Florey Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 810
Reduced striatal vesicular monoamine transporter 2 in REM sleep behavior disorder: imaging prodromal parkinsonism
(NATURE RESEARCH, 2020-10-23)
Motor deficits in parkinsonism are caused by degeneration of dopaminergic nigral neurons. The success of disease-modifying therapies relies on early detection of the underlying pathological process, leading to early interventions in the disease phenotype. Healthy (n = 16), REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) (n = 14), dementia with Lewy bodies (n = 10), and Parkinson's disease (PD) (n = 20) participants underwent 18F-AV133 vesicular monoamine transporter type-2 (VMAT2) PET to determine the integrity of the nigrostriatal pathway. Clinical, neurophysiological and neuropsychological testing was conducted to assess parkinsonian symptoms. There was reduced VMAT2 levels in RBD participants in the caudate and putamen, indicating nigrostriatal degeneration. RBD patients also presented with hyposmia and anxiety, non-motor symptoms associated with parkinsonism. 18F-AV133 VMAT2 PET allows identification of underlying nigrostriatal degeneration in RBD patients. These findings align with observations of concurrent non-motor symptoms in PD and RBD participants of the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative. Together, these findings suggest that RBD subjects have prodromal parkinsonism supporting the concept of conducting neuroprotective therapeutic trials in RBD-enriched cohorts. Ongoing longitudinal follow-up of these subjects will allow us to determine the time-window of clinical progression.
Exploring the Use of Helicogenic Amino Acids for Optimising Single Chain Relaxin-3 Peptide Agonists
Relaxin-3 is a highly conserved two-chain neuropeptide that acts through its endogenous receptor the Relaxin Family Peptide-3 (RXFP3) receptor. The ligand/receptor system is known to modulate several physiological processes, with changes in food intake and anxiety-levels the most well studied in rodent models. Agonist and antagonist analogues based on the native two-chain peptide are costly to synthesise and not ideal drug leads. Since RXFP3 interacting residues are found in the relaxin B-chain only, this has been the focus of analogue development. The B-chain is unstructured without the A-chain support, but in single-chain variants structure can be induced by dicarba-based helical stapling strategies. Here we investigated whether alternative helical inducing strategies also can enhance structure and activity at RXFP3. Combinations of the helix inducing α-aminoisobutyric acid (Aib) were incorporated into the sequence of the relaxin-3 B-chain. Aib residues at positions 13, 17 and 18 partially reintroduce helicity and activity of the relaxin-3 B-chain, but other positions are generally not suited for modifications. We identify Thr21 as a putative new receptor contact residue important for RXFP3 binding. Cysteine residues were also incorporated into the sequence and cross-linked with dichloroacetone or α, α'-dibromo-m-xylene. However, in contrast to previously reported dicarba variants, neither were found to promote structure and RXFP3 activity.
Blood-brain barrier-penetrating siRNA nanomedicine for Alzheimer's disease therapy
(AMER ASSOC ADVANCEMENT SCIENCE, 2020-10-01)
Toxic aggregated amyloid-β accumulation is a key pathogenic event in Alzheimer's disease (AD), which derives from amyloid precursor protein (APP) through sequential cleavage by BACE1 (β-site APP cleavage enzyme 1) and γ-secretase. Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) show great promise for AD therapy by specific silencing of BACE1. However, lack of effective siRNA brain delivery approaches limits this strategy. Here, we developed a glycosylated "triple-interaction" stabilized polymeric siRNA nanomedicine (Gal-NP@siRNA) to target BACE1 in APP/PS1 transgenic AD mouse model. Gal-NP@siRNA exhibits superior blood stability and can efficiently penetrate the blood-brain barrier (BBB) via glycemia-controlled glucose transporter-1 (Glut1)-mediated transport, thereby ensuring that siRNAs decrease BACE1 expression and modify relative pathways. Noticeably, Gal-NP@siBACE1 administration restored the deterioration of cognitive capacity in AD mice without notable side effects. This "Trojan horse" strategy supports the utility of RNA interference therapy in neurodegenerative diseases.
Longitudinal exploration of cancer-related cognitive impairment in patients with newly diagnosed aggressive lymphoma: protocol for a feasibility study
(BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-01-01)
INTRODUCTION: Cancer-related cognitive impairment (CRCI) is a distressing and disabling side-effect of cancer treatments affecting up to 75% of patients. For some patients, their cognitive impairment may be transient, but for a subgroup, these symptoms can be long-standing and have a major impact on the quality of life. This paper describes the protocol for a study: (1) to assess the feasibility of collecting longitudinal data on cognition via self-report, neuropsychological testing, peripheral markers of inflammation and neuroimaging and (2) to explore and describe patterns of cancer-related cognitive impairment over the course of treatment and recovery in patients with newly diagnosed, aggressive lymphoma undergoing standard therapy with curative intent. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: This is a prospective, longitudinal, feasibility study in which 30 newly diagnosed, treatment-naive patients with aggressive lymphoma will be recruited over a 12-month period. Patients will complete comprehensive assessments at three time points: baseline (time 1, pre-treatment) and two post-baseline follow-up assessments (time 2, mid-treatment and time 3, 6-8 weeks post-treatment completion). All patients will be assessed for self-reported cognitive difficulties and objective cognitive function using Stroop Colour and Word, Trail Making Test Part A and B, Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised, Controlled Oral Word Association and Digit Span. Blood cell-based inflammatory markers and neuroimaging including a positron emission tomography (PET) with 18F-labelled fluoro-2-deoxyglucose (18F-FDG) and CT (18F-FDG-PET/CT) and a MRI will explore potential inflammatory and neuroanatomical or functional mechanisms and biomarkers related to CRCI. The primary intent of analysis will be to assess the feasibility of collecting longitudinal data on cognition using subjective reports and objective tasks from patients during treatment and recovery for lymphoma. These data will inform the design of a larger-scale investigation into the patterns of cognitive change over the course of treatment and recovery, adding to an underexplored area of cancer survivorship research. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethical approval has been granted by Austin Health Human Rights Ethics Committee (HREC) in Victoria Australia. Peer reviewed publications and conference presentations will report the findings of this novel study. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12619001649101).
Risk prediction of late-onset Alzheimer's disease implies an oligogenic architecture
(NATURE RESEARCH, 2020-09-23)
Genetic association studies have identified 44 common genome-wide significant risk loci for late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD). However, LOAD genetic architecture and prediction are unclear. Here we estimate the optimal P-threshold (Poptimal) of a genetic risk score (GRS) for prediction of LOAD in three independent datasets comprising 676 cases and 35,675 family history proxy cases. We show that the discriminative ability of GRS in LOAD prediction is maximised when selecting a small number of SNPs. Both simulation results and direct estimation indicate that the number of causal common SNPs for LOAD may be less than 100, suggesting LOAD is more oligogenic than polygenic. The best GRS explains approximately 75% of SNP-heritability, and individuals in the top decile of GRS have ten-fold increased odds when compared to those in the bottom decile. In addition, 14 variants are identified that contribute to both LOAD risk and age at onset of LOAD.
Health Professionals' and Health Professional Trainees' Views on Addictive Eating Behaviours: A Cross-Sectional Survey
Despite increasing research on the concept of addictive eating, there is currently no published evidence on the views of health professionals who potentially consult with patients presenting with addictive eating behaviours, or of students training to become health professionals. This study aimed to explore the views and understanding of addictive eating behaviours among health professionals and health professionals in training and to identify potential gaps in professional development training. An international online cross-sectional survey was conducted in February-April 2020. The survey (70 questions, 6 key areas) assessed participants' opinions and clinical experience of addictive eating; opinions on control, responsibility, and stigma relating to addictive eating; and knowledge of addictive eating and opinions on professional development training. In total, 142 health professionals and 33 health professionals in training completed the survey (mean age 38.1 ± 12.5 years, 65% from Australia/16% from the U.K.) Of the health professionals, 47% were dietitians and 16% were psychologists. Most participants (n = 126, 72%) reported that they have been asked by individuals about addictive eating. Half of the participants reported that they consider the term food addiction to be stigmatising for individuals (n = 88). Sixty percent (n = 105) reported that they were interested/very interested in receiving addictive eating training, with the top two preferred formats being online and self-paced, and face-to-face. These results demonstrate that addictive eating is supported by health professionals as they consult with patients presenting with this behaviour, which supports the views of the general community and demonstrates a need for health professional training.
Multiple Sclerosis as a Syndrome-Implications for Future Management
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2020-08-28)
We propose that multiple sclerosis (MS) is best characterized as a syndrome rather than a single disease because different pathogenetic mechanisms can result in the constellation of symptoms and signs by which MS is clinically characterized. We describe several cellular mechanisms that could generate inflammatory demyelination through disruption of homeostatic interactions between immune and neural cells. We illustrate that genomics is important in identifying phenocopies, in particular for primary progressive MS. We posit that molecular profiling, rather than traditional clinical phenotyping, will facilitate meaningful patient stratification, as illustrated by interactions between HLA and a regulator of homeostatic phagocytosis, MERTK. We envisage a personalized approach to MS management where genetic, molecular, and cellular information guides management.
Sympathetic nerves control bacterial clearance
(NATURE RESEARCH, 2020-09-14)
A neural reflex mediated by the splanchnic sympathetic nerves regulates systemic inflammation in negative feedback fashion, but its consequences for host responses to live infection are unknown. To test this, conscious instrumented sheep were infected intravenously with live E. coli bacteria and followed for 48 h. A month previously, animals had undergone either bilateral splanchnic nerve section or a sham operation. As established for rodents, sheep with cut splanchnic nerves mounted a stronger systemic inflammatory response: higher blood levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-6 but lower levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10, compared with sham-operated animals. Sequential blood cultures revealed that most sham-operated sheep maintained high circulating levels of live E. coli throughout the 48-h study period, while all sheep without splanchnic nerves rapidly cleared their bacteraemia and recovered clinically. The sympathetic inflammatory reflex evidently has a profound influence on the clearance of systemic bacterial infection.
Novel MissenseCACNA1GMutations Associated with Infantile-Onset Developmental and Epileptic Encephalopathy
The CACNA1G gene encodes the low-voltage-activated Cav3.1 channel, which is expressed in various areas of the CNS, including the cerebellum. We studied two missense CACNA1G variants, p.L208P and p.L909F, and evaluated the relationships between the severity of Cav3.1 dysfunction and the clinical phenotype. The presentation was of a developmental and epileptic encephalopathy without evident cerebellar atrophy. Both patients exhibited axial hypotonia, developmental delay, and severe to profound cognitive impairment. The patient with the L909F mutation had initially refractory seizures and cerebellar ataxia, whereas the L208P patient had seizures only transiently but was overall more severely affected. In transfected mammalian cells, we determined the biophysical characteristics of L208P and L909F variants, relative to the wild-type channel and a previously reported gain-of-function Cav3.1 variant. The L208P mutation shifted the activation and inactivation curves to the hyperpolarized direction, slowed the kinetics of inactivation and deactivation, and reduced the availability of Ca2+ current during repetitive stimuli. The L909F mutation impacted channel function less severely, resulting in a hyperpolarizing shift of the activation curve and slower deactivation. These data suggest that L909F results in gain-of-function, whereas L208P exhibits mixed gain-of-function and loss-of-function effects due to opposing changes in the biophysical properties. Our study expands the clinical spectrum associated with CACNA1G mutations, corroborating further the causal association with distinct complex phenotypes.
Cerebrovascular risk factors impact frontoparietal network integrity and executive function in healthy ageing
(NATURE RESEARCH, 2020-09-07)
Healthy cognitive ageing is a societal and public health priority. Cerebrovascular risk factors increase the likelihood of dementia in older people but their impact on cognitive ageing in younger, healthy brains is less clear. The UK Biobank provides cognition and brain imaging measures in the largest population cohort studied to date. Here we show that cognitive abilities of healthy individuals (N = 22,059) in this sample are detrimentally affected by cerebrovascular risk factors. Structural equation modelling revealed that cerebrovascular risk is associated with reduced cerebral grey matter and white matter integrity within a fronto-parietal brain network underlying executive function. Notably, higher systolic blood pressure was associated with worse executive cognitive function in mid-life (44-69 years), but not in late-life (>70 years). During mid-life this association did not occur in the systolic range of 110-140 mmHg. These findings suggest cerebrovascular risk factors impact on brain structure and cognitive function in healthy people.
Changes in Non-Coding RNA in Depression and Bipolar Disorder: Can They Be Used as Diagnostic or Theranostic Biomarkers?
The similarities between the depressive symptoms of Major Depressive Disorders (MDD) and Bipolar Disorders (BD) suggest these disorders have some commonality in their molecular pathophysiologies, which is not apparent from the risk genes shared between MDD and BD. This is significant, given the growing literature suggesting that changes in non-coding RNA may be important in both MDD and BD, because they are causing dysfunctions in the control of biochemical pathways that are affected in both disorders. Therefore, understanding the changes in non-coding RNA in MDD and BD will lead to a better understanding of how and why these disorders develop. Furthermore, as a significant number of individuals suffering with MDD and BD do not respond to medication, identifying non-coding RNA that are altered by the drugs used to treat these disorders offer the potential to identify biomarkers that could predict medication response. Such biomarkers offer the potential to quickly identify patients who are unlikely to respond to traditional medications so clinicians can refocus treatment strategies to ensure more effective outcomes for the patient. This review will focus on the evidence supporting the involvement of non-coding RNA in MDD and BD and their potential use as biomarkers for treatment response.
Plasma High Density Lipoprotein Small Subclass is Reduced in Alzheimer's Disease Patients and Correlates with Cognitive Performance
(IOS PRESS, 2020-01-01)
BACKGROUND: The link between cholesterol and Alzheimer's disease (AD) has received much attention, as evidence suggests high levels of cholesterol might be an AD risk factor. The carriage of cholesterol and lipids through the body is mediated via lipoproteins, some of which, particularly apolipoprotein E (ApoE), are intimately linked with AD. In humans, high density lipoprotein (HDL) is regarded as a "good" lipid complex due to its ability to enable clearance of excess cholesterol via 'cholesterol reverse transport', although its activities in the pathogenesis of AD are poorly understood. There are several subclasses of HDL; these range from the newly formed small HDL, to much larger HDL. OBJECTIVE: We examined the major subclasses of HDL in healthy controls, mild cognitively impaired, and AD patients who were not taking statins to determine whether there were HDL profile differences between the groups, and whether HDL subclass levels correlated with plasma amyloid-β (Aβ) levels or brain Aβ deposition. METHODS: Samples from AIBL cohort were used in this study. HDL subclass levels were assessed by Lipoprint while Aβ1-42 levels were assessed by ELISA. Brain Aβ deposition was assessed by PET scan. Statistical analysis was performed using parametric and non-parametric tests. RESULTS: We found that small HDL subclass is reduced in AD patients and it correlates with cognitive performance while plasma Aβ concentrations do not correlate with lipid profile or HDL subfraction levels. CONCLUSION: Our data indicate that AD patients exhibit altered plasma HDL profile and that HDL subclasses correlate with cognitive performances.