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
While a potential causal factor in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), brain insulin resistance has not been demonstrated directly in that disorder. We provide such a demonstration here by showing that the hippocampal formation (HF) and, to a lesser degree, the cerebellar cortex in AD cases without diabetes exhibit markedly reduced responses to insulin signaling in the IR→IRS-1→PI3K signaling pathway with greatly reduced responses to IGF-1 in the IGF-1R→IRS-2→PI3K signaling pathway. Reduced insulin responses were maximal at the level of IRS-1 and were consistently associated with basal elevations in IRS-1 phosphorylated at serine 616 (IRS-1 pS616) and IRS-1 pS636/639. In the HF, these candidate biomarkers of brain insulin resistance increased commonly and progressively from normal cases to mild cognitively impaired cases to AD cases regardless of diabetes or APOE ε4 status. Levels of IRS-1 pS616 and IRS-1 pS636/639 and their activated kinases correlated positively with those of oligomeric Aβ plaques and were negatively associated with episodic and working memory, even after adjusting for Aβ plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, and APOE ε4. Brain insulin resistance thus appears to be an early and common feature of AD, a phenomenon accompanied by IGF-1 resistance and closely associated with IRS-1 dysfunction potentially triggered by Aβ oligomers and yet promoting cognitive decline independent of classic AD pathology.
Konrad Talbot, Hoau-Yan Wang, Hala Kazi, Li-Ying Han, Kalindi P. Bakshi, Andres Stucky, Robert L. Fuino, Krista R. Kawaguchi, Andrew J. Samoyedny, Robert S. Wilson, Zoe Arvanitakis, Julie A. Schneider, Bryan A. Wolf, David A. Bennett, John Q. Trojanowski, Steven E. Arnold
Glaucoma is a common ocular disorder that is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. It is characterized by the dysfunction and loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). Although many studies have implicated various molecules in glaucoma, no mechanism has been shown to be responsible for the earliest detectable damage to RGCs and their axons in the optic nerve. Here, we show that the leukocyte transendothelial migration pathway is activated in the optic nerve head at the earliest stages of disease in an inherited mouse model of glaucoma. This resulted in proinflammatory monocytes entering the optic nerve prior to detectable neuronal damage. A 1-time x-ray treatment prevented monocyte entry and subsequent glaucomatous damage. A single x-ray treatment of an individual eye in young mice provided that eye with long-term protection from glaucoma but had no effect on the contralateral eye. Localized radiation treatment prevented detectable neuronal damage and dysfunction in treated eyes, despite the continued presence of other glaucomatous stresses and signaling pathways. Injection of endothelin-2, a damaging mediator produced by the monocytes, into irradiated eyes, combined with the other glaucomatous stresses, restored neural damage with a topography characteristic of glaucoma. Together, these data support a model of glaucomatous damage involving monocyte entry into the optic nerve.
Gareth R. Howell, Ileana Soto, Xianjun Zhu, Margaret Ryan, Danilo G. Macalinao, Gregory L. Sousa, Lura B. Caddle, Katharine H. MacNicoll, Jessica M. Barbay, Vittorio Porciatti, Michael G. Anderson, Richard S. Smith, Abbot F. Clark, Richard T. Libby, Simon W.M. John
Mechanical hyperalgesia is a common and potentially disabling complication of many inflammatory and neuropathic conditions. Activation of the enzyme PKCε in primary afferent nociceptors is a major mechanism that underlies mechanical hyperalgesia, but the PKCε substrates involved downstream are not known. Here, we report that in a proteomic screen we identified the NaV1.8 sodium channel, which is selectively expressed in nociceptors, as a PKCε substrate. PKCε-mediated phosphorylation increased NaV1.8 currents, lowered the threshold voltage for activation, and produced a depolarizing shift in inactivation in wild-type — but not in PKCε-null — sensory neurons. PKCε phosphorylated NaV1.8 at S1452, and alanine substitution at this site blocked PKCε modulation of channel properties. Moreover, a specific PKCε activator peptide, ψεRACK, produced mechanical hyperalgesia in wild-type mice but not in Scn10a–/– mice, which lack NaV1.8 channels. These studies demonstrate that NaV1.8 is an important, direct substrate of PKCε that mediates PKCε-dependent mechanical hyperalgesia.
Dai-Fei Wu, Dave Chandra, Thomas McMahon, Dan Wang, Jahan Dadgar, Viktor N. Kharazia, Ying-Jian Liang, Stephen G. Waxman, Sulayman D. Dib-Hajj, Robert O. Messing
In Alzheimer disease (AD), amyloid β peptide (Aβ) accumulates in plaques in the brain. Receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) mediates Aβ-induced perturbations in cerebral vessels, neurons, and microglia in AD. Here, we identified a high-affinity RAGE-specific inhibitor (FPS-ZM1) that blocked Aβ binding to the V domain of RAGE and inhibited Aβ40- and Aβ42-induced cellular stress in RAGE-expressing cells in vitro and in the mouse brain in vivo. FPS-ZM1 was nontoxic to mice and readily crossed the blood-brain barrier (BBB). In aged APPsw/0 mice overexpressing human Aβ-precursor protein, a transgenic mouse model of AD with established Aβ pathology, FPS-ZM1 inhibited RAGE-mediated influx of circulating Aβ40 and Aβ42 into the brain. In brain, FPS-ZM1 bound exclusively to RAGE, which inhibited β-secretase activity and Aβ production and suppressed microglia activation and the neuroinflammatory response. Blockade of RAGE actions at the BBB and in the brain reduced Aβ40 and Aβ42 levels in brain markedly and normalized cognitive performance and cerebral blood flow responses in aged APPsw/0 mice. Our data suggest that FPS-ZM1 is a potent multimodal RAGE blocker that effectively controls progression of Aβ-mediated brain disorder and that it may have the potential to be a disease-modifying agent for AD.
Rashid Deane, Itender Singh, Abhay P. Sagare, Robert D. Bell, Nathan T. Ross, Barbra LaRue, Rachal Love, Sheldon Perry, Nicole Paquette, Richard J. Deane, Thiyagarajan Meenakshisundaram, Troy Zarcone, Gunter Fritz, Alan E. Friedman, Benjamin L. Miller, Berislav V. Zlokovic