Research in the past decades has unfolded the multifaceted role of Fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) and how its absence contributes to the pathophysiology of Fragile X syndrome (FXS). Excess signaling through group 1 metabotropic glutamate receptors is commonly observed in mouse models of FXS, which in part is attributed to dysregulated translation and downstream signaling. Considering the wide spectrum of cellular and physiologic functions that loss of FMRP can affect in general, it may be advantageous to pursue disease mechanism based treatments that directly target translational components or signaling factors that regulate protein synthesis. Various FMRP targets upstream and downstream of the translational machinery are therefore being investigated to further our understanding of the molecular mechanism of RNA and protein synthesis dysregulation in FXS as well as test their potential role as therapeutic interventions to alleviate FXS associated symptoms. In this review, we will broadly discuss recent advancements made towards understanding the role of FMRP in translation regulation, new pre-clinical animal models with FMRP targets located at different levels of the translational and signal transduction pathways for therapeutic intervention as well as future use of stem cells to model FXS associated phenotypes.
The biological mechanisms of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are largely unknown in spite of extensive research. ASD is characterized by altered function of multiple brain areas including the temporal cortex and by an increased synaptic excitation:inhibition ratio. While numerous studies searched for evidence of increased excitation in ASD, fewer have investigated the possibility of reduced inhibition. We characterized the cortical γ-amino butyric acid (GABA)ergic system in the rat temporal cortex of an ASD model [offspring of mothers prenatally injected with valproic acid (VPA)], by monitoring inhibitory post-synaptic currents (IPSCs) with patch-clamp. We found that numerous features of inhibition were severely altered in VPA animals compared to controls. Among them were the frequency of miniature IPSCs, the rise time and decay time of electrically-evoked IPSCs, the slope and saturation of their input/output curves, as well as their modulation by adrenergic and muscarinic agonists and by the synaptic GABAA receptor allosteric modulator zolpidem (but not by the extra-synaptic modulator gaboxadol). Our data suggest that both pre- and post-synaptic, but not extra-synaptic, inhibitory transmission is impaired in the offspring of VPA-injected mothers. We speculate that impairment in the GABAergic system critically contributes to an increase in the ratio between synaptic excitation and inhibition, which in genetically predisposed individuals may alter cortical circuits responsible for emotional, communication and social impairments at the core of ASD.
Neural oscillations were established with their association with neurophysiological activities and the altered rhythmic patterns are believed to be linked directly to the progression of cognitive decline. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a non-invasive technique to record such neuronal activity due to excellent temporal and fair amount of spatial resolution. Single channel, connectivity as well as brain network analysis using MEG data in resting state and task-based experiments were analyzed from existing literature. Single channel analysis studies reported a less complex, more regular and predictable oscillations in Alzheimer's disease (AD) primarily in the left parietal, temporal and occipital regions. Investigations on both functional connectivity (FC) and effective (EC) connectivity analysis demonstrated a loss of connectivity in AD compared to healthy control (HC) subjects found in higher frequency bands. It has been reported from multiplex network of MEG study in AD in the affected regions of hippocampus, posterior default mode network (DMN) and occipital areas, however, conclusions cannot be drawn due to limited availability of clinical literature. Potential utilization of high spatial resolution in MEG likely to provide information related to in-depth brain functioning and underlying factors responsible for changes in neuronal waves in AD. This review is a comprehensive report to investigate diagnostic biomarkers for AD may be identified by from MEG data. It is also important to note that MEG data can also be utilized for the same pursuit in combination with other imaging modalities.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are complex neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by repetitive behavior and impaired social communication and interactions. Apart from these core symptoms, a significant number of ASD individuals display higher levels of anxiety and some ASD individuals exhibit impaired emotional learning. We therefore sought to further examine anxiety and emotional learning in an environmentally induced animal model of ASD that utilizes the administration of the known teratogen, valproic acid (VPA) during gestation. Specifically we exposed dams to one of two different doses of VPA (500 and 600 mg/kg) or vehicle on day 12.5 of gestation and examined the resultant progeny. Our data indicate that animals exposed to VPA in utero exhibit enhanced anxiety in the open field test and normal object recognition memory compared to control animals. Animals exposed to 500 mg/kg of VPA displayed normal acquisition of auditory fear conditioning, and exhibited reduced extinction of fear memory and normal litter survival rates as compared to control animals. We observed that animals exposed to 600 mg/kg of VPA exhibited a significant reduction in the acquisition of fear conditioning, a significant reduction in social interaction and a significant reduction in litter survival rates as compared to control animals. VPA (600 mg/kg) exposed animals exhibited similar shock sensitivity and hearing as compared to control animals indicating the fear conditioning deficit observed in these animals was not likely due to sensory deficits, but rather due to deficits in learning or memory retrieval. In conclusion, considering that progeny from dams exposed to rather similar doses of VPA exhibit striking differences in emotional learning, the VPA model may serve as a useful tool to explore the molecular and cellular mechanisms that contribute to not only ASD, but also emotional learning.
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