Florey Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-72 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.
Using imputation to provide harmonized longitudinal measures of cognition across AIBL and ADNI
(AIP Publishing, 2021-05-03)
To improve understanding of Alzheimer's disease, large observational studies are needed to increase power for more nuanced analyses. Combining data across existing observational studies represents one solution. However, the disparity of such datasets makes this a non-trivial task. Here, a machine learning approach was applied to impute longitudinal neuropsychological test scores across two observational studies, namely the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle Study (AIBL) and the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) providing an overall harmonised dataset. MissForest, a machine learning algorithm, capitalises on the underlying structure and relationships of data to impute test scores not measured in one study aligning it to the other study. Results demonstrated that simulated missing values from one dataset could be accurately imputed, and that imputation of actual missing data in one dataset showed comparable discrimination (p < 0.001) for clinical classification to measured data in the other dataset. Further, the increased power of the overall harmonised dataset was demonstrated by observing a significant association between CVLT-II test scores (imputed for ADNI) with PET Amyloid-β in MCI APOE-ε4 homozygotes in the imputed data (N = 65) but not for the original AIBL dataset (N = 11). These results suggest that MissForest can provide a practical solution for data harmonization using imputation across studies to improve power for more nuanced analyses.
Generative Model of Brain Microbleeds for MRI Detection of Vascular Marker of Neurodegenerative Diseases
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2021-12-16)
Cerebral microbleeds (CMB) are increasingly present with aging and can reveal vascular pathologies associated with neurodegeneration. Deep learning-based classifiers can detect and quantify CMB from MRI, such as susceptibility imaging, but are challenging to train because of the limited availability of ground truth and many confounding imaging features, such as vessels or infarcts. In this study, we present a novel generative adversarial network (GAN) that has been trained to generate three-dimensional lesions, conditioned by volume and location. This allows one to investigate CMB characteristics and create large training datasets for deep learning-based detectors. We demonstrate the benefit of this approach by achieving state-of-the-art CMB detection of real CMB using a convolutional neural network classifier trained on synthetic CMB. Moreover, we showed that our proposed 3D lesion GAN model can be applied on unseen dataset, with different MRI parameters and diseases, to generate synthetic lesions with high diversity and without needing laboriously marked ground truth.
Novel insights into stroke pain beliefs and perceptions
(TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2019-12-12)
BACKGROUND: Chronic pain is common following stroke, yet its characteristics are poorly understood. OBJECTIVES: To characterize the beliefs and perceptions of people with stroke who experience chronic pain and compare these to a non-stroke population with chronic pain. METHOD: An online survey of the Pain Beliefs and Perceptions Inventory for stroke and non-stroke individuals with chronic pain. Pain beliefs and perceptions, including perceived causes of pain, were compared across the two groups. RESULTS: A total of 223 participants completed all questions. The stroke group (N = 106) reported significantly higher pain intensities (p = <0.001) than the non-stroke group (N = 117). In addition, they identified the stroke as the primary cause of their pain, whereas the non-stroke group identified a body injury as the primary cause. When compared to the non-stroke group, people with stroke were more likely to report their pain as being constant (p = <0.001), demonstrate a lack of understanding regarding cause(s) of their pain (p = <0.001), believe less that their actions contribute to their pain (p = <0.001), and have greater belief that their pain is permanent (p = <0.001). CONCLUSION: These findings emphasize differences in the beliefs and perceptions associated with pain after stroke, supporting the value of targeted attention from research and therapy perspectives. Significant differences in the pain experienced by stroke and non-stroke groups may reflect a poor understanding of chronic pain following stroke. Future educational programs for stroke survivors should be tailored. Targets for future educational interventions are identified and include causes of pain, an understanding of its behavior and potential for improved prognosis.
Chronic pain following stroke: Current treatment and perceived effect
(ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC, 2021-01-01)
BACKGROUND: Chronic pain is common following stroke, however there is little known about the treatments for pain that are being accessed by stroke survivors, nor their perceived effectiveness. OBJECTIVES: The objectives were to: i) identify the number and type of treatments for pain currently used by stroke survivors with chronic pain; and ii) examine the self-perceived effectiveness of medication and non-medication treatments for pain. METHODS: Cross-sectional survey. Participants with stroke and self-reported chronic pain completed an online survey that measured demographics, stroke related factors, intensity of pain, treatments for pain, and perceived effect of medication and non-medication treatments for pain. RESULTS: Of 322 stroke survivors who completed the survey, the majority (90.1%) reported current use of pain treatment(s). Medications were accessed by 257 (79.8%), with the most common being anti-inflammatories (39.8%), anticonvulsants (29.5%) and antidepressants (24.8%). Paracetamol (12.1%) was the most common non-prescribed medication used. Polypharmacy was high, with 129 (40.1%) reporting taking 2 or more medications. Medication treatments were self-reported to be effective in 47.1% of those taking medication. Non-medication treatments were accessed by 208 (64.6%), with Physical Therapy/Physiotherapy being most common (48.1%), followed by Occupational Therapy (15.5%) and Psychology (11.8%). Use of multiple non-medication treatments was reported by 85 (26.4%). Non-medication treatments were reported to be effective by 52.4% of those receiving them. CONCLUSIONS: Survey findings indicate that stroke survivors with chronic pain demonstrate high utilization of pain treatments, despite the perception that treatment is often ineffective. This highlights the need to develop effective pain interventions for stroke survivors.
Genetic characterization identifies bottom-of-sulcus dysplasia as an mTORopathy
(LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS, 2020-11-03)
OBJECTIVE: To determine the genetic basis of bottom-of-sulcus dysplasia (BOSD), which is a highly focal and epileptogenic cortical malformation in which the imaging, electrophysiologic, and pathologic abnormalities are maximal at the bottom of sulcus, tapering to a normal gyral crown. METHODS: Targeted panel deep sequencing (>500×) was performed on paired blood and brain-derived genomic DNA from 20 operated patients with drug-resistant focal epilepsy and BOSD. Histopathology was assessed using immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: Brain-specific pathogenic somatic variants were found in 6 patients and heterozygous pathogenic germline variants were found in 2. Somatic variants were identified in MTOR and germline variants were identified in DEPDC5 and NPRL3. Two patients with somatic MTOR variants showed a mutation gradient, with higher mutation load at the bottom of sulcus compared to the gyral crown. Immunohistochemistry revealed an abundance of dysmorphic neurons and balloon cells in the bottom of sulcus but not in the gyral crown or adjacent gyri. CONCLUSIONS: BOSD is associated with mTOR pathway dysregulation and shares common genetic etiologies and pathogenic mechanisms with other forms of focal and hemispheric cortical dysplasia, suggesting these disorders are on a genetic continuum.
What is the current practice of therapists in the measurement of somatosensation in children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders?
BACKGROUND/AIM: Somatosensation is the ability to detect and recognise body sensations such as touch, vibration, pressure, pain, temperature and proprioception. Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that is often accompanied by impairments in somatosensation. Current somatosensory assessments have limited psychometrics established for use with these children. The aim of this study was to identify therapists' current practice and perspectives related to the assessment of somatosensation in children with neurological disorders. METHODS: A cross-sectional questionnaire was used to identify the somatosensory assessments currently used in clinical practice, time allocated to assessment, and therapists' satisfaction and confidence using the available assessments of somatosensation. The questionnaire was adapted from a previously utilised questionnaire that identified therapists' use of somatosensory assessments with adults post-stroke. RESULTS: A total of 135 therapists responded to the questionnaire. Seventy-nine (92%) occupational therapists and 44 (89.7%) physiotherapists indicated that they currently assessed or treated children with somatosensory deficits. Sixty-four (82.1%) occupational therapists and 38 (86.3%) physiotherapists regarded assessment of somatosensation in children with neurological disorders as important to very important. However, only seven (8.8%) occupational therapists and seven (15.9%) physiotherapists reported confidence in their ability to do so. The methods with which therapists detect and measure somatosensory impairment in children with neurological disorders are variable, with non-standardised and/or informal assessments most frequently used. CONCLUSION: Despite there being recommendations of best practice for the assessment of specific domains of somatosensation in children with cerebral palsy, current practice does not yet mirror these recommendations. Additionally, therapists have low satisfaction and confidence with what they are currently using, highlighting the need for a comprehensive and standardised assessment of somatosensation for use in children with neurological disorders.
Three-dimensional neural cultures produce networks that mimic native brain activity
Development of brain function is critically dependent on neuronal networks organized through three dimensions. Culture of central nervous system neurons has traditionally been limited to two dimensions, restricting growth patterns and network formation to a single plane. Here, with the use of multichannel extracellular microelectrode arrays, we demonstrate that neurons cultured in a true three-dimensional environment recapitulate native neuronal network formation and produce functional outcomes more akin to in vivo neuronal network activity.
Measurement properties of instruments that assess participation in young people with autism spectrum disorder: a systematic review
AIM: To systematically review the measurement properties of instruments assessing participation in young people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). METHOD: A search was performed in MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and PubMed combining three constructs ('ASD', 'test of participation', 'measurement properties'). Results were restricted to articles including people aged 6 to 29 years. The 2539 identified articles were independently screened by two reviewers. For the included articles, data were extracted using standard forms and their risk of bias was assessed. RESULTS: Nine studies (8 cross-sectional) met the inclusion criteria, providing information on seven different instruments. The total sample included 634 participants, with sex available for 600 (males=494; females=106) and age available for 570, with mean age for these participants 140.58 months (SD=9.11; range=36-624). Included instruments were the school function assessment, vocational index, children's assessment of participation and enjoyment/preferences for activities of children, experience sampling method, Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory, Computer Adaptive Test, adolescent and young adult activity card sort, and Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System parent-proxy peer relationships. Seven studies assessed reliability and validity; good properties were reported for half of the instruments considered. Most studies (n=6) had high risk of bias. Overall the quality of the evidence for each tool was limited. INTERPRETATION: Validation of these instruments, or others that comprehensively assess participation, is needed. Future studies should follow recommended methodological standards. WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS: Seven instruments have been used to assess participation in young people with autism. One instrument, with excellent measurement properties in one study, does not comprehensively assess participation. Studies of three instruments that incorporate a more comprehensive assessment of participation have methodological limitations. Overall, limited evidence exists regarding measurement properties of participation assessments for young people with autism.
Renal haemodynamics and oxygenation during and after cardiac surgery and cardiopulmonary bypass
Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a common complication following cardiac surgery performed on cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) and has important implications for prognosis. The aetiology of cardiac surgery-associated AKI is complex, but renal hypoxia, particularly in the medulla, is thought to play at least some role. There is strong evidence from studies in experimental animals, clinical observations and computational models that medullary ischaemia and hypoxia occur during CPB. There are no validated methods to monitor or improve renal oxygenation during CPB, and thus possibly decrease the risk of AKI. Attempts to reduce the incidence of AKI by early transfusion to ameliorate intra-operative anaemia, refinement of protocols for cooling and rewarming on bypass, optimization of pump flow and arterial pressure, or the use of pulsatile flow, have not been successful to date. This may in part reflect the complexity of renal oxygenation, which may limit the effectiveness of individual interventions. We propose a multi-disciplinary pathway for translation comprising three components. Firstly, large-animal models of CPB to continuously monitor both whole kidney and regional kidney perfusion and oxygenation. Secondly, computational models to obtain information that can be used to interpret the data and develop rational interventions. Thirdly, clinically feasible non-invasive methods to continuously monitor renal oxygenation in the operating theatre and to identify patients at risk of AKI. In this review, we outline the recent progress on each of these fronts.
Using minimalist self-assembling peptides as hierarchical scaffolds to stabilise growth factors and promote stem cell integration in the injured brain
Neurotrophic growth factors are effective in slowing progressive degeneration and/or promoting neural repair through the support of residual host and/or transplanted neurons. However, limitations including short half-life and enzyme susceptibility of growth factors highlight the need for alternative strategies to prolong localised delivery at a site of injury. Here, we establish the utility of minimalist N-fluorenylmethyloxycarbonyl (Fmoc) self-assembling peptides (SAPs) as growth factor delivery vehicle, targeted at supporting neural transplants in an animal model of Parkinson's disease. The neural tissue-specific SAP, Fmoc-DIKVAV, demonstrated sustained release of glial cell line derived neurotrophic factor, up to 172 hr after gel loading. This represents a significant advance in drug delivery, because its lifetime in phosphate buffered saline was less than 1 hr. In vivo transplantation of neural progenitor cells, together with our growth factor-loaded material, into the injured brain improved graft survival compared with cell transplants alone. We show for the first time the use of minimalist Fmoc-SAP in an in vivo disease model for sustaining the delivery of neurotrophic growth factors, facilitating their spatial and temporal delivery in vivo, whilst also providing an enhanced niche environment for transplanted cells.
Gain-of-function HCN2 variants in genetic epilepsy
Genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE) is a common epilepsy syndrome that encompasses seizure disorders characterized by spike-and-wave discharges (SWDs). Pacemaker hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated channels (HCN) are considered integral to SWD genesis, making them an ideal gene candidate for GGE. We identified HCN2 missense variants from a large cohort of 585 GGE patients, recruited by the Epilepsy Phenome-Genome Project (EPGP), and performed functional analysis using two-electrode voltage clamp recordings from Xenopus oocytes. The p.S632W variant was identified in a patient with idiopathic photosensitive occipital epilepsy and segregated in the family. This variant was also independently identified in an unrelated patient with childhood absence seizures from a European cohort of 238 familial GGE cases. The p.V246M variant was identified in a patient with photo-sensitive GGE and his father diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. Functional studies revealed that both p.S632W and p.V246M had an identical functional impact including a depolarizing shift in the voltage dependence of activation that is consistent with a gain-of-function. In contrast, no biophysical changes resulted from the introduction of common population variants, p.E280K and p.A705T, and the p.R756C variant from EPGP that did not segregate with disease. Our data suggest that HCN2 variants can confer susceptibility to GGE via a gain-of-function mechanism.
Carotid endarterectomy: the change in practice over 11years in a stroke centre
BACKGROUND: Recent research evidence has impacted the practice of carotid endarterectomy (CEA). We aim to characterize changes in the practice and outcome of CEA over time in a single large-volume stroke centre. METHODS: All patients who underwent CEA from 2004 to 2014 and carotid angioplasty and stenting (CAS) from 2003 to 2008 at an Australian metropolitan tertiary stroke centre hospital were included. Clinical data were analysed to identify time trends in choice of intervention, patient selection, preoperative imaging utilization, surgical timing and outcome. RESULTS: There were 510 CEAs performed during 2004-2014 and 95 CASs during 2003-2008. The proportion of patients undergoing CEA compared to CAS increased from 60% to 90% from 2004 to 2008 (P < 0.001). CAS patients were more likely to have cardiac co-morbidities. From 2004 to 2014, the proportion of CEA patients aged ≥80 years increased (P = 0.001) and the proportion of asymptomatic patients decreased (P = 0.003) over time. Median time from symptom onset to surgery decreased from 52 days (Q1: 25, Q3: 74) in 2004 to 8 days (Q1: 5, Q3: 37) in 2014 (P < 0.001). Use of preoperative ultrasonography decreased whilst CT angiography and the number of imaging modalities applied to each patient increased over time (P < 0.001). Overall, 5.9% of CEAs were complicated by death, stroke or acute myocardial infarction with no significant change over time. CONCLUSION: The trends in CEA practice at our centre align with international trends and guidelines. This study provides a representative indicator of Australian hospital practice, and illustrates how evidence from research is translated into clinical care.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor haploinsufficiency impairs high-frequency cortical oscillations in mice
Schizophrenia is a complex psychiatric disorder with a heterogeneous aetiology involving genetic and environmental factors. Deficiencies in both brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and NMDA receptor function have been implicated in the disorder and may play causal and synergistic roles. Perturbations in the regulation of electrophysiological signals, including high-frequency (γ: 30-80 Hz and β: 20-30 Hz) neuronal oscillations, are also associated with the disorder. This study investigated the influence of BDNF deficiency and NMDA receptor hypofunction on electrophysiological responses to brief acoustic stimuli. Adult BDNF heterozygote (BDNF+/- ) and wild-type littermate C57Bl/6J mice were surgically implanted with EEG recording electrodes. All mice underwent EEG recording sessions to measure ongoing and auditory-evoked electrophysiological responses following treatment with MK-801 (0.3 mg/kg ip) or vehicle. Western blotting on post-mortem cortical tissue assessed parvalbumin and GAD67 expression - markers of interneurons which are involved in the generation of gamma oscillations. Compared with wild-type controls, BDNF+/- mice exhibited markedly dampened electrophysiological responses to auditory stimuli, including reductions in the amplitude of multiple components of the event-related potential and auditory-evoked oscillations, as well as reduced ongoing cortical gamma oscillations. MK-801 elevated ongoing gamma power but suppressed evoked gamma power, and this was observed equally across genotypes. BDNF+/- mice also displayed reductions in parvalbumin, but not GAD67 expression. We conclude that reduced BDNF expression leads to impairments in the generation of high-frequency neural oscillations, but this is not synergistic with NMDA receptor hypofunction. Reduced parvalbumin expression associated with BDNF haploinsufficiency may provide a molecular explanation for these electrophysiological deficits.
Thalamocortical functional connectivity in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is abnormally enhanced in executive-control and default-mode networks
OBJECTIVE: To identify abnormal thalamocortical circuits in the severe epilepsy of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) that may explain the shared electroclinical phenotype and provide potential treatment targets. METHODS: Twenty patients with a diagnosis of LGS (mean age = 28.5 years) and 26 healthy controls (mean age = 27.6 years) were compared using task-free functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The thalamus was parcellated according to functional connectivity with 10 cortical networks derived using group-level independent component analysis. For each cortical network, we assessed between-group differences in thalamic functional connectivity strength using nonparametric permutation-based tests. Anatomical locations were identified by quantifying spatial overlap with a histologically informed thalamic MRI atlas. RESULTS: In both groups, posterior thalamic regions showed functional connectivity with visual, auditory, and sensorimotor networks, whereas anterior, medial, and dorsal thalamic regions were connected with networks of distributed association cortex (including the default-mode, anterior-salience, and executive-control networks). Four cortical networks (left and right executive-control network; ventral and dorsal default-mode network) showed significantly enhanced thalamic functional connectivity strength in patients relative to controls. Abnormal connectivity was maximal in mediodorsal and ventrolateral thalamic nuclei. SIGNIFICANCE: Specific thalamocortical circuits are affected in LGS. Functional connectivity is abnormally enhanced between the mediodorsal and ventrolateral thalamus and the default-mode and executive-control networks, thalamocortical circuits that normally support diverse cognitive processes. In contrast, thalamic regions connecting with primary and sensory cortical networks appear to be less affected. Our previous neuroimaging studies show that epileptic activity in LGS is expressed via the default-mode and executive-control networks. Results of the present study suggest that the mediodorsal and ventrolateral thalamus may be candidate targets for modulating abnormal network behavior underlying LGS, potentially via emerging thalamic neurostimulation therapies.
Magnetic resonance imaging of the upper airway in patients with quadriplegia and obstructive sleep apnea
The aim of this study was to investigate upper airway anatomy in quadriplegics with obstructive sleep apnea. Fifty subjects were recruited from three hospitals in Australia: people with quadriplegia due to spinal cord injury and obstructive sleep apnea (n = 11), able-bodied people with obstructive sleep apnea (n = 18), and healthy, able-bodied controls (n = 19). All underwent 3-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging of their upper airway. A subgroup (n = 34) received a topical vasoconstrictor, phenylephrine and post-phenylephrine magnetic resonance imaging. Mixed-model analysis indicated no significant differences in total airway lumen volume between the three groups (P = 0.086). Spinal cord injury-obstructive sleep apnea subjects had a significantly larger volume of soft palate (P = 0.020) and retroglossal lateral pharyngeal walls (P = 0.043) than able-bodied controls. Able-bodied-obstructive sleep apnea subjects had a smaller mandible volume than spinal cord injury-obstructive sleep apnea subjects and able-bodied control subjects (P = 0.036). No differences were seen in airway length between groups when controlling for height (P = 0.055). There was a marginal increase in velopharyngeal volume across groups post-phenylephrine (P = 0.050), and post hoc testing indicated the difference was confined to the able-bodied-obstructive sleep apnea group (P < 0.001). No other upper airway structures showed significant changes with phenylephrine administration. In conclusion, people with obstructive sleep apnea and quadriplegia do not have a structurally smaller airway than able-bodied subjects. They did, however, have greater volumes of soft palate and lateral pharyngeal walls, possibly due to greater neck fat deposition. The acute response to upper airway topical vasoconstriction was not enhanced in those with obstructive sleep apnea and quadriplegia. Changes in upper airway anatomy likely contribute to the high incidence in obstructive sleep apnea in quadriplegic subjects.
Outcomes of endovascular treatment for acute large-vessel ischaemic stroke more than 6 h after symptom onset.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Benefit from endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) for large-vessel occlusion (LVO) acute ischaemic stroke (AIS) is well demonstrated. Furthermore, emerging evidence supports efficacy in appropriately selected patients treated beyond current recommendations of 6 h. We evaluated clinical outcomes in patients undergoing late EVT at our institution. METHODS: Retrospective review of prospectively collected clinical database on 355 patients who underwent EVT for LVO AIS. Data collected consisted of patient demographics, radiological findings and outcome details. Outcomes, including 90-day functional status, recanalization, symptomatic intracranial haemorrhage (sICH) and 90-day mortality, for patients undergoing EVT <6 h, >6 h, and >7.3 h, were compared. RESULTS: A total of 355 patients underwent EVT for LVO AIS at our institution during the review period, with 74 (21%) patients treated ≥6 h from symptom onset. Successful recanalization was achieved in 285 (80%) patients, with 228 (81%) achieving a mTICI ≥2b in the <6 h group, and 57 (77%) in the >6 h group (P = 0.429). Ninety-day functional independence (mRS 0-2) was achieved in 162 (46%) patients, with 130 (46%) achieving a mRS of 0-2 in the <6 h group, and 32 (43%) in the >6 h group (P = 0.643). No significant differences were found in rates of sICH or 90-day mortality. No significant differences in functional independence, recanalization rates, sICH or mortality were identified in patients treated with EVT >7.3 h compared to <7.3 h. CONCLUSIONS: In appropriately selected patients, EVT >6 h was associated with comparable outcomes to those treated <6 h. These data support a physiological approach to patient selection.
Chemogenetic activation of the lateral hypothalamus reverses early life stress-induced deficits in motivational drive
Altered motivated behaviour is a cardinal feature of several neuropsychiatric conditions including mood disorders. One well-characterized antecedent to the development of mood disorders is exposure to early life stress (ELS). A key brain substrate controlling motivated behaviour is the lateral hypothalamus (LH). Here, we examined the effect of ELS on LH activation and the motivation to self-administer sucrose. We tested whether chemogenetic activation of LH circuits could modify sucrose responding in ELS rats and examined the impact on LH cell populations. Male rat pups were maternally separated for 0 or 3 h on postnatal days 2-14. During adolescence, rats received bilateral injections of hM3D(Gq), the excitatory designer receptor exclusively activated by designer drugs, into LH. In adulthood, rats were trained to self-administer sucrose and tested under a progressive ratio schedule to determine their motivation for reward following injection with either vehicle or 5 mg/kg clozapine-N-oxide. Brains were processed for Fos-protein immunohistochemistry. ELS significantly suppressed lever responding for sucrose, indicating a long-lasting impact of ELS on motivation circuits. hM3D(Gq) activation of LH increased responding, normalizing deficits in ELS rats, and increased Fos-positive orexin and MCH cell numbers within LH. Our findings indicate that despite being susceptible to environmental stressors, LH circuits retain the capacity to overcome ELS-induced deficits in motivated behaviour.
Current evidence for endovascular therapy in stroke and remaining uncertainties.
Class 1 level A evidence now supports endovascular thrombectomy as best practice in the management of large vessel occlusion acute ischaemic stroke. However, significant questions pertaining to initial imaging, radiological assessment, patient selection and therapeutic limits remain unanswered. A specific cohort of patients who benefit from endovascular thrombectomy has been established, although current uncertainties regarding selection of those not meeting top-tier evidence criteria may potentially deny certain patients the benefit of intervention. This is of particular relevance in patients presenting in a delayed manner. Whilst superior outcomes are achieved with reduced time to endovascular reperfusion, denying patients intervention based on symptom duration alone may not be appropriate. Advanced understanding of ischaemic stroke pathophysiology supports an individualized approach to patient evaluation, given variance in the rate of ischaemic core progression and the extent of salvageable penumbra. Physiological imaging techniques may therefore be utilized to better inform patient selection for endovascular thrombectomy and evidence suggests that a transition from time-based to tissue-based therapeutic thresholds may be of greater value. Multiple ongoing randomized controlled trials aim to further define the benefit of endovascular thrombectomy and it is hoped that these results will advance, and possibly broaden, patient selection criteria to ensure that maximum benefit from the intervention may be achieved.
Models for discovery of targeted therapy in genetic epileptic encephalopathies
Epileptic encephalopathies are severe disorders emerging in the first days to years of life that commonly include refractory seizures, various types of movement disorders, and different levels of developmental delay. In recent years, many de novo occurring variants have been identified in individuals with these devastating disorders. To unravel disease mechanisms, the functional impact of detected variants associated with epileptic encephalopathies is investigated in a range of cellular and animal models. This review addresses efforts to advance and use such models to identify specific molecular and cellular targets for the development of novel therapies. We focus on ion channels as the best-studied group of epilepsy genes. Given the clinical and genetic heterogeneity of epileptic encephalopathy disorders, experimental models that can reflect this complexity are critical for the development of disease mechanisms-based targeted therapy. The convergence of technological advances in gene sequencing, stem cell biology, genome editing, and high throughput functional screening together with massive unmet clinical needs provides unprecedented opportunities and imperatives for precision medicine in epileptic encephalopathies.
Central amygdala relaxin-3/relaxin family peptide receptor 3 signalling modulates alcohol seeking in rats
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Alcohol use disorders are a leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide, and stress is a major trigger of relapse. The neuropeptide relaxin-3 and its cognate receptor, relaxin family peptide receptor 3 (RXFP3), modulate stress-induced relapse to alcohol seeking in rats, and while the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis has been implicated in this regard, the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) also receives a relaxin-3 innervation and CeA neurons densely express RXFP3 mRNA. Moreover, the CeA is consistently implicated in both stress and addictive disorders. Yohimbine precipitates relapse-like behaviour in rodents, although exactly how yohimbine induces relapse is unknown, possibly by increasing stress levels and inducing heightened cue reactivity. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: In the current study, we examined the effects of yohimbine (1 mg·kg-1 , i.p.) on anxiety-like behaviour in alcohol-experienced rats. Furthermore, we assessed CeA neuronal activation following yohimbine-induced reinstatement of alcohol seeking and the role of the relaxin-3/RXFP3 signalling within the CeA in yohimbine-induced reinstatement to alcohol seeking. KEY RESULTS: Low-dose yohimbine was anxiogenic in rats with a history of alcohol use. Furthermore, yohimbine-induced reinstatement of alcohol seeking increased Fos activation in CeA corticotrophin-releasing factor, dynorphin and GABA neurons compared with naïve and vehicle controls. Bilateral intra-CeA injections of the selective RXFP3 antagonist, R3(B1-22)R, attenuated yohimbine-induced reinstatement of alcohol seeking. CONCLUSIONS: Collectively, these data suggest that the CeA is a node where yohimbine acts to induce reinstatement of alcohol seeking and implicate the relaxin-3/RXFP3 system within the CeA in this process.
Strategic framework improves access to stroke reperfusion across the state of Victoria Australia
BACKGROUND: In 2010, rapid access to stroke thrombolysis centres was limited in some regional areas in the Australian state of Victoria. These results, and planning for endovascular clot retrieval (ECR), have led to the implementation of strategies by the Victorian Stroke Clinical Network, the Victorian Stroke Telemedicine Program and local health services to improve state-wide access. AIMS: To examine whether access to stroke reperfusion services (thrombolysis and ECR) in regional Victoria have subsequently improved. METHODS: The locations of suspected stroke patients attended by ambulance in 2015 were mapped, and drive times to the nearest reperfusion services were calculated. We then calculated the proportion of cases with transport times within: (i) 60 min to thrombolysis centres; and (ii) 180 min to two ECR centres designated to receive regional patients. Statistical comparisons to existing 2010 data were made. RESULTS: In 2015, Ambulance Victoria attended 16 418 cases of suspected stroke (2.9% of all emergency calls), of whom 4597 (28%) were located in regional Victoria. Compared to 2010, a greater proportion of regional suspected stroke patients in 2015 were located within 60 min of a thrombolysis centre by road (77-95%, P < 0.001). A 3-h road travel time to the two ECR centres is currently possible for 88% of regional patients. CONCLUSION: A strategic and region-specific approach has resulted in improved access by road transport to reperfusion therapies for stroke patients across Victoria.
Benefits of clinical facilitators on improving stroke care in acute hospitals: a new programme for Australia
BACKGROUND: Care gaps for stroke lead to preventable disability and deaths. The Victorian State Government implemented a programme of employing clinical Facilitators on a fixed-term basis for up to 3 years (2008-2011) in eight hospitals to improve stroke care. The Facilitators were to establish stroke units where absent, implement evidence-based management protocols and provide staff education within an agreed work plan. AIM: To determine if the Facilitator role was associated with improved stroke care and to describe factors supporting or mitigating enhancements to care. METHODS: A mixed methods design was employed with historical control using patient-level audit data (pre-Facilitator: n = 600; post-Facilitator: n = 387) and qualitative data from independently conducted semistructured interviews with hospital staff, including clinicians, executives and facilitators (n = 10 focus groups; 75 respondents). RESULTS: Stroke units, clinical pathways and outpatient clinics for managing transient ischaemic attacks (TIA) were established. Compared with the pre-Facilitator period, significant increases in patient access to stroke unit care (53% vs 86%, P < 0.001) and intravenous thrombolysis (2% vs 9%, P < 0.001) were achieved. Hospital staff reported that the Facilitator was integral to system improvements by fostering communication, encouraging team motivation and cohesiveness and increasing interest in stroke care. Ongoing barriers included limited resources to operate TIA clinics effectively, staff turnover requiring ongoing education, inconsistency in compliance with protocols and, in some hospitals, the need for formalised medical leadership. CONCLUSION: Fixed-term employment of Facilitators was effective in positively influencing stroke care in hospitals through a range of change management strategies where stroke-specific expertise had been previously limited.
Temporally specific miRNA expression patterns in the dorsal and ventral striatum of addiction-prone rats
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) within the ventral and dorsal striatum have been shown to regulate addiction-relevant behaviours. However, it is unclear how cocaine experience alone can alter the expression of addiction-relevant miRNAs within striatal subregions. Further, it is not known whether differential expression of miRNAs in the striatum contributes to individual differences in addiction vulnerability. We first examined the effect of cocaine self-administration on the expression of miR-101b, miR-137, miR-212 and miR-132 in nucleus accumbens core and nucleus accumbens shell (NAcSh), as well as dorsomedial striatum and dorsolateral striatum (DLS). We then examined the expression of these same miRNAs in striatal subregions of animals identified as being 'addiction-prone', either immediately following self-administration training or following extinction and relapse testing. Cocaine self-administration was associated with changes in miRNA expression in a regionally discrete manner within the striatum, with the most marked changes occurring in the nucleus accumbens core. When we examined the miRNA profile of addiction-prone rats following self-administration, we observed increased levels of miR-212 in the dorsomedial striatum. After extinction and relapse testing, addiction-prone rats showed significant increases in the expression of miR-101b, miR-137, miR-212 and miR-132 in NAcSh, and miR-137 in the DLS. This study identifies temporally specific changes in miRNA expression consistent with the engagement of distinct striatal subregions across the course of the addiction cycle. Increased dysregulation of miRNA expression in NAcSh and DLS at late stages of the addiction cycle may underlie habitual drug seeking, and may therefore aid in the identification of targets designed to treat addiction.
Retrospective evaluation of venous thromboembolism: Are all transient provoking events the same?
OBJECTIVES: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) provoked by transient risk factors has traditionally been classified as a single entity with lower risk of recurrence. We evaluated the association between different categories of transient provoking factors and the relative risk of recurrence. METHODS: Retrospective evaluation of VTE events in non-cancer patients from July 2011 to December 2012 at two tertiary institutions in Australia with a minimum follow-up of 24 months. RESULTS: A total of 747 VTE cases were identified, and following exclusion of cases with mortality within 30 days of presentation (n=26), unprovoked cases (40.2%) had a higher risk of recurrence (4.6 vs 2.3/100 event-years, P=.01). Provoking factors included surgery (40.4%), injury (16.7%), medical-related factors including non-surgical hospitalisation or active infection (22.0%), travel (13.2%) and oestrogen related (6.5%). Air travel had the highest recurrence rate of 5.9/100 event-years, comparable to unprovoked VTE. VTE provoked by surgery showed lower recurrence rate at 1.8/100 event-years (P=.03). 62.5% of patients with provoked VTE recurred with an unprovoked event. CONCLUSION: Transient provoking factors for VTE are heterogeneous with varying potency and should not be considered a single entity. The high recurrence rate after travel-provoked VTE suggests that it is a "minor," if not negligible provoking factor with higher thrombotic predisposition.
Effectiveness of a shared team approach between nurses and doctors for improved risk factor management in survivors of stroke: a cluster randomized controlled trial
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Limited evidence exists on the benefits of organized care for improving risk factor control in patients with stroke or transient ischaemic attack. The effectiveness of an individualized management programme in reducing absolute cardiovascular disease risk in this high-risk population was determined. METHODS: This was a prospective, multicentre, cluster-randomized controlled trial with blinded assessment of outcomes and intention-to-treat analysis. Patients hospitalized for stroke/transient ischaemic attack and aged ≥18 years were recruited from four hospitals. General practices treating recruited patients were randomized to provide either usual care or an individualized management programme comprising nurse-led education and review of care plans by stroke specialists in addition to usual care. The primary outcome was a change in cardiovascular Framingham Risk Score between baseline and 12 months. RESULTS: From January 2010 to November 2013, 156 general practices (280 patients) were randomly assigned to usual care (control) and 159 (283 patients) to the intervention. The median age was 70.1 years; 65% were male. Overall, >80% of participants were prescribed recommended secondary prevention therapies at baseline. The primary efficacy analysis comprised 533 participants, with 30 either dying or lost to follow-up. In adjusted analyses, no significant between-group difference was found in the cardiovascular risk score at 12 months (0.04, 95% confidence interval -1.7, 1.8). CONCLUSIONS: The effectiveness of an organized secondary prevention programme for stroke may be limited in patients from high-performing hospitals with regular post-discharge follow-up and communication with general practices.
Myoclonus Epilepsy and Ataxia due to KCNC1 Mutation: Analysis of 20 Cases and K plus Channel Properties
OBJECTIVE: To comprehensively describe the new syndrome of myoclonus epilepsy and ataxia due to potassium channel mutation (MEAK), including cellular electrophysiological characterization of observed clinical improvement with fever. METHODS: We analyzed clinical, electroclinical, and neuroimaging data for 20 patients with MEAK due to recurrent KCNC1 p.R320H mutation. In vitro electrophysiological studies were conducted using whole cell patch-clamp to explore biophysical properties of wild-type and mutant KV 3.1 channels. RESULTS: Symptoms began at between 3 and 15 years of age (median = 9.5), with progressively severe myoclonus and rare tonic-clonic seizures. Ataxia was present early, but quickly became overshadowed by myoclonus; 10 patients were wheelchair-bound by their late teenage years. Mild cognitive decline occurred in half. Early death was not observed. Electroencephalogram (EEG) showed generalized spike and polyspike wave discharges, with documented photosensitivity in most. Polygraphic EEG-electromyographic studies demonstrated a cortical origin for myoclonus and striking coactivation of agonist and antagonist muscles. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed symmetrical cerebellar atrophy, which appeared progressive, and a prominent corpus callosum. Unexpectedly, transient clinical improvement with fever was noted in 6 patients. To explore this, we performed high-temperature in vitro recordings. At elevated temperatures, there was a robust leftward shift in activation of wild-type KV 3.1, increasing channel availability. INTERPRETATION: MEAK has a relatively homogeneous presentation, resembling Unverricht-Lundborg disease, despite the genetic and biological basis being quite different. A remarkable improvement with fever may be explained by the temperature-dependent leftward shift in activation of wild-type KV 3.1 subunit-containing channels, which would counter the loss of function observed for mutant channels, highlighting KCNC1 as a potential target for precision therapeutics. Ann Neurol 2017;81:677-689.
Monoclonal antibodies in the treatment of multiple sclerosis: emergence of B-cell-targeted therapies
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the CNS, and one of the most common causes of disability in young adults. Over the last decade, new disease-modifying therapies have emerged, including monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that provide highly targeted therapies with greater efficacy than platform therapies. In particular, monoclonal antibodies directed against CD20-positive B cells have shown remarkable results in recent clinical trials and renewed interest in the mechanism of B cell-depleting therapies to ameliorate relapse activity and progression in MS. Here, we review the mechanisms of action and clinical evidence of approved and emerging mAbs, with a focus on B cell-targeted therapies.
Purinergic receptors P2RX4 and P2RX7 in familial multiple sclerosis
Genetic variants in the purinergic receptors P2RX4 and P2RX7 have been shown to affect susceptibility to multiple sclerosis (MS). In this study, we set out to evaluate whether rare coding variants of major effect could also be identified in these purinergic receptors. Sequencing analysis of P2RX4 and P2RX7 in 193 MS patients and 100 controls led to the identification of a rare three variant haplotype (P2RX7 rs140915863:C>T [p.T205M], P2RX7 rs201921967:A>G [p.N361S], and P2RX4 rs765866317:G>A [p.G135S]) segregating with disease in a multi-incident family with six family members diagnosed with MS (logarithm of odds = 3.07). Functional analysis of this haplotype in HEK293 cells revealed impaired P2X7 surface expression (P < 0.01), resulting in over 95% inhibition of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-induced pore function (P < 0.001) and a marked reduction in phagocytic ability (P < 0.05). In addition, transfected cells showed 40% increased peak ATP-induced inward current (P < 0.01), and a greater Ca2+ response to the P2X4 135S variant compared with wild type (P < 0.0001). Our study nominates rare genetic variants in P2RX4 and P2RX7 as major genetic contributors to disease, further supporting a role for these purinergic receptors in MS and the disruption of transmembrane cation channels leading to impairment of phagocytosis as the pathological mechanisms of disease.
A dissociation between renewal and contextual fear conditioning in juvenile rats
We investigated whether juvenile rats do not express renewal following extinction of conditioned fear due to their inability to form a long-term contextual fear memory. In experiment 1, postnatal day (P) 18 and 25 rats received 3 white-noise and footshock pairings, followed by 60 white-noise alone presentations the next day. When tested in a different context to extinction, P25 rats displayed renewal whereas P18 rats did not. Experiments 2A and 2B surprisingly showed that P18 and P25 rats do not show differences in contextual and cued fear, regardless of the conditioning-test intervals and the number of white-noise-footshock pairings received. Finally, we observed age differences in contextual fear when P25 rats were weaned at P21 in experiment 3. These results indicate that the developmental dissociation observed in renewal of extinguished fear is not related to the widely believed late emergence of contextual fear learning.
Cognitive network reorganization following surgical control of seizures in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
We previously observed that adults with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) show abnormal functional connectivity among cognitive networks, suggesting that this may contribute to impaired cognition. Herein we report network reorganization following seizure remission in a child with LGS who underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after resection of a cortical dysplasia. Concurrent electroencephalography (EEG) was acquired during presurgical fMRI. Presurgical and postsurgical functional connectivity were compared using (1) graph theoretical analyses of small-world network organization and node-wise strength; and (2) seed-based analyses of connectivity within and between five functional networks. To explore the specificity of these postsurgical network changes, connectivity was further compared to nine children with LGS who did not undergo surgery. The presurgical EEG-fMRI revealed diffuse activation of association cortex during interictal discharges. Following surgery and seizure control, functional connectivity showed increased small-world organization, stronger connectivity in subcortical structures, and greater within-network integration/between-network segregation. These changes suggest network improvement, and diverged sharply from the comparison group of nonoperated children. Following surgery, this child with LGS achieved seizure control and showed extensive reorganization of networks that underpin cognition. This case illustrates that the epileptic process of LGS can directly contribute to abnormal network organization, and that this network disruption may be reversible.
Clinical Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping (QSM): Biometal Imaging and Its Emerging Roles in Patient Care
Quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) has enabled magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of tissue magnetic susceptibility to advance from simple qualitative detection of hypointense blooming artifacts to precise quantitative measurement of spatial biodistributions. QSM technology may be regarded to be sufficiently developed and validated to warrant wide dissemination for clinical applications of imaging isotropic susceptibility, which is dominated by metals in tissue, including iron and calcium. These biometals are highly regulated as vital participants in normal cellular biochemistry, and their dysregulations are manifested in a variety of pathologic processes. Therefore, QSM can be used to assess important tissue functions and disease. To facilitate QSM clinical translation, this review aims to organize pertinent information for implementing a robust automated QSM technique in routine MRI practice and to summarize available knowledge on diseases for which QSM can be used to improve patient care. In brief, QSM can be generated with postprocessing whenever gradient echo MRI is performed. QSM can be useful for diseases that involve neurodegeneration, inflammation, hemorrhage, abnormal oxygen consumption, substantial alterations in highly paramagnetic cellular iron, bone mineralization, or pathologic calcification; and for all disorders in which MRI diagnosis or surveillance requires contrast agent injection. Clinicians may consider integrating QSM into their routine imaging practices by including gradient echo sequences in all relevant MRI protocols. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: 1 Technical Efficacy: Stage 5 J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2017;46:951-971.
Do post-concussion-like symptom responses change following exercise or sports participation in a non-concussed cohort?
The purposes of this study were (a) to determine the reliable change in post-concussion-like symptoms reported following self-selected exercise or sports activities and (b) to explore the potential influence of gender and exercise parameters on post-concussion-like symptoms reported by a non-concussed cohort following exercise/training. A pre-to-post observational design was used. A convenience sample of students aged 18-30 years who visited a university recreation center to engage in their chosen exercise activity and a purposeful sample of men's and women's rugby union players engaged in their regular training sessions were included in the study. All participants reported their symptoms using the symptom scale of the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2. The reliable change index was used to determine the change in symptom scores reported from pre-to post-exercise/training. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to model the exercise variables to explain the impact on the reporting of symptoms. A total of 260 participants (146 males and 114 females) completed their self-selected exercise activity or rugby union training. Approximately two-thirds of all participants did not demonstrate a change (increase or decrease) in total symptom score (201/260, 77.9%) and/or symptom severity score (212/260, 81.9%) from pre-to post-exercise/training. The symptom response following exercise or sports training did not change in the majority of participants. Clinicians need to be aware of these findings to make informed decisions on return-to-play following a concussive brain injury.
Small vessel disease and clinical outcomes after IV rt-PA treatment
INTRODUCTION: Cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) contributes to dementia and disability in the elderly, and may negatively affect stroke outcomes. We aimed to evaluate to what extent single features and global burden of SVD detected with magnetic resonance (MR) are associated with worse outcomes in patients with ischaemic stroke treated with intravenous thrombolysis. METHODS: We accessed anonymized data and MR images from the Stroke Imaging Repository (STIR) and the Virtual International Stroke Trials Archive (VISTA) Imaging. We described SVD features using validated scales and quantified the global burden of SVD with a combined score. Our mainoutcome was the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) at 90 days after stroke. We used logistic regression and ordinal regression models (adjusted for age, sex, stroke severity, onset to treatment time) to examine the associations between each SVD feature, SVD global burden and clinical outcomes. RESULTS: A total of 259 patients had MR scans available at baseline (mean age±SD=68.7±15.5 years; 131 [49%] males). After adjustment for confounders, severe white matter changes were associated with disability (OR=5.14; 95%CI=2.30-11.48), functional dependency (OR=4.38; 95%CI=2.10-9.13) and worse outcomes in ordinal analysis (OR=2.71; 95%CI=1.25-5.85). SVD score was associated with disability (OR=1.66; 95%CI=1.03-2.66) and functional dependency (OR=1.47; 95%CI=1.00-2.45). Lacunes, enlarged perivascular spaces and brain atrophy showed no association with clinical outcomes. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that SVD negatively affects stroke outcomes after intravenous thrombolysis. Although white matter changes seem to be the major driver in relation to worse outcomes, global estimation of SVD is feasible and may provide helpful information.
Tract-specific atrophy in focal epilepsy: Disease, genetics, or seizures?
OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether genetics, underlying pathology, or repeated seizures contribute to atrophy in specific white matter tracts. METHODS: Medically refractory unilateral temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) with hippocampal sclerosis (HS-TLE, n = 26) was studied as an archetype of focal epilepsy, using fixel-based analysis of diffusion-weighted imaging. A genetic effect was assessed in first-degree relatives of HS-TLE subjects who did not have epilepsy themselves (HS-1°Rel; n = 26). The role of disease process was uncovered by comparing HS-TLE to unilateral TLE with normal clinical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI-neg TLE; n = 26, matched for seizure severity). The effect of focal seizures was inferred from lateralized atrophy common to both HS-TLE and MRI-neg TLE, in comparison to healthy controls (n = 76). RESULTS: HS-1 °Rel had bilaterally small hippocampi, but no focal white matter atrophy was detected, indicating a limited effect of genetics. HS-TLE subjects had lateralized atrophy of most temporal lobe tracts, and hippocampal volumes in HS-TLE correlated with parahippocampal cingulum and anterior commissure atrophy, indicating an effect of the underlying pathology. Ipsilateral atrophy of the tapetum, uncinate, and inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus was found in both HS-TLE and MRI-neg TLE, suggesting a common lateralized effect of focal seizures. Both epilepsy groups had bilateral atrophy of the dorsal cingulum and corpus callosum fibers, which we interpret as a consequence of bilateral insults (potentially generalized seizures and/or medications). INTERPRETATION: Underlying pathology, repeated focal seizures, and global insults each contribute to atrophy in specific tracts. Genetic factors make less of a contribution in this cohort. A multifactorial model of white matter atrophy in focal epilepsy is proposed. Ann Neurol 2017;81:240-250.
The TAM Receptor Tyro3 Regulates Myelination in the Central Nervous System
Myelin is an essential component of the mammalian nervous system, facilitating rapid conduction of electrical impulses by axons, as well as providing trophic support to neurons. Within the central nervous system, the oligodendrocyte is the specialized neural cell responsible for producing myelin by a process that is thought to be regulated by both activity dependent and independent mechanisms but in incompletely understood ways. We have previously identified that the protein Gas6, a ligand for a family of tyrosine kinase receptors known as the TAM (Tyro3, Axl, and Mertk) receptors, directly increases oligodendrocyte induced myelination in vitro. Gas6 can bind to and activate all three TAM receptors, but the high level of expression of Tyro3 on oligodendrocytes makes this receptor the principal candidate for transducing the pro-myelinating effect of Gas6. In this study, we establish that in the absence of Tyro3, the pro-myelinating effect of Gas6 is lost, that developmental myelination is delayed and that the myelin produced is thinner than normal. We show that this effect is specific to the myelination process and not due to changes in the proliferation or differentiation of oligodendrocyte precursor cells. We have further demonstrated that the reduction in myelination is due to the loss of Tyro3 on oligodendrocytes, and this effect may be mediated by activation of Erk1. Collectively, our findings indicate the critical importance of Tyro3 in potentiating central nervous system myelination. GLIA 2017 GLIA 2017;65:581-591.
Relaxin family peptides: structure-activity relationship studies
The human relaxin peptide family consists of seven cystine-rich peptides, four of which are known to signal through relaxin family peptide receptors, RXFP1-4. As these peptides play a vital role physiologically and in various diseases, they are of considerable importance for drug discovery and development. Detailed structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies towards understanding the role of important residues in each of these peptides have been reported over the years and utilized for the design of antagonists and minimized agonist variants. This review summarizes the current knowledge of the SAR of human relaxin 2 (H2 relaxin), human relaxin 3 (H3 relaxin), human insulin-like peptide 3 (INSL3) and human insulin-like peptide 5 (INSL5). LINKED ARTICLES: This article is part of a themed section on Recent Progress in the Understanding of Relaxin Family Peptides and their Receptors. To view the other articles in this section visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.v174.10/issuetoc.
Midsagittal corpus callosum area and conversion to multiple sclerosis after clinically isolated syndrome: A multicentre Australian cohort study
INTRODUCTION: Patients presenting with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) may proceed to clinically definite multiple sclerosis (CDMS). Midsagittal corpus callosum area (CCA) is a surrogate marker for callosal atrophy, and can be obtained from a standard MRI study. This study explores the relationship between CCA measured at CIS presentation (baseline) and at 5 years post presentation, with conversion from CIS to CDMS. The association between CCA and markers of disability progression is explored. METHODS: Corpus callosum area was measured on MRI scans at presentation and 5-year review following diagnosis of a first demyelinating event, or evidence of progressive MS, in 143 participants in the Ausimmune/AusLong Study. Relationships between CCA (at baseline and follow-up) and clinical outcomes were assessed. RESULTS: Mean CCA at baseline study was 6.63 cm2 (SD 1.01). Patients who converted to MS by 5-year review (n = 100) had a significantly smaller mean CCA at follow-up (6.22 vs. 6.74, P = 0.007). Greater CCA reduction was associated with higher annualized relapse rate over follow-up. CONCLUSION: Baseline CCA obtained from standard MRI protocols may be compared with subsequent MRI examinations as a surrogate for neurodegeneration and cerebral atrophy in patients with MS. This study demonstrates an association between CCA and disability in individuals presenting with CIS who convert to MS.
Neuroimaging of chronic alcohol misuse.
Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances worldwide. It results in a wide range of diseases and disorders affecting many organ systems. Alcohol-related nutritional deficiencies and electrolyte disturbance leave chronic abusers at risk of a range of demyelinating conditions to which the radiologist and clinician should always be alert. These include Wernicke's encephalopathy, Korsakoff's syndrome, Marchiafava-Bignami disease and osmotic demyelination. Cerebral volume loss is also a commonly encountered neuroimaging phenomenon in chronic alcohol abusers. Neuroimaging with CT and MR, with a focus on FLAIR and diffusion-weighted MR sequences, play an important role in the diagnosis and often monitoring of these conditions. We present an educational review of these entities in terms of their clinical features, neuropathology and imaging features along with a case example of each condition.
Distribution, physiology and pharmacology of relaxin-3/RXFP3 systems in brain
Relaxin-3 is a member of a superfamily of structurally-related peptides that includes relaxin and insulin-like peptide hormones. Soon after the discovery of the relaxin-3 gene, relaxin-3 was identified as an abundant neuropeptide in brain with a distinctive topographical distribution within a small number of GABAergic neuron populations that is well conserved across species. Relaxin-3 is thought to exert its biological actions through a single class-A GPCR - relaxin-family peptide receptor 3 (RXFP3). Class-A comprises GPCRs for relaxin-3 and insulin-like peptide-5 and other peptides such as orexin and the monoamine transmitters. The RXFP3 receptor is selectively activated by relaxin-3, whereas insulin-like peptide-5 is the cognate ligand for the related RXFP4 receptor. Anatomical and pharmacological evidence obtained over the last decade supports a function of relaxin-3/RXFP3 systems in modulating responses to stress, anxiety-related and motivated behaviours, circadian rhythms, and learning and memory. Electrophysiological studies have identified the ability of RXFP3 agonists to directly hyperpolarise thalamic neurons in vitro, but there are no reports of direct cell signalling effects in vivo. This article provides an overview of earlier studies and highlights more recent research that implicates relaxin-3/RXFP3 neural network signalling in the integration of arousal, motivation, emotion and related cognition, and that has begun to identify the associated neural substrates and mechanisms. Future research directions to better elucidate the connectivity and function of different relaxin-3 neuron populations and their RXFP3-positive target neurons in major experimental species and humans are also identified. LINKED ARTICLES: This article is part of a themed section on Recent Progress in the Understanding of Relaxin Family Peptides and their Receptors. To view the other articles in this section visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.v174.10/issuetoc.
Metastatic pathways in patients with cutaneous melanoma
Metastasis represents the end product of an elaborate biological process, which is determined by a complex interplay between metastatic tumour cells, host factors and homoeostatic mechanisms. Cutaneous melanoma can metastasize haematogenously or lymphogenously. The three predominant models that endeavour to explain the patterns of melanoma progression are the stepwise spread model, the simultaneous spread model and the model of differential spread. The time course to the development of metastases differs between the different metastatic routes. There are several clinical and histopathological risk factors for the different metastatic pathways. In particular, patient sex and the anatomical location of the primary tumour influence patterns of disease progression. There is limited existing evidence regarding the relationship between tumour mutation status, other diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers and the metastatic pathways of primary cutaneous melanoma. This knowledge gap needs to be addressed to better identify patients at high risk of disease recurrence and personalize surveillance strategies.
Synaptic Zn2+ and febrile seizure susceptibility
Zn2+ , the second most prevalent trace element in the body, is essential for supporting a wide range of biological functions. While the majority of Zn2+ in the brain is protein-bound, a significant proportion of free Zn2+ is found co-localized with glutamate in synaptic vesicles and is released in an activity-dependent manner. Clinical studies have shown Zn2+ levels are significantly lower in blood and cerebrospinal fluid of children that suffer febrile seizures. Likewise, investigations in multiple animal models demonstrate that low levels of brain Zn2+ increase seizure susceptibility. Recent work provides human genetic evidence that disruption of brain Zn2+ homeostasis at the level of the synapse is associated with increased seizure susceptibility. In this review, we have explored the clinical, functional and genetic data supporting the view that low synaptic Zn2+ increases cellular excitability and febrile seizure susceptibility. Finally, the review focuses on the potential of therapeutic Zn2+ supplementation for at risk patients.