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  • New directions in migraine.

    24 October 2018

    Migraine is a highly prevalent neurological disorder imparting a major burden on health care around the world. The primary pathology may be a state of hyperresponsiveness of the nervous system, but the molecular mechanisms are yet to be fully elucidated. We could now be at a watershed moment in this respect, as the genetic loci associated with typical forms of migraine are being revealed. The genetic discoveries are the latest step in the evolution of our understanding of migraine, which was initially considered a cerebrovascular condition, then a neuroinflammatory process and now primarily a neurogenic disorder. Indeed, the genetic findings, which have revealed ion channels and transporter mutations as causative of migraine, are a powerful argument for the neurogenic basis of migraine. Modulations of ion channels leading to amelioration of the migraine 'hyperresponsive' brain represent attractive targets for drug discovery. There lies ahead an exciting and rapidly progressing phase of migraine translational research, and in this review we highlight recent genetic findings and consider how these may affect the future of migraine neurobiology and therapy.

  • New directions in migraine.

    24 October 2018

    Migraine is a highly prevalent neurological disorder imparting a major burden on health care around the world. The primary pathology may be a state of hyperresponsiveness of the nervous system, but the molecular mechanisms are yet to be fully elucidated. We could now be at a watershed moment in this respect, as the genetic loci associated with typical forms of migraine are being revealed. The genetic discoveries are the latest step in the evolution of our understanding of migraine, which was initially considered a cerebrovascular condition, then a neuroinflammatory process and now primarily a neurogenic disorder. Indeed, the genetic findings, which have revealed ion channels and transporter mutations as causative of migraine, are a powerful argument for the neurogenic basis of migraine. Modulations of ion channels leading to amelioration of the migraine 'hyperresponsive' brain represent attractive targets for drug discovery. There lies ahead an exciting and rapidly progressing phase of migraine translational research, and in this review we highlight recent genetic findings and consider how these may affect the future of migraine neurobiology and therapy.

  • Genomewide linkage scan reveals novel loci modifying age of onset of Huntington's disease in the Venezuelan HD kindreds.

    24 October 2018

    The age of onset of Huntington's disease (HD) is inversely correlated with the CAG length in the HD gene. The CAG repeat length accounts for 70% of the variability in HD age of onset. However, 90% of individuals worldwide with expanded alleles possess between 40 and 50 CAG repeat lengths in their HD gene. For these people, the size of their repeat only determines 44% of the variability in their age of onset. Once the effect of the CAG repeat has been accounted for, the residual variance in age of onset is a heritable trait. Targeted candidate gene studies and a genome scan have suggested some loci as potential modifiers of the age of onset of HD. We analyzed the large Venezuelan kindreds in which the HD gene was originally identified. These kindreds offer greater analytic power than standard sib-pair designs. We developed novel pedigree-member selection procedures to maximize power. Using a 5,858-single-nucleotide-polymorphism marker panel, we performed a genomewide linkage analysis. We discovered two novel loci on chromosome 2. Chromosome 2p25 (logarithm of the odds ratio (LOD)=4.29) and 2q35 (LOD=3.39) may contain genes that modify age of onset. A third linkage peak on chromosome 6q22 (LOD=2.48) may confirm the most promising locus from a previous genome scan. Two other candidate loci are suggestive on chromosome 5 (LOD=3.31 at 5p14 and LOD=3.14 at 5q32). All these regions harbor candidate genes that are potential HD modifier genes. Finding these modifier genes can reveal accessible and promising new therapeutic pathways and targets to ameliorate and cure HD.

  • Recessive mutations in SPTBN2 implicate β-III spectrin in both cognitive and motor development.

    24 October 2018

    β-III spectrin is present in the brain and is known to be important in the function of the cerebellum. Heterozygous mutations in SPTBN2, the gene encoding β-III spectrin, cause Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 5 (SCA5), an adult-onset, slowly progressive, autosomal-dominant pure cerebellar ataxia. SCA5 is sometimes known as "Lincoln ataxia," because the largest known family is descended from relatives of the United States President Abraham Lincoln. Using targeted capture and next-generation sequencing, we identified a homozygous stop codon in SPTBN2 in a consanguineous family in which childhood developmental ataxia co-segregates with cognitive impairment. The cognitive impairment could result from mutations in a second gene, but further analysis using whole-genome sequencing combined with SNP array analysis did not reveal any evidence of other mutations. We also examined a mouse knockout of β-III spectrin in which ataxia and progressive degeneration of cerebellar Purkinje cells has been previously reported and found morphological abnormalities in neurons from prefrontal cortex and deficits in object recognition tasks, consistent with the human cognitive phenotype. These data provide the first evidence that β-III spectrin plays an important role in cortical brain development and cognition, in addition to its function in the cerebellum; and we conclude that cognitive impairment is an integral part of this novel recessive ataxic syndrome, Spectrin-associated Autosomal Recessive Cerebellar Ataxia type 1 (SPARCA1). In addition, the identification of SPARCA1 and normal heterozygous carriers of the stop codon in SPTBN2 provides insights into the mechanism of molecular dominance in SCA5 and demonstrates that the cell-specific repertoire of spectrin subunits underlies a novel group of disorders, the neuronal spectrinopathies, which includes SCA5, SPARCA1, and a form of West syndrome.

  • Ethnic differences in pre-admission levels of physical activity in patients admitted with myocardial infarction.

    24 October 2018

    BACKGROUND: Regular exercise is generally considered to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Reduced levels of physical activity in Indo-Asians may partly explain why patients from this ethnic group sustain so many heart attacks. AIM: To investigate ethnic differences in pre-admission levels of physical activity amongst patients admitted with myocardial infarction and triggers for the acute cardiac event. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study using standard Baecke questionnaire, which provided a semi-quantitative work score, sport score, leisure score and total activity score of general daily activities, with additional questions on activity at the onset of chest pain. SETTING: Coronary Care Unit, City Centre Teaching Hospital. PATIENTS AND RESULTS: We studied 100 consecutive patients (76 males, mean age 62.3 years, S.D. 12.5; 74 caucasians, 26 Indo-Asians) admitted with myocardial infarction. Most patients were engaged in sedentary activities, including lying in bed (25%), sitting (19%), watching television (14%) and sleeping (6%), whilst only 21% of patients were engaged in physical activity at chest pain onset; there were, however, no ethnic differences in activity at chest pain onset. There was a diurnal variation in chest pain onset, with the mode between 08:00 and 10:00 h. As the mean age of Indo-Asians was significantly lower than caucasians in the whole group (56.3 vs. 64.4 years; t-test, P < 0.002), the Baecke questionnaire analysis was confined to only male patients aged < 70 years (n = 56). Indo-Asian patients with myocardial infarction were found to have a significantly lower overall physical activity score (3.78 vs. 5.33; P = 0.003), leisure time physical activity (2.43 vs. 2.74; P < 0.05) and sporting score (0.14 vs. 0.82; P < 0.01) when compared to caucasians, despite a similar mean age and body mass index. CONCLUSION: The majority of myocardial infarction patients were engaged in sedentary activities at chest pain onset. Although there were no differences between caucasians and Indo-Asians in activity at symptom onset, Indo-Asian patients had a significantly lower overall physical activity score, leisure time physical activity and sporting score compared to caucasians. The lower general physical activity amongst Indo-Asians may in part contribute to the high prevalence of ischaemic heart disease amongst this ethnic group.

  • Targeting ASIC1 in primary progressive multiple sclerosis: Evidence of neuroprotection with amiloride

    24 October 2018

    Neurodegeneration is the main cause for permanent disability in multiple sclerosis. The effect of current immunomodulatory treatments on neurodegeneration is insufficient. Therefore, direct neuroprotection and myeloprotection remain an important therapeutic goal. Targeting acid-sensing ion channel 1 (encoded by the ASIC1 gene), which contributes to the excessive intracellular accumulation of injurious Na<sup>+</sup> and Ca<sup>2+</sup> and is over-expressed in acute multiple sclerosis lesions, appears to be a viable strategy to limit cellular injury that is the substrate of neurodegeneration. While blockade of ASIC1 through amiloride, a potassium sparing diuretic that is currently licensed for hypertension and congestive cardiac failure, showed neuroprotective and myeloprotective effects in experimental models of multiple sclerosis, this strategy remains untested in patients with multiple sclerosis. In this translational study, we tested the neuroprotective effects of amiloride in patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis. First, we assessed ASIC1 expression in chronic brain lesions from post-mortem of patients with progressive multiple sclerosis to identify the target process for neuroprotection. Second, we tested the neuroprotective effect of amiloride in a cohort of 14 patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis using magnetic resonance imaging markers of neurodegeneration as outcome measures of neuroprotection. Patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis underwent serial magnetic resonance imaging scans before (pretreatment phase) and during (treatment phase) amiloride treatment for a period of 3 years. Whole-brain volume and tissue integrity were measured with high-resolution T <inf>1</inf>-weighted and diffusion tensor imaging. In chronic brain lesions of patients with progressive multiple sclerosis, we demonstrate an increased expression of ASIC1 in axons and an association with injury markers within chronic inactive lesions. In patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, we observed a significant reduction in normalized annual rate of whole-brain volume during the treatment phase, compared with the pretreatment phase (P = 0.018, corrected). Consistent with this reduction, we showed that changes in diffusion indices of tissue damage within major clinically relevant white matter (corpus callosum and corticospinal tract) and deep grey matter (thalamus) structures were significantly reduced during the treatment phase (P = 0.02, corrected). Our results extend evidence of the contribution of ASIC1 to neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis and suggest that amiloride may exert neuroprotective effects in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis. This pilot study is the first translational study on neuroprotection targeting ASIC1 and supports future randomized controlled trials measuring neuroprotection with amiloride in patients with multiple sclerosis. © (2012) The Author.

  • Targeting ASIC1 in primary progressive multiple sclerosis: evidence of neuroprotection with amiloride.

    24 October 2018

    Neurodegeneration is the main cause for permanent disability in multiple sclerosis. The effect of current immunomodulatory treatments on neurodegeneration is insufficient. Therefore, direct neuroprotection and myeloprotection remain an important therapeutic goal. Targeting acid-sensing ion channel 1 (encoded by the ASIC1 gene), which contributes to the excessive intracellular accumulation of injurious Na(+) and Ca(2+) and is over-expressed in acute multiple sclerosis lesions, appears to be a viable strategy to limit cellular injury that is the substrate of neurodegeneration. While blockade of ASIC1 through amiloride, a potassium sparing diuretic that is currently licensed for hypertension and congestive cardiac failure, showed neuroprotective and myeloprotective effects in experimental models of multiple sclerosis, this strategy remains untested in patients with multiple sclerosis. In this translational study, we tested the neuroprotective effects of amiloride in patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis. First, we assessed ASIC1 expression in chronic brain lesions from post-mortem of patients with progressive multiple sclerosis to identify the target process for neuroprotection. Second, we tested the neuroprotective effect of amiloride in a cohort of 14 patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis using magnetic resonance imaging markers of neurodegeneration as outcome measures of neuroprotection. Patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis underwent serial magnetic resonance imaging scans before (pretreatment phase) and during (treatment phase) amiloride treatment for a period of 3 years. Whole-brain volume and tissue integrity were measured with high-resolution T(1)-weighted and diffusion tensor imaging. In chronic brain lesions of patients with progressive multiple sclerosis, we demonstrate an increased expression of ASIC1 in axons and an association with injury markers within chronic inactive lesions. In patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, we observed a significant reduction in normalized annual rate of whole-brain volume during the treatment phase, compared with the pretreatment phase (P = 0.018, corrected). Consistent with this reduction, we showed that changes in diffusion indices of tissue damage within major clinically relevant white matter (corpus callosum and corticospinal tract) and deep grey matter (thalamus) structures were significantly reduced during the treatment phase (P = 0.02, corrected). Our results extend evidence of the contribution of ASIC1 to neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis and suggest that amiloride may exert neuroprotective effects in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis. This pilot study is the first translational study on neuroprotection targeting ASIC1 and supports future randomized controlled trials measuring neuroprotection with amiloride in patients with multiple sclerosis.