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Giampa C.,Santa Lucia Foundation Hospital at the European Center for Brain Research | Laurenti D.,Santa Lucia Foundation Hospital at the European Center for Brain Research | Anzilotti S.,Santa Lucia Foundation Hospital at the European Center for Brain Research | Bernardi G.,Santa Lucia Foundation Hospital at the European Center for Brain Research | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Background: Huntington's disease is a devastating neurodegenerative condition for which there is no therapy to slow disease progression. The particular vulnerability of striatal medium spiny neurons to Huntington's pathology is hypothesized to result from transcriptional dysregulation within the cAMP and CREB signaling cascades in these neurons. To test this hypothesis, and a potential therapeutic approach, we investigated whether inhibition of the striatal-specific cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase PDE10A would alleviate neurological deficits and brain pathology in a highly utilized model system, the R6/2 mouse. Methodology/Principal Findings: R6/2 mice were treated with the highly selective PDE10A inhibitor TP-10 from 4 weeks of age until euthanasia. TP-10 treatment significantly reduced and delayed the development of the hind paw clasping response during tail suspension, deficits in rotarod performance, and decrease in locomotor activity in an open field. Treatment prolonged time to loss of righting reflex. These effects of PDE10A inhibition on neurological function were reflected in a significant amelioration in brain pathology, including reduction in striatal and cortical cell loss, the formation of striatal neuronal intranuclear inclusions, and the degree of microglial activation that occurs in response to the mutant huntingtin-induced brain damage. Striatal and cortical levels of phosphorylated CREB and BDNF were significantly elevated. Conclusions/Significance: Our findings provide experimental support for targeting the cAMP and CREB signaling pathways and more broadly transcriptional dysregulation as a therapeutic approach to Huntington's disease. It is noteworthy that PDE10A inhibition in the R6/2 mice reduces striatal pathology, consistent with the localization of the enzyme in medium spiny neurons, and also cortical pathology and the formation of neuronal nuclear inclusions. These latter findings suggest that striatal pathology may be a primary driver of these secondary pathological events. More significantly, our studies point directly to an accessible new therapeutic approach to slow Huntington's disease progression, namely, PDE10A inhibition. There is considerable activity throughout the pharmaceutical industry to develop PDE10A inhibitors for the treatment of basal ganglia disorders. The present results strongly support the investigation of PDE10A inhibitors as a much needed new treatment approach to Huntington's disease. © 2010 Giampà et al.


Giampa C.,Santa Lucia Foundation Hospital at the European Center for Brain Research | Montagna E.,Santa Lucia Foundation Hospital at the European Center for Brain Research | Dato C.,Santa Lucia Foundation Hospital at the European Center for Brain Research | Melone M.A.B.,The Second University of Naples | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Loss of huntingtin-mediated BDNF gene transcription has been shown to occur in HD and thus contribute to the degeneration of the striatum. Several studies have indicated that an increase in BDNF levels is associated with neuroprotection and amelioration of neurological signs in animal models of HD. In a recent study, an increase in BDNF mRNA and protein levels was recorded in mice administered recombinant BDNF peripherally. Chronic, indwelling osmotic mini-pumps containing either recombinant BDNF or saline were surgically placed in R6/2 or wild-type mice from 4 weeks of age until euthanasia. Neurological evaluation (paw clasping, rotarod performance, locomotor activity in an open field) was performed. After transcardial perfusion, histological and immunohistochemical studies were performed. We found that BDNF- treated R6/2 mice survived longer and displayed less severe signs of neurological dysfunction than the vehicle treated ones. Primary outcome measures such as brain volume, striatal atrophy, size and morphology of striatal neurons, neuronal intranuclear inclusions and microglial reaction confirmed a neuroprotective effect of the compound. BDNF was effective in increasing significantly the levels of activated CREB and of BDNF the striatal spiny neurons. Moreover, systemically administered BDNF increased the synthesis of BDNF as demonstrated by RT-PCR, and this might account for the beneficial effects observed in this model. © 2013 Giampà et al.


PubMed | Santa Lucia Foundation Hospital at the European Center for Brain Research
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Neurobiology of disease | Year: 2012

The mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) superfamily comprises three major signaling pathways: the extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases (ERKs), the c-Jun N-terminal kinases or stress-activated protein kinases (JNKs/SAPKs) and the p38 family of kinases. ERK 1/2 signaling has been implicated in a number of neurodegenerative disorders, including Huntingtons disease (HD). Phosphorylation patterns of ERK 1/2 and JNK are altered in cell models of HD. In this study, we aimed at studying the correlations between ERK 1/2 and the neuronal vulnerability to HD degeneration in the R6/2 transgenic mouse model of HD. Single and double-label immunofluorescence for phospho-ERK (pERK, the activated form of ERK) and for each of the striatal neuronal markers were employed on perfusion-fixed brain sections from R6/2 and wild-type mice. Moreover, Phosphodiesterase 4 inhibition through rolipram was used to study the effects on pERK expression in the different types of striatal neurons. We completed our study with western blot analysis. Our study shows that pERK levels increase with age in the medium spiny striatal neurons and in the parvalbumin interneurons, and that rolipram counteracts such increase in pERK. Conversely, cholinergic and somatostatinergic interneurons of the striatum contain higher levels of pERK in the R6/2 mice compared to the controls. Rolipram induces an increase in pERK expression in these interneurons. Thus, our study confirms and extends the concept that the expression of phosphorylated ERK 1/2 is related to neuronal vulnerability and is implicated in the pathophysiology of cell death in HD.

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