Melbourne Veterinary School - Research Publications

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    Cholinergic connectivity: it's implications for psychiatric disorders
    Scarr, E ; Gibbons, AS ; Neo, J ; Udawela, M ; Dean, B (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2013-05-03)
    Acetylcholine has been implicated in both the pathophysiology and treatment of a number of psychiatric disorders, with most of the data related to its role and therapeutic potential focusing on schizophrenia. However, there is little thought given to the consequences of the documented changes in the cholinergic system and how they may affect the functioning of the brain. This review looks at the cholinergic system and its interactions with the intrinsic neurotransmitters glutamate and gamma-amino butyric acid as well as those with the projection neurotransmitters most implicated in the pathophysiologies of psychiatric disorders; dopamine and serotonin. In addition, with the recent focus on the role of factors normally associated with inflammation in the pathophysiologies of psychiatric disorders, links between the cholinergic system and these factors will also be examined. These interfaces are put into context, primarily for schizophrenia, by looking at the changes in each of these systems in the disorder and exploring, theoretically, whether the changes are interconnected with those seen in the cholinergic system. Thus, this review will provide a comprehensive overview of the connectivity between the cholinergic system and some of the major areas of research into the pathophysiologies of psychiatric disorders, resulting in a critical appraisal of the potential outcomes of a dysregulated central cholinergic system.
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    Changes in Muscarinic M2 Receptor Levels in the Cortex of Subjects with Bipolar Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder and in Rats after Treatment with Mood Stabilisers and Antidepressants
    Gibbons, AS ; Jeon, WJ ; Scarr, E ; Dean, B (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2016-04-01)
    BACKGROUND: Increasingly, data are implicating muscarinic receptors in the aetiology and treatment of mood disorders. This led us to measure levels of different muscarinic receptor-related parameters in the cortex from people with mood disorders and the CNS of rats treated with mood stabilisers and antidepressant drugs. METHODS: We measured [(3)H]AF-DX 384 binding in BA 46 and BA 24 from subjects with bipolar disorders (n = 14), major depressive disorders (n = 19), as well as age- and sex-matched controls (n = 19) and the CNS of rats treated with fluoxetine or imipramine. In addition, we used Western blots to measure levels of CHRM2 protein and oxotremorine-M stimulated [(35)S]GTPγS binding as a measure of CHRM 2 / 4 signaling. RESULTS: Compared with controls, [(3)H]AF-DX 384 binding was lower in BA 24 and BA 46 in bipolar disorders and major depressive disorders, while CHRM2 protein and oxotremorine-M stimulated [(35)S]GTPγS binding was only lower in BA 24. Compared with vehicle, treatment with mood stabilisers, antidepressant drugs for 10 days, or imipramine for 28 days resulted in higher levels of in [(3)H]AF-DX 384 binding select regions of rat CNS. CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that levels of CHRM2 are lower in BA 24 from subjects with mood disorders, and it is possible that signalling by that receptor is also less in this cortical region. Our data also suggest increasing levels of CHRM2 may be involved in the mechanisms of action of mood stabilisers and tricyclic antidepressants.
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    Aberrant expression of microRNAs as biomarker for schizophrenia: from acute state to partial remission, and from peripheral blood to cortical tissue
    Lai, C-Y ; Lee, S-Y ; Scarr, E ; Yu, Y-H ; Lin, Y-T ; Liu, C-M ; Hwang, T-J ; Hsieh, MH ; Liu, C-C ; Chien, Y-L ; Udawela, M ; Gibbons, AS ; Everall, IP ; Hwu, H-G ; Dean, B ; Chen, WJ (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2016-01-19)
    Based on our previous finding of a seven-miRNA (hsa-miR-34a, miR-449a, miR-564, miR-432, miR-548d, miR-572 and miR-652) signature as a potential biomarker for schizophrenia, this study aimed to examine if hospitalization could affect expressions of these miRNAs. We compared their expression levels between acute state and partial remission state in people with schizophrenia (n=48) using quantitative PCR method. Further, to examine whether the blood and brain show similar expression patterns, the expressions of two miRNAs (hsa-miR-34a and hsa-miR-548d) were examined in the postmortem brain tissue of people with schizophrenia (n=25) and controls (n=27). The expression level of the seven miRNAs did not alter after ~2 months of hospitalization with significant improvement in clinical symptoms, suggesting the miRNAs could be traits rather than state-dependent markers. The aberrant expression seen in the blood of hsa-miR-34a and hsa-miR-548d were not present in the brain samples, but this does not discount the possibility that the peripheral miRNAs could be clinically useful biomarkers for schizophrenia. Unexpectedly, we found an age-dependent increase in hsa-miR-34a expressions in human cortical (Brodmann area 46 (BA46)) but not subcortical region (caudate putamen). The correlation between hsa-miR-34a expression level in BA46 and age was much stronger in the controls than in the cases, and the corresponding correlation in the blood was only seen in the cases. The association between the miRNA dysregulations, the disease predisposition and aging warrants further investigation. Taken together, this study provides further insight on the candidate peripheral miRNAs as stable biomarkers for the diagnostics of schizophrenia.
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    Autophagy has a key role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia
    Merenlender-Wagner, A ; Malishkevich, A ; Shemer, Z ; Udawela, M ; Gibbons, A ; Scarr, E ; Dean, B ; Levine, J ; Agam, G ; Gozes, I (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2015-02-01)
    Autophagy is a process preserving the balance between synthesis, degradation and recycling of cellular components and is therefore essential for neuronal survival and function. Several key proteins govern the autophagy pathway including beclin1 and microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3). Here, we show a brain-specific reduction in beclin1 expression in postmortem hippocampus of schizophrenia patients, not detected in peripheral lymphocytes. This is in contrast with activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) and ADNP2, which we have previously found to be deregulated in postmortem hippocampal samples from schizophrenia patients, but that now showed a significantly increased expression in lymphocytes from related patients, similar to increases in the anti-apoptotic, beclin1-interacting, Bcl2. The increase in ADNP was associated with the initial stages of the disease, possibly reflecting a compensatory effect. The increase in ADNP2 might be a consequence of neuroleptic treatment, as seen in rats subjected to clozapine treatment. ADNP haploinsufficiency in mice, which results in age-related neuronal death, cognitive and social dysfunction, exhibited reduced hippocampal beclin1 and increased Bcl2 expression (mimicking schizophrenia and normal human aging). At the protein level, ADNP co-immunoprecipitated with LC3B suggesting a direct association with the autophagy process and paving the path to novel targets for drug design.
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    The Role of Muscarinic Receptors in the Pathophysiology of Mood Disorders: A Potential Novel Treatment?
    Jeon, WJ ; Dean, B ; Scarr, E ; Gibbons, A (BENTHAM SCIENCE PUBL LTD, 2015-01-01)
    The central cholinergic system has been implicated in the pathophysiology of mood disorders. An imbalance in central cholinergic neurotransmitter activity has been proposed to contribute to the manic and depressive episodes typical of these disorders. Neuropharmacological studies into the effects of cholinergic agonists and antagonists on mood state have provided considerable support for this hypothesis. Furthermore, recent clinical studies have shown that the pan-CHRM antagonist, scopolamine, produces rapid-acting antidepressant effects in individuals with either major depressive disorder (MDD) or bipolar disorder (BPD), such as bipolar depression, contrasting the delayed therapeutic response of conventional mood stabilisers and antidepressants. This review presents recent data from neuroimaging, post-mortem and genetic studies supporting the involvement of muscarinic cholinergic receptors (CHRMs), particularly CHRM2, in the pathophysiology of MDD and BPD. Thus, novel drugs that selectively target CHRMs with negligible effects in the peripheral nervous system might produce more rapid and robust clinical improvement in patients with BPD and MDD.
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    Muscarinic M1 receptor sequence: Preliminary studies on its effects on cognition and expression
    Scarr, E ; Sundram, S ; Deljo, A ; Cowie, TF ; Gibbons, AS ; Juzva, S ; Mackinnon, A ; Wood, SJ ; Testa, R ; Pantelis, C ; Dean, B (ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, 2012-06-01)
    It has been reported that people with schizophrenia who are homozygous at the c.267C>A single nucleotide polymorphism of the cholinergic muscarinic M1 receptor (CHRM1) perform less well on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test than those who are heterozygous. We investigated whether CHRM1 sequence is associated with impaired executive function, a common problem in schizophrenia. We sequenced the CHRM1 using peripheral DNA from 97 people with schizophrenia who completed the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, a verbal fluency test and the National Adult Reading Test. Clinical severity was assessed using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. To determine whether CHRM1 sequence affected receptor expression, we used post-mortem data, from another cohort, to investigate associations between CHRM1 sequence and mRNA levels. On the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, 267C/C participants with schizophrenia made more perseverative errors (p<0.05) and perseverative responses (p<0.05) than 267C/A participants. Genotype had no effect on verbal fluency (p=0.8) or National Adult Reading test (p=0.62). Cortical CHRM1 mRNA levels did not vary with gene sequence (p=0.409). The clinical study supports the proposal that CHRM1 sequence is associated with alterations in some aspects of executive function. However, the post-mortem study indicates this is not simply due to altered expression at the level of mRNA, suggesting this sequence alteration may affect the functionality of the CHRM1.
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    AMPA receptor expression is increased post-mortem samples of the anterior cingulate from subjects with major depressive disorder
    Gibbons, AS ; Brooks, L ; Scarr, E ; Dean, B (ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, 2012-02-01)
    BACKGROUND: Glutamate is thought to be involved in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder; however, the molecular changes underlying abnormal glutamatergic signalling remain poorly understood. Whilst previous studies have suggested that the NMDA receptor may be involved in the pathophysiology of mood disorders, it is unclear whether the non-NMDA receptors are also involved. Therefore, we sought to examine whether the expression of the non-NMDA, ionotropic glutamate receptors, AMPA receptor and kainate receptor, is altered in mood disorders. METHODS: We used [3H]AMPA and [3H]kainate to measure the levels of AMPA and kainate receptor, respectively, in the anterior cingulate (BA 24) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (BA 46) from post-mortem CNS in 10 subjects with major depressive disorder, 10 subjects with bipolar disorder and 10 control subjects. RESULTS: A 20.7% to 27.7% increase in [3H]AMPA binding density was seen in BA 24 (p<0.05) but not BA 46 (p>0.05) in major depressive disorder compared to control levels. [3H]AMPA binding density was not changed in bipolar disorder in either BA 24 or BA 46 (p>0.05) compared to controls. [3H]Kainate binding was not changed in either BA 24 or BA 46 in either disorder compared to controls (p>0.05). LIMITATIONS: Small sample sizes (n=10) were used in this study. The subjects were not drug naïve. CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggests increased in AMPA receptor levels in the anterior cingulate are involved in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder. This data has relevance for the development of new anti-depressant drugs targeted towards the AMPA receptors.
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    Different changes in cortical tumor necrosis factor-alpha-related pathways in schizophrenia and mood disorders
    Dean, B ; Gibbons, AS ; Tawadros, N ; Brooks, L ; Everall, IP ; Scarr, E (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2013-07-01)
    The growing body of evidence implicating tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders led us to measure levels of that protein in the cortex of subjects with major depressive disorders (MDD). Having reported an increase (458%) in the levels of the transmembrane (tmTNFα), but not the soluble (sTNFα), form of the protein in Brodmann's area (BA) 46, but not 24, in people with the disorder, we decided to examine additional components of TNFα-related pathways in the same regions in people with MDD and extend our studies to the same cortical regions of people with schizophrenia (Sz) and bipolar disorders (BD). Using postmortem tissue, western blots and quantitative PCR, we have now shown there is a significant increase (305%) in tmTNFα in Brodmann's area 24, but not 46, from subjects with BD, and that levels of the protein were not altered in Sz. Levels of sTNFα were not altered in BD or Sz. In addition, we have shown that levels of TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1) mRNA are increased in BA 24 (53%) and BA 46 (82%) in people with Sz, whereas levels of TNFR2 mRNA was decreased in BA 46 in people with mood disorders (MDD=-51%; BD=-67%). Levels of proteins frequently used as surrogate markers of neuronal, astrocytic and microglia numbers, as well as levels of the pro-inflammatory marker (interleukin 1β), were not changed in the cortex of people with mood disorders. Our data suggest there are differential changes in TNFα-related markers in the cortex of people with MDD, BD and Sz that may not be related to classical inflammation and may cause changes in different TNFα-related signaling pathways.
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    Changes in cortical N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors and post-synaptic density protein 95 in schizophrenia, mood disorders and suicide
    Dean, B ; Gibbons, AS ; Boer, S ; Uezato, A ; Meador-Woodruff, J ; Scarr, E ; McCullumsmith, RE (SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2016-03-01)
    OBJECTIVES: In humans, depending on dose, blocking the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) with ketamine can cause psychomimetic or antidepressant effects. The overall outcome for drugs such as ketamine depends on dose and the number of its available binding sites in the central nervous system, and to understand something of the latter variable we measure NMDAR in the frontal pole, dorsolateral prefrontal, anterior cingulate and parietal cortices from people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorders and age/sex matched controls. METHOD: We measured levels of NMDARs (using [(3)H]MK-801 binding) and NMDAR sub-unit mRNAs (GRINs: using in situ hybridisation) as well as post-synaptic density protein 95 (anterior cingulate cortex only; not major depressive disorders: an NMDAR post-synaptic associated protein) in bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and controls. RESULTS: Compared to controls, levels of NMDAR were lower in the outer laminae of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (-17%, p = 0.01) in people with schizophrenia. In bipolar disorder, levels of NMDAR binding (laminae IV-VI; -19%, p < 0.01) and GRIN2C mRNA (laminae I-VI; -27%, p < 0.05) were lower in the anterior cingulate cortex and NMDAR binding was lower in the outer lamina IV of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (-19%, p < 0.01). In major depressive disorders, levels of GRIN2D mRNA were higher in frontal pole (+22%, p < 0.05). In suicide completers, levels of GRIN2B mRNA were higher in parietal cortex (+20%, p < 0.01) but lower (-35%, p = 0.02) in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex while post-synaptic density protein 95 was higher (+26%, p < 0.05) in anterior cingulate cortex. CONCLUSION: These data suggest that differences in cortical NMDAR expression and post-synaptic density protein 95 are present in psychiatric disorders and suicide completion and may contribute to different responses to ketamine.
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    Studies on Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthase 1: Lower Levels in Schizophrenia and After Treatment with Antipsychotic Drugs in Conjunction with Aspirin
    Dean, B ; Gibbons, A ; Gogos, A ; Udawela, M ; Thomas, E ; Scarr, E (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2018-03-01)
    Background: Antipsychotic drugs plus aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), which targets prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 1 (PTGS1: COX1), improved therapeutic outcomes when treating schizophrenia. Our microarray data showed higher levels of PTGS1 mRNA in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex from subjects with schizophrenia of long duration of illness, suggesting aspirin plus antipsychotic drugs could have therapeutic effects by lowering PTGS1 expression in the cortex of subjects with the disorder. Methods: We used Western blotting to measure levels of PTSG1 protein in human postmortem CNS, rat and mouse cortex, and cells in culture. Results: Compared with controls, PTGS1 levels were 41% lower in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (P<.01), but not the anterior cingulate or frontal pole, from subjects with schizophrenia. Levels of PTGS1 were not changed in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in mood disorders or in the cortex of rats treated with antipsychotic drugs. There was a strong trend (P=.05) to lower cortical PTGS1 10 months after mice were treated postnatally with polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid sodium salt (Poly I:C), consistent with cortical PTGS1 being lower in adult mice after exposure to an immune activator postnatally. In CCF-STTG1 cells, a human-derived astrocytic cell line, aspirin caused a dose-dependent decrease in PTGS1 that was decreased further with the addition of risperidone. Conclusions: Our data suggest low levels of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex PTGS1 could be associated with the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, and improved therapeutic outcome from treating schizophrenia with antipsychotic drugs augmented with aspirin may be because such treatment lowers cortical PTGS1.