Inhibition of mTOR protects the blood-brain barrier in models of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular cognitive impairment.
Van Skike CE, Jahrling JB, Olson AB, Sayre NL, Hussong SA, Ungvari Z, Lechleiter JD, Galvan V
Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2018 Apr 1;314(4):H693-H703. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00570.2017. Epub 2017 Dec 22.
An intact blood-brain barrier (BBB) limits entry of proinflammatory and neurotoxic blood-derived factors into the brain parenchyma. The BBB is damaged in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which contributes significantly to the progression of AD pathologies and cognitive decline. However, the mechanisms underlying BBB breakdown in AD remain elusive, and no interventions are available for treatment or prevention. We and others recently established that inhibition of the mammalian/mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway with rapamycin yields significant neuroprotective effects, improving cerebrovascular and cognitive function in mouse models of AD. To test whether mTOR inhibition protects the BBB in neurological diseases of aging, we treated hAPP(J20) mice modeling AD and low-density lipoprotein receptor-null (LDLR-/-) mice modeling vascular cognitive impairment with rapamycin. We found that inhibition of mTOR abrogates BBB breakdown in hAPP(J20) and LDLR-/- mice. Experiments using an in vitro BBB model indicated that mTOR attenuation preserves BBB integrity through upregulation of specific tight junction proteins and downregulation of matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity. Together, our data establish mTOR activity as a critical mediator of BBB breakdown in AD and, potentially, vascular cognitive impairment and suggest that rapamycin and/or rapalogs could be used for the restoration of BBB integrity. NEW & NOTEWORTHY This report establishes mammalian/mechanistic target of rapamycin as a critical mediator of blood-brain barrier breakdown in models of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular cognitive impairment and suggests that drugs targeting the target of rapamycin pathway could be used for the restoration of blood-brain barrier integrity in disease states.
Enhanced coverage of lipid analysis and imaging by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry via a strategy with an optimized mixture of matrices.
Wang J, Wang C, Han X
Analytica Chimica Acta. 2018 Feb 13;1000:155-162. doi: 10.1016/j.aca.2017.09.046. Epub 2017 Oct 17.
In matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI MS) analysis and imaging of lipids, comprehensive ionization of lipids simultaneously by a universal matrix is a very challenging problem. Ion suppression of readily ionizable lipids to others is common. To overcome this obstacle and enhance the coverage of MALDI MS analysis and imaging of lipids, we developed a novel strategy employing a mixture of matrices, each of which is capable of selective ionization of different lipid classes. Given that MALDI MS with either 9-aminoacridine (9-AA) or N-(1-naphthyl) ethylenediamine dihydrochloride (NEDC) yields weak in-source decay which is critical for analysis of complex biological samples and possesses orthogonal selectivity for ionization of lipid classes, we tested the mixtures of NEDC and 9-AA with different ratios for analysis of standard lipids and mouse brain lipid extracts. We determined 1.35 of NEDC/9-AA as an optimized molar ratio. It was demonstrated that an enhanced coverage with the optimized mixture was obtained, which enabled us to analyze and map all the major classes of phospholipids and sulfatide from either lipid extracts or tissue slides, respectively. We believe that this powerful novel strategy can enhance lipidomics analysis and MALDI MS imaging of lipids in a high-throughput and semi-quantitative fashion.
mTOR drives cerebral blood flow and memory deficits in LDLR-/- mice modeling atherosclerosis and vascular cognitive impairment.
Jahrling JB, Lin AL, DeRosa N, Hussong SA, Van Skike CE, Girotti M, Javors M, Zhao Q, Maslin LA, Asmis R, Galvan V
Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism. 2018 Jan;38(1):58-74. doi: 10.1177/0271678X17705973. Epub 2017 May 17.
We recently showed that mTOR attenuation blocks progression and abrogates established cognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) mouse models. These outcomes were associated with the restoration of cerebral blood flow (CBF) and brain vascular density (BVD) resulting from relief of mTOR inhibition of NO release. Recent reports suggested a role of mTOR in atherosclerosis. Because mTOR drives aging and vascular dysfunction is a universal feature of aging, we hypothesized that mTOR may contribute to brain vascular and cognitive dysfunction associated with atherosclerosis. We measured CBF, BVD, cognitive function, markers of inflammation, and parameters of cardiovascular disease in LDLR-/- mice fed maintenance or high-fat diet ± rapamycin. Cardiovascular pathologies were proportional to severity of brain vascular dysfunction. Aortic atheromas were reduced, CBF and BVD were restored, and cognitive dysfunction was attenuated potentially through reduction in systemic and brain inflammation following chronic mTOR attenuation. Our studies suggest that mTOR regulates vascular integrity and function and that mTOR attenuation may restore neurovascular function and cardiovascular health. Together with our previous studies in AD models, our data suggest mTOR-driven vascular damage may be a mechanism shared by age-associated neurological diseases. Therefore, mTOR attenuation may have promise for treatment of cognitive impairment in atherosclerosis.
The development of a specific pathogen free (SPF) barrier colony of marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) for aging research.
Ross CN, Austad S, Brasky K, Brown CJ, Forney LJ, Gelfond JA, Lanford R, Richardson A, Tardif SD
Aging (Albany NY). 2017 Dec 7;9(12):2544-2558. doi: 10.18632/aging.101340.
A specific pathogen free (SPF) barrier colony of breeding marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) was established at the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies. Rodent and other animal models maintained as SPF barrier colonies have demonstrated improved health and lengthened lifespans enhancing the quality and repeatability of aging research. The marmosets were screened for two viruses and several bacterial pathogens prior to establishing the new SPF colony. Twelve founding animals successfully established a breeding colony with increased reproductive success, improved health parameters, and increased median lifespan when compared to a conventionally housed, open colony. The improved health and longevity of marmosets from the SPF barrier colony suggests that such management can be used to produce a unique resource for future studies of aging processes in a nonhuman primate model.
Strategy for Quantitative Analysis of Isomeric Bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate and Phosphatidylglycerol Species by Shotgun Lipidomics after One-Step Methylation.
Wang M, Palavicini JP, Cseresznye A, Han X
Analytical Chemistry. 2017 Aug 15;89(16):8490-8495. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b02058. Epub 2017 Jul 26.
Understanding the cellular function and metabolism of bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate (BMP), an important but low-abundance class of phospholipids, has been hindered due to its difficulties to be resolved from its structural isomer (i.e., phosphatidylglycerol, PG, another low-abundance class of phospholipids). A novel strategy for quantitative analysis of BMP and PG species was developed after one-step methylation of lipid extracts in combination with high mass accuracy/resolution mass spectrometry after direct infusion (i.e., shotgun lipidomics). The novel strategy was applied for quantitative analysis of mouse hepatic BMP and PG species and their changes induced by long-term high-fat diet (HFD) feeding. Interestingly, we revealed that HFD-fed mice display a dramatic accumulation of hepatic BMP compared to chow-fed littermates. We believe the development of this novel strategy could greatly facilitate our understanding of the role of BMP in biological systems.
A brief overview of tauopathy: Causes, consequences and therapeutic strategies.
Orr M, Sullivan C, Frost B
Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. 2017 Jul;38(7):637-648. doi: 10.1016/j.tips.2017.03.011. Epub 2017 Apr 25.
There are currently no disease-modifying therapies for the treatment of tauopathies, a group of progressive neurodegenerative disorders that are pathologically defined by the presence of tau protein aggregates in the brain. Current challenges for the treatment of tauopathies include the inability to diagnose early and to confidently discriminate between distinct tauopathies in patients, alongside an incomplete understanding of the cellular mechanisms involved in pathogenic tau-induced neuronal death and dysfunction. In this review, we describe current diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, known drivers of pathogenic tau formation, recent contributions to our current mechanistic understanding of how pathogenic tau induces neuronal death, and potential diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.
Cerebral Microvascular Accumulation of Tau Oligomers in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Tauopathies.
Castillo-Carranza DL, Nilson AN, Van Skike CE, Jahrling JB, Patel K, Garach P, Gerson JE, Sengupta U, Abisambra J, Nelson P, Troncoso J, Ungvari Z, Galvan V, Kayed R
Aging and Disease. 2017 May 2;8(3):257-266. doi: 10.14336/AD.2017.0112. eCollection 2017 May.
The importance of vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID) associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related neurodegenerative diseases is increasingly recognized, however, the underlying mechanisms remain obscure. There is growing evidence that in addition to Aβ deposition, accumulation of hyperphosphorylated oligomeric tau contributes significantly to AD etiology. Tau oligomers are toxic and it has been suggested that they propagate in a “prion-like” fashion, inducing endogenous tau misfolding in cells. Their role in VCID, however, is not yet understood. The present study was designed to determine the severity of vascular deposition of oligomeric tau in the brain in patients with AD and related tauopathies, including dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). Further, we examined a potential link between vascular deposition of fibrillar Aβ and that of tau oligomers in the Tg2576 mouse model. We found that tau oligomers accumulate in cerebral microvasculature of human patients with AD and PSP, in association with vascular endothelial and smooth muscle cells. Cerebrovascular deposition of tau oligomers was also found in DLB patients. We also show that tau oligomers accumulate in cerebral microvasculature of Tg2576 mice, partially in association with cerebrovascular Aβ deposits. Thus, our findings add to the growing evidence for multifaceted microvascular involvement in the pathogenesis of AD and other neurodegenerative diseases. Accumulation of tau oligomers may represent a potential novel mechanism by which functional and structural integrity of the cerebral microvessels is compromised.
Pomegranate extract decreases oxidative stress and alleviates mitochondrial impairment by activating AMPK-Nrf2 in hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus of spontaneously hypertensive rats.
Sun W, Yan C, Frost B, Wang X, Hou C, Zeng M, Gao H, Kang Y, Liu J
Scientific Reports. 2016 Oct 7;6:34246. doi: 10.1038/srep34246.
High blood pressure, or “hypertension,” is associated with high levels of oxidative stress in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. While pomegranate extract is a known antioxidant that is thought to have antihypertensive effects, the mechanism whereby pomegranate extract lowers blood pressure and the tissue that mediates its antihypertensive effects are currently unknown. We have used a spontaneously hypertensive rat model to investigate the antihypertensive properties of pomegranate extract. We found that chronic treatment of hypertensive rats with pomegranate extract significantly reduced blood pressure and cardiac hypertrophy. Furthermore, pomegranate extract reduced oxidative stress, increased the antioxidant defense system, and decreased inflammation in the paraventricular nucleus of hypertensive rats. We determined that pomegranate extract reduced mitochondrial superoxide anion levels and increased mitochondrial function in the paraventricular nucleus of hypertensive rats by promoting mitochondrial biogenesis and improving mitochondrial dynamics and clearance. We went on to identify the AMPK-nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45-related factor 2 (Nrf2) pathway as a mechanism whereby pomegranate extract reduces oxidative stress in the paraventricular nucleus to relieve hypertension. Our findings demonstrate that pomegranate extract alleviates hypertension by reducing oxidative stress and improving mitochondrial function in the paraventricular nucleus, and reveal multiple novel targets for therapeutic treatment of hypertension.
CELF RNA binding proteins promote axon regeneration in C. elegans and mammals through alternative splicing of Syntaxins.
Chen L, Liu Z, Zhou B, Wei C, Zhou Y, Rosenfeld MG, Fu XD, Chisholm AD, Jin Y
eLife. 2016 Jun 2;5. pii: e16072. doi: 10.7554/eLife.16072.
Axon injury triggers dramatic changes in gene expression. While transcriptional regulation of injury-induced gene expression is widely studied, less is known about the roles of RNA binding proteins (RBPs) in post-transcriptional regulation during axon regeneration. In C. elegans the CELF (CUGBP and Etr-3 Like Factor) family RBP UNC-75 is required for axon regeneration. Using crosslinking immunoprecipitation coupled with deep sequencing (CLIP-seq) we identify a set of genes involved in synaptic transmission as mRNA targets of UNC-75. In particular, we show that UNC-75 regulates alternative splicing of two mRNA isoforms of the SNARE Syntaxin/unc-64. In C. elegans mutants lacking unc-75 or its targets, regenerating axons form growth cones, yet are deficient in extension. Extending these findings to mammalian axon regeneration, we show that mouse Celf2 expression is upregulated after peripheral nerve injury and that Celf2 mutant mice are defective in axon regeneration. Further, mRNAs for several Syntaxins show CELF2 dependent regulation. Our data delineate a post-transcriptional regulatory pathway with a conserved role in regenerative axon extension.
Alzheimer’s disease: An acquired neurodegenerative laminopathy.
Nucleus. 2016 May 3;7(3):275-83. doi: 10.1080/19491034.2016.1183859. Epub 2016 May 11.
The nucleus is typically depicted as a sphere encircled by a smooth surface of nuclear envelope. For most cell types, this depiction is accurate. In other cell types and in some pathological conditions, however, the smooth nuclear exterior is interrupted by tubular invaginations of the nuclear envelope, often referred to as a “nucleoplasmic reticulum,” into the deep nuclear interior. We have recently reported a significant expansion of the nucleoplasmic reticulum in postmortem human Alzheimer’s disease brain tissue. We found that dysfunction of the nucleoskeleton, a lamin-rich meshwork that coats the inner nuclear membrane and associated invaginations, is causal for Alzheimer’s disease-related neurodegeneration in vivo. Additionally, we demonstrated that proper function of the nucleoskeleton is required for survival of adult neurons and maintaining genomic architecture. Here, we elaborate on the significance of these findings in regard to pathological states and physiological aging, and discuss cellular causes and consequences of nuclear envelope invagination.