Impairment of enzymatic antioxidant defenses is associated with bilirubin-induced neuronal cell death in the cerebellum of Ugt1 KO mice.
ABSTRACT: Severe hyperbilirubinemia is toxic during central nervous system development. Prolonged and uncontrolled high levels of unconjugated bilirubin lead to bilirubin-induced encephalopathy and eventually death by kernicterus. Despite extensive studies, the molecular and cellular mechanisms of bilirubin toxicity are still poorly defined. To fill this gap, we investigated the molecular processes underlying neuronal injury in a mouse model of severe neonatal jaundice, which develops hyperbilirubinemia as a consequence of a null mutation in the Ugt1 gene. These mutant mice show cerebellar abnormalities and hypoplasia, neuronal cell death and die shortly after birth because of bilirubin neurotoxicity. To identify protein changes associated with bilirubin-induced cell death, we performed proteomic analysis of cerebella from Ugt1 mutant and wild-type mice. Proteomic data pointed-out to oxidoreductase activities or antioxidant processes as important intracellular mechanisms altered during bilirubin-induced neurotoxicity. In particular, they revealed that down-representation of DJ-1, superoxide dismutase, peroxiredoxins 2 and 6 was associated with hyperbilirubinemia in the cerebellum of mutant mice. Interestingly, the reduction in protein levels seems to result from post-translational mechanisms because we did not detect significant quantitative differences in the corresponding mRNAs. We also observed an increase in neuro-specific enolase 2 both in the cerebellum and in the serum of mutant mice, supporting its potential use as a biomarker of bilirubin-induced neurological damage. In conclusion, our data show that different protective mechanisms fail to contrast oxidative burst in bilirubin-affected brain regions, ultimately leading to neurodegeneration.
Project description:Severe hyperbilirubinemia is toxic during central nervous system development. Prolonged and uncontrolled high levels of unconjugated bilirubin lead to bilirubin-induced neurological damage and eventually death by kernicterus. Bilirubin neurotoxicity is characterized by a wide array of neurological deficits, including irreversible abnormalities in motor, sensitive and cognitive functions, due to bilirubin accumulation in the brain. Despite the abundant literature documenting the in vitro and in vivo toxic effects of bilirubin, it is unclear which molecular and cellular events actually characterize bilirubin-induced neurodegeneration in vivo.We used a mouse model of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia to temporally and spatially define the response of the developing cerebellum to the bilirubin insult.We showed that the exposure of developing cerebellum to sustained bilirubin levels induces the activation of oxidative stress, ER stress and inflammatory markers at the early stages of the disease onset. In particular, we identified TNF? and NFK? as key mediators of bilirubin-induced inflammatory response. Moreover, we reported that M1 type microglia is increasingly activated during disease progression. Failure to counteract this overwhelming stress condition resulted in the induction of the apoptotic pathway and the generation of the glial scar. Finally, bilirubin induced the autophagy pathway in the stages preceding death of the animals.This study demonstrates that inflammation is a key contributor to bilirubin damage that cooperates with ER stress in the onset of neurotoxicity. Pharmacological modulation of the inflammatory pathway may be a potential intervention target to ameliorate neonatal lethality in Ugt1 -/- mice.
Project description:High levels of unconjugated bilirubin (UCB) in newborn children is associated with a reduction in hepatic UDP glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) 1A1 activity that can lead to CNS toxicity, brain damage, and even death. Little is known regarding those events that lead to UCB accumulation in brain tissue, and therefore, we sought to duplicate this condition in mice. The human UGT1 locus, encoding all 9-UGT1A genes including UGT1A1, was expressed in Ugt1(-/-) mice. Because the most common clinical condition associated with jaundice in adults is Gilbert's syndrome, which is characterized by an allelic polymorphism in the UGT1A1 promoter, hyperbilirubinemia was monitored in humanized UGT1 mice that expressed either the Gilbert's UGT1A1*28 allele [Tg(UGT1(A1*28))Ugt1(-/-) mice] or the normal UGT1A1*1 allele [Tg(UGT1(A1*1))Ugt1(-/-) mice]. Adult Tg(UGT1(A1*28))Ugt1(-/-) mice expressed elevated levels of total bilirubin (TB) compared with Tg(UGT1(A1*1))Ugt1(-/-) mice, confirming that the promoter polymorphism associated with the UGT1A1*28 allele contributes to hyperbilirubinemia in mice. However, TB accumulated to near toxic levels during neonatal development, a finding that is independent of the Gilbert's UGT1A1*28 promoter polymorphism. Whereas serum TB levels eventually returned to adult levels, TB clearance in neonatal mice was not associated with hepatic UGT1A1 expression. In approximately 10% of the humanized UGT1 mice, peak TB levels culminated in seizures followed by death. UCB deposition in brain tissue and the ensuing seizures were associated with developmental milestones and can be prevented by enhancing regulation of the UGT1A1 gene in neonatal mice.
Project description:Neonatal jaundice is caused by high levels of unconjugated bilirubin. It is usually a temporary condition caused by delayed induction of UGT1A1, which conjugates bilirubin in the liver. To reduce bilirubin levels, affected babies are exposed to phototherapy (PT), which converts toxic bilirubin into water-soluble photoisomers that are readily excreted out. However, in some cases uncontrolled hyperbilirubinemia leads to neurotoxicity. To study the mechanisms of bilirubin-induced neurological damage (BIND) in vivo, we generated a mouse model lacking the Ugt1a1 protein and, consequently, mutant mice developed jaundice as early as 36 hours after birth. The mutation was transferred into two genetic backgrounds (C57BL/6 and FVB/NJ). We exposed mutant mice to PT for different periods and analyzed the resulting phenotypes from the molecular, histological and behavioral points of view. Severity of BIND was associated with genetic background, with 50% survival of C57BL/6?Ugt1(-/-) mutant mice at postnatal day 5 (P5), and of FVB/NJ-Ugt1(-/-) mice at P11. Life-long exposure to PT prevented cerebellar architecture alterations and rescued neuronal damage in FVB/NJ-Ugt1(-/-) but not in C57BL/6-Ugt1(-/-) mice. Survival of FVB/NJ-Ugt1(-/-) mice was directly related to the extent of PT treatment. PT treatment of FVB/NJ-Ugt1(-/-) mice from P0 to P8 did not prevent bilirubin-induced reduction in dendritic arborization and spine density of Purkinje cells. Moreover, PT treatment from P8 to P20 did not rescue BIND accumulated up to P8. However, PT treatment administered in the time-window P0-P15 was sufficient to obtain full rescue of cerebellar damage and motor impairment in FVB/NJ-Ugt1(-/-) mice. The possibility to modulate the severity of the phenotype by PT makes FVB/NJ-Ugt1(-/-) mice an excellent and versatile model to study bilirubin neurotoxicity, the role of modifier genes, alternative therapies and cerebellar development during high bilirubin conditions.
Project description:Neurotoxic bilirubin is solely conjugated by UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) 1A1. Due to an inadequate function of UGT1A1, human neonates develop mild to severe physiological hyperbilirubinemia. Accumulation of bilirubin in the brain leads to the onset of irreversible brain damage called kernicterus. Breastfeeding is one of the most significant factors that increase the risk of developing kernicterus in infants. Why does the most natural way of feeding increase the risk of brain damage or even death? This question leads to the hypothesis that breast milk-induced neonatal hyperbilirubinemia might bring certain benefits to the body. One of the barriers to answering the above question is the lack of animal models that display mild to severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. A mouse model that develops neonatal hyperbilirubinemia was previously developed by a knockout of the Ugt1 locus. Deletion of Ugt1a1 results in neonatal lethality from bilirubin neurotoxicity. Bilirubin is the end product of heme catabolism in which heme oxygenase-I is largely involved. When zinc protoporphyrin, an inhibitor of heme oxygenase I, was administered to newborn Ugt1-/- mice, serum bilirubin levels dropped dramatically, rescuing the mice from bilirubin-induced neonatal lethality. Zinc protoporphyrin-treated Ugt1-/- mice developed normally as adults capable of reproducing, but their newborns showed even more severe hyperbilirubinemia. Microarray analysis of the hyperbilirubinemic livers indicated that a number of genes associated with nucleotide, transport, and immune response were significantly down-regulated in a serum bilirubin level-dependent manner. Conclusion: Our study provides an opportunity to advance the development of effective therapeutics to effectively and rapidly prevent bilirubin-induced toxicity. Neonatal hyperbilirubinemia has various impacts on the body that could be driven by the antioxidant property of bilirubin.
Project description:Bilirubin is a natural and potent antioxidant that accumulates in the blood of newborn children and leads to physiological jaundice. Breastfed infants have higher serum levels of bilirubin than formula-fed infants and are at risk for bilirubin-induced neurological dysfunction (BIND). Clearance of bilirubin requires the expression of uridine diphosphate glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) 1A1; we investigated its role in the association between breast feeding with jaundice in mice.We studied mice in which the original Ugt1 locus was disrupted and replaced with the human UGT1 locus (hUGT1 mice); these mice spontaneously develop neonatal hyperbilirubinemia and BIND. We fed human breast milk or formula to neonatal hUGT1 mice and examined activation of the intestinal xenobiotic receptors pregnane X receptor and constitutive androstane receptor. We also examined inflammatory signaling pathways in mice with disruptions in I?B-kinase-? and I?B kinase-? in the intestinal epithelium.hUGT1 mice that were fed breast milk developed severe hyperbilirubinemia because of suppression of UGT1A1 in the gastrointestinal tract. Formula-fed hUGT1 mice had lower serum levels of bilirubin, which resulted from induction of UGT1A1 in the gastrointestinal tract. hUGT1/Pxr-null mice did not develop severe hyperbilirubinemia, whereas hUGT1/Car-null mice were susceptible to BIND when they were fed breast milk. Breast milk appeared to suppress intestinal I?B kinase ? and ?, resulting in inactivation of nuclear factor-?B and loss of expression of UGT1A1, leading to hyperbilirubinemia.Breast milk reduces expression of intestinal UGT1A1, which leads to hyperbilirubinemia and BIND; suppression of this gene appears to involve inactivation of nuclear factor-?B. Hyperbilirubinemia can be reduced by activation of pregnane X receptor, constitutive androstane receptor, or nuclear factor-?B.
Project description:Therapies to prevent severe neonatal unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia and kernicterus are phototherapy and, in unresponsive cases, exchange transfusion, which has significant morbidity and mortality risks. Neurotoxicity is caused by the fraction of unconjugated bilirubin not bound to albumin (free bilirubin, Bf). Human serum albumin (HSA) administration was suggested to increase plasma bilirubin-binding capacity. However, its clinical use is infrequent due to difficulties to address its potential preventive and curative benefits, and to the absence of reliable markers to monitor bilirubin neurotoxicity risk. We used a genetic mouse model of unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia showing severe neurological impairment and neonatal lethality. We treated mutant pups with repeated HSA administration since birth, without phototherapy application. Daily intraperitoneal HSA administration completely rescued neurological damage and lethality, depending on dosage and administration frequency. Albumin infusion increased plasma bilirubin-binding capacity, mobilizing bilirubin from tissues to plasma. This resulted in reduced plasma Bf, forebrain and cerebellum bilirubin levels. We showed that, in our experimental model, Bf is the best marker to determine the risk of developing neurological damage. These results support the potential use of albumin administration in severe acute hyperbilirubinemia conditions to prevent or treat bilirubin neurotoxicity in situations in which exchange transfusion may be required.
Project description:The Crigler-Najjar Syndrome Type I (CNSI) is a rare genetic disorder caused by mutations in the Ugt1a1 gene. It is characterized by unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia that may result in severe neurologic damage and death if untreated. To date, liver transplantation is the only curative treatment. With the aim of generating mutant cell lines of the Ugt1 gene, we utilized the TALEN technology to introduce site-specific mutations in Ugt1 exon 4. We report a fast and efficient method to perform gene knockout in tissue culture cells, based on the use of TALEN pairs targeting restriction enzyme (RE) sites in the region of interest. This strategy overcame the presence of allele-specific single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and pseudogenes, conditions that limit INDELs' detection by Surveyor. We obtained liver-derived murine N-Muli cell clones having INDELs with efficiency close to 40%, depending on the TALEN pair and RE target site. Sequencing of the target locus and WB analysis of the isolated cell clones showed a high proportion of biallelic mutations in cells treated with the most efficient TALEN pair. Ugt glucuronidation activity was reduced basal levels in the biallelic mutant clones. These mutant liver-derived cell lines could be a very useful tool to study biochemical aspects of Ugt1 enzyme activity in a more natural context, such as substrate specificity, requirement of specific co-factors, the study of inhibitors and other pharmacological aspects, and to correlate enzyme activity to the presence of specific mutations in the gene, by adding back to the mutant cell clones specific variants of the Ugt1 gene. In addition, since genome editing has recently emerged as a potential therapeutic approach to cure genetic diseases, the definition of the most efficient TALEN pair could be an important step towards setting up a platform to perform genome editing in CNSI.
Project description:Although UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs) are important phase II drug-metabolizing enzymes, they are also involved in the metabolism of endogenous compounds. Certain substrates of UGTs, such as serotonin and estradiol, play important roles in the brain. However, the expression of UGTs in the human brain has not been fully clarified. Recently, humanized UGT1 mice (hUGT1 mice) in which the original Ugt1 locus was disrupted and replaced with the human UGT1 locus have been developed. In the present study, the expression pattern of UGT1As in brains from humans and hUGT1 mice was examined. We found that UGT1A1, 1A3, 1A6, and 1A10 were expressed in human brains. The expression pattern of UGT1As in hUGT1 mouse brains was similar to that in human brains. In addition, we examined the expression of UGT1A1 and 1A6 in the cerebellum, olfactory bulbs, midbrain, hippocampus, and cerebral cortex of hUGT1 mice. UGT1A1 in all brain regions and UGT1A6 in the cerebellum and cerebral cortex of 6-month-old hUGT1 mice were expressed at a significantly higher rate than those of 2-week-old hUGT1 mice. A difference in expression levels between brain regions was also observed. Brain microsomes exhibited glucuronidation activities toward estradiol and serotonin, with mean values of 0.13 and 5.17 pmol/min/mg, respectively. In conclusion, UGT1A1 and UGT1A6 might play an important role in function regulation of endogenous compounds in a region- and age-dependent manner. Humanized UGT1 mice might be useful to study the importance of brain UGTs in vivo.
Project description:Bilirubin-induced neurologic dysfunction (BIND) and kernicterus has been used to describe moderate to severe neurologic dysfunction observed in children exposed to excessive levels of total serum bilirubin (TSB) during the neonatal period. Here we use a new mouse model that targets deletion of the Ugt1 locus and the Ugt1a1 gene in liver to promote hyperbilirubinemia-induced seizures and central nervous system toxicity. The accumulation of TSB in these mice leads to diffuse yellow coloration of brain tissue and a marked cerebellar hypoplasia that we characterize as kernicterus. Histologic studies of brain tissue demonstrate that the onset of severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia, characterized by seizures, leads to alterations in myelination and glia reactivity. Kernicterus presents as axonopathy with myelination deficits at different brain regions, including pons, medulla oblongata, and cerebellum. The excessive accumulation of TSB in the early neonatal period (5 days after birth) promotes activation of the myelin basic protein (Mbp) gene with an accelerated loss of MBP that correlates with a lack of myelin sheath formation. These changes were accompanied by increased astroglial and microglial reactivity, possibly as a response to myelination injury. Interestingly, cerebellum was the area most affected, with greater myelination impairment and glia burden, and showing a marked loss of Purkinje cells and reduced arborization of the remaining ones. Thus, kernicterus in this model displays not only axonal damage but also myelination deficits and glial activation in different brain regions that are usually related to the neurologic sequelae observed after severe hyperbilirubinemia.
Project description:Accumulating evidence indicates that mutations in the human UGT1 gene locus abolish hepatic bilirubin UDP-glucuronosyltransferase activity and cause the subsequent accumulation of bilirubin to toxic levels in patients with Crigler-Najjar type 1 (CN-I). Genetic and biochemical criteria are required to link CN-I with mutations in UGT1. Here we present analysis of mutations at the UGT1 locus in three individuals that were clinically diagnosed with CN-I (two related and one unrelated). Each patient carries a single base substitution that alters conserved residues in the transferase enzyme molecule, serine to phenylalanine at codon 376 and glycine to glutamic acid at codon 309. Each was homozygous for the defect as demonstrated by sequencing and RFLPs. Mutant cDNAs, constructed by site-directed mutagenesis, inserted into expression vectors, and transfected into COS-1 cells, supported the synthesis of the bilirubin transferase protein but only cells transfected with the wild-type cDNA expressed bilirubin UDP-glucuronosyltransferase activity. The data provide conclusive evidence that alterations at Gly 309 and Ser 376 are the genetic basis for CN-I in these families. These results suggest that the two codons, located in conserved regions of the molecule, are part of the active site of the bilirubin enzyme.