Sphingolipid imbalance is the culprit in a variety of neurological diseases, some affecting the myelin sheath. We have used whole exome sequencing in patients with undetermined leukoencephalopathies to uncover the endoplasmic reticulum lipid desaturase DEGS1 as the causative gene in nineteen patients from thirteen unrelated families. Shared features among the cases include severe motor arrest, early nystagmus, dystonia, spasticity and profound failure to thrive. MRI showed hypomyelination, thinning of corpus callosum and progressive thalami and cerebellar atrophy, suggesting a critical role of DEGS1 in myelin development and maintenance. This enzyme converts dihydroceramide (DhCer) into ceramide (Cer) in the final step of the de novo biosynthesis pathway. We detected a marked increase of the substrate DhCer and DhCer/Cer ratios in patient’s fibroblasts and muscle. Further, we used a knockdown approach for disease modelling in Danio rerio, followed by a preclinical test with the first-line treatment for multiple sclerosis, fingolimod (FTY720, Gilenya). The enzymatic inhibition of ceramide synthase, one step prior to DEGS1 in the pathway, by fingolimod, reduced the critical DhCer/Cer imbalance and the severe locomotor disability, increasing the number of myelinating oligodendrocytes in the zebrafish model. These proof-of-concept results pave the way to clinical translation.
Devesh C. Pant, Imen Dorboz, Agatha Schlüter, Stéphane Fourcade, Nathalie Launay, Javier Joya, Sergio Aguilera-Albesa, Maria Eugenia Yoldi, Carlos Casasnovas, Mary J. Willis, Montserrat Ruiz, Dorothée Ville, Gaetan Lesca, Karine Siquier-Pernet, Isabelle Desguerre, Huifang Yan, Jinming Wang, Margit Burmeister, Lauren Brady, Mark Tarnopolsky, Carles Cornet, Davide Rubbini, Javier Terriente, Kiely N. James, Damir Musaev, Maha S. Zaki, Marc C. Patterson, Brendan C. Lanpher, Eric W. Klee, Filippo Pinto e Vairo, Elizabeth Wohler, Nara Lygia de M. Sobreira, Julie S. Cohen, Reza Maroofian, Hamid Galehdari, Neda Mazaheri, Gholamreza Shariati, Laurence Colleaux, Diana Rodriguez, Joseph G. Gleeson, Cristina Pujades, Ali Fatemi, Odile Boespflug-Tanguy, Aurora Pujol
BACKGROUND. Awake neurosurgery requires patients to converse and respond to visual or verbal prompts to identify and protect brain tissue supporting essential functions such as language, primary sensory modalities, and motor function. These procedures can be poorly tolerated due to patient anxiety, yet acute anxiolytic medications typically cause sedation and impair cortical function. METHODS. In this study, direct electrical stimulation of the left dorsal anterior cingulum bundle was discovered to reliably evoke positive affect and anxiolysis without sedation in an epilepsy patient undergoing research testing during standard, in-patient intracranial electrode monitoring. These effects were quantified using subjective and objective behavioral measures, and stimulation was found to evoke robust changes in local and distant neural activity. RESULTS. The index patient ultimately required an awake craniotomy procedure to confirm safe resection margins in the treatment of her epilepsy. During the procedure, cingulum bundle stimulation enhanced positive affect and reduced the patient’s anxiety to the point that intravenous anesthetic/anxiolytic medications were discontinued and cognitive testing was completed. Behavioral responses were subsequently replicated in two patients with anatomically similar electrode placements localized to an approximately 1cm span along the anterior dorsal cingulum bundle above genu of the corpus callosum. CONCLUSIONS. The current study demonstrates a robust anxiolytic response to cingulum bundle stimulation in three epilepsy patients. TRIAL REGISTRATION. The current study was not affiliated with any formal clinical trial. FUNDING. This project was supported by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
Kelly R. Bijanki, Joseph R. Manns, Cory S. Inman, Ki Sueng Choi, Sahar Harati, Nigel P. Pedersen, Daniel L. Drane, Allison C. Waters, Rebecca E. Fasano, Helen S. Mayberg, Jon T. Willie
Joint pain is the defining symptom of osteoarthritis (OA) but its origin and mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we investigated an unprecedented role of osteoclast-initiated subchondral bone remodeling in sensory innervation for OA pain. We show that osteoclasts secrete NETRIN1 to induce sensory nerve axonal growth in subchondral bone. Reduction of osteoclast formation by knockout of receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (Rankl) in osteocytes inhibited the growth of sensory nerves into subchondral bone, DRG neuron hyperexcitability, and behavioral measures of pain hypersensitivity in OA mice. Moreover, we demonstrated a possible role for NETRIN1 secreted by osteoclasts during aberrant subchondral bone remodeling in inducing sensory innervation and OA pain through its receptor DCC (deleted in colorectal cancer). Importantly, knockout of Netrin1 in tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) positive osteoclasts or knockdown of Dcc reduces OA pain behavior. In particular, inhibition of osteoclast activity by alendronate modifies aberrant subchondral bone remodeling and reduces innervation and pain behavior at the early stage of OA. These results suggest that intervention of the axonal guidance molecules (e.g. NETRIN1) derived from aberrant subchondral bone remodeling may have therapeutic potential for OA pain.
Shouan Zhu, Jianxi Zhu, Gehua Zhen, Yihe Hu, Senbo An, Yusheng Li, Qin Zheng, Zhiyong Chen, Ya Yang, Mei Wan, Richard Leroy Skolasky, Yong Cao, Tianding Wu, Bo Gao, Mi Yang, Manman Gao, Julia Kuliwaba, Shuangfei Ni, Lei Wang, Chuanlong Wu, David Findlay, Holger K. Eltzschig, Hong Wei Ouyang, Janet Crane, Feng-Quan Zhou, Yun Guan, Xinzhong Dong, Xu Cao
BACKGROUND. Patients with schizophrenia (SCZ) experience chronic cognitive deficits. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are enzymes that regulate cognitive circuitry; however, the role of HDACs in cognitive disorders, including SCZ, remains unknown in humans. We previously determined that HDAC2 mRNA levels were lower in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) tissue from donors with SCZ compared with controls. Here we investigated the relationship between in vivo HDAC expression and cognitive impairment in patients with SCZ and matched healthy controls using [11C]Martinostat positron emission tomography (PET). METHODS. In a case-control study, relative [11C]Martinostat uptake was compared between 14 patients with SCZ or schizoaffective disorder (SCZ/SAD) and 17 controls using hypothesis-driven region-of-interest analysis and unbiased whole brain voxel-wise approaches. Clinical measures, including the MATRICS consensus cognitive battery, were administered. RESULTS. Relative HDAC expression was lower in the DLPFC of patients with SCZ/SAD compared with controls, and HDAC expression positively correlated with cognitive performance scores across groups. Patients with SCZ/SAD also showed lower relative HDAC expression in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and orbitofrontal gyrus, and higher relative HDAC expression in the cerebral white matter, pons, and cerebellum compared with controls. CONCLUSIONS. These findings provide in vivo evidence of HDAC dysregulation in patients with SCZ and suggest that altered HDAC expression may impact cognitive function in humans. FUNDING. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Brain and Behavior Foundation, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), NIH Shared Instrumentation Grant Program.
Tonya M. Gilbert, Nicole R. Zürcher, Christine J. Wu, Anisha Bhanot, Baileigh G. Hightower, Minhae Kim, Daniel S. Albrecht, Hsiao-Ying Wey, Frederick A. Schroeder, Anais Rodriguez-Thompson, Thomas M. Morin, Kamber L. Hart, Amelia M. Pellegrini, Misha M. Riley, Changning Wang, Steven M. Stufflebeam, Stephen J. Haggarty, Daphne J. Holt, Marco L. Loggia, Roy H. Perlis, Hannah E. Brown, Joshua L. Roffman, Jacob M. Hooker
We investigated how pathological changes in newborn hippocampal dentate granule cells (DGCs) lead to epilepsy. Using a rabies virus–mediated retrograde tracing system and a designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADD) chemogenetic method, we demonstrated that newborn hippocampal DGCs are required for the formation of epileptic neural circuits and the induction of spontaneous recurrent seizures (SRS). A rabies virus–mediated mapping study revealed that aberrant circuit integration of hippocampal newborn DGCs formed excessive de novo excitatory connections as well as recurrent excitatory loops, allowing the hippocampus to produce, amplify, and propagate excessive recurrent excitatory signals. In epileptic mice, DREADD-mediated–specific suppression of hippocampal newborn DGCs dramatically reduced epileptic spikes and SRS in an inducible and reversible manner. Conversely, specific activation of hippocampal newborn DGCs increased both epileptic spikes and SRS. Our study reveals an essential role for hippocampal newborn DGCs in the formation and function of epileptic neural circuits, providing critical insights into DGCs as a potential therapeutic target for treating epilepsy.
Qi-Gang Zhou, Ashley D. Nemes, Daehoon Lee, Eun Jeoung Ro, Jing Zhang, Amy S. Nowacki, Susan M. Dymecki, Imad M. Najm, Hoonkyo Suh
Itch (pruritis) and pain represent two distinct sensory modalities; yet both have evolved to alert us to potentially harmful external stimuli. Compared with pain, our understanding of itch is still nascent. Here, we report a new clinical case of debilitating itch and altered pain perception resulting from the heterozygous de novo p.L811P gain-of-function mutation in NaV1.9, a voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channel subtype that relays sensory information from the periphery to the spine. To investigate the role of NaV1.9 in itch, we developed a mouse line in which the channel is N-terminally tagged with a fluorescent protein, thereby enabling the reliable identification and biophysical characterization of NaV1.9-expressing neurons. We also assessed NaV1.9 involvement in itch by using a newly created NaV1.9–/– and NaV1.9L799P/WT mouse model. We found that NaV1.9 is expressed in a subset of nonmyelinated, nonpeptidergic small-diameter dorsal root ganglia (DRGs). In WT DRGs, but not those of NaV1.9–/– mice, pruritogens altered action potential parameters and NaV channel gating properties. Additionally, NaV1.9–/– mice exhibited a strong reduction in acute scratching behavior in response to pruritogens, whereas NaV1.9L799P/WT mice displayed increased spontaneous scratching. Altogether, our data suggest an important contribution of NaV1.9 to itch signaling.
Juan Salvatierra, Marcelo Diaz-Bustamante, James Meixiong, Elaine Tierney, Xinzhong Dong, Frank Bosmans
Angelman syndrome (AS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder in which epilepsy is common (~90%) and often refractory to antiepileptics. AS is caused by mutation of the maternal allele encoding the ubiquitin protein ligase E3A (UBE3A), but it is unclear how this genetic insult confers vulnerability to seizure development and progression (i.e., epileptogenesis). Here we implemented the flurothyl kindling and retest paradigm in AS model mice to assess epileptogenesis and to gain mechanistic insights owed to loss of maternal Ube3a. AS model mice kindled similarly to wildtype mice, but they displayed a markedly increased sensitivity to flurothyl-, kainic acid-, and hyperthermia-induced seizures measured a month later during retest. Pathological characterization revealed enhanced deposition of perineuronal nets in dentate gyrus of hippocampus of AS mice in the absence of overt neuronal loss or mossy fiber sprouting. This pro-epileptogenic phenotype resulted from Ube3a deletion in GABAergic but not glutamatergic neurons, and it was rescued by pancellular reinstatement of Ube3a at postnatal day 21 (P21), but not during adulthood. Our results suggest that epileptogenic susceptibility in AS patients is a consequence of the dysfunctional development of GABAergic circuits, which may be amenable to therapies leveraging juvenile reinstatement of UBE3A.
Bin Gu, Kelly E. Carstens, Matthew C. Judson, Katherine A. Dalton, Marie Rougié, Ellen P. Clark, Serena M. Dudek, Benjamin D. Philpot
The underlying molecular mechanisms of age-related hearing loss (ARHL) in humans and many strains of mice have not been fully characterized. This common age-related disorder is assumed to be closely associated with oxidative stress. Here, we demonstrate that mTORC1 signaling is highly and specifically activated in the cochlear neurosensory epithelium (NSE) in aging mice, and rapamycin injection prevents ARHL. To further examine the specific role of mTORC1 signaling in ARHL, we generated murine models with NSE-specific deletions of Raptor or Tsc1, regulators of mTORC1 signaling. Raptor-cKO mice developed hearing loss considerably more slowly than WT littermates. Conversely, Tsc1 loss led to the early-onset death of cochlear hair cells and consequently accelerated hearing loss. Tsc1-cKO cochleae showed features of oxidative stress and impaired antioxidant defenses. Treatment with rapamycin and the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine rescued Tsc1-cKO hair cells from injury in vivo. In addition, we identified the peroxisome as the initial signaling organelle involved in the regulation of mTORC1 signaling in cochlear hair cells. In summary, our findings identify overactive mTORC1 signaling as one of the critical causes of ARHL and suggest that reduction of mTORC1 activity in cochlear hair cells may be a potential strategy to prevent ARHL.
Xiaolong Fu, Xiaoyang Sun, Linqing Zhang, Yecheng Jin, Renjie Chai, Lili Yang, Aizhen Zhang, Xiangguo Liu, Xiaochun Bai, Jianfeng Li, Haibo Wang, Jiangang Gao
The subthalamic nucleus (STN) is an effective therapeutic target for deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s disease (PD) and histamine level is elevated in the basal ganglia in PD patients. However, the endogenous histaminergic modulation on STN neuronal activities and the neuronal mechanism underlying STN-DBS are unknown. Here we report that STN neuronal firing patterns are more crucial than firing rates for motor control. Histamine excited STN neurons, but paradoxically ameliorated parkinsonian motor deficits, which we attributed to regularizing firing patterns of STN neurons via HCN2 channel coupled to H2 receptor. Intriguingly, DBS increased histamine release in the STN and regularized STN neuronal firing patterns under parkinsonian conditions. HCN2 contributed to the DBS-induced regularization of neuronal firing patterns, suppression of excessive beta oscillations, and alleviation of motor deficits in PD. The results reveal an indispensable role for regularizing STN neuronal firing patterns in amelioration of parkinsonian motor dysfunction and a functional compensation for histamine in parkinsonian basal ganglia circuitry. The findings provide insights into mechanisms of STN-DBS as well as potential therapeutic targets and STN-DBS strategies for PD.
Qian-Xing Zhuang, Guang-Ying Li, Bin Li, Chang-Zheng Zhang, Xiao-Yang Zhang, Kang Xi, Hong-Zhao Li, Jian-Jun Wang, Jing-Ning Zhu
Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS), induced by the adoptive transfer of myelin-reactive CD4+ T cells into naïve syngeneic mice. It is widely used as a rodent model of multiple sclerosis (MS). EAE lesion development is initiated when transferred CD4+ T cells access the CNS and are reactivated by local antigen presenting cells (APC) bearing endogenous myelin peptide/ MHC Class II complexes. The identity of the CNS resident, lesion-initiating APC is widely debated. Here we demonstrate that classical dendritic cells (cDC) normally reside in the meninges, brain, and spinal cord in the steady state. These cells are unique among candidate CNS APC in their ability to stimulate naïve, as well as effector, myelin-specific T cells to proliferate and produce pro-inflammatory cytokines directly ex vivo. cDC expanded in the meninges and CNS parenchyma in association with disease progression. Selective depletion of cDC led to a decrease in the number of myelin-primed donor T cells in the CNS and reduced the incidence of clinical EAE by half. Based on our findings, we propose that cDC, and the factors that regulate them, be further investigated as potential therapeutic targets in MS.
David A. Giles, Patrick C. Duncker, Nicole M. Wilkinson, Jesse M. Washnock-Schmid, Benjamin M. Segal