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  • Antibodies to voltage-gated calcium channels in children with falciparum malaria.

    24 October 2018

    Falciparum malaria can affect the central nervous system (CNS), causing neurological dysfunction and sequelae. The pathophysiology of these complications is currently very poorly understood. Production of autoantibodies has frequently been reported as a consequence of infection with Plasmodium falciparum. However, at present, the presence of antibodies to components of the CNS during malaria infection has not been reported. We have sought to identify such antibodies, define their specificity, and determine whether they are involved in the development of neurological complications of falciparum malaria. Here, we show that, in a cohort of Kenyan children, levels of antibodies to the voltage-gated calcium channels, but not to other ion channels, increased with the severity of malaria infection.

  • Concurrent multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: where inflammation and neurodegeneration meet?

    24 October 2018

    The concurrence of multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is exceedingly rare and the pathological features have not been examined extensively. Here we describe the key pathological features of a 40 year old man with pathologically confirmed concurrent MS and ALS.This is the most pathologically illustrative case of coincident MS and ALS demonstrating inflammatory and neurodegenerative features characteristic of each disease, and is the first to exhibit the presence of TDP-43 inclusions in this clinical entity. The intricate relationship between neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in these diseases is discussed.

  • The role of RNA processing in the pathogenesis of motor neuron degeneration.

    24 October 2018

    Motor neurons are large, highly polarised cells with very long axons and a requirement for precise spatial and temporal gene expression. Neurodegenerative disorders characterised by selective motor neuron vulnerability include various forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). A rapid expansion in knowledge on the pathophysiology of motor neuron degeneration has occurred in recent years, largely through the identification of genes leading to familial forms of ALS and SMA. The major emerging theme is that motor neuron degeneration can result from mutation in genes that encode factors important for ribonucleoprotein biogenesis and RNA processing, including splicing regulation, transcript stabilisation, translational repression and localisation of mRNA. Complete understanding of how these pathways interact and elucidation of specialised mechanisms for mRNA targeting and processing in motor neurons are likely to produce new targets for therapy in ALS and related disorders.

  • The vascular basement membrane as "soil" in brain metastasis.

    24 October 2018

    Brain-specific homing and direct interactions with the neural substance are prominent hypotheses for brain metastasis formation and a modern manifestation of Paget's "seed and soil" concept. However, there is little direct evidence for this "neurotropic" growth in vivo. In contrast, many experimental studies have anecdotally noted the propensity of metastatic cells to grow along the exterior of pre-existing vessels of the CNS, a process termed vascular cooption. These observations suggest the "soil" for malignant cells in the CNS may well be vascular, rather than neuronal. We used in vivo experimental models of brain metastasis and analysis of human clinical specimens to test this hypothesis. Indeed, over 95% of early micrometastases examined demonstrated vascular cooption with little evidence for isolated neurotropic growth. This vessel interaction was adhesive in nature implicating the vascular basement membrane (VBM) as the active substrate for tumor cell growth in the brain. Accordingly, VBM promoted adhesion and invasion of malignant cells and was sufficient for tumor growth prior to any evidence of angiogenesis. Blockade or loss of the beta1 integrin subunit in tumor cells prevented adhesion to VBM and attenuated metastasis establishment and growth in vivo. Our data establishes a new understanding of CNS metastasis formation and identifies the neurovasculature as the critical partner for such growth. Further, we have elucidated the mechanism of vascular cooption for the first time. These findings may help inform the design of effective molecular therapies for patients with fatal CNS malignancies.

  • TDP-43 expression in mouse models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy.

    24 October 2018

    BACKGROUND: Redistribution of nuclear TAR DNA binding protein 43 (TDP-43) to the cytoplasm and ubiquitinated inclusions of spinal motor neurons and glial cells is characteristic of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) pathology. Recent evidence suggests that TDP-43 pathology is common to sporadic ALS and familial ALS without SOD1 mutation, but not SOD1-related fALS cases. Furthermore, it remains unclear whether TDP-43 abnormalities occur in non-ALS forms of motor neuron disease. Here, we characterise TDP-43 localisation, expression levels and post-translational modifications in mouse models of ALS and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). RESULTS: TDP-43 mislocalisation to ubiquitinated inclusions or cytoplasm was notably lacking in anterior horn cells from transgenic mutant SOD1G93A mice. In addition, abnormally phosphorylated or truncated TDP-43 species were not detected in fractionated ALS mouse spinal cord or brain. Despite partial colocalisation of TDP-43 with SMN, depletion of SMN- and coilin-positive Cajal bodies in motor neurons of affected SMA mice did not alter nuclear TDP-43 distribution, expression or biochemistry in spinal cords. CONCLUSION: These results emphasise that TDP-43 pathology characteristic of human sporadic ALS is not a core component of the neurodegenerative mechanisms caused by SOD1 mutation or SMN deficiency in mouse models of ALS and SMA, respectively.

  • Collision lesions of the sella: co-existence of craniopharyngioma with gonadotroph adenoma and of Rathke's cleft cyst with corticotroph adenoma.

    24 October 2018

    Collision lesions of the sellar region are relatively uncommon. Most contributions include a pituitary adenoma or a cyst/cystic tumor, particularly a Rathke cleft cyst. The association of craniopharyngioma with an adenoma is particularly rare. Among reported cases, some have included secondary prolactin cell hyperplasia due to pituitary stalk section effect. Herein, we report two collision lesions, including a gonadotroph adenoma with adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma and a corticotroph adenoma with Rathke's cleft cyst. Clinicopathologic correlation and a review of the literature are undertaken.

  • Acromegaly and anaplastic astrocytoma: coincidence or pathophysiological relation?

    24 October 2018

    Insulin-like growth factor type I (IGF-I) is an important promoter in the tumorigenesis of several extracranial and intracranial neoplasms. In astrocytic-cell tumors, the role of autocrine and paracrine IGF-I expression in enhancing tumoral progression is well established. However, the influence of systemic IGF-I levels on the clinical behavior of astrocytic neoplasms remains an open subject of research. We report the case of a 28-year-old man who presented simultaneously with acromegaly and an anaplastic astrocytoma, which had rapidly progressed from a low-grade astrocytoma. The coexistence of systemic IGF-I hypersecretion with a quick progression in the histopathological grade of the astrocytoma raises the compelling question of whether the clinical behavior of the astrocytic tumor was influenced by the acromegalic status. The role of IGF-I signaling in the pathogenesis of astrocytic-cell tumors and the experience with therapeutic strategies addressing this pathway in astrocytomas are also discussed.

  • Neuronal intranuclear inclusions in SCA2: A genetic, morphological and immunohistochemical study of two cases

    24 October 2018

    Spinocerebellar ataxia 2 (SCA2) belongs to the family of autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxias (ADCA), a genetically heterogeneous group of neurodegenerative diseases. The SCA2 gene maps to chromosome 12q24 and the causative mutation involves the expansion of a CAG repeat within the coding region of the gene. Pathologically, SCA2 presents as olivo-ponto-cerebellar atrophy (OPCA). We present the cases of a 41-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman who died after a long illness characterized by severe cerebellar ataxia. Diagnosis of SCA2 was confirmed by genetic analysis. The brains were moderately to severely atrophic and atrophy was particularly obvious in the cerebellum and brainstem. Histological examination revealed extreme loss of pontine and olivary nuclei and Purkinje cells, with preservation of the dentate nuclei, and of the pigmented cells in the substantia nigra. The whole spinal cord was also severely affected, with shrinkage of the dorsal columns and reduction in the number of neurones in the motor pool and Clarke's nuclei. Immunohistochemistry with 1C2 antibody showed granular neuronal cytoplasmic deposits in all the areas examined and widespread intranuclear inclusions, which were particularly numerous in the residual pontine nuclei. Intranuclear inclusions were not considered a feature in SCA2. Our results support the view that intranuclear inclusions are an integral part of the pathology of this mutation.

  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 knockout mice develop parathyroid, pancreatic, pituitary and adrenal tumours with hypercalcaemia, hypophosphataemia and hypercorticosteronaemia.

    24 October 2018

    Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is an autosomal dominant disorder characterized in man by parathyroid, pancreatic, pituitary and adrenal tumours. The MEN1 gene encodes a 610-amino acid protein (menin) which is a tumour suppressor. To investigate the in vivo role of menin, we developed a mouse model, by deleting Men1 exons 1 and 2 and investigated this for MEN1-associated tumours and serum abnormalities. Men1(+/-) mice were viable and fertile, and 220 Men1(+/-) and 94 Men1(+/+) mice were studied between the ages of 3 and 21 months. Survival in Men1(+/-) mice was significantly lower than in Men1(+/+) mice (<68% vs >85%, P<0.01). Men1(+/-) mice developed, by 9 months of age, parathyroid hyperplasia, pancreatic tumours which were mostly insulinomas, by 12 months of age, pituitary tumours which were mostly prolactinomas, and by 15 months parathyroid adenomas and adrenal cortical tumours. Loss of heterozygosity and menin expression was demonstrated in the tumours, consistent with a tumour suppressor role for the Men1 gene. Men1(+/-) mice with parathyroid neoplasms were hypercalcaemic and hypophosphataemic, with inappropriately normal serum parathyroid hormone concentrations. Pancreatic and pituitary tumours expressed chromogranin A (CgA), somatostatin receptor type 2 and vascular endothelial growth factor-A. Serum CgA concentrations in Men1(+/-) mice were not elevated. Adrenocortical tumours, which immunostained for 3-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, developed in seven Men1(+/-) mice, but resulted in hypercorticosteronaemia in one out of the four mice that were investigated. Thus, these Men1(+/-) mice are representative of MEN1 in man, and will help in investigating molecular mechanisms and treatments for endocrine tumours.

  • Alternative splicing events are a late feature of pathology in a mouse model of spinal muscular atrophy.

    24 October 2018

    Spinal muscular atrophy is a severe motor neuron disease caused by inactivating mutations in the SMN1 gene leading to reduced levels of full-length functional SMN protein. SMN is a critical mediator of spliceosomal protein assembly, and complete loss or drastic reduction in protein leads to loss of cell viability. However, the reason for selective motor neuron degeneration when SMN is reduced to levels which are tolerated by all other cell types is not currently understood. Widespread splicing abnormalities have recently been reported at end-stage in a mouse model of SMA, leading to the proposition that disruption of efficient splicing is the primary mechanism of motor neuron death. However, it remains unclear whether splicing abnormalities are present during early stages of the disease, which would be a requirement for a direct role in disease pathogenesis. We performed exon-array analysis of RNA from SMN deficient mouse spinal cord at 3 time points, pre-symptomatic (P1), early symptomatic (P7), and late-symptomatic (P13). Compared to littermate control mice, SMA mice showed a time-dependent increase in the number of exons showing differential expression, with minimal differences between genotypes at P1 and P7, but substantial variation in late-symptomatic (P13) mice. Gene ontology analysis revealed differences in pathways associated with neuronal development as well as cellular injury. Validation of selected targets by RT-PCR confirmed the array findings and was in keeping with a shift between physiologically occurring mRNA isoforms. We conclude that the majority of splicing changes occur late in SMA and may represent a secondary effect of cell injury, though we cannot rule out significant early changes in a small number of transcripts crucial to motor neuron survival.