Project description:The synchronization of neuronal activity in the sensorimotor cortices is crucial for motor control and learning. This synchrony can be modulated by upstream activity in the cerebello-cortical network. However, many questions remain over the details of how the cerebral cortex and the cerebellum communicate. Therefore, our aim is to study the contribution of the cerebellum to oscillatory brain activity, in particular in the case of dystonia, a severely disabling motor disease associated with altered sensorimotor coupling. We used a kainic-induced dystonia model to evaluate cerebral cortical oscillatory activity and connectivity during dystonic episodes. We performed microinjections of low doses of kainic acid into the cerebellar vermis in mice and examined activities in somatosensory, motor and parietal cortices. We showed that repeated applications of kainic acid into the cerebellar vermis, for five consecutive days, generate reproducible dystonic motor behavior. No epileptiform activity was recorded on electrocorticogram (ECoG) during the dystonic postures or movements. We investigated the ECoG power spectral density and coherence between motor cortex, somatosensory and parietal cortices before and during dystonic attacks. During the baseline condition, we found a phenomenon of permanent adaptation with a change of baseline locomotor activity coupled to an ECoG gamma band increase in all cortices. In addition, after kainate administration, we observed an increase in muscular activity, but less signs of dystonia together with modulations of the ECoG power spectra with an increase in gamma band in motor, parietal and somatosensory cortices. Moreover, we found reduced coherence in all measured frequency bands between the motor cortex and somatosensory or parietal cortices compared to baseline. In conclusion, examination of cortical oscillatory activities in this animal model of chronic dystonia caused by cerebellar dysfunction reveals a disruption in the coordination of neuronal activity across the cortical sensorimotor/parietal network, which may underlie motor skill deficits.
Project description:Two main neural mechanisms including loss of cortical inhibition and maladaptive plasticity have been thought to be involved in the pathophysiology of focal task-specific dystonia. Such loss of inhibition and maladaptive plasticity likely correspond to cortical overactivity and disorganized somatotopy, respectively. However, the most plausible mechanism of focal task-specific dystonia remains unclear. To address this question, we assessed brain activity and somatotopic representations of motor-related brain areas using functional MRI and behavioral measurement in healthy instrumentalists and patients with embouchure dystonia as an example of focal task-specific dystonia. Dystonic symptoms were measured as variability of fundamental frequency during long tone playing. We found no significant differences in brain activity between the embouchure dystonia and healthy wind instrumentalists in the motor-related areas. Assessment of somatotopy, however, revealed significant differences in the somatotopic representations of the mouth area for the right somatosensory cortex between the two groups. Multiple-regression analysis revealed brain activity in the primary motor and somatosensory cortices, cerebellum, and putamen was significantly associated with variability of fundamental frequency signals representing dystonic symptoms. Conversely, somatotopic representations in motor-related brain areas were not associated with variability of fundamental frequency signals in embouchure dystonia. The present findings suggest that abnormal motor-related network activity and aberrant somatotopy correlate with different aspects of mechanisms underlying focal task-specific dystonia.
Project description:Dystonia is a neurological disorder characterized by abnormal involuntary movements that are prolonged and often cause twisting and turning. Several genetically modified worms, fruit flies, and rodents have been generated as models of genetic dystonias, in particular DYT1, DYT11, and DYT12 dystonias. Although these models do not show overt dystonic symptoms, the rodent models exhibit motor deficits in specialized behavioral tasks, such as the rotarod and beam-walking tests. For example, in a rodent model of DYT12 dystonia, which is generally stress triggered, motor deficits are observed only after the animal is stressed. Moreover, in a rodent model of DYT1 dystonia, the motor and electrophysiological deficits can be rescued by trihexyphenidyl, a common anticholinergic medication used to treat dystonic symptoms in human patients. Biochemically, the DYT1 and DYT11 animal models also share some similarities to patients, such as a reduction in striatal D2 dopamine receptor and binding activities. In addition, conditional knockout mouse models for DYT1 and DYT11 dystonia demonstrate that loss of the causal dystonia-related proteins in the striatum leads to motor deficits. Interestingly, loss of the DYT1 dystonia causal protein in Purkinje cells shows an improvement in motor performance, suggesting that gene therapy targeting of the cerebellum or intervention in its downstream pathways may be useful. Finally, recent studies using DYT1 dystonia worm and mouse models led to a potential novel therapeutic agent, which is currently undergoing clinical trials. These results indicate that genetic animal models are powerful tools to elucidate the pathophysiology and to further develop new therapeutics for dystonia.
Project description:Primary dystonia is characterized by abnormal, involuntary twisting and turning movements that reflect impaired motor system function. The dystonic brain seems normal, in that it contains no overt lesions or evidence of neurodegeneration, but functional brain imaging has uncovered abnormalities involving the cortex, striatum and cerebellum, and diffusion tensor imaging suggests the presence of microstructural defects in white matter tracts of the cerebellothalamocortical circuit. Clinical electrophysiological studies show that the dystonic CNS exhibits aberrant plasticity--perhaps related to deficient inhibitory neurotransmission--in a range of brain structures, as well as the spinal cord. Dystonia is, therefore, best conceptualized as a motor circuit disorder, rather than an abnormality of a particular brain structure. None of the aforementioned abnormalities can be strictly causal, as they are not limited to regions of the CNS subserving clinically affected body parts, and are found in seemingly healthy patients with dystonia-related mutations. The study of dystonia-related genes will, hopefully, help researchers to unravel the chain of events from molecular to cellular to system abnormalities. DYT1 mutations, for example, cause abnormalities within the endoplasmic reticulum-nuclear envelope endomembrane system. Other dystonia-related gene products traffic through the endoplasmic reticulum, suggesting a potential cell biological theme underlying primary dystonia.
Project description:A large number of physiomic pathologies can produce hyperexcitability in cortex. Depending on severity, cortical hyperexcitability may manifest clinically as a hyperkinetic movement disorder or as epilpesy. We focus here on dystonia, a movement disorder that produces involuntary muscle contractions and involves pathology in multiple brain areas including basal ganglia, thalamus, cerebellum, and sensory and motor cortices. Most research in dystonia has focused on basal ganglia, while much pharmacological treatment is provided directly at muscles to prevent contraction. Motor cortex is another potential target for therapy that exhibits pathological dynamics in dystonia, including heightened activity and altered beta oscillations. We developed a multiscale model of primary motor cortex, ranging from molecular, up to cellular, and network levels, containing 1715 compartmental model neurons with multiple ion channels and intracellular molecular dynamics. We wired the model based on electrophysiological data obtained from mouse motor cortex circuit mapping experiments. We used the model to reproduce patterns of heightened activity seen in dystonia by applying independent random variations in parameters to identify pathological parameter sets. These models demonstrated degeneracy, meaning that there were many ways of obtaining the pathological syndrome. There was no single parameter alteration which would consistently distinguish pathological from physiological dynamics. At higher dimensions in parameter space, we were able to use support vector machines to distinguish the two patterns in different regions of space and thereby trace multitarget routes from dystonic to physiological dynamics. These results suggest the use of in silico models for discovery of multitarget drug cocktails.
Project description:Spasmodic dysphonia (SD) is a task-specific focal dystonia of unknown pathophysiology, characterized by involuntary spasms in the laryngeal muscles during speaking. Our aim was to identify symptom-specific functional brain activation abnormalities in adductor spasmodic dysphonia (ADSD) and abductor spasmodic dysphonia (ABSD). Both SD groups showed increased activation extent in the primary sensorimotor cortex, insula, and superior temporal gyrus during symptomatic and asymptomatic tasks and decreased activation extent in the basal ganglia, thalamus, and cerebellum during asymptomatic tasks. Increased activation intensity in SD patients was found only in the primary somatosensory cortex during symptomatic voice production, which showed a tendency for correlation with ADSD symptoms. Both SD groups had lower correlation of activation intensities between the primary motor and sensory cortices and additional correlations between the basal ganglia, thalamus, and cerebellum during symptomatic and asymptomatic tasks. Compared with ADSD patients, ABSD patients had larger activation extent in the primary sensorimotor cortex and ventral thalamus during symptomatic task and in the inferior temporal cortex and cerebellum during symptomatic and asymptomatic voice production. The primary somatosensory cortex shows consistent abnormalities in activation extent, intensity, correlation with other brain regions, and symptom severity in SD patients and, therefore, may be involved in the pathophysiology of SD.
Project description:There is increasing evidence that supports the role of the cerebellum in the pathophysiology of dystonia. We used transcranial magnetic stimulation to test the hypothesis that patients with cervical dystonia may have a disrupted cerebellar cortical connectivity at rest, and that cerebellar plasticity is altered too. We enrolled 12 patients with isolated cervical dystonia and 13 controls. A paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation protocol was applied over the right cerebellum and the left primary motor area. Changes in the amplitude of motor evoked potentials were analysed. Continuous and intermittent Theta Burst Stimulation over the cerebellum was also applied. The effects of these repetitive protocols on cortical excitability, on intra-cortical circuits and on cerebellar cortical inhibition were analysed. In healthy subjects, but not in dystonic patients, a conditioning stimulus over the cerebellum was able to inhibit the amplitude of the motor evoked potentials from primary motor cortex. In healthy subjects continuous and intermittent cerebellar Theta Burst Stimulation were able to decrease and increase respectively motor cortex excitability. Continuous Theta Burst Stimulation was able to abolish the cerebellar cortical inhibition observed in basal condition. These effects were not observed in patients with cervical dystonia. Cerebellar cortical connectivity and cerebellar plasticity is altered at rest in patients with cervical dystonia.
Project description:Dystonia is a movement disorder characterized by sustained or intermittent muscle contractions and its pathophysiological mechanisms are still poorly understood. Dominant mutations of the GNAL gene are a cause of isolated dystonia (DYT25) in patients. Some mutations result in a complete loss of function of the encoded protein, G?olf, an adenylyl-cyclase-stimulatory G-protein highly enriched in striatal projection neurons, where it mediates the actions of dopamine and adenosine. We used male and female heterozygous Gnal knock-out mice (Gnal+/-) to study how GNAL haplodeficiency is implicated in dystonia. In basal conditions, no overt dystonic movements or postures or change in locomotor activity were observed. However, Gnal haploinsufficiency altered self-grooming, motor coordination, and apparent motivation in operant conditioning, as well as spine morphology and phospho-CaMKII? in the striatum. After systemic administration of oxotremorine, an unselective cholinergic agonist, Gnal+/- mice developed more abnormal postures and movements than WT mice. These effects were not caused by seizures as indicated by EEG recordings. They were prevented by the M1-preferring muscarinic antagonists, telenzepine, pirenzepine, and trihexyphenidyl, which alleviate dystonic symptoms in patients. The motor defects were worsened by mecamylamine, a selective nicotinic antagonist. These oxotremorine-induced abnormalities in Gnal+/- mice were replicated by oxotremorine infusion into the striatum, but not into the cerebellum, indicating that defects in striatal neurons favor the appearance of dystonia-like movement alterations after oxotremorine. Untreated and oxotremorine-treated Gnal+/- mice provide a model of presymptomic and symptomatic stages of DYT25-associated dystonia, respectively, and clues about the mechanisms underlying dystonia pathogenesis.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Adult-onset dystonia DYT25 is caused by dominant loss-of-function mutations of GNAL, a gene encoding the stimulatory G-protein G?olf, which is critical for activation of the cAMP pathway in the striatal projection neurons. Here, we demonstrate that Gnal-haplodeficient mice have a mild neurological phenotype and display vulnerability to developing dystonic movements after systemic or intrastriatal injection of the cholinergic agonist oxotremorine. Therefore, impairment of the cAMP pathway in association with an increased cholinergic tone creates alterations in striatal neuron functions that can promote the onset of dystonia. Our results also provide evidence that untreated and oxotremorine-treated Gnal-haplodeficient mice are powerful models with which to study presymptomic and symptomatic stages of DYT25-associated dystonia, respectively.
Project description:Significance: Dystonia is a dynamic and complex disorder. Real-time analysis of brain activity during motor tasks may increase our knowledge on its pathophysiology. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a noninvasive method that enables the measurement of cortical hemodynamic activity in unconstrained environments. Aim: We aimed to explore the feasibility of using fNIRS for the study of task-related brain activity in dystonia. Task-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and resting-state functional connectivity were also analyzed. Approach: Patients with idiopathic right-upper limb dystonia and controls were assessed through nonsimultaneous fMRI and fNIRS during a finger-tapping task. Seed-based connectivity analysis of resting-state fMRI was performed in both groups. Results: The fMRI results suggest nonspecific activation of the cerebellum and occipital lobe in dystonia patients during the finger-tapping task with the affected hand. Moreover, fNIRS data show lower activation in terms of oxyhemoglobin and total hemoglobin in the frontal, ipsilateral cortex, and somatosensory areas during this task. In dystonia, both fMRI and fNIRS data resulted in hypoactivation of the frontal cortex during finger tapping with both hands simultaneously. Resting-state functional connectivity analysis suggests that the cerebellar somatomotor network in dystonia has an increased correlation with the medial prefrontal cortex and the paracingulate gyrus. Conclusions: These data suggest that unbalanced activation of the cerebellum, somatosensory, and frontal cortical areas are associated with dystonia. To our knowledge, this is the first study using fNIRS to explore the pathophysiology of dystonia. We show that fNIRS and fMRI are complementary methods and highlight the potential of fNIRS for the study of dystonia and other movement disorders as it can overcome movement restrictions, enabling experiments in more naturalistic conditions.