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Special Issue "Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases"

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 (30 November 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Cesar Borlongan
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Neurosurgery, MDC 78, University of South Florida College Medicine, Tampa, FL 33612, USA
Interests: stem cell therapy; stroke; neonatal hypoxic-ischemic injury; Parkinson's disease; traumatic brain injury; translational research
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Eleonora Napoli
Website
Co-Guest Editor
Department of Molecular Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Many neurological disorders have been characterized by neurodegenerative processes, with key molecular signaling pathways participating in the cascade of cell death events. Even brain diseases, traditionally considered as acute central nervous system injury, such as stroke and traumatic brain injury, have now been recognized as presenting with major pathological components, known as hallmarks of chronic neurodegeneration. Among the many molecular signatures of neurodegeneration, specific molecules associated with inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction have been implicated as pivotal checkpoints in the propagation of cell death mechanisms, yet also indicated as equally involved as robust targets for anchoring cell survival therapeutics. This Special Issue is dedicated to the recent research progress in deciphering molecular pathways mediating cell death and cell survival in neurodegeneration and its treatment. The goal is to provide an in-depth understanding of the underlying central role of neurodegeneration in brain diseases, and to exploit such knowledge in the development of novel molecule-based therapies against neurodegenerative disorders.

Prof. Cesar Borlongan
Dr. Eleonora Napoli
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • neurological disorders
  • stroke
  • traumatic brain injury
  • neurodegeneration
  • Parkinson's disease
  • molecular pathways

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Published Papers (29 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Integrated Computational Analysis Highlights unique miRNA Signatures in the Subventricular Zone and Striatum of GM2 Gangliosidosis Animal Models
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(13), 3179; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20133179 - 28 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This work explores for the first time the potential contribution of microRNAs (miRNAs) to the pathophysiology of the GM2 gangliosidosis, a group of Lysosomal Storage Diseases. In spite of the genetic origin of GM2 gangliosidosis, the cascade of events leading from the gene/protein [...] Read more.
This work explores for the first time the potential contribution of microRNAs (miRNAs) to the pathophysiology of the GM2 gangliosidosis, a group of Lysosomal Storage Diseases. In spite of the genetic origin of GM2 gangliosidosis, the cascade of events leading from the gene/protein defects to the cell dysfunction and death is not fully elucidated. At present, there is no cure for patients. Taking advantage of the animal models of two forms of GM2 gangliosidosis, Tay-Sachs (TSD) and Sandhoff (SD) diseases, we performed a microRNA screening in the brain subventricular zone (SVZ) and striatum (STR), which feature the neurogenesis and neurodegeneration states, respectively, in adult mutant mice. We found abnormal expression of a panel of miRNAs involved in lipid metabolism, CNS development and homeostasis, and neuropathological processes, highlighting region- and disease-specific profiles of miRNA expression. Moreover, by using a computational analysis approach, we identified a unique disease- (SD or TSD) and brain region-specific (SVZ vs. STR) miRNAs signatures of predicted networks potentially related to the pathogenesis of the diseases. These results may contribute to the understanding of GM2 gangliosidosis pathophysiology, with the aim of developing effective treatments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessCommunication
Parkin Interacts with Apoptosis-Inducing Factor and Interferes with Its Translocation to the Nucleus in Neuronal Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(3), 748; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20030748 - 11 Feb 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Mutations in the PRKN gene (encoding parkin) have been linked to the most frequent known cause of recessive Parkinson’s disease (PD), and parkin dysfunction represents a risk factor for sporadic PD. Parkin is widely neuroprotective through different cellular pathways, as it protects dopaminergic [...] Read more.
Mutations in the PRKN gene (encoding parkin) have been linked to the most frequent known cause of recessive Parkinson’s disease (PD), and parkin dysfunction represents a risk factor for sporadic PD. Parkin is widely neuroprotective through different cellular pathways, as it protects dopaminergic neurons from apoptosis in a series of cellular and animal models of PD. The mitochondrial protein apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) is an important cell death effector, which, upon cellular stress in many paradigms, is redistributed from the mitochondria to the nucleus to function as a proapoptotic factor, mostly independent of caspase activity, while in normal mitochondria it functions as an antiapoptotic factor. AIF is known to participate in dopaminergic neuron loss in experimental PD models and in patients with PD. We, therefore, investigated possible crosstalk between parkin and AIF. By using immunoprecipitation and proximity ligation assays, we demonstrated a physical interaction between the two proteins. Nuclear AIF translocation was significantly reduced by parkin expression in neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells after exposure to an apoptogenic stimulus. These results were confirmed in primary murine cortical neurons, which showed a higher nuclear translocation of AIF in parkin-deficient neurons upon an excitotoxic stimulus. Our results indicate that the interaction of parkin with AIF interferes with the nuclear translocation of AIF, which might contribute to the neuroprotective activity of parkin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Intracerebral Delivery of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Using HyStem®-C Hydrogel Implants Improves Functional Recovery and Reduces Neuroinflammation in a Rat Model of Ischemic Stroke
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(12), 3782; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19123782 - 28 Nov 2018
Cited by 12
Abstract
Ischemic stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Potential therapeutics aimed at neural repair and functional recovery are limited in their blood-brain barrier permeability and may exert systemic or off-target effects. We examined the effects of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), [...] Read more.
Ischemic stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Potential therapeutics aimed at neural repair and functional recovery are limited in their blood-brain barrier permeability and may exert systemic or off-target effects. We examined the effects of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), delivered via an extended release HyStem®-C hydrogel implant or vehicle, on sensorimotor function, infarct volume, and neuroinflammation, following permanent distal middle cerebral artery occlusion (dMCAo) in rats. Eight days following dMCAo or sham surgery, treatments were implanted directly into the infarction site. Rats received either vehicle, BDNF-only (0.167 µg/µL), hydrogel-only, hydrogel impregnated with 0.057 µg/µL of BDNF (hydrogel + BDNFLOW), or hydrogel impregnated with 0.167 µg/µL of BDNF (hydrogel + BDNFHIGH). The adhesive removal test (ART) and 28-point Neuroscore (28-PN) were used to evaluate sensorimotor function up to two months post-ischemia. The hydrogel + BDNFHIGH group showed significant improvements on the ART six to eight weeks following treatment and their behavioral performance was consistently greater on the 28-PN. Infarct volume was reduced in rats treated with hydrogel + BDNFHIGH as were levels of microglial, phagocyte, and astrocyte marker immunoexpression in the corpus striatum. These data suggest that targeted intracerebral delivery of BDNF using hydrogels may mitigate ischemic brain injury and restore functional deficits by reducing neuroinflammation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Traumatic Brain Injury in Aged Mice Induces Chronic Microglia Activation, Synapse Loss, and Complement-Dependent Memory Deficits
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(12), 3753; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19123753 - 26 Nov 2018
Cited by 19
Abstract
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is of particular concern for the aging community since there is both increased incidence of TBI and decreased functional recovery in this population. In addition, TBI is the strongest environmental risk factor for development of Alzheimer’s disease and other [...] Read more.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is of particular concern for the aging community since there is both increased incidence of TBI and decreased functional recovery in this population. In addition, TBI is the strongest environmental risk factor for development of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related neurodegenerative disorders. Critical changes that affect cognition take place over time following the initial insult. Our previous work identified immune system activation as a key contributor to cognitive deficits observed in aged animals. Using a focal contusion model in the current study, we demonstrate a brain lesion and cavitation formation, as well as prolonged blood–brain barrier breakdown. These changes were associated with a prolonged inflammatory response, characterized by increased microglial cell number and phagocytic activity 30 days post injury, corresponding to significant memory deficits. We next aimed to identify the injury-induced cellular and molecular changes that lead to chronic cognitive deficits in aged animals, and measured increases in complement initiation components C1q, C3, and CR3, which are known to regulate microglial–synapse interactions. Specifically, we found significant accumulation of C1q on synapses within the hippocampus, which was paralleled by synapse loss 30 days post injury. We used genetic and pharmacological approaches to determine the mechanistic role of complement initiation on cognitive loss in aging animals after TBI. Notably, both genetic and pharmacological blockade of the complement pathway prevented memory deficits in aged injured animals. Thus, therapeutically targeting early components of the complement cascade represents a significant avenue for possible clinical intervention following TBI in the aging population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Pomalidomide Ameliorates H2O2-Induced Oxidative Stress Injury and Cell Death in Rat Primary Cortical Neuronal Cultures by Inducing Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Apoptosis Effects
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(10), 3252; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19103252 - 19 Oct 2018
Cited by 8
Abstract
Due to its high oxygen demand and abundance of peroxidation-susceptible lipid cells, the brain is particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress. Induced by a redox state imbalance involving either excessive generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) or dysfunction of the antioxidant system, oxidative stress [...] Read more.
Due to its high oxygen demand and abundance of peroxidation-susceptible lipid cells, the brain is particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress. Induced by a redox state imbalance involving either excessive generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) or dysfunction of the antioxidant system, oxidative stress plays a central role in a common pathophysiology that underpins neuronal cell death in acute neurological disorders epitomized by stroke and chronic ones such as Alzheimer’s disease. After cerebral ischemia, for example, inflammation bears a key responsibility in the development of permanent neurological damage. ROS are involved in the mechanism of post-ischemic inflammation. The activation of several inflammatory enzymes produces ROS, which subsequently suppress mitochondrial activity, leading to further tissue damage. Pomalidomide (POM) is a clinically available immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory agent. Using H2O2-treated rat primary cortical neuronal cultures, we found POM displayed neuroprotective effects against oxidative stress and cell death that associated with changes in the nuclear factor erythroid derived 2/superoxide dismutase 2/catalase signaling pathway. POM also suppressed nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer (NF-κB) levels and significantly mitigated cortical neuronal apoptosis by regulating Bax, Cytochrome c and Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase. In summary, POM exerted neuroprotective effects via its anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory actions against H2O2-induced injury. POM consequently represents a potential therapeutic agent against brain damage and related disorders and warrants further evaluation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Chronic Upregulation of Cleaved-Caspase-3 Associated with Chronic Myelin Pathology and Microvascular Reorganization in the Thalamus after Traumatic Brain Injury in Rats
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(10), 3151; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19103151 - 13 Oct 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with long-term disabilities and devastating chronic neurological complications including problems with cognition, motor function, sensory processing, as well as behavioral deficits and mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, personality change and social unsuitability. Clinical data suggest [...] Read more.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with long-term disabilities and devastating chronic neurological complications including problems with cognition, motor function, sensory processing, as well as behavioral deficits and mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, personality change and social unsuitability. Clinical data suggest that disruption of the thalamo-cortical system including anatomical and metabolic changes in the thalamus following TBI might be responsible for some chronic neurological deficits following brain trauma. Detailed mechanisms of these pathological processes are not completely understood. The goal of this study was to evaluate changes in the thalamus following TBI focusing on cleaved-caspase-3, a specific effector of caspase pathway activation and myelin and microvascular pathologies using immuno- and histochemistry at different time points from 24 h to 3 months after controlled cortical impact (CCI) in adult Sprague-Dawley rats. Significant increases in cleaved-caspase-3 immunoreactivity in the thalamus were observed starting one month and persisting for at least three months following experimental TBI. Further, the study demonstrated an association of cleaved-caspase-3 with the demyelination of neuronal processes and tissue degeneration in the gray matter in the thalamus, as reflected in alterations of myelinated fiber integrity (luxol fast blue) and decreases in myelin basic protein (MBP) immunoreactivity. The immunofluorescent counterstaining of cleaved-caspase-3 with endothelial barrier antigen (EBA), a marker of blood-brain barrier, revealed limited direct and indirect associations of cleaved caspase-3 with blood-brain barrier damage. These results demonstrate for the first time a significant chronic upregulation of cleaved-caspase-3 in selected thalamic regions associated with cortical regions directly affected by CCI injury. Further, our study is also the first to report that significant upregulation of cleaved-caspase-3 in selected ipsilateral thalamic regions is associated with microvascular reorganization reflected in the significant increases in the number of microvessels with blood-brain barrier alterations detected by EBA staining. These findings provide new insights into potential mechanisms of TBI cell death involving chronic activation of caspase-3 associated with disrupted cortico-thalamic and thalamo-cortical connectivity. Moreover, this study offers the initial evidence that this upregulation of activated caspase-3, delayed degeneration of myelinated nerve fibers and microvascular reorganization with impaired blood-brain barrier integrity in the thalamus might represent reciprocal pathological processes affecting neuronal networks and brain function at the chronic stages of TBI. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Standards for Deriving Nonhuman Primate-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, Neural Stem Cells and Dopaminergic Lineage
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(9), 2788; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19092788 - 17 Sep 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
Humans and nonhuman primates (NHP) are similar in behavior and in physiology, specifically the structure, function, and complexity of the immune system. Thus, NHP models are desirable for pathophysiology and pharmacology/toxicology studies. Furthermore, NHP-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) may enable transformative developmental, [...] Read more.
Humans and nonhuman primates (NHP) are similar in behavior and in physiology, specifically the structure, function, and complexity of the immune system. Thus, NHP models are desirable for pathophysiology and pharmacology/toxicology studies. Furthermore, NHP-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) may enable transformative developmental, translational, or evolutionary studies in a field of inquiry currently hampered by the limited availability of research specimens. NHP-iPSCs may address specific questions that can be studied back and forth between in vitro cellular assays and in vivo experimentations, an investigational process that in most cases cannot be performed on humans because of safety and ethical issues. The use of NHP model systems and cell specific in vitro models is evolving with iPSC-based three-dimensional (3D) cell culture systems and organoids, which may offer reliable in vitro models and reduce the number of animals used in experimental research. IPSCs have the potential to give rise to defined cell types of any organ of the body. However, standards for deriving defined and validated NHP iPSCs are missing. Standards for deriving high-quality iPSC cell lines promote rigorous and replicable scientific research and likewise, validated cell lines reduce variability and discrepancies in results between laboratories. We have derived and validated NHP iPSC lines by confirming their pluripotency and propensity to differentiate into all three germ layers (ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm) according to standards and measurable limits for a set of marker genes. The iPSC lines were characterized for their potential to generate neural stem cells and to differentiate into dopaminergic neurons. These iPSC lines are available to the scientific community. NHP-iPSCs fulfill a unique niche in comparative genomics to understand gene regulatory principles underlying emergence of human traits, in infectious disease pathogenesis, in vaccine development, and in immunological barriers in regenerative medicine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Fewer Functional Deficits and Reduced Cell Death after Ranibizumab Treatment in a Retinal Ischemia Model
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(6), 1636; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19061636 - 31 May 2018
Cited by 11
Abstract
Retinal ischemia is an important factor in several eye disorders. To investigate the impact of VEGF inhibitors, as a therapeutic option, we studied these in a retinal ischemia animal model. Therefore, animals received bevacizumab or ranibizumab intravitreally one day after ischemia induction. Via [...] Read more.
Retinal ischemia is an important factor in several eye disorders. To investigate the impact of VEGF inhibitors, as a therapeutic option, we studied these in a retinal ischemia animal model. Therefore, animals received bevacizumab or ranibizumab intravitreally one day after ischemia induction. Via electroretinography, a significant decrease in a- and b-wave amplitudes was detected fourteen days after ischemia, but they were reduced to a lesser extent in the ranibizumab group. Ischemic and bevacizumab retinae displayed fewer retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), while no significant cell loss was noted in the ranibizumab group. Apoptosis was reduced after therapy. More autophagocytotic cells were observed in ischemic and bevacizumab eyes, but not in ranibizumab eyes. Additionally, more microglia, as well as active ones, were revealed in all ischemic groups, but the increase was less prominent under ranibizumab treatment. Fewer cone bipolar cells were detected in ischemic eyes, in contrast to bevacizumab and ranibizumab-treated ones. Our results demonstrate a reduced apoptosis and autophagocytosis rate after ranibizumab treatment. Furthermore, a certain protection was seen regarding functionality, RGC, and bipolar cell availability, as well as microglia activation by ranibizumab treatment after ischemic damage. Thus, ranibizumab could be an option for treatment of retinal ischemic injury. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Extension of Tissue Plasminogen Activator Treatment Window by Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor in a Thromboembolic Rat Model of Stroke
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(6), 1635; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19061635 - 31 May 2018
Cited by 8
Abstract
When given beyond 4.5 h of stroke onset, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) induces deleterious side effects in the ischemic brain, notably, hemorrhagic transformation (HT). We examined the efficacy of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) in reducing delayed tPA-induced HT, cerebral infarction, and neurological deficits [...] Read more.
When given beyond 4.5 h of stroke onset, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) induces deleterious side effects in the ischemic brain, notably, hemorrhagic transformation (HT). We examined the efficacy of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) in reducing delayed tPA-induced HT, cerebral infarction, and neurological deficits in a thromboembolic (TE) stroke model, and whether the effects of G-CSF were sustained for longer periods of recovery. After stroke induction, rats were given intravenous saline (control), tPA (10 mg/kg), or G-CSF (300 μg/kg) + tPA 6 h after stroke. We found that G-CSF reduced delayed tPA-associated HT by 47%, decreased infarct volumes by 33%, and improved motor and neurological deficits by 15% and 25%, respectively. It also prevented delayed tPA treatment-induced mortality by 46%. Immunohistochemistry showed 1.5- and 1.8-fold enrichment of the endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) markers CD34+ and VEGFR2 in the ischemic cortex and striatum, respectively, and 1.7- and 2.8-fold increases in the expression of the vasculogenesis marker von Willebrand factor (vWF) in the ischemic cortex and striatum, respectively, in G-CSF-treated rats compared with tPA-treated animals. Flow cytometry revealed increased mobilization of CD34+ cells in the peripheral blood of rats given G-CSF. These results corroborate the efficacy of G-CSF in enhancing the therapeutic time window of tPA for stroke treatment via EPC mobilization and enhancement of vasculogenesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Persistent Infiltration and Impaired Response of Peripherally-Derived Monocytes after Traumatic Brain Injury in the Aged Brain
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(6), 1616; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19061616 - 30 May 2018
Cited by 14
Abstract
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause for neurological disabilities world-wide. TBI occurs most frequently among the elderly population, and elderly TBI survivors suffer from reduced recovery and poorer quality of life. The effect of age on the pathophysiology of TBI is [...] Read more.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause for neurological disabilities world-wide. TBI occurs most frequently among the elderly population, and elderly TBI survivors suffer from reduced recovery and poorer quality of life. The effect of age on the pathophysiology of TBI is still poorly understood. We previously established that peripherally-derived monocytes (CCR2+) infiltrate the injured brain and contribute to chronic TBI-induced cognitive deficits in young animals. Furthermore, age was shown to amplify monocyte infiltration acutely after injury. In the current study, we investigated the impact of age on the subchronic response of peripherally-derived monocytes (CD45hi; CCR2+) and their role in the development of chronic cognitive deficits. In the aged brain, there was a significant increase in the number of peripherally-derived monocytes after injury compared to young, injured animals. The infiltration rate of peripherally-derived monocytes remained elevated subchronically and corresponded with enhanced expression of CCR2 chemotactic ligands. Interestingly, the myeloid cell populations observed in injured aged brains had impaired anti-inflammatory responses compared to those in young animals. Additionally, in the aged animals, there was an expansion of the blood CCR2+ monocyte population after injury that was not present in the young animals. Importantly, knocking out CCR2 to inhibit infiltration of peripherally-derived monocytes prevented chronic TBI-induced spatial memory deficits in the aged mice. Altogether, these results demonstrate the critical effects of age on the peripherally-derived monocyte response during the progression of TBI pathophysiology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessCommunication
Dopamine Transporter/α-Synuclein Complexes Are Altered in the Post Mortem Caudate Putamen of Parkinson’s Disease: An In Situ Proximity Ligation Assay Study
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(6), 1611; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19061611 - 30 May 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by the degeneration of the dopaminergic nigrostriatal neurons and the presence of Lewy bodies (LB) and Lewy neurites (LN) mainly composed of α-synuclein. By using the in situ proximity ligation assay (PLA), which allows for the visualization of [...] Read more.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by the degeneration of the dopaminergic nigrostriatal neurons and the presence of Lewy bodies (LB) and Lewy neurites (LN) mainly composed of α-synuclein. By using the in situ proximity ligation assay (PLA), which allows for the visualization of protein-protein interactions in tissues to detect dopamine transporter (DAT)/α-synuclein complexes, we previously described that these are markedly redistributed in the striatum of human α-synuclein transgenic mice at the phenotypic stage, showing dopamine (DA) release impairment without a DAT drop and motor symptoms. Here, we used the in situ PLA to investigate DAT/α-synuclein complexes in the caudate putamen of PD patients and age-matched controls. They were found to be redistributed and showed an increased size in PD patients, where we observed several neuropil-like and neuritic-like PLA-positive structures. In the PD brains, DAT immunolabeling showed a pattern similar to that of in situ PLA in areas with abundant α-synuclein neuropathology. This notwithstanding, the in situ PLA signal was only partially retracing DAT or α-synuclein immunolabeling, suggesting that a large amount of complexes may have been lost along with the degeneration process. These findings reveal a DAT/α-synuclein neuropathological signature in PD and hint that synaptic alterations involving striatal DAT may derive from α-synuclein aggregation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
The Organization of Mitochondrial Supercomplexes is Modulated by Oxidative Stress In Vivo in Mouse Models of Mitochondrial Encephalopathy
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(6), 1582; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19061582 - 26 May 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
We examine the effect of oxidative stress on the stability of mitochondrial respiratory complexes and their association into supercomplexes (SCs) in the neuron-specific Rieske iron sulfur protein (RISP) and COX10 knockout (KO) mice. Previously we reported that these two models display different grades [...] Read more.
We examine the effect of oxidative stress on the stability of mitochondrial respiratory complexes and their association into supercomplexes (SCs) in the neuron-specific Rieske iron sulfur protein (RISP) and COX10 knockout (KO) mice. Previously we reported that these two models display different grades of oxidative stress in distinct brain regions. Using blue native gel electrophoresis, we observed a redistribution of the architecture of SCs in KO mice. Brain regions with moderate levels of oxidative stress (cingulate cortex of both COX10 and RISP KO and hippocampus of the RISP KO) showed a significant increase in the levels of high molecular weight (HMW) SCs. High levels of oxidative stress in the piriform cortex of the RISP KO negatively impacted the stability of CI, CIII and SCs. Treatment of the RISP KO with the mitochondrial targeted antioxidant mitoTEMPO preserved the stability of respiratory complexes and formation of SCs in the piriform cortex and increased the levels of glutathione peroxidase. These results suggest that mild to moderate levels of oxidative stress can modulate SCs into a more favorable architecture of HMW SCs to cope with rising levels of free radicals and cover the energetic needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Safety and Feasibility of Lin- Cells Administration to ALS Patients: A Novel View on Humoral Factors and miRNA Profiles
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(5), 1312; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19051312 - 27 Apr 2018
Cited by 13
Abstract
Therapeutic options for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are still limited. Great hopes, however, are placed in growth factors that show neuroprotective abilities (e.g., nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)) and in the immune modulating features, [...] Read more.
Therapeutic options for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are still limited. Great hopes, however, are placed in growth factors that show neuroprotective abilities (e.g., nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)) and in the immune modulating features, in particular, the anti-inflammatory effects. In our study we aimed to investigate whether a bone marrow-derived lineage-negative (Lin-) cells population, after autologous application into cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), is able to produce noticeable concentrations of trophic factors and inflammatory-related proteins and thus influence the clinical course of ALS. To our knowledge, the evaluation of Lin- cells transplantation for ALS treatment has not been previously reported. Early hematopoietic Lin- cells were isolated from twelve ALS patients’ bone marrow, and later, the suspension of cells was administered into the subarachnoid space by lumbar puncture. Concentrations of selected proteins in the CSF and plasma were quantified by multiplex fluorescent bead-based immunoassays at different timepoints post-transplantation. We also chose microRNAs (miRNAs) related to muscle biology (miRNA-1, miRNA-133a, and miRNA-206) and angiogenesis and inflammation (miRNA-155 and miRNA-378) and tested, for the first time, their expression profiles in the CSF and plasma of ALS patients after Lin- cells transplantation. The injection of bone marrow cells resulted in decreased concentration of selected inflammatory proteins (C3) after Lin- cells injection, particularly in patients who had a better clinical outcome. Moreover, several analyzed miRNAs have changed expression levels in the CSF and plasma of ALS patients subsequent to Lin- cells administration. Interestingly, the expression of miR-206 increased in ALS patients, while miR-378 decreased both in the CSF and plasma one month after the cells’ injection. We propose that autologous lineage-negative early hematopoietic cells injected intrathecally may be a safe and feasible source of material for transplantations to the central nervous system (CNS) environment aimed at anti-inflammatory support provision for ALS adjuvant treatment strategies. Further research is needed to evaluate whether the observed effects could significantly influence the ALS progression. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Glucose-Dependent Insulinotropic Polypeptide Mitigates 6-OHDA-Induced Behavioral Impairments in Parkinsonian Rats
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(4), 1153; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19041153 - 11 Apr 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
In the present study, the effectiveness of glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) was evaluated by behavioral tests in 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) hemi-parkinsonian (PD) rats. Pharmacokinetic measurements of GIP were carried out at the same dose studied behaviorally, as well as at a lower dose used [...] Read more.
In the present study, the effectiveness of glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) was evaluated by behavioral tests in 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) hemi-parkinsonian (PD) rats. Pharmacokinetic measurements of GIP were carried out at the same dose studied behaviorally, as well as at a lower dose used previously. GIP was delivered by subcutaneous administration (s.c.) using implanted ALZET micro-osmotic pumps. After two days of pre-treatment, male Sprague Dawley rats received a single unilateral injection of 6-OHDA into the medial forebrain bundle (MFB). The neuroprotective effects of GIP were evaluated by apomorphine-induced contralateral rotations, as well as by locomotor and anxiety-like behaviors in open-field tests. Concentrations of human active and total GIP were measured in plasma during a five-day treatment period by ELISA and were found to be within a clinically translatable range. GIP pretreatment reduced behavioral abnormalities induced by the unilateral nigrostriatal dopamine (DA) lesion produced by 6-OHDA, and thus may be a novel target for PD therapeutic development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Voluntary Physical Exercise Improves Subsequent Motor and Cognitive Impairments in a Rat Model of Parkinson’s Disease
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(2), 508; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19020508 - 08 Feb 2018
Cited by 12
Abstract
Background: Parkinson’s disease (PD) is typically characterized by impairment of motor function. Gait disturbances similar to those observed in patients with PD can be observed in animals after injection of neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) to induce unilateral nigrostriatal dopamine depletion. Exercise has been shown [...] Read more.
Background: Parkinson’s disease (PD) is typically characterized by impairment of motor function. Gait disturbances similar to those observed in patients with PD can be observed in animals after injection of neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) to induce unilateral nigrostriatal dopamine depletion. Exercise has been shown to be a promising non-pharmacological approach to reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disease. Methods: In this study, we investigated the long-term effects of voluntary running wheel exercise on gait phenotypes, depression, cognitive, rotational behaviors as well as histology in a 6-OHDA-lesioned rat model of PD. Results: We observed that, when compared with the non-exercise controls, five-week voluntary exercise alleviated and postponed the 6-OHDA-induced gait deficits, including a significantly improved walking speed, step/stride length, base of support and print length. In addition, we found that the non-motor functions, such as novel object recognition and forced swim test, were also ameliorated by voluntary exercise. However, the rotational behavior of the exercise group did not show significant differences when compared with the non-exercise group. Conclusions: We first analyzed the detailed spatiotemporal changes of gait pattern to investigate the potential benefits after long-term exercise in the rat model of PD, which could be useful for future objective assessment of locomotor function in PD or other neurological animal models. Furthermore, these results suggest that short-term voluntary exercise is sufficient to alleviate cognition deficits and depressive behavior in 6-OHDA lesioned rats and long-term treatment reduces the progression of motor symptoms and elevates tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), bone marrow tyrosine kinase in chromosome X (BMX) protein expression level without affecting dopaminergic (DA) neuron loss in this PD rat model. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Mass Spectrometry-Based Proteomic Profiling of Thrombotic Material Obtained by Endovascular Thrombectomy in Patients with Ischemic Stroke
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(2), 498; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19020498 - 07 Feb 2018
Cited by 9
Abstract
Thrombotic material retrieved from acute ischemic stroke (AIS) patients represents a valuable source of biological information. In this study, we have developed a clinical proteomics workflow to characterize the protein cargo of thrombi derived from AIS patients. To analyze the thrombus proteome in [...] Read more.
Thrombotic material retrieved from acute ischemic stroke (AIS) patients represents a valuable source of biological information. In this study, we have developed a clinical proteomics workflow to characterize the protein cargo of thrombi derived from AIS patients. To analyze the thrombus proteome in a large-scale format, we developed a workflow that combines the isolation of thrombus by endovascular thrombectomy and peptide chromatographic fractionation coupled to mass-spectrometry. Using this workflow, we have characterized a specific proteomic expression profile derived from four AIS patients included in this study. Around 1600 protein species were unambiguously identified in the analyzed material. Functional bioinformatics analyses were performed, emphasizing a clustering of proteins with immunological functions as well as cardiopathy-related proteins with blood-cell dependent functions and peripheral vascular processes. In addition, we established a reference proteomic fingerprint of 341 proteins commonly detected in all patients. Protein interactome network of this subproteome revealed protein clusters involved in the interaction of fibronectin with 14-3-3 proteins, TGFβ signaling, and TCP complex network. Taken together, our data contributes to the repertoire of the human thrombus proteome, serving as a reference library to increase our knowledge about the molecular basis of thrombus derived from AIS patients, paving the way toward the establishment of a quantitative approach necessary to detect and characterize potential novel biomarkers in the stroke field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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A Comparison of Lysosomal Enzymes Expression Levels in Peripheral Blood of Mild- and Severe-Alzheimer’s Disease and MCI Patients: Implications for Regenerative Medicine Approaches
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(8), 1806; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18081806 - 19 Aug 2017
Cited by 10
Abstract
The association of lysosomal dysfunction and neurodegeneration has been documented in several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Herein, we investigate the association of lysosomal enzymes with AD at different stages of progression of the disease (mild and severe) or with mild cognitive [...] Read more.
The association of lysosomal dysfunction and neurodegeneration has been documented in several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Herein, we investigate the association of lysosomal enzymes with AD at different stages of progression of the disease (mild and severe) or with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). We conducted a screening of two classes of lysosomal enzymes: glycohydrolases (β-Hexosaminidase, β-Galctosidase, β-Galactosylcerebrosidase, β-Glucuronidase) and proteases (Cathepsins S, D, B, L) in peripheral blood samples (blood plasma and PBMCs) from mild AD, severe AD, MCI and healthy control subjects. We confirmed the lysosomal dysfunction in severe AD patients and added new findings enhancing the association of abnormal levels of specific lysosomal enzymes with the mild AD or severe AD, and highlighting the difference of AD from MCI. Herein, we showed for the first time the specific alteration of β-Galctosidase (Gal), β-Galactosylcerebrosidase (GALC) in MCI patients. It is notable that in above peripheral biological samples the lysosomes are more sensitive to AD cellular metabolic alteration when compared to levels of Aβ-peptide or Tau proteins, similar in both AD groups analyzed. Collectively, our findings support the role of lysosomal enzymes as potential peripheral molecules that vary with the progression of AD, and make them useful for monitoring regenerative medicine approaches for AD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Living in Promiscuity: The Multiple Partners of Alpha-Synuclein at the Synapse in Physiology and Pathology
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(1), 141; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20010141 - 02 Jan 2019
Cited by 15
Abstract
Alpha-synuclein (α-syn) is a small protein that, in neurons, localizes predominantly to presynaptic terminals. Due to elevated conformational plasticity, which can be affected by environmental factors, in addition to undergoing disorder-to-order transition upon interaction with different interactants, α-syn is counted among the intrinsically [...] Read more.
Alpha-synuclein (α-syn) is a small protein that, in neurons, localizes predominantly to presynaptic terminals. Due to elevated conformational plasticity, which can be affected by environmental factors, in addition to undergoing disorder-to-order transition upon interaction with different interactants, α-syn is counted among the intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) family. As with many other IDPs, α-syn is considered a hub protein. This function is particularly relevant at synaptic sites, where α-syn is abundant and interacts with many partners, such as monoamine transporters, cytoskeletal components, lipid membranes, chaperones and synaptic vesicles (SV)-associated proteins. These protein–protein and protein–lipid membrane interactions are crucial for synaptic functional homeostasis, and alterations in α-syn can cause disruption of this complex network, and thus a failure of the synaptic machinery. Alterations of the synaptic environment or post-translational modification of α-syn can induce its misfolding, resulting in the formation of oligomers or fibrillary aggregates. These α-syn species are thought to play a pathological role in neurodegenerative disorders with α-syn deposits such as Parkinson’s disease (PD), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), and multiple system atrophy (MSA), which are referred to as synucleinopathies. Here, we aim at revising the complex and promiscuous role of α-syn at synaptic terminals in order to decipher whether α-syn molecular interactants may influence its conformational state, contributing to its aggregation, or whether they are just affected by it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessReview
What Is the Evidence that Parkinson’s Disease Is a Prion Disorder, Which Originates in the Gut?
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(11), 3573; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19113573 - 12 Nov 2018
Cited by 13
Abstract
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder resulting from degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc). PD is characterized by motor dysfunctions as well as gastrointestinal symptoms and mental impairment. The pathological hallmark of PD is an accumulation of [...] Read more.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder resulting from degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc). PD is characterized by motor dysfunctions as well as gastrointestinal symptoms and mental impairment. The pathological hallmark of PD is an accumulation of misfolded α-synuclein aggregates within the brain. The etiology of PD and related synucleinopathy is poorly understood, but recently, the hypothesis that α-synuclein pathology spreads in a prion-like fashion originating in the gut has gained much scientific attention. A crucial clue was the appearance of constipation before the onset of motor symptoms, gut dysbiosis and synucleinopathy in PD patients. Another line of evidence, demonstrating accumulation of α-synuclein within the peripheral autonomic nervous system (PANS), including the enteric nervous system (ENS), and the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV) support the concept that α-synuclein can spread from the ENS to the brain by the vagus nerve. The decreased risk of PD following truncal vagotomy supports this. The convincing evidence of the prion-like behavior of α-synuclein came from postmortem observations that pathological α-synuclein inclusions appeared in healthy grafted neurons. In this review, we summarize the available data from human subjects’ research and animal experiments, which seem to be the most suggestive for explaining the hypotheses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessReview
The “Frail” Brain Blood Barrier in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Role of Early Disruption of Endothelial Cell-to-Cell Connections
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(9), 2693; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19092693 - 10 Sep 2018
Cited by 17
Abstract
The main neurovascular unit of the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) consists of a cellular component, which includes endothelial cells, astrocytes, pericytes, microglia, neurons, and oligodendrocytes as well as a non-cellular component resulting from the extracellular matrix. The endothelial cells are the major vital [...] Read more.
The main neurovascular unit of the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) consists of a cellular component, which includes endothelial cells, astrocytes, pericytes, microglia, neurons, and oligodendrocytes as well as a non-cellular component resulting from the extracellular matrix. The endothelial cells are the major vital components of the BBB able to preserve the brain homeostasis. These cells are situated along the demarcation line between the bloodstream and the brain. Therefore, an alteration or the progressive disruption of the endothelial layer may clearly impair the brain homeostasis. The proper functioning of the brain endothelial cells is generally ensured by two elements: (1) the presence of junction proteins and (2) the preservation of a specific polarity involving an apical-luminal and a basolateral-abluminal membrane. This review intends to identify the molecular mechanisms underlying BBB function and their changes occurring in early stages of neurodegenerative processes in order to develop novel therapeutic strategies aimed to counteract neurodegenerative disorders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessReview
Understanding the Role of Dysfunctional and Healthy Mitochondria in Stroke Pathology and Its Treatment
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(7), 2127; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19072127 - 21 Jul 2018
Cited by 13
Abstract
Stroke remains a major cause of death and disability in the United States and around the world. Solid safety and efficacy profiles of novel stroke therapeutics have been generated in the laboratory, but most failed in clinical trials. Investigations into the pathology and [...] Read more.
Stroke remains a major cause of death and disability in the United States and around the world. Solid safety and efficacy profiles of novel stroke therapeutics have been generated in the laboratory, but most failed in clinical trials. Investigations into the pathology and treatment of the disease remain a key research endeavor in advancing scientific understanding and clinical applications. In particular, cell-based regenerative medicine, specifically stem cell transplantation, may hold promise as a stroke therapy, because grafted cells and their components may recapitulate the growth and function of the neurovascular unit, which arguably represents the alpha and omega of stroke brain pathology and recovery. Recent evidence has implicated mitochondria, organelles with a central role in energy metabolism and stress response, in stroke progression. Recognizing that stem cells offer a source of healthy mitochondria—one that is potentially transferrable into ischemic cells—may provide a new therapeutic tool. To this end, deciphering cellular and molecular processes underlying dysfunctional mitochondria may reveal innovative strategies for stroke therapy. Here, we review recent studies capturing the intimate participation of mitochondrial impairment in stroke pathology, and showcase promising methods of healthy mitochondria transfer into ischemic cells to critically evaluate the potential of mitochondria-based stem cell therapy for stroke patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessReview
Autotaxin–Lysophosphatidic Acid Signaling in Alzheimer’s Disease
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(7), 1827; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19071827 - 21 Jun 2018
Cited by 16
Abstract
The brain contains various forms of lipids that are important for maintaining its structural integrity and regulating various signaling cascades. Autotaxin (ATX) is an ecto-nucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase-2 enzyme that hydrolyzes extracellular lysophospholipids into the lipid mediator lysophosphatidic acid (LPA). LPA is a major bioactive [...] Read more.
The brain contains various forms of lipids that are important for maintaining its structural integrity and regulating various signaling cascades. Autotaxin (ATX) is an ecto-nucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase-2 enzyme that hydrolyzes extracellular lysophospholipids into the lipid mediator lysophosphatidic acid (LPA). LPA is a major bioactive lipid which acts through G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and plays an important role in mediating cellular signaling processes. The majority of synthesized LPA is derived from membrane phospholipids through the action of the secreted enzyme ATX. Both ATX and LPA are highly expressed in the central nervous system. Dysfunctional expression and activity of ATX with associated changes in LPA signaling have recently been implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This review focuses on the current understanding of LPA signaling, with emphasis on the importance of the autotaxin–lysophosphatidic acid (ATX–LPA) pathway and its alterations in AD and a brief note on future therapeutic applications based on ATX–LPA signaling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessReview
Molecular Mechanisms of Oligodendrocyte Regeneration in White Matter-Related Diseases
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(6), 1743; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19061743 - 12 Jun 2018
Cited by 10
Abstract
Even in adult brains, restorative mechanisms are still retained to maintain the microenvironment. Under the pathological conditions of central nervous system (CNS) diseases, several immature cells in the brain would be activated as a compensative response. As the concept of the neurovascular unit [...] Read more.
Even in adult brains, restorative mechanisms are still retained to maintain the microenvironment. Under the pathological conditions of central nervous system (CNS) diseases, several immature cells in the brain would be activated as a compensative response. As the concept of the neurovascular unit emphasizes, cell-cell interactions play important roles in this restorative process. White matter damage and oligodendrocyte loss are representative characteristics for many neurodegenerative diseases. In response to oligodendrocyte damage, residual oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) initiate their proliferation and differentiation for the purpose of remyelination. Although mechanisms of oligodendrogenesis and remyelination in CNS diseases are still mostly unknown and understudied, accumulated evidence now suggests that support from neighboring cells is necessary for OPC proliferation and differentiation. In this review, we first overview basic mechanisms of interaction between oligodendrocyte lineage cells and neighboring cells, and then introduce how oligodendrogenesis occurs under the conditions of neurodegenerative diseases, focusing on vascular cognitive impairment syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessReview
Microbiome-Gut-Brain Axis and Toll-Like Receptors in Parkinson’s Disease
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(6), 1689; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19061689 - 06 Jun 2018
Cited by 57
Abstract
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressively debilitating neurodegenerative disease characterized by α-synucleinopathy, which involves all districts of the brain-gut axis, including the central, autonomic and enteric nervous systems. The highly bidirectional communication between the brain and the gut is markedly influenced by the [...] Read more.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressively debilitating neurodegenerative disease characterized by α-synucleinopathy, which involves all districts of the brain-gut axis, including the central, autonomic and enteric nervous systems. The highly bidirectional communication between the brain and the gut is markedly influenced by the microbiome through integrated immunological, neuroendocrine and neurological processes. The gut microbiota and its relevant metabolites interact with the host via a series of biochemical and functional inputs, thereby affecting host homeostasis and health. Indeed, a dysregulated microbiota-gut-brain axis in PD might lie at the basis of gastrointestinal dysfunctions which predominantly emerge many years prior to the diagnosis, corroborating the theory that the pathological process is spread from the gut to the brain. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a crucial role in innate immunity by recognizing conserved motifs primarily found in microorganisms and a dysregulation in their signaling may be implicated in α-synucleinopathy, such as PD. An overstimulation of the innate immune system due to gut dysbiosis and/or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, together with higher intestinal barrier permeability, may provoke local and systemic inflammation as well as enteric neuroglial activation, ultimately triggering the development of alpha-synuclein pathology. In this review, we provide the current knowledge regarding the relationship between the microbiota-gut–brain axis and TLRs in PD. A better understanding of the dialogue sustained by the microbiota-gut-brain axis and innate immunity via TLR signaling should bring interesting insights in the pathophysiology of PD and provide novel dietary and/or therapeutic measures aimed at shaping the gut microbiota composition, improving the intestinal epithelial barrier function and balancing the innate immune response in PD patients, in order to influence the early phases of the following neurodegenerative cascade. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessReview
Impact of Bone Fracture on Ischemic Stroke Recovery
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(5), 1533; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19051533 - 22 May 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Stroke is one of the most devastating complications of bone fracture, occurring in up to 4% of patients after surgical repair for hip fracture. Bone fracture and ischemic stroke have many common risk factors. The impact of bone fracture on stroke recovery has [...] Read more.
Stroke is one of the most devastating complications of bone fracture, occurring in up to 4% of patients after surgical repair for hip fracture. Bone fracture and ischemic stroke have many common risk factors. The impact of bone fracture on stroke recovery has not drawn much attention in the research field. Bone fracture could occur in stroke patients at different times during the recovery phase, which steepens the trajectory of cognitive decline, greatly affects the quality of life, and causes a heavy burden on healthcare resources. In this paper, we reviewed the growing information on the pathophysiological mechanisms by which bone fracture may affect ischemic stroke recovery process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessReview
Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(3), 833; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19030833 - 13 Mar 2018
Cited by 150
Abstract
The biological effects of cannabinoids, the major constituents of the ancient medicinal plant Cannabis sativa (marijuana) are mediated by two members of the G-protein coupled receptor family, cannabinoid receptors 1 (CB1R) and 2. The CB1R is the prominent subtype in the central nervous [...] Read more.
The biological effects of cannabinoids, the major constituents of the ancient medicinal plant Cannabis sativa (marijuana) are mediated by two members of the G-protein coupled receptor family, cannabinoid receptors 1 (CB1R) and 2. The CB1R is the prominent subtype in the central nervous system (CNS) and has drawn great attention as a potential therapeutic avenue in several pathological conditions, including neuropsychological disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. Furthermore, cannabinoids also modulate signal transduction pathways and exert profound effects at peripheral sites. Although cannabinoids have therapeutic potential, their psychoactive effects have largely limited their use in clinical practice. In this review, we briefly summarized our knowledge of cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system, focusing on the CB1R and the CNS, with emphasis on recent breakthroughs in the field. We aim to define several potential roles of cannabinoid receptors in the modulation of signaling pathways and in association with several pathophysiological conditions. We believe that the therapeutic significance of cannabinoids is masked by the adverse effects and here alternative strategies are discussed to take therapeutic advantage of cannabinoids. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessReview
Molecular Pharmacology of Rosmarinic and Salvianolic Acids: Potential Seeds for Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia Drugs
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(2), 458; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19020458 - 03 Feb 2018
Cited by 36
Abstract
Both caffeic acid and 3,4-dihydroxyphenyllactic acid (danshensu) are synthesized through two distinct routs of the shikimic acid biosynthesis pathway. In many plants, especially the rosemary and sage family of Lamiaceae, these two compounds are joined through an ester linkage to form rosmarinic acid [...] Read more.
Both caffeic acid and 3,4-dihydroxyphenyllactic acid (danshensu) are synthesized through two distinct routs of the shikimic acid biosynthesis pathway. In many plants, especially the rosemary and sage family of Lamiaceae, these two compounds are joined through an ester linkage to form rosmarinic acid (RA). A further structural diversity of RA derivatives in some plants such as Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge is a form of RA dimer, salvianolic acid-B (SA-B), that further give rise to diverse salvianolic acid derivatives. This review provides a comprehensive perspective on the chemistry and pharmacology of these compounds related to their potential therapeutic applications to dementia. The two common causes of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and stroke, are employed to scrutinize the effects of these compounds in vitro and in animal models of dementia. Key pharmacological mechanisms beyond the common antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of polyphenols are highlighted with emphasis given to amyloid beta (Aβ) pathologies among others and neuronal regeneration from stem cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessReview
Potential Role of Humoral IL-6 Cytokine in Mediating Pro-Inflammatory Endothelial Cell Response in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(2), 423; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19020423 - 31 Jan 2018
Cited by 10
Abstract
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a multifactorial disease with limited therapeutic options. Numerous intrinsic and extrinsic factors are involved in ALS motor neuron degeneration. One possible effector accelerating motor neuron death in ALS is damage to the blood-Central Nervous System barrier (B-CNS-B), mainly [...] Read more.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a multifactorial disease with limited therapeutic options. Numerous intrinsic and extrinsic factors are involved in ALS motor neuron degeneration. One possible effector accelerating motor neuron death in ALS is damage to the blood-Central Nervous System barrier (B-CNS-B), mainly due to endothelial cell (EC) degeneration. Although mechanisms of EC damage in ALS are still unknown, vascular impairment may be initiated by various humoral inflammatory factors and other mediators. Systemic IL-6-mediated inflammation is a possible early extrinsic effector leading to the EC death causing central nervous system (CNS) barrier damage. In this review, we discuss the potential role of humoral factors in triggering EC alterations in ALS. A specific focus was on humoral IL-6 cytokine mediating EC inflammation via the trans-signaling pathway. Our preliminary in vitro studies demonstrated a proof of principle that short term exposure of human bone marrow endothelial cells to plasma from ALS patient leads to cell morphological changes, significantly upregulated IL-6R immunoexpression, and pro-inflammatory cell response. Our in-depth understanding of specific molecular mechanisms of this humoral cytokine in EC degeneration may facilitate an endothelial-IL-6-targeting therapy for restoring cell homeostasis and eventually reestablishing B-CNS-B integrity in ALS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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Open AccessReview
Adjunctive Therapy Approaches for Ischemic Stroke: Innovations to Expand Time Window of Treatment
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(12), 2756; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18122756 - 19 Dec 2017
Cited by 22
Abstract
Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) thrombolysis remains the gold standard treatment for ischemic stroke. A time-constrained therapeutic window, with the drug to be given within 4.5 h after stroke onset, and lethal side effects associated with delayed treatment, most notably hemorrhagic transformation (HT), limit [...] Read more.
Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) thrombolysis remains the gold standard treatment for ischemic stroke. A time-constrained therapeutic window, with the drug to be given within 4.5 h after stroke onset, and lethal side effects associated with delayed treatment, most notably hemorrhagic transformation (HT), limit the clinical use of tPA. Co-administering tPA with other agents, including drug or non-drug interventions, has been proposed as a practical strategy to address the limitations of tPA. Here, we discuss the pharmacological and non-drug approaches that were examined to mitigate the complications—especially HT—associated with delayed tPA treatment. The pharmacological treatments include those that preserve the blood-brain barrier (e.g., atovarstatin, batimastat, candesartan, cilostazol, fasudil, minocycline, etc.), enhance vascularization and protect the cerebrovasculature (e.g., coumarin derivate IMM-H004 and granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF)), and exert their effects through other modes of action (e.g., oxygen transporters, ascorbic acid, etc.). The non-drug approaches include stem cell treatments and gas therapy with multi-pronged biological effects. Co-administering tPA with the abovementioned therapies showed promise in attenuating delayed tPA-induced side effects and stroke-induced neurological and behavioral deficits. Thus, adjunctive treatment approach is an innovative therapeutic modality that can address the limitations of tPA treatment and potentially expand the time window for ischemic stroke therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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