By Neurological Diseases
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
By Other Research Areas
Synapses connect neurons together to form the circuits of the brain, and their molecular composition controls innate and learned behavior. We analyzed the molecular and morphological diversity of 5 billion excitatory synapses at single-synapse resolution across the mouse brain from birth to old age. A continuum of changes alters synapse composition in all brain regions across the life span. Expansion in synapse diversity produces differentiation of brain regions until early adulthood, and compositional changes cause dedifferentiation in old age. The spatiotemporal synaptome architecture of the brain potentially accounts for life-span transitions in intellectual ability, memory, and susceptibility to behavioral disorders.
Besides generating vision, light modulates various physiological functions, including mood. While light therapy applied in the daytime is known to have anti-depressive properties, excessive light exposure at night has been reportedly associated with depressive symptoms. The neural mechanisms underlying this day-night difference in the effects of light are unknown. Using a light-at-night (LAN) paradigm in mice, we showed that LAN induced depressive-like behaviors without disturbing the circadian rhythm. This effect was mediated by a neural pathway from retinal melanopsin-expressing ganglion cells to the dorsal perihabenular nucleus (dpHb) to the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Importantly, the dpHb was gated by the circadian rhythm, being more excitable at night than during the day. This indicates that the ipRGC→dpHb→NAc pathway preferentially conducts light signals at night, thereby mediating LAN-induced depressive-like behaviors. These findings may be relevant when considering the mental health effects of the prevalent nighttime illumination in the industrial world.
The brainstem is a key centre in the control of body movements. Although the precise nature of brainstem cell types and circuits that are central to full-body locomotion are becoming known, efforts to understand the neuronal underpinnings of skilled forelimb movements have focused predominantly on supra-brainstem centres and the spinal cord. Here we define the logic of a functional map for skilled forelimb movements within the lateral rostral medulla (latRM) of the brainstem. Using in vivo electrophysiology in freely moving mice, we reveal a neuronal code with tuning of latRM populations to distinct forelimb actions. These include reaching and food handling, both of which are impaired by perturbation of excitatory latRM neurons. Through the combinatorial use of genetics and viral tracing, we demonstrate that excitatory latRM neurons segregate into distinct populations by axonal target, and act through the differential recruitment of intra-brainstem and spinal circuits. Investigating the behavioural potential of projection-stratified latRM populations, we find that the optogenetic stimulation of these populations can elicit diverse forelimb movements, with each behaviour stably expressed by individual mice. In summary, projection-stratified brainstem populations encode action phases and together serve as putative building blocks for regulating key features of complex forelimb movements, identifying substrates of the brainstem for skilled forelimb behaviours.
Here, we report the generation and characterization of a novel Huntington's disease (HD) mouse model BAC226Q by using a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) system, expressing full-length human HTT with ~226 CAG-CAA repeats and containing endogenous human HTT promoter and regulatory elements. BAC226Q recapitulated a full-spectrum of age-dependent and progressive HD-like phenotypes without unwanted and erroneous phenotypes. BAC226Q mice developed normally, and gradually exhibited HD-like psychiatric and cognitive phenotypes at 2 months. From 3 to 4 months, BAC226Q mice showed robust progressive motor deficits. At 11 months, BAC226Q mice showed significant reduced life span, gradual weight loss and exhibited neuropathology including significant brain atrophy specific to striatum and cortex, striatal neuronal death, widespread huntingtin inclusions, and reactive pathology. Therefore, the novel BAC226Q mouse accurately recapitulating robust, age-dependent, progressive HD-like phenotypes will be a valuable tool for studying disease mechanisms, identifying biomarkers, and testing gene-targeting therapeutic approaches for HD.
Dysfunction of the endolysosomal system is often associated with neurodegenerative disease because postmitotic neurons are particularly reliant on the elimination of intracellular aggregates. Adequate function of endosomes and lysosomes requires finely tuned luminal ion homeostasis and transmembrane ion fluxes. Endolysosomal CLC Cl-/H+ exchangers function as electric shunts for proton pumping and in luminal Cl- accumulation. We now report three unrelated children with severe neurodegenerative disease, who carry the same de novo c.1658A>G (p.Tyr553Cys) mutation in CLCN6, encoding the late endosomal Cl-/H+-exchanger ClC-6. Whereas Clcn6-/- mice have only mild neuronal lysosomal storage abnormalities, the affected individuals displayed severe developmental delay with pronounced generalized hypotonia, respiratory insufficiency, and variable neurodegeneration and diffusion restriction in cerebral peduncles, midbrain, and/or brainstem in MRI scans. The p.Tyr553Cys amino acid substitution strongly slowed ClC-6 gating and increased current amplitudes, particularly at the acidic pH of late endosomes. Transfection of ClC-6Tyr553Cys, but not ClC-6WT, generated giant LAMP1-positive vacuoles that were poorly acidified. Their generation strictly required ClC-6 ion transport, as shown by transport-deficient double mutants, and depended on Cl-/H+ exchange, as revealed by combination with the uncoupling p.Glu200Ala substitution. Transfection of either ClC-6Tyr553Cys/Glu200Ala or ClC-6Glu200Ala generated slightly enlarged vesicles, suggesting that p.Glu200Ala, previously associated with infantile spasms and microcephaly, is also pathogenic. Bafilomycin treatment abrogated vacuole generation, indicating that H+-driven Cl- accumulation osmotically drives vesicle enlargement. Our work establishes mutations in CLCN6 associated with neurological diseases, whose spectrum of clinical features depends on the differential impact of the allele on ClC-6 function.
Optogenetics is among the most widely employed techniques to manipulate neuronal activity. However, a major drawback is the need for invasive implantation of optical fibers. To develop a minimally invasive optogenetic method that overcomes this challenge, we engineered a new step-function opsin with ultra-high light sensitivity (SOUL). We show that SOUL can activate neurons located in deep mouse brain regions via transcranial optical stimulation and elicit behavioral changes in SOUL knock-in mice. Moreover, SOUL can be used to modulate neuronal spiking and induce oscillations reversibly in macaque cortex via optical stimulation from outside the dura. By enabling external light delivery, our new opsin offers a minimally invasive tool for manipulating neuronal activity in rodent and primate models with fewer limitations on the depth and size of target brain regions and may further facilitate the development of minimally invasive optogenetic tools for the treatment of neurological disorders.
Effective pharmacotherapy for major depressive disorder remains a major challenge, as more than 30% of patients are resistant to the first line of treatment (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Sub-anaesthetic doses of ketamine, a non-competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist, provide rapid and long-lasting antidepressant effects in these patients, but the molecular mechanism of these effects remains unclear. Ketamine has been proposed to exert its antidepressant effects through its metabolite (2R,6R)-hydroxynorketamine ((2R,6R)-HNK). The antidepressant effects of ketamine and (2R,6R)-HNK in rodents require activation of the mTORC1 kinase. mTORC1 controls various neuronal functions, particularly through cap-dependent initiation of mRNA translation via the phosphorylation and inactivation of eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding proteins (4E-BPs). Here we show that 4E-BP1 and 4E-BP2 are key effectors of the antidepressant activity of ketamine and (2R,6R)-HNK, and that ketamine-induced hippocampal synaptic plasticity depends on 4E-BP2 and, to a lesser extent, 4E-BP1. It has been hypothesized that ketamine activates mTORC1-4E-BP signalling in pyramidal excitatory cells of the cortex. To test this hypothesis, we studied the behavioural response to ketamine and (2R,6R)-HNK in mice lacking 4E-BPs in either excitatory or inhibitory neurons. The antidepressant activity of the drugs is mediated by 4E-BP2 in excitatory neurons, and 4E-BP1 and 4E-BP2 in inhibitory neurons. Notably, genetic deletion of 4E-BP2 in inhibitory neurons induced a reduction in baseline immobility in the forced swim test, mimicking an antidepressant effect. Deletion of 4E-BP2 specifically in inhibitory neurons also prevented the ketamine-induced increase in hippocampal excitatory neurotransmission, and this effect concurred with the inability of ketamine to induce a long-lasting decrease in inhibitory neurotransmission. Overall, our data show that 4E-BPs are central to the antidepressant activity of ketamine.
Globally, there is a huge unmet need for effective treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. The complexity of the molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal degeneration and the heterogeneity of the patient population present massive challenges to the development of early diagnostic tools and effective treatments for these diseases. Machine learning, a subfield of artificial intelligence, is enabling scientists, clinicians and patients to address some of these challenges. In this Review, we discuss how machine learning can aid early diagnosis and interpretation of medical images as well as the discovery and development of new therapies. A unifying theme of the different applications of machine learning is the integration of multiple high-dimensional sources of data, which all provide a different view on disease, and the automated derivation of actionable insights.
No abstract available
Neurovascular coupling is a critical brain mechanism whereby changes to blood flow accompany localised neural activity. The breakdown of neurovascular coupling is linked to the development and progression of several neurological conditions including dementia. In this study, we examined cortical haemodynamics in mouse preparations that modelled Alzheimer's disease (J20-AD) and atherosclerosis (PCSK9-ATH) between 9 and 12 m of age. We report novel findings with atherosclerosis where neurovascular decline is characterised by significantly reduced blood volume, altered levels of oxyhaemoglobin and deoxyhaemoglobin, in addition to global neuroinflammation. In the comorbid mixed model (J20-PCSK9-MIX), we report a 3 x increase in hippocampal amyloid-beta plaques. A key finding was that cortical spreading depression (CSD) due to electrode insertion into the brain was worse in the diseased animals and led to a prolonged period of hypoxia. These findings suggest that systemic atherosclerosis can be detrimental to neurovascular health and that having cardiovascular comorbidities can exacerbate pre-existing Alzheimer's-related amyloid-plaques.
Importance: Identification of genetic factors that interact with the apolipoprotein e4
allele to reduce risk for Alzheimer disease (AD) would accelerate the search for new AD drug
targets. Klotho-VS heterozygosity (KL-VSHET+ status) protects against
aging-associated phenotypes and cognitive decline, but whether it protects individuals who carry APOE4 from AD remains unclear.
Objectives: To determine if KL-VSHET+ status is associated with reduced AD risk and β-amyloid (Aβ) pathology in individuals who carry APOE4.
Design, setting, and participants: This study combined 25 independent case-control, family-based, and longitudinal AD cohorts that recruited referred and volunteer participants and made data available through public repositories. Analyses were stratified by APOE4 status. Three cohorts were used to evaluate conversion risk, 1 provided longitudinal measures of Aβ CSF and PET, and 3 provided cross-sectional measures of Aβ CSF. Genetic data were available from high-density single-nucleotide variant microarrays. All data were collected between September 2015 and September 2019 and analyzed between April 2019 and December 2019.
Main outcomes and measures: The risk of AD was evaluated through logistic regression analyses under a case-control design. The risk of conversion to mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or AD was evaluated through competing risks regression. Associations with Aβ, measured from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or brain positron emission tomography (PET), were evaluated using linear regression and mixed-effects modeling.
Results: Of 36 530 eligible participants, 13 782 were excluded for analysis exclusion criteria or refusal to participate. Participants were men and women aged 60 years and older who were non-Hispanic and of Northwestern European ancestry and had been diagnosed as being cognitively normal or having MCI or AD. The sample included 20 928 participants in case-control studies, 3008 in conversion studies, 556 in Aβ CSF regression analyses, and 251 in PET regression analyses. The genotype KL-VSHET+ was associated with reduced risk for AD in individuals carrying APOE4 who were 60 years or older (odds ratio, 0.75 [95% CI, 0.67-0.84]; P = 7.4 × 10-7), and this was more prominent at ages 60 to 80 years (odds ratio, 0.69 [95% CI, 0.61-0.79]; P = 3.6 × 10-8). Additionally, control participants carrying APOE4 with KL-VS heterozygosity were at reduced risk of converting to MCI or AD (hazard ratio, 0.64 [95% CI, 0.44-0.94]; P = .02). Finally, in control participants who carried APOE4 and were aged 60 to 80 years, KL-VS heterozygosity was associated with higher Aβ in CSF (β, 0.06 [95% CI, 0.01-0.10]; P = .03) and lower Aβ on PET scans (β, -0.04 [95% CI, -0.07 to -0.00]; P = .04).
Conclusions and relevance: The genotype KL-VSHET+ is associated with reduced AD risk and Aβ burden in individuals who are aged 60 to 80 years, cognitively normal, and carrying APOE4. Molecular pathways associated with KL merit exploration for novel AD drug targets. The KL-VS genotype should be considered in conjunction with the APOE genotype to refine AD prediction models used in clinical trial enrichment and personalized genetic counseling.
Importance: Depression is associated with incidence of and premature death from cardiovascular
disease (CVD) and cancer in high-income countries, but it is not known whether this is true in low-
and middle-income countries and in urban areas, where most people with depression now live.
Objective: To identify any associations between depressive symptoms and incident CVD and all-cause mortality in countries at different levels of economic development and in urban and rural areas.
Design, setting, and participants: This multicenter, population-based cohort study was conducted between January 2005 and June 2019 (median follow-up, 9.3 years) and included 370 urban and 314 rural communities from 21 economically diverse countries on 5 continents. Eligible participants aged 35 to 70 years were enrolled. Analysis began February 2018 and ended September 2019.
Exposures: Four or more self-reported depressive symptoms from the Short-Form Composite International Diagnostic Interview.
Main outcomes and measures: Incident CVD, all-cause mortality, and a combined measure of either incident CVD or all-cause mortality.
Results: Of 145 862 participants, 61 235 (58%) were male and the mean (SD) age was 50.05 (9.7) years. Of those, 15 983 (11%) reported 4 or more depressive symptoms at baseline. Depression was associated with incident CVD (hazard ratio [HR], 1.14; 95% CI, 1.05-1.24), all-cause mortality (HR, 1.17; 95% CI, 1.11-1.25), the combined CVD/mortality outcome (HR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.11-1.24), myocardial infarction (HR, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.10-1.37), and noncardiovascular death (HR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.13-1.31) in multivariable models. The risk of the combined outcome increased progressively with number of symptoms, being highest in those with 7 symptoms (HR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.12-1.37) and lowest with 1 symptom (HR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.92 -1.19; P for trend < .001). The associations between having 4 or more depressive symptoms and the combined outcome were similar in 7 different geographical regions and in countries at all economic levels but were stronger in urban (HR, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.13-1.34) compared with rural (HR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.02-1.19) communities (P for interaction = .001) and in men (HR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.13-1.38) compared with women (HR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.06-1.23; P for interaction < .001).
Conclusions and relevance: In this large, population-based cohort study, adults with depressive symptoms were associated with having increased risk of incident CVD and mortality in economically diverse settings, especially in urban areas. Improving understanding and awareness of these physical health risks should be prioritized as part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases worldwide.
Importance: Early-onset depression has been linked to poor health outcomes. However, it is unclear
the extent to which this disorder is associated with specific diseases and premature death and
whether these associations remain after controlling for psychiatric comorbidity.
Objective: To quantify the association of youth depression with subsequent diagnoses of numerous somatic diseases and mortality.
Design, setting, and participants: A population-based cohort study was conducted using Swedish national registers containing data on all individuals born in Sweden between 1982 and 1996. A total of 1 487 964 participants were followed up from age 5 years through 2013 if no censoring occurred. Data analysis was performed from January 15, 2019, to August 10, 2020.
Exposures: Youth depression was defined as having received at least 1 diagnosis of depression from inpatient or outpatient care between ages 5 and 19 years.
Main outcomes and measures: This study examined 69 somatic conditions diagnosed after youth depression, as well as all-cause and cause-specific mortalities. Overall and sex-specific hazard ratios (HRs), together with 95% CIs, were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression with attained age as underlying timescale and time-varying exposure, and adjusted for birth year and sex. All analyses were repeated controlling for psychiatric comorbidities. Absolute risk differences were calculated using standardization with Cox proportional hazards regression.
Results: Of 1 487 964 individuals included in the analysis, 51.2% were male. A total of 37 185 patients (2.5%; 67.4% female) had an inpatient or outpatient contact for depression between ages 5 and 19 years (mean [SD] age at first recorded diagnosis of depression, 16.7 [2.1] years for males and 16.7 [1.8] years for females). Age at the end of follow-up ranged between 17 and 31 years. Individuals with youth depression had higher relative risks for 66 of the 69 somatic diagnoses. Strong associations were observed for certain injuries, especially self-harm in females (HR, 14.4; 95% CI, 13.8-15.1), sleep disorders (HR, 8.1; 95% CI, 7.6-8.7), viral hepatitis (HR, 6.1; 95% CI, 5.4-6.8), all-cause mortality (HR, 5.9; 95% CI, 5.3-6.6), and cause-specific mortalities, especially death by intentional self-harm (HR, 14.6; 95% CI, 12.6-16.9). Most associations were attenuated but persisted after adjusting for psychiatric comorbidity. The absolute risk difference of a specific disease within 12 years from the first diagnosis of depression during youth ranged from -0.2% (95% CI, -1.0% to 0.6%) for arthropathies among males to 23.9% (95% CI, 22.7%-25.0%) for the broader category of injuries among females.
Conclusions and relevance: In this Swedish population cohort study, patients with depression diagnosed during their youth appeared to have increased risks for many somatic diseases as well as for mortality, even after controlling for other psychiatric disorders. These findings suggest that several medical conditions should be considered when investigating youth depression.
In the adult hippocampus, synapses are constantly formed and eliminated. However, the exact function of synapse elimination in the adult brain, and how it is regulated, are largely unknown. Here we show that astrocytic phagocytosis is important for maintaining proper hippocampal synaptic connectivity and plasticity. By using fluorescent phagocytosis reporters, we find that excitatory and inhibitory synapses are eliminated by glial phagocytosis in the CA1 region of the adult mouse hippocampus. Unexpectedly, we found that astrocytes have a major role in the neuronal activity-dependent elimination of excitatory synapses. Furthermore, mice in which astrocytes lack the phagocytic receptor MEGF10 show a reduction in the elimination of excitatory synapses; as a result, excessive but functionally impaired synapses accumulate. Finally, Megf10-knockout mice show defective long-term synaptic plasticity and impaired formation of hippocampal memories. Together, our data provide strong evidence that astrocytes eliminate unnecessary excitatory synaptic connections in the adult hippocampus through MEGF10, and that this astrocytic function is crucial for maintaining circuit connectivity and thereby supporting cognitive function.
Amyloid precursor protein (APP), a membrane protein mostly found in neurons, is preferentially cut by the α-secretase enzyme, however, abnormal cleavage by β-secretase leads to the formation of β-amyloid peptide plaque in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Genome analysis of an Icelandic population that did not appear to show symptoms of Alzheimer's at advanced age led to the discovery of the A673T mutation, reducing β-secretase cleavage by 40%. We hypothesized that the insertion of this mutation in a patient's genome could be an effective and sustainable method to slow down or prevent the progression of familial and sporadic forms of Alzheimer's disease. We have thus modified the APP gene in HEK293T cells and in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma using a Cas9n-deaminase enzyme, which changes a cytosine into a thymine, thus converting the alanine codon to a threonine. Several Cas9n-deaminase variants were tested to compare their efficiency of conversion. The results were characterized and quantified by deep sequencing. We successfully modified the APP gene in up to 56.7% of the HEK293T cells. Our approach aimed to attest to the efficiency of base editing in the development of treatments against genetic diseases as well as provide a new strategy for the treatment of Alzheimer's.
BET1 is required, together with its SNARE complex partners GOSR2, SEC22b, and Syntaxin-5 for fusion of endoplasmic reticulum-derived vesicles with the ER-Golgi intermediate compartment (ERGIC) and the cis-Golgi. Here, we report three individuals, from two families, with severe congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD) and biallelic variants in BET1 (P1 p.(Asp68His)/p.(Ala45Valfs*2); P2 and P3 homozygous p.(Ile51Ser)). Due to aberrant splicing and frameshifting, the variants in P1 result in low BET1 protein levels and impaired ER-to-Golgi transport. Since in silico modeling suggested that p.(Ile51Ser) interferes with binding to interaction partners other than SNARE complex subunits, we set off and identified novel BET1 interaction partners with low affinity for p.(Ile51Ser) BET1 protein compared to wild-type, among them ERGIC-53. The BET1/ERGIC-53 interaction was validated by endogenous co-immunoprecipitation with both proteins colocalizing to the ERGIC compartment. Mislocalization of ERGIC-53 was observed in P1 and P2's derived fibroblasts; while in the p.(Ile51Ser) P2 fibroblasts specifically, mutant BET1 was also mislocalized along with ERGIC-53. Thus, we establish BET1 as a novel CMD/epilepsy gene and confirm the emerging role of ER/Golgi SNAREs in CMD.
Behavioural experiences activate the FOS transcription factor in sparse populations of neurons that are critical for encoding and recalling specific events. However, there is limited understanding of the mechanisms by which experience drives circuit reorganization to establish a network of Fos-activated cells. It is also not known whether FOS is required in this process beyond serving as a marker of recent neural activity and, if so, which of its many gene targets underlie circuit reorganization. Here we demonstrate that when mice engage in spatial exploration of novel environments, perisomatic inhibition of Fos-activated hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons by parvalbumin-expressing interneurons is enhanced, whereas perisomatic inhibition by cholecystokinin-expressing interneurons is weakened. This bidirectional modulation of inhibition is abolished when the function of the FOS transcription factor complex is disrupted. Single-cell RNA-sequencing, ribosome-associated mRNA profiling and chromatin analyses, combined with electrophysiology, reveal that FOS activates the transcription of Scg2, a gene that encodes multiple distinct neuropeptides, to coordinate these changes in inhibition. As parvalbumin- and cholecystokinin-expressing interneurons mediate distinct features of pyramidal cell activity4-6, the SCG2-dependent reorganization of inhibitory synaptic input might be predicted to affect network function in vivo. Consistent with this prediction, hippocampal gamma rhythms and pyramidal cell coupling to theta phase are significantly altered in the absence of Scg2. These findings reveal an instructive role for FOS and SCG2 in establishing a network of Fos-activated neurons via the rewiring of local inhibition to form a selectively modulated state. The opposing plasticity mechanisms acting on distinct inhibitory pathways may support the consolidation of memories over time.
Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) represent a mounting public health challenge. As these diseases are difficult to diagnose clinically, biomarkers of underlying pathophysiology are playing an ever-increasing role in research, clinical trials, and in the clinical work-up of patients. Though cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and positron emission tomography (PET)-based measures are available, their use is not widespread due to limitations, including high costs and perceived invasiveness. As a result of rapid advances in the development of ultra-sensitive assays, the levels of pathological brain- and AD-related proteins can now be measured in blood, with recent work showing promising results. Plasma P-tau appears to be the best candidate marker during symptomatic AD (i.e., prodromal AD and AD dementia) and preclinical AD when combined with Aβ42/Aβ40. Though not AD-specific, blood NfL appears promising for the detection of neurodegeneration and could potentially be used to detect the effects of disease-modifying therapies. This review provides an overview of the progress achieved thus far using AD blood-based biomarkers, highlighting key areas of application and unmet challenges.
Excitatory synapses of principal hippocampal neurons are frequently located on dendritic spines. The dynamic strengthening or weakening of individual inputs results in structural and molecular diversity of dendritic spines. Active spines with large calcium ion (Ca2+) transients are frequently invaded by a single protrusion from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which is dynamically transported into spines via the actin-based motor myosin V. An increase in synaptic strength correlates with stable anchoring of the ER, followed by the formation of an organelle referred to as the spine apparatus. Here, we show that myosin V binds the Ca2+ sensor caldendrin, a brain-specific homolog of the well-known myosin V interactor calmodulin. While calmodulin is an essential activator of myosin V motor function, we found that caldendrin acts as an inhibitor of processive myosin V movement. In mouse and rat hippocampal neurons, caldendrin regulates spine apparatus localization to a subset of dendritic spines through a myosin V-dependent pathway. We propose that caldendrin transforms myosin into a stationary F-actin tether that enables the localization of ER tubules and formation of the spine apparatus in dendritic spines.
Neurons are dependent on proper trafficking of lipids to neighboring glia for lipid exchange and disposal of potentially lipotoxic metabolites, producing distinct lipid distribution profiles among various cell types of the central nervous system. Little is known of the cellular distribution of neutral lipids in the substantia nigra (SN) of Parkinson's disease (PD) patients and its relationship to inflammatory signaling. This study aimed to determine human PD SN neutral lipid content and distribution in dopaminergic neurons, astrocytes, and microglia relative to age-matched healthy subject controls. The results show that while total neutral lipid content was unchanged relative to age-matched controls, the levels of whole SN triglycerides were correlated with inflammation-attenuating glycoprotein non-metastatic melanoma protein B (GPNMB) signaling in human PD SN. Histological localization of neutral lipids using a fluorescent probe (BODIPY) revealed that dopaminergic neurons and midbrain microglia significantly accumulated intracellular lipids in PD SN, while adjacent astrocytes had a reduced lipid load overall. This pattern was recapitulated by experimental in vivo inhibition of glucocerebrosidase activity in mice. Agents or therapies that restore lipid homeostasis among neurons, astrocytes, and microglia could potentially correct PD pathogenesis and disease progression.
Regulation of glial activation and neuroinflammation are critical factors in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). YKL-40, a primarily astrocytic protein encoded by the gene Chi3l1, is a widely studied cerebrospinal fluid biomarker that increases with aging and early in AD. However, the function of Chi3l1/YKL-40 in AD is unknown. In a cohort of patients with AD, we observed that a variant in the human CHI3L1 gene, which results in decreased CSF YKL-40 expression, was associated with slower AD progression. At baseline, Chi3l1 deletion in mice had no effect on astrocyte activation while modestly promoting microglial activation. In a mouse APP/PS1 model of AD, Chi3l1 deletion decreased amyloid plaque burden and increased periplaque expression of the microglial lysosomal marker CD68, suggesting that Chi3l1 may suppress glial phagocytic activation and promote amyloid accumulation. Accordingly, Chi3l1 knockdown increased phagocytosis of zymosan particles and of β-amyloid peptide in both astrocytes and microglia in vitro. We further observed that expression of Chi3l1 is regulated by the circadian clock, as deletion of the core clock proteins BMAL1 or CLOCK/NPAS2 strongly suppresses basal Chi3l1 expression, whereas deletion of the negative clock regulators PER1/PER2 increased Chi3l1 expression. Basal Chi3l1 mRNA was nonrhythmic because of a long mRNA half-life in astrocytes. However, inflammatory induction of Chi3l1 was gated by the clock. Our findings reveal Chi3l1/YKL-40 as a modulator of glial phagocytic activation and AD pathogenesis in both mice and humans and suggest that the astrocyte circadian clock regulates inflammatory Chi3l1 induction.
Parkinson's disease (PD) affects millions of patients worldwide and is characterized by alpha-synuclein aggregation in dopamine neurons. Molecular tweezers have shown high potential as anti-aggregation agents targeting positively charged residues of proteins undergoing amyloidogenic processes. Here we report that the molecular tweezer CLR01 decreased aggregation and toxicity in induced pluripotent stem cell-derived dopaminergic cultures treated with PD brain protein extracts. In microfluidic devices CLR01 reduced alpha-synuclein aggregation in cell somas when axonal terminals were exposed to alpha-synuclein oligomers. We then tested CLR01 in vivo in a humanized alpha-synuclein overexpressing mouse model; mice treated at 12 months of age when motor defects are mild exhibited an improvement in motor defects and a decreased oligomeric alpha-synuclein burden. Finally, CLR01 reduced alpha-synuclein-associated pathology in mice injected with alpha-synuclein aggregates into the striatum or substantia nigra. Taken together, these results highlight CLR01 as a disease-modifying therapy for PD and support further clinical investigation.
Objective: To observe the characteristics of brain fMRI during olfactory stimulation in patients
with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disease (NMOSD) and multiple sclerosis (MS), compare the
differences of brain functional activation areas between patients with NMOSD and MS, and explore the
characteristics of olfactory-related brain networks of NMOSD and MS.
Methods: Nineteen patients with NMOSD and 16 patients with MS who met the diagnostic criteria were recruited, and 19 healthy controls matched by sex and age were recruited. The olfactory function of all participants was assessed using the visual analog scale (VAS). Olfactory stimulation was alternately performed using a volatile body (lavender and rose solution) and the difference in brain activation was evaluated by task-taste fMRI scanning simultaneously.
Results: Activation intensity was weaker in the NMOSD group than in the healthy controls, including the left rectus, right superior temporal gyrus, and left cuneus. The activation intensity was stronger for the NMOSD than the controls in the left insula and left middle frontal gyrus (P > 0.05). Activation intensity was weaker in the MS group than the healthy controls in the bilateral hippocampus, right parahippocampal gyrus, right insula, left rectus gyrus, and right precentral gyrus, and stronger in the left paracentral lobule among the MS than the controls (P > 0.05). Compared with the MS group, activation intensity in the NMOSD group was weaker in the right superior temporal gyrus and left paracentral lobule, while it was stronger among the NMOSD group in the bilateral insula, bilateral hippocampus, bilateral parahippocampal gyrus, left inferior orbital gyrus, left superior temporal gyrus, left putamen, and left middle frontal gyrus (P > 0.05).
Conclusion: Olfactory-related brain networks are altered in both patients, and there are differences between their olfactory-related brain networks. It may provide a new reference index for the clinical differentiation and disease evaluation of NMOSD and MS. Moreover, further studies are needed.
Craniosynostosis results from premature fusion of the cranial suture(s), which contain mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that are crucial for calvarial expansion in coordination with brain growth. Infants with craniosynostosis have skull dysmorphology, increased intracranial pressure, and complications such as neurocognitive impairment that compromise quality of life. Animal models recapitulating these phenotypes are lacking, hampering development of urgently needed innovative therapies. Here, we show that Twist1+/- mice with craniosynostosis have increased intracranial pressure and neurocognitive behavioral abnormalities, recapitulating features of human Saethre-Chotzen syndrome. Using a biodegradable material combined with MSCs, we successfully regenerated a functional cranial suture that corrects skull deformity, normalizes intracranial pressure, and rescues neurocognitive behavior deficits. The regenerated suture creates a niche into which endogenous MSCs migrated, sustaining calvarial bone homeostasis and repair. MSC-based cranial suture regeneration offers a paradigm shift in treatment to reverse skull and neurocognitive abnormalities in this devastating disease.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are secreted vesicles of diverse size and cargo that are implicated in the cell-to-cell transmission of disease-causing-proteins in several neurodegenerative diseases. Mutant huntingtin, the disease-causing entity in Huntington's disease, has an expanded polyglutamine track at the N terminus that causes the protein to misfold and form toxic intracellular aggregates. In Huntington's disease, mutant huntingtin aggregates are transferred between cells by several routes. We have previously identified a cellular pathway that is responsible for the export of mutant huntingtin via extracellular vesicles. Identifying the EV sub-populations that carry misfolded huntingtin cargo is critical to understanding disease progression. In this work we expressed a form of polyglutamine expanded huntingtin (GFP-tagged 72Qhuntingtinexon1) in cells to assess the EVs involved in cellular export. We demonstrate that the molecular chaperone, cysteine string protein (CSPα; DnaJC5), facilitates export of disease-causing-polyglutamine-expanded huntingtin cargo in 180–240 nm vesicles as well as larger 10–30 μm vesicles.
Amyloid deposits consisting of fibrillar islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP) in pancreatic islets are associated with beta-cell loss and have been implicated in type 2 diabetes (T2D). Here, we applied cryo-EM to reconstruct densities of three dominant IAPP fibril polymorphs, formed in vitro from synthetic human IAPP. An atomic model of the main polymorph, built from a density map of 4.2-Å resolution, reveals two S-shaped, intertwined protofilaments. The segment 21-NNFGAIL-27, essential for IAPP amyloidogenicity, forms the protofilament interface together with Tyr37 and the amidated C terminus. The S-fold resembles polymorphs of Alzheimer's disease (AD)-associated amyloid-β (Aβ) fibrils, which might account for the epidemiological link between T2D and AD and reports on IAPP-Aβ cross-seeding in vivo. The results structurally link the early-onset T2D IAPP genetic polymorphism (encoding Ser20Gly) with the AD Arctic mutation (Glu22Gly) of Aβ and support the design of inhibitors and imaging probes for IAPP fibrils.
Objective: Depression is a potential risk factor for developing IBD. This association may be related
to GI symptoms occurring before diagnosis. We aimed to determine whether depression, adjusted for
pre-existing GI symptoms, is associated with subsequent IBD.
Design: We conducted a nested case-control study using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink identifying incident cases of UC and Crohn's disease (CD) from 1998 to 2016. Controls without IBD were matched for age and sex. We measured exposure to prevalent depression 4.5-5.5 years before IBD diagnosis. We created two sub-groups with prevalent depression based on whether individuals had reported GI symptoms before the onset of depression. We used conditional logistic regression to derive ORs for the risk of IBD depending on depression status.
Results: We identified 10 829 UC cases, 4531 CD cases and 15 360 controls. There was an excess of prevalent depression 5 years before IBD diagnosis relative to controls (UC: 3.7% vs 2.7%, CD 3.7% vs 2.9%). Individuals with GI symptoms prior to the diagnosis of depression had increased adjusted risks of developing UC and CD compared with those without depression (UC: OR 1.47, 95% CI 1.21 to 1.79; CD: OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.92). Individuals with depression alone had similar risks of UC and CD to those without depression (UC: OR 1.13, 95% CI 0.99 to 1.29; CD: OR 1.12, 95% CI 0.91 to 1.38).
Conclusions: Depression, in the absence of prior GI symptoms, is not associated with subsequent development of IBD. However, depression with GI symptoms should prompt investigation for IBD.
Keywords: crohn's disease; inflammatory bowel disease; psychophysiology; psychosomatic medicine; ulcerative colitis.
The elevated risk of Parkinson's disease in patients with diabetes might be mitigated depending on the type of drugs prescribed to treat diabetes. Population data for risk of Parkinson's disease in users of the newer types of drugs used in diabetes are scarce. We compared the risk of Parkinson's disease in patients with diabetes exposed to thiazolidinediones (glitazones), glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists and dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) inhibitors, with the risk of Parkinson's disease of users of any other oral glucose lowering drugs. A population-based, longitudinal, cohort study was conducted using historic primary care data from The Health Improvement Network. Patients with a diagnosis of diabetes and a minimum of two prescriptions for diabetes medications between January 2006 and January 2019 were included in our study. The primary outcome was the first recording of a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease after the index date, identified from clinical records. We compared the risk of Parkinson's disease in individuals treated with glitazones or DPP4 inhibitors and/or GLP-1 receptor agonists to individuals treated with other antidiabetic agents using a Cox regression with inverse probability of treatment weighting based on propensity scores. Results were analysed separately for insulin users. Among 100 288 patients [mean age 62.8 years (standard deviation 12.6)], 329 (0.3%) were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease during the median follow-up of 3.33 years. The incidence of Parkinson's disease was 8 per 10 000 person-years in 21 175 patients using glitazones, 5 per 10 000 person-years in 36 897 patients using DPP4 inhibitors and 4 per 10 000 person-years in 10 684 using GLP-1 mimetics, 6861 of whom were prescribed GTZ and/or DPP4 inhibitors prior to using GLP-1 mimetics. Compared with the incidence of Parkinson's disease in the comparison group (10 per 10 000 person-years), adjusted results showed no evidence of any association between the use of glitazones and Parkinson's disease [incidence rate ratio (IRR) 1.17; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.76-1.63; P = 0.467], but there was strong evidence of an inverse association between use of DPP4 inhibitors and GLP-1 mimetics and the onset of Parkinson's disease (IRR 0.64; 95% CI 0.43-0.88; P < 0.01 and IRR 0.38; 95% CI 0.17-0.60; P < 0.01, respectively). Results for insulin users were in the same direction, but the overall size of this group was small. The incidence of Parkinson's disease in patients diagnosed with diabetes varies substantially depending on the treatment for diabetes received. The use of DPP4 inhibitors and/or GLP-1 mimetics is associated with a lower rate of Parkinson's disease compared to the use of other oral antidiabetic drugs.
The attentional control of behavior is a higher-order cognitive function that operates through attention and response inhibition. The locus coeruleus (LC), the main source of norepinephrine in the brain, is considered to be involved in attentional control by modulating the neuronal activity of the prefrontal cortex (PFC). However, evidence for the causal role of LC activity in attentional control remains elusive. Here, by using behavioral and optogenetic techniques, we investigate the effect of LC neuron activation or inhibition in operant tests measuring attention and response inhibition (i.e., a measure of impulsive behavior). We show that LC neuron stimulation increases goal-directed attention and decreases impulsivity, while its suppression exacerbates distractibility and increases impulsive responding. Remarkably, we found that attention and response inhibition are under the control of two divergent projections emanating from the LC: one to the dorso-medial PFC and the other to the ventro-lateral orbitofrontal cortex, respectively. These findings are especially relevant for those pathological conditions characterized by attention deficits and elevated impulsivity.
Mutations in some cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) cause abnormal synapse formation and maturation, and serve as one of the potential mechanisms of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Recently, DSCAM (Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule) was found to be a high-risk gene for autism. However, it is still unclear how DSCAM contributes to ASD. Here, we show that DSCAM expression was downregulated following synapse maturation, and that DSCAM deficiency caused accelerated dendritic spine maturation during early postnatal development. Mechanistically, the extracellular domain of DSCAM interacts with neuroligin1 (NLGN1) to block the NLGN1-neurexin1β (NRXN1β) interaction. DSCAM extracellular domain was able to rescue spine overmaturation in DSCAM knockdown neurons. Precocious spines in DSCAM-deficient mice showed increased glutamatergic transmission in the developing cortex and induced autism-like behaviors, such as social novelty deficits and repetitive behaviors. Thus, DSCAM might be a repressor that prevents premature spine maturation and excessive glutamatergic transmission, and its deficiency could lead to autism-like behaviors. Our study provides new insight into the potential pathophysiological mechanisms of ASDs.
Objective: Disrupted sleep increases CSF levels of tau and β-amyloid (Aβ) and is associated with an
increased risk of Alzheimer disease (AD). Our aim was to determine whether acute sleep loss alters
diurnal profiles of plasma-based AD-associated biomarkers.
Methods: In a 2-condition crossover study, 15 healthy young men participated in 2 standardized sedentary in-laboratory conditions in randomized order: normal sleep vs overnight sleep loss. Plasma levels of total tau (t-tau), Aβ40, Aβ42, neurofilament light chain (NfL), and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) were assessed using ultrasensitive single molecule array assays or ELISAs, in the fasted state in the evening prior to, and in the morning after, each intervention.
Results: In response to sleep loss (+17.2%), compared with normal sleep (+1.8%), the evening to morning ratio was increased for t-tau (p = 0.035). No changes between the sleep conditions were seen for levels of Aβ40, Aβ42, NfL, or GFAP (all p > 0.10). The AD risk genotype rs4420638 did not significantly interact with sleep loss-related diurnal changes in plasma levels of Aβ40 or Aβ42 (p > 0.10). Plasma levels of Aβ42 (-17.1%) and GFAP (-12.1%) exhibited an evening to morning decrease across conditions (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Our exploratory study suggests that acute sleep loss results in increased blood levels of t-tau. These changes provide further evidence that sleep loss may have detrimental effects on brain health even in younger individuals. Larger cohorts are warranted to delineate sleep vs circadian mechanisms, implications for long-term recurrent conditions (e.g., in shift workers), as well as interactions with other lifestyle and genetic factors.
SARM1, a protein with critical NADase activity, is a central executioner in a conserved programme of axon degeneration. We report seven rare missense or in-frame microdeletion human SARM1 variant alleles in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or other motor nerve disorders that alter the SARM1 auto-inhibitory ARM domain and constitutively hyperactivate SARM1 NADase activity. The constitutive NADase activity of these seven variants is similar to that of SARM1 lacking the entire ARM domain and greatly exceeds the activity of wild-type SARM1, even in the presence of nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), its physiological activator. This rise in constitutive activity alone is enough to promote neuronal degeneration in response to otherwise non-harmful, mild stress. Importantly, these strong gain-of-function alleles are completely patient-specific in the cohorts studied and show a highly significant association with disease at the single gene level. These findings of disease-associated coding variants that alter SARM1 function build on previously reported genome-wide significant association with ALS for a neighbouring, more common SARM1 intragenic single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) to support a contributory role of SARM1 in these disorders. A broad phenotypic heterogeneity and variable age-of-onset of disease among patients with these alleles also raises intriguing questions about the pathogenic mechanism of hyperactive SARM1 variants.
Brain glucose-sensing neurons detect glucose fluctuations and prevent severe hypoglycemia, but mechanisms mediating functions of these glucose-sensing neurons are unclear. Here we report that estrogen receptor-α (ERα)-expressing neurons in the ventrolateral subdivision of the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (vlVMH) can sense glucose fluctuations, being glucose-inhibited neurons (GI-ERαvlVMH) or glucose-excited neurons (GE-ERαvlVMH). Hypoglycemia activates GI-ERαvlVMH neurons via the anoctamin 4 channel, and inhibits GE-ERαvlVMH neurons through opening the ATP-sensitive potassium channel. Further, we show that GI-ERαvlVMH neurons preferentially project to the medioposterior arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (mpARH) and GE-ERαvlVMH neurons preferentially project to the dorsal Raphe nuclei (DRN). Activation of ERαvlVMH to mpARH circuit and inhibition of ERαvlVMH to DRN circuit both increase blood glucose. Thus, our results indicate that ERαvlVMH neurons detect glucose fluctuations and prevent severe hypoglycemia in mice.
Background: Evidence on preventing Alzheimer's disease (AD) is challenging to interpret due to
varying study designs with heterogeneous endpoints and credibility. We completed a systematic review
and meta-analysis of current evidence with prospective designs to propose evidence-based suggestions
on AD prevention.
Methods: Electronic databases and relevant websites were searched from inception to 1 March 2019. Both observational prospective studies (OPSs) and randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were included. The multivariable-adjusted effect estimates were pooled by random-effects models, with credibility assessment according to its risk of bias, inconsistency and imprecision. Levels of evidence and classes of suggestions were summarised.
Results: A total of 44 676 reports were identified, and 243 OPSs and 153 RCTs were eligible for analysis after exclusion based on pre-decided criteria, from which 104 modifiable factors and 11 interventions were included in the meta-analyses. Twenty-one suggestions are proposed based on the consolidated evidence, with Class I suggestions targeting 19 factors: 10 with Level A strong evidence (education, cognitive activity, high body mass index in latelife, hyperhomocysteinaemia, depression, stress, diabetes, head trauma, hypertension in midlife and orthostatic hypotension) and 9 with Level B weaker evidence (obesity in midlife, weight loss in late life, physical exercise, smoking, sleep, cerebrovascular disease, frailty, atrial fibrillation and vitamin C). In contrast, two interventions are not recommended: oestrogen replacement therapy (Level A2) and acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (Level B).
Interpretation: Evidence-based suggestions are proposed, offering clinicians and stakeholders current guidance for the prevention of AD.
Keywords: alzheimer's disease; epidemiology; meta-analysis; systematic reviews.
Optogenetic-based neuromodulation tools is evolving for the basic neuroscience research in animals combining optical manipulation and electrophysiological recordings. However, current opto-electric integrated devices attaching on cerebral cortex for electrocorticogram (ECoG) still exist potential damage risks for both brain tissue and electrode, due to the mechanical mismatch and brain deformation. Here, we propose a stretchable opto-electric integrated neural interface by integrating serpentine-shaped electrodes and multisite micro-LEDs onto a hyperelastic substrate, as well as a serpentine-shaped metal shielding embedded in recording electrode for low-noise signal acquisition. The delicate structure design, ultrasoft encapsulation and independent fabrication followed by assembly are beneficial to the conformality, reliability and yield. In vitro accelerated deterioration and reciprocating tensile have demonstrated good performance and high stability. In vivo optogenetic activation of focal cortical areas of awaked mouse expressing Channelrhodopsin-2 is realized with simultaneous high-quality recording. We highlight the potential use of this multifunctional neural interface for neural applications.
Functional probes are a leading contender for the recognition and manipulation of nervous behavior and are characterized by substantial scientific and technological potential. Despite the recent development of functional neural probes, a flexible biocompatible probe unit that allows for long-term simultaneous stimulation and signaling is still an important task. Here, a category of flexible tiny multimaterial fiber probes (<0.3 g) is described in which the metal electrodes are regularly embedded inside a biocompatible polymer fiber with a double-clad optical waveguide by thermal drawing. Significantly, this arrangement enables great improvement in mechanical properties, achieves high optical transmission (>90%), and effectively minimizes the impedance (by up to one order of magnitude) of the probe. This ability allows to realize long-term (at least 10 weeks) simultaneous optical stimulation and neural recording at the single-cell level in behaving mice with signal-to-noise ratio (SNR = 30 dB) that is more than 6 times that of the benchmark probe such as an all-polymer fiber.
Optogenetics has become an indispensable tool for investigating brain functions. Although non-human primates are particularly useful models for understanding the functions and dysfunctions of the human brain, application of optogenetics to non-human primates is still limited. In the present study, we generate an effective adeno-associated viral vector serotype DJ to express channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) under the control of a strong ubiquitous CAG promoter and inject into the somatotopically identified forelimb region of the primary motor cortex in macaque monkeys. ChR2 is strongly expressed around the injection sites, and optogenetic intracortical microstimulation (oICMS) through a homemade optrode induces prominent cortical activity: Even single-pulse, short-duration oICMS evokes long-lasting repetitive firings of cortical neurons. In addition, oICMS elicits distinct forelimb movements and muscle activity, which are comparable to those elicited by conventional electrical ICMS. The present study removes obstacles to optogenetic manipulation of neuronal activity and behaviors in non-human primates.
Ras GTPase-activating protein-binding proteins 1 and 2 (G3BP1 and G3BP2, respectively) are widely recognized as core components of stress granules (SGs). We report that G3BPs reside at the cytoplasmic surface of lysosomes. They act in a non-redundant manner to anchor the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) protein complex to lysosomes and suppress activation of the metabolic master regulator mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) by amino acids and insulin. Like the TSC complex, G3BP1 deficiency elicits phenotypes related to mTORC1 hyperactivity. In the context of tumors, low G3BP1 levels enhance mTORC1-driven breast cancer cell motility and correlate with adverse outcomes in patients. Furthermore, G3bp1 inhibition in zebrafish disturbs neuronal development and function, leading to white matter heterotopia and neuronal hyperactivity. Thus, G3BPs are not only core components of SGs but also a key element of lysosomal TSC-mTORC1 signaling.
GABA interneurons play a critical role in higher brain functions. Astrocytic glial cells interact with synapses throughout the whole brain and are recognized as regulatory elements of excitatory synaptic transmission. However, it is largely unknown how GABAergic interneurons and astrocytes interact and contribute to stable performance of complex behaviors. Here, we found that genetic ablation of GABAB receptors in medial prefrontal cortex astrocytes altered low-gamma oscillations and firing properties of cortical neurons, which affected goal-directed behaviors. Remarkably, working memory deficits were restored by optogenetic stimulation of astrocytes with melanopsin. Furthermore, melanopsin-activated astrocytes in wild-type mice enhanced the firing rate of cortical neurons and gamma oscillations, as well as improved cognition. Therefore, our work identifies astrocytes as a hub for controlling inhibition in cortical circuits, providing a novel pathway for the behaviorally relevant midrange time-scale regulation of cortical information processing and consistent goal-directed behaviors.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a complex disease that leads to motor neuron death. Despite heritability estimates of 52%, genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have discovered relatively few loci. We developed a machine learning approach called RefMap, which integrates functional genomics with GWAS summary statistics for gene discovery. With transcriptomic and epigenetic profiling of motor neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), RefMap identified 690 ALS-associated genes that represent a 5-fold increase in recovered heritability. Extensive conservation, transcriptome, network, and rare variant analyses demonstrated the functional significance of candidate genes in healthy and diseased motor neurons and brain tissues. Genetic convergence between common and rare variation highlighted KANK1 as a new ALS gene. Reproducing KANK1 patient mutations in human neurons led to neurotoxicity and demonstrated that TDP-43 mislocalization, a hallmark pathology of ALS, is downstream of axonal dysfunction. RefMap can be readily applied to other complex diseases.
The ubiquitous heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) family consists of ATP-dependent molecular chaperones, which perform numerous cellular functions that affect almost all aspects of the protein life cycle from synthesis to degradation. Achieving this broad spectrum of functions requires precise regulation of HSP70 activity. Proteins of the HSP40 family, also known as J-domain proteins (JDPs), have a key role in this process by preselecting substrates for transfer to their HSP70 partners and by stimulating the ATP hydrolysis of HSP70, leading to stable substrate binding. In humans, JDPs constitute a large and diverse family with more than 40 different members2, which vary in their substrate selectivity and in the nature and number of their client-binding domains. Here we show that JDPs can also differ fundamentally in their interactions with HSP70 chaperones. Using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy we find that the major class B JDPs are regulated by an autoinhibitory mechanism that is not present in other classes. Although in all JDPs the interaction of the characteristic J-domain is responsible for the activation of HSP70, in DNAJB1 the HSP70-binding sites in this domain are intrinsically blocked by an adjacent glycine-phenylalanine rich region-an inhibition that can be released upon the interaction of a second site on DNAJB1 with the HSP70 C-terminal tail. This regulation, which controls substrate targeting to HSP70, is essential for the disaggregation of amyloid fibres by HSP70-DNAJB1, illustrating why no other class of JDPs can substitute for class B in this function. Moreover, this regulatory layer, which governs the functional specificities of JDP co-chaperones and their interactions with HSP70s, could be key to the wide range of cellular functions of HSP70.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis overlapping with frontotemporal dementia (ALS/FTD) is a fatal and currently untreatable disease characterized by rapid cognitive decline and paralysis. Elucidating initial cellular pathologies is central to therapeutic target development, but obtaining samples from presymptomatic patients is not feasible. Here, we report the development of a cerebral organoid slice model derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that recapitulates mature cortical architecture and displays early molecular pathology of C9ORF72 ALS/FTD. Using a combination of single-cell RNA sequencing and biological assays, we reveal distinct transcriptional, proteostasis and DNA repair disturbances in astroglia and neurons. We show that astroglia display increased levels of the autophagy signaling protein P62 and that deep layer neurons accumulate dipeptide repeat protein poly(GA), DNA damage and undergo nuclear pyknosis that could be pharmacologically rescued by GSK2606414. Thus, patient-specific iPSC-derived cortical organoid slice cultures are a reproducible translational platform to investigate preclinical ALS/FTD mechanisms as well as novel therapeutic approaches.
Impairment of microglial clearance activity contributes to beta-amyloid (Aβ) pathology in Alzheimer's disease (AD). While the transcriptome profile of microglia directs microglial functions, how the microglial transcriptome can be regulated to alleviate AD pathology is largely unknown. Here, we show that injection of interleukin (IL)-33 in an AD transgenic mouse model ameliorates Aβ pathology by reprogramming microglial epigenetic and transcriptomic profiles to induce a microglial subpopulation with enhanced phagocytic activity. These IL-33-responsive microglia (IL-33RMs) express a distinct transcriptome signature that is highlighted by increased major histocompatibility complex class II genes and restored homeostatic signature genes. IL-33-induced remodeling of chromatin accessibility and PU.1 transcription factor binding at the signature genes of IL-33RM control their transcriptome reprogramming. Specifically, disrupting PU.1-DNA interaction abolishes the microglial state transition and Aβ clearance that is induced by IL-33. Thus, we define a PU.1-dependent transcriptional pathway that drives the IL-33-induced functional state transition of microglia, resulting in enhanced Aβ clearance.
Trace amine-associated receptors (TAARs) are a class of sensory G protein-coupled receptors that detect biogenic amines, products of decarboxylation of amino acids. The majority of TAARs (TAAR2-TAAR9) have been described mainly in the olfactory epithelium and considered to be olfactory receptors sensing innate odors. However, there is recent evidence that one of the members of this family, TAAR5, is expressed also in the limbic brain areas receiving projection from the olfactory system and involved in the regulation of emotions. In this study, we further characterized a mouse line lacking TAAR5 (TAAR5 knockout, TAAR5-KO mice) that express beta-galactosidase mapping TAAR5 expression. We found that in TAAR5-KO mice the number of dopamine neurons, the striatal levels of dopamine and its metabolites, as well as striatal levels of GDNF mRNA, are elevated indicating a potential increase in dopamine neuron proliferation. Furthermore, an analysis of TAAR5 beta-galactosidase expression revealed that TAAR5 is present in the major neurogenic areas of the brain such as the subventricular zone (SVZ), the subgranular zone (SGZ) and the less characterized potentially neurogenic zone surrounding the 3rd ventricle. Direct analysis of neurogenesis by using specific markers doublecortin (DCX) and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) revealed at least 2-fold increase in the number of proliferating neurons in the SVZ and SGZ of TAAR5-KO mice, but no such markers were detected in mutant or control mice in the areas surrounding the 3rd ventricle. These observations indicate that TAAR5 involved not only in regulation of emotional status but also adult neurogenesis and dopamine transmission. Thus, future TAAR5 antagonists may exert not only antidepressant and/or anxiolytic action but may also provide new treatment opportunity for neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease.
Gut microbiome disturbances have been implicated in major depressive disorder (MDD). However, little is known about how the gut virome, microbiome, and fecal metabolome change, and how they interact in MDD. Here, using whole-genome shotgun metagenomic and untargeted metabolomic methods, we identified 3 bacteriophages, 47 bacterial species, and 50 fecal metabolites showing notable differences in abundance between MDD patients and healthy controls (HCs). Patients with MDD were mainly characterized by increased abundance of the genus Bacteroides and decreased abundance of the genera Blautia and Eubacterium. These multilevel omics alterations generated a characteristic MDD coexpression network. Disturbed microbial genes and fecal metabolites were consistently mapped to amino acid (γ-aminobutyrate, phenylalanine, and tryptophan) metabolism. Furthermore, we identified a combinatorial marker panel that robustly discriminated MDD from HC individuals in both the discovery and validation sets. Our findings provide a deep insight into understanding of the roles of disturbed gut ecosystem in MDD.
Our understanding of Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathophysiology remains incomplete. Here we used quantitative mass spectrometry and coexpression network analysis to conduct the largest proteomic study thus far on AD. A protein network module linked to sugar metabolism emerged as one of the modules most significantly associated with AD pathology and cognitive impairment. This module was enriched in AD genetic risk factors and in microglia and astrocyte protein markers associated with an anti-inflammatory state, suggesting that the biological functions it represents serve a protective role in AD. Proteins from this module were elevated in cerebrospinal fluid in early stages of the disease. In this study of >2,000 brains and nearly 400 cerebrospinal fluid samples by quantitative proteomics, we identify proteins and biological processes in AD brains that may serve as therapeutic targets and fluid biomarkers for the disease.
Selectivity of cortical neurons for sensory stimuli can increase across days as animals learn their behavioral relevance, and across seconds when animals switch attention. While both phenomena are expressed in the same cortical circuit, it is unknown whether they rely on similar mechanisms. We imaged activity of the same neuronal populations in primary visual cortex as mice learned a visual discrimination task and subsequently performed an attention switching task. Selectivity changes due to learning and attention were uncorrelated in individual neurons. Selectivity increases after learning mainly arose from selective suppression of responses to one of the task relevant stimuli but from selective enhancement and suppression during attention. Learning and attention differentially affected interactions between excitatory and PV, SOM and VIP inhibitory cell classes. Circuit modelling revealed that cell class-specific top-down inputs best explained attentional modulation, while the reorganization of local functional connectivity accounted for learning related changes. Thus, distinct mechanisms underlie increased discriminability of relevant sensory stimuli across longer and shorter time scales.
Haploinsufficiency of the progranulin (PGRN)-encoding gene (GRN) causes frontotemporal lobar degeneration (GRN-FTLD) and results in microglial hyperactivation, TREM2 activation, lysosomal dysfunction, and TDP-43 deposition. To understand the contribution of microglial hyperactivation to pathology, we used genetic and pharmacological approaches to suppress TREM2-dependent transition of microglia from a homeostatic to a disease-associated state. Trem2 deficiency in Grn KO mice reduced microglia hyperactivation. To explore antibody-mediated pharmacological modulation of TREM2-dependent microglial states, we identified antagonistic TREM2 antibodies. Treatment of macrophages from GRN-FTLD patients with these antibodies led to reduced TREM2 signaling due to its enhanced shedding. Furthermore, TREM2 antibody-treated PGRN-deficient microglia derived from human-induced pluripotent stem cells showed reduced microglial hyperactivation, TREM2 signaling, and phagocytic activity, but lysosomal dysfunction was not rescued. Similarly, lysosomal dysfunction, lipid dysregulation, and glucose hypometabolism of Grn KO mice were not rescued by TREM2 ablation. Synaptic loss and neurofilament light-chain (NfL) levels, a biomarker for neurodegeneration, were further elevated in the Grn/Trem2 KO cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). These findings suggest that TREM2-dependent microglia hyperactivation in models of GRN deficiency does not promote neurotoxicity, but rather neuroprotection.
Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurological disorder characterized by motor disturbances. HD pathology is most prominent in the striatum, the central hub of the basal ganglia. The cerebral cortex is the main striatal afferent, and progressive cortico-striatal disconnection characterizes HD. We mapped striatal network dysfunction in HD mice to ultimately modulate the activity of a specific cortico-striatal circuit to ameliorate motor symptoms and recover synaptic plasticity. Multimodal MRI in vivo indicates cortico-striatal and thalamo-striatal functional network deficits and reduced glutamate/glutamine ratio in the striatum of HD mice. Moreover, optogenetically-induced glutamate release from M2 cortex terminals in the dorsolateral striatum (DLS) was undetectable in HD mice and striatal neurons show blunted electrophysiological responses. Remarkably, repeated M2-DLS optogenetic stimulation normalized motor behavior in HD mice and evoked a sustained increase of synaptic plasticity. Overall, these results reveal that selective stimulation of the M2-DLS pathway can become an effective therapeutic strategy in HD.
The current paradigm is that inflammatory pain passively resolves following the cessation of inflammation. Yet, in a substantial proportion of patients with inflammatory diseases, resolution of inflammation is not sufficient to resolve pain, resulting in chronic pain. Mechanistic insight into how inflammatory pain is resolved is lacking. Here, we show that macrophages actively control resolution of inflammatory pain remotely from the site of inflammation by transferring mitochondria to sensory neurons. During resolution of inflammatory pain in mice, M2-like macrophages infiltrate the dorsal root ganglia that contain the somata of sensory neurons, concurrent with the recovery of oxidative phosphorylation in sensory neurons. The resolution of pain and the transfer of mitochondria requires expression of CD200 receptor (CD200R) on macrophages and the non-canonical CD200R-ligand iSec1 on sensory neurons. Our data reveal a novel mechanism for active resolution of inflammatory pain.
Female mice exhibit opposing social behaviors toward males depending on their reproductive state: virgins display sexual receptivity (lordosis behavior), while lactating mothers attack. How a change in reproductive state produces a qualitative switch in behavioral response to the same conspecific stimulus is unknown. Using single-cell RNA-seq, we identify two distinct subtypes of estrogen receptor-1-positive neurons in the ventrolateral subdivision of the female ventromedial hypothalamus (VMHvl) and demonstrate that they causally control sexual receptivity and aggressiveness in virgins and lactating mothers, respectively. Between- and within-subject bulk-calcium recordings from each subtype reveal that aggression-specific cells acquire an increased responsiveness to social cues during the transition from virginity to maternity, while the responsiveness of the mating-specific population appears unchanged. These results demonstrate that reproductive-state-dependent changes in the relative activity of transcriptomically distinct neural subtypes can underlie categorical switches in behavior associated with physiological state changes.
How does neural activity generate perception? Finding the combinations of spatial or temporal activity features (such as neuron identity or latency) that are consequential for perception remains challenging. We trained mice to recognize synthetic odors constructed from parametrically defined patterns of optogenetic activation, then measured perceptual changes during extensive and controlled perturbations across spatiotemporal dimensions. We modeled recognition as the matching of patterns to learned templates. The templates that best predicted recognition were sequences of spatially identified units, ordered by latencies relative to each other (with minimal effects of sniff). Within templates, individual units contributed additively, with larger contributions from earlier-activated units. Our synthetic approach reveals the fundamental logic of the olfactory code and provides a general framework for testing links between sensory activity and perception.
L-DOPA treatment for Parkinson's disease frequently leads to dyskinesias, the pathophysiology of which is poorly understood. We used MALDI-MSI to map the distribution of L-DOPA and monoaminergic pathways in brains of dyskinetic and nondyskinetic primates. We report elevated levels of L-DOPA, and its metabolite 3-O-methyldopa, in all measured brain regions of dyskinetic animals and increases in dopamine and metabolites in all regions analyzed except the striatum. In dyskinesia, dopamine levels correlated well with L-DOPA levels in extrastriatal regions, such as hippocampus, amygdala, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, and cortical areas, but not in the striatum. Our results demonstrate that L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia is linked to a dysregulation of L-DOPA metabolism throughout the brain. The inability of extrastriatal brain areas to regulate the formation of dopamine during L-DOPA treatment introduces the potential of dopamine or even L-DOPA itself to modulate neuronal signaling widely across the brain, resulting in unwanted side effects.
Non-selective antagonists of metabotropic glutamate receptor subtypes 2 (mGlu2) and 3 (mGlu3) exert rapid antidepressant-like effects by enhancing prefrontal cortex (PFC) glutamate transmission; however, the receptor subtype contributions and underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we leveraged newly developed negative allosteric modulators (NAMs), transgenic mice, and viral-assisted optogenetics to test the hypothesis that selective inhibition of mGlu2 or mGlu3 potentiates PFC excitatory transmission and confers antidepressant efficacy in preclinical models. We found that systemic treatment with an mGlu2 or mGlu3 NAM rapidly activated biophysically unique PFC pyramidal cell ensembles. Mechanistic studies revealed that mGlu2 and mGlu3 NAMs enhance thalamocortical transmission and inhibit long-term depression by mechanistically distinct presynaptic and postsynaptic actions. Consistent with these actions, systemic treatment with either NAM decreased passive coping and reversed anhedonia in two independent chronic stress models, suggesting that both mGlu2 and mGlu3 NAMs induce antidepressant-like effects through related but divergent mechanisms of action.
Chronic neuroinflammation is a pathogenic component of Alzheimer's disease (AD) that may limit the ability of the brain to clear amyloid deposits and cellular debris. Tight control of the immune system is therefore key to sustain the ability of the brain to repair itself during homeostasis and disease. The immune-cell checkpoint receptor/ligand pair PD-1/PD-L1, known for their inhibitory immune function, is expressed also in the brain. Here, we report upregulated expression of PD-L1 and PD-1 in astrocytes and microglia, respectively, surrounding amyloid plaques in AD patients and in the APP/PS1 AD mouse model. We observed juxtamembrane shedding of PD-L1 from astrocytes, which may mediate ectodomain signaling to PD-1-expressing microglia. Deletion of microglial PD-1 evoked an inflammatory response and compromised amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) uptake. APP/PS1 mice deficient for PD-1 exhibited increased deposition of Aβ, reduced microglial Aβ uptake, and decreased expression of the Aβ receptor CD36 on microglia. Therefore, ineffective immune regulation by the PD-1/PD-L1 axis contributes to Aβ plaque deposition during chronic neuroinflammation in AD.
Background: The MIND diet has been linked with prevention of Alzheimer's disease and cognitive
decline but has not been fully assessed in the context of Parkinson's disease (PD). The objective of
the present study was to determine whether MIND diet adherence is associated with the age of
Parkinson's disease onset in a manner superior to that of the Mediterranean diet.
Methods: Food Frequency Questionnaires from 167 participants with PD and 119 controls were scored for MIND and 2 versions of Mediterranean diet adherence. Scores were compared between sex and disease subgroups, and PD diet adherence was correlated with age at onset using univariate and multivariate linear models.
Results: The female subgroup adhered more closely to the MIND diet than the male subgroup, and diet scores were not modified by disease status. Later age of onset correlated most strongly with MIND diet adherence in the female subgroup, corresponding to differences of up to 17.4 years (P < 0.001) between low and high dietary tertiles. Greek Mediterranean adherence was also significantly associated with later PD onset across all models (P = 0.05-0.03). Conversely, only Greek Mediterranean diet adherence remained correlated with later onset across all models in men, with differences of up to 8.4 years (P = 0.002).
Conclusions: This cross-sectional study found a strong correlation between age of onset of PD and dietary habits, suggesting that nutritional strategies may be an effective tool to delay PD onset. Further studies may help to elucidate potential nutrition-related sex-specific pathophysiological mechanisms and differential prevalence rates in PD. © 2021 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.
Keywords: MIND diet; Parkinson's disease; mediterranean diet; sex differences.
There is increasing evidence for a role of inflammation in Parkinson's disease. Recent research in murine models suggests that parkin and PINK1 deficiency leads to impaired mitophagy, which causes the release of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), thereby triggering inflammation. Specifically, the CGAS (cyclic GMP-AMP synthase)-STING (stimulator of interferon genes) pathway mitigates activation of the innate immune system, quantifiable as increased interleukin-6 (IL6) levels. However, the role of IL6 and circulating cell-free mtDNA in unaffected and affected individuals harbouring mutations in PRKN/PINK1 and idiopathic Parkinson's disease patients remain elusive. We investigated IL6, C-reactive protein, and circulating cell-free mtDNA in serum of 245 participants in two cohorts from tertiary movement disorder centres. We performed a hypothesis-driven rank-based statistical approach adjusting for multiple testing. We detected (i) elevated IL6 levels in patients with biallelic PRKN/PINK1 mutations compared to healthy control subjects in a German cohort, supporting the concept of a role for inflammation in PRKN/PINK1-linked Parkinson's disease. In addition, the comparison of patients with biallelic and heterozygous mutations in PRKN/PINK1 suggests a gene dosage effect. The differences in IL6 levels were validated in a second independent Italian cohort; (ii) a correlation between IL6 levels and disease duration in carriers of PRKN/PINK1 mutations, while no such association was observed for idiopathic Parkinson's disease patients. These results highlight the potential of IL6 as progression marker in Parkinson's disease due to PRKN/PINK1 mutations; (iii) increased circulating cell-free mtDNA serum levels in both patients with biallelic or with heterozygous PRKN/PINK1 mutations compared to idiopathic Parkinson's disease, which is in line with previous findings in murine models. By contrast, circulating cell-free mtDNA concentrations in unaffected heterozygous carriers of PRKN/PINK1 mutations were comparable to control levels; and (iv) that circulating cell-free mtDNA levels have good predictive potential to discriminate between idiopathic Parkinson's disease and Parkinson's disease linked to heterozygous PRKN/PINK1 mutations, providing functional evidence for a role of heterozygous mutations in PRKN or PINK1 as Parkinson's disease risk factor. Taken together, our study further implicates inflammation due to impaired mitophagy and subsequent mtDNA release in the pathogenesis of PRKN/PINK1-linked Parkinson's disease. In individuals carrying mutations in PRKN/PINK1, IL6 and circulating cell-free mtDNA levels may serve as markers of Parkinson's disease state and progression, respectively. Finally, our study suggests that targeting the immune system with anti-inflammatory medication holds the potential to influence the disease course of Parkinson's disease, at least in this subset of patients.
The deposition of highly ordered fibrillar-type aggregates into inclusion bodies is a hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease. The high stability of such amyloid fibril aggregates makes them challenging substrates for the cellular protein quality-control machinery. However, the human HSP70 chaperone and its co-chaperones DNAJB1 and HSP110 can dissolve preformed fibrils of the Parkinson's disease-linked presynaptic protein α-synuclein in vitro. The underlying mechanisms of this unique activity remain poorly understood. Here we use biochemical tools and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to determine the crucial steps of the disaggregation process of amyloid fibrils. We find that DNAJB1 specifically recognizes the oligomeric form of α-synuclein via multivalent interactions, and selectively targets HSP70 to fibrils. HSP70 and DNAJB1 interact with the fibril through exposed, flexible amino and carboxy termini of α-synuclein rather than the amyloid core itself. The synergistic action of DNAJB1 and HSP110 strongly accelerates disaggregation by facilitating the loading of several HSP70 molecules in a densely packed arrangement at the fibril surface, which is ideal for the generation of 'entropic pulling' forces. The cooperation of DNAJB1 and HSP110 in amyloid disaggregation goes beyond the classical substrate targeting and recycling functions that are attributed to these HSP70 co-chaperones and constitutes an active and essential contribution to the remodelling of the amyloid substrate. These mechanistic insights into the essential prerequisites for amyloid disaggregation may provide a basis for new therapeutic interventions in neurodegeneration.
Associative memories are stored in distributed networks extending across multiple brain regions. However, it is unclear to what extent sensory cortical areas are part of these networks. Using a paradigm for visual category learning in mice, we investigated whether perceptual and semantic features of learned category associations are already represented at the first stages of visual information processing in the neocortex. Mice learned categorizing visual stimuli, discriminating between categories and generalizing within categories. Inactivation experiments showed that categorization performance was contingent on neuronal activity in the visual cortex. Long-term calcium imaging in nine areas of the visual cortex identified changes in feature tuning and category tuning that occurred during this learning process, most prominently in the postrhinal area (POR). These results provide evidence for the view that associative memories form a brain-wide distributed network, with learning in early stages shaping perceptual representations and supporting semantic content downstream.
Peripheral nerves are vascularized by a dense network of blood vessels to guarantee their complex function. Despite the crucial role of vascularization to ensure nerve homeostasis and regeneration, the mechanisms governing nerve invasion by blood vessels remain poorly understood. We found, in mice, that the sciatic nerve invasion by blood vessels begins around embryonic day 16 and continues until birth. Interestingly, intra-nervous blood vessel density significantly decreases during post-natal period, starting from P10. We show that, while the axon guidance molecule Netrin-1 promotes nerve invasion by blood vessels via the endothelial receptor UNC5B during embryogenesis, myelinated Schwann cells negatively control intra-nervous vascularization during post-natal period.
Evidence from epidemiological and laboratory studies, as well as randomized placebo-controlled trials, suggests supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) may be efficacious for treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). The mechanisms underlying n-3 PUFAs potential therapeutic properties remain unknown. There are suggestions in the literature that glial hypofunction is associated with depressive symptoms and that antidepressants may normalize glial function. In this study, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC)-derived neuronal stem cell lines were generated from individuals with MDD. Astrocytes differentiated from patient-derived neuronal stem cells (iNSCs) were verified by GFAP. Cells were treated with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or stearic acid (SA). During astrocyte differentiation, we found that n-3 PUFAs increased GFAP expression and GFAP positive cell formation. BDNF and GDNF production were increased in the astrocytes derived from patients subsequent to n-3 PUFA treatment. Stearic Acid (SA) treatment did not have this effect. CREB activity (phosphorylated CREB) was also increased by DHA and EPA but not by SA. Furthermore, when these astrocytes were treated with n-3 PUFAs, the cAMP antagonist, RP-cAMPs did not block n-3 PUFA CREB activation. However, the CREB specific inhibitor (666-15) diminished BDNF and GDNF production induced by n-3 PUFA, suggesting CREB dependence. Together, these results suggested that n-3 PUFAs facilitate astrocyte differentiation, and may mimic effects of some antidepressants by increasing production of neurotrophic factors. The CREB-dependence and cAMP independence of this process suggests a manner in which n-3 PUFA could augment antidepressant effects. These data also suggest a role for astrocytes in both MDD and antidepressant action.
Braak's prion-like theory fundamentally subverts the understanding of Parkinson's disease (PD). Emerging evidence shows that pathologic α-synuclein (α-syn) is a prion-like protein that spreads from one region to another in PD brain, which is an essential driver to the pathogenesis of PD. Thus far, there is a big knowledge gap that limited nanomaterial that can block prion-like spreading. Here, α-syn preformed fibrils (PFF) are used to model prion-like spreading and biocompatible antioxidant nanozyme, PtCu nanoalloys (NAs), is applied to fight against α-syn spreading. The results show that PtCu NAs significantly inhibit α-syn pathology, cell death, and neuron-to-neuron transmission by scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS) in primary neuron cultures. Moreover, the PtCu NAs significantly inhibit α-syn spreading induced by intrastriatal injection of PFF. It is the first time to observe nanozyme can block prion-like spreading, which provides a proof of concept for nanozyme therapy. It is also anticipated that the biomedical application of nanozyme against prion-like spreading could be optimized and considered to be developed as a therapeutic strategy against Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and other prion-like proteinopathies.
Normal aging is accompanied by escalating systemic inflammation. Yet the potential impact of immune homeostasis on neurogenesis and cognitive decline during brain aging have not been previously addressed. Here we report that natural killer (NK) cells of the innate immune system reside in the dentate gyrus neurogenic niche of aged brains in humans and mice. In situ expansion of these cells contributes to their abundance, which dramatically exceeds that of other immune subsets. Neuroblasts within the aged dentate gyrus display a senescence-associated secretory phenotype and reinforce NK cell activities and surveillance functions, which result in NK cell elimination of aged neuroblasts. Genetic or antibody-mediated depletion of NK cells leads to sustained improvements in neurogenesis and cognitive function during normal aging. These results demonstrate that NK cell accumulation in the aging brain impairs neurogenesis, which may serve as a therapeutic target to improve cognition in the aged population.
Comprehensively resolving neuronal identities in whole-brain images is a major challenge. We achieve this in C. elegans by engineering a multicolor transgene called NeuroPAL (a neuronal polychromatic atlas of landmarks). NeuroPAL worms share a stereotypical multicolor fluorescence map for the entire hermaphrodite nervous system that resolves all neuronal identities. Neurons labeled with NeuroPAL do not exhibit fluorescence in the green, cyan, or yellow emission channels, allowing the transgene to be used with numerous reporters of gene expression or neuronal dynamics. We showcase three applications that leverage NeuroPAL for nervous-system-wide neuronal identification. First, we determine the brainwide expression patterns of all metabotropic receptors for acetylcholine, GABA, and glutamate, completing a map of this communication network. Second, we uncover changes in cell fate caused by transcription factor mutations. Third, we record brainwide activity in response to attractive and repulsive chemosensory cues, characterizing multimodal coding for these stimuli.
With increasing life span and prevalence of dementia, it is important to understand the mechanisms of cognitive aging. Here, we focus on a subgroup of the population we term “cognitively frail,” defined by reduced cognitive function in the absence of subjective memory complaints, or a clinical diagnosis of dementia. Cognitive frailty is distinct from cognitive impairment caused by physical frailty. It has been proposed to be a precursor to Alzheimer's disease, but may alternatively represent one end of a nonpathologic spectrum of cognitive aging. We test these hypotheses in humans of both sexes, by comparing the structural and neurophysiological properties of a community-based cohort of cognitive frail adults, to people presenting clinically with diagnoses of Alzheimer's disease or mild cognitive impairment, and community-based cognitively typical older adults. Cognitive performance of the cognitively frail was similar to those with mild cognitive impairment. We used a novel cross-modal paired-associates task that presented images followed by sounds, to induce physiological responses of novelty and associative mismatch, recorded by EEG/MEG. Both controls and cognitively frail showed stronger mismatch responses and larger temporal gray matter volume, compared with people with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. Our results suggest that community-based cognitively frail represents a spectrum of normal aging rather than incipient Alzheimer's disease, despite similar cognitive function. Lower lifelong cognitive reserve, hearing impairment, and cardiovascular comorbidities might contribute to the etiology of the cognitive frailty. Critically, community-based cohorts of older adults with low cognitive performance should not be interpreted as representing undiagnosed Alzheimer's disease.
Here we describe mechanistically distinct enzymes (a kinase, a guanosine triphosphatase, and a ubiquitin protein hydrolase) that function in disparate biochemical pathways and can also act in concert to mediate a series of redox reactions. Each enzyme manifests a second, noncanonical function-transnitrosylation-that triggers a pathological biochemical cascade in mouse models and in humans with Alzheimer's disease (AD). The resulting series of transnitrosylation reactions contributes to synapse loss, the major pathological correlate to cognitive decline in AD. We conclude that enzymes with distinct primary reaction mechanisms can form a completely separate network for aberrant transnitrosylation. This network operates in the postreproductive period, so natural selection against such abnormal activity may be decreased.
Axon loss underlies symptom onset and progression in many neurodegenerative disorders. Axon degeneration in injury and disease is promoted by activation of the NAD-consuming enzyme SARM1. Here, we report a novel activator of SARM1, a metabolite of the pesticide and neurotoxin vacor. Removal of SARM1 completely rescues mouse neurons from vacor-induced neuron and axon death in vitro and in vivo. We present the crystal structure of the Drosophila SARM1 regulatory domain complexed with this activator, the vacor metabolite VMN, which as the most potent activator yet known is likely to support drug development for human SARM1 and NMNAT2 disorders. This study indicates the mechanism of neurotoxicity and pesticide action by vacor, raises important questions about other pyridines in wider use today, provides important new tools for drug discovery, and demonstrates that removing SARM1 can robustly block programmed axon death induced by toxicity as well as genetic mutation.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an early-onset developmental disorder characterized by deficits in communication and social interaction and restrictive or repetitive behaviours. Family studies demonstrate that ASD has a substantial genetic basis with contributions both from inherited and de novo variants. It has been estimated that de novo mutations may contribute to 30% of all simplex cases, in which only a single child is affected per family. Tandem repeats (TRs), defined here as sequences of 1 to 20 base pairs in size repeated consecutively, comprise one of the major sources of de novo mutations in humans. TR expansions are implicated in dozens of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Yet, de novo TR mutations have not been characterized on a genome-wide scale, and their contribution to ASD remains unexplored. Here we develop new bioinformatics methods for identifying and prioritizing de novo TR mutations from sequencing data and perform a genome-wide characterization of de novo TR mutations in ASD-affected probands and unaffected siblings. We infer specific mutation events and their precise changes in repeat number, and primarily focus on more prevalent stepwise copy number changes rather than large expansions. Our results demonstrate a significant genome-wide excess of TR mutations in ASD probands. Mutations in probands tend to be larger, enriched in fetal brain regulatory regions, and are predicted to be more evolutionarily deleterious. Overall, our results highlight the importance of considering repeat variants in future studies of de novo mutations.
Brain circuits in the neocortex develop from diverse types of neurons that migrate and form synapses. Here we quantify the circuit patterns of synaptogenesis for inhibitory interneurons in the developing mouse somatosensory cortex. We studied synaptic innervation of cell bodies, apical dendrites, and axon initial segments using three-dimensional electron microscopy focusing on the first 4 weeks postnatally (postnatal days P5 to P28). We found that innervation of apical dendrites occurs early and specifically: Target preference is already almost at adult levels at P5. Axons innervating cell bodies, on the other hand, gradually acquire specificity from P5 to P9, likely via synaptic overabundance followed by antispecific synapse removal. Chandelier axons show first target preference by P14 but develop full target specificity almost completely by P28, which is consistent with a combination of axon outgrowth and off-target synapse removal. This connectomic developmental profile reveals how inhibitory axons in the mouse cortex establish brain circuitry during development.
In mammals, histone 3 lysine 4 methylation (H3K4me) is mediated by six different lysine methyltransferases. Among these enzymes, SETD1B (SET domain containing 1b) has been linked to syndromic intellectual disability in human subjects, but its role in the mammalian postnatal brain has not been studied yet. Here, we employ mice deficient for Setd1b in excitatory neurons of the postnatal forebrain, and combine neuron-specific ChIP-seq and RNA-seq approaches to elucidate its role in neuronal gene expression. We observe that Setd1b controls the expression of a set of genes with a broad H3K4me3 peak at their promoters, enriched for neuron-specific genes linked to learning and memory function. Comparative analyses in mice with conditional deletion of Kmt2a and Kmt2b histone methyltransferases show that SETD1B plays a more pronounced and potent role in regulating such genes. Moreover, postnatal loss of Setd1b leads to severe learning impairment, suggesting that SETD1B-dependent regulation of H3K4me levels in postnatal neurons is critical for cognitive function.
Sleep and wakefulness are homeostatically regulated by a variety of factors, including adenosine. However, how neural activity underlying the sleep-wake cycle controls adenosine release in the brain remains unclear. Using a newly developed genetically encoded adenosine sensor, we found an activity-dependent rapid increase in the concentration of extracellular adenosine in mouse basal forebrain (BF), a critical region controlling sleep and wakefulness. Although the activity of both BF cholinergic and glutamatergic neurons correlated with changes in the concentration of adenosine, optogenetic activation of these neurons at physiological firing frequencies showed that glutamatergic neurons contributed much more to the adenosine increase. Mice with selective ablation of BF glutamatergic neurons exhibited a reduced adenosine increase and impaired sleep homeostasis regulation. Thus, cell type-specific neural activity in the BF dynamically controls sleep homeostasis.
Ageing is characterized by the development of persistent pro-inflammatory responses that contribute to atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome, cancer and frailty. The ageing brain is also vulnerable to inflammation, as demonstrated by the high prevalence of age-associated cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease. Systemically, circulating pro-inflammatory factors can promote cognitive decline, and in the brain, microglia lose the ability to clear misfolded proteins that are associated with neurodegeneration. However, the underlying mechanisms that initiate and sustain maladaptive inflammation with ageing are not well defined. Here we show that in ageing mice myeloid cell bioenergetics are suppressed in response to increased signalling by the lipid messenger prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), a major modulator of inflammation. In ageing macrophages and microglia, PGE2 signalling through its EP2 receptor promotes the sequestration of glucose into glycogen, reducing glucose flux and mitochondrial respiration. This energy-deficient state, which drives maladaptive pro-inflammatory responses, is further augmented by a dependence of aged myeloid cells on glucose as a principal fuel source. In aged mice, inhibition of myeloid EP2 signalling rejuvenates cellular bioenergetics, systemic and brain inflammatory states, hippocampal synaptic plasticity and spatial memory. Moreover, blockade of peripheral myeloid EP2 signalling is sufficient to restore cognition in aged mice. Our study suggests that cognitive ageing is not a static or irrevocable condition but can be reversed by reprogramming myeloid glucose metabolism to restore youthful immune functions.
Although the pathological contributions of reactive astrocytes have been implicated in Alzheimer's disease (AD), their in vivo functions remain elusive due to the lack of appropriate experimental models and precise molecular mechanisms. Here, we show the importance of astrocytic reactivity on the pathogenesis of AD using GiD, a newly developed animal model of reactive astrocytes, where the reactivity of astrocytes can be manipulated as mild (GiDm) or severe (GiDs). Mechanistically, excessive hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) originated from monoamine oxidase B in severe reactive astrocytes causes glial activation, tauopathy, neuronal death, brain atrophy, cognitive impairment and eventual death, which are significantly prevented by AAD-2004, a potent H2O2 scavenger. These H2O2--induced pathological features of AD in GiDs are consistently recapitulated in a three-dimensional culture AD model, virus-infected APP/PS1 mice and the brains of patients with AD. Our study identifies H2O2 from severe but not mild reactive astrocytes as a key determinant of neurodegeneration in AD.
The nervous and endocrine systems coordinately monitor and regulate nutrient availability to maintain energy homeostasis. Sensory detection of food regulates internal nutrient availability in a manner that anticipates food intake, but sensory pathways that promote anticipatory physiological changes remain unclear. Here, we identify serotonergic (5-HT) neurons as critical mediators that transform gustatory detection by sensory neurons into the activation of insulin-producing cells and enteric neurons in Drosophila. One class of 5-HT neurons responds to gustatory detection of sugars, excites insulin-producing cells, and limits consumption, suggesting that they anticipate increased nutrient levels and prevent overconsumption. A second class of 5-HT neurons responds to gustatory detection of bitter compounds and activates enteric neurons to promote gastric motility, likely to stimulate digestion and increase circulating nutrients upon food rejection. These studies demonstrate that 5-HT neurons relay acute gustatory detection to divergent pathways for longer-term stabilization of circulating nutrients.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia but has no effective treatment. A comprehensive investigation of cell type-specific responses and cellular heterogeneity in AD is required to provide precise molecular and cellular targets for therapeutic development. Accordingly, we perform single-nucleus transcriptome analysis of 169,496 nuclei from the prefrontal cortical samples of AD patients and normal control (NC) subjects. Differential analysis shows that the cell type-specific transcriptomic changes in AD are associated with the disruption of biological processes including angiogenesis, immune activation, synaptic signaling, and myelination. Subcluster analysis reveals that compared to NC brains, AD brains contain fewer neuroprotective astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Importantly, our findings show that a subpopulation of angiogenic endothelial cells is induced in the brain in patients with AD. These angiogenic endothelial cells exhibit increased expression of angiogenic growth factors and their receptors (i.e., EGFL7, FLT1, and VWF) and antigen-presentation machinery (i.e., B2M and HLA-E). This suggests that these endothelial cells contribute to angiogenesis and immune response in AD pathogenesis. Thus, our comprehensive molecular profiling of brain samples from patients with AD reveals previously unknown molecular changes as well as cellular targets that potentially underlie the functional dysregulation of endothelial cells, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes in AD, providing important insights for therapeutic development.
With increased life expectancy, age-associated cognitive decline becomes a growing concern, even in the absence of recognizable neurodegenerative disease. The integrated stress response (ISR) is activated during aging and contributes to age-related brain phenotypes. We demonstrate that treatment with the drug-like small-molecule ISR inhibitor ISRIB reverses ISR activation in the brain, as indicated by decreased levels of activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) and phosphorylated eukaryotic translation initiation factor eIF2. Furthermore, ISRIB treatment reverses spatial memory deficits and ameliorates working memory in old mice. At the cellular level in the hippocampus, ISR inhibition (i) rescues intrinsic neuronal electrophysiological properties, (ii) restores spine density and (iii) reduces immune profiles, specifically interferon and T cell-mediated responses. Thus, pharmacological interference with the ISR emerges as a promising intervention strategy for combating age-related cognitive decline in otherwise healthy individuals.
The signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) signalling pathway is activated through phosphorylation by Janus kinases in response to a diverse set of immunogenic and non-immunogenic triggers. Several distinct lines of evidence propose an intricate involvement of STAT3 in neural function relevant to behaviour in health and disease. However, in part due to the pleiotropic effects resulting from its DNA binding activity and the consequent regulation of expression of a variety of genes with context-dependent cellular consequences, the precise nature of STAT3 involvement in the neural mechanisms underlying psychopathology remains incompletely understood. Here, we focused on the midbrain serotonergic system, a central hub for the regulation of emotions, to examine the relevance of STAT3 signalling for emotional behaviour in mice by selectively knocking down raphe STAT3 expression using germline genetic (STAT3 KO) and viral-mediated approaches. Mice lacking serotonergic STAT3 presented with reduced negative behavioural reactivity and a blunted response to the sensitising effects of amphetamine, alongside alterations in midbrain neuronal firing activity of serotonergic neurons and transcriptional control of gene networks relevant for neuropsychiatric disorders. Viral knockdown of dorsal raphe (DR) STAT3 phenocopied the behavioural alterations of STAT3 KO mice, excluding a developmentally determined effect and suggesting that disruption of STAT3 signalling in the DR of adult mice is sufficient for the manifestation of behavioural traits relevant to psychopathology. Collectively, these results suggest DR STAT3 as a molecular gate for the control of behavioural reactivity, constituting a mechanistic link between the upstream activators of STAT3, serotonergic neurotransmission and psychopathology.
Color and polarization provide complementary information about the world and are detected by specialized photoreceptors. However, the downstream neural circuits that process these distinct modalities are incompletely understood in any animal. Using electron microscopy, we have systematically reconstructed the synaptic targets of the photoreceptors specialized to detect color and skylight polarization in Drosophila, and we have used light microscopy to confirm many of our findings. We identified known and novel downstream targets that are selective for different wavelengths or polarized light, and followed their projections to other areas in the optic lobes and the central brain. Our results revealed many synapses along the photoreceptor axons between brain regions, new pathways in the optic lobes, and spatially segregated projections to central brain regions. Strikingly, photoreceptors in the polarization-sensitive dorsal rim area target fewer cell types, and lack strong connections to the lobula, a neuropil involved in color processing. Our reconstruction identifies shared wiring and modality-specific specializations for color and polarization vision, and provides a comprehensive view of the first steps of the pathways processing color and polarized light inputs.
Animal models of disease are valuable resources for investigating pathogenic mechanisms and potential therapeutic interventions. However, for complex disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), the generation and availability of innumerous distinct animal models present unique challenges to AD researchers and hinder the success of useful therapies. Here, we conducted an in-depth analysis of the 3xTg-AD mouse model of AD across its lifespan to better inform the field of the various pathologies that appear at specific ages, and comment on drift that has occurred in the development of pathology in this line since its development 20 years ago. This modern characterization of the 3xTg-AD model includes an assessment of impairments in long-term potentiation followed by quantification of amyloid beta (Aβ) plaque burden and neurofibrillary tau tangles, biochemical levels of Aβ and tau protein, and neuropathological markers such as gliosis and accumulation of dystrophic neurites. We also present a novel comparison of the 3xTg-AD model with the 5xFAD model using the same deep-phenotyping characterization pipeline and show plasma NfL is strongly driven by plaque burden. The results from these analyses are freely available via the AD Knowledge Portal (https://modeladexplorer.org/). Our work demonstrates the utility of a characterization pipeline that generates robust and standardized information relevant to investigating and comparing disease etiologies of current and future models of AD.
Guided by gut sensory cues, humans and animals prefer nutritive sugars over non-caloric sweeteners, but how the gut steers such preferences remains unknown. In the intestine, neuropod cells synapse with vagal neurons to convey sugar stimuli to the brain within seconds. Here, we found that cholecystokinin (CCK)-labeled duodenal neuropod cells differentiate and transduce luminal stimuli from sweeteners and sugars to the vagus nerve using sweet taste receptors and sodium glucose transporters. The two stimulus types elicited distinct neural pathways: while sweetener stimulated purinergic neurotransmission, sugar stimulated glutamatergic neurotransmission. To probe the contribution of these cells to behavior, we developed optogenetics for the gut lumen by engineering a flexible fiberoptic. We showed that preference for sugar over sweetener in mice depends on neuropod cell glutamatergic signaling. By swiftly discerning the precise identity of nutrient stimuli, gut neuropod cells serve as the entry point to guide nutritive choices.
To elucidate the role of Tau isoforms and post-translational modification (PTM) stoichiometry in Alzheimer's disease (AD), we generated a high-resolution quantitative proteomics map of 95 PTMs on multiple isoforms of Tau isolated from postmortem human tissue from 49 AD and 42 control subjects. Although Tau PTM maps reveal heterogeneity across subjects, a subset of PTMs display high occupancy and frequency for AD, suggesting importance in disease. Unsupervised analyses indicate that PTMs occur in an ordered manner, leading to Tau aggregation. The processive addition and minimal set of PTMs associated with seeding activity was further defined by analysis of size-fractionated Tau. To summarize, features in the Tau protein critical for disease intervention at different stages of disease are identified, including enrichment of 0N and 4R isoforms, underrepresentation of the C terminus, an increase in negative charge in the proline-rich region (PRR), and a decrease in positive charge in the microtubule binding domain (MBD).
Innate immunity is associated with Alzheimer's disease, but the influence of immune activation on the production of amyloid-β is unknown. Here we identify interferon-induced transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3) as a γ-secretase modulatory protein, and establish a mechanism by which inflammation affects the generation of amyloid-β. Inflammatory cytokines induce the expression of IFITM3 in neurons and astrocytes, which binds to γ-secretase and upregulates its activity, thereby increasing the production of amyloid-β. The expression of IFITM3 is increased with ageing and in mouse models that express familial Alzheimer's disease genes. Furthermore, knockout of IFITM3 reduces γ-secretase activity and the formation of amyloid plaques in a transgenic mouse model (5xFAD) of early amyloid deposition. IFITM3 protein is upregulated in tissue samples from a subset of patients with late-onset Alzheimer's disease that exhibit higher γ-secretase activity. The amount of IFITM3 in the γ-secretase complex has a strong and positive correlation with γ-secretase activity in samples from patients with late-onset Alzheimer's disease. These findings reveal a mechanism in which γ-secretase is modulated by neuroinflammation via IFITM3 and the risk of Alzheimer's disease is thereby increased.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can damage cerebral small vessels and cause neurological symptoms. Here we describe structural changes in cerebral small vessels of patients with COVID-19 and elucidate potential mechanisms underlying the vascular pathology. In brains of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-infected individuals and animal models, we found an increased number of empty basement membrane tubes, so-called string vessels representing remnants of lost capillaries. We obtained evidence that brain endothelial cells are infected and that the main protease of SARS-CoV-2 (Mpro) cleaves NEMO, the essential modulator of nuclear factor-κB. By ablating NEMO, Mpro induces the death of human brain endothelial cells and the occurrence of string vessels in mice. Deletion of receptor-interacting protein kinase (RIPK) 3, a mediator of regulated cell death, blocks the vessel rarefaction and disruption of the blood–brain barrier due to NEMO ablation. Importantly, a pharmacological inhibitor of RIPK signaling prevented the Mpro-induced microvascular pathology. Our data suggest RIPK as a potential therapeutic target to treat the neuropathology of COVID-19.
In a previous study, we showed that viniferin decreased amyloid deposits and reduced neuroinflammation in APPswePS1dE9 transgenic mice between 3 and 6 months of age. In the present study, wild type and APPswePS1dE9 transgenic mice were treated from 7 to 11 or from 3 to 12 months by a weekly intraperitoneal injection of either 20 mg/kg viniferin or resveratrol or their vehicle, the polyethylene glycol 200 (PEG 200). The cognitive status of the mice was evaluated by the Morris water maze test. Then, amyloid burden and neuroinflammation were quantified by western-blot, Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay (ELISA), immunofluorescence, and in vivo micro-Positon Emission Tomography (PET) imaging. Viniferin decreased hippocampal amyloid load and deposits with greater efficiency than resveratrol, and both treatments partially prevented the cognitive decline. Furthermore, a significant decrease in brain uptake of the TSPO PET tracer [18F]DPA-714 was observed with viniferin compared to resveratrol. Expression of GFAP, IBA1, and IL-1β were decreased by viniferin but PEG 200, which was very recently shown to be a neuroinflammatory inducer, masked the neuroprotective power of viniferin.
The hippocampal-entorhinal system supports cognitive functions, has lifelong neurogenic capabilities in many species, and is selectively vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease. To investigate neurogenic potential and cellular diversity, we profiled single-nucleus transcriptomes in five hippocampal-entorhinal subregions in humans, macaques, and pigs. Integrated cross-species analysis revealed robust transcriptomic and histologic signatures of neurogenesis in the adult mouse, pig, and macaque but not humans. Doublecortin (DCX), a widely accepted marker of newly generated granule cells, was detected in diverse human neurons, but it did not define immature neuron populations. To explore species differences in cellular diversity and implications for disease, we characterized subregion-specific, transcriptomically defined cell types and transitional changes from the three-layered archicortex to the six-layered neocortex. Notably, METTL7B defined subregion-specific excitatory neurons and astrocytes in primates, associated with endoplasmic reticulum and lipid droplet proteins, including Alzheimer's disease-related proteins. This resource reveals cell-type- and species-specific properties shaping hippocampal-entorhinal neurogenesis and function.
Dopaminergic neurons (DNs) in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) form an important part of the basal ganglia circuitry, playing key roles in movement initiation and coordination. A hallmark of Parkinson's disease (PD) is the degeneration of these SNpc DNs leading to akinesia, bradykinesia and tremor. There is gathering evidence that oligomeric α-synuclein (α-syn) is one of the major pathologic species in PD, with its deposition in Lewy bodies (LBs) closely correlated with disease progression. However, the precise mechanisms underlying the effects of oligomeric α-syn on DN function have yet to be fully defined. Here, we have combined electrophysiological recording and detailed analysis to characterize the time-dependent effects of α-syn aggregates (consisting of oligomers and possibly small fibrils) on the properties of SNpc DNs. The introduction of α-syn aggregates into single DNs via the patch electrode significantly reduced both the input resistance and the firing rate without changing the membrane potential. These effects occurred after 8–16 min of dialysis but did not occur with the monomeric form of α-syn. The effects of α-syn aggregates could be significantly reduced by preincubation with the ATP-sensitive K+ channel (KATP) inhibitor glibenclamide. These data suggest that accumulation of α-syn aggregates in DNs may chronically activate KATP channels leading to a significant loss of excitability and dopamine release.
Alzheimer's disease is the world's most common neurodegenerative disorder. It is associated with neuroinflammation involving activation of microglia by β-amyloid (Aβ) deposits. Based on previous studies showing apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD (ASC) binding and cross-seeding extracellular Aβ, we investigate the propagation of ASC between primary microglia and the effects of ASC-Aβ composites on microglial inflammasomes and function. Indeed, ASC released by a pyroptotic cell can be functionally built into the neighboring microglia NOD-like receptor protein (NLRP3) inflammasome. Compared with protein-only application, exposure to ASC-Aβ composites amplifies the proinflammatory response, resulting in pyroptotic cell death, setting free functional ASC and inducing a feedforward stimulating vicious cycle. Clustering around ASC fibrils also compromises clearance of Aβ by microglia. Together, these data enable a closer look at the turning point from acute to chronic Aβ-related neuroinflammation through formation of ASC-Aβ composites.