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Neural Plasticity is an interdisciplinary journal dedicated to the publication of articles related to all aspects of neural plasticity, with special emphasis on its functional significance as reflected in behavior and in psychopathology.
Chief Editor, Professor Baudry, is currently University Professor at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, CA. His research focuses on understanding the molecular/cellular mechanisms of learning and memory and neurodegeneration.
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Large-Scale Neuronal Network Dysfunction in Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) patients are at an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. There is accumulating evidence that specific functional and structural architecture changes in the brain are related to cognitive impairment in DR patients. However, little is known regarding whether the functional architecture of resting-state networks (RSNs) changes in DR patients. The purpose of this study was to investigate the intranetwork functional connectivity (FC) and functional network connectivity (FNC) of RSN changes in DR patients using independent component analysis (ICA). Thirty-four DR patients (18 men and 16 women; mean age, years) and 38 nondiabetic healthy controls (HCs) (15 men and 23 women; mean age, years), closely matched for age, sex, and education, underwent resting-state magnetic resonance imaging scans. ICA was applied to extract the nine RSNs. Then, two-sample -tests were conducted to investigate different intranetwork FCs within nine RSNs between the two groups. The FNC toolbox was used to assess interactions among RSNs. Pearson correlation analysis was conducted to explore the relationship between intranetwork FCs and clinical variables in the DR group. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was conducted to assess the ability of the intranetwork FCs of RSNs in discriminating between the two groups. Compared to the HC group, DR patients showed significant decreased intranetwork FCs within the basal ganglia network (BGN), visual network (VN), ventral default mode network (vDMN), right executive control network (rECN), salience network (SN), left executive control network (lECN), auditory network (AN), and dorsal default mode network (dDMN). In addition, FNC analysis showed increased VN-BGN, VN-vDMN, VN-dDMN, vDMN-lECN, SN-BGN, lECN-dDMN, and AN-BGN FNCs in the DR group, relative to the HC group. Furthermore, altered intranetwork FCs of RSNs were significantly correlated with the glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) level in DR patients. A ROC curve showed that these specific intranetwork FCs of RSNs discriminated between the two groups with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity. Our study highlighted that DR patients had widespread deficits in both low-level perceptual and higher-order cognitive networks. Our results offer important insights into the neural mechanisms of visual loss and cognitive decline in DR patients.
Effect of Electroacupuncture Treatment at Dazhui (GV14) and Mingmen (GV4) Modulates the PI3K/AKT/mTOR Signaling Pathway in Rats after Spinal Cord Injury
Electroacupuncture (EA) is widely recognized as clinical treatment of spinal cord injury (SCI). The purpose of this study is to elucidate whether and how the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway plays any role in EA treating SCI. Rats were randomly divided into four equal groups: Control Group, Sham-operation Group, Model Group, and EA Group, then further randomly divided into the following subgroups: 1-day (), 1-day rapamycin (), 14-day (), and 28-day (). A rat model of SCI was established by a modified Allen’s weight-drop method. In the EA Group, rats were stimulated on Dazhui (GV14) and Mingmen (GV4) for 20 min by sterilized stainless steel needles. In the EA Group, the Basso, Beattie, and Bresnahan locomotor rating scale showed obvious improved locomotor function, and hematoxylin-eosin staining and magnetic resonance imaging showed that the histological morphology change of injured spinal cord tissue was obviously alleviated. Also, blocking spinal mTOR by injection of rapamycin showed that mTOR existed in the injured spinal cord, and EA could significantly activate mTOR in SCI rats. And immunohistochemistry and western blot analysis on the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway showed that levels of PI3K, AKT, mTOR, and p70S6K in the injured spinal cord tissue were greatly increased in the EA Group, while the levels of PTEN and caspase 3 were decreased. The present study suggests that EA could affect cell growth, apoptosis, and autophagy through the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway.
Crocin Alleviates Pain Hyperalgesia in AIA Rats by Inhibiting the Spinal Wnt5a/β-Catenin Signaling Pathway and Glial Activation
At present, most of the drugs have little effect on the pathological process of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Analgesia is an important measure in the treatment of RA and is also one of the criteria to determine the therapeutic effects of the disease. Some studies have found that crocin, a kind of Chinese medicine, can effectively alleviate pain sensitization in pain model rats, but the mechanism is not clear. Emerging evidence indicates that crocin may inhibit the metastasis of lung and liver cancer cells from the breast by inhibiting Wnt/β-catenin and the Wnt signaling pathway is closely related to RA. Wnt5a belongs to the Wnt protein family and was previously thought to be involved only in nonclassical Wnt signaling pathways. Recent studies have shown that Wnt5a has both stimulatory and inhibitory effects on the classical Wnt signaling pathway, and so, Wnt5a has attracted increasing attention. This study demonstrated that crocin significantly increased the mechanical thresholds of adjuvant-induced arthritis (AIA) rats, suggesting that crocin can alleviate neuropathic pain. Crocin significantly decreased the levels of pain-related factors and glial activation. Foxy5, activator of Wnt5a, inhibited the above effects of crocin in AIA rats. In addition, intrathecal injection of a Wnt5a inhibitor significantly decreased hyperalgesia in AIA rats. This research shows that crocin may alleviate neuropathic pain in AIA rats by inhibiting the expression of pain-related molecules through the Wnt5a/β-catenin pathway, elucidating the mechanism by which crocin relieves neuropathic pain and provides a new way of thinking for the treatment of AIA pain.
Cerebral Blood Flow Alterations in High Myopia: An Arterial Spin Labeling Study
Objective. The aim of this study was to explore cerebral blood flow (CBF) alterations in subjects with high myopia (HM) using three-dimensional pseudocontinuous arterial spin labeling (3D-pcASL). Methods. A total of sixteen patients with bilateral HM and sixteen age- and sex-matched healthy controls (HCs) were recruited. All subjects were right-handed. Image data preprocessing was performed using SPM8 and the DPABI toolbox. Clinical parameters were acquired in the HM group. Two-sample -tests and Pearson correlation analysis were applied in this study. Results. Compared to HCs, patients with HM exhibited significantly increased CBF in the bilateral cerebellum, and no decreases in CBF were detected in the brain. However, no relationship was found between the mean CBF values in the different brain areas and the disease duration (). Conclusions. Using ASL analysis, we detected aberrant blood perfusion in the cerebellum in HM patients, contributing to a better understanding of brain abnormalities and brain plasticity through a different perspective.
Functional Brain Plasticity Associated with ACL Injury: A Scoping Review of Current Evidence
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is a common problem with consequences ranging from chronic joint instability to early development of osteoarthritis. Recent studies suggest that changes in brain activity (i.e., functional neuroplasticity) may be related to ACL injury. The purpose of this article is to summarize the available evidence of functional brain plasticity after an ACL injury. A scoping review was conducted following the guidelines of the Joanna Briggs Institute and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses. The terms “brain,” “activity,” “neuroplasticity,” “ACL,” “injury,” and “reconstruction” were used in an electronic search of articles in PubMed, PEDro, CINAHL, and SPORTDiscus databases. Eligible studies included the following criteria: (a) population with ACL injury, (b) a measure of brain activity, and (c) a comparison to the ACL-injured limb (contralateral leg or healthy controls). The search yielded 184 articles from which 24 were included in this review. The effect size of differences in brain activity ranged from small (0.05, ACL-injured vs. noninjured limbs) to large (4.07, ACL-injured vs. healthy control). Moreover, heterogeneity was observed in the methods used to measure brain activity and in the characteristics of the participants included. In conclusion, the evidence summarized in this scoping review supports the notion of functional neuroplastic changes in people with ACL injury. The techniques used to measure brain activity and the presence of possible confounders, as identified and reported in this review, should be considered in future research to increase the level of evidence for functional neuroplasticity following ACL injury.
Altered Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated with Pubertal Hormones in Girls with Precocious Puberty
Pubertal hormones play an important role in brain and psychosocial development. However, the role of abnormal HPG axis states in altering brain function and structure remains unclear. The present study is aimed at determining whether there were significant differences in gray matter volume (GMV) and resting state (RS) functional connectivity (FC) patterns in girls with idiopathic central precocious puberty (CPP) and peripheral precocious puberty (PPP). We further explored the correlation between these differences and serum pubertal hormone levels. To assess this, we recruited 29 idiopathic CPP girls and 38 age-matched PPP girls. A gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) stimulation test was performed, and pubertal hormone levels (including luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol (E2), prolactin, and cortisol) were assessed. All subjects underwent multimodal magnetic resonance imaging of brain structure and function. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis was paired with seed-to-voxel whole-brain RS-FC analysis to calculate the GMV and RS-FC in idiopathic CPP and PPP girls. Correlation analyses were used to assess the effects of pubertal hormones on brain regions with structural and functional differences between the groups. We found that girls with CPP exhibited decreased GMV in the left insula and left fusiform gyrus, while connectivity between the left and right insula and the right middle frontal gyrus (MFG), as well as the left fusiform gyrus and right amygdala, was reduced in girls with CPP. Furthermore, the GMV of the left insula and peak FSH levels were negatively correlated while higher basal and peak E2 levels were associated with increased bilateral insula RS-FC. These findings suggest that premature activation of the HPG axis and pubertal hormone fluctuations alter brain structure and function involved in the cognitive and emotional process in early childhood. These findings provide vital insights into the early pathophysiology of idiopathic CPP.