Anatomy and Neuroscience - Research Publications

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    The antiepileptic medications carbamazepine and phenytoin inhibit native sodium currents in murine osteoblasts
    Petty, SJ ; Milligan, CJ ; Todaro, M ; Richards, KL ; Kularathna, PK ; Pagel, CN ; French, CR ; Hill-Yardin, EL ; O'Brien, TJ ; Wark, JD ; Mackie, EJ ; Petrou, S (WILEY, 2016-09-01)
    OBJECTIVE: Fracture risk is a serious comorbidity in epilepsy and may relate to the use of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Many AEDs inhibit ion channel function, and the expression of these channels in osteoblasts raises the question of whether altered bone signaling increases bone fragility. We aimed to confirm the expression of voltage-gated sodium (NaV ) channels in mouse osteoblasts, and to investigate the action of carbamazepine and phenytoin on NaV channels. METHODS: Immunocytochemistry was performed on primary calvarial osteoblasts extracted from neonatal C57BL/6J mice and additional RNA sequencing (RNASeq) was included to confirm expression of NaV . Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings were made to identify the native currents expressed and to assess the actions of carbamazepine (50 μm) or phenytoin (50 μm). RESULTS: NaV expression was demonstrated with immunocytochemistry, RNA sequencing, and functionally, with demonstration of robust tetrodotoxin-sensitive and voltage-activated inward currents. Application of carbamazepine or phenytoin resulted in significant inhibition of current amplitude for carbamazepine (31.6 ± 5.9%, n = 9; p < 0.001), and for phenytoin (35.5 ± 6.9%, n = 7; p < 0.001). SIGNIFICANCE: Mouse osteoblasts express NaV , and native NaV currents are blocked by carbamazepine and phenytoin, supporting our hypothesis that AEDs can directly influence osteoblast function and potentially affect bone strength.
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    Inflammation, ictogenesis, and epileptogenesis: An exploration through human disease
    Tan, TH-L ; Perucca, P ; O'Brien, TJ ; Kwan, P ; Monif, M (WILEY, 2020-12-14)
    Epilepsy is seen historically as a disease of aberrant neuronal signaling manifesting as seizures. With the discovery of numerous auto-antibodies and the subsequent growth in understanding of autoimmune encephalitis, there has been an increasing emphasis on the contribution of the innate and adaptive immune system to ictogenesis and epileptogenesis. Pathogenic antibodies, complement activation, CD8+ cytotoxic T cells, and microglial activation are seen, to various degrees, in different seizure-associated neuroinflammatory and autoimmune conditions. These aberrant immune responses are thought to cause disruptions in neuronal signaling, generation of acute symptomatic seizures, and, in some cases, the development of long-term autoimmune epilepsy. Although early treatment with immunomodulatory therapies improves outcomes in autoimmune encephalitides and autoimmune epilepsies, patient identification and treatment selection are not always clear-cut. This review examines the role of the different components of the immune system in various forms of seizure disorders including autoimmune encephalitis, autoimmune epilepsy, Rasmussen encephalitis, febrile infection-related epilepsy syndrome (FIRES), and new-onset refractory status epilepticus (NORSE). In particular, the pathophysiology and unique cytokine profiles seen in these disorders and their links with diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment decision-making are discussed.
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    Seizures in autoimmune encephalitis: Kindling the fire
    Wesselingh, R ; Butzkueven, H ; Buzzard, K ; Tarlinton, D ; O'Brien, TJ ; Monif, M (WILEY, 2020-05-13)
    Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder that increases the risk of morbidity and mortality. Autoimmune epilepsy is a subset of epilepsy that occurs in the setting of autoimmunity, such as in autoimmune encephalitis (AIE). AIE is an autoimmune disorder characterized by immune-mediated neuroinflammation resulting in a variety of neurological symptoms, including psychiatric disturbance, cognitive dysfunction, and seizures. Seizures in AIE are thought to be a result of antibodies directed against neuronal cell-surface proteins involved in synaptic transmission. The role of blood-brain barrier dysfunction, myeloid cell infiltration, and the initiation of proinflammatory cascades in epileptogenesis has been shown to be important in animal models and human patients with epilepsy. Epileptogenesis in AIE is likely to arise from the synergistic effect of both innately driven neuroinflammation and antibody-induced hyperexcitability. Together, these processes produce persistent drug-resistant seizures that contribute to the morbidity seen in AIE. Understanding the proinflammatory pathways involved in this process may improve diagnostics and provide alternative treatment targets in AIE.
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    Potential biomarkers and challenges in glioma diagnosis, therapy and prognosis
    Kan, LK ; Drummond, K ; Hunn, M ; Williams, D ; O'Brien, TJ ; Monif, M (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-08-01)
    Gliomas are the most common central nervous system malignancies and present with significant morbidity and mortality. Treatment modalities are currently limited to surgical resection, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Increases in survival rate over the previous decades are negligible, further pinpointing an unmet clinical need in this field. There is a continual struggle with the development of effective glioma diagnostics and therapeutics, largely due to a multitude of factors, including the presence of the blood-brain barrier and significant intertumoural and intratumoural heterogeneity. Importantly, there is a lack of reliable biomarkers for glioma, particularly in aiding tumour subtyping and measuring response to therapy. There is a need for biomarkers that would both overcome the complexity of the disease and allow for a minimally invasive means of detection and analysis. This is a comprehensive review evaluating the potential of current cellular, proteomic and molecular biomarker candidates for glioma. Significant hurdles faced in glioma diagnostics and therapy are also discussed here.
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    Early Life Stress Enhancement of Limbic Epileptogenesis in Adult Rats: Mechanistic Insights
    Kumar, G ; Jones, NC ; Morris, MJ ; Rees, S ; O'Brien, TJ ; Salzberg, MR ; Avoli, M (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2011-09-21)
    BACKGROUND: Exposure to early postnatal stress is known to hasten the progression of kindling epileptogenesis in adult rats. Despite the significance of this for understanding mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) and its associated psychopathology, research findings regarding underlying mechanisms are sparse. Of several possibilities, one important candidate mechanism is early life 'programming' of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis by postnatal stress. Elevated corticosterone (CORT) in turn has consequences for neurogenesis and cell death relevant to epileptogenesis. Here we tested the hypotheses that MS would augment seizure-related corticosterone (CORT) release and enhance neuroplastic changes in the hippocampus. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Eight-week old Wistar rats, previously exposed on postnatal days 2-14 to either maternal separation stress (MS) or control brief early handling (EH), underwent rapid amygdala kindling. We measured seizure-induced serum CORT levels and post-kindling neurogenesis (using BrdU). Three weeks post-kindling, rats were euthanized for histology of the hippocampal CA3c region (pyramidal cell counts) and dentate gyrus (DG) (to count BrdU-labelled cells and measure mossy fibre sprouting). As in our previous studies, rats exposed to MS had accelerated kindling rates in adulthood. Female MS rats had heightened CORT responses during and after kindling (p<0.05), with a similar trend in males. In both sexes total CA3c pyramidal cell numbers were reduced in MS vs. EH rats post-kindling (p = 0.002). Dentate granule cell neurogenesis in female rats was significantly increased post-kindling in MS vs. EH rats. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: These data demonstrate that early life stress results in enduring enhancement of HPA axis responses to limbic seizures, with increased hippocampal CA3c cell loss and augmented neurogenesis, in a sex-dependent pattern. This implicates important candidate mechanisms through which early life stress may promote vulnerability to limbic epileptogenesis in rats as well as to human MTLE and its associated psychiatric disorders.
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    Prognosis in autoimmune encephalitis: Database
    Broadley, J ; Seneviratne, U ; Beech, P ; Buzzard, K ; Butzkueven, H ; O'Brien, T ; Monif, M (ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, 2018-12-01)
    Autoimmune encephalitis is a rare and debilitating disease. An important question in clinical neurology is what factors may be correlated with outcomes in autoimmune encephalitis. There is observational data describing statistical analyses on such variables, but there are no review articles that collaborate and interpret this information. This data in brief article represents the data collection for such a review (Broadley et al., 2018). Herein we summarize clinical information from 44 research articles, in particular pertaining to outcomes and prognostic variables.
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    Inhibition of purinergic P2X receptor 7 (P2X7R) decreases granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) expression in U251 glioblastoma cells
    Drill, M ; Powell, KL ; Kan, LK ; Jones, NC ; O'Brien, TJ ; Hamilton, JA ; Monif, M (NATURE RESEARCH, 2020-09-09)
    Glioblastoma is the most aggressive form of primary brain cancer, with a median survival of 12–15 months. The P2X receptor 7 (P2X7R) is upregulated in glioblastoma and is associated with increased tumor cell proliferation. The cytokine granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) is also upregulated in glioblastoma and has been shown to have both pro- and anti-tumor functions. This study investigates the potential mechanism linking P2X7R and GM-CSF in the U251 glioblastoma cell line and the therapeutic potential of P2X7R antagonism in this setting. P2X7R protein and mRNA was demonstrated to be expressed in the U251 cell line as assessed by immunocytochemistry and qPCR. Its channel function was intact as demonstrated by live cell confocal imaging using a calcium indicator Fluo-4 AM. Inhibition of P2X7R using antagonist AZ10606120, decreased both GM-CSF mRNA (P < 0.05) and protein (P < 0.01) measured by qPCR and ELISA respectively. Neutralization of GM-CSF with an anti-GM-CSF antibody did not alter U251 cell proliferation, however, P2X7R antagonism with AZ10606120 significantly reduced U251 glioblastoma cell numbers (P < 0.01). This study describes a novel link between P2X7R activity and GM-CSF expression in a human glioblastoma cell line and highlights the potential therapeutic benefit of P2X7R inhibition with AZ10606120 in glioblastoma.
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    Vitamin D status in an Australian patient population: a large retrospective case series focusing on factors associated with variations in serum 25(OH)D
    Voo, VTF ; Stankovich, J ; O'Brien, TJ ; Butzkueven, H ; Monif, M (BMJ Journals, 2020-03-01)
    OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether sex, age, medical specialty and seasonal variations in serum concentration of 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25(OH)D) are evident among an Australian patient population. DESIGN: Retrospective study analysing the results of serum 25(OH)D lab tests and vitamin D supplementation from Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) between 2014 and 2017. SETTING: Tertiary healthcare centre in Victoria, Australia. PARTICIPANTS: 30 023 patients (inpatient and outpatient) who had their serum 25(OH)D levels measured at RMH between 2014 and 2017. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Serum 25(OH)D levels stratified according to patients' sex, age and medical specialty admitted to, as well as the season and year (2014 to 2017) 25(OH)D level was measured. RESULTS: Mean serum 25(OH)D level of study population was 69.9 nmol/L (95% CI 69.5 to 70.2). Only 40.2% patients in this cohort were sufficient in vitamin D (>75 nmol/L). On average, 25(OH)D levels in male patients were 6.1 units (95% CI 5.4 to 6.9) lower than in females. Linear regression analysis found that 25(OH)D levels increased by 0.16 unit (95% CI 0.14 to 0.18) for every year increase in age. One-way analysis of variance showed patients from neurology had the highest average 25(OH)D level, 76.8 nmol/L (95% CI 74.2 to 79.3) compared with other medical specialties. Mean 25(OH)D level during winter, 64.9 nmol/L (95% CI 64.2 to 65.6) was significantly lower compared with other seasons despite supplementation. Average 25(OH)D level measured in 2014, 71.5 nmol/L (95 CI% 70.8 to 72.2) was significantly higher than levels measured in 2016-2017. CONCLUSIONS: There is a sex, age, medical specialty, seasonal and yearly variation in vitamin D status in an Australian patient population. The association between low vitamin D status and winter despite supplementation suggests other interventions are required to boost serum 25(OH)D levels.
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    Innate Immunity in the Central Nervous System: A Missing Piece of the Autoimmune Encephalitis Puzzle?
    Wesselingh, R ; Butzkueven, H ; Buzzard, K ; Tarlinton, D ; O'Brien, TJ ; Monif, M (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2019-09-10)
    The autoimmune encephalitides are a group of autoimmune conditions targeting the central nervous system and causing severe clinical symptoms including drug-resistant seizures, cognitive dysfunction and psychiatric disturbance. Although these disorders appear to be antibody mediated, the role of innate immune responses needs further clarification. Infiltrating monocytes and microglial proliferation at the site of pathology could contribute to the pathogenesis of the disease with resultant blood brain barrier dysfunction, and subsequent activation of adaptive immune response. Both innate and adaptive immune cells can produce pro-inflammatory molecules which can perpetuate ongoing neuroinflammation and drive ongoing seizure activity. Ultimately neurodegenerative changes can ensue with resultant long-term neurological sequelae that can impact on ongoing patient morbidity and quality of life, providing a potential target for future translational research.
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    Sub region-specific modulation of synchronous neuronal burst firing after a kainic acid insult in organotypic hippocampal cultures
    Reid, CA ; Adams, BEL ; Myers, D ; O'Brien, TJ ; Williams, DA (BMC, 2008-07-02)
    BACKGROUND: Excitotoxicity occurs in a number of pathogenic states including stroke and epilepsy. The adaptations of neuronal circuits in response to such insults may be expected to play an underlying role in pathogenesis. Synchronous neuronal firing can be induced in isolated hippocampal slices and involves all regions of this structure, thereby providing a measure of circuit activity. The effect of an excitotoxic insult (kainic acid, KA) on Mg2+-free-induced synchronized neuronal firing was tested in organotypic hippocampal culture by measuring extracellular field activity in CA1 and CA3. RESULTS: Within 24 hrs of the insult regional specific changes in neuronal firing patterns were evident as: (i) a dramatic reduction in the ability of CA3 to generate firing; and (ii) a contrasting increase in the frequency and duration of synchronized neuronal firing events in CA1. Two distinct processes underlie the increased propensity of CA1 to generate synchronized burst firing; a lack of ability of the CA3 region to 'pace' CA1 resulting in an increased frequency of synchronized events; and a change in the 'intrinsic' properties limited to the CA1 region, which is responsible for increased event duration. Neuronal quantification using NeuN immunoflurescent staining and stereological confocal microscopy revealed no significant cell loss in hippocampal sub regions, suggesting that changes in the properties of neurons within this region were responsible for the KA-mediated excitability changes. CONCLUSION: These results provide novel insight into adaptation of hippocampal circuits following excitotoxic injury. KA-mediated disruption of the interplay between CA3 and CA1 clearly increases the propensity to synchronized firing in CA1.