BackgroundGlioblastoma (GBM) is the deadliest of brain tumors. Standard treatment for GBM is surgery, followed by combined radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Current therapy prolongs survival but does not offer a cure. We report on a novel immunotherapy against GBM, tested in an animal model of C57BL/6 mice injected intra-cranially with a lethal dose of murine GL261 glioma cells.MethodsTen week-old C57BL/6 mice were anesthetized before injection of 2 × 104 GL261 cells in the right cerebral hemisphere and after 3 days half of the mice were administered a single subcutaneous (s.c.) injection of irradiated semi-allogeneic vaccine, while mock-vaccinated mice received a s.c. injection of phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). Tumor engraftment was monitored through bioluminescence imaging (BLI). Length of animal survival was measured by Kaplan–Meier graphs and statistics. At time of sacrifice brain tissue was processed for estimation of tumor size and immunohistochemical studies.ResultsOverall survival of vaccinated mice was significantly longer compared to mock-vaccinated mice. Five to ten percent of vaccinated mice survived more than 90 days following the engraftment of GL261 cells in the brain and appeared to be free of disease by BLI. Tumor volume in the brain of vaccinated mice was on average five to ten-fold smaller compared to mock-vaccinated mice. In vaccinated mice, conspicuous microglia infiltrates were observed in tumor tissue sections and activated microglia appeared to form a fence along the perimeter of the tumor cells. The results of these animal studies persuaded the Office of Orphan Products Development of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant Orphan Drug Designation for treatment of GBM with irradiated, semi-allogeneic vaccines.ConclusionsOur preclinical observations suggest that semi-allogeneic vaccines could be tested clinically on subjects with GBM, as an adjuvant to standard treatment.
Estradiol enhances plasticity and survival of the injured brain. Our previous work demonstrates that physiological levels of estradiol protect against cerebral ischemia in the young and aging brain through actions involving estrogen receptors (ERs) and alterations in gene expression. The major goal of this study was to establish mechanisms of neuroprotective actions induced by low levels of estradiol. We first examined effects of estradiol on the time-dependent evolution of ischemic brain injury. Because estradiol is known to influence apoptosis, we hypothesized that it acts to decrease the delayed phase of cell death observed after middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). Furthermore, because ERs are pivotal to neuroprotection, we examined the temporal expression profiles of both ER subtypes, ERalpha and ERbeta, after MCAO and delineated potential roles for each receptor in estradiol-mediated neuroprotection. We quantified cell death in brains at various times after MCAO and analyzed ER expression by RT-PCR, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemistry. We found that during the first 24 h, the mechanisms of estradiol-induced neuroprotection after MCAO are limited to attenuation of delayed cell death and do not influence immediate cell death. Furthermore, we discovered that ERs exhibit distinctly divergent profiles of expression over the evolution of injury, with ERalpha induction occurring early and ERbeta modulation occurring later. Finally, we provide evidence for a new and functional role for ERalpha in estradiol-mediated protection of the injured brain. These findings indicate that physiological levels of estradiol protect against delayed cell death after stroke-like injury through mechanisms requiring ERalpha.
A cardinal feature of brain tissue injury in stroke is mitochondrial dysfunction leading to cell death, yet remarkably little is known about the mechanisms underlying mitochondrial injury in cerebral ischemia/reperfusion (IR). Ceramide, a naturally occurring membrane sphingolipid, functions as an important second messenger in apoptosis signaling and is generated by de novo synthesis, sphingomyelin hydrolysis, or recycling of sphingolipids. In this study, cerebral IR-induced ceramide elevation resulted from ceramide biosynthesis rather than from hydrolysis of sphingomyelin. Investigation of intracellular sites of ceramide accumulation revealed the elevation of ceramide in mitochondria because of activation of mitochondrial ceramide synthase via post-translational mechanisms. Furthermore, ceramide accumulation appears to cause mitochondrial respiratory chain damage that could be mimicked by exogenously added natural ceramide to mitochondria. The effect of ceramide on mitochondria was somewhat specific; dihydroceramide, a structure closely related to ceramide, did not inflict damage. Stimulation of ceramide biosynthesis seems to be under control of JNK3 signaling: IR-induced ceramide generation and respiratory chain damage was abolished in mitochondria of JNK3-deficient mice, which exhibited reduced infarct volume after IR. These studies suggest that the hallmark of mitochondrial injury in cerebral IR, respiratory chain dysfunction, is caused by the accumulation of ceramide via stimulation of ceramide synthase activity in mitochondria, and that JNK3 has a pivotal role in regulation of ceramide biosynthesis in cerebral IR.Mitochondria are known to be involved in both necrotic and apoptotic cell death, both of which have been identified in the ischemia/reperfusion (IR) 2 -injured brain (1-3). Also, restricted respiratory chain function has been found to develop in various models of cerebral IR (4 -8); specifically, mitochondrial respiration supported either by glutamate or succinate was decreased up to 40%, but ascorbate-supported respiration was not significantly altered (9, 10). Mitochondrial changes appear to be one essential step in tissue damage in cerebral IR. Treatments that slow tissue impairment were associated with better recovery of mitochondrial function (11,12).A number of cell death regulatory molecules have been implicated in neuronal injury in IR, including c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) (13). Once activated, JNK can phosphorylate serine residues of several transcription factors, such as c-Jun, or non-nuclear proteins, including pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins (14 -17). Among three JNK isoforms encoded by different genes, JNK1 and JNK2 are present in most tissues, whereas JNK3 is selectively expressed in the nervous system and in the heart. A critical role of JNK3 in cerebral ischemia has been implicated, targeted deletion of JNK3-protected mice from brain IR injury (18).Numerous reports support a role for sphingolipids as second messengers in intracellular signaling pathways (19,20), especially ce...
It is well established that the extracellular deposition of amyloid ␤ (A␤) peptide plays a central role in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Therefore, either preventing the accumulation of A␤ peptide in the brain or accelerating its clearance may slow the rate of AD onset. Neprilysin (NEP) is the dominant A␤ peptide-degrading enzyme in the brain; NEP becomes inactivated and down-regulated during both the early stages of AD and aging. In this study, we investigated the effect of human (h)NEP gene transfer to the brain in a mouse model of AD before the development of amyloid plaques, and assessed how this treatment modality affected the accumulation of A␤ peptide and associated pathogenetic changes (eg, inflammation, oxidative stress, and memory impairment). Overexpression of hNEP for 4 months in young APP/⌬PS1 double-transgenic mice resulted in reduction in A␤ peptide levels, attenuation of amyloid load, oxidative stress, and inflammation, and improved spatial orientation. Moreover, the overall reduction in amyloidosis and associated pathogenetic changes in the brain resulted in decreased memory impairment by ϳ50%. These data suggest that restoring NEP levels in the brain at the early stages of AD is an effective strategy to prevent or attenuate disease progression. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a loss of neurons in discrete regions of the brain, particularly in the cortex and hippocampus.1,2 The neuronal loss is accompanied by extracellular deposition of A␤ peptide in a form of senile plaques and intracellular accumulation of neurofibrillary tangles made of a hyperphosphorylated form of the microtubule-associated protein tau.3 Clinically, AD is characterized by a gradual decline in cognition, and changes in behavior and personality including difficulty in reasoning, disorientation, and language problems. The exact cause of AD is not yet clear, but it is widely assumed that accumulation and aggregation of A␤ peptide is the initial trigger for a complex, multistep cascade that includes gliosis, inflammatory changes, oxidative stress, neuritic/ synaptic changes, tangle formation (microtubule changes), and neurotransmitter loss, leading to dementia. 4 Therefore, lowering the A␤ peptide levels in the brain would stop or delay the onset of AD. NEP as one of the A␤ peptide-degrading enzymes, has been reported to play a key role in regulating the level of A␤ peptide in the brain. 5,6 NEP [neprilysin, previously called CD10 or common acute lymphoblastic leukemia antigen (CALLA)] is a type II membrane metalloendopeptidase composed of ϳ750 residues (ϳ110 kDa) with an active site containing a zinc-binding motif (HEXXH) at the extracellular carboxyl terminal domain.7-10 NEP is capable of degrading the monomeric and (possibly) the oligomeric forms of A␤ peptide. 11,12 In recent years several reports have indicated that the soluble (eg, oligomeric) forms of A␤ peptide play a significant role in memory impairment and AD,  however, it is noteworthy t...
Neurogenesis persists throughout life under normal and degenerative conditions. The adult subventricular zone (SVZ) generates neural stem cells capable of differentiating to neuroblasts and migrating to the site of injury in response to brain insults. In the present study, we investigated whether estradiol increases neurogenesis in the SVZ in an animal model of stroke to potentially promote the ability of the brain to undergo repair. Ovariectomized C57BL/6J mice were implanted with capsules containing either vehicle or 17beta-estradiol, and 1 week later they underwent experimental ischemia. We utilized double-label immunocytochemistry to identify the phenotype of newborn cells (5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine-labeled) with various cellular markers; doublecortin and PSA-NCAM as the early neuronal marker, NeuN to identify mature neurons, and glial fibrillary acidic protein to identify astrocytes. We report that low physiological levels of estradiol treatment, which exert no effect in the uninjured state, significantly increase the number of newborn neurons in the SVZ following stroke injury. This effect of estradiol is limited to the dorsal region of the SVZ and is absent from the ventral SVZ. The proliferative actions of estradiol are confined to neuronal precursors and do not influence gliosis. Furthermore, we show that both estrogen receptors alpha and beta play pivotal functional roles, insofar as knocking out either of these receptors blocks the ability of estradiol to increase neurogenesis. These findings clearly demonstrate that estradiol stimulates neurogenesis in the adult SVZ, thus potentially facilitating the brain to remodel and repair after injury.
Self-reactive natural antibodies initiate injury following ischemia and reperfusion of certain tissues, but their role in ischemic stroke is unknown. We investigated neoepitope expression in the post-ischemic brain, and the role of natural antibodies in recognizing these epitopes and mediating complement-dependent injury. A novel IgM mAb recognizing a subset of phospholipids (C2) and a previously characterized anti-annexin IV mAb (B4) were used to reconstitute and characterize injury in antibody deficient Rag1−/− mice after 60 minutes of middle cerebral artery occlusion and reperfusion. Reconstitution with C2 or B4 mAb in otherwise protected Rag1−/− mice restored injury to that seen in wild-type mice, as demonstrated by infarct volume, demyelination and neurological scoring. IgM deposition was demonstrated in both wild-type mice and reconstituted Rag1−/− mice, and IgM co-localized with the complement activation fragment, C3d, following B4 mAb reconstitution. Further, recombinant annexin IV significantly reduced infarct volumes in wild-type mice and in Rag1−/− mice administered normal mouse serum, demonstrating that a single antibody reactivity is sufficient to develop cerebral ischemia reperfusion injury in the context of an entire natural antibody repertoire. Finally, C2 and B4 mAbs bound to hypoxic, but not normoxic, human endothelial cells in vitro. Thus, the binding of pathogenic natural IgM to post-ischemic neoepitopes initiates complement-dependent injury following murine cerebral ischemia and reperfusion and, based also on previous data investigating IgM reactivity in human serum, there appears to be a similar recognition system in both mouse and man.
In addition to its function in calcium and bone metabolism, vitamin D is neuroprotective and important for mitigating inflammation. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system, characterized by neuronal loss in many areas of the brain, and the formation of senile (neuritic) plaques, which increase in number and size over time. The goal of this project was to investigate whether vitamin D3 supplementation would affect amyloid plaque formation in amyloid-β protein precursor (AβPP) transgenic mice that spontaneously develop amyloid plaques within 3–4 months of birth. AβPP mice were fed control, vitamin D3-deficient or vitamin D3-enriched diets for five months, starting immediately after weaning. At the end of the study, the animals were subjected to behavioral studies, sacrificed, and examined for bone changes and brain amyloid load, amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide levels, inflammatory changes, and nerve growth factor (NGF) content. The results obtained indicate that a vitamin D3-enriched diet correlates with a decrease in the number of amyloid plaques, a decrease in Aβ peptides, a decrease in inflammation, and an increase in NGF in the brains of AβPP mice. These observations suggest that a vitamin D3-enriched diet may benefit AD patients.
Therapeutic agents that improve the memory loss of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may eventually be developed if drug targets are identified that improve memory deficits in appropriate AD animal models. One such target is β-secretase which, in most AD patients, cleaves the wild-type (WT) β-secretase site sequence of the amyloid-β protein precursor (AβPP) to produce neurotoxic amyloid-β (Aβ). Thus, an animal model representing most AD patients for evaluating β-secretase effects on memory deficits is one that expresses human AβPP containing the WT β-secretase site sequence. BACE1 and cathepsin B (CatB) proteases have β-secretase activity, but gene knockout studies have not yet validated that the absence of these proteases improves memory deficits in such an animal model. This study assessed the effects of deleting these protease genes on memory deficits in the AD mouse model expressing human AβPP containing the WT β-secretase site sequence and the London γ-secretase site (AβPPWT/Lon mice). Knockout of the CatB gene in the AβPPWT/Lon mice improved memory deficits and altered the pattern of Aβ-related biomarkers in a manner consistent with CatB having WT β-secretase activity. But deletion of the BACE1 gene had no effect on these parameters in the AβPPWT/Lon mice. These data are the first to show that knockout of a putative β-secretase gene results in improved memory in an AD animal model expressing the WT β-secretase site sequence of AβPP, present in the majority of AD patients. CatB may be an effective drug target for improving memory deficits in most AD patients.
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