Although Colombia has witnessed an important decrease in malaria transmission, the disease remains a public health problem with an estimated ~10 million people currently living in areas with malaria risk and ~61,000 cases reported in 2012. This study aimed to determine and compare the level of knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) about malaria in three endemic communities of Colombia to provide the knowledge framework for development of new intervention strategies for malaria elimination.
Significant progress has been recently achieved in the development of Plasmodium vivax challenge infections in humans, which are essential for vaccine and drug testing. With the goal of accelerating clinical development of malaria vaccines, the outcome of infections experimentally induced in naïve and semi-immune volunteers by infected mosquito bites was compared.
Statins are pharmacological inhibitors of the activity of 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGCR), an enzyme responsible for the synthesis of cholesterol. Some recent experimental studies have shown that besides their effects on the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases, statins may also have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects through diverse mechanisms. On the other hand, the induction and activity of regulatory T cells (Treg) are key processes in the prevention of pathology during chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Hence, strategies oriented towards the therapeutic expansion of Tregs are gaining special attention among biomedical researchers. The potential effects of statins on the biology of Treg are of particular importance because of their eventual application as in vivo inducers of Treg in the treatment of multiple conditions. In this paper we review the experimental evidence pointing out to a potential effect of statins on the role of regulatory T cells in different conditions and discuss its potential clinical significance.
Synaptic plasticity involves short- and long-term events, although the molecular mechanisms that underlie these processes are not fully understood. The transient A-type K(+) current (I(A)) controls the excitability of the dendrites from CA1 pyramidal neurons by regulating the back-propagation of action potentials and shaping synaptic input. Here, we have studied how decreases in I(A) affect cognitive processes and synaptic plasticity. Using wild-type mice treated with 4-AP, an I(A) inhibitor, and mice lacking the DREAM protein, a transcriptional repressor and modulator of the I(A), we demonstrate that impairment of I(A) decreases the stimulation threshold for learning and the induction of early-LTP. Hippocampal electrical recordings in both models revealed alterations in basal electrical oscillatory properties toward low-theta frequencies. In addition, we demonstrated that the facilitated learning induced by decreased I(A) requires the activation of NMDA receptors containing the NR2B subunit. Together, these findings point to a balance between the I(A) and the activity of NR2B-containing NMDA receptors in the regulation of learning.
Synapse elimination is the main factor responsible for the cognitive decline accompanying many of the neuropathological conditions affecting humans. Synaptic stripping of motoneurons is also a common hallmark of several motor pathologies. Therefore, knowledge of the molecular basis underlying this plastic process is of central interest for the development of new therapeutic tools. Recent advances from our group highlight the role of nitric oxide (NO) as a key molecule triggering synapse loss in two models of motor pathologies. De novo expression of the neuronal isoform of NO synthase (nNOS) in motoneurons commonly occurs in response to the physical injury of a motor nerve and in the course of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In both conditions, this event precedes synaptic withdrawal from motoneurons. Strikingly, nNOS-synthesized NO is "necessary" and "sufficient" to induce synaptic detachment from motoneurons. The mechanism involves a paracrine/retrograde action of NO on pre-synaptic structures, initiating a downstream signaling cascade that includes sequential activation of (1) soluble guanylyl cyclase, (2) cyclic guanosine monophosphate-dependent protein kinase, and (3) RhoA/Rho kinase (ROCK) signaling. Finally, ROCK activation promotes phosphorylation of regulatory myosin light chain, which leads to myosin activation and actomyosin contraction. This latter event presumably contributes to the contractile force to produce ending axon retraction. Several findings support that this mechanism may operate in the most prevalent neurodegenerative diseases.
The molecular signaling that underpins synapse loss in neuropathological conditions remains unknown. Concomitant upregulation of the neuronal nitric oxide (NO) synthase (nNOS) in neurodegenerative processes places NO at the center of attention. We found that de novo nNOS expression was sufficient to induce synapse loss from motoneurons at adult and neonatal stages. In brainstem slices obtained from neonatal animals, this effect required prolonged activation of the soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC)/protein kinase G (PKG) pathway and RhoA/Rho kinase (ROCK) signaling. Synapse elimination involved paracrine/retrograde action of NO. Furthermore, before bouton detachment, NO increased synapse myosin light chain phosphorylation (p-MLC), which is known to trigger actomyosin contraction and neurite retraction. NO-induced MLC phosphorylation was dependent on cGMP/PKG-ROCK signaling. In adulthood, motor nerve injury induced NO/cGMP-dependent synaptic stripping, strongly affecting ROCK-expressing synapses, and increased the percentage of p-MLC-expressing inputs before synapse destabilization. We propose that this molecular cascade could trigger synapse loss underlying early cognitive/motor deficits in several neuropathological states.
Rho-associated kinase (ROCK) regulates neural cell migration, proliferation and survival, dendritic spine morphology, and axon guidance and regeneration. There is, however, little information about whether ROCK modulates the electrical activity and information processing of neuronal circuits. At neonatal stage, ROCK? is expressed in hypoglossal motoneurons (HMNs) and in their afferent inputs, whereas ROCK? is found in synaptic terminals on HMNs, but not in their somata. Inhibition of endogenous ROCK activity in neonatal rat brainstem slices failed to modulate intrinsic excitability of HMNs, but strongly attenuated the strength of their glutamatergic and GABAergic synaptic inputs. The mechanism acts presynaptically to reduce evoked neurotransmitter release. ROCK inhibition increased myosin light chain (MLC) phosphorylation, which is known to trigger actomyosin contraction, and reduced the number of synaptic vesicles docked to active zones in excitatory boutons. Functional and ultrastructural changes induced by ROCK inhibition were fully prevented/reverted by MLC kinase (MLCK) inhibition. Furthermore, ROCK inhibition drastically reduced the phosphorylated form of p21-associated kinase (PAK), which directly inhibits MLCK. We conclude that endogenous ROCK activity is necessary for the normal performance of motor output commands, because it maintains afferent synaptic strength, by stabilizing the size of the readily releasable pool of synaptic vesicles. The mechanism of action involves a tonic inhibition of MLCK, presumably through PAK phosphorylation. This mechanism might be present in adults since unilateral microinjection of ROCK or MLCK inhibitors into the hypoglossal nucleus reduced or increased, respectively, whole XIIth nerve activity.
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