Browsing by Subject "Master's Programme in Neuroscience"

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  • Kallo, Henna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    During the brain development, GABAergic neurons, also referred as interneurons, migrate tangentially from the subpallium to the pallium. After intracortical dispersion, the interneurons start radial migration towards their final location in the cortex. Although the radial migration of interneurons is extensively studied, mechanisms guiding the migration remain relatively unknown. Here we studied how manipulation of cortical activity affects the radial migration and allocation of the cortical GABAergic neurons in the developing mouse brain. For this purpose, we utilized whisker trimming induced sensory deprivation in GAD67-GFP mice at postnatal days 2-5 (P2-P5) followed by cell counting in brain slices derived from P5 and P10-aged mice. In addition, we performed live-imaging of migrating neurons in organotypic cultures derived from P2 SST-TdTomato and 5HT3aR-GFP mice and cultured for 1 day in vitro. These two mouse lines roughly represent early- and late-born subpopulations of the GABAergic neurons. Live-imaging was accompanied by activity manipulations using different drugs and the Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADD) technology. Analysis of the interneurons’ allocation on the barrel cortex after the unilateral sensory deprivation revealed misallocation of GAD67+ neurons on deep cortical layers of the contralateral hemisphere of the ablation group at P5. Analysis of the tracks from the live-imaged migrating interneurons revealed altered saltatory movement behaviour of 5HT3aR+ interneurons when clozapine-N-oxide (CNO) was used to activate the electroporated GFP-GCaMP3-mCherry-hM3Dq neurons located on L2/3 of the cortex. Moreover, we observed reduced motility of migrating interneurons in the organotypic cultures treated with a KCC2 inhibitor that alters GABAA-receptor mediated transmission. Altogether, our results suggest that activity is important in promoting the radial migration of late-born interneurons during the first days of the postnatal development.
  • Paranko, Birgitta (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Introduction and aims. Multiple different neurobiological alterations have been hypothesized to underlie Major Depression Disorder (MDD), but no unifying theory exists to explain the mechanisms of the disorder. The aberrant brain dynamics in MDD can be seen in the alterations of long-range temporal correlations (LRTCs), which have been proposed to be an indication of criticality in healthy brain. Alterations in LRTCs have been suggested to reflect deficiencies in excitation-inhibition (E/I) balance, neuromodulation or connectivity patterns, which have also been proposed to be the underlying mechanisms of MDD. There has been controversy whether the pathology is related to attenuated or increased LRTCs, and the sources of altered brain dynamics have not yet been localized. The aim of this study was to find in which frequency bands and where in the brain the neuronal LRTCs are altered in MDD on source level. In addition to analyzing the correlations between neuronal LRTCs and depression severity in parcel level, we studied correlations in functional networks to get a better understanding of the system level alterations in MDD. We also studied whether behavioral LRTCs correlate with depression severity or with behavioral performance. Methods. We investigated the long-range temporal correlations in a cohort of 19 depressed subjects by using magnetoencephalography (MEG) for recording brain activity during resting state and response inhibition task and performed DFA analysis on the amplitude envelopes of cortical oscillations. The depression severity was measured with BDI-21 questionnaire. Results and conclusions. We found the LRTCs to be positively correlated with depression severity in the alpha frequency band (8–12Hz) predominantly in the limbic system that underlies emotional control. This result was supported by the parcel level analysis in which correlations between alpha band LRTCs and depression severity were observed in the orbitofrontal cortex and temporal pole, indicating that the hyper-activation of limbic system could explain the negative bias characteristic to depression. Positive correlations were also found in frontoparietal, ventral, and dorsal attentional networks that support cognitive control. Alpha band LRTCs correlated also with behavioral LRTCs during both resting state and task conditions. However, we observed more wide-spread correlations between alpha range LRTCs and depression severity than between neuronal LRTCs and behavioral LRTCs. Behavioral LRTCs correlated with depression severity, but not with behavioral performance. These results indicate that depression is characterized by vast alterations in the brain dynamics and imply that the wide range of different symptoms in MDD could be explained by alterations in the excitation/inhibition balance in the limbic system and cognitive networks.
  • Llach Pou, Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Parvalbumin (PV) interneurons are GABAergic inhibitory neurons that shape neuronal network activity and plasticity. They are involved in both developmental and adult plasticity and have recently been divided into subpopulations that differ in birthdate, intrinsic properties and are involved in different types of learning; while late born PV neurons, expressing low levels of PV, are required for the acquisition of new information, early born PV neurons, expressing high levels of PV, are involved in the consolidation of the information. PV cells can be enwrapped with perineuronal nets (PNNs), an extracellular matrix structure that stabilizes synapses and indicates a mature state of the cell. The development of PNNs correlates with the closure of critical period of plasticity in development, and the enzymatic removal in adulthood can reopen those periods. Similarly, antidepressants like fluoxetine have been proven to reopen critical periods of plasticity in adulthood (iPlasticity) and decrease PNN structures in PV cells. However, whether the effect of fluoxetine is restricted to a subpopulation of PV interneurons is unknown. In addition, no previous studies have yet investigated the maturity state of the PV subpopulation by analyzing its PNN structures. In this thesis we aimed to elucidate differences in the maturity state of the subpopulations and the fluoxetine effect in those. To do that, we treated a cohort of adult mice with a chronic fluoxetine treatment previously reported to be capable of the reopening of critical periods. Following, we performed an immunohistochemistry analysis to detect PV and PNN levels in the CA3b hippocampal area. In addition, our mice line expressed TdTomato (TdT) in PV cells which allowed a more sensitive detection of PV neurons. After imaging the slices with a confocal microscope, we analyzed the PV and PNN intensity both by manual counting and with a semi-automatic macro script in ImageJ software that we developed and validated. The PV intensity of control mice was used to divide the cells in two groups; low PV and high PV expressing cells. PNNs in those subpopulations in both the control and fluoxetine treated group were analyzed and statistically compared. The low PV subpopulation showed a significantly low PNN intensity compared to the high PV subpopulation, indication a plastic or immature low PV subpopulation and a mature or consolidated high PV subpopulation. Interestingly, fluoxetine selectively decreased the PNN structures in the high PV subpopulation, by bringing the PNN intensity to comparable levels found in the low PV network. No effect of fluoxetine in the low PV network was detected. Fluoxetine induced a change towards a plastic state in the network believed to be involved in memory consolidation by decreasing its PNNs structures. This discovery gives new insights on the understanding of antidepressant plastic actions, suggesting that a chance for strong memories to change could be facilitated with the drug, and explain the antidepressant’s effects when combined with psychotherapy. However, supplementary experiments to compare and define PV subpopulations and a confirmation of the selective effect of fluoxetine are needed to confirm the preliminary hypothesis suggested by our data.
  • Srinivasan, Rakenduvadhana (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Caged photolysable compounds have served to be pivotal to neuroscientific investigations; allowing the cognizing of molecular kinetics and properties of neuronal micro-machinery such as neurotransmitter receptors. Precision in terms of temporal and spatial resolution of neurotransmitter release endowed by photolysis has multitudinal applicabilities in the realm of GABAA receptors (GABAARs), their neuronal niche and effects on neuronal and network activity. Caged compounds, in their caged form, may display certain unideal traits such as undesired interactions with the system and antagonistic activity on the target receptor. This study aims to reevaluate the GABAAR antagonistic actions of caged Rubi-GABA, which was found to antagonize these receptors at significantly lower concentrations than those reported in the literature. Furthermore, this study electrophysiologically characterizes the possible antagonistic properties of a novel quinoline-derived UV-photolysable caged GABA compound, 8 DMAQ GABA, whose activity, in its caged form appears to have a much more favorable antagonism profile compared to the widely used RuBi-GABA. To assess the antagonistic effects of these compounds on GABAAR-mediated miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs) patch-clamp recordings were carried out in the whole-cell voltage clamp configuration on cortical layer 2/3 cortical pyramidal neurons in acute neocortical slices prepared from 16-18 day-old rat rats. The results of this study indicate a revised antagonism profile for caged Rubi-GABA, with marked GABAAR toxicity in the low micromolar range. The study also scrutinizes the photo-kinetic properties of both caged GABA compounds and reveals that the rate of GABA release from 8-DMAQ is slower than from RuBi-GABA.
  • Voipio, Mikko Emil Olavi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Nitric oxide (NO) is an important signalling molecule in the brain. NO regulates the function of many proteins by e.g. interacting with tyrosine and cysteine residues, thus inducing post-translational modifications. In animal models, inhibition of NO production triggers behavioural effects similarly to those induced by antidepressant drugs. Receptor tropomyosin-related kinase B (TRKB) has been identified as a key player mediating antidepressant drug (AD) induced effects, and it’s a potential target for NO since it displays multiple potential sites for nitration. Preliminary results from our group indicate that TRKB nitration impairs its signalling, and AD uncouple many proteins from TRKB and reorganizes TRKB protein complex. We examined the effect of selective nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitor N⍵-propyl-L-arginine (NPA) in mice submitted to the contextual fear conditioning and found out that inhibiting NO production with NPA has an antidepressant-like effect on mice. We also found out that AD fluoxetine prevents nitration of TRKB receptors in vivo and antidepressant drugs fluoxetine, phenelzine and imipramine disrupt the interactions of TRKB, NOS1 and NOS1 adaptor protein (CAPON) in co-immunoprecipitation assay. To understand the nature of TRKB and NOS1 interaction, we thus examined the protein domains in NOS1 and TRKB using Uniprot database, and we were unable to identify sites that could interact directly. Literature search for NOS1 adapting proteins followed by Uniprot data mining indicated CAPON as a potential candidate to mediate NOS1: TRKB interaction. Our data shows for the first time that antidepressant drugs disrupt TRKB:CAPON:NOS1 interaction, thus protecting TRKB from NOS1-induced nitration. ADs might induce their behavioural effects by preventing NO-induced impair in TRKB signalling
  • Jalanko, Petri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Physical fitness has declined during the last decades in adolescents. Furthermore, several studies have found a positive association between physical fitness and brain volume in adolescents, which is noteworthy since the adolescent brain undergoes substantial changes during growth and maturation. However, despite the importance of the cerebellum on adolescents' cognition and coordination, there remains a paucity of evidence on the associations between physical fitness and cerebellum characteristics. Thus, a cross-sectional approach was used to explore the relationship of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), power, speed-agility, coordination and overall neuromuscular performance index (NPI) with total gray matter (GM) volume of the cerebellum as well as lobules VI & VIIb, and crus I volume in 40 (22 girls; 18 boys) adolescents. Peak oxygen uptake (V̇O2peak) was measured by the maximal ramp test on a cycle ergometer, lower limb power was determined with standing long jump (SLJ), speed-agility was assessed with the 10 x 5-m shuttle-run test, upper limb coordination was determined with the Box and Block Test (BBT) and NPI was calculated as the sum of SLJ, BBT and shuttle-run z-values. Lean mass (LM) and body fat percentage (BF%) were measured using a bioelectrical impedance analysis. Cerebellum GM volume, lobules VI & VIIb, and crus I volumes were measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Results demonstrated that V̇O2peak/LM was negatively associated (β = -.045 P= .014) with cerebellum GM volume. No statistically significant associations were found between SLJ, shuttle-run, BBT scores or NPI and cerebellum characteristics in all participants. However, a poorer shuttle-run time was associated (β = -.363 P = .024) with smaller crus I volume in girls and V̇O2peak/LM was negatively associated (β = -.501 P = .031) with lobule VIIb volume in boys. These findings suggest that, in general, CRF and speed agility are associated with cerebellum characteristics in adolescents and there may be sex differences. The results extend our knowledge of the associations between physical fitness and brain volume, but more studies should be conducted to understand the relationship further.
  • Rönkkö, Julius (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is a collective name for inherited neuropathies affecting the peripheral nerves. CMT affects 1:2500 children and adults worldwide. The disease is genetically highly heterogeneous, and the pathogenic mechanisms are largely unknown. Thus far, there is no cure known for the Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. Therefore, the study of the genetic factors involved in the disease and the understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms will benefit the development of strategies to prevent or treat these diseases. In this thesis, a new candidate gene for CMT was investigated in patient fibroblasts. The novel gene variant was originally found at University of Helsinki in a pair of Finnish brothers with CMT; and in later examinations, in their affected family members. The gene encodes an ER calcium channel receptor that is responsible for Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and plays an important role in the regulation of various cellular processes. In this thesis, I studied the effect of the variant in patient fibroblasts by Western blotting, quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-qPCR) and calcium imaging. I also knocked down the gene using siRNA in healthy fibroblasts to investigate if the loss of the receptor has a similar effect on calcium signaling as the patient variant. My results showed that siRNA treatment significantly decreased the targeted protein levels and delayed the ATP-evoked Ca2+ release from ER without profound effect on the amplitude of the release. Similar effects of the studied mutation were observed in one patient cell line, but not in the other. Patient cell line, which did not have alterations in the levels of the protein and Ca2+ release, had elevated levels of mRNA of the affected gene. The results suggest that the gene variant does not impair the total volume of the ATP-evoked Ca2+ release from ER. The possible effect of the studied mutation may be related to the decreased levels of the mutated protein, which at the functional level may affect the timing of total Ca2+ release from ER. However, the functional effect of the variant could not be confirmed with the fibroblast cells; further experiments are needed to clearly confirm the variant’s effect on calcium signaling.
  • Aksentjeff, Katri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    The progressive myoclonus epilepsy of Unverricht-Lundborg type (EPM1) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by loss-of-function mutations in the cystatin B gene (CSTB) with juvenile onset, stimulus sensitive action-activated myoclonus, generalized tonic-clonic seizures and ataxia. The cystatin B (CSTB) protein inhibits cysteine proteases, such as cathepsin L, which has been reported to cleave histone H3 N-terminal tails in mouse embryonic stem cell differentiation. We have shown previously that histone H3 cleavage is an irreversible epigenetic chromatin modification, which occurs in cystatin B-deficient (Cstb-/-) mice derived neural progenitor cells during differentiation. In this study, first, we used the wild-type E13.5 mice brain derived neural cells in culture to determine the effect of extrinsic signaling factors to our earlier developed ex vivo neurosphere cell model. We also confirmed that the histone H3 cleavage positive progenitor cells are primarily neuronal cells. Then, we used phenotype rescue of Cstb-/- neural progenitor cells and showed that CSTB is a negative regulator of histone H3 cleavage. In wt mouse neurosphere cryosections, we showed that cathepsin B and L are not expressed in the nucleus of neural cells before differentiation.
  • Ouabbou, Sophie (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Tiivistelmä – Referat – Abstract Mental disorders are among the leading causes of global disease burden and years lived with disability. Their pathogenesis is poorly understood and there are enormous challenges in the development of biomarkers to aid in diagnosis and more effective therapeutic options. It has been documented that the microbiota-gut-brain axis shows alterations in mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Here we study the gut microbiota of individuals with axis I mental disorders and their unaffected siblings by 16S RNA gene amplicon sequencing. In the Central Valley of Costa Rica, a total of 37 participants were recruited and diagnosed using a Best Estimate Diagnosis protocol. For each of the individuals diagnosed with a mental disorder a healthy sibling was selected after matching by age and gender. A total of 13 pairs of 26 siblings, affected and unaffected, was used for the analysis. In a subsequent analysis, individuals were also divided into the three categories of “unaffected” (UA), “affected without psychosis” (AA) and “affected with psychosis” (AP). They underwent clinical assessments about their habits and diet and about resilience (Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale), current status (SADS-C) and disability (WHODAS 2.0). Their fecal samples were collected freshly and stored at -80°C. DNA was extracted, libraries constructed by PCR and subjected for Illumina MiSeq 300 paired-end 16S RNA amplicon sequencing for analysis of the gut microbiota. The sequencing data were analyzed using the R packages mare and vegan for gut microbiota composition, diversity and richness, taking into account the identified confounders. All participants were of Hispanic ethnicity, residents of the San José Greater Metropolitan Area, adults and 69% of them were women. Affected individuals had major depression, bipolar affective disorder, psychosis non-otherwise specified or schizoaffective disorder. Based on beta-diversity analysis as a measure of the community-level microbiota variation, it was found that the use of levothyroxine (R2=0.08, p=0.005) and of irbesartan (R2=0.068 ,p=0.001) had a significant impact on the microbiota composition and hence the use of these drugs was included as confounder in further analyses. Several statistically significant differences in the relative abundance of intestinal bacteria were identified: Differences were found in the relative abundance of bacterial families Peptostreptococcaceae, Ruminococcaceae, Porphyromonadaceae, and in bacterial genera Pseudomonas, Barnesiella, Odoribacter, Paludibacter, Lactococcus, Clostridium, Acidaminococcus and Haemophilus. Our results indicate that affected individuals have more pro-inflammatory Proteobacteria (Pseudomonas) and less bacteria associated to healthy phenotype, such as Barnesiella and Ruminococcaceae, the former being dose-dependently depleted in AP and AA compared to UA. Furthermore, we documented decreased bacterial richness among affected participants while no significant differences were detected in alpha diversity. Our study identified significant differences in the microbiota of individuals affected by mental illness when comparing to their healthy siblings. The results may have important implications for the holistic understanding of mental health and its diagnosis and therapeutics. Larger studies to confirm these findings would be justified.
  • Tienhaara, Samu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    In visual detection, thresholds for light increments are higher than thresholds for light decrements. This asymmetry has been often ascribed to the differential processing of ON and OFF pathways in the retina, as ON and OFF retinal ganglion cells have been found to respond to increments and decrements, respectively. In this study, the performance of human participants in detecting spatially restricted (diameter 1.17 degrees of visual angle) and unrestricted increments and decrements was measured using a two-interval forced choice task. Background light intensities ranged from darkness through scotopic to low photopic levels. The detection threshold asymmetry found in earlier experiments was replicated with local stimuli. In contrast, however, the asymmetry between increment and decrement detection thresholds disappeared with fullfield stimuli. An ideal observer model was constructed to evaluate the role of two factors, Poisson variations and dark noise, in determining detection thresholds. Based on the model, these factors are insufficient to account for the increment-decrement asymmetry.
  • Tervi, Anniina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    The diversity of different neuronal types lays the foundation for different functions in the brain. The development of different subpopulations and special features of neurons in the central nervous system are still partly unknown. Finding answers to these developmental issues could help in the process of characterisation of cell types and mapping of neuronal networks between the brainstem nuclei in the brain. Previous studies have shown that a ventrolateral neuroepithelial domain in the anterior hindbrain, rV2, produces excitatory (glutamatergic) and inhibitory (GABAergic) neurons, which are related to monoaminergic nuclei in the brainstem (Lahti et al., 2016). In this master’s thesis project, the development of a subpopulation of neurons expressing Gsc2 transcription factor in the interpeduncular nucleus was studied. This project was based on single-cell RNA sequencing results conducted in E13.5 mice. Predicted by single-cell RNA sequencing results, Gsc2 expressing cells are GABAergic interneurons and originate from the rV2 domain of the rhombomere 1 region in the hindbrain. Co-expression pattern with another transcription factor Sall3 with Gsc2 during development was also addressed in the study. Furthermore, the role of Notch signalling in the binary cell fate decision between GABAergic and the glutamatergic fate of rV2 neurons was investigated. Validation of single-cell RNA sequencing results was performed using in situ hybridisation and immunohistochemistry methods with mice embryos at the age of E12.5 and E15.5. This study verified previously shown origin of Gsc2 expressing cells to the rhombomere 1 region and in addition, showed that Gsc2 expressing cells are GABAergic. Co-expression pattern of Gsc2 with Sall3 neither in the rV2 domain nor in the interpeduncular nucleus was seen in our results. In the rV2 domain, the depletion of Notch signalling decreased the expression of differentiating GABAergic neurons. This indicates that Notch has a role in GABAergic neurotransmitter identity during the development of brainstem neurons in mice. Based on our results, Gsc2 could be used as a lineage marker for GABAergic interneurons originating from the rhombomere 1 region and as a marker for a subpopulation of the interpeduncular nucleus. Furthermore, results from the role of Notch signalling could help in discovering the mechanisms related to the determination of neurotransmitter identity in rV2 neurons. Further investigations, in different developmental time points and with additional markers, are needed to verify these results.
  • Wong, Carlton (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Meningeal lymphatics vessels (mLVs), the recently characterized lymphatics in the central nervous system (CNS), provide a link between the adaptive immune system and the CNS. mLVs could be important for the activation of T cell-mediated adaptive immune response, by draining antigens from the brain to the deep cervical lymph nodes, where they are presented to T cells. In traumatic brain injury (TBI), we hypothesized that the activation of self-reactive T cells (i.e., T cells able to recognize self, brain-derived antigens and promote an immune reaction), possibly underlies the pathogenesis of the disease. In order to test this hypothesis and to decipher the specific role of mLVs in the modulation of T cell-mediated neuro-immune response after TBI, we ablated the existing mLVs in adult male C57BL/6OlaJ mice (with the use of the AAV-mVEGFR3 1-4 Ig vector), induced TBI with controlled cortical impact, and examined the motor function of the mice and the activation of different T cell populations in the brain, as well as in the secondary lymphoid (spleen and lymph nodes – LNs) and non-lymphoid organs (meninges). Our data showed that the T cell-mediated adaptive neuro-immune response in TBI was unaffected by the depletion of mLVs. Our results, however, are preliminary, due to the limited sample size used in this study, which reduces the statistical power and restricts our ability to conclude for the effect of mLV depletion on TBI recovery.
  • Anastasiadou, Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Tiivistelmä – Referat – Abstract Genetic variations within the MYO16 gene indicate a common predisposition to severe psychiatric, neurocognitive and neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD), as well as bipolar disorders (BD) and schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD). Myosin XVI’s ability to regulate actin and its involvement in cytoskeleton remodeling highlights the protein’s significance in neuronal circuitry development and signaling. Mutations in actin regulator protein-encoding genes like MYO16 have been found to shift cytoskeletal dynamics, as well as cause irregular dendritic spine and excitation/inhibition (E/I) synapse phenotypes. Interestingly, altered actin dynamics and E/I synapse dysregulation are two commonly detected molecular deficits associated with neuropathologies, namely autism spectrum disorders (ASD), SSD, and intellectual disability (ID). Therefore, synaptic E/I profiles are good candidates for investigating the neuropathologies they accompany, and also for revealing potential functional abnormalities. Hence, we determined that quantifying the levels of inhibitory synaptic proteins VGAT and gephyrin is the most suitable approach to investigate inhibitory synapse profiles and their relation to pathologies. Specifically, we investigated how microRNA (miRNA)-mediated myosin XVI protein knockdown (KD) affects pre- and postsynaptic inhibitory synapse density in rat primary hippocampal neurons. We achieved this by analyzing the density of VGAT and gephyrin puncta, signifying pre- and postsynaptic inhibitory synapses, respectively, and also by measuring their diameter to determine differences in inhibitory synapse size. Moreover, we quantified and assessed inhibitory synapse density and size differences between groups by comparing Myo16 KD-plasmid expressing hippocampal neurons to scrambled control cells. Common for both Myo16 KD plasmids was the active suppression of myosin XVI by 33%. However, Myo16 KD plasmids did not affect inhibitory synapse density and size to the same degree. Specifically, there was a significant reduction of inhibitory synapse density in the Myo16 KD3-plasmid expressing neurons, yet, no changes were observed in Myo16 KD5-plasmid expressing neurons. Finally, pre- and postsynaptic inhibitory synapse size differences were not significant between groups for either Myo16 KD plasmid when compared to scrambled control. Aberrant actin cytoskeleton remodeling, as well as altered E/I synapse ratios may lead to hyper/hypo-transmissive neuronal states or cause E/I imbalance, suggesting a complex relationship between actin regulator genes and inhibitory synapses. Our understanding behind their interplay is fairly limited, thus, gaining insight into the mechanisms associated with altered E/I balance remains the primary aim.
  • Äikäs, Lauri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Abstract Introduction: Atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD) cause the biggest burden on our healthcare system and cause most premature deaths. Risk for ASCVD can be lowered by lifestyle choices and medication, as well as several therapeutics such as ethyl eicosapentaenoic acid (E-EPA) supplementation. Here we aimed to investigate the effect of EEPA intervention on known ASCVD risk factors including circulating lipoprotein levels as well as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) aggregation susceptibility, a new independent risk factor for ASCVD. Study design: A study group of 39 healthy men and women participated in a 4-week long dietary supplement trial with 3.9 g/day of E-EPA. A dose of 75 µg/day of vitamin D was included in the E-EPA capsules. Blood samples were drawn before the trial, at weeks 1 and 4 of the intervention and 1 week after the intervention. The study was an open design where participants’ own baseline measurements were used to measure changes. Outcomes: The mean plasma cholesterol concentration was reduced from 3.8 mmol/l to 3.6 mmol/l (p=0.0038 one-way ANOVA) after one week of E-EPA supplementation and remained the same until the end of study period. This change was followed by a change in plasma LDL (p=0.0028 one-way ANOVA) and triglyceride (p=0.0004 one-way ANOVA) concentrations after four week and one week of E-EPA supplementation, respectively. Vitamin D levels increased on average by 18%, showcasing a lower relative response than seen in other vitamin D trials, which can be attributed to high effective baseline concentrations of vitamin D in our study group and the related negative feedback system. LDL aggregation susceptibility did not significantly change in the entire group. However, we discovered that the change in LDL aggregation susceptibility correlated negatively ( = -0.451, p = 0.0039) with the baseline LDL aggregation susceptibility. Thus, LDL aggregation decreased in participants having aggregation-prone LDL at baseline. This finding highlights a possibility that participants with higher LDL aggregation susceptibility may benefit from addition of E-EPA to their diet.
  • Törrönen, Essi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    4-Methylmethcathinone (Mephedrone) is one of the the most prevalent synthetic cathinones that bears close structural similarity to amphetamines. Like other stimulants, mephedrone is often used with alcohol (ethanol). In animal studies ethanol has been observed to potentiate the neurotoxicity of amphetamine-type stimulants, and same has been observed when mephedrone and alcohol is combined. The long-term effects of mephedrone have still remained largely elusive. The aim of this thesis is to study the effects of mephedrone, methamphetamine, and ethanol on dendritic spine density and morphology in the hippocampus, nucleus accumbens and caudate putamen, and compare the spine densities with changes in brain activation observed in manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI). Dendritic spines are small membranous protrusions on dendrites that act as the post-synaptic sites for most of the excitatory synapses. Amphetamine and methamphetamine have been shown to affect the density and morphology of the spines. The goal of this thesis was to investigate the long-term effect of binge-like (two times a day, four consecutive days) stimulant treatment on dendritic spines using Golgi-stained rat brain sections. The brains of 48 male Wistar rats were imaged using AxioImager Z2 microscope and the number and the size of the spines was analyzed using Reconstruct software. In this thesis no effect on dendritic spines was observed in the hippocampus and nucleus accumbens in animals treated with mephedrone, methamphetamine, ethanol or combination of them. In the caudate putamen significant increase in the total density of dendritic spines and in the density of filopodia-like spines was observed in mephedrone-treated animals. Other treatments showed no observable effect. These results were conflicting with previous studies where amphetamine-type stimulants have been shown to increase the spine density in the nucleus accumbens and the hippocampus and increase the density of branched spines. In the caudate putamen methamphetamine has been observed to decrease the spine density. There was no correlation between spine densities and brain activation observed in MEMRI. To my best knowledge this is the first time when the effect of mephedrone on dendritic spines has been studied. It is possible that the treatment regimen used here was not strong enough to produce marked long-term changes on dendritic spines. It is also possible, that mephedrone is not as neurotoxic as other amphetamine-type stimulants, which may explain why the effects remained limited and conflicting. More research is still required to establish the long-term structural effects of mephedrone.
  • Pazos Boubeta, Yago (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Neurotrophin, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its cognate receptor Tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB), have been concomitantly linked with neuronal plasticity as well as antidepressant mechanism of action. Adult hippocampal neurogenesis involves proliferation and survival of new-born neurons and has been related to antidepressant mechanisms and cognitive improvement. Environmental enrichment (EE) enhances adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) and induces anxiolytic-like effects. This study postulates that EE-living conditions could restore the abnormal serotonergic modulation on AHN of our transgenic mice. In this study, a transgenic mouse line wherein TrkB receptor is compromised from serotonergic neurons and AHN found to be impaired was used. To assess the behavioural effects and the changes in learning and memory tasks produced by 10-weeks of EE, a behavioural battery test was performed. Our results suggested anxiolytic-like effects from EE in the transgenic mice. Likewise, cognitive improvements were also observed in both control and transgenic mice promoted by EE. Moreover, hyperactivity observed in transgenic mice in standard conditions could be rescued, and no phenotypical differences were observed between control and transgenic mice subjected to EE. To further study the effects of EE on AHN, cellular proliferation and survival were studied through the incorporation of BrdU. The results indicate that the abnormal serotonergic regulation of AHN was rescued upon EE-living conditions. Moreover, molecular methods used to measure the alteration of gene expression revealed significant upregulation of genes related to neuronal plasticity and epigenetic modifications. Altogether, these results suggest EE promotes the neuronal plasticity, rescues the impaired regulation of AHN and modulates the genetic expression of the transgenic mice. Findings from this study could provide new insights regarding novel targets that could modulate adult brain plasticity.
  • elDandashi, Rahaf (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene function without affecting the DNA sequence. Epigenetics studies the effects of the environment and behavior on the genome. Researchers have been able to detect several epigenetic modifications such as –DNA methylation, histone acetylation, and microRNA-associated gene silencing. Changes in the epigenome are essential for proper cell function and normal development and can also be induced by environmental factors. Stress is defined as a biological response to physiological and psychological demands which can affect cellular homeostasis. Factors such as prenatal life stress can affect gene function without directly altering the DNA nucleotide sequence. Elevated levels of stress can immobilize with the ability to impair cognitive function. There is evidence that suggests the involvement of epigenetic regulation in disorders such as addiction, depression, schizophrenia, and cognitive dysfunction. Therefore, this systematic review discusses recent findings of the role of epigenetics in prenatal exposure to stress. To achieve this, the thesis will cover different subtopics from genetics, neurobiology, and diseases, neuroscience, biological psychiatry, life sciences, medicine, behavioral brain research, biochemistry & molecular biology, as well as neuroendocrinology. Research questions are 1) Is there an association between epigenetics and prenatal stress? 2) What kind of mechanisms have been found? 3) What kind of techniques have been used in the identification of potential epigenetic mechanisms? What genes are associated with these epigenetic changes?. This study followed the "The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses" (PRISMA) guideline checklist. Eligibility criteria and search terms where be selected and documented to offer the widest range of articles covering the subjects of this study. A literature search was done using PubMed/Medline, Google scholar, and gray literature. The last sample comprised 59 articles. Data were extracted so that the participants, intervention, comparisons, and outcomes were included. The literature search conducted in this systematic review identified a few findings. First is that the majority of animal and human studies found a significant or moderate association between epigenetics and prenatal stress. Second, DNA methylation is the most studied epigenetic mechanism in maternal exposure to stress Third, genome-wide studies were more common in human studies than in animals and the most widely used method used is Infinium HumanMethylation450 Bead Chip. However, the common methods used in human and animal studies are most likely because of the small sample size and causation cannot be determined. Finally, NR3C1 and FKBP5 genes were the most studied in human studies where they showed the strongest association between prenatal stress and epigenetic modifications. While in animal studies, the most studied genes were Bdnf and Dnmt1 as they showed a significant methylation level after maternal prenatal stress exposure. In conclusion, maternal prenatal stress could trigger epigenetic alterations in neonates in both animals and humans. This holistic review detailed and evaluated locus-specific and studies exploring current knowledge about associations between maternal prenatal stress and epigenetic changes.
  • Järvi, Vilja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    The insular cortex has been implicated in the neurocircuitry underlying alcohol addiction. The role of the insular cortex and its projections in regulating ethanol intake in AA (Alko-Alcohol) rats has been studied using chemogenetic tools. Chemogenetic activation of the anterior agranular insula (aAI) in AA rats through excitatory DREADDs expressed in the aAI has been found to decrease ethanol consumption. The aAI projects to the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA), another brain region involved in the development of addiction, particularly in the withdrawal/negative affect stage. In the current study, we sought to further investigate the role of the aAI and the CeA in regulating voluntary ethanol consumption in AA rats. First, we characterized the efferent projections of the aAI in AA rats by chemogenetically activating the aAI with DREADDs and then measuring c-Fos expression in various regions of interest throughout the brain. Next, we investigated the role of the aAI --> CeA projection in ethanol intake by chemogenetically activating or inhibiting the aAI --> CeA projection using the dual viral Cre-dependent DREADD approach. We examined the effects of this manipulation on voluntary ethanol consumption in AA rats in a two-bottle choice paradigm. Finally, we examined the roles of CeA D1Rs (dopamine receptors) and 5-HT2ARs (serotonin receptors) in regulating ethanol intake by examining the effects of pharmacological agonism or antagonism of these receptors on voluntary ethanol consumption in AA rats. Our results from the first experiment reveal significant activation of brain regions including the posterior agranular insula, the mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus, and the posterior piriform cortex following chemogenetic activation of the aAI. The projections from the aAI to these regions are potentially important in the aAI circuitry in AA rats and are therefore of interest in future studies on the role of aAI circuitry in ethanol intake. In the second experiment, we found no significant effects of aAI --> CeA projection activation or inhibition on ethanol consumption in AA rats, indicating that this projection may not be a key component in regulating ethanol intake in these rats. Finally, we found no significant effects of pharmacological D1R antagonism, 5-HT2AR antagonism, or 5-HT2AR agonism in the CeA on ethanol intake in AA rats, although there was a non-significant trend towards a dose-dependent decrease in ethanol consumption with increasing dose of the D1R antagonist. Our results reveal new neural projections that should be investigated in future research on the role of the aAI in regulating ethanol intake. Studies on the neurobiology underlying alcoholism may reveal new pharmacological or anatomical targets for treatments of alcoholism in humans.
  • Lewis, Serena (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Histamine receptors are known to be expressed throughout the peripheral nervous system and are involved in regulating the gut and immune system. The gut-brain axis, which consists of bidirectional signaling between the central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract, links gut functions to emotional and cognitive controls in the brain. Many animal models are known to express histamine receptors in their gut and brain tissue which can be altered by a compromised gut-brain axis like stress. Histamine receptors also play an important role in many gastric and intestinal disorders. However, the precise expression pattern of histamine receptors in zebrafish gut tissue is unknown, as is whether their expression levels also change with stress. Here, I show that zebrafish gut contains several histamine receptors, but their role involving stress within the gut remains unknown. I found that histamine receptors hrh1 and hrh3 as well as the enzyme that synthesizes histamine, histidine decarboxylase (hdc), are expressed in zebrafish gut and brain in wildtype and hdc knockout adult zebrafish using in situ hybridization. Stress induction on wildtype male zebrafish through chronic social defeat and analysis of histamine receptor and hdc mRNA levels using quantitative real time PCR showed no differences in subordinate, dominate, or control fish. However, it did provide quantitative data that hrh1, hrh2, and hdc mRNA expresses in the adult gut. My results demonstrate the first data to suggest histamine receptors are expressed in zebrafish gut, and that even though stress can alter the gut-brain axis, it may not do so through the regulation of these receptors.
  • Haikonen, Joni (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Kainate receptors are known to regulate neuronal function in the brain (Li, H., & Rogawski, M. A. (1998), Braga, M. F. et al. (2004), Lerma & Marques (2013), Carta, M (2014)). In the amygdala, they have been shown to affect synaptic transmission and plasticity, as well as glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) release (Li, H. et al. (2001). Braga, M. F. et al. (2003), Braga, M. F. et al. (2009), Aroniadou-Anderjaska, V. et al. (2012), Negrete‐Díaz, J. V. et al. (2012)), however, their role during development of the amygdala circuitry is not known. In the present study, we wished to understand how GluK1 kainate receptors regulate synaptic population activity and plasticity in the developing amygdala by using extracellular field recordings in P15-18 Wistar Han rat pup brain slices. Since field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs) are not commonly measured from the amygdala, we first sought to pharmacologically characterize the basic properties of the extracellular signal, recorded from the basolateral amygdala in response to stimulation of the external capsulae (EC). Having confirmed the validity of the fEPSP as a measure of postsynaptic population response, we were able to show that blocking GluK1 with (S)-1-(2-Amino-2-carboxyethyl)-3-(2-carboxy-5-phenylthiophene-3-yl-methyl)-5-methylpyrimidine-2,4-dione (ACET), a selective GluK1 antagonist, had no effect on the fEPSP. Furthermore, activation of GluK1 with RS-2-amino-3-(3-hydroxy-5-tert-butylisoxazol-4-yl) propanoic acid (ATPA), a GluK1 agonist, reduced the amplitude of the fEPSP, without affecting its slope, suggesting an increase in inhibitory signaling within the network. Blocking GABAergic activity with GABAA- receptor antagonist picrotoxin significantly reduced the effects of ATPA. Additionally, the increase in inhibitory signaling due to the activation of GluK1 was confirmed with whole-cell voltage clamp, by measuring spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic current (sIPSC) frequency. Activation of GluK1 heavily increased sIPSC frequency in the basolateral amygdala neurons. Finally, we were also able to show that activation of GluK1 with ATPA strongly attenuates LTP induction. These results show that GluK1 kainate receptors play a vital role in the modulation of synaptic transmission and plasticity in the developing amygdala.