DCNN Research Round Up, December 2022

Members of the Duke Neurology Department and Duke Center for Neurodegeneration and Neurotherapeutics advanced the fields of clinical and translational neuroscience this November, contributing to 16 new peer-reviewed studies. Highlights include an article providing insights into how mild traumatic brain injury can contribute to Parkinson’s disease co-authored by Andrew West, PhD


Neuron image courtesy NIH

, the 68th entry in the ALSUntangled examination of alternative therapies for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and an examination of sex-specific differences in gene expression underlying the risk of depression symptoms in late-onset Alzheimer’s written by senior author Ornit Chiba-Falek, PhD. Read the paragraphs below for short summaries of these and other studies, and find links to the original articles themselves.

Headache and Facial Pain

  • Roshni Dhoot, MD, and Sweta Sengupta, MD, wrote a case report of an 18-year-old male experiencing painful ophthalmoplegic neuropathy with headache and oculomotor palsy who had experienced a remarkably similar set of symptoms as a 13-month old. Read that report in the latest issue of Headache

Memory Disorders

  • Tau aggregates are present in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other  neurodegenerative diseases known as “tauopathies,” making them potential sources for tauopathy biomarker discovery. John Ervin and Shih-Hsiu “Jerry” Wang, MD, MS, contributed to an article that found that site-specific p-tau antibodies can not only differentiate AD from non-AD brains, but also discriminate AD from rare tauopathies. Read that article from ACS Chemical Neuroscience here.
  • Brenda Plassman, PhD, contributed to a new study that examines the associations of amyloid PET scan results  and diagnosis of either mild cognitive impairment or dementia with the likelihood of having an advance directive. Read what that study found in BMC Palliative Care.

Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology

  • Hypothermia is a rare presentation of multiple sclerosis (MS) that has the potential to cause dangerous or even fatal clinical outcomes. Senior author Suma Shah, MD, and Duke medical student Nidhila Masha wrote a recent case report of a patient with acute hypothermia without an active MS flare. The article discusses the case and its implications for hypothermia in MS. Read it in the latest issue of Neuroimmunology Reports.
  • The rare autoimmune condition neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD), has been thought to follow a progressive disease course but the influence of factors such as seropositivity and serum titer levels of antibodies to aquaporin-4 (AQP4) has not been fully explored. Senior authors Suma Shah, MD, and Duke medical student Nidhila Masha, as well as Dorlan Kimbrough, MD, Christopher Eckstein, MD, Nicholas Hudak, PA-C, MMS, Mark Skeen, MD, and Michael Lutz, PhD, performed a retrospective chart review of 53 people with this condition. Their analysis provides an updated contemporary view  of the clinical course of NMOSD and shows a more favorable view of its disease course than earlier studies. Read that article in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
  • The autoimmune brain disorder anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis (NMDARe) is characterized by antibodies specific for the NMDA receptor in CSF. Senior author Christopher Eckstein, MD, as well as recent Duke School of Medicine graduates James Giarraputo, MD, Megha Gupta, MD, and M. Elizabeth Deerhake, MD, PhD wrote a Neurology journal article discussing a recent study on the use of serum neurofilament light chain (NfL) in differentiating NMDARe from first-episode psychosis caused by a psychiatric disease. Read that discussion here.

Neurocritical Care

  • Neurocritical Care Fellow Kristi Tempro, MD, and Cherylee Chang, MD wrote a review article discussing the history of neurocritical care as a subspecialty. The article reviews the multidisciplinary origins of this specialty as well as its critical role in providing patient care. Read it in the latest issue of Critical Care Clinics.

Neuromuscular Disease

  • The ALSUntangled series reviews alternative and off-label treatments for people living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (PALS). Richard Bedlack, MD, PhD, was the senior author of the 68th entry in the series, which examines the existing evidence and potential for ozone therapy, supporting investigation in cell or animal models, but not recommending it for people living with the condition. Read their full analysis in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis & Frontotemporal Degeneration.

Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders

Stroke and Vascular Neurology

  • Low-intensity transcranial focused ultrasound (LI-tFUS) has gained considerable attention as a promising non-invasive neuromodulatory technique for examining human brains. A new article investigates the wave propagation of LI-tFUS on human skulls to improve our understanding of how ultrasound frequencies and skull morphology variations affect wave propagation through the skull. Wuwei “Wayne” Feng, MD, MS, Pratik Chhbatbar, MD, PhD, and Taewon Kim, MD, PhD, contributed to this article, which appears in Medical Physics. Read it here.
  • Near-infrared laser therapy, a special form of transcranial light therapy, has been tested as an acute stroke therapy in three large clinical trials. A new review article discusses the putative mechanism of light stimulation in the setting of stroke, highlights barriers and challenges during the translational process, evaluates light stimulation parameters, and proposes future opportunities for this therapy for future stroke treatment. Wuewei “Wayne” Feng, MD, MS, Pratik Chhatbar, MD, Swaroop Pawar, MD, Cherylee Chang, MD, Shreyansh Shah, MD, Estate Sokhadze, PhD, Alexis Domeracki, and Christine Park contributed to this study. Read it in Translational Stroke Research.

Translational Brain Sciences

  • Senior author Alexandra Badea, PhD, Kim Johnson, and Rich O’Brien, MD, PhD, contributed to a new article that revealed predictive brain networks associated with risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, including age, sex, and genotype. Read that article in Cerebral Cortex. 
  • Senior author Ornit Chiba-Falek, PhD, Michael Lutz, PhD, Suraj Upadhya, and Daniel Gingerich authored a new study which discovered sex-specific differences in gene expression underlying the risk of depression symptoms in late-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Read their article in the latest issue of Biomolecules.
  • Microgels are the building blocks of microporous annealed particle (MAP) scaffolds, which serve as a platform for both in vitro cell culture and in vivo tissue repair. Tatiana Segura, PhD, was the senior author of a new article covering the fabrication, lyophilization, and rehydration of microgels for controlling particle fraction in MAP scaffolds, as well as annealing the microgels through bio-orthogonal crosslinking for 3D cell culture in vitro. Read it in the Journal of Visualized Experiments.
  • Repeated mild traumatic brain injury is known to be associated with an increased risk for Parkinson’s diseases, but the specifics of this process have not been fully explored. Andrew West, PhD, contributed to a new study that sheds light on this area. West and colleagues devised an injury device to deliver a surgery-free repetitive mild TBI to rats and then induced human-like PD pathology by intracranially injecting recombinant αSyn preformed fibrils. Read what they found in Acta Neuropathologica Communications.

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