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Eight NDCN academics have been named in the 2019 list from Web of Science
Molecular and cellular correlates of human nerve regeneration: ADCYAP1/PACAP enhance nerve outgrowth
Abstract We only have a rudimentary understanding of the molecular and cellular determinants of nerve regeneration and neuropathic pain in humans. This cohort study uses the most common entrapment neuropathy (carpal tunnel syndrome) as a human model system to prospectively evaluate the cellular and molecular correlates of neural regeneration and its relationship with clinical recovery. In 60 patients undergoing carpal tunnel surgery [36 female, mean age 62.5 (standard deviation 12.2) years], we used quantitative sensory testing and nerve conduction studies to evaluate the function of large and small fibres before and 6 months after surgery. Clinical recovery was assessed with the global rating of change scale and Boston Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire. Twenty healthy participants provided normative data [14 female, mean age 58.0 (standard deviation 12.9) years]. At 6 months post-surgery, we noted significant recovery of median nerve neurophysiological parameters (P < 0.0001) and improvements in quantitative sensory testing measures of both small and large nerve fibre function (P < 0.002). Serial biopsies revealed a partial recovery of intraepidermal nerve fibre density [fibres/mm epidermis pre: 4.20 (2.83), post: 5.35 (3.34), P = 0.001], whose extent correlated with symptom improvement (r = 0.389, P = 0.001). In myelinated afferents, nodal length increased postoperatively [pre: 2.03 (0.82), post: 3.03 (1.23), P < 0.0001] suggesting that this is an adaptive phenomenon. Transcriptional profiling of the skin revealed 31 differentially expressed genes following decompression, with ADCYAP1 (encoding pituitary adenylate cyclase activating peptide, PACAP) being the most strongly upregulated (log2 fold-change 1.87, P = 0.0001) and its expression was associated with recovery of intraepidermal nerve fibres. We found that human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived sensory neurons expressed the receptor for PACAP and that this peptide could significantly enhance axon outgrowth in a dose-dependent manner in vitro [neurite length PACAP 1065.0 µm (285.5), vehicle 570.9 μm (181.8), P = 0.003]. In conclusion, carpal tunnel release is associated with significant cutaneous reinnervation, which correlates with the degree of functional improvement and is associated with a transcriptional programme relating to morphogenesis and inflammatory processes. The most highly dysregulated gene ADCYAP1 (encoding PACAP) was associated with reinnervation and, given that this peptide signals through G-protein coupled receptors, this signalling pathway provides an interesting therapeutic target for human sensory nerve regeneration.
Acute pain signaling has a key protective role and is highly evolutionarily conserved. Chronic pain, however, is maladaptive, occurring as a consequence of injury and disease, and is associated with sensitization of the somatosensory nervous system. Primary sensory neurons are involved in both of these processes, and the recent advances in understanding sensory transduction and human genetics are the focus of this review. Voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs) are important determinants of sensory neuron excitability: they are essential for the initial transduction of sensory stimuli, the electrogenesis of the action potential, and neurotransmitter release from sensory neuron terminals. Nav1.1, Nav1.6, Nav1.7, Nav1.8, and Nav1.9 are all expressed by adult sensory neurons. The biophysical characteristics of these channels, as well as their unique expression patterns within subtypes of sensory neurons, define their functional role in pain signaling. Changes in the expression of VGSCs, as well as posttranslational modifications, contribute to the sensitization of sensory neurons in chronic pain states. Furthermore, gene variants in Nav1.7, Nav1.8, and Nav1.9 have now been linked to human Mendelian pain disorders and more recently to common pain disorders such as small-fiber neuropathy. Chronic pain affects one in five of the general population. Given the poor efficacy of current analgesics, the selective expression of particular VGSCs in sensory neurons makes these attractive targets for drug discovery. The increasing availability of gene sequencing, combined with structural modeling and electrophysiological analysis of gene variants, also provides the opportunity to better target existing therapies in a personalized manner.
The haemodynamic changes associated with treatment of new-onset atrial fibrillation with amiodarone or beta blockers
Amiodarone and beta blockers are common treatments for new-onset atrial fibrillation (NOAF) in patients treated on an intensive care unit (ICU). How these treatments affect patients’ haemodynamic status is unclear, yet purported differences often affect clinicians’ treatment choice. We undertook a multicentre observational study of ICUs in one United States of America (USA) centre and two United Kingdom (UK) centres to explore the changes in blood pressure and cardiovascular support associated with amiodarone or beta blocker therapy for NOAF. We identified 2017 patients who developed NOAF during their ICU stay, of which 958 were treated with amiodarone or beta blockers as first line therapy. Neither amiodarone nor beta blockers were associated with significant changes in blood pressure over the 3h post-treatment initiation (amiodarone mean blood pressure (MBP +0.04mmHg/h, p = 0.90 and systolic blood pressure (SBP) +0.11mmHg/h, p = 0.83; beta blocker MBP -0.41mmHg/h, p = 0.17 and SBP -0.15mmHg/h, p = 0.75). Amiodarone was associated with a very slight increase in vasoactive medication use. In a subgroup of patients with lower blood pressures, amiodarone was associated with a slight improvement in blood pressure (+1.36mmHg/h, p = 0.02), whereas beta blocker therapy was not associated with any change (+0.24mmHg/h, p = 0.72). These data do not support the commonly held belief that beta blockers result in hypotension or increased vasoactive medication requirements when used for NOAF treatment within an ICU. These findings from observational data need investigating in well-designed randomised trials.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease of the motor system with complex determinants, including genetic and non-genetic factors. Despite this heterogeneity, a key pathological signature is the mislocalization and aggregation of specific proteins in the cytoplasm, suggesting that convergent pathogenic mechanisms focusing on disturbances in proteostasis are important in ALS. In addition, many cellular processes have been identified as potentially contributing to disease initiation and progression, such as defects in axonal transport, autophagy, nucleocytoplasmic transport, ER stress, calcium metabolism, the unfolded protein response and mitochondrial function. Here we review the evidence from in vitro and in vivo models of C9ORF72 and TDP-43-related ALS supporting a central role in pathogenesis for endoplasmic reticulum stress, which activates an unfolded protein response (UPR), and mitochondrial dysfunction. Disruption in the finely tuned signaling between the ER and mitochondria through calcium ions may be a crucial trigger of mitochondrial deficits and initiate an apoptotic signaling cascade, thus acting as a point of convergence for multiple upstream disturbances of cellular homeostasis and constituting a potentially important therapeutic target.