15 research outputs found

    Dopamine release, diffusion and uptake : A computational model for synaptic and volume transmission

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    Computational modeling of dopamine transmission is challenged by complex underlying mechanisms. Here we present a new computational model that (I) simultaneously regards release, diffusion and uptake of dopamine, (II) considers multiple terminal release events and (III) comprises both synaptic and volume transmission by incorporating the geometry of the synaptic cleft. We were able to validate our model in that it simulates concentration values comparable to physiological values observed in empirical studies. Further, although synaptic dopamine diffuses into extra-synaptic space, our model reflects a very localized signal occurring on the synaptic level, i.e. synaptic dopamine release is negligibly recognized by neighboring synapses. Moreover, increasing evidence suggests that cognitive performance can be predicted by signal variability of neuroimaging data (e.g. BOLD). Signal variability in target areas of dopaminergic neurons (striatum, cortex) may arise from dopamine concentration variability. On that account we compared spatio-temporal variability in a simulation mimicking normal dopamine transmission in striatum to scenarios of enhanced dopamine release and dopamine uptake inhibition. We found different variability characteristics between the three settings, which may in part account for differences in empirical observations. From a clinical perspective, differences in striatal dopaminergic signaling contribute to differential learning and reward processing, with relevant implications for addictive- and compulsive-like behavior. Specifically, dopaminergic tone is assumed to impact on phasic dopamine and hence on the integration of reward-related signals. However, in humans DA tone is classically assessed using PET, which is an indirect measure of endogenous DA availability and suffers from temporal and spatial resolution issues. We discuss how this can lead to discrepancies with observations from other methods such as microdialysis and show how computational modeling can help to refine our understanding of DA transmission. Author summary The dopaminergic system of the brain is very complex and affects various cognitive domains like memory, learning and motor control. Alterations have been observed e.g. in Parkinson's or Huntington's Disease, ADHD, addiction and compulsive disorders, such as pathological gambling and also in obesity. We present a new computational model that allows to simulate the process of dopamine transmission from dopaminergic neurons originated in source brain regions like the VTA to target areas such as the striatum on a synaptic and on a larger, volume-spanning level. The model can further be used for simulations of dopamine related diseases or pharmacological interventions. In general, computational modeling helps to extend our understanding, gained from empirical research, to situations were in vivo measurements are not feasible.Peer reviewe

    Insulin Resistance Is Associated with Reduced Food Odor Sensitivity across a Wide Range of Body Weights

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    The worldwide obesity epidemic is a major health problem driven by the modern food environment. Recently, it has been shown that smell perception plays a key role in eating behavior and is altered in obesity. However, the underlying mechanisms of this phenomenon are not well understood yet. Since the olfactory system is closely linked to the endocrine system, we hypothesized that hormonal shifts in obesity might explain this relationship. In a within-subject, repeated-measures design, we investigated sensitivity to a food and a non-food odor in the hungry and sated state in 75 young healthy (26 normal weight, 25 overweight, and 24 obese) participants (37 women). To determine metabolic health status and hormonal reactivity in response to food intake, we assessed pre- and postprandial levels of insulin, leptin, glucose, and ghrelin. Odor sensitivity did not directly depend on body weight status/body mass index (BMI) or hunger state. However, we could establish a strong negative mediating effect of insulin resistance on the relationship between BMI/waist-hip ratio and olfactory sensitivity for the food odor. These findings indicate an impact of metabolic health status on sensitivity to food odors. Our results contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms behind altered smell perception in obesity.Peer reviewe

    Enhanced Go and NoGo Learning in Individuals With Obesity

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    Overeating in individuals with obesity is hypothesized to be partly caused by automatic action tendencies to food cues that have the potential to override goal-directed dietary restriction. Individuals with obesity are often characterized by alterations in the processing of such rewarding food, but also of non-food stimuli, and previous research has suggested a stronger impact on the execution of goal-directed actions in obesity. Here, we investigated whether Pavlovian cues can also corrupt the learning of new approach or withdrawal behavior in individuals with obesity. We employed a probabilistic Pavlovian-instrumental learning paradigm in which participants (29 normal-weight and 29 obese) learned to actively respond (Go learning) or withhold a response (NoGo learning) in order to gain monetary rewards or avoid losses. Participants were better at learning active approach responses (Go) in the light of anticipated rewards and at learning to withhold a response (NoGo) in the light of imminent punishments. Importantly, there was no evidence for a stronger corruption of instrumental learning in individuals with obesity. Instead, they showed better learning across conditions than normal-weight participants. Using a computational reinforcement learning model, we additionally found an increased learning rate in individuals with obesity. Previous studies have mostly reported a lower reinforcement learning performance in individuals with obesity. Our results contradict this and suggest that their performance is not universally impaired: Instead, while previous studies found reduced stimulus-value learning, individuals with obesity may show better action-value learning. Our findings highlight the need for a broader investigation of behavioral adaptation in obesity across different task designs and types of reinforcement learning.Peer Reviewe

    Lost in Translation? On the Need for Convergence in Animal and Human Studies on the Role of Dopamine in Diet-Induced Obesity

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    Purpose of Review: Animal and human studies suggest that diet-induced obesity and plasticity in the central dopaminergic system are linked. However, it is unclear whether observed changes depend on diet or obesity, and whether they are specific to brain regions and cognitive functions. Here, we focus on neural and cognitive changes in frontostriatal circuits. Recent Findings: Both diet and obesity affect dopaminergic transmission. However, site and direction of effects are inconsistent across species and studies. Non-specific changes are observed spanning all frontostriatal loops, from sensory input to motivated behaviour. Given the impact of peripheral signals on central dopaminergic signalling and the interaction between the frontostriatal loops, modulation of dopamine likely propagates through all loops and, thus, affects behaviour on various levels of complexity. Summary: To improve convergence between animal and human studies on diet-induced obesity, animal studies should include sophisticated cognitive measures and diets resembling human obesogenic diets, and human studies should adopt diet interventions and longitudinal designs.Peer reviewe

    Lack of association of rare alleles in the <I>HRAS</I> variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) region with adult glioma

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    HRAS rare alleles have been associated with the increased susceptibility to a variety of cancers. In the present study we examined the hypothesis that HRAS rare alleles are a risk factor for adult glioma in a population-based case-control study of adult glioma in six San Francisco Bay Area counties. We compared the prevalence of rare alleles in the variable number of tandem repeats region of HRAS in the germline DNA from 73 white adults who had gliomas with that of 65 controls. Overall, the prevalence of rare alleles in cases was not different from the prevalence of those in controls according to two definitions of rare alleles. We found that 25 of 73 (34%) of cases versus 25 of 65 (38%) of controls had at least one allele that was not 30, 46, 69, or 87 repeats; 4 of 73 (5%) of cases versus 6 of 65 (9%) of controls carried one or more alleles with 33, 39, 42, 53, 59, 63, 68, 105, or 114 repeats. The proportion of rare alleles was somewhat higher among subjects with anaplastic astrocytoma. Among women, cases were less likely than controls to have HRAS rare alleles, whereas among men, cases were slightly more likely to have HRAS rare alleles, but none of these results approach statistical significance. Our data do not suggest an excess of HRAS rare alleles among adult glioma cases

    Activation of PI3K/mTOR pathway occurs in most adult low-grade gliomas and predicts patient survival

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    Recent evidence suggests the Akt-mTOR pathway may play a role in development of low-grade gliomas (LGG). We sought to evaluate whether activation of this pathway correlates with survival in LGG by examining expression patterns of proteins within this pathway. Forty-five LGG tumor specimens from newly diagnosed patients were analyzed for methylation of the putative 5′-promoter region of PTEN using methylation-specific PCR as well as phosphorylation of S6 and PRAS40 and expression of PTEN protein using immunohistochemistry. Relationships between molecular markers and overall survival (OS) were assessed using Kaplan-Meier methods and exact log-rank test. Correlation between molecular markers was determined using the Mann-Whitney U and Spearman Rank Correlation tests. Eight of the 26 patients with methylated PTEN died, as compared to 1 of 19 without methylation. There was a trend towards statistical significance, with PTEN methylated patients having decreased survival (P = 0.128). Eight of 29 patients that expressed phospho-S6 died, whereas all 9 patients lacking p-S6 expression were alive at last follow-up. There was an inverse relationship between expression of phospho-S6 and survival (P = 0.029). There was a trend towards decreased survival in patients expressing phospho-PRAS40 (P = 0.077). Analyses of relationships between molecular markers demonstrated a statistically significant positive correlation between expression of p-S6(235) and p-PRAS40 (P = 0.04); expression of p-S6(240) correlated positively with PTEN methylation (P = 0.04) and negatively with PTEN expression (P = 0.03). Survival of LGG patients correlates with phosphorylation of S6 protein. This relationship supports the use of selective mTOR inhibitors in the treatment of low grade glioma

    Methylation of the PTEN promoter defines low-grade gliomas and secondary glioblastoma

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    Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) can present as either de novo or secondary tumors arising from previously diagnosed low-grade gliomas. Although these tumor types are phenotypically indistinguishable, de novo and secondary GBMs are associated with distinct genetic characteristics. PTEN mutations, which result in activation of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signal transduction pathway, are frequent in de novo but not in secondary GBMs or their antecedent low-grade tumors. Results we present here show that grade II astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, and oligoastrocytomas commonly display methylation of the PTEN promoter, a finding that is absent in nontumor brain specimens and rare in de novo GBMs. Methylation of the PTEN promoter correlates with protein kinase B (PKB/Akt) phosphorylation, reflecting functional activation of the PI3K pathway. Our results also demonstrate frequent methylation of the PTEN promoter in grade III astrocytomas and secondary GBMs, consistent with the hypothesis that these tumors arise from lower grade precursors. PTEN methylation is rare in de novo GBMs and is mutually exclusive with PTEN mutations. We conclude that methylation of the PTEN promoter may represent an alternate mechanism by which PI3K signaling is increased in grade II and III gliomas as well as secondary GBMs, a finding that offers new therapeutic approaches in these patients
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