Scholarly Works, School of Neuroscience

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Research articles, presentations, and other scholarship


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  • Editorial: Effects of performing arts training on the brain, (socio)cognitive and motor functions across the lifespan
    Kausel, Leonie; Basso, Julia C.; Grinspun, Noemí; Alain, Claude (Frontiers Media, 2023-12-06)
    Performing arts are a cultural expression that is ubiquitous around the world and consists of arts that are performed for an audience, such as music, dance, and drama. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in understanding how this expressive, and in essence social activity, impacts brain development and plasticity. This topic aimed to collect evidence on how the brain and (socio)cognitive and motor functions are influenced by performing arts training along the lifespan, deepening the current knowledge on this subject and helping to unravel the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie these changes. The five articles presented in this Research Topic explore research on an acting intervention, cover matters related to dance training, identify variables related to music sophistication, and focus on performing arts and musical training.
  • Granular retrosplenial cortex layer 2/3 generates high-frequency oscillations dynamically coupled with hippocampal rhythms across brain states
    Arndt, Kaiser C.; Gilbert, Earl T.; Klaver, Lianne M.F.; Kim, Jongwoon; Buhler, Chelsea M.; Basso, Julia C.; McKenzie, Sam; English, Daniel Fine (CellPress, 2024-03-26)
    The granular retrosplenial cortex (gRSC) exhibits high-frequency oscillations (HFOs; ~150 Hz), which can be driven by a hippocampus-subiculum pathway. How the cellular-synaptic and laminar organization of gRSC facilitates HFOs is unknown. Here, we probe gRSC HFO generation and coupling with hippocampal rhythms using focal optogenetics and silicon-probe recordings in behaving mice. ChR2-mediated excitation of CaMKII-expressing cells in L2/3 or L5 induces HFOs, but spontaneous HFOs are found only in L2/3, where HFO power is highest. HFOs couple to CA1 sharp wave-ripples (SPW-Rs) during rest and the descending phase of theta. gRSC HFO current sources and sinks are the same for events during both SPW-Rs and theta oscillations. Independent component analysis shows that high gamma (50–100 Hz) in CA1 stratum lacunosum moleculare is comodulated with HFO power. HFOs may thus facilitate interregional communication of a multisynaptic loop between the gRSC, hippocampus, and medial entorhinal cortex during distinct brain and behavioral states.
  • Examining the Effect of Increased Aerobic Exercise in Moderately Fit Adults on Psychological State and Cognitive Function
    Basso, Julia C.; Oberlin, Douglas J.; Satyal, Medha K.; O’Brien, Catherine E.; Crosta, Christen; Psaras, Zach; Metpally, Anvitha; Suzuki, Wendy A. (Frontiers Media, 2022-07-12)
    Regular physical exercise can decrease the risk for obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, increase life expectancy, and promote psychological health and neurocognitive functioning. Cross-sectional studies show that cardiorespiratory fitness level (VO₂ max) is associated with enhanced brain health, including improved mood state and heightened cognitive performance. Interventional studies are consistent with these cross-sectional studies, but most have focused on low-fit populations. Few such studies have asked if increasing levels of physical activity in moderately fit people can significantly enhance mood, motivation, and cognition. Therefore, the current study investigated the effects of increasing aerobic exercise in moderately fit individuals on psychological state and cognitive performance.We randomly assigned moderately fit healthy adults, 25–59 years of age, who were engaged in one or two aerobic exercise sessions per week to either maintain their exercise regimen (n = 41) or increase their exercise regimen (i.e., 4–7 aerobic workouts per week; n = 39) for a duration of 3 months. Both before and after the intervention, we assessed aerobic capacity using a modified cardiorespiratory fitness test, and hippocampal functioning via various neuropsychological assessments including a spatial navigation task and the Mnemonic Similarity Task as well as self-reported measures including the Positive and Negative Affect Scale, Beck Anxiety Inventory, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Perceived Stress Scale, Rumination Scale, Eating Disorders Examination, Eating Attitudes Test, Body Attitudes Test, and Behavioral Regulation of Exercise Questionnaire. Consistent with our initial working hypotheses, we found that increasing exercise significantly decreased measures of negative affect, including fear, sadness, guilt, and hostility, as well as improved body image. Further, we found that the total number of workouts was significantly associated with improved spatial navigation abilities and body image as well as reduced anxiety, general negative affect, fear, sadness, hostility, rumination, and disordered eating. In addition, increases in fitness levels were significantly associated with improved episodic memory and exercise motivation as well as decreased stress and disordered eating. Our findings are some of the first to indicate that in middle-aged moderately-fit adults, continuing to increase exercise levels in an already ongoing fitness regimen is associated with additional benefits for both psychological and cognitive health.
  • Assessing Human Spatial Navigation in a Virtual Space and its Sensitivity to Exercise
    Smith, Alana J.; Tasnim, Noor; Psaras, Zach; Gyamfi, Daphne; Makani, Krishna; Suzuki, Wendy A.; Basso, Julia C. (MyJove Corporation, 2024-01-26)
    Spatial navigation (SN) is the ability to locomote through the environment, which requires an understanding of where one is located in time and space. This capacity is known to rely on the sequential firing of place cells within the hippocampus. SN is an important behavior to investigate as this process deteriorates with age, especially in neurodegenerative disorders. However, the investigation of SN is limited by the lack of sophisticated behavioral techniques to assess this hippocampal-dependent task. Therefore, the goal of this protocol was to develop a novel, real-world approach to studying SN in humans. Specifically, an active virtual SN task was developed using a cross-platform game engine. During the encoding phase, participants navigated their way through a virtual city to locate landmarks. During the remembering phase, participants remembered where these reward locations were and delivered items to these locations. Time to find each location was captured and episodic memory was assessed by a free recall phase, including aspects of place, order, item, and association. Movement behavior (x, y, and z coordinates) was assessed through an asset available in the game engine. Importantly, results from this task demonstrate that it accurately captures both spatial learning and memory abilities as well as episodic memory. Further, findings indicate that this task is sensitive to exercise, which improves hippocampal functioning. Overall, the findings suggest a novel way to track human hippocampal functioning over the course of time, with this behavior being sensitive to physical activity training paradigms.
  • Effects of a Neuroscience-Based Mindfulness Meditation Program on Psychological Health: Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial
    Lynn, Sarah; Basso, Julia C. (JMIR Publications, 2023)
    Background: Mindfulness and meditation have a rich historical tradition, and a growing scientific base of evidence supports their use in creating positive psychological and neuroplastic changes for practitioners. Although meditation can be taught in various ways, the scientific community has yet to systematically study the impact of different types of meditation on neuropsychological outcomes, especially as it pertains to digital implementation. Therefore, it is critical that the instruction of mindfulness be evidence based because meditation is being used in both scientific and clinical settings. Objective: This study investigated the use of teacher cueing and the integration of neuroscience education into a meditation program. Compassion cueing was chosen as the element of experimental manipulation because traditional lineages of Buddhist meditation teach compassion for self and others as one of the primary outcomes of meditation. We hypothesized that participants receiving compassion cueing would have enhanced neuropsychological outcomes compared with those receiving functional cueing and that gains in neuroscience knowledge would relate to positive neuropsychological outcomes. Methods: Participants (n=89) were randomized to receive either functional cueing (control group) or compassion cueing (experimental group) and engaged with five 10-minute meditation sessions a week for 4 weeks. All intervention sessions were administered through digital presentation. All participants completed ecological momentary assessments before and after the daily intervention, as well as pre- and postintervention questionnaires. Results: Participants demonstrated significant benefits over time, including increased mindfulness and self-compassion, decreased depression, and gains in neuroscience content (all P<.001); however, no significant between-group differences were found. Daily scores from each day of the intervention showed a statistically significant shift from active toward settled. Importantly, long-term increases in mindfulness were positively correlated to changes in compassion (r=0.326; P=.009) and self-compassion (r=0.424; P<.001) and negatively correlated to changes in anxiety (r=–0.266; P=.03) and depression (r=–0.271; P=.03). Finally, the acute effects of meditation were significantly correlated to the longitudinal outcomes (with a small-to-medium effect size), especially those relevant to mindfulness. Conclusions: We developed a novel neuroscience-based education–meditation program that enhanced self-regulation as evidenced by improved mindfulness, self-compassion, and mood state. Our findings demonstrate the behavioral importance of engaging with mindfulness meditation and reinforce the idea that the benefits of meditation are independent of teacher cueing behavior. Future studies will need to investigate the brain-based changes underlying these meditation-induced outcomes.
  • Clinical Theranostics in Recurrent Gliomas: A Review
    Hoggarth, Austin R.; Muthukumar, Sankar; Thomas, Steven M.; Crowley, James; Kiser, Jackson; Witcher, Mark R. (MDPI, 2024-04-28)
    Gliomas represent the most commonly occurring tumors in the central nervous system and account for approximately 80% of all malignant primary brain tumors. With a high malignancy and recurrence risk, the prognosis of high-grade gliomas is poor, with a mean survival time of 12–18 months. While contrast-enhanced MRI serves as the standard diagnostic imaging modality for gliomas, it faces limitations in the evaluation of recurrent gliomas, failing to distinguish between treatment-related changes and tumor progression, and offers no direct therapeutic options. Recent advances in imaging modalities have attempted to address some of these limitations, including positron emission tomography (PET), which has demonstrated success in delineating tumor margins and guiding the treatment of recurrent gliomas. Additionally, with the advent of theranostics in nuclear medicine, PET tracers, when combined with therapeutic agents, have also evolved beyond a purely diagnostic modality, serving both diagnostic and therapeutic roles. This review will discuss the growing involvement of theranostics in diagnosing and treating recurrent gliomas and address the associated impact on quality of life and functional recovery.
  • Antibiotic exposure is associated with decreased risk of psychiatric disorders
    Kerman, Ilan A.; Glover, Matthew E.; Lin, Yezhe; West, Jennifer L.; Hanlon, Alexandra L.; Kablinger, Anita S.; Clinton, Sarah M. (Frontiers, 2024-01-08)
    Objective: This study sought to investigate the relationship between antibiotic exposure and subsequent risk of psychiatric disorders. Methods: This retrospective cohort study used a national database of 69 million patients from 54 large healthcare organizations. We identified a cohort of 20,214 (42.5% male; 57.9 ± 15.1 years old [mean ± SD]) adults without prior neuropsychiatric diagnoses who received antibiotics during hospitalization. Matched controls included 41,555 (39.6% male; 57.3 ± 15.5 years old) hospitalized adults without antibiotic exposure. The two cohorts were balanced for potential confounders, including demographics and variables with potential to affect: the microbiome, mental health, medical comorbidity, and overall health status. Data were stratified by age and by sex, and outcome measures were assessed starting 6 months after hospital discharge. Results: Antibiotic exposure was consistently associated with a significant decrease in the risk of novel mood disorders and anxiety and stressor-related disorders in: men (mood (OR 0.84, 95% CI 0.77, 0.91), anxiety (OR 0.88, 95% CI 0.82, 0.95), women (mood (OR 0.94, 95% CI 0.89,1.00), anxiety (OR 0.93, 95% CI 0.88, 0.98), those who are 26–49 years old (mood (OR 0.87, 95% CI 0.80, 0.94), anxiety (OR 0.90, 95% CI 0.84, 0.97)), and in those ≥50 years old (mood (OR 0.91, 95% CI 0.86, 0.97), anxiety (OR 0.92, 95% CI 0.87, 0.97). Risk of intentional harm and suicidality was decreased in men (OR 0.73, 95% CI 0.55, 0.98) and in those ≥50 years old (OR 0.67, 95% CI 0.49, 0.92). Risk of psychotic disorders was also decreased in subjects ≥50 years old (OR 0.83, 95 CI: 0.69, 0.99). Conclusion: Use of antibiotics in the inpatient setting is associated with protective effects against multiple psychiatric outcomes in an age- and sex-dependent manner.
  • Applying Proteomics and Computational Approaches to Identify Novel Targets in Blast-Associated Post-Traumatic Epilepsy
    Browning, Jack L.; Wilson, Kelsey A.; Shandra, Oleksii; Wei, Xiaoran; Mahmutovic, Dzenis; Maharathi, Biswajit; Robel, Stefanie; VandeVord, Pamela J.; Olsen, Michelle L. (MDPI, 2024-03-01)
    Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can lead to post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE). Blast TBI (bTBI) found in Veterans presents with several complications, including cognitive and behavioral disturbances and PTE; however, the underlying mechanisms that drive the long-term sequelae are not well understood. Using an unbiased proteomics approach in a mouse model of repeated bTBI (rbTBI), this study addresses this gap in the knowledge. After rbTBI, mice were monitored using continuous, uninterrupted video-EEG for up to four months. Following this period, we collected cortex and hippocampus tissues from three groups of mice: those with post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE+), those without epilepsy (PTE), and the control group (sham). Hundreds of differentially expressed proteins were identified in the cortex and hippocampus of PTE+ and PTE relative to sham. Focusing on protein pathways unique to PTE+, pathways related to mitochondrial function, post-translational modifications, and transport were disrupted. Computational metabolic modeling using dysregulated protein expression predicted mitochondrial proton pump dysregulation, suggesting electron transport chain dysregulation in the epileptic tissue relative to PTE. Finally, data mining enabled the identification of several novel and previously validated TBI and epilepsy biomarkers in our data set, many of which were found to already be targeted by drugs in various phases of clinical testing. These findings highlight novel proteins and protein pathways that may drive the chronic PTE sequelae following rbTBI.
  • Risk of Excess Maternal Folic Acid Supplementation in Offspring
    Xu, Xiguang; Zhang, Ziyu; Lin, Yu; Xie, Hehuang (MDPI, 2024-03-06)
    Folate, also known as vitamin B9, facilitates the transfer of methyl groups among molecules, which is crucial for amino acid metabolism and nucleotide synthesis. Adequate maternal folate supplementation has been widely acknowledged for its pivotal role in promoting cell proliferation and preventing neural tube defects. However, in the post-fortification era, there has been a rising concern regarding an excess maternal intake of folic acid (FA), the synthetic form of folate. In this review, we focused on recent advancements in understanding the influence of excess maternal FA intake on offspring. For human studies, we summarized findings from clinical trials investigating the effects of periconceptional FA intake on neurodevelopment and molecular-level changes in offspring. For studies using mouse models, we compiled the impact of high maternal FA supplementation on gene expression and behavioral changes in offspring. In summary, excessive maternal folate intake could potentially have adverse effects on offspring. Overall, we highlighted concerns regarding elevated maternal folate status in the population, providing a comprehensive perspective on the potential adverse effects of excessive maternal FA supplementation on offspring.
  • NAPE-PLD regulates specific baseline affective behaviors but is dispensable for inflammatory hyperalgesia
    Chen, Irene; Murdaugh, Laura B.; Miliano, Cristina; Dong, Yuyang; Gregus, Ann M.; Buczynski, Matthew W. (Elsevier, 2023-06-14)
    N-acyl-ethanolamine (NAEs) serve as key endogenous lipid mediators as revealed by manipulation of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), the primary enzyme responsible for metabolizing NAEs. Preclinical studies focused on FAAH or NAE receptors indicate an important role for NAE signaling in nociception and affective behaviors. However, there is limited information on the role of NAE biosynthesis in these same behavioral paradigms. Biosynthesis of NAEs has been attributed largely to the enzyme N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine Phospholipase D (NAPE-PLD), one of three pathways capable of producing these bioactive lipids in the brain. In this report, we demonstrate that Nape-pld knockout (KO) mice displayed reduced sucrose preference and consumption, but other baseline anxiety-like or depression-like behaviors were unaltered. Additionally, we observed sex-dependent responses in thermal nociception and other baseline measures in wildtype (WT) mice that were absent in Nape-pld KO mice. In the Complete Freund's Adjuvant (CFA) model of inflammatory arthritis, WT mice exhibited sex-dependent changes in paw edema that were lost in Nape-pld KO mice. However, there was no effect of Nape-pld deletion on arthritic pain-like behaviors (grip force deficit and tactile allodynia) in either sex, indicating that while NAPE-PLD may alter local inflammation, it does not contribute to pain-like behaviors associated with inflammatory arthritis. Collectively, these findings indicate that chronic and systemic NAPE-PLD inactivation will likely be well-tolerated, warranting further pharmacological evaluation of this target in other disease indications.
  • Prognostic Factors and Nomogram for Choroid Plexus Tumors: A Population-Based Retrospective Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Database Analysis
    Bhutada, Abhishek S.; Adhikari, Srijan; Cuoco, Joshua A.; In, Alexander; Rogers, Cara M.; Jane, John A.; Marvin, Eric A. (MDPI, 2024-01-31)
    Background: Choroid plexus tumors (CPTs) are rare neoplasms found in the central nervous system, comprising 1% of all brain tumors. These tumors include choroid plexus papilloma (CPP), atypical choroid plexus papilloma (aCPP), and choroid plexus carcinoma (CPC). Although gross total resection for choroid plexus papillomas (CPPs) is associated with long-term survival, there is a scarcity of prospective data concerning the role and sequence of neoadjuvant therapy in treating aCPP and CPC. Methods: From the years 2000 to 2019, 679 patients with CPT were identified from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Result (SEER) database. Among these patients, 456 patients had CPP, 75 patients had aCPP, and 142 patients had CPC. Univariate and multivariable Cox proportional hazard models were run to identify variables that had a significant impact on the primary endpoint of overall survival (OS). A predictive nomogram was built for patients with CPC to predict 5-year and 10-year survival probability. Results: Histology was a significant predictor of OS, with 5-year OS rates of 90, 79, and 61% for CPP, aCPP, and CPC, respectively. Older age and African American race were prognostic for worse OS for patients with CPP. Older age was also associated with reduced OS for patients with aCPP. American Indian/Alaskan Native race was linked to poorer OS for patients with CPC. Overall, treatment with gross total resection or subtotal resection had no difference in OS in patients with CPP or aCPP. Meanwhile, in patients with CPC, gross total resection (GTR) was associated with significantly better OS than subtotal resection (STR) only. However, there is no difference in OS between patients that receive GTR and patients that receive STR with adjuvant therapy. The nomogram for CPC considers types of treatments received. It demonstrates acceptable accuracy in estimating survival probability at 5-year and 10-year intervals, with a C-index of 0.608 (95% CI of 0.446 to 0.77). Conclusions: This is the largest study on CPT to date and highlights the optimal treatment strategies for these rare tumors. Overall, there is no difference in OS with GTR vs. STR in CPP or aCPP. Furthermore, OS is equivalent for CPC with GTR and STR plus adjuvant therapy.
  • Noninvasive neuromodulation of subregions of the human insula differentially affect pain processing and heart-rate variability: a within-subjects pseudo-randomized trial
    Legon, Wynn; Strohman, Andrew; In, Alexander; Payne, Brighton (Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc., 2024-02-01)
    The insula is an intriguing target for pain modulation. Unfortunately, it lies deep to the cortex making spatially specific noninvasive access difficult. Here, we leverage the high spatial resolution and deep penetration depth of low-intensity focused ultrasound (LIFU) to nonsurgically modulate the anterior insula (AI) or posterior insula (PI) in humans for effect on subjective pain ratings, electroencephalographic (EEG) contact heat–evoked potentials, as well as autonomic measures including heart-rate variability (HRV). In a within-subjects, repeated-measures, pseudo-randomized trial design, 23 healthy volunteers received brief noxious heat pain stimuli to the dorsum of their right hand during continuous heart-rate, electrodermal, electrocardiography and EEG recording. Low-intensity focused ultrasound was delivered to the AI (anterior short gyrus), PI (posterior longus gyrus), or under an inert Sham condition. The primary outcome measure was pain rating. Low-intensity focused ultrasound to both AI and PI similarly reduced pain ratings but had differential effects on EEG activity. Low-intensity focused ultrasound to PI affected earlier EEG amplitudes, whereas LIFU to AI affected later EEG amplitudes. Only LIFU to the AI affected HRV as indexed by an increase in SD of N-N intervals and mean HRV low-frequency power. Taken together, LIFU is an effective noninvasive method to individually target subregions of the insula in humans for site-specific effects on brain biomarkers of pain processing and autonomic reactivity that translates to reduced perceived pain to a transient heat stimulus.
  • Using Drosophila Two-Choice Assay to Study Optogenetics in Hands-On Neurobiology Laboratory Activities
    Fu, Zhuo; Huda, Ainul; Kimbrough, Ian F.; Ni, Lina (Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience, 2023)
    Optogenetics has made a significant impact on neuroscience, allowing activation and inhibition of neural activity with exquisite spatiotemporal precision in response to light. In this lab session, we use fruit flies to help students understand the fundamentals of optogenetics through hands-on activities. The CsChrimson channelrhodopsin, a light-activated cation channel, is expressed in sweet and bitter sensory neurons. Sweet sensory neurons guide animals to identify nutrient-rich food and drive appetitive behaviors, while bitter sensory neurons direct animals to avoid potentially toxic substances and guide aversive behavior. Students use two-choice assays to explore the causality between the stimulation activation of these neurons and the appetitive and avoidance behaviors of the fruit flies. To quantify their observations, students calculate preference indices and use the Student’s t-test to analyze their data. After this lab session, students are expected to have a basic understanding of optogenetics, fly genetics, sensory perception, and how these relate to sensory-guided behaviors. They will also learn to conduct, quantify, and analyze two-choice behavioral assays.
  • TACI: An ImageJ Plugin for 3D Calcium Imaging Analysis
    Omelchenko, Alisa A.; Bai, Hua; Hussain, Sibtain; Tyrrell, Jordan J.; Klein, Mason; Ni, Lina (Journal of Visualized Experiments, 2022-12-16)
    Research in neuroscience has evolved to use complex imaging and computational tools to extract comprehensive information from data sets. Calcium imaging is a widely used technique that requires sophisticated software to obtain reliable results, but many laboratories struggle to adopt computational methods when updating protocols to meet modern standards. Difficulties arise due to a lack of programming knowledge and paywalls for software. In addition, cells of interest display movements in all directions during calcium imaging. Many approaches have been developed to correct the motion in the lateral (x/y) direction. This paper describes a workflow using a new ImageJ plugin, TrackMate Analysis of Calcium Imaging (TACI), to examine motion on the z-axis in 3D calcium imaging. This software identifies the maximum fluorescence value from all the z-positions a neuron appears in and uses it to represent the neuron's intensity at the corresponding t-position. Therefore, this tool can separate neurons overlapping in the lateral (x/ y) direction but appearing on distinct z-planes. As an ImageJ plugin, TACI is a user-friendly, open-source computational tool for 3D calcium imaging analysis. We validated this workflow using fly larval thermosensitive neurons that displayed movements in all directions during temperature fluctuation and a 3D calcium imaging dataset acquired from the fly brain.
  • A collection of 157 individual neuromelanin-sensitive images accompanied by non-linear neuromelanin-sensitive atlas and a probabilistic locus coeruleus atlas
    Lee, Tae-Ho; Kim, Sun Hyung; Neal, Joshua; Katz, Benjamin; Kim, Il Hwan (2024-02)
    The current dataset aims to support and enhance the research reliability of neuromelanin regions in the brain- stem, such as locus coeruleus (LC), by offering raw neuromelanin-sensitive images. The dataset includes raw neuromelanin-sensitive images from 157 healthy individuals (8–64 years old). In addition, leveraging individual neuromelanin-sensitive images, a non-linear neuromelanin- sensitive atlas, generated through an iterative warping pro- cess, is included to tackle the common challenge of a limited field of view in neuromelanin-sensitive images. Finally, the dataset encompasses a probabilistic LC atlas generated through a majority voting approach with pre-existing multiple atlas-based segmentations. This process entails warping pre-existing atlases onto individual spaces and identifying voxels with a majority consensus of over 50 % across the atlases. This LC probabilistic atlas can minimize uncertainty variance associated with choosing a specific single atlas.
  • Hedgehog-interacting protein acts in the habenula to regulate nicotine intake
    Caligiuri, Stephanie P. B.; Howe, William M.; Wills, Lauren; Smith, Alexander C. W.; Lei, Ye; Bali, Purva; Heyer, Mary P.; Moen, Janna K.; Ables, Jessica L.; Elayouby, Karim S.; Williams, Maya; Fillinger, Clementine; Oketokoun, Zainab; Lehmann, Vanessa E.; DiFeliceantonio, Alexandra G.; Johnson, Paul M.; Beaumont, Kristin; Sebra, Robert P.; Ibanez-Tallon, Ines; Kenny, Paul J. (National Academy of Sciences, 2022-11-08)
    Hedgehog-interacting protein (HHIP) sequesters Hedgehog ligands to repress Smoothened (SMO)-mediated recruitment of the GLI family of transcription factors. Allelic variation in HHIP confers risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other smoking-related lung diseases, but underlying mechanisms are unclear. Using single-cell and cell-type-specific translational profiling, we show that HHIP expression is highly enriched in medial habenula (MHb) neurons, particularly MHb cholinergic neurons that regulate aversive behavioral responses to nicotine. HHIP deficiency dysregulated the expression of genes involved in cholinergic signaling in the MHb and disrupted the function of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) through a PTCH-1/cholesterol-dependent mechanism. Further, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genomic cleavage of the Hhip gene in MHb neurons enhanced the motivational properties of nicotine in mice. These findings suggest that HHIP influences vulnerability to smoking-related lung diseases in part by regulating the actions of nicotine on habenular aversion circuits.
  • Immunoregulatory and neutrophil-like monocyte subsets with distinct single-cell transcriptomic signatures emerge following brain injury
    Gudenschwager Basso, Erwin K.; Ju, Jing; Soliman, Eman; de Jager, Caroline; Wei, Xiaoran; Pridham, Kevin J.; Olsen, Michelle L.; Theus, Michelle H. (2024-02-03)
    Monocytes represent key cellular elements that contribute to the neurological sequela following brain injury. The current study reveals that trauma induces the augmented release of a transcriptionally distinct CD115+/Ly6Chi monocyte population into the circulation of mice pre-exposed to clodronate depletion conditions. This phenomenon correlates with tissue protection, blood–brain barrier stability, and cerebral blood flow improvement. Uniquely, this shifted the innate immune cell profile in the cortical milieu and reduced the expression of pro-inflammatory Il6, IL1r1, MCP-1, Cxcl1, and Ccl3 cytokines. Monocytes that emerged under these conditions displayed a morphological and gene profile consistent with a subset commonly seen during emergency monopoiesis. Single-cell RNA sequencing delineated distinct clusters of monocytes and revealed a key transcriptional signature of Ly6Chi monocytes enriched for Apoe and chitinase-like protein 3 (Chil3/Ym1), commonly expressed in pro-resolving immunoregulatory monocytes, as well as granule genes Elane, Prtn3, MPO, and Ctsg unique to neutrophil-like monocytes. The predominate shift in cell clusters included subsets with low expression of transcription factors involved in monocyte conversion, Pou2f2, Na4a1, and a robust enrichment of genes in the oxidative phosphorylation pathway which favors an anti-inflammatory phenotype. Transfer of this monocyte assemblage into brain-injured recipient mice demonstrated their direct role in neuroprotection. These findings reveal a multifaceted innate immune response to brain injury and suggest targeting surrogate monocyte subsets may foster tissue protection in the brain.
  • Linking drug and food addiction via compulsive appetite
    Laque, Amanda; Wagner, Grant E.; Matzeu, Alessandra; De Ness, Genna L.; Kerr, Tony M.; Carroll, Ayla M.; de Guglielmo, Giordano; Nedelescu, Hermina; Buczynski, Matthew W.; Gregus, Ann M.; Jhou, Thomas C.; Zorrilla, Eric P.; Martin-Fardon, Remi; Koya, Eisuke; Ritter, Robert C.; Weiss, Friedbert; Suto, Nobuyoshi (Wiley, 2022-06)
    Background and Purpose: ‘Food addiction’ is the subject of intense public and research interest. However, this nosology based on neurobehavioural similarities among obese individuals, patients with eating disorders and those with substance use disorders (drug addiction) remains controversial. We thus sought to determine which aspects of disordered eating are causally linked to preclinical models of drug addiction. We hypothesized that extensive drug histories, known to cause addiction-like brain changes and drug motivation in rats, would also cause addiction-like food motivation. Experimental Approach: Rats underwent extensive cocaine, alcohol, caffeine or obesogenic diet histories and were subsequently tested for punishment-resistant food self-administration or ‘compulsive appetite’, as a measure of addiction-like food motivation. Key Results: Extensive cocaine and alcohol (but not caffeine) histories caused compulsive appetite that persisted long after the last drug exposure. Extensive obesogenic diet histories also caused compulsive appetite, although neither cocaine nor alcohol histories caused excess calorie intake and bodyweight during abstinence. Hence, compulsive appetite and obesity appear to be dissociable, with the former sharing common mechanisms with preclinical drug addiction models. Conclusion and Implications: Compulsive appetite, as seen in subsets of obese individuals and patients with binge-eating disorder and bulimia nervosa (eating disorders that do not necessarily result in obesity), appears to epitomize ‘food addiction’. Because different drug and obesogenic diet histories caused compulsive appetite, overlapping dysregulations in the reward circuits, which control drug and food motivation independently of energy homeostasis, may offer common therapeutic targets for treating addictive behaviours across drug addiction, eating disorders and obesity.
  • Presynaptic inhibition selectively suppresses leg proprioception in behaving Drosophila
    Dallmann, Chris; Agrawal, Sweta; Cook, Andrew; Brunton, Bingni; Tuthill, John (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 2023-10-23)
    The sense of proprioception is mediated by internal mechanosensory neurons that detect joint position and movement. To support a diverse range of functions, from stabilizing posture to coordinating movements, proprioceptive feedback to limb motor control circuits must be tuned in a context-dependent manner. How proprioceptive feedback signals are tuned to match behavioral demands remains poorly understood. Using calcium imaging in behaving Drosophila , we find that the axons of position-encoding leg proprioceptors are active across behaviors, whereas the axons of movementencoding leg proprioceptors are suppressed during walking and grooming. Using connectomics, we identify a specific class of interneurons that provide GABAergic presynaptic inhibition to the axons of movement-encoding proprioceptors. These interneurons are active during self-generated but not passive leg movements and receive input from descending neurons, suggesting they are driven by predictions of leg movement originating in the brain. Predictively suppressing expected proprioceptive feedback provides a mechanism to attenuate reflexes that would otherwise interfere with voluntary movement.
  • The two-body problem: Proprioception and motor control across the metamorphic divide
    Agrawal, Sweta; Tuthill, John C. (Elsevier, 2022-05-02)
    Like a rocket being propelled into space, evolution has engineered flies to launch into adulthood via multiple stages. Flies develop and deploy two distinct bodies, linked by the transformative process of metamorphosis. The fly larva is a soft hydraulic tube that can crawl to find food and avoid predators. The adult fly has a stiff exoskeleton with articulated limbs that enable long-distance navigation and rich social interactions. Because the larval and adult forms are so distinct in structure, they require distinct strategies for sensing and moving the body. The metamorphic divide thus presents an opportunity for comparative analysis of neural circuits. Here, we review recent progress toward understanding the neural mechanisms of proprioception and motor control in larval and adult Drosophila. We highlight commonalities that point toward general principles of sensorimotor control and differences that may reflect unique constraints imposed by biomechanics. Finally, we discuss emerging opportunities for comparative analysis of neural circuit architecture in the fly and other animal species.