92 research outputs found

    Affordable optical clearing and immunolabelling in mouse brain slices

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    Traditional histological analysis is conducted on thin tissue sections, limiting the data capture from large tissue volumes to 2D profiles, and requiring stereological methods for 3D assessment. Recent advances in microscopical and tissue clearing methods have facilitated 3D reconstructions of tissue structure. However, staining of large tissue blocks remains a challenge, often requiring specialised and expensive equipment to clear and immunolabel tissue. Here, we present the Affordable Brain Slice Optical Clearing (ABSOC) method: a modified iDISCO protocol which enables clearing and immunolabeling of mouse brain slices up to 1 mm thick using inexpensive reagents and equipment, with no intensive expert training required. We illustrate the use of ABSOC in 1 mm C57BL/6J mouse coronal brain slices sectioned through the dorsal hippocampus and immunolabelled with an anti-calretinin antibody. The ABSOC method can be readily used for histological studies of mouse brain in order to move from the use of very thin tissue sections to large volumes of tissue - giving more representative analysis of biological samples, without the need for sampling of small regions only

    Investigating brain alterations in the Dp1Tyb mouse model of Down syndrome

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    Down syndrome (DS) is one of the most common birth defects and the most prevalent genetic form of intellectual disability. DS arises from trisomy of chromosome 21, but its molecular and pathological consequences are not fully understood. In this study, we compared Dp1Tyb mice, a DS model, against their wild-type (WT) littermates of both sexes to investigate the impact of DS-related genetic abnormalities on the brain phenotype. We performed in vivo whole brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and hippocampal 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) on the animals at 3 months of age. Subsequently, ex vivo MRI scans and histological analyses were conducted post-mortem. Our findings unveiled the following neuroanatomical and biochemical alterations in the Dp1Tyb brains: a smaller surface area and a rounder shape compared to WT brains, with DS males also presenting smaller global brain volume compared with the counterpart WT. Regional volumetric analysis revealed significant changes in 26 out of 72 examined brain regions, including the medial prefrontal cortex and dorsal hippocampus. These alterations were consistently observed in both in vivo and ex vivo imaging data. Additionally, high-resolution ex vivo imaging enabled us to investigate cerebellar layers and hippocampal subregions, revealing selective areas of decrease and remodelling in these structures. An analysis of hippocampal metabolites revealed an elevation in glutamine and the glutamine/glutamate ratio in the Dp1Tyb mice compared to controls, suggesting a possible imbalance in the excitation/inhibition ratio. This was accompanied by the decreased levels of taurine. Histological analysis revealed fewer neurons in the hippocampal CA3 and DG layers, along with an increase in astrocytes and microglia. These findings recapitulate multiple neuroanatomical and biochemical features associated with DS, enriching our understanding of the potential connection between chromosome 21 trisomy and the resultant phenotype

    Endosomal structure and APP biology are not altered in a preclinical mouse cellular model of Down syndrome

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    Individuals who have Down syndrome (trisomy 21) are at greatly increased risk of developing AlzheimerÔÇÖs disease, characterised by the accumulation in the brain of amyloid-╬▓ plaques. Amyloid-╬▓ is a product of the processing of the amyloid precursor protein, encoded by the APP gene on chromosome 21. In Down syndrome the first site of amyloid-╬▓ accumulation is within endosomes, and changes to endosome biology occur early in AlzheimerÔÇÖs disease. Here, we determine if primary mouse embryonic fibroblasts isolated from a mouse model of Down syndrome can be used to study endosome and APP cell biology. We report that in this cellular model, endosome number, size and APP processing are not altered, likely because APP is not dosage sensitive in the model, despite three copies of App

    Genetic dissection of down syndrome-associated alterations in APP/amyloid-╬▓ biology using mouse models

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    Individuals who have Down syndrome (caused by trisomy of chromosome 21), have a greatly elevated risk of early-onset Alzheimer's disease, in which amyloid-╬▓ accumulates in the brain. Amyloid-╬▓ is a product of the chromosome 21 gene APP (amyloid precursor protein) and the extra copy or 'dose' of APP is thought to be the cause of this early-onset Alzheimer's disease. However, other chromosome 21 genes likely modulate disease when in three-copies in people with Down syndrome. Here we show that an extra copy of chromosome 21 genes, other than APP, influences APP/A╬▓ biology. We crossed Down syndrome mouse models with partial trisomies, to an APP transgenic model and found that extra copies of subgroups of chromosome 21 gene(s) modulate amyloid-╬▓ aggregation and APP transgene-associated mortality, independently of changing amyloid precursor protein abundance. Thus, genes on chromosome 21, other than APP, likely modulate Alzheimer's disease in people who have Down syndrome

    Remote and Selective Control of Astrocytes by Magnetomechanical Stimulation

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    Astrocytes play crucial and diverse roles in brain health and disease. The ability to selectively control astrocytes provides a valuable tool for understanding their function and has the therapeutic potential to correct dysfunction. Existing technologies such as optogenetics and chemogenetics require the introduction of foreign proteins, which adds a layer of complication and hinders their clinical translation. A novel technique, magnetomechanical stimulation (MMS), that enables remote and selective control of astrocytes without genetic modification is described here. MMS exploits the mechanosensitivity of astrocytes and triggers mechanogated Ca2+ and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) signaling by applying a magnetic field to antibody-functionalized magnetic particles that are targeted to astrocytes. Using purpose-built magnetic devices, the mechanosensory threshold of astrocytes is determined, a sub-micrometer particle for effective MMS is identified, the in vivo fate of the particles is established, and cardiovascular responses are induced in rats after particles are delivered to specific brainstem astrocytes. By eliminating the need for device implantation and genetic modification, MMS is a method for controlling astroglial activity with an improved prospect for clinical application than existing technologies

    Translational animal models for Alzheimer's disease: An Alzheimer's Association Business Consortium Think Tank

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    Over 5 million Americans and 50 million individuals worldwide are living with Alzheimer\u27s disease (AD). The progressive dementia associated with AD currently has no cure. Although clinical trials in patients are ultimately required to find safe and effective drugs, animal models of AD permit the integration of brain pathologies with learning and memory deficits that are the first step in developing these new drugs. The purpose of the Alzheimer\u27s Association Business Consortium Think Tank meeting was to address the unmet need to improve the discovery and successful development of Alzheimer\u27s therapies. We hypothesize that positive responses to new therapies observed in validated models of AD will provide predictive evidence for positive responses to these same therapies in AD patients. To achieve this goal, we convened a meeting of experts to explore the current state of AD animal models, identify knowledge gaps, and recommend actions for development of next-generation models with better predictability. Among our findings, we all recognize that models reflecting only single aspects of AD pathogenesis do not mimic AD. Models or combinations of new models are needed that incorporate genetics with environmental interactions, timing of disease development, heterogeneous mechanisms and pathways, comorbidities, and other pathologies that lead to AD and related dementias. Selection of the best models requires us to address the following: (1) which animal species, strains, and genetic backgrounds are most appropriate; (2) which models permit efficient use throughout the drug development pipeline; (3) the translatability of behavioral-cognitive assays from animals to patients; and (4) how to match potential AD therapeutics with particular models. Best practice guidelines to improve reproducibility also need to be developed for consistent use of these models in different research settings. To enhance translational predictability, we discuss a multi-model evaluation strategy to de-risk the successful transition of pre-clinical drug assets to the clinic

    A landmark-free morphometrics pipeline for high-resolution phenotyping: application to a mouse model of Down syndrome

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    Characterising phenotypes often requires quantification of anatomical shape. Quantitative shape comparison (morphometrics) traditionally uses manually located landmarks and is limited by landmark number and operator accuracy. Here, we apply a landmark-free method to characterise the craniofacial skeletal phenotype of the Dp1Tyb mouse model of Down syndrome and a population of the Diversity Outbred (DO) mouse model, comparing it with a landmark-based approach. We identified cranial dysmorphologies in Dp1Tyb mice, especially smaller size and brachycephaly (front-back shortening), homologous to the human phenotype. Shape variation in the DO mice was partly attributable to allometry (size-dependent shape variation) and sexual dimorphism. The landmark-free method performed as well as, or better than, the landmark-based method but was less labour-intensive, required less user training and, uniquely, enabled fine mapping of local differences as planar expansion or shrinkage. Its higher resolution pinpointed reductions in interior mid-snout structures and occipital bones in both the models that were not otherwise apparent. We propose that this landmark-free pipeline could make morphometrics widely accessible beyond its traditional niches in zoology and palaeontology, especially in characterising developmental mutant phenotypes

    Mouse models of aneuploidy to understand chromosome disorders

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    An organism or cell carrying a number of chromosomes that is not a multiple of the haploid count is in a state of aneuploidy. This condition results in significant changes in the level of expression of genes that are gained or lost from the aneuploid chromosome(s) and most cases in humans are not compatible with life. However, a few aneuploidies can lead to live births, typically associated with deleterious phenotypes. We do not understand why phenotypes arise from aneuploid syndromes in humans. Animal models have the potential to provide great insight, but less than a handful of mouse models of aneuploidy have been made, and no ideal system exists in which to study the effects of aneuploidy per se versus those of raised gene dosage. Here, we give an overview of human aneuploid syndromes, the effects on physiology of having an altered number of chromosomes and we present the currently available mouse models of aneuploidy, focusing on models of trisomy 21 (which causes Down syndrome) because this is the most common, and therefore, the most studied autosomal aneuploidy. Finally, we discuss the potential role of carrying an extra chromosome on aneuploid phenotypes, independent of changes in gene dosage, and methods by which this could be investigated further

    Building the Future Therapies for Down Syndrome: The Third International Conference of the T21 Research Society

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    Research focused on Down syndrome has increased in the last several years to advance understanding of the consequences of trisomy 21 (T21) on molecular and cellular processes and, ultimately, on individuals with Down syndrome. The Trisomy 21 Research Society (T21RS) is the premier scientific organization for researchers and clinicians studying Down syndrome. The Third International Conference of T21RS, held June 6ÔÇô9, 2019, in Barcelona, Spain, brought together 429 scientists, families, and industry representatives to share the latest discoveries on underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms of T21, define cognitive and behavioral challenges and better understand comorbidities associated with Down syndrome, including AlzheimerÔÇÖs disease and leukemia. Presentation of cutting-edge results in neuroscience, neurology, model systems, psychology, cancer, biomarkers and molecular and phar┬şma┬şcological therapeutic approaches demonstrate the compelling interest and continuing advancement in all aspects of understanding and ameliorating conditions associated with T21
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