Anatomy and Neuroscience - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 437
Zebrafish prox1b Mutants Develop a Lymphatic Vasculature, and prox1b Does Not Specifically Mark Lymphatic Endothelial Cells
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2011-12-28)
BACKGROUND: The expression of the Prospero homeodomain transcription factor (Prox1) in a subset of cardinal venous cells specifies the lymphatic lineage in mice. Prox1 is also indispensible for the maintenance of lymphatic cell fate, and is therefore considered a master control gene for lymphangiogenesis in mammals. In zebrafish, there are two prox1 paralogues, the previously described prox1 (also known as prox1a) and the newly identified prox1b. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: To investigate the role of the prox1b gene in zebrafish lymphangiogenesis, we knocked-down prox1b and found that depletion of prox1b mRNA did not cause lymphatic defects. We also generated two different prox1b mutant alleles, and maternal-zygotic homozygous mutant embryos were viable and did not show any lymphatic defects. Furthermore, the expression of prox1b was not restricted to lymphatic vessels during zebrafish development. CONCLUSION: We conclude that Prox1b activity is not essential for embryonic lymphatic development in zebrafish.
Utilising polymorphisms to achieve allele-specific genome editing in zebrafish
(COMPANY BIOLOGISTS LTD, 2017-01-15)
The advent of genome editing has significantly altered genetic research, including research using the zebrafish model. To better understand the selectivity of the commonly used CRISPR/Cas9 system, we investigated single base pair mismatches in target sites and examined how they affect genome editing in the zebrafish model. Using two different zebrafish strains that have been deep sequenced, CRISPR/Cas9 target sites containing polymorphisms between the two strains were identified. These strains were crossed (creating heterozygotes at polymorphic sites) and CRISPR/Cas9 complexes that perfectly complement one strain injected. Sequencing of targeted sites showed biased, allele-specific editing for the perfectly complementary sequence in the majority of cases (14/19). To test utility, we examined whether phenotypes generated by F0 injection could be internally controlled with such polymorphisms. Targeting of genes bmp7a and chordin showed reduction in the frequency of phenotypes in injected 'heterozygotes' compared with injecting the strain with perfect complementarity. Next, injecting CRISPR/Cas9 complexes targeting two separate sites created deletions, but deletions were biased to selected chromosomes when one CRISPR/Cas9 target contained a polymorphism. Finally, integration of loxP sequences occurred preferentially in alleles with perfect complementarity. These experiments demonstrate that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) present throughout the genome can be utilised to increase the efficiency of in cis genome editing using CRISPR/Cas9 in the zebrafish model.
Relating excitatory and inhibitory neurochemicals to visual perception: A magnetic resonance study of occipital cortex between migraine events
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2019-07-10)
Certain perceptual measures have been proposed as indirect assays of brain neurochemical status in people with migraine. One such measure is binocular rivalry, however, previous studies have not measured rivalry characteristics and brain neurochemistry together in people with migraine. This study compared spectroscopy-measured levels of GABA and Glx (glutamine and glutamate complex) in visual cortex between 16 people with migraine and 16 non-headache controls, and assessed whether the concentration of these neurochemicals explains, at least partially, inter-individual variability in binocular rivalry perceptual measures. Mean Glx level was significantly reduced in migraineurs relative to controls, whereas mean occipital GABA levels were similar between groups. Neither GABA levels, nor Glx levels correlated with rivalry percept duration. Our results thus suggest that the previously suggested relationship between rivalry percept duration and GABAergic inhibitory neurotransmitter concentration in visual cortex is not strong enough to enable rivalry percept duration to be reliably assumed to be a surrogate for GABA concentration, at least in the context of healthy individuals and those that experience migraine.
Determining clinically meaningful decline in preclinical Alzheimer disease
(LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS, 2019-07-23)
OBJECTIVE: To determine the time required for a preclinical Alzheimer disease population to decline in a meaningful way, use estimates of decline to update previous clinical trial design assumptions, and identify factors that modify β-amyloid (Aβ)-related decline. METHODS: In 1,120 cognitively unimpaired individuals from 3 international cohorts, we estimated the relationship between Aβ status and longitudinal changes across multiple cognitive domains and assessed interactions between Aβ and baseline factors. Power analyses were performed to explore sample size as a function of treatment effect. RESULTS: Cognitively unimpaired Aβ+ participants approach mild cognitive impairment (MCI) levels of performance 6 years after baseline, on average. Achieving 80% power in a simulated 4-year treatment trial, assuming a 25% treatment effect, required 2,000 participants/group. Multiple factors interacted with Aβ to predict cognitive decline; however, these findings were all cohort-specific. Despite design differences across the cohorts, with large sample sizes and sufficient follow-up time, the Aβ+ groups declined consistently on cognitive composite measures. CONCLUSIONS: A preclinical AD population declines to the cognitive performance of an early MCI population in 6 years. Slowing this rate of decline by 40%-50% delays clinically relevant impairment by 3 years-a potentially meaningful treatment effect. However, assuming a 40%-50% drug effect highlights the difficulties in preclinical AD trial design, as a more commonly assumed treatment effect of 25% results in a required sample size of 2,000/group. Designers of preclinical AD treatment trials need to prepare for larger and longer trials than are currently being considered. Interactions with Aβ status were inconsistent and not readily generalizable.
Subretinal macrophages produce classical complement activator C1q leading to the progression of focal retinal degeneration
BACKGROUND: The role of the alternative complement pathway and its mediation by retinal microglia and macrophages, is well-established in the pathogenesis of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). However, the contribution of the classical complement pathway towards the progression of retinal degenerations is not fully understood, including the role of complement component 1q (C1q) as a critical activator molecule of the classical pathway. Here, we investigated the contribution of C1q to progressive photoreceptor loss and neuroinflammation in retinal degenerations. METHODS: Wild-type (WT), C1qa knockout (C1qa-/-) and mice treated with a C1q inhibitor (ANX-M1; Annexon Biosciences), were exposed to photo-oxidative damage (PD) and were observed for progressive lesion development. Retinal function was assessed by electroretinography, followed by histological analyses to assess photoreceptor degeneration. Retinal inflammation was investigated through complement activation, macrophage recruitment and inflammasome expression using western blotting, qPCR and immunofluorescence. C1q was localised in human AMD donor retinas using immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: PD mice had increased levels of C1qa which correlated with increasing photoreceptor cell death and macrophage recruitment. C1qa-/- mice did not show any differences in photoreceptor loss or inflammation at 7 days compared to WT, however at 14 days after the onset of damage, C1qa-/- retinas displayed less photoreceptor cell death, reduced microglia/macrophage recruitment to the photoreceptor lesion, and higher visual function. C1qa-/- mice displayed reduced inflammasome and IL-1β expression in microglia and macrophages in the degenerating retina. Retinal neutralisation of C1q, using an intravitreally-delivered anti-C1q antibody, reduced the progression of retinal degeneration following PD, while systemic delivery had no effect. Finally, retinal C1q was found to be expressed by subretinal microglia/macrophages located in the outer retina of early AMD donor eyes, and in mouse PD retinas. CONCLUSIONS: Our data implicate subretinal macrophages, C1q and the classical pathway in progressive retinal degeneration. We demonstrate a role of local C1q produced by microglia/macrophages as an instigator of inflammasome activation and inflammation. Crucially, we have shown that retinal C1q neutralisation during disease progression may slow retinal atrophy, providing a novel strategy for the treatment of complement-mediated retinal degenerations including AMD.
Analysis of variants in GATA4 and FOG2/ZFPM2 demonstrates benign contribution to 46,XY disorders of sex development
BACKGROUND: GATA-binding protein 4 (GATA4) and Friend of GATA 2 protein (FOG2, also known as ZFPM2) form a heterodimer complex that has been shown to influence transcription of genes in a number of developmental systems. Recent evidence has also shown these genes play a role in gonadal sexual differentiation in humans. Previously we identified four variants in GATA4 and an unexpectedly large number of variants in ZFPM2 in a cohort of individuals with 46,XY Differences/Disorders of Sex Development (DSD) (Eggers et al, Genome Biology, 2016; 17: 243). METHOD: Here, we review variant curation and test the functional activity of GATA4 and ZFPM2 variants. We assess variant transcriptional activity on gonadal specific promoters (Sox9 and AMH) and variant protein-protein interactions. RESULTS: Our findings support that the majority of GATA4 and ZFPM2 variants we identified are benign in their contribution to 46,XY DSD. Indeed, only one variant, in the conserved N-terminal zinc finger of GATA4, was considered pathogenic, with functional analysis confirming differences in its ability to regulate Sox9 and AMH and in protein interaction with ZFPM2. CONCLUSIONS: Our study helps define the genetic factors contributing to 46,XY DSD and suggests that the majority of variants we identified in GATA4 and ZFPM2/FOG2 are not causative.
Identification of a Sacral, Visceral Sensory Transcriptome in Embryonic and Adult Mice
(SOC NEUROSCIENCE, 2020-01-01)
Visceral sensory neurons encode distinct sensations from healthy organs and initiate pain states that are resistant to common analgesics. Transcriptome analysis is transforming our understanding of sensory neuron subtypes but has generally focused on somatic sensory neurons or the total population of neurons in which visceral neurons form the minority. Our aim was to define transcripts specifically expressed by sacral visceral sensory neurons, as a step towards understanding the unique biology of these neurons and potentially leading to identification of new analgesic targets for pelvic visceral pain. Our strategy was to identify genes differentially expressed between sacral dorsal root ganglia (DRG) that include somatic neurons and sacral visceral neurons, and adjacent lumbar DRG that comprise exclusively of somatic sensory neurons. This was performed in adult and E18.5 male and female mice. By developing a method to restrict analyses to nociceptive Trpv1 neurons, a larger group of genes were detected as differentially expressed between spinal levels. We identified many novel genes that had not previously been associated with pelvic visceral sensation or nociception. Limited sex differences were detected across the transcriptome of sensory ganglia, but more were revealed in sacral levels and especially in Trpv1 nociceptive neurons. These data will facilitate development of new tools to modify mature and developing sensory neurons and nociceptive pathways.
Toward Guidelines for Research on Human Embryo Models Formed from Stem Cells
(CELL PRESS, 2020-02-11)
Over the past few years, a number of research groups have reported striking progress on the generation of in vitro models from mouse and human stem cells that replicate aspects of early embryonic development. Not only do these models reproduce some key cell fate decisions but, especially in the mouse system, they also mimic the spatiotemporal arrangements of embryonic and extraembryonic tissues that are required for developmental patterning and implantation in the uterus. If such models could be developed for the early human embryo, they would have great potential benefits for understanding early human development, for biomedical science, and for reducing the use of animals and human embryos in research. However, guidelines for the ethical conduct of this line of work are at present not well defined. In this Forum article, we discuss some key aspects of this emerging area of research and provide some recommendations for its ethical oversight.
The Effect of Hearing Aid Use on Cognition in Older Adults: Can We Delay Decline or Even Improve Cognitive Function?
(MDPI AG, 2020-01-01)
Hearing loss is a modifiable risk factor for dementia in older adults. Whether hearing aid use can delay the onset of cognitive decline is unknown. Participants in this study (aged 62–82 years) were assessed before and 18 months after hearing aid fitting on hearing, cognitive function, speech perception, quality of life, physical activity, loneliness, isolation, mood, and medical health. At baseline, multiple linear regression showed hearing loss and age predicted significantly poorer executive function performance, while tertiary education predicted significantly higher executive function and visual learning performance. At 18 months after hearing aid fitting, speech perception in quiet, self-reported listening disability and quality of life had significantly improved. Group mean scores across the cognitive test battery showed no significant decline, and executive function significantly improved. Reliable Change Index scores also showed either clinically significant improvement or stability in executive function for 97.3% of participants, and for females for working memory, visual attention and visual learning. Relative stability and clinically and statistically significant improvement in cognition were seen in this participant group after 18 months of hearing aid use, suggesting that treatment of hearing loss with hearing aids may delay cognitive decline. Given the small sample size, further follow up is required.
Long-Term Motor Deficit and Diffuse Cortical Atrophy Following Focal Cortical Ischemia in Athymic Rats
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2019-12-17)
Development of new stroke therapies requires animal models that recapitulate the pathophysiological and functional consequences of ischemic brain damage over time-frames relevant to the therapeutic intervention. This is particularly relevant for the rapidly developing area of stem cell therapies, where functional replacement of circuitry will require maturation of transplanted human cells over months. An additional challenge is the establishment of models of ischemia with stable behavioral phenotypes in chronically immune-suppressed animals to allow for long-term survival of human cell grafts. Here we report that microinjection of endothelin-1 into the sensorimotor cortex of athymic rats results in ischemic damage with a sustained deficit in function of the contralateral forepaw that persists for up to 9 months. The histological post-mortem analysis revealed chronic and diffuse atrophy of the ischemic cortical hemisphere that continued to progress over 9 months. Secondary atrophy remote to the primary site of injury and its relationship with long-term cognitive and functional decline is now recognized in human populations. Thus, focal cortical infarction in athymic rats mirrors important pathophysiological and functional features relevant to human stroke, and will be valuable for assessing efficacy of stem cell based therapies.
Dietary Betaine Improves Intestinal Barrier Function and Ameliorates the Impact of Heat Stress in Multiple Vital Organs as Measured by Evans Blue Dye in Broiler Chickens
In a 2 × 2 factorial design, 60 male Ross-308 broilers were fed either a control or 1 g/kg betaine diet and housed under thermoneutral (TN) or heat stress (HS) conditions. Broilers were acclimated to diets for 1 week under TN (25 °C), then either kept at TN or HS, where the temperature increased 8 h/day at 33 °C and 16 h/day at 25 °C for up to 10 days. Respiration rate (RR) was measured at four time points, and on each of 1, 2, 3, 7 and 10 days of HS, 12 broilers were injected with 0.5 mg/kg of Evans Blue Dye (EBD) solution to quantify regional changes in tissue damage. Betaine was quantified in tissues, and ileal damage was assessed via morphometry and transepithelial resistance (TER). Heat stress elevated RR (p < 0.001) and resulted in reduced villous height (p = 0.009) and TER (p < 0.001), while dietary betaine lowered RR during HS (p < 0.001), increased betaine distribution into tissues, and improved ileal villous height (p < 0.001) and TER (p = 0.006). Heat stress increased EBD in the muscle and kidney of chickens fed the control diet but not in those receiving betaine. Overall, these data indicate that supplemented betaine is distributed to vital organs and the gastrointestinal tract, where it is associated with improved tolerance of HS. Furthermore, EBD markers help reveal the effects of HS on organs dysfunction.