Publications by authors named "Waldo Cerpa"

42 Publications

WNT Signaling Is a Key Player in Alzheimer's Disease.

Handb Exp Pharmacol 2021 Sep 6. Epub 2021 Sep 6.

Centro de Excelencia en Biomedicina de Magallanes (CEBIMA), Escuela de Medicina, Universidad de Magallanes, Punta Arenas, Chile.

The cellular processes regulated by WNT signaling have been mainly studied during embryonic development and cancer. In the last two decades, the role of WNT in the adult central nervous system has been the focus of interest in our laboratory. In this chapter, we will be summarized β-catenin-dependent and -independent WNT pathways, then we will be revised WNT signaling function at the pre- and post-synaptic level. Concerning Alzheimer's disease (AD) initially, we found that WNT/β-catenin signaling activation exerts a neuroprotective mechanism against the amyloid β (Αβ) peptide toxicity. Later, we found that WNT/β-catenin participates in Tau phosphorylation and in learning and memory. In the last years, we demonstrated that WNT/β-catenin signaling is instrumental in the amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing and that WNT/β-catenin dysfunction results in Aβ production and aggregation. We highlight the importance of WNT/β-catenin signaling dysfunction in the onset of AD and propose that the loss of WNT/β-catenin signaling is a triggering factor of AD. The WNT pathway is therefore positioned as a therapeutic target for AD and could be a valid concept for improving AD therapy. We think that metabolism and inflammation will be relevant when defining future research in the context of WNT signaling and the neurodegeneration associated with AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/164_2021_532DOI Listing
September 2021

c-Abl regulates a synaptic plasticity-related transcriptional program involved in memory and learning.

Prog Neurobiol 2021 Oct 18;205:102122. Epub 2021 Jul 18.

Department of Cell & Molecular Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile; Centre for Aging and Regeneration (CARE-UC), Chile. Electronic address:

Memory consolidation requires activation of a gene expression program that allows de novo protein synthesis. But the molecular mechanisms that favour or restrict that program are poorly understood. The kinase c-Abl can modulate gene expression through transcription factors and chromatin modifiers. Here, we show that c-Abl ablation in the brain improves learning acquisition and memory consolidation in mice. Its absence also affects gene expression profiles in the mouse hippocampus. We found that genes involved in synaptic plasticity and actin cytoskeleton dynamics, such as Arp2 and Thorase, are up-regulated at the mRNA and protein levels in trained c-Abl KO mice and by a chemical-LTP stimulus. Trained c-Abl KO mice also show that dendritic spines are larger than in wild-type mice and present at a higher density. These results indicate that c-Abl kinase is an important part of the mechanism that limits or restricts signalling of relevant gene programs involved in morphological and functional spine changes upon neuronal stimulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pneurobio.2021.102122DOI Listing
October 2021

Tau Deletion Prevents Cognitive Impairment and Mitochondrial Dysfunction Age Associated by a Mechanism Dependent on Cyclophilin-D.

Front Neurosci 2020 10;14:586710. Epub 2021 Feb 10.

Laboratory of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Universidad Autónoma de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

Aging is an irreversible process and the primary risk factor for the development of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Mitochondrial impairment is a process that generates oxidative damage and ATP deficit; both factors are important in the memory decline showed during normal aging and AD. Tau is a microtubule-associated protein, with a strong influence on both the morphology and physiology of neurons. In AD, tau protein undergoes post-translational modifications, which could play a relevant role in the onset and progression of this disease. Also, these abnormal forms of tau could be present during the physiological aging that could be related to memory impairment present during this stage. We previously showed that tau ablation improves mitochondrial function and cognitive abilities in young wild-type mice. However, the possible contribution of tau during aging that could predispose to the development of AD is unclear. Here, we show that tau deletion prevents cognitive impairment and improves mitochondrial function during normal aging as indicated by a reduction in oxidative damage and increased ATP production. Notably, we observed a decrease in cyclophilin-D (CypD) levels in aged tau-/- mice, resulting in increased calcium buffering and reduced mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) opening. The mPTP is a mitochondrial structure, whose opening is dependent on CypD expression, and new evidence suggests that this could play an essential role in the neurodegenerative process showed during AD. In contrast, hippocampal CypD overexpression in aged tau-/- mice impairs mitochondrial function evidenced by an ATP deficit, increased mPTP opening, and memory loss; all effects were observed in the AD pathology. Our results indicate that the absence of tau prevents age-associated cognitive impairment by maintaining mitochondrial function and reducing mPTP opening through a CypD-dependent mechanism. These findings are novel and represent an important advance in the study of how tau contributes to the cognitive and mitochondrial failure present during aging and AD in the brain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2020.586710DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7928299PMC
February 2021

Exo70 intracellular redistribution after repeated mild traumatic brain injury.

Biol Res 2021 Feb 16;54(1). Epub 2021 Feb 16.

Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Av. Libertador Bernardo O´Higgins 340, Santiago, Chile.

Background: Exo70 is a subunit of the greater exocyst complex, a collection of proteins that oversees cellular membrane addition and polarized exocytosis by acting as a tethering intermediate between the plasma membrane and newly synthesized secretory vesicles. Although Exo70 function has been implicated in several developmental events including cytokinesis and the establishment of cell polarity, its role in neuropathologies is poorly understood. On the other hand, traumatic brain injury is the result of mechanical external force including contusion, fast acceleration, and expansive waves that produce temporal or permanent cognitive damage and triggers physical and psychosocial alterations including headache, memory problems, attention deficits, difficulty thinking, mood swings, and frustration. Traumatic brain injury is a critical health problem on a global scale, constituting a major cause of deaths and disability among young adults. Trauma-related cellular damage includes redistribution of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors outside of the synaptic compartment triggering detrimental effects to neurons. The exocyst has been related to glutamate receptor constitutive trafficking/delivery towards synapse as well. This work examines whether the exocyst complex subunit Exo70 participates in traumatic brain injury and if it is redistributed among subcellular compartments RESULTS: Our analysis shows that Exo70 expression is not altered upon injury induction. By using subcellular fractionation, we determined that Exo70 is redistributed from microsomes fraction into the synaptic compartment after brain trauma. In the synaptic compartment, we also show that the exocyst complex assembly and its interaction with GluN2B are increased. Finally, we show that the Exo70 pool that is redistributed comes from the plasma membrane.

Conclusions: The present findings position Exo70 in the group of proteins that could modulate GluN2B synaptic availability in acute neuropathology like a traumatic brain injury. By acting as a nucleator factor, Exo70 is capable of redirecting the ensembled complex into the synapse. We suggest that this redistribution is part of a compensatory mechanism by which Exo70 is able to maintain GluN2B partially on synapses. Hence, reducing the detrimental effects associated with TBI pathophysiology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40659-021-00329-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7885507PMC
February 2021

Neuronal surface P antigen (NSPA) modulates postsynaptic NMDAR stability through ubiquitination of tyrosine phosphatase PTPMEG.

BMC Biol 2020 11 6;18(1):164. Epub 2020 Nov 6.

Centro de Biología Celular y Biomedicina (CEBICEM), Facultad de Medicina y Ciencia, Universidad San Sebastián, 7510157, Santiago, Chile.

Background: Cognitive dysfunction (CD) is common among patients with the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Anti-ribosomal P autoantibodies associate with this dysfunction and have neuropathogenic effects that are mediated by cross-reacting with neuronal surface P antigen (NSPA) protein. Elucidating the function of NSPA can then reveal CD pathogenic mechanisms and treatment opportunities. In the brain, NSPA somehow contributes to glutamatergic NMDA receptor (NMDAR) activity in synaptic plasticity and memory. Here we analyze the consequences of NSPA absence in KO mice considering its structural features shared with E3 ubiquitin ligases and the crucial role of ubiquitination in synaptic plasticity.

Results: Electrophysiological studies revealed a decreased long-term potentiation in CA3-CA1 and medial perforant pathway-dentate gyrus (MPP-DG) hippocampal circuits, reflecting glutamatergic synaptic plasticity impairment in NSPA-KO mice. The hippocampal dentate gyrus of these mice showed a lower number of Arc-positive cells indicative of decreased synaptic activity and also showed proliferation defects of neural progenitors underlying less adult neurogenesis. All this translates into poor spatial and recognition memory when NSPA is absent. A cell-based assay demonstrated ubiquitination of NSPA as a property of RBR-type E3 ligases, while biochemical analysis of synaptic regions disclosed the tyrosine phosphatase PTPMEG as a potential substrate. Mice lacking NSPA have increased levels of PTPMEG due to its reduced ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation, which correlated with lower levels of GluN2A and GluN2B NMDAR subunits only at postsynaptic densities (PSDs), indicating selective trafficking of these proteins out of PSDs. As both GluN2A and GluN2B interact with PTPMEG, tyrosine (Tyr) dephosphorylation likely drives their endocytic removal from the PSD. Actually, immunoblot analysis showed reduced phosphorylation of the GluN2B endocytic signal Tyr1472 in NSPA-KO mice.

Conclusions: NSPA contributes to hippocampal plasticity and memory processes ensuring appropriate levels of adult neurogenesis and PSD-located NMDAR. PTPMEG qualifies as NSPA ubiquitination substrate that regulates Tyr phosphorylation-dependent NMDAR stability at PSDs. The NSPA/PTPMEG pathway emerges as a new regulator of glutamatergic transmission and plasticity and may provide mechanistic clues and therapeutic opportunities for anti-P-mediated pathogenicity in SLE, a still unmet need.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12915-020-00877-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7648380PMC
November 2020

Glutamatergic Receptor Trafficking and Delivery: Role of the Exocyst Complex.

Cells 2020 11 3;9(11). Epub 2020 Nov 3.

Laboratorio de Función y Patología Neuronal; Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 8331150 Santiago, Chile.

Cells comprise several intracellular membrane compartments that allow them to function properly. One of these functions is cargo movement, typically proteins and membranes within cells. These cargoes ride microtubules through vesicles from Golgi and recycling endosomes to the plasma membrane in order to be delivered and exocytosed. In neurons, synaptic functions employ this cargo trafficking to maintain inter-neuronal communication optimally. One of the complexes that oversee vesicle trafficking and tethering is the exocyst. The exocyst is a protein complex containing eight subunits first identified in yeast and then characterized in multicellular organisms. This complex is related to several cellular processes, including cellular growth, division, migration, and morphogenesis, among others. It has been associated with glutamatergic receptor trafficking and tethering into the synapse, providing the molecular machinery to deliver receptor-containing vesicles into the plasma membrane in a constitutive manner. In this review, we discuss the evidence so far published regarding receptor trafficking and the exocyst complex in both basal and stimulated levels, comparing constitutive trafficking and long-term potentiation-related trafficking.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells9112402DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7693776PMC
November 2020

Building a Bridge Between NMDAR-Mediated Excitotoxicity and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Chronic and Acute Diseases.

Cell Mol Neurobiol 2021 Oct 22;41(7):1413-1430. Epub 2020 Jul 22.

Laboratorio de función y patología Neuronal, Centro de Envejecimiento y Regeneración (CARE), Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, and it is widely accepted to play a role in synaptic plasticity and excitotoxic cell death. Glutamate binds to several receptors, including ionotropic N-methyl-D-Aspartate receptor (NMDAR), which is essential in synaptic plasticity and excitotoxicity. This receptor is a calcium channel that is located in synaptic and extrasynaptic sites, triggering different signalling cascades in each case. The calcium entry through extrasynaptic NMDARs is linked to calcium overload in the mitochondria in neurons in vitro. The mitochondria, besides their role in ATP production in the cell, participate in calcium homeostasis, acting as a buffering organelle. Disruption of mitochondrial calcium homeostasis has been linked to neuronal death either by triggering apoptosis or driven by the opening of the mitochondrial transition pore. These cell-death mechanisms contribute to the pathophysiology of diverse diseases such as neurodegenerative Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease, and acute neuropathological conditions such as stroke or traumatic brain injury. In this review, we will address the available evidence that positions the mitochondria as an essential organelle in the control of calcium-mediated toxicity, highlighting its role from the perspective of specific NMDAR signalling microdomains at the level of the central synapse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10571-020-00924-0DOI Listing
October 2021

Alcohol consumption during adolescence alters the hippocampal response to traumatic brain injury.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2020 07 4;528(3):514-519. Epub 2020 Jun 4.

Laboratorio de función y patología neuronal, Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile; Centro de Investigación y Estudio del Consumo de Alcohol en Adolescentes (CIAA), Santiago, Chile; Centro de Excelencia en Biomedicina de Magallanes (CEBIMA), Universidad de Magallanes, Punta Arenas, Chile. Electronic address:

Binge drinking is the consumption of large volumes of alcohol in short periods and exerts its effects on the central nervous system, including the hippocampus. We have previously shown that binge drinking alters mitochondrial dynamics and induces neuroinflammation in the hippocampus of adolescent rats. Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), is regularly linked to alcohol consumption and share mechanisms of brain damage. In this context, we hypothesized that adolescent binge drinking could prime the development of brain damage generated by mTBI. We found that alcohol binge drinking induced by the "drinking in the dark" (DID) paradigm increases oxidative damage and astrocyte activation in the hippocampus of adolescent mice. Interestingly, adolescent animals submitted to DID showed decreased levels of mitofusin 2 that controls mitochondrial dynamics. When mTBI was evaluated as a second challenge, hippocampi from animals previously submitted to DID showed a reduction in dendritic spine number and a different spine profile. Mitochondrial performance could be compromised by alterations in mitochondrial fission in DID-mTBI animals. These data suggest that adolescent alcohol consumption can modify the progression of mTBI pathophysiology. We propose that mitochondrial impairment and oxidative damage could act as priming factors, modifying predisposition against mTBI effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2020.05.160DOI Listing
July 2020

Stimulation of Melanocortin Receptor-4 (MC4R) Prevents Mitochondrial Damage Induced by Binge Ethanol Protocol in Adolescent Rat Hippocampus.

Neuroscience 2020 07 19;438:70-85. Epub 2020 May 19.

Centro de Investigación y Estudio del Consumo de Alcohol en Adolescentes (CIAA), Santiago, Chile; Laboratory of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Universidad Autónoma de Chile, Chile. Electronic address:

Binge drinking is a common pattern of adolescent alcohol consumption characterized by a high alcohol intake within a short period of time; which may seriously affect brain function, triggering in some cases an addictive behavior. Current evidence indicates that alcohol addictive conduct is related to the impairment of the Melanocortin System (MCS). This system participates in the regulation of food intake and promotes anti-inflammatory response in the brain. However, the cellular mechanisms involved in the protective effects induced by MCS against binge-alcohol intoxication are still unknown. Here, we studied the effects of MCS activation on mitochondrial and oxidative damage induced by a binge-like protocol in the hippocampus of adolescent rats. We used a pharmacological activator of MC4R (RO27-3225) and evaluated its effects against oxidative injury, mitochondrial failure, and bioenergetics impairment induced by binge ethanol protocol in the hippocampus of adolescent's rats. Our results indicate that MC4R agonist reduces hippocampal oxidative damage promoting antioxidant (Nrf-2) and mitochondrial biogenesis (PGC1-alpha) pathways in animals subjected to the binge-like protocol. Additionally, MC4R activation prevented mitochondrial potential loss and increased mitochondrial mass that were significantly reduced by binge ethanol protocol. Finally, RO27-3225 treatment increased ATP production and mitochondrial respiratory complex expression in adolescent rats exposed to ethanol. Altogether, these findings show that activation of the MCS pathway through MC4R prevents these negative effects of binge ethanol protocol, suggesting a possible role of the MCS in the reduction of the neurotoxic effects induced by alcohol intoxication in adolescents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2020.05.005DOI Listing
July 2020

Effect of Alcohol on Hippocampal-Dependent Plasticity and Behavior: Role of Glutamatergic Synaptic Transmission.

Front Behav Neurosci 2019 24;13:288. Epub 2020 Jan 24.

Laboratorio de Función y Patología Neuronal, Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

Problematic alcohol drinking and alcohol dependence are an increasing health problem worldwide. Alcohol abuse is responsible for approximately 5% of the total deaths in the world, but addictive consumption of it has a substantial impact on neurological and memory disabilities throughout the population. One of the better-studied brain areas involved in cognitive functions is the hippocampus, which is also an essential brain region targeted by ethanol. Accumulated evidence in several rodent models has shown that ethanol treatment produces cognitive impairment in hippocampal-dependent tasks. These adverse effects may be related to the fact that ethanol impairs the cellular and synaptic plasticity mechanisms, including adverse changes in neuronal morphology, spine architecture, neuronal communication, and finally an increase in neuronal death. There is evidence that the damage that occurs in the different brain structures is varied according to the stage of development during which the subjects are exposed to ethanol, and even much earlier exposure to it would cause damage in the adult stage. Studies on the cellular and cognitive deficiencies produced by alcohol in the brain are needed in order to search for new strategies to reduce alcohol neuronal toxicity and to understand its consequences on memory and cognitive performance with emphasis on the crucial stages of development, including prenatal events to adulthood.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00288DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6993074PMC
January 2020

Alcohol impairs hippocampal function: From NMDA receptor synaptic transmission to mitochondrial function.

Drug Alcohol Depend 2019 12 17;205:107628. Epub 2019 Oct 17.

Laboratorio de Función y Patología Neuronal, Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile; Centro de Investigación y Estudio del Consumo de Alcohol en Adolescentes (CIAA), Santiago, Chile; Centro de Excelencia en Biomedicina de Magallanes (CEBIMA), Universidad de Magallanes, Punta Arenas, Chile. Electronic address:

Many studies have reported that alcohol produces harmful effects on several brain structures, including the hippocampus, in both rodents and humans. The hippocampus is one of the most studied areas of the brain due to its function in learning and memory, and a lot of evidence suggests that hippocampal failure is responsible for the cognitive loss present in individuals with recurrent alcohol consumption. Mitochondria are organelles that generate the energy needed for the brain to maintain neuronal communication, and their functional failure is considered a mediator of the synaptic dysfunction induced by alcohol. In this review, we discuss the mechanisms of how alcohol exposure affects neuronal communication through the impairment of glutamate receptor (NMDAR) activity, neuroinflammatory events and oxidative damage observed after alcohol exposure, all processes under the umbrella of mitochondrial function. Finally, we discuss the direct role of mitochondrial dysfunction mediating cognitive and memory decline produced by alcohol exposure and their consequences associated with neurodegeneration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.107628DOI Listing
December 2019

Heavy Alcohol Exposure Activates Astroglial Hemichannels and Pannexons in the Hippocampus of Adolescent Rats: Effects on Neuroinflammation and Astrocyte Arborization.

Front Cell Neurosci 2018 4;12:472. Epub 2018 Dec 4.

Departamento de Neurología, Escuela de Medicina and Centro Interdisciplinario de Neurociencias, Facultad de Medicina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

A mounting body of evidence indicates that adolescents are specially more susceptible to alcohol influence than adults. However, the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon remain poorly understood. Astrocyte-mediated gliotransmission is crucial for hippocampal plasticity and recently, the opening of hemichannels and pannexons has been found to participate in both processes. Here, we evaluated whether adolescent rats exposed to ethanol exhibit changes in the activity of astrocyte hemichannels and pannexons in the hippocampus, as well as alterations in astrocyte arborization and cytokine levels. Adolescent rats were subjected to ethanol (3.0 g/kg) for two successive days at 48-h periods over 14 days. The opening of hemichannels and pannexons was examined in hippocampal slices by dye uptake, whereas hippocampal cytokine levels and astroglial arborization were determined by ELISA and Sholl analysis, respectively. We found that adolescent ethanol exposure increased the opening of connexin 43 (Cx43) hemichannels and pannexin-1 (Panx1) channels in astrocytes. Blockade of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenases (COXs), as well as chelation of intracellular Ca, drastically reduced the ethanol-induced channel opening in astrocytes. Importantly, ethanol-induced Cx43 hemichannel and Panx1 channel activity was correlated with increased levels of interleukin-1β (IL-1β), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), IL-6 in the hippocampus, as well as with profound alterations in astrocyte arbor complexity. Thus, we propose that uncontrolled opening of astrocyte hemichannels and pannexons may contribute not only to the glial dysfunction and neurotoxicity caused by adolescent alcohol consumption, but also to the pathogenesis of alcohol use disorders in the adulthood.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2018.00472DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6288256PMC
December 2018

Correction to: Adolescent Binge Alcohol Exposure Affects the Brain Function Through Mitochondrial Impairment.

Mol Neurobiol 2018 Oct;55(10):8216-8217

Centro de Investigación y Estudio del Consumo de Alcohol en Adolescentes (CIAA), Santiago, Chile.

The authors declare that the original version of this article contained a mistake in the data of the Figure 2, particularly in the LTP data.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12035-018-1268-5DOI Listing
October 2018

Genetic ablation of tau improves mitochondrial function and cognitive abilities in the hippocampus.

Redox Biol 2018 09 19;18:279-294. Epub 2018 Jul 19.

Laboratory of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Universidad Autónoma de Chile, Chile. Electronic address:

Tau is a key protein for microtubule stability; however, post-translationally modified tau contributes to neurodegenerative diseases by forming tau aggregates in the neurons. Previous reports from our group and others have shown that pathological forms of tau are toxic and impair mitochondrial function, whereas tau deletion is neuroprotective. However, the effects of tau ablation on brain structure and function in young mice have not been fully elucidated. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the implications of tau ablation on the mitochondrial function and cognitive abilities of a litter of young mice (3 months old). Our results showed that tau deletion had positive effects on hippocampal cells by decreasing oxidative damage, favoring a mitochondrial pro-fusion state, and inhibiting mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) formation by reducing cyclophilin D (Cyp-D) protein. More importantly, tau deletion increased ATP production and improved the recognition memory and attentive capacity of juvenile mice. Therefore, the absence of tau enhanced brain function by improving mitochondrial health, which supplied more energy to the synapses. Thus, our work opens the possibility that preventing negative tau modifications could enhance brain function through the improvement of mitochondrial health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.redox.2018.07.010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6072970PMC
September 2018

The inhibition of CTGF/CCN2 activity improves muscle and locomotor function in a murine ALS model.

Hum Mol Genet 2018 08;27(16):2913-2926

Centro de Envejecimiento y Regeneración, CARE Chile UC, Santiago, Chile.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating adult-onset progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by upper and lower motoneuron degeneration. A total of 20% of familial ALS (fALS) cases are explained by mutations in the superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) enzyme. Although more than 20 years have passed since the generation of the first ALS mouse model, the precise molecular mechanisms of ALS pathogenesis remain unknown. CTGF/CCN2 is a matricellular protein with associated fibrotic activity that is up-regulated in several chronic diseases. The inhibition of CTGF/CCN2 with the monoclonal neutralizing antibody FG-3019 reduces fibrosis in several chronic disorders including the mdx mice, a murine model for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). In this work, we show that there are increased levels of CTGF/CCN2 in skeletal muscle and spinal cord of hSOD1G93A mice. In this scenario, we show evidence that FG-3019 not only reduces fibrosis in skeletal muscle of hSOD1G93A mice, but also improves muscle and locomotor performance. We demonstrate that treatment with FG-3019 reduces muscle atrophy in hSOD1G93A mice. We also found improvement of neuromuscular junction (NMJ) innervation together with a reduction in myelin degeneration in the sciatic nerve, suggesting that alterations in nerve-muscle communication are partially improved in FG-3019-treated hSOD1G93A mice. Moreover, we also found that CTGF/CCN2 is expressed in astrocytes and neurons, predominantly in dorsal areas of spinal cord from symptomatic hSOD1G93A mice. Together, these results reveal that CTGF/CCN2 might be a novel therapeutic target to ameliorate symptoms and improve the quality of life of ALS patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddy204DOI Listing
August 2018

Age-related NMDA signaling alterations in SOD2 deficient mice.

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis 2018 06 23;1864(6 Pt A):2010-2020. Epub 2018 Mar 23.

Laboratorio de Función y Patología Neuronal, Santiago, Chile; Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Santiago, Chile; Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile. Electronic address:

Oxidative stress affects the survival and function of neurons. Hence, they have a complex and highly regulated machinery to handle oxidative changes. The dysregulation of this antioxidant machinery is associated with a wide range of neurodegenerative conditions. Therefore, we evaluated signaling alterations, synaptic properties and behavioral performance in 2 and 6-month-old heterozygous manganese superoxide dismutase knockout mice (SOD2 mice). We found that their low antioxidant capacity generated direct oxidative damage in proteins, lipids, and DNA. However, only 6-month-old heterozygous knockout mice presented behavioral impairments. On the other hand, synaptic plasticity, synaptic strength and NMDA receptor (NMDAR) dependent postsynaptic potentials were decreased in an age-dependent manner. We also analyzed the phosphorylation state of the NMDAR subunit GluN2B. We found that while the levels of GluN2B phosphorylated on tyrosine 1472 (synaptic form) remain unchanged, we detected increased levels of GluN2B phosphorylated on tyrosine 1336 (extrasynaptic form), establishing alterations in the synaptic/extrasynaptic ratio of GluN2B. Additionally, we found increased levels of two phosphatases associated with dephosphorylation of p-1472: striatal-enriched protein tyrosine phosphatase (STEP) and phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome Ten (PTEN). Moreover, we found decreased levels of p-CREB, a master transcription factor activated by synaptic stimulation. In summary, we describe mechanisms by which glutamatergic synapses are altered under oxidative stress conditions. Our results uncovered new putative therapeutic targets for conditions where NMDAR downstream signaling is altered. This work also contributes to our understanding of processes such as synapse formation, learning, and memory in neuropathological conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2018.03.019DOI Listing
June 2018

Alcohol consumption during adolescence: A link between mitochondrial damage and ethanol brain intoxication.

Birth Defects Res 2017 Dec;109(20):1623-1639

Centro de Investigación y Estudio del Consumo de Alcohol en Adolescentes (CIAA), Santiago, Chile.

Adolescence is a period of multiple changes where social behaviors influence interpersonal-relations. Adolescents live new experiences, including alcohol consumption which has become an increasing health problem. The age of onset for consumption has declined in the last decades, and additionally, the adolescents now uptake greater amounts of alcohol per occasion. Alcohol consumption is a risk factor for accidents, mental illnesses or other pathologies, as well as for the appearance of addictions, including alcoholism. An interesting topic to study is the damage that alcohol induces on the central nervous system (CNS) in the young population. The brain undergoes substantial modifications during adolescence, making brain cells more vulnerable to the ethanol toxicity. Over the last years, the brain mitochondria have emerged as a cell organelle which is particularly susceptible to alcohol. Mitochondria suffer severe alterations which can be exacerbated if the amount of alcohol or the exposure time is increased. In this review, we focus on the changes that the adolescent brain undergoes after drinking, placing particular emphasis on mitochondrial damage and their consequences against brain function. Finally, we propose the mitochondria as an important mediator in alcohol toxicity and a potential therapeutic target to reduce or treat brain conditions associated with excessive alcohol consumption.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bdr2.1172DOI Listing
December 2017

Adolescent Binge Alcohol Exposure Affects the Brain Function Through Mitochondrial Impairment.

Mol Neurobiol 2018 May 1;55(5):4473-4491. Epub 2017 Jun 1.

Centro de Investigación y Estudio del Consumo de Alcohol en Adolescentes (CIAA), Santiago, Chile.

In the young population, binge drinking is a pattern of problematic alcohol consumption, characterized by a short period of heavy drinking followed by abstinence which is frequently repeated over time. This drinking pattern is associated with mental problems, use of other drugs, and an increased risk of excessive alcohol intake during adulthood. However, little is known about the effects of binge drinking on brain function in adolescents and its neurobiological impact during the adulthood. In the present study, we evaluated the effects of alcohol on hippocampal memory, synaptic plasticity, and mitochondrial function in adolescent rats after a binge drinking episode in vivo. These effects were analyzed at 1, 3, or 7 weeks post alcohol exposure. Our results showed that binge-like ethanol pre-treated (BEP) rats exhibited early alterations in learning and memory tests accompanied by an impairment of synaptic plasticity that was total and partially compensated, respectively. These changes could be attributed to a rapid increase in oxidative damage and a late inflammatory response induced by post ethanol exposure. Additionally, BEP alters the regulation of mitochondrial dynamics and modifies the expression of mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) components, such as cyclophilin D (Cyp-D) and the voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC). These mitochondrial structural changes result in the impairment of mitochondrial bioenergetics, decreasing ATP production progressively until adulthood. These results strongly suggest that teenage alcohol binge drinking impairs the function of the adult hippocampus including memory and synaptic plasticity as a consequence of the mitochondrial damage induced by alcohol and that the recovery of hippocampal function could implicate the activation of alternative pathways that fail to reestablish mitochondrial function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12035-017-0613-4DOI Listing
May 2018

New Implications for the Melanocortin System in Alcohol Drinking Behavior in Adolescents: The Glial Dysfunction Hypothesis.

Front Cell Neurosci 2017 5;11:90. Epub 2017 Apr 5.

Centro de Investigación y Estudio del Consumo de Alcohol en AdolescentesSantiago, Chile.

Alcohol dependence causes physical, social, and moral harms and currently represents an important public health concern. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), alcoholism is the third leading cause of death worldwide, after tobacco consumption and hypertension. Recent epidemiologic studies have shown a growing trend in alcohol abuse among adolescents, characterized by the consumption of large doses of alcohol over a short time period. Since brain development is an ongoing process during adolescence, short- and long-term brain damage associated with drinking behavior could lead to serious consequences for health and wellbeing. Accumulating evidence indicates that alcohol impairs the function of different components of the melanocortin system, a major player involved in the consolidation of addictive behaviors during adolescence and adulthood. Here, we hypothesize the possible implications of melanocortins and glial cells in the onset and progression of alcohol addiction. In particular, we propose that alcohol-induced decrease in α-MSH levels may trigger a cascade of glial inflammatory pathways that culminate in altered gliotransmission in the ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens (NAc). The latter might potentiate dopaminergic drive in the NAc, contributing to increase the vulnerability to alcohol dependence and addiction in the adolescence and adulthood.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2017.00090DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5380733PMC
April 2017

Quercetin Exerts Differential Neuroprotective Effects Against HO and Aβ Aggregates in Hippocampal Neurons: the Role of Mitochondria.

Mol Neurobiol 2017 11 28;54(9):7116-7128. Epub 2016 Oct 28.

Centro de Envejecimiento y Regeneración (CARE UC), Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile.

Amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) is one of the major players in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Despite numerous studies, the mechanisms by which Aβ induces neurodegeneration are not completely understood. Oxidative stress is considered a major contributor to the pathogenesis of AD, and accumulating evidence indicates that high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) are involved in Aβ-induced neurodegeneration. Moreover, Aβ can induce the deregulation of calcium homeostasis, which also affects mitochondrial function and triggers neuronal cell death. In the present study, we analyzed the effects of quercetin, a plant flavonoid with antioxidant properties, on oxidative stress- and Aβ-induced degeneration. Our results indicate that quercetin efficiently protected against HO-induced neuronal toxicity; however, this protection was only partial in rat hippocampal neurons that were treated with Aβ. Treatment with quercetin decreased ROS levels, recovered the normal morphology of mitochondria, and prevented mitochondrial dysfunction in neurons that were treated with HO. By contrast, quercetin treatment partially rescued hippocampal neurons from Aβ-induced mitochondrial injury. Most importantly, quercetin treatment prevented the toxic effects that are induced by HO in hippocampal neurons and, to a lesser extent, the Aβ-induced toxicity that is associated with the superoxide anion, which is a precursor of ROS production in mitochondria. Collectively, these results indicate that quercetin exerts differential effects on the prevention of HO- and Aβ-induced neurotoxicity in hippocampal neurons and may be a powerful tool for dissecting the molecular mechanisms underlying Aβ neurotoxicity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12035-016-0203-xDOI Listing
November 2017

Role of NMDA Receptor-Mediated Glutamatergic Signaling in Chronic and Acute Neuropathologies.

Neural Plast 2016 18;2016:2701526. Epub 2016 Aug 18.

Laboratorio de Función y Patología Neuronal, Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 8331150 Santiago, Chile.

N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) have two opposing roles in the brain. On the one hand, NMDARs control critical events in the formation and development of synaptic organization and synaptic plasticity. On the other hand, the overactivation of NMDARs can promote neuronal death in neuropathological conditions. Ca(2+) influx acts as a primary modulator after NMDAR channel activation. An imbalance in Ca(2+) homeostasis is associated with several neurological diseases including schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. These chronic conditions have a lengthy progression depending on internal and external factors. External factors such as acute episodes of brain damage are associated with an earlier onset of several of these chronic mental conditions. Here, we will review some of the current evidence of how traumatic brain injury can hasten the onset of several neurological conditions, focusing on the role of NMDAR distribution and the functional consequences in calcium homeostasis associated with synaptic dysfunction and neuronal death present in this group of chronic diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/2701526DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5007376PMC
October 2017

Wnt5a inhibits K(+) currents in hippocampal synapses through nitric oxide production.

Mol Cell Neurosci 2015 Sep 24;68:314-22. Epub 2015 Aug 24.

Centro de Envejecimiento y Regeneración (CARE), Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile; Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, School of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; Centro UC Síndrome de Down, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile; Centro de Excelencia en Biomedicina de Magallanes (CEBIMA), Universidad de Magallanes, Punta Arenas, Chile. Electronic address:

Hippocampal synapses play a key role in memory and learning processes by inducing long-term potentiation and depression. Wnt signaling is essential in the development and maintenance of synapses via several mechanisms. We have previously found that Wnt5a induces the production of nitric oxide (NO), which modulates NMDA receptor expression in the postsynaptic regions of hippocampal neurons. Here, we report that Wnt5a selectively inhibits a voltage-gated K(+) current (Kv current) and increases synaptic activity in hippocampal slices. Further supporting a specific role for Wnt5a, the soluble Frizzled receptor protein (sFRP-2; a functional Wnt antagonist) fully inhibits the effects of Wnt5a. We additionally show that these responses to Wnt5a are mediated by activation of a ROR2 receptor and increased NO production because they are suppressed by the shRNA-mediated knockdown of ROR2 and by 7-nitroindazole, a specific inhibitor of neuronal NOS. Together, our results show that Wnt5a increases NO production by acting on ROR2 receptors, which in turn inhibit Kv currents. These results reveal a novel mechanism by which Wnt5a may regulate the excitability of hippocampal neurons.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mcn.2015.08.011DOI Listing
September 2015

RoR2 functions as a noncanonical Wnt receptor that regulates NMDAR-mediated synaptic transmission.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2015 Apr 30;112(15):4797-802. Epub 2015 Mar 30.

Department of Physiology and Biophysics and

Wnt signaling has a well-established role as a regulator of nervous system development, but its role in the maintenance and regulation of established synapses in the mature brain remains poorly understood. At excitatory glutamatergic synapses, NMDA receptors (NMDARs) have a fundamental role in synaptogenesis, synaptic plasticity, and learning and memory; however, it is not known what controls their number and subunit composition. Here we show that the receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 2 (RoR2) functions as a Wnt receptor required to maintain basal NMDAR-mediated synaptic transmission. In addition, RoR2 activation by a noncanonical Wnt ligand activates PKC and JNK and acutely enhances NMDAR synaptic responses. Regulation of a key component of glutamatergic synapses through RoR2 provides a mechanism for Wnt signaling to modulate synaptic transmission, synaptic plasticity, and brain function acutely beyond embryonic development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1417053112DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4403196PMC
April 2015

Andrographolide reduces cognitive impairment in young and mature AβPPswe/PS-1 mice.

Mol Neurodegener 2014 Dec 18;9:61. Epub 2014 Dec 18.

Centro de Envejecimiento y Regeneración (CARE), Santiago, Chile.

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder in which the amyloid-β (Aβ) oligomers are a key factor in synaptic impairment and in spatial memory decline associated with neuronal dysfunction. This impairment includes synaptic failure associated with the loss of synaptic proteins that contribute to AD progression. Interestingly, the use of natural compounds is an emergent conceptual strategy in the search for drugs with therapeutic potentials for treating neurodegenerative disorders. In the present study, we report that andrographolide (ANDRO), which is a labdane diterpene extracted from Andrographis paniculata, increases slope of field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSP) in the CA1 region of hippocampal slices and inhibits long-term depression (LTD), protecting the long-term potentiation (LTP) against the damage induced by Aβ oligomers in vitro, most likely by inhibiting glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β). Additionally, ANDRO prevents changes in neuropathology in two different age groups (7- and 12-month-old mice) of an AβPPswe/PS-1 Alzheimer's model. ANDRO reduces the Aβ levels, changing the ontogeny of amyloid plaques in hippocampi and cortices in 7-month-old mice, and reduces tau phosphorylation around the Aβ oligomeric species in both age groups. Additionally, we observed that ANDRO recovers spatial memory functions that correlate with protecting synaptic plasticity and synaptic proteins in two different age groups. Our results suggest that ANDRO could be used in a potential preventive therapy during AD progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1750-1326-9-61DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4414355PMC
December 2014

Modulation of the NMDA Receptor Through Secreted Soluble Factors.

Mol Neurobiol 2016 Jan 29;53(1):299-309. Epub 2014 Nov 29.

Centro de Envejecimiento y Regeneración (CARE), Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

Synaptic activity is a critical determinant in the formation and development of excitatory synapses in the central nervous system (CNS). The excitatory current is produced and regulated by several ionotropic receptors, including those that respond to glutamate. These channels are in turn regulated through several secreted factors that function as synaptic organizers. Specifically, Wnt, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF), and transforming growth factor (TGF) particularly regulate the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) glutamatergic channel. These factors likely regulate early embryonic development and directly control key proteins in the function of important glutamatergic channels. Here, we review the secreted molecules that participate in synaptic organization and discuss the cell signaling behind of this fine regulation. Additionally, we discuss how these factors are dysregulated in some neuropathologies associated with glutamatergic synaptic transmission in the CNS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12035-014-9009-xDOI Listing
January 2016

Wnt-5a increases NO and modulates NMDA receptor in rat hippocampal neurons.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2014 Feb 16;444(2):189-94. Epub 2014 Jan 16.

Centro de Envejecimiento y Regeneración (CARE), Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, P. Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile; Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, School of Psychiatry, UNSW, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Electronic address:

Wnt signaling has a crucial role in synaptic function at the central nervous system. Here we evaluate whether Wnts affect nitric oxide (NO) generation in hippocampal neurons. We found that non-canonical Wnt-5a triggers NO production; however, Wnt-3a a canonical ligand did not exert the same effect. Co-administration of Wnt-5a with the soluble Frizzled related protein-2 (sFRP-2) a Wnt antagonist blocked the NO production. Wnt-5a activates the non-canonical Wnt/Ca(2+) signaling through a mechanism that depends on Ca(2+) release from Ryanodine-sensitive internal stores. The increase in NO levels evoked by Wnt-5a promotes the insertion of the GluN2B subunit of the NMDA receptor (NMDAR) into the neuronal cell surface. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that Wnt-5a signaling is related to NO production, which in turn increases NMDARs trafficking to the cell surface.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2014.01.031DOI Listing
February 2014

Regulation of NMDA-receptor synaptic transmission by Wnt signaling.

J Neurosci 2011 Jun;31(26):9466-71

Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.

Wnt ligands are secreted glycoproteins controlling gene expression and cytoskeleton reorganization involved in embryonic development of the nervous system. However, their role in later stages of brain development, particularly in the regulation of established synaptic connections, is not known. We found that Wnt-5a acutely and specifically upregulates synaptic NMDAR currents in rat hippocampal slices, facilitating induction of long-term potentiation, a cellular model of learning and memory. This effect requires an increase in postsynaptic Ca(2+) and activation of noncanonical downstream effectors of the Wnt signaling pathway. In contrast, Wnt-7a, an activator of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway, has no effect on NMDAR-mediated synaptic transmission. Moreover, endogenous Wnt ligands are necessary to maintain basal NMDAR synaptic transmission, adjusting the threshold for synaptic potentiation. This novel role for Wnt ligands provides a mechanism for Wnt signaling to acutely modulate synaptic plasticity and brain function in later stages of development and in the mature organism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6311-10.2011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3141819PMC
June 2011

Amyloid-β peptide fibrils induce nitro-oxidative stress in neuronal cells.

J Alzheimers Dis 2010 ;22(2):641-52

Laboratory of Molecular Physiology and Channelopathies, Department of Experimental and Health Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain.

Different mechanisms including oxidative stress are proposed for amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) neurotoxicity, and here we contribute to demonstrate that nitro-oxidative stress is playing a key role. Yeasts are a well-known model for H2O2 toxicity. Interestingly, yeast cell wall prevents interaction of Aβ fibrils with membrane receptors or calcium channels and we found a significant viability reduction in yeasts when challenged with Aβ fibrils. Furthermore, iron and copper chelators, as well as the antioxidants glutathione and trolox, were neuroprotective on neuroblastoma cells and mouse hippocampal neurons challenged with Aβ fibrils. Glutathione prevents the oxidation, glycation and nitrotyrosination of cell proteins induced by Aβ. Trolox protected neurons in cell viability studies, maintaining the vesicular transport integrity and preventing the trigger of apoptotic mechanisms. Interestingly, we have also found that brain derived neuronal factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) were able to protect mouse hippocampal and cortical neurons against H2O2 and Aβ fibrils. Considering that superoxide anion, produced by Aβ cell damage, and nitric oxide, whose production is altered in AD, react to form the highly reactive peroxynitrite anion, we studied the role of trolox to ameliorate the peroxynitrite cell damage. Finally, one of the major proteins to be nitrotyrosinated in AD, the triose phosphate isomerase (TPI) was assayed searching for a denitrase activity that could reverse intracellular nitrotyrosination. We have found that human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells express a constitutive denitrase activity that partially denitrated nitro-TPI. Altogether, our results support a key role of nitro-oxidative stress in the neuronal damage induced by Aβ fibrils.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-2010-100474DOI Listing
March 2011

Wnt-5a occludes Abeta oligomer-induced depression of glutamatergic transmission in hippocampal neurons.

Mol Neurodegener 2010 Jan 18;5. Epub 2010 Jan 18.

Centro de Envejecimiento y Regeneración (CARE), Centro de Regulación Celular y Patología "Joaquín V, Luco" (CRCP), MIFAB, Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

Background: Soluble amyloid-beta (Abeta;) oligomers have been recognized to be early and key intermediates in Alzheimer's disease (AD)-related synaptic dysfunction. Abeta oligomers block hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP) and impair rodent spatial memory. Wnt signaling plays an important role in neural development, including synaptic differentiation.

Results: We report here that the Wnt signaling activation prevents the synaptic damage triggered by Abeta oligomers. Electrophysiological analysis of Schaffer collaterals-CA1 glutamatergic synaptic transmission in hippocampal slices indicates that Wnt-5a increases the amplitude of field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSP) and both AMPA and NMDA components of the excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs), without modifying the paired pulse facilitation (PPF). Conversely, in the presence of Abeta oligomers the fEPSP and EPSCs amplitude decreased without modification of the PPF, while the postsynaptic scaffold protein (PSD-95) decreased as well. Co-perfusion of hippocampal slices with Wnt-5a and Abeta oligomers occludes against the synaptic depression of EPSCs as well as the reduction of PSD-95 clusters induced by Abeta oligomers in neuronal cultures. Taken together these results indicate that Wnt-5a and Abeta oligomers inversely modulate postsynaptic components.

Conclusion: These results indicate that post-synaptic damage induced by Abeta oligomers in hippocampal neurons is prevented by non-canonical Wnt pathway activation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1750-1326-5-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2823745PMC
January 2010

The role of Wnt signaling in neuroprotection.

Drug News Perspect 2009 Dec;22(10):579-91

Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

The Wnt signaling pathway has a role in several cellular processes, including cellular communication, embryonic development and cancer. Recent studies show that the Wnt pathway also has an important role in some aspects of neuronal circuit development, such as neuronal migration, synaptic differentiation, mature synapse modulation and synaptic plasticity. Wnt signaling begins during neural development and is crucial for long-term potentiation in the adult brain. The Wnt pathway may have potential in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases that involve synaptic impairment. Several years ago our laboratory found a relationship between the loss of Wnt signaling and amyloid-beta-peptide (Abeta) neurotoxicity, which is involved in Alzheimer's disease (AD). The activation of the Wnt signaling cascade prevents Abeta-dependent cytotoxic effects. We proposed that beta-catenin-dependent Wnt ligands have a role in the modulation of presynaptic processes such as neurotransmitter release. beta-catenin-independent Wnt signaling controls the postsynaptic site, increasing the incorporation of PSD-95 and glutamatergic receptors in the postsynaptic region. This could prevent the effects of Abeta exposure at the postsynaptic level. The study of the Wnt pathway is a promising approach in the search for possible targets to fight the deleterious effects of neurodegenerative conditions such as AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1358/dnp.2009.10.1436817DOI Listing
December 2009
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