Suciu, Ilinca

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Suciu
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Ilinca
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Distinct and Dynamic Transcriptome Adaptations of iPSC-Generated Astrocytes after Cytokine Stimulation

2022, Spreng, Anna-Sophie, Brüll, Markus, Leisner, Heidrun, Suciu, Ilinca, Leist, Marcel

Astrocytes (ACs) do not only play a role in normal neurogenesis and brain homeostasis, but also in inflammatory and neurodevelopmental disorders. We studied here the different patterns of inflammatory activation triggered by cytokines in human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived ACs. An optimized differentiation protocol provided non-inflamed ACs. These cells reacted to TNFα with a rapid translocation of NFκB, while AC precursors showed little response. Transcriptome changes were quantified at seven time points (2-72 h) after stimulation with TNFα, IFNγ or TNFα plus IFNγ. TNFα triggered a strong response within 2 h. It peaked from 12-24 h and reverted towards the ground state after 72 h. Activation by IFNγ was also rapid, but the response pattern differed from that of TNFα. For instance, several chemokines up-regulated by TNFα were not affected by IFNγ. Instead, MHC-II-related antigen presentation was drastically enhanced. The combination of the two cytokines led to a stronger and more persistent response. For instance, TRIB3 up-regulation by the combination of TNFα plus IFNγ may have slowed NFκB inactivation. Additionally, highly synergistic regulation was observed for inflammation modifiers, such as CASP4, and for STAT1-controlled genes. The combination of the cytokines also increased oxidative stress markers (e.g., CHAC1), led to phenotypic changes in ACs and triggered markers related to cell death. In summary, these data demonstrate that there is a large bandwidth of pro-inflammatory AC states, and that single markers are not suitable to describe AC activation or their modulation in disease, development and therapy.

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A human stem cell-derived test system for agents modifying neuronal N-methyl-D-aspartate-type glutamate receptor Ca2+-signalling

2021-05, Klima, Stefanie, Brüll, Markus, Spreng, Anna-Sophie, Suciu, Ilinca, Falt, Tjalda, Schwamborn, Jens C., Waldmann, Tanja, Karreman, Christiaan, Leist, Marcel

Methods to assess neuronal receptor functions are needed in toxicology and for drug development. Human-based test systems that allow studies on glutamate signalling are still scarce. To address this issue, we developed and characterized pluripotent stem cell (PSC)-based neural cultures capable of forming a functional network. Starting from a stably proliferating neuroepithelial stem cell (NESC) population, we generate "mixed cortical cultures" (MCC) within 24 days. Characterization by immunocytochemistry, gene expression profiling and functional tests (multi-electrode arrays) showed that MCC contain various functional neurotransmitter receptors, and in particular, the N-methyl-D-aspartate subtype of ionotropic glutamate receptors (NMDA-R). As this important receptor is found neither on conventional neural cell lines nor on most stem cell-derived neurons, we focused here on the characterization of rapid glutamate-triggered Ca2+ signalling. Changes of the intracellular free calcium ion concentration ([Ca2+]i) were measured by fluorescent imaging as the main endpoint, and a method to evaluate and quantify signals in hundreds of cells at the same time was developed. We observed responses to glutamate in the low µM range. MCC responded to kainate and α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA), and a subpopulation of 50% had functional NMDA-R. The receptor was modulated by Mg2+, Zn2+ and Pb2+ in the expected ways, and various toxicologically relevant agonists (quinolinic acid, ibotenic acid, domoic acid) triggered [Ca2+]i responses in MCC. Antagonists, such as phencyclidine, ketamine and dextromethorphan, were also readily identified. Thus, the MCC developed here may fill an important gap in the panel of test systems available to characterize the effects of chemicals on neurotransmitter receptors.

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Functional alterations by a subgroup of neonicotinoid pesticides in human dopaminergic neurons

2021-06, Loser, Dominik, Hinojosa, Maria G., Blum, Jonathan, Schaefer, Jasmin, Brüll, Markus, Johansson, Ylva, Suciu, Ilinca, Grillberger, Karin, Danker, Timm, Leist, Marcel

Neonicotinoid pesticides, originally developed to target the insect nervous system, have been reported to interact with human receptors and to activate rodent neurons. Therefore, we evaluated in how far these compounds may trigger signaling in human neurons, and thus, affect the human adult or developing nervous system. We used SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells as established model of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) signaling. In parallel, we profiled dopaminergic neurons, generated from LUHMES neuronal precursor cells, as novel system to study nAChR activation in human post-mitotic neurons. Changes of the free intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) were used as readout, and key findings were confirmed by patch clamp recordings. Nicotine triggered typical neuronal signaling responses that were blocked by antagonists, such as tubocurarine and mecamylamine. Pharmacological approaches suggested a functional expression of α7 and non-α7 nAChRs on LUHMES cells. In this novel test system, the neonicotinoids acetamiprid, imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiacloprid, but not thiamethoxam and dinotefuran, triggered [Ca2+]i signaling at 10-100 µM. Strong synergy of the active neonicotinoids (at low micromolar concentrations) with the α7 nAChR-positive allosteric modulator PNU-120596 was observed in LUHMES and SH-SY5Y cells, and specific antagonists fully inhibited such signaling. To provide a third line of evidence for neonicotinoid signaling via nAChR, we studied cross-desensitization: pretreatment of LUHMES and SH-SY5Y cells with active neonicotinoids (at 1-10 µM) blunted the signaling response of nicotine. The pesticides (at 3-30 µM) also blunted the response to the non-α7 agonist ABT 594 in LUHMES cells. These data show that human neuronal cells are functionally affected by low micromolar concentrations of several neonicotinoids. An effect of such signals on nervous system development is a toxicological concern.

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Human neuronal signaling and communication assays to assess functional neurotoxicity

2021-01, Loser, Dominik, Schaefer, Jasmin, Danker, Timm, Möller, Clemens, Brüll, Markus, Suciu, Ilinca, Ückert, Anna-Katharina, Klima, Stefanie, Leist, Marcel, Kraushaar, Udo

Prediction of drug toxicity on the human nervous system still relies mainly on animal experiments. Here, we developed an alternative system allowing assessment of complex signaling in both individual human neurons and on the network level. The LUHMES cultures used for our approach can be cultured in 384-well plates with high reproducibility. We established here high-throughput quantification of free intracellular Ca2+ concentrations [Ca2+]i as broadly applicable surrogate of neuronal activity and verified the main processes by patch clamp recordings. Initially, we characterized the expression pattern of many neuronal signaling components and selected the purinergic receptors to demonstrate the applicability of the [Ca2+]i signals for quantitative characterization of agonist and antagonist responses on classical ionotropic neurotransmitter receptors. This included receptor sub-typing and the characterization of the anti-parasitic drug suramin as modulator of the cellular response to ATP. To exemplify potential studies on ion channels, we characterized voltage-gated sodium channels and their inhibition by tetrodotoxin, saxitoxin and lidocaine, as well as their opening by the plant alkaloid veratridine and the food-relevant marine biotoxin ciguatoxin. Even broader applicability of [Ca2+]i quantification as an end point was demonstrated by measurements of dopamine transporter activity based on the membrane potential-changing activity of this neurotransmitter carrier. The substrates dopamine or amphetamine triggered [Ca2+]i oscillations that were synchronized over the entire culture dish. We identified compounds that modified these oscillations by interfering with various ion channels. Thus, this new test system allows multiple types of neuronal signaling, within and between cells, to be assessed, quantified and characterized for their potential disturbance.

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A human stem cell-derived test system for agents modifying neuronal N-methyl-D-aspartate-type glutamate receptor Ca2+-signalling

2021-05, Klima, Stefanie, Brüll, Markus, Spreng, Anna-Sophie, Suciu, Ilinca, Falt, Tjalda, Schwamborn, Jens C., Waldmann, Tanja, Karreman, Christiaan, Leist, Marcel

Methods to assess neuronal receptor functions are needed in toxicology and for drug development. Human-based test systems that allow studies on glutamate signalling are still scarce. To address this issue, we developed and characterized pluripotent stem cell (PSC)-based neural cultures capable of forming a functional network. Starting from a stably proliferating neuroepithelial stem cell (NESC) population, we generate "mixed cortical cultures" (MCC) within 24 days. Characterization by immunocytochemistry, gene expression profiling and functional tests (multi-electrode arrays) showed that MCC contain various functional neurotransmitter receptors, and in particular, the N-methyl-D-aspartate subtype of ionotropic glutamate receptors (NMDA-R). As this important receptor is found neither on conventional neural cell lines nor on most stem cell-derived neurons, we focused here on the characterization of rapid glutamate-triggered Ca2+ signalling. Changes of the intracellular free calcium ion concentration ([Ca2+]i) were measured by fluorescent imaging as the main endpoint, and a method to evaluate and quantify signals in hundreds of cells at the same time was developed. We observed responses to glutamate in the low µM range. MCC responded to kainate and α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA), and a subpopulation of 50% had functional NMDA-R. The receptor was modulated by Mg2+, Zn2+ and Pb2+ in the expected ways, and various toxicologically relevant agonists (quinolinic acid, ibotenic acid, domoic acid) triggered [Ca2+]i responses in MCC. Antagonists, such as phencyclidine, ketamine and dextromethorphan, were also readily identified. Thus, the MCC developed here may fill an important gap in the panel of test systems available to characterize the effects of chemicals on neurotransmitter receptors.