Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, Department of

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Cannabinoid Interactions with Ion Channels and Receptors

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-05-15
Abstract: 

Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive component of Cannabis sativa, acts on a diverse selection of membrane proteins with promising therapeutic potential in epilepsy and chronic pain. One such protein is the voltage-gated sodium channel (Nav). CBD shows a lack of specificity for sodium channels; however, the method of interaction is still unknown. In this review, we will outline the studies that report reproducible results of CBD and other cannabinoids changing membrane channel function, with particular interest on Nav. Nav are implicated in fatal forms of epilepsy and are also associated with chronic pain. This makes Nav potential targets for CBD interaction since it has been reported to reduce pain and seizures. One potential method of interaction that is of interest in this review is whether CBD affects channel function by altering lipid bilayer properties, independent of any possible direct interaction with membrane channels. CBD’s ability to interact with its targets is a novel and important discovery. This discovery will not only prompt further research towards CBD’s characterization, but also promotes the application of cannabinoids as potentially therapeutic compounds for diseases like epilepsy and pain.

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Article
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Multifactorial Correlates of Blood Pressure in South Asian Children in Canada: A Cross-Sectional Study

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-04-08
Abstract: 

Objective We sought to explore various correlates of blood pressure (BP) and hypertension, and to identify the most important aggregate combination of correlates for BP in South Asian children.

Design Cross-sectional study

Setting Community-based recruitment in two Canadian cities

Participants South Asian children (n=762) provided a range of physiological, lifestyle and social variables. BP was assessed using an automated device. Body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) and BP were transformed to z-scores using published standards.

Outcome measures Linear and logistic regression analyses were used to explore associations between the range of variables with BP z-scores and hypertension while stepwise regression was used to identify aggregate factors that provided explanatory capacity for systolic BP (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) z-scores.

Results A range of variables were associated with BP z-score and hypertension in unadjusted analysis. On adjustment for confounders, the association between age (β=−0.054, 95% CI=−0.078 to 0.029), female sex (β=−0.208, 95% CI=−0.350 to –0.067), height (β=0.022, 95% CI=0.011 to 0.033), weight (β=0.047, 95% CI=0.040 to 0.055), BMI z-score (β=0.292, 95% CI=0.249 to 0.336), WC z-score (β=0.273, 95% CI=0.219 to 0.326), WHtR z-score (β=0.289, 95% CI=0.236 to 0.342), heart rate (β=0.016, 95% CI=0.010 to 0.022), child’s perception of body image (β=0.183, 95% CI=0.128 to 0.239) and grip strength (β=0.025, 95% CI=0.007 to 0.043) with SBP z-score remained. In stepwise regression, age, sex, BMI z-score, heart rate and weight accounted for 30% of the variance of SBP z-score, while age, BMI z-score, heart rate and daily fast food intake accounted for 23% of the DBP z-score variance.

Conclusion Our findings suggest that variables, such as age, sex, height, adiposity and heart rate, provide stronger explanatory capacity to BP variance and hypertension risk than other variables in South Asian children.

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Relationships between Orthostatic Hypotension, Frailty, Falling and Mortality in Elderly Care Home Residents

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-03-13
Abstract: 

Background: Orthostatic hypotension (OH; profound falls in blood pressure when upright) is a common deficit that increases in incidence with age, and may be associated with falling risk. Deficit accumulation results in frailty, regarded as enhanced vulnerability to adverse outcomes. We aimed to evaluate the relationships between OH, frailty, falling and mortality in elderly care home residents.

Methods: From the Minimum Data Set (MDS) document, a frailty index (FI-MDS) was generated from a list of 58 deficits, ranging from 0 (no deficits) to 1.0 (58 deficits). OH was evaluated from beat-to-beat blood pressure and heart rate (finger plethysmography) collected during a 15-min supine-seated orthostatic stress test. Retrospective and prospective falling rates (falls/year) were extracted from facility falls incident reports. All-cause 3-year mortality was determined. Data are reported as mean ± standard error.

Results: Data were obtained from 116 older adults (aged 84.2 ± 0.9 years; 44% males) living in two long term care facilities. The mean FI-MDS was 0.36 ± 0.01; FI-MDS was correlated with age (r = 0.277; p = 0.003). Those who were frail (FI ≥ 0.27) had larger Initial (− 17.8 ± 4.2 vs − 6.1 ± 3.3 mmHg, p = 0.03) and Consensus (− 22.7 ± 4.3 vs − 11.5 ± 3. 3 mmHg, p = 0.04) orthostatic reductions in systolic arterial pressure. Frail individuals had higher prospective and retrospective falling rates and higher 3-year mortality. Receiver operating characteristic curves evaluated the ability of FI-MDS alone to predict prospective falls (sensitivity 72%, specificity 36%), Consensus OH (sensitivity 68%, specificity 60%) and 3-year mortality (sensitivity 77%, specificity 49%). Kaplan Meier survival analyses showed significantly higher 3-year mortality in those who were frail compared to the non-frail (p = 0.005).

Conclusions: Frailty can be captured using a frailty index based on MDS data in elderly individuals living in long term care, and is related to susceptibility to orthostatic hypotension, falling risk and 3-year mortality. Use of the MDS to generate a frailty index may represent a simple and convenient risk assessment tool for older adults living in long term care. Older adults who are both frail and have impaired orthostatic blood pressure control have a particularly high risk of falling and should receive tailored management to mitigate this risk

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Genetic Variants in Genes Related to Inflammation Apoptosis and Autophagy in Breast Cancer Risk

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-01-02
Abstract: 

BackgroundInflammation contributes to breast cancer development through its effects on cell damage. This damage is usually dealt with by key genes involved in apoptosis and autophagy pathways.

MethodsWe tested 206 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 54 genes related to inflammation, apoptosis and autophagy in a population-based breast cancer study of women of European (658 cases and 795 controls) and East Asian (262 cases and 127 controls) descent. Logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios for breast cancer risk, and case-only analysis to compare breast cancer subtypes (defined by ER/PR/HER2 status), with adjustment for confounders. We assessed statistical interactions between the SNPs and lifestyle factors (smoking status, physical activity and body mass index).

Results and conclusionAlthough no SNP was associated with breast cancer risk among women of European descent, we found evidence for an association among East Asians for rs1800925 (IL-13) and breast cancer risk (OR = 2.08; 95% CI: 1.32–3.28; p = 0.000779), which remained statistically significant after multiple testing correction (padj = 0.0350). This association was replicated in a meta-analysis of 4305 cases and 4194 controls in the Shanghai Breast Cancer Genetics Study (OR 1.12, 95% CI: 1.03–1.21, p = 0.011). Further, we found evidence of an interaction between rs7874234 (TSC1) and physical activity among women of East Asian descent.

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Droplet Digital PCR Shows the D-Loop to be an Error Prone Locus for Mitochondrial DNA Copy Number Determination

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-07-30
Abstract: 

Absolute quantification of mitochondrial DNA copy number (mCN) provides important insights in many fields of research including cancer, cardiovascular and reproductive health. Droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) natively reports absolute copy number, and we have developed a single-dye, multiplex assay to measure rat mCN that is accurate, precise and affordable. We demonstrate simple methods to optimize this assay and to determine nuclear reference pseudogene copy number to extend the range of mCN that can be measured with this assay. We evaluated two commonly used mitochondrial DNA reference loci to determine mCN, the ND1 gene and the D-Loop. Harnessing the absolute measures of ddPCR, we found that the D-Loop amplifies with a copy number of ~1.0–1.5 relative to other sites on the mitochondrial genome. This anomalous copy number varied significantly between rats and tissues (aorta, brain, heart, liver, soleus muscle). We advocate for avoiding the D-Loop as a mitochondrial reference in future studies of mCN. Further, we report a novel approach to quantifying immunolabelled mitochondrial DNA that provides single-cell estimates of mCN that closely agree with the population analyses by ddPCR. The combination of these assays represents a cost-effective and powerful suite of tools to study mCN.

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Somatic Mitochondrial DNA Mutations in Diffuse Large B-Cell Ly

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-02-26
Abstract: 

Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) is an aggressive hematological cancer for which mitochondrial metabolism may play an important role. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) encodes crucial mitochondrial proteins, yet the relationship between mtDNA and DLBCL remains unclear. We analyzed the functional consequences and mutational spectra of mtDNA somatic mutations and private constitutional variants in 40 DLBCL tumour-normal pairs. While private constitutional variants occurred frequently in the D-Loop, somatic mutations were randomly distributed across the mitochondrial genome. Heteroplasmic constitutional variants showed a trend towards loss of heteroplasmy in the corresponding tumour regardless of whether the reference or variant allele was being lost, suggesting that these variants are selectively neutral. The mtDNA mutational spectrum showed minimal support for ROS damage and revealed strand asymmetry with increased C > T and A > G transitions on the heavy strand, consistent with a replication-associated mode of mutagenesis. These heavy strand transitions carried higher proportions of amino acid changes – which were also more pathogenic – than equivalent substitutions on the light strand. Taken together, endogenous replication-associated events underlie mtDNA mutagenesis in DLBCL and preferentially generate functionally consequential mutations. Yet mtDNA somatic mutations remain selectively neutral, suggesting that mtDNA-encoded mitochondrial functions may not play an important role in DLBCL.

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Brain Vital Signs: Expanding From the Auditory to Visual Modality

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-01-18
Abstract: 

The critical need for rapid objective, physiological evaluation of brain function at point-of-care has led to the emergence of brain vital signs—a framework encompassing a portable electroencephalography (EEG) and an automated, quick test protocol. This framework enables access to well-established event-related potential (ERP) markers, which are specific to sensory, attention, and cognitive functions in both healthy and patient populations. However, all our applications to-date have used auditory stimulation, which have highlighted application challenges in persons with hearing impairments (e.g., aging, seniors, dementia). Consequently, it has become important to translate brain vital signs into a visual sensory modality. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to: 1) demonstrate the feasibility of visual brain vital signs; and 2) compare and normalize results from visual and auditory brain vital signs. Data were collected from 34 healthy adults (33 ± 13 years) using a 64-channel EEG system. Visual and auditory sequences were kept as comparable as possible to elicit the N100, P300, and N400 responses. Visual brain vital signs were elicited successfully for all three responses across the group (N100: F = 29.8380, p < 0.001; P300: F = 138.8442, p < 0.0001; N400: F = 6.8476, p = 0.01). Initial auditory-visual comparisons across the three components showed attention processing (P300) was found to be the most transferrable across modalities, with no group-level differences and correlated peak amplitudes (rho = 0.7, p = 0.0001) across individuals. Auditory P300 latencies were shorter than visual (p < 0.0001) but normalization and correlation (r = 0.5, p = 0.0033) implied a potential systematic difference across modalities. Reduced auditory N400 amplitudes compared to visual (p = 0.0061) paired with normalization and correlation across individuals (r = 0.6, p = 0.0012), also revealed potential systematic modality differences between reading and listening language comprehension. This study provides an initial understanding of the relationship between the visual and auditory sequences, while importantly establishing a visual sequence within the brain vital signs framework. With both auditory and visual stimulation capabilities available, it is possible to broaden applications across the lifespan.

The critical need for rapid objective, physiological evaluation of brain function at point-of-care has led to the emergence of brain vital signs—a framework encompassing a portable electroencephalography (EEG) and an automated, quick test protocol. This framework enables access to well-established event-related potential (ERP) markers, which are specific to sensory, attention, and cognitive functions in both healthy and patient populations. However, all our applications to-date have used auditory stimulation, which have highlighted application challenges in persons with hearing impairments (e.g., aging, seniors, dementia). Consequently, it has become important to translate brain vital signs into a visual sensory modality. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to: 1) demonstrate the feasibility of visual brain vital signs; and 2) compare and normalize results from visual and auditory brain vital signs. Data were collected from 34 healthy adults (33 ± 13 years) using a 64-channel EEG system. Visual and auditory sequences were kept as comparable as possible to elicit the N100, P300, and N400 responses. Visual brain vital signs were elicited successfully for all three responses across the group (N100: F = 29.8380, p < 0.001; P300: F = 138.8442, p < 0.0001; N400: F = 6.8476, p = 0.01). Initial auditory-visual comparisons across the three components showed attention processing (P300) was found to be the most transferrable across modalities, with no group-level differences and correlated peak amplitudes (rho = 0.7, p = 0.0001) across individuals. Auditory P300 latencies were shorter than visual (p < 0.0001) but normalization and correlation (r = 0.5, p = 0.0033) implied a potential systematic difference across modalities. Reduced auditory N400 amplitudes compared to visual (p = 0.0061) paired with normalization and correlation across individuals (r = 0.6, p = 0.0012), also revealed potential systematic modality differences between reading and listening language comprehension. This study provides an initial understanding of the relationship between the visual and auditory sequences, while importantly establishing a visual sequence within the brain vital signs framework. With both auditory and visual stimulation capabilities available, it is possible to broaden applications across the lifespan.

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Effects of acidosis on neuronal voltage-gated sodium channels: Nav1.1 and Nav1.3

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-10-26
Abstract: 

Voltage-gated sodium channels are key contributors to membrane excitability. These channels are expressed in a tissue-specific manner. Mutations and modulation of these channels underlie various physiological and pathophysiological manifestations. The effects of changes in extracellular pH on channel gating have been studied on several sodium channel subtypes. Among these, Nav1.5 is the most pH-sensitive channel, with Nav1.2 and Nav1.4 being mostly pH-resistant channels. However, pH effects have not been characterized on other sodium channel subtypes. In this study, we sought to determine whether Nav1.1 and Nav1.3 display resistance or sensitivity to changes in extracellular pH. These two sodium channel subtypes are predominantly found in inhibitory neurons. The expression of these channels highly depends on age and the developmental stage of neurons, with Nav1.3 being found mostly in neonatal neurons, and Nav1.1 being found in adult neurons. Our present results indicate that, during extracellular acidosis, both channels show a depolarization in the voltage-dependence of activation and moderate reduction in current density. Voltage-dependence of steady-state fast inactivation and recovery from fast inactivation were unchanged. We conclude that Nav1.1 and Nav1.3 have similar pH-sensitivities.

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A Mixed Periodic Paralysis & Myotonia Mutant, P1158S, Imparts pH-Sensitivity in Skeletal Muscle Voltage-gated Sodium Channels

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-04-19
Abstract: 

Skeletal muscle channelopathies, many of which are inherited as autosomal dominant mutations, include myotonia and periodic paralysis. Myotonia is defined by a delayed relaxation after muscular contraction, whereas periodic paralysis is defined by episodic attacks of weakness. One sub-type of periodic paralysis, known as hypokalemic periodic paralysis (hypoPP), is associated with low potassium levels. Interestingly, the P1158S missense mutant, located in the third domain S4-S5 linker of the “skeletal muscle”, Nav1.4, has been implicated in causing both myotonia and hypoPP. A common trigger for these conditions is physical activity. We previously reported that Nav1.4 is relatively insensitive to changes in extracellular pH compared to Nav1.2 and Nav1.5. Given that intense exercise is often accompanied by blood acidosis, we decided to test whether changes in pH would push gating in P1158S towards either phenotype. Our results suggest that, unlike in WT-Nav1.4, low pH depolarizes the voltage-dependence of activation and steady-state fast inactivation, decreases current density, and increases late currents in P1185S. Thus, P1185S turns the normally pH-insensitive Nav1.4 into a proton-sensitive channel. Using action potential modeling we predict a pH-to-phenotype correlation in patients with P1158S. We conclude that activities which alter blood pH may trigger the noted phenotypes in P1158S patients.

Document type: 
Article

Inhibitory Effects of Cannabidiol on Voltage-Dependent Sodium Currents

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-09-14
Abstract: 

Cannabis sativa contains many related compounds known as phytocannabinoids. The main psychoactive and nonpsychoactive compounds are Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), respectively. Much of the evidence for clinical efficacy of CBD-mediated antiepileptic effects has been from case reports or smaller surveys. The mechanisms for CBD's anticonvulsant effects are unclear and likely involve noncannabinoid receptor pathways. CBD is reported to modulate several ion channels, including sodium channels (Nav). Evaluating the therapeutic mechanisms and safety of CBD demands a richer understanding of its interactions with central nervous system targets. Here, we used voltage-clamp electrophysiology of HEK-293 cells and iPSC neurons to characterize the effects of CBD on Nav channels. Our results show that CBD inhibits hNav1.1–1.7 currents, with an IC50 of 1.9–3.8 μM, suggesting that this inhibition could occur at therapeutically relevant concentrations. A steep Hill slope of ∼3 suggested multiple interactions of CBD with Nav channels. CBD exhibited resting-state blockade, became more potent at depolarized potentials, and also slowed recovery from inactivation, supporting the idea that CBD binding preferentially stabilizes inactivated Nav channel states. We also found that CBD inhibits other voltage-dependent currents from diverse channels, including bacterial homomeric Nav channel (NaChBac) and voltage-gated potassium channel subunit Kv2.1. Lastly, the CBD block of Nav was temperature-dependent, with potency increasing at lower temperatures. We conclude that CBD's mode of action likely involves 1) compound partitioning in lipid membranes, which alters membrane fluidity affecting gating, and 2) undetermined direct interactions with sodium and potassium channels, whose combined effects are loss of channel excitability. 

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