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  • Extracellular matrix inhibits structural and functional plasticity of dendritic spines in the adult visual cortex.

    8 December 2017

    Brain cells are immersed in a complex structure forming the extracellular matrix. The composition of the matrix gradually matures during postnatal development, as the brain circuitry reaches its adult form. The fully developed extracellular environment stabilizes neuronal connectivity and decreases cortical plasticity as highlighted by the demonstration that treatments degrading the matrix are able to restore synaptic plasticity in the adult brain. The mechanisms through which the matrix inhibits cortical plasticity are not fully clarified. Here we show that a prominent component of the matrix, chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs), restrains morphological changes of dendritic spines in the visual cortex of adult mice. By means of in vivo and in vitro two-photon imaging and electrophysiology, we find that after enzymatic digestion of CSPGs, cortical spines become more motile and express a larger degree of structural and functional plasticity.

  • Enhanced bioactivity of internally functionalized cationic dendrimers with PEG cores.

    8 December 2017

    Hybrid dendritic-linear block copolymers based on a 4-arm poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) core were synthesized using an accelerated AB2/CD2 dendritic growth approach through orthogonal amine/epoxy and thiol-yne chemistries. The biological activity of these 4-arm and the corresponding 2-arm hybrid dendrimers revealed an enhanced, dendritic effect with an exponential increase in cell internalization concomitant with increasing amine end groups and low cytotoxicity. Furthermore, the ability of these hybrid dendrimers to induce endosomal escape combined with their facile and efficient synthesis makes them attractive platforms for gene transfection. The 4-arm-based dendrimer showed significantly improved DNA binding and gene transfection capabilities in comparison with the 2-arm derivative. These results combined with the MD simulation indicate a significant effect of both the topology of the PEG core and the multivalency of these hybrid macromolecules on their DNA binding and delivery capablities.

  • Interferon Regulatory Factor 5 Controls Necrotic Core Formation in Atherosclerotic Lesions by Impairing Efferocytosis.

    15 December 2017

    BACKGROUND: Myeloid cells are central to atherosclerotic lesion development and vulnerable plaque formation. Impaired ability of arterial phagocytes to uptake apoptotic cells (efferocytosis) promotes lesion growth and establishment of a necrotic core. The transcription factor interferon regulatory factor (IRF)-5 is an important modulator of myeloid function and programming. We sought to investigate whether IRF5 affects the formation and phenotype of atherosclerotic lesions. METHODS: We investigated the role of IRF5 in atherosclerosis in 2 complementary models. First, atherosclerotic lesion development in hyperlipidemic apolipoprotein E-deficient (ApoE-/-) mice and ApoE-/- mice with a genetic deletion of IRF5 (ApoE-/-Irf5-/-) was compared and then lesion development was assessed in a model of shear stress-modulated vulnerable plaque formation. RESULTS: Both lesion and necrotic core size were significantly reduced in ApoE-/-Irf5-/- mice compared with IRF5-competent ApoE-/- mice. Necrotic core size was also reduced in the model of shear stress-modulated vulnerable plaque formation. A significant loss of CD11c+ macrophages was evident in ApoE-/-Irf5-/- mice in the aorta, draining lymph nodes, and bone marrow cell cultures, indicating that IRF5 maintains CD11c+ macrophages in atherosclerosis. Moreover, we revealed that the CD11c gene is a direct target of IRF5 in macrophages. In the absence of IRF5, CD11c- macrophages displayed a significant increase in expression of the efferocytosis-regulating integrin-β3 and its ligand milk fat globule-epidermal growth factor 8 protein and enhanced efferocytosis in vitro and in situ. CONCLUSIONS: IRF5 is detrimental in atherosclerosis by promoting the maintenance of proinflammatory CD11c+ macrophages within lesions and controlling the expansion of the necrotic core by impairing efferocytosis.

  • A Highly Efficient Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Microglia Model Displays a Neuronal-Co-culture-Specific Expression Profile and Inflammatory Response.

    12 December 2017

    Microglia are increasingly implicated in brain pathology, particularly neurodegenerative disease, with many genes implicated in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and motor neuron disease expressed in microglia. There is, therefore, a need for authentic, efficient in vitro models to study human microglial pathological mechanisms. Microglia originate from the yolk sac as MYB-independent macrophages, migrating into the developing brain to complete differentiation. Here, we recapitulate microglial ontogeny by highly efficient differentiation of embryonic MYB-independent iPSC-derived macrophages then co-culture them with iPSC-derived cortical neurons. Co-cultures retain neuronal maturity and functionality for many weeks. Co-culture microglia express key microglia-specific markers and neurodegenerative disease-relevant genes, develop highly dynamic ramifications, and are phagocytic. Upon activation they become more ameboid, releasing multiple microglia-relevant cytokines. Importantly, co-culture microglia downregulate pathogen-response pathways, upregulate homeostatic function pathways, and promote a more anti-inflammatory and pro-remodeling cytokine response than corresponding monocultures, demonstrating that co-cultures are preferable for modeling authentic microglial physiology.

  • Common evidence gaps in point-of-care diagnostic test evaluation: a review of horizon scan reports.

    12 December 2017

    OBJECTIVE: Since 2008, the Oxford Diagnostic Horizon Scan Programme has been identifying and summarising evidence on new and emerging diagnostic technologies relevant to primary care. We used these reports to determine the sequence and timing of evidence for new point-of-care diagnostic tests and to identify common evidence gaps in this process. DESIGN: Systematic overview of diagnostic horizon scan reports. PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURES: We obtained the primary studies referenced in each horizon scan report (n=40) and extracted details of the study size, clinical setting and design characteristics. In particular, we assessed whether each study evaluated test accuracy, test impact or cost-effectiveness. The evidence for each point-of-care test was mapped against the Horvath framework for diagnostic test evaluation. RESULTS: We extracted data from 500 primary studies. Most diagnostic technologies underwent clinical performance (ie, ability to detect a clinical condition) assessment (71.2%), with very few progressing to comparative clinical effectiveness (10.0%) and a cost-effectiveness evaluation (8.6%), even in the more established and frequently reported clinical domains, such as cardiovascular disease. The median time to complete an evaluation cycle was 9 years (IQR 5.5-12.5 years). The sequence of evidence generation was typically haphazard and some diagnostic tests appear to be implemented in routine care without completing essential evaluation stages such as clinical effectiveness. CONCLUSIONS: Evidence generation for new point-of-care diagnostic tests is slow and tends to focus on accuracy, and overlooks other test attributes such as impact, implementation and cost-effectiveness. Evaluation of this dynamic cycle and feeding back data from clinical effectiveness to refine analytical and clinical performance are key to improve the efficiency of point-of-care diagnostic test development and impact on clinically relevant outcomes. While the 'road map' for the steps needed to generate evidence are reasonably well delineated, we provide evidence on the complexity, length and variability of the actual process that many diagnostic technologies undergo.