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1.  Curcumin derivatives promote Schwann cell differentiation and improve neuropathy in R98C CMT1B mice 
Brain  2012;135(12):3551-3566.
Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease type 1B is caused by mutations in myelin protein zero. R98C mice, an authentic model of early onset Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease type 1B, develop neuropathy in part because the misfolded mutant myelin protein zero is retained in the endoplasmic reticulum where it activates the unfolded protein response. Because oral curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric, has been shown to relieve endoplasmic reticulum stress and decrease the activation of the unfolded protein response, we treated R98C mutant mice with daily gastric lavage of curcumin or curcumin derivatives starting at 4 days of age and analysed them for clinical disability, electrophysiological parameters and peripheral nerve morphology. Heterozygous R98C mice treated with curcumin dissolved in sesame oil or phosphatidylcholine curcumin performed as well as wild-type littermates on a rotarod test and had increased numbers of large-diameter axons in their sciatic nerves. Treatment with the latter two compounds also increased compound muscle action potential amplitudes and the innervation of neuromuscular junctions in both heterozygous and homozygous R98C animals, but it did not improve nerve conduction velocity, myelin thickness, G-ratios or myelin period. The expression of c-Jun and suppressed cAMP-inducible POU (SCIP)—transcription factors that inhibit myelination when overexpressed—was also decreased by treatment. Consistent with its role in reducing endoplasmic reticulum stress, treatment with curcumin dissolved in sesame oil or phosphatidylcholine curcumin was associated with decreased X-box binding protein (XBP1) splicing. Taken together, these data demonstrate that treatment with curcumin dissolved in sesame oil or phosphatidylcholine curcumin improves the peripheral neuropathy of R98C mice by alleviating endoplasmic reticulum stress, by reducing the activation of unfolded protein response and by promoting Schwann cell differentiation.
doi:10.1093/brain/aws299
PMCID: PMC3577101  PMID: 23250879
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease 1B; curcumin; myelin protein zero; peripheral neuropathy; unfolded protein response
2.  MpzR98C arrests Schwann cell development in a mouse model of early-onset Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease type 1B 
Brain  2012;135(7):2032-2047.
Mutations in myelin protein zero (MPZ) cause Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease type 1B. Many dominant MPZ mutations, including R98C, present as infantile onset dysmyelinating neuropathies. We have generated an R98C ‘knock-in’ mouse model of Charcot–Marie–Tooth type 1B, where a mutation encoding R98C was targeted to the mouse Mpz gene. Both heterozygous (R98C/+) and homozygous (R98C/R98C) mice develop weakness, abnormal nerve conduction velocities and morphologically abnormal myelin; R98C/R98C mice are more severely affected. MpzR98C is retained in the endoplasmic reticulum of Schwann cells and provokes a transitory, canonical unfolded protein response. Ablation of Chop, a mediator of the protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase unfolded protein response pathway restores compound muscle action potential amplitudes of R98C/+ mice but does not alter the reduced conduction velocities, reduced axonal diameters or clinical behaviour of these animals. R98C/R98C Schwann cells are developmentally arrested in the promyelinating stage, whereas development is delayed in R98C/+ mice. The proportion of cells expressing c-Jun, an inhibitor of myelination, is elevated in mutant nerves, whereas the proportion of cells expressing the promyelinating transcription factor Krox-20 is decreased, particularly in R98C/R98C mice. Our results provide a potential link between the accumulation of MpzR98C in the endoplasmic reticulum and a developmental delay in myelination. These mice provide a model by which we can begin to understand the early onset dysmyelination seen in patients with R98C and similar mutations.
doi:10.1093/brain/aws140
PMCID: PMC3381724  PMID: 22689911
Charcot–Marie–Tooth type 1B; demyelination; neuromuscular disorders; glial cells; neuropathy
3.  Shortened internodal length of dermal myelinated nerve fibres in Charcot–Marie-Tooth disease type 1A 
Brain  2009;132(12):3263-3273.
Charcot–Marie-Tooth disease type 1A is the most common inherited neuropathy and is caused by duplication of chromosome 17p11.2 containing the peripheral myelin protein-22 gene. This disease is characterized by uniform slowing of conduction velocities and secondary axonal loss, which are in contrast with non-uniform slowing of conduction velocities in acquired demyelinating disorders, such as chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy. Mechanisms responsible for the slowed conduction velocities and axonal loss in Charcot–Marie-Tooth disease type 1A are poorly understood, in part because of the difficulty in obtaining nerve samples from patients, due to the invasive nature of nerve biopsies. We have utilized glabrous skin biopsies, a minimally invasive procedure, to evaluate these issues systematically in patients with Charcot–Marie-Tooth disease type 1A (n = 32), chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (n = 4) and healthy controls (n = 12). Morphology and molecular architecture of dermal myelinated nerve fibres were examined using immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy. Internodal length was uniformly shortened in patients with Charcot–Marie-Tooth disease type 1A, compared with those in normal controls (P < 0.0001). Segmental demyelination was absent in the Charcot–Marie-Tooth disease type 1A group, but identifiable in all patients with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy. Axonal loss was measurable using the density of Meissner corpuscles and associated with an accumulation of intra-axonal mitochondria. Our study demonstrates that skin biopsy can reveal pathological and molecular architectural changes that distinguish inherited from acquired demyelinating neuropathies. Uniformly shortened internodal length in Charcot–Marie-Tooth disease type 1A suggests a potential developmental defect of internodal lengthening. Intra-axonal accumulation of mitochondria provides new insights into the pathogenesis of axonal degeneration in Charcot–Marie-Tooth disease type 1A.
doi:10.1093/brain/awp274
PMCID: PMC2800385  PMID: 19923170
CMT1A; internodal length; Schwann cell; skin biopsy; Charcot–Marie-Tooth disease
4.  PMP22 expression in dermal nerve myelin from patients with CMT1A 
Brain  2009;132(7):1734-1740.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1A (CMT1A) is caused by a 1.4 Mb duplication on chromosome 17p11.2, which contains the peripheral myelin protein-22 (PMP22) gene. Increased levels of PMP22 in compact myelin of peripheral nerves have been demonstrated and presumed to cause the phenotype of CMT1A. The objective of the present study was to determine whether an extra copy of the PMP22 gene in CMT1A disrupts the normally coordinated expression of PMP22 protein in peripheral nerve myelin and to evaluate PMP22 over-expression in patients with CMT1A and determine whether levels of PMP22 are molecular markers of disease severity. PMP22 expression was measured by taking skin biopsies from patients with CMT1A (n = 20) and both healthy controls (n = 7) and patients with Hereditary Neuropathy with liability to Pressure Palsies (HNPP) (n = 6), in which patients have only a single copy of PMP22. Immunological electron microscopy was performed on the skin biopsies to quantify PMP22 expression in compact myelin. Similar biopsies were analysed by real time PCR to measure PMP22 mRNA levels. Results were also correlated with impairment in CMT1A, as measured by the validated CMT Neuropathy Score. Most, but not all patients with CMT1A, had elevated PMP22 levels in myelin compared with the controls. The levels of PMP22 in CMT1A were highly variable, but not in HNPP or the controls. However, there was no correlation between neurological disabilities and the level of over-expression of PMP22 protein or mRNA in patients with CMT1A. The extra copy of PMP22 in CMT1A results in disruption of the tightly regulated expression of PMP22. Thus, variability of PMP22 levels, rather than absolute level of PMP22, may play an important role in the pathogenesis of CMT1A.
doi:10.1093/brain/awp113
PMCID: PMC2724915  PMID: 19447823
PMP22; CMT1A; CMTNS; HNPP; Schwann cell; myelin; Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
5.  Mutation of FIG4 causes a rapidly progressive, asymmetric neuronal degeneration 
Brain  2008;131(8):1990-2001.
Recessive Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type-4J (CMT4J) and its animal model, the pale tremor mouse (plt), are caused by mutations of the FIG4 gene encoding a PI(3,5)P2 5-phosphatase. We describe the 9-year clinical course of CMT4J, including asymmetric, rapidly progressive paralysis, in two siblings. Sensory symptoms were absent despite reduced numbers of sensory axons. Thus, the phenotypic presentation of CMT4J clinically resembles motor neuron disease. Time-lapse imaging of fibroblasts from CMT4J patients demonstrates impaired trafficking of intracellular organelles because of obstruction by vacuoles. Further characterization of plt mice identified axonal degeneration in motor and sensory neurons, limited segmental demyelination, lack of TUNEL staining and lack of accumulation of ubiquitinated protein in vacuoles of motor and sensory neurons. This study represents the first documentation of the natural history of CMT4J. Physical obstruction of organelle trafficking by vacuoles is a potential novel cellular mechanism of neurodegeneration.
doi:10.1093/brain/awn114
PMCID: PMC2724900  PMID: 18556664
FIG4 or SAC3 gene; PI(3,5)P2-5-phosphatase; neuronopathy; axonal degeneration; vacuoles; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; motor neuron disease; segmental demyelination; Schwann cells

Results 1-5 (5)