Tremor is the most common movement disorder and is often highly disabling. How these rhythmic movements are generated from the abnormal brain circuitry is still poorly understood. Among tremor disorders, essential tremor (ET) is the most common and a prototypical disorder for tremor. Recent postmortem human pathology studies have shown that ET might be a disease of cerebellar synaptic pathology. Specifically, there is abnormal synaptic formation between climbing fibers (CFs) and Purkinje cells (PCs) in the cerebellar cortex of ET patients. To further investigate the pathophysiology between this PC synaptic pathology and tremor, we established a mouse model with ET-like PC synaptic pathology and found that this mouse model develops age-related kinetic tremor that responds to primidone, propranolol, and alcohol, similar to ET patients. However, the detailed pathophysiology remains obscure. Therefore, we propose a series of experiments to study the relationship between PC synaptic pathology, PC physiology and tremor in this novel mouse model.
In Specific Aim 1, we will use optogenetic approaches to inhibit PC activities in our novel tremor mouse model and observe whether tremor could be suppressed. In addition, we will optogenetically enhance PC activities at different frequencies and observe whether this manipulation will create tremor in wild type mice.
In Specific Aim 2, we will determine how the PC synaptic pathology interacts with PC degenerative changes, which could modulate tremor characteristics (frequency and amplitude) and the corresponding cerebellar physiology in our tremor mouse model during tremor onset and tremor progression.
In Specific Aim 3, we will manipulate molecules controlling PC synaptic organization to pinpoint how specific PC synaptic pathology and PC physiology can regulate tremor. We have developed methods to study anatomical PC synaptic organization and to simultaneously record PC responses during tremor in freely moving mice, which will allow us to perform detailed examination of how the PC activity relates to tremor characteristics. Our study will thus provide important insights into the pathophysiology of tremor.

Public Health Relevance

Tremor is the most common movement disorder and how tremor is generated from the abnormal brain circuitry is poorly understood. Currently, the treatment options for tremor disorders are limited; therefore, many people with tremor are impaired in their personal and professional lives. The proposed research will elucidate the underlying brain circuitry for tremor and will lay the foundation for therapy development of tremor.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Project (R01)
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Clinical Neuroplasticity and Neurotransmitters Study Section (CNNT)
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Chen, Daofen
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Columbia University (N.Y.)
Schools of Medicine
New York
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Pan, Ming-Kai; Ni, Chun-Lun; Wu, Yeuh-Chi et al. (2018) Animal Models of Tremor: Relevance to Human Tremor Disorders. Tremor Other Hyperkinet Mov (N Y) 8:587
Lin, Chi-Ying; Wang, Min-Jung; Tse, Winona et al. (2018) Serum antigliadin antibodies in cerebellar ataxias: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 89:1174-1180