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
It is not known whether there is a core abnormality that occurs in all cases of schizophrenia. The cognitive dysmetria hypothesis proposes that there is such an abnormality which is characterized cognitively by a disruption in control and coordination processes, and functionally by abnormal inter-regional connectivity within the cortico-cerebellar-thalamo-cortical circuit (CCTCC). In the current study, we used functional MRI (fMRI) to investigate these two key aspects of the hypothesis. Since patients with schizophrenia show deficits in attention which have been characterized extensively using the continuous performance task (CPT) and since functional imaging studies have also demonstrated that this task engages the CCTCC, we used this task to investigate whether two patient groups with distinct symptom profiles would show functional dysconnectivity within this network. Three groups of subjects participated in the study: healthy volunteers (n = 12), schizophrenia patients with both negative and positive symptoms (n = 11) and schizophrenia patients with primarily positive symptoms (n = 11). Patient groups were matched for age of illness onset and medication, and to the control group for age, gender and handedness. Subjects were scanned using fMRI whilst they performed a modified version of the CPT, involving both degraded and non-degraded stimuli. Stimulus degradation has been shown to produce decrements in sensitivity, which is thought to reflect increased demands on the limited capacity of visual attention. Between-group comparisons revealed that patients with schizophrenia, irrespective of symptomatology, showed attenuation of the anterior cingulate and cerebellar response to stimulus degradation in comparison with control subjects. We also observed disruptions of inter-regional brain integration in schizophrenia. A task-specific relationship between the medial superior frontal gyrus and both anterior cingulate and the cerebellum was disrupted in both patient groups in comparison with controls. In addition, patients with negative symptoms showed impaired behavioural performance, and abnormal task-related connectivity between anterior cingulate and supplementary motor area. These findings are consistent with theoretical accounts of schizophrenia as a disorder of functional integration, and with the cognitive dysmetria hypothesis, which posits a disconnection within the CCTCC as a fundamental abnormality in schizophrenia, independent of diagnostic subtype. Furthermore, these data show evidence of additional functional deficits in patients with negative symptoms, deficits which may explain the accompanying attentional impairment.
schizophrenia; functional imaging; cognitive function; attention deficit
Masked prime tasks have shown that sensory information that has not been consciously perceived can nevertheless trigger the preactivation of a motor response. Automatic inhibitory control processes prevent such response tendencies from interfering with behaviour. The present study investigated the possibility that these inhibitory control processes are mediated by a cortico-striatal-pallidal-thalamic pathway by using a masked prime task with Huntington’s disease patients (Experiment 1) and with healthy volunteers in a functional MRI (fMRI) study (Experiment 2). In the masked prime task, clearly visible left- or right-pointing target arrows are preceded by briefly presented and subsequently masked prime arrows. Participants respond quickly with a left or right key-press to each target. Trials are either compatible (prime and target pointing in the same direction) or incompatible (prime and target pointing in different directions). Prior behavioural and electrophysiological results show that automatic inhibition of the initially primed response tendency is reflected in a ‘negative compatibility effect’ (faster reaction times for incompatible trials than for compatible trials), and is shown to consist of three distinct processes (prime activation, response inhibition and response conflict) occurring within 300 ms. Experiment 1 tested the hypothesis that lesions of the striatum would interrupt automatic inhibitory control by studying early-stage Huntington’s disease patients. Findings supported the hypothesis: there was a bimodal distribution for patients, with one-third (choreic) showing disinhibition, manifested as an absent negative compatibility effect, and two-thirds (non-choreic) showing excessive inhibition, manifested as a significantly greater negative compatibility effect than that in controls. Experiment 2 used fMRI and a region of interest (ROI) template-based method to further test the hypothesis that structures of the striatal-pallidal-thalamic pathway mediate one or more of the processes of automatic inhibitory control. Neither prime activation nor response conflict significantly engaged any ROIs, but the response inhibition process led to significant modulation of both the caudate and thalamus. Taken together, these experiments indicate a causal role for the caudate nucleus and thalamus in automatic inhibitory motor control, and the results are consistent with performance of the task requiring both direct and indirect striatal-pallidalthalamic pathways. The finding that Huntington’s disease patients with greater chorea were disinhibited is consistent with the theory that chorea arises from selective degeneration of striatal projections to the lateral globus pallidus, while the exaggerated inhibitory effect for patients with little or no chorea may be due to additional degeneration of projections to the medial globus pallidus.
priming; striatum; motor control; subliminal; compatibility
Cortico-striato-thalamic (CST) systems are anatomical substrates for many motor and executive functions and are implicated in diverse neuropsychiatric disorders. Electrophysiological studies in rats, monkeys and patients with Parkinson’s disease have shown that power and coherence of low frequency oscillations in CST systems can be profoundly modulated by dopaminergic drugs. We combined functional MRI with correlational and path analyses to investigate functional and effective connectivity, respectively, of a prefronto-striato-thalamic system activated by object location learning in healthy elderly human subjects (n = 23; mean age = 72 years). Participants were scanned in a repeated measures, randomized, placebo-controlled design to measure modulation of physiological connectivity between CST regions following treatment with drugs which served both to decrease (sulpiride) and increase (methylphenidate) dopaminergic transmission, as well as non-dopaminergic treatments (diazepam and scopolamine) to examine non-specific effects. Functional connectivity of caudate nucleus was modulated specifically by dopaminergic drugs, with opposing effects of sulpiride and methylphenidate. The more salient effect of sulpiride was to increase functional connectivity between caudate and both thalamus and ventral midbrain. A path diagram based on prior knowledge of unidirectional anatomical projections between CST components was fitted satisfactorily to the observed inter-regional covariance matrix. The effect of sulpiride was defined more specifically in the context of this model as increased strength of effective connection from ventral midbrain to caudate nucleus. In short, we have demonstrated enhanced functional and effective connectivity of human caudate nucleus following sulpiride treatment, which is compatible both with the anatomy of ascending dopaminergic projections and with electrophysiological studies indicating abnormal coherent oscillations of CST neurons in parkinsonian states.
cortico-striato-thalamic loops; functional/effective connectivity; pharmacological MRI; dopamine; path analysis
Delusions are maladaptive beliefs about the world. Based upon experimental evidence that prediction error—a mismatch between expectancy and outcome—drives belief formation, this study examined the possibility that delusions form because of disrupted prediction-error processing. We used fMRI to determine prediction-error-related brain responses in 12 healthy subjects and 12 individuals (7 males) with delusional beliefs. Frontal cortex responses in the patient group were suggestive of disrupted prediction-error processing. Furthermore, across subjects, the extent of disruption was significantly related to an individual’s propensity to delusion formation. Our results support a neurobiological theory of delusion formation that implicates aberrant prediction-error signalling, disrupted attentional allocation and associative learning in the formation of delusional beliefs.
prediction error; associative learning; fMRI; delusions; psychosis
High frequency oscillations (HFOs) called ripples (80–250 Hz) and fast ripples (FR, 250–500 Hz) can be recorded from intracerebral EEG macroelectrodes in patients with intractable epilepsy. HFOs occur predominantly in the seizure onset zone (SOZ) but their relationship to the underlying pathology is unknown. It was the aim of this study to investigate whether HFOs are specific to the SOZ or result from pathologically changed tissue, whether or not it is epileptogenic. Patients with different lesion types, namely mesial temporal atrophy (MTA), focal cortical dysplasia (FCD) and nodular heterotopias (NH) were investigated. Intracranial EEG was recorded from depth macroelectrodes with a sampling rate of 2000 Hz. Ripples (80–250 Hz) and Fast Ripples (250–500 Hz) were visually marked in 12 patients: five with MTA, four with FCD and three with NH. Rates of events were statistically compared in channels in four areas: lesional SOZ, non-lesional SOZ, lesional non-SOZ and non-lesional non-SOZ. HFO rates were clearly more linked to the SOZ than to the lesion. They were highest in areas in which lesion and SOZ overlap, but in patients with a SOZ outside the lesion, such as in NHs, HFO rates were clearly higher in the non-lesional SOZ than in the inactive lesions. No specific HFO pattern could be identified for the different lesion types. The findings suggest that HFOs represent a marker for SOZ areas independent of the underlying pathology and that pathologic tissue changes alone do not lead to high rates of HFOs.
PMID: 19297507 CAMSID: cams3471
high frequency oscillations; focal cortical dysplasia; nodular heterotopia; temporal atrophy; seizure onset zone; intracranial EEG
Malformations of cortical development (MCDs) are commonly complicated by intractable focal epilepsy. Epileptogenesis in these disorders is not well understood and may depend on the type of MCD. The cellular mechanisms involved in interictal and ictal events are notably different, and could be influenced independently by the type of pathology. We evaluated the relationship between interictal and ictal zones in eight patients with different types of MCD in order to better understand the generation of these activities: four had nodular heterotopia, two focal cortical dysplasia and two subcortical band heterotopia (double-cortex). We used the non-invasive EEG-fMRI technique to record simultaneously all cerebral structures with a high spatio-temporal resolution. We recorded interictal and ictal events during the same session. Ictal events were either electrical only or clinical with minimal motion. BOLD changes were found in the focal cortical dysplasia during interictal and ictal epileptiform events in the two patients with this disorder. Heterotopic and normal cortices were involved in BOLD changes during interictal and ictal events in the two patients with double cortex, but the maximum BOLD response was in the heterotopic band in both patients. Only two of the four patients with nodular heterotopia showed involvement of a nodule during interictal activity. During seizures, although BOLD changes affected the lesion in two patients, the maximum was always in the overlying cortex and never in the heterotopia. For two patients intracranial recordings were available and confirm our findings. The dysplastic cortex and the heterotopic cortex of band heterotopia were involved in interictal and seizure processes. Even if the nodular gray matter heterotopia may have the cellular substrate to produce interictal events, the often abnormal overlying cortex is more likely to be involved during the seizures. The non-invasive BOLD study of interictal and ictal events in MCD patients may help to understand the role of the lesion in epileptogenesis and also determine the potential surgical target.
PMID: 18669486 CAMSID: cams3476
malformation of cortical development; EEG; functional MRI; epileptogenesis; seizure
Recent reports of functional impairment in the ‘unaffected’ limb of stroke patients have suggested that these deficits vary with the side of lesion. This not only supports the idea that the ipsilateral hemisphere contributes to arm movements, but also implies that such contributions are lateralized. We have previously suggested that the left and right hemispheres are specialized for controlling different features of movement. In reaching movements, the non-dominant arm appears better adapted for achieving accurate final positions and the dominant arm for specifying initial trajectory features, such as movement direction and peak acceleration. The purpose of this study was to determine whether different features of control could characterize ipsilesional motor deficits following stroke. Healthy control subjects and patients with either left- or right-hemisphere damage performed targeted single-joint elbow movements of different amplitudes in their ipsilateral hemi-space. We predicted that left-hemisphere damage would produce deficits in specification of initial trajectory features, while right-hemisphere damage would produce deficits in final position accuracy. Consistent with our predictions, patients with left, but not right, hemisphere damage showed reduced modulation of acceleration amplitude. However, patients with right, but not left, hemisphere damage showed significantly larger errors in final position, which corresponded to reduced modulation of acceleration duration. Neither patient group differed from controls in terms of movement speed. Instead, the mechanisms by which speed was specified, through modulation of acceleration amplitude and modulation of acceleration duration, appeared to be differentially affected by left- and right-hemisphere damage. These findings support the idea that each hemisphere contributes differentially to the control of initial trajectory and final position, and that ipsilesional deficits following stroke reflect this lateralization in control.
lateralization; stroke; control; arm movements
Recovery of motor function after stroke may occur over weeks or months and is often attributed to neuronal reorganization. Functional imaging studies investigating patients who have made a good recovery after stroke have suggested that recruitment of other motor-related networks underlies this recovery. However, patients with less complete recovery have rarely been studied, or else the degree of recovery has not been taken into account. We set out to investigate the relationship between the degree of recovery after stroke and the pattern of recruitment of brain regions during a motor task as measured using functional MRI. We recruited 20 patients who were at least 3 months after their first ever stroke, and 26 right-handed age-matched control subjects. None of our patients had infarcts involving the hand region of the primary motor cortex. All subjects were scanned whilst performing an isometric, dynamic visually paced handgrip task. The degree of functional recovery of each patient was assessed using a battery of outcome measures. Single-patient versus control group analysis revealed that patients with poor recovery were more likely to recruit a number of motor-related brain regions over and above those seen in the control group during the motor task, whereas patients with more complete recovery were more likely to have ‘normal’ task-related brain activation. Across the whole patient group and across stroke subtypes, we were able to demonstrate a negative correlation between outcome and the degree of task-related activation in regions such as the supplementary motor area, cingulate motor areas, premotor cortex, posterior parietal cortex, and cerebellum. This negative correlation was also seen in parts of both contralateral and ipsilateral primary motor cortex. These results further our understanding of the recovery process by demonstrating for the first time a clear relationship between task-related activation of the motor system and outcome after stroke.
stroke recovery; functional MRI; motor system; neuronal plasticity
Recovery of motor function after stroke may occur over weeks or months and is often attributed to cerebral reorganization. We have investigated the longitudinal relationship between recovery after stroke and task-related brain activation during a motor task as measured using functional MRI (fMRI). Eight first-ever stroke patients presenting with hemiparesis resulting from cerebral infarction sparing the primary motor cortex, and four control subjects were recruited. Subjects were scanned on a number of occasions whilst performing an isometric dynamic visually paced hand grip task. Recovery in the patient group was assessed using a battery of outcome measures at each time point. Task-related brain activations decreased over sessions as a function of recovery in a number of primary and non-primary motor regions in all patients, but no session effects were seen in the controls. Furthermore, consistent decreases across sessions correlating with recovery were seen across the whole patient group independent of rate of recovery or initial severity, in primary motor cortex, premotor and prefrontal cortex, supplementary motor areas, cingulate sulcus, temporal lobe, striate cortex, cerebellum, thalamus and basal ganglia. Although recovery-related increases were seen in different brain regions in four patients, there were no consistent effects across the group. These results further our understanding of the recovery process by demonstrating for the first time a clear temporal relationship between recovery and task-related activation of the motor system after stroke.
stroke recovery; longitudinal functional MRI; motor system; neuronal plasticity
Movement-related brain activation patterns after subcortical stroke are characterized by relative overactivations in cortical motor areas compared with controls. In patients able to perform a motor task, overactivations are greater in those with more motor impairment. We hypothesized that recruitment of motor regions would shift from primary to secondary motor networks in response to impaired functional integrity of the corticospinal system (CSS). We measured the magnitude of brain activation using functional MRI during a motor task in eight chronic subcortical stroke patients. CSS functional integrity was assessed using transcranial magnetic stimulation to obtain stimulus/response curves for the affected first dorsal interosseus muscle, with a shallower gradient representing increasing disruption of CSS functional integrity. A negative correlation between the gradient of stimulus/response curve and magnitude of task-related brain activation was found in several motor-related regions, including ipsilesional posterior primary motor cortex [Brodmann area (BA) 4p], contralesional anterior primary motor cortex (BA 4a), bilateral premotor cortex, supplementary motor area, intraparietal sulcus, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and contralesional superior cingulate sulcus. There were no significant positive correlations in any brain region. These results suggest that impaired functional integrity of the CSS is associated with recruitment of secondary motor networks in both hemispheres in an attempt to generate motor output to spinal cord motoneurons. Secondary motor regions are less efficient at generating motor output so this reorganization can only be considered partially successful in reducing motor impairment after stroke.
functional brain imaging; motor recovery; motor system; stroke
Age-related neurodegenerative and neurochemical changes are thought to underlie decline in motor and cognitive functions, but compensatory processes in cortical and subcortical function may allow maintenance of performance level in some people. Our objective was to investigate age-related changes in the motor system of the human brain using functional MRI. Twenty six right handed volunteers were scanned whilst performing an isometric, dynamic, visually paced hand grip task, using dominant (right) and non-dominant (left) hands in separate sessions. Hand grip with visual feedback activated a network of cortical and subcortical regions known to be involved in the generation of simple motor acts. In addition, activation was seen in a putative human ‘grasping circuit’, involving rostral ventral premotor cortex (Brodmann area 44) and intraparietal sulcus. Within this network, a number of regions were more likely to be activated the older the subject. In particular, age-related changes in task-specific activations were demonstrated in left deep anterior central sulcus when using the dominant or non-dominant hand. Additional age-related increases were seen in caudal dorsal premotor cortex, caudal cingulate sulcus, intraparietal sulcus, insula, frontal operculum and cerebellar vermis. We have demonstrated a clear age-related effect in the neural correlates of motor performance, and furthermore suggest that these changes are non-linear. These results support the notion that an adaptable and plastic motor network is able to respond to age-related degenerative changes in order to maintain performance levels.
ageing; functional MRI; hand grip; motor system
Recovery of motor function after subcortical stroke appears to be related to the integrity of descending connections from the ipsilesional cortical motor system, a view supported by the observation of greater than normal movement-related activation in ipsilesional motor regions in chronic subcortical stroke patients. This suggests that damage to the descending output fibres from one region of the cortical motor system may be compensated by activity in areas that retain corticofugal outputs. Though the trajectories of corticofugal fibres from each major component of the motor system through the corona radiata and internal capsule are well described in non-human primates, they have not been described fully in humans. Our study set out to map the trajectories of these connections in a group of healthy volunteers (8 male, 4 female; age range = 31–68 years, median = 48.5 years) and establish whether this knowledge can be used to assess stroke-induced disconnection of the cortical motor system and better interpret functional reorganization of the cortical motor system. We describe the trajectories of the connections from each major component of the motor system to the cerebral peduncle using diffusion-weighted imaging and probabilistic tractography in normal subjects. We observed good reproducibility of these connections over subjects. The comparative topography of these connections revealed many similarities between humans and other primates. We then inferred damage to corticofugal pathways in stroke patients (n = 3) by comparing the overlap between regions of subcortical white matter damage with the trajectories of the connections to each motor area. In a small series of case studies, we found that inferred disconnections could explain enhanced hand-grip-related responses, as assessed with functional MRI, in the ipsilesional motor system. These results confirm that selective disruption of motor corticofugal fibres influences functional reorganization and outcome in individual patients.
diffusion tensor; tractography; stroke; motor recovery; functional MRI
While individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are typically impaired in interpreting the communicative intent of others, little is known about the neural bases of higher-level pragmatic impairments. Here, we used functional MRI (fMRI) to examine the neural circuitry underlying deficits in understanding irony in high-functioning children with ASD. Participants listened to short scenarios and decided whether the speaker was sincere or ironic. Three types of scenarios were used in which we varied the information available to guide this decision. Scenarios included (i) both knowledge of the event outcome and strong prosodic cues (sincere or sarcastic intonation), (ii) prosodic cues only or (iii) knowledge of the event outcome only. Although children with ASD performed well above chance, they were less accurate than typically developing (TD) children at interpreting the communicative intent behind a potentially ironic remark, particularly with regard to taking advantage of available contextual information. In contrast to prior research showing hypoactivation of regions involved in understanding the mental states of others, children with ASD showed significantly greater activity than TD children in the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) as well as in bilateral temporal regions. Increased activity in the ASD group fell within the network recruited in the TD group and may reflect more effortful processing needed to interpret the intended meaning of an utterance. These results confirm that children with ASD have difficulty interpreting the communicative intent of others and suggest that these individuals can recruit regions activated as part of the normative neural circuitry when task demands require explicit attention to socially relevant cues.
autism; brain development; fMRI; language pragmatics; social cognition
Patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease exhibit impairments in executive processes, including planning and set-shifting, even at the early stages of the disease. We have recently developed a new card-sorting task to study the specific role of the caudate nucleus in such executive processes and have shown, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in young healthy adults, that the caudate nucleus is specifically required when a set-shift must be planned. Here the same fMRI protocol was used to compare the patterns of activation in a group of early-stage Parkinson’s disease patients (seven right-handed patients at Hoehn and Yahr stages 1 and 2; mean age 62 years, range 56–70) and matched control subjects. Increased cortical activation was observed in the patients compared with the control group in the condition not specifically requiring the caudate nucleus. On the other hand, decreased cortical activation was observed in the patient group in the condition significantly involving the caudate nucleus. This event-related fMRI study showed a pattern of cortical activation in Parkinson’s disease characterized by either reduced or increased activation depending on whether the caudate nucleus was involved or not in the task. This activation pattern included not only the prefrontal regions but also posterior cortical areas in the parietal and prestriate cortex. These findings are not in agreement with the traditional model, which proposes that the nigrostriatal dopamine depletion results in decreased cortical activity. These observations provide further evidence in favour of the hypothesis that not only the nigrostriatal and but also the mesocortical dopaminergic substrate may play a significant role in the cognitive deficits observed in Parkinson’s disease.
PMID: 17121746 CAMSID: cams3203
executive functions; fMRI; Parkinson’s disease; set-shifting; striatum
We examined white matter abnormalities in patients with a distinctive extrapyramidal syndrome due to intravenous methcathinone (ephedrone) abuse. We performed diffusion tensor imaging in ten patients and fifteen age-matched controls to assess white matter structure across the whole brain. Diffuse significant decreases in white matter fractional anisotropy, a diffusion tensor imaging metric which reflects microstructural integrity, occurred in the patients compared with controls. In addition, we identified two foci of severe white matter abnormality underlying the right ventral premotor cortex and the medial frontal cortex, two cortical regions involved in higher-level executive control of motor function. Paths connecting different cortical regions with the globus pallidus, the nucleus previously shown to be abnormal on structural imaging in these patients, were generated using probabilistic tractography. The fractional anisotropy within all these tracts was lower in the patient group than controls. Finally, we tested for a relationship between white matter integrity and clinical outcome. We identified a region within the left corticospinal tract in which lower fractional anisotropy was associated with greater functional deficit but this region did not show reduced fractional anisotropy in the overall patient group compared to controls. These patients have widespread white matter damage with greatest severity of damage underlying executive motor areas.
Extrapyramidal syndrome; Methcathinone; Manganese toxicity; diffusion imaging; white matter tracts
Multiple sclerosis is the most common cause of non-traumatic neurological impairment in young adults. An energy deficient state has been implicated in the degeneration of axons, the pathological correlate of disease progression, in multiple sclerosis. Mitochondria are the most efficient producers of energy and play an important role in calcium homeostasis. We analysed the density and function of mitochondria using immunohistochemistry and histochemistry, respectively, in chronic active and inactive lesions in progressive multiple sclerosis. As shown before in acute pattern III and Balo’s lesions, the mitochondrial respiratory chain complex IV activity is reduced despite the presence of mitochondria in demyelinated axons with amyloid precursor protein accumulation, which are predominantly located at the active edge of chronic active lesions. Furthermore, the strong non-phosphorylated neurofilament (SMI32) reactivity was associated with a significant reduction in complex IV activity and mitochondria within demyelinated axons. The complex IV defect associated with axonal injury may be mediated by soluble products of innate immunity, as suggested by an inverse correlation between complex IV activity and macrophage/microglial density in chronic lesions. However, in inactive areas of chronic multiple sclerosis lesions the mitochondrial respiratory chain complex IV activity and mitochondrial mass, judged by porin immunoreactivity, are increased within approximately half of large (>2.5 μm diameter) chronically demyelinated axons compared with large myelinated axons in the brain and spinal cord. The axon-specific mitochondrial docking protein (syntaphilin) and phosphorylated neurofilament-H were increased in chronic lesions. The lack of complex IV activity in a proportion of Na+/K+ ATPase α-1 positive demyelinated axons supports axonal dysfunction as a contributor to neurological impairment and disease progression. Furthermore, in vitro studies show that inhibition of complex IV augments glutamate-mediated axonal injury (amyloid precursor protein and SMI32 reactivity). Our findings have important implications for both axonal degeneration and dysfunction during the progressive stage of multiple sclerosis.
Mitochondria; axonal degeneration; multiple sclerosis
Transplanted neural stem/precursor cells possess peculiar therapeutic plasticity and can simultaneously instruct several therapeutic mechanisms in addition to cell replacement. Here, we interrogated the therapeutic plasticity of neural stem/precursor cells after their focal implantation in the severely contused spinal cord. We injected syngeneic neural stem/precursor cells at the proximal and distal ends of the contused mouse spinal cord and analysed locomotor functions and relevant secondary pathological events in the mice, cell fate of transplanted neural stem/precursor cells, and gene expression and inflammatory cell infiltration at the injured site. We used two different doses of neural stem/precursor cells and two treatment schedules, either subacute (7 days) or early chronic (21 days) neural stem/precursor cell transplantation after the induction of experimental thoracic severe spinal cord injury. Only the subacute transplant of neural stem/precursor cells enhanced the recovery of locomotor functions of mice with spinal cord injury. Transplanted neural stem/precursor cells survived undifferentiated at the level of the peri-lesion environment and established contacts with endogenous phagocytes via cellular–junctional coupling. This was associated with significant modulation of the expression levels of important inflammatory cell transcripts in vivo. Transplanted neural stem/precursor cells skewed the inflammatory cell infiltrate at the injured site by reducing the proportion of ‘classically-activated’ (M1-like) macrophages, while promoting the healing of the injured cord. We here identify a precise window of opportunity for the treatment of complex spinal cord injuries with therapeutically plastic somatic stem cells, and suggest that neural stem/precursor cells have the ability to re-programme the local inflammatory cell microenvironment from a ‘hostile’ to an ‘instructive’ role, thus facilitating the healing or regeneration past the lesion.
neural stem cells; spinal cord injury; cell transplantation; macrophages; immune regulation; tissue healing
Lesch–Nyhan disease (LND) is caused by deficiency of the purine salvage enzyme hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT). Affected individuals exhibit over-production of uric acid, along with a characteristic neurobehavioural syndrome that includes mental retardation, recurrent self-injurious behaviour and motor disability. Prior studies involving relatively small numbers of patients have provided different conclusions on the nature of the motor disorder. The current study includes the results of a multi-centre international prospective study of the motor disorder in the largest cohort of patients studied to date. A total of 44 patients ranging from 2 to 38 years presented a characteristic motor syndrome that involved severe action dystonia superimposed on baseline hypotonia. Although some patients also displayed other extrapyramidal or pyramidal signs, these were always less prominent than dystonia. These results are compared with a comprehensive review of 122 prior reports that included a total of 254 patients. Explanations for the differing observations available in the literature are provided, along with a summary of how the motor disorder of LND relates to current understanding of its pathophysiology involving the basal ganglia.
cerebral palsy; choreoathetosis; dystonia; neurogenetics
Pathological gambling is an impulse control disorder reported in association with dopamine agonists used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Although impulse control disorders are conceptualized as lying within the spectrum of addictions, little neurobiological evidence exists to support this belief. Functional imaging studies have consistently demonstrated abnormalities of dopaminergic function in patients with drug addictions, but to date no study has specifically evaluated dopaminergic function in Parkinson’s disease patients with impulse control disorders. We describe results of a [11C] raclopride positron emission tomography (PET) study comparing dopaminergic function during gambling in Parkinson’s disease patients, with and without pathological gambling, following dopamine agonists. Patients with pathological gambling demonstrated greater decreases in binding potential in the ventral striatum during gambling (13.9%) than control patients (8.1%), likely reflecting greater dopaminergic release. Ventral striatal bindings at baseline during control task were also lower in patients with pathological gambling. Although prior imaging studies suggest that abnormality in dopaminergic binding and dopamine release may be markers of vulnerability to addiction, this study presents the first evidence of these phenomena in pathological gambling. The emergence of pathological gambling in a number of Parkinson’s disease patients may provide a model into the pathophysiology of this disorder.
PMID: 19346328 CAMSID: cams2369
Parkinson’s disease; dopamine; impulse control disorders; pathological gambling; PET; functional imaging
To identify the disease-causing gene responsible for an autosomal dominantly inherited Charcot–Marie–Tooth neuropathy subtype in a family excluded for mutations in the common Charcot–Marie–Tooth genes, we used array-based sequence capture to simultaneously analyse the disease-linked protein coding exome at chromosome 14q32. A missense mutation in fibulin-5, encoding a widely expressed constituent of the extracellular matrix that has an essential role in elastic fibre assembly and has been shown to cause cutis laxa, was detected as the only novel non-synonymous sequence variant within the disease interval. Screening of 112 index probands with unclassified Charcot–Marie–Tooth neuropathies detected two further fibulin-5 missense mutations in two families with Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease and hyperextensible skin. Since fibulin-5 mutations have been described in patients with age-related macular degeneration, an additional 300 probands with exudative age-related macular degeneration were included in this study. Two further fibulin-5 missense mutations were identified in six patients. A mild to severe peripheral neuropathy was detected in the majority of patients with age-related macular degeneration carrying mutations in fibulin-5. This study identifies fibulin-5 as a gene involved in Charcot–Marie–Tooth neuropathies and reveals heterozygous fibulin-5 mutations in 2% of our patients with age-related macular degeneration. Furthermore, it adumbrates a new syndrome by linking concurrent pathologic alterations affecting peripheral nerves, eyes and skin to mutations in the fibulin-5 gene.
age-related macular degeneration; CMT; cutis laxa; fibulin-5; neuropathy
The definition of the clinicopathological entity of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis evolved over half a century. Although the definitive term amyotrophic lateral sclerosis that acknowledged both upper and lower motor neuron involvement was attributed to Jean-Martin Charcot in 1874, his initial case was published nearly a decade earlier; and it is accepted that, from at least the 1830s, several others (including Charles Bell, François-Amilcar Aran and Jean Cruveilhier) had already recognized a progressive lower motor neuron-only syndrome within a broader, clinically-defined group of disorders, termed progressive muscular atrophy. Although William Gowers first grouped the three phenotypes of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, progressive muscular atrophy and progressive bulbar palsy together as part of the same syndrome, the term motor neuron disease, as an over-arching label, was not suggested until nearly a century later by W. Russell Brain. Augustus Jacob Lockhart Clarke (1817–80) is best known for his descriptions of spinal cord anatomy. However, in two detailed case reports from the 1860s, he carried out rigorous post-mortem neuropathological studies of what appear to be classical cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Furthermore, he recognized the additional involvement of the corticospinal tracts that distinguished this from progressive muscular atrophy. Several aspects of the exquisite clinical histories documented as part of both studies, one by Charles Bland Radcliffe, resonate with contemporary debates concerning the evolution of disease in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. These ‘past masters’ still have much to teach us.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; motor neuron disease; Lockhart Clarke; Radcliffe; Charcot
Experimental prolonged febrile seizures (FS) lead to structural and molecular changes that promote hippocampal hyperexcitability and reduce seizure threshold to further convulsants. However, whether these seizures provoke later-onset epilepsy, as has been suspected in humans, has remained unclear. Previously, intermittent EEGs with behavioural observations for motor seizures failed to demonstrate spontaneous seizures in adult rats subjected to experimental prolonged FS during infancy. Because limbic seizures may be behaviourally subtle, here we determined the presence of spontaneous limbic seizures using chronic video monitoring with concurrent hippocampal and cortical EEGs, in adult rats (starting around 3 months of age) that had sustained experimental FS on postnatal day 10. These subjects were compared with groups that had undergone hyperthermia but in whom seizures had been prevented (hyperthermic controls), as well as with normothermic controls. Only events that fulfilled both EEG and behavioural criteria, i.e. electro-clinical events, were considered spontaneous seizures. EEGs (over 400 recorded hours) were normal in all normothermic and hyperthermic control rats, and none of these animals developed spontaneous seizures. In contrast, prolonged early-life FS evoked spontaneous electro-clinical seizures in 6 out of 17 experimental rats (35.2%). These seizures consisted of sudden freezing (altered consciousness) and typical limbic automatisms that were coupled with polyspike/sharp-wave trains with increasing amplitude and slowing frequency on EEG. In addition, interictal epileptiform discharges were recorded in 15 (88.2%) of the experimental FS group and in none of the controls. The large majority of hippocampally-recorded seizures were heralded by diminished amplitude of cortical EEG, that commenced half a minute prior to the hippocampal ictus and persisted after seizure termination. This suggests a substantial perturbation of normal cortical neuronal activity by these limbic spontaneous seizures. In summary, prolonged experimental FS lead to later-onset limbic (temporal lobe) epilepsy in a significant proportion of rats, and to interictal epileptifom EEG abnormalities in most others, and thus represent a model that may be useful to study the relationship between FS and human temporal lobe epilepsy.
prolonged febrile seizures; temporal lobe epilepsy; video-EEG; rat; prospective study