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BACKGROUND: Homeostatic regulation of sleep is reflected in the maintenance of a daily balance between sleep and wakefulness. Although numerous internal and external factors can influence sleep, it is unclear whether and to what extent the process that keeps track of time spent awake is determined by the content of the waking experience. We hypothesised that alterations in environmental conditions may elicit different types of wakefulness, which will in turn influence both the capacity to sustain continuous wakefulness as well as the rates of accumulating sleep pressure. To address this, we compared the effects of repetitive behaviours such as voluntary wheel running or performing a simple touchscreen task, with wakefulness dominated by novel object exploration, on sleep timing and EEG slow-wave activity (SWA) during subsequent NREM sleep. RESULTS: We find that voluntary wheel running is associated with higher wake EEG theta-frequency activity and results in longer wake episodes, as compared with exploratory behaviour; yet, it does not lead to higher levels of EEG SWA during subsequent NREM sleep in either the frontal or occipital derivation. Furthermore, engagement in a touchscreen task, motivated by food reward, results in lower SWA during subsequent NREM sleep in both derivations, as compared to exploratory wakefulness, even though the total duration of wakefulness is similar. CONCLUSION: Overall, our study suggests that sleep-wake behaviour is highly flexible within an individual and that the homeostatic processes that keep track of time spent awake are sensitive to the nature of the waking experience. We therefore conclude that sleep dynamics are determined, to a large degree, by the interaction between the organism and the environment.
<ns3:p>We have developed “Microscope-Cockpit” (Cockpit), a highly adaptable open source user-friendly Python-based Graphical User Interface (GUI) environment for precision control of both simple and elaborate bespoke microscope systems. The user environment allows next-generation near instantaneous navigation of the entire slide landscape for efficient selection of specimens of interest and automated acquisition without the use of eyepieces. Cockpit uses “Python-Microscope” (Microscope) for high-performance coordinated control of a wide range of hardware devices using open source software. Microscope also controls complex hardware devices such as deformable mirrors for aberration correction and spatial light modulators for structured illumination via abstracted device models. We demonstrate the advantages of the Cockpit platform using several bespoke microscopes, including a simple widefield system and a complex system with adaptive optics and structured illumination. A key strength of Cockpit is its use of Python, which means that any microscope built with Cockpit is ready for future customisation by simply adding new libraries, for example machine learning algorithms to enable automated microscopy decision making while imaging.</ns3:p>
A sex-specific switch between visual and olfactory inputs underlies adaptive sex differences in behavior.
Although males and females largely share the same genome and nervous system, they differ profoundly in reproductive investments and require distinct behavioral, morphological, and physiological adaptations. How can the nervous system, while bound by both developmental and biophysical constraints, produce these sex differences in behavior? Here, we uncover a novel dimorphism in Drosophila melanogaster that allows deployment of completely different behavioral repertoires in males and females with minimum changes to circuit architecture. Sexual differentiation of only a small number of higher order neurons in the brain leads to a change in connectivity related to the primary reproductive needs of both sexes-courtship pursuit in males and communal oviposition in females. This study explains how an apparently similar brain generates distinct behavioral repertoires in the two sexes and presents a fundamental principle of neural circuit organization that may be extended to other species.
Vascular endothelial growth factor-A165b prevents diabetic neuropathic pain and sensory neuronal degeneration
<jats:p>Systemic treatment of diabetic rats with a novel human growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A165b, reversed neuropathic pain and peripheral nerve damage.</jats:p>
The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family of proteins are key regulators of physiological systems. Originally linked with endothelial function, they have since become understood to be principal regulators of multiple tissues, both through their actions on vascular cells, but also through direct actions on other tissue types, including epithelial cells, neurons, and the immune system. The complexity of the five members of the gene family in terms of their different splice isoforms, differential translation, and specific localizations have enabled tissues to use these potent signaling molecules to control how they function to maintain their environment. This homeostatic function of VEGFs has been less intensely studied than their involvement in disease processes, development, and reproduction, but they still play a substantial and significant role in healthy control of blood volume and pressure, interstitial volume and drainage, renal and lung function, immunity, and signal processing in the peripheral and central nervous system. The widespread expression of VEGFs in healthy adult tissues, and the disturbances seen when VEGF signaling is inhibited support this view of the proteins as endogenous regulators of normal physiological function. This review summarizes the evidence and recent breakthroughs in understanding of the physiology that is regulated by VEGF, with emphasis on the role they play in maintaining homeostasis. © 2017 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 8:955-979, 2018.
INtravenous Iron to Treat Anaemia following CriTical care (INTACT): A protocol for a feasibility randomised controlled trial
© The Intensive Care Society 2019. Background: Anaemia is common in patients who survive critical illness and is associated with high levels of fatigue and poor quality of life. In non-critically ill patients, treating anaemia with intravenous iron has resulted in meaningful improvements in quality of life, but uncertainties regarding the benefits, risks, timing and optimal route of iron therapy in survivors of critical illness remain. Methods / Design: INtravenous Iron to Treat Anaemia following CriTical care (INTACT) is an open-label, feasibility, parallel group, randomised controlled trial with 1:1 randomisation to either intravenous iron (1000 mg ferric carboxymaltose) or usual medical care. The primary objective is to assess the feasibility of a future, multicentre randomised controlled trial. Participants will be followed up for up to 90 days post-randomisation. The primary outcome measures, which will be used to determine feasibility, are recruitment and randomisation rates, protocol adherence and completeness of follow-up. Secondary outcome measures include collecting clinical, laboratory, health-related quality of life and safety data to inform the power calculations of a future definitive trial. Conclusion: Improving recovery from critical illness is a recognised research priority. Whether or not correcting anaemia, with intravenous iron, improves health-related quality of life and recovery requires further investigation. If so, it has the potential to become a rapidly translatable intervention. Prior to embarking on a phase III multicentre trial, a carefully designed and implemented feasibility trial is essential.
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a neuromuscular disorder caused by mutations in the survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) gene. All patients have at least one copy of a paralog, SMN2, but a C-to-T transition in this gene results in exon 7 skipping in a majority of transcripts. Approved treatment for SMA involves promoting exon 7 inclusion in the SMN2 transcript or increasing the amount of full-length SMN by gene replacement with a viral vector. Increasing the pool of SMN2 transcripts and increasing their translational efficiency can be used to enhance splice correction. We sought to determine whether the 5' untranslated region (5' UTR) of SMN2 contains a repressive feature that can be targeted to increase SMN levels. We found that antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) complementary to the 5' end of SMN2 increase SMN mRNA and protein levels and that this effect is due to inhibition of SMN2 mRNA decay. Moreover, use of the 5' UTR ASO in combination with a splice-switching oligonucleotide (SSO) increases SMN levels above those attained with the SSO alone. Our results add to the current understanding of SMN regulation and point toward a new therapeutic target for SMA.