely to have contained domain-independent semantic representations of the type that would be expected in a strictly amodal hub. A more likely arrangement entails two highly interactive routes—a strongly left lateralized temporosylvian language network for verbal concepts, and a presumably more bilateral or right-sided inferotemporal/fusiform object recognition network, which remained relatively spared because peak atrophy sites were concentrated on the left. The current results also suggest that the left anterior temporal neocortex should be inserted into the language network where it is likely to play a major role in selecting verbal labels for objects and mediating the progression of word comprehension from generic to specific levels of precision.
dementia; semantic; language; naming; frontotemporal
Four subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 immunoreactive inclusions have been described (types A–D). Of these four subtypes, motor neuron disease is more commonly associated with type B pathology, but has also been reported with type A pathology. We have noted, however, the unusual occurrence of cases of type C pathology having corticospinal tract degeneration. We aimed to assess the severity of corticospinal tract degeneration in a large cohort of cases with type C (n = 31). Pathological analysis included semi-quantitation of myelin loss of fibres of the corticospinal tract and associated macrophage burden, as well as axonal loss, at the level of the medullary pyramids. We also assessed for motor cortex degeneration and fibre loss of the medial lemniscus/olivocerebellar tract. All cases were subdivided into three groups based on the degree of corticospinal tract degeneration: (i) no corticospinal tract degeneration; (ii) equivocal corticospinal tract degeneration; and (iii) moderate to very severe corticospinal tract degeneration. Clinical, genetic, pathological and imaging comparisons were performed across groups. Eight cases had no corticospinal tract degeneration, and 14 cases had equivocal to mild corticospinal tract degeneration. Nine cases, however, had moderate to very severe corticospinal tract degeneration with myelin and axonal loss. In these nine cases, there was degeneration of the motor cortex without lower motor neuron degeneration or involvement of other brainstem tracts. These cases most commonly presented as semantic dementia, and they had longer disease duration (mean: 15.3 years) compared with the other two groups (10.8 and 9.9 years; P = 0.03). After adjusting for disease duration, severity of corticospinal tract degeneration remained significantly different across groups. Only one case, without corticospinal tract degeneration, was found to have a hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the C9ORF72 gene. All three groups were associated with anterior temporal lobe atrophy on MRI; however, the cases with moderate to severe corticospinal tract degeneration showed right-sided temporal lobe asymmetry and greater involvement of the right temporal lobe and superior motor cortices than the other groups. In contrast, the cases with no or equivocal corticospinal tract degeneration were more likely to show left-sided temporal lobe asymmetry. For comparison, the corticospinal tract was assessed in 86 type A and B cases, and only two cases showed evidence of corticospinal tract degeneration without lower motor neuron degeneration. These findings confirm that there exists a unique association between frontotemporal lobar degeneration with type C pathology and corticospinal tract degeneration, with this entity showing a predilection to involve the right temporal lobe.
TDP-43 type C; corticospinal tract; MRI; semantic dementia; right temporal lobe