Publications by authors named "James Simpkins"

177 Publications

Microvascular degeneration occurs before plaque onset and progresses with age in 3xTg AD mice.

Neurobiol Aging 2021 Apr 30;105:115-128. Epub 2021 Apr 30.

Department of Neuroscience, Center of Basic and Translational Stroke Research Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. Electronic address:

Heart disease and vascular disease positively correlate with the incidence of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Although there is ostensible involvement of dysfunctional cerebrovasculature in AD pathophysiology, the characterization of the specific changes and development of vascular injury during AD remains unclear. In the present study, we established a time-course for the structural changes and degeneration of the angioarchitecture in AD. We used cerebrovascular corrosion cast and µCT imaging to evaluate the geometry, topology, and complexity of the angioarchitecture in the brain of wild type and 3xTg AD mice. We hypothesized that changes to the microvasculature occur early during the disease, and these early identifiable aberrations would be more prominent in the brain subregions implicated in the cognitive decline of AD. Whole-brain analysis of the angioarchitecture indicated early morphological abnormalities and degeneration of microvascular networks in 3xTg AD mice. Our analysis of the hippocampus and cortical subregions revealed microvascular degeneration with onset and progression that was subregion dependent.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2021.04.019DOI Listing
April 2021

miR-146a Dysregulates Energy Metabolism During Neuroinflammation.

J Neuroimmune Pharmacol 2021 May 24. Epub 2021 May 24.

Department of Neuroscience and Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research, School of Medicine, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, 26506, USA.

Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by chronic neuroinflammation and a reduction in brain energy metabolism. An important role has emerged for small, non-coding RNA molecules known as microRNAs (miRNAs) in the pathophysiology of many neurodegenerative disorders. As epigenetic regulators, miRNAs possess the capacity to regulate and fine tune protein production by inhibiting translation. Several miRNAs, which include miR-146a, are elevated in the brain, CSF, and plasma of AD patients. miR-146a participates in pathways that regulate immune activation and has several mRNA targets which encode for proteins involved in cellular energy metabolism. An additional role for extracellular vesicles (EVs) has also emerged in the progression AD, as EVs can transfer functionally active proteins and RNAs from diseased to healthy cells. In the current study, we exposed various cell types present within the CNS to immunomodulatory molecules and observed significant upregulation of miR-146a expression, both within cells and within their secreted EVs. Further, we assessed the effects of miR-146a overexpression on bioenergetic function in primary rat glial cells and found significant reductions in oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis. Lastly, we correlated miR-146a expression levels within various regions of the AD brain to disease staging and found significant, positive correlations. These novel results demonstrate that the modulation of miR-146a in response to neuroinflammatory stimuli may mediate the loss of mitochondrial integrity and function in cells, thereby contributing to the progression of beta-amyloid and tau pathology in the AD brain. Multiple inflammatory stimuli can upregulate miRNA-146a expression within neurons, mixed glial cells, and brain endothelial cells, which is either retained within these cells or released from them as extracellular vesicle cargo. The upregulation of miR-146a disrupts cellular bioenergetics in mixed glial cells. This mechanism may play a critical role in the neuroinflammatory response observed during Alzheimer's disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11481-021-09999-yDOI Listing
May 2021

Author Correction: Blood substitution therapy rescues the brain of mice from ischemic damage.

Nat Commun 2021 May 13;12(1):2957. Epub 2021 May 13.

Department of Neuroscience, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22615-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8119707PMC
May 2021

The Mitochondrial mitoNEET Ligand NL-1 Is Protective in a Murine Model of Transient Cerebral Ischemic Stroke.

Pharm Res 2021 May 12;38(5):803-817. Epub 2021 May 12.

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, West Virginia University, 1 Medical Center Drive, Morgantown, West Virginia, 26506, USA.

Purpose: Therapeutic strategies to treat ischemic stroke are limited due to the heterogeneity of cerebral ischemic injury and the mechanisms that contribute to the cell death. Since oxidative stress is one of the primary mechanisms that cause brain injury post-stroke, we hypothesized that therapeutic targets that modulate mitochondrial function could protect against reperfusion-injury after cerebral ischemia, with the focus here on a mitochondrial protein, mitoNEET, that modulates cellular bioenergetics.

Method: In this study, we evaluated the pharmacology of the mitoNEET ligand NL-1 in an in vivo therapeutic role for NL-1 in a C57Bl/6 murine model of ischemic stroke.

Results: NL-1 decreased hydrogen peroxide production with an IC of 5.95 μM in neuronal cells (N2A). The in vivo activity of NL-1 was evaluated in a murine 1 h transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (t-MCAO) model of ischemic stroke. We found that mice treated with NL-1 (10 mg/kg, i.p.) at time of reperfusion and allowed to recover for 24 h showed a 43% reduction in infarct volume and 68% reduction in edema compared to sham-injured mice. Additionally, we found that when NL-1 was administered 15 min post-t-MCAO, the ischemia volume was reduced by 41%, and stroke-associated edema by 63%.

Conclusion: As support of our hypothesis, as expected, NL-1 failed to reduce stroke infarct in a permanent photothrombotic occlusion model of stroke. This report demonstrates the potential therapeutic benefits of using mitoNEET ligands like NL-1 as novel mitoceuticals for treating reperfusion-injury with cerebral stroke.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11095-021-03046-4DOI Listing
May 2021

IL-1β Antibody Protects Brain from Neuropathology of Hypoperfusion.

Cells 2021 Apr 9;10(4). Epub 2021 Apr 9.

Department of Neuroscience, School of Medicine, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA.

Chronic brain hypoperfusion is the primary cause of vascular dementia and has been implicated in the development of white matter disease and lacunar infarcts. Cerebral hypoperfusion leads to a chronic state of brain inflammation with immune cell activation and production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-1β. In the present study, we induced chronic, progressive brain hypoperfusion in mice using ameroid constrictor, arterial stenosis (ACAS) surgery and tested the efficacy of an IL-1β antibody on the resulting brain damage. We observed that ACAS surgery causes a reduction in cerebral blood flow (CBF) of about 30% and grey and white matter damage in and around the hippocampus. The IL-1β antibody treatment did not significantly affect CBF but largely eliminated grey matter damage and reduced white matter damage caused by ACAS surgery. Over the course of hypoperfusion/injury, grip strength, coordination, and memory-related behavior were not significantly affected by ACAS surgery or antibody treatment. We conclude that antibody neutralization of IL-1β is protective from the brain damage caused by chronic, progressive brain hypoperfusion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells10040855DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8069995PMC
April 2021

Intermittent Lipopolysaccharide Exposure Significantly Increases Cortical Infarct Size and Impairs Autophagy.

ASN Neuro 2021 Jan-Dec;13:1759091421991769

Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology, West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, United States.

Globally, stroke is a leading cause of death and disability. Traditional risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity do not fully account for all stroke cases. Recent infection is regarded as changes in systemic immune signaling, which can increase thrombosis formation and other stroke risk factors. We have previously shown that administration of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) 30-minutes prior to stroke increases in infarct volume. In the current study, we found that animals intermittently exposed to LPS have larger cortical infarcts when compared to saline controls. To elucidate the mechanism behind this phenomenon, several avenues were investigated. We observed significant upregulation of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) mRNA, especially in the ipsilateral hemisphere of both saline and LPS exposed groups compared to sham surgery animals. We also observed significant reductions in expression of genes involved in autophagy in the ipsilateral hemisphere of LPS stroke animals. In addition, we assessed DNA methylation of autophagy genes and observed a significant increase in the ipsilateral hemisphere of LPS stroke animals. Intermittent exposure to LPS increases cortical infarct volume, downregulates autophagy genes, and induces hypermethylation of the corresponding CpG islands. These data suggest that intermittent immune activation may deregulate epigenetic mechanisms and promote neuropathological outcomes after stroke.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1759091421991769DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8020222PMC
February 2021

A "hot Spot"-Enhanced paper lateral flow assay for ultrasensitive detection of traumatic brain injury biomarker S-100β in blood plasma.

Biosens Bioelectron 2021 Apr 3;177:112967. Epub 2021 Jan 3.

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, 26506-6106, United States; Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, 01003-9303, United States. Electronic address:

Currently colorimetric paper lateral flow strips (PLFS) encounter two major limitations, that is, low sensitivity and severe interference from complex sample matrices such as blood. These shortcomings limit their application in detection of low-concentration analytes in complex samples. To solve these problems, a PLFS has been developed by utilizing surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) for sensing signal transduction. In particular, a hierarchical three-dimensional nanostructure has been designed to create "hot spots", which can significantly amplify the SERS sensing signal, leading to high sensitivity. As a result, this PLFS has demonstrated a limit of detection (LOD) of 5.0 pg mL toward detection of S-100β, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) protein biomarker in blood plasma. The PLFS has been successfully used for rapid measurement of S-100β in clinical TBI patient samples taken in the emergency department. Availability of PLFS for blood testing would shift the paradigm of TBI patient management and clinical outcome in emergency departments. It is expected that this type of PLFS can be adapted for rapid detection of various human diseases due to its capability of measuring a low level of protein blood biomarkers in complex human fluids.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2021.112967DOI Listing
April 2021

Blood substitution therapy rescues the brain of mice from ischemic damage.

Nat Commun 2020 08 25;11(1):4078. Epub 2020 Aug 25.

Department of Neuroscience, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, 26506, USA.

Acute stroke causes complex, pathological, and systemic responses that have not been treatable by any single medication. In this study, using a murine transient middle cerebral artery occlusion stroke model, a novel therapeutic strategy is proposed, where blood replacement (BR) robustly reduces infarctions and improves neurological deficits in mice. Our analyses of immune cell subsets suggest that BR therapy substantially decreases neutrophils in blood following a stroke. Electrochemiluminescence detection demonstrates that BR therapy reduces cytokine storm in plasma and ELISA demonstrates reduced levels of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) in the plasma and brains at different time points post-stroke. Further, we have demonstrated that the addition of MMP-9 to the blood diminishes the protective effect of the BR therapy. Our study is the first to show that BR therapy leads to profoundly improved stroke outcomes in mice and that the improved outcomes are mediated via MMP-9. These results offer new insights into the mechanisms of stroke damage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-17930-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7447645PMC
August 2020

Medroxyprogesterone Acetate Impairs Amyloid Beta Degradation in a Matrix Metalloproteinase-9 Dependent Manner.

Front Aging Neurosci 2020 7;12:92. Epub 2020 Apr 7.

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, WV, United States.

Despite the extensive use of hormonal methods as either contraception or menopausal hormone therapy (HT), there is very little known about the potential effects of these compounds on the cellular processes of the brain. Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (MPA) is a progestogen used globally in the hormonal contraceptive, Depo Provera, by women in their reproductive prime and is a major compound found in HT formulations used by menopausal women. MPA promotes changes in the circulating levels of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), such as MMP-9, in the endometrium, yet limited literature studying the effects of MPA on neurons and astroglia cells has been conducted. Additionally, the dysregulation of MMPs has been implicated in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease (AD), where inhibiting the secretion of MMP-9 from astroglia reduces the proteolytic degradation of amyloid-beta. Thus, we hypothesize that exposure to MPA disrupts proteolytic degradation of amyloid-beta through the downregulation of MMP-9 expression and subsequent secretion. To assess the effect of progestins on MMP-9 and amyloid-beta, , C6 rat glial cells were exposed to MPA for 48 h and then the enzymatic, secretory, and amyloid-beta degrading capacity of MMP-9 was assessed from the conditioned culture medium. We found that MPA treatment inhibited transcription of MMP-9, which resulted in a subsequent decrease in the production and secretion of MMP-9 protein, in part through the glucocorticoid receptor. Additionally, we investigated the consequences of amyloid beta-degrading activity and found that MPA treatment decreased proteolytic degradation of amyloid-beta. Our results suggest MPA suppresses amyloid-beta degradation in an MMP-9-dependent manner, , and potentially compromises the clearance of amyloid-beta .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2020.00092DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7155169PMC
April 2020

Mechanisms in blood-brain barrier opening and metabolism-challenged cerebrovascular ischemia with emphasis on ischemic stroke.

Metab Brain Dis 2020 08 15;35(6):851-868. Epub 2020 Apr 15.

Department of Neuroscience, Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA.

Stroke is the leading cause of disability among adults as well as the 2nd leading cause of death globally. Ischemic stroke accounts for about 85% of strokes, and currently, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), whose therapeutic window is limited to up to 4.5 h for the appropriate population, is the only FDA approved drug in practice and medicine. After a stroke, a cascade of pathophysiological events results in the opening of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) through which further complications, disabilities, and mortality are likely to threaten the patient's health. Strikingly, tPA administration in eligible patients might cause hemorrhagic transformation and sustained damage to BBB integrity. One must, therefore, delineate upon stroke onset which cellular and molecular factors mediate BBB permeability as well as what key roles BBB rupture plays in the pathophysiology of stroke. In this review article, given our past findings of mechanisms underlying BBB opening in stroke animal models, we elucidate cellular, subcellular, and molecular factors involved in BBB permeability after ischemic stroke. The contribution of each factor to stroke severity and outcome is further discussed. Determinant factors in BBB permeability and stroke include mitochondria, miRNAs, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), immune cells, cytokines, chemokines, and adhesion proteins. Once these factors are interrogated and their roles in the pathophysiology of stroke are determined, novel targets for drug discovery and development can be uncovered in addition to novel therapeutic avenues for human stroke management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11011-020-00573-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7988906PMC
August 2020

Amyloid-β Causes Mitochondrial Dysfunction via a Ca2+-Driven Upregulation of Oxidative Phosphorylation and Superoxide Production in Cerebrovascular Endothelial Cells.

J Alzheimers Dis 2020 ;75(1):119-138

Department of Neuroscience, Center of Basic and Translational Stroke Research, Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA.

Cerebrovascular pathology is pervasive in Alzheimer's disease (AD), yet it is unknown whether cerebrovascular dysfunction contributes to the progression or etiology of AD. In human subjects and in animal models of AD, cerebral hypoperfusion and hypometabolism are reported to manifest during the early stages of the disease and persist for its duration. Amyloid-β is known to cause cellular injury in both neurons and endothelial cells by inducing the production of reactive oxygen species and disrupting intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis. We present a mechanism for mitochondrial degeneration caused by the production of mitochondrial superoxide, which is driven by increased mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake. We found that persistent superoxide production injures mitochondria and disrupts electron transport in cerebrovascular endothelial cells. These observations provide a mechanism for the mitochondrial deficits that contribute to cerebrovascular dysfunction in patients with AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-190964DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7418488PMC
May 2021

MiR-34a Interacts with Cytochrome c and Shapes Stroke Outcomes.

Sci Rep 2020 02 24;10(1):3233. Epub 2020 Feb 24.

Neuroscience, Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research; West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, 26506, USA.

Blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction occurs in cerebrovascular diseases and neurodegenerative disorders such as stroke. Opening of the BBB during a stroke has a negative impact on acute outcomes. We have recently demonstrated that miR-34a regulates the BBB by targeting cytochrome c (CYC) in vitro. To investigate the role of miR-34a in a stroke, we purified primary cerebrovascular endothelial cells (pCECs) from mouse brains following 1 h transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAO) and measured real-time PCR to detect miR-34a levels. We demonstrate that the miR-34a levels are elevated in pCECs from tMCAO mice at the time point of BBB opening following 1 h tMCAO and reperfusion. Interestingly, knockout of miR-34a significantly reduces BBB permeability, alleviates disruption of tight junctions, and improves stroke outcomes compared to wild-type (WT) controls. CYC is decreased in the ischemic hemispheres and pCECs from WT but not in miR-34a mice following stroke reperfusion. We further confirmed CYC is a target of miR-34a by a dural luciferase reporter gene assay in vitro. Our study provides the first description of miR-34a affecting stroke outcomes and may lead to discovery of new mechanisms and treatments for cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases such as stroke.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-59997-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7040038PMC
February 2020

Mitochondrial Movement and Number Deficits in Embryonic Cortical Neurons from 3xTg-AD Mice.

J Alzheimers Dis 2019 ;70(1):139-151

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research, Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA.

Mitochondrial dysfunction is often found in Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients and animal models. Clinical severity of AD is linked to early deficiencies in cognitive function and brain metabolism, indicating that pathological changes may begin early in life. Previous studies showed decreased mitochondrial function in primary hippocampal neurons from triple-transgenic Alzheimer's disease (3xTg-AD) mice and mitochondrial movement and structure deficits in primary neurons exposed to amyloid-β oligomers. The present study characterized mitochondrial movement, number, and structure in 3xTg-AD primary cortical neurons and non-transgenic (nonTg) controls. We found a significant reduction in mitochondrial number and movement in 3xTg-AD primary cortical neurons with modest structural changes. Additionally, application of the sigma-1 receptor agonist, (+)SKF-10,047, markedly increased mitochondrial movement in both 3xTg-AD and nonTg primary cortical cultures after one hour of treatment. (+)SKF-10,047 also led to a trend of increased mitochondrial number in 3xTg-AD cultures. Embryonic mitochondrial movement and number deficits could be among the key steps in the early pathogenesis of AD that compromise cognitive or metabolic reserve, and amelioration of these deficits could be a promising area for further preclinical and clinical study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-190143DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7014557PMC
September 2020

MicroRNAs and the Genetic Nexus of Brain Aging, Neuroinflammation, Neurodegeneration, and Brain Trauma.

Aging Dis 2019 Apr 1;10(2):329-352. Epub 2019 Apr 1.

Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research, Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA.

Aging is a complex and integrated gradual deterioration of cellular activities in specific organs of the body, which is associated with increased mortality. This deterioration is the primary risk factor for major human pathologies, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, neurovascular disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases. There are nine tentative hallmarks of aging. In addition, several of these hallmarks are increasingly being associated with acute brain injury conditions. In this review, we consider the genes and their functional pathways involved in brain aging as a means of developing new strategies for therapies targeted to the neuropathological processes themselves, but also as targets for many age-related brain diseases. A single microRNA (miR), which is a short, non-coding RNA species, has the potential for targeting many genes simultaneously and, like practically all other cellular processes, genes associated with many features of brain aging and injury are regulated by miRs. We highlight how certain miRs can mediate deregulation of genes involved in neuroinflammation, acute neuronal injury and chronic neurodegenerative diseases. Finally, we review the recent progress in the development of effective strategies to block specific miR functions and discuss future approaches with the prediction that anti-miR drugs may soon be used in the clinic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.14336/AD.2018.0409DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6457055PMC
April 2019

Extracellular Vesicles Secreted in Response to Cytokine Exposure Increase Mitochondrial Oxygen Consumption in Recipient Cells.

Front Cell Neurosci 2019 14;13:51. Epub 2019 Feb 14.

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, WV, United States.

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small, membrane-bound nanoparticles released from most, if not all cells, and can carry functionally active cargo (proteins, nucleic acids) which can be taken up by neighboring cells and mediate physiologically relevant effects. In this capacity, EVs are being regarded as novel cell-to-cell communicators, which may play important roles in the progression of neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's disease (AD). Aside from the canonical physical hallmarks of this disease [amyloid β (Aβ) plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, and widespread cell death], AD is characterized by chronic neuroinflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction. In the current study, we sought to better understand the role of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), known to be involved in inflammation, in mediating alterations in mitochondrial function and EV secretion. Using an immortalized hippocampal cell line, we observed significant reductions in several parameters of mitochondrial oxygen consumption after a 24-h exposure period to TNF-α. In addition, after TNF-α exposure we also observed significant upregulation of two microRNAs (miRNAs; miR-34a and miR-146a) associated with mitochondrial dysfunction in secreted EVs. Despite this, when naïve cells are exposed to EVs isolated from TNF-α treated cells, mitochondrial respiration, proton leak, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production are all significantly increased. Collectively these data indicate that a potent proinflammatory cytokine, TNF-α, induces significant mitochondrial dysfunction in a neuronal cell type, in part the secretion of EVs, which significantly alter mitochondrial activity in recipient cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2019.00051DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6383587PMC
February 2019

Hypoxia-reoxygenation of primary astrocytes results in a redistribution of mitochondrial size and mitophagy.

Mitochondrion 2019 07 27;47:244-255. Epub 2018 Dec 27.

Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research, Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, United States. Electronic address:

Astrocytes serve to maintain proper neuronal function and support neuronal viability, but remain largely understudied in research of cerebral ischemia. Astrocytic mitochondria are core participants in the metabolic activity of astrocytes. The objective of this study is to assess astrocyte mitochondrial competence during hypoxia and post-hypoxia reoxygenation and to determine cellular adaptive and pathological changes in the mitochondrial network. We hypothesize that during metabolic distress in astrocytes; mitochondrial networks undergo a shift in fission-fusion dynamics that results in a change in the morphometric state of the entire mitochondrial network. This mitochondrial network shift may be protective during metabolic distress by priming mitochondrial size and facilitating mitophagy. We demonstrated that hypoxia and post-hypoxia reoxygenation of rat primary astrocytes results in a redistribution of mitochondria to smaller sizes evoked by increased mitochondrial fission. Excessive mitochondrial fission corresponded to Drp-1 dephosphorylation at Ser 637, which preceded mitophagy of relatively small mitochondria. Reoxygenation of astrocytes marked the initiation of elevated mitophagic activity primarily reserved to the perinuclear region where a large number of the smallest mitochondria occurred. Although, during hypoxia astrocytic ATP content was severely reduced, after reoxygenation ATP content returned to near normoxic values and these changes mirrored mitochondrial superoxide production. Concomitant with these changes in astrocytic mitochondria, the number of astrocytic extensions declined only after 10-hours post-hypoxic reoxygenation. Overall, we posit a drastic mitochondrial network change that is triggered by a metabolic crisis during hypoxia; these changes are followed by mitochondrial degradation and retraction of astrocytic extensions during reoxygenation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mito.2018.12.004DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6980114PMC
July 2019

Endoplasmic reticulum stress is transmissible in vitro between cells of the central nervous system.

J Neurochem 2019 02 18;148(4):516-530. Epub 2019 Jan 18.

Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology, West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA.

Improper protein folding and trafficking are common pathological events in neurodegenerative diseases that result in the toxic accumulation of misfolded proteins within the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). While low-level stimulation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) is protective, sustained UPR activation resulting from prolonged ER stress can promote neurotoxicity. The cell-autonomous mechanisms of the UPR have been extensively characterized. However, the cell-extrinsic role of the UPR under physiological and pathological states in the CNS remains to be elucidated. To begin to address this, we evaluated if transferring conditioned media between ER-stressed astrocytes and neurons could modulate their functional characteristics. Our results indicate that ER-stressed astrocytes and neurons secrete a molecule(s) with lipid characteristics which regulates both inflammatory and ER stress responses in other astrocytes, neurons, and microglia in vitro. Initial exposure to this stress factor(s) confers resistance against subsequent ER stress to neurons. However, persistent exposure to this unidentified mediator(s) suppresses the initial protective effect and becomes cytotoxic. Overall, these findings provide insight into the cell non-autonomous influence of ER stress on cells of the central nervous system. OPEN SCIENCE BADGES: This article has received a badge for *Open Materials* because it provided all relevant information to reproduce the study in the manuscript. The complete Open Science Disclosure form for this article can be found at the end of the article. More information about the Open Practices badges can be found at https://cos.io/our-services/open-science-badges/.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jnc.14642DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6379102PMC
February 2019

Not all clots are created equal: a review of deficient thrombolysis with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) in patients with metabolic syndrome.

Int J Neurosci 2019 Jun 27;129(6):612-618. Epub 2018 Dec 27.

c Department of Physiology Pharmacology & Neuroscience , West Virginia University , Morgantown , WV , USA.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of cardiovascular risk factors associated with a prothrombotic, proinflammatory and hypofibrinolysis state. Although resistance to tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) in metabolic syndrome patients has been associated with a defective fibrinolytic system, the factors and mechanisms underlining such resistance is unclear. While there is a great debate on proposed mechanisms, fundamental questions regarding resistance to tPA in metabolic syndrome patients with ischemic stroke remain unanswered. This article reviews articles and documents published between 2001 and 2017, and provides an overview of metabolic syndrome, factors associated with tPA resistance in metabolic syndrome, conflicting evidence of insufficient dosing of tPA in overweight/obese patients and future directions for research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00207454.2018.1550400DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6443479PMC
June 2019

MiR-34a and stroke: Assessment of non-modifiable biological risk factors in cerebral ischemia.

Neurochem Int 2019 07 23;127:73-79. Epub 2018 Oct 23.

Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research, USA; Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, USA; Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, 26505, USA. Electronic address:

Aging of the nervous system, and the occurrence of age-related brain diseases such as stroke, are associated with changes to a variety of cellular processes controlled by many distinct genes. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), short non-coding functional RNAs that can induce translational repression or site-specific cleavage of numerous target mRNAs, have recently emerged as important regulators of cellular senescence, aging, and the response to neurological insult. Here, we focused on the assessment of the role of miR-34a in stroke. We noted increases in miR-34a expression in the blood of stroke patients as well as in blood and brain of mice subjected to experimental stroke. Our methodical genetic manipulation of miR-34a expression substantially impacted stroke-associated preclinical outcomes and we have in vitro evidence that these changes may be driven at least in part by disruptions to blood brain barrier integrity and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in endothelial cells. Finally, aging, independent of brain injury, appears to be associated with shifts in circulating miRNA profiles. Taken together, these data support a role for miRNAs, and specifically miR-34a, in brain aging and the physiological response to age-related neurological insult, and lay the groundwork for future investigation of this novel therapeutic target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuint.2018.10.019DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6980108PMC
July 2019

Gradual common carotid artery occlusion as a novel model for cerebrovascular Hypoperfusion.

Metab Brain Dis 2018 12 28;33(6):2039-2044. Epub 2018 Sep 28.

One Medical Center Drive, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, 26506, USA.

Chronic cerebrovascular hypoperfusion results in vascular dementia and increases predisposition to lacunar infarcts. However, there are no suitable animal models. In this study, we developed a novel model for chronic irreversible cerebral hypoperfusion in mice. Briefly, an ameroid constrictor was placed on the right carotid artery to gradually occlude the vessel, while a microcoil was placed on the left carotid artery to prevent compensation of the blood flow. This procedure resulted in a gradual hypoperfusion developing over a period of 34 days with no cerebral blood flow recovery. Histological analysis of the brain revealed neuronal and axonal degeneration as well as necrotic lesions. The most severely affected regions were located in the hippocampus and the corpus callosum. Overall, our paradigm is a viable model to study brain pathology resulting from gradual cerebrovascular hypoperfusion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11011-018-0312-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6342504PMC
December 2018

Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, Stroke, and Traumatic Brain Injury: Mechanisms of Hyperpolarized, Depolarized, and Flow-Through Ion Channels Utilized as Tri-Coordinate Biomarkers of Electrophysiologic Dysfunction.

OBM Neurobiol 2018 4;2(2). Epub 2018 Jun 4.

Department of Neurology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

The brain is an integrated network of multiple variables that when compromised create a diseased state. The neuropathology of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), stroke, and traumatic brain injury (TBI) demonstrate both similarity and complexity that reflects this integrated variability; TLE with its live human tissue resection provides opportunity for translational science to demonstrate scale equivalent experimentation between the macroscopic world of clinical disease and the microscopic world of basic science. The extended value of this research is that the neuroinflammatory abnormalities that occur throughout astrocytes with hippocampal sclerosis and damaged or even reversed signaling pathways (inhibition to excitation such as with gaba-aminobutyric acid) are similar to those seen in post-stroke and TBI models. In evaluation of the epilepsy population this interconnectedness of pathology warrants further evaluation with collaborative efforts. This review summarizes patterns that could shift experimentation closer to the macro level of humanity, but still represent the micro world of genetics, epigenetics, and neuro-injury across etiologies of physiologic dysfunction such as TLE, stroke, and TBI with evaluation of cell function using electrophysiology. In conclusion we demonstrate the plausibility of electrophysiologic voltage and current measurement of brain tissue by patch clamp analysis to specify actual electrophysiologic function for comparison to electroencephalography in order to aid neurologic evaluation. Finally, we discuss the opportunity with multiscale modeling to display integration of the hyperpolarization cyclic-nucleotide gated channel, the depolarized calcium channels, and sodium-potassium-chloride-one/potassium-chloride-two co-transporter channels as potential mechanisms utilized as tri-coordinate biomarkers with these three forms of neurologic disease at a molecular scale of electrophysiologic pathology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.21926/obm.neurobiol.1802009DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6018002PMC
June 2018

Uncoupling of the Electron Transport Chain Compromises Mitochondrial Oxidative Phosphorylation and Exacerbates Stroke Outcomes.

J Neuroinfect Dis 2018 31;9(4). Epub 2018 Dec 31.

Department of Neuroscience, Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research, West Virginia University, Morgantown, USA.

Objective: Mitochondrial dysfunction is known to be implicated in stroke, but the complex mechanisms of stroke have led to few stroke therapies. The present study to disrupted mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation through a known electron transport chain (ETC) uncoupler, Carbonyl cyanide-4 (trifluoromethoxy) phenylhydrazone (FCCP). Analyzing the resulting neurological deficits as well as infarct volume could help determine the role of mitochondria in stroke outcome and determine whether uncoupling the ETC could potentially be a strategy for new stroke therapies. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of uncoupling electron flow on mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and stroke infarction.

Methods: Cerebral endovascular cells (CECs) were treated with various concentrations of FCCP, and bioenergetics were measured. For the stroke mouse model, FCCP (1 mg/kg, i.p) or vehicle was administered followed by 1-hour transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAO). Infarct volume was measured after a 23-hour reperfusion, and triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (TTC) staining was used to assess infarct volume.

Results: FCCP significantly decreased basal respiration, ATP turnover, maximal respiration, and spare capacity when the concentration of FCCP was greater than 1000 nM. The mice pretreated with FCCP had a significantly increased infarct volume within the cortex, striatum, and total hemisphere. Mice receiving FCCP had a significantly increased neurological deficit score compared to the vehicle.

Conclusions: FCCP compromised mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in CECs in a dose-dependent manner. Uncoupling the electron transport chain with FCCP prior to tMCAO exacerbated stroke infarction in mice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2314-7326.1000283DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7059652PMC
December 2018

Changes in Sensitivity to the Effects of Atrazine on the Luteinizing Hormone Surge in Female Sprague-Dawley Rats after Repeated Daily Doses: Correlation with Liver Enzyme Expression.

Birth Defects Res 2018 Feb 14;110(3):246-258. Epub 2017 Nov 14.

Department of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix, Arizona.

Background: Atrazine suppression of the LH surge slowly develops over time and peaks after 4 days; sensitivity to atrazine decreases after 8 or 14 days of dosing. Adaptation of the LH response was correlated with increased phase I and phase II liver enzyme activity/expression.

Methods: The effect of atrazine on the LH surge was evaluated in female Sprague-Dawley rats administered 100 mg/kg/day atrazine by gavage for 1, 2, 3, or 4 consecutive days or 6.5, 50, or 100 mg/kg/day atrazine for 4, 8, or 14 days.

Results: No statistically significant effects of atrazine were seen on peak plasma LH or LH area under the curve (AUC) after one, two, or three doses of 100 mg/kg/day. Four daily doses of 50 or 100 mg/kg atrazine significantly reduced peak LH and LH AUCs, whereas 6.5 mg/kg/day had no effect. After 8 or 14 days of treatment, statistically significantly reduced peak LH and LH AUC were observed in the 100 mg/kg/day dose group, but not in the 6.5 or 50 mg/kg/day dose groups, although significantly reduced LH was observed in one sample 9 hr after lights-on in the 50 mg/kg/day dose group on day 14. The number of days of treatment required to achieve a significant suppression of the LH surge is consistent with the repeat-dose pharmacokinetics of the chlorotriazines.

Conclusion: The apparent adaptation to the effect of atrazine on the LH surge after 8 or 14 days may be related to the induction of phase I or, more likely, phase II metabolism observed in this study after 8 days, or to a decreased sensitivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis or an homeostatic adaption of the effect of atrazine on the LH surge mechanism. Birth Defects Research 110:246-258, 2018. © 2017 The Authors. Birth Defects Research Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bdr2.1130DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5884089PMC
February 2018

Administration of 5-methoxyindole-2-carboxylic acid that potentially targets mitochondrial dihydrolipoamide dehydrogenase confers cerebral preconditioning against ischemic stroke injury.

Free Radic Biol Med 2017 12 7;113:244-254. Epub 2017 Oct 7.

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UNT System College of Pharmacy, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX 76107, USA. Electronic address:

The objective of this study was to investigate a possible role of mitochondrial dihydrolipoamide dehydrogenase (DLDH) as a chemical preconditioning target for neuroprotection against ischemic injury. We used 5-methoxyindole-2-carboxylic acid (MICA), a reportedly reversible DLDH inhibitor, as the preconditioning agent and administered MICA to rats mainly via dietary intake. Upon completion of 4 week's MICA treatment, rats underwent 1h transient ischemia and 24h reperfusion followed by tissue collection. Our results show that MICA protected the brain against ischemic stroke injury as the infarction volume of the brain from the MICA-treated group was significantly smaller than that from the control group. Data were then collected without or with stroke surgery following MICA feeding. It was found that in the absence of stroke following MICA feeding, DLDH activity was lower in the MICA treated group than in the control group, and this decreased activity could be partly due to DLDH protein sulfenation. Moreover, DLDH inhibition by MICA was also found to upregulate the expression of NAD(P)H-ubiquinone oxidoreductase 1(NQO1) via the Nrf2 signaling pathway. In the presence of stroke following MICA feeding, decreased DLDH activity and increased Nrf2 signaling were also observed along with increased NQO1 activity, decreased oxidative stress, decreased cell death, and increased mitochondrial ATP output. We also found that MICA had a delayed preconditioning effect four weeks post MICA treatment. Our study indicates that administration of MICA confers chemical preconditioning and neuroprotection against ischemic stroke injury.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2017.10.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5699942PMC
December 2017

Paper-Based Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering Lateral Flow Strip for Detection of Neuron-Specific Enolase in Blood Plasma.

Anal Chem 2017 09 1;89(18):10104-10110. Epub 2017 Sep 1.

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, West Virginia University , Morgantown, West Virginia 26506-6106, United States.

An inexpensive and disposable paper-based lateral flow strip (PLFS) has been developed as an immunoassay, in which surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) is utilized for sensing signal transduction. The Au [email protected] [email protected] sandwich nanoparticles are developed as the SERS probes, which is the key to the high sensitivity of the device. Compared with a colorimetric PLFS, the SERS-PLFS exhibits superior performance in terms of sensitivity and limit of detection (LOD) in a blood plasma-containing sample matrix. In addition, the SERS-PLFS has been successfully used for detection of neuron-specific enolase (NSE), a traumatic brain injury (TBI) protein biomarker, in diluted blood plasma samples, achieving a LOD of 0.86 ng/mL. Moreover, the SERS-PLFS was successfully employed to measure the NSE level in clinical blood plasma samples taken from deidentified TBI patients. This work demonstrates that the SERS-PLFS has great potential in assisting screening of TBI patients in the point-of-care setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.analchem.7b03015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5930022PMC
September 2017

Circulating leucocytes perpetuate stroke-induced aortic dysfunction.

Exp Physiol 2017 10 2;102(10):1321-1331. Epub 2017 Sep 2.

Division of Exercise Physiology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA.

New Findings: What is the central question of this study? Does a stroke event influence aortic endothelial function; and what is the role of peripheral circulating leucocytes in stroke on the vascular reactivity of the aorta? What is the main finding and its importance? In vitro co-culture experiments demonstrated that aortic endothelium-dependent relaxation was impaired when rat aortic rings were co-cultured with leucocytes stimulated with serum from stroke patients. Impaired vascular reactivity was not observed in aortic rings without leucocytes stimulated with serum from stroke patients or age-matched control patients with or without leucocytes. These data suggest that leucocyte-dependent altered aortic endothelium-dependent relaxation with stroke and the systemic consequences of stroke on vascular inflammation may occur in the aorta. Post-stroke inflammation has been linked to poor stroke outcomes. The vascular endothelium senses and responds to circulating factors, in particular inflammatory cytokines. Although stroke-associated local cerebrovascular dysfunction is well reported, the effects of a stroke on conduit artery function are not fully understood. We tested the hypothesis that serum from stroke patients triggers leucocyte-dependent aortic endothelial dysfunction that is associated with elevated concentrations of cytokines. Total leucocytes were isolated from healthy individuals, and the cells were incubated in serum from control subjects or stroke patients for 6 h. The quantity of cytokines in media was determined using an immunoassay. Vascular reactivity was determined by the rat aortic rings that were co-cultured with or without leucocytes and stimulated with serum samples from control subjects or stroke patients. Endothelium-dependent dilatation was significantly impaired in aortic rings co-cultured with leucocytes plus serum from stroke patients (50 ± 30 versus 85 ± 13%, P < 0.05) versus serum from control subjects. In contrast, no difference was observed in aortic function stimulated with serum from control subjects or stroke patients without total leucocytes. Likewise, total leucocyte-derived cytokine concentrations were significantly increased in a time-dependent manner on stimulation with serum from stroke patients (P < 0.05). These observations support the concept that the increased response of leucocytes drives the development of stroke-associated vascular endothelial dysfunction. As such, pharmacologically targeting the source of inflammatory cytokines might alleviate stroke-associated peripheral vascular dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1113/EP086510DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5623140PMC
October 2017

TNF-α and Beyond: Rapid Mitochondrial Dysfunction Mediates TNF-α-Induced Neurotoxicity.

J Clin Cell Immunol 2016 Dec 14;7(6). Epub 2016 Nov 14.

Physiology & Pharmacology, Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research, Blanchett Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA.

This short communication describes our research which demonstrates that TNF-α causes a rapid decline in mitochondrial function, leading to neuronal cell death. As such, this neurotoxic proinflammatory cytokine may play a role in brain damage from stroke and neurodegeneration in chronic conditions such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease. We have extended this initial observation by demonstrating that TNF-α stimulates a microRNA (miR-34a) which we have shown reduces five key proteins in the mitochondrial electron transport chain through base-pair complementarity. miR-34a is increased in affected brain regions of Alzheimer's patients and transgenic AD mouse models. We have further shown that oligomeric amyloid beta 42 (oAβ42) stimulates miR-34a. Collectively, these data suggest that TNF-α, oAβ42, and miR-34a participate in a vicious cycle, resulting in mitochondrial dysfunction, which is critical to the neuropathology of AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2155-9899.1000467DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5482413PMC
December 2016

Evaluation of Bioenergetic Function in Cerebral Vascular Endothelial Cells.

J Vis Exp 2016 11 19(117). Epub 2016 Nov 19.

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, West Virginia University; Experimental Stroke Core, West Virginia University; Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research, West Virginia University;

The integrity of the blood-brain-barrier (BBB) is critical to prevent brain injury. Cerebral vascular endothelial (CVE) cells are one of the cell types that comprise the BBB; these cells have a very high-energy demand, which requires optimal mitochondrial function. In the case of disease or injury, the mitochondrial function in these cells can be altered, resulting in disease or the opening of the BBB. In this manuscript, we introduce a method to measure mitochondrial function in CVE cells by using whole, intact cells and a bioanalyzer. A mito-stress assay is used to challenge the cells that have been perturbed, either physically or chemically, and evaluate their bioenergetic function. Additionally, this method also provides a useful way to screen new therapeutics that have direct effects on mitochondrial function. We have optimized the cell density necessary to yield oxygen consumption rates that allow for the calculation of a variety of mitochondrial parameters, including ATP production, maximal respiration, and spare capacity. We also show the sensitivity of the assay by demonstrating that the introduction of the microRNA, miR-34a, leads to a pronounced and detectable decrease in mitochondrial activity. While the data shown in this paper is optimized for the bEnd.3 cell line, we have also optimized the protocol for primary CVE cells, further suggesting the utility in preclinical and clinical models.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/54847DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5226249PMC
November 2016

A novel mechanism of non-feminizing estrogens in neuroprotection.

Exp Gerontol 2017 08 3;94:99-102. Epub 2016 Nov 3.

Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26505, United States.

Estrogens are potent and efficacious neuroprotectants both in vitro and in vivo in a variety of models of neurotoxicity. We determined the structural requirements for neuroprotection in an in vitro assay using a panel of >70 novel estratrienes, synthesized to reduce or eliminate estrogen receptor (ER) binding. We observed that neuroprotection could be enhanced by as much as 200-fold through modifications that positioned a large bulky group at the C2 or C4 position of the phenolic A ring of the estratriene. Further, substitutions on the B, C or D rings either reduced or did not markedly change neuroprotection. Collectively, there was a negative correlation between binding to ERs and neuroprotection with the more potent compounds showing no ER binding. In an in vivo model for neuroprotection, transient cerebral ischemia, efficacious compounds were active in protection of brain tissue from this pro-oxidant insult. We demonstrated that these non-feminizing estrogens engage in a redox cycle with glutathione, using the hexose monophosphate shunt to apply cytosolic reducing potential to cellular membranes. Together, these results demonstrate that non-feminizing estrogens are neuroprotective and protect brain from the induction of ischemic- and Alzheimer's disease (AD)-like neuropathology in an animal model. These features of non-feminizing estrogens make them attractive compounds for assessment of efficacy in AD and stroke, as they are not expected to show the side effects of chronic estrogen therapy that are mediated by ER actions in the liver, uterus and breast.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.exger.2016.10.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5415429PMC
August 2017