Huntingtons Disease Mice Infected with Toxoplasma gondii Demonstrate Early Kynurenine Pathway Activation, Altered CD8+ T-Cell Responses, and Premature Mortality.
ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder caused by a polyglutamine-repeat expansion in the huntingtin protein. Activation of the kynurenine pathway of tryptophan degradation is implicated in the pathogenesis of HD. Indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) catalyzes the oxidation of tryptophan to kynurenine, the first step in this pathway. The prevalent, neuroinvasive protozoal pathogen Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) results in clinically silent life-long infection in immune-competent individuals. T. gondii infection results in activation of IDO which provides some protection against the parasite by depleting tryptophan which the parasite cannot synthesize. The kynurenine pathway may therefore represent a point of synergism between HD and T. gondii infection. We show here that IDO activity is elevated at least four-fold in frontal cortex and striata of non-infected N171-82Q HD mice at 14-weeks corresponding to early-advanced HD. T. gondii infection at 5 weeks resulted in elevation of cortical IDO activity in HD mice. HD-infected mice died significantly earlier than wild-type infected and HD control mice. Prior to death, infected HD mice demonstrated decreased CD8+ T-lymphocyte proliferation in brain and spleen compared to wild-type infected mice. We demonstrate for the first time that HD mice have an altered response to an infectious agent that is characterized by premature mortality, altered immune responses and early activation of IDO. Findings are relevant to understanding how T. gondii infection may interact with pathways mediating neurodegeneration in HD.
Project description:Toxoplasma gondii is a pathogen relevant to psychiatric disorders. We recently showed that reactivation of chronic T. gondii infection induced depression-like behaviors in mice. Furthermore, it has been hypothesized that depression-like behaviors are mediated via a host defense mechanism against invading pathogens; proximate mechanisms of this behavioral hypothesis remain unclear. In the present study, we investigate the contribution of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), inflammation, and interferon gamma (IFN-?) to anhedonic and despair-related behaviors in T. gondii-infected mice by using sucrose preference and forced-swim tests, respectively. First, we confirmed that BALB/c mice exhibited both sickness and depression-like behaviors during acute infection. Treatment of infected wild-type mice with minocycline (anti-inflammatory drug) abated sickness and anhedonic and despair-like behaviors, whereas in T. gondii-infected mice, treatment normalized kynurenine/tryptophan (Kyn/Trp) ratios in both plasma and brain tissue. Additionally, T. gondii infection failed to induce anhedonic and despair-like behaviors or increase the Kyn/Trp ratio in immunocompromised (IFN-?-/-) mice, whereas sickness behavior was observed in both immunocompetent and IFN-?-/- mice following infection. Furthermore, treatment with 1-methyl tryptophan (an IDO inhibitor) did not affect locomotor activity, attenuated clinical scores and anhedonic and despair-like behaviors, and resulted in normal Kyn/Trp ratios in T. gondii-infected wild-type mice. Although low levels of serotonin and dopamine were observed in the brain during acute and chronic infections, anhedonic and despair-like behaviors were not detected in the chronic stage of infection. Collectively, our results demonstrated that immune enhancement in response to infection with T. gondii resulted in IFN-? production, IDO activation, and inflammation associated with anhedonic and despair-like behaviors.
Project description:Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is an obligate intracellular parasite and belongs to the phylum Apicomplexa. T. gondii is of medical and veterinary importance, because T. gondii causes the parasitic disease toxoplasmosis. In human cells, the interferon-gamma inducible indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) is an antimicrobial effector mechanism that degrades tryptophan to kynurenine and thus limits pathogen proliferation in vitro. Furthermore, IDO is described to have immunosuppressive properties, e.g., regulatory T cell differentiation and T cell suppression in humans and mice. However, there is only little known about the role of IDO1 in mice during acute toxoplasmosis. To shed further light on the role of mIDO1 in vivo, we have used a specifically adjusted experimental model. Therein, we infected mIDO1-deficient (IDO-/-) C57BL/6 mice and appropriate wild-type (WT) control mice with a high dose of T. gondii ME49 tachyozoites (type II strain) via the intraperitoneal route and compared the phenotype of IDO-/- and WT mice during acute toxoplasmosis. During murine T. gondii infection, we found mIDO1 mRNA and mIDO1 protein, as well as mIDO1-mediated tryptophan degradation in lungs of WT mice. IDO-/- mice show no tryptophan degradation in the lung during infection. Even though T. gondii is tryptophan auxotroph and rapidly replicates during acute infection, the parasite load was similar in IDO-/- mice compared to WT mice 7 days post-infection. IDO1 is described to have immunosuppressive properties, and since T cell suppression is observed during acute toxoplasmosis, we analyzed the possible involvement of mIDO1. Here, we did not find differences in the intensity of ex vivo mitogen stimulated T cell proliferation between WT and IDO-/- mice. Concomitant nitric oxide synthase inhibition and interleukin-2 supplementation increased the T cell proliferation from both genotypes drastically, but not completely. In sum, we analyzed the involvement of mIDO1 during acute murine toxoplasmosis in our specifically adjusted experimental model and found a definite mIDO1 induction. Nevertheless, mIDO1 seems to be functional redundant as an antiparasitic defense mechanism during acute toxoplasmosis in mice. Furthermore, we suggest that the systemic T cell suppression observed during acute toxoplasmosis is influenced by nitric oxide activity and IL-2 deprivation.
Project description:The pathogenesis of Huntington disease (HD) is attributed to the misfolding of huntingtin (htt) caused by an expanded polyglutamine (polyQ) domain. Considerable effort has been devoted to identifying molecules that can prevent or reduce htt misfolding and the associated neuropathology. Although overexpression of chaperones is known to reduce htt cytotoxicity in cellular models, only modest protection is seen with Hsp70 overexpression in HD mouse models. Because the activity of Hsp70 is modulated by co-chaperones, an interesting issue is whether the in vivo effects of chaperones on polyQ protein toxicity are dependent on other modulators. In the present study, we focused on BAG1, a co-chaperone that interacts with Hsp70 and regulates its activity. Of htt mice expressing the N171-82Q mutant, we found that male N171-82Q mice show a greater deficit in rotarod performance than female N171-82Q mice. This sex-dependent motor deficit was improved by crossing N171-82Q mice with transgenic mice overexpressing BAG1 in neurons. Transgenic BAG1 also reduces the levels of mutant htt in synaptosomal fraction of male HD mice. Overexpression of BAG1 augmented the effects of Hsp70 by reducing aggregation of mutant htt in cultured cells and improving neurite outgrowth in htt-transfected PC12 cells. These findings suggest that the effects of chaperones on HD pathology are influenced by both their modulators and sex-dependent factors.
Project description:Control of blood vessel tone is central to vascular homeostasis. Here we show that metabolism of tryptophan to kynurenine by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (Ido) expressed in endothelial cells contributes to arterial vessel relaxation and the control of blood pressure. Infection of mice with malarial parasites (Plasmodium berghei) or induction of endotoxemia in mice led to endothelial expression of Ido, decreased plasma tryptophan concentration, increased kynurenine concentration and hypotension. Pharmacological inhibition of Ido increased blood pressure in systemically inflamed mice but not in mice deficient in Ido or interferon-gamma, which is required for Ido induction. Both tryptophan and kynurenine dilated preconstricted porcine coronary arteries; the dilating effect of tryptophan required the presence of active Ido and an intact endothelium, whereas the effect of kynurenine was endothelium independent. The arterial relaxation induced by kynurenine was mediated by activation of the adenylate and soluble guanylate cyclase pathways. Kynurenine administration decreased blood pressure in a dose-dependent manner in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Our results identify tryptophan metabolism by Ido as a new pathway contributing to the regulation of vascular tone.
Project description:Emerging evidence suggests that the mood stabilizers lithium and valproate (VPA) have broad neuroprotective and neurotrophic properties, and that these occur via inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3) and histone deacetylases (HDACs), respectively. Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder characterized by impaired movement, cognitive and psychiatric disturbances, and premature death. We treated N171-82Q and YAC128 mice, two mouse models of HD varying in genetic backgrounds and pathological progressions, with a diet containing therapeutic doses of lithium, VPA, or both. Untreated, these transgenic mice displayed a decrease in levels of GSK-3? serine 9 phosphorylation and histone H3 acetylation in the striatum and cerebral cortex around the onset of behavioral deficits, indicating a hyperactivity of GSK-3? and HDACs. Using multiple well-validated behavioral tests, we found that co-treatment with lithium and VPA more effectively alleviated spontaneous locomotor deficits and depressive-like behaviors in both models of HD mice. Furthermore, compared with monotherapy with either drug alone, co-treatment more successfully improved motor skill learning and coordination in N171-82Q mice, and suppressed anxiety-like behaviors in YAC128 mice. This combined treatment consistently inhibited GSK-3? and HDACs, and caused a sustained elevation in striatal as well as cortical brain-derived neurotrophic factor and heat shock protein 70. Importantly, co-treatment markedly prolonged median survival of N171-82Q mice from 31.6 to 41.6 weeks. Given that there is presently no proven treatment for HD, our results suggest that combined treatment with lithium and VPA, two mood stabilizers with a long history of safe use in humans, may have important therapeutic potential for HD patients.
Project description:Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder characterized by chorea, incoordination, and shortened life-span, and by huntingtin inclusions and neurodegeneration. We previously screened the 1040 FDA-approved compounds from the NINDS compound library and found that a compound, nipecotic acid, significantly reduced mutant huntingtin aggregations and blocked cell toxicity in an inducible cell model of HD. Because nipecotic acid does not cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB), we studied its analogue, tiagabine, which is able to cross the BBB, in both N171-82Q and R6/2 transgenic mouse models of HD. Tiagabine was administered intraperitoneally at 2 and 5 mg/kg daily in HD mice. We found that tiagabine extended survival, improved motor performance, and attenuated brain atrophy and neurodegeneration in N171-82Q HD mice. These beneficial effects were further confirmed in R6/2 HD mice. The levels of tiagabine at effective doses in mouse serum are comparable to the levels in human patients treated with tiagabine. These results suggest that tiagabine may have beneficial effects in the treatment of HD. Because tiagabine is an FDA-approved drug, it may be a promising candidate for future clinical trials for the treatment of HD.
Project description:An important epigenetic modification in Huntington's disease (HD) research is histone acetylation, which is regulated by histone acetyltransferase and histone deacetylase (HDAC) enzymes. HDAC inhibitors have proven effective in HD model systems, and recent work is now focused on functional dissection of the individual HDAC enzymes in these effects. Histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3), a member of the class I subfamily of HDACs, has previously been implicated in neuronal toxicity and huntingtin-induced cell death. Hence, we tested the effects of RGFP966 ((E)-N-(2-amino-4-fluorophenyl)-3-(1-cinnamyl-1H-pyrazol-4-yl)acrylamide), a benzamide-type HDAC inhibitor that selectively targets HDAC3, in the N171-82Q transgenic mouse model of HD. We found that RGFP966 at doses of 10 and 25 mg/kg improves motor deficits on rotarod and in open field exploration, accompanied by neuroprotective effects on striatal volume. In light of previous studies implicating HDAC3 in immune function, we measured gene expression changes for 84 immune-related genes elicited by RGFP966 using quantitative PCR arrays. RGFP966 treatment did not cause widespread changes in cytokine/chemokine gene expression patterns, but did significantly alter the striatal expression of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (Mif), a hormone immune modulator associated with glial cell activation, in N171-82Q transgenic mice, but not WT mice. Accordingly, RGFP966-treated mice showed decreased glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) immunoreactivity, a marker of astrocyte activation, in the striatum of N171-82Q transgenic mice compared to vehicle-treated mice. These findings suggest that the beneficial actions of HDAC3 inhibition could be related, in part, with lowered Mif levels and its associated downstream effects.
Project description:Huntington's disease (HD) is a fatal, neurodegenerative movement disorder that has no cure and few treatment options. In these preclinical studies, we tested the effects of chronic treatment of glatiramer acetate (GA; Copaxone®), an FDA-approved drug used as first-line therapy for MS, in two different HD mouse models, and explored potential mechanisms of action of drug efficacy. Groups of CAG140 knock-in and N171-82Q transgenic mice were treated with GA for up to 1year of age (CAG140 knock-in mice) or 20weeks (N171-82Q mice). Various behavioral assays were measured over the course of drug treatment whereby GA treatment delayed the onset and reduced the severity of HD behavioral symptoms in both mouse models. The beneficial actions of GA were associated with elevated levels of promoter I- and IV-driven brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf) expression and reduced levels of cytokines, in particular, interleukins IL4 and IL12, in the brains of HD mice. In addition, the GA-induced effects on BDNF, IL4 and IL12 levels were detected in plasma from drug-treated mice and rats, suggesting utility as a peripheral biomarker of treatment effectiveness. These preclinical studies support the use of GA as a relevant clinical therapy for HD patients.
Project description:Huntington's disease (HD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized pathologically by aggregates composed of N-terminal fragments of the mutant form of the protein huntingtin (htt). The role of these N-terminal fragments in disease pathogenesis has been questioned based in part on studies in transgenic mice. In one important example, mice that express an N-terminal fragment of mutant htt terminating at the C-terminus of exon 2 (termed the Shortstop mouse) were reported to develop robust inclusion pathology without developing phenotypic abnormalities seen in the R6/2 or N171-82Q models of HD, which are also based on expression of mutant N-terminal htt fragments. To further explore the capacity of mutant exon-2 htt fragments to produce neurologic abnormalities (N-terminal 118 amino acids; N118), we generated transgenic mice expressing cDNA that encodes htt N118-82Q with the mouse prion promoter vector. In mice generated in this manner, we demonstrate robust inclusion pathology accompanied by early death and failure to gain weight. These phenotypes are the most robust abnormalities identified in the R6/2 and N171-82Q models. We conclude that the lack of an overt phenotype in the initial Shortstop mice cannot be completely explained by the properties of mutant htt N118 fragments.
Project description:Emerging evidence indicates that microRNAs (miRNAs) may play an important role in the pathogenesis of Huntington's disease (HD). To identify the individual miRNAs that are altered in HD and may therefore regulate a gene network underlying mutant huntingtin-induced neuronal dysfunction in HD, we performed miRNA array analysis combined with mRNA profiling in the cerebral cortex from N171-82Q HD mice. Expression profiles of miRNAs as well as mRNAs in HD mouse cerebral cortex were analyzed and confirmed at different stages of disease progression; the most significant changes of miRNAs in the cerebral cortex were also detected in the striatum of HD mice. Our results revealed a significant alteration of miR-200 family members, miR-200a, and miR-200c in the cerebral cortex and the striatum, at the early stage of disease progression in N171-82Q HD mice. We used a coordinated approach to integrate miRNA and mRNA profiling, and applied bioinformatics to predict a target gene network potentially regulated by these significantly altered miRNAs that might be involved in HD disease progression. Interestingly, miR-200a and miR-200c are predicted to target genes regulating synaptic function, neurodevelopment, and neuronal survival. Our results suggest that altered expression of miR-200a and miR-200c may interrupt the production of proteins involved in neuronal plasticity and survival, and further investigation of the involvement of perturbed miRNA expression in HD pathogenesis is warranted, and may lead to reveal novel approaches for HD therapy.