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  • Kirjavainen, Anna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Development of the sensory epithelia of the inner ear and their primary cell types, hair cells and supporting cells, is a complex process under tight molecular regulation. These cells arise from common progenitors that are guided to follow cell-type-specific differentiation program, and undergo prominent structural changes to reach mature morphologies. The mechanisms regulating this cellular differentiation in the developing inner ear are not fully understood. The focus of this thesis has been in understanding the molecular control of the stepwise development of hair cells and supporting cells. Sequential expression of transcription factors has a central role in the control of development of the cells and tissues. Here we show that transcription factor Prox1 participates in the molecular cascade directing cellular differentiation in the inner ear. During early development, Prox1 is expressed in the progenitors of hair cells and supporting cells, and later maintained only in the supporting cells. We found novel interactions between Prox1 and hair cell-specific transcription factors Atoh1, the master regulator of hair cell development, and Gfi1, an essential survival factor of the cochlear hair cells. When overexpressed in hair cells, Prox1 suppressed the expression of Atoh1 and Gfi1, illustrating the possibility of transcriptional reprogramming of hair cells. This downregulation had functional consequences, resulting in auditory hair cell death during a restricted period at late-embryogenesis. Furthermore, when we studied Gfi1-knock-in mice, the model in which auditory hair cells die shortly after differentiation, we found positive interaction between Gfi1 and p57Kip2. Thus, p57Kip2 is introduced as a new candidate to mediate the survival-promoting function of Gfi1 in the auditory hair cells. Rho GTPases integrate signals from different molecular pathways to regulate cell cytoskeleton, intercellular junctions and polarity, all properties that are heavily modulated in the epithelial cells of the developing inner ear. A member of Rho GTPase family, Cdc42, was found to be expressed in the developing auditory sensory epithelium. Analysis of Cdc42 mutant mice revealed a versatile role of this protein, demonstrating its importance in 1) the formation of proper cellular patterning in the auditory sensory epithelium, 2) the regulation of apical-basal and planar polarities of the sensory epithelial cells, and 3) the regulation of apical cytoskeleton in these cells. In the absence of Cdc42, mechanosensory hair bundles at the apices of hair cells failed to develop normally, indicating Cdc42 s significance in hearing function. In addition, Cdc42 regulates the maturation of adherens junctions and apical actin cytoskeleton in postnatal supporting cells. Cdc42-deficient supporting cells lacked the ability for normal wound healing, showing that properly developed apical module is needed for epithelium repair following injury to the hearing organ. This thesis presents new pieces to the molecular network controlling cellular differentiation of the inner ear sensory epithelia. Understanding the regulation of this stepwise development may have therapeutic value. It may help to explain the fundamental reasons why mammalian hair cells do not regenerate and, to identify the mechanisms and factors that could be applied to promote hair cell regeneration in the future.
  • Li, Xiao-Dong (Helsingin yliopisto, 2005)
  • Wigren, Henna-Kaisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Sleep is governed by a homeostatic process in which the duration and quality of previous wake regulate the subsequent sleep. Active wakefulness is characterized with high frequency cortical oscillations and depends on stimulating influence of the arousal systems, such as the cholinergic basal forebrain (BF), while cessation of the activity in the arousal systems is required for slow wave sleep (SWS) to occur. The site-specific accumulation of adenosine (a by-product of ATP breakdown) in the BF during prolonged waking /sleep deprivation (SD) is known to induce sleep, thus coupling energy demand to sleep promotion. The adenosine release in the BF is accompanied with increases in extracellular lactate and nitric oxide (NO) levels. This thesis was aimed at further understanding the cellular processes by which the BF is involved in sleep-wake regulation and how these processes are affected by aging. The BF function was studied simultaneously at three levels of organization: 1) locally at a cellular level by measuring energy metabolites 2) globally at a cortical level (the out-put area of the BF) by measuring EEG oscillations and 3) at a behavioral level by studying changes in vigilance states. Study I showed that wake-promoting BF activation, particularly with glutamate receptor agonist N-methyl-D-aspatate (NMDA), increased extracellular adenosine and lactate levels and led to a homeostatic increase in the subsequent sleep. Blocking NMDA activation during SD reduced the high frequency (HF) EEG theta (7-9 Hz) power and attenuated the subsequent sleep. In aging, activation of the BF during SD or experimentally with NMDA (studies III, IV), did not induce lactate or adenosine release and the increases in the HF EEG theta power during SD and SWS during the subsequent sleep were attenuated as compared to the young. These findings implicate that increased or continuous BF activity is important for active wake maintenance during SD as well as for the generation of homeostatic sleep pressure, and that in aging these mechanisms are impaired. Study II found that induction of the inducible NO synthase (iNOS) during SD is accompanied with activation of the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in the BF. Because decreased cellular energy charge is the most common cause for AMPK activation, this finding implicates that the BF is selectively sensitive to the metabolic demands of SD as increases were not found in the cortex. In aging (study III), iNOS expression and extracellular levels of NO and adenosine were not significantly increased during SD in the BF. Furthermore, infusion of NO donor into the BF did not lead to sleep promotion as it did in the young. These findings indicated that the NO (and adenosine) mediated sleep induction is impaired in aging and that it could at least partly be due to the reduced sensitivity of the BF to sleep-inducing factors. Taken together, these findings show that reduced sleep promotion by the BF contributes to the attenuated homeostatic sleep response in aging.
  • Spuul, Pirjo (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    All positive-strand RNA viruses utilize cellular membranes for the assembly of their replication complexes, which results in extensive membrane modification in infected host cells. These alterations act as structural and functional scaffolds for RNA replication, providing protection for the viral double-stranded RNA against host defences. It is known that different positive-strand RNA viruses alter different cellular membranes. However, the origin of the targeted membranes, the mechanisms that direct replication proteins to specific membranes and the steps in the formation of the membrane bound replication complex are not completely understood. Alphaviruses (including Semliki Forest virus, SFV), members of family Togaviridae, replicate their RNA in association with membranes derived from the endosomal and lysosomal compartment, inducing membrane invaginations called spherules. Spherule structures have been shown to be the specific sites for RNA synthesis. Four replication proteins, nsP1-nsP4, are translated as a polyprotein (P1234) which is processed autocatalytically and gives rise to a membrane-bound replication complex. Membrane binding is mediated via nsP1 which possesses an amphipathic α-helix (binding peptide) in the central region of the protein. The aim of this thesis was to characterize the association of the SFV replication complex with cellular membranes and the modification of the membranes during virus infection. Therefore, it was necessary to set up the system for determining which viral components are needed for inducing the spherules. In addition, the targeting of the replication complex, the formation site of the spherules and their intracellular trafficking were studied in detail. The results of current work demonstrate that mutations in the binding peptide region of nsP1 are lethal for virus replication and change the localization of the polyprotein precursor P123. The replication complex is first targeted to the plasma membrane where membrane invaginations, spherules, are induced. Using a specific regulated endocytosis event the spherules are internalized from the plasma membrane in neutral carrier vesicles and transported via an actin-and microtubule-dependent manner to the pericentriolar area. Homotypic fusions and fusions with pre-existing acidic organelles lead to the maturation of previously described cytopathic vacuoles with hundreds of spherules on their limiting membranes. This work provides new insights into the membrane binding mechanism of SFV replication complex and its role in the virus life cycle. Development of plasmid-driven system for studying the formation of the replication complex described in this thesis allows various applications to address different steps in SFV life cycle and virus-host interactions in the future. This trans-replication system could be applied for many different viruses. In addition, the current work brings up new aspects of membranes and cellular components involved in SFV replication leading to further understanding in the formation and dynamics of the membrane-associated replication complex.
  • Nykänen, Niko-Petteri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    Abnormal regulation of various posttranslational modifications (PTMs) of microtubule- associated protein tau induce its self-aggregation, which is a hallmark pathophysiological process of neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs) collectively called as tauopathies including Alzheimer s disease (AD) and frontotemporal dementia. Increased tau phosphorylation is a key PTM in conversion of tau into more toxic species in cells, which is regulated by interactions of various protein kinases and phosphatases. However, the exact mechanism(s) of how various combinatory PTMs affect aggregation and cell-to-cell propagation of tau are poorly understood. We developed a novel live cell reporter system based on protein-fragment complementation assay (PCA) and studied dynamic protein- protein interactions of tau in native cellular environment. The PCA was further validated on investigating cellular secretion and uptake of tau in live cells. A proof-of-concept screen was performed using PCA platform revealed several GABAA receptor activators that altered the interaction of tau-Pin1. Pin1 act as a critical facilitator of tau dephosphorylation by catalyzing the isomerization of cis/trans peptidyl-prolyl bond at phosphorylated Thr231-Pro motif of tau. Additionally, we showed that screen-identified GABAA receptor modulators increased tau phosphorylation at the AT8 phosphoepitope in cultures of mature primary cortical neurons and remained at elevated level 24 h after washout of the drugs. Mechanistic studies suggested that enhanced GABAA receptor- induced tau phosphorylation was associated with decreased interaction of tau and protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) without any reduction in enzymatic activity of PP2A and involved CDK5 kinase. Furthermore, the assessment of expression and splicing status of late-onset AD (LOAD) susceptibility genes in our neuropathologically validated AD cohort of post mortem brain samples revealed increased expression of MS4A6A and decreased expression of FRMD4A in regards to increased AD-related neurofibrillary pathology according to Braak staging. Moreover, the expression level of FRMD4A was functionally associated with amyloidogenic APP processing and increased tau phosphorylation in vitro. FRMD4A expression levels also correlated with cellular tau secretion assessed by PCA-based assay platform using siRNA-mediated gene silencing. Subsequent mechanistic studies on secretion showed a more general involvement of cell polarity complex signaling including Par3/Par6/aPKCζ complex-induced activation of Arf6 via cytohesins. These novel connections of altered FRMD4A expression level in AD brain and its impact on cellular tau secretion further corroborate the suggested role of FRMD4A in LOAD pathogenesis and pathophysiology. Here, for the first time, we assessed a functional association between LOAD-related susceptibility gene and cell-to- cell propagation of tau, and also showed the decreased expression of FRMD4A related to increasing disease severity according to Braak staging.
  • Rahikainen, Jenni (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Lignin, a major non-carbohydrate polymer in lignocellulosic plant biomass, restricts the action of hydrolytic enzymes in the enzymatic hydrolysis of lignocellulosic feedstocks. Non-productive enzyme adsorption onto lignin is a major inhibitory mechanism, which results in decreased hydrolysis rates and yields and difficulties in enzyme recycling. The mechanisms of non-productive binding are poorly understood; therefore, in this thesis, enzyme-lignin interactions were studied using isolated lignins from steam pretreated and non-treated spruce and wheat straw as well as monocomponent cellulases with different modular structures and temperature stabilities. The origin of the isolated lignin had an undisputable effect on non-productive binding. Ultrathin lignin films, prepared from steam pretreated and non-treated lignin preparations, were employed in QCM adsorption studies in which Trichoderma reesei Cel7A (TrCel7A) was found to bind more onto lignin isolated from steam pretreated biomass than onto lignin isolated from non-treated lignocellulosic biomass. Botanical differences in lignin chemistry had only a minor effect on nonproductive binding when enzyme binding to non-treated wheat straw and spruce lignin was compared. Increase in temperature was found to increase the inhibitory effect arising from non-productive enzyme binding to lignin. Different enzymes were shown to have a characteristic temperature at which the inhibition emerged. Thermostable enzymes were the most lignin-tolerant at high temperatures, suggesting that in addition to the surface properties of an enzyme, non-productive binding onto lignin may be influenced by stability of the enzyme structure. In addition, for lignin-bound T. reesei cellulases, increase in temperature resulted in loss of catalytic activity and tighter binding, suggesting that at high temperature enzyme binding to lignin was probably coupled to conformational changes in the protein folding. With TrCel7A, carbohydrate-binding module (CBM) was found to increase nonproductive adsorption to lignin. The Talaromyces emersonii Cel7A catalytic module was linked to a CBM from TrCel7A, giving rise to a fusion enzyme TeCel7A-CBM1. Despite a similar CBM, TeCel7A-CBM adsorbed significantly less to lignin than TrCel7A, indicating that the catalytic module (TeCel7A) had a strong contribution to the low binding. Probably, the contribution of CBM or catalytic core module in non-productive binding varies between different enzymes, and the role of the CBM is not always dominant. To date, very little attention has been paid to the role of electrostatic interactions in lignin-binding. In this work, binding of Melanocarpus albomyces Cel45A endoglucanase onto lignin was found to be very dependent on pH, suggesting that electrostatic interactions were involved in the binding. At high pH, significantly less non-productive binding occurred, probably due to increasing electrostatic repulsion between negatively charged enzymes and lignin. Modification of the charged chemical groups in enzymes or lignin may be a viable strategy to reduce nonproductive enzyme binding in the hydrolysis of lignocellulosic substrates.
  • Hiltunen, Miia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Cellulose is the most abundant renewable natural polymer, with many attractive physical and chemical properties including hydrophilicity, biodegradability and biocompatibility. However, its effective use as bio-based material is limited due to its insolubility in water and organic solvents, as well as due to difficult processability. The main objective of this research was to utilize the new controlled/living free radical polymerization (CRP) methods in the modifications of various cellulosic materials, yielding new water-soluble cellulose based graft copolymers (cellulose-g-copolymers) with a uniform molecular structures. The recent developments in CRP methods have enabled the tailoring of macromolecules with sophisticated architectures including block, graft and star structures with predetermined molecular weights, terminal functionalities, and narrow molecular weight distributions. Modification by graft copolymerization using CRP methods provides one of the best ways to combine the advantages of both natural cellulose and synthetic polymers and therefore affect the properties of the cellulose derivatives. The cellulose-g-copolymers have various potential applications over a wide range of areas, such as sensor matrices, recognition devices, selective membranes, organic-inorganic complex materials, and bioactive and biocompatible materials. In this study novel water-soluble cellulose-g-copolymers were successfully synthesized via CRP methods (RAFT and ATRP/SET-LRP). In addition to unmodified cellulose (softwood dissolving pulp), cellulose ethers (carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) and ethyl hydroxyethyl cellulose (EHEC)) were also used as starting materials i.e. as backbones for the cellulose-g-copolymers. Homogeneous reaction conditions were used to confirm as uniform structure of the graft copolymers as possible. The influence of the side chain length and the grafting density on the aqueous solution and thermal properties of the graft copolymers were studied.
  • R. Labafzadeh, Sara (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Worldwide research is focused on the use of renewable and biodegradable raw materials due to the limited existing quantities of fossil supplies and the environmental degradation caused by global warming. Cellulose, derived from natural resources such as wood, annual plants and microbes, represents the most abundant renewable polymeric material on earth. Due to its low cost and functional versatility, cellulose has been a key feedstock for the production of chemicals with various properties and applications over the past century. It has found a wide range of applications in food, printing, cosmetics, pharmacy, therapeutics, paper making and in the textile industry. This partly crystalline polymer has not yet reached its full application potential due to its essential insolubility in most common solvents. Many investigations focus on the development of novel media for efficient and economically feasible functionalization of cellulose. The chemical modification of cellulose overcomes this obstacle and offers considerable opportunities for preparing cellulose-based polymeric materials. The modification could adjust the properties of the macromolecule for different purposes and meet the environmental requirements by using green reagents and recyclable solvent systems. Synthesis of new cellulose-based polymers and their thorough characterization and increasing the usefulness of cellulose by altering its properties have been of growing research interest for the past few years. The objective of this research was to investigate new paths for the preparation of cellulose-based materials with a variety of structural features to obtain advanced materials suitable for different applications. Most of the research has focused purely on the synthesis of cellulose derivatives in new and economically feasible solvent systems, but it also has general relevance for the material properties of the obtained derivatives. Also, the potential application of synthesized cellulose derivatives as barrier films for packaging was investigated. Highly substituted cellulose esters, carbamates and carbonates were prepared using various recyclable reaction solvents. Biomaterials with the potential for use in the packaging sector should provide high mechanical properties, in addition to good barrier properties for oxygen and water vapour. Some derivatives showed good barrier properties being promising for packaging application.
  • Granström, Mari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Even though cellulose is the most abundant polymer on Earth, its utilisation has some limitations regarding its efficient use in the production of bio-based materials. It is quite clear from statistics that only a relatively small fraction of cellulose is used for the production of commodity materials and chemicals. This fact was the driving force in our research into understanding, designing, synthesising and finding new alternative applications for this well-known but underused biomaterial. This thesis focuses on the developing advanced materials and products from cellulose by using novel approaches. The aim of this study was to investigate and explore the versatility of cellulose as a starting material for the synthesis of cellulose-based materials, to introduce new synthetic methods for cellulose modification, and to widen the already existing synthetic approaches. Due to the insolubility of cellulose in organic solvents and in water, ionic liquids were applied extensively as the reaction media in the modification reactions. Cellulose derivatives were designed and fine-tuned to obtain desired properties. This was done by altering the inherent hydrogen bond network by introducing different substituents. These substituents either prevented spontaneous formation of hydrogen bonding completely or created new interactions between the cellulose chains. This enabled spontaneous self-assembly leading to supramolecular structures. It was also demonstrated that the material properties of cellulose can be modified even those molecules with a low degree of substitution when highly hydrophobic films and aerogels were prepared from fatty acid derivatives of nanocellulose. Development towards advanced cellulose-based materials was demostrated by synthesising chlorophyllcellulose derivatives that showed potential in photocurrent generation systems. In addition, liquid crystalline cellulose derivatives prepared in this study, showed to function as UV-absorbers in paper.
  • Kuutti, Lauri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Despite the similarity of their structural basic units, cellulose- and starch-based materials behave differently in many industrial applications. In this thesis, the structure and properties of these polysaccharides and their selected derivatives were studied by means of five comprehensive examples. In the first investigation, highly crystalline cellulose was identified from Valonia macrophysa vesicles by atomic force microscopy. The role of water as a possible modifier on the surface of cellulose was found to be very important. The monoclinic phases were found on the cellulose surfaces with a lateral resolution of about 4 Å, indicating that water molecules cannot penetrate and thus disturb the surface structure of monoclinic cellulose. On the other hand, the absence of triclinic phases was explained by the used measuring geometry without liquid cell. The ageing of metastable oat and barley thermoplastic starch films was followed by frictional imaging. As a consequence of the ageing, the films lose some of their mechanical properties. In the oat films, glycerol used as a plasticiser diffused from the starch-glycerol-water matrix to the surface of thermoplastic starch, resulting in areas with low friction. In the case of barley starch films, the ageing first resulted in short range reorientation of polymers and finally slow crystallization of amylopectin branches. Solution precipitation techniques were applied to produce ideally spherical starch ester particles (with a diameter about half the wavelength of visible light), suitable for fillers in paper coatings in the third study. Particles assume their shape and size spontaneously when solvated starch polymer is mixed with non-solvent, due to the free mobility of the modified starch chains. Starch pigment has improved affinity to paper surface and it can be used as such or mixed with other pigments to enhance the optical or printing properties of paper. Starch-based pigmenting materials with improved optical performance were prepared in the laboratory by the complexation approach. Analytical results indicated that the complexation of carboxymethyl starch and inorganics strongly depends on the carboxymethyl group in the starch-based hybrid pigmented materials. The formed insoluble hybrids were mostly amorphous and the crystalline contribution of the inorganic component was not evident. The resulting precipitates exhibited composite structures. Finally, three starch-based and two cellulose-based polymers were selected for flocculation and filtration tests. In shearless dewatering conditions, the retention and dewatering properties of the starch-based polymers were similar to those of commercial polyacrylamide-based polymers. The flow studies in higher shear conditions showed that with the studied dosages the starch-based polymers could not reach the flocculation levels needed to maintain sufficient retention properties. The performance of the cellulose-based polymers as flocculating agents was less efficient. The reasons for the more limited performance of the polysaccharide-based flocculants were too low molecular weight and the charge density distribution. Better understanding of how to improve the hydrodynamic properties of bio-based polymers will be essential when planning new bio-based flocculants. The deeper understanding of the relationships between the desired structures and properties of polysaccharides helps to utilize them more effectively. In this way it is possible to obtain better bio-based and environmentally sustainable products in the competition with the current products based on conventional petrochemistry.
  • Restitutti, Flavia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    This series of investigations aimed to evaluate in dogs the interaction between MK-467, a peripheral α2-adrenoceptor antagonist with poor penetration into the central nervous system, and dexmedetomidine, a selective α2-adrenoceptor agonist commonly employed in small animal clinical practice due its potent sedative effects. The objective of this study was to find an optimal dose-ratio of dexmedetomidine and the antagonist that could attenuate or prevent major cardiovascular changes without any significant effect on the sedation induced by the agonist. The effects on blood flow in abdominal organs and on plasma concentrations of glucose, insulin, non-esterified free fatty acids, lactate and cortisol of this optimal dose were then evaluated. The sedative effects were assessed subjectively by means of a composite sedation score. Simultaneously, hypnosis was evaluated through the bispectral index. Haemodynamic parameters that were evaluated comprised cardiac output, arterial blood pressure, heart rate, central venous pressure and systemic vascular resistance. Time-intensity parameters derived from contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging were used to assess blood flow in selected abdominal organs. Three doses of MK-467 (250, 500 and 750 µg/kg) were tested against dexmedetomidine alone (10 µg/kg). All treatments were administered IV. Sedation was significantly lower and BIS significantly higher with the medium and highest doses of MK-467 than with dexmedetomidine. However, bioequivalence between dexmedetomidine and the combination was reached with all treatments for the two parameters analysed. Early cardiovascular effects of dexmedetomidine were not completely prevented with the lowest dose of MK-467, and the highest dose reduced mean arterial pressure. The middle dose of MK-467 (500 µg/kg) provided the best cardiovascular stability. Addition of the peripheral antagonist attenuated dexmedetomidine-induced changes in organ blood flow evaluated by the CEUS. An increase in plasma glucose was observed in dexmedetomidine-treated dogs, but not when MK-467 was added. Inversely, plasma insulin concentration was reduced with dexmedetomidine, but not when dexmedetomidine was combined with MK-467. Plasma non-esterified free fatty acids concentration decreased transiently with the combination, while with dexmedetomidine alone the reduction persisted throughout the observation period. Plasma lactate concentration increased with dexmedetomidine, but not with the combination. In conclusion, the addition of MK-467 attenuated or prevented the early cardiovascular effects of dexmedetomidine, not having clinically relevant effects on the sedation induced by the latter. Some metabolic changes induced by dexmedetomidine were halted by MK-467.
  • Bourbia, Nora (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    The central nucleus of amygdala (CeA) is known to be involved in pain and nociception, but the mechanisms or its role in descending control of pain-related behavior is poorly understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the involvement of the neuropeptide corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and the glutamatergic system of the CeA in pain and nociception in healthy control animals and in an animal model of chronic neuropathic pain induced by spared-nerve injury (SNI). Two aspects of pain were studied: emotional-like pain behavior was assessed by using the aversive place-avoidance paradigm and sensory-discriminative was assessed by determining the mechanical limb-withdrawal threshold and the thermal (heat) limb-withdrawal latency. Moreover, the aims were to determine whether medullospinal serotoninergic pathways and the midbrain periaqueductal grey (PAG), respectively, were involved in relaying pain-modulation induced by the CeA in SNI and healthy control animals. Additionally, hemisphere of the CeA and submodality of pain stimulus were among studied parameters. Surgical procedures and electrophysiological recordings were performed under general anesthesia. The studies on the role of the CeA in the emotional-like aspect of pain in SNI rats revealed that activation and blocking of the group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) facilitates and inhibits, respectively, the aversive aspect of pain. Furthermore, increase of endogenous CRF as well as blocking glutamatergic N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the CeA reduced the aversive aspect of neuropathic pain. The studies on the sensory-discriminative aspect of pain revealed that an increase of endogenous CRF in the CeA is pronociceptive in both control and SNI rats. CeA injection of a high dose of glutamate had a mechanical antinociceptive effect that was mediated by NMDA receptors in healthy but not SNI rats. A low dose of glutamate had a pronociceptive effect mediated by NMDA receptors in SNI rats. Furthermore, tonic descending pronociception induced by NMDA receptors and the mGluR1 in the CeA contributes to the maintenance of neuropathic hypersensitivity. The investigation on the role of serotonergic neurons of the rostroventromedial medulla (RVM) in modulation of spinal nociception by amygdaloid glutamate in SNI rats indicated that the RVM is a relay for both descending pro- and antinociceptive effects from the CeA. The investigation on the role of the PAG in the descending control of nociception induced by glutamate in the CeA of healthy rats indicated that the PAG is a relay in the descending control of nociception induced by amygdaloid glutamate. Furthermore, the right-hemispheric lateralization of the pronociceptive effect by amygdaloid CRF in controls was lost in SNI rats. However, descending antinociception induced by the glutamatergic system of the CeA showed no hemispheric lateralization in healthy controls; a high dose of glutamate in both the left and right CeA induced equal attenuations of mechanical and thermal nociception, which effects were, respectively, NMDA-dependent and NDMA-independent.
  • Holopainen, Juha (Helsingin yliopisto, 2001)
  • Linko-Parvinen, Anna-Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    Several studies link the consumption of whole-grain products to a lowered risk of chronic diseases, such as certain types of cancer, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. However, the final conclusions of the exact protective mechanisms remain unclear, partly due to a lack of a suitable biomarker for the whole-grain cereals intake. Alkylresorcinols (AR) are phenolic lipids abundant in the outer parts of wheat and rye grains usually with homologues of C15:0- C25:0 alkyl chains, and are suggested to function as whole-grain biomarkers. Mammalian lignan enterolactone has also previously been studied as a potential whole-grain biomarker. In the present work a quantified gas chromatography-mass spectrometry method for the analysis of AR in plasma, erythrocytes, and lipoproteins was developed. The method was used to determine human and pig plasma AR concentrations after the intake of whole-grain wheat and rye products compared to low-fibre wheat bread diets to assess the usability of AR as biomarkers of whole-grain intake. AR plasma concentrations were compared to serum ENL concentrations. AR absorption and elimination kinetics were investigated in a pig model. AR occurrence in human erythrocyte membranes and plasma lipoproteins were determined, and the distribution of AR in blood was evaluated. Plasma AR seem to be absorbed via the lymphatic system from the small intestine, like many other lipophilic compounds. Their apparent elimination half-life is relatively short and is similar to that of tocopherols, which have a similar chemical structure. Plasma AR concentrations increased significantly after a one- to eight-week intake of whole-grain wheat and further on with whole-grain rye bread. The concentrations were also higher after habitual Finnish diet compared to diet with low-fibre bread. Inter-individual variation after a one-week intake of the same amount of bread was high, but the mean plasma AR concentrations increased with increasing AR intake. AR are incorporated into erythrocyte membranes and plasma lipoproteins, and VLDL and HDL were the main AR carriers in human plasma. Based on these studies, plasma AR could function as specific biomarkers of dietary whole-grain products. AR are exclusively found in whole-grains and are more suitable as specific biomarkers of whole-grain intake than previously investigated mammalian lignan enterolactone, that is formed from several plants other than cereals in the diet. Plasma AR C17:0/C21:0 -ratio could distinguish whether whole-grain products in the diet are mainly wheat or rye. AR could be used in epidemiological studies to determine whole-grain intake and to better assess the role of whole-grains in disease prevention.
  • Nikkilä, Heikki (Helsingin yliopisto, 2000)
  • Constantin, Camelia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    B. cereus is one of the most frequent occurring bacteria in foods . It produces several heat-labile enterotoxins and one stable non-protein toxin, cereulide (emetic), which may be pre-formed in food. Cereulide is a heat stable peptide whose structure and mechanism of action were in the past decade elucidated. Until this work, the detection of cereulide was done by biological assays. With my mentors, I developed the first quantitative chemical assay for cereulide. The assay is based on liquid chromatography (HPLC) combined with ion trap mass spectrometry and the calibration is done with valinomycin and purified cereulide. To detect and quantitate valinomycin and cereulide, their [NH4+] adducts, m/z 1128.9 and m/z 1171 respectively, were used. This was a breakthrough in the cereulide research and became a very powerful tool of investigation. This tool made it possible to prove for the first time that the toxin produced by B. cereus in heat-treated food caused human illness. Until this thesis work (Paper II), cereulide producing B. cereus strains were believed to represent a homogenous group of clonal strains. The cereulide producing strains investigated in those studies originated mostly from food poisoning incidents. We used strains of many origins and analyzed them using a polyphasic approach. We found that the cereulide producing B. cereus strains are genetically and biologically more diverse than assumed in earlier studies. The strains diverge in the adenylate kinase (adk) gene (two sequence types), in ribopatterns obtained with EcoRI and PvuII (three patterns), tyrosin decomposition, haemolysis and lecithine hydrolysis (two phenotypes). Our study was the first demonstration of diversity within the cereulide producing strains of B. cereus. To manage the risk for cereulide production in food, understanding is needed on factors that may upregulate cereulide production in a given food matrix and the environmental factors affecting it. As a contribution towards this direction, we adjusted the growth environment and measured the cereulide production by strains selected for diversity. The temperature range where cereulide is produced was narrower than that for growth for most of the producer strains. Most cereulide was by most strains produced at room temperature (20 - 23ºC). Exceptions to this were two faecal isolates which produced the same amount of cereulide from 23 ºC up until 39ºC. We also found that at 37º C the choice of growth media for cereulide production differed from that at the room temperature. The food composition and temperature may thus be a key for understanding cereulide production in foods as well as in the gut. We investigated the contents of [K+], [Na+] and amino acids of six growth media. Statistical evaluation indicated a significant positive correlation between the ratio [K+]:[Na+] and the production of cereulide, but only when the concentrations of glycine and [Na+] were constant. Of the amino acids only glycine correlated positively with high cereulide production. Glycine is used worldwide as food additive (E 640), flavor modifier, humectant, acidity regulator, and is permitted in the European Union countries, with no regulatory quantitative limitation, in most types of foods. B. subtilis group members are endospore-forming bacteria ubiquitous in the environment, similar to B. cereus in this respect. Bacillus species other than B. cereus have only sporadically been identified as causative agents of food-borne illnesses. We found (Paper IV) that food-borne isolates of B. subtilis and B. mojavensis produced amylosin. It is possible that amylosin was the agent responsible for the food-borne illness, since no other toxic substance was found in the strains. This is the first report on amylosin production by strains isolated from food. We found that the temperature requirement for amylosin production was higher for the B. subtilis strain F 2564/96, a mesophilic producer, than for B. mojavensis strains eela 2293 and B 31, psychrotolerant producers. We also found that an atmosphere with low oxygen did not prevent the production of amylosin. Ready-to-eat foods packaged in micro-aerophilic atmosphere and/or stored at temperatures above 10 °C, may thus pose a risk when toxigenic strains of B. subtilis or B. mojavensis are present.
  • Kirjavainen, Mirja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    Class II division 1 malocclusion occurs in 3.5 to 13 percent of 7 12 year-old children. It is the most common reason for orthodontic treatment in Finland. Correction is most commonly performed using headgear treatment. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of cervical headgear treatment on dentition, facial skeletal and soft tissue growth, and upper airway structure, in children. 65 schoolchildren, 36 boys and 29 girls were studied. At the onset of treatment a mean age was 9.3 (range 6.6 12.4) years. All the children were consequently referred to an orthodontist because of Class II division 1 malocclusion. The included children had protrusive maxilla and an overjet of more than 2mm (3 to 11 mm). The children were treated with a Kloehn-type cervical headgear as the only appliance until Class I first molar relationships were achieved. The essential features of the headgear were cervical strong pulling forces, a long upward bent outer bow, and an expanded inner bow. Dental casts and lateral and posteroanterior cephalograms were taken before and after the treatment. The results were compared to a historical, cross-sectional Finnish cohort or to historical, age- and sex-matched normal Class I controls. The Class I first molar relationships were achieved in all the treated children. The mean treatment time was 1.7 (range 0.3-3.1) years. Phase 2 treatments were needed in 52% of the children, most often because of excess overjet or overbite. The treatment decreased maxillary protrusion by inhibiting alveolar forward growth, while the rest of the maxilla and mandible followed normal growth. The palate rotated anteriorly downward. The expansion of the inner bow of the headgear induced widening of the maxilla, nasal cavity, and the upper and lower dental arches. Class II malocclusion was associated with narrower oro- and hypopharyngeal space than in the Class I normal controls. The treatment increased the retropalatal airway space, while the rest of the airway remained unaffected. The facial profile improved esthetically, while the facial convexity decreased. Facial soft tissues masked the facial skeletal convexity, and the soft tissue changes were smaller than skeletal changes. In conclusion, the headgear treatment with the expanded inner bow may be used as an easy and simple method for Class II correction in growing children.
  • Metso, Tiina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Cervicocerebral artery dissection (CeAD) is one of the leading causes of ischemic stroke in the young and middle-aged adults. The pathophysiology of CeAD is poorly understood. CeAD patients probably have a constitutional, partly genetic weakness of the vessel wall, which predisposes to tears in the connective tissue within the vascular wall in occurrence of environmental triggers of the disease, such as acute infection, migraine, or minor trauma. For this thesis project, we collected a register of all consecutive CeAD patients treated at the Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland, between 1994 and 2008. In the first part of the thesis, we studied 103 patients with intracranial artery dissections (IAD). IADs could be divided into 2 distinct groups: i) non-aneurysmatic IADs presenting without subarachnoid hemorrhage that are associated with favorable outcomes and safe anticoagulant therapy, and ii) aneurysmatic IADs, characterized by subarachnoid hemorrhage and poorer prognosis. Secondly, we evaluated characteristics, prognostic factors and vascular risk factors in 301 CeAD patients. We found association of CeAD with male sex, and possible association with smoking and migraine, especially migraine with aura. Stroke severity and recent infection were associated with poorer outcome. The three other publications for the thesis were part of the CADISP project (Cervical Artery Dissection and Ischemic Stroke Patients), an international consortium focusing on research on CeAD. For the clinical part of CADISP, 983 patients with CeAD, 658 patients with ischemic stroke due to causes other than dissection, and 1170 healthy control subjects were included in 8 countries and 18 centers. In the CADISP cohort, vascular risk factors were less frequent in CeAD patients compared with young patients with a non-CeAD ischemic stroke. In comparison with healthy controls, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, and overweight were less frequent in CeAD patients, whereas CeAD patients had more hypertension. This suggests that hypertension may be a risk factor for CeAD. Finally, migraine was more common in CeAD patients with stroke than in patients with ischemic stroke due to a cause other than CeAD. We detected no excess of ischemic strokes, specific arterial distribution or other clinical or prognostic features characteristic to migraineous CeAD patients compared to those without migraine.