200 research outputs found

    High Field fMRI Reveals Thalamocortical Integration of Segregated Cognitive and Emotional Processing in Mediodorsal and Intralaminar Thalamic Nuclei

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    Thalamocortical loops, connecting functionally segregated, higher order cortical regions, and basal ganglia, have been proposed not only for well described motor and sensory regions, but also for limbic and prefrontal areas relevant for affective and cognitive processes. These functions are, however, more specific to humans, rendering most invasive neuroanatomical approaches impossible and interspecies translations difficult. In contrast, non-invasive imaging of functional neuroanatomy using fMRI allows for the development of elaborate task paradigms capable of testing the specific functionalities proposed for these circuits. Until recently, spatial resolution largely limited the anatomical definition of functional clusters at the level of distinct thalamic nuclei. Since their anatomical distinction seems crucial not only for the segregation of cognitive and limbic loops but also for the detection of their functional interaction during cognitive–emotional integration, we applied high resolution fMRI on 7 Tesla. Using an event-related design, we could isolate thalamic effects for preceding attention as well as experience of erotic stimuli. We could demonstrate specific thalamic effects of general emotional arousal in mediodorsal nucleus and effects specific to preceding attention and expectancy in intralaminar centromedian/parafascicular complex. These thalamic effects were paralleled by specific coactivations in the head of caudate nucleus as well as segregated portions of rostral or caudal cingulate cortex and anterior insula supporting distinct thalamo–striato–cortical loops. In addition to predescribed effects of sexual arousal in hypothalamus and ventral striatum, high resolution fMRI could extent this network to paraventricular thalamus encompassing laterodorsal and parataenial nuclei. We could lend evidence to segregated subcortical loops which integrate cognitive and emotional aspects of basic human behavior such as sexual processing

    Novel Schizophrenia Risk Gene TCF4 Influences Verbal Learning and Memory Functioning in Schizophrenia Patients

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    Background: Recently, a role of the transcription factor 4 (TCF4) gene in schizophrenia has been reported in a large genome-wide association study. It has been hypothesized that TCF4 affects normal brain development and TCF4 has been related to different forms of neurodevelopmental disorders. Schizophrenia patients exhibit strong impairments of verbal declarative memory (VDM) functions. Thus, we hypothesized that the disease-associated C allele of the rs9960767 polymorphism of the TCF4 gene led to impaired VDM functioning in schizophrenia patients. Method: The TCF4 variant was genotyped in 401 schizophrenia patients. VDM functioning was measured using the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT). Results: Carriers of the C allele were less impaired in recognition compared to those carrying the AA genotype (13.76 vs. 13.06; p = 0.049). Moreover, a trend toward higher scores in patients with the risk allele was found for delayed recall (10.24 vs. 9.41; p = 0.088). The TCF4 genotype did not influence intelligence or RAVLT immediate recall or total verbal learning. Conclusion: VDM function is influenced by the TCF4 gene in schizophrenia patients. However, the elevated risk for schizophrenia is not conferred by TCF4-mediated VDM impairment. Copyright (C) 2011 S. Karger AG, Base

    Increased d-amino acid oxidase expression in the bilateral hippocampal CA4 of schizophrenic patients: a post-mortem study

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    An important risk gene in schizophrenia is d-amino acid oxidase (DAAO). To establish if expression of DAAO is altered in cortical, hippocampal or thalamic regions of schizophrenia patients, we measured gene expression of DAAO in a post-mortem study of elderly patients with schizophrenia and non-affected controls in both hemispheres differentiating between gray and white matter. We compared cerebral post-mortem samples (granular frontal cortex BA9, middle frontal cortex BA46, superior temporal cortex BA22, entorhinal cortex BA28, sensoric cortex BA1–3, hippocampus (CA4), mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus) from 10 schizophrenia patients to 13 normal subjects investigating gene expression of DAAO in the gray and white matter of both hemispheres of the above-mentioned brain regions by in situ-hybridization. We found increased expression of DAAO-mRNA in the hippocampal CA4 of schizophrenic patients. Compared to the control group, both hemispheres of the hippocampus of schizophrenic patients showed an increased expression of 46% (right, P = 0.013) and 54% (left, P = 0.019), respectively. None of the other regions examined showed statistically significant differences in DAAO expression. This post-mortem study demonstrated increased gene expression of DAAO in the left and right hippocampus of schizophrenia patients. This increased expression could be responsible for a decrease in local d-serine levels leading to a NMDA-receptor hypofunction that is hypothesized to play a major role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. However, our study group was small and results should be verified using larger samples

    Molecular Sex Differences in Human Serum

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    Background: Sex is an important factor in the prevalence, incidence, progression, and response to treatment of many medical conditions, including autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases and psychiatric conditions. Identification of molecular differences between typical males and females can provide a valuable basis for exploring conditions differentially affected by sex. Methodology/Principal Findings: Using multiplexed immunoassays, we analyzed 174 serum molecules in 9 independent cohorts of typical individuals, comprising 196 males and 196 females. Sex differences in analyte levels were quantified using a meta-analysis approach and put into biological context using k-means to generate clusters of analytes with distinct biological functions. Natural sex differences were established in these analyte groups and these were applied to illustrate sexually dimorphic analyte expression in a cohort of 22 males and 22 females with Asperger syndrome. Reproducible sex differences were found in the levels of 77 analytes in serum of typical controls, and these comprised clusters of molecules enriched with distinct biological functions. Analytes involved in fatty acid oxidation/hormone regulation, immune cell growth and activation, and cell death were found at higher levels in females, and analytes involved in immune cell chemotaxis and other indistinct functions were higher in males. Comparison of these naturally occurring sex differences against a cohort of people with Asperger syndrome indicated that a cluster of analytes that had functions related to fatty acid oxidation/hormone regulation was associated with sex and the occurren

    Effects of abstinence on brain morphology in alcoholism: A MRI study

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    Chronic alcohol abuse leads to morphological changes of the brain. We investigated if these volumetric changes are reversible after a period of abstinence. For this reason 41 male and 15 female alcohol patients underwent MRI-scanning after in-patient detoxification (baseline) entering alcoholism treatment programs, and between 6 and 9 months later (follow-up), in a phase of convalescence. Additionally, 29 male and 16 female control subjects were examined. The MRI-scans were delineated and the resulting regions of interest, volumes of lateral ventricles and prefrontal lobes were expressed relatively to total brain volume. Compared to control subjects alcohol patients showed bilaterally decreased prefrontal lobes (11% reduction) and increased lateral ventricles (up to 42% enlargement). The extent of the ventricular increase was depending on patient’s additional psychiatric diagnosis, showing smaller lateral ventricles in patients with additional personality disorder. While at follow-up the size of prefrontal lobes remained unchanged, volumes of the lateral ventricles decreased (5–6% reduction) in alcohol patients with abstinence and improved drinking behavior, especially in patients that underwent only one detoxification. The extent of the ventricular enlargement correlated with the elevation of alcohol related laboratory measures (mean corpuscular volume, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase). In conclusion this study confirms the hypothesis that alcoholism causes brain damages that are partially reversible. It should be analyzed in further studies with larger sample sizes, if complete brain regeneration is possible maintaining abstinence over a longer period

    Neurodevelopmental risk factors in schizophrenia

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    The authors review environmental and neurodevelopmental risk factors for schizophrenic disorders, with emphasis on minor physical anomalies, particularly craniofacial anomalies and dermatoglyphic variations. The high prevalence of these anomalies among schizophrenic subjects supports the neurodevelopmental theory of the etiology of schizophrenia, since they suggest either genetically or epigenetically controlled faulty embryonic development of structures of ectodermal origin like brain and skin. This may disturb neurodevelopment that in turn may cause these subjects to be at increased risk for the development of schizophrenia and related disorders. The precise confirmation of this theory, at least in some cases, will provide further understanding of these illnesses, allowing easy and inexpensive identification of subjects at risk and providing guidelines for the development of new pharmacological interventions for early treatment and even for primary prevention of the illness

    Evidence for a wide extra-astrocytic distribution of S100B in human brain

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    BACKGROUND: S100B is considered an astrocytic in-situ marker and protein levels in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or serum are often used as biomarker for astrocytic damage or dysfunction. However, studies on S100B in the human brain are rare. Thus, the distribution of S100B was studied by immunohistochemistry in adult human brains to evaluate its cell-type specificity. RESULTS: Contrary to glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), which selectively labels astrocytes and shows only faint ependymal immunopositivity, a less uniform staining pattern was seen in the case of S100B. Cells with astrocytic morphology were primarily stained by S100B in the human cortex, while only 20% (14–30%) or 14% (7–35%) of all immunopositive cells showed oligodendrocytic morphology in the dorsolateral prefrontal and temporal cortices, respectively. In the white matter, however, most immunostained cells resembled oligodendrocytes [frontal: 75% (57–85%); temporal: 73% (59–87%); parietal: 79% (62–89%); corpus callosum: 93% (86–97%)]. S100B was also found in ependymal cells, the choroid plexus epithelium, vascular endothelial cells, lymphocytes, and several neurones. Anti-myelin basic protein (MBP) immunolabelling showed an association of S100B with myelinated fibres, whereas GFAP double staining revealed a distinct subpopulation of cells with astrocytic morphology, which solely expressed S100B but not GFAP. Some of these cells showed co-localization of S100B and A2B5 and may be characterized as O2A glial progenitor cells. However, S100B was not detected in microglial cells, as revealed by double-immunolabelling with HLA-DR. CONCLUSION: S100B is localized in many neural cell-types and is less astrocyte-specific than GFAP. These are important results in order to avoid misinterpretation in the identification of normal and pathological cell types in situ and in clinical studies since S100B is continuously used as an astrocytic marker in animal models and various human diseases

    Comorbid substance abuse and brain morphology in recent-onset psychosis

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    The aim of the presented study was to compare schizophrenia and schizoaffective patients early in the course of the disease with and without comorbid substance abuse disorder (SUD vs. NSUD) with regard to brain morphology. In a prospective design 41 patients (20 SUD vs. 21 NSUD) diagnosed as recent-onset schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder consecutively admitted to hospital received standardized psychopathological evaluation (BPRS, SANS, MADRS, CGI, GAF) and MRI scanning with volumetric measurement of superior temporal gyrus (STG), amygdala-hippocampal complex, and cingulum. Patients with SUD (primarily cannabis) were significantly younger, predominantly male and had a lower socioeconomic status. Despite less attentional impairment (SANS subscore) and elevated anxiety/depression (BPRS subscore) in patients with SUD compared to NSUD, no other psychopathological differences could be detected. There were no differences in the assessed temporolimbic brain morphology between the two subgroups. In conclusion, in this study substance abuse in recent-onset psychosis had no effect on brain morphology and the earlier onset of psychosis in patients with comorbid SUD could not be explained by supposed accentuated brain abnormalities in temporolimbic regions
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