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  • Cardiac troponins: from myocardial infarction to chronic disease.

    6 April 2018

    Elucidation of the physiologically distinct subunits of troponin in 1973 greatly facilitated our understanding of cardiac contraction. Although troponins are expressed in both skeletal and cardiac muscle, there are isoforms of troponin I/T expressed selectively in the heart. By exploiting cardiac-restricted epitopes within these proteins, one of the most successful diagnostic tests to date has been developed: cardiac troponin (cTn) assays. For the past decade, cTn has been regarded as the gold-standard marker for acute myocardial necrosis: the pathological hallmark of acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Whilst cTn is the cornerstone for ruling-out AMI in patients presenting with a suspected acute coronary syndrome (ACS), elevated cTn is frequently observed in those without clinical signs indicative of AMI, often reflecting myocardial injury of 'unknown origin'. cTn is commonly elevated in acute non-ACS conditions, as well as in chronic diseases. It is unclear why these elevations occur; yet they cannot be ignored as cTn levels in chronically unwell patients are directly correlated to prognosis. Paradoxically, improvements in assay sensitivity have meant more differential diagnoses have to be considered due to decreased specificity, since cTn is now more easily detected in these non-ACS conditions. It is important to be aware cTn is highly specific for myocardial injury, which could be attributable to a myriad of underlying causes, emphasizing the notion that cTn is an organ-specific, not disease-specific biomarker. Furthermore, the ability to detect increased cTn using high-sensitivity assays following extreme exercise is disconcerting. It has been suggested troponin release can occur without cardiomyocyte necrosis, contradicting conventional dogma, emphasizing a need to understand the mechanisms of such release. This review discusses basic troponin biology, the physiology behind its detection in serum, its use in the diagnosis of AMI, and some key concepts and experimental evidence as to why cTn can be elevated in chronic diseases.

  • Endoscopic transsphenoidal drainage of an aggressive petrous apex cholesterol granuloma: unusual complications and lessons learnt.

    6 March 2018

    OBJECTIVES: This case report describes the endoscopic transsphenoidal management of a cholesterol granuloma situated in a technically challenging part of the petrous apex, and the associated peri- and post-operative complications that arose. The literature on diagnosis and management of petrous apex cholesterol granulomas is reviewed. METHOD AND RESULTS: Surgical intervention was attempted on three occasions, each time via an endoscopic, transsphenoidal approach with image guidance. The procedure was abandoned on the first occasion as there was a significant risk to the carotid artery; only a small drainage ostium was created because of the proximity of the carotid artery. The second attempt, complicated by copious bleeding from the clival venous plexus, was arrested prematurely. Successful drainage was achieved at the third attempt, but recovery was complicated by tension pneumocephalus. CONCLUSION: The transnasal route is less invasive than a lateral labyrinthine or cochlear approach, and spares cochlear and vestibular function. However, this approach is not without risk. It is important to consider the natural anatomical variance of vasculature when planning surgical intervention for a lesion situated in a technically challenging part of the petrous apex. Additional magnetic resonance venography is recommended to circumnavigate the venous plexus, thereby avoiding an unexpected breach.

  • Restitution slope is principally determined by steady-state action potential duration.

    4 April 2018

    Aims: The steepness of the action potential duration (APD) restitution curve and local tissue refractoriness are both thought to play important roles in arrhythmogenesis. Despite this, there has been little recognition of the apparent association between steady-state APD and the slope of the restitution curve. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that restitution slope is determined by APD and to examine the relationship between restitution slope, refractoriness and susceptibility to VF. Methods and results: Experiments were conducted in isolated hearts and ventricular myocytes from adult guinea pigs and rabbits. Restitution curves were measured under control conditions and following intervention to prolong (clofilium, veratridine, bretylium, low [Ca]e, chronic transverse aortic constriction) or shorten (catecholamines, rapid pacing) ventricular APD. Despite markedly differing mechanisms of action, all interventions that prolonged the action potential led to a steepening of the restitution curve (and vice versa). Normalizing the restitution curve as a % of steady-state APD abolished the difference in restitution curves with all interventions. Effects on restitution were preserved when APD was modulated by current injection in myocytes pre-treated with the calcium chelator BAPTA-AM - to abolish the intracellular calcium transient. The non-linear relation between APD and the rate of repolarization of the action potential is shown to underpin the common influence of APD on the slope of the restitution curve. Susceptibility to VF was found to parallel changes in APD/refractoriness, rather than restitution slope. Conclusion(s): Steady-state APD is the principal determinant of the slope of the ventricular electrical restitution curve. In the absence of post-repolarization refractoriness, factors that prolong the action potential would be expected to steepen the restitution curve. However, concomitant changes in tissue refractoriness act to reduce susceptibility to sustained VF. Dependence on steady-state APD may contribute to the failure of restitution slope to predict sudden cardiac death.

  • Normoxic cells remotely regulate the acid-base balance of cells at the hypoxic core of connexin-coupled tumor growths.

    3 April 2018

    ATP fuels the removal of metabolic end-products, including H+ions that profoundly modulate biological activities. Energetic resources in hypoxic tumor regions are constrained by low-yielding glycolysis, and any means of reducing the cost of acid extrusion, without compromising pH homeostasis, would therefore be advantageous for cancer cells. Some cancers express connexin channels that allow solute exchange between cells, and we propose that,viathis route, normoxic cells supply hypoxic neighbors with acid-neutralizing HCO3-ions. This hypothesis was tested by imaging cytoplasmic pH in spheroidal tissue growths of connexin43-positive pancreatic cancer Colo357 cells during light-controlled H+uncaging at the hypoxic core. Cytoplasmic acid retention at the core was halved in the presence of CO2/HCO3-, but this process requires a restorative HCO3-flux. The effect of CO2/HCO3-was ablated by connexin43 inhibition or knockdown. In connexin-decoupled spheroids, 4,4'-diisothiocyano-2,2'-stilbenedisulfonic acid (DIDS), an inhibitor of HCO3-uptake, had no effect on cytoplasmic [H+] in the H+-uncaging region, indicating that DIDS-sensitive transport is not an adequate pH-regulatory strategy therein. With intact connexin-coupling, acid retention at the core increased upon DIDS treatment, indicating that HCO3-ions are taken up actively by peripheral cells and then transmitted passively to cells at the hypoxic core. Thus, the energetic burden of pH regulation is offloaded from hypoxic cells onto metabolically altruistic normoxic neighbors.-Dovmark, T. H., Hulikova, A., Niederer, S. A., Vaughan-Jones, R. D., Swietach, P. Normoxic cells remotely regulate the acid-base balance of cells at the hypoxic core of connexin-coupled tumor growths.

  • Phospholemman

    17 November 2017

  • High-frequency stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus selectively decreases central variance of rhythmic finger tapping in Parkinson's disease.

    3 April 2018

    Timing is central to all motor behavior, especially repetitive or rhythmic movements. Such complex programs are underpinned by a network of motor structures, including the cerebellum, motor cortex, and basal ganglia. Patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) are impaired in some aspects of timing behavior, presumably as a result of the disruption to basal ganglia function. However, direct evidence that this deficit is specifically due to basal ganglia dysfunction is limited. Here, we sought to further understand the role of the basal ganglia in motor timing by studying PD patients with implanted subthalamic nucleus (STN) electrodes. Patients performed a synchronization-continuation tapping task at 500 ms and 2000 ms intervals both off and on therapeutic high frequency stimulation of the STN. Our results show that the mean tap interval was not affected by STN stimulation. However, in the un-stimulated state variability of tapping was abnormally high relative to controls, and this deficit was significantly improved, even normalized, with stimulation. Moreover, when partitioning the variance into central and peripheral motor components according to the Wing and Kristofferson model (1973), a selective reduction of central, but not motor, variance was revealed. The effect of stimulation on central variance was dependent on off-stimulation performance. These results demonstrate that STN stimulation can improve rhythmic movement performance in PD through an effect on central timing. Our experimental approach strongly implicates the STN, and more generally the basal ganglia, in the control of timing stability.

  • The autonomic effects of deep brain stimulation--a therapeutic opportunity.

    3 April 2018

    Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an expanding field in neurosurgery and has already provided important insights into the fundamental mechanisms underlying brain function. One of the most exciting emerging applications of DBS is modulation of blood pressure, respiration and micturition through its effects on the autonomic nervous system. DBS stimulation at various sites in the central autonomic network produces rapid changes in the functioning of specific organs and physiological systems that are distinct from its therapeutic effects on central nervous motor and sensory systems. For example, DBS modulates several parameters of cardiovascular function, including heart rate, blood pressure, heart rate variability, baroreceptor sensitivity and blood pressure variability. The beneficial effects of DBS also extend to improvements in lung function. This article includes an overview of the anatomy of the central autonomic network, which consists of autonomic nervous system components in the cortex, diencephalon and brainstem that project to the spinal cord or cranial nerves. The effects of DBS on physiological functioning (particularly of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems) are discussed, and the potential for these findings to be translated into therapies for patients with autonomic diseases is examined.

  • A torque-based method demonstrates increased rigidity in Parkinson's disease during low-frequency stimulation.

    12 December 2017

    Low-frequency oscillations in the basal ganglia are prominent in patients with Parkinson's disease off medication. Correlative and more recent interventional studies potentially implicate these rhythms in the pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease. However, effect sizes have generally been small and limited to bradykinesia. In this study, we investigate whether these effects extend to rigidity and are maintained in the on-medication state. We studied 24 sides in 12 patients on levodopa during bilateral stimulation of the STN at 5, 10, 20, 50, 130 Hz and in the off-stimulation state. Passive rigidity at the wrist was assessed clinically and with a torque-based mechanical device. Low-frequency stimulation at ≤20 Hz increased rigidity by 24 % overall (p = 0.035), whereas high-frequency stimulation (130 Hz) reduced rigidity by 18 % (p = 0.033). The effects of low-frequency stimulation (5, 10 and 20 Hz) were well correlated with each other for both flexion and extension (r = 0.725 ± SEM 0.016 and 0.568 ± 0.009, respectively). Clinical assessments were unable to show an effect of low-frequency stimulation but did show a significant effect at 130 Hz (p = 0.002). This study provides evidence consistent with a mechanistic link between oscillatory activity at low frequency and Parkinsonian rigidity and, in addition, validates a new method for rigidity quantification at the wrist.

  • Bajo Lorenzana Group

    26 May 2015

    Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

  • Kohl Group

    10 July 2016

    Encoding information in the brain

  • Booth Group

    14 March 2014

    Optical engineering and microscopy for neuroscience and biomedical imaging

  • Ashcroft Group

    10 July 2016

    ATP-sensitive potassium (K-ATP) channels, insulin secretion and diabetes

  • Wade-Martins Group

    10 July 2016

    Understanding molecular mechanisms of age-related neurodegenerative diseases to generate novel molecular therapies

  • Walker Group

    16 September 2013

    We investigate how the activity of neurons in the brain give rise to our perception of sound.

  • Webber Group

    10 July 2016

    Computational Disease Genomics and Networks

  • Wilkins Group

    10 July 2016

    Membrane transport in cartilage and cancer cells

  • Wilson Group

    10 July 2016

    Cell Biology of Exosome Signalling, Secretion and Growth in Normal and Cancer Cells at Super-Resolution

  • Wood Group

    10 July 2016

    Nucleic Acid Gene Therapy in Brain and Muscle