Florey Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health - Research Publications

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    Characterization of retinal function and structure in the MPTP murine model of Parkinson's disease
    Tran, KKN ; Wong, VHY ; Lim, JKH ; Shahandeh, A ; Anh, H ; Finkelstein, D ; Bui, B ; Nguyen, CTO (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2022-05-09)
    In addition to well characterized motor symptoms, visual disturbances are increasingly recognized as an early manifestation in Parkinson's disease (PD). A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying these changes would facilitate the development of vision tests which can be used as preclinical biomarkers to support the development of novel therapeutics for PD. This study aims to characterize the retinal phenotype of a mouse model of dopaminergic dysfunction and to examine whether these changes are reversible with levodopa treatment. We use a 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) mouse model of PD to characterize the neurotoxic effects of MPTP on in vivo retinal function (electroretinography, ERG), retinal structure (optical coherence tomography, OCT) and retinal dopaminergic cell number (tyrosine hydroxylase immunohistochemistry, IHC) at two time points (21 and 45 days) post MPTP model induction. We also investigate the effect of levodopa (L-DOPA) as a proof-of-principle chronic intervention against MPTP-induced changes in the retina. We show that MPTP decreases dopaminergic amacrine cell number (9%, p < 0.05) and that a component of the ERG that involves these cells, in particular oscillatory potential (OP) peak timing, was significantly delayed at Day 45 (7-13%, p < 0.01). This functional deficit was paralleled by outer plexiform layer (OPL) thinning (p < 0.05). L-DOPA treatment ameliorated oscillatory potential deficits (7-13%, p < 0.001) in MPTP animals. Our data suggest that the MPTP toxin slows the timing of inner retinal feedback circuits related to retinal dopaminergic pathways which mirrors findings from humans with PD. It also indicates that the MPTP model causes structural thinning of the outer retinal layer on OCT imaging that is not ameliorated with L-DOPA treatment. Together, these non-invasive measures serve as effective biomarkers for PD diagnosis as well as for quantifying the effect of therapy.
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    Evaluating retinal biomarkers in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease
    Nguyen, CTO ; Tran, K ; Lim, JKH ; Wong, VHY ; Shahandeh, A ; Vingrys, AJ ; Bui, BV ; Finkelstein, D (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, 2019-07-01)
    Purpose : The retina, an accessible outpouching of the central nervous system, may manifest cortical changes that occur with Parkinson’s disease (PD), lending itself as a potential biomarker. PD is characterised by reduced dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter found in amacrine cells. Human PD patients have also shown structural changes in the outer retina. This work aims to determine if retinal function and structure are altered in a murine model of PD and whether deficits can be ameliorated with L-DOPA treatment. Methods : A PD model was induced in adult C57BL6/J mice using MPTP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine, 4x i.p. injections, 20mg/kg) and vehicle control and examined at day 21 and 45. Another MPTP group was administered L-DOPA (L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine 0.2 mg/ml) or control in their drinking water and assessed at day 45 (n=12–15/group). In ketamine:xylazine anaesthetised (80:10mg/kg) mice full-field dark- and light-adapted electroretinography (ERG) was assessed to target dopamine-related responses. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) was used to quantify thickness of retinal layers. Retinal and cortical tissue were collected for immunohistochemical assessment of changes in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)and imaged using confocal microscopy. Data (mean±SEM) were compared using unpaired ANOVA and t-tests as appropriate. Results : At day 21 no retinal changes were found. At day 45 dark and light adapted ERGs showed slower amacrine cell responses (oscillatory potential, p<0.05), a finding which reversed with L-DOPA treatment (p<0.05). Other components of the ERG were unchanged. TH staining showed a trend towards decreased retinal levels in MPTP mice but this did not reach significance (p=0.10). Reduced levels of TH were found in the ventral hippocampus of MPTP mice compared with control (p<0.05). OCT revealed thinning of the outer plexiform layer at day 45, and the L-DOPA group exhibited a thinning of the outer nuclear layer (p<0.05). Conclusions : This study shows for the first time that the MPTP model recapitulates key dopaminergic changes previously reported in humans. In particular, electroretinographic changes that correspond with dopaminergic retinal cells occur in the Parkinson’s model and reverse with therapeutic treatment. Structural thinning of the outer retinal layers also occur, which parallels some human findings. This work paves the way for retinal measures as preclinical screening tools in drug development.
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    Progressive impairments in executive function in the APP/PS1 model of Alzheimer’s disease as measured by translatable touchscreen testing
    Shepherd, A ; Lim, JKH ; Wong, VHY ; Zeleznikow-Johnston, AM ; Churilov, L ; Nguyen, CTO ; Bui, BV ; Hannan, AJ ; Burrows, EL ( 2019-08-21)
    Executive function deficits in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) occur early in disease progression and may be predictive of cognitive decline. However, no preclinical studies have identified deficits in rewarded executive function in the commonly used APP/PS1 mouse model. To address this, we assessed 12-26 month old APP/PS1 mice on rewarded reversal and/or extinction tasks. 16-month-old, but not 13- or 26-month-old, APP/PS1 mice showed an attenuated rate of extinction. Reversal deficits were seen in 22-month-old, but not 13-month-old APP/PS1 animals. We then confirmed that impairments in reversal were unrelated to previously reported visual impairments in both AD mouse models and humans. Age, but not genotype, had a significant effect on markers of retinal health, indicating the deficits seen in APP/PS1 mice were directly related to cognition. This is the first characterisation of rewarded executive function in APP/PS1 mice, and has great potential to facilitate translation from preclinical models to the clinic.
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    Progressive impairments in executive function in the APP/PS1 model of Alzheimer's disease as measured by translatable touchscreen testing
    Shepherd, A ; Lim, JKH ; Wong, VHY ; Zeleznikow-Johnston, AM ; Churilov, L ; Nguyen, CTO ; V. Bui, B ; Hannan, AJ ; Burrows, EL (ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC, 2021-09-10)
    Executive function deficits in Alzheimer's disease (AD) occur early in disease progression and may be predictive of cognitive decline. However, no preclinical studies have identified deficits in rewarded executive function in the commonly used APPSwe/PS1∆E9 (APP/PS1) mouse model. To address this, we assessed 12-26 month old APP/PS1 mice on rewarded reversal and/or extinction tasks. 16-month-old, but not 13- or 26-month-old, APP/PS1 mice showed an attenuated rate of extinction. Reversal deficits were seen in 22-month-old, but not 13-month-old APP/PS1 animals. We then confirmed that impairments in reversal were unrelated to previously reported visual impairments in both AD mouse models and humans. Age, but not genotype, had a significant effect on markers of retinal health, indicating the deficits seen in APP/PS1 mice were directly related to cognition. This is the first characterisation of rewarded executive function in APP/PS1 mice, and has great potential to facilitate translation from preclinical models to the clinic.
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    White matter tract conductivity is resistant to wide variations in paranodal structure and myelin thickness accompanying the loss of Tyro3: an experimental and simulated analysis
    Blades, F ; Chambers, JD ; Aumann, TD ; Nguyen, CTO ; Wong, VHY ; Aprico, A ; Nwoke, EC ; Bui, B ; Grayden, DB ; Kilpatrick, TJ ; Binder, MD (SPRINGER HEIDELBERG, 2022-04-19)
    Myelination within the central nervous system (CNS) is crucial for the conduction of action potentials by neurons. Variation in compact myelin morphology and the structure of the paranode are hypothesised to have significant impact on the speed of action potentials. There are, however, limited experimental data investigating the impact of changes in myelin structure upon conductivity in the central nervous system. We have used a genetic model in which myelin thickness is reduced to investigate the effect of myelin alterations upon action potential velocity. A detailed examination of the myelin ultrastructure of mice in which the receptor tyrosine kinase Tyro3 has been deleted showed that, in addition to thinner myelin, these mice have significantly disrupted paranodes. Despite these alterations to myelin and paranodal structure, we did not identify a reduction in conductivity in either the corpus callosum or the optic nerve. Exploration of these results using a mathematical model of neuronal conductivity predicts that the absence of Tyro3 would lead to reduced conductivity in single fibres, but would not affect the compound action potential of multiple myelinated neurons as seen in neuronal tracts. Our data highlight the importance of experimental assessment of conductivity and suggests that simple assessment of structural changes to myelin is a poor predictor of neural functional outcomes.
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    Effects of Excess Iron on the Retina: Insights From Clinical Cases and Animal Models of Iron Disorders
    Shahandeh, A ; Bui, BV ; Finkelstein, DI ; Nguyen, CTO (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2022-02-03)
    Iron plays an important role in a wide range of metabolic pathways that are important for neuronal health. Excessive levels of iron, however, can promote toxicity and cell death. An example of an iron overload disorder is hemochromatosis (HH) which is a genetic disorder of iron metabolism in which the body's ability to regulate iron absorption is altered, resulting in iron build-up and injury in several organs. The retina was traditionally assumed to be protected from high levels of systemic iron overload by the blood-retina barrier. However, recent data shows that expression of genes that are associated with HH can disrupt retinal iron metabolism. Thus, the effects of iron overload on the retina have become an area of research interest, as excessively high levels of iron are implicated in several retinal disorders, most notably age-related macular degeneration. This review is an effort to highlight risk factors for excessive levels of systemic iron build-up in the retina and its potential impact on the eye health. Information is integrated across clinical and preclinical animal studies to provide insights into the effects of systemic iron loading on the retina.
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    Therapeutic applications of chelating drugs in iron metabolic disorders of the brain and retina
    Shahandeh, A ; Bui, BV ; Finkelstein, DI ; Nguyen, CTO (WILEY, 2020-10-01)
    Iron is essential for normal cellular function, however, excessive accumulation of iron in neural tissue has been implicated in both cortical and retinal diseases. The exact role of iron in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders remains incompletely understood. However, iron-induced damage to the brain and retina is often attributed to the redox ability of iron to generate dangerous free radicals, which exacerbates local oxidative stress and neuronal damage. Iron chelators are compounds designed to scavenge labile iron, aiding to regulate iron bioavailability. Recently there has been growing interest in the application of chelating agents for treatment of diseases including neurodegenerative conditions, characterized by increased oxidative stress. This article reviews both clinical and preclinical evidence relating to the effectiveness of iron chelation therapy in conditions of iron dyshomeostasis linked to neurodegeneration in the brain and retina. The limitations as well as future opportunities iron chelation therapy are discussed.
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    Tyro3 Contributes to Retinal Ganglion Cell Function, Survival and Dendritic Density in the Mouse Retina
    Blades, F ; Wong, VHY ; Nguyen, CTO ; Bui, BV ; Kilpatrick, TJ ; Binder, MD (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2020-08-14)
    Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are the only output neurons of the vertebrate retina, integrating signals from other retinal neurons and transmitting information to the visual centers of the brain. The death of RGCs is a common outcome in many optic neuropathies, such as glaucoma, demyelinating optic neuritis and ischemic optic neuropathy, resulting in visual defects and blindness. There are currently no therapies in clinical use which can prevent RGC death in optic neuropathies; therefore, the identification of new targets for supporting RGC survival is crucial in the development of novel treatments for eye diseases. In this study we identify that the receptor tyrosine kinase, Tyro3, is critical for normal neuronal function in the adult mouse retina. The loss of Tyro3 results in a reduction in photoreceptor and RGC function as measured using electroretinography. The reduction in RGC function was associated with a thinner retinal nerve fiber layer and fewer RGCs. In the central retina, independent of the loss of RGCs, Tyro3 deficiency resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number of RGC dendrites in the inner plexiform layer. Our results show that Tyro3 has a novel, previously unidentified role in retinal function, RGC survival and RGC morphology. The Tyro3 pathway could therefore provide an alternative, targetable pathway for RGC protective therapeutics.
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    Non-invasive in vivo hyperspectral imaging of the retina for potential biomarker use in Alzheimer's disease
    Hadoux, X ; Hui, F ; Lim, JKH ; Masters, CL ; Pebay, A ; Chevalier, S ; Ha, J ; Loi, S ; Fowler, CJ ; Rowe, C ; Villemagne, VL ; Taylor, EN ; Fluke, C ; Soucy, J-P ; Lesage, F ; Sylvestre, J-P ; Rosa-Neto, P ; Mathotaarachchi, S ; Gauthier, S ; Nasreddine, ZS ; Arbour, JD ; Rheaume, M-A ; Beaulieu, S ; Dirani, M ; Nguyen, CTO ; Bui, B ; Williamson, R ; Crowston, JG ; van Wijngaarden, P (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-09-17)
    Studies of rodent models of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and of human tissues suggest that the retinal changes that occur in AD, including the accumulation of amyloid beta (Aβ), may serve as surrogate markers of brain Aβ levels. As Aβ has a wavelength-dependent effect on light scatter, we investigate the potential for in vivo retinal hyperspectral imaging to serve as a biomarker of brain Aβ. Significant differences in the retinal reflectance spectra are found between individuals with high Aβ burden on brain PET imaging and mild cognitive impairment (n = 15), and age-matched PET-negative controls (n = 20). Retinal imaging scores are correlated with brain Aβ loads. The findings are validated in an independent cohort, using a second hyperspectral camera. A similar spectral difference is found between control and 5xFAD transgenic mice that accumulate Aβ in the brain and retina. These findings indicate that retinal hyperspectral imaging may predict brain Aβ load.