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See detailMitochondrial DNA heteroplasmy distinguishes disease manifestation in PINK1- and PRKN-linked Parkinson's disease 2022.05.17.22275087
Trinh, Joanne; Hicks, Andrew A.; Koenig, Inke R. et al

E-print/Working paper (2022)

Biallelic mutations in PINK1 and PRKN cause recessively inherited Parkinson's disease (PD). Though some studies suggest that PINK1/PRKN monoallelic mutations may not contribute to risk, deep phenotyping ... [more ▼]

Biallelic mutations in PINK1 and PRKN cause recessively inherited Parkinson's disease (PD). Though some studies suggest that PINK1/PRKN monoallelic mutations may not contribute to risk, deep phenotyping assessment showed that PINK1 or PRKN monoallelic pathogenic variants were at a significantly higher rate in PD compared to controls. Given the established role of PINK1 and Parkin in regulating mitochondrial dynamics, we explored mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) integrity and inflammation as potential disease modifiers in carriers of mutations in these genes. MtDNA integrity, global gene expression and serum cytokine levels were investigated in a large collection of biallelic (n=84) and monoallelic (n=170) carriers of PINK1/PRKN mutations, iPD patients (n=67) and controls (n=90). Affected and unaffected PINK1/PRKN monoallelic mutation carriers can be distinguished by heteroplasmic mtDNA variant load (AUC=0.83, CI:0.74-0.93). Biallelic PINK1/PRKN mutation carriers harbor more heteroplasmic mtDNA variants in blood (p=0.0006, Z=3.63) compared to monoallelic mutation carriers. This enrichment was confirmed in iPSC-derived and postmortem midbrain neurons from biallelic PRKN-PD patients. Lastly, the heteroplasmic mtDNA variant load was found to correlate with IL6 levels in PINK1/PRKN mutation carriers (r=0.57, p=0.0074). PINK1/PRKN mutations predispose individuals to mtDNA variant accumulation in a dose- and disease-dependent manner. MtDNA variant load over time is a potential marker of disease manifestation in PINK1/PRKN mutation carriers.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.Funding StatementThe authors wish to thank the many patients and their families who volunteered, and the efforts of the many clinical teams involved. Funding has been obtained from the German Research Foundation (ProtectMove; FOR 2488, GR 3731/5-1; SE 2608/2-1; KO 2250/7-1), the Luxembourg National Research Fund in the ATTRACT (Model-IPD, FNR9631103), NCER-PD (FNR11264123) and INTER programmes (ProtectMove, FNR11250962; MiRisk-PD, C17/BM/11676395, NB 4328/2-1), the BMBF (MitoPD), the Hermann and Lilly Schilling Foundation, the European Community (SysMedPD), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Peter and Traudl Engelhorn Foundation. Initial studies in Tunisia on familial parkinsonism were in collaboration with Lefkos Middleton, Rachel Gibson, and the GlaxoSmithKline PD Programme Team (2002-2005). We would like to thank Dr Helen Tuppen from the Welcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research, Newcastle University, UK for providing us with the plasmid p7D1. Moreover, this project was supported by the high throughput/high content screening platform and HPC facility at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine, and the University of Luxembourg.Author DeclarationsI confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.YesThe details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:University of Lubeck Ethics CommitteeI confirm that all necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived, and that any patient/participant/sample identifiers included were not known to anyone (e.g., hospital staff, patients or participants themselves) outside the research group so cannot be used to identify individuals.YesI understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as ClinicalTrials.gov. I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).Yes I have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.YesAll data produced in the present study are available upon reasonable request to the authors [less ▲]

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See detailBenchmarking Low-Frequency Variant Calling With Long-Read Data on Mitochondrial DNA
Lüth, Theresa; Schaake, Susen; Grünewald, Anne UL et al

in Frontiers in Genetics (2022), 13

Background: Sequencing quality has improved over the last decade for long-reads, allowing for more accurate detection of somatic low-frequency variants. In this study, we used mixtures of mitochondrial ... [more ▼]

Background: Sequencing quality has improved over the last decade for long-reads, allowing for more accurate detection of somatic low-frequency variants. In this study, we used mixtures of mitochondrial samples with different haplogroups (i.e., a specific set of mitochondrial variants) to investigate the applicability of nanopore sequencing for low-frequency single nucleotide variant detection.Methods: We investigated the impact of base-calling, alignment/mapping, quality control steps, and variant calling by comparing the results to a previously derived short-read gold standard generated on the Illumina NextSeq. For nanopore sequencing, six mixtures of four different haplotypes were prepared, allowing us to reliably check for expected variants at the predefined 5%, 2%, and 1% mixture levels. We used two different versions of Guppy for base-calling, two aligners (i.e., Minimap2 and Ngmlr), and three variant callers (i.e., Mutserve2, Freebayes, and Nanopanel2) to compare low-frequency variants. We used F<sub>1</sub> score measurements to assess the performance of variant calling.Results: We observed a mean read length of 11 kb and a mean overall read quality of 15. Ngmlr showed not only higher F<sub>1</sub> scores but also higher allele frequencies (AF) of false-positive calls across the mixtures (mean F<sub>1</sub> score = 0.83; false-positive allele frequencies < 0.17) compared to Minimap2 (mean F<sub>1</sub> score = 0.82; false-positive AF < 0.06). Mutserve2 had the highest F<sub>1</sub> scores (5% level: F<sub>1</sub> score >0.99, 2% level: F<sub>1</sub> score >0.54, and 1% level: F<sub>1</sub> score >0.70) across all callers and mixture levels.Conclusion: We here present the benchmarking for low-frequency variant calling with nanopore sequencing by identifying current limitations. [less ▲]

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See detailSingle-cell sequencing of human midbrain reveals glial activation and a Parkinson-specific neuronal state.
Smajic, Semra UL; Prada-Medina, Cesar A.; Landoulsi, Zied UL et al

in Brain : a journal of neurology (2022), 145(3), 964-978

Idiopathic Parkinson's disease is characterized by a progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons, but the exact disease etiology remains largely unknown. To date, Parkinson's disease research has mainly ... [more ▼]

Idiopathic Parkinson's disease is characterized by a progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons, but the exact disease etiology remains largely unknown. To date, Parkinson's disease research has mainly focused on nigral dopaminergic neurons, although recent studies suggest disease-related changes also in non-neuronal cells and in midbrain regions beyond the substantia nigra. While there is some evidence for glial involvement in Parkinson's disease, the molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. The aim of this study was to characterize the contribution of all cell types of the midbrain to Parkinson's disease pathology by single-nuclei RNA sequencing and to assess the cell type-specific risk for Parkinson's disease employing the latest genome-wide association study. We profiled >41 000 single-nuclei transcriptomes of postmortem midbrain from six idiopathic Parkinson's disease patients and five age-/sex-matched controls. To validate our findings in a spatial context, we utilized immunolabeling of the same tissues. Moreover, we analyzed Parkinson's disease-associated risk enrichment in genes with cell type-specific expression patterns. We discovered a neuronal cell cluster characterized by CADPS2 overexpression and low TH levels, which was exclusively present in IPD midbrains. Validation analyses in laser-microdissected neurons suggest that this cluster represents dysfunctional dopaminergic neurons. With regard to glial cells, we observed an increase in nigral microglia in Parkinson's disease patients. Moreover, nigral idiopathic Parkinson's disease microglia were more amoeboid, indicating an activated state. We also discovered a reduction in idiopathic Parkinson's disease oligodendrocyte numbers with the remaining cells being characterized by a stress-induced upregulation of S100B. Parkinson's disease risk variants were associated with glia- and neuron-specific gene expression patterns in idiopathic Parkinson's disease cases. Furthermore, astrocytes and microglia presented idiopathic Parkinson's disease-specific cell proliferation and dysregulation of genes related to unfolded protein response and cytokine signaling. While reactive patient astrocytes showed CD44 overexpression, idiopathic Parkinson's disease-microglia revealed a pro-inflammatory trajectory characterized by elevated levels of IL1B, GPNMB, and HSP90AA1. Taken together, we generated the first single-nuclei RNA sequencing dataset from the idiopathic Parkinson's disease midbrain, which highlights a disease-specific neuronal cell cluster as well as 'pan-glial' activation as a central mechanism in the pathology of the movement disorder. This finding warrants further research into inflammatory signaling and immunomodulatory treatments in Parkinson's disease. [less ▲]

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See detailNeurodegeneration and Neuroinflammation in Parkinson’s Disease: a Self-Sustained Loop
Arena, Giuseppe UL; Sharma, K.; Agyeah, Gideon UL et al

in Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports (2022), 22(8), 427440

Purpose of Review: Neuroinflammation plays a significant role in Parkinson’s disease (PD) etiology along with mitochondrial dysfunction and impaired proteostasis. In this context, mechanisms related to ... [more ▼]

Purpose of Review: Neuroinflammation plays a significant role in Parkinson’s disease (PD) etiology along with mitochondrial dysfunction and impaired proteostasis. In this context, mechanisms related to immune response can act as modifiers at different steps of the neurodegenerative process and justify the growing interest in anti-inflammatory agents as potential disease-modifying treatments in PD. The discovery of inherited gene mutations in PD has allowed researchers to develop cellular and animal models to study the mechanisms of the underlying biology, but the original cause of neuroinflammation in PD is still debated to date. Recent Findings: Cell autonomous alterations in neuronal cells, including mitochondrial damage and protein aggregation, could play a role, but recent findings also highlighted the importance of intercellular communication at both local and systemic level. This has given rise to debate about the role of non-neuronal cells in PD and reignited intense research into the gut-brain axis and other non-neuronal interactions in the development of the disease. Whatever the original trigger of neuroinflammation in PD, what appears quite clear is that the aberrant activation of glial cells and other components of the immune system creates a vicious circle in which neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation nourish each other. Summary: In this review, we will provide an up-to-date summary of the main cellular alterations underlying neuroinflammation in PD, including those induced by environmental factors (e.g. the gut microbiome) and those related to the genetic background of affected patients. Starting from the lesson provided by familial forms of PD, we will discuss pathophysiological mechanisms linked to inflammation that could also play a role in idiopathic forms. Finally, we will comment on the potential clinical translatability of immunobiomarkers identified in PD patient cohorts and provide an update on current therapeutic strategies aimed at overcoming or preventing inflammation in PD. © 2022, The Author(s). [less ▲]

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See detailParkin Deficiency Impairs Mitochondrial DNA Dynamics and Propagates Inflammation.
Wasner, Kobi; Smajic, Semra UL; Ghelfi, Jenny UL et al

in Movement disorders : official journal of the Movement Disorder Society (2022)

BACKGROUND: Mutations in the E3 ubiquitin ligase parkin cause autosomal recessive Parkinson's disease (PD). Together with PTEN-induced kinase 1 (PINK1), parkin regulates the clearance of dysfunctional ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Mutations in the E3 ubiquitin ligase parkin cause autosomal recessive Parkinson's disease (PD). Together with PTEN-induced kinase 1 (PINK1), parkin regulates the clearance of dysfunctional mitochondria. New mitochondria are generated through an interplay of nuclear- and mitochondrial-encoded proteins, and recent studies suggest that parkin influences this process at both levels. In addition, parkin was shown to prevent mitochondrial membrane permeability, impeding mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) escape and subsequent neuroinflammation. However, parkin's regulatory roles independent of mitophagy are not well described in patient-derived neurons. OBJECTIVES: We sought to investigate parkin's role in preventing neuronal mtDNA dyshomeostasis, release, and glial activation at the endogenous level. METHODS: We generated induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived midbrain neurons from PD patients with parkin (PRKN) mutations and healthy controls. Live-cell imaging, proteomic, mtDNA integrity, and gene expression analyses were employed to investigate mitochondrial biogenesis and genome maintenance. To assess neuroinflammation, we performed single-nuclei RNA sequencing in postmortem tissue and quantified interleukin expression in mtDNA/lipopolysaccharides (LPS)-treated iPSC-derived neuron-microglia co-cultures. RESULTS: Neurons from patients with PRKN mutations revealed deficits in the mitochondrial biogenesis pathway, resulting in mtDNA dyshomeostasis. Moreover, the energy sensor sirtuin 1, which controls mitochondrial biogenesis and clearance, was downregulated in parkin-deficient cells. Linking mtDNA disintegration to neuroinflammation, in postmortem midbrain with PRKN mutations, we confirmed mtDNA dyshomeostasis and detected an upregulation of microglia overexpressing proinflammatory cytokines. Finally, parkin-deficient neuron-microglia co-cultures elicited an enhanced immune response when exposed to mtDNA/LPS. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that parkin coregulates mitophagy, mitochondrial biogenesis, and mtDNA maintenance pathways, thereby protecting midbrain neurons from neuroinflammation and degeneration. © 2022 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society. [less ▲]

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See detailMolecular mechanisms defining penetrance of LRRK2-associated Parkinson’s disease
Trinh, Joanne; Schymanski, Emma UL; Smajic, Semra UL et al

in Medizinische Genetik (2022), 34(2), 103--116

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See detailA genome on shaky ground: exploring the impact of mitochondrial DNA integrity on Parkinson's disease by highlighting the use of cybrid models.
Lang, Martin; Grünewald, Anne UL; Pramstaller, Peter P. et al

in Cellular and molecular life sciences : CMLS (2022), 79(5), 283

Mitochondria play important roles in the regulation of key cellular processes, including energy metabolism, oxidative stress response, and signaling towards cell death or survival, and are distinguished ... [more ▼]

Mitochondria play important roles in the regulation of key cellular processes, including energy metabolism, oxidative stress response, and signaling towards cell death or survival, and are distinguished by carrying their own genome (mtDNA). Mitochondrial dysfunction has emerged as a prominent cellular mechanism involved in neurodegeneration, including Parkinson's disease (PD), a neurodegenerative movement disorder, characterized by progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons and the occurrence of proteinaceous Lewy body inclusions. The contribution of mtDNA variants to PD pathogenesis has long been debated and is still not clearly answered. Cytoplasmic hybrid (cybrid) cell models provided evidence for a contribution of mtDNA variants to the PD phenotype. However, conclusive evidence of mtDNA mutations as genetic cause of PD is still lacking. Several models have shown a role of somatic, rather than inherited mtDNA variants in the impairment of mitochondrial function and neurodegeneration. Accordingly, several nuclear genes driving inherited forms of PD are linked to mtDNA quality control mechanisms, and idiopathic as well as familial PD tissues present increased mtDNA damage. In this review, we highlight the use of cybrids in this PD research field and summarize various aspects of how and to what extent mtDNA variants may contribute to the etiology of PD. [less ▲]

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See detailPINK1 Protects against Staurosporine-Induced Apoptosis by Interacting with Beclin1 and Impairing Its Pro-Apoptotic Cleavage.
Brunelli, Francesco; Torosantucci, Liliana; Gelmetti, Vania et al

in Cells (2022), 11(4),

PINK1 is a causative gene for Parkinson's disease and the corresponding protein has been identified as a master regulator of mitophagy-the autophagic degradation of damaged mitochondria. It interacts with ... [more ▼]

PINK1 is a causative gene for Parkinson's disease and the corresponding protein has been identified as a master regulator of mitophagy-the autophagic degradation of damaged mitochondria. It interacts with Beclin1 to regulate autophagy and initiate autophagosome formation, even outside the context of mitophagy. Several other pro-survival functions of this protein have been described and indicate that it might play a role in other disorders, such as cancer and proliferative diseases. In this study, we investigated a novel anti-apoptotic function of PINK1. To do so, we used SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells, a neuronal model used in Parkinson's disease and cancer studies, to characterize the pro-survival functions of PINK1 in response to the apoptosis inducer staurosporine. In this setting, we found that staurosporine induces apoptosis but not mitophagy, and we demonstrated that PINK1 protects against staurosporine-induced apoptosis by impairing the pro-apoptotic cleavage of Beclin1. Our data also show that staurosporine-induced apoptosis is preceded by a phase of enhanced autophagy, and that PINK1 in this context regulates the switch from autophagy to apoptosis. PINK1 protein levels progressively decrease after treatment, inducing this switch. The PINK1-Beclin1 interaction is crucial in exerting this function, as mutants that are unable to interact do not show the anti-apoptotic effect. We characterized a new anti-apoptotic function of PINK1 that could provide options for treatment in proliferative or neurodegenerative diseases. [less ▲]

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See detailCoffee, smoking and aspirin are associated with age at onset in idiopathic Parkinson's disease.
Gabbert, Carolin; König, Inke R.; Lüth, Theresa et al

in Journal of neurology (2022)

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. Genetic modifiers, environmental factors and gene-environment interactions have been found to modify PD risk and disease progression ... [more ▼]

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. Genetic modifiers, environmental factors and gene-environment interactions have been found to modify PD risk and disease progression. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association of smoking, caffeine and anti-inflammatory drugs with age at onset (AAO) in a large PD cohort. A total of 35,963 American patients with idiopathic PD (iPD) from the Fox Insight Study responded to health and lifestyle questionnaires. We compared the median AAO between different groups using the non-parametric Mann-Whitney U test. Non-parametric Spearman's correlation was used for correlation assessments and regression analysis was used to assess interaction between variables. We found that smoking (p < 0.0001), coffee drinking (p < 0.0001) and aspirin intake (p < 0.0001) show an exploratory association with AAO in PD, that was further supported by multivariate regression models. The association of aspirin with PD AAO was replicated in another cohort (EPIPARK) (n = 237 patients with PD). [less ▲]

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See detailNanopore Single-Molecule Sequencing for Mitochondrial DNA Methylation Analysis: Investigating Parkin-Associated Parkinsonism as a Proof of Concept
Lüth, Theresa; Wasner, Kobi UL; Klein, Christine et al

in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (2021)

Objective: To establish a workflow for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) CpG methylation using Nanopore whole-genome sequencing and perform first pilot experiments on affected Parkin biallelic mutation carriers ... [more ▼]

Objective: To establish a workflow for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) CpG methylation using Nanopore whole-genome sequencing and perform first pilot experiments on affected Parkin biallelic mutation carriers (Parkin-PD) and healthy controls. Background: Mitochondria, including mtDNA, are established key players in Parkinson's disease (PD) pathogenesis. Mutations in Parkin, essential for degradation of damaged mitochondria, cause early-onset PD. However, mtDNA methylation and its implication in PD is understudied. Herein, we establish a workflow using Nanopore sequencing to directly detect mtDNA CpG methylation and compare mtDNA methylation between Parkin-related PD and healthy individuals. Methods: To obtain mtDNA, whole-genome Nanopore sequencing was performed on blood-derived from five Parkin-PD and three control subjects. In addition, induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived midbrain neurons from four of these patients with PD and the three control subjects were investigated. The workflow was validated, using methylated and unmethylated 897 bp synthetic DNA samples at different dilution ratios (0, 50, 100% methylation) and mtDNA without methylation. MtDNA CpG methylation frequency (MF) was detected using Nanopolish and Megalodon. Results: Across all blood-derived samples, we obtained a mean coverage of 250.3X (SD ± 80.5X) and across all neuron-derived samples 830X (SD ± 465X) of the mitochondrial genome. We detected overall low-level CpG methylation from the blood-derived DNA (mean MF ± SD = 0.029 ± 0.041) and neuron-derived DNA (mean MF ± SD = 0.019 ± 0.035). Validation of the workflow, using synthetic DNA samples showed that highly methylated DNA molecules were prone to lower Guppy Phred quality scores and thereby more likely to fail Guppy base-calling. CpG methylation in blood- and neuron-derived DNA was significantly lower in Parkin-PD compared to controls (Mann-Whitney U-test p < 0.05). Conclusion: Nanopore sequencing is a useful method to investigate mtDNA methylation architecture, including Guppy-failed reads is of importance when investigating highly methylated sites. We present a mtDNA methylation workflow and suggest methylation variability across different tissues and between Parkin-PD patients and controls as an initial model to investigate. [less ▲]

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See detailiPSC-Derived Microglia as a Model to Study Inflammation in Idiopathic Parkinson's Disease.
Badanjak, Katja UL; Mulica, Patrycja UL; Smajic, Semra UL et al

in Frontiers in cell and developmental biology (2021), 9

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease with unknown cause in the majority of patients, who are therefore considered "idiopathic" (IPD). PD predominantly affects dopaminergic neurons in ... [more ▼]

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease with unknown cause in the majority of patients, who are therefore considered "idiopathic" (IPD). PD predominantly affects dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc), yet the pathology is not limited to this cell type. Advancing age is considered the main risk factor for the development of IPD and greatly influences the function of microglia, the immune cells of the brain. With increasing age, microglia become dysfunctional and release pro-inflammatory factors into the extracellular space, which promote neuronal cell death. Accordingly, neuroinflammation has also been described as a feature of PD. So far, studies exploring inflammatory pathways in IPD patient samples have primarily focused on blood-derived immune cells or brain sections, but rarely investigated patient microglia in vitro. Accordingly, we decided to explore the contribution of microglia to IPD in a comparative manner using, both, iPSC-derived cultures and postmortem tissue. Our meta-analysis of published RNAseq datasets indicated an upregulation of IL10 and IL1B in nigral tissue from IPD patients. We observed increased expression levels of these cytokines in microglia compared to neurons using our single-cell midbrain atlas. Moreover, IL10 and IL1B were upregulated in IPD compared to control microglia. Next, to validate these findings in vitro, we generated IPD patient microglia from iPSCs using an established differentiation protocol. IPD microglia were more readily primed as indicated by elevated IL1B and IL10 gene expression and higher mRNA and protein levels of NLRP3 after LPS treatment. In addition, IPD microglia had higher phagocytic capacity under basal conditions-a phenotype that was further exacerbated upon stimulation with LPS, suggesting an aberrant microglial function. Our results demonstrate the significance of microglia as the key player in the neuroinflammation process in IPD. While our study highlights the importance of microglia-mediated inflammatory signaling in IPD, further investigations will be needed to explore particular disease mechanisms in these cells. [less ▲]

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See detailCoffee, smoking and aspirin are associated with age at onset and clinical severity in idiopathic Parkinson’s disease
Gabbert, Carolin; König, Inke; Lüth, Theresa et al

E-print/Working paper (2021)

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See detailAstrocyte-Neuron Metabolic Crosstalk in Neurodegeneration: A Mitochondrial Perspective.
Mulica, Patrycja UL; Grünewald, Anne UL; Pereira, Sandro L.

in Frontiers in endocrinology (2021), 12

Converging evidence made clear that declining brain energetics contribute to aging and are implicated in the initiation and progression of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's ... [more ▼]

Converging evidence made clear that declining brain energetics contribute to aging and are implicated in the initiation and progression of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Indeed, both pathologies involve instances of hypometabolism of glucose and oxygen in the brain causing mitochondrial dysfunction, energetic failure and oxidative stress. Importantly, recent evidence suggests that astrocytes, which play a key role in supporting neuronal function and metabolism, might contribute to the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, exploring how the neuro-supportive role of astrocytes may be impaired in the context of these disorders has great therapeutic potential. In the following, we will discuss some of the so far identified features underlining the astrocyte-neuron metabolic crosstalk. Thereby, special focus will be given to the role of mitochondria. Furthermore, we will report on recent advancements concerning iPSC-derived models used to unravel the metabolic contribution of astrocytes to neuronal demise. Finally, we discuss how mitochondrial dysfunction in astrocytes could contribute to inflammatory signaling in neurodegenerative diseases. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Contribution of Microglia to Neuroinflammation in Parkinson's Disease.
Badanjak, Katja UL; Fixemer, Sonja UL; Smajic, Semra UL et al

in International journal of molecular sciences (2021), 22(9),

With the world's population ageing, the incidence of Parkinson's disease (PD) is on the rise. In recent years, inflammatory processes have emerged as prominent contributors to the pathology of PD. There ... [more ▼]

With the world's population ageing, the incidence of Parkinson's disease (PD) is on the rise. In recent years, inflammatory processes have emerged as prominent contributors to the pathology of PD. There is great evidence that microglia have a significant neuroprotective role, and that impaired and over activated microglial phenotypes are present in brains of PD patients. Thereby, PD progression is potentially driven by a vicious cycle between dying neurons and microglia through the instigation of oxidative stress, mitophagy and autophagy dysfunctions, a-synuclein accumulation, and pro-inflammatory cytokine release. Hence, investigating the involvement of microglia is of great importance for future research and treatment of PD. The purpose of this review is to highlight recent findings concerning the microglia-neuronal interplay in PD with a focus on human postmortem immunohistochemistry and single-cell studies, their relation to animal and iPSC-derived models, newly emerging technologies, and the resulting potential of new anti-inflammatory therapies for PD. [less ▲]

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See detailFunctional and Molecular Properties of DYT-SGCE Myoclonus-Dystonia Patient-Derived Striatal Medium Spiny Neurons.
Kutschenko, Anna; Staege, Selma; Grütz, Karen et al

in International journal of molecular sciences (2021), 22(7),

Myoclonus-dystonia (DYT-SGCE, formerly DYT11) is characterized by alcohol-sensitive, myoclonic-like appearance of fast dystonic movements. It is caused by mutations in the SGCE gene encoding ε-sarcoglycan ... [more ▼]

Myoclonus-dystonia (DYT-SGCE, formerly DYT11) is characterized by alcohol-sensitive, myoclonic-like appearance of fast dystonic movements. It is caused by mutations in the SGCE gene encoding ε-sarcoglycan leading to a dysfunction of this transmembrane protein, alterations in the cerebello-thalamic pathway and impaired striatal plasticity. To elucidate underlying pathogenic mechanisms, we investigated induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs) from two myoclonus-dystonia patients carrying a heterozygous mutation in the SGCE gene (c.298T>G and c.304C>T with protein changes W100G and R102X) in comparison to two matched healthy control lines. Calcium imaging showed significantly elevated basal intracellular Ca(2+) content and lower frequency of spontaneous Ca(2+) signals in SGCE MSNs. Blocking of voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels by verapamil was less efficient in suppressing KCl-induced Ca(2+) peaks of SGCE MSNs. Ca(2+) amplitudes upon glycine and acetylcholine applications were increased in SGCE MSNs, but not after GABA or glutamate applications. Expression of voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels and most ionotropic receptor subunits was not altered. SGCE MSNs showed significantly reduced GABAergic synaptic density. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings displayed elevated amplitudes of miniature postsynaptic currents and action potentials in SGCE MSNs. Our data contribute to a better understanding of the pathophysiology and the development of novel therapeutic strategies for myoclonus-dystonia. [less ▲]

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See detailLIPAD (LRRK2/Luebeck International Parkinson's Disease) Study Protocol: Deep Phenotyping of an International Genetic Cohort
Usnich, Tatiana; Vollstedt, Eva-Juliane; Schell, Nathalie et al

in Frontiers in Neurology (2021), 12

Background: Pathogenic variants in the Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 ( LRRK2) gene are the most common known monogenic cause of Parkinson's disease (PD). LRRK2 -linked PD is clinically indistinguishable ... [more ▼]

Background: Pathogenic variants in the Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 ( LRRK2) gene are the most common known monogenic cause of Parkinson's disease (PD). LRRK2 -linked PD is clinically indistinguishable from idiopathic PD and inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion with reduced penetrance and variable expressivity that differ across ethnicities and geographic regions. Objective: To systematically assess clinical signs and symptoms including non-motor features, comorbidities, medication and environmental factors in PD patients, unaffected LRRK2 pathogenic variant carriers, and controls. A further focus is to enable the investigation of modifiers of penetrance and expressivity of LRRK2 pathogenic variants using genetic and environmental data. Methods: Eligible participants are invited for a personal or online examination which comprises completion of a detailed eCRF and collection of blood samples (to obtain DNA, RNA, serum/plasma, immune cells), urine as well as household dust. We plan to enroll 1,000 participants internationally: 300 with LRRK2 -linked PD, 200 with LRRK2 pathogenic variants but without PD, 100 PD patients with pathogenic variants in the GBA or PRKN genes, 200 patients with idiopathic PD, and 200 healthy persons without pathogenic variants. Results: The eCRF consists of an investigator-rated (1 h) and a self-rated (1.5 h) part. The first part includes the Movement Disorder Society Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating, Hoehn \&Yahr, and Schwab \& England Scales, the Brief Smell Identification Test, and Montreal Cognitive Assessment. The self-rating part consists of a PD risk factor, food frequency, autonomic dysfunction, and quality of life questionnaires, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Inventory, and the Epworth Sleepiness as well as the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scales. The first 15 centers have been initiated and the first 150 participants enrolled (as of March 25th, 2021). Conclusions: LIPAD is a large-scale international scientific effort focusing on deep phenotyping of LRRK2 -linked PD and healthy pathogenic variant carriers, including the comparison with additional relatively frequent genetic forms of PD, with a future perspective to identify genetic and environmental modifiers of penetrance and expressivity Clinical Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov , NCT04214509. [less ▲]

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See detailDiscordant Monozygotic Parkinson Disease Twins: Role of Mitochondrial Integrity
Dulovic-Mahlow, Marija; König, Inke R.; Trinh, Joanne et al

in Annals of Neurology (2020)

Objective Even though genetic predisposition has proven to be an important element in Parkinson's disease (PD) etiology, monozygotic (MZ) twins with PD displayed a concordance rate of only about 20 ... [more ▼]

Objective Even though genetic predisposition has proven to be an important element in Parkinson's disease (PD) etiology, monozygotic (MZ) twins with PD displayed a concordance rate of only about 20% despite their shared identical genetic background. Methods We recruited 5 pairs of MZ twins discordant for idiopathic PD and established skin fibroblast cultures to investigate mitochondrial phenotypes in these cellular models against the background of a presumably identical genome. To test for genetic differences, we performed whole genome sequencing, deep mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequencing, and tested for mitochondrial deletions by multiplex real‐time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in the fibroblast cultures. Further, the fibroblast cultures were tested for mitochondrial integrity by immunocytochemistry, immunoblotting, flow cytometry, and real‐time PCR to quantify gene expression. Results Genome sequencing did not identify any genetic difference. We found decreased mitochondrial functionality with reduced cellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels, altered mitochondrial morphology, elevated protein levels of superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2), and increased levels of peroxisome proliferator‐activated receptor‐gamma coactivator‐α (PPARGC1A) messenger RNA (mRNA) in skin fibroblast cultures from the affected compared to the unaffected twins. Further, there was a tendency for a higher number of somatic mtDNA variants among the affected twins. Interpretation We demonstrate disease‐related differences in mitochondrial integrity in the genetically identical twins. Of note, the clinical expression matches functional alterations of the mitochondria [less ▲]

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See detailMitochondrial damage-associated inflammation highlights biomarkers in PRKN/PINK1 parkinsonism
Borsche, Max; Koenig, Inke; Delcambre, Sylvie UL et al

in Brain: a Journal of Neurology (2020)

There is increasing evidence for a role of inflammation in Parkinson’s disease. Recent research in murine models suggests that parkin and PINK1 deficiency leads to impaired mitophagy, which causes the ... [more ▼]

There is increasing evidence for a role of inflammation in Parkinson’s disease. Recent research in murine models suggests that parkin and PINK1 deficiency leads to impaired mitophagy, which causes the release of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), thereby triggering inflammation. Specifically, the CGAS (cyclic GMP-AMP synthase)-STING (stimulator of interferon genes) pathway mitigates activation of the innate immune system, quantifiable as increased interleukin-6 (IL6) levels. However, the role of IL6 and circulating cell-free mtDNA in unaffected and affected individuals harbouring mutations in PRKN/PINK1 and idiopathic Parkinson’s disease patients remain elusive. We investigated IL6, C-reactive protein, and circulating cell-free mtDNA in serum of 245 participants in two cohorts from tertiary movement disorder centres. We performed a hypothesis-driven rank-based statistical approach adjusting for multiple testing. We detected (i) elevated IL6 levels in patients with biallelic PRKN/PINK1 mutations compared to healthy control subjects in a German cohort, supporting the concept of a role for inflammation in PRKN/PINK1-linked Parkinson’s disease. In addition, the comparison of patients with biallelic and heterozygous mutations in PRKN/PINK1 suggests a gene dosage effect. The differences in IL6 levels were validated in a second independent Italian cohort; (ii) a correlation between IL6 levels and disease duration in carriers of PRKN/PINK1 mutations, while no such association was observed for idiopathic Parkinson’s disease patients. These results highlight the potential of IL6 as progression marker in Parkinson’s disease due to PRKN/PINK1 mutations; (iii) increased circulating cell-free mtDNA serum levels in both patients with biallelic or with heterozygous PRKN/PINK1 mutations compared to idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, which is in line with previous findings in murine models. By contrast, circulating cell-free mtDNA concentrations in unaffected heterozygous carriers of PRKN/PINK1 mutations were comparable to control levels; and (iv) that circulating cell-free mtDNA levels have good predictive potential to discriminate between idiopathic Parkinson’s disease and Parkinson’s disease linked to heterozygous PRKN/PINK1 mutations, providing functional evidence for a role of heterozygous mutations in PRKN or PINK1 as Parkinson’s disease risk factor. Taken together, our study further implicates inflammation due to impaired mitophagy and subsequent mtDNA release in the pathogenesis of PRKN/PINK1-linked Parkinson’s disease. In individuals carrying mutations in PRKN/PINK1, IL6 and circulating cell-free mtDNA levels may serve as markers of Parkinson’s disease state and progression, respectively. Finally, our study suggests that targeting the immune system with anti-inflammatory medication holds the potential to influence the disease course of Parkinson’s disease, at least in this subset of patients. [less ▲]

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See detailHaploinsufficiency due to a novel ACO2 deletion causes mitochondrial dysfunction in fibroblasts from a patient with dominant optic nerve atrophy
Neumann, Marie Anne-Catherine UL; Grossmann, Dajana UL; Schimpf-Linzenbold, Simone et al

in Scientific Reports (2020)

ACO2 is a mitochondrial protein, which is critically involved in the function of the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA), the maintenance of iron homeostasis, oxidative stress defense and the integrity of ... [more ▼]

ACO2 is a mitochondrial protein, which is critically involved in the function of the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA), the maintenance of iron homeostasis, oxidative stress defense and the integrity of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Mutations in the ACO2 gene were identified in patients suffering from a broad range of symptoms, including optic nerve atrophy, cortical atrophy, cerebellar atrophy, hypotonia, seizures and intellectual disabilities. In the present study, we identified a heterozygous 51 bp deletion (c.1699_1749del51) in ACO2 in a family with autosomal dominant inherited isolated optic atrophy. A complementation assay using aco1-deficient yeast revealed a growth defect for the mutant ACO2 variant substantiating a pathogenic effect of the deletion. We used patient-derived fibroblasts to characterize cellular phenotypes and found a decrease of ACO2 protein levels, while ACO2 enzyme activity was not affected compared to two age- and gender-matched control lines. Several parameters of mitochondrial function, including mitochondrial morphology, mitochondrial membrane potential or mitochondrial superoxide production, were not changed under baseline conditions. However, basal respiration, maximal respiration, and spare respiratory capacity were reduced in mutant cells. Furthermore, we observed a reduction of mtDNA copy number and reduced mtDNA transcription levels in ACO2-mutant fibroblasts. Inducing oxidative stress led to an increased susceptibility for cell death in ACO2-mutant fibroblasts compared to controls. Our study reveals that a monoallelic mutation in ACO2 is sufficient to promote mitochondrial dysfunction and increased vulnerability to oxidative stress as main drivers of cell death related to optic nerve atrophy. [less ▲]

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