Publications by authors named "Marina Pizzi"

58 Publications

Plasma NfL, clinical subtypes and motor progression in Parkinson's disease.

Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2021 Apr 27;87:41-47. Epub 2021 Apr 27.

Neurology Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Sciences, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy.

Introduction: neurofilament light chain (NfL) levels have been proposed as reliable biomarkers of neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease (PD) but the relationship between plasma NfL, clinical subtypes of PD and motor progression is still debated.

Methods: plasma NfL concentration was measured in 45 healthy controls and consecutive 92 PD patients who underwent an extensive motor and non-motor assessment at baseline and after 2 years of follow-up. PD malignant phenotype was defined as the combination of at least two out of cognitive impairment, orthostatic hypotension and REM sleep behavior disorder. PD patients were divided according to the age-adjusted cut-offs of plasma NfL levels into high and normal NfL (H-NfL and N-NfL, respectively). A multivariable linear regression model was used to assess the value of plasma NfL as predictor of 2-years progression in PD.

Results: NfL was higher in PD patients than in controls (p = 0.037). H-NfL (n = 16) group exhibited more severe motor and non-motor symptoms, higher prevalence of malignant phenotype and worse motor progression (MDS-UPDRS-III 11.3 vs 0.7 points, p = 0.003) compared to N-NfL group (n = 76). In linear regression analyses plasma NfL emerged as the best predictor of 2-year motor progression compared to age, sex, disease duration, baseline motor/non-motor variables.

Conclusion: increased plasma NfL concentration is associated with malignant PD phenotype and faster motor progression. These findings support the role of NfL assessment as a useful measure for stratifying patients with different baseline slopes of decline in future clinical trials of putative disease-modifying treatments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2021.04.016DOI Listing
April 2021

Alpha-Synuclein in the Regulation of Brain Endothelial and Perivascular Cells: Gaps and Future Perspectives.

Front Immunol 2021 19;12:611761. Epub 2021 Feb 19.

Division of Pharmacology, Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy.

Misfolded proteins, inflammation, and vascular alterations are common pathological hallmarks of neurodegenerative diseases. Alpha-synuclein is a small synaptic protein that was identified as a major component of Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites in the brain of patients affected by Parkinson's disease (PD), Lewy body dementia (LBD), and other synucleinopathies. It is mainly involved in the regulation of synaptic vesicle trafficking but can also control mitochondrial/endoplasmic reticulum (ER) homeostasis, lysosome/phagosome function, and cytoskeleton organization. Recent evidence supports that the pathological forms of α-synuclein can also reduce the release of vasoactive and inflammatory mediators from endothelial cells (ECs) and modulates the expression of tight junction (TJ) proteins important for maintaining the blood-brain barrier (BBB). This hints that α-synuclein deposition can affect BBB integrity. Border associated macrophages (BAMs) are brain resident macrophages found in association with the vasculature (PVMs), meninges (MAMs), and choroid plexus (CPMs). Recent findings indicate that these cells play distinct roles in stroke and neurodegenerative disorders. Although many studies have addressed how α-synuclein may modulate microglia, its effect on BAMs has been scarcely investigated. This review aims at summarizing the main findings supporting how α-synuclein can affect ECs and/or BAMs function as well as their interplay and effect on other cells in the brain perivascular environment in physiological and pathological conditions. Gaps of knowledge and new perspectives on how this protein can contribute to neurodegeneration by inducing BBB homeostatic changes in different neurological conditions are highlighted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2021.611761DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7933041PMC
February 2021

MicroRNA‑34a‑5p expression in the plasma and in its extracellular vesicle fractions in subjects with Parkinson's disease: An exploratory study.

Int J Mol Med 2021 02 2;47(2):533-546. Epub 2020 Dec 2.

Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, I‑25123 Brescia, Italy.

Parkinson's disease (PD) is an important disabling age‑related disorder and is the second most common neurodegenerative disease. Currently, no established molecular biomarkers exist for the early diagnosis of PD. Circulating microRNAs (miRNAs), either vesicle‑free or encapsulated in extracellular vesicles (EVs), have emerged as potential blood‑based biomarkers also for neurodegenerative diseases. In this exploratory study, we focused on miR‑34a‑5p because of its well‑documented involvement in neurobiology. To explore a differential profile of circulating miR‑34a‑5p in PD, PD patients and age‑matched control subjects were enrolled. Serial ultracentrifugation steps and density gradient were used to separate EV subpopulations from plasma according to their different sedimentation properties (Large, Medium, Small EVs). Characterization of EV types was performed using western blotting and atomic force microscopy (AFM); purity from protein contaminants was checked with the colorimetric nanoplasmonic assay. Circulating miR‑34a‑5p levels were evaluated using qPCR in plasma and in each EV type. miR‑34a‑5p was significantly up‑regulated in small EVs devoid of exogenous protein contaminants (pure SEVs) from PD patients and ROC analysis indicated a good diagnostic performance in discriminating patients from controls (AUC=0.74, P<0.05). Moreover, miR‑34a‑5p levels in pure SEVs were associated with disease duration, Hoehn and Yahr and Beck Depression Inventory scores. These results underline the necessity to examine the miRNA content of each EV subpopulation to identify miRNA candidates with potential diagnostic value and lay the basis for future studies to validate the overexpression of circulating miR‑34a‑5p in PD via the use of pure SEVs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/ijmm.2020.4806DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7797475PMC
February 2021

From Preclinical Stroke Models to Humans: Polyphenols in the Prevention and Treatment of Stroke.

Nutrients 2020 Dec 29;13(1). Epub 2020 Dec 29.

Division of Pharmacology, Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, 25123 Brescia, Italy.

Polyphenols are an important family of molecules of vegetal origin present in many medicinal and edible plants, which represent important alimentary sources in the human diet. Polyphenols are known for their beneficial health effects and have been investigated for their potential protective role against various pathologies, including cancer, brain dysfunctions, cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The prevention of stroke promoted by polyphenols relies mainly on their effect on cardio- and cerebrovascular systems. However, a growing body of evidence from preclinical models of stroke points out a neuroprotective role of these molecules. Notably, in many preclinical studies, the polyphenolic compounds were effective also when administered after the stroke onset, suggesting their possible use in promoting recovery of patients suffering from stroke. Here, we review the effects of the major polyphenols in cellular and in vivo models of both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke in immature and adult brains. The results from human studies are also reported.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu13010085DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7823436PMC
December 2020

Neuroprotective epi-drugs quench the inflammatory response and microglial/macrophage activation in a mouse model of permanent brain ischemia.

J Neuroinflammation 2020 Nov 27;17(1):361. Epub 2020 Nov 27.

Division of Pharmacology, Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Viale Europa 11, 25123, Brescia, Italy.

Background: Activation of NF-kappaB RelA deacetylated at the lysine residues, except the lysine 310, drives pro-apoptotic transcription in noxious brain ischemia. We showed that the sinergistic combination of the histone deacetilase inhibitor MS-275 with the sirtuin 1 activator resveratrol, at very low doses, restores normal RelA acetylation and elicit neuroprotection in mice subjected to transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAO) and primary cortical neurons exposed to oxygen-glucose-deprivation (OGD). The present study aims at corroborating the neuroprotective potential of the epigenetic treatment in a model of permanent brain ischemia and investigate its effect on post-ischemic inflammation and microglia activation.

Methods: Male mice subjected to permanent occlusion of the distal MCAO (pMCAO) were treated with vehicle or MS-275 (20 μg/kg) and resveratrol (680 μg/kg) i.p. immediately after the ischemia. Microglia-containing mixed glial cultures were prepared from the brain of 1-3-day-old mice. Primary cortical neurons were prepared from 15-day-old embryonic mice.

Results: MS-275 and resveratrol in combination, but not individually, reduced infarct volume and neurological deficits evaluated 48 h after the pMCAO. At 24 h, the treatment inhibited the RelA binding to Nos2 promoter, reduced the elevated expression of Nos2, Il6, Il1b, Mrc1 and Ym1 and the leukocytes infiltration in the ischemic area. The effect was nonpermanent. The treatment did not limit the sustained leukocyte infiltration or Nos2 and Il1b transcription observed at 7 days. Though, it induced alternative activation markers of microglia/macrophages, Arg1, Ym1 and Fcgr2b that could be added to Mrc1, Tgfb1 and Trem2 spontaneously increased at 7 days after ischemia. At 24 hours the drug treatment quenched the microglia/macrophages activation in the ischemic cortical sections, as shown by the recovered ramified morphology and lowered iNOS or CD68 immunoreactivity in Iba1-positive cells. Both microglia and astrocytes in mixed glial cultures, but not pure astrocytes, displayed signs of activation and iNOS-immunoreactivity when treated with a conditioned medium (NCM) from OGD-exposed cortical neurons. The epigenetic drugs limited the OGD-NCM-mediated activation.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that single treatment with MS-275 and resveratrol can reduce stroke-mediated brain injury and inflammation observed 2 days after the pMCAO and put the rational to test repeated administration of the drugs. The anti-inflammatory property of MS-275 and resveratrol combination can be ascribed to both primary direct inhibition of microglia/macrophage activation and secondary glial/macrophages inhibition mediated by neuroprotection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12974-020-02028-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7694916PMC
November 2020

Raman Probes for Molecular Analyses of Peripheral Nerve Myelination.

ACS Chem Neurosci 2020 08 14;11(15):2327-2339. Epub 2020 Jul 14.

Department of Immunology, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, 465 Kajii-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-8566, Japan.

The myelinating activity of living Schwann cells in coculture with neuronal cells was examined in a Raman microprobe spectroscope. The Raman label-free approach revealed vibrational fingerprints directly related to the activity of Schwann cells' metabolites and identified molecular species peculiar to myelinating cells. The identified chemical species included antioxidants, such as hypotaurine and glutathione, and compartmentalized water, in addition to sphingolipids, phospholipids, and nucleoside triphosphates also present in neuronal and nonmyelinating Schwann cells. Raman maps at specific frequencies could be collected, which clearly visualized the myelinating action of Schwann cells and located the demyelinated ones. An important finding was the spectroscopic visualization of confined water in the myelin structure, which exhibited a quite pronounced Raman signal at ∼3470 cm. This peculiar signal, whose spatial location precisely corresponded to a low-frequency fingerprint of hypotaurine, was absent in unmyelinating cells and in bulk water. Raman enhancement was attributed to frustration in the hydrogen-bond network as induced by interactions with lipids in the myelin sheaths. According to a generally accepted morphological model of myelin, an explanation was offered of the peculiar Raman scattering of water confined in intraperiod lines, according to an ordered hydrogen bonding structure. The possibility of concurrently mapping antioxidant molecules and compartmentalized water structure with high spectral accuracy and microscopic spatial resolution enables probing myelinating activity and might play a key-role in future studies of neuronal pathologies. Compatible with life, Raman microprobe spectroscopy with the newly discovered probes could be suitable for developing advanced strategies in the reconstruction of injured nerves and nerve terminals at neuromuscular junctions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acschemneuro.0c00284DOI Listing
August 2020

Nuclear Factor-κB Dysregulation and α-Synuclein Pathology: Critical Interplay in the Pathogenesis of Parkinson's Disease.

Front Aging Neurosci 2020 24;12:68. Epub 2020 Mar 24.

Division of Pharmacology, Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy.

The loss of dopaminergic neurons of the nigrostriatal system underlies the onset of the typical motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD). Lewy bodies (LB) and Lewy neurites (LN), proteinaceous inclusions mainly composed of insoluble α-synuclein (α-syn) fibrils are key neuropathological hallmarks of the brain of affected patients. Compelling evidence supports that in the early prodromal phases of PD, synaptic terminal and axonal alterations initiate and drive a retrograde degeneration process culminating with the loss of nigral dopaminergic neurons. This notwithstanding, the molecular triggers remain to be fully elucidated. Although it has been shown that α-syn fibrillary aggregation can induce early synaptic and axonal impairment and cause nigrostriatal degeneration, we still ignore how and why α-syn fibrillation begins. Nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) transcription factors, key regulators of inflammation and apoptosis, are involved in the brain programming of systemic aging as well as in the pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative diseases. The NF-κB family of factors consists of five different subunits (c-Rel, p65/RelA, p50, RelB, and p52), which combine to form transcriptionally active dimers. Different findings point out a role of RelA in PD. Interestingly, the nuclear content of RelA is abnormally increased in nigral dopamine (DA) neurons and glial cells of PD patients. Inhibition of RelA exert neuroprotection against (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine) MPTP and 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+) toxicity, suggesting that this factor decreases neuronal resilience. Conversely, the c-Rel subunit can exert neuroprotective actions. We recently described that mice deficient for c-Rel develop a PD-like motor and non-motor phenotype characterized by progressive brain α-syn accumulation and early synaptic changes preceding the frank loss of nigrostriatal neurons. This evidence supports that dysregulations in this transcription factors may be involved in the onset of PD. This review highlights observations supporting a possible interplay between NF-κB dysregulation and α-syn pathology in PD, with the aim to disclose novel potential mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of this disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2020.00068DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7105602PMC
March 2020

Alpha-synuclein/synapsin III pathological interplay boosts the motor response to methylphenidate.

Neurobiol Dis 2020 05 4;138:104789. Epub 2020 Feb 4.

Division of Pharmacology, Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Viale Europa 11, 25123 Brescia, Italy; Laboratory for Preventive and Personalized Medicine, Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Viale Europa 11, 25123 Brescia, Italy. Electronic address:

Loss of dopaminergic nigrostriatal neurons and fibrillary α-synuclein (α-syn) aggregation in Lewy bodies (LB) characterize Parkinson's disease (PD). We recently found that Synapsin III (Syn III), a phosphoprotein regulating dopamine (DA) release with α-syn, is another key component of LB fibrils in the brain of PD patients and acts as a crucial mediator of α-syn aggregation and toxicity. Methylphenidate (MPH), a monoamine reuptake inhibitor (MRI) efficiently counteracting freezing of gait in advanced PD patients, can bind α-syn and controls α-syn-mediated DA overflow and presynaptic compartmentalization. Interestingly, MPH results also efficient for the treatment of attention deficits and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a neurodevelopmental psychiatric syndrome associated with Syn III and α-syn polymorphisms and constituting a risk factor for the development of LB disorders. Here, we studied α-syn/Syn III co-deposition and longitudinal changes of α-syn, Syn III and DA transporter (DAT) striatal levels in nigrostriatal neurons of a PD model, the human C-terminally truncated (1-120) α-syn transgenic (SYN120 tg) mouse, in comparison with C57BL/6J wild type (wt) and C57BL/6JOlaHsd α-syn null littermates. Then, we analyzed the locomotor response of these animals to an acute administration of MPH (d-threo) and other MRIs: cocaine, that we previously found to stimulate Syn III-reliant DA release in the absence of α-syn, or the selective DAT blocker GBR-12935, along aging. Finally, we assessed whether these drugs modulate α-syn/Syn III interaction by fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) and performed in silico studies engendering a heuristic model of the α-syn conformations stabilized upon MPH binding. We found that only MPH was able to over-stimulate a Syn III-dependent/DAT-independent locomotor activity in the aged SYN120 tg mice showing α-syn/Syn III co-aggregates. MPH enhanced full length (fl) α-syn/Syn III and even more (1-120) α-syn/Syn III interaction in cells exhibiting α-syn/Syn III inclusions. Moreover, in silico studies confirmed that MPH may reduce α-syn fibrillation by stabilizing a protein conformation with increased lipid binding predisposition. Our observations indicate that the motor-stimulating effect of MPH can be positively fostered in the presence of α-syn/Syn III co-aggregation. This evidence holds significant implications for PD and ADHD therapeutic management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nbd.2020.104789DOI Listing
May 2020

The good and bad of therapeutic strategies that directly target α-synuclein.

IUBMB Life 2020 04 6;72(4):590-600. Epub 2019 Nov 6.

Division of Pharmacology, Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy.

Synucleinopathies are neurodegenerative diseases characterized by the accumulation of either neuronal/axonal or glial insoluble proteinaceous aggregates mainly composed of α-synuclein (α-syn). Among them, the most common disorders are Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, multiple system atrophy, and some forms of familial parkinsonism. Both α-syn fibrils and oligomers have been found to exert toxic effects on neurons or oligodendroglial cells, can activate neuroinflammatory responses, and mediate the spreading of α-syn pathology. This poses the question of which is the most toxic α-syn species. What is worst, α-syn appears as a very peculiar protein, exerting multiple physiological functions in neurons, especially at synapses, but without acquiring a stable tertiary structure. Its conformation is particularly plastic, and the protein can exist in a natively unfolded state (mainly in solution), partially α-helical folded state (when it interacts with biological membranes), or oligomeric state (tetramers or dimers with debated functional profile). The extent of α-syn expression impinges on the resilience of neuronal cells, as multiplications of its gene locus, or overexpression, can cause neurodegeneration and onset of motor phenotype. For these reasons, one of the main challenges in the field of synucleinopathies, which still nowadays can only be managed by symptomatic therapies, has been the development of strategies aimed at reducing α-syn levels, oligomer formation, fibrillation, or cell-to-cell transmission. This review resumes the therapeutic approaches that have been proposed or are under development to counteract α-syn pathology by direct targeting of this protein and discuss their pros and cons in relation to the current state-of-the-art α-syn biology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/iub.2194DOI Listing
April 2020

NF-κB/c-Rel deficiency causes Parkinson's disease-like prodromal symptoms and progressive pathology in mice.

Transl Neurodegener 2019 21;8:16. Epub 2019 May 21.

Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Viale Europa 11, 25123 Brescia, Italy.

Background: Parkinson's disease (PD), the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder, is characterized by dopaminergic nigrostriatal neuron loss and brain accumulation of Lewy bodies, protein aggregates mainly composed of α-synuclein. We reported that mice deficient for NF-κB/c-Rel (c-rel) develop a late-onset parkinsonism. At 18 months of age, c-rel mice showed nigrostriatal degeneration and accumulation of α-synuclein aggregates associated with a motor impairment responsive to L-DOPA administration. Being c-Rel protein a transcriptional regulator for mitochondrial anti-oxidant and antiapoptotic factors, it has been inferred that its deficiency may affect the resilience of "energy demanding" nigral dopaminergic neurons to the aging process. PD patients manifest a prodromal syndrome that includes olfactory and gastrointestinal dysfunctions years before the frank degeneration of nigrostriatal neurons and appearance of motor symptoms. According to the Braak staging, the onset of non-motor and motor symptoms relates to progressive ascendant diffusion of α-synuclein pathology in the brain. The aim of this study was to identify whether c-rel deficiency is associated with the onset of premotor signs of PD and spatio-temporal progression of cerebral α-synuclein deposition.

Methods: Intestinal and olfactory functions, intestine and brain α-synuclein deposition as well as striatal alterations, were assessed in c-rel and control mice from 2 to 18 months of age.

Results: From 2 months of age, c-rel mice displayed intestinal constipation and increasing olfactory impairment. At 2 months, c-rel mice exhibited a mild α-synuclein accumulation in the distal colon. Moreover, they developed an age-dependent deposition of fibrillary α-synuclein that, starting at 5 months from the olfactory bulbs, dorsal motor nucleus of vagus and locus coeruleus, reached the substantia nigra at 12 months. At this age, the α-synuclein pathology associated with a drop of dopamine transporter in the striatum that anticipated by 6 months the axonal degeneration. From 12 months onwards oxidative/nitrosative stress developed in the striatum in parallel with altered expression of mitochondrial homeostasis regulators in the substantia nigra.

Conclusions: In c-rel mice, reproducing a parkinsonian progressive pathology with non-motor and motor symptoms, a Braak-like pattern of brain ascending α-synuclein deposition occurs. The peculiar phenotype of c-rel mice envisages a potential contribution of c-Rel dysregulation to the pathogenesis of PD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40035-019-0154-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6530198PMC
May 2019

The Role of Mast Cells in Stroke.

Cells 2019 05 10;8(5). Epub 2019 May 10.

Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Viale Europa 11, 25123 Brescia, Italy.

Mast cells (MCs) are densely granulated perivascular resident cells of hematopoietic origin. Through the release of preformed mediators stored in their granules and newly synthesized molecules, they are able to initiate, modulate, and prolong the immune response upon activation. Their presence in the central nervous system (CNS) has been documented for more than a century. Over the years, MCs have been associated with various neuroinflammatory conditions of CNS, including stroke. They can exacerbate CNS damage in models of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke by amplifying the inflammatory responses and promoting brain-blood barrier disruption, brain edema, extravasation, and hemorrhage. Here, we review the role of these peculiar cells in the pathophysiology of stroke, in both immature and adult brain. Further, we discuss the role of MCs as potential targets for the treatment of stroke and the compounds potentially active as MCs modulators.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells8050437DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6562540PMC
May 2019

A Polyphenol-Enriched Supplement Exerts Potent Epigenetic-Protective Activity in a Cell-Based Model of Brain Ischemia.

Nutrients 2019 Feb 6;11(2). Epub 2019 Feb 6.

Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Viale Europa 11, 25123 Brescia, Italy.

Bioactive components, due in part to their epigenetic properties, are beneficial for preventing several human diseases including cerebrovascular pathologies. However, no clear demonstration supports the idea that these molecules still conserve their epigenetic effects when acting at very low concentrations reproducing the brain levels achieved after oral administration of a micronutrient supplement. In the present study, we used a cellular model of brain ischemia to investigate the neuroprotective and epigenetic activities of a commercially available micronutrient mixture (polyphenol-enriched micronutrient mixture, PMM) enriched in polyphenols ((-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate, quercetin, resveratrol), α-lipoic acid, vitamins, amino acids and other micronutrients. Mimicking the suggested dietary supplementation, primary cultures of mouse cortical neurons were pre-treated with PMM and then subjected to oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD). Pre-treatment with PMM amounts to provide bioactive components in the medium in the nanomolar range potently prevented neuronal cell death. The protection was associated with the deacetylation of the lysin 310 (K310) on NF-κB/RelA as well as the deacetylation of H3 histones at the promoter of Bim, a pro-apoptotic target of ac-RelA(K310) in brain ischemia. Epigenetic regulators known to shape the acetylation state of ac-RelA(K310) moiety are the histone acetyl transferase CBP/p300 and the class III histone deacetylase sirtuin-1. In view of that evidence, the protection we here report unveils the efficacy of bioactive components endowed with either inhibitory activity on CBP/p300 or stimulating activity on the AMP-activated protein kinase⁻sirtuin 1 pathway. Our results support a potential synergistic effect of micronutrients in the PMM, suggesting that the intake of a polyphenol-based micronutrient mixture can reduce neuronal vulnerability to stressful conditions at concentrations compatible with the predicted brain levels reached by a single constituent after an oral dose of PMM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu11020345DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6412333PMC
February 2019

Acetylation state of RelA modulated by epigenetic drugs prolongs survival and induces a neuroprotective effect on ALS murine model.

Sci Rep 2018 08 27;8(1):12875. Epub 2018 Aug 27.

Department of Neurosciences, Biomedicine and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.

Dysregulation in acetylation homeostasis has been implicated in the pathogenesis of the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disorder. It is known that the acetylation of transcriptional factors regulates their activity. The acetylation state of NF-kB RelA has been found to dictate the neuroprotective versus the neurotoxic effect of p50/RelA. Here we showed that the pro-apoptotic acetylation mode of RelA, involving a general lysine deacetylation of the subunit with the exclusion of the lysine 310, is evident in the lumbar spinal cord of SOD1(G93A) mice, a murine model of ALS. The administration of the HDAC inhibitor MS-275 and the AMPK/sirtuin 1 activator resveratrol restored the normal RelA acetylation in SOD1(G93A) mice. The SOD1(G93A) mice displayed a 3 weeks delay of the disease onset, associated with improvement of motor performance, and 2 weeks increase of lifespan. The epigenetic treatment rescued the lumbar motor neurons affected in SOD1(G93A) mice, accompanied by increased levels of protein products of NF-kB-target genes, Bcl-xL and brain-derived neurotrophic factor. In conclusion, we here demonstrate that MS-275 and resveratrol restore the acetylation state of RelA in the spinal cord, delaying the onset and increasing the lifespan of SOD1(G93A) mice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-30659-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6110772PMC
August 2018

Synapsin III deficiency hampers α-synuclein aggregation, striatal synaptic damage and nigral cell loss in an AAV-based mouse model of Parkinson's disease.

Acta Neuropathol 2018 10 25;136(4):621-639. Epub 2018 Jul 25.

Division of Pharmacology, Department of molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Viale Europa no. 11, 25123, Brescia, Italy.

Parkinson's disease (PD), the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder, is characterized by the progressive loss of nigral dopamine neurons. The deposition of fibrillary aggregated α-synuclein in Lewy bodies (LB), that is considered to play a causative role in the disease, constitutes another key neuropathological hallmark of PD. We have recently described that synapsin III (Syn III), a synaptic phosphoprotein that regulates dopamine release in cooperation with α-synuclein, is present in the α-synuclein insoluble fibrils composing the LB of patients affected by PD. Moreover, we observed that silencing of Syn III gene could prevent α-synuclein fibrillary aggregation in vitro. This evidence suggests that Syn III might be crucially involved in α-synuclein pathological deposition. To test this hypothesis, we studied whether mice knock-out (ko) for Syn III might be protected from α-synuclein aggregation and nigrostriatal neuron degeneration resulting from the unilateral injection of adeno-associated viral vectors (AAV)-mediating human wild-type (wt) α-synuclein overexpression (AAV-hαsyn). We found that Syn III ko mice injected with AAV-hαsyn did not develop fibrillary insoluble α-synuclein aggregates, showed reduced amount of α-synuclein oligomers detected by in situ proximity ligation assay (PLA) and lower levels of Ser129-phosphorylated α-synuclein. Moreover, the nigrostriatal neurons of Syn III ko mice were protected from both synaptic damage and degeneration triggered by the AAV-hαsyn injection. Our observations indicate that Syn III constitutes a crucial mediator of α-synuclein aggregation and toxicity and identify Syn III as a novel therapeutic target for PD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-018-1892-1DOI Listing
October 2018

Dopamine Transporter/α-Synuclein Complexes Are Altered in the Post Mortem Caudate Putamen of Parkinson's Disease: An In Situ Proximity Ligation Assay Study.

Int J Mol Sci 2018 May 30;19(6). Epub 2018 May 30.

Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, 25123 Brescia, Italy.

Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by the degeneration of the dopaminergic nigrostriatal neurons and the presence of Lewy bodies (LB) and Lewy neurites (LN) mainly composed of α-synuclein. By using the in situ proximity ligation assay (PLA), which allows for the visualization of protein-protein interactions in tissues to detect dopamine transporter (DAT)/α-synuclein complexes, we previously described that these are markedly redistributed in the striatum of human α-synuclein transgenic mice at the phenotypic stage, showing dopamine (DA) release impairment without a DAT drop and motor symptoms. Here, we used the in situ PLA to investigate DAT/α-synuclein complexes in the caudate putamen of PD patients and age-matched controls. They were found to be redistributed and showed an increased size in PD patients, where we observed several neuropil-like and neuritic-like PLA-positive structures. In the PD brains, DAT immunolabeling showed a pattern similar to that of in situ PLA in areas with abundant α-synuclein neuropathology. This notwithstanding, the in situ PLA signal was only partially retracing DAT or α-synuclein immunolabeling, suggesting that a large amount of complexes may have been lost along with the degeneration process. These findings reveal a DAT/α-synuclein neuropathological signature in PD and hint that synaptic alterations involving striatal DAT may derive from α-synuclein aggregation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms19061611DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6032099PMC
May 2018

Synapsin III is a key component of α-synuclein fibrils in Lewy bodies of PD brains.

Brain Pathol 2018 11 23;28(6):875-888. Epub 2018 Feb 23.

Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy.

Lewy bodies (LB) and Lewy neurites (LN), which are primarily composed of α-synuclein (α-syn), are neuropathological hallmarks of Parkinson's disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). We recently found that the neuronal phosphoprotein synapsin III (syn III) controls dopamine release via cooperation with α-syn and modulates α-syn aggregation. Here, we observed that LB and LN, in the substantia nigra of PD patients and hippocampus of one subject with DLB, displayed a marked immunopositivity for syn III. The in situ proximity ligation assay revealed the accumulation of numerous proteinase K-resistant neuropathological inclusions that contained both α-syn and syn III in tight association in the brain of affected subjects. Most strikingly, syn III was identified as a component of α-syn-positive fibrils in LB-enriched protein extracts from PD brains. Finally, a positive correlation between syn III and α-syn levels was detected in the caudate putamen of PD subjects. Collectively, these findings indicate that syn III is a crucial α-syn interactant and a key component of LB fibrils in the brain of patients affected by PD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bpa.12587DOI Listing
November 2018

Synergistic Association of Valproate and Resveratrol Reduces Brain Injury in Ischemic Stroke.

Int J Mol Sci 2018 Jan 6;19(1). Epub 2018 Jan 6.

Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, 25123 Brescia, Italy.

Histone deacetylation, together with altered acetylation of NF-κB/RelA, encompassing the K310 residue acetylation, occur during brain ischemia. By restoring the normal acetylation condition, we previously reported that sub-threshold doses of resveratrol and entinostat (MS-275), respectively, an activator of the AMP-activated kinase (AMPK)-sirtuin 1 pathway and an inhibitor of class I histone deacetylases (HDACs), synergistically elicited neuroprotection in a mouse model of ischemic stroke. To improve the translational power of this approach, we investigated the efficacy of MS-275 replacement with valproate, the antiepileptic drug also reported to be a class I HDAC blocker. In cortical neurons previously exposed to oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD), valproate elicited neuroprotection at 100 nmol/mL concentration when used alone and at 1 nmol/mL concentration when associated with resveratrol (3 nmol/mL). Resveratrol and valproate restored the acetylation of histone H3 (K9/18), and they reduced the RelA(K310) acetylation and the Bim level in neurons exposed to OGD. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis showed that the synergistic drug association impaired the RelA binding to the promoter, as well as the promoter-specific H3 (K9/18) acetylation. In mice subjected to 60 min of middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO), the association of resveratrol 680 µg/kg and valproate 200 µg/kg significantly reduced the infarct volume as well as the neurological deficits. The present study suggests that valproate and resveratrol may represent a promising ready-to-use strategy to treat post-ischemic brain damage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms19010172DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796121PMC
January 2018

Mitochondria and α-Synuclein: Friends or Foes in the Pathogenesis of Parkinson's Disease?

Genes (Basel) 2017 Dec 8;8(12). Epub 2017 Dec 8.

Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, 25123 Brescia, Italy.

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a movement disorder characterized by dopaminergic nigrostriatal neuron degeneration and the formation of Lewy bodies (LB), pathological inclusions containing fibrils that are mainly composed of α-synuclein. Dopaminergic neurons, for their intrinsic characteristics, have a high energy demand that relies on the efficiency of the mitochondria respiratory chain. Dysregulations of mitochondria, deriving from alterations of complex I protein or oxidative DNA damage, change the trafficking, size and morphology of these organelles. Of note, these mitochondrial bioenergetics defects have been related to PD. A series of experimental evidence supports that α-synuclein physiological action is relevant for mitochondrial homeostasis, while its pathological aggregation can negatively impinge on mitochondrial function. It thus appears that imbalances in the equilibrium between the reciprocal modulatory action of mitochondria and α-synuclein can contribute to PD onset by inducing neuronal impairment. This review will try to highlight the role of physiological and pathological α-synuclein in the modulation of mitochondrial functions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/genes8120377DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5748695PMC
December 2017

The End Is the Beginning: Parkinson's Disease in the Light of Brain Imaging.

Front Aging Neurosci 2017 10;9:330. Epub 2017 Oct 10.

Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy.

Parkinson's disease (PD), the most common neurodegenerative disorder, is characterized by abnormal accumulation of α-synuclein aggregates known as Lewy bodies (LB) and loss of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons. Recent neuroimaging studies suggest that in the early phases of PD, synaptic and axonal damage anticipate the onset of a frank neuronal death. Paralleling, even post mortem studies on the brain of affected patients and on animal models support that synapses might represent the primary sites of functional and pathological changes. Indeed, α-synuclein microaggregation and spreading at terminals, by dysregulating the synaptic junction, would block neurotransmitter release, thus triggering a retrograde neurodegenerative process ending with neuronal cell loss by proceeding through the axons. Rather than neurodegeneration, loss of dopaminergic neuronal endings and axons could thus underlie the onset of connectome dysfunction and symptoms in PD and parkinsonisms. However, the manifold biases deriving from the interpretation of human brain imaging data hinder the validation of this hypothesis. Here, we present pivotal evidence supporting that novel comparative brain imaging studies, in patients and experimental models of PD in preliminary stages of disease, could be instrumental for proving whether synaptic endings are the sites where degeneration begins and initiating the factual achievement of disease modifying approaches. The need for such investigations is timely to define an early therapeutic window of intervention to attempt disease halting by terminal and/or axonal healing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2017.00330DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5641408PMC
October 2017

Mild Inflammatory Profile without Gliosis in the c-Rel Deficient Mouse Modeling a Late-Onset Parkinsonism.

Front Aging Neurosci 2017 19;9:229. Epub 2017 Jul 19.

Laboratory of Pharmacology, Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of BresciaBrescia, Italy.

The impact of neuroinflammation and microglial activation to Parkinson's disease (PD) progression is still debated. Post-mortem analysis of PD brains has shown that neuroinflammation and microgliosis are key features of end-stage disease. However, microglia neuroimaging studies and evaluation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cytokines in PD patients at earlier stages do not support the occurrence of a pronounced neuroinflammatory process. PD animal models recapitulating the motor and non-motor features of the disease, and the slow and progressive neuropathology, can be of great advantage in understanding whether and how neuroinflammation associates with the onset of symptoms and neuronal loss. We recently described that 18-month-old NF-κB/c-Rel deficient mice (c-rel) develop a spontaneous late-onset PD-like phenotype encompassing L-DOPA-responsive motor impairment, nigrostriatal neuron degeneration, α-synuclein and iron accumulation. To assess whether inflammation and microglial activation accompany the onset and the progression of PD-like pathology, we investigated the expression of cytokines () and microglial/macrophage activation markers (), together with microglial ionized calcium binding adapter molecule 1 (Iba1) and astrocyte glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) immunolabeling, in the substantia nigra (SN) of c-rel mice, at premotor (4- and 13-month-old) and motor phases (18-month-old). By quantitative real-time RT-PCR we found increased M2c microglial/macrophage markers expression ( and ) in 4-month-old c-rel mice. M2-type transcription dropped down in 13-month-old c-rel mice. At this age, the pro-inflammatory , but not or the microglia-macrophage M1-polarization marker /CD16, increased when compared to wild-type (wt). Furthermore, no significant variation in the transcription of inflammatory and microglial/macrophage activation genes was present in 18-month-old c-rel mice, that display motor dysfunctions and dopaminergic neuronal loss. Immunofluorescence analysis of Iba1-positive cells in the SN revealed no sign of overt microglial activation in c-rel mice at all the time-points. MRC1-Iba1-positive cells were identified as non-parenchymal macrophages in 4-month-old c-rel mice. Finally, no sign of astrogliosis was detected in the SN of the diverse animal groups. In conclusion, this study supports the presence of a mild inflammatory profile without evident signs of gliosis in c-rel mice up to 18 months of age. It suggests that symptomatic PD-like phenotype can develop in the absence of concomitant severe inflammatory process.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2017.00229DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5515865PMC
July 2017

The Contribution of -Synuclein Spreading to Parkinson's Disease Synaptopathy.

Neural Plast 2017 3;2017:5012129. Epub 2017 Jan 3.

Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy.

Synaptopathies are diseases with synapse defects as shared pathogenic features, encompassing neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease (PD). In sporadic PD, the most common age-related neurodegenerative movement disorder, nigrostriatal dopaminergic deficits are responsible for the onset of motor symptoms that have been related to -synuclein deposition at synaptic sites. Indeed, -synuclein accumulation can impair synaptic dopamine release and induces the death of nigrostriatal neurons. While in physiological conditions the protein can interact with and modulate synaptic vesicle proteins and membranes, numerous experimental evidences have confirmed that its pathological aggregation can compromise correct neuronal functioning. In addition, recent findings indicate that -synuclein pathology spreads into the brain and can affect the peripheral autonomic and somatic nervous system. Indeed, monomeric, oligomeric, and fibrillary -synuclein can move from cell to cell and can trigger the aggregation of the endogenous protein in recipient neurons. This novel "prion-like" behavior could further contribute to synaptic failure in PD and other synucleinopathies. This review describes the major findings supporting the occurrence of -synuclein pathology propagation in PD and discusses how this phenomenon could induce or contribute to synaptic injury and degeneration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2017/5012129DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241463PMC
August 2017

Neuroprotective and Anti-Apoptotic Effects of CSP-1103 in Primary Cortical Neurons Exposed to Oxygen and Glucose Deprivation.

Int J Mol Sci 2017 Jan 18;18(1). Epub 2017 Jan 18.

Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Viale Europa 11, 25123 Brescia, Italy.

CSP-1103 (formerly CHF5074) has been shown to reverse memory impairment and reduce amyloid plaque as well as inflammatory microglia activation in preclinical models of Alzheimer's disease. Moreover, it was found to improve cognition and reduce brain inflammation in patients with mild cognitive impairment. Recent evidence suggests that CSP-1103 acts through a single molecular target, the amyloid precursor protein intracellular domain (AICD), a transcriptional regulator implicated in inflammation and apoptosis. We here tested the possible anti-apoptotic and neuroprotective activity of CSP-1103 in a cell-based model of post-ischemic injury, wherein the primary mouse cortical neurons were exposed to oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD). When added after OGD, CSP-1103 prevented the apoptosis cascade by reducing cytochrome c release and caspase-3 activation and the secondary necrosis. Additionally, CSP-1103 limited earlier activation of p38 and nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) pathways. These results demonstrate that CSP-1103 is neuroprotective in a model of post-ischemic brain injury and provide further mechanistic insights as regards its ability to reduce apoptosis and potential production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. In conclusion, these findings suggest a potential use of CSP-1103 for the treatment of brain ischemia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms18010184DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5297816PMC
January 2017

PEA and luteolin synergistically reduce mast cell-mediated toxicity and elicit neuroprotection in cell-based models of brain ischemia.

Brain Res 2016 10 14;1648(Pt A):409-417. Epub 2016 Jul 14.

Division of Pharmacology, Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, National Institute of Neuroscience, University of Brescia, Italy; IRCCS San Camillo, Venezia, Italy. Electronic address:

The combination of palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), an endogenous fatty acid amide belonging to the family of the N-acylethanolamines, and the flavonoid luteolin has been found to exert neuroprotective activities in a variety of mouse models of neurological disorders, including brain ischemia. Indirect findings suggest that the two molecules can reduce the activation of mastocytes in brain ischemia, thus modulating crucial cells that trigger the inflammatory cascade. Though, no evidence exists about a direct effect of PEA and luteolin on mast cells in experimental models of brain ischemia, either used separately or in combination. In order to fill this gap, we developed a novel cell-based model of severe brain ischemia consisting of primary mouse cortical neurons and cloned mast cells derived from mouse fetal liver (MC/9 cells) subjected to oxygen and glucose deprivation (OGD). OGD exposure promoted both mast cell degranulation and the release of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) in a time-dependent fashion. MC/9 cells exacerbated neuronal damage in neuron-mast cells co-cultures exposed to OGD. Likewise, the conditioned medium derived from OGD-exposed MC/9 cells induced significant neurotoxicity in control primary neurons. PEA and luteolin pre-treatment synergistically prevented the OGD-induced degranulation of mast cells and reduced the neurotoxic potential of MC/9 cells conditioned medium. Finally, the association of the two drugs promoted a direct synergistic neuroprotection even in pure cortical neurons exposed to OGD. In summary, our results indicate that mast cells release neurotoxic factors upon OGD-induced activation. The association PEA-luteolin actively reduces mast cell-mediated neurotoxicity as well as pure neurons susceptibility to OGD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2016.07.014DOI Listing
October 2016

Review: Parkinson's disease: from synaptic loss to connectome dysfunction.

Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol 2016 Feb;42(1):77-94

Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy.

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a common neurodegenerative disorder with prominent loss of nigro-striatal dopaminergic neurons. The resultant dopamine (DA) deficiency underlies the onset of typical motor symptoms (MS). Nonetheless, individuals affected by PD usually show a plethora of nonmotor symptoms (NMS), part of which may precede the onset of motor signs. Besides DA neuron degeneration, a key neuropathological alteration in the PD brain is Lewy pathology. This is characterized by abnormal intraneuronal (Lewy bodies) and intraneuritic (Lewy neurites) deposits of fibrillary aggregates mainly composed of α-synuclein. Lewy pathology has been hypothesized to progress in a stereotypical pattern over the course of PD and α-synuclein mutations and multiplications have been found to cause monogenic forms of the disease, thus raising the question as to whether this protein is pathogenic in this disorder. Findings showing that the majority of α-synuclein aggregates in PD are located at presynapses and this underlies the onset of synaptic and axonal degeneration, coupled to the fact that functional connectivity changes correlate with disease progression, strengthen this idea. Indeed, by altering the proper action of key molecules involved in the control of neurotransmitter release and re-cycling as well as synaptic and structural plasticity, α-synuclein deposition may crucially impair axonal trafficking, resulting in a series of noxious events, whose pressure may inevitably degenerate into neuronal damage and death. Here, we provide a timely overview of the molecular features of synaptic loss in PD and disclose their possible translation into clinical symptoms through functional disconnection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nan.12297DOI Listing
February 2016

Signal transduction and epigenetic mechanisms in the control of microglia activation during neuroinflammation.

Biochim Biophys Acta 2016 03 30;1862(3):339-51. Epub 2015 Oct 30.

Division of Pharmacology, Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia and Istituto Nazionale di Neuroscienze, Brescia, Italy; IRCCS, San Camillo Hospital, Venice, Italy. Electronic address:

Activation of microglia is a common denominator and a pathophysiological hallmark of the central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Damage or CNS disorders can trigger inflammatory responses in resident microglia and initiate a systemic immune system response. Although a repertoire of inflammatory responses differs in those diseases, there is a spectrum of transcriptionally activated genes that encode various mediators such as growth factors, inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, matrix metalloproteinases, enzymes producing lipid mediators, toxic molocules, all of which contribute to neuroinflammation. The initiation, progression and termination of inflammation requires global activation of gene expression, postranscriptional regulation, epigenetic modifications, changes in chromatin structure and these processes are tightly regulated by specific signaling pathways. This review focuses on the function of "master regulators" and epigenetic mechanisms in microglia activation during neuroinflammation. We review studies showing impact of epigenetic enzyme inhibitors on microglia activation in vitro and in vivo, and critically discuss potential of such molecules to prevent/moderate pathological events mediated by microglia under brain pathologies. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Neuro Inflammation edited by Helga E. de Vries and Markus Schwaninger.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2015.10.026DOI Listing
March 2016

NF-κB in Innate Neuroprotection and Age-Related Neurodegenerative Diseases.

Front Neurol 2015 20;6:98. Epub 2015 May 20.

Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, National Institute of Neuroscience, University of Brescia , Brescia , Italy ; IRCCS, San Camillo Hospital , Venice , Italy.

NF-κB factors are cardinal transcriptional regulators of inflammation and apoptosis, involved in the brain programing of systemic aging and in brain damage. The composition of NF-κB active dimers and epigenetic mechanisms modulating histone acetylation, finely condition neuronal resilience to brain insults. In stroke models, the activation of NF-κB/c-Rel promotes neuroprotective effects by transcription of specific anti-apoptotic genes. Conversely, aberrant activation of NF-κB/RelA showing reduced level of total acetylation, but site-specific acetylation on lysine 310, triggers the expression of pro-apoptotic genes. Constitutive knockout of c-Rel shatters the resilience of substantia nigra (SN) dopaminergic (DA) neurons to aging and induces a parkinsonian like pathology in mice. c-rel(-/-) mice show increased level of aberrantly acetylated RelA in the basal ganglia, neuroinflammation, accumulation of alpha-synuclein, and iron. Moreover, they develop motor deficits responsive to l-DOPA treatment and associated with loss of DA neurons in the SN. Here, we discuss the effect of unbalanced activation of RelA and c-Rel during aging and propose novel challenges for the development of therapeutic strategies in neurodegenerative diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2015.00098DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4438602PMC
June 2015

α-synuclein and synapsin III cooperatively regulate synaptic function in dopamine neurons.

J Cell Sci 2015 Jul 12;128(13):2231-43. Epub 2015 May 12.

Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, 25123, Brescia, Italy

The main neuropathological features of Parkinson's disease are dopaminergic nigrostriatal neuron degeneration, and intraneuronal and intraneuritic proteinaceous inclusions named Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites, respectively, which mainly contain α-synuclein (α-syn, also known as SNCA). The neuronal phosphoprotein synapsin III (also known as SYN3), is a pivotal regulator of dopamine neuron synaptic function. Here, we show that α-syn interacts with and modulates synapsin III. The absence of α-syn causes a selective increase and redistribution of synapsin III, and changes the organization of synaptic vesicle pools in dopamine neurons. In α-syn-null mice, the alterations of synapsin III induce an increased locomotor response to the stimulation of synapsin-dependent dopamine overflow, despite this, these mice show decreased basal and depolarization-dependent striatal dopamine release. Of note, synapsin III seems to be involved in α-syn aggregation, which also coaxes its increase and redistribution. Furthermore, synapsin III accumulates in the caudate and putamen of individuals with Parkinson's disease. These findings support a reciprocal modulatory interaction of α-syn and synapsin III in the regulation of dopamine neuron synaptic function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jcs.157867DOI Listing
July 2015

Mitochondrial Dysfunction and α-Synuclein Synaptic Pathology in Parkinson's Disease: Who's on First?

Parkinsons Dis 2015 31;2015:108029. Epub 2015 Mar 31.

Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine and National Institute of Neuroscience, University of Brescia, Viale Europa 11, 25123 Brescia, Italy.

Parkinson's disease (PD) is the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder. Its characteristic neuropathological features encompass the loss of dopaminergic neurons of the nigrostriatal system and the presence of Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites. These are intraneuronal and intraneuritic proteinaceous insoluble aggregates whose main constituent is the synaptic protein α-synuclein. Compelling lines of evidence indicate that mitochondrial dysfunction and α-synuclein synaptic deposition may play a primary role in the onset of this disorder. However, it is not yet clear which of these events may come first in the sequel of processes leading to neurodegeneration. Here, we reviewed data supporting either that α-synuclein synaptic deposition precedes and indirectly triggers mitochondrial damage or that mitochondrial deficits lead to neuronal dysfunction and α-synuclein synaptic accumulation. The present overview shows that it is still difficult to establish the exact temporal sequence and contribution of these events to PD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/108029DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4396726PMC
April 2015

EGFR amplified and overexpressing glioblastomas and association with better response to adjuvant metronomic temozolomide.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2015 May 3;107(5). Epub 2015 Mar 3.

Pathology (MC, BL, MFB, DM, VP, FF, PLP) and Pharmacology Units (CB, MP), Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia and National Institute of Neuroscience, Italy; Medical Oncology (SG), Neurosurgery (LB), Radiation Oncology (MB), and Neuroradiology Departments (RL), Spedali Civili of Brescia, University of Brescia, Italy; Neural Stem Cell Biology Unit, Division of Regenerative Medicine, Stem Cells & Gene Therapy, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan (SM, RG); Pathology Unit, Department of Surgical and Morphological Sciences, University of Insubria, Italy (DF); Neurological Institute Besta, Milan, Italy (SP, GF); Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Pathology & Cell Biology and Department of Medicine, Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases, Columbia University, New York, NY (PD); IRCCS San Camillo Hospital, Venice, Italy (MP).

Background: Lack of robust predictive biomarkers, other than MGMT promoter methylation, makes temozolomide responsiveness in newly diagnosed glioblastoma (GBM) patients difficult to predict. However, we identified patients with long-term survival (≥35 months) within a group of newly diagnosed GBM patients treated with standard or metronomic adjuvant temozolomide schedules. We thus investigated possible molecular profiles associated with longer survival following temozolomide treatment.

Methods: We investigated the association of molecular features with progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS). Human-derived GBM cancer stem cells (CSCs) were used to investigate in vitro molecular mechanisms associated with temozolomide responsiveness. Surgically removed recurrences allowed investigation of molecular changes occurring during therapy in vivo. Statistical analyses included one- and two-way analysis of variance, Student's t test, Cox proportional hazards, and the Kaplan-Meier method. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: No association was found between survival and gene classifiers associated with different molecular GBM subtypes in the standard-treated group, while in metronomic-treated patients robust association was found between EGFR amplification/overexpression and PFS and OS (OS, EGFR-high vs low: hazard ratiodeath = 0.22, 95% confidence interval = 0.09 to 0.55, P = .001). The result for OS remained statistically significant after Bonferroni correction (P interaction < .0005). Long-term survival following metronomic temozolomide was independent from MGMT and EGFRvIII status and was more pronounced in EGFR-overexpressing GBM patients with PTEN loss. In vitro findings confirmed a selective dose- and time-dependent decrease in survival of temozolomide-treated EGFR+ human-derived glioblastoma CSCs, which occurred through inhibition of NF-κB transcriptional activity. In addition, reduction in EGFR-amplified cells, along with a statistically significant decrease in NF-κB/p65 expression, were observed in specimens from recurrent metronomic-treated EGFR-overexpressing GBM patients.

Conclusions: EGFR-amplified/overexpressing glioblastomas strongly benefit from metronomic temozolomide-based therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djv041DOI Listing
May 2015

Pharmacological targeting of the β-amyloid precursor protein intracellular domain.

Sci Rep 2014 Apr 9;4:4618. Epub 2014 Apr 9.

1] Department of Molecular & Translational Medicine and National Institute of Neuroscience, School of Medicine, University of Brescia, Italy [2] IRCCS, San Camillo Hospital, Venice, Italy.

Amyloid precursor protein (APP) intracellular domain (AICD) is a product of APP processing with transcriptional modulation activity, whose overexpression causes various Alzheimer's disease (AD)-related dysfunctions. Here we report that 1-(3',4'-dichloro-2-fluoro[1,1'-biphenyl]-4-yl)-cyclopropanecarboxylic acid) (CHF5074), a compound that favorably affects neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation and memory deficit in transgenic mouse models of AD, interacts with the AICD and impairs its nuclear activity. In neuroglioma-APPswe cells, CHF5074 shifted APP cleavage from Aβ42 to the less toxic Aβ38 peptide without affecting APP-C-terminal fragment, nor APP levels. As revealed by photoaffinity labeling, CHF5074 does not interact with γ-secretase, but binds to the AICD and lowers its nuclear translocation. In vivo treatment with CHF5074 reduced AICD occupancy as well as histone H3 acetylation levels and transcriptional output of the AICD-target gene KAI1. The data provide new mechanistic insights on this compound, which is under clinical investigation for AD treatment/prevention, as well as on the contribution of the AICD to AD pathology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep04618DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3980230PMC
April 2014