In the aging brain, many of the alterations underlying cognitive and behavioral decline remain opaque. C. elegans offers a powerful model for aging research, with a simple, well-studied nervous system to further our understanding of the cellular modifications and functional alterations accompanying senescence. We perform multi-neuronal functional imaging across the aged C. elegans nervous system, measuring an age-associated breakdown in system-wide functional organization. At single-cell resolution, we detect shifts in activity dynamics toward higher frequencies. In addition, we measure a specific loss of inhibitory signaling that occurs early in the aging process and alters the systems critical excitatory/inhibitory balance. These effects are recapitulated with mutation of the calcium channel subunit UNC-2/CaV2a. We find that manipulation of inhibitory GABA signaling can partially ameliorate or accelerate the effects of aging. The effects of aging are also partially mitigated by disruption of the insulin signaling pathway, known to increase longevity, or by a reduction of caspase activation. Data from mammals are consistent with our findings, suggesting a conserved shift in the balance of excitatory/inhibitory signaling with age that leads to breakdown in global neuronal dynamics and functional decline.
All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.
- Christopher W Connor
- Christopher V Gabel
- Jeremy Florman
- Mark J Alkema
- Gregory S Wirak
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Manuel Zimmer, University of Vienna, Austria
- Received: July 12, 2021
- Accepted: June 14, 2022
- Accepted Manuscript published: June 15, 2022 (version 1)
© 2022, Wirak et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Efficient neurotransmission is essential for organism survival and is enhanced by myelination. However, the genes that regulate myelin and myelinating glial cell development have not been fully characterized. Data from our lab and others demonstrates that cd59, which encodes for a small GPI-anchored glycoprotein, is highly expressed in developing zebrafish, rodent, and human oligodendrocytes (OLs) and Schwann cells (SCs), and that patients with CD59 dysfunction develop neurological dysfunction during early childhood. Yet, the function of Cd59 in the developing nervous system is currently undefined. In this study, we demonstrate that cd59 is expressed in a subset of developing SCs. Using cd59 mutant zebrafish, we show that developing SCs proliferate excessively and nerves may have reduced myelin volume, altered myelin ultrastructure, and perturbed node of Ranvier assembly. Finally, we demonstrate that complement activity is elevated in cd59 mutants and that inhibiting inflammation restores SC proliferation, myelin volume, and nodes of Ranvier to wildtype levels. Together, this work identifies Cd59 and developmental inflammation as key players in myelinating glial cell development, highlighting the collaboration between glia and the innate immune system to ensure normal neural development.
Cochlear implants are neuroprosthetic devices that can restore hearing in people with severe to profound hearing loss by electrically stimulating the auditory nerve. Because of physical limitations on the precision of this stimulation, the acoustic information delivered by a cochlear implant does not convey the same level of acoustic detail as that conveyed by normal hearing. As a result, speech understanding in listeners with cochlear implants is typically poorer and more effortful than in listeners with normal hearing. The brain networks supporting speech understanding in listeners with cochlear implants are not well understood, partly due to difficulties obtaining functional neuroimaging data in this population. In the current study, we assessed the brain regions supporting spoken word understanding in adult listeners with right unilateral cochlear implants (n=20) and matched controls (n=18) using high-density diffuse optical tomography (HD-DOT), a quiet and non-invasive imaging modality with spatial resolution comparable to that of functional MRI. We found that while listening to spoken words in quiet, listeners with cochlear implants showed greater activity in the left prefrontal cortex than listeners with normal hearing, specifically in a region engaged in a separate spatial working memory task. These results suggest that listeners with cochlear implants require greater cognitive processing during speech understanding than listeners with normal hearing, supported by compensatory recruitment of the left prefrontal cortex.