Florey Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 581
Immunoselected STRO-3(+) mesenchymal precursor cells reduce inflammation and improve clinical outcomes in a large animal model of monoarthritis
BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to investigate the therapeutic efficacy of intravenously administered immunoselected STRO-3 + mesenchymal precursor cells (MPCs) on clinical scores, joint pathology and cytokine production in an ovine model of monoarthritis. METHODS: Monoarthritis was established in 16 adult merino sheep by administration of bovine type II collagen into the left hock joint following initial sensitization to this antigen. After 24 h, sheep were administered either 150 million allogeneic ovine MPCs (n = 8) or saline (n = 8) intravenously (IV). Lameness, joint swelling and pain were monitored and blood samples for leukocytes and cytokine levels were collected at intervals following arthritis induction. Animals were necropsied 14 days after arthritis induction and gross and histopathological evaluations were undertaken on tissues from the arthritic (left) and contralateral (right) joints. RESULTS: MPC-treated sheep demonstrated significantly reduced clinical signs of lameness, joint pain and swelling compared with saline controls. They also showed decreased cartilage erosions, synovial stromal cell activation and angiogenesis. This was accompanied by decreased infiltration of the synovial tissues by CD4+ lymphocytes and CD14+ monocytes/macrophages. Over the 3 days following joint arthropathy induction, the numbers of neutrophils circulating in the blood and plasma concentrations of activin A were significantly reduced in animals administered MPCs. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study have demonstrated the capacity of IV-administered MPCs to mitigate the clinical signs and some of the inflammatory mediators responsible for joint tissue destruction in a large animal model of monoarthritis.
Spinal cord thermosensitivity: An afferent phenomenon?
(Informa UK Limited, 2016-04)
We review the evidence for thermoregulatory temperature sensors in the mammalian spinal cord and reach the following conclusions. 1) Spinal cord temperature contributes physiologically to temperature regulation. 2) Parallel anterolateral ascending pathways transmit signals from spinal cooling and spinal warming: they overlap with the respective axon pathways of the dorsal horn neurons that are driven by peripheral cold- and warm-sensitive afferents. 3) We hypothesize that these 'cold' and 'warm' ascending pathways transmit all extracranial thermosensory information to the brain. 4) Cutaneous cold afferents can be activated not only by cooling the skin but also by cooling sites along their axons: we consider that this is functionally insignificant in vivo. 5) By a presynaptic action on their central terminals, local spinal cooling enhances neurotransmission from incoming 'cold' afferent action potentials to second order neurons in the dorsal horn; this effect disappears when the spinal cord is warm. 6) Spinal warm sensitivity is due to warm-sensitive miniature vesicular transmitter release from afferent terminals in the dorsal horn: this effect is powerful enough to excite second order neurons in the 'warm' pathway independently of any incoming sensory traffic. 7) Distinct but related presynaptic mechanisms at cold- and warm-sensitive afferent terminals can thus account for the thermoregulatory actions of spinal cord temperature.
Changes in BQCA Allosteric Modulation of [H-3]NMS Binding to Human Cortex within Schizophrenia and by Divalent Cations
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2016-05-01)
Stimulation of the cortical muscarinic M1 receptor (CHRM1) is proposed as a treatment for schizophrenia, a hypothesis testable using CHRM1 allosteric modulators. Allosteric modulators have been shown to change the activity of CHRMs using cloned human CHRMs and CHRM knockout mice but not human CNS, a prerequisite for them working in humans. Here we show in vitro that BQCA, a positive allosteric CHRM1 modulator, brings about the expected change in affinity of the CHRM1 orthosteric site for acetylcholine in human cortex. Moreover, this effect of BQCA is reduced in the cortex of a subset of subjects with schizophrenia, separated into a discrete population because of a profound loss of cortical [(3)H]pirenzepine binding. Surprisingly, there was no change in [(3)H]NMS binding to the cortex from this subset or those with schizophrenia but without a marked loss of cortical CHRM1. Hence, we explored the nature of [(3)H]pirenzepine and [(3)H]NMS binding to human cortex and showed total [(3)H]pirenzepine and [(3)H]NMS binding was reduced by Zn(2+), acetylcholine displacement of [(3)H]NMS binding was enhanced by Mg(2+) and Zn(2+), acetylcholine displacement of [(3)H]pirenzepine was reduced by Mg(2+) and enhanced by Zn(2+), whereas BQCA effects on [(3)H]NMS, but not [(3)H]pirenzepine, binding was enhanced by Mg(2+) and Zn(2+). These data suggest the orthosteric and allosteric sites on CHRMs respond differently to divalent cations and the effects of allosteric modulation of the cortical CHRM1 is reduced in a subset of people with schizophrenia, a finding that may have ramifications for the use of CHRM1 allosteric modulators in the treatment of schizophrenia.
Changed cortical risk gene expression in major depression and shared changes in cortical gene expression between major depression and bipolar disorders
(SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2019-12-01)
BACKGROUND: Mood disorders likely occur in someone with a genetic predisposition who encounters a deleterious environmental factor leading to dysregulated physiological processes due to genetic mutations and epigenetic mechanisms altering gene expression. To gain data to support this hypothesis, we measured levels of gene expression in three cortical regions known to be affected by the pathophysiologies of major depression and bipolar disorders. METHODS: Levels of RNA were measured using the Affymetrix™ Human Exon 1.0 ST Array in Brodmann's areas 9, 10 and 33 (left hemisphere) from individuals with major depression, bipolar disorder and age- and sex-matched controls with changed expression taken as a fold change in RNA ⩾1.2 at p < 0.01. Data were analysed using JMP® genomics 6.0 and the probable biological consequences of changes in gene expression determined using Core and Pathway Designer Analyses in Ingenuity Pathway Analysis. RESULTS: There were altered levels of RNA in Brodmann's area 9 (major depression = 424; bipolar disorder = 331), Brodmann's area 10 (major depression = 52; bipolar disorder = 24) and Brodmann's area 33 (major depression = 59 genes; bipolar disorder = 38 genes) in mood disorders. No gene was differentially expressed in all three regions in either disorder. There was a high correlation between fold changes in levels of RNA from 112 genes in Brodmann's area 9 from major depression and bipolar disorder (r2 = 0.91, p < 0.001). Levels of RNA for four risk genes for major depression were lower in Brodmann's area 9 in that disorder. CONCLUSION: Our data argue that there are complex regional-specific changes in cortical gene expression in major depression and bipolar disorder that includes the expression of some risk genes for major depression in those with that disorder. It could be hypothesised that the common changes in gene expression in major depression and bipolar disorder are involved in the genesis of symptoms common to both disorders.
Development and validation of a mental health screening tool for asylum-seekers and refugees: the STAR-MH
(BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2018-03-16)
BACKGROUND: There is no screening tool for major depressive disorder (MDD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in asylum-seekers or refugees (ASR) that can be readily administered by non-mental health workers. Hence, we aimed to develop a brief, sensitive and rapidly administrable tool for non-mental health workers to screen for MDD and PTSD in ASR. METHODS: The screening tool was developed from an extant dataset (n = 121) of multiply screened ASR and tested prospectively (N = 192) against the M.I.N.I. (Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview) structured psychiatric interview. Rasch, Differential Item Functioning and ROC analyses evaluated the psychometric properties and tool utility. RESULTS: A 9-item tool with a median administration time of six minutes was generated, comprising two 'immediate screen-in' items, and a 7-item scale. The prevalence of PTSD &/or MDD using the M.I.N.I. was 32%, whilst 99% of other diagnosed mental disorders were comorbid with one or both of these. Using a cut-score of ≥2, the tool provided a sensitivity of 0.93, specificity of 0.75 and predictive accuracy of 80.7%. CONCLUSIONS: A brief sensitive screening tool with robust psychometric properties that was easy to administer at the agency of first presentation was developed to facilitate mental health referrals for asylum-seekers and new refugees.
Sensorimotor circuitry involved in the higher brain control of coughing
(BioMed Central, 2013-03-06)
There is an overwhelming body of evidence to support the existence of higher brain circuitries involved in the sensory detection of airways irritation and the motor control of coughing. The concept that cough is purely a reflex response to airways irritation is now superseded by the recognition that perception of an urge-to-cough and altered behavioral modification of coughing are key elements of cough disorders associated with airways disease. Understanding the pathways by which airway sensory nerves ascend into the brain and the patterns of neural activation associated with airways irritation will undoubtedly provide new insights into disordered coughing. This brief review aims to explore our current understanding of higher order cough networks by summarizing data from recent neuroanatomical and functional studies in animals and humans. We provide evidence for the existence of distinct higher order network components involved in the discrimination of signals arising from the airways and the motor control of coughing. The identification of these network components provides a blueprint for future research and the development of targeted managements for cough and the urge-to-cough.
High spatial and temporal resolution wide-field imaging of neuron activity using quantum NV-diamond
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2012-05-09)
A quantitative understanding of the dynamics of biological neural networks is fundamental to gaining insight into information processing in the brain. While techniques exist to measure spatial or temporal properties of these networks, it remains a significant challenge to resolve the neural dynamics with subcellular spatial resolution. In this work we consider a fundamentally new form of wide-field imaging for neuronal networks based on the nanoscale magnetic field sensing properties of optically active spins in a diamond substrate. We analyse the sensitivity of the system to the magnetic field generated by an axon transmembrane potential and confirm these predictions experimentally using electronically-generated neuron signals. By numerical simulation of the time dependent transmembrane potential of a morphologically reconstructed hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neuron, we show that the imaging system is capable of imaging planar neuron activity non-invasively at millisecond temporal resolution and micron spatial resolution over wide-fields.
Discovering the pharmacodynamics of conolidine and cannabidiol using a cultured neuronal network based workflow
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-01-15)
Determining the mechanism of action (MOA) of novel or naturally occurring compounds mostly relies on assays tailored for individual target proteins. Here we explore an alternative approach based on pattern matching response profiles obtained using cultured neuronal networks. Conolidine and cannabidiol are plant-derivatives with known antinociceptive activity but unknown MOA. Application of conolidine/cannabidiol to cultured neuronal networks altered network firing in a highly reproducible manner and created similar impact on network properties suggesting engagement with a common biological target. We used principal component analysis (PCA) and multi-dimensional scaling (MDS) to compare network activity profiles of conolidine/cannabidiol to a series of well-studied compounds with known MOA. Network activity profiles evoked by conolidine and cannabidiol closely matched that of ω-conotoxin CVIE, a potent and selective Cav2.2 calcium channel blocker with proposed antinociceptive action suggesting that they too would block this channel. To verify this, Cav2.2 channels were heterologously expressed, recorded with whole-cell patch clamp and conolidine/cannabidiol was applied. Remarkably, conolidine and cannabidiol both inhibited Cav2.2, providing a glimpse into the MOA that could underlie their antinociceptive action. These data highlight the utility of cultured neuronal network-based workflows to efficiently identify MOA of drugs in a highly scalable assay.
Building trust and sharing power for co-creation in Aboriginal health research: a stakeholder interview study
(Policy Press, 2019-08-01)
Background: Historically, Aboriginal health research in Australia has been non-participatory, misrepresentative, and has produced few measurable improvements to community health. The Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEARCH) was established to co-create and co-translate research. Over the past decade, SEARCH has built a sustainable partnership across policy, research, clinical and Aboriginal community sectors which has resulted in improvements in Aboriginal health through enhanced services, policies and programmes. Aims and objectives: This study describes the critical success factors behind SEARCH, focusing on how SEARCH was established, and continues to build trusting co-creative relationships. It also explores some continuing challenges and considers how the partnership might be strengthened. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 26 stakeholders, purposively selected to obtain maximum diversity of roles and perspectives. Interview questions explored concepts that informed the development of SEARCH such as trust, transparency, leadership, governance, reciprocity and empowerment. Data was analysed thematically and written up using the qualitative description approach. Findings and discussion: Nine critical success factors were identified: shared power; strong credible leadership; shared vision, shared goals; willingness to take risks; connecting across cultures; empowering the community; valuing local Aboriginal knowledge; ongoing investment and collaboration; and adaptability. While each of these factors has areas for ongoing improvement, this case example demonstrates that co-creation and co-translation of research in Aboriginal health is achievable and, indeed, necessary to improve health outcomes.
Stretchable Low Impedance Electrodes for Bioelectronic Recording from Small Peripheral Nerves
(Nature Publishing Group, 2019-07-22)
Monitoring of bioelectric signals in peripheral sympathetic nerves of small animal models is crucial to gain understanding of how the autonomic nervous system controls specific body functions related to disease states. Advances in minimally-invasive electrodes for such recordings in chronic conditions rely on electrode materials that show low-impedance ionic/electronic interfaces and elastic mechanical properties compliant with the soft and fragile nerve strands. Here we report a highly stretchable low-impedance electrode realized by microcracked gold films as metallic conductors covered with stretchable conducting polymer composite to facilitate ion-to-electron exchange. The conducting polymer composite based on poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) polystyrene sulfonate (PEDOT:PSS) obtains its adhesive, low-impedance properties by controlling thickness, plasticizer content and deposition conditions. Atomic Force Microscopy measurements under strain show that the optimized conducting polymer coating is compliant with the micro-crack mechanics of the underlying Au-layer, necessary to absorb the tensile deformation when the electrodes are stretched. We demonstrate functionality of the stretchable electrodes by performing high quality recordings of renal sympathetic nerve activity under chronic conditions in rats.
Comparison of 6q25 Breast Cancer Hits from Asian and European Genome Wide Association Studies in the Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC)
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2012-08-07)
The 6q25.1 locus was first identified via a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in Chinese women and marked by single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs2046210, approximately 180 Kb upstream of ESR1. There have been conflicting reports about the association of this locus with breast cancer in Europeans, and a GWAS in Europeans identified a different SNP, tagged here by rs12662670. We examined the associations of both SNPs in up to 61,689 cases and 58,822 controls from forty-four studies collaborating in the Breast Cancer Association Consortium, of which four studies were of Asian and 39 of European descent. Logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Case-only analyses were used to compare SNP effects in Estrogen Receptor positive (ER+) versus negative (ER-) tumours. Models including both SNPs were fitted to investigate whether the SNP effects were independent. Both SNPs are significantly associated with breast cancer risk in both ethnic groups. Per-allele ORs are higher in Asian than in European studies [rs2046210: OR (A/G) = 1.36 (95% CI 1.26-1.48), p = 7.6 × 10(-14) in Asians and 1.09 (95% CI 1.07-1.11), p = 6.8 × 10(-18) in Europeans. rs12662670: OR (G/T) = 1.29 (95% CI 1.19-1.41), p = 1.2 × 10(-9) in Asians and 1.12 (95% CI 1.08-1.17), p = 3.8 × 10(-9) in Europeans]. SNP rs2046210 is associated with a significantly greater risk of ER- than ER+ tumours in Europeans [OR (ER-) = 1.20 (95% CI 1.15-1.25), p = 1.8 × 10(-17) versus OR (ER+) = 1.07 (95% CI 1.04-1.1), p = 1.3 × 10(-7), p(heterogeneity) = 5.1 × 10(-6)]. In these Asian studies, by contrast, there is no clear evidence of a differential association by tumour receptor status. Each SNP is associated with risk after adjustment for the other SNP. These results suggest the presence of two variants at 6q25.1 each independently associated with breast cancer risk in Asians and in Europeans. Of these two, the one tagged by rs2046210 is associated with a greater risk of ER- tumours.
Communication challenges experienced by migrants with cancer: A comparison of migrant and English-speaking Australian-born cancer patients
OBJECTIVES: Understanding the difficulties faced by different migrant groups is vital to address disparities and inform targeted health-care service delivery. Migrant oncology patients experience increased morbidity, mortality and psychological distress, with this tentatively linked to language and communication difficulties. The objective of this exploratory study was to investigate the communication barriers and challenges experienced by Arabic, Greek and Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) speaking oncology patients in Australia. METHODS: This study employed a cross-sectional design using patient-reported outcome survey data from migrant and English-speaking Australian-born patients with cancer. Patients were recruited through oncology clinics and Australian state cancer registries. Data were collected regarding patient clinical and demographic characteristics and health-care and communication experiences. Data from the clinics and registries were combined for analysis. RESULTS: Significant differences were found between migrant groups in demographic characteristics, communication and health-care experiences, and information and care preferences. Chinese patients cited problems with understanding medical information, the Australian health-care system, and communicating with their health-care team. Conversely, Arabic- and Greek-speaking patients reported higher understanding of the health-care system, and less communication difficulties. CONCLUSIONS: Our study findings suggest that migrant groups differ from each other in their health communication expectations and requirements. Lower education and health literacy of some groups may play a role in poorer health outcomes. Public health interventions and assistance provided to migrants should be tailored to the specific needs and characteristics of that language or cultural group. Future research directions are discussed.