267 research outputs found

    Can astrocytes be a target for precision medicine?

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    Astrocytes are the most abundant non-neural cell type residing within the central nervous system (CNS) displaying tremendous heterogeneity depending on their location. Once believed to be ‘passive support cells for electrically active neurons’, astrocytes are now recognised to play an active role in brain homeostasis by forming connections with the surrounding neurons, microglia and endothelial cells. Most importantly, they provide an optimum microenvironment for functional neurons through regulation of the blood brain barrier, energy supply and removal of debris and toxic waste. Their dysfunction has been identified as a potential contributing factor for several neurodegenerative disorders, from Alzheimer’s Disease to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. In this chapter, we will explore the implications of astrocyte dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases and how these cells can be used as therapeutic targets in precision medicine

    Mini-review: Induced pluripotent stem cells and the search for new cell-specific ALS therapeutic targets

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    Amongst the most important discoveries in ALS pathobiology are the works demonstrating that multiple cell types contribute to disease onset and progression. However, a significant limitation in ALS research is the inability to obtain tissues from ALS patient brain and spinal cord during the course of the disease. In vivo modeling has provided insights into the role of these cell subtypes in disease onset and progression. However, in vivo models also have shortcomings, including the reliance on a limited number of models based upon hereditary forms of the disease. Therefore, using human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) reprogrammed from somatic cells of ALS patients, with both hereditary and sporadic forms of the disease, and differentiated into cell subtypes of both the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS), have become powerful complementary tools for investigating basic mechanisms of disease as well as a platform for drug discovery. Motor neuron and other neuron subtypes, as well as non-neuronal cells have been differentiated from human iPSC and studied for their potential contributions to ALS pathobiology. As iPSC technologies have advanced, 3D modeling with multicellular systems organised in microfluidic chambers or organoids are the next step in validating the pathways and therapeutic targets already identified. Precision medicine approaches with iPSC using either traditional strategies of screening drugs that target a known pathogenic mechanism as well as “blind-to-target” drug screenings that allow for patient stratification based on drug response rather than clinical characteristics are now being employed

    HPLC-UV and LC-MS/MS analysis to study formulation and long-term stability of some anticancer drugs in elastomeric pumps

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    Drug stability evaluations in elastomeric pump represent the first step to certify the safety of a therapeutic treatment in oncology. Since the stability of several anticancer molecules is due to their reactivity and stability in elastomeric pumps, made up of different materials, several experimental conditions, such as temperature, pH, concentration and possible chemical interactions among drugs in a single formulation, should be always investigated. Galenic preparation of anticancer drugs is an important prerogative of Anticancer Units within hospital pharmacies and, considering the burden of COVID-19 pandemic event, specific guidelines for therapeutic administration in elastomeric pumps reducing hospitalization both for post-surgical treatment and for therapeutic treatment have been worldwide elaborated. In the present study, the stability of Doxorubicin and Vincristine as a single formulation at different experimental conditions has been investigated. Moreover, we report a systematic study of 5-FU, which is known to be largely used in these medical devices, although its criticisms in terms of solubility, pH effect, storage time and conditions. Our results demonstrate that doxorubicin and vincristine can be mixed safely as a single formulation and 5-FU is stable for 32 days at different temperatures and concentrations in elastomeric pumps

    Deficits in mitochondrial spare respiratory capacity contribute to the neuropsychological changes of alzheimer’s disease

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    Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is diagnosed using neuropsychological testing, supported by amyloid and tau biomarkers and neuroimaging abnormalities. The cause of neuropsychological changes is not clear since they do not correlate with biomarkers. This study investigated if changes in cellular metabolism in AD correlate with neuropsychological changes. Fibroblasts were taken from 10 AD patients and 10 controls. Metabolic assessment included measuring total cellular ATP, extracellular lactate, mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), mitochondrial respiration and glycolytic function. All participants were assessed with neuropsychological testing and brain structural MRI. AD patients had significantly lower scores in delayed and immediate recall, semantic memory, phonemic fluency and Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE). AD patients also had significantly smaller left hippocampal, left parietal, right parietal and anterior medial prefrontal cortical grey matter volumes. Fibroblast MMP, mitochondrial spare respiratory capacity (MSRC), glycolytic reserve, and extracellular lactate were found to be lower in AD patients. MSRC/MMP correlated significantly with semantic memory, immediate and delayed episodic recall. Correlations between MSRC and delayed episodic recall remained significant after controlling for age, education and brain reserve. Grey matter volumes did not correlate with MRSC/MMP. AD fibroblast metabolic assessment may represent an emergent disease biomarker of AD

    Oxidative switch drives mitophagy defects in dopaminergic parkin mutant patient neurons

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    Mutations in PRKN are the most common cause of early onset Parkinson’s disease. Parkin is an E3 ubiquitin ligase, functioning in mitophagy. Mitochondrial abnormalities are present in PRKN mutant models. Patient derived neurons are a promising model in which to study pathogenic mechanisms and therapeutic targets. Here we generate induced neuronal progenitor cells from PRKN mutant patient fibroblasts with a high dopaminergic neuron yield. We reveal changing mitochondrial phenotypes as neurons undergo a metabolic switch during differentiation. Fibroblasts from 4 controls and 4 PRKN mutant patients were transformed into induced neuronal progenitor cells and subsequently differentiated into dopaminergic neurons. Mitochondrial morphology, function and mitophagy were evaluated using live cell fluorescent imaging, cellular ATP and reactive oxygen species production quantification. Direct conversion of control and PRKN mutant patient fibroblasts results in induced neuronal progenitor and their differentiation yields high percentage of dopaminergic neurons. We were able to observe changing mitochondrial phenotypes as neurons undergo a metabolic switch during differentiation. Our results show that when pre-neurons are glycolytic early in differentiation mitophagy is unimpaired by PRKN deficiency. However as neurons become oxidative phosphorylation dependent, mitophagy is severely impaired in the PRKN mutant patient neurons. These changes correlate with changes in mitochondrial function and morphology; resulting in lower neuron yield and altered neuronal morphology. Induced neuronal progenitor cell conversion can produce a high yield of dopaminergic neurons. The mitochondrial phenotype, including mitophagy status, is highly dependent on the metabolic status of the cell. Only when neurons are oxidative phosphorylation reliant the extent of mitochondrial abnormalities are identified. These data provide insight into cell specific effects of PRKN mutations, in particular in relation to mitophagy dependent disease phenotypes and provide avenues for alternative therapeutic approaches

    SRSF1-dependent nuclear export of C9ORF72 repeat-transcripts: targeting toxic gain-of-functions induced by protein sequestration as a selective therapeutic strategy for neuroprotection

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    Microsatellite repeat expansions cause several incurable and lethal neurodegenerative disorders including ataxias, myotonic dystrophy, Huntington's disease and C9ORF72-linked amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Abnormal repeat transcripts generated from the expanded loci are substrates of repeat-associated non-AUG (RAN) translation, an unconventional form of translation leading to the production of polymeric repeat proteins with cytotoxic and aggregating properties. The mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of microsatellite repeat expansion disorders remain a hotly debated topic. They are shared between toxic loss/gain of functions due to intranuclear RNA foci that sequesters RNA-binding proteins and RAN translation of repeat proteins in the cytoplasm. We recently elucidated the molecular mechanism driving the nuclear export of C9ORF72 repeat transcripts and showed for the first time that this pathway can be manipulated to confer neuroprotection. Strikingly, we discovered that intron-retaining C9ORF72 repeat transcripts hijack the physiological NXF1-dependent export pathway by selective RNA-repeat sequestration of SRSF1. Antagonizing SRSF1 and the nuclear export of C9ORF72 repeat transcripts promoted in turn the survival of patient-derived motor neurons and suppressed neurodegeneration-associated motor deficits in Drosophila (Hautbergue et al. Nature Communications 2017; 8:16063). In this invited Research Highlight review, we aim to place this work in the context of our previous studies on the nuclear export of mRNAs, provide a summary of the published research and highlight the significance of these findings as a novel therapeutic strategy for neuroprotection in C9ORF72-ALS/FTD. In addition, we emphasize that protein sequestration, often thought as of inducing loss-of-function mechanisms, can also trigger unwanted protein interactions and toxic gain-of-functions

    A role for the eIF4E-binding protein 4E-T in P-body formation and mRNA decay

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    4E-transporter (4E-T) is one of several proteins that bind the mRNA 5′cap-binding protein, eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF4E), through a conserved binding motif. We previously showed that 4E-T is a nucleocytoplasmic shuttling protein, which mediates the import of eIF4E into the nucleus. At steady state, 4E-T is predominantly cytoplasmic and is concentrated in bodies that conspicuously resemble the recently described processing bodies (P-bodies), which are believed to be sites of mRNA decay. In this paper, we demonstrate that 4E-T colocalizes with mRNA decapping factors in bona fide P-bodies. Moreover, 4E-T controls mRNA half-life, because its depletion from cells using short interfering RNA increases mRNA stability. The 4E-T binding partner, eIF4E, also is localized in P-bodies. 4E-T interaction with eIF4E represses translation, which is believed to be a prerequisite for targeting of mRNAs to P-bodies. Collectively, these data suggest that 4E-T interaction with eIF4E is a priming event in inducing messenger ribonucleoprotein rearrangement and transition from translation to decay

    Emerging mechanisms underpinning neurophysiological impairments in C9ORF72 repeat expansion-mediated amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/frontotemporal dementia

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    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are characterized by degeneration of upper and lower motor neurons and neurons of the prefrontal cortex. The emergence of the C9ORF72 hexanucleotide repeat expansion mutation as the leading genetic cause of ALS and FTD has led to a progressive understanding of the multiple cellular pathways leading to neuronal degeneration. Disturbances in neuronal function represent a major subset of these mechanisms and because such functional perturbations precede degeneration, it is likely that impaired neuronal function in ALS/FTD plays an active role in pathogenesis. This is supported by the fact that ALS/FTD patients consistently present with neurophysiological impairments prior to any apparent degeneration. In this review we summarize how the discovery of the C9ORF72 repeat expansion mutation has contributed to the current understanding of neuronal dysfunction in ALS/FTD. Here, we discuss the impact of the repeat expansion on neuronal function in relation to intrinsic excitability, synaptic, network and ion channel properties, highlighting evidence of conserved and divergent pathophysiological impacts between cortical and motor neurons and the influence of non-neuronal cells. We further highlight the emerging association between these dysfunctional properties with molecular mechanisms of the C9ORF72 mutation that appear to include roles for both, haploinsufficiency of the C9ORF72 protein and aberrantly generated dipeptide repeat protein species. Finally, we suggest that relating key pathological observations in C9ORF72 repeat expansion ALS/FTD patients to the mechanistic impact of the C9ORF72 repeat expansion on neuronal function will lead to an improved understanding of how neurophysiological dysfunction impacts upon pathogenesis
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