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6.8: Activation Energy - Biology

6.8: Activation Energy - Biology


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Let's start to think a little about the rate of a reaction. This initial positive change in free energy is called the activation energy (or free energy of activation) and is sometimes abbreviated EA.

Note: possible discussion

The oxidation of gasoline is highly exergonic. Despite this, why do cars not spontaneously explode in parking lots?

Why do nearly all chemical reactions—even those with a very large negative ∆G—first require some free energy increase to proceed? The reason lies in the steps that take place during a chemical reaction. Chemical reactions, almost by definition, require that some chemical bonds be broken and/or formed. For example, when a glucose molecule is broken down, the glycosidic bonds are broken, bonds within water are broken and new bonds are made between the "disassembled" water and the atoms that were involved in the glycosidic bond. While the overall reaction (the combination of energy cost of breaking bonds, energy gained by making bonds, and the change of entropy between reactants and products) may be negative, the breaking of the bonds requires some energy input which increases the free energy of the system. The state of the reaction at the maximum free energy of a reaction is often termed the transition state. This state is considered to be relatively unstable in which the reaction may either relax back to the reactant state or transition to the products. The height of the activation energy "barrier" has a direct relationship to the rate of a reaction. The higher/larger the barrier, the slower the reaction.

Note: possible discussion

Can you propose a physical analog (or model) that can help explain why the activation energy barrier is related to the rate of the reaction, whereas the free energy difference between substrate and product is not.

Figure 1. Activation energy is the energy required for a reaction to proceed, and it is lower if the reaction is catalyzed. The horizontal axis of this diagram describes the sequence of events in time.

Where does the free energy required required to overcome the activation energy barrier come from? The sources vary. One source is the energy transferred as heat from the surroundings. This transfer changes the kinetic energy of molecules in the system, increasing the frequency and force with which they collide and thus the frequency that they will react. In other cases, energy may be transferred from other reactions.

As noted, the activation energy of a particular reaction determines the rate at which it will proceed. The higher the activation energy, the slower the chemical reaction will be. The example of iron rusting illustrates an inherently slow reaction. The conversion of diamond into graphite is another spontaneous reaction that takes a LONG time. These reactions occur slowly over time because of high activation energy barriers. The burning (oxidation) of many fossil fuels, which is an exergonic process, will take place at a negligible rate unless their activation energy is overcome by sufficient heat from a spark. Once these fuels begin to burn, however, the chemical reactions release enough heat to help overcome the activation energy barrier for the combustion of the rest of the fuel. Like these reactions outside of cells, the activation energy for most cellular reactions is too high for heat energy to overcome at efficient rates. By the way, this is a very good thing as far as living cells are concerned. Important macromolecules, such as proteins, DNA, and RNA, store considerable energy, and their breakdown is exergonic. If cellular temperatures alone provided enough heat energy for these exergonic reactions to overcome their activation barriers, the essential components of a cell would disintegrate. Therefore, in order for important cellular reactions to occur at appreciable rates (number of reactions per unit time), their activation energies must be lowered (see figure 4). Something that helps lower the activation energy barrier is referred to as catalysis.

Note: possible discussion

If no activation energy were required to break down sucrose (table sugar), would you be able to store it in a sugar bowl?

Exercise 1: activation energy

Lowering the activation energy:

  1. Makes the reaction happen faster.
  2. Lowers the energy level of the transition state.
  3. Is accomplished by adding a catalyst to the reaction.
  4. Always causes more product to be produced.
  5. Only reduces the transition state energy level in one direction (from reactants to products).
  6. a, b, and c
  7. b and c
  8. All of the above are true.

Exercise 2

Which of the following comparisons or contrasts between endergonic and exergonic reactions are false?

  1. Endergonic reactions have a +∆G and exergonic reactions have a -∆G.
  2. Endergonic reactions consume energy and exergonic reactions release energy.
  3. Both endergonic and exergonic reactions require a small amount of energy to overcome an activation barrier.
  4. Endergonic reactions take place slowly and exergonic reactions take place quickly.

Exercise 3

Which of the following is the best way to judge the relative activation energies between two given chemical reactions?

  1. Compare the ∆G values between the two reactions.
  2. Compare their reaction rates.
  3. Compare their ideal environmental conditions.
  4. Compare the spontaneity between the two reactions.

Appendix: energy units

In the International System of Units (SI), the unit of work or energy is the Joule (J). For very small amounts of energy, the erg (erg) is sometimes used. An erg is one ten-millionth of a Joule:

1 Joule = 10,000,000 ergs (1)

Power is the rate at which energy is used. The unit of power is the Watt (W), named after James Watt, who perfected the steam engine:

1 Watt = 1 Joule/second (2)

Power is sometimes measured in horsepower (hp):

1 horsepower = 746 Watts (3)

Electrical energy is generally expressed in kilowatt-hours (kWh):

1 kilowatt-hour = 3,600,000 Joules (4)

It is important to realize that a kilowatt-hour is a unit of energy not power. For example, an iron rated at 2000 Watts would consume 2x3.6x106 J of energy in one hour.

Heat energy is often measured in calories. One calorie (cal) is defined as the heat required to raise the temperature of one gram of water from 14.5 to 15.5 ºC:

1 calorie = 4.189 Joules (5)

An old but still used unit of heat is the British Thermal Unit (BTU). It is defined as the heat energy required to raise the energy temperature of one pound of water from 63 to 64°F.

1 BTU = 1055 Joules (6)

Table 1. Energy Units
Physical quantityNameSymbolSI unit
ForceNewtonNkg*m/s2
EnergyJouleJkg*m/s2
PowerWattWkg*m/s3

6.8: Marcus Theory

where ( u_), the nuclear frequency factor, is approximately 10 11 M -1 s -1 for small molecules, and (Delta)G* is the Gibbs-free-energy difference between the activated complex and the precursor complex. This theoretical framework provides the starting point for classical electron-transfer theory. Usually the transmission coefficient (kappa) is initially assumed to be unity. Thus, the problem of calculating the rate constant involves the calculation of (Delta)G*, which Marcus partitioned into several parameters:

Here w r is the electrostatic work involved in bringing the reactants to the mean reactant separation distance in the activated complex, and w p is the analogous work term for dissociation of the products. These terms vanish in situations where one of the reactants (or products) is uncharged. (Delta)G° is the Gibbs-free-energy change when the two reactants and products are an infinite distance apart, and (Delta)G°' is the free energy of the reaction when the reactants are a distance r apart in the medium (Delta)G° is the standard free energy of the reaction, obtainable from electrochemical measurements (the quantity - (Delta)G° is called the driving force of the reaction).

The reorganization energy (lambda) is a parameter that contains both inner-sphere ((lambda_)) and outer-sphere ((lambda_)) components (lambda = lambda_ + lambda_). The inner-sphere reorganization energy is the free-energy change associated with changes in the bond lengths and angles of the reactants. The (lambda_) term can be evaluated within the simple harmonic-oscillator approximation:

[lambda_ = left(dfrac<1><2> ight) sum_ k_ (Delta x_)^<2>, ag<6.19>]

where kj values are normal-mode force constants, and the (Delta)xj values are differences in equilibrium bond lengths between the reduced and oxidized forms of a redox center.

The outer-sphere reorganization energy reflects changes in the polarization of solvent molecules during electron transfer:

d is the distance between centers in the activated complex, generally taken to be the sum of the reactant radii rA and rB Dop is the optical dielectric constant of the medium (or, equivalently, the square of the refractive index) and Ds is the static dielectric constant. This simple model for the effect of solvent reorganization assumes that the reactants are spherical, and that the solvent behaves as a dielectric continuum. (Sometimes the latter approximation is so rough that there is no correspondence between theory and experiment.)

Variations in (lambda) can have enormous effects on electron-transfer rates, Some of the possible variations are apparent from inspection of Equation (6.20). First, (lambda_) decreases with increasing reactant size. Second, the dependence of the reaction rate on separation distance attributable to (lambda_)occurs via the (frac<1>) term. Third, (lambda\_) decreases markedly as the solvent polarity decreases. For nonpolar solvents, Ds (simeq) Dop (simeq) 1.5 to 4.0. It is significant to note that protein interiors are estimated to have Ds (simeq) 4, whereas, Ds (simeq) 78 for water. An important conclusion is that metalloproteins that contain buried redox cofactors need not experience large outer-sphere reorganization energies.

The key result of Marcus theory is that the free energy of activation displays a quadratic dependence on (Delta)G° and (lambda) (ignoring work terms). Hence, the reaction rate may be written as

For intramolecular reactions, the nuclear frequency factor (( u_)) is

10 13 s -1 . One of the most striking predictions of Marcus theory follows from this equation: as the driving force of the reaction increases, the reaction rate increases, reaching a maximum at - (Delta)G° = (lambda) when - (Delta)G° is greater than (lambda), the rate decreases as the driving force increases (Figure 6.23).

Figure 6.23 - Plot of log ket as a function of increasing driving force (- (Delta)G°). Three (Delta)G° regions are indicated: normal ( - (Delta)G° < (lambda)) activationless ( - (Delta)G° = (lambda)) and inverted (- (Delta)G° > (lambda)). The corresponding two-well (ER, EP), diagrams also are shown. The dashed curve (kdiff) is for a bimolecular reaction. The predicted behavior of a unimolecular reaction (kuni) is given by the solid curve here the rate could be as high as 10 13 s -1 , because it is not masked by diffusional processes.

Two free-energy regions, depending on the relative magnitudes of - (Delta)G° and (lambda), are thus distinguished. The normal free-energy region is defined by - (Delta)G° < (lambda)A. In this region, (Delta)G* decreases if - (Delta)G° increases or if (lambda) decreases. If - (Delta)G° = (lambda), there is no free-energy barrier to the reaction. In the inverted region, defined by - (Delta)G° > (lambda), (Delta)G* increases if (lambda) decreases or if - (Delta)G° increases. Another widely used result of Marcus theory deals with the extraction of useful kinetic relationships for cross reactions from parameters for self-exchange reactions. Consider the cross reaction, Equation (6.22), for which the rate

[A_<1>(ox) + A_<2>(red) ightarrow A_<1>(red) + A_<2>(ox) ag<6.22>]

and equilibrium constants are k12 and K12, respectively. Two self-exchange reactions are pertinent here:

[A_<1>(ox) + A_<1>(red) ightarrow A_<1>(red) + A_<1>(ox) ag<6.23a>]

[A_<2>(ox) + A_<2>(red) ightarrow A_<2>(red) + A_<2>(ox) ag<6.23b>]

These reactions are characterized by rate constants k11 and k22, respectively. The reorganization energy ((lambda_<12>)for the cross reaction can be approximated as the mean of the reorganization energies for the relevant self-exchange reactions:

Substitution of Equation (6.24) into Equation (6.17) leads to the relation

When the self-exchange rates k11 are corrected for work terms or when the latter nearly cancel, the cross-reaction rate k12 is given by the Marcus cross relation,

This relation has been used to predict and interpret both self-exchange and cross-reaction rates (or even K12, depending on which of the quantities have been measured experimentally. Alternatively, one could study a series of closely related electron-transfer reactions (to maintain a nearly constant (lambda)12) as a function of (Delta)G12 a plot of In k12 vs. In K12 is predicted to be linear, with slope 0.5 and intercept 0.5 In (k11k22). The Marcus prediction (for the normal free-energy region) amounts to a linear free-energy relation (LFER) for outer-sphere electron transfer.


Catalysts

Sometimes a particular substance added to a chemical reaction will cause that reaction to undergo a dramatic increase in rate. Hydrogen peroxide is used as a disinfectant for scrapes and cuts, and is found in many medicine cabinets as a (3\%) aqueous solution. Hydrogen peroxide naturally decomposes to produce water and oxygen gas, but the reaction is very slow. A bottle of hydrogen peroxide will last for several years before it needs to be replaced. However, the addition of just a small amount of manganese (IV) oxide to hydrogen peroxide will cause it to decompose completely in just a matter of minutes. A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction by lowering the activation energy without being used up in the reaction. After the reaction occurs, a catalyst returns to its original state so catalysts can be used over and over again. Because it is neither a reactant nor a product, a catalyst is shown in a chemical equation by being written above the yield arrow.

[ce left( aq ight) overset> < ightarrow>2 ce left( l ight) + ce left( g ight)]

A catalyst works by changing the specific way in which the reaction occurs, called its mechanism. The important outcome from the use of a catalyst is that the overall activation energy of the reaction is lowered (see figure below). With a lower activation energy barrier, a greater percentage of reactant molecules are able to have effective collisions and the reaction rate increases.

Figure (PageIndex<1>): The addition of a catalyst to a reaction lowers the activation energy, increasing the rate of the reaction. The activation energy of the uncatalyzed reaction is shown by (E_a), while the catalyzed reaction is shown by (E_a'). The heat of reaction (left( Delta H ight)) is unchanged by the presence of the catalyst. (CC BY-NC CK-12)

Catalysts are extremely important parts of many chemical reactions. Enzymes in your body acts as nature's catalysts, allowing important biochemical reactions to occur at reasonable rates. Chemical companies constantly search for new and better catalysts to make reactions go faster and thus make the company more profitable.


Enzymes: Properties and Mechanism of Enzyme Action

Nearly all enzymes are proteins although some catalytically active RNA molecules have been identified.

In the protoplasm, enzymes exist as hydrophilic colloids. Due to colloidal nature, they are isolated by dialysis.

3. Substrate specificity:

A given enzyme only catalyzes one reaction or a similar type of reaction. For example, maltase acts only on maltose while pancreatic lipase acts in a variety of fats. Sometimes, different enzymes may act on the same substrate to produce different end products. The substrate specificity of enzyme is based on amino acids sequence in the catalytic site as well as the optical isomeric form of the substrate.

4. Catalytic properties:

(i) Enzyme require in small concentration for any chemical change,

(ii) They don’t initiate the catalysis but accelerate the rate of catalysis by lowering the activation energy,

(iii) They remain unchanged at the end of reaction,

(iv) Their presence don’t alter the properties of end products,

(v) Enzymes accelerate the forward or reverse reactions to attain the equilibrium but don’t shift the equilibrium,

(vi) Usually enzyme catalyzed reactions are reversible, but not always,

(vii) They require hydration for activity.

5. Turn over Number (Enzyme efficiency):

It is the number of substrate molecules changed per unit of time per enzyme. Typical turn over number varies form 10 2 to 10 3 sec -1. For example the turn over number for sucrase is 10 4 , that means, one sucrase molecule convert 10,000 sucrose into products. Similarly, it is 36 million for carbonic anhydrase (fastest enzyme) and 5 million for catalase (2 nd fastest enzymes). Enzyme efficiency is very low in Lysozyme.

Enzymes are highly sensitive to change in pH, temperature and inhibitors. Enzymes work best at a narrow range of condition called optimum.

The optimum temp of enzymes is 20-35°C. They become inactivated at very low temperature and denatured (destroyed) at very high temp i.e. greater than 45°C. Low molecular weight enzymes are comparatively more heat stable. In archebacterium Pyrococcus furious, the optimum temperature of hydrogenise is greater than 95°C. This heat-stable enzyme enables Pyrococcus to grow at 100°C.

The optimum pH of most endoenzyme is pH 7.0 (neutral pH). However, digestive enzymes can function at different pH. For example, salivary amylase act best at pH 6.8, pepsin act best at pH2 etc. Any fluctuation in pH from the optimum causes ionization of R-groups of amino acids which decrease the enzyme activity. Sometime a change in pH causes the reverse reaction, e.g. at pH 7.0 phosphorylase break down starch into glucose 1- phosphate while at pH5 the reverse reaction occurs.

Enzymes are also sensitive to inhibitors. Inhibitors are any molecules like cellular metabolites, drugs or toxins which reduce or stop enzyme activity. Enzyme inhibitors are of 2 types i.e. reversible and irreversible.

Irreversible Inhibitors (=Inactivators) Covalently bind to amino acid residue of catalytic site, and permanently inactivate the enzyme, e.g., penicillin covalently attach to a serine residue in the active site of the glycopeptide transpeptidase enzyme that forms cross-linking in bacterial cell wall. Phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride forms a covalent bond with the catalytic site serine residue of proteases like trypsin, chymotrypsin etc. and thus used during enzyme isolation.

A competitive inhibitor competes with a substrate to bind reversibly to catalytic site. The action of such type of inhibitor is overcome by increasing substrate concentration, dilution or dialysis. For example, maloiatc is a competitive inhibitor which competes with succinate and inhibits activity of succinate dehydrogenase. Similarly sulpha dings compete with PABA (Para-amino benzoic acid, a substrate) which inhibits the synthesis of folic acid (a vitamin) in bacteria.

An uncompetitive inhibitor binds reversibly to the enzyme substrate complex, but not the free enzyme.

A non-competitive inhibitor or mixed inhibitor binds to both free enzyme and the enzyme- substrate complex.

An allosteric or feedback inhibitor is the end product of a metabolic pathway that inhibits the activity of the first enzyme of that pathway.

Mechanism of Enzyme Action:

Enzymes neither initiate the reaction nor affect the equilibrium ratio of reactants and products. Rather, enzymes accelerate the rate of reaction 10 8 to 10 12 times in both directions to attain the equilibrium position.

The kinetic or collision theory states that for molecules to react they must collide and must possess sufficient energy to overcome the energy barrier for reaction. The minimum amount of free energy required to overcome the energy barrier, so that substrates transform into the transitional state, is called activation energy or free energy of activation (∆G). The transition state is an unstable complex develops at some point in the reaction between the substrate(s) and the products (P), and has the highest free energy in the reaction pathway. Thus,

Activation energy increases kinetic energy of substrates and brings about the forceful collisions between Enzyme (E) and substrates (S). In a non-enzymatic reaction, the ∆G ≠ is very high which can’t be provided by any living system. For example, ∆G ≠ is 32 Kcal/mole for acid hydroslysis of sucrose. But enzymatic hydrolysis of sucrose requires only 9.4 kcal/ mole free energy.

Therefore, it is clear that Enzyme lowers the free energy of activation (∆G ≠ ) for a biochemical reaction by more than 50% due to following reasons:

(i) Raising the ∆G of the substrate,

(ii) Stabilizes the transition state,

(iii) Release of binding energy (kinetic energy) when substrates establish bonds with catalytic site,

(iv) Weakening the bonds of substrate by nucelophilic and electrophilic attack by catalytic site.

The difference in energy level between the substrate and product is called the change in Gibbs free energy (G). The ∆G indicates whether a reaction is thermodynamically favourable or not. The negative value of ∆G indicates that the reaction is energetically favourable. If the ∆G is positive it indicates that the reaction is not energetically favourable and endergonic (require input of energy). The ∆G of a reaction is independent of the rate of a reaction while ∆G ≠ governs the rate of reaction. Therefore, ∆G is different from ∆G ≠ .


6.8: Activation Energy - Biology

The Discussion should be written after the Results section so that you have a good idea of what the experiment has demonstrated. The discussion section should definitely have a statement of your expected findings. (Pechenik, 86) This should include your hypothesis and a brief statement about why these types of results are expected. There should also be a comparison of how your actual results related to your expected findings. (Pechenik, 86) Here, you should state whether or not your results supported or didn't support your hypothesis. In addition, the degree to which the evidence supported your hypothesis should be stated. For example, were the results completely supportive, or were there variances?

There should be an explanation of unexpected results. (Pechenik, 86) When looking for possible explanations, consider the following:

a. Was the equipment used adequate for the task? b. Was the experimental design valid? c. Were the working assumptions made correct?

A common mistake that many writers make is to blame themselves for the unexpected results. Unless you actually made a mistake following the methods of the experiment, and could not go back and correct it, do not make up such errors to explain the variances you observe. Think about and analyze the methods and equipment you used. Could something different have been done to obtain better results? Another possibility to consider is if the experiment was conducted under factors that were considerably different from those described in the manual. Be sure to include ideas on how to test these explanations. (Pechenik, p.86) Briefly explain a way to test these possible reasons for unexpected results. For example, if there is a problem with the methods, maybe the experiment should be reproduced with an added step. Also mention what kinds of experiments still need to be conducted in order to obtain more information.

Sample 1 : The results of the first experiment supported the hypothesis that the rate of conversion of the substrate would increase with increased amounts of enzyme. We observed that Tube 2, which had the highest concentration of enzyme, catecholase, also had the highest absorbance level. Since absorbance is used as a measure of reaction, the greatest rate of conversion of catechol and oxygen to benzoquinone was seen in Tube 2. The high ratio of enzyme to substrate caused the absorbance to grow rapidly and then level off (see Figure 1). The tubes with lower concentrations of enzyme had lower rates of conversion, as expected. However, there were some unexpected results in Tube 2. Between the time of around 6 minutes to 8 minutes there was decrease in the absorbance. One explanation of this observation is that the settling of the substrate to the bottom of the test tube caused the enzyme to become less efficient since it could not attack the substrate as well. The settling reduced the surface area of the substrate that could be attacked by the enzyme. The tube was inverted and the substrate was stirred up, which caused a rise in the absorbance. Further experiments, involving the constant stirring of the solution, could be performed to test this possibility.

The folding and combination of polypeptide chains forms the specific, three dimensional shape of an enzyme. This shape is extremely important to the enzyme's catalyzing efficiency and many environmental conditions can affect the shape of enzymes and thus their efficiency. A range of pH values exists for all enzymes, between which they reach their maximum catalyzing action. This range is usually between a pH of 6-8. pH levels outside this range can denature the enzyme, thereby decreasing its catalyzing ability. The results we obtained supported this assumption for the catecholase enzyme. The catecholase samples in tubes 3 and 4 had similar absorbance rates and, therefore, similar enzyme activities. However, the pH of 4 in tube 2 corresponded to low absorbance and low activity of the enzyme in that tube. This is due to the fact that the acidic environment is harmful to the enzyme, and denatures it. Catecholase, an enzyme found in fruits in nature, is well adapted for efficiency in nature. Its range of optimal pH levels, 6-8, allows it to function in the varying pH levels of soil and those caused by acid rain.

Sample 2: Enzymes catalyze reactions by lowering the activation energy of the reaction. Catecholase, an enzyme found in potatoes, converts catechol to benzoquinone in the presence of oxygen. It would be expected that more benzoquinone would be formed in the presence of a greater amount of catecholase. This hypothesis was supported by the results obtained. The most enzyme was placed in tube 2. The absorbance was also highest for this tube. This means that the most product was formed in this test tube. In accordance with this, tube four, which had the least amount enzyme, also had the least amount of absorption. There were some unexpected results, but this is most probably due to human error the absorbance levels were probably read wrong.

Enzymes are affected by the environment. The pH level of the environment is one factor that can alter enzymes. The rate at which the enzyme form product is slowed or sped up depends on how close to the norm the environment is. In the second experiment, the pH of the medium was different in each of the test tubes. The general trend seen in these reactions was that the more acid added to the test tubes, the less product formed. The more acidic solution caused the enzyme to work less efficiently.

Results : This author does a good job of answering the questions that should be addressed in a discussion. For example, in the very first sentence he stated what he expected to find and also whether or not the results he obtained supported or failed to support his hypothesis. This is a good, strong way to start a discussion section. It starts off with the facts of the experiment and then later on, the author can move on to his opinions. (return to Sample 1)

Absorbance : A good discussion includes good ideas and also exact and detailed support of these ideas. In addition to starting off well, the author also goes on to explain the specific results of the experiment that support his hypothesis. This is what defines the strength of his discussion section. (return to Sample 1)

Explanation : After his explanation he presents the unexpected results and discusses possible reasons for this data. The author's explanation of possible reasons for unexpected results is good because it shows that he thought about the problems. He does not blame himself for the unexpected. Instead, he considers the methods used, presents a possible explanation, and then justifies his ideas. (return to Sample 1)

Catalyze : This author does a good job outlining his discussion, however he is lacking the specifics to make a good discussion. The first two sentences are better placed in the introduction. However, he does state his expectations and whether or not his results supported these expectation. He could have made this part better by stating this more authoritatively, for example: "It was expected," and not, "It would be expected that." (return to Sample 2)

Unexpected results : The biggest problem this author had was explaining the unexpected results. He blamed himself, saying he read the equipment wrong and passed off the unexpected results as human error. (return to Sample 2)

Enzymes : This author does not develop his argument enough. One example of this, is the affects harsh environmental factors have on enzymes. He could have stated how the acidity caused the enzymes to denature, thus creating less efficiency. (return to Sample 2)

All citations from Pechenik, Jan A. A short guide to writing about Biology. pp. 54-102, Tufts University: Harper Collins College Publishers . 1993.


Abstract

ε-2,4,6,8,10,12-Hexanitro-2,4,6,8,10,12-hexaazaisowurtzitane (CL-20) is considered the most powerful explosive which has practical application. A reduced sensitivity of CL-20 (RS-CL20) has been obtained by a recrystallization method. In this work, different thermal analysis techniques were investigated to determine the decomposition kinetics RS-CL20 and its polyurethane composite (RS-CL20/HTPB). The polyurethane matrix was based on hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) and other additives cured by hexamethylene diisocyanate (HMDI). The thermal behavior of the studied samples was studied by Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC). The decomposition kinetics were obtained from the measurements of Thermogravimetry analysis (TGA) and Vacuum Stability Test (VST). The isoconversional (model-free) methods which are Kissinger method, Ozawa, Flynn, and Wall (OFW) method and Kissinger–Akahira–Sunose (KAS) method were used. Furthermore, the Advanced Kinetics and Technology Solution (AKTS) software was used to determine the kinetic parameters of the studied samples in order to provide a comparison. It was concluded that the RS-CL20/HTPB has lower decomposition temperature than pure RS-CL20. The polyurethane matrix has obvious effect on decreasing the activation energy of pure RS-CL20. Activation energies calculated by the three different methods are in the same range of AKTS software results. Successfully, VST results were investigated to predict the kinetic parameters of RS-CL20 and its PBX.


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CONCLUSIONS

When we began talking about low-carbohydrate diets in class, student body language indicated increased interest (sitting up straight, leaning forward, increased eye contact, asking questions). Students reported having conversations with their friends and families on the topic. A typical comment was “My dad wants me to tell him everything I learn about this.” I also heard statements that I had never heard before, such as “I love metabolism.” While we did not do rigorous assessment of learning before and after using this approach, there was considerable anecdotal evidence that including this highly relevant application of metabolic principles was helpful in motivating students to learn and to provide them with additional familiarity to assist in retention of learning.

Summary of several metabolic pathways. Glycolysis and fatty acid oxidation both produce acetyl CoA. Acetyl CoA can enter the citric acid cycle or be degraded via ketosis, among other fates. Concept for drawing inspired from Bhagavan's Medical Biochemistry [ 1 ].


Cell biology

Big scientific encyclopedia "Cell biology" - meiosis and mitosis, cytokines, cellular processes, signaling, movement, growth factors, etc.

Cell biology (also cellular biology or cytology) - the science of cells. The subject of cytology is the cell as a structural and functional unit of life. The tasks of cytology include the study of the structure and functioning of cells, their chemical composition, functions of individual cellular components, processes of cell reproduction, adaptation to environmental conditions, study of the structural features of specialized cells, etc. Research in cellular biology is interconnected to other fields such as genetics, molecular genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, medical microbiology, immunology, and cytochemistry.

Organelles are permanent intracellular structures that differ in structure and perform various functions. Organelles are subdivided into membrane (two-membrane and one-membrane) and non-membrane. The two-membrane components are plastids, mitochondria and the cell nucleus. The organelles of the vacuolar system are one-membrane organelles - the endoplasmic reticulum, the Golgi complex, lysosomes, vacuoles of plant and fungal cells, pulsating vacuoles, etc. Nonmembrane organelles include the ribosomes and the cell center, which are constantly present in the cell.

Mitochondria are integral components of all eukaryotic cells. They are granular or threadlike structures. Mitochondria are bounded by two membranes - the outer and the inner. The outer mitochondrial membrane separates it from the hyaloplasm. The inner membrane forms many invaginations inside the mitochondria - the so-called cristae.

Mitosis is a method of cell division in which genetic material (chromosomes) is distributed equally between new (daughter) cells. It starts by dividing the core into two children. The cytoplasm is similarly divided. The processes that take place from one division to another are called the mitotic cycle.

Meiosis is a stage in the formation of germ cells consists of two successive divisions of the original diploid cell (containing two sets of chromosomes) and the formation of four haploid germ cells, or gametes (containing one set of chromosomes).

The cytoskeleton, a set of filamentous protein structures - microtubules and microfilaments that make up the musculoskeletal system of the cell. The cytoskeleton is possessed only by eukaryotic cells it is absent in the cells of prokaryotes (bacteria). The cytoskeleton gives the cell a certain shape even in the absence of a rigid cell wall. It organizes the movement of organelles in the cytoplasm. The cytoskeleton is easily rearranged, providing, if necessary, a change in the shape of the cells.

Amino acids are the structural components of proteins. Proteins, or proteins, are biological heteropolymers, the monomers of which are amino acids. About 200 amino acids are known to be found in living organisms, but only 20 of them are part of proteins. These are basic, or protein-forming (proteinogenic), amino acids.

By their chemical nature, enzymes are simple or complex proteins their molecules may include a non-protein part - a coenzyme. The mechanism of action of enzymes is to reduce the activation energy of the catalyzed reaction. This is achieved by attaching the enzyme to the reacting substances and forming an intermediate complex with them, as a result of which the energy threshold of the reaction decreases and the probability of its proceeding in the desired direction sharply increases.

This science dictionary cellular biology book free offline:
• contains over 7500 definitions of characteristics and terms
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• advanced search function with autocomplete - search will start and predict word as you type
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Robert Sapolsky

Biology

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Neuron death, stress, gene therapy

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    BIO 151 (Aut)
    BIO 84 (Win) Independent Studies (15)

      BIO 199 (Aut, Spr, Sum)
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      BIO 300X (Sum)
      BIO 290 (Aut, Win, Spr)

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    • This Is Your Brain on Nationalism The Biology of Us and Them FOREIGN AFFAIRS Sapolsky, R. 2019 98 (2) : 42–47

    Abstract

    For centuries, philosophers and social theorists have wondered why people submit voluntarily to tyrannical leaders and oppressive regimes. In this article, we speculate on the evolutionary origins of system justification, that is, the ways in which people are motivated (often nonconsciously) to defend and justify existing social, economic, and political systems. After briefly recounting the logic of system justification theory and some of the most pertinent empirical evidence, we consider parallels between the social behaviors of humans and other animals concerning the acceptance versus rejection of hierarchy and dominance. Next, we summarize research in human neuroscience suggesting that specific brain regions, such as the amygdala and the anterior cingulate cortex, may be linked to individual differences in ideological preferences concerning (in)equality and social stability as well as the successful navigation of complex, hierarchical social systems. Finally, we consider some of the implications of a system justification perspective for the study of evolutionary psychology, political behavior, and social change.

    Abstract

    Ischemic postconditioning (IPostC) protects against stroke, but few have studied the pathophysiological mechanisms of its long-term protective effects. Here, we investigated whether the mTOR pathway is involved in the long-term protective effects of IPostC. Stroke was induced in rats by distal middle cerebral artery occlusion (dMCAo) combined with 30 min of bilateral common carotid artery (CCA) occlusion, and IPostC was induced after the CCA release. Injury size and behavioral tests were measured up to 3 weeks post stroke. We used rapamycin and mTOR shRNA lentiviral vectors to inhibit mTOR activities, while S6K1 viral vectors, a main downstream mTOR gene, were used to promote mTOR activities. We found that rapamycin administration abolished the long-term protective effects of IPostC. In addition, IPostC promoted the presynaptic growth associated protein 43 (GAP-43) and the postsynaptic protein 95 (PSD-95) levels at 1 week post-stroke, which were reduced by rapamycin. Furthermore, rapamycin reduced phosphorylated mTOR (p-mTOR) protein levels measured at 3 weeks after stroke. These results were confirmed by mTOR shRNA transfection. Moreover, we found that injection of S6K1 viral vectors promoted GAP-43 and PSD-95 protein levels. We conclude that mTOR may play a crucial, protective role in brain damage after stroke and contribute to the protective effects of IPostC.

    Abstract

    Chronic stress is a recognized risk factor for psychiatric and psychological disorders and a potent modulator of adult neurogenesis. Numerous studies have shown that during stress, neurogenesis decreases however, during the recovery from the stress, neurogenesis increases. Despite the increased number of neurons born after stress, it is unknown if the function and morphology of those neurons are altered. Here we asked whether neurons in adult mice, born during the final 5 days of chronic social stress and matured during recovery from chronic social stress, are similar to neurons born with no stress conditions from a quantitative, functional and morphological perspective, and whether those neurons are uniquely adapted to respond to a subsequent stressful challenge. We observed an increased number of newborn neurons incorporated in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus during the 10-week post-stress recovery phase. Interestingly, those new neurons were more responsive to subsequent chronic stress, as they showed more of a stress-induced decrease in spine density and branching nodes than in neurons born during a non-stress period. Our results replicate findings that the neuronal survival and incorporation of neurons in the adult dentate gyrus increases after chronic stress and suggest that such neurons are uniquely adapted in the response to future social stressors. This finding provides a potential mechanism for some of the long-term hippocampal effects of stress.

    Abstract

    The realm of human uniqueness steadily shrinks reflecting this, other primates suffer from states closer to depression or anxiety than 'depressive-like' or 'anxiety-like behavior'. Nonetheless, there remain psychiatric domains unique to humans. Appreciating these continuities and discontinuities must inform the choice of neurobiological approach used in studying any animal model of psychiatric disorders. More fundamentally, the continuities reveal how aspects of psychiatric malaise run deeper than our species' history.

    Abstract

    Stress can exert long-lasting changes on the brain that contribute to vulnerability to mental illness, yet mechanisms underlying this long-term vulnerability are not well understood. We hypothesized that stress may alter the production of oligodendrocytes in the adult brain, providing a cellular and structural basis for stress-related disorders. We found that immobilization stress decreased neurogenesis and increased oligodendrogenesis in the dentate gyrus (DG) of the adult rat hippocampus and that injections of the rat glucocorticoid stress hormone corticosterone (cort) were sufficient to replicate this effect. The DG contains a unique population of multipotent neural stem cells (NSCs) that give rise to adult newborn neurons, but oligodendrogenic potential has not been demonstrated in vivo. We used a nestin-CreER/YFP transgenic mouse line for lineage tracing and found that cort induces oligodendrogenesis from nestin-expressing NSCs in vivo. Using hippocampal NSCs cultured in vitro, we further showed that exposure to cort induced a pro-oligodendrogenic transcriptional program and resulted in an increase in oligodendrogenesis and decrease in neurogenesis, which was prevented by genetic blockade of glucocorticoid receptor (GR). Together, these results suggest a novel model in which stress may alter hippocampal function by promoting oligodendrogenesis, thereby altering the cellular composition and white matter structure.

    Abstract

    The obligate intracellular parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, disseminates through its host inside infected immune cells. We hypothesize that parasite nutrient requirements lead to manipulation of migratory properties of the immune cell. We demonstrate that 1) T. gondii relies on glutamine for optimal infection, replication and viability, and 2) T. gondii-infected bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (DCs) display both "hypermotility" and "enhanced migration" to an elevated glutamine gradient in vitro. We show that glutamine uptake by the sodium-dependent neutral amino acid transporter 2 (SNAT2) is required for this enhanced migration. SNAT2 transport of glutamine is also a significant factor in the induction of migration by the small cytokine stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) in uninfected DCs. Blocking both SNAT2 and C-X-C chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4 the unique receptor for SDF-1) blocks hypermotility and the enhanced migration in T. gondii-infected DCs. Changes in host cell protein expression following T. gondii infection may explain the altered migratory phenotype we observed an increase of CD80 and unchanged protein level of CXCR4 in both T. gondii-infected and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated DCs. However, unlike activated DCs, SNAT2 expression in the cytosol of infected cells was also unchanged. Thus, our results suggest an important role of glutamine transport via SNAT2 in immune cell migration and a possible interaction between SNAT2 and CXCR4, by which T. gondii manipulates host cell motility.

    Abstract

    Whether the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is protective against brain injury from stroke or is detrimental is controversial, and whether it is involved in the protective effects of ischemic postconditioning (IPC) against stroke is unreported. Our study focuses on the protective role of mTOR against neuronal injury after stroke with and without IPC.We used both an in vitro oxygen-glucose deprivation model with a mixed neuronal culture and hypoxic postconditioning, as well as an in vivo stroke model with IPC. Rapamycin, a specific pharmacological inhibitor of mTOR, and mTOR short hairpin RNA lentiviral vectors were used to inhibit mTOR activity. A lentiviral vector expressing S6K1, a downstream molecule of mTOR, was used to confirm the protective effects of mTOR. Infarct sizes were measured and protein levels were examined by Western blot.We report that stroke resulted in reduced levels of phosphorylated proteins in the mTOR pathway, including S6K1, S6, and 4EBP1, and that IPC increased these proteins. mTOR inhibition, both by the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin and by mTOR short hairpin RNA, worsened ischemic outcomes in vitro and in vivo and abolished the protective effects of hypoxic postconditioning and IPC on neuronal death in vitro and brain injury size in vivo. Overexpression of S6K1 mediated by lentiviral vectors significantly attenuated brain infarction.mTOR plays a crucial protective role in brain damage after stroke and contributes to the protective effects of IPC.

    Abstract

    The protozoan Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) manipulates the behavior of its rodent intermediate host to facilitate its passage to its feline definitive host. This is accomplished by a reduction of the aversive response that rodents show towards cat odors, which likely increases the predation risk. Females on average show similar changes as males. However, behaviors that relate to aversion and attraction are usually strongly influenced by the estrus cycle. In this study, we replicated behavioral effects of T. gondii in female rats, as well as expanded it to two novel behavioral paradigms. We also characterized the role of the estrus cycle in the behavioral effects of T. gondii on female rats. Uninfected females preferred to spend more time in proximity to rabbit rather than bobcat urine, and in a dark chamber rather than a lit chamber. Infected females lost both of these preferences, and also spent more time investigating social novelty (foreign bedding in their environment). Taken together, these data suggest that infection makes females less risk averse and more exploratory. Furthermore, this effect was influenced by the estrus cycle. Uninfected rats preferred rabbit urine to bobcat urine throughout the cycle except at estrus and metestrus. In contrast, infected rats lost this preference at every stage of the cycle except estrus. Commensurate with the possibility that this was a hormone-dependent effect, infected rats had elevated levels of circulating progesterone, a known anxiolytic.

    Abstract

    Stress exacerbates neuron loss in many CNS injuries via the actions of adrenal glucocorticoid (GC) hormones. For some injuries, this GC endangerment of neurons is accompanied by greater immune cell activation in the CNS, a surprising outcome given the potent immunosuppressive properties of GCs.To determine whether the effects of GCs on inflammation contribute to neuron death or result from it, we tested whether nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs could protect neurons from GCs during kainic acid excitotoxicity in adrenalectomized male rats. We next measured GC effects on (1) chemokine production (CCL2 and CINC-1), (2) signals that suppress immune activation (CX3CL1, CD22, CD200, and TGF-β), and (3) NF-κB activity.Concurrent treatment with minocycline, but not indomethacin, prevented GC endangerment. GCs did not substantially affect CCL2, CINC-1, or baseline NF-κB activity, but they did suppress CX3CL1, CX3CR1, and CD22 expression in the hippocampus - factors that normally restrain inflammatory responses.These findings demonstrate that cellular inflammation is not necessarily suppressed by GCs in the injured hippocampus instead, GCs may worsen hippocampal neuron death, at least in part by increasing the neurotoxicity of CNS inflammation. © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.

    Abstract

    Protein kinases Akt1 and Akt3 are considered to be more crucial to brain function than Akt2. We investigated the roles of Akt1 and Akt3 in stroke-induced brain injury and examined their interactions with the Akt/mTOR pathways. Focal ischemia was induced in rats. Lentiviral vectors expressing constitutively active Akt1 and Akt3 (cAkt1 and cAkt3) were injected into the ischemic cortex. Infarct sizes and gene and protein expressions in the Akt/mTOR pathways were evaluated. The results show that Akt1 and Akt3 proteins were degraded as early as 1 hour after stroke, whereas Akt2 proteins remained unchanged until 24 hours after stroke. Lentiviral-mediated overexpression of cAkt1 or cAkt3 reduced neuronal death after in vitro and in vivo ischemia. Interestingly, cAkt3 overexpression resulted in stronger protection than cAkt1 overexpression. Western blot analyses further showed that cAkt3 promoted significantly higher levels of phosphorylated Akt and phosphorylated mTOR than cAkt1. The mTOR inhibitor rapamycin blocked the protective effects of both cAkt1 and cAkt3. In conclusion, Akt isoforms are differentially regulated after stroke and Akt3 offers stronger protection than cAkt1 by maintaining Akt levels and promoting mTOR activity.

    Abstract

    Norway rat pups were either handled (H) or undisturbed (nonhandled, NH) in the period between birth and weaning on Day 21. Following weaning, half of the animals in each group were housed socially (Soc), and half were housed in isolation (Isol). At 120-150 days of age, all animals were sacrificed, and the following regions were dissected and frozen at -70 °C until the time of assay: frontal cortex, hippocampus, hypothalamus, amygdala, septum, and pituitary. [3H]Dexamethasone (3H Dex) binding in each region was examined by an in vitro, cytosol, receptor assay. 3H Dex binding was significantly higher in the hippocampus of both H-Soc and H-Isol than in NH groups. In the frontal cortex, 3H Dex binding was higher in the H-Soc animals than in the H-Isol and NH-Isol animals. There were no significant handling or housing effects found in the amygdala, hypothalamus, septum, or pituitary. Thus, early postnatal handling appears to influence the development of the glucocorticoid receptor system in the hippocampus and frontal cortex. These results are discussed as providing a possible mechanism for some of the previously reported effects of early handling on the development of the pituitary-adrenal response to stress.

    Abstract

    Inflammation is a major factor in the progression of damage after stroke and in the clinic, current therapies treat the clot, not the resulting damage. We have developed a novel method of protein delivery that exploits the migration ability of leukocytes after ischemic stroke (transient middle cerebral artery occlusion tMCAO). In our studies, ex vivo-derived dendritic cells (exDCs) migrate to the inflamed rat brain soon after tMCAO onset and the number of cells that remain in the brain after injection is significantly correlated with the amount of local inflammation at the injury site. In addition, exDCs transduced to overexpress soluble tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor1 (sTNFR1) produce functional cargo that is secreted and that blocks TNF-α bioavailability in vitro. When delivered at 6 hours post-tMCAO reperfusion, sTNFR1-exDC-treated rats show significantly smaller infarct size and decreased inflammation compared with animals treated with exDCs transduced with GFP lentivirus. These studies indicate that cell-mediated delivery of proteins may be a promising new approach to reduce brain damage after acute neurologic insult.Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism advance online publication, 12 June 2013 doi:10.1038/jcbfm.2013.100.

    Abstract

    Performance on many memory tests varies across the day and is severely impaired by disruptions in circadian timing. We developed a noninvasive method to permanently eliminate circadian rhythms in Siberian hamsters (Phodopussungorus) so that we could investigate the contribution of the circadian system to learning and memory in animals that are neurologically and genetically intact. Male and female adult hamsters were rendered arrhythmic by a disruptive phase shift protocol that eliminates cycling of clock genes within the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), but preserves sleep architecture. These arrhythmic animals have deficits in spatial working memory and in long-term object recognition memory. In a T-maze, rhythmic control hamsters exhibited spontaneous alternation behavior late in the day and at night, but made random arm choices early in the day. By contrast, arrhythmic animals made only random arm choices at all time points. Control animals readily discriminated novel objects from familiar ones, whereas arrhythmic hamsters could not. Since the SCN is primarily a GABAergic nucleus, we hypothesized that an arrhythmic SCN could interfere with memory by increasing inhibition in hippocampal circuits. To evaluate this possibility, we administered the GABAA antagonist pentylenetetrazole (PTZ 0.3 or 1.0 mg/kg/day) to arrhythmic hamsters for 10 days, which is a regimen previously shown to produce long-term improvements in hippocampal physiology and behavior in Ts65Dn (Down syndrome) mice. PTZ restored long-term object recognition and spatial working memory for at least 30 days after drug treatment without restoring circadian rhythms. PTZ did not augment memory in control (entrained) animals, but did increase their activity during the memory tests. Our findings support the hypothesis that circadian arrhythmia impairs declarative memory by increasing the relative influence of GABAergic inhibition in the hippocampus.

    Abstract

    Glucocorticoid stress hormones (GCs) are well known for being anti-inflammatory, but some reports suggest that GCs can also augment aspects of inflammation during acute brain injury. Because the GC receptor (GR) is ubiquitously expressed throughout the brain, it is difficult to know which cell types might mediate these unusual "proinflammatory" GC actions. We examined this with cell type-specific deletion or overexpression of GR in mice experiencing seizure or ischemia. Counter to their classical anti-inflammatory actions, GR signaling in myeloid cells increased Iba-1 and CD68 staining as well as nuclear p65 levels in the injured tissue. GCs also reduced levels of occludin, claudin 5, and caveolin 1, proteins central to blood-brain-barrier integrity these effects required GR in endothelial cells. Finally, GCs compromised neuron survival, an effect mediated by GR in myeloid and endothelial cells to a greater extent than by neuronal GR.

    Abstract

    Research with experimental stroke models has identified a wide range of therapeutic proteins that can prevent the brain damage caused by this form of acute neurological injury. Despite this, we do not yet have safe and effective ways to deliver therapeutic proteins to the injured brain, and this remains a major obstacle for clinical translation. Current targeted strategies typically involve invasive neurosurgery, whereas systemic approaches produce the undesirable outcome of non-specific protein delivery to the entire brain, rather than solely to the injury site. As a potential way to address this, we developed a protein delivery system modeled after the endogenous immune cell response to brain injury. Using ex-vivo-engineered dendritic cells (DCs), we find that these cells can transiently home to brain injury in a rat model of stroke with both temporal and spatial selectivity. We present a standardized method to derive injury-responsive DCs from bone marrow and show that injury targeting is dependent on culture conditions that maintain an immature DC phenotype. Further, we find evidence that when loaded with therapeutic cargo, cultured DCs can suppress initial neuron death caused by an ischemic injury. These results demonstrate a non-invasive method to target ischemic brain injury and may ultimately provide a way to selectively deliver therapeutic compounds to the injured brain.

    Abstract

    Pathological anxiety is thought to reflect a maladaptive state characterized by exaggerated fear. Naturally occurring perturbations that reduce fear can be crucial in the search for new treatments. The protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii invades rat brain and removes the fear that rats have of cat odors, a change believed to be parasitic manipulation of host behavior aimed at increasing parasite transmission. It is likely that mechanisms employed by T. gondii can be used as a heuristic tool to understand possible means of fear reduction in clinical settings. Male Long-Evans rats were infected with T. gondii and compared with sham-infected animals 8 weeks after infection. The amount of circulating plasma corticosterone and dendritic arborization of basolateral amygdala principal neurons were quantified. Previous studies have shown that corticosterone, acting within the basolateral amygdala, enhances the fear response to environmental stimuli. Here we show that T. gondii infection causes a dendritic retraction in basolateral amygdala neurons. Such dendritic retraction is accompanied by lower amounts of circulating corticosterone, both at baseline and when induced by an aversive cat odor. The concerted effects of parasitism on two pivotal physiological nodes of the fear response provide an animal model relevant to interactions between stress hormones and amygdalar plasticity.

    Abstract

    It has been known for decades that wild baboons are naturally infected with Treponema pallidum, the bacterium that causes the diseases syphilis (subsp. pallidum), yaws (subsp. pertenue), and bejel (subsp. endemicum) in humans. Recently, a form of T. pallidum infection associated with severe genital lesions has been described in wild baboons at Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania. In this study, we investigated ten additional sites in Tanzania and Kenya using a combination of macroscopic observation and serology, in order to determine whether the infection was present in each area. In addition, we obtained genetic sequence data from six polymorphic regions using T. pallidum strains collected from baboons at two different Tanzanian sites. We report that lesions consistent with T. pallidum infection were present at four of the five Tanzanian sites examined, and serology was used to confirm treponemal infection at three of these. By contrast, no signs of treponemal infection were observed at the six Kenyan sites, and serology indicated T. pallidum was present at only one of them. A survey of sexually mature baboons at Lake Manyara National Park in 2006 carried out as part of this study indicated that roughly ten percent displayed T. pallidum-associated lesions severe enough to cause major structural damage to the genitalia. Finally, we found that T. pallidum strains from Lake Manyara National Park and Serengeti National Park were genetically distinct, and a phylogeny suggested that baboon strains may have diverged prior to the clade containing human strains. We conclude that T. pallidum infection associated with genital lesions appears to be common in the wild baboons of the regions studied in Tanzania. Further study is needed to elucidate the infection's transmission mode, its associated morbidity and mortality, and the relationship between baboon and human strains.

    Abstract

    Stress leads to secretion of the adrenal steroid hormone corticosterone (CORT). The aim of this study was to determine the effects of chronic CORT administration on auditory and visual fear conditioning. Male Sprague-Dawley rats received CORT (400 mg/ml) in their drinking water for 10 consecutive days this treatment induces stress levels of serum CORT. CORT impaired fear conditioning (F((1,28)) = 11.52, p View details for DOI 10.1016/j.heares.2012.09.008

    Abstract

    Innate behaviors are shaped by contingencies built during evolutionary history. On the other hand, environmental stimuli play a significant role in shaping behavior. In particular, a short period of environmental enrichment can enhance cognitive behavior, modify effects of stress on learned behaviors and induce brain plasticity. It is unclear if modulation by environment can extend to innate behaviors which are preserved by intense selection pressure. In the present report we investigate this issue by studying effects of relatively short (14-days) environmental enrichment on two prominent innate behaviors in rats, avoidance of predator odors and ability of males to attract mates. We show that enrichment has strong effects on both the innate behaviors: a) enriched males were more avoidant of a predator odor than non-enriched controls, and had a greater rise in corticosterone levels in response to the odor and b) had higher testosterone levels and were more attractive to females. Additionally, we demonstrate decrease in dendritic length of neurons of ventrolateral nucleus of hypothalamus, important for reproductive mate-choice and increase in the same in dorsomedial nucleus, important for defensive behavior. Thus, behavioral and hormonal observations provide evidence that a short period of environmental manipulation can alter innate behaviors, providing a good example of gene-environment interaction.

    Abstract

    Impaired regulation of emotional memory is a feature of several affective disorders, including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Such regulation occurs, in part, by interactions between the hippocampus and the basolateral amygdala (BLA). Recent studies have indicated that within the adult hippocampus, newborn neurons may contribute to support emotional memory, and that regulation of hippocampal neurogenesis is implicated in depressive disorders. How emotional information affects newborn neurons in adults is not clear. Given the role of the BLA in hippocampus-dependent emotional memory, we investigated whether hippocampal neurogenesis was sensitive to emotional stimuli from the BLA. We show that BLA lesions suppress adult neurogenesis, while lesions of the central nucleus of the amygdala do not. Similarly, we show that reducing BLA activity through viral vector-mediated overexpression of an outwardly rectifying potassium channel suppresses neurogenesis. We also show that BLA lesions prevent selective activation of immature newborn neurons in response to a fear-conditioning task. These results demonstrate that BLA activity regulates adult hippocampal neurogenesis and the fear context-specific activation of newborn neurons. Together, these findings denote functional implications for proliferation and recruitment of new neurons into emotional memory circuits.

    Abstract

    Stroke causes brain dysfunction and neuron death, and the lack of effective therapies heightens the need for new therapeutic targets. Here we identify prokineticin 2 (PK2) as a mediator for cerebral ischemic injury. PK2 is a bioactive peptide initially discovered as a regulator of gastrointestinal motility. Multiple biological roles for PK2 have been discovered, including circadian rhythms, angiogenesis, and neurogenesis. However, the role of PK2 in neuropathology is unknown. Using primary cortical cultures, we found that PK2 mRNA is up-regulated by several pathological stressors, including hypoxia, reactive oxygen species, and excitotoxic glutamate. Glutamate-induced PK2 expression is dependent on NMDA receptor activation and extracellular calcium. Enriched neuronal culture studies revealed that neurons are the principal source of glutamate-induced PK2. Using in vivo models of stroke, we found that PK2 mRNA is induced in the ischemic cortex and striatum. Central delivery of PK2 worsens infarct volume, whereas PK2 receptor antagonist decreases infarct volume and central inflammation while improving functional outcome. Direct central inhibition of PK2 using RNAi also reduces infarct volume. These findings indicate that PK2 can be activated by pathological stimuli such as hypoxia-ischemia and excitotoxic glutamate and identify PK2 as a deleterious mediator for cerebral ischemia.

    Abstract

    Females in various species typically avoid males infected with parasites, while parasite-free males advertise their status through conspicuous phenotypic traits. This process selects for heritable resistance and reduces direct exposure of the female to parasites. Coevolving parasites are likely to attempt to circumvent this obstacle. In this paper, we demonstrate a case of parasitic manipulation of host mate choice. We report that Toxoplasma gondii, a sexually transmitted infection of brown rats, enhances sexual attractiveness of infected males. Thus under some evolutionary niches, parasites can indeed manipulate host sexual signaling to their own advantage.

    Abstract

    Cat odors induce rapid, innate and stereotyped defensive behaviors in rats at first exposure, a presumed response to the evolutionary pressures of predation. Bizarrely, rats infected with the brain parasite Toxoplasma gondii approach the cat odors they typically avoid. Since the protozoan Toxoplasma requires the cat to sexually reproduce, this change in host behavior is thought to be a remarkable example of a parasite manipulating a mammalian host for its own benefit. Toxoplasma does not influence host response to non-feline predator odor nor does it alter behavior on olfactory, social, fear or anxiety tests, arguing for specific manipulation in the processing of cat odor. We report that Toxoplasma infection alters neural activity in limbic brain areas necessary for innate defensive behavior in response to cat odor. Moreover, Toxoplasma increases activity in nearby limbic regions of sexual attraction when the rat is exposed to cat urine, compelling evidence that Toxoplasma overwhelms the innate fear response by causing, in its stead, a type of sexual attraction to the normally aversive cat odor.

    Abstract

    A disturbance of the brain-gut axis is a prominent feature in functional bowel disorders (such as irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia) and psychological abnormalities are often implicated in their pathogenesis. We hypothesized that psychological morbidity in these conditions may result from gastrointestinal problems, rather than causing them.Functional dyspepsia was induced by neonatal gastric irritation in male rats. 10-day old male Sprague-Dawley rats received 0.1% iodoacetamide (IA) or vehicle by oral gavage for 6 days. At 8-10 weeks of age, rats were tested with sucrose preference and forced-swimming tests to examine depression-like behavior. Elevated plus maze, open field and light-dark box tests were used to test anxiety-like behaviors. ACTH and corticosterone responses to a minor stressor, saline injection, and hypothalamic CRF expression were also measured.Behavioral tests revealed changes of anxiety- and depression-like behaviors in IA-treated, but not control rats. As compared with controls, hypothalamic and amygdaloid CRF immunoreactivity, basal levels of plasma corticosterone and stress-induced ACTH were significantly higher in IA-treated rats. Gastric sensory ablation with resiniferatoxin had no effect on behaviors but treatment with CRF type 1 receptor antagonist, antalarmin, reversed the depression-like behavior in IA-treated ratsThe present results suggest that transient gastric irritation in the neonatal period can induce a long lasting increase in depression- and anxiety-like behaviors, increased expression of CRF in the hypothalamus, and an increased sensitivity of HPA axis to stress. The depression-like behavior may be mediated by the CRF1 receptor. These findings have significant implications for the pathogenesis of psychological co-morbidity in patients with functional bowel disorders.

    Abstract

    Gene therapy has demonstrated the protective potential of a variety of genes against stroke. However, conventional gene therapy vectors are limited due to the inability to temporally control their expression, which can sometimes lead to deleterious side effects. Thus, an inducible vector that can be temporally controlled and activated by the insult itself would be advantageous. Using hypoxia responsive elements (HRE) and antioxidant responsive elements (ARE), we have constructed an insult-inducible vector activated by hypoxia and reactive oxygen species (ROS). In COS7 cells, the inducible ARE-HRE-luciferase vectors are highly activated by oxygen deprivation, hydrogen peroxide treatment, and the ROS-induced transcription factor NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2). Using a defective herpes virus, the neuroprotective potential of this inducible vector was tested by over-expressing the transcription factor Nrf2. In primary cortical cultures, expression of the inducible ARE-HRE-Nrf2 protects against oxygen glucose deprivation, similar to that afforded by the constitutively expressed Nrf2. This ARE+HRE vector system is advantageous in that it allows the expression of a transgene to be activated not only during hypoxia but also maintained after reperfusion, thus prolonging the transgene expression during an ischemic insult. This insult-inducible vector system will be a valuable gene therapy tool for activating therapeutic/protective genes in cerebrovascular diseases.

    Abstract

    Although the anti-inflammatory actions of glucocorticoids (GCs) are well established, evidence has accumulated showing that proinflammatory GC effects can occur in the brain, in a poorly understood manner. Using electrophoretic mobility shift assay, real-time PCR, and immunoblotting, we investigated the ability of varying concentrations of corticosterone (CORT, the GC of rats) to modulate lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced activation of NF-κB (nuclear factor κB), expression of anti- and proinflammatory factors and of the MAP (mitogen-activated protein) kinase family [ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase), p38, and JNK/SAPK (c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase/stress-activated protein kinase)], and AKT. In the frontal cortex, elevated CORT levels were proinflammatory, exacerbating LPS effects on NF-κB, MAP kinases, and proinflammatory gene expression. Milder proinflammatory GCs effects occurred in the hippocampus. In the absence of LPS, elevated CORT levels increased basal activation of ERK1/2, p38, SAPK/JNK, and AKT in both regions. These findings suggest that GCs do not uniformly suppress neuroinflammation and can even enhance it at multiple levels in the pathway linking LPS exposure to inflammation.

    Abstract

    Successful treatment of fear and anxiety disorders is presently a difficult task. A major limitation is the fact that underlying physiological mechanisms of fear and anxiety are only now beginning to be understood. As we obtain more information about mechanisms and brain circuits involved, treatment of these conditions will become increasingly realistic.Gene therapy is a promising treatment strategy that has several advantages over the more widely used pharmacological approaches. In this review we discuss the potential and limitation of gene therapy in the amygdala. This review concerns itself with papers published within the last 20 years in the field of gene therapy for fear and anxiety, and has been primarily conducted in rodent models.We present the current state of research into gene therapy for anxiety disorders, using a few case studies. The review will delineate challenges, limitations and opportunities for successful gene therapy.There are sizeable gains in knowledge about functioning of the fear system. This will inform future improvements in gene therapy approaches. An ideal gene therapy strategy will involve improvements in both delivery vectors and in design of therapeutic cargo.

    Abstract

    The basolateral amygdala is critical for generating anxiety, and exposure to glucocorticoids induces anxiety. The demonstrated ability of glucocorticoids to cause dendritic expansion and increase excitability in the amygdala could help mediate the behavioral effects of glucocorticoids, and thus may be important therapeutic target for anxiety. In contrast, estrogen has the opposite effects of glucocorticoids in many domains. In this study, we employed a gene therapeutic approach to reduce anxiety and dendritic arborization of amygdaloid neurons of adult male Wistar rats. We used a herpes simplex viral vector to express a chimeric steroid receptor ("ERGR") which binds glucocorticoids yet transduces their actions into estrogenic effects. When expressed in the basolateral amygdala (BLA), ERGR reduced anxiety, as tested on elevated plus-maze and open field, without affecting conditioned fear, another amygdala-dependent behavior. Moreover, ERGR also blocked glucocorticoid-induced dendritic expansion of BLA neurons. Thus ERGR expression in the BLA provides a potential therapeutic against anxiety disorders.

    Abstract

    Viral vectors bearing protective transgenes can decrease neurotoxicity after varied necrotic insults. A neuron that dies necrotically releases glutamate, calcium and reactive oxygen species, thereby potentially damaging neighboring neurons. This raises the possibility that preventing such neuron death via gene therapy can secondarily protect neighboring neurons that, themselves, do not express a protective transgene. We determined whether such "good neighbor" effects occur, by characterizing neurons that, while uninfected themselves, are in close proximity to a transgene-bearing neuron. We tested two genes whose overexpression protects against excitotoxicity: anti-apoptotic Bcl-2, and a calcium-activated K(+) channel, SK2. Using herpes simplex virus type 2-mediated transgene delivery to hippocampal cultures, we observed "good neighbor" effects on neuronal survival following an excitotoxic insult. However, in the absence of insult, "bad neighbor" effects could also occur (i.e., where being in proximity to a neuron constitutively expressing one of those transgenes is deleterious). We also characterized the necessity for cell-cell contact for these effects. These phenomena may have broad implications for the efficacy of gene overexpression strategies in the CNS.

    Abstract

    The behavioural manipulation hypothesis posits that parasites can change the behaviour of hosts to increase the reproductive fitness of the parasite. The protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii fits this description well. Sexual reproduction occurs in the cat intestine, from which highly stable oocysts are excreted in faeces. Grazing animals, including rodents, can then ingest these oocysts. The parasite has evolved the capacity to abolish the innate fear that rodents have of the odours of cats, and to convert that fear into an attraction. This presumably increases the likelihood of the rodent being predated, thereby completing the parasite's life cycle. The behavioural syndrome produced by T. gondii does not have any precedent in neuroscience research. This is not a case where the normal functioning of fear system have been altered. This is not even the case of the altering of fear towards predator odours, while leaving other kinds of fear intact. This is an unprecedented example of one component of the fear being eliminated (and replaced by a novel attraction), while appearing to leave other domains unchanged. An understanding of the neurobiological effects of T. gondii is beginning to emerge. One possibility is T. gondii's preferential localisation to, and effects within the amygdala this is particularly intriguing, given the role of this brain structure in the normal fear response. Obviously, far more must be understood, and the unique behavioural effects of T. gondii put very demanding constraints on any hypothesis we formulate to explain proximate neurobiological mechanisms.

    Abstract

    Moderate release of the major stress hormones, glucocorticoids (GCs), improves hippocampal function and memory. In contrast, excessive or prolonged elevations produce impairments. Enzymatic degradation and reformation of GCs help to maintain optimal levels within target tissues, including the brain. We hypothesized that expressing a GC-degrading enzyme in hippocampal neurons would attenuate the negative impact of an excessive elevation in GC levels on synaptic physiology and spatial memory. We tested this by expressing 11-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (type II) in dentate gyrus granule cells during a 3 d GC treatment followed by examination of synaptic responses in hippocampal slices or spatial performance in the Morris water maze. In adrenalectomized rats with basal GC replacement, additional GC treatments for 3 d reduced synaptic strength and promoted the expression of long-term depression at medial perforant path synapses, increased granule cell and CA1 pyramidal cell excitability, and impaired spatial reference memory (without influencing learning). Expression of 11-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (type II), mostly in mature dentate gyrus granule cells, reversed the effects of high GC levels on granule cell and pyramidal cell excitability, perforant path synaptic plasticity, and spatial memory. These data demonstrate the ability of neuroprotective gene expression limited to a specific cell population to both locally and trans-synaptically offset neurophysiological disruptions produced by prolonged increases in circulating stress hormones. This report supplies the first physiological explanation for previously demonstrated cognitive sparing by anti-stress gene therapy approaches and lends additional insight into the hippocampal processes that are important for memory.

    Abstract

    Neuronal apoptosis following ischemia can be mediated by a caspase-dependent pathway, which involves the mitochondrial release of cytochrome c that initiates a cascade of caspase activation. In addition, there is a caspase-independent pathway, which is mediated by the release of apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF). Using caspase inhibitor gene therapy, we investigated the roles of caspases on the mitochondrial release of cyt c and the release of AIF. Specifically, we used herpes simplex virus-1 amplicon vectors to ectopically express a viral caspase inhibitor (crmA or p35) in mixed cortical cultures exposed to oxygen/glucose deprivation. Overexpression of either crmA or p35 (but not the caspase-3 inhibitor DEVD) inhibited the release of AIF this suggests that there can be cross-talk between the caspase-dependent and the ostensibly caspase-independent pathway. In addition, both crmA overexpression and DEVD inhibited cyt c release, suggesting a positive feedback loop involving activated caspases stimulating cyt c release.

    Abstract

    Mental stress modifies both cholinergic neurotransmission and alternative splicing in the brain, via incompletely understood mechanisms. Here, we report that stress changes brain microRNA (miR) expression and that some of these stress-regulated miRs regulate alternative splicing. Acute and chronic immobilization stress differentially altered the expression of numerous miRs in two stress-responsive regions of the rat brain, the hippocampal CA1 region and the central nucleus of the amygdala. miR-134 and miR-183 levels both increased in the amygdala following acute stress, compared to unstressed controls. Chronic stress decreased miR-134 levels, whereas miR-183 remained unchanged in both the amygdala and CA1. Importantly, miR-134 and miR-183 share a common predicted mRNA target, encoding the splicing factor SC35. Stress was previously shown to upregulate SC35, which promotes the alternative splicing of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) from the synapse-associated isoform AChE-S to the, normally rare, soluble AChE-R protein. Knockdown of miR-183 expression increased SC35 protein levels in vitro, whereas overexpression of miR-183 reduced SC35 protein levels, suggesting a physiological role for miR-183 regulation under stress. We show stress-induced changes in miR-183 and miR-134 and suggest that, by regulating splicing factors and their targets, these changes modify both alternative splicing and cholinergic neurotransmission in the stressed brain.

    Abstract

    Individual differences in coping response lie at the core of vulnerability to conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Like humans, not all animals exposed to severe stress show lasting change in affect. Predator stress is a traumatic experience inducing long-lasting fear, but not in all rodents. Thus, individual variation may be a cross species factor driving responsiveness to stressful events. The present study investigated neurobiological bases of variation in coping with severe stress. The amygdala was studied because it modulates fear and its function is affected by stress. Moreover, stress-induced plasticity of the amygdala has been related to induction of anxiety, a comorbid symptom of psychiatric conditions like PTSD. We exposed rodents to predator stress and grouped them according to their adaptability based on a standard anxiety test (the elevated plus maze). Subsequently we investigated if well-adapted (less anxious) and mal-adapted (extremely anxious) stressed animals differed in the structure of dendritic trees of their output neurons of the right basolateral amygdala (BLA). Two weeks after exposure to stress, well-adapted animals showed low anxiety levels comparable to unstressed controls, whereas mal-adapted animals were highly anxious. In these same animals, Golgi analysis revealed that BLA neurons of well-adapted rats exhibited more densely packed and shorter dendrites than neurons of mal-adapted or unstressed control animals, which did not differ. These data suggest that dendritic hypotrophy in the BLA may be a resilience marker against lasting anxiogenic effects of predator stress.

    Abstract

    NAP (NAPVSIPQ, generic name, davunetide), a neuroprotective peptide in clinical development for neuroprotection against Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative indications, has been recently shown to provide protection against kainic acid excitotoxicity in hippocampal neuronal cultures. In vivo, kainic acid toxicity models status epilepticus that is associated with hippocampal cell death. Kainic acid toxicity has been previously suggested to involve the microtubule cytoskeleton and NAP is a microtubule-interacting drug candidate. In the current study, kainic acid-treated rats showed epileptic seizures and neuronal death. Injection of NAP into the dentate gyrus partially protected against kainic acid-induced CA3 neuron death. Microarray analysis (composed of > 31 000 probe sets, analyzing over 30 000 transcripts and variants from over 25 000 well-substantiated rat genes) in the kainic acid-injured rat brain revealed multiple changes in gene expression, which were prevented, in part, by NAP treatment. Selected transcripts were further verified by reverse transcription coupled with quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Importantly, among the transcripts regulated by NAP were key genes associated with proconvulsant properties and with long-lasting changes that underlie the epileptic state, including activin A receptor (associated with apoptosis), neurotensin (associated with proper neurotransmission) and the Wolfram syndrome 1 homolog (human, associated with neurodegeneration). These data suggest that NAP may provide neuroprotection in one of the most serious neurological conditions, epilepsy.

    Abstract

    The peptide NAP (NAPVSIPQ) was shown to protect neurons against a wide variety of insults. Particularly, NAP was shown to be neuroprotective in vitro against cyanide in hippocampal cultures and against oxygen-glucose deprivation in hippocampal and cortical neuronal cultures. Cyanide causes energy depletion in the cell and destroys the cytoskeleton, and NAP has been shown before to protect the microtubule cytoskeleton. The current study explored the effect of NAP on cyanide-induced microtubule destruction in cerebral cortical cultures. Sodium cyanide (6.8 mM) reduced the number of neurons containing intact microtubules as identified by bIII-tubulin immunostaining. When sodium cyanide was added together with NAP (10(-14)-10(-12) M), complete protection was observed. Although the primary site of action of cyanide is considered to be the mitochondria, the current results involve microtubule destruction by cyanide toxicity that is completely reversed by NAP treatment.

    Abstract

    Glucocorticoids (GCs) are hormones released during the stress response that are well known for their immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory properties however, recent advances have uncovered situations wherein they have effects in the opposite direction. The CNS is a particularly interesting example, both because of its unique immune environment, and because GCs affect immune responses differently in different brain regions. In this minireview we discuss the contexts wherein GCs increase CNS inflammation and point out directions for future investigation.

    Abstract

    The amygdala plays a critical role in the development of anxiety and the regulation of stress hormone secretion. Reciprocally, stress and stress hormones can induce amygdala hypertrophy, a phenomenon related to enhanced anxiety. As such, modulating amygdaloid function can potentially reduce maladaptive features of the stress response. The amygdala contains two kind of receptor for corticosteroids, the adrenal steroid hormone released during stress: glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) and mineralocorticoid receptors (MRs). Although high-affinity MRs are heavily occupied during basal conditions, low-affinity GRs are heavily occupied only by stress levels of glucocorticoids. Prolonged and heavy occupancy of GRs tends to mediate the deleterious effects of glucocorticoids on neurons, whereas MR occupancy tends to mediate beneficial effects.In this report, we overexpress MR in neurons of adult rat basolateral amygdala, with a herpes simplex viral vector coding for two copies of MR.Such overexpression reduced anxiety, as measured on an elevated plus-maze, and reduced the magnitude of glucocorticoid secretion after an acute stressor.Thus, increasing MR signaling in basolateral amygdala could be valuable in management of stress disorders.

    Abstract

    NAPVSIPQ (NAP), an 8 amino acid peptide derived from activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP), provides neuroprotection through interaction with microtubules. Previous results have demonstrated NAP protection against oxygen-glucose deprivation in hippocampal cells in culture. Furthermore, in vivo studies have shown that NAP reduces caspase 3 activation in rats subjected to permanent mid-cerebral artery occlusion (a rat model of stroke). Oxygen-glucose deprivation (ischemia) has been associated with microtubule breakdown and cytochrome c release from mitochondria leading to apoptosis. Here, NAP in concentrations ranging from 10(-14)M to 10(-8)M completely blocked cytochrome c release in cortical neurons subjected to oxygen-glucose deprivation. Furthermore, quantitative microscopy coupled to microtubule immunocytochemistry suggested that NAP prevented microtubule degradation under oxidative stress. As cytochrome c release is a known initiator of the apoptotic pathway, it is suggested that NAP inhibits the early events of apoptosis.

    Abstract

    The basolateral amygdala is critical for generation of anxiety. In addition, exposure to both stress and glucocorticoids induces anxiety. Demonstrated ability of the amygdala to change in response to stress and glucocorticoids could thus be important therapeutic target for anxiety management. Several studies have reported a relationship between anxiety and dendritic arborization of the amygdaloid neurons. In this study we employed a gene therapeutic approach to reduce anxiety and dendritic arborization of the amygdala neurons. Specifically, we overexpressed SK2 potassium channel in the basolateral amygdala using a herpes simplex viral system. Our choice of therapeutic cargo was guided by the indications that activation of the amygdala might underlie anxiety and that SK2 could reduce neuronal activation by exerting inhibitory influence on action potentials. We report that SK2 overexpression reduced anxiety and stress-induced corticosterone secretion at a systemic level. SK2 overexpression also reduced dendritic arborization of the amygdala neurons. Hence, SK2 is a potential gene therapy candidate molecule that can be used against stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety.

    Abstract

    Apoptosis arises from neuronal damage following an ischemic insult. Apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) is a protein released from mitochondria in response to pro-apoptotic signals which then translocates to the nucleus and triggers DNA fragmentation. In parallel with this, pro-apoptotic signals cause the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, activating caspase-dependent apoptosis. During post-ischemic reperfusion, reactive oxygen species (ROS) are formed in excess in mitochondria and can play a role in initiating apoptosis. In cultures, ROS are formed during post oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD) normoxia/normoglycemia that is used as a model for ischemia. In this study, we delivered viral vectors to overexpress antioxidants (GPX, catalase, CuZnSOD, or MnSOD) in mixed cortical cultures, in order to investigate the effects of ROS-reduction on the release of cytochrome c and AIF. Overexpression of MnSOD, CuZnSOD, catalase or GPX all prevented AIF translocation from mitochondria to the nucleus. Potentially, this could reflect broadly non-specific protection due to reducing ROS load. Arguing against this, overexpression of the same antioxidants did not inhibit cytochrome c release. These findings suggest a specific interaction between ROS formation and the caspase-independent route of apoptosis.

    Abstract

    The basolateral complex of the amygdala (BLA) is uniquely affected by steroid hormones. Whereas glucocorticoids (GCs)--the adrenal hormones released during stress--increase the excitability of BLA neurons, estrogen decreases it.In this study, we used a vector designed to express a chimeric gene that contains the GC-binding domain of the GC receptor (GR) and the DNA binding domain of the estrogen receptor (ER) ("ER/GR") in infected neurons as a result, it transduces GC signals into estrogenic ones. We microinfused ER/GR bilaterally into the BLA of rats to determine whether it would impair fear conditioning, a valuable BLA-dependent paradigm for studying the neural basis of emotional memory.Expression of ER/GR in the BLA caused robust expression of the transgene and a significant disruption of both auditory and contextual long-term fear memory consolidation, whereas fear learning and post-shock freezing remained intact.These data show that dual gene therapy with ER/GR might be a useful tool for understanding the role of steroid hormones in the storage of traumatic memories.

    Abstract

    Glucocorticoids (GCs) and estrogen can modulate neuron death and dysfunction during neurological insults. Glucocorticoids are adrenal steroids secreted during stress, and hypersecretion of GCs during cerebral ischemia compromises the ability of hippocampal and cortical neurons to survive. In contrast, estrogen can be neuroprotective after cerebral ischemia. Here we evaluate the protective potential of a herpes viral vector expressing a chimeric receptor (ER/GR), which is composed of the ligand-binding domain of the GC receptor (GR) and the DNA-binding domain of the estrogen receptor-alpha (ER). This novel receptor can transduce an endangering GC signal into a protective estrogenic one. Using an in vitro oxygen glucose deprivation model (OGD), GCs exacerbated neuron death in primary cortical cultures, and this worsening effect was completely blocked by ER/GR expression. Moreover, blocking GC actions with a vector expressing a dominant negative GC receptor promoted neuron survival during postischemia, but not preischemia. Thus, gene therapeutic strategies to modulate GC and estrogen signaling can be beneficial during an ischemic insult.

    Abstract

    Fear arousal, initiated by an environmental threat, leads to activation of the stress response, a state of alarm that promotes an array of autonomic and endocrine changes designed to aid self-preservation. The stress response includes the release of glucocorticoids from the adrenal cortex and catecholamines from the adrenal medulla and sympathetic nerves. These stress hormones, in turn, provide feedback to the brain and influence neural structures that control emotion and cognition. To illustrate this influence, we focus on how it impacts fear conditioning, a behavioral paradigm widely used to study the neural mechanisms underlying the acquisition, expression, consolidation, reconsolidation, and extinction of emotional memories. We also discuss how stress and the endocrine mediators of the stress response influence the morphological and electrophysiological properties of neurons in brain areas that are crucial for fear-conditioning processes, including the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. The information in this review illuminates the behavioral and cellular events that underlie the feedforward and feedback networks that mediate states of fear and stress and their interaction in the brain.

    Abstract

    The ability to discriminate between spatial contexts is crucial for survival. This ability can be succinctly tested in the paradigm of fear renewal. In this paradigm, a change of spatial context results in robust renewal of conditioned fear, even if the conditioned fear has been previously extinguished. Chronic stress and environmental enrichment are known to affect learning and memory in opposite directions, with the former generally being deleterious. In this study, we examined the effects of chronic stress and enrichment on fear renewal in rats. Fear was evaluated as freezing responses to an auditory conditioning stimulus initially associated with footshocks in context A fear extinction was evaluated in a novel spatial context (B) without the conditioned stimulus, and renewal in a third context (C) with the auditory cue. Specifically, we aimed to test if environmental enrichment can oppose the effects of chronic stress on fear renewal. We exposed different groups of adult male Wistar rats (6-12 per group) to 10 days of chronic stress (immobilization for 2 h daily), 14 days of enrichment, or a combination of both. We report that chronic stress compromised fear extinction and renewal. In contrast, enrichment re-established fear renewal in chronically stressed rats. Enhanced contextual modulation of fear memories in animals experiencing environmental enrichment while stressed could reflect an adaptive response. This could allow greater flexibility to optimize vigilance in differing spatial contexts.

    Abstract

    Decades of studies have shown that eliminating circadian rhythms of mammals does not compromise their health or longevity in the laboratory in any obvious way. These observations have raised questions about the functional significance of the mammalian circadian system, but have been difficult to address for lack of an appropriate animal model. Surgical ablation of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and clock gene knockouts eliminate rhythms, but also damage adjacent brain regions or cause developmental effects that may impair cognitive or other physiological functions. We developed a method that avoids these problems and eliminates rhythms by noninvasive means in Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus). The present study evaluated cognitive function in arrhythmic animals by using a hippocampal-dependent learning task. Control hamsters exhibited normal circadian modulation of performance in a delayed novel-object recognition task. By contrast, arrhythmic animals could not discriminate a novel object from a familiar one only 20 or 60 min after training. Memory performance was not related to prior sleep history as sleep manipulations had no effect on performance. The GABA antagonist pentylenetetrazol restored learning without restoring circadian rhythms. We conclude that the circadian system is involved in memory function in a manner that is independent of sleep. Circadian influence on learning may be exerted via cyclic GABA output from the SCN to target sites involved in learning. Arrhythmic hamsters may have failed to perform this task because of chronic inhibitory signaling from the SCN that interfered with the plastic mechanisms that encode learning in the hippocampus.

    Abstract

    Stress results in the release of glucocorticoids (GCs) which at high levels, impair performance on hippocampus-dependent tasks. Estrogen is neurotrophic and can rescue stress-induced memory impairments. Here we report the use of a viral vector to overexpress a chimeric gene (ER/GR) that converts the deleterious effects of glucocorticoids into beneficial estrogenic effects. A short immobilization stress regimen was sufficient to impair non-spatial memory. In contrast, viral vector-mediated overexpression of ER/GR in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus protected against stress-induced impairments of non-spatial memory. These data add to the growing evidence that increasing estrogenic signaling can protect against the impairing effects of stress on non-spatial memory.

    Abstract

    Stress is known to induce dendritic hypertrophy in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) and to enhance anxiety. Stress also leads to secretion of glucocorticoids (GC), and the BLA has a high concentration of glucocorticoid receptors. This raises the possibility that stress-induced elevation in GC secretion might directly affect amygdaloid neurons. To address the possible effects of GC on neurons of amygdala and on anxiety, we used rats treated either acutely with a single dose or chronically with 10 daily doses of high physiological levels of corticosterone (the rat-specific glucocorticoid). Behavior and morphological changes in neurons of BLA were measured 12 days after the initiation of treatment in both groups. A single acute dose of corticosterone was sufficient to induce dendritic hypertrophy in the BLA and heightened anxiety, as measured on an elevated plus maze. Moreover, this form of dendritic hypertrophy after acute treatment was of a magnitude similar to that caused by chronic treatment. Thus, plasticity of BLA neurons is sufficiently sensitive so as to be saturated by a single day of stress. The effects of corticosterone were specific to anxiety, as neither acute nor chronic treatment caused any change in conditioned fear or in general locomotor activity in these animals.

    Abstract

    A number of gene therapy approaches have been developed for protecting neurons from necrotic neurological insults. Such therapies are limited by the need for transcription and translation of the protective protein, delaying therapeutic impact. As an alternative, we explore the neuroprotective potential of protein therapy, using a fusion protein comprised of the death-suppressing BH4 domain of the Bcl-xL protein and the protein transduction domain of the human immunodeficiency virus Tat protein. This fusion protein decreased neurotoxicity caused by the excitotoxins glutamate and kainic acid in primary hippocampal cultures, and decreased hippocampal damage in vivo in an excitotoxic seizure model.

    Abstract

    Dephosphorylated and activated glycogen synthase kinase (GSK) 3beta hyperphosphorylates beta-catenin, leading to its ubiquitin-proteosome-mediated degradation. beta-catenin-knockdown increases while beta-catenin overexpression prevents neuronal death in vitro in addition, protein levels of beta-catenin are reduced in the brain of Alzheimer's patients. However, whether beta-catenin degradation is involved in stroke-induced brain injury is unknown. Here we studied activities of GSK 3beta and beta-catenin, and the protective effect of moderate hypothermia (30 degrees C) on these activities after focal ischemia in rats. The results of Western blot showed that GSK 3beta was dephosphorylated at 5 and 24 h after stroke in the normothermic (37 degrees C) brain hypothermia augmented GSK 3beta dephosphorylation. Because hypothermia reduces infarction, these results contradict with previous studies showing that GSK 3beta dephosphorylation worsens neuronal death. Nevertheless, hypothermia blocked degradation of total GSK 3beta protein. Corresponding to GSK 3beta activity in normothermic rats, beta-catenin phosphorylation transiently increased at 5 h in both the ischemic penumbra and core, and the total protein level of beta-catenin degraded after normothermic stroke. Hypothermia did not inhibit beta-catenin phosphorylation, but it blocked beta-catenin degradation in the ischemic penumbra. In conclusion, moderate hypothermia can stabilize beta-catenin, which may contribute to the protective effect of moderate hypothermia.

    Abstract

    It is well established that mineralocorticoid receptors (MRs) and glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) influence hippocampal-dependent spatial memory. MRs are saturated in the presence of low corticosterone (CORT) levels consequently receptor protein levels play a rate-limiting role in regulating the positive effects of MR-mediated gene transcription. In this study, viral vector-mediated transgene expression was used to simultaneously manipulate both MR and GR signaling. This approach allowed us to investigate the effects of spatially restricted overexpression of MR and a negative transdominant GR (TD) in the dentate gyrus (DG) subfield of the hippocampus, on short term and long term spatial memory in animals overexpressing one copy of MR or TD, two copies of MR ("MR/MR"), or one copy of each ("MR/TD"). Expression of transgenes did not influence the acquisition (learning) phase of the Morris water maze task. However, we found an overall enhancing effect of MR/MR expression on short term memory performance. In addition, rats expressing TD and MR/TD blocked the high CORT-induced impairments on long term spatial memory retrieval. These findings illustrate the potential beneficial effects of increasing MR signaling or decreasing GR signaling to enhance specific aspects of cognitive function.

    Abstract

    Mild or moderate hypothermia is generally thought to block all changes in signaling events that are detrimental to ischemic brain, including ATP depletion, glutamate release, Ca(2+) mobilization, anoxic depolarization, free radical generation, inflammation, blood-brain barrier permeability, necrotic, and apoptotic pathways. However, the effects and mechanisms of hypothermia are, in fact, variable. We emphasize that, even in the laboratory, hypothermic protection is limited. In certain models of permanent focal ischemia, hypothermia may not protect at all. In cases where hypothermia reduces infarct, some studies have overemphasized its ability to maintain cerebral blood flow and ATP levels, and to prevent anoxic depolarization, glutamate release during ischemia. Instead, hypothermia may protect against ischemia by regulating cascades that occur after reperfusion, including blood-brain barrier permeability and the changes in gene and protein expressions associated with necrotic and apoptotic pathways. Hypothermia not only blocks multiple damaging cascades after stroke, but also selectively upregulates some protective genes. However, most of these mechanisms are addressed in models with intraischemic hypothermia much less information is available in models with postischemic hypothermia. Moreover, although it has been confirmed that mild hypothermia is clinically feasible for acute focal stroke treatment, no definite beneficial effect has been reported yet. This lack of clinical protection may result from suboptimal criteria for patient entrance into clinical trials. To facilitate clinical translation, future efforts in the laboratory should focus more on the protective mechanisms of postischemic hypothermia, as well as on the effects of sex, age and rewarming during reperfusion on hypothermic protection.

    Abstract

    Brain injury due to seizure induces a robust inflammatory response that involves multiple factors. Although the expression of chemokines has been identified as a part of this response, there are remaining questions about their relative contribution to seizure pathogenesis. To address this, we report the expression profile of the chemokine, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1, CCL2), during kainate-induced seizure in the rat hippocampus. Furthermore, we compare MCP-1 expression to the temporal profile of blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability and immune cell recruitment at the injury site, since both of these events have been linked to MCP-1. We find that BBB permeability increased prior to upregulation of MCP-1, while MCP-1 upregulation and immune cell recruitment occurred concurrently, 7-13 h after opening of the BBB. Our findings support the following conclusions: (1) BBB opening to large proteins does not require MCP-1 upregulation (2) Leukocyte immigration is not sufficient to induce BBB opening to large proteins (3) MCP-1 upregulation likely mediates recruitment of macrophages/microglia and granulocytes during seizure injury, thus warranting further investigation of this chemokine.

    Abstract

    Apoptosis, a predominant cause of neuronal death after stroke, can be executed in a caspase-dependent or apoptosis inducing factor (AIF)-dependent manner. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) vectors expressing caspase inhibitors p35 and crmA have been shown to be neuroprotective against various excitotoxic insults. Here we further evaluated the possible neuroprotective role of p35 and crmA in a rat stroke model. Overexpression of p35, but not crmA, significantly increased neuronal survival. Results of double immunofluorescence staining indicate that compared with neurons infected with crmA or control vectors, p35-infected neurons had less active caspase-3 expression, cytosolic cytochrome c and nuclear AIF translocation.

    Abstract

    Mice lacking the Kv1.1 potassium channel alpha subunit encoded by the Kcna1 gene develop recurrent behavioral seizures early in life. We examined the neuropathological consequences of seizure activity in the Kv1.1(-/-) (knock-out) mouse, and explored the effects of injecting a viral vector carrying the deleted Kcna1 gene into hippocampal neurons.Morphological techniques were used to assess neuropathological patterns in hippocampus of Kv1.1(-/-) animals. Immunohistochemical and biochemical techniques were used to monitor ion channel expression in Kv1.1(-/-) brain. Both wild-type and knockout mice were injected (bilaterally into hippocampus) with an HSV1 amplicon vector that contained the rat Kcna1 subunit gene and/or the E. coli lacZ reporter gene. Vector-injected mice were examined to determine the extent of neuronal infection.Video/EEG monitoring confirmed interictal abnormalities and seizure occurrence in Kv1.1(-/-) mice. Neuropathological assessment suggested that hippocampal damage (silver stain) and reorganization (Timm stain) occurred only after animals had exhibited severe prolonged seizures (status epilepticus). Ablation of Kcna1 did not result in compensatory changes in expression levels of other related ion channel subunits. Vector injection resulted in infection primarily of granule cells in hippocampus, but the number of infected neurons was quite variable across subjects. Kcna1 immunocytochemistry showed "ectopic" Kv1.1 alpha channel subunit expression.Kcna1 deletion in mice results in a seizure disorder that resembles--electrographically and neuropathologically--the patterns seen in rodent models of temporal lobe epilepsy. HSV1 vector-mediated gene transfer into hippocampus yielded variable neuronal infection.

    Abstract

    The femtomolar-acting protective peptide NAP (NAPVSIPQ), derived from activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP), is broadly neuroprotective in vivo and in vitro in cerebral cortical cultures and a variety of cell lines. In the present study, we have extended previous results and examined the protective potential of NAP in primary rat hippocampal cultures, using microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2) as a measure for neuroprotection. Results showed that NAP, at femtomolar concentrations, completely protected against oxygen-glucose deprivation, and cyanide poisoning. Furthermore, NAP partially protected against kainic acid excitotoxicity. In summary, we have significantly expanded previous findings in demonstrating here direct neuroprotective effects for NAP on vital hippocampal neurons that are key participants in cognitive function in vivo.

    Abstract

    Hypothermia is protective in stroke models, but findings from permanent occlusion models are conflicting. In this article the authors induced focal ischemia in rats by permanent distal middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion plus transient occlusion of the common carotid arteries (CCAs). This models a scenario in which the MCA remains occluded but partial reperfusion occurs through collateral vessels. The authors also determined whether hypothermia mediates ischemic damage by blocking apoptotic pathways.The left MCA was occluded permanently and the CCAs were reopened after 2 hours, leading to partial reperfusion in rats maintained at 37 degrees C, 33 degrees C (mild hypothermia), or 30 degrees C (moderate hypothermia) for 2 hours during and/or after CCA occlusion (that is, for a total of 2 or 4 hours of hypothermia or normothermia). Infarct size was measured 2 days after the stroke. Immunofluorescence staining and Western blot analysis were used to detect cytochrome c and apoptosis inducing factor (AIF) translocation.Four hours of prolonged mild hypothermia (33 degrees C) reduced the infarct size 22% in the model of permanent MCA occlusion, whereas 2 hours of such mild hypothermia maintained either during CCA occlusion or after CCA release did not attenuate ischemic damage. However, moderate hypothermia (30 degrees C) during CCA occlusion was significantly more protective than 4 hours of 33 degrees C (46% decrease in infarct size). Four hours of mild or moderate hypothermia reduced cytosolic cytochrome c release and both nuclear and cytosolic AIF translocation in the penumbra 2 days after stroke.These findings suggest that hypothermic neuroprotection might be achieved by blocking AIF and cytochrome c-mediated apoptosis.

    Abstract

    Parasite Toxoplasma gondii blocks the innate aversion of rats for cat urine, putatively increasing the likelihood of a cat predating a rat. This is thought to reflect an adaptive behavioral manipulation, because toxoplasma can reproduce only in cat intestines. While it will be adaptive for the parasite to cause an absolute behavioral change, fitness costs associated with the manipulation itself suggest that the change is optimized and not maximized. We investigate these conflicting suggestions in the present report. Furthermore, exposure to cat odor causes long-lasting acquisition of learnt fear in the rodents. If toxoplasma manipulates emotional valence of cat odor rather than just sensory response, infection should affect learning driven by the aversive properties of the odor. As a second aim of the present study, we investigate this assertion. We demonstrate that behavioral changes in rodents induced by toxoplasma infection do not represent absolute all-or-none effects. Rather, these effects follow a non-monotonous function dependent on strength of stimulus, roughly resembling an inverted-U curve. Furthermore, infection affects conditioning to cat odor in a manner dependent upon strength of unconditioned stimulus employed. Non-monotonous relationship between behavioral manipulation and strength of cat odor agrees with the suggestion that a dynamic balance exists between benefit obtained and costs incurred by the parasite during the manipulation. This report also demonstrates that toxoplasma affects emotional valence of the cat odor as indicated by altered learned fear induced by cat odor.

    Abstract

    Glucocorticoids (GCs) and stress modulate specific phases of information processing. The modulatory affects of GCs on hippocampal function are thought to be mediated by the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) and the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). The GR plays a critical role in mediating the impairing effects of GCs on hippocampal function. Conversely, activation of MR facilitates hippocampal function. The high affinity of MR for GCs suggests that the receptor protein levels play a key role in regulating the beneficial effects of MR-mediated gene transcription. Using herpes simplex vectors, we transiently increased MR levels in dentate gyrus granule cells, which in turn enhanced MR signaling. We then examined its effects on spatial and nonspatial memory consolidation and retrieval using the object placement and object recognition task. Additionally, we assessed whether an increased MR signal could block the impairing effects of high GCs on memory retrieval. Rats overexpressing MR displayed an enhancement in the consolidation of nonspatial memory relative to rats expressing green fluorescent protein and suggest the potential for gene transfer techniques for enhancing cognition during stress. Moreover, rats overexpressing MR were spared from the disruptive effects of high GCs on the retrieval of nonspatial memory. Thus, this study illustrates the critical role of MR in mediating the retrieval and consolidation of nonspatial memory.

    Abstract

    Many biological subdisciplines that regularly assess dose-response relationships have identified an evolutionarily conserved process in which a low dose of a stressful stimulus activates an adaptive response that increases the resistance of the cell or organism to a moderate to severe level of stress. Due to a lack of frequent interaction among scientists in these many areas, there has emerged a broad range of terms that describe such dose-response relationships. This situation has become problematic because the different terms describe a family of similar biological responses (e.g., adaptive response, preconditioning, hormesis), adversely affecting interdisciplinary communication, and possibly even obscuring generalizable features and central biological concepts. With support from scientists in a broad range of disciplines, this article offers a set of recommendations we believe can achieve greater conceptual harmony in dose-response terminology, as well as better understanding and communication across the broad spectrum of biological disciplines.

    Abstract

    The protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii blocks the innate aversion of rats for cat urine, instead producing an attraction to the pheromone this may increase the likelihood of a cat predating a rat. This is thought to reflect adaptive, behavioral manipulation by Toxoplasma in that the parasite, although capable of infecting rats, reproduces sexually only in the gut of the cat. The "behavioral manipulation" hypothesis postulates that a parasite will specifically manipulate host behaviors essential for enhancing its own transmission. However, the neural circuits implicated in innate fear, anxiety, and learned fear all overlap considerably, raising the possibility that Toxoplasma may disrupt all of these nonspecifically. We investigated these conflicting predictions. In mice and rats, latent Toxoplasma infection converted the aversion to feline odors into attraction. Such loss of fear is remarkably specific, because infection did not diminish learned fear, anxiety-like behavior, olfaction, or nonaversive learning. These effects are associated with a tendency for parasite cysts to be more abundant in amygdalar structures than those found in other regions of the brain. By closely examining other types of behavioral patterns that were predicted to be altered we show that the behavioral effect of chronic Toxoplasma infection is highly specific. Overall, this study provides a strong argument in support of the behavioral manipulation hypothesis. Proximate mechanisms of such behavioral manipulations remain unknown, although a subtle tropism on part of the parasite remains a potent possibility.

    Abstract

    In recent years, the classic view that glucocorticoids, the adrenal steroids secreted during stress, are universally anti-inflammatory has been challenged at a variety of levels. It was first observed that under some circumstances, acute GC exposure could have pro-inflammatory effects on the peripheral immune response. More recently, chronic exposure to GCs has been found to have pro-inflammatory effects on the specialized immune response to injury in the central nervous system. Here we review the evidence that in some cases, glucocorticoids can increase pro-inflammatory cell migration, cytokine production, and even transcription factor activity in the brain. We consider how these unexpected effects of glucocorticoids can co-exist with their well-established anti-inflammatory properties, as well as the considerable clinical implications of these findings.

    Abstract

    Reactive oxygen species contribute to neuronal death following cerebral ischemia. Prior studies using transgenic animals have demonstrated the neuroprotective effect of the antioxidant, copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1). In this study, we investigated whether SOD1 overexpression using gene therapy techniques in non-transgenic animals would increase neuronal survival. A neurotropic, herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) vector containing the SOD1 gene was injected into the striatum either before or after transient focal cerebral ischemia. Striatal neuron survival at 2 days was improved by 52% when vector was delivered 12-15 h prior to ischemia and by 53% when vector delivery was delayed 2 h following ischemia. These data add to the growing literature, which suggests that an antioxidant approach, perhaps by employing gene therapy techniques, may be beneficial in the treatment of stroke.

    Abstract

    In recent years, the phosphoinositide-3-kinase/Akt cell survival signaling pathway has been increasingly researched in the field of stroke. Akt activity is suggested to be upregulated by phosphorylation through the activation of receptor tyrosine kinases by growth factors. Although the upstream signaling components phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase (PDK)1 and integrinlinked kinase enhance the activity of Akt, phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) decreases it. Upon activation, Akt phosphorylates an array of molecules, including glycogen synthase kinase3beta (GSK3beta), forkhead homolog in rhabdomyosarcoma (FKHR), and Bcl-2-associated death protein, thereby blocking mitochondrial cytochrome c release and caspase activity. Generally, the level of Akt phosphorylation at site Ser 473 (P-Akt) transiently increases after focal ischemia, whereas the levels of phosphorylation of PTEN, PDK1, forkhead transcription factor, and GSK3beta decrease. Numerous compounds (such as growth factors, estrogen, free radical scavengers, and other neuroprotectants) reduce ischemic damage, possibly by upregulating P-Akt. However, preconditioning and hypothermia block ischemic damage by inhibiting an increase of P-Akt. Inhibition of the Akt pathway blocks the protective effect of preconditioning and hypothermia, suggesting the Akt pathway contributes to their protective effects and that the P-Akt level does not represent its true kinase activity. Together, attenuation of the Akt pathway dysfunction contributes to neuronal survival after stroke.

    Abstract

    Hippocampal function is essential for the acquisition, consolidation, and retrieval of spatial memory. High circulating levels of glucocorticoids (GCs), the adrenal steroid hormones secreted during stress, have been shown to impair both acquisition and retrieval and can either impair or enhance consolidation, depending on experimental conditions. In contrast, estrogen can enhance spatial memory performance and can block the deleterious effects of GCs on such performance. We therefore constructed a chimeric gene ("ER/GR") containing the hormone-binding domain of the GC receptor and the DNA binding domain of the estrogen receptor as a result, ER/GR transduces deleterious GC signals into beneficial estrogenic ones. We show here that acute immobilization stress, before acquisition and retrieval phases, increases latencies for male rats in a hidden platform version of the Morris water maze. This impairment is blocked by hippocampal expression of the ER/GR transgene. ER/GR expression also blocks decreases in platform crossings caused by acute stress, either after acquisition or before retrieval. Three days of stress before acquisition produces an estrogen-like enhancement of performance in ER/GR-treated rats. Moreover, ER/GR blocks the suppressive effects of GCs on expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a growth factor central to hippocampal-dependent cognition and plasticity, instead producing an estrogenic increase in BDNF expression. Thus, ER/GR expression enhances spatial memory performance and blocks the impairing effects of GCs on such performance.

    Abstract

    Cerebral ischemic preconditioning protects against stroke, but is clinically feasible only when the occurrence of stroke is predictable. Reperfusion plays a critical role in cerebral injury after stroke we tested the hypothesis that interrupting reperfusion lessens ischemic injury. We found for the first time that such postconditioning with a series of mechanical interruptions of reperfusion significantly reduces ischemic damage. Focal ischemia was generated by permanent distal middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion plus transient bilateral common carotid artery (CCA) occlusion. After 30 secs of CCA reperfusion, ischemic postconditioning was performed by occluding CCAs for 10 secs, and then allowing for another two cycles of 30 secs of reperfusion and 10 secs of CCA occlusion. Infarct size was measured 2 days later. Cerebral blood flow (CBF) was measured in animals subjected to permanent MCA occlusion plus 15 mins of bilateral CCA occlusion, which demonstrates that postconditioning disturbed the early hyperemia immediately after reperfusion. Postconditioning dose dependently reduced infarct size in animals subjected to permanent MCA occlusion combined with 15, 30, and 60 mins of bilateral CCA occlusion, by reducing infarct size approximately 80%, 51%, and 17%, respectively. In addition, postconditioning blocked terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated uridine 5'-triphosphate-biotin nick end labeling-positive staining, a marker of apoptosis, in the penumbra 2 days after stroke. Furthermore, in situ superoxide detection using hydroethidine suggested that postconditioning attenuated superoxide products during early reperfusion after stroke. In conclusion, postconditioning reduced infarct size, most plausibly by blocking apoptosis and free radical generation. With further study it may eventually be clinically applicable for stroke treatment.

    Abstract

    Neuronal death following necrotic insults involves the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). We investigated the effects of antioxidant gene therapy on ROS accumulation after exposure to either sodium cyanide, kainic acid or oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD). Specifically, we generated herpes simplex virus-1 amplicon vector expressing the gene for the antioxidant enzyme CuZnSOD. Overexpression of this gene in primary hippocampal cultures resulted in increased enzymatic activity of the corresponding protein. CuZnSOD significantly protected hippocampal neurons against sodium cyanide insult and the subsequent lipid peroxidation. However, it did not protect against OGD- or kainic-acid-induced toxicity. Moreover, CuZnSOD significantly worsened the toxicity, hydrogen peroxide accumulation and lipid peroxidation induced by kainic acid. As a possible explanation for this surprising worsening, CuZnSOD overexpression increased glutathione peroxidase activity in the presence of sodium cyanide but had no effect on catalase or glutathione peroxidase activity in the presence of kainic acid. Thus, cells were unlikely to be able to detoxify the excess hydrogen peroxide produced as a result of the CuZnSOD overexpression. These studies can be viewed as a cautionary note concerning gene therapy intervention against necrotic insults.

    Abstract

    Sleep deprivation impairs hippocampal-dependent learning, which, in turn, is associated with increased survival of newborn cells in the hippocampus. We tested whether the deleterious effects of sleep restriction on hippocampus-dependent memory were associated with reduced cell survival in the hippocampus. We show that sleep restriction impaired hippocampus-dependent learning and abolished learning-induced neurogenesis. Animals were trained in a water maze on either a spatial learning (hippocampus-dependent) task or a nonspatial (hippocampus-independent) task for 4 days. Sleep-restricted animals were kept awake for one-half of their rest phase on each of the training days. Consistent with previous reports, animals trained on the hippocampus-dependent task expressed increased survival of newborn cells in comparison with animals trained on the hippocampus-independent task. This increase was abolished by sleep restriction that caused overall reduced cell survival in all animals. Sleep restriction also selectively impaired spatial learning while performance in the nonspatial task was, surprisingly, improved. Further analysis showed that in both training groups fully rested animals applied a spatial strategy irrespective of task requirements this strategy interfered with performance in the nonspatial task. Conversely, in sleep-restricted animals, this preferred spatial strategy was eliminated, favoring the use of nonspatial information, and hence improving performance in the nonspatial task. These findings suggest that sleep loss altered behavioral strategies to those that do not depend on the hippocampus, concomitantly reversing the neurogenic effects of hippocampus-dependent learning.

    Abstract

    It is now recognized that the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) following necrotic neurological insults plays a central role in the subsequent neuron death. A key step in ROS detoxification is the conversion of hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen by either catalase (CAT) or glutathione peroxidase (GPX). We have previously shown that overexpression of CAT or GPX protects cultured neurons against subsequent excitotoxic insults. Because of the unpredictability of most acute neurological insults, gene therapy will most often need to be carried out after rather than in anticipation of an insult. Thus, we have tested whether herpes virus amplicon vectors expressing CAT or GPX still protect cultured hippocampal neurons from oxygen/glucose deprivation if introduced following an insult. CAT-expressing vectors were protective even when introduced 8 h post-insult. In contrast, there was no post-insult time window in which GPX overexpression protected. While CAT requires no cofactor, GPX action requires glutathione as a cofactor. Thus, we speculated that the post-insult decline in glutathione compromises the protective potential of GPX. Supporting this, reversing the post-insult glutathione decline with glutathione supplementation was neuroprotective.

    Abstract

    Activation of the Akt/protein kinase B (PKB) kinase pathway can be neuroprotective after stroke. Akt is activated by growth factors via a phosphorylation-dependent pathway involving the kinases phosphoinositide 3 (PI3) kinase and phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1 (PDK1) and is negatively regulated by phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN). Akt kinase blocks apoptosis by phosphorylating the substrates forkhead transcription factor (FKHR) and glycogen synthase kinase 3beta (GSK3beta). We found that intra-ischemic hypothermia (30 degrees C) reduced infarct size and improved functional outcomes up to 2 months. Changes in phosphorylation levels of Akt, as measured by Western blots and immunostaining, differed from levels of Akt activity measured in an in vitro assay in normothermic animals. Hypothermia blocked most of these changes and maintained Akt activity. Inhibition of PI3/Akt enlarged infarct size in hypothermic animals. Hypothermia improved phosphorylation of PDK1, PTEN, and FKHR. Hypothermia did not improve GSK3beta (Ser9) phosphorylation but blocked the nuclear translocation of phosphorylated beta-catenin (Ser33/37/Thr41) downstream of GSK3beta. Phosphorylation levels of PTEN, Akt, and Akt substrate decreased before apoptotic cytochrome c release and degradation of microtubule-associated protein-2, a marker of neuronal survival. Hypothermia may protect from ischemic damage in part by preserving Akt activity and attenuating the apoptotic effects of PTEN, PDK1, and FKHR.

    Abstract

    Hypothermia is effective in preventing ischemic damage. A caspase-dependent apoptotic pathway is involved in ischemic damage, but how hypothermia inhibits this pathway after global cerebral ischemia has not been well explored. It was determined whether hypothermia protects the brain by altering cytochrome c release and caspase activity. Cerebral ischemia was produced by two-vessel occlusion plus hypotension for 10 mins. Body temperature in hypothermic animals was reduced to 33 degrees C before ischemia onset and maintained for 3 h after reperfusion. Western blots of subcellular fractions revealed biphasic cytosolic cytochrome c release, with an initial peak at about 5 h after ischemia, which decreased at 12 to 24 h, and a second, larger peak at 48 h. Caspase-3 and -9 activity increased at 12 and 24 h. A caspase inhibitor, Z-DEVD-FMK, administered 5 and 24 h after ischemia onset, protected hippocampal CA1 neurons from injury and blocked the second cytochrome c peak, suggesting that caspases mediate this second phase. Hypothermia (33 degrees C), which prevented CA1 injury, did not inhibit cytochrome c release at 5 h, but reduced cytochrome c release at 48 h. Caspase-3 and -9 activity was markedly attenuated by hypothermia at 12 and 24 h. Thus, biphasic cytochrome c release occurs after transient global ischemia and mild hypothermia protects against ischemic damage by blocking the second phase of cytochrome c release, possibly by blocking caspase activity.

    Abstract

    Glucocorticoids (GCs), the adrenal steroid hormones released during stress, have well-known anti-inflammatory actions. Despite that, there is increasing evidence that GCs are not uniformly anti-inflammatory in the injured nervous system and, in fact, can be pro-inflammatory. The present report continues this theme. Primary hippocampal cultures were treated with GC concentrations approximating basal, acute (1 h) stress or chronic (24 h) stress conditions and were then exposed to the excitotoxin kainic acid (KA). KA induced expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1 beta and TNF-alpha, and chronic high dose GC exposure excacerbated this induction. In a second study, cultures were exposed to the physiological range of GC concentrations for 24 h prior to KA treatment. Low- to mid-range GC concentrations were anti-inflammatory, decreasing expression of IL-1 beta and TNF-alpha, while the highest GC doses either failed to be anti-inflammatory or even potentiated expression further. These findings add to the growing picture of these classically anti-inflammatory hormones potentially having pro-inflammatory effects in the injured CNS.

    Abstract

    HIV infection of the nervous system can cause neurotoxicity, and the glycoprotein gp120 of HIV seems to play a key role in this. gp120 is neurotoxic through a multi-cellular pathway, stimulating microglia to release excitotoxins, cytokines and reactive oxygen species, which then damage neurons. We have previously shown that estrogen decreases the neurotoxicity of gp120 in mixed neuronal/glial cultures. In this study, we determine whether estrogen a) decreases the collective neurotoxicity of the factors released by gp120-treated microglia, and/or b) enhances the ability of neurons to survive such factors. To do so, we established microglial cultures, mixed neuronal/glial hippocampal cultures, and neuron-enriched cultures, independently manipulating gp120 and estrogen exposure in each type of culture, and inducing neurotoxicity in neuron-containing cultures by introducing conditioned media from gp120-treated microglial cultures. We observe that estrogen can exert some small protective effects at the level of bolstering neuronal resistance, but that the bulk of its protective effects arise at the level of decreasing the neurotoxicity of factors released by microglia.

    Abstract

    Dominance hierarchies occur in numerous social species, and rank within them can greatly influence the quality of life of an animal. In this review, I consider how rank can also influence physiology and health. I first consider whether it is high- or low-ranking animals that are most stressed in a dominance hierarchy this turns out to vary as a function of the social organization in different species and populations. I then review how the stressful characteristics of social rank have adverse adrenocortical, cardiovascular, reproductive, immunological, and neurobiological consequences. Finally, I consider how these findings apply to the human realm of health, disease, and socioeconomic status.

    Abstract

    Cerebral deposition of beta-amyloid (Abeta) peptides is an invariant pathological hallmark in brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and transgenic mice coexpressing familial AD-linked APP and PS1 variants. We now report that exposure of transgenic mice to an "enriched environment" results in pronounced reductions in cerebral Abeta levels and amyloid deposits, compared to animals raised under "standard housing" conditions. The enzymatic activity of an Abeta-degrading endopeptidase, neprilysin, is elevated in the brains of "enriched" mice and inversely correlated with amyloid burden. Moreover, DNA microarray analysis revealed selective upregulation in levels of transcripts encoded by genes associated with learning and memory, vasculogenesis, neurogenesis, cell survival pathways, Abeta sequestration, and prostaglandin synthesis. These studies provide evidence that environmental enrichment leads to reductions in steady-state levels of cerebral Abeta peptides and amyloid deposition and selective upregulation in levels of specific transcripts in brains of transgenic mice.

    Abstract

    Advances in the area of stroke and other neurodegenerative disorders have identified a variety of molecular targets for potential therapeutic intervention. The use of modified viral vectors has now made it possible to introduce foreign DNA into central nervous system cells, permitting overexpression of the protein of interest. A particular advantage of the herpes simplex system is that the herpes virus is neurotropic and is therefore suited for gene therapy to the nervous system. The vectors used by our group to date utilize an amplicon-based bipromoter system, which permits expression of both the gene of interest and a reporter gene. Using this strategy, we have been successful in transferring potentially neuroprotective genes to individual central nervous system cells. Using this approach, it is possible to show that gene therapy both before and after insult is feasible. Some limitations of this technique exist, the main one being delivery and extent of transfection. Although application to clinical stroke is probably remote, viral vector-mediated gene therapy provides a unique and powerful tool in the study of molecular mechanisms involved in brain injury.

    Abstract

    Removal of circulating corticosterone by adrenalectomy (ADX) leads to apoptosis after 3 days in a small population of rat dentate granule neurons, whereas most surrounding cells remain viable. Interestingly, a specific expression profile is triggered in surviving granule cells that may enhance their survival. Hippocampal slices prepared 1, 2 or 3 days after ADX or sham operation were stained ex vivo with Hoechst 33258, which serves to identify apoptotic neurons. After electrophysiological analysis, multiple gene expression in surviving individual granule cells was assessed by linear antisense RNA amplification and hybridization to slot blots containing various neuronal cDNAs. Hierarchical clustering and principal component analysis was performed on two physiological variables and 14 mRNA ratios from ADX cells from every time point. Our results indicate that surviving 3-day ADX granule cells display lower membrane capacitance, lower relative N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) R1 mRNA expression and higher relative mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), alpha1A voltage-gated Ca-channel, Bcl-2 and NMDA R2C mRNA expression. Some 1- and 2-day ADX cells cluster with these 3-day survivors therefore, one or more components of their mRNA expression profile may represent predictive markers for apoptosis resistance. The functional relevance of two candidate genes was tested by in vivo local over-expression in the same model system of these, Bcl-2 conferred partial protection when induced shortly before ADX. Therefore, removal of corticosteroids triggers a specific gene expression profile in surviving dentate granule cells key components of this profile may be associated with their survival.

    Abstract

    In recent decades, the general trend in the criminal justice system in the USA has been to narrow the range of insanity defences available, with an increasing dependence solely on the M'Naghten rule. This states that innocence by reason of insanity requires that the perpetrator could not understand the nature of their criminal act, or did not know that the act was wrong, by reason of a mental illness. In this essay, I question the appropriateness of this, in light of contemporary neuroscience. Specifically, I focus on the role of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in cognition, emotional regulation, control of impulsive behaviour and moral reasoning. I review the consequences of PFC damage on these endpoints, the capacity for factors such as alcohol and stress to transiently impair PFC function, and the remarkably late development of the PFC (in which full myelination may not occur until early adulthood). I also consider how individual variation in PFC function and anatomy, within the normative range, covaries with some of these endpoints. This literature is reviewed because of its relevance to issues of criminal insanity specifically, damage can produce an individual capable of differentiating right from wrong but who, nonetheless, is organically incapable of appropriately regulating their behaviour.

    Abstract

    Glucocorticoids, the adrenal steroids released during stress, compromise the ability of neurons to survive neurological injury. In contrast, estrogen protects neurons against such injuries. We designed three genetic interventions to manipulate the actions of glucocorticoids, which reduced their deleterious effects in both in vitro and in vivo rat models. The most effective of these interventions created a chimeric receptor combining the ligand-binding domain of the glucocorticoid receptor and the DNA-binding domain of the estrogen receptor. Expression of this chimeric receptor reduced hippocampal lesion size after neurological damage by 63% and reversed the outcome of the stress response by rendering glucocorticoids protective rather than destructive. Our findings elucidate three principal steps in the neuronal stress-response pathway, all of which are amenable to therapeutic intervention.

    Abstract

    Chaperones, especially the stress inducible Hsp70, have been studied for their potential to protect the brain from ischemic injury. While they protect from both global and focal ischemia in vivo and cell culture models of ischemia/reperfusion injury in vitro, the mechanism of protection is not well understood. Protein aggregation is part of the etiology of chronic neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's and Alzheimer's, and recent data demonstrate protein aggregates in animal models of stroke. We now demonstrate that overexpression of Hsp70 in hippocampal CA1 neurons reduces evidence of protein aggregation under conditions where neuronal survival is increased. We have also demonstrated protection by the cochaperone Hdj-2 in vitro and demonstrated that this is associated with reduced protein aggregation identified by ubiquitin immunostaining. Hdj-2 can prevent protein aggregate formation by itself, but can only facilitate protein folding in conjunction with Hsp70. Pharmacological induction of Hsp70 was found to reduce both apoptotic and necrotic astrocyte death induced by glucose deprivation or oxygen glucose deprivation. Protection from ischemia and ischemia-like injury by chaperones thus involves at least anti-apoptotic, anti-necrotic and anti-protein aggregation mechanisms.

    Abstract

    Increasing evidence suggests that glutamate activates the generation of lactate from glucose in astrocytes this lactate is shuttled to neurons that use it as a preferential energy source. We explore this multicellular "lactate shuttle" with a novel dual-cell, dual-gene therapy approach and determine the neuroprotective potential of enhancing this shuttle. Viral vector-driven overexpression of a glucose transporter in glia enhanced glucose uptake, lactate efflux, and the glial capacity to protect neurons from excitotoxicity. In parallel, overexpression of a lactate transporter in neurons enhanced lactate uptake and neuronal resistance to excitotoxicity. Finally, overexpression of both transgenes in the respective cell types provided more protection than either therapy alone, demonstrating that a dual-cell, dual-gene therapy approach gives greater neuroprotection than the conventional single-cell, single-gene strategy.

    Abstract

    We investigated whether glucocorticoids [i.e., corticosterone (Cort) in rats] released during sleep deprivation (SD) affect regional brain glycogen stores in 34-day-old Long-Evans rats. Adrenalectomized (with Cort replacement Adx+) and intact animals were sleep deprived for 6 h beginning at lights on and then immediately killed by microwave irradiation. Brain and liver glycogen and glucose and plasma glucose levels were measured. After SD in intact animals, glycogen levels decreased in the cerebellum and hippocampus but not in the cortex or brain stem. By contrast, glycogen levels in the cortex of Adx+ rats increased by 43% (P View details for DOI 10.1152/ajpregu.00528.2003

    Abstract

    Apoptosis plays a critical role in many neurologic diseases, including stroke. Cytochrome c release and activation of various caspases are known to occur after focal and global ischemia. However, recent reports indicate that caspase-independent pathways may also be involved in ischemic damage. Apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) is a novel flavoprotein that helps mediate caspase-independent apoptotic cell death. AIF translocates from mitochondria to nuclei where it induces caspase-independent DNA fragmentation. Bcl-2, a mitochondrial membrane protein, protects against apoptotic and necrotic death induced by different insults, including cerebral ischemia. In the present study, Western blots confirmed that AIF was normally confined to mitochondria but translocated to nuclei or cytosol 8, 24, and 48 hours after onset of ischemia. Overall, AIF protein levels also increased after stroke. Confocal microscopy further demonstrated that nuclear AIF translocation occurred in the peri-infarct region but not in the ischemic core where only some cytosolic AIF release was observed. Our data also suggest that AIF translocated into nuclei after cytochrome c was released into the cytosol. Bcl-2 transfection in the peri-infarct region blocked nuclear AIF translocation and improved cortical neuron survival.

    Abstract

    Reports exist of transmission of culture in nonhuman primates. We examine this in a troop of savanna baboons studied since 1978. During the mid-1980s, half of the males died from tuberculosis because of circumstances of the outbreak, it was more aggressive males who died, leaving a cohort of atypically unaggressive survivors. A decade later, these behavioral patterns persisted. Males leave their natal troops at adolescence by the mid-1990s, no males remained who had resided in the troop a decade before. Thus, critically, the troop's unique culture was being adopted by new males joining the troop. We describe (a) features of this culture in the behavior of males, including high rates of grooming and affiliation with females and a "relaxed" dominance hierarchy (b) physiological measures suggesting less stress among low-ranking males (c) models explaining transmission of this culture and (d) data testing these models, centered around treatment of transfer males by resident females.

    Abstract

    The sleeping brain differs from the waking brain in its electrophysiological and molecular properties, including the expression of growth factors and immediate early genes (IEG). Sleep architecture and homeostatic regulation of sleep in neonates is distinct from that of adults. Hence, the present study addressed the question whether the unique homeostatic response to sleep deprivation in neonates is reflected in mRNA expression of the IEG cFos, brain-derived nerve growth factor (BDNF), and basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF2) in the cortex. As sleep deprivation is stressful to developing rats, we also investigated whether the increased levels of corticosterone would affect the expression of growth factors in the hippocampus, known to be sensitive to glucocorticoid levels. At postnatal days 16, 20, and 24, rats were subjected to sleep deprivation, maternal separation without sleep deprivation, sleep deprivation with 2 h recovery sleep, or no intervention. mRNA expression was quantified in the cortex and hippocampus. cFos was increased after sleep deprivation and was similar to control level after 2 h recovery sleep irrespective of age or brain region. BDNF was increased by sleep deprivation in the cortex at P20 and P24 and only at P24 in the hippocampus. FGF2 increased during recovery sleep at all ages in both brain regions. We conclude that cortical BDNF expression reflects the onset of adult sleep-homeostatic response, whereas the profile of expression of both growth factors suggests a trophic effect of mild sleep deprivation.

    Abstract

    Reactive oxygen species (ROS) play key roles in the cascade of brain injury after stroke, and strategies to increase the antioxidant defenses of neurons after stroke hold great promise. In this study we evaluate the neuroprotective potential of using a herpes simplex viral vector to over-express catalase in rats. Vector was microinfused into the striatum either prior to or after middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). Catalase over-expression was protective (relative to control vector) when the vector was delivered 14-16 h prior to ischemia, but not when delivered after ischemia. Thus, the timing of catalase over-expression relative to ischemia is a critical variable determining its potential therapeutic value.

    Abstract

    We showed previously that Bcl-2 overexpression with the use of herpes simplex viral (HSV) vectors improved striatal neuron survival when delivered 1.5 hours after stroke but not when delivered 5 hours after stroke onset. Here we determine whether hypothermia prolongs the therapeutic window for gene therapy.Rats were subjected to focal ischemia for 1 hour. Hypothermia (33 degrees C) was induced 2 hours after insult and maintained for 3 hours. Five hours after ischemia onset, HSV vectors expressing Bcl-2 plus beta-gal or beta-gal alone were injected into each striatum. Rats were killed 2 days later.Striatal neuron survival of Bcl-2-treated, hypothermic animals was improved 2- to 3-fold over control-treated, hypothermic animals and Bcl-2-treated, normothermic animals. Neuron survival among normothermic, Bcl-2-treated animals was not different from control normothermics or control hypothermics. Double immunostaining of cytochrome c and beta-gal demonstrated that Bcl-2 plus hypothermia significantly reduced cytochrome c release.Postischemic mild hypothermia extended the time window for gene therapy neuroprotection using Bcl-2 and reduced cytochrome c release.

    Abstract

    Many neurological insults and neurodegenerative disorders are accompanied by an acute inflammatory reaction that can contribute to neuronal damage. This inflammation involves infiltration of bloodborne polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) into the injured brain area. The role of inflammation in brain injury, however, is controversial, because recent studies suggest that inflammation may actually be beneficial in the recovery from brain damage. Therefore, we investigated the effects of pathophysiologically relevant concentrations of PMNs in vitro on mixed hippocampal primary cultures. Rat PMNs and peripheral blood lymphocytes were isolated by density centrifugation and cocultured with hippocampal cells for 24-72 h plus or minus an excitotoxic insult (50 microM kainic acid) or 6-h oxygen glucose deprivation. Cell death was analyzed by immunocytochemistry, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide assay, and neuron-specific [2,2'-azino-bis(ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid)] assay. After 3 days of coculture in the absence of insult, PMNs caused massive neuron loss and dramatic morphological changes in glial cells (astrocyte detachment, aggregation). Furthermore PMNs exacerbated kainic acid- and oxygen glucose deprivation-induced neuron death by 20-30%. The cytotoxic effect of PMNs required heterocellular contact and were ameliorated by protease inhibitors. Lymphocytes, on the other hand, were not neurotoxic, but, instead, increased astrocyte proliferation. These findings suggest that PMN might represent a harmful part of inflammation after brain injury that can contribute to secondary damage.

    Abstract

    Calcium is a key signaling ion for induction of synaptic plasticity processes that are believed to influence cognition. Mechanisms regulating activity-induced increases in neuronal calcium and related synaptic modifications are not fully understood. Moreover, involvement of specific synapses in discrete aspects of spatial learning remains to be elucidated. We used herpes simplex amplicons to overexpress calbindin D(28k) (CaBP) selectively in dentate gyrus (DG) granule cells. We then examined the effects on hippocampal network activity by recording evoked synaptic responses in vivo and in vitro and analyzing hippocampal-dependent behavior. Relative to Lac-Z- and sham-infected controls, CaBP overexpression increased mossy fiber (MF-CA3) excitatory postsynaptic potentials and reduced paired-pulse facilitation (PPF), suggesting an increase in presynaptic strength. Additionally, CaBP overexpression reduced long-term potentiation (LTP), caused a frequency-dependent inhibition of post-tetanic potentiation (PTP), and impaired spatial navigation. Thus, increasing CaBP levels selectively in the DG disrupts MF-CA3 presynaptic function and impairs spatial cognition. The results demonstrate the power of gene delivery in the study of the neural substrates of learning and memory and suggest that mossy fiber synaptic plasticity is critical for long-term spatial memory.

    Abstract

    There is now considerable knowledge concerning neuron death following necrotic insults, and it is believed that the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative damage play a pivotal role in the neuron death. Prompted by this, we have generated herpes simplex virus-1 amplicon vectors over-expressing the genes for the antioxidant enzymes catalase (CAT) or glutathione peroxidase (GPX), both of which catalyze the degradation of hydrogen peroxide. Over-expression of each of these genes in primary hippocampal or cortical cultures resulted in increased enzymatic activity of the cognate protein. Moreover, each enzyme potently decreased the neurotoxicity induced by kainic acid, glutamate, sodium cyanide and oxygen/glucose deprivation. Finally, these protective effects were accompanied by parallel decreases in hydrogen peroxide accumulation and the extent of lipid peroxidation. These studies not only underline the key role played by ROS in the neurotoxicity of necrotic insults, but also suggest potential gene therapy approaches.

    Abstract

    The adult nervous system is not static, but instead can change, can be reshaped by experience. Such plasticity has been demonstrated from the most reductive to the most integrated levels, and understanding the bases of this plasticity is a major challenge. It is apparent that stress can alter plasticity in the nervous system, particularly in the limbic system. This paper reviews that subject, concentrating on: a) the ability of severe and/or prolonged stress to impair hippocampal-dependent explicit learning and the plasticity that underlies it b) the ability of mild and transient stress to facilitate such plasticity c) the ability of a range of stressors to enhance implicit fear conditioning, and to enhance the amygdaloid plasticity that underlies it.

    Abstract

    Neuronal excitotoxicity causes energetic impairment and the ensuing cell death has historically been regarded as necrotic. Recent findings, however, indicate that apoptosis may participate in excitotoxicity. Here we examined the neuroprotective mechanisms of the well-characterized viral caspase inhibitors, p35 and crmA, following domoic acid-induced excitotoxicity in hippocampal neurons. We show that though p35 and crmA rescued neurons from toxicity, they did so under conditions of negligible caspase activation and morphological apoptosis. Thus, we characterized the novel neuroprotective effects of p35 and crmA and found that they attenuated the drop in the mitochondrial potential and blunted the decline in ATP levels. These data, to our knowledge, are the first detailed descriptions of the cell death mechanisms following domoic acid treatment of neurons. Moreover, in demonstrating the previously unexplored modulation of these processes, these data underline the capacity for classically "anti-apoptotic" proteins to alter other branches of cell death processes.

    Abstract

    Ischemic injury and reperfusion increases superoxide (O2-) production and reduces the ability of neurons to scavenge free radicals, leading to the release of cytochrome c and apoptosis. Here we test whether overexpression with the use of gene therapy of the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase (Gpx), delivered before or after experimental stroke, is protective against ischemic injury.Sixty-two rats underwent middle cerebral artery occlusion for 1 hour. Defective herpes simplex viral vectors expressing Gpx/lacZ or lacZ alone (control) were delivered into each striatum 12 hours before or 2 or 5 hours after ischemia onset.Striatal neuron survival at 2 days was improved by 36% when Gpx was delivered 12 hours before ischemia onset, 26% with a 2-hour delay, and 25% when delayed 5 hours. After ischemia, Gpx overexpression significantly reduced cytosolic translocation of cytochrome c and increased the proportion of Bcl-2-positive cells compared with cells transfected with control vector. Bax and activated caspase-3, while present in control-transfected neurons after ischemia, were rarely noted in Gpx-transfected cells.Expression from these herpes simplex viral vectors begins 4 to 6 hours after injection, which suggests a 9- to 11-hour temporal therapeutic window for Gpx. This is the first study to show that overexpression of Gpx with the use of gene therapy protects against experimental stroke, even with postischemic transfection, and the neuroprotective mechanism involves attenuation of apoptosis-related events.

    Abstract

    Necrotic insults such as seizure are excitotoxic. Logically, membrane hyperpolarization by increasing outwardly conducting potassium channel currents should attenuate hyperexcitation and enhance neuron survival. Therefore, we overexpressed a small-conductance calcium-activated (SK2) or voltage-gated (Kv1.1) channel via viral vectors in cultured hippocampal neurons. We found that SK2 or Kv1.1 protected not only against kainate or glutamate excitotoxicity but also increased survival after sodium cyanide or staurosporine. In vivo overexpression of either channel in dentate gyrus reduced kainate-induced CA3 lesions. In hippocampal slices, the kainate-induced increase in granule cell excitability was reduced by overexpression of either channel, suggesting that these channels exert their protective effects during hyperexcitation. It is also important to understand any functional disturbances created by transgene overexpression alone. In the absence of insult, overexpression of Kv1.1, but not SK2, reduced baseline excitability in dentate gyrus granule cells. Furthermore, while no behavioral disturbances during spatial acquisition in the Morris water maze were observed with overexpression of either channel, animals overexpressing SK2, but not Kv1.1, exhibited a memory deficit post-training. This difference raises the possibility that the means by which these channel subtypes protect may differ. With further development, potassium channel vectors may be an effective pre-emptive strategy against necrotic insults.

    Abstract

    There is now sufficient knowledge of the workings of the limbic system to allow experimental manipulation of behaviors anchored in limbic function. While such manipulations have traditionally involved lesions, stimulation or pharmacological approaches, it has become plausible to use gene transfer technology to alter patterns of gene expression in the nervous system. In this review, I consider ways in which gene transfer has been used to alter limbic function. These involve altering (a) cognition, (b) the rewarding properties of addictive substances, (c) patterns of social affiliation, and (d) responses to stress.

    Abstract

    gp120, the coat glycoprotein of HIV, can damage CNS neurons. This appears to mostly involve an indirect pathway in which gp120 infects microglia, triggering the release of cytokines and glutamatergic excitotoxins which then damage neurons. A well-characterized response of cells to insults is to mobilize the heat stress response, a defense that has a number of protective consequences. We tested the capacity of gp120, at a dose well-documented to be neurotoxic, to activate the heat shock response in cultures from cortex and hippocampus, two brain regions sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of gp120. We found that gp120 failed to induce expression of hsp70, hsp25 or hsp90 in cortical or hippocampal cultures, under conditions where induction can be demonstrated in response to other insults. The failure of gp120 to induce a heat shock response is significant because we subsequently demonstrated that such an induction would have been beneficial. Specifically, over expression of hsp70 with a herpes viral amplicon vector protected cultured hippocampal neurons from gp120 neurotoxicity.

    Abstract

    Studies examining the development of AIDS Related Dementia have concentrated on neurotoxic properties of the HIV viral coat protein, gp120. We have previously shown that this neurotoxicity can be exacerbated by glucocorticoids (GCs), the stress hormones secreted by the adrenal. Moreover, GCs also worsen several of the mechanisms mediating gp120 neurotoxicity, such as increased calcium flux, ROS generation, and energy depletion. Gp120 interferes with the reuptake of glutamate in glia cultures, another possible mechanism by which it can be neurotoxic. This paper examines the role of GCs in exacerbating this phenomenon. It was found that while GCs do not exacerbate the decrease in reuptake of glutamate in glia cultures, they do enhance the decrease in mixed neuronal cultures and this latter effect appears to be energy-dependent.

    Abstract

    Recent advances have demonstrated the use of gene therapy in the treatment of stroke in experimental animal models of focal ischemia, global ischemia and subarachnoid hemorrhage. Several different vectors for gene transfer have been studied including herpes simplex virus, adenovirus, adeno-associated virus and liposomes. Genetically modified cell lines (e.g., bone marrow-derived cells) have been studied for ex vivo gene therapy. The effects of gene transfer to several brain regions including the striatum, cortex, hippocampus, subarachnoid space and blood vessels are reviewed. Targets of gene therapy, such as molecular cascades after ischemia onset (Ca2+ influx, ATP loss, increased nitric oxide) and events associated with apoptosis are also reviewed, in addition to how gene transfer may be used to understand pathomechanisms underlying ischemic injury and the temporal therapeutic windows following ischemia within which protective effects of gene therapy have been achieved. The prospects for gene therapy for stroke are discussed in light of these findings and it is concluded that solutions to key technological problems will allow gene therapy to be a viable treatment modality.

    Abstract

    Bcl-2 protects against both apoptotic and necrotic death induced by several cerebral insults. We and others have previously demonstrated that defective herpes simplex virus vectors expressing Bcl-2 protect against various insults in vitro and in vivo, including cerebral ischemia. Because the infarct margin may be a region that is most amenable to treatment, we first determined whether gene transfer to the infarct margin is possible using a focal ischemia model. Since ischemic injury with and without reperfusion may occur by different mechanisms, we also determined whether Bcl-2 protects against focal cerebral ischemic injury either with or without reperfusion in rats. Bax expression, cytochrome c translocation and activated caspase-3 expression were also assessed. Viral vectors overexpressing Bcl-2 were delivered to the infarct margin. Reperfusion resulted in larger infarcts than permanent occlusion. Bcl-2 overexpression significantly improved neuron survival in both ischemia models. Bcl-2 overexpression did not alter overall Bax expression, but inhibited cytosolic accumulation of cytochrome c and caspase-3 activation. Thus, we provide the first evidence that gene transfer to the infarct margin is feasible, that overexpression of Bcl-2 protects against damage to the infarct margin induced by ischemia with and without reperfusion, and that Bcl-2 overexpression using gene therapy attenuates apoptosis-related proteins. This suggests a potential therapeutic strategy for stroke.

    Abstract

    We measured serum leptin levels in two groupings of wild male baboons, one with access to abundant quantities of food from gardens and garbage dumps near human habitations (Garbage n = 11) and one without access (No Garbage n = 10). A Garbage subgroup had high leptin levels (Garbage HL), whereas the rest of the Garbage group had low leptin levels (Garbage LL) similar to those in the No Garbage group. The Garbage HL individuals were obese, with higher mass, body mass index, and leptin to mass ratios were insulin to resistant, with elevations in serum insulin, glucose, and insulin to glucose ratios and were hyperlipidemic. This syndrome X-like condition occurred only in the Garbage HL subset. The Garbage LL subset did not differ from the No Garbage individuals in mass, body mass index, leptin to mass ratio, insulin, glucose, or insulin to glucose ratios. The highest cholesterol levels, however, occurred in the Garbage LL individuals, suggesting that susceptibility to hyperlipidemia is distinguishable from susceptibility to obesity and insulin resistance. The differences were not explained by age or social status. These results show that a subgroup of wild baboons is susceptible to developing obesity and insulin resistance and that this susceptibility is not related to age or social rank.

    Abstract

    The CNS can mount an inflammatory reaction to excitotoxic insults that contributes to the emerging brain damage. Therefore, anti-inflammatory drugs should be beneficial in neurological insults. In contrast, glucocorticoids (GCs), while known for their anti-inflammatory effects, can exacerbate neurotoxicity in the hippocampus after excitotoxic insults. We investigated the effect of GCs on the inflammatory response after a neurological insult. Intact control (INT intact stress response GC profile), adrenalectomized/GC-supplemented (ADX low basal GC profile) and GC-treated (COR chronically high GC profile) rats were injected with kainic acid into the hippocampal CA3 region. Lesion size was determined 8-72 h later. The inflammatory response was characterized using immunohistochemistry, RNAse protection assay and ELISA. The INT and COR rats developed larger CA3 lesions than ADX rats. We found that GCs surprisingly caused an increase in relative numbers of inflammatory cells (granulocytes, monocytes/macrophages and microglia). Additionally, mRNA and protein (IL-1beta and TNF-alpha) levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1alpha, IL-1beta and TNF-alpha were elevated in COR rats compared with INT and ADX rats. These data strongly question the traditional view of GCs being uniformly anti-inflammatory and could further explain how GCs worsen the outcome of neurological insults.

    Abstract

    There has been tremendous progress in developing techniques for manipulating genetic material, and the birth of gene therapy as a discipline has been one consequence of this. Most considerations of gene therapy in the nervous system have focused on attempts to transfer novel genes in for the purpose of protecting neurons from neurological insults. In this review, the author considers the progress in that field and the possible application of related gene therapy approaches to the far more difficult task of buffering against a psychiatric disorder. As an emphasis, the author reviews how the biology of psychiatric disorders is so often one of vulnerability to particular environments. Because of this context dependency, it would be likely that many possible gene therapeutic interventions would need to be context dependent as well. Thus, the author considers the plausibility of developing gene vector therapies that use conditional expression systems, in particular ones whose expression would be induced by the same environmental perturbations that exacerbate psychiatric symptoms themselves. In particular, the author considers the role of stress as a predisposing factor in certain psychiatric disorders and the ways in which stress signals can be harnessed as inducers of conditional expression systems in gene therapy.

    Abstract

    We have previously reported studies of gene therapy using a neurotropic herpes simplex viral (HSV) vector system containing bipromoter vectors to transfer various protective genes to neurons. Using this system in experimental models of stroke, cardiac arrest, and excitotoxicity, we found that it is possible to enhance neuron survival against such cerebral insults by overexpressing genes that target various facets of injury. Among the genes we studied, the anti-apoptotic protein BCL-2 improved neuron survival following various insults, and was protective even when administered after stroke onset. BCL-2 is thought to protect cells from apoptotic death by preventing cytochrome c release from the mitochondria and subsequent caspase activation. We and others have established that cooling the brain by a few degrees markedly reduces ischemic injury and improves neurologic deficits in models of cerebral ischemia and trauma. This hypothermic neuroprotection is also associated with BCL-2 upregulation in some instances. Furthermore, hypothermia suppresses many aspects of apoptotic death including cytochrome c release, caspase activation, and DNA fragmentation. Here we show that two different kinds of protective therapies, BCL-2 overexpression and hypothermia, both inhibit aspects of apoptotic cell death cascades, and that a combination treatment can prolong the temporal therapeutic window for gene therapy.

    Abstract

    Among primate species there is pronounced variation in the relationship between social status and measures of stress physiology. An informal meta-analysis was designed to investigate the basis of this diversity across different primate societies. Species were included only if a substantial amount of published information was available regarding both social behavior and rank-related differences in stress physiology. Four Old World and three New World species met these criteria, including societies varying from small-group, singular cooperative breeders (common marmoset and cotton top tamarin) to large-troop, multi-male, multi-female polygynous mating systems (rhesus, cynomolgus, talapoin, squirrel monkeys, and olive baboon). A questionnaire was formulated to obtain information necessary to characterize the stress milieu for individuals in particular primate societies. We standardized cortisol values within each species by calculating the ratio of basal cortisol concentrations of subordinates to those of dominants in stable dominance hierarchies and expressing the ratio as a percentage (relative cortisol levels). The meta-analysis identified two variables that significantly predicted relative cortisol levels: subordinates exhibited higher relative cortisol levels when they (1). were subjected to higher rates of stressors, and (2). experienced decreased opportunities for social (including close kin) support. These findings have important implications for understanding the different physiological consequences of dominant and subordinate social status across primate societies and how social rank may differ in its behavioral and physiological manifestations among primate societies.

    Abstract

    Both endogenous and exogenous glucocorticoids (GCs) are known to cause apoptosis in a number of peripheral tissues and in some cases in the CNS. Additionally, GCs can exacerbate the neuron loss associated with such acute neurological insults as hypoxia-ischemia, excitotoxicity, and metabolic disruption. This exacerbation is accompanied by increased accumulation of glutamate in the synapse, excessive cytosolic calcium, and increased oxygen radical activity, markers usually attributed to pathways of necrotic cell death. It is also known that acute insults can involve apoptotic mediators. In this context, one outstanding question that has received little attention is whether the exacerbation of insult-mediated cell death in neurons is apoptotic in mechanism. In this study we investigate whether the GC-mediated exacerbation of hippocampal excitotoxicity in culture involves apoptosis. Specifically, we show that while the magnitude of hippocampal neuron death caused by the excitotoxin kainic acid is indeed worsened in the presence of GCs, there is no evidence of increased markers of apoptosis. Specifically, we show that neither kainic acid nor GCs alone, or in combination, cause activation of caspase 3, a critical executor of insult-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, while kainic acid causes a significant incidence of apoptotic nuclear condensation, the incidence of this morphological indicator of apoptosis is not worsened by GCs. Thus, GCs appear to augment excitotoxic death in hippocampal neurons without augmenting the occurrence of apoptosis. We suggest that this finding is to be expected, given some energetic features of GC action and the energetic demands of apoptosis.

    Abstract

    gp120, the coat protein of HIV, can be neurotoxic and is thought to contribute to AIDS-related dementia complex. Such toxicity involves activation of glutamate receptors, mobilization of free cytosolic calcium, and generation of oxygen radicals. We have previously shown that the estrogen 17beta-estradiol, in concentrations of 100 nM or higher, lessens the neurotoxicity of gp120 in hippocampal and cortical cultures, blunts gp120-induced calcium mobilization, and lessens the oxidative consequences. In this study, we examined the protective potential of other estrogens. We found gp120 neurotoxicity in hippocampal cultures to be significantly lessened by estrone, equilin and estriol, although with an order of magnitude less potent than 17beta-estradiol. We also found all four estrogens to blunt gp120-induced calcium mobilization, with estriol being more efficacious than the other three estrogens. These findings give insight both into the mechanisms of estrogenic protection (e.g. receptor-dependent versus independent actions) as well as into the potential therapeutic use of estrogens against AIDS-related dementia complex.

    Abstract

    Glucocorticoids (GCs) are well known for their anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties in the periphery and are therefore widely and successfully used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, chronic inflammation, or transplant rejection. This led to the assumption that GCs are uniformly anti-inflammatory in the periphery and the central nervous system (CNS). As a consequence, GCs are also used in the treatment of CNS inflammation. There is abundant evidence that an inflammatory reaction is mounted within the CNS following trauma, stroke, infection, and seizure, which can augment the brain damage. However an increasing number of studies indicate that the concept of GCs being universally immunosuppressive might be oversimplified. This article provides a review of the current literature, showing that under certain circumstances GCs might fail to have anti-inflammatory effects and sometimes even enhance inflammation.

    Abstract

    Overexpression of bcl-2protects neurons from numerous necrotic insults, both in vitro and in vivo. While the bulk of such protection is thought to arise from Bcl-2 blocking cytochrome c release from mitochondria, thereby blocking apoptosis, the protein can target other steps in apoptosis, and can protect against necrotic cell death as well. There is evidence that these additional actions may be antioxidant in nature, in that Bcl-2 has been reported to protect against generators of reactive oxygen species (ROS), to increase antioxidant defenses and to decrease levels of ROS and of oxidative damage. Despite this, there are also reports arguing against either the occurrence, or the importance of these antioxidant actions. We have examined these issues in neuron-enriched primary hippocampal cultures, with overexpression of bcl-2 driven by a herpes simplex virus amplicon: (i) Bcl-2 protected strongly against glutamate, whose toxicity is at least partially ROS-dependent. Such protection involved reduction in mitochondrially derived superoxide. Despite that, Bcl-2 had no effect on levels of lipid peroxidation, which is thought to be the primary locus of glutamate-induced oxidative damage (ii) Bcl-2 was also mildly protective against the pro-oxidant adriamycin. However, it did so without reducing levels of superoxide, hydrogen peroxide or lipid peroxidation (iii) Bcl-2 protected against permanent anoxia, an insult likely to involve little to no ROS generation. These findings suggest that Bcl-2 can have antioxidant actions that may nonetheless not be central to its protective effects, can protect against an ROS generator without targeting steps specific to oxidative biochemistry, and can protect in the absence of ROS generation. Thus, the antioxidant actions of Bcl-2 are neither necessary nor sufficient to explain its protective actions against these insults in hippocampal neurons.

    Abstract

    Gp120 protein, part of the HIV coat, may be a causative agent in AIDS-Related Dementia (ARD) because of its demonstrated neurotoxicity in vitro and in vivo. There are two possible mechanisms for this toxicity, namely through release of toxins from the microglia or through direct action on neuronal chemokine receptors. In tissue culture, glucocorticoids (GCs), the adrenal steroids released during stress, exacerbate gp120 neurotoxicity. In this paper, we examine the means by which GCs may increase toxicity, focusing on interactions with microglia and glia. Media from microglia treated with gp120 was toxic to neurons but not to glia. The effects of GCs upon the extent of gp120-induced release of toxins by microglia seemed to be dependent on the time of exposure to the hormone. Twenty-four-hour exposure of microglia to GCs decreased the toxicity of gp120-treated microglial conditioned media. In contrast, longer-term GC exposure enhanced neurotoxicity. There also appeared to be a component of gp120 neurotoxicity in hippocampal cultures that was exacerbated by GCs, independent of the amount of microglia present. Thus, GCs appear to act at a number of different sites in the multi-cellular pathway to exacerbate the neurotoxic effects of gp120.

    Abstract

    We investigated whether HSV gene transfer of HSP72 in vivo and in vitro: (1) protected cornu ammonis 1 region of the hippocampus neurons from global cerebral ischemia and (2) affected Bcl-2 expression. HSV vectors expressing HSP72 and beta-galactosidase (reporter) or beta-galactosidase only (control vector) were injected into cornu ammonis 1 region of the hippocampus 15 hours before induction of global cerebral ischemia (n = 10) and sham-operated rats (n = 8). HSP72 vector-treated rats displayed significantly more surviving transfected neurons (X-gal-positive, 31 +/- 8) compared with control vector-treated rats (10 +/- 4) after global cerebral ischemia. Sham-operated rats displayed similar numbers of X-gal-positive neurons (HSP72 vector 18 +/- 8 vs control vector 20 +/- 7). The percentage of beta-galactosidase and Bcl-2 coexpressing neurons in HSP72-treated rats after global cerebral ischemia (84 +/- 4%) was greater than that in control vector-treated rats (58 +/- 9%). The percentage of beta-galactosidase and Bcl-2 coexpressing neurons in sham-operated rats was similar in HSP72 (93 +/- 7%) and in control vector-treated rats (88 +/- 12%). HSP72 vector transfection led to 12 times as much Bcl-2 expression as the control vector in uninjured hippocampal neuronal cultures. In injured (oxygen-glucose deprivation) hippocampal neuron cultures, HSP72 vector transfection led to 2.8 times as much Bcl-2 expression as control vector. We show that HSP72 overexpression protects cornu ammonis 1 region of the hippocampus neurons from global cerebral ischemia, and that this protection may be mediated in part by increased Bcl-2 expression.

    Abstract

    Glucocorticoids (GCs), the adrenal steroids secreted during stress, compromise the ability of hippocampal neurons to survive various necrotic insults. We have previously observed that GCs enhance the hippocampal neurotoxicity of reactive oxygen species and, as a potential contributor to this, decrease the activity of the antioxidant enzyme, glutathione peroxidase (GSPx). In this report, we have studied the possible mechanisms underlying this GC effect upon GSPx in primary hippocampal cultures and have observed several results. (i) Corticosterone (the GC of rats) decreased glutathione levels this was predominately a result of a decrease in levels of reduced glutathione (GSH), the form of glutathione which facilitates GSPx activity. (ii) Corticosterone also decreased levels of NADPH this may help explain the effect on GSH as NADPH is required for regeneration of GSH from oxidized glutathione. (iii) However, the corticosterone effect on total glutathione levels could not just be caused by the NADPH effect, as there were also reduced levels of oxidized glutathione. (iv) Corticosterone caused a small but significant decrease in GSPx activity over a range of glucose concentrations this occurred under circumstances of an excess of glutathione as a substrate, suggesting a direct effect of corticosterone on GSPx activity. (v) This corticosterone effect was likely to have functional implications, in that enhancement of GSPx activity (to the same magnitude as activity was inhibited by corticosterone) by GSPx overexpression protected against an excitotoxin. Thus, GCs have various effects, both energetic and non-energetic in nature, upon steps in GSPx biochemistry that, collectively, may impair hippocampal antioxidant capacity.

    Abstract

    Both in the wild and in captivity, a marked and enduring arrest of secondary sexual developmental occurs in some male orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) (Kingsley [1982] The Orang-Utan: Its Biology and Conservation, The Hague: Junk Utami [2000]). Researchers have hypothesized that chronic stress, perhaps related to aggression from mature males, causes endocrine changes altering growth and maturation rates in these males (Maple [1980] Orangutan Behavior, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Graham [1988] Orangutan Biology, Oxford: Oxford University Press). In this study, urine samples were collected over a 3-year period from 23 captive male orangutans to test the hypothesis that developmentally arrested male orangutans have an endocrine profile consistent with chronic stress. Three study males were juveniles, seven were arrested adolescents, six were developing adolescents, and seven were mature adults. Morning samples were analyzed by radioimmunoassay for levels of the stress hormones cortisol and prolactin, and group hormone profiles were compared by analysis of variance. Results indicate that developing adolescent male orangutans have a significantly higher stress hormone profile than juvenile, developmentally arrested adolescent, or adult males. These results imply that the arrest of secondary sexual development in some male orangutans is not stress-induced, but instead perhaps an adaptation for stress avoidance during the adolescent or "subadult" period. These data, together with previously reported data on levels of gonadotropins, testicular steroids, and growth-related hormones, define endocrine profiles associated with alternative reproductive strategies for males with and males without secondary sexual features (Maggioncalda et al. [1999], [2000].

    Abstract

    The relationship between food availability and metabolic physiology was studied in groups of free-ranging baboons (Papio spp.) living in the Amboseli National Park and the Masai Mara National Reserve of Kenya. Three groups subsisted entirely on natural forage, while two other groups lived near tourist facilities and often consumed food wastes from these lodges. The refuse provided a very accessible food source with relatively high caloric density. Consumption of the refuse was associated with reduced locomotion. Sexually mature individuals from all five groups were sedated surreptitiously in the early morning and blood samples were collected. Compared to animals foraging exclusively in the wild, animals that supplemented their diet with the refuse items had two- to threefold elevations in serum insulin concentrations, as well as increased total cholesterol (C), HDL-C, and VLDL+LDL-C levels. No sex differences in physiological measures were observed except in body mass. Elevated serum insulin, and cholesterol and lipoprotein concentrations influence the development of cardiovascular disease and have been shown to be subject to dietary manipulation and exercise under controlled conditions. The present results suggest potentially deleterious effects of a highly accessible, calorically dense food source, and associated reduction of physical activity for baboons living in an otherwise natural environment.

    Abstract

    Recent intriguing reports have shown an association between major depression and selective and persistent loss of hippocampal volume, prompting considerable speculation as to its underlying causes. In this paper we focus on the hypothesis that overt hippocampal neuron death could cause this loss and review current knowledge about how hippocampal neurons die during insults. We discuss (a) the trafficking of glutamate and calcium during insults (b) oxygen radical generation and programmed cell death occurring during insults (c) neuronal defenses against insults (d) the role of energy availability in modulating the extent of neuron loss following such insults. The subtypes of depression associated with hippocampal atrophy typically involve significant hypersecretion of glucocorticoids, the adrenal steroids secreted during stress. These steroids have a variety of adverse affects, direct and indirect, in the hippocampus. Thus glucocorticoids may play a contributing role toward neuron death. We further discuss how glucocorticoids cause or exacerbate cellular changes associated with hippocampal neuron loss in the context of the events listed above.

    Abstract

    GP120 (the protein component of the HIV viral coat) is neurotoxic and may contribute to the cell loss associated with AIDS-related dementia. Previously, it has been shown in rat cortical mixed cultures that gp120 increased the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide and superoxide, two reactive oxygen species (ROS). We now demonstrate that gp120 increased activity of the key antioxidant glutathione peroxidase (GSPx), presumably as a defensive mechanism against the increased ROS load. Both estrogen and glucocorticoids (GCs), the adrenal steroid released during stress, blunted this gp120 effect on GSPx activity. The similar effects of estrogen and of GCs are superficially surprising, given prior demonstrations that GCs exacerbated and estrogens protected against gp120 neurotoxicity. We find that these similar effects of estrogen and GCs on GSPx regulation arose, in fact, from very different routes, which are commensurate with these prior reports. Specifically, estrogen has demonstrated antioxidant properties that may prevent the ROS increase (therefore acting as a neuroprotective agent) and rendered unnecessary the compensatory GSPx increased activity. To verify this we have added H2O2 to estrogen + gp120-treated cells, and GSPx activity was increased. However, with addition of H2O2 to GCs + gp120-treated cells there was no increase in activity. GCs appeared to decrease enzyme production and or activity and therefore under insult conditions ROS levels rose in the cell resulting in increased neurotoxicity. Overexpression of GSPx enzyme via herpes vector system reversed the GCs-induced loss of enzyme and eliminated the GCs exacerbation of gp120 neurotoxicity.

    Abstract

    Studies utilizing gene delivery to the nervous system indicate that various strategies are protective following acute neurological insults such as seizure and stroke. We have found that inhibitors of apoptosis are protective against excitotoxicity and heat stress but not energetic impairment in vitro. Here we studied the neuroprotective efficacy in vivo of these mediators: viral genes (crmA, p35, gamma34.5 KsBcl-2) that have evolved to suppress suicidal host responses to infection, by inhibiting apoptosis. We investigated these effects by utilizing modified herpes vectors to deliver the anti-apoptotic agents intracerebrally and examined them in the face of excitotoxic and metabolic insults. We found that p35 and gamma34.5 reduced by 45% a hippocampal CA3 lesion caused by kainic acid, while crmA and KsBcl-2 did not. None of the inhibitors protected the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus following 3-acetylpyridine, a hypoglycemia model, but we found crmA to worsen the damage. These data are similar to our results in neuronal cultures where the inhibitors protected against the excitotoxin domoic acid, but not against the metabolic poison, cyanide. Together, the results suggest that inhibitors of various apoptotic elements are capable of protecting under acute insult conditions both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting possible future therapeutic applications.

    Abstract

    Increasing knowledge of neuron death mediators has led to gene therapy techniques for neuroprotection. Overexpression of numerous genes enhances survival after necrotic or neurodegenerative damage. Nonetheless, although encouraging, little is accomplished if a neuron is spared from death, but not from dysfunction. This article reviews neuroprotection experiments that include some measure of function, and synthesizes basic principles relating to its maintenance. Variations in gene delivery systems, including virus-type and latency between damage onset and vector delivery, probably impact the therapeutic outcome. Additionally, functional sparing might depend on factors related to insult severity, neuron type involved or the step in the death cascade that is targeted.

    Abstract

    There is evidence that in rats, partial hippocampal lesions or selective ablation of the CA3 subfield can disrupt retrieval of spatial memory and that hippocampal damage disinhibits hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA)-axis activity, thereby elevating plasma levels of adrenocorticotropin and corticosterone. Here we report evidence that attenuation of CA3 lesion-induced increases in circulating corticosterone levels with the synthesis inhibitor metyrapone, administered shortly before water-maze retention testing, blocks the impairing effects of the lesion on memory retrieval. These findings suggest that elevated adrenocortical activity is critical in mediating memory retrieval deficits induced by hippocampal damage.

    Abstract

    Plasma corticosterone (CORT) levels were measured after short periods of sleep deprivation in rats at postnatal days 12, 16, 20, and 24. There was an age-dependent increase in basal CORT levels and sleep deprivation significantly elevated CORT at all ages compared to non-sleep deprived controls. The levels of CORT after sleep deprivation in P16, P20 and P24 animals were similar, resulting in an age-dependent decrease of the magnitude of the response. Sleep deprived P12 animals had lower levels of CORT. However, the observed response to sleep deprivation suggests that sleep loss is a significant stressor at this age. These observations suggest that younger animals are more sensitive to the effects of mild sleep deprivation than older ones.

    Abstract

    The 72-kD inducible heat shock protein (HSP72) can attenuate cerebral ischemic injury when overexpressed before ischemia onset. Whether HSP72 overexpression is protective when applied after ischemia onset is not known, but would have important clinical implications. Fifty-seven rats underwent middle cerebral artery occlusion for 1 hour. Defective herpes simplex viral (HSV) vectors expressing hsp72 with lacZ as a reporter were delivered 0.5, 2, and 5 hours after ischemia onset into each striatum. Control animals received an identical vector containing only lacZ. Striatal neuron survival at 2 days was improved by 23% and 15% when HSP72 vectors were delayed 0.5 and 2 hours after ischemic onset, respectively ( P View details for Web of Science ID 000172087000006

    Abstract

    There is an increasing recognition of the damaging role played by oxygen radicals in mediating necrotic neuronal injury. As such, it becomes important to understand the transport mechanisms that help maintain appropriate levels of small molecule antioxidants such as ascorbate in the brain. It has long been known that the transport of dehydroascorbate (DHA) into a variety of cell types is accomplished through the Glut-1 glucose transporter. In this paper, we characterize interactions among the transports of ascorbate, DHA and glucose in hippocampal cultures. We find: (a) sodium-dependent transport of ascorbate in mixed neuronal/glial, pure glial, and neuron-enriched hippocampal cultures in contrast, we observed no such transport of DHA (b) such ascorbate transport appeared to be independent of the glucose transporter, in that glucose did not compete for such transport, and overexpression of the Glut-1 glucose transporter did not alter ascorbate uptake (c) in contrast, ascorbate, at concentrations ranging from 1 to 20 mM inhibited 2-dexogyglucose transport in mixed, glial and enriched neuronal hippocampal cultures (d) potentially, ascorbate, by acting as an electron donor, could impair the function of molecules involve in the transport or metabolism of glucose. We observed mild inhibition of glucose transport by one unrelated electron donor (glutathione). Moreover, transport was also inhibited by an ascorbate analog which is not an electron donor. Thus, we conclude that ascorbate transport in hippocampal neurons and glia occurs independent of the glucose transporter but that, nevertheless, ascorbate, at concentrations generally thought to be supraphysiological, has the potential for disrupting glucose transport.

    Abstract

    In recent years, the first attempts have been made to apply gene transfer technology to protect neurons from death following neurological insults. There has been sufficient progress in this area that it becomes plausible to consider similar gene therapy approaches meant to delay aspects of aging of the nervous system. In this review, we briefly consider such progress and how it might be applied to the realm of the aging brain. Specifically, we consider: (a) the means of delivery of such therapeutic genes (b) the choice of such genes and (c) technical elaborations in gene delivery systems which can more tightly regulate the magnitude and duration of transgene protection.

    Abstract

    A dramatic rise in free cytosolic calcium concentration is thought to be a central event in the pathogenesis of glutamate excitotoxicity in neurons. We have previously demonstrated that gene transfer of the calcium-binding protein calbindin D28k via a Herpes simplex amplicon vector decreases the rise in intracellular calcium and promotes cell survival following glutamatergic challenge. This study explores the effect of calbindin transgene expression on cellular metabolism following glutamate excitotoxicity. Because excitotoxic insults are often energetic in nature, and because calcium sequestering and extrusion place heavy energy demands on a cell, we hypothesized that calbindin overexpression may help preserve cellular energy levels during an insult. We overexpressed calbindin in primary hippocampal cultures, using a Herpes simplex amplicon vector system. We found that calbindin overexpression protected neurons from the decline in ATP levels, mitochondrial potential and metabolic rate following a glutamatergic insult. These results indicate that calbindin expression helps preserve cellular energy state following glutamate excitotoxicity. This illustrates the energetic load placed on neurons by increased free cytosolic calcium and may help explain the neuroprotective effects of calbindin.

    Abstract

    Considerable knowledge exists concerning the events mediating neuron death following a necrotic insult prompted by this, there have now been successful attempts to use gene therapy approaches to protect neurons from such necrotic injury. In many such studies, however, it is not clear what sequence of cellular events connects the overexpression of the transgene with the enhanced survival. We do so, exploring the effects of overexpressing the Glut-1 glucose transporter with an adenoviral vector in hippocampal cultures challenged with the excitotoxin kainic acid (KA). Such overexpression enhanced glucose transport, attenuated the decline in ATP concentrations, decreased the release of excitatory amino acid neurotransmitters, and decreased the total free cytosolic calcium load. Commensurate with these salutary effects, neuronal survival was enhanced with this gene therapy intervention. Thus, the neuroprotective effects of this particular gene therapy occurs within the known framework of the mechanisms of necrotic neuronal injury.

    Abstract

    Significant advances have been made over the past few years concerning the cellular and molecular events underlying neuron death. Recently, it is becoming increasingly clear that some of the genes induced during cerebral ischemia may actually serve to rescue the cell from death. However, the injured cell may not be capable of expressing protein at levels high enough to be protective. One of the most exciting arenas of such interventions is the use of viral vectors to deliver potentially neuroprotective genes at high levels. Neurotrophic herpes simplex viral strains are an obvious choice for gene therapy to the brain, and we have utilized bipromoter vectors that are capable of transferring various genes to neurons. Using this system in experimental models of stroke, cardiac arrest and excitotoxicity, we have found that it is possible to enhance neuron survival against such cerebral insults by over-expressing genes that target various facets of injury. These include energy restoration by the glucose transporter (GLUT-1), buffering calcium excess by calbindin, preventing protein malfolding or aggregation by stress proteins and inhibiting apoptotic death by BCL-2. We show that in some cases, gene therapy is also effective after the onset of injury, and also address whether successful gene therapy necessarily spares function. Although gene therapy is limited to the few hundred cells the vector is capable of transfecting, we consider the possibility of such gene therapy becoming relevant to clinical neurology in the future.

    Abstract

    Different brain regions show differential vulnerability to ischemia in vivo. Despite this, little work has been done to compare vulnerability of brain cells isolated from different brain regions to injury. Relatively pure neuronal and astrocyte cultures were isolated from mouse cortex, hippocampus, and striatum. Astrocyte vulnerability to 6 h oxygen-glucose deprivation was greatest in striatum (81.8 +/- 4.6% cell death), intermediate in hippocampus (59.8 +/- 4.8%), and least in cortex (37.0 +/- 3.5%). In contrast neurons deprived of oxygen and glucose for 3 h showed greater injury to cortical neurons (71.1 +/- 5.2%) compared to striatal (39.0 +/- 3.1%) or hippocampal (39.0 +/- 5.3%) neurons. Astrocyte injury from glucose deprivation or H(2)O(2) exposure was significantly greater in cells from cortex than from striatum or hippocampus. Neuronal injury resulting from serum deprivation was greater in cortical neurons than in those from striatum or hippocampus, while excitotoxic neuronal injury was equivalent between regions. Antioxidant status and apoptosis-regulatory genes were measured to assess possible underlying differences. Glutathione was higher in astrocytes and neurons isolated from striatum than in those from hippocampus. Superoxide dismutase activity was significantly higher in striatal astrocytes, while glutathione peroxidase activity and superoxide did not differ by brain region. Bcl-x(L) was significantly higher in striatal astrocytes than in astrocytes from other brain regions and higher in striatal and hippocampal neurons than in cortical neurons. Both neurons and astrocytes isolated from different brain regions demonstrate distinct patterns of vulnerability when placed in primary culture. Antioxidant state and levels of expression of bcl-x(L) can in part account for the differential injury observed. This suggests that different protective strategies may have different efficacies depending on brain region.

    Abstract

    A large body of literature dealing with neurotoxicity has focused on trying to define the exact nature of cell death following a neurological insult. While there is some debate in the field, it has been shown that a number of neurons in a given population can respond to an acute insult stimulus by activating the apoptotic cascade. To what extent, however, these insults result in the classical manifestations of either apoptosis or necrosis, or whether a mixture of the two results, is highly controversial, in part dependent on the particular system utilized. In this paper, we investigate the role of particular apoptotic signals in cultured rat hippocampal neurons, following acute excitotoxicity, metabolic poisoning, and heat stress. In particular, we examine these effects by utilizing a modified herpes simplex viral vector to specifically deliver viral anti-apoptotic genes. We have selected a battery of viral genes (crmA, p35, gamma34.5, KsBcl-2) that have evolved to suppress suicidal host responses to infection. We examine these inhibitors in the face of the above classes of insults and report that each viral agent tested has a unique profile in its ability to protect hippocampal neurons following acute neurological insults. Specifically, the effects of domoic acid excitotoxicity can be alleviated only with crmA, p35 and gamma34.5 whereas all genes tested can protect against heat stress. Conversely, no genes tested can protect against metabolic poisoning by cyanide. Such a study helps us to further understand the nature of apoptotic signals in different insults.

    Abstract

    Glucose is the major energy source during normal adult brain activity. However, it appears that glial-derived lactate is preferred as an energy substrate by neurons following hypoxia-ischemia. We examined factors influencing this switch in energetic bias from glucose to lactate in cultured hippocampal neurons, focusing on the effects of the physiological changes in lactate, glucose and adenosine concentrations seen during hypoxia-ischemia. We show that with typical basal concentrations of lactate and glucose, lactate had no effect on glucose uptake. However, at the concentrations of these metabolites found after hypoxia-ischemia, lactate inhibited glucose uptake. Reciprocally, glucose had no effect on lactate utilization regardless of glucose and lactate concentrations. Furthermore, we find that under hypoglycemic conditions adenosine had a small, but significant, inhibitory effect on glucose uptake. Additionally, adenosine increased lactate utilization. Thus, the relative concentrations of glucose, lactate and adenosine, which are indicative of the energy status of the hippocampus, influence which energy substrates are used. These results support the idea that after hypoxia-ischemia, neurons are biased in the direction of lactate rather than glucose utilization and this is accomplished through a number of regulatory steps.

    Abstract

    gp120, an HIV coat glycoprotein that may play a role in AIDS-related dementia complex (ADC), induces neuronal toxicity characterized by NMDA receptor activation, accumulation of intracellular calcium, and downstream degenerative events including generation of reactive oxygen species and lipid peroxidation. We have previously demonstrated estrogenic protection against gp120 neurotoxicity in primary hippocampal cultures. We here characterize the mechanism of protection by blocking the classical cytosolic estrogen receptors and by measuring oxidative end points including accumulation of extracellular superoxide and lipid peroxidation. Despite blocking ERalpha and ERbeta with 1 microM tamoxifen, we do not see a decrease in the protection afforded by 100 nM 17 beta-estradiol against 200 pM gp120. Additionally, 17alpha-estradiol, which does not activate estrogen receptors, protects to the same extent as 17beta-estradiol. 17beta-Estradiol does, however, decrease gp120-induced lipid peroxidation and accumulation of superoxide. Together the data suggest an antioxidant mechanism of estrogen protection that is independent of receptor binding.

    Abstract

    If neuronal gene therapy is to be clinically useful, it is necessary to demonstrate neuroprotection when the gene is introduced after insult. We now report equivalent neuronal protection if calbindin D(28K) gene transfer via herpes simplex virus amplicon vector occurs immediately, 30 min, or 1 h after an excitotoxic insult, but not after a 4 h delay. Behavioral performance was evaluated for immediate and 1 h delay groups using a hippocampal-dependent task. Despite equivalent magnitude and pattern of sparing of neurons with the immediate and 1 h delay approaches, the delay animals took a significantly longer time after insult to return to normal performance.

    Abstract

    Increased intracellular calcium accumulation is known to potentiate ischemic injury. Whether endogenous calcium-binding proteins can attenuate this injury has not been clearly established, and existing data are conflicting. Calbindin D28K (CaBP) is one such intracellular calcium buffer. We investigated whether CaBP overexpression is neuroprotective against transient focal cerebral ischemia.Bipromoter, replication-incompetent herpes simplex virus vectors that encoded the genes for cabp and, as a reporter gene, lacZ were used. Sprague-Dawley rats received bilateral striatal injections of viral vector 12 to 15 hours before ischemia onset. With the use of an intraluminal occluding suture, animals were subjected to 1 hour of middle cerebral artery occlusion followed by 47 hours of reperfusion. Brains were harvested and stained with X-gal (to visualize beta-galactosidase, the gene product of lacZ). The number of remaining virally transfected, X-gal-stained neurons in both the ischemic and contralateral striata were counted and expressed as the percentage of surviving neurons in the ischemic striatum relative to the contralateral nonischemic striatum.Striatal neuron survivorship among cabp-injected animals was 53.5+/-4.1% (n=10) versus 26.8+/-5.4% among those receiving lacZ (n=9) (mean+/-SEM P View details for Web of Science ID 000167951300038

    Abstract

    The cellular events mediating necrotic neuron death are now reasonably well understood, and involve excessive extracellular accumulation of glutamate and free cytosolic calcium. When such necrotic neurological insults occur, neurons are not passively buffeted, but instead mobilize a variety of defenses in an attempt to decrease the likelihood of neuron death, or to decrease the harm to neighboring neurons (by decreasing the likelihood of inflammation). This review considers some of these defenses, organizing them along the lines of those which decrease neuronal excitability, decrease extracellular glutamate accumulation, decrease cytosolic calcium mobilization, decrease calcium-dependent degenerative events, enhance neuronal energetics, and bias a neuron towards apoptotic, rather than necrotic, death. Although these are currently perceived as a disparate array of cellular adaptations, some experimental approaches are suggested that may help form a more unified subdiscipline of cellular defenses against neurological insults. Such an advance would help pave the way for the rational design of therapeutic interventions against necrotic insults.

    Abstract

    Significant advances have been made over the past few years concerning the cellular and molecular events underlying neuron death. Recently, it is becoming increasingly clear that some of genes induced during cerebral ischemia may actually serve to rescue the cell from death. However, the injured cell may not be capable of expressing protein at high enough levels to be protective. One of the most exciting arenas of such interventions is the use of viral vectors to deliver potentially neuroprotective genes at high levels. Neurotropic herpes simplex viral (HSV) strains are an obvious choice for gene therapy to the brain, and we have used bipromoter vectors that are capable of transferring various genes to neurons. Using this system in experimental models of stroke, cardiac arrest, and excitotoxicity, we have found that it is possible to enhance neuron survival against such cerebral insults by overexpressing genes that target various facets of injury. These include energy restoration by the glucose transporter (GLUT-1), buffering calcium excess by calbindin, preventing protein malfolding or aggregation by stress proteins and inhibiting apoptotic death by BCL-2. We show that in some cases, gene therapy is also effective after the onset of injury, and also address whether successful gene therapy necessarily spares function. Although gene therapy is limited to the few hundred cells the vector is capable of transfecting, we consider the possibility of such gene therapy becoming relevant to clinical neurology in the future.

    Abstract

    Numerous studies have demonstrated that gene therapy interventions can protect neurons from death after neurological insults. In nearly all such studies, however, "protection" consists of reduced neurotoxicity, with no demonstrated preservation of neuronal function. We used a herpes simplex virus-1 system to overexpress either the Glut-1 glucose transporter (GT) (to buffer energetics), or the apoptosis inhibitor Bcl-2. Both decreased hippocampal neuron loss to similar extents during excitotoxic insults in vitro and in vivo. However, the mediating mechanisms and consequences of the two interventions differed. GT overexpression attenuated early, energy-dependent facets of cell death, blocking oxygen radical accumulation. Bcl-2 expression, in contrast, blocked components of death downstream from the energetic and oxidative facets. Most importantly, GT- but not Bcl-2-mediated protection preserved hippocampal function as assessed spatial maze performance. Thus, gene therapeutic sparing of neurons from insult-induced death does not necessarily translate into sparing of function.

    Abstract

    Research shows that overexpression of cytoprotective genes can spare neurons from necrotic death, but few studies have addressed the functional status of surviving neurons. Overexpression of a brain glucose transporter, Glut-1, or the anti-apoptotic protein, Bcl-2, in rats decreases the size of hippocampal lesions produced by kainic acid (KA) treatment. In animals in which KA-induced lesions are reduced to similar extents by Glut-1 or Bcl-2 overexpression, spatial learning is spared by Glut-1, but not Bcl-2. We postulated that Glut-1 and Bcl-2 act differently to protect hippocampal function and investigated the effects of vector overexpression on synaptic physiology after KA treatment. Three days after KA and vector delivery to the dentate gyrus, mossy fiber-CA3 (MF-CA3) population excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) were recorded in vitro. In addition to producing a lesion in area CA3, KA treatment reduced baseline MF-CA3 synaptic strength, posttetanic potentiation (PTP), and long-term potentiation (LTP). A similar reduction in the KA-induced lesion was produced by overexpression of Glut-1 or Bcl-2. Glut-1, but not Bcl-2, attenuated the impairments in synaptic strength and PTP. Overexpression of Glut-1 or Bcl-2 preserved LTP after KA treatment. Results indicate greater protection of MF-CA3 synaptic transmission with overexpression of Glut-1 compared to Bcl-2 and suggest that not all neuroprotective gene therapy techniques are equivalent in their ability to spare function.

    Abstract

    This review examines the interaction of steroid hormones, glucocorticoids and estrogen, and gp120, a possible causal agent of acquired immune deficiency syndrome-related dementia complex. The first part of the review examines the data and mechanisms by which gp120 may cause neurotoxicity and by which these steroid hormones effect cell death in general. The second part of the review summarizes recent experiments that show how these steroid hormones can modulate the toxic effects of gp120 and glucocorticoids exacerbating toxicity, and estrogen decreasing it. We then examine the limited in vivo and clinical data relating acquired immune deficiency syndrome-related dementia complex and steroid hormones and speculate on the possible clinical significance of these findings with respect to acquired immune deficiency syndrome-related dementia complex.

    Abstract

    A number of studies indicate that prolonged, major depression is associated with a selective loss of hippocampal volume that persists long after the depression has resolved. This review is prompted by two ideas. The first is that overt neuron loss may be a contributing factor to the decrease in hippocampal volume. As such, the first half of this article reviews current knowledge about how hippocampal neurons die during insults, focusing on issues related to the trafficking of glutamate and calcium, glutamate receptor subtypes, oxygen radical generation, programmed cell death, and neuronal defenses. This is meant to orient the reader toward the biology that is likely to underlie any such instances of neuron loss in major depression. The second idea is that glucocorticoids, the adrenal steroids secreted during stress, may play a contributing role to any such neuron loss. The subtypes of depression associated with the hippocampal atrophy typically involve significant hypersecretion of glucocorticoids, and the steroid has a variety of adverse effects in the hippocampus, including causing overt neuron loss. The second half of this article reviews the steps in this cascade of hippocampal neuron death that are regulated by glucocorticoids.

    Abstract

    An extensive literature stretching back decades has shown that prolonged stress or prolonged exposure to glucocorticoids-the adrenal steroids secreted during stress-can have adverse effects on the rodent hippocampus. More recent findings suggest a similar phenomenon in the human hippocampus associated with many neuropsychiatric disorders. This review examines the evidence for hippocampal atrophy in (1) Cushing syndrome, which is characterized by a pathologic oversecretion of glucocorticoids (2) episodes of repeated and severe major depression, which is often associated with hypersecretion of glucocorticoids and (3) posttraumatic stress disorder. Key questions that will be examined include whether the hippocampal atrophy arises from the neuropsychiatric disorder, or precedes and predisposes toward it whether glucocorticoids really are plausible candidates for contributing to the atrophy and what cellular mechanisms underlie the overall decreases in hippocampal volume. Explicit memory deficits have been demonstrated in Cushing syndrome, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder an extensive literature suggests that hippocampal atrophy of the magnitude found in these disorders can give rise to such cognitive deficits.

    Abstract

    In gene therapy applications employing herpes simplex virus amplicon-based vectors, a prevailing problem is the down-regulation of transgene expression over time. We have applied a combined immunocytochemistry and fluorescent in situ hybridization method to determine whether down-regulation of transgene expression at the single-cell level correlates with loss of vector DNA from the host cell nucleus. Utilizing separate fluorescent labels (i.e., rhodamine, fluorescein, and 4',6'-diamidino-2-phenlindole), we were able to simultaneously detect transgenes, their products, and their locations relative to the nuclear compartment of a single cell. Detection of the reporter gene lacZ and its encoded protein beta-galactosidase (beta-gal) was accomplished in in vivo experiments of the dentate gyrus of rats. A time course study of the expression of the transgene post-stereotactic microinfusion up to 60 days was made. Expression reached maximal levels within 12-24 h after infection, and lacZ presence was reduced to less than 3% of its maximal levels within 36 h after infection. In comparing days 1 and 60 post-stereotactic microinfusion, only one-fifth of the original DNA was observed in the area of a 100-mm radius around the site of microinfusion at day 60. Moreover, by comparing the locations of the reporter gene in cells that expressed the encoded protein versus those that did not, we found that introduced transgenes were preferentially localized in the nuclear periphery of down-regulated host cells, compared to expressing host cells. These results suggest that nuclear compartmentalization may play a role in the down-regulation of our reporter gene by means of peripheralization, extrusion, and/or degradation.

    Abstract

    Gene transfer into neurons via viral vectors for protection against acute necrotic insults has generated considerable interest. Most studies have used constitutive vector systems, limiting the ability to control transgene expression in a dose-dependent, time-dependent, or reversible manner. We have constructed defective herpes simplex virus vectors designed to be induced by necrotic neurological insults themselves. Such vectors contain a synthetic glucocorticoid-responsive promoter, taking advantage of the almost uniquely high levels of glucocorticoids-adrenal stress steroids-secreted in response to such insults. We observed dose-responsive and steroid-specific induction by endogenous and synthetic glucocorticoids in hippocampal cultures. Induction was likely to be rapid enough to allow transgenic manipulation of relatively early steps in the cascade of necrotic neuron death. The protective potential of such a vector was tested by inclusion of a neuroprotective transgene (the Glut-1 glucose transporter). Induction of this vector by glucocorticoids decreased glutamatergic excitotoxicity in culture. Finally, both exogenous glucocorticoids and excitotoxic seizures induced reporter gene expression driven from a glucocorticoid-responsive herpes simplex virus vector in the hippocampus in vivo.

    Abstract

    Glucocorticoids (GCs), the adrenal steroids released during stress, can compromise the ability of hippocampal neurons to survive necrotic neurological insults. This GC-induced endangerment has energetic facets, in that it can be attenuated with energy supplementation. In the present report, we studied the effects of GCs on the metabolic response of specific hippocampal cell fields to necrotic insults. We used silicon microphysiometry, which allows indirect measurement of metabolism in real time in tissue explants. Aglycemia caused a significant decline in metabolism in dentate gyrus explants, but not in CA1 or CA3 explants. When coupled with our prior report of cyanide disrupting metabolism only in CA1 explants, and the glutamatergic excitotoxin kainic acid disrupting metabolism only in CA3 explants, this demonstrates that microphysiometry can detect the selective regional vulnerability that characterizes the hippocampal response to these necrotic insults. We then examined the effects of GCs on the response to these insults, monitoring explants taken from rats that were adrenalectomized, intact, or treated with corticosterone (the GC of rats) that produced circulating levels equivalent to those of major stressors. Increased exposure to GCs worsened the decline in metabolism in dentate gyrus explants induced by hypoglycemia, and in CA1 explants induced by cyanide (after eliminating the effects of glial release of lactate for the support of neuronal metabolism). Thus, GCs worsen the metabolic consequences of necrotic insults in hippocampal explants.

    Abstract

    Considerable attention has focused on the therapeutic transfer of genes with viral vectors into neurons for the purpose of protecting against neurological insults. A number of papers have reported that overexpression of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 can protect neurons both in vitro and in vivo against a variety of necrotic insults. An emerging literature suggests that the availability of energy tends to modulate a neuron towards dying apoptotically, rather than necrotically, in the aftermath of an insult. This suggests that an anti-apoptotic protein such as Bcl-2 should be minimally protective, at best, against purely energetic insults. In support of this idea, we report that overexpression of Bcl-2 with a herpes simplex viral vector fails to protect hippocampal neurons, either in vitro or in vivo, against the electron transport uncoupler 3-acetylpyridine (3AP). As a positive control, the same vector significantly protected against the excitotoxin kainic acid. This finding supports the view that neurotoxicity induced by 3AP is likely to have only minimal apoptotic facets. On a broader level, it suggests some limitations in the neuroprotective potential of gene therapy with Bcl-2.

    Abstract

    Considerable interest has focused on the possibility of using gene transfer techniques to introduce protective genes into neurons around the time of necrotic insults. We have previously used herpes simplex virus amplicon vectors to overexpress the rat brain glucose transporter, Glut-1 (GT), and have shown it to protect against a variety of necrotic insults both in vitro and in vivo, as well as to buffer neurons from the steps thought to mediate necrotic injury. It is critical to show the specificity of the effects of any such transgene overexpression, in order to show that protection arises from the transgene delivered, rather than from the vector delivery system itself. As such, we tested the protective potential of GT overexpression driven, in this case, by an adenoviral vector, against a novel insult, namely exposure of primary striatal cultures to the metabolic poison, 3-nitropropionic acid (3NP). We observed that GT overexpression buffered neurons from neurotoxicity induced by 3NP.

    Abstract

    It is now generally accepted that adenosine has a neuroprotective role in the central nervous system. Agonists of adenosine such as 2-chloroadenosine (2-ClA) have been shown to be neuroprotective, while antagonists such as 8-phenyltheophylline (8-PT) increase neurotoxicity. However, paradoxical results have been reported with adenosine analogues, especially with respect to length of time of administration. We observe similarly contradictory findings with respect to 2-ClA and 8-PT actions in primary hippocampal cultures exposed to glutamate or kainic acid. We found 8-PT and 2-ClA had antagonist and agonist actions, respectively, only with acute (1 h) treatment with chronic treatment (24 h), 2-ClA had no effects, while 8-PT had significant agonist actions. We also show that with variations in the type of culturing system, concentration, and pH that 8-PT's neurotoxic antagonist actions could be dramatically changed. We, therefore, present this paper as a cautionary note in experimenting with adenosine analogues.

    Abstract

    Glucocorticoids (GCs), the adrenal steroids secreted during stress, can compromise the ability of hippocampal neurons to survive numerous necrotic insults. We have previously observed that GCs worsen the deleterious effects of gp120, the glycoprotein of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome virus, which can indirectly damage neurons and which is thought to play a role in the neuropathological features of human immunodeficiency virus infection. Specifically, GCs augment gp120-induced calcium mobilization, ATP depletion, decline in mitochondrial potential, and neurotoxicity in fetal monolayer cultures from a number of brain regions. In the present report, we demonstrate a similar gp120/GC synergy in adult hippocampal and cortical explants. We generated explants from rats that were either adrenalectomized, adrenally intact, or intact and treated with corticosterone to produce levels seen in response to major stressors. Metabolic rates in explants were then indirectly assessed with silicon microphysiometry, and cytosolic calcium concentrations were assessed with fura-2 fluorescent microscopy. We observed that basal levels of GCs tonically augment the disruptive effects of gp120 on metabolism in the CA1 cell field of the hippocampus and in the cortex. Moreover, raising GC concentrations into the stress range exacerbated the ability of gp120 to mobilize cytosolic calcium in a number of hippocampal cell fields. Finally, we observed that the synthetic GC prednisone had similarly exacerbating effects on gp120. Thus, GCs can worsen the deleterious effects of gp120 in a system that is more physiologically relevant than the fetal monolayer culture and in a region-specific manner.

    Abstract

    The secretion of glucocorticoids (GCs) is a classic endocrine response to stress. Despite that, it remains controversial as to what purpose GCs serve at such times. One view, stretching back to the time of Hans Selye, posits that GCs help mediate the ongoing or pending stress response, either via basal levels of GCs permitting other facets of the stress response to emerge efficaciously, and/or by stress levels of GCs actively stimulating the stress response. In contrast, a revisionist viewpoint posits that GCs suppress the stress response, preventing it from being pathologically overactivated. In this review, we consider recent findings regarding GC action and, based on them, generate criteria for determining whether a particular GC action permits, stimulates, or suppresses an ongoing stress-response or, as an additional category, is preparative for a subsequent stressor. We apply these GC actions to the realms of cardiovascular function, fluid volume and hemorrhage, immunity and inflammation, metabolism, neurobiology, and reproductive physiology. We find that GC actions fall into markedly different categories, depending on the physiological endpoint in question, with evidence for mediating effects in some cases, and suppressive or preparative in others. We then attempt to assimilate these heterogeneous GC actions into a physiological whole.

    Abstract

    In this paper we consider the evolution of Alzheimer's-like neuropathology in the aging primate brain. In particular, we examine the evolutionary pressures that have likely selected for the neuroprotective effects of estrogen and of the apolipoprotein E2 and E3 isoforms. We analyze this in the context of the altricial nature of new-born primates, their long period of dependency on competent maternal care, and the requirement of cognitive intactness for such competency.

    Abstract

    There are two morphs of reproductive male in orangutans. Both morphs span the age range from adolescent to adult, but "subadult" males are smaller in size and lack secondary sexual features. In this study, urine samples were collected over a 2 year period from 23 captive male orangutans in order to define the endocrinology of this apparent arrest of secondary sexual development. Three males were juveniles, 3 to 5 years of age seven males showed no secondary sexual trait development and were over 7 years of age six males were in the process of developing secondary sexual features, with the youngest male being 6 years of age and seven males were fully mature adults. Morning samples were analyzed by radioimmunoassay for levels of growth hormone (GH) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and group hormone profiles were compared by analysis of variance. GH is the primary hormone of growth and development and its increase in teenage boys is associated with the adolescent growth spurt. TSH stimulates the thyroid to produce and secrete hormones that have metabolic effects and required for normal growth and development. Results show that arrested adolescent male orangutans have a GH level about 1/3 that of developing adolescents (P = .0006). TSH levels do not differ significantly between arrested and developing adolescents. These data complement other endocrine data showing significantly lower levels of sex steroids and luteinizing hormone (LH) in arrested males than developing males [Maggioncalda, 1995a,b Maggioncalda et al., 1999]. Together with documented behavioral differences between reproductive males with and without secondary sexual features, these endocrine data support the hypothesis that in male orangutans there are alternative developmental pathways and corresponding alternative reproductive strategies.

    Abstract

    Enormous knowledge has emerged concerning the cellular and molecular events underlying necrotic neuron death after seizure, hypoxia-ischemia, or hypoglycemia. This has allowed the design of rational therapies to protect neurons at such times. One of the most exciting arenas of such interventions is the use of viral vectors to deliver neuroprotective genes. This review considers the progress in this nascent discipline. Neuroprotection has been demonstrated against a variety of in vitro and in vivo rodent models of necrotic insults with vectors overexpressing genes that target various facets of injury. These have included the energetic components, calcium excess, accumulation of reactive oxygen species, protein malfolding, inflammation, and triggering of apoptosis (i.e., programmed cell death) in a subset of cells. A number of caveats, subtleties, and pressing questions concerning this literature then are considered. These include whether these gene therapy interventions actually prevent, rather than merely delay, neuron death the extent to which the effects of such vectors on neuronal cell biology is actually understood the potential adverse effects of the use of such vectors and whether sparing a neuron from death with one of these interventions spares function as well. Finally, we consider the likelihood of such gene therapy becoming relevant to clinical neurology in the near future.

    Abstract

    In response to many metabolic disturbances and injuries, including stroke, neurodegenerative disease, epilepsy and trauma, the cell mounts a stress response with induction of a variety of proteins, most notably the 70-kDa heat shock protein (HSP70). Whether stress proteins are neuroprotective has been hotly debated, as these proteins might be merely an epiphenomenon unrelated to cell survival. Only recently, with the availability of transgenic animals and gene transfer, has it become possible to overexpress the gene encoding HSP70 to test directly the hypothesis that stress proteins protect cells from injury. A few groups have now shown that overproduction of HSP70 leads to protection in several different models of nervous system injury. This review will cover these studies, along with the potential mechanisms by which HSP70 might mediate cellular protection.

    Abstract

    Herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV) amplicon vectors containing neuroprotective genes can alter cell physiology and enhance survival following various insults. However, to date, little is known about effects of viral infection itself (independent of the gene delivered) on neuronal physiology. Electrically-evoked synaptic responses are routinely recorded to measure functional alterations in the nervous system and were used here to assess the potential capability of HSV vectors to disrupt physiology of the hippocampus (a forebrain structure involved in learning that is highly susceptible to necrotic insult, making it a frequent target in gene therapy research). Population excitatory post-synaptic potentials (EPSPs) were recorded in the dentate gyrus (DG) and in area CA3 in vivo 72 h after infusion of an HSV vector expressing a reporter gene (lacZ) or vehicle into the DG. Evoked perforant path (PP-DG) or mossy fiber (MF-CA3) EPSPs slope values measured across input/output (I/O) curves were not altered by infection. Paired-pulse facilitation at either recording site was also unaffected. X-gal-positive granule cells surrounded the recording electrode (PP-DG recording) and stimulating electrode tracts (MF-CA3 recording) in animals that received vector, suggesting that we had measured function, at least in part, in infected neurons. Because of the negative electrophysiological result, we sought to deliver a gene with an HSV amplicon which would affect the measured endpoints, as a positive control. Delivery of calbindin D28kpotentiated PP-DG synaptic strength, indicating that our recording system could detect alterations due to vector expression. Thus, the data indicate that HSV vectors are benign, in regard to effects on synaptic function, and support the use of these vectors as a safe method to deliver selected genes to the central nervous system.

    Abstract

    Increases in cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) can lead to neuron death. Preventing a rise in [Ca2+]i by removing Ca2+ from the extracellular space or by adding Ca2+ chelators to the cytosol of target cells ameliorates the neurotoxicity associated with [Ca2+]i increases. Another potential route of decreasing the neurotoxic impact of Ca2+ is to overexpress one of the large number of constitutive calcium-binding proteins. Previous studies in this laboratory demonstrated that overexpression of the gene for the calcium-binding protein calbindin D28K, via herpes simplex virus (HSV) amplicon vector, increases the survival of hippocampal neurons in vitro following energetic or excitotoxic insults but not following application of sodium cyanide. We now report that in vivo hippocampal infection with the calbindin D28K HSV vector increases neuronal survival in the dentate gyrus after application of the antimetabolite 3-acetylpyridine and increases transsynaptic neuronal survival in area CA3 following kainic acid neurotoxicity. The protective effects of infection with the calbindin D28K vector in an intact brain may prove to be beneficial during changes in Ca2+ homeostasis caused by neurological trauma associated with aging and certain neurological diseases.

    Abstract

    Glucocorticoids, the adrenal steroids secreted during stress, while critical for successful adaptation to acute physical stressors, can have a variety of deleterious effects if secreted in excess. It has come to be recognized that glucocorticoid excess can have adverse effects in the nervous system, particularly the hippocampus. These effects include disruption of synaptic plasticity, atrophy of dendritic processes, compromising the ability of neurons to survive a variety of coincident insults and, at an extreme, overt neuron death. This review considers the current cellular and molecular bases underlying these adverse glucocorticoid actions, and their relevance to brain aging.

    Abstract

    The HIV coat protein gp120 has been implicated in damaging the nervous system and may play a role in AIDS-related dementia complex. The glycoprotein triggers the release of a glutamatergic agent from infected microglia and macrophages, causing NMDA receptor- and calcium-dependent excitotoxic damage to neurons. We have previously shown that glucocorticoids, the adrenal steroids secreted during stress, worsen gp120 neurotoxicity and calcium mobilization in various brain regions. This study explores events down-stream of gp120-induced calcium mobilization, specifically, generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and subsequent lipid peroxidation, destruction of the cytoskeleton through spectrin proteolysis, and the glucocorticoid modulation of these events in primary hippocampal cultures. We observe that 200 pM gp120 causes a significant accumulation of ROS, including superoxide, and of lipid peroxidation. Counter to our predictions, pretreatment with the glucocorticoid corticosterone (CORT) did not worsen the effects of gp120 on ROS accumulation, but did increase lipid peroxidation. We also observed that neither gp120 alone nor gp120 plus CORT caused detectable proteolysis of the cytoskeletal protein spectrin, whose breakdown has been shown to be a damaging consequence of calcium excess in other models of necrotic neuronal injury.

    Abstract

    The determination of neurotoxicity in monolayer mixed cultures has traditionally necessitated the time consuming and subjective procedure of counting neurons. In this paper, we propose a modification of an immunohistochemical staining method with a neuron-specific antibody against MAP2, that allows for quantification of neuron number to be done using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) plate reader. This new procedure involves the use of the compound 2,3'-azino-bis(ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid) (ABTS) at the last stage of the staining procedure. We employed two neurotoxicity models (the excitotoxin kainic acid and the interactions between gp120, the glycoprotein of HIV, and the stress hormone corticosterone) to compare the results obtained with this new method and the old method of immunohistochemical staining followed by 3,3'-daminobenzidine (DAB) and the counting of neurons. The ABTS/ELISA method was found to be a fast, reliable and objective procedure for the quantification of neurotoxicity.

    Abstract

    For many years researchers have described some male orangutans as "subadult." These males are of adolescent to adult age and are reproductive, but have little to no secondary sexual trait development. Until now the only endocrine study of this arrest of secondary sexual trait development was performed by Kingsley (1982, 1988). She found that "subadult" or arrested males have lower testosterone levels than similar age developing adolescents or adult males. In this study, urine samples were collected over a two-year period from 23 captive male orangutans in order to more fully define male endocrine profiles. Three study males were juveniles, seven were arrested adolescents, six were developing adolescents, and seven were mature adults. Morning samples were analyzed by radioimmunoassay for levels of testicular steroids and gonadotropins and group hormone profiles were compared by analysis of variance. Results illustrate that arrested adolescent orangutans have significantly lower testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels than developing adolescents, but significantly higher levels than juveniles. Luteinizing hormone (LH) levels also differed between arrested and developing adolescents, with arrested males having lower levels. However, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels were similar in both morphs of adolescent male. The overall hormone profiles for arrested and developing adolescent male orangutans suggest that arrested males lack levels of LH, testosterone, and DHT necessary for development of secondary sexual traits. However, they have sufficient testicular steroids, LH, and FSH to fully develop primary sexual function and fertility. These endocrine data help define alternative developmental pathways in male orangutans. The authors discuss the relationship between these developmental pathways and male orangutan reproductive strategies, and hypothesize about their prepubertal socioendocrine determination.

    Abstract

    11beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11beta-HSD) is the enzyme responsible for the interconversion of corticosterone (CORT) to 11-dehydrocorticosterone (11-DHC). CORT is an adrenal hormone secreted during the stress response and it has widespread effects in many different target tissues. In addition, CORT can exacerbate damage caused by neurological insults, such as kainic acid-induced seizures. In addition to its protective role in the kidney, 11beta-HSD is also thought to play a role in steroid regulation in the brain. However, it is not known whether the enzyme is acting in vivo as a reductase or a dehydrogenase. If the enzyme is working as a reductase, converting 11-DHC to CORT, it has the potential to exacerbate neurotoxicity due to other agents. On the other hand, 11beta-HSD could be neuroprotective if the enzyme is acting as a dehydrogenase, deactivating CORT by converting it into 11-DHC. To characterize the enzyme in vivo, we have utilized glucocorticoid neuroendangerment in the hippocampus as an indirect assay of 11beta-HSD function. We have shown that 11-DHC can exacerbate kainic acid toxicity in adrenalectomized (ADX) rats and this exacerbation is blocked by the 11beta-HSD antagonist, carbenoxolone these findings suggest that 11beta-HSD is working as a reductase in ADX rats. The presumptive reductase activity found in ADX rats was derived from both hippocampal and peripheral forms of the enzyme. In the presence of physiological levels of glucocorticoids, reductase activity was decreased and no dehydrogenase activity was detected. The present study demonstrates that 11beta-HSD reductase activity, both in vivo and in vitro, occurs only in the presence of low levels of circulating glucocorticoids.

    Abstract

    A significant subset of HIV-positive patients suffer from AIDS-Related Dementia Complex (ADC), an array of neurologic and neuropsychologic impairments. The HIV coat protein gp120 has been implicated in the deleterious neurologic consequences of HIV infection, damaging neurons through a glutamatergic and calcium-dependent pathway. We have previously reported that glucocorticoids, the adrenal steroids secreted during stress, can exacerbate the neurotoxic and calcium-mobilizing effects of gp120 in hippocampal and cortical cultures. Because both the symptomatology of ADC, as well as the neuropathologic profile of post-mortem HIV brains suggests an involvement of the striatum, we examined whether glucocorticoids could also augment the damaging effects of gp120 in primary striatal cultures. We observe that neither gp120 nor the glucocorticoid corticosterone, when administered alone, cause neurotoxicity or mobilization of free cytosolic calcium however, a combination of the two caused significant toxicity and neuron death. This, along with our prior findings of gp120-glucocorticoid interactions, is striking, given the heavy clinical use of synthetic glucocorticoids for management of pulmonary complications of HIV infection.

    Abstract

    Brain areas damaged by stroke and seizures express high levels of the 72-kd heat shock protein (HSP72). Whether HSP72 represents merely a marker of stress or plays a role in improving neuron survival in these cases has been debated. Some induced tolerance experiments have provided correlative evidence for a neuroprotective effect, and others have documented neuroprotection in the absence of HSP72 synthesis. We report that gene transfer therapy with defective herpes simplex virus vectors overexpressing hsp72 improves neuron survival against focal cerebral ischemia and systemic kainic acid administration. HSP72 overexpression improved striatal neuron survival from 62.3 to 95.4% in rats subjected to 1 hour of middle cerebral artery occlusion, and improved survival of hippocampal dentate gyrus neurons after systemic kainic acid administration, from 21.9 to 64.4%. We conclude that HSP72 may participate in processes that enhance neuron survival during transient focal cerebral ischemia and excitotoxin-induced seizures.

    Abstract

    Excitatory amino acid overstimulation of neurons can lead to a marked rise in cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+])i) and be followed by neuron death from hours to days later. If the rise in [Ca2+]i is prevented, either by removing Ca2+ from the extracellular environment or by placing Ca2+ chelators in the cytosol of the stimulated cells, the neurotoxicity associated with excitotoxins can be ameliorated. We have recently shown that neurons infected with a herpes simplex virus amplicon vector expressing cDNA for calbindin D28k responded to hypoglycemia with decreased [Ca2+]i and increased survival relative to controls. We now report that vector-infected neurons respond to glutamatergic insults with lower [Ca2+]i than controls and with increased survival. Infected neurons exposed to sodium cyanide did not respond with lower [Ca2+]i than controls, nor did they demonstrate increased survival postinsult. We examine these results in light of our earlier report and in the context of the potential of vectors like this for neuronal gene therapy.

    Abstract

    The HIV envelope glycoprotein, gp120, a well documented neurotoxin, may be involved in AIDS-related dementia complex. gp120 works through an NMDA receptor- and calcium-dependent mechanism to damage neurons. We have previously demonstrated that both natural and synthetic glucocorticoids (GCs) exacerbate gp120-induced neurotoxicity and calcium mobilization in hippocampal mixed cultures. GCs, steroid hormones secreted during stress, are now shown to work in conjunction with gp120 to decrease ATP levels and to work synergistically with gp120 to decrease the mitochondrial potential in hippocampal cultures. Furthermore, energy supplementation blocked the ability of GCs to worsen gp120's effects on neuronal survival and calcium mobilization. A GC-induced reduction in glucose transport in hippocampal neurons, as previously documented, may contribute to this energetic dependency. These results may have clinical significance, considering the common treatment of severe cases of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, typical of HIV infection, with large doses of synthetic GCs.

    Abstract

    Glucocorticoids (GCs) predispose hippocampal neurons to damage during metabolic stressors. One component of hippocampal GC-endangerment may be changes in neuronal defenses against oxidative challenge. Previous experiments showed a decrease in basal levels of copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (Cu/Zn SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GSPx) in the brain of rats treated with GCs [L. McIntosh, K. Hong, R. Sapolsky, Glucocorticoids may alter antioxidant enzyme capacity in the brain: baseline studies, 1997.]. In this study we administered the excitotoxin kainic acid (KA) to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the brain, and monitored the activity of four antioxidant enzymes over 24 h in GC-free and GC-supplemented rats. We tested the response pattern in three regions of the brain (hippocampus, cortex, cerebellum) and the liver as a peripheral control. In the hippocampus, KA induced Cu/Zn SOD and catalase, but GCs prevented the induction of catalase and maintained the lowered GSPx activity seen previously in the baseline studies. In the cortex, KA induced Cu/Zn SOD, Mn SOD and catalase activity, but there was no significant GC effect. There was no response to KA in the cerebellum, but GCs decreased GSPx activity. In the liver, KA produced a rise in Cu/Zn SOD and catalase activity, and GC-treated animals showed a slower return to baseline. These experiments indicate that the impairment of antioxidant enzyme defenses, particularly the hippocampal peroxidases, could be a component of GC-mediated neuroendangerment.

    Abstract

    Glucocorticoids (GCs), the adrenal steroids secreted during stress, have been shown to increase the vulnerability of hippocampal neurons to metabolic insults, potentially by altering the neuronal defense capacity against oxidative damage. These experiments assessed the effect of long term in vivo GC supplementation on basal activity of the antioxidant enzymes copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (Cu/Zn SOD), manganese superoxide dismutase (Mn SOD), catalase, and glutathione peroxidase (GSPx). Kinetic enzyme studies were done using brain tissue from the hippocampus, cortex, cerebellum, and also from liver as a peripheral control. Cu/Zn SOD activity was significantly lower in all brain regions of GC-treated rats, but higher in the liver. Mn SOD activity was unaffected by treatment. Catalase in the brain appeared largely unaffected by GC treatment, although liver catalase was significantly decreased. GSPx activity was significantly decreased by GCs at high peroxide levels in all tissues. These results indicate that the presence of GCs may lower the antioxidant capacity of tissues in a region-specific manner, and that the deficit may not appear until the tissue is challenged with supranormal levels of oxidative products (as seen with GSPx).

    Abstract

    While a goal of many field primatologists is to observe subjects in as undisturbed a setting as possible, it is often necessary to anesthetize animals for any of a variety of reasons. In this paper, we review techniques for anesthetizing wild primates, based on our experience with more than a thousand such procedures carried out on baboons in East Africa. We consider the following: 1) rationales for anesthetizing a wild primate 2) systems for the delivery of anesthetic and choice of anesthetic 3) the darting process itself and issues relevant to the period between darting and the safe removal of the animal 4) handling of an anesthetized primate 5) medical complications associated with darting 6) when to reanesthetize an animal 7) the process of recovery from anesthesia and release of an awake animal 8) safety issues for humans. The range of information that can be obtained through field anesthetizations, when carried out successfully, as well as the potential benefit for the animals involved, can be enormous. However, this process is not trivial from the standpoint of the dangers involved to both the subjects and to humans and because of the potential disruption of social behavior to the group. As such, anesthetizations in the field should not be carried out without a strong rationale and without a tremendous priority given to the safety and care of all involved.

    Abstract

    The phenomena of basal hypercortisolism and of dexamethasone resistance have long intrigued biological psychiatrists, and much is still unknown as to the causes and consequences of such adrenocortical hyperactivity in various neuropsychiatric disorders. We have analyzed basal cortisol concentrations and adrenocortical responsiveness to dexamethasone in a population of wild baboons living in a national park in Kenya. We tested whether social subordinance in a primate is associated with dexamethasone resistance. Furthermore, we examined whether individual differences in adrenocortical measurements were predicted by the extent of social affiliation in these animals.Seventy yellow baboons (Papio cynocephalus) were anesthetized and injected with 5 mg of dexamethasone the cortisol response was monitored for 6 hours. The animals were of both sexes in a range of ages and had known ranks in the dominance hierarchies within their troops. Extensive behavioral data were available for a subset of 12 adult males who were anesthetized under circumstances that also allowed for the determination of basal cortisol concentrations.The socially subordinate baboons were less responsive to dexamethasone than were the dominant ones as one manifestation of this, postdexamethasone cortisol values were more than 3 times higher in the dozen lowest-ranking animals compared with the dozen highest. In addition, socially isolated males had elevated basal cortisol concentrations and showed a trend toward relative dexamethasone resistance.Our findings indicate that social status and degree of social affilitation can influence adrenocortical profiles specifically, social subordinance or social isolation were associated in our study with hypercortisolism or feedback resistance.

    Abstract

    Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) I is a potent growth-promoting and anabolic hormone with major roles in cellular growth and differentiation, protein metabolism and muscle physiology, wound healing, erythropoiesis, and immune stimulation. Few, if any, studies have examined social or psychological factors that could give rise to individual differences in IGF-I levels. As part of a long-term psychoendocrine study of a population of male baboons living freely in a national reserve in East Africa, we examined the relationship between social rank and IGF-I concentrations. We observed that social subordinance was associated with a relative suppression of IGF-I concentrations no rank-related differences in concentrations of IGF-II or IGF-binding protein were observed. Extensive psychoendocrine literature suggests that the individual differences in IGF-I profiles were a consequence, rather than a cause, of the rank difference. We were able to rule out a number of possible proximal explanations for the rank-IGF-I correlation: 1) the correlation was not a function of age (which involves both an adolescent spurt in IGF-I concentrations as well as a decline in concentrations in aged individuals) 2) the IGF-I suppression in subordinate individuals could not be explained by the basal hypercortisolism typical of such subordinate animals and 3) neither differences in the quality or quantity of food consumed, in basal testosterone concentrations, nor in genetics could explain the rank difference. Although the mediating mechanisms responsible for this rank difference were not discernible in this study, the magnitude of difference in IGF-I levels among baboons of differing ranks might be of physiological significance.

    Abstract

    Disruption of Ca2+ homeostasis often leads to neuron death. Recently, the function of calcium-binding proteins as neuronal Ca2+ buffers has been debated. We tested whether calbindin D28k functions as an intracellular Ca2+ buffer by constructing bicistronic herpes simplex virus vectors to deliver rat calbindin cDNA to hippocampal neurons in vitro. Neurons were infected with vectors delivering calbindin or a negative control or were mock-infected. After 12 or 24 h of hypoglycemia, infected cells were made aglycemic during fura-2 calcium ratiometric imaging. In response to this challenge, neuronal overexpressing calbindin had less Ca2+ mobilized as compared with negative controls or mock-infected cells. Cells were assayed for survival after 12- or 24-h hypoglycemia or aglycemia. The calbindin vector decreased neuronal death due to hypoglycemia but not aglycemia. Here we demonstrate, in response to hypoglycemic challenge, both decreased Ca2+ mobilization and increased survival of cells infected with the calbindin vector.

    Abstract

    HIV infection often involves the development of AIDS-related dementia complex, a variety of neurologic, neuropsychologic, and neuropathologic impairments. A possible contributor to AIDS-related dementia complex is the HIV envelope glycoprotein gp120, which damages neurons via a complex glutamate receptor- and calcium-dependent cascade. We demonstrate an endocrine modulation of the deleterious effects of gp120 in primary hippocampal and cortical cultures. Specifically, we observe that gp120-induced calcium mobilization and neurotoxicity are exacerbated by glucocorticoids, the adrenal steroids secreted during stress. Importantly, this deleterious synergy can occur between gp120 and synthetic glucocorticoids (such as prednisone or dexamethasone) that are used clinically in high concentrations to treat severe cases of the Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia typical of HIV infection. Conversely, we also observe that estradiol protects neurons from the deleterious actions of gp120, reducing toxicity and calcium mobilization.

    Abstract

    Considerable interest has focused on the possibility of using viral vectors to deliver genes to the central nervous system for the purpose of decreasing necrotic neuronal injury. To that end, we have previously shown that a herpes simplex virus (HSV) vector expressing Bcl-2 could protect neurons from ischemia. In that study, vector was delivered before the ischemia. However, for such gene therapy to be of clinical use, vectors must be protective even if delivered after the onset of the insult. In the present study, we show that an HSV vector expressing Bcl-2 protects striatal neurons when delivered after focal ischemia. Rats were exposed to middle cerebral artery occlusion for 1 hour, followed by reperfusion, and damage was assessed 48 hours later. Delivery of the Bcl-2 vector 30 minutes after reperfusion (i.e., 1.5 hours after ischemia onset) prevented any significant loss of virally-targeted neurons in the striatum. In contrast, in rats microinfused with a vector only expressing a reporter gene, a highly significant loss of neurons occurred. By 4 hours into the reperfusion period (5 hours after ischemia onset), delivery of the Bcl-2 vector was no longer protective. These data show the efficacy of postinsult gene therapy strategies for the brain, underline the finite length of this temporal therapeutic window, and support the growing evidence attesting to the neuroprotective potential of Bcl-2.

    Abstract

    The silicon microphysiometer is a recently developed instrument which measures rates of proton efflux in real time from small numbers of cultured cells. Since the main products of cellular metabolism are lactic acid and carbon dioxide, this instrument affords an indirect but sensitive measure of cellular metabolism. We previously described the use of the instrument with primary neuronal cultures (Raley-Susman, K.M., Miller, K.R., Owicki, J.C. and Sapolsky, R.M., Effects of excitotoxin exposure on metabolic rate of primary hippocampal cultures: application of silicon microphysiometer to neurobiology, J. Neurosci., 12 (1992) 773-780). In the present report, we adapt the instrument for the indirect measurement of metabolism in tissue slices. In initial studies, we demonstrate stable measures of metabolism with low background noise in hippocampal slices. In addition, measures were relatively insensitive to slice thickness, preparation time or the possible contribution of contaminating bacteria. We then demonstrate the ability to detect metabolic correlates of selective vulnerability in individual hippocampal cell fields. Specifically, we observe a metabolic response to kainic acid that was selective for CA3-derived tissue, and a response to cyanide that was selective for CA1-derived tissue. This corresponds to the well-known vulnerability of CA3 and CA1 to excitotoxic and ischemic insults, respectively. Finally, we show that glucocorticoids, stress-sensitive steroid hormones which are known to exacerbate the toxicity in kainic acid in CA3 neurons, exacerbate the metabolic effects of this excitotoxin as well in this case, the steroid manipulation was carried out in rats prior to killing. Thus, this instrument represents a complement to more traditional approaches for assessing metabolism in specific brain regions and it can potentially be used for a broad variety of studies with animals of differing ages and pre-mortem manipulations.

    Abstract

    Recently, preinduction of the heat shock response has been shown to protect CNS neurons undergoing various stressful insults, e.g., heat, ischemia, or exposure to excitotoxins. However, it is not known which of the proteins induced by the heat shock response mediate the protective effects. Previous correlative evidence points to a role for the highly stress-induced 72-kDa heat shock protein (hsp72). However, it is not known whether hsp72 expression alone can protect against a range of acute neuronal insults. We constructed a herpes simplex virus-1 vector carrying the rat brain stress-inducible hsp72 gene and the Escherichia coli lacZ (marker) gene. Infection with the vector caused hippocampal neurons to coexpress hsp72 and beta-galactosidase. Infection with a control vector led to marker gene expression only. Overexpression of hsp72 protected cultured hippocampal neurons against a heat shock but not against the metabolic toxin 3-nitropropionic acid or the excitotoxin glutamate. This is the first published report of protection following heat shock protein transfection in CNS neurons.

    Abstract

    In endless facets of physiology, there are points of homeostatic balance, such that too much or too litttle of something can both be deleterious (i.e., an "inverse U" pattern). This is particularly true when considering glucocorticoids (GCs), the adrenals steroid secreted during stress. In the first part of this paper, I review a number of realms in which a paucity and an excess of GCs are both damaging. Some findings are classical (for example, concerning GC effects upon body weight), while some are quite recent and have considerable implications for both physiology and pathophysiology (for example, inverse U's of GC actions in the realm of immunity and neuronal survival). The second part of the review considers the far thornier issue of how such inverse U's of GC actions are generated on a cellular and molecular level. One solution that has evolved, primarily in the hippocampus within the nervous system, involves the presence of two different types of receptors for GCs within the same cells so long as the two receptors have very different affinities and mediate opposing effects on some cellular endpoint, an inverse U will emerge. The second solution, found in a number of peripheral tissues, involves GCs having opposing effects on the amount of some signal being generated (e.g., an immune cytokine) and the sensitivity of target tissues to that signal under conditions that appear to be physiologically relevant, inverse U's emerge from this pattern as well. The final section of this review considers the enormous role played by Bruce McEwen in the emergence of this literature. I suggest that while much of this obviously has to do with the facts that have come from his group, another substantial contribution is from his steadying and supportive personality, the veritable embodiment of homeostatic balance.

    Abstract

    We have previously studied the relationship between social subordinance (by approach-avoidance criteria) and physiology among male olive baboons (Papio anubis) living freely in a national park in Africa. In stable hierarchies, subordinate individuals have elevated basal glucocorticoid concentrations and a blunted glucocorticoid response to stress, as well as a prompt suppression of testosterone concentrations during stress. These facets have been interpreted as reflecting the chronic stress of social subordinance. In the present report, we find these endocrine features do not mark all subordinate individuals. Instead, endocrine profiles differed among subordinate males as a function of particular stylistic traits of social behavior. A subset of subordinate males was identified who had significantly high rates of consortships, a behavior usually shown only by high-ranking males. Such behavior predicted the beginning transition to dominance, as these males were significantly more likely than other subordinates to have moved to the dominant half of the hierarchy over the subsequent 3 years. In keeping with this theme of emerging from subordinance, these individuals had also significantly larger glucocorticoid stress-responses, another feature typical of dominant males. However, these subordinate males also had significantly elevated basal glucocorticoid concentrations it is suggested that this reflects the stressfulness of their overt and precocious strategy of reproductive competition. In support of this, subordinate males with high rates of covert "stolen copulations" did not show elevated basal glucocorticoid concentrations. A second subset of subordinate males were the most likely to initiate fights are to displace aggression onto a third party after losing a fight. these males had significantly or near-significantly elevated testosterone concentrations, compared to the remaining subordinate cohort. Moreover, these males had significantly lower basal glucocorticoid concentrations this echoes an extensive literature showing that the availability of a displacement behavior (whether aggressive or otherwise) after a stressor decreases glucocorticoid secretion. In support of this interpretation suggesting that it was the initiation of these aggressive acts which attenuated glucocorticoid secretion, there was no association between glucocorticoid concentrations and participation (independent of initiation) in aggressive interactions. Thus, these findings suggest that variables other than rank alone may be associated with distinctive endocrine profiles, and that even in the face of a social stressor (such as subordinance), particular behavioral styles may attenuate the endocrine indices of stress.

    Abstract

    Glucocorticoids (GCs), the adrenal steroids secreted during stress, are known to affect diverse processes involving reactive oxygen species, from exacerbation of ischemic damage to alteration of antioxidant enzyme activities. To determine whether GCs have a direct effect on oxidative processes, we constructed a dose-response curve using adriamycin, an oxygen radical generator, in primary neuronal cultures. In cultures derived from the hippocampus, which has the greatest concentration of corticosteroid receptors in the brain, higher levels of GCs significantly increased adriamycin toxicity, while not being toxic themselves. In cortical cultures, which contain lesser amounts of corticosteroid receptors, GCs had no effect on the adriamycin dose-response. Surprisingly, when tested with dichlorofluorescein for levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), GCs increased ROS by approximately 10% basally and at all adriamycin doses in both hippocampal and cortical cultures. Thus, greater generation of ROS does not account for the increased susceptibility of the hippocampus to oxidative damage.

    Abstract

    In recent years, there has been extraordinary progress in understanding the cellular and molecular cascades that mediate neuron death following necrotic insults. With this knowledge has come the recognition of ways in which these cascades can be modulated by extrinsic factors, altering the likelihood of subsequent neuron death. In this review, we consider the ability of a variety of hormones to modulate necrotic death cascades. Specifically, we will examine the ability of the stress hormones glucocorticoids and corticotropin-releasing factor, of thyroid hormone, and of pre-ischemic exposure to catecholamines to augment necrotic neuron death. In contrast, estrogen, insulin and postischemic exposure to catecholamines appear to decrease necrotic neuron death. We review the heterogeneous mechanisms that are likely to mediate these hormone effects, some possible clinical implications and the therapeutic potentials of these findings.

    Abstract

    Modern populations are constantly exposed to a variety of compounds in the workplace and the environment that promote formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) within susceptible tissues. Due to its high oxygen consumption, the brain may be particularly vulnerable to oxidative damage and degeneration. Agents that impact cellular oxidative homeostasis would therefore be expected to alter the toxicity of ROS generating compounds. We are testing this hypothesis using endogenous stress hormones, glucocorticoids, to perturb neuronal homeostasis, and adriamycin to generate ROS. Glucocorticoids (GCs) are hormones secreted by the adrenals in response to stress, and are also prescribed clinically to control inflammatory and autoimmune disorders in millions of people annually. Therefore, high GC levels may not be uncommon in individuals exposed to low levels of toxic compounds. Also, GCs appear to act on cellular pathways relevant to ROS as seen by their potentiation of neurodegeneration following insults such as stroke, hypoglycemia and seizure. Using rat primary neuronal culture, we determined neuronal susceptibility to adriamycin toxicity by cell counting (using MAP-2 staining). Dichlorofluorescein fluorescence confirmed ROS generation after adriamycin administration. Physiological levels of GCS (up to mM concentrations) in the culture media exacerbated both adriamycin toxicity and ROS generation. We hypothesize that GCs may exacerbate the toxicity of three neurotoxins whose mechanisms of action overlap GC pathways.

    Abstract

    Herpes simplex virus-based amplicon vectors have been used for gene transfer into cultured neurons and the adult CNS. Since constitutive expression of a foreign gene or overexpression of an endogenous gene may have deleterious effects, the ability to control temporal expression would be advantageous. To achieve inducible gene expression, we have incorporated the tetracycline-responsive promoter system into amplicon vectors and showed, both in vitro and in vivo, that expression can be modulated by tetracycline. Using the firefly luciferase as the reporter gene, maximal repression by tetracycline in hippocampal cultures was about 50-fold. Withdrawal of tetracycline derepressed gene expression, reaching maximal levels within 10-12 h. In contrast, addition of tetracycline to cultures without prior tetracycline exposure inhibited gene expression rapidly luciferase activity was reduced to less than 8% within 24 h. In adult rat hippocampus, vectors expressing luciferase or the Escherichia coli lacZ were repressed by tetracycline 9- and 60-fold, respectively. Maximum gene expression from the vectors occurred 2-3 days post-infection and declined thereafter. Such decline impeded further induction of expression by withdrawing tetracycline. This study demonstrates the feasibility of incorporating a powerful inducible promoter system into HSV vectors. The development of such an inducible viral vector system for gene transfer into the adult CNS might prove to be of experimental and therapeutic value.


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