Pain and depression are frequently comorbid disorders, but the mechanism underlying this association is unknown. Here, we report that brain indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1), a rate-limiting enzyme in tryptophan metabolism, plays a key role in this comorbidity. We found that chronic pain in rats induced depressive behavior and IDO1 upregulation in the bilateral hippocampus. Upregulation of IDO1 resulted in the increased kynurenine/tryptophan ratio and decreased serotonin/tryptophan ratio in the bilateral hippocampus. We observed elevated plasma IDO activity in patients with both pain and depression, as well as in rats with anhedonia induced by chronic social stress. Intra-hippocampal administration of IL-6 in rats, in addition to in vitro experiments, demonstrated that IL-6 induces IDO1 expression through the JAK/STAT pathway. Further, either Ido1 gene knockout or pharmacological inhibition of hippocampal IDO1 activity attenuated both nociceptive and depressive behavior. These results reveal an IDO1-mediated regulatory mechanism underlying the comorbidity of pain and depression and suggest a new strategy for the concurrent treatment of both conditions via modulation of brain IDO1 activity.
Hyangin Kim, Lucy Chen, Grewo Lim, Backil Sung, Shuxing Wang, Michael F. McCabe, Gabriel Rusanescu, Liling Yang, Yinghong Tian, Jianren Mao
Congenital myasthenic syndromes (CMSs) are neuromuscular disorders that can be caused by defects in acetylcholine receptor (AChR) function. Disease-associated point mutants can reveal the unsuspected functional significance of mutated residues. We identified two pathogenic mutations in the extracellular domain of the AChR α subunit (AChRα) in a patient with myasthenic symptoms since birth: a V188M mutation in the C-loop and a heteroallelic G74C mutation in the main immunogenic region. The G74C mutation markedly reduced surface AChR expression in cultured cells, whereas the V188M mutant was expressed robustly but had severely impaired kinetics. Single-channel patch-clamp analysis indicated that V188M markedly decreased the apparent AChR channel opening rate and gating efficiency. Mutant cycle analysis of energetic coupling among conserved residues within or dispersed around the AChRα C-loop revealed that V188 is functionally linked to Y190 in the C-loop and to D200 in β-strand 10, which connects to the M1 transmembrane domain. Furthermore, V188M weakens inter-residue coupling of K145 in β-strand 7 with Y190 and with D200. Cumulatively, these results indicate that V188 of AChRα is part of an interdependent tetrad that contributes to rearrangement of the C-loop during the initial coupling of agonist binding to channel gating.
Xin-Ming Shen, Joan M. Brengman, Steven M. Sine, Andrew G. Engel
An emerging theory of schizophrenia postulates that hypofunction of adenosine signaling may contribute to its pathophysiology. This study was designed to test the “adenosine hypothesis” of schizophrenia and to evaluate focal adenosine-based strategies for therapy. We found that augmentation of adenosine by pharmacologic inhibition of adenosine kinase (ADK), the key enzyme of adenosine clearance, exerted antipsychotic-like activity in mice. Further, overexpression of ADK in transgenic mice was associated with attentional impairments linked to schizophrenia. We observed that the striatal adenosine A2A receptor links adenosine tone and psychomotor response to amphetamine, an indicator of dopaminergic signaling. Finally, intrastriatal implants of engineered adenosine-releasing cells restored the locomotor response to amphetamine in mice overexpressing ADK, whereas the same grafts placed proximal to the hippocampus of transgenic mice reversed their working memory deficit. This functional double dissociation between striatal and hippocampal adenosine demonstrated in Adk transgenic mice highlights the independent contributions of these two interconnected brain regions in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and thus provides the rationale for developing local adenosine augmentation therapies for the treatment of schizophrenia.
Hai-Ying Shen, Philipp Singer, Nikki Lytle, Catherine J. Wei, Jing-Quan Lan, Rebecca L. Williams-Karnesky, Jiang-Fan Chen, Benjamin K. Yee, Detlev Boison
Stressful events during early childhood can have a profound lifelong influence on emotional and cognitive behaviors. However, the mechanisms by which stress affects neonatal brain circuit formation are poorly understood. Here, we show that neonatal social isolation disrupts molecular, cellular, and circuit developmental processes, leading to behavioral dysfunction. Neonatal isolation prevented long-term potentiation and experience-dependent synaptic trafficking of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) receptors normally occurring during circuit formation in the rodent barrel cortex. This inhibition of AMPA receptor trafficking was mediated by an increase of the stress glucocorticoid hormone and was associated with reduced calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase type II (CaMKII) signaling, resulting in attenuated whisker sensitivity at the cortex. These effects led to defects in whisker-dependent behavior in juvenile animals. These results indicate that neonatal social isolation alters neuronal plasticity mechanisms and perturbs the initial establishment of a normal cortical circuit, which potentially explains the long-lasting behavioral effects of neonatal stress.
Tomoyuki Miyazaki, Kenkichi Takase, Waki Nakajima, Hirobumi Tada, Daisuke Ohya, Akane Sano, Takahisa Goto, Hajime Hirase, Roberto Malinow, Takuya Takahashi
In inflammatory CNS conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), current options to treat clinical relapse are limited, and more selective agents are needed. Disruption of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is an early feature of lesion formation that correlates with clinical exacerbation, leading to edema, excitotoxicity, and entry of serum proteins and inflammatory cells. Here, we identify astrocytic expression of VEGF-A as a key driver of BBB permeability in mice. Inactivation of astrocytic Vegfa expression reduced BBB breakdown, decreased lymphocyte infiltration and neuropathology in inflammatory and demyelinating lesions, and reduced paralysis in a mouse model of MS. Knockdown studies in CNS endothelium indicated activation of the downstream effector eNOS as the principal mechanism underlying the effects of VEGF-A on the BBB. Systemic administration of the selective eNOS inhibitor cavtratin in mice abrogated VEGF-A–induced BBB disruption and pathology and protected against neurologic deficit in the MS model system. Collectively, these data identify blockade of VEGF-A signaling as a protective strategy to treat inflammatory CNS disease.
Azeb Tadesse Argaw, Linnea Asp, Jingya Zhang, Kristina Navrazhina, Trinh Pham, John N. Mariani, Sean Mahase, Dipankar J. Dutta, Jeremy Seto, Elisabeth G. Kramer, Napoleone Ferrara, Michael V. Sofroniew, Gareth R. John
Leigh syndrome (LS) is a subacute necrotizing encephalomyelopathy with gliosis in several brain regions that usually results in infantile death. Loss of murine Ndufs4, which encodes NADH dehydrogenase (ubiquinone) iron-sulfur protein 4, results in compromised activity of mitochondrial complex I as well as progressive neurodegenerative and behavioral changes that resemble LS. Here, we report the development of breathing abnormalities in a murine model of LS. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed hyperintense bilateral lesions in the dorsal brain stem vestibular nucleus (VN) and cerebellum of severely affected mice. The mutant mice manifested a progressive increase in apnea and had aberrant responses to hypoxia. Electrophysiological recordings within the ventral brain stem pre-Bötzinger respiratory complex were also abnormal. Selective inactivation of Ndufs4 in the VN, one of the principle sites of gliosis, also led to breathing abnormalities and premature death. Conversely, Ndufs4 restoration in the VN corrected breathing deficits and prolonged the life span of knockout mice. These data demonstrate that mitochondrial dysfunction within the VN results in aberrant regulation of respiration and contributes to the lethality of Ndufs4-knockout mice.
Albert Quintana, Sebastien Zanella, Henner Koch, Shane E. Kruse, Donghoon Lee, Jan M. Ramirez, Richard D. Palmiter
Glyoxalase 1 (Glo1) expression has previously been associated with anxiety in mice; however, its role in anxiety is controversial, and the underlying mechanism is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that GLO1 increases anxiety by reducing levels of methylglyoxal (MG), a GABAA receptor agonist. Mice overexpressing Glo1 on a Tg bacterial artificial chromosome displayed increased anxiety-like behavior and reduced brain MG concentrations. Treatment with low doses of MG reduced anxiety-like behavior, while higher doses caused locomotor depression, ataxia, and hypothermia, which are characteristic effects of GABAA receptor activation. Consistent with these data, we found that physiological concentrations of MG selectively activated GABAA receptors in primary neurons. These data indicate that GLO1 increases anxiety by reducing levels of MG, thereby decreasing GABAA receptor activation. More broadly, our findings potentially link metabolic state, neuronal inhibitory tone, and behavior. Finally, we demonstrated that pharmacological inhibition of GLO1 reduced anxiety, suggesting that GLO1 is a possible target for the treatment of anxiety disorders.
Margaret G. Distler, Leigh D. Plant, Greta Sokoloff, Andrew J. Hawk, Ivy Aneas, Gerald E. Wuenschell, John Termini, Stephen C. Meredith, Marcelo A. Nobrega, Abraham A. Palmer
Itch, also known as pruritus, is a common, intractable symptom of several skin diseases, such as atopic dermatitis and xerosis. TLRs mediate innate immunity and regulate neuropathic pain, but their roles in pruritus are elusive. Here, we report that scratching behaviors induced by histamine-dependent and -independent pruritogens are markedly reduced in mice lacking the Tlr3 gene. TLR3 is expressed mainly by small-sized primary sensory neurons in dorsal root ganglions (DRGs) that coexpress the itch signaling pathway components transient receptor potential subtype V1 and gastrin-releasing peptide. Notably, we found that treatment with a TLR3 agonist induces inward currents and action potentials in DRG neurons and elicited scratching in WT mice but not Tlr3–/– mice. Furthermore, excitatory synaptic transmission in spinal cord slices and long-term potentiation in the intact spinal cord were impaired in Tlr3–/– mice but not Tlr7–/– mice. Consequently, central sensitization–driven pain hypersensitivity, but not acute pain, was impaired in Tlr3–/– mice. In addition, TLR3 knockdown in DRGs also attenuated pruritus in WT mice. Finally, chronic itch in a dry skin condition was substantially reduced in Tlr3–/– mice. Our findings demonstrate a critical role of TLR3 in regulating sensory neuronal excitability, spinal cord synaptic transmission, and central sensitization. TLR3 may serve as a new target for developing anti-itch treatment.
Tong Liu, Temugin Berta, Zhen-Zhong Xu, Chul-Kyu Park, Ling Zhang, Ning Lü, Qin Liu, Yang Liu, Yong-Jing Gao, Yen-Chin Liu, Qiufu Ma, Xinzhong Dong, Ru-Rong Ji
Individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) experience a progressive decline in motor function as a result of selective loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra. The mechanism(s) underlying the loss of DA neurons is not known. Here, we show that a neurotoxin that causes a disease that mimics PD upon administration to mice, because it induces the selective loss of DA neurons in the substantia nigra, alters Ca2+ homeostasis and induces ER stress. In a human neuroblastoma cell line, we found that endogenous store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE), which is critical for maintaining ER Ca2+ levels, is dependent on transient receptor potential channel 1 (TRPC1) activity. Neurotoxin treatment decreased TRPC1 expression, TRPC1 interaction with the SOCE modulator stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1), and Ca2+ entry into the cells. Overexpression of functional TRPC1 protected against neurotoxin-induced loss of SOCE, the associated decrease in ER Ca2+ levels, and the resultant unfolded protein response (UPR). In contrast, silencing of TRPC1 or STIM1 increased the UPR. Furthermore, Ca2+ entry via TRPC1 activated the AKT pathway, which has a known role in neuroprotection. Consistent with these in vitro data, Trpc1–/– mice had an increased UPR and a reduced number of DA neurons. Brain lysates of patients with PD also showed an increased UPR and decreased TRPC1 levels. Importantly, overexpression of TRPC1 in mice restored AKT/mTOR signaling and increased DA neuron survival following neurotoxin administration. Overall, these results suggest that TRPC1 is involved in regulating Ca2+ homeostasis and inhibiting the UPR and thus contributes to neuronal survival.
Senthil Selvaraj, Yuyang Sun, John A Watt, Shouping Wang, Saobo Lei, Lutz Birnbaumer, Brij B Singh
Defective brain insulin signaling has been suggested to contribute to the cognitive deficits in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Although a connection between AD and diabetes has been suggested, a major unknown is the mechanism(s) by which insulin resistance in the brain arises in individuals with AD. Here, we show that serine phosphorylation of IRS-1 (IRS-1pSer) is common to both diseases. Brain tissue from humans with AD had elevated levels of IRS-1pSer and activated JNK, analogous to what occurs in peripheral tissue in patients with diabetes. We found that amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) oligomers, synaptotoxins that accumulate in the brains of AD patients, activated the JNK/TNF-α pathway, induced IRS-1 phosphorylation at multiple serine residues, and inhibited physiological IRS-1pTyr in mature cultured hippocampal neurons. Impaired IRS-1 signaling was also present in the hippocampi of Tg mice with a brain condition that models AD. Importantly, intracerebroventricular injection of Aβ oligomers triggered hippocampal IRS-1pSer and JNK activation in cynomolgus monkeys. The oligomer-induced neuronal pathologies observed in vitro, including impaired axonal transport, were prevented by exposure to exendin-4 (exenatide), an anti-diabetes agent. In Tg mice, exendin-4 decreased levels of hippocampal IRS-1pSer and activated JNK and improved behavioral measures of cognition. By establishing molecular links between the dysregulated insulin signaling in AD and diabetes, our results open avenues for the investigation of new therapeutics in AD.
Theresa R. Bomfim, Leticia Forny-Germano, Luciana B. Sathler, Jordano Brito-Moreira, Jean-Christophe Houzel, Helena Decker, Michael A. Silverman, Hala Kazi, Helen M. Melo, Paula L. McClean, Christian Holscher, Steven E. Arnold, Konrad Talbot, William L. Klein, Douglas P. Munoz, Sergio T. Ferreira, Fernanda G. De Felice