Publications by authors named "Leelavathi N Madhu"

10 Publications

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Melatonin improves brain function in a model of chronic Gulf War Illness with modulation of oxidative stress, NLRP3 inflammasomes, and BDNF-ERK-CREB pathway in the hippocampus.

Redox Biol 2021 07 22;43:101973. Epub 2021 Apr 22.

Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Texas A&M University College of Medicine, College Station, TX, USA. Electronic address:

Persistent cognitive and mood dysfunction is the primary CNS symptom in veterans afflicted with Gulf War Illness (GWI). This study investigated the efficacy of melatonin (MEL) for improving cognitive and mood function with antioxidant, antiinflammatory, and pro-cognitive effects in a rat model of chronic GWI. Six months after exposure to GWI-related chemicals and stress, rats were treated with vehicle or MEL (5, 10, 20, 40, and 80 mg/kg) for eight weeks. Behavioral tests revealed cognitive and mood dysfunction in GWI rats receiving vehicle, which were associated with elevated oxidative stress, reduced NRF2, catalase and mitochondrial complex proteins, astrocyte hypertrophy, activated microglia with NLRP3 inflammasomes, elevated proinflammatory cytokines, waned neurogenesis, and synapse loss in the hippocampus. MEL at 10 mg/kg alleviated simple and associative recognition memory dysfunction and anhedonia, along with reduced oxidative stress, enhanced glutathione and complex III, and reduced NLRP3 inflammasomes, IL-18, TNF-α, and IFN-γ. MEL at 20 mg/kg also normalized NRF2 and catalase and increased microglial ramification. MEL at 40 mg/kg, in addition, reduced astrocyte hypertrophy, activated microglia, NF-kB-NLRP3-caspase-1 signaling, IL-1β, MCP-1, and MIP-1α. Moreover, MEL at 80 mg/kg activated the BDNF-ERK-CREB signaling pathway, enhanced neurogenesis and diminished synapse loss in the hippocampus, and improved a more complex hippocampus-dependent cognitive function. Thus, MEL therapy is efficacious for improving cognitive and mood function in a rat model of chronic GWI, and MEL's effect was dose-dependent. The study provides the first evidence of MEL's promise for alleviating neuroinflammation and cognitive and mood impairments in veterans with chronic GWI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.redox.2021.101973DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8105671PMC
July 2021

Metformin treatment in late middle age improves cognitive function with alleviation of microglial activation and enhancement of autophagy in the hippocampus.

Aging Cell 2021 02 14;20(2):e13277. Epub 2021 Jan 14.

Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Texas A&M University College of Medicine, College Station, TX, USA.

Metformin, a drug widely used for treating diabetes, can prolong the lifespan in several species. Metformin also has the promise to slow down age-related cognitive impairment. However, metformin's therapeutic use as an anti-aging drug is yet to be accepted because of conflicting animal and human studies results. We examined the effects of metformin treatment in late middle age on cognitive function in old age. Eighteen-month-old male C57BL6/J mice received metformin or no treatment for 10 weeks. A series of behavioral tests revealed improved cognitive function in animals that received metformin. Such findings were evident from a better ability for pattern separation, object location, and recognition memory function. Quantification of microglia revealed that metformin treatment reduced the incidence of pathological microglial clusters with alternative activation of microglia into an M2 phenotype, displaying highly ramified processes in the hippocampus. Metformin treatment also seemed to reduce astrocyte hypertrophy. Additional analysis demonstrated that metformin treatment in late middle age increased adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase activation, reduced proinflammatory cytokine levels, and the mammalian target of rapamycin signaling, and enhanced autophagy in the hippocampus. However, metformin treatment did not alter neurogenesis or synapses in the hippocampus, implying that improved cognitive function with metformin did not involve enhanced neurogenesis or neosynaptogenesis. The results provide new evidence that metformin treatment commencing in late middle age has promise for improving cognitive function in old age. Modulation of microglia, proinflammatory cytokines, and autophagy appear to be the mechanisms by which metformin facilitated functional benefits in the aged brain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/acel.13277DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7884047PMC
February 2021

Gulf War Illness: Mechanisms Underlying Brain Dysfunction and Promising Therapeutic Strategies.

Pharmacol Ther 2021 Apr 24;220:107716. Epub 2020 Oct 24.

Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Texas A&M University Health Science Center College of Medicine, College Station, TX, USA. Electronic address:

Gulf War Illness (GWI), a chronic multisymptom health problem, afflicts ~30% of veterans served in the first GW. Impaired brain function is among the most significant symptoms of GWI, which is typified by persistent cognitive and mood impairments, concentration problems, headaches, chronic fatigue, and musculoskeletal pain. This review aims to discuss findings from animal prototypes and veterans with GWI on mechanisms underlying its pathophysiology and emerging therapeutic strategies for alleviating brain dysfunction in GWI. Animal model studies have linked brain impairments to incessantly elevated oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, inhibitory interneuron loss, altered lipid metabolism and peroxisomes, mitochondrial dysfunction, modified expression of genes relevant to cognitive function, and waned hippocampal neurogenesis. Furthermore, the involvement of systemic alterations such as the increased intensity of reactive oxygen species and proinflammatory cytokines in the blood, transformed gut microbiome, and activation of the adaptive immune response have received consideration. Investigations in veterans have suggested that brain dysfunction in GWI is linked to chronic activation of the executive control network, impaired functional connectivity, altered blood flow, persistent inflammation, and changes in miRNA levels. Lack of protective alleles from Class II HLA genes, the altered concentration of phospholipid species and proinflammatory factors in the circulating blood have also been suggested as other aiding factors. While some drugs or combination therapies have shown promise for alleviating symptoms in clinical trials, larger double-blind, placebo-controlled trials are needed to validate such findings. Based on improvements seen in animal models of GWI, several antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds are currently being tested in clinical trials. However, reliable blood biomarkers that facilitate an appropriate screening of veterans for brain pathology need to be discovered. A liquid biopsy approach involving analysis of brain-derived extracellular vesicles in the blood appears efficient for discerning the extent of neuropathology both before and during clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pharmthera.2020.107716DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8011829PMC
April 2021

Extracellular vesicles from human iPSC-derived neural stem cells: miRNA and protein signatures, and anti-inflammatory and neurogenic properties.

J Extracell Vesicles 2020 Aug 26;9(1):1809064. Epub 2020 Aug 26.

Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Texas A&M University College of Medicine, College Station, Texas, USA.

Grafting of neural stem cells (NSCs) derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) has shown promise for brain repair after injury or disease, but safety issues have hindered their clinical application. Employing nano-sized extracellular vesicles (EVs) derived from hiPSC-NSCs appears to be a safer alternative because they likely have similar neuroreparative properties as NSCs and are amenable for non-invasive administration as an autologous or allogeneic off-the-shelf product. However, reliable methods for isolation, characterization and testing the biological properties of EVs are critically needed for translation. We investigated signatures of miRNAs and proteins and the biological activity of EVs, isolated from hiPSC-NSCs through a combination of anion-exchange chromatography (AEC) and size-exclusion chromatography (SEC). AEC and SEC facilitated the isolation of EVs with intact ultrastructure and expressing CD9, CD63, CD81, ALIX and TSG 101. Small RNA sequencing, proteomic analysis, pathway analysis and validation of select miRNAs and proteins revealed that EVs were enriched with miRNAs and proteins involved in neuroprotective, anti-apoptotic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, blood-brain barrier repairing, neurogenic and Aβ reducing activities. Besides, EVs comprised miRNAs and/or proteins capable of promoting synaptogenesis, synaptic plasticity and better cognitive function. Investigations using an macrophage assay and a mouse model of status epilepticus confirmed the anti-inflammatory activity of EVs. Furthermore, the intranasal administration of EVs resulted in the incorporation of EVs by neurons, microglia and astrocytes in virtually all adult rat and mouse brain regions, and enhancement of hippocampal neurogenesis. Thus, biologically active EVs containing miRNAs and proteins relevant to brain repair could be isolated from hiPSC-NSC cultures, making them a suitable biologic for treating neurodegenerative disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/20013078.2020.1809064DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7480597PMC
August 2020

Intranasally Administered Human MSC-Derived Extracellular Vesicles Pervasively Incorporate into Neurons and Microglia in both Intact and Status Epilepticus Injured Forebrain.

Int J Mol Sci 2019 Dec 26;21(1). Epub 2019 Dec 26.

Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Texas A&M University College of Medicine, 1114 TAMU, College Station, TX 77842, USA.

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) derived from human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) have great promise as biologics to treat neurological and neurodegenerative conditions due to their robust antiinflammatory and neuroprotective properties. Besides, intranasal (IN) administration of EVs has caught much attention because the procedure is noninvasive, amenable for repetitive dispensation, and leads to a quick penetration of EVs into multiple regions of the forebrain. Nonetheless, it is unknown whether brain injury-induced signals are essential for the entry of IN-administered EVs into different brain regions. Therefore, in this study, we investigated the distribution of IN-administered hMSC-derived EVs into neurons and microglia in the intact and status epilepticus (SE) injured rat forebrain. Ten billion EVs labeled with PKH26 were dispensed unilaterally into the left nostril of naïve rats, and rats that experienced two hours of kainate-induced SE. Six hours later, PKH26 + EVs were quantified from multiple forebrain regions using serial brain sections processed for different neural cell markers and confocal microscopy. Remarkably, EVs were seen bilaterally in virtually all regions of intact and SE-injured forebrain. The percentage of neurons incorporating EVs were comparable for most forebrain regions. However, in animals that underwent SE, a higher percentage of neurons incorporated EVs in the hippocampal CA1 subfield and the entorhinal cortex, the regions that typically display neurodegeneration after SE. In contrast, the incorporation of EVs by microglia was highly comparable in every region of the forebrain measured. Thus, unilateral IN administration of EVs is efficient for delivering EVs bilaterally into neurons and microglia in multiple regions in the intact or injured forebrain. Furthermore, incorporation of EVs by neurons is higher in areas of brain injury, implying that injury-related signals likely play a role in targeting of EVs into neurons, which may be beneficial for EV therapy in various neurodegenerative conditions including traumatic brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms21010181DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6981466PMC
December 2019

Extracellular Vesicles in the Forebrain Display Reduced miR-346 and miR-331-3p in a Rat Model of Chronic Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.

Mol Neurobiol 2020 Mar 7;57(3):1674-1687. Epub 2019 Dec 7.

Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Texas A&M University Health Science Center College of Medicine, 1114 TAMU, 206 Olsen Boulevard, College Station, TX, 77843, USA.

An initial precipitating injury in the brain, such as after status epilepticus (SE), evolves into chronic temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). We investigated changes in the miRNA composition of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in the forebrain after the establishment of SE-induced chronic TLE. We induced SE in young Fischer 344 rats through graded intraperitoneal injections of kainic acid, which resulted in consistent spontaneous recurrent seizures at ~ 3 months post-SE. We isolated EVs from the entire forebrain of chronically epileptic rats and age-matched naïve control animals through an ultracentrifugation method and performed miRNA-sequencing studies to discern changes in the miRNA composition of forebrain-derived EVs in chronic epilepsy. EVs from both naïve and epileptic forebrains displayed spherical or cup-shaped morphology, a comparable size range, and CD63 expression but lacked the expression of a deep cellular marker GM130. However, miRNA-sequencing studies suggested downregulation of 3 miRNAs (miR-187-5p, miR-346, and miR-331-3p) and upregulation of 4 miRNAs (miR-490-5p, miR-376b-3p, miR-493-5p, and miR-124-5p) in EVs from epileptic forebrains with fold changes ranging from 1.5 to 2.4 (p < 0.0006; FDR < 0.05). By using geNorm and Normfinder software, we identified miR-487 and miR-221 as the best combination of reference genes for measurement of altered miRNAs found in the epileptic forebrain through qRT-PCR studies. The validation revealed that only miR-346 and miR-331-3p were significantly downregulated in EVs from the epileptic forebrain. The enrichment pathway analysis of these miRNAs showed an overrepresentation of signaling pathways that are linked to molecular mechanisms underlying chronic epilepsy, including GABA-ergic (miR-346 targets) and mTOR (miR-331-3p targets) systems. Thus, the packaging of two miRNAs into EVs in neural cells is considerably altered in chronic epilepsy. Functional studies on these two miRNAs may uncover their role in the pathophysiology and treatment of TLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12035-019-01797-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8011947PMC
March 2020

Monosodium luminol reinstates redox homeostasis, improves cognition, mood and neurogenesis, and alleviates neuro- and systemic inflammation in a model of Gulf War Illness.

Redox Biol 2020 01 18;28:101389. Epub 2019 Nov 18.

Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Texas A&M University College of Medicine, College Station, TX, USA.

Enduring brain dysfunction is amid the highly manifested symptoms in veterans with Gulf War Illness (GWI). Animal studies have established that lasting brain dysfunction in GWI is concomitant with augmented oxidative stress, inflammation, and declined neurogenesis in the brain, and systemic inflammation. We hypothesize that drugs capable of restoring redox homeostasis in GWI will improve cognitive and mood function with modulation of neuroinflammation and neurogenesis. We examined the efficacy of monosodium luminol-GVT (MSL), a drug that promotes redox homeostasis, for improving cognitive and mood function in GWI rats. Young rats were exposed to GWI-related chemicals and moderate restraint stress for four weeks. Four months later, GWI rats received different doses of MSL or vehicle for eight weeks. Behavioral analyses in the last three weeks of treatment revealed that GWI rats receiving higher doses of MSL displayed better cognitive and mood function associated with reinstatement of redox homeostasis. Such restoration was evident from the normalized expression of multiple genes encoding proteins involved in combating oxidative stress in the brain and the return of several oxidative stress markers to control levels in the brain and the circulating blood. Sustained redox homeostasis by MSL also resulted in antiinflammatory and pro-neurogenic effects, which were apparent from reduced densities of hypertrophied astrocytes and activated microglia, and increased neurogenesis with augmented neural stem cell proliferation. Moreover, MSL treatment normalized the concentration of multiple proinflammatory markers in the circulating blood. Thus, MSL treatment reinstated redox homeostasis in an animal model of GWI, which resulted in alleviation of both brain and systemic inflammation, improved neurogenesis, and better cognitive and mood function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.redox.2019.101389DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6888767PMC
January 2020

Neuroinflammation in Gulf War Illness is linked with HMGB1 and complement activation, which can be discerned from brain-derived extracellular vesicles in the blood.

Brain Behav Immun 2019 10 27;81:430-443. Epub 2019 Jun 27.

Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Texas A&M University Health Science Center College of Medicine, College Station, TX, USA. Electronic address:

Cognitive dysfunction and neuroinflammation are conspicuously observed in Gulf War Illness (GWI). We investigated whether brain inflammation in GWI is associated with activation of high mobility group box-1 (HMGB1) and complement-related proteins in neurons and astrocytes, and brain inflammation can be tracked through neuron-derived extracellular vesicles (NDEVs) and astrocyte-derived EVs (ADEVs) found in the circulating blood. We exposed animals to GWI-related chemicals pyridostigmine bromide, DEET and permethrin, and moderate stress for 28 days. We performed behavioral tests 10 months post-exposure and quantified activated microglia and reactive astrocytes in the cerebral cortex. Then, we measured the concentration of HMGB1, proinflammatory cytokines, and complement activation-related proteins in the cerebral cortex, and NDEVs and ADEVs in the circulating blood. Cognitive impairments persisted in GWI rats at 10 months post-exposure, which were associated with increased density of activated microglia and reactive astrocytes in the cerebral cortex. Moreover, the level of HMGB1 was elevated in the cerebral cortex with altered expression in the cytoplasm of neuronal soma and dendrites as well as the extracellular space. Also, higher levels of proinflammatory cytokines (TNFa, IL-1b, and IL-6), and complement activation-related proteins (C3 and TccC5b-9) were seen in the cerebral cortex. Remarkably, increased levels of HMGB1 and proinflammatory cytokines observed in the cerebral cortex of GWI rats could also be found in NDEVs isolated from the blood. Similarly, elevated levels of complement proteins seen in the cerebral cortex could be found in ADEVs. The results provide new evidence that persistent cognitive dysfunction and chronic neuroinflammation in a model of GWI are linked with elevated HMGB1 concentration and complement activation. Furthermore, the results demonstrated that multiple biomarkers of neuroinflammation could be tracked reliably via analyses of NDEVs and ADEVs in the circulating blood. Execution of such a liquid biopsy approach is especially useful in clinical trials for monitoring the remission, persistence or progression of brain inflammation in GWI patients with drug treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2019.06.040DOI Listing
October 2019

Novel Insights on Systemic and Brain Aging, Stroke, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and Alzheimer's Disease.

Aging Dis 2019 Apr 1;10(2):470-482. Epub 2019 Apr 1.

Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Texas A&M University Health Science Center College of Medicine, College Station, Texas, USA.

The mechanisms that underlie the pathophysiology of aging, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer's disease (AD) and stroke are not fully understood and have been the focus of intense and constant investigation worldwide. Studies that provide insights on aging and age-related disease mechanisms are critical for advancing novel therapies that promote successful aging and prevent or cure multiple age-related diseases. The April 2019 issue of the journal, "Aging & Disease" published a series of articles that confer fresh insights on numerous age-related conditions and diseases. The age-related topics include the detrimental effect of overweight on energy metabolism and muscle integrity, senoinflammation as the cause of neuroinflammation, the link between systemic C-reactive protein and brain white matter loss, the role of miR-34a in promoting healthy heart and brain, the potential of sirtuin 3 for reducing cardiac and pulmonary fibrosis, and the promise of statin therapy for ameliorating asymptomatic intracranial atherosclerotic stenosis. Additional aging-related articles highlighted the involvement of miR-181b-5p and high mobility group box-1 in hypertension, Yes-associated protein in cataract formation, multiple miRs and long noncoding RNAs in coronary artery disease development, the role of higher meat consumption on sleep problems, and the link between glycated hemoglobin and depression. The topics related to ALS suggested that individuals with higher education and living in a rural environment have a higher risk for developing ALS, and collagen XIX alpha 1 is a prognostic biomarker of ALS. The topics discussed on AD implied that extracellular amyloid β42 is likely the cause of intraneuronal neurofibrillary tangle accumulation in familial AD and traditional oriental concoctions may be useful for slowing down the progression of AD. The article on stroke suggested that inhibition of the complement system is likely helpful in promoting brain repair after ischemic stroke. The significance of the above findings for understanding the pathogenesis in aging, ALS, AD, and stroke, slowing down the progression of aging, ALS and AD, and promoting brain repair after stroke are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.14336/AD.2019.0330DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6457051PMC
April 2019

Emerging Anti-Aging Strategies - Scientific Basis and Efficacy.

Aging Dis 2018 Dec 4;9(6):1165-1184. Epub 2018 Dec 4.

1Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Texas A&M University Health Science Center College of Medicine, College Station, Texas 77843, USA.

The prevalence of age-related diseases is in an upward trend due to increased life expectancy in humans. Age-related conditions are among the leading causes of morbidity and death worldwide currently. Therefore, there is an urgent need to find apt interventions that slow down aging and reduce or postpone the incidence of debilitating age-related diseases. This review discusses the efficacy of emerging anti-aging approaches for maintaining better health in old age. There are many anti-aging strategies in development, which include procedures such as augmentation of autophagy, elimination of senescent cells, transfusion of plasma from young blood, intermittent fasting, enhancement of adult neurogenesis, physical exercise, antioxidant intake, and stem cell therapy. Multiple pre-clinical studies suggest that administration of autophagy enhancers, senolytic drugs, plasma from young blood, drugs that enhance neurogenesis and BDNF are promising approaches to sustain normal health during aging and also to postpone age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. Stem cell therapy has also shown promise for improving regeneration and function of the aged or Alzheimer's disease brain. Several of these approaches are awaiting critical appraisal in clinical trials to determine their long-term efficacy and possible adverse effects. On the other hand, procedures such as intermittent fasting, physical exercise, intake of antioxidants such as resveratrol and curcumin have shown considerable promise for improving function in aging, some of which are ready for large-scale clinical trials, as they are non-invasive, and seem to have minimal side effects. In summary, several approaches are at the forefront of becoming mainstream therapies for combating aging and postponing age-related diseases in the coming years.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.14336/AD.2018.1026DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6284760PMC
December 2018
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