Publications by authors named "Stefania Marcuzzo"

16 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Dysregulation of Muscle-Specific MicroRNAs as Common Pathogenic Feature Associated with Muscle Atrophy in ALS, SMA and SBMA: Evidence from Animal Models and Human Patients.

Int J Mol Sci 2021 May 26;22(11). Epub 2021 May 26.

Neurology IV-Neuroimmunology and Neuromuscular Diseases Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Via Celoria 11, 20133 Milan, Italy.

Motor neuron diseases (MNDs) are neurodegenerative disorders characterized by upper and/or lower MN loss. MNDs include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), and spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA). Despite variability in onset, progression, and genetics, they share a common skeletal muscle involvement, suggesting that it could be a primary site for MND pathogenesis. Due to the key role of muscle-specific microRNAs (myomiRs) in skeletal muscle development, by real-time PCR we investigated the expression of miR-206, miR-133a, miR-133b, and miR-1, and their target genes, in G93A-SOD1 ALS, Δ7SMA, and KI-SBMA mouse muscle during disease progression. Further, we analyzed their expression in serum of -mutated ALS, SMA, and SBMA patients, to demonstrate myomiR role as noninvasive biomarkers. Our data showed a dysregulation of myomiRs and their targets, in ALS, SMA, and SBMA mice, revealing a common pathogenic feature associated with muscle impairment. A similar myomiR signature was observed in patients' sera. In particular, an up-regulation of miR-206 was identified in both mouse muscle and serum of human patients. Our overall findings highlight the role of myomiRs as promising biomarkers in ALS, SMA, and SBMA. Further investigations are needed to explore the potential of myomiRs as therapeutic targets for MND treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms22115673DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8198536PMC
May 2021

CXCL13/CXCR5 signalling is pivotal to preserve motor neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

EBioMedicine 2020 Dec 9;62:103097. Epub 2020 Nov 9.

Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology, Department of Neuroscience, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Via Mario Negri 2, Milan 20156, Italy. Electronic address:

Background: CXCL13 is a B and T lymphocyte chemokine that mediates neuroinflammation through its receptor CXCR5. This chemokine is highly expressed by motoneurons (MNs) in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) SOD1G93A (mSOD1) mice during the disease, particularly in fast-progressing mice. Accordingly, in this study, we investigated the role of this chemokine in ALS.

Methods: We used in vitro and in vivo experimental paradigms derived from ALS mice and patients to investigate the expression level and distribution of CXCL13/CXCR5 axis and its role in MN death and disease progression. Moreover, we compared the levels of CXCL13 in the CSF and serum of ALS patients and controls.

Findings: CXCL13 and CXCR5 are overexpressed in the spinal MNs and peripheral axons in mSOD1 mice. CXCL13 inhibition in the CNS of ALS mice resulted in the exacerbation of motor impairment (n = 4/group;Mean_Diff.=27.81) and decrease survival (n = 14_Treated:19.2 ± 1.05wks, n = 17_Controls:20.2 ± 0.6wks; 95% CI: 0.4687-1.929). This was corroborated by evidence from primary spinal cultures where the inhibition or activation of CXCL13 exacerbated or prevented the MN loss. Besides, we found that CXCL13/CXCR5 axis is overexpressed in the spinal cord MNs of ALS patients, and CXCL13 levels in the CSF discriminate ALS (n = 30) from Multiple Sclerosis (n = 16) patients with a sensitivity of 97.56%.

Interpretation: We hypothesise that MNs activate CXCL13 signalling to attenuate CNS inflammation and prevent the neuromuscular denervation. The low levels of CXCL13 in the CSF of ALS patients might reflect the MN dysfunction, suggesting this chemokine as a potential clinical adjunct to discriminate ALS from other neurological diseases.

Funding: Vaccinex, Inc.; Regione Lombardia (TRANS-ALS).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2020.103097DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7670099PMC
December 2020

miR-146a in Myasthenia Gravis Thymus Bridges Innate Immunity With Autoimmunity and Is Linked to Therapeutic Effects of Corticosteroids.

Front Immunol 2020 10;11:142. Epub 2020 Mar 10.

Neurology IV-Neuroimmunology and Neuromuscular Diseases Unit, Fondazione I.R.C.C.S. Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Milan, Italy.

Toll-like receptor (TLR)-mediated innate immune responses are critically involved in the pathogenesis of myasthenia gravis (MG), an autoimmune disorder affecting neuromuscular junction mainly mediated by antiacetylcholine receptor antibodies. Considerable evidence indicate that uncontrolled TLR activation and chronic inflammation significantly contribute to hyperplastic changes and germinal center (GC) formation in the MG thymus, ultimately leading to autoantibody production and autoimmunity. miR-146a is a key modulator of innate immunity, whose dysregulation has been associated with autoimmune diseases. It acts as inhibitor of TLR pathways, mainly by targeting the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) signaling transducers, interleukin 1 receptor associated kinase 1 (IRAK1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor associated factor 6 (TRAF6); miR-146a is also able to target c-REL, inducible T-cell costimulator (ICOS), and Fas cell surface death receptor (FAS), known to regulate B-cell function and GC response. Herein, we investigated the miR-146a contribution to the intrathymic MG pathogenesis. By real-time PCR, we found that miR-146a expression was significantly downregulated in hyperplastic MG compared to control thymuses; contrariwise, IRAK1, TRAF6, c-REL, and ICOS messenger RNA (mRNA) levels were upregulated and negatively correlated with miR-146a levels. Microdissection experiments revealed that miR-146a deficiency in hyperplastic MG thymuses was not due to GCs, but restricted to the GC-surrounding medulla, characterized by IRAK1 overexpression. We also showed higher c-REL and ICOS mRNA levels, and lower FAS mRNA levels, in GCs than in the remaining medulla, according to the contribution of these molecules in GC formation. By double immunofluorescence, an increased proportion of IRAK1-expressing dendritic cells and macrophages was found in hyperplastic MG compared to control thymuses, along with GC immunoreactivity for c-REL. Interestingly, in corticosteroid-treated MG patients intrathymic miR-146a and mRNA target levels were comparable to those of controls, suggesting that immunosuppressive therapy may restore the microRNA (miRNA) levels. Indeed, an effect of prednisone on miR-146a expression was demonstrated on peripheral blood cells. Serum miR-146a levels were lower in MG patients compared to controls, indicating dysregulation of the circulating miRNA. Our overall findings strongly suggest that defective miR-146a expression could contribute to persistent TLR activation, lack of inflammation resolution, and hyperplastic changes in MG thymuses, thus linking TLR-mediated innate immunity to B-cell-mediated autoimmunity. Furthermore, they unraveled a new mechanism of action of corticosteroids in inducing control of autoimmunity in MG via miR-146a.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.00142DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7075812PMC
March 2021

Circulating MyomiRs as Potential Biomarkers to Monitor Response to Nusinersen in Pediatric SMA Patients.

Biomedicines 2020 Jan 26;8(2). Epub 2020 Jan 26.

Neurology IV-Neuroimmunology and Neuromuscular Diseases Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Via Celoria 11, 20133 Milan, Italy.

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in survival motor neuron (SMN) 1 gene, resulting in a truncated SMN protein responsible for degeneration of brain stem and spinal motor neurons. The paralogous SMN2 gene partially compensates full-length SMN protein production, mitigating the phenotype. Antisense oligonucleotide nusinersen (Spinraza) enhances SMN2 gene expression. SMN is involved in RNA metabolism and biogenesis of microRNA (miRNA), key gene expression modulators, whose dysregulation contributes to neuromuscular diseases. They are stable in body fluids and may reflect distinct pathophysiological states, thus acting as promising biomarkers. Muscle-specific miRNAs (myomiRs) as biomarkers for clinical use in SMA have not been investigated yet. Here, we analyzed the expression of miR-133a, -133b, -206 and -1, in serum of 21 infantile SMA patients at baseline and after 6 months of nusinersen treatment, and correlated molecular data with response to therapy evaluated by the Hammersmith Functional Motor Scale Expanded (HFMSE). Our results demonstrate that myomiR serological levels decrease over disease course upon nusinersen treatment. Notably, miR-133a reduction predicted patients' response to therapy. Our findings identify myomiRs as potential biomarkers to monitor disease progression and therapeutic response in SMA patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines8020021DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7168147PMC
January 2020

Hyperexcitability in Cultured Cortical Neuron Networks from the G93A-SOD1 Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Model Mouse and its Molecular Correlates.

Neuroscience 2019 09 7;416:88-99. Epub 2019 Aug 7.

World Research Hub Initiative (WRHI), Institute of Innovative Research, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Yokohama 226-8503, Japan; Complex Systems Theory Department, Institute of Nuclear Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences (IFJ-PAN), 31-342 Kraków, Poland; Center for Mind/Brain Sciences (CIMeC), University of Trento, 38123 Trento, Italy.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease affecting the corticospinal tract and leading to motor neuron death. According to a recent study, magnetic resonance imaging-visible changes suggestive of neurodegeneration seem absent in the motor cortex of G93A-SOD1 ALS mice. However, it has not yet been ascertained whether the cortical neural activity is intact, or alterations are present, perhaps even from an early stage. Here, cortical neurons from this model were isolated at post-natal day 1 and cultured on multielectrode arrays. Their activity was studied with a comprehensive pool of neurophysiological analyses probing excitability, criticality and network architecture, alongside immunocytochemistry and molecular investigations. Significant hyperexcitability was visible through increased network firing rate and bursting, whereas topological changes in the synchronization patterns were apparently absent. The number of dendritic spines was increased, accompanied by elevated transcriptional levels of the DLG4 gene, NMDA receptor 1 and the early pro-apoptotic APAF1 gene. The extracellular Na, Ca, K and Cl concentrations were elevated, pointing to perturbations in the culture micro-environment. Our findings highlight remarkable early changes in ALS cortical neuron activity and physiology. These changes suggest that the causative factors of hyperexcitability and associated toxicity could become established much earlier than the appearance of disease symptoms, with implications for the discovery of new hypothetical therapeutic targets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2019.07.041DOI Listing
September 2019

FM19G11-Loaded Gold Nanoparticles Enhance the Proliferation and Self-Renewal of Ependymal Stem Progenitor Cells Derived from ALS Mice.

Cells 2019 03 23;8(3). Epub 2019 Mar 23.

Neurology IV-Neuroimmunology and Neuromuscular Diseases Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico "Carlo Besta", 20133 Milan, Italy.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting motor neurons. In ALS mice, neurodegeneration is associated with the proliferative restorative attempts of ependymal stem progenitor cells (epSPCs) that normally lie in a quiescent in the spinal cord. Thus, modulation of the proliferation of epSPCs may represent a potential strategy to counteract neurodegeneration. Recent studies demonstrated that FM19G11, a hypoxia-inducible factor modulator, induces epSPC self-renewal and proliferation. The aim of the study was to investigate whether FM19G11-loaded gold nanoparticles (NPs) can affect self-renewal and proliferation processes in epSPCs isolated from G93A-SOD1 mice at disease onset. We discovered elevated levels of SOX2, OCT4, AKT1, and AKT3, key genes associated with pluripotency, self-renewal, and proliferation, in G93A-SOD1 epSPCs at the transcriptional and protein levels after treatment with FM19G11-loaded NPs. We also observed an increase in the levels of the mitochondrial uncoupling protein () gene in treated cells. FM19G11-loaded NPs treatment also affected the expression of the cell cycle-related microRNA (miR)-19a, along with its target gene PTEN, in G93A-SOD1 epSPCs. Overall our findings establish the significant impact of FM19G11-loaded NPs on the cellular pathways involved in self-renewal and proliferation in G93A-SOD1 epSPCs, thus providing an impetus to the design of novel tailored approaches to delay ALS disease progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells8030279DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6468696PMC
March 2019

VAPB depletion alters neuritogenesis and phosphoinositide balance in motoneuron-like cells: relevance to VAPB-linked amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

J Cell Sci 2019 04 3;132(7). Epub 2019 Apr 3.

Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Neuroscience Institute and BIOMETRA Department, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan 20129, Italy

VAPB and VAPA are ubiquitously expressed endoplasmic reticulum membrane proteins that play key roles in lipid exchange at membrane contact sites. A mutant, aggregation-prone, form of VAPB (P56S) is linked to a dominantly inherited form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; however, it has been unclear whether its pathogenicity is due to toxic gain of function, to negative dominance, or simply to insufficient levels of the wild-type protein produced from a single allele (haploinsufficiency). To investigate whether reduced levels of functional VAPB, independently from the presence of the mutant form, affect the physiology of mammalian motoneuron-like cells, we generated NSC34 clones, from which VAPB was partially or nearly completely depleted. VAPA levels, determined to be over fourfold higher than those of VAPB in untransfected cells, were unaffected. Nonetheless, cells with even partially depleted VAPB showed an increase in Golgi- and acidic vesicle-localized phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate (PI4P) and reduced neurite extension when induced to differentiate. Conversely, the PI4 kinase inhibitors PIK93 and IN-10 increased neurite elongation. Thus, for long-term survival, motoneurons might require the full dose of functional VAPB, which may have unique function(s) that VAPA cannot perform.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jcs.220061DOI Listing
April 2019

Epstein-Barr virus in tumor-infiltrating B cells of myasthenia gravis thymoma: an innocent bystander or an autoimmunity mediator?

Oncotarget 2017 Nov 8;8(56):95432-95449. Epub 2017 Sep 8.

Neurology IV - Neuroimmunology and Neuromuscular Diseases Unit, Fondazione Istituto Neurologico "Carlo Besta", 20133 Milan, Italy.

The thymus plays a key role in myasthenia gravis (MG), a B cell-mediated autoimmune disorder affecting neuromuscular junction. Most MG patients have thymic abnormalities, including hyperplasia and thymoma, a neoplasm of thymic epithelial cells. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is associated with autoimmune diseases and tumors. Recently, we showed EBV persistence and reactivation in hyperplastic MG thymuses, suggesting that EBV might contribute to intra-thymic B cell dysregulation in MG patients. Here, we investigated EBV involvement in thymoma-associated MG, by searching for EBV markers in MG (n=26) and non-MG (n=14) thymomas. EBV DNA and EBV-encoded small nuclear RNA (EBER) 1 transcript were detected in 14/26 (53.8%) and 22/26 (84.6%) MG thymomas, and only in 3 of 14 (21.4%) non-MG thymomas. Latent EBNA2 and late gp350/220 lytic transcripts were undetectable in all, but one, thymomas, and early lytic BZLF1 transcript was absent in all samples, suggesting that early infection events and EBV reactivation were very rare in thymomas. EBER1 and 2-positive cells were detected in MG, but not in non-MG, thymomas, as well as cells expressing EBV latency proteins (EBNA1, LMP1, LMP2A), that were mainly of B cell phenotype, indicating EBV association with MG rather than with thymoma. Toll-like receptor (TLR) 3 transcriptional levels were higher in MG than non-MG thymomas and positively correlated with EBER1 levels, suggesting a role for EBERs in TLR3 activation. Our findings show that EBV is commonly present in thymoma-infiltrating B cells of myasthenic patients, indicating a contribution of EBV to B cell-mediated autoreactivity in MG associated with thymic tumor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.20731DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707033PMC
November 2017

A longitudinal DTI and histological study of the spinal cord reveals early pathological alterations in G93A-SOD1 mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Exp Neurol 2017 07 27;293:43-52. Epub 2017 Mar 27.

Neurology IV -Neuroimmunology and Neuromuscular Diseases Unit, Fondazione Istituto Neurologico "Carlo Besta", Milan 20133, Italy. Electronic address:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by selective motor neuron degeneration in the motor cortex, brainstem and spinal cord. It is generally accepted that ALS is caused by death of motor neurons, however the exact temporal cascade of degenerative processes is not yet completely known. To identify the early pathological changes in spinal cord of G93A-SOD1 ALS mice we performed a comprehensive longitudinal analysis employing diffusion-tensor magnetic resonance imaging alongside histology and electron microscopy, in parallel with peripheral nerve histology. We showed the gradient of degeneration appearance in spinal cord white and gray matter, starting earliest in the ventral white matter, due to a cascade of pathological events including axon dysfunction and mitochondrial changes. Notably, we found that even the main sensory regions are affected by the neurodegenerative process at symptomatic disease phase. Overall our results attest the applicability of DTI in determining disease progression in ALS mice. These findings suggest that DTI could be potentially adapted in humans to aid the assessment of ALS progression and eventually the evaluation of treatment efficacy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2017.03.018DOI Listing
July 2017

Comparison of Diffusion MRI Acquisition Protocols for the In Vivo Characterization of the Mouse Spinal Cord: Variability Analysis and Application to an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Model.

PLoS One 2016 25;11(8):e0161646. Epub 2016 Aug 25.

Scientific Direction, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico "Carlo Besta" Milan, Italy.

Diffusion-weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging (dMRI) has relevant applications in the microstructural characterization of the spinal cord, especially in neurodegenerative diseases. Animal models have a pivotal role in the study of such diseases; however, in vivo spinal dMRI of small animals entails additional challenges that require a systematical investigation of acquisition parameters. The purpose of this study is to compare three acquisition protocols and identify the scanning parameters allowing a robust estimation of the main diffusion quantities and a good sensitivity to neurodegeneration in the mouse spinal cord. For all the protocols, the signal-to-noise and contrast-to noise ratios and the mean value and variability of Diffusion Tensor metrics were evaluated in healthy controls. For the estimation of fractional anisotropy less variability was provided by protocols with more diffusion directions, for the estimation of mean, axial and radial diffusivity by protocols with fewer diffusion directions and higher diffusion weighting. Intermediate features (12 directions, b = 1200 s/mm2) provided the overall minimum inter- and intra-subject variability in most cases. In order to test the diagnostic sensitivity of the protocols, 7 G93A-SOD1 mice (model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) at 10 and 17 weeks of age were scanned and the derived diffusion parameters compared with those estimated in age-matched healthy animals. The protocols with an intermediate or high number of diffusion directions provided the best differentiation between the two groups at week 17, whereas only few local significant differences were highlighted at week 10. According to our results, a dMRI protocol with an intermediate number of diffusion gradient directions and a relatively high diffusion weighting is optimal for spinal cord imaging. Further work is needed to confirm these results and for a finer tuning of acquisition parameters. Nevertheless, our findings could be important for the optimization of acquisition protocols for preclinical and clinical dMRI studies on the spinal cord.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0161646PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4999133PMC
August 2017

ALS mouse model SOD1G93A displays early pathology of sensory small fibers associated to accumulation of a neurotoxic splice variant of peripherin.

Hum Mol Genet 2016 Apr 9;25(8):1588-99. Epub 2016 Feb 9.

3rd Neurology Unit and

Growing evidence suggests that amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a multisystem neurodegenerative disease that primarily affects motor neurons and, though less evidently, other neuronal systems. About 75% of sporadic and familial ALS patients show a subclinical degeneration of small-diameter fibers, as measured by loss of intraepidermal nerve fibers (IENFs), but the underlying biological causes are unknown. Small-diameter fibers are derived from small-diameter sensory neurons, located in dorsal root ganglia (DRG), whose biochemical hallmark is the expression of type III intermediate filament peripherin. We tested here the hypothesis that small-diameter DRG neurons of ALS mouse model SOD1(G93A)suffer from axonal stress and investigated the underlying molecular mechanism. We found that SOD1(G93A)mice display small fiber pathology, as measured by IENF loss, which precedes the onset of the disease. In vitro small-diameter DRG neurons of SOD1(G93A)mice show axonal stress features and accumulation of a peripherin splice variant, named peripherin56, which causes axonal stress through disassembling light and medium neurofilament subunits (NFL and NFM, respectively). Our findings first demonstrate that small-diameter DRG neurons of the ALS mouse model SOD1(G93A)display axonal stress in vitro and in vivo, thus sustaining the hypothesis that the effects of ALS disease spread beyond motor neurons. These results suggest a molecular mechanism for the small fiber pathology found in ALS patients. Finally, our data agree with previous findings, suggesting a key role of peripherin in the ALS pathogenesis, thus highlighting that DRG neurons mirror some dysfunctions found in motor neurons.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddw035DOI Listing
April 2016

Increased expression of Toll-like receptors 7 and 9 in myasthenia gravis thymus characterized by active Epstein-Barr virus infection.

Immunobiology 2016 Apr 12;221(4):516-27. Epub 2015 Dec 12.

Neurology IV-Neuroimmunology and Neuromuscular Diseases Unit, Fondazione Istituto Neurologico "Carlo Besta", Via Celoria 11, 20133 Milan, Italy. Electronic address:

Considerable data implicate the thymus as the main site of autosensitization to the acetylcholine receptor in myasthenia gravis (MG), a B-cell-mediated autoimmune disease affecting the neuromuscular junction. We recently demonstrated an active Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection in the thymus of MG patients, suggesting that EBV might contribute to the onset or maintenance of the autoimmune response within MG thymus, because of its ability to activate and immortalize autoreactive B cells. EBV has been reported to elicit and modulate Toll-like receptor (TLR) 7- and TLR9-mediated innate immune responses, which are known to favor B-cell dysfunction and autoimmunity. Aim of this study was to investigate whether EBV infection is associated with altered expression of TLR7 and TLR9 in MG thymus. By real-time PCR, we found that TLR7 and TLR9 mRNA levels were significantly higher in EBV-positive MG compared to EBV-negative normal thymuses. By confocal microscopy, high expression levels of TLR7 and TLR9 proteins were observed in B cells and plasma cells of MG thymic germinal centers (GCs) and lymphoid infiltrates, where the two receptors co-localized with EBV antigens. An increased frequency of Ki67-positive proliferating B cells was found in MG thymuses, where we also detected proliferating cells expressing TLR7, TLR9 and EBV antigens, thus supporting the idea that EBV-associated TLR7/9 signaling may promote abnormal B-cell activation and proliferation. Along with B cells and plasma cells, thymic epithelium, plasmacytoid dendritic cells and macrophages exhibited enhanced TLR7 and TLR9 expression in MG thymus; TLR7 was also increased in thymic myeloid dendritic cells and its transcriptional levels positively correlated with those of interferon (IFN)-β. We suggested that TLR7/9 signaling may be involved in antiviral type I IFN production and long-term inflammation in EBV-infected MG thymuses. Our overall findings indicate that EBV-driven TLR7- and TLR9-mediated innate immune responses may participate in the intra-thymic pathogenesis of MG.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.imbio.2015.12.007DOI Listing
April 2016

Up-regulation of neural and cell cycle-related microRNAs in brain of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mice at late disease stage.

Mol Brain 2015 Jan 28;8. Epub 2015 Jan 28.

Neurology IV - Neuromuscular Diseases and Neuroimmunology Unit, Fondazione Istituto Neurologico "Carlo Besta", Via Celoria 11, Milan, 20133, Italy.

Background: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by selective motor neuron degeneration in motor cortex, brainstem and spinal cord. microRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that bind complementary target sequences and modulate gene expression; they are key molecules for establishing a neuronal phenotype, and in neurodegeneration. Here we investigated neural miR-9, miR-124a, miR-125b, miR-219, miR-134, and cell cycle-related miR-19a and -19b, in G93A-SOD1 mouse brain in pre-symptomatic and late stage disease.

Results: Expression of miR-9, miR-124a, miR-19a and -19b was significantly increased in G93A-SOD1 whole brain at late stage disease compared to B6.SJL and Wt-SOD1 control brains. These miRNAs were then analyzed in manually dissected SVZ, hippocampus, primary motor cortex and brainstem motor nuclei in 18-week-old ALS mice compared to same age controls. In SVZ and hippocampus miR-124a was up-regulated, miR-219 was down-regulated, and numbers of neural stem progenitor cells (NSPCs) were significantly increased. In G93A-SOD1 brainstem motor nuclei and primary motor cortex, miR-9 and miR-124a were significantly up-regulated, miR-125b expression was also increased. miR-19a and -19b were up-regulated in primary motor cortex and hippocampus, respectively. Expression analysis of predicted miRNA targets identified miRNA/target gene pairs differentially expressed in G93A-SOD1 brain regions compared to controls.

Conclusions: Hierarchical clustering analysis, identifying two clusters of miRNA/target genes, one characterizing brainstem motor nuclei and primary motor cortex, the other hippocampus and SVZ, suggests that altered expression of neural and cell cycle-related miRNAs in these brain regions might contribute to ALS pathogenesis in G93A-SOD1 mice. Re-establishing their expression to normal levels could be a new therapeutic approach to ALS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13041-015-0095-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4318136PMC
January 2015

Altered miRNA expression is associated with neuronal fate in G93A-SOD1 ependymal stem progenitor cells.

Exp Neurol 2014 Mar 21;253:91-101. Epub 2013 Dec 21.

Neurology IV-Neuromuscular Diseases and Neuroimmunology Unit, Fondazione Istituto Neurologico "Carlo Besta" (INNCB), Via Celoria 11, 20133 Milan, Italy. Electronic address:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive motoneuron loss in the CNS. In G93A-SOD1 mice, motoneuron degeneration is associated with proliferative restorative attempts of ependymal stem progenitor cells (epSPCs), usually quiescent in the spinal cord. The aims of the study were to demonstrate that epSPCs isolated from the spinal cord of G93A-SOD1 mice express neurogenic potential in vitro, and thus gain a better understanding of epSPC neural differentiation properties. For this purpose, we compared the ability of epSPCs from asymptomatic and symptomatic G93A-SOD1 and WT SOD1 transgenic mice to proliferate and differentiate into neural cells. Compared to control cells, G93A-SOD1 epSPCs differentiated more into neurons than into astrocytes, whereas oligodendrocyte proportions were similar in the two populations. G93A-SOD1 neurons were small and astrocytes had an activated phenotype. Evaluation of microRNAs, specific for neural cell fate and cell-cycle regulation, in G93A-SOD1 epSPCs showed that miR-9, miR-124a, miR-19a and miR-19b were differentially expressed. Expression analysis of the predicted miRNA targets allowed identification of a functional network in which Hes1, Pten, Socs1, and Stat3 genes were important for controlling epSPC fate. Our findings demonstrate that G93A-SOD1 epSPCs are a source of multipotent cells that have neurogenic potential in vitro, and might be a useful tool to investigate the mechanisms of neural differentiation in relation to miRNA expression whose modulation might constitute new targeted therapeutic approaches to ALS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2013.12.007DOI Listing
March 2014

Hind limb muscle atrophy precedes cerebral neuronal degeneration in G93A-SOD1 mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a longitudinal MRI study.

Exp Neurol 2011 Sep 14;231(1):30-7. Epub 2011 May 14.

Department of Neurology IV, Neuromuscular Diseases and Neuroimmunology, Fondazione Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Milan, 20133, Italy.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, fatal, neurodegenerative disorder caused by the degeneration of motor neurons in the CNS, which results in complete paralysis of skeletal muscles. Recent experimental studies have suggested that the disease could initiate in skeletal muscle, rather than in the motor neurons. To establish the timeframe of motor neuron degeneration in relation to muscle atrophy in motor neuron disease, we have used MRI to monitor changes throughout disease in brain and skeletal muscle of G93A-SOD1 mice, a purported model of ALS. Longitudinal MRI examination of the same animals indicated that muscle volume in the G93A-SOD1 mice was significantly reduced from as early as week 8 of life, 4 weeks prior to clinical onset. Progressive muscle atrophy from week 8 onwards was confirmed by histological analysis. In contrast, brain MRI indicated that neurodegeneration occurs later in G93A-SOD1 mice, with hyperintensity MRI signals detected only at weeks 10-18. Neurodegenerative changes were observed only in the motor nuclei areas of the brainstem; MRI changes indicative of neurodegeneration were not detected in the motor cortex where first motor neurons originate, even at the late disease stage. This longitudinal MRI study establishes unequivocally that, in the experimental murine model of ALS, muscle degeneration occurs before any evidence of neurodegeneration and clinical signs, supporting the postulate that motor neuron disease can initiate from muscle damage and result from retrograde dying-back of the motor neurons.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2011.05.007DOI Listing
September 2011