Comparative morphology and histochemistry of glands associated with the vomeronasal organ in humans, mouse lemurs, and voles.
The vomeronasal organ (VNO) is a chemosensory structure of the vertebrate nasal septum that has been recently shown to exist in nearly all adult humans. Although its link to reproductive behaviors has been shown in some primates, its functionality in humans is still debated. Some authors have suggested that the human VNO has the capacity to detect pheromones, while others described it as little more than a glandular pit. However, no studies have utilized histochemical techniques that would reveal whether the human VNO functions as a generalized gland duct or a specialized chemosensory organ. Nasal septal tissue from 13 humans (2-86 years old) were compared to that of two adult lemurs (Microcebus murinus) and eight adult voles (four Microtus pennsylvanicus and four Microtus ochrogaster). Sections at selected intervals of the VNO were stained with periodic acid-Schiff (PAS), alcian blue (AB), AB-PAS, and PAS-hematoxylin procedures. Results revealed typical well-developed VNOs with tubuloacinar glands in Microtus and Microcebus. VNO glands were AB-negative and PAS-positive in voles and mouse lemurs. Homo differed from Microtus and Microcebus in having more branched, AB and PAS-positive glands that emptied into the VNO lumen. Furthermore, the human VNO epithelium had unicellular mucous glands (AB and PAS-positive) and cilia, similar to respiratory epithelia. These results demonstrate unique characteristics of the human VNO which at once differs from glandular ducts (e.g., cilia) and also from the VNOs of mammals possessing demonstrably functional VNO. (+info)
Therapeutic strategies in Alzheimer's disease: M1 muscarinic agonists.
The cholinergic hypofunction in Alzheimer's disease (AD) appears to be linked with two other major hallmarks of this disease, beta-amyloid and hyperphosphorylated tau protein. Formation of beta-amyloids might impair the coupling of M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChR) with G-proteins. This can lead to decreased signal transduction, a decrease of trophic and non-amyloidogenic amyloid precursor protein (APPs) and generation of more beta-amyloids, aggravating further the cholinergic deficiency. This review is an attempt to explore the M1 mAChR regulation of beta-amyloid metabolism, tau hyperphosphorylation and cognitive functions. The therapeutic potential of M1-selective muscarinic agonists including AF102B, AF150(S), AF267B (the AF series) is evaluated and compared, when possible, with several FDA-approved acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. These M1 agonists can elevate APPs, decrease tau protein phosphorylation/hyperphosphorylation in vitro and in vivo and restore cognitive impairments in several animal models for AD. Except for the M1 agonists, no other compounds were reported yet with combined effects; e.g., amelioration of cognition dysfunction and beneficial modulation of APPs/beta-amyloid together with tau hyperphosphorylation/phosphorylation. This property of M1 agonists to alter different aspects associated with AD pathogenesis could represent the most remarkable clinical value of such drugs. (+info)
The existence of the vomeronasal organ in postnatal chimpanzees and evidence for its homology with that of humans.
It is currently thought that New World monkeys, prosimians, and humans are the only primates to possess vomeronasal organs (VNOs) as adults. Recent studies of the human VNO suggest that previous investigations on Old World primates may have missed the VNO. We examined nasal septa from the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) grossly and histologically for comparison with nasal septa from humans, Old World monkeys (Macaca fascicularis, M. nemistrina) and prosimian primates (Microcebus murinus, Otolemur garnettii). Grossly, chimpanzees had depressions on the nasal septum similar to fossae reported anterior to the VNO openings in humans. Histologically, chimpanzees and humans had bilateral epithelial tubes which were above the superior margin of the paraseptal cartilages (vomeronasal cartilage homologue). The epithelial tubes had a homogeneous ciliated epithelium. These structures were thus positionally and structurally identical to the human VNO and unlike the well-developed prosimian VNOs which were surrounded by vomeronasal cartilage. Macaques had no structures which resembled the VNO of either the prosimians or humans. The results demonstrate that the VNO is present postnatally in the chimpanzee and is almost identical to the human VNO in its anatomical position and histological structure. This in turn suggests that the reported absence of the VNO in at least some adult Old World primates is artifactual, and that further study may provide evidence for its existence in other species. (+info)
Quantitative assessment of testicular germ cell production and kinematic and morphometric parameters of ejaculated spermatozoa in the grey mouse lemur, Microcebus murinus.
Germ cell production and organization of the testicular epithelium in a prosimian species, the grey mouse lemur, Microcebus murinus, was investigated to extend knowledge of comparative primate spermatogenesis. In addition, semen samples collected from adult male lemurs (body weight 53-92 g; n = 16) by rectal probe electroejaculation were evaluated using computer-assisted morphometric and kinematic analysis of spermatozoa. Epididymidal spermatozoa were collected from six animals after hemicastration; the testes were weighed and prepared for stereological analysis and flow cytometry. The relative testis mass (as a percentage of body weight) ranged between 1.17 and 5.6%. Twelve stages of testicular seminiferous epithelium as described for macaques were applied and only a single stage was observed in most of the seminiferous tubule cross-sections. On average (mean SD), a single testis contained 1870 +/- 829 x 10(6) germ cells and 35 +/- 12 x 10(6) Sertoli cells. Germ cell ratios (preleptotene:type B spermatogonia = 2, round spermatid:pachytene = 3; elongated spermatid:round spermatids = 1) indicated high spermatogenic efficacy. Sperm head dimensions and tail lengths of the ejaculated and epididymidal spermatozoa were similar. Percentages of defects (neck/mid-piece and tail) were low ( 10%) and similar for ejaculated and epididymidal spermatozoa. Spermatozoa were highly motile, characterized by extensive lateral head displacement, but relatively low progressive motility. In conclusion, the grey mouse lemur has unusually large testes with a highly efficient spermatogenic process and large sperm output. These features, together with the high proportion of morphologically normal and highly motile spermatozoa in the ejaculates, indicate that Microcebus murinus is a species in which sperm competition after ejaculation is likely to occur. The predominantly single spermatogenic stage system seems to be an ancestral feature among primates. (+info)
Basic limb kinematics of small therian mammals.
A comparative study of quantitative kinematic data of fore- and hindlimb movements of eight different mammalian species leads to the recognition of basic principles in the locomotion of small therians. The description of kinematics comprises fore- and hindlimb movements as well as sagittal spine movements including displacement patterns of limb segments, their contribution to step length, and joint movements. The comparison of the contributions of different segments to step length clearly shows the proximal parts (scapula, femur) to produce more than half of the propulsive movement of the whole limb at symmetrical gaits. Basically, a three-segmented limb with zigzag configuration of segments is mainly displaced at the scapular pivot or hip joint, both of which have the same vertical distance to the ground. Two segments operate in matched motion during retraction of the limb. While kinematic parameters of forelimbs are independent of speed and gait (with the scapula as the dominant element), fundamental changes occur in hindlimb kinematics with the change from symmetrical to in-phase gaits. Forward motion of the hindlimbs is now mainly due to sagittal lumbar spine movements contributing to half of the step length. Kinematics of small therian mammals are independent of their systematic position, their natural habitat, and also of specific anatomical dispositions (e.g. reduction of fingers, toes, or clavicle). In contrast, the possession of a tail influences 'pelvic movements'. (+info)
Survival without recovery after mass extinctions.
Because many survivors of mass extinctions do not participate in postrecovery diversifications, and therefore fall into a pattern that can be termed "Dead Clade Walking" (DCW), the effects of mass extinctions extend beyond the losses observed during the event itself. Analyses at two taxonomic levels provide a first-order test of the prevalence of DCWs by using simple and very conservative operational criteria. For four of the Big Five mass extinctions of the Phanerozoic, the marine genera that survived the extinction suffered approximately 10-20% attrition in the immediately following geologic stage that was significantly greater than the losses sustained in preextinction stages. The stages immediately following the three Paleozoic mass extinctions also account for 17% of all order-level losses in marine invertebrates over that interval, which is, again, significantly greater than that seen for the other stratigraphic stages (no orders are lost immediately after the end-Triassic or end-Cretaceous mass extinctions). DCWs are not evenly distributed among four regional molluscan time-series following the end-Cretaceous extinction, demonstrating the importance of spatial patterns in recovery dynamics. Although biotic interactions have been invoked to explain the differential postextinction success of clades, such hypotheses must be tested against alternatives that include stochastic processes in low-diversity lineages-which is evidently not a general explanation for the ordinal DCW patterns, because postextinction fates are not related to the size of extinction bottlenecks in Paleozoic orders-and ongoing physical environmental changes. (+info)
The hidden matrilineal structure of a solitary lemur: implications for primate social evolution.
Kin selection affects many aspects of social behaviour, especially in gregarious animals in which relatives are permanently associated. In most group-living primates with complex social behaviour, females are philopatric and organized into matrilines. Models of primate social evolution assume that females in solitary primates are also organized into matrilines. We examined the genetic structure and the mating system of a population of Coquerel's dwarf lemur (Mirza coquereli), a solitary primate from Madagascar, to test this assumption. Our genetic and behavioural analyses revealed that this population of solitary individuals is indeed structured into matrilines, even though this pattern was not predicted by behavioural data. Specifically, females sharing a mitochondrial DNA haplotype were significantly clustered in space and the average genetic and geographical distances among them were negatively correlated. Not all females were philopatric, but there is no evidence for the successful settlement of dispersing females. Although not all adult males dispersed from their natal range, they were not significantly clustered in space and all of them roamed widely in search of oestrous females. As a result, paternity was widely spread among males and mixed paternities existed, indicating that scramble competition polygyny is the mating system of this species. Our data therefore revealed facultative dispersal in both sexes with a strong bias towards female philopatry in this primitive primate. We further conclude that complex kinship structures also exist in non-gregarious species, where their consequences for social behaviour are not obvious. (+info)
Ontogeny of the nasopalatine duct in primates.
Ecological explanations have been put forward to account for the precocious or delayed development of patency in ducts leading to the vomeronasal organ (VNO) in certain mammals. Perinatal function may be related, in part, to the patency or fusion of the vomeronasal and nasopalatine (NPD) ducts. However, few studies have focused on NPD development in primates, which generally have a prolonged period of dependence during infancy. In this study we examined 24 prenatal primates and 13 neonatal primates, and a comparative sample of fetal mice and insectivores. In embryonic and early fetal Microcebus murinus, the NPD was completely fused, whereas in fetuses of later stages the duct was partially fused or completely patent. M. myoxinus of all stages demonstrated some degree of NPD fusion. In all other prenatal primates, the NPD was fused to some extent. Four prenatal insectivores (Tenrec ecaudatus) showed some degree of NPD fusion. In Mus musculus at 19 days gestation, the NPD was patent, although the anatomically separate VNO duct was fused. T. ecaudatus and most of the neonatal primates revealed complete NPD patency. An exception was Saguinus geoffroyi, which exhibited fusion of the NPD near the VNO opening. These observations may relate to differences in perinatal VNO function. The differences noted in our study suggest that M. murinus and M. myoxinus may differ in perinatal VNO functionality and perhaps in related behavior. Observations of neonatal primates suggest that NPD patency may be relatively common at birth and could serve other purposes in addition to being an access route for VNO stimuli. (+info)