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The majority of surviving infants with surgical necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) will have some degree of neurodevelopmental impairment. The impact of specific medial and surgical treatments for infants with severe NEC remains largely unknown but is being actively investigated. It is incumbent upon all providers caring for these infants to continue to focus on long term neurodevelopmental outcomes and to develop more widespread methods of neurodevelopmental assessment.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
UNLABELLED - Early institutional care can be profoundly stressful for the human infant, and, as such, can lead to significant alterations in brain development. In animal models, similar variants of early adversity have been shown to modify amygdala-hippocampal-prefrontal cortex development and associated aversive learning. The current study examined this rearing aberration in human development. Eighty-nine children and adolescents who were either previously institutionalized (PI youth; N = 46; 33 females and 13 males; age range, 7-16 years) or were raised by their biological parents from birth (N = 43; 22 females and 21 males; age range, 7-16 years) completed an aversive-learning paradigm while undergoing functional neuroimaging, wherein visual cues were paired with either an aversive sound (CS+) or no sound (CS-). For the PI youth, better aversive learning was associated with higher concurrent trait anxiety. Both groups showed robust learning and amygdala activation for CS+ versus CS- trials. However, PI youth also exhibited broader recruitment of several regions and increased hippocampal connectivity with prefrontal cortex. Stronger connectivity between the hippocampus and ventromedial PFC predicted significant improvements in future anxiety (measured 2 years later), and this was particularly true within the PI group. These results suggest that for humans as well as for other species, early adversity alters the neurobiology of aversive learning by engaging a broader prefrontal-subcortical circuit than same-aged peers. These differences are interpreted as ontogenetic adaptations and potential sources of resilience.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT - Prior institutionalization is a significant form of early adversity. While nonhuman animal research suggests that early adversity alters aversive learning and associated neurocircuitry, no prior work has examined this in humans. Here, we show that youth who experienced prior institutionalization, but not comparison youth, recruit the hippocampus during aversive learning. Among youth who experienced prior institutionalization, individual differences in aversive learning were associated with worse current anxiety. However, connectivity between the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex prospectively predicted significant improvements in anxiety 2 years following scanning for previously institutionalized youth. Among youth who experienced prior institutionalization, age-atypical engagement of a distributed set of brain regions during aversive learning may serve a protective function.
Copyright © 2016 the authors 0270-6474/16/366421-11$15.00/0.
UNLABELLED - Selenium (Se) is essential for both brain development and male fertility. Male mice lacking two key genes involved in Se metabolism (Scly(-/-)Sepp1(-/-) mice), selenoprotein P (Sepp1) and Sec lyase (Scly), develop severe neurological dysfunction, neurodegeneration, and audiogenic seizures that manifest beginning in early adulthood. We demonstrate that prepubescent castration of Scly(-/-)Sepp1(-/-) mice prevents behavioral deficits, attenuates neurodegeneration, rescues maturation of GABAergic inhibition, and increases brain selenoprotein levels. Moreover, castration also yields similar neuroprotective benefits to Sepp1(-/-) and wild-type mice challenged with Se-deficient diets. Our data show that, under Se-compromised conditions, the brain and testes compete for Se utilization, with concomitant effects on neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT - Selenium is an essential trace element that promotes male fertility and brain function. Herein, we report that prepubescent castration provides neuroprotection by increasing selenium-dependent antioxidant activity in the brain, revealing a competition between the brain and testes for selenium utilization. These findings provide novel insight into the interaction of sex and oxidative stress upon the developing brain and have potentially significant implications for the prevention of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by aberrant excitatory/inhibitory balance, such as schizophrenia and epilepsy.
Copyright © 2015 the authors 0270-6474/15/3515326-13$15.00/0.