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Volume 10 Issue 2, February 2014

Cover image supplied by Carlos Barcia at the Institute of Neuroscience and School of Medicine, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain. Glial network in the human cortex. Astrocytes with their long processes are immunostained with GFAP antibodies, and microglia with their shorter processes are visualized with IBA1 antibodies. Glial cells form an extensive and uniform network along the brain parenchyma that is crucial for the correct functioning of the CNS. Research on glial cells provides important insights into the pathogenesis of many neurodegenerative diseases and neurological disorders.

Research Highlight

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In Brief

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Research Highlight

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In Brief

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Year in Review

  • Over the past year, we have witnessed major advances in several areas of epilepsy research, including genetics and disease mechanisms, neurodevelopmental effects of antiepileptic drugs, and new therapeutic approaches based on closed-loop neurostimulator systems. The findings have important implications both for clinical practice and for future research.

    • Frances E. Jensen
    Year in Review
  • When the motor symptoms of Parkinson disease (PD) manifest, the underlying pathological processes have already caused irreversible damage. Research breakthroughs in 2013 support the importance of diagnosing PD in the prodromal phase, suggest biomarkers that could help in identifying patients at high risk of PD, and improve upon current deep brain stimulation strategies.

    • François Tison
    • Wassilios G. Meissner
    Year in Review
  • Clinical trials in stroke intervention during the past year have yielded contrasting results. Endovascular therapies and procedures to reduce stroke risk caused by patent foramen ovale have failed to demonstrate superiority over standard medical treatments. By contrast, a trial of neuroprotection—traditionally thought to be ineffective in humans—offers hope.

    • Michael Tymianski
    Year in Review
  • In 2013, two discoveries—that alkylating agent chemotherapy prolongs survival when added to radiotherapy for patients with anaplastic oligodendroglial tumours with 1p19q codeletion, and that bevacizumab prolongs progression-free survival in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma—have dominated debate in neuro-oncology. These findings could help to define new standards of care in malignant glioma.

    • Michael Weller
    • Wolfgang Wick
    Year in Review
  • Genetic research in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is gaining momentum. Following the discovery of a repeat expansion in the gene C9 open reading frame 72 (C9orf72), three major genes and associated disease mechanisms and inclusion body pathologies have emerged, paving the way for personalized medicine in FTLD.

    • Julie van der Zee
    • Christine Van Broeckhoven
    Year in Review
  • 2013 witnessed advances in many aspects of multiple sclerosis (MS) research. Two studies highlighted a potential role for salt as an MS trigger, and one immunomodulatory drug performed well in clinical trials. Moreover, treatment effects of MS drugs were shown to correlate inversely with brain atrophy and disease progression.

    • Xavier Montalban
    • Mar Tintoré
    Year in Review
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Review Article

  • Considerable phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity exists among the neurodevelopmental disorders described by the term autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which presents a challenge to treatment. Shafali and Geschwind outline the latest advances in genetic methods to identify and detect ASD-associated variants, and consider three themes—single-gene disorders, the gender bias in ASD, and neurological comorbidites—that could enable improved definition of ASD subgroups and understanding of disease aetiology.

    • Shafali S. Jeste
    • Daniel H. Geschwind
    Review Article
  • The neurobiology of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is complex and heterogeneous. Although valuable insights into the neural substrates of ASD have been gained in the past decade, the low specificity of neuroimaging measures has hampered the development of ASD biomarkers that are suitable for efficient patient stratification and application in translational research. Ecker and Murphy review recent progress in developing more-specific neuroimaging markers for ASD, and argue for a multidisciplinary approach to enable integration of the findings into translational research.

    • Christine Ecker
    • Declan Murphy
    Review Article
  • Lewy body diseases are characterized by aggregates of misfolded α-synuclein within the neuronal cytoplasm. Here, Lee and colleagues review the growing evidence that aberrant α-synuclein is released by neurons into the extracellular milieu and taken up by neighbouring neurons and microglia. They describe how this novel source of α-synuclein could be involved in the pathogenesis of Lewy body diseases, and outline potential therapeutic stratgies to target extracellular α-synuclein.

    • He-Jin Lee
    • Eun-Jin Bae
    • Seung-Jae Lee
    Review Article
  • Disorders of consciousness (DOC) present clinical challenges of diagnosis and treatment, but also provide unique opportunities for fundamental scientific research into the nature of human consciousness. Giacino et al. review recent advances in the neurobiology, diagnosis and treatment of DOC, including the use of novel neuroimaging and electrophysiological assessments. They also discuss the medicolegal and ethical issues surrounding these advances that will influence the medical care of patients with DOC.

    • Joseph T. Giacino
    • Joseph J. Fins
    • Nicholas D. Schiff
    Review Article
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Opinion

  • The past few years have seen the identification of a growing number of risk factors for Alzheimer disease (AD). In this Perspectives article, the authors discuss the evidence for a bidirectional relationship between disrupted sleep patterns and amyloid-β accumulation, and the potential implications for disease progression in AD.

    • Yo-El S. Ju
    • Brendan P. Lucey
    • David M. Holtzman
    Opinion
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