Restoring tripartite glutamatergic synapses: A potential therapy for mood and cognitive deficits in Gulf War illness.
ABSTRACT: Gulf War illness is associated with a combination of exposure to war-related chemical agents and traumatic stress. Currently, there are no effective treatments, and the pathophysiology remains elusive. Neurological problems are among the most commonly reported symptoms. In this study, we investigated the glutamatergic system in the hippocampi of mice exposed to war-related chemical agents and stress. Mice developed Gulf War illness-like symptoms, including mood deficits, cognitive impairments, and fatigue. They exhibited the following pathological changes in hippocampi: elevated extracellular glutamate levels, impaired glutamatergic synapses, astrocyte atrophy, loss of interneurons, and decreased neurogenesis. LDN/OSU-215111 is a small-molecule that can strengthen the structure and function of both the astrocytic processes and the glutamatergic synapses that together form the tripartite synapses. We found that LDN/OSU-215111 effectively prevented the development of mood and cognitive deficits in mice when treatment was implemented immediately following the exposure. Moreover, when symptoms were already present, LDN/OSU-215111 still significantly ameliorated these deficits; impressively, benefits were sustained one month after treatment cessation, indicating disease modification. LDN/OSU-215111 effectively normalized hippocampal pathological changes. Overall, this study provides strong evidence that restoration of tripartite glutamatergic synapses by LDN/OSU-215111 is a potential therapy for Gulf War illness.
Project description:Gulf War Illness (GWI) is a chronic multisymptom illness with a central nervous system component such as memory deficits, neurological, and musculoskeletal problems. There are ample data that demonstrate that exposure to Gulf War (GW) agents, such as pyridostigmine bromide (PB) and pesticides such as permethrin (PER), were key contributors to the etiology of GWI post deployment to the Persian GW. In the current study, we examined the consequences of acute (10 days) exposure to PB and PER in C57BL6 mice. Learning and memory tests were performed at 18 days and at 5 months post-exposure. We investigated the relationship between the cognitive phenotype and neuropathological changes at short and long-term time points post-exposure. No cognitive deficits were observed at the short-term time point, and only minor neuropathological changes were detected. However, cognitive deficits emerged at the later time point and were associated with increased astrogliosis and reduction of synaptophysin staining in the hippocampi and cerebral cortices of exposed mice, 5 months post exposure. In summary, our findings in this mouse model of GW agent exposure are consistent with some GWI symptom manifestations, including delayed onset of symptoms and CNS disturbances observed in GWI veterans.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The lack of effective treatment options for Alzheimer's disease (AD) is of momentous societal concern. Synaptic loss is the hallmark of AD that correlates best with impaired memory and occurs early in the disease process, before the onset of clinical symptoms. We have developed a small-molecule, pyridazine-based series that enhances the structure and function of both the glial processes and the synaptic boutons that form the tripartite synapse. Previously, we have shown that these pyridazine derivatives exhibit profound efficacy in an amyloid precursor protein AD model. Here, we evaluated the efficacy of an advanced compound, LDN/OSU-0215111, in rTg4510 mice-an aggressive tauopathy model.<h4>Methods</h4>rTg4510 mice were treated orally with vehicle or LDN/OSU-0215111 (10 mg/kg) daily from the early symptomatic stage (2 months old) to moderate (4 months old) and severe (8 months old) disease stages. At each time point, mice were subjected to a battery of behavioral tests to assess the activity levels and cognition. Also, tissue collections were performed on a subset of mice to analyze the tripartite synaptic changes, neurodegeneration, gliosis, and tau phosphorylation as assessed by immunohistochemistry and Western blotting. At 8 months of age, a subset of rTg4510 mice treated with compound was switched to vehicle treatment and analyzed behaviorally and biochemically 30 days after treatment cessation.<h4>Results</h4>At both the moderate and severe disease stages, compound treatment normalized cognition and behavior as well as reduced synaptic loss, neurodegeneration, tau hyperphosporylation, and neuroinflammation. Importantly, after 30 days of treatment cessation, the benefits of compound treatment were sustained, indicating disease modification. We also found that compound treatment rapidly and robustly reduced tau hyperphosphorylation/deposition possibly via the inhibition of GSK3β.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The results show that LDN/OSU-0215111 provides benefits for multiple aspects of tauopathy-dependent pathology found in Alzheimer's disease including tripartite synapse normalization and reduction of toxic tau burden, which, in turn, likely accounted for normalized cognition and activity levels in compound-treated rTg4510 mice. This study, in combination with our previous work regarding the benefit of pyridazine derivatives against amyloid-dependent pathology, strongly supports pyridazine derivatives as a viable, clinically relevant, and disease-modifying treatment for many of the facets of Alzheimer's disease.
Project description:Military service and deployment affect women differently than men, underscoring the need for studies of the health of women veterans and their receipt of health care services. Despite the large numbers of women who served during the 1990-1991 Gulf War, few studies have evaluated Gulf War illness (GWI) and other medical conditions specifically as they affect women veterans of the 1991 Gulf War. The objectives of the Gulf War Women's Health Cohort study are: (1) to establish the Gulf War women's cohort (GWWC), a large sample of women veterans who served in the 1990-1991 Gulf War and a comparison group of women who served in other locations during that period; and (2) to provide current, comprehensive data on the health status of women who served during the 1990-1991 Gulf War, and identify any specific conditions that affect Gulf War women veterans at excess rates. The study will utilize both existing datasets and newly collected data to examine the prevalence and patterns of Gulf War Illness symptoms, diagnosed medical conditions, reproductive health, birth outcomes and other health issues among women who served during the Gulf War. The Gulf War Women's Health Cohort study will address the need for information about the comprehensive health of women veterans who were deployed to the Gulf War, and other wars during the Gulf War era.
Project description:Gulf War Illness affects 25-30% of American veterans deployed to the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War and is characterized by cognitive post-exertional malaise following physical effort. Gulf War Illness remains controversial since cognitive post-exertional malaise is also present in the more common Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. An objective dissociation between neural substrates for cognitive post-exertional malaise in Gulf War Illness and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome would represent a biological basis for diagnostically distinguishing these two illnesses. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure neural activity in healthy controls and patients with Gulf War Illness and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome during an N-back working memory task both before and after exercise. Whole brain activation during working memory (2-Back?>?0-Back) was equal between groups prior to exercise. Exercise had no effect on neural activity in healthy controls yet caused deactivation within dorsal midbrain and cerebellar vermis in Gulf War Illness relative to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients. Further, exercise caused increased activation among Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients within the dorsal midbrain, left operculo-insular cortex (Rolandic operculum) and right middle insula. These regions-of-interest underlie threat assessment, pain, interoception, negative emotion and vigilant attention. As they only emerge post-exercise, these regional differences likely represent neural substrates of cognitive post-exertional malaise useful for developing distinct diagnostic criteria for Gulf War Illness and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Project description:<h4>Purpose</h4>To determine, with arterial spin labeling (ASL) perfusion magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and physostigmine challenge, if abnormal hippocampal blood flow in ill Gulf War veterans persists 11 years after initial testing with single photon emission computed tomography and nearly 20 years after the 1991 Gulf War.<h4>Materials and methods</h4>The local institutional review board approved this HIPAA-compliant study. Veterans were screened for contraindications and gave written informed consent before the study. In a semiblinded retrospective protocol, veterans in three Gulf War illness groups-syndrome 1 (impaired cognition), syndrome 2 (confusion-ataxia), and syndrome 3 (central neuropathic pain)-and a control group received intravenous infusions of saline in an initial session and physostigmine in a second session, 48 hours later. Each infusion was followed by measurement of hippocampal regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) with pulsed ASL. A mixed-effects linear model adjusted for age was used to test for differences in rCBF after the cholinergic challenge across the four groups.<h4>Results</h4>Physostigmine significantly decreased hippocampal rCBF in control subjects (P < .0005) and veterans with syndrome 1 (P < .05) but significantly increased hippocampal rCBF in veterans with syndrome 2 (P < .005) and veterans with syndrome 3 (P < .002). The abnormal increase in rCBF was found to have progressed to the left hippocampus of the veterans with syndrome 2 and to both hippocampi of the veterans with syndrome 3.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Chronic hippocampal perfusion dysfunction persists or worsens in veterans with certain Gulf War syndromes. ASL MR imaging examination of hippocampal rCBF in a cholinergic challenge experiment may be useful as a diagnostic test for this condition.
Project description:Glial glutamate transporter EAAT2 plays a major role in glutamate clearance in synaptic clefts. Several lines of evidence indicate that strategies designed to increase EAAT2 expression have potential for preventing excitotoxicity, which contributes to neuronal injury and death in neurodegenerative diseases. We previously discovered several classes of compounds that can increase EAAT2 expression through translational activation. Here, we present efficacy studies of the compound LDN/OSU-0212320, which is a pyridazine derivative from one of our lead series. In a murine model, LDN/OSU-0212320 had good potency, adequate pharmacokinetic properties, no observed toxicity at the doses examined, and low side effect/toxicity potential. Additionally, LDN/OSU-0212320 protected cultured neurons from glutamate-mediated excitotoxic injury and death via EAAT2 activation. Importantly, LDN/OSU-0212320 markedly delayed motor function decline and extended lifespan in an animal model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We also found that LDN/OSU-0212320 substantially reduced mortality, neuronal death, and spontaneous recurrent seizures in a pilocarpine-induced temporal lobe epilepsy model. Moreover, our study demonstrated that LDN/OSU-0212320 treatment results in activation of PKC and subsequent Y-box-binding protein 1 (YB-1) activation, which regulates activation of EAAT2 translation. Our data indicate that the use of small molecules to enhance EAAT2 translation may be a therapeutic strategy for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
Project description:Gulf War Illness is associated with toxic exposure to cholinergic disruptive chemicals. The cholinergic system has been shown to mediate the central executive of working memory (WM). The current work proposes that impairment of the cholinergic system in Gulf War Illness patients (GWIPs) leads to behavioral and neural deficits of the central executive of WM. A large sample of GWIPs and matched controls (MCs) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging during a varied-load working memory task. Compared to MCs, GWIPs showed a greater decline in performance as WM-demand increased. Functional imaging suggested that GWIPs evinced separate processing strategies, deferring prefrontal cortex activity from encoding to retrieval for high demand conditions. Greater activity during high-demand encoding predicted greater WM performance. Behavioral data suggest that WM executive strategies are impaired in GWIPs. Functional data further support this hypothesis and suggest that GWIPs utilize less effective strategies during high-demand WM.
Project description:Gulf War Illness is a chronic multisystem disorder affecting approximately a third of the Veterans of the Gulf War, manifesting with physical and mental health symptoms such as cognitive impairment, neurological abnormalities, and dysregulation of mood. Among the leading theories into the etiology of this multisystem disorder is environmental exposure to the various neurotoxins encountered in the Gulf Theatre, including organophosphates, nerve agents, pyridostigmine bromide, smoke from oil well fires, and depleted uranium. The relationship of toxin exposure and the pathogenesis of Gulf War Illness converges on the innate immune system: a nonspecific form of immunity ubiquitous in nature that acts to respond to both exogenous and endogenous insults. Activation of the innate immune system results in inflammation mediated by the release of cytokines. Cytokine mediated neuroinflammation has been demonstrated in a number of psychiatric conditions and may help explain the larger than expected population of Gulf War Veterans afflicted with a mood disorder. Several of the environmental toxins encountered by soldiers during the first Gulf War have been shown to cause upregulation of inflammatory mediators after chronic exposure, even at low levels. This act of inflammatory priming, by which repeated exposure to chronic subthreshold insults elicits robust responses, even after an extended period of latency, is integral in the connection of Gulf War Illness and comorbid mood disorders. Further developing the understanding of the relationship between environmental toxin exposure, innate immune activation, and pathogenesis of disease in the Gulf War Veterans population, may yield novel therapeutic targets, and a greater understanding of disease pathology and subsequently prevention.
Project description:Nearly 30% of the approximately 700,000 military personnel who served in Operation Desert Storm (1990-1991) have developed Gulf War Illness, a condition that presents with symptoms such as cognitive impairment, autonomic dysfunction, debilitating fatigue and chronic widespread pain that implicate the central nervous system. A hallmark complaint of subjects with Gulf War Illness is post-exertional malaise; defined as an exacerbation of symptoms following physical and/or mental effort. To study the causal relationship between exercise, the brain, and changes in symptoms, 28 Gulf War veterans and 10 controls completed an fMRI scan before and after two exercise stress tests to investigate serial changes in pain, autonomic function, and working memory. Exercise induced two clinical Gulf War Illness subgroups. One subgroup presented with orthostatic tachycardia (n?=?10). This phenotype correlated with brainstem atrophy, baseline working memory compensation in the cerebellar vermis, and subsequent loss of compensation after exercise. The other subgroup developed exercise induced hyperalgesia (n?=?18) that was associated with cortical atrophy and baseline working memory compensation in the basal ganglia. Alterations in cognition, brain structure, and symptoms were absent in controls. Our novel findings may provide an understanding of the relationship between the brain and post-exertional malaise in Gulf War Illness.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Gulf War exposures in 1990 and 1991 have caused 25% to 30% of deployed personnel to develop a syndrome of chronic fatigue, pain, hyperalgesia, cognitive and affective dysfunction.<h4>Methods</h4>Gulf War veterans (n?=?31) and sedentary veteran and civilian controls (n?=?20) completed fMRI scans for diffusion tensor imaging. A combination of dolorimetry, subjective reports of pain and fatigue were correlated to white matter diffusivity properties to identify tracts associated with symptom constructs.<h4>Results</h4>Gulf War Illness subjects had significantly correlated fatigue, pain, hyperalgesia, and increased axial diffusivity in the right inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus. ROC generated thresholds and subsequent binary regression analysis predicted CMI classification based upon axial diffusivity in the right inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus. These correlates were absent for controls in dichotomous regression analysis.<h4>Conclusion</h4>The right inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus may be a potential biomarker for Gulf War Illness. This tract links cortical regions involved in fatigue, pain, emotional and reward processing, and the right ventral attention network in cognition. The axonal neuropathological mechanism(s) explaining increased axial diffusivity may account for the most prominent symptoms of Gulf War Illness.