Compelling experimental evidence suggests that microglial activation is involved in the spread of tau tangles over the neocortex in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We tested the hypothesis that the spatial propagation of microglial activation and tau accumulation colocalize in a Braak-like pattern in the living human brain. We studied 130 individuals across the aging and AD clinical spectrum with positron emission tomography brain imaging for microglial activation ([11C]PBR28), amyloid-β (Aβ) ([18F]AZD4694) and tau ([18F]MK-6240) pathologies. We further assessed microglial triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (TREM2) cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations and brain gene expression patterns. We found that [11C]PBR28 correlated with CSF soluble TREM2 and showed regional distribution resembling TREM2 gene expression. Network analysis revealed that microglial activation and tau correlated hierarchically with each other following Braak-like stages. Regression analysis revealed that the longitudinal tau propagation pathways depended on the baseline microglia network rather than the tau network circuits. The co-occurrence of Aβ, tau and microglia abnormalities was the strongest predictor of cognitive impairment in our study population. Our findings support a model where an interaction between Aβ and activated microglia sets the pace for tau spread across Braak stages.
The pathology of familial Alzheimer’s disease, which is caused by dominant mutations in the gene that encodes amyloid-beta precursor protein (APP) and in those that encode presenilin 1 and presenilin 2, is characterized by extracellular amyloid plaques and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles in multiple brain regions. Here we show that the brain-wide selective disruption of a mutated APP allele in transgenic mouse models carrying the human APP Swedish mutation alleviates amyloid-beta-associated pathologies for at least six months after a single intrahippocampal administration of an adeno-associated virus that encodes both Cas9 and a single-guide RNA that targets the mutation. We also show that the deposition of amyloid-beta, as well as microgliosis, neurite dystrophy and the impairment of cognitive performance, can all be ameliorated when the CRISPR–Cas9 construct is delivered intravenously via a modified adeno-associated virus that can cross the blood–brain barrier. Brain-wide disease-modifying genome editing could represent a viable strategy for the treatment of familial Alzheimer’s disease and other monogenic diseases that affect multiple brain regions.
Background and Objectives: Observational research has shown that a substantial proportion of all dementia cases worldwide is attributable to modifiable risk factors. Dementia risk scores might be useful to identify high-risk individuals and monitor treatment adherence. The objective of this study was to investigate whether a dementia risk score, the LIfestyle for BRAin health (LIBRA) index, is associated with MRI markers and cognitive functioning/impairment in the general population. Methods: Cross-sectional data was used from the observational population-based cohort of The Maastricht Study.. The weighted compound score of LIBRA (including twelve dementia risk and protective factors, e.g. hypertension, physical inactivity) was calculated, with higher scores indicating higher dementia risk. Standardized volumes of white matter, grey matter, CSF (as proxy for general brain atrophy), white matter hyperintensities, and presence of cerebral small vessel disease were derived from 3T MRI. Cognitive functioning was tested in three domains: memory, information processing speed, and executive function and attention. Values ≤1.5 SD below the average were defined as cognitive impairment. Multiple regression analyses and structural equation modelling were used, adjusted for age, sex, education, intracranial volume and type-2 diabetes. Results: Participants (n=4,164; mean age 59y; 49.7% men) with higher LIBRA scores (mean=1.19, range=-2.7 to +9.2), denoting higher dementia risk, had higher volumes of white matter hyperintensities (β=0.051, p=.002), and lower scores on information processing speed (β=-0.067, p=.001) and executive function and attention (β=-0.065, p=.004). Only in men, associations between LIBRA and volumes of grey matter (β=-0.093, p
There is evidence of the therapeutic potential of intranasal oxytocin for the treatment of pain and various psychiatric disorders, however, there is scant evidence that oxytocin reaches the brain. We quantified the concentration and distribution pattern of [125I]-radiolabeled oxytocin in the brains and peripheral tissues of rats after intranasal delivery using gamma counting and autoradiography, respectively. Radiolabel was detected in high concentrations in the trigeminal and olfactory nerves as well as in brain regions along their trajectories. Considerable concentrations were observed in the blood, however, relatively low levels of radiolabel were measured in peripheral tissues. The addition of a mucoadhesive did not enhance brain concentrations. These results provide support for intranasal OT reaching the brain via the olfactory and trigeminal neural pathways. These findings will inform the design and interpretation of clinical studies with intranasal oxytocin.
Compulsive drug use despite adverse consequences defines addiction. While mesolimbic dopamine signaling is sufficient to drive compulsion, psychostimulants such as cocaine also boost extracellular serotonin (5-HT) by inhibiting reuptake. We used SERT Met172 knockin (SertKI) mice carrying a transporter that no longer binds cocaine to abolish 5-HT transients during drug self-administration. SertKI mice showed an enhanced transition to compulsion. Conversely, pharmacologically elevating 5-HT reversed the inherently high rate of compulsion transition with optogenetic dopamine self-stimulation. The bidirectional effect on behavior is explained by presynaptic depression of orbitofrontal cortex–to–dorsal striatum synapses induced by 5-HT via 5-HT1B receptors. Consequently, in projection-specific 5-HT1B receptor knockout mice, the fraction of individuals compulsively self-administering cocaine was elevated. Prevention of compulsive cocaine taking Over time, about 20% of chronic cocaine users lose control and become addicted. There are indications that the differential efficacy of the brain serotonin (5-HT) system may be involved in the vulnerability to drug addiction. However, the relevant circuits and underlying cellular processes remain elusive. Li et al. discovered a synaptic mechanism in mice that underlies the modulatory role of 5-HT in reducing the likelihood of transition to compulsion and eventually addiction (see the Perspective by Miyazaki and Miyazaki). Cocaine binds to 5-HT transporters to block 5-HT reuptake. The elevated extracellular 5-HT activates 5-HT1B receptors and causes presynaptic depression of a projection from the orbitofrontal cortex to the dorsal striatum. These changes reduce the likelihood of inducing postsynaptic potentiation at these synapses, which ultimately drives compulsion. —PRS
Background There is growing concern about possible cognitive consequences of COVID-19, with reports of ‘Long COVID' symptoms persisting into the chronic phase and case studies revealing neurological problems in severely affected patients. However, there is little information regarding the nature and broader prevalence of cognitive problems post-infection or across the full spread of disease severity. Methods We sought to confirm whether there was an association between cross-sectional cognitive performance data from 81,337 participants who between January and December 2020 undertook a clinically validated web-optimized assessment as part of the Great British Intelligence Test, and questionnaire items capturing self-report of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 infection and respiratory symptoms. Findings People who had recovered from COVID-19, including those no longer reporting symptoms, exhibited significant cognitive deficits versus controls when controlling for age, gender, education level, income, racial-ethnic group, pre-existing medical disorders, tiredness, depression and anxiety. The deficits were of substantial effect size for people who had been hospitalised ( N = 192), but also for non-hospitalised cases who had biological confirmation of COVID-19 infection ( N = 326). Analysing markers of premorbid intelligence did not support these differences being present prior to infection. Finer grained analysis of performance across sub-tests supported the hypothesis that COVID-19 has a multi-domain impact on human cognition. Interpretation These results accord with reports of ‘Long Covid' cognitive symptoms that persist into the early-chronic phase. They should act as a clarion call for further research with longitudinal and neuroimaging cohorts to plot recovery trajectories and identify the biological basis of cognitive deficits in SARS-COV-2 survivors. Funding AH is supported by the UK Dementia Research Institute Care Research and Technology Centre and Biomedical Research Centre at Imperial College London. WT is supported by the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Neurotechnology. SRC is funded by a Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellowship 110,049/Z/15/Z. JMB is supported by Medical Research Council (MR/N013700/1). MAM, SCRW and PJH are, in part, supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London
Refugees often report heightened emotional reactivity and emotion regulation difficulties and are at high risk for mental health problems. Given that refugees are repeatedly exposed to traumatic events that may cause changes in the brain, the present study examined neural correlates of emotional reactivity and regulation and their associations with refugee features (e.g., cumulative trauma) and the severity of psychiatric symptoms (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]) in North Korean (NK) refugees. Forty NK refugees with trauma exposure and varying levels of psychopathology and 41 healthy South Korean (SK) controls without trauma exposure participated in this study. They performed an emotion regulation task during a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) assessment. Region of interest (ROI), whole brain, and generalized psychophysiological interaction (gPPI) analyses were conducted. NK refugees with trauma exposure and varying levels of psychopathology showed increased activation in response to negative socio-affective pictures in regions involved in affective processing, including the amygdala and hippocampus, relative to healthy SK controls without trauma exposure. They also exhibited greater prefrontal cortex (PFC) activation, amygdala–PFC functional connectivity (FC), and hippocampal–PFC FC during emotion regulation. More severe PTSD symptoms were associated with greater hippocampal response to negative pictures (vs. neutral pictures) in NK refugees. This study provides neuroscientific evidence for neural alterations in association with emotional reactivity and regulation in traumatized refugees. These findings may contribute to a better mechanistic understanding of emotional reactivity and regulation in refugees and suggest potential ways to address the emotional and mental problems of traumatized refugees.
Key Points Question What is the association of different forms of social support with an early neuroanatomical marker of Alzheimer disease vulnerability and cognitive function? Findings In this cross-sectional study, high (vs low) availability of supportive listening was associated with cognitive resilience, which indicated better global cognitive function than expected for lower cerebral volume. This association was absent for other forms of social support. Meaning In psychosocial interventions and related public health strategies to promote neurocognitive health, precise targeting of specific forms of social support, such as supportive listening, may be warranted. Abstract Importance Cognitive resilience refers to the general capacity of cognitive processes to be less susceptible to differences in brain structure from age- and disease-related changes. Studies suggest that supportive social networks reduce Alzheimer disease and related disorder (ADRD) risk by enhancing cognitive resilience, but data on specific social support mechanisms are sparse. Objective To examine the association of individual forms of social support with a global neuroanatomical measure of early ADRD vulnerability and cognition. Design, Setting, and Participants This retrospective cross-sectional analysis used prospectively collected data from Framingham Study participants without dementia, stroke, or other neurological conditions who underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging and neuropsychological testing at the same visit. Data from this large, population-based, longitudinal cohort were collected from June 6, 1997, to December 13, 1999 (original cohort), and from September 11, 1998, to October 26, 2001 (offspring cohort). Data were analyzed from May 22, 2017, to June 1, 2021. Exposures Total cerebral volume and, as a modifying exposure variable, self-reported availability of 5 types of social support measured by the Berkman-Syme Social Network Index. Main Outcomes and Measures The primary outcome was a global measure of cognitive function. Cognitive resilience was defined as the modification of total cerebral volume’s association with cognition, such that smaller β estimates (presented in SD units) indicate greater cognitive resilience (ie, better cognitive performance than estimated by lower total cerebral volume). Results The study included 2171 adults (164 in the original cohort and 2007 in the offspring cohort; mean [SD] age, 63  years; 1183 [54%] female). High listener availability was associated with greater cognitive resilience (β = 0.08, P
Summary Background Emerging evidence suggests increased risk of several physical health conditions in people with ADHD. Only a few physical conditions have been thoroughly studied in relation to ADHD, and there is little knowledge on associations in older adults in particular. We aimed to investigate the phenotypic and aetiological associations between ADHD and a wide range of physical health conditions across adulthood. Methods We did a register study in Sweden and identified full-sibling and maternal half-sibling pairs born between Jan 1, 1932, and Dec 31, 1995, through the Population and Multi-Generation Registers. We excluded individuals who died or emigrated before Jan 1, 2005, and included full-siblings who were not twins and did not have half-siblings. ICD diagnoses were obtained from the National Patient Register. We extracted ICD diagnoses for physical conditions, when participants were aged 18 years or older, from inpatient (recorded 1973–2013) and outpatient (recorded 2001–13) services. Diagnoses were regarded as lifetime presence or absence. Logistic regression models were used to estimate the associations between ADHD (exposure) and 35 physical conditions (outcomes) in individuals and across sibling pairs. Quantitative genetic modelling was used to estimate the extent to which genetic and environmental factors accounted for the associations with ADHD. Findings 4 789 799 individuals were identified (2 449 146 [51%] men and 2 340 653 [49%] women), who formed 4 288 451 unique sibling pairs (3 819 207 full-sibling pairs and 469 244 maternal half-sibling pairs) and 1 841 303 family clusters (siblings, parents, cousins, spouses). The mean age at end of follow-up was 47 years (range 18–81; mean birth year 1966); ethnicity data were not available. Adults with ADHD had increased risk for most physical conditions (34 [97%] of 35) compared with adults without ADHD; the strongest associations were with nervous system disorders (eg, sleep disorders, epilepsy, dementia; odds ratios [ORs] 1·50–4·62) and respiratory diseases (eg, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; ORs 2·42–3·24). Sex-stratified analyses showed similar patterns of results in men and women. Stronger cross-disorder associations were found between full-siblings than between half-siblings for nervous system, respiratory, musculoskeletal, and metabolic diseases (p
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a major and progressive neurodegenerative disorder, yet the biological mechanisms involved in its aetiology are poorly understood. Evidence links this disorder with mitochondrial dysfunction and/or impaired lysosomal degradation – key features of the autophagy of mitochondria, known as mitophagy. Here, we investigated the role of LRRK2, a protein kinase frequently mutated in PD, in this process in vivo. Using mitophagy and autophagy reporter mice, bearing either knockout of LRRK2 or expressing the pathogenic kinase-activating G2019S LRRK2 mutation, we found that basal mitophagy was specifically altered in clinically relevant cells and tissues. Our data show that basal mitophagy inversely correlates with LRRK2 kinase activity in vivo. In support of this, use of distinct LRRK2 kinase inhibitors in cells increased basal mitophagy, and a CNS penetrant LRRK2 kinase inhibitor, GSK3357679A, rescued the mitophagy defects observed in LRRK2 G2019S mice. This study provides the first in vivo evidence that pathogenic LRRK2 directly impairs basal mitophagy, a process with strong links to idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, and demonstrates that pharmacological inhibition of LRRK2 is a rational mitophagy-rescue approach and potential PD therapy.