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The Latest Articles on Neurodegeneration and Gene Editing

Published on: 28 Jul 2022 Viewed: 62

Our staff editors continue to share brilliant, thoughtful, and meaningful topics and articles in this recommended series.

This week, we would like to share several the latest articles on Neurodegeneration and gene editing related to our published articles.

Title: Aluminium exposure leads to neurodegeneration and alters the expression of marker genes involved to parkinsonism in zebrafish brain
Authors: Teresa Capriello, Gianluca Di Meglio, Anna De Maio, Rosaria Scudiero, Anna Rita Bianchi, Marco Trifuoggi, Maria Toscanesi, Antonella Giarra, Ida Ferrandino
Type: Research Article
●Adult zebrafish were exposed to 11 mg/L Aluminium for 10, 15, and 20 days.
●Aluminium induced neurodegeneration mostly in organisms exposed for 10 and 15 days.
●The expression of GFAP protein was higher after 10 and 15 days of treatment.
●Al-treatment affected the expression of marker genes involved in Parkinsonism.
●PARP activity tended to stabilize on the 20th day of Aluminium exposure.
Aluminium, despite being extremely widespread in the world, is a non-essential metal to human metabolism. This metal is known to have toxic effects on a variety of organs including the brain and is considered an etiological factor in neurodegenerative diseases. However, the molecular mechanisms by which aluminium exerts neurotoxic effects are not yet completely understood. Zebrafish is an animal model also used to study neurodegenerative diseases since the overall anatomical organization of the central nervous system is relatively conserved and similar to mammals. Adult zebrafish were exposed to 11 mg/L of Al for 10, 15, and 20 days and the neurotoxic effects of aluminium were analysed by histological, biochemical, and molecular evaluations. Histological stainings allowed to evaluation of the morphology of the brain parenchyma, the alteration of myelin and the activation of neurodegenerative processes. The expression of the Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein, a marker of glial cells, was evaluated to observe the quantitative alteration of this important protein for the nervous system. In addition, the poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase activity was measured to verify a possible oxidative DNA damage caused by exposure to this metal. Finally, the evaluation of the markers involved in Parkinsonism was assessed by Real-Time PCR to better understand the role of aluminium in the regulation of genes related to Parkinson's neurodegenerative disease. Data showed that aluminium significantly affected the histology of cerebral tissue especially in the first periods of exposure, 10 and 15 days. This trend was also followed by the expression of GFAP. At longer exposure times, there was an improvement/stabilization of the overall neurological conditions and decrease in PARP activity.
In addition, aluminium is involved in the deregulation of the expression of genes closely related to Parkinsonism. Overall, the data confirm the neurotoxicity induced by aluminium and shed a light on its involvement in neurodegenerative processes.
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Title: Temporal, spatial and molecular pattern of dopaminergic neurodegeneration in the AAV-A53T α-synuclein rat model of Parkinson's disease
Authors: Thomas Musacchio, Jing Yin, Fabian Kremer, James B. Koprich, Jonathan M. Brotchie, Jens Volkmann, Chi Wang Ip
Type: Review
Degeneration of the nigrostriatal tract is a neuropathological hallmark of Parkinson’s disease (PD). A differential intraneuronal vulnerability of dopaminergic neurons within the substantia nigra (SN) has been suggested, starting as an axonopathy followed by neuronal cell loss that is accompanied with motor deficits. To date, there is no therapy available to delay or halt this neurodegeneration. Nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like-2 factor (Nrf2) and histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) are crucial molecular regulators that undergo nucleo-cytoplasmic shuttling and are involved in regulation of axonal and perikarya degeneration of neurons under various pathologic conditions. We here aimed to analyze the time course of dopaminergic neurodegeneration in an AAV PD rat model overexpressing human mutated A53T α-synuclein (haSyn), differentially correlate striatal terminal and SN perikarya loss with behavioral deficits and investigate if nucleo-cytoplasmic Nrf2 and HDAC1 expression are altered in dopaminergic perikarya of the haSyn PD rat model. We observed impaired motor performance in haSyn PD rats assessed by the single pellet reaching task at four- and six-weeks post AAV injection (P < 0.05 each). However, only striatal terminal loss correlated significantly with motor deficits in haSyn PD rats, indicating that parkinsonian motor features reflect the striatal dopaminergic denervation, but cannot be taken as an indirect measure of neurodegeneration per se. Immunofluorescence staining demonstrated an upregulation of HDAC1 in the dopaminergic cell nucleus (P < 0.05) while no changes were observed for Nrf2. These data suggest a critical functional role of the axonopathy on motor behavior in haSyn PD rats and mechanistically point towards an impaired nucleo-cytoplasmic translocation of HDAC1 and thus a potential role of disturbed histone acetylation in neurodegeneration.
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Title: A novel synthetic peptide SVHRSP attenuates dopaminergic neurodegeneration by inhibiting NADPH oxidase-mediated neuroinflammation in experimental models of Parkinson's disease
Authors: Xiaomeng Zhang, Dezhen Tu, Sheng Li, Donglai Li, Yun Gao, Lu Tian, Jianing Liu, Xuan Zhang, Jau-Shyong Hong, Liyan Hou, Qingshan Wang
Type: Review
●SVHRSP protects dopaminergic neurons in two experimental PD models.
●SVHRSP blunts microglial activation and M1 polarization.
●SVHRSP inhibits NOX2 activation by blocking p47phox membrane translocation.
●NOX2 silence abrogates SVHRSP-afforded anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects.
Current treatment of Parkinson's disease (PD) ameliorates symptoms but fails to block disease progression. This study was conducted to explore the protective effects of SVHRSP, a synthetic heat-resistant peptide derived from scorpion venom, against dopaminergic neurodegeneration in experimental models of PD. Results showed that SVHRSP dose-dependently reduced the loss of dopaminergic neuron in the nigrostriatal pathway and motor impairments in both rotenone and 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/probenecid (MPTP/p)-induced mouse PD models. Microglial activation and imbalance of M1/M2 polarization were also abrogated by SVHRSP in both models. In rotenone-treated primary midbrain neuron-glial cultures, loss of dopaminergic neuron and microglial activation were mitigated by SVHRSP. Furthermore, lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-elicited microglial activation, M1 polarization and related dopaminergic neurodegeneration in primary cultures were also abrogated by SVHRSP, suggesting that inhibition of microglial activation contributed to SVHRSP-afforded neuroprotection. Mechanistic studies revealed that SVHRSP blocked both LPS- and rotenone-induced microglial NADPH oxidase (NOX2) activation by preventing membrane translocation of cytosolic subunit p47phox. NOX2 knockdown by siRNA markedly attenuated the inhibitory effects of SVHRSP against LPS- and rotenone-induced gene expressions of proinflammatory factors and related neurotoxicity. Altogether, SVHRSP protects dopaminergic neurons by blocking NOX2-mediated microglial activation in experimental PD models, providing experimental basis for the screening of clinical therapeutic drugs for PD.
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Title: Modeling neurodegenerative diseases using non-human primates: advances and challenges
Authors: Bang Li, Da-Jian He, Xiao-Jiang Li, Xiang-Yu Guo 
Type: Review
Neurodegenerative diseases (NDs), such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Huntington’s disease (HD), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), are pathologically characterized by progressive loss of selective populations of neurons in the affected brain regions and clinically manifested by cognitive, motor, and psychological dysfunctions. Since aging is the major risk factor for NDs and the elderly population is expected to expand considerably in the coming decades, the prevalence of NDs will significantly increase, leading to a greater medical burden to society and affected families. Despite extensive research on NDs, no effective therapy is available for NDs, largely due to a lack of complete understanding of the pathogenesis of NDs. Although research on small animal and rodent models has provided tremendous knowledge of molecular mechanisms of disease pathogenesis, few translational successes have been reported in clinical trials. In particular, most genetically modified rodent models are unable to recapitulate striking and overt neurodegeneration seen in the patient brains. Non-human primates (NHPs) are the most relevant laboratory animals to humans, and recent studies using NHP neurodegeneration models have uncovered important pathological features of NDs. Here, we review the unique features of NHPs for modeling NDs and new insights into AD, PD, and ALS gained from animal models, highlight the contribution of gene editing techniques to establishing NHP models, and discuss the challenges of investigating NHP models.
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