Deficits in social interaction (SI) are a core symptom of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), however treatments for social deficits are notably lacking. Elucidating brain circuits and neuromodulatory signaling systems that regulate sociability could facilitate a deeper understanding of ASD pathophysiology and reveal novel treatments for ASD. Here we found that in vivo optogenetic activation of the basolateral amygdala-nucleus accumbens (BLA-NAc) glutamatergic circuit reduced SI and increased social avoidance in mice. Furthermore, we found that 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling reduced BLA-NAc glutamatergic activity, and that pharmacological 2-AG augmentation via administration of JZL184 blocked SI deficits associated with in vivo BLA-NAc stimulation. Additionally, optogenetic inhibition of the BLA-NAc circuit significantly increased SI in the Shank3B-/-, an ASD model with substantial SI impairment, without affecting SI in wild-type mice. Finally, we demonstrated that JZL184 delivered systemically or directly to the NAc also normalized SI deficits in Shank3B-/-mice, while ex vivo JZL184 application corrected aberrant NAc excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission and reduced BLA-NAc-elicited feedforward inhibition of NAc neurons in Shank3B-/- mice. These data reveal circuit-level and neuromodulatory mechanisms regulating social function relevant to ASD and suggest 2-AG augmentation could reduce social deficits via modulation of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission in the NAc.
Oakleigh M. Folkes, Rita Báldi, Veronika Kondev, David J. Marcus, Nolan D. Hartley, Brandon D. Turner, Jade K. Ayers, Jordan J. Baechle, Maya P. Misra, Megan Altemus, Carrie A. Grueter, Brad A. Grueter, Sachin Patel
BACKGROUND. Cerebral malaria (CM) accounts for nearly 400,000 deaths annually in African children. Current dogma suggests that CM results from infected RBC (iRBC) sequestration in the brain microvasculature and resulting sequelae. Therapies targeting these events have been unsuccessful; findings in experimental models suggest that CD8+ T cells drive disease pathogenesis. However, these data have largely been ignored because corroborating evidence in humans is lacking. This work fills a critical gap in our understanding of CM pathogenesis that is impeding development of therapeutics. METHODS. Using multiplex immunohistochemistry, we characterized cerebrovascular immune cells in brain sections from 34 children who died from CM or other causes. Children were grouped by clinical diagnosis (CM+ or –), iRBC sequestration (Seqhi, lo, or 0) and HIV status (HIV+ or –). RESULTS. We identified effector CD3+CD8+ T cells engaged on the cerebrovasculature in 69% of CM+ HIV– children. The number of intravascular CD3+CD8+ T cells was influenced by CM status (CM+ vs –, P = 0.004) and sequestration level (Seqhi > lo, P = 0.010). HIV co-infection significantly increased T cell numbers and shifted cells from an intravascular (P = 0.004) to perivascular (P < 0.0001) distribution. CONCLUSION. Within the studied cohort, CM is associated with cerebrovascular engagement of CD3+CD8+ T cells, which is exacerbated by HIV coinfection. Thus, CD3+CD8+ T cells are highly promising targets for CM adjunctive therapy, opening new avenues for the treatment of this deadly disease. FUNDING. This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health.
Brittany A. Riggle, Monica Manglani, Dragan Maric, Kory R. Johnson, Myoung-Hwa Lee, Osorio Lopes Abath Neto, Terrie E. Taylor, Karl B. Seydel, Avindra Nath, Louis H. Miller, Dorian B. McGavern, Susan K. Pierce
Background: In retinitis pigmentosa (RP) rod photoreceptors degenerate from one of many mutations after which cones are compromised by oxidative stress. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) reduces oxidative damage and increases cone function/survival in RP models. We tested the safety, tolerability, and visual function effects of oral NAC in RP patients. Methods: Subjects (n = 10 per cohort) received 600 mg (cohort 1), 1200 mg (cohort 2), or 1800 mg (cohort 3) NAC BID for 12 weeks and then TID for 12 weeks. Best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), macular sensitivity, ellipsoid zone (EZ) width, and aqueous NAC were measured. Linear mixed effects models were used to estimate the rates of changes during the treatment period. Results: There were 9 drug-related gastrointestinal adverse events which resolved spontaneously or with dose reduction (MTD 1800 mg bid). During the 24 week treatment period, mean BCVA significantly improved at 0.4 (95% CI 0.2–0.6, P < 0.001), 0.5 (95% CI 0.3–0.7, P < 0.001) and 0.2 (95% CI 0.02–0.4, P = 0.03) letters/month in cohorts 1, 2 and 3, respectively. There was no significant improvement in mean sensitivity (MS) over time in cohorts 1 and 2, but there was in cohort 3 (0.15 dB/month, 95%CI 0.04–0.26). There was no significant change in mean EZ width in any cohort. Conclusion: Oral NAC is safe and well-tolerated in patients with moderately advanced RP and may improve suboptimally functioning macular cones. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial is needed to determine if oral NAC can provide long term stabilization and/or improvement in visual function in patients with RP.
Peter A. Campochiaro, Mustafa Iftikhar, Gulnar Hafiz, Anam Akhlaq, Grace Tsai, Dagmar Wehling, Lili Lu, G. Michael Wall, Mandeep S. Singh, Xiangrong Kong
Axon regeneration failure causes neurological deficits and long-term disability after spinal cord injury (SCI). Here, we found that the α2δ2 subunit of voltage-gated calcium channels negatively regulates axon growth and regeneration of corticospinal neurons, the cells that originate the corticospinal tract. Increased α2δ2 expression in corticospinal neurons contributed to loss of corticospinal regrowth ability during postnatal development and after SCI. In contrast, α2δ2 pharmacological blockade through gabapentin administration promoted corticospinal structural plasticity and regeneration in adulthood. Using an optogenetic strategy combined with in vivo electrophysiological recording, we demonstrated that regenerating corticospinal axons functionally integrate into spinal circuits. Mice administered gabapentin recovered upper extremity function after cervical SCI. Importantly, such recovery relies on reorganization of the corticospinal pathway, as chemogenetic silencing of injured corticospinal neurons transiently abrogated recovery. Thus, targeting α2δ2 with a clinically relevant treatment strategy aids repair of motor circuits after SCI.
Wenjing Sun, Molly J.E. Larson, Conrad M. Kiyoshi, Alexander J. Annett, William A. Stalker, Juan Peng, Andrea Tedeschi
Aberrant Tau inclusions in the locus coeruleus (LC) are the earliest detectable Alzheimer’s disease–like (AD-like) neuropathology in the human brain. However, why LC neurons are selectively vulnerable to developing early Tau pathology and degenerating later in disease and whether the LC might seed the stereotypical spread of Tau pathology to the rest of the brain remain unclear. Here, we show that 3,4-dihydroxyphenylglycolaldehyde, which is produced exclusively in noradrenergic neurons by monoamine oxidase A metabolism of norepinephrine, activated asparagine endopeptidase that cleaved Tau at residue N368 into aggregation- and propagation-prone forms, thus leading to LC degeneration and the spread of Tau pathology. Activation of asparagine endopeptidase–cleaved Tau aggregation in vitro and in intact cells was triggered by 3,4-dihydroxyphenylglycolaldehyde, resulting in LC neurotoxicity and propagation of pathology to the forebrain. Thus, our findings reveal that norepinephrine metabolism and Tau cleavage represent the specific molecular mechanism underlying the selective vulnerability of LC neurons in AD.
Seong Su Kang, Xia Liu, Eun Hee Ahn, Jie Xiang, Fredric P. Manfredsson, Xifei Yang, Hongbo R. Luo, L. Cameron Liles, David Weinshenker, Keqiang Ye
Cancer cachexia is a major cause of patient morbidity and mortality, with no efficacious treatment or management strategy. Despite sharing pathophysiological features with a number of neuromuscular wasting conditions, including age-related sarcopenia, the mechanisms underlying cachexia remain poorly understood. Studies of related conditions suggest that pathological targeting of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) may play a key role in cachexia, but this has yet to be investigated in human patients. Here, high-resolution morphological analyses were undertaken on NMJs of rectus abdominis obtained from patients undergoing upper GI cancer surgery compared with controls (N=30; n=1,165 NMJs). Cancer patients included those with cachexia and weight-stable disease. Despite the low skeletal muscle index and significant muscle fibre atrophy in patients with cachexia, NMJ morphology was fully conserved. No significant differences were observed in any of the pre- and post-synaptic variables measured. We conclude that NMJs remain structurally intact in rectus abdominis in both cancer and cachexia, suggesting that denervation of skeletal muscle is not a major driver of pathogenesis. The absence of NMJ pathology is in stark contrast to related conditions, such as age-related sarcopenia, and supports the hypothesis that intrinsic changes within skeletal muscle, independent of any changes in motor neurons, represent the primary locus of neuromuscular pathology in cancer cachexia.
Ines Boehm, Janice Miller, Thomas M. Wishart, Stephen J. Wigmore, Richard J.E. Skipworth, Ross A. Jones, Thomas H. Gillingwater
Ventriculomegaly and hydrocephalus are associated with loss of function of glycine decarboxylase (Gldc) in mice and in humans suffering from Non-Ketotic Hyperglycinemia (NKH), a neurometabolic disorder characterised by accumulation of excess glycine. Here, we showed that ventriculomegaly in Gldc-deficient mice is preceded by stenosis of the Sylvian aqueduct and malformation or absence of the sub-commissural organ and pineal gland. Gldc functions in the glycine cleavage system, a mitochondrial component of folate metabolism, whose malfunction results in accumulation of glycine and diminished supply of glycine-derived one-carbon units to the folate cycle. We showed that inadequate one-carbon supply, as opposed to excess glycine is the cause of hydrocephalus associated with loss of function of the glycine cleavage system. Maternal supplementation with formate prevented both ventriculomegaly, as assessed at pre-natal stages, and post-natal development of hydrocephalus in Gldc-deficient mice. Furthermore, ventriculomegaly was rescued by genetic ablation of 5,10-methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (Mthfr), which results in retention of one-carbon groups in the folate cycle at the expense of transfer to the methylation cycle. In conclusion, a defect in folate metabolism can lead to pre-natal aqueduct stenosis and resultant hydrocephalus. These defects are preventable by maternal supplementation with formate, which acts as a one-carbon donor.
Chloe Santos, Yun Jin Pai, M. Raasib Mahmood, Kit-Yi Leung, Dawn Savery, Simon N. Waddington, Andrew J. Copp, Nicholas D.E. Greene
Epigenetic integrity is critical for many eukaryotic cellular processes. An important question is how different epigenetic regulators control development and impact disease. Lysine acetyltransferase 8 (KAT8) is critical for acetylation of histone H4 at lysine 16 (H4K16), an evolutionarily conserved epigenetic mark. It is unclear what roles KAT8 plays in cerebral development and human disease. Here, we report that cerebrum-specific knockout mice displayed cerebral hypoplasia in the neocortex and hippocampus, along with improper neural stem and progenitor cell (NSPC) development. Mutant cerebrocortical neuroepithelia exhibited faulty proliferation, aberrant neurogenesis, massive apoptosis and scant H4K16 propionylation. Mutant NSPCs formed poor neurospheres, and pharmacological KAT8 inhibition abolished neurosphere formation. Moreover, we describe KAT8 variants in nine patients with intellectual disability, seizures, autism, dysmorphisms and other anomalies. The variants altered chromobarrel and catalytic domains of KAT8, thereby impairing nucleosomal H4K16 acetylation. Valproate was effective for treating epilepsy in at least two of the individuals. This study uncovers a critical role of KAT8 in cerebral and NSPC development, identifies nine individuals with KAT8 variants, and links deficient H4K16 acylation directly to intellectual disability, epilepsy and other developmental anomalies.
Lin Li, Mohammad Ghorbani, Monika Weisz-Hubshman, Justine Rousseau, Isabelle Thiffault, Rhonda E. Schnur, Catherine Breen, Renske Oegema, Marjan M.M. Weiss, Quinten Waisfisz, Sara Welner, Helen Kingston, Jordan A. Hills, Elles M.J. Boon, Lina Basel-Salmon, Osnat Konen, Hadassa Goldberg-Stern, Lily Bazak, Shay Tzur, Jianliang Jin, Xiuli Bi, Michael Bruccoleri, Kirsty McWalter, Megan T. Cho, Maria Scarano, G. Bradley Schaefer, Susan S. Brooks, Susan Starling Hughes, K.L.I. van Gassen, Johanna M. van Hagen, Tej K. Pandita, Pankaj B. Agrawal, Philippe M. Campeau, Xiang-Jiao Yang
A single sub-anesthetic dose of ketamine, an NMDA receptor (NMDAR) antagonist, produces rapid and sustained antidepressant actions in depressed patients, addressing a major unmet need for the treatment of mood disorders. Ketamine produces a rapid increase in extracellular glutamate and synaptic formation in the prefrontal cortex, but the initial cellular trigger that initiates these and its behavioral actions has not been identified. To address this question, we used a combination of viral shRNA and conditional mutation to produce cell specific knockdown or deletion of a key NMDAR subunit, GluN2B, implicated in the actions of ketamine. The results demonstrate that the antidepressant actions of ketamine were blocked by GluN2B-NMDAR knockdown on GABA (Gad1) interneurons, as well as subtypes expressing somatostatin (Sst), or parvalbumin (Pvalb), but not glutamate principle neurons in the mPFC. Further analysis of GABA subtypes showed that cell specific knockdown or deletion of GluN2B in Sst interneurons blocked or occluded the antidepressant actions of ketamine and revealed sex-specific differences that are associated with excitatory postsynaptic currents on mPFC principle neurons. These findings demonstrate that GluN2B-NMDARs on GABA interneurons are the initial cellular trigger for the rapid antidepressant actions of ketamine and show sex-specific adaptive mechanisms to GluN2B modulation.
Danielle M. Gerhard, Santosh Pothula, Rong-Jian Liu, Min Wu, Xiao-Yuan Li, Matthew J. Girgenti, Seth R. Taylor, Catharine H. Duman, Eric Delpire, Marina Picciotto, Eric S. Wohleb, Ronald S. Duman
Neuronal hyperexcitability and cytoplasmic mislocalization of the nuclear RNA binding proteinTDP43 are universal features in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), but the relationship between these phenomena remains poorly defined. Here, we show that neuronal hyperexcitability drives TDP43 pathology by upregulating shortened (s)TDP43 splice variants missing the canonical C-terminus. sTDP43 isoforms preferentially accumulate in the cytoplasm,forming insoluble inclusions that sequester full-length TDP43 via preserved N-terminal interactions. Consistent with these findings, sTDP43 overexpression is highly toxic to mammalian neurons, suggesting that neurodegeneration results from complementary gain- and loss-of-function mechanisms. In humans and mice, sTDP43 transcripts are significantly enriched in vulnerable motor neurons, and we observed a striking accumulation of sTDP43 protein within neurons and glia of ALS patients. These studies uncover a hitherto unknown role of alternative TDP43 splice isoforms in ALS, and indicate that sTDP43 production may be a key contributor to the susceptibility of motor neurons in ALS.
Kaitlin Weskamp, Elizabeth M. Tank, Roberto Miguez, Jonathon P. McBride, Nicolás B. Gómez, Matthew White, Ziqiang Lin, Carmen Moreno Gonzalez, Andrea Serio, Jemeen Sreedharan, Sami J. Barmada