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Special Issue "Molecular Pathogenesis of Neurodegenerative Diseases Targeting Early Diagnosis and Treatment"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Pathology, Diagnostics, and Therapeutics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 May 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Michael Ugrumov
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Faculty of Psychology, National Research University “Higher School of Economy”, Moscow, Russia
2. Institute of Developmental Biology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
Interests: developmental neurobiology; neuroendocrinology; neurodegenerative diseases; Parkinson’s disease; preclinical diagnosis; preventive neuroprotective therapy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The fight against neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs), such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, is a global challenge of the 21st century since these diseases lead to disability and death. This is due to late diagnosis and treatment that begins many years after the onset of the disease, at the loss of most specific neurons and depletion of neuroplasticity. Therefore, priorities in neuroscience include fundamental studies of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of early pathogenesis of NDDs and their peripheral manifestations targeting early diagnosis and preventive treatment. Modeling the progression of NDDs in animals is the only means we currently have to study the molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration and neuroplasticity in the central and peripheral nervous system at the early stage of the disease. In turn, studies of early peripheral genetic and metabolic manifestations of NDDs are carried out not only in animal models, but also in humans—at the prodromal stage, diagnosed by early nonspecific symptoms, and at the early clinical stage, after the appearance of specific symptoms. Most of these studies are focused on changes in the chemical composition of bodily fluids (CSF, plasma, etc.), as well as changes in gene expression and the phenotype of peripheral cells (blood cells, skin cells, etc.). These findings are considered to be biochemical and biomolecular manifestations of the pathogenesis of NDDs and potential diagnostic markers. Fundamental knowledge of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying NDDs and the development of methods for early diagnosis may open up prospects for the use of preventive neuroprotective treatments that could slow down neurodegeneration and prolong the period of physical and social activity of subjects at risk.

Prof. Dr. Michael Ugrumov
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • neurodegenerative diseases
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • pathogenesis
  • animal models
  • molecular mechanisms
  • biomarkers
  • early diagnosis
  • preventive treatment

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
Neuroprotective Properties of Quinone Reductase 2 Inhibitor M-11, a 2-Mercaptobenzimidazole Derivative
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(23), 13061; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222313061 - 02 Dec 2021
Viewed by 413
Abstract
The ability of NQO2 to increase the production of free radicals under enhanced generation of quinone derivatives of catecholamines is considered to be a component of neurodegenerative disease pathogenesis. The present study aimed to investigate the neuroprotective mechanisms of original NQO2 inhibitor M-11 [...] Read more.
The ability of NQO2 to increase the production of free radicals under enhanced generation of quinone derivatives of catecholamines is considered to be a component of neurodegenerative disease pathogenesis. The present study aimed to investigate the neuroprotective mechanisms of original NQO2 inhibitor M-11 (2-[2-(3-oxomorpholin-4-il)-ethylthio]-5-ethoxybenzimidazole hydrochloride) in a cellular damage model using NQO2 endogenous substrate adrenochrome (125 µM) and co-substrate BNAH (100 µM). The effects of M-11 (10–100 µM) on the reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, apoptosis and lesion of nuclear DNA were evaluated using flow cytometry and single-cell gel electrophoresis assay (comet assay). Results were compared with S29434, the reference inhibitor of NQO2. It was found that treatment of HT-22 cells with M-11 results in a decline of ROS production triggered by incubation of cells with NQO2 substrate and co-substrate. Pre-incubation of HT-22 cells with compounds M-11 or S29434 results in a decrease of DNA damage and late apoptotic cell percentage reduction. The obtained results provide a rationale for further development of the M-11 compound as a potential neuroprotective agent. Full article
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Article
Subnormal GM1 in PBMCs: Promise for Early Diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease?
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(21), 11522; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222111522 - 26 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 452
Abstract
The fact that Parkinson’s disease (PD) pathologies are well advanced in most PD patients by the time of clinical elucidation attests to the importance of early diagnosis. Our attempt to achieve this has capitalized on our previous finding that GM1 ganglioside is expressed [...] Read more.
The fact that Parkinson’s disease (PD) pathologies are well advanced in most PD patients by the time of clinical elucidation attests to the importance of early diagnosis. Our attempt to achieve this has capitalized on our previous finding that GM1 ganglioside is expressed at subnormal levels in virtually all tissues of sporadic PD (sPD) patients including blood cells. GM1 is present in most vertebrate cells, is especially abundant in neurons where it was shown essential for their effective functioning and long term viability. We have utilized peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) which, despite their low GM1, we found to be significantly lower in sPD patients compared to age-matched healthy controls. To quantify GM1 (and GD1a) we used high performance thin-layer chromatography combined with cholera toxin B linked to horseradish peroxidase, followed by densitometric quantification. GM1 was also deficient in PBMCs from PD patients with mutations in the glucocerebrosidase gene (PD-GBA), apparently even lower than in sPD. Reasons are given why we believe these results obtained with patients manifesting fully developed PD will apply as well to PD patients in preclinical stages—a topic for future study. We also suggest that these findings point to a potential disease altering therapy for PD once the early diagnosis is established. Full article
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Article
A Transcriptomic Meta-Analysis Shows Lipid Metabolism Dysregulation as an Early Pathological Mechanism in the Spinal Cord of SOD1 Mice
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(17), 9553; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22179553 - 02 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 788
Abstract
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a multifactorial and complex fatal degenerative disorder. A number of pathological mechanisms that lead to motor neuron death have been identified, although there are many unknowns in the disease aetiology of ALS. Alterations in lipid metabolism are well [...] Read more.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a multifactorial and complex fatal degenerative disorder. A number of pathological mechanisms that lead to motor neuron death have been identified, although there are many unknowns in the disease aetiology of ALS. Alterations in lipid metabolism are well documented in the progression of ALS, both at the systemic level and in the spinal cord of mouse models and ALS patients. The origin of these lipid alterations remains unclear. This study aims to identify early lipid metabolic pathways altered before systemic metabolic symptoms in the spinal cord of mouse models of ALS. To do this, we performed a transcriptomic analysis of the spinal cord of SOD1G93A mice at an early disease stage, followed by a robust transcriptomic meta-analysis using publicly available RNA-seq data from the spinal cord of SOD1 mice at early and late symptomatic disease stages. The meta-analyses identified few lipid metabolic pathways dysregulated early that were exacerbated at symptomatic stages; mainly cholesterol biosynthesis, ceramide catabolism, and eicosanoid synthesis pathways. We present an insight into the pathological mechanisms in ALS, confirming that lipid metabolic alterations are transcriptionally dysregulated and are central to ALS aetiology, opening new options for the treatment of these devastating conditions. Full article
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Article
Further Characterization of Intrastriatal Lipopolysaccharide Model of Parkinson’s Disease in C57BL/6 Mice
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(14), 7380; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22147380 - 09 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1105
Abstract
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the most common movement disorder, characterized by progressive degeneration of the nigrostriatal pathway, which consists of dopaminergic cell bodies in substantia nigra and their neuronal projections to the striatum. Moreover, PD is associated with an array of non-motor symptoms [...] Read more.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the most common movement disorder, characterized by progressive degeneration of the nigrostriatal pathway, which consists of dopaminergic cell bodies in substantia nigra and their neuronal projections to the striatum. Moreover, PD is associated with an array of non-motor symptoms such as olfactory dysfunction, gastrointestinal dysfunction, impaired regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, anxiety, depression, and cognitive impairment. Inflammation and concomitant oxidative stress are crucial in the pathogenesis of PD. Thus, this study aimed to model PD via intrastriatal injection of the inflammagen lipopolysaccharide (LPS)to investigate if the lesion causes olfactory and motor impairments, inflammation, oxidative stress, and alteration in synaptic proteins in the olfactory bulb, striatum, and colon. Ten µg of LPS was injected unilaterally into the striatum of 27 male C57BL/6 mice, and behavioural assessment was conducted at 4 and 8 weeks post-treatment, followed by tissue collection. Intrastriatal LPS induced motor impairment in C57BL/6 mice at 8 weeks post-treatment evidenced by reduced latency time in the rotarod test. LPS also induced inflammation in the striatum characterized by increased expression of microglial marker Iba-1 and astrocytic marker GFAP, with degeneration of dopaminergic neuronal fibres (reduced tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity), and reduction of synaptic proteins and DJ-1 protein. Additionally, intrastriatal LPS induced inflammation, oxidative stress and alterations in synaptic proteins within the olfactory bulb, although this did not induce a significant impairment in olfactory function. Intrastriatal LPS induced mild inflammatory changes in the distal colon, accompanied by increased protein expression of 3-nitrotyrosine-modified proteins. This model recapitulated the major features of PD such as motor impairment and degeneration of dopaminergic neuronal fibres in the striatum, as well as some pathological changes in the olfactory bulb and colon; thus, this model could be suitable for understanding clinical PD and testing neuroprotective strategies. Full article
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Communication
Differences in Recycling of Apolipoprotein E3 and E4—LDL Receptor Complexes—A Mechanistic Hypothesis
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(9), 5030; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22095030 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 613
Abstract
Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) is a protein that plays an important role in the transport of fatty acids and cholesterol and in cellular signaling. On the surface of the cells, ApoE lipoparticles bind to low density lipoprotein receptors (LDLR) that mediate the uptake of [...] Read more.
Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) is a protein that plays an important role in the transport of fatty acids and cholesterol and in cellular signaling. On the surface of the cells, ApoE lipoparticles bind to low density lipoprotein receptors (LDLR) that mediate the uptake of the lipids and downstream signaling events. There are three alleles of the human ApoE gene. Presence of ApoE4 allele is a major risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other disorders late in life, but the mechanisms responsible for biological differences between different ApoE isoforms are not well understood. We here propose that the differences between ApoE isoforms can be explained by differences in the pH-dependence of the association between ApoE3 and ApoE4 isoforms and LDL-A repeats of LDLR. As a result, the following endocytosis ApoE3-associated LDLRs are recycled back to the plasma membrane but ApoE4-containing LDLR complexes are trapped in late endosomes and targeted for degradation. The proposed mechanism is predicted to lead to a reduction in steady-state surface levels of LDLRs and impaired cellular signaling in ApoE4-expressing cells. We hope that this proposal will stimulate experimental research in this direction that allows the testing of our hypothesis. Full article
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Article
A Pilot Study of Changes in the Level of Catecholamines and the Activity of α-2-Macroglobulin in the Tear Fluid of Patients with Parkinson’s Disease and Parkinsonian Mice
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(9), 4736; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22094736 - 29 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 700
Abstract
Development of differential and early (preclinical) diagnostics of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is among the priorities in neuroscience. We searched for changes in the level of catecholamines and α-2-macroglobulin activity in the tear fluid (TF) in PD patients at an early clinical stage. It [...] Read more.
Development of differential and early (preclinical) diagnostics of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is among the priorities in neuroscience. We searched for changes in the level of catecholamines and α-2-macroglobulin activity in the tear fluid (TF) in PD patients at an early clinical stage. It was shown that TF in patients is characterized by an increased level of noradrenaline mainly on the ipsilateral side of pronounced motor symptoms (72%, p = 0.049), a decreased level of adrenaline on both sides (ipsilateral—53%, p = 0.004; contralateral—42%, p = 0.02), and an increased α-2-macroglobulin activity on both sides (ipsilateral—53%, p = 0.03; contralateral—56%, p = 0.037) compared to controls. These changes are considered as potential biomarkers for differential diagnosis. Similar changes in the TF were found in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-treated mice when modeling clinical and preclinical stages of PD. These data show the adequacy of models to the pathogenesis of PD along the selected metabolic pathways, and also suggest that the found TF changes can be considered as potential biomarkers for preclinical diagnosis of PD. In Parkinsonian mice, the level of catecholamines also changes in the lacrimal glands, which makes it possible to consider them as one of the sources of catecholamines in the TF. Full article
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Review

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Review
Bilirubin: A Promising Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(12), 6223; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22126223 - 09 Jun 2021
Viewed by 817
Abstract
Following the increase in life expectancy, the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease (PD) as the most common movement disorder is expected to rise. Despite the incredibly huge efforts in research to find the definitive biomarker, to date, the diagnosis of PD still relies mainly [...] Read more.
Following the increase in life expectancy, the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease (PD) as the most common movement disorder is expected to rise. Despite the incredibly huge efforts in research to find the definitive biomarker, to date, the diagnosis of PD still relies mainly upon clinical symptoms. A wide range of treatments is available for PD, mainly alleviating the clinical symptoms. However, none of these current therapies can stop or even slow down the disease evolution. Hence, disease-modifying treatment is still a paramount unmet medical need. On the other side, bilirubin and its enzymatic machinery and precursors have offered potential benefits by targeting multiple mechanisms in chronic diseases, including PD. Nevertheless, only limited discussions are available in the context of neurological conditions, particularly in PD. Therefore, in this review, we profoundly discuss this topic to understand bilirubin’s therapeutical potential in PD. Full article
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Review
The Catecholaldehyde Hypothesis for the Pathogenesis of Catecholaminergic Neurodegeneration: What We Know and What We Do Not Know
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(11), 5999; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22115999 - 01 Jun 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1133
Abstract
3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde (DOPAL) is the focus of the catecholaldehyde hypothesis for the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease and other Lewy body diseases. The catecholaldehyde is produced via oxidative deamination catalyzed by monoamine oxidase (MAO) acting on cytoplasmic dopamine. DOPAL is autotoxic, in that it can [...] Read more.
3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde (DOPAL) is the focus of the catecholaldehyde hypothesis for the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease and other Lewy body diseases. The catecholaldehyde is produced via oxidative deamination catalyzed by monoamine oxidase (MAO) acting on cytoplasmic dopamine. DOPAL is autotoxic, in that it can harm the same cells in which it is produced. Normally, DOPAL is detoxified by aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)-mediated conversion to 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), which rapidly exits the neurons. Genetic, environmental, or drug-induced manipulations of ALDH that build up DOPAL promote catecholaminergic neurodegeneration. A concept derived from the catecholaldehyde hypothesis imputes deleterious interactions between DOPAL and the protein alpha-synuclein (αS), a major component of Lewy bodies. DOPAL potently oligomerizes αS, and αS oligomers impede vesicular and mitochondrial functions, shifting the fate of cytoplasmic dopamine toward the MAO-catalyzed formation of DOPAL—destabilizing vicious cycles. Direct and indirect effects of DOPAL and of DOPAL-induced misfolded proteins could “freeze” intraneuronal reactions, plasticity of which is required for neuronal homeostasis. The extent to which DOPAL toxicity is mediated by interactions with αS, and vice versa, is poorly understood. Because of numerous secondary effects such as augmented spontaneous oxidation of dopamine by MAO inhibition, there has been insufficient testing of the catecholaldehyde hypothesis in animal models. The clinical pathophysiological significance of genetics, emotional stress, environmental agents, and interactions with numerous proteins relevant to the catecholaldehyde hypothesis are matters for future research. The imposing complexity of intraneuronal catecholamine metabolism seems to require a computational modeling approach to elucidate clinical pathogenetic mechanisms and devise pathophysiology-based, individualized treatments. Full article
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