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Neuro-Immune Mechanisms in Brain Plasticity and Aging
NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING
Total Funding: $ 664,313
One major component of this project involves efforts to understand the functions of toll-like receptors (TLRs)in neuronal plasticity and neurodegenerative disorders. We discovered that neurons express several TLRs, and that the levels of TLR2 and -4 are increased in neurons in response to IFN-gamma stimulation and energy deprivation. Neurons from both TLR2 knockout and -4 mutant mice were protected against energy deprivation-induced cell death, which was associated with decreased activation of a proapoptotic signaling cascade involving jun N-terminal kinase and the transcription factor AP-1. TLR2 and -4 expression was increased in cerebral cortical neurons in response to ischemia/reperfusion injury, and the amount of brain damage and neurological deficits caused by a stroke were significantly less in mice deficient in TLR2 or -4 compared with WT control mice. Our findings establish a proapoptotic signaling pathway for TLR2 and -4 in neurons that may render them vulnerable to ischemic death in stroke. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are innate immune receptors that have recently emerged as regulators of neuronal survival and developmental neuroplasticity. Adult TLR3-deficient mice exhibited enhanced hippocampus-dependent working memory in the Morris water maze, novel object recognition, and contextual fear-conditioning tasks. In contrast, TLR3-deficient mice demonstrated impaired amygdala-related behavior and anxiety in the cued fear-conditioning, open field, and elevated plus maze tasks. Further, TLR3-deficient mice exhibited increased hippocampal CA1 and dentate gyrus volumes, increased hippocampal neurogenesis, and elevated levels of the AMPA receptor subunit GluR1 in the CA1 region of the hippocampus. In addition, levels of activated forms of the kinase ERK and the transcription factor CREB were elevated in the hippocampus of TLR3-deficient mice, suggesting that constitutive TLR3 signaling negatively regulates pathways known to play important roles in hippocampal plasticity. Direct activation of TLR3 by intracerebroventricular infusion of a TLR3 ligand impaired working memory, but not reference memory. Our findings reveal previously undescribed roles for TLR3 as a suppressor of hippocampal cellular plasticity and memory retention. In studies of relevance to Alzheimer's disease (AD) we found that TLR4 expression increases in neurons when exposed to amyloid beta-peptide (Abeta1-42) or the lipid peroxidation product 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE). Neuronal apoptosis triggered by Abeta and HNE was mediated by jun N-terminal kinase (JNK);neurons from TLR4 mutant mice exhibited reduced JNK and caspase-3 activation and were protected against apoptosis induced by Abeta and HNE. Levels of TLR4 were decreased in inferior parietal cortex tissue specimens from end-stage AD patients compared to aged-matched control subjects, possibly as the result of loss of neurons expressing TLR4. Our findings suggest that TLR4 signaling increases the vulnerability of neurons to Abeta and oxidative stress in AD, and identify TLR4 as a potential therapeutic target for AD. Other novel findings suggest important roles for TLRs in development of the nervous system. TLR3 protein is present in brain cells in early embryonic stages of development, and in cultured neural stem/progenitor cells (NPC). NPC from TLR3-deficient embryos formed greater numbers of neurospheres compared with neurospheres from wild-type embryos. Numbers of proliferating cells, as assessed by phospho histone H3 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen labeling, were also increased in the developing cortex of TLR3-deficient mice compared with wild-type mice in vivo. Treatment of cultured embryonic cortical neurospheres with a TLR3 ligand (polyIC) significantly reduced proliferating (BrdU-labeled) cells and neurosphere formation in wild type but not TLR3(-/-)-derived NPCs. Our findings reveal a novel role for TLR3 in the negative regulation of NPC proliferation in the developing brain. More recently we have obtained evidence that TLR3 plays important roles in adult neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity. Brain ischemia induces an inflammatory response involving activated complement fragments. In a preclinical study we showed that i.v. Ig (IVIG) treatment, which scavenges complement fragments, protects brain cells against the deleterious effects of experimental ischemia and reperfusion (I/R) and prevents I/R-induced mortality in mice. Animals administered IVIG either 30 min before ischemia or after 3 h of reperfusion exhibited a 50-60% reduction of brain infarct size and a 2- to 3-fold improvement of the functional outcome. Even a single low dose of IVIG given after stroke was effective. IVIG was protective in the nonreperfusion model of murine stroke as well and did not exert any peripheral effects. Human IgG as well as intrinsic murine C3 levels were significantly higher in the infarcted brain region compared with the noninjured side, and their physical association was demonstrated by immuno-coprecipitation. C5-deficient mice were significantly protected from I/R injury compared with their wild-type littermates. Exposure of cultured neurons to oxygen/glucose deprivationresulted in increased levels of C3 associated with activation of caspase 3, a marker of apoptosis;both signals were attenuated with IVIG treatment. Our data suggest a major role for complement-mediated cell death in ischemic brain injury and the prospect of using IVIG in relatively low doses as an interventional therapy for stroke. The synaptic insertion or removal of AMPA receptors (AMPAR) plays critical roles in the regulation of synaptic activity reflected in the expression of long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD). The cellular events underlying this important process in learning and memory are still being revealed. We discovered and characterized the AAA+ ATPase Thorase, which regulates the expression of surface AMPAR. In an ATPase-dependent manner Thorase mediates the internalization of AMPAR by disassembling the AMPAR-GRIP1 complex. Following genetic deletion of Thorase, the internalization of AMPAR is substantially reduced, leading to increased amplitudes of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents, enhancement of LTP, and elimination of LTD. These molecular events are expressed as deficits in learning and memory in Thorase null mice. This study identifies an AAA+ ATPase that plays a critical role in regulating the surface expression of AMPAR and thereby regulates synaptic plasticity and learning and memory.
2 Resulting Publications
Eitan Okun; Kathleen J Griffioen; Mark P MattsonTrends in neurosciences 2011;34(5):269-81.
Dimitrios Kapogiannis; Mark P MattsonLancet neurology 2011;10(2):187-98.
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