Florey Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-24 of 1844
ATH434 Reverses Colorectal Dysfunction in the A53T Mouse Model of Parkinson's Disease
(IOS PRESS, 2021-01-01)
BACKGROUND: Gastrointestinal (GI) complications, that severely impact patient quality of life, are a common occurrence in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Damage to enteric neurons and the accumulation of alpha-synuclein in the enteric nervous system (ENS) are thought to contribute to this phenotype. Copper or iron chelators, that bind excess or labile metal ions, can prevent aggregation of alpha-synuclein in the brain and alleviate motor-symptoms in preclinical models of PD. OBJECTIVE: We investigated the effect of ATH434 (formally PBT434), a small molecule, orally bioavailable, moderate-affinity iron chelator, on colonic propulsion and whole gut transit in A53T alpha-synuclein transgenic mice. METHODS: Mice were fed ATH434 (30 mg/kg/day) for either 4 months (beginning at ∼15 months of age), after the onset of slowed propulsion ("treatment group"), or for 3 months (beginning at ∼12 months of age), prior to slowed propulsion ("prevention group"). RESULTS: ATH434, given after dysfunction was established, resulted in a reversal of slowed colonic propulsion and gut transit deficits in A53T mice to WT levels. In addition, ATH434 administered from 12 months prevented the slowed bead expulsion at 15 months but did not alter deficits in gut transit time when compared to vehicle-treated A53T mice. The proportion of neurons with nuclear Hu+ translocation, an indicator of neuronal stress in the ENS, was significantly greater in A53T than WT mice, and was reduced in both groups when ATH434 was administered. CONCLUSION: ATH434 can reverse some of the GI deficits and enteric neuropathy that occur in a mouse model of PD, and thus may have potential clinical benefit in alleviating the GI dysfunctions associated with PD.
A six-metabolite panel as potential blood-based biomarkers for Parkinson's disease
(NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2021-10-14)
Characterisation and diagnosis of idiopathic Parkinson's disease (iPD) is a current challenge that hampers both clinical assessment and clinical trial development with the potential inclusion of non-PD cases. Here, we used a targeted mass spectrometry approach to quantify 38 metabolites extracted from the serum of 231 individuals. This cohort is currently one of the largest metabolomic studies including iPD patients, drug-naïve iPD, healthy controls and patients with Alzheimer's disease as a disease-specific control group. We identified six metabolites (3-hydroxykynurenine, aspartate, beta-alanine, homoserine, ornithine (Orn) and tyrosine) that are significantly altered between iPD patients and control participants. A multivariate model to predict iPD from controls had an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.905, with an accuracy of 86.2%. This panel of metabolites may serve as a potential prognostic or diagnostic assay for clinical trial prescreening, or for aiding in diagnosing pathological disease in the clinic.
State transitions through inhibitory interneurons in a cortical network model
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2021-10-01)
Inhibitory interneurons shape the spiking characteristics and computational properties of cortical networks. Interneuron subtypes can precisely regulate cortical function but the roles of interneuron subtypes for promoting different regimes of cortical activity remains unclear. Therefore, we investigated the impact of fast spiking and non-fast spiking interneuron subtypes on cortical activity using a network model with connectivity and synaptic properties constrained by experimental data. We found that network properties were more sensitive to modulation of the fast spiking population, with reductions of fast spiking excitability generating strong spike correlations and network oscillations. Paradoxically, reduced fast spiking excitability produced a reduction of global excitation-inhibition balance and features of an inhibition stabilised network, in which firing rates were driven by the activity of excitatory neurons within the network. Further analysis revealed that the synaptic interactions and biophysical features associated with fast spiking interneurons, in particular their rapid intrinsic response properties and short synaptic latency, enabled this state transition by enhancing gain within the excitatory population. Therefore, fast spiking interneurons may be uniquely positioned to control the strength of recurrent excitatory connectivity and the transition to an inhibition stabilised regime. Overall, our results suggest that interneuron subtypes can exert selective control over excitatory gain allowing for differential modulation of global network state.
Effectiveness of knowledge brokering and recommendation dissemination for influencing healthcare resource allocation decisions: A cluster randomised controlled implementation trial
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2021-10-01)
BACKGROUND: Implementing evidence into clinical practice is a key focus of healthcare improvements to reduce unwarranted variation. Dissemination of evidence-based recommendations and knowledge brokering have emerged as potential strategies to achieve evidence implementation by influencing resource allocation decisions. The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of these two research implementation strategies to facilitate evidence-informed healthcare management decisions for the provision of inpatient weekend allied health services. METHODS AND FINDINGS: This multicentre, single-blinded (data collection and analysis), three-group parallel cluster randomised controlled trial with concealed allocation was conducted in Australian and New Zealand hospitals between February 2018 and January 2020. Clustering and randomisation took place at the organisation level where weekend allied health staffing decisions were made (e.g., network of hospitals or single hospital). Hospital wards were nested within these decision-making structures. Three conditions were compared over a 12-month period: (1) usual practice waitlist control; (2) dissemination of written evidence-based practice recommendations; and (3) access to a webinar-based knowledge broker in addition to the recommendations. The primary outcome was the alignment of weekend allied health provision with practice recommendations at the cluster and ward levels, addressing the adoption, penetration, and fidelity to the recommendations. The secondary outcome was mean hospital length of stay at the ward level. Outcomes were collected at baseline and 12 months later. A total of 45 clusters (n = 833 wards) were randomised to either control (n = 15), recommendation (n = 16), or knowledge broker (n = 14) conditions. Four (9%) did not provide follow-up data, and no adverse events were recorded. No significant effect was found with either implementation strategy for the primary outcome at the cluster level (recommendation versus control β 18.11 [95% CI -8,721.81 to 8,758.02] p = 0.997; knowledge broker versus control β 1.24 [95% CI -6,992.60 to 6,995.07] p = 1.000; recommendation versus knowledge broker β -9.12 [95% CI -3,878.39 to 3,860.16] p = 0.996) or ward level (recommendation versus control β 0.01 [95% CI 0.74 to 0.75] p = 0.983; knowledge broker versus control β -0.12 [95% CI -0.54 to 0.30] p = 0.581; recommendation versus knowledge broker β -0.19 [-1.04 to 0.65] p = 0.651). There was no significant effect between strategies for the secondary outcome at ward level (recommendation versus control β 2.19 [95% CI -1.36 to 5.74] p = 0.219; knowledge broker versus control β -0.55 [95% CI -1.16 to 0.06] p = 0.075; recommendation versus knowledge broker β -3.75 [95% CI -8.33 to 0.82] p = 0.102). None of the control or knowledge broker clusters transitioned to partial or full alignment with the recommendations. Three (20%) of the clusters who only received the written recommendations transitioned from nonalignment to partial alignment. Limitations include underpowering at the cluster level sample due to the grouping of multiple geographically distinct hospitals to avoid contamination. CONCLUSIONS: Owing to a lack of power at the cluster level, this trial was unable to identify a difference between the knowledge broker strategy and dissemination of recommendations compared with usual practice for the promotion of evidence-informed resource allocation to inpatient weekend allied health services. Future research is needed to determine the interactions between different implementation strategies and healthcare contexts when translating evidence into healthcare practice. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12618000029291.
Role of Lipocalin-2 in Amyloid-Beta Oligomer-Induced Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease
Lipocalin-2 (LCN2) is an inflammatory protein with diverse functions in the brain. Although many studies have investigated the mechanism of LCN2 in brain injuries, the effect of LCN2 on amyloid-toxicity-related memory deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease (AD) has been less studied. We investigated the role of LCN2 in human AD patients using a mouse model of AD. We created an AD mouse model by injecting amyloid-beta oligomer (AβO) into the hippocampus. In this model, animals exhibited impaired learning and memory. We found LCN2 upregulation in the human brain frontal lobe, as well as a positive correlation between white matter ischemic changes and serum LCN2. We also found increased astrocytic LCN2, microglia activation, iron accumulation, and blood-brain barrier disruption in AβO-treated hippocampi. These findings suggest that LCN2 is involved in a variety of amyloid toxicity mechanisms, especially neuroinflammation and oxidative stress.
Neurodegeneration Over 3 Years Following Ischaemic Stroke: Findings From the Cognition and Neocortical Volume After Stroke Study
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2021-10-22)
Background: Stroke survivors are at high risk of dementia, associated with increasing age and vascular burden and with pre-existing cognitive impairment, older age. Brain atrophy patterns are recognised as signatures of neurodegenerative conditions, but the natural history of brain atrophy after stroke remains poorly described. We sought to determine whether stroke survivors who were cognitively normal at time of stroke had greater total brain (TBV) and hippocampal volume (HV) loss over 3 years than controls. We examined whether stroke survivors who were cognitively impaired (CI) at 3 months following their stroke had greater brain volume loss than cognitively normal (CN) stroke participants over the next 3 years. Methods: Cognition And Neocortical Volume After Stroke (CANVAS) study is a multi-centre cohort study of first-ever or recurrent adult ischaemic stroke participants compared to age- and sex-matched community controls. Participants were followed with MRI and cognitive assessments over 3 years and were free of a history of cognitive impairment or decline at inclusion. Our primary outcome measure was TBV change between 3 months and 3 years; secondary outcomes were TBV and HV change comparing CI and CN participants. We investigated associations between group status and brain volume change using a baseline-volume adjusted linear regression model with robust standard error. Results: Ninety-three stroke (26 women, 66.7 ± 12 years) and 39 control participants (15 women, 68.7 ± 7 years) were available at 3 years. TBV loss in stroke patients was greater than controls: stroke mean (M) = 20.3 cm3 ± SD 14.8 cm3; controls M = 14.2 cm3 ± SD 13.2 cm3; [adjusted mean difference 7.88 95%CI (2.84, 12.91) p-value = 0.002]. TBV decline was greater in those stroke participants who were cognitively impaired (M = 30.7 cm3; SD = 14.2 cm3) at 3 months (M = 19.6 cm3; SD = 13.8 cm3); [adjusted mean difference 10.42; 95%CI (3.04, 17.80), p-value = 0.006]. No statistically significant differences in HV change were observed. Conclusions: Ischaemic stroke survivors exhibit greater neurodegeneration compared to stroke-free controls. Brain atrophy is greater in stroke participants who were cognitively impaired early after their stroke. Early cognitive impairment was associated greater subsequent atrophy, reflecting the combined impacts of stroke and vascular brain burden. Atrophy rates could serve as a useful biomarker for trials testing interventions to reduce post-stroke secondary neurodegeneration. Clinical Trail Registration: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov, identifier: NCT02205424.
Spatial distribution and cognitive impact of cerebrovascular risk-related white matter hyperintensities
(ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2020-01-01)
OBJECTIVES: White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) are considered macroscale markers of cerebrovascular burden and are associated with increased risk of vascular cognitive impairment and dementia. However, the spatial location of WMHs has typically been considered in broad categories of periventricular versus deep white matter. The spatial distribution of WHMs associated with individual cerebrovascular risk factors (CVR), controlling for frequently comorbid risk factors, has not been systematically investigated at the population level in a healthy ageing cohort. Furthermore, there is an inconsistent relationship between total white matter hyperintensity load and cognition, which may be due to the confounding of several simultaneous risk factors in models based on smaller cohorts. METHODS: We examined trends in individual CVR factors on total WMH burden in 13,680 individuals (aged 45-80) using data from the UK Biobank. We estimated the spatial distribution of white matter hyperintensities associated with each risk factor and their contribution to explaining total WMH load using voxel-wise probit regression and univariate linear regression. Finally, we explored the impact of CVR-related WMHs on speed of processing using regression and mediation analysis. RESULTS: Contrary to the assumed dominance of hypertension as the biggest predictor of WMH burden, we show associations with a number of risk factors including diabetes, heavy smoking, APOE ε4/ε4 status and high waist-to-hip ratio of similar, or greater magnitude to hypertension. The spatial distribution of WMHs varied considerably with individual cerebrovascular risk factors. There were independent effects of visceral adiposity, as measured by waist-to-hip ratio, and carriage of the APOE ε4 allele in terms of the unique spatial distribution of CVR-related WMHs. Importantly, the relationship between total WMH load and speed of processing was mediated by waist-to-hip ratio suggesting cognitive consequences to WMHs associated with excessive visceral fat deposition. CONCLUSION: Waist-to-hip ratio, diabetes, heavy smoking, hypercholesterolemia and homozygous APOE ε4 status are important risk factors, beyond hypertension, associated with WMH total burden and warrant careful control across ageing. The spatial distribution associated with different risk factors may provide important clues as to the pathogenesis and cognitive consequences of WMHs. High waist-to-hip ratio is a key risk factor associated with slowing in speed of processing. With global obesity levels rising, focused management of visceral adiposity may present a useful strategy for the mitigation of cognitive decline in ageing.
Cognitive behavioral markers of neurodevelopmental trajectories in rodents
Between adolescence and adulthood, the brain critically undergoes maturation and refinement of synaptic and neural circuits that shape cognitive processing. Adolescence also represents a vulnerable period for the onset of symptoms in neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders. Despite the wide use of rodent models to unravel neurobiological mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental disorders, there is a surprising paucity of rigorous studies focusing on normal cognitive-developmental trajectories in such models. Here, we sought to behaviorally capture maturational changes in cognitive trajectories during adolescence and into adulthood in male and female mice using distinct behavioral paradigms. C57 BL/6J mice (4.5, 6, and 12 weeks of age) were assessed on three behavioral paradigms: drug-induced locomotor hyperactivity, prepulse inhibition, and a novel validated version of a visuospatial paired-associate learning touchscreen task. We show that the normal maturational trajectories of behavioral performance on these paradigms are dissociable. Responses in drug-induced locomotor hyperactivity and prepulse inhibition both displayed a 'U-shaped' developmental trajectory; lower during mid-adolescence relative to early adolescence and adulthood. In contrast, visuospatial learning and memory, memory retention, and response times indicative of motivational processing progressively improved with age. Our study offers a framework to investigate how insults at different developmental stages might perturb normal trajectories in cognitive development. We provide a brain maturational approach to understand resilience factors of brain plasticity in the face of adversity and to examine pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions directed at ameliorating or rescuing perturbed trajectories in neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders.
Postsynaptic Neuroligin-1 Mediates Presynaptic Endocytosis During Neuronal Activity
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2021-10-08)
Fast, high-fidelity neurotransmission and synaptic efficacy requires tightly regulated coordination of pre- and postsynaptic compartments and alignment of presynaptic release sites with postsynaptic receptor nanodomains. Neuroligin-1 (Nlgn1) is a postsynaptic cell-adhesion protein exclusively localised to excitatory synapses that is crucial for coordinating the transsynaptic alignment of presynaptic release sites with postsynaptic AMPA receptors as well as postsynaptic transmission and plasticity. However, little is understood about whether the postsynaptic machinery can mediate the molecular architecture and activity of the presynaptic nerve terminal, and thus it remains unclear whether there are presynaptic contributions to Nlgn1-dependent control of signalling and plasticity. Here, we employed a presynaptic reporter of neurotransmitter release and synaptic vesicle dynamics, synaptophysin-pHluorin (sypHy), to directly assess the presynaptic impact of loss of Nlgn1. We show that lack of Nlgn1 had no effect on the size of the readily releasable or entire recycling pool of synaptic vesicles, nor did it impact exocytosis. However, we observed significant changes in the retrieval of synaptic vesicles by compensatory endocytosis, specifically during activity. Our data extends growing evidence that synaptic adhesion molecules critical for forming transsynaptic scaffolds are also important for regulating activity-induced endocytosis at the presynapse.
Predicting Post-Stroke Somatosensory Function from Resting-State Functional Connectivity: A Feasibility Study
Accumulating evidence shows that brain functional deficits may be impacted by damage to remote brain regions. Recent advances in neuroimaging suggest that stroke impairment can be better predicted based on disruption to brain networks rather than from lesion locations or volumes only. Our aim was to explore the feasibility of predicting post-stroke somatosensory function from brain functional connectivity through the application of machine learning techniques. Somatosensory impairment was measured using the Tactile Discrimination Test. Functional connectivity was employed to model the global brain function. Behavioral measures and MRI were collected at the same timepoint. Two machine learning models (linear regression and support vector regression) were chosen to predict somatosensory impairment from disrupted networks. Along with two feature pools (i.e., low-order and high-order functional connectivity, or low-order functional connectivity only) engineered, four predictive models were built and evaluated in the present study. Forty-three chronic stroke survivors participated this study. Results showed that the regression model employing both low-order and high-order functional connectivity can predict outcomes based on correlation coefficient of r = 0.54 (p = 0.0002). A machine learning predictive approach, involving high- and low-order modelling, is feasible for the prediction of residual somatosensory function in stroke patients using functional brain networks.
Alternative models for transgenerational epigenetic inheritance: Molecular psychiatry beyond mice and man
(BAISHIDENG PUBLISHING GROUP INC, 2021-10-19)
Mental illness remains the greatest chronic health burden globally with few in-roads having been made despite significant advances in genomic knowledge in recent decades. The field of psychiatry is constantly challenged to bring new approaches and tools to address and treat the needs of vulnerable individuals and subpopulations, and that has to be supported by a continuous growth in knowledge. The majority of neuropsychiatric symptoms reflect complex gene-environment interactions, with epigenetics bridging the gap between genetic susceptibility and environmental stressors that trigger disease onset and drive the advancement of symptoms. It has more recently been demonstrated in preclinical models that epigenetics underpins the transgenerational inheritance of stress-related behavioural phenotypes in both paternal and maternal lineages, providing further supporting evidence for heritability in humans. However, unbiased prospective studies of this nature are practically impossible to conduct in humans so preclinical models remain our best option for researching the molecular pathophysiologies underlying many neuropsychiatric conditions. While rodents will remain the dominant model system for preclinical studies (especially for addressing complex behavioural phenotypes), there is scope to expand current research of the molecular and epigenetic pathologies by using invertebrate models. Here, we will discuss the utility and advantages of two alternative model organisms-Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster-and summarise the compelling insights of the epigenetic regulation of transgenerational inheritance that are potentially relevant to human psychiatry.
CaRotid Artery Filtering Technique (CRAFT): A Technique for Carotid Artery Stenting with Intrinsic Embolic Protection.
(Korean Society of Interventional Neuroradiology, 2021-11)
PURPOSE: Carotid artery stenting (CAS) is an established treatment for symptomatic carotid artery stenosis as an alternative to carotid endarterectomy. A variety of techniques and devices have been devised to minimise periprocedural stroke risk using either proximal or distal embolic protection. This study presents a method of embolic protection during CAS-the CaRotid Artery Filtering Technique (CRAFT). MATERIALS AND METHODS: The CRAFT technique employs aspects of both proximal and distal embolic protection. The CASPER RX stent (MicroVention, Tustin, CA, USA), which is a double-layered, closed-cell, micromesh nitinol stent, is deployed across the carotid artery stenosis with the assistance of a FlowGate balloon guide catheter (Stryker Neurovascular, Fremont, CA, USA). The partially deployed stent acts as a distal filter while the balloon guide is deflated midway during stent deployment to prevent distal plaque embolisation, followed by completion of stent deployment and angioplasty. RESULTS: A total of 94 patients underwent CAS using the CRAFT technique between June 2016 and March 2021. Successful stent deployment was achieved in all patients. Preliminary results demonstrated acute stent occlusion in 6 patients (6.4%) and distal embolic stroke in 5 patients (5.3%). The median procedural fluoroscopy time was 34 minutes with an interquartile range of 22 to 55 minutes. CONCLUSION: The CRAFT technique of CAS presented by this study can be applied in the treatment of symptomatic carotid artery stenosis in both emergency and elective procedure settings with a high technical success and low distal embolic stroke risk.
The iTRAPs: Guardians of Synaptic Vesicle Cargo Retrieval During Endocytosis.
(Frontiers Media SA, 2016)
The reformation of synaptic vesicles (SVs) during endocytosis is essential for the maintenance of neurotransmission in central nerve terminals. Newly formed SVs must be generated with the correct protein cargo in the correct stoichiometry to be functional for exocytosis. Classical clathrin adaptor protein complexes play a key role in sorting and clustering synaptic vesicle cargo in this regard. However it is becoming increasingly apparent that additional "fail-safe" mechanisms exist to ensure the accurate retrieval of essential cargo molecules. For example, the monomeric adaptor proteins AP180/CALM and stonin-2 are required for the efficient retrieval of synaptobrevin II (sybII) and synaptotagmin-1 respectively. Furthermore, recent studies have revealed that sybII and synaptotagmin-1 interact with other SV cargoes to ensure a high fidelity of retrieval. These cargoes are synaptophysin (for sybII) and SV2A (for synaptotagmin-1). In this review, we summarize current knowledge regarding the retrieval mechanisms for both sybII and synaptotagmin-1 during endocytosis. We also define and set criteria for a new functional group of SV molecules that facilitate the retrieval of their interaction partners. We have termed these molecules intrinsic trafficking partners (iTRAPs) and we discuss how the function of this group impacts on presynaptic performance in both health and disease.
Changes in the Gut Microbiome and Predicted Functional Metabolic Effects in an Australian Parkinson's Disease Cohort
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2021-10-29)
Background: There has been increasing recognition of the importance of the gut microbiome in Parkinson's disease (PD), but the influence of geographic location has received little attention. The present study characterized the gut microbiota and associated changes in host metabolic pathways in an Australian cohort of people with PD (PwP). Methods: The study involved recruitment and assessment of 87 PwP from multiple Movement Disorders Clinics in Australia and 47 healthy controls. Illumina sequencing of the V3 and V4 regions of the 16S rRNA gene was used to distinguish inter-cohort differences in gut microbiota; KEGG analysis was subsequently performed to predict functional changes in host metabolic pathways. Results: The current findings identified significant differences in relative abundance and diversity of microbial operational taxonomic units (OTUs), and specific bacterial taxa between PwP and control groups. Alpha diversity was significantly reduced in PwP when compared to controls. Differences were found in two phyla (Synergistetes and Proteobacteria; both increased in PwP), and five genera (Colidextribacter, Intestinibacter, Kineothrix, Agathobaculum, and Roseburia; all decreased in PwP). Within the PD cohort, there was no association identified between microbial composition and gender, constipation or use of gastrointestinal medication. Furthermore, KEGG analysis identified 15 upregulated and 11 downregulated metabolic pathways which were predicted to be significantly altered in PwP. Conclusion: This study provides the first comprehensive characterization of the gut microbiome and predicted functional metabolic effects in a southern hemisphere PD population, further exploring the possible mechanisms whereby the gut microbiota may exert their influence on this disease, and providing evidence for the incorporation of such data in future individualized therapeutic strategies.
Alcohol Seeking Under Risk of Punishment Is Associated With Activation of Cortical and Subcortical Brain Regions.
(Frontiers Media SA, 2021)
In humans, stimuli associated with alcohol availability can provoke relapse during abstinence. In this study, we investigated the role of discriminative stimuli (DS) in the control of alcohol seeking in two types of behavioral tests. The first test examined the ability of an alcohol-associated DS to promote alcohol seeking (relapse) after punishment-imposed abstinence in the presence of a different DS. Following this, we tested whether the differentially associated DS can promote and suppress alcohol self-administration in a within-session discrimination task. During the within-session discrimination task, we also tested the rate of alcohol self-administration when two DS are presented in a compound. We first trained Long-Evans male rats (n = 24) to self-administer alcohol in the presence of one DS (reward-associated discriminative stimulus, rewDS) and then punished that behavior in the presence of a different DS (punishment-associated discriminative stimulus, punDS). On the test, we found that rats tested with the rewDS showed higher alcohol seeking than rats tested with the punDS. This result shows that a single Cue DS can promote alcohol seeking in a manner comparable to contexts. Subsequently, we trained 16 of these rats in a within-session trial-based discrimination task, comprised of intervening 2-min trials of rewDS, punDS, or conflict with rewDS and punDS in compound and a reduced probability of punishment. We found that alcohol self-administration is bi-directionally regulated by the rewDS and punDS. In conflict trials, alcohol self-administration was at a rate that was intermediate between the rewDS and punDS trials. In a final test, rats were presented with one of the three trial conditions and perfused for Fos immunohistochemistry. We found Fos expression was higher in the rats tested in the conflict condition in three interconnected sub-cortical brain regions. This study demonstrated the important role that alcohol-associated DS plays an important role in promoting relapse to alcohol seeking after punishment-imposed abstinence. We also implemented a within-session discrimination task that allows for the study of alcohol seeking under motivational conflict, which may be relevant for alcohol use despite negative consequences. The results from the Fos data suggest that higher alcohol seeking in approach-avoidance motivational conflict is associated with activation of sub-cortical regions but not cortical regions.
Age of Onset and Its Related Factors in Cocaine or Methamphetamine Use in Adults from the United States: Results from NHANES 2005-2018
Cocaine and methamphetamine are widely used illicit psychostimulants worldwide, with steadily increasing global markets that may impact on the frequency of use. Importantly, their use typically begins in youth. This is a particular concern because there is a link between the early age of first substance use and severity of substance use disorder later in life. The aim of the present study was therefore to investigate trends in prevalence, frequency, and age of onset of cocaine or methamphetamine use between 2005 and 2018 in the United States, using the nationally representative NHANES datasets. Factors associated with the ages of cocaine or methamphetamine use onset were also identified. From 2005 to 2018, prevalence and frequencies of cocaine or methamphetamine use increased, while age of onset remained relatively stable (~20 years of age). Annual household income, use of other substances, and intravenous drug use were identified as factors associated with early onset cocaine or methamphetamine use. These factors have important implications toward developing new prevention programs to reduce psychostimulant use.
Higher Coffee Consumption Is Associated With Slower Cognitive Decline and Less Cerebral A beta-Amyloid Accumulation Over 126 Months: Data From the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers, and Lifestyle Study
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2021-11-19)
Background: Worldwide, coffee is one of the most popular beverages consumed. Several studies have suggested a protective role of coffee, including reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, there is limited longitudinal data from cohorts of older adults reporting associations of coffee intake with cognitive decline, in distinct domains, and investigating the neuropathological mechanisms underpinning any such associations. Methods: The aim of the current study was to investigate the relationship between self-reported habitual coffee intake, and cognitive decline assessed using a comprehensive neuropsychological battery in 227 cognitively normal older adults from the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers, and Lifestyle (AIBL) study, over 126 months. In a subset of individuals, we also investigated the relationship between habitual coffee intake and cerebral Aβ-amyloid accumulation (n = 60) and brain volumes (n = 51) over 126 months. Results: Higher baseline coffee consumption was associated with slower cognitive decline in executive function, attention, and the AIBL Preclinical AD Cognitive Composite (PACC; shown reliably to measure the first signs of cognitive decline in at-risk cognitively normal populations), and lower likelihood of transitioning to mild cognitive impairment or AD status, over 126 months. Higher baseline coffee consumption was also associated with slower Aβ-amyloid accumulation over 126 months, and lower risk of progressing to "moderate," "high," or "very high" Aβ-amyloid burden status over the same time-period. There were no associations between coffee intake and atrophy in total gray matter, white matter, or hippocampal volume. Discussion: Our results further support the hypothesis that coffee intake may be a protective factor against AD, with increased coffee consumption potentially reducing cognitive decline by slowing cerebral Aβ-amyloid accumulation, and thus attenuating the associated neurotoxicity from Aβ-amyloid-mediated oxidative stress and inflammatory processes. Further investigation is required to evaluate whether coffee intake could be incorporated as a modifiable lifestyle factor aimed at delaying AD onset.
A Paradox in Digital Memory Assessment: Increased Sensitivity With Reduced Difficulty.
(Frontiers Media SA, 2021)
The One Card Learning Test (OCL80) from the Cogstate Brief Battery-a digital cognitive test used both in-person and remotely in clinical trials and in healthcare contexts to inform health decisions-has shown high sensitivity to changes in memory in early Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, recent studies suggest that OCL sensitivity to memory impairment in symptomatic AD is not as strong as that for other standardized assessments of memory. This study aimed to improve the sensitivity of the OCL80 to AD-related memory impairment by reducing the test difficultly (i.e., OCL48). Experiment 1 showed performance in healthy adults improved on the OCL48 while the pattern separation operations that constrain performance on the OCL80 were retained. Experiment 2 showed repeated administration of the OCL48 at short retest intervals did not induce ceiling or practice effects. Experiment 3 showed that the sensitivity of the OCL48 to AD-related memory impairment (Glass's Δ = 3.11) was much greater than the sensitivity of the OCL80 (Glass's Δ = 1.94). Experiment 4 used data from a large group of cognitively normal older adults to calibrate performance scores between the OCL80 and OCL48 using equipercentile equating. Together these results showed the OCL48 to be a valid and reliable test of learning with greater sensitivity to memory impairment in AD than the OCL80.
The oligodendrocyte-enriched orphan G protein-coupled receptor Gpr62 is dispensable for central nervous system myelination
BACKGROUND: Myelination is a highly regulated process in the vertebrate central nervous system (CNS) whereby oligodendrocytes wrap axons with multiple layers of insulating myelin in order to allow rapid electrical conduction. Establishing the proper pattern of myelin in neural circuits requires communicative axo-glial interactions, however, the molecular interactions that occur between oligodendrocytes and axons during developmental myelination and myelin maintenance remain to be fully elucidated. Our previous work identified G protein-coupled receptor 62 (Gpr62), an uncharacterized orphan g-protein coupled receptor, as being selectively expressed by mature oligodendrocytes within the CNS, suggesting a potential role in myelination or axoglial interactions. However, no studies to date have assessed the functional requirement for Gpr62 in oligodendrocyte development or CNS myelination. METHODS: To address this, we generated a knockout mouse strain lacking the Gpr62 gene. We assessed CNS myelination during both postnatal development and adulthood using immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy and western blot. In addition, we utilized AAV-mediated expression of a tagged Gpr62 in oligodendrocytes to determine the subcellular localization of the protein in vivo. RESULTS: We find that virally expressed Gpr62 protein is selectively expressed on the adaxonal myelin layer, suggestive of a potential role for Gpr62 in axo-myelinic signaling. Nevertheless, Gpr62 knockout mice display normal oligodendrocyte numbers and apparently normal myelination within the CNS during both postnatal development and adulthood. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that in spite of being well-placed to mediate neuronal-oligodendrocyte communications, Gpr62 is overall dispensable for CNS myelination.
Identification, Synthesis, Conformation and Activity of an Insulin-like Peptide from a Sea Anemone
The role of insulin and insulin-like peptides (ILPs) in vertebrate animals is well studied. Numerous ILPs are also found in invertebrates, although there is uncertainty as to the function and role of many of these peptides. We have identified transcripts with similarity to the insulin family in the tentacle transcriptomes of the sea anemone Oulactis sp. (Actiniaria: Actiniidae). The translated transcripts showed that these insulin-like peptides have highly conserved A- and B-chains among individuals of this species, as well as other Anthozoa. An Oulactis sp. ILP sequence (IlO1_i1) was synthesized using Fmoc solid-phase peptide synthesis of the individual chains, followed by regioselective disulfide bond formation of the intra-A and two interchain disulfide bonds. Bioactivity studies of IlO1_i1 were conducted on human insulin and insulin-like growth factor receptors, and on voltage-gated potassium, sodium, and calcium channels. IlO1_i1 did not bind to the insulin or insulin-like growth factor receptors, but showed weak activity against KV1.2, 1.3, 3.1, and 11.1 (hERG) channels, as well as NaV1.4 channels. Further functional studies are required to determine the role of this peptide in the sea anemone.
Examining Sex Differences in Conditioned Place Preference or Aversion to Methamphetamine in Adolescent and Adult Mice.
(Frontiers Media SA, 2021)
Adolescence marks a particularly vulnerable period to developing substance use disorders. Human and rodent studies suggest that hypersensitivity to reward may contribute towards such vulnerability when adolescents are exposed to casual drug use. Methamphetamine is a popular illicit substance used by male and female youths. However, age- and sex-specific research in methamphetamine is scarce. The present study therefore aimed to examine potential sex differences in methamphetamine-conditioned place preference in adolescent and adult mice. Mice (n = 16-24/group) were conditioned to methamphetamine (0.1 mg/kg). We observed that regardless of age, females were more hyperactive compared to males. Individually normalized score against baseline preference indicated that on average, adolescents formed stronger preference compared to adults in both sexes. This suggests that adolescents are more sensitive to the rewarding effects of methamphetamine compared to adults. Surprisingly, individual data showed that some mice formed a conditioned place aversion instead of preference, with females less likely to form an aversion compared to males. These results suggest that adolescents may be hypersensitive to methamphetamine's rewarding effects. In addition, female resistance to the aversive effects of methamphetamine may relate to the sex-specific findings in humans, including quicker transition to regular methamphetamine use observed in females compared to males.
Developing a clinical-environmental-genotypic prognostic index for relapsing-onset multiple sclerosis and clinically isolated syndrome.
(Oxford University Press (OUP), 2021)
Our inability to reliably predict disease outcomes in multiple sclerosis remains an issue for clinicians and clinical trialists. This study aims to create, from available clinical, genetic and environmental factors; a clinical-environmental-genotypic prognostic index to predict the probability of new relapses and disability worsening. The analyses cohort included prospectively assessed multiple sclerosis cases (N = 253) with 2858 repeated observations measured over 10 years. N = 219 had been diagnosed as relapsing-onset, while N = 34 remained as clinically isolated syndrome by the 10th-year review. Genotype data were available for 199 genetic variants associated with multiple sclerosis risk. Penalized Cox regression models were used to select potential genetic variants and predict risk for relapses and/or worsening of disability. Multivariable Cox regression models with backward elimination were then used to construct clinical-environmental, genetic and clinical-environmental-genotypic prognostic index, respectively. Robust time-course predictions were obtained by Landmarking. To validate our models, Weibull calibration models were used, and the Chi-square statistics, Harrell's C-index and pseudo-R 2 were used to compare models. The predictive performance at diagnosis was evaluated using the Kullback-Leibler and Brier (dynamic) prediction error (reduction) curves. The combined index (clinical-environmental-genotypic) predicted a quadratic time-dynamic disease course in terms of worsening (HR = 2.74, CI: 2.00-3.76; pseudo-R 2=0.64; C-index = 0.76), relapses (HR = 2.16, CI: 1.74-2.68; pseudo-R 2 = 0.91; C-index = 0.85), or both (HR = 3.32, CI: 1.88-5.86; pseudo-R 2 = 0.72; C-index = 0.77). The Kullback-Leibler and Brier curves suggested that for short-term prognosis (≤5 years from diagnosis), the clinical-environmental components of disease were more relevant, whereas the genetic components reduced the prediction errors only in the long-term (≥5 years from diagnosis). The combined components performed slightly better than the individual ones, although their prognostic sensitivities were largely modulated by the clinical-environmental components. We have created a clinical-environmental-genotypic prognostic index using relevant clinical, environmental, and genetic predictors, and obtained robust dynamic predictions for the probability of developing new relapses and worsening of symptoms in multiple sclerosis. Our prognostic index provides reliable information that is relevant for long-term prognostication and may be used as a selection criterion and risk stratification tool for clinical trials. Further work to investigate component interactions is required and to validate the index in independent data sets.
A Preclinical Model of Computerized Cognitive Training: Touchscreen Cognitive Testing Enhances Cognition and Hippocampal Cellular Plasticity in Wildtype and Alzheimer's Disease Mice
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2021-12-06)
With the growing popularity of touchscreen cognitive testing in rodents, it is imperative to understand the fundamental effects exposure to this paradigm can have on the animals involved. In this study, we set out to assess hippocampal-dependant learning in the APP/PS1 mouse model of Alzheimer's disease (AD) on two highly translatable touchscreen tasks - the Paired Associate Learning (PAL) task and the Trial Unique Non-Matching to Location (TUNL) task. Both of these tests are based on human tasks from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) and are sensitive to deficits in both mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD. Mice were assessed for deficits in PAL at 9-12 months of age, then on TUNL at 8-11 and 13-16 months. No cognitive deficits were evident in APP/PS1 mice at any age, contrary to previous reports using maze-based learning and memory tasks. We hypothesized that daily and long-term touchscreen training may have inadvertently acted as a cognitive enhancer. When touchscreen-tested mice were assessed on the Morris water maze, they showed improved task acquisition compared to naïve APP/PS1 mice and wild-type (WT) littermate controls. In addition, we show that touchscreen-trained WT and APP/PS1 mice show increased cell proliferation and immature neuron numbers in the dentate gyrus compared to behaviorally naïve WT and APP/PS1 mice. This result indicates that the touchscreen testing paradigm could improve cognitive performance, and/or mask an impairment, in experimental mouse models. This touchscreen-induced cognitive enhancement may involve increased neurogenesis, and possibly other forms of cellular plasticity. This is the first study to show increased numbers of proliferating cells and immature neurons in the hippocampus following touchscreen testing, and that touchscreen training can improve cognitive performance in maze-based spatial navigation tasks. This potential for touchscreen testing to induce cognitive enhancement, or other phenotypic shifts, in preclinical models should be considered in study design. Furthermore, touchscreen-mediated cognitive enhancement could have therapeutic implications for cognitive disorders.