A 49-year-old man developed recurrent myalgia and hyperCKemia during acute attacks of neuromyelitis optica. Muscle biopsy was performed, and the pathological findings were analyzed. Predominant myofibrillar pathology was observed, which constitutes a unique finding that has not been reported before. This case result shows that neuromyelitis optica-associated hyperCKemia can produce variable pathologic phenotypes. Further studies are needed to elucidate the relationship between myofibril destruction and aquaporin 4 autoimmunity.
The choroid plexus (CP) consists of specialized ependymal cells and underlying blood vessels and stroma producing the bulk of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CP epithelial cells are considered the site of the internal blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier, show epithelial characteristics (basal lamina, tight junctions), and express aquaporin-1 (AQP1) apically. In this study, we analyzed the expression of aquaporins in the human CP using immunofluorescence and qPCR. As previously reported, AQP1 was expressed apically in CP epithelial cells. Surprisingly, and previously unknown, many cells in the CP epithelium were also positive for aquaporin-4 (AQP4), normally restricted to ventricle-lining ependymal cells and astrocytes in the brain. Expression of AQP1 and AQP4 was found in the CP of all eight body donors investigated (3 males, 5 females; age 74-91). These results were confirmed by qPCR, and by electron microscopy detecting orthogonal arrays of particles. To find out whether AQP4 expression correlated with the expression pattern of relevant transport-related proteins we also investigated expression of NKCC1, and Na/K-ATPase. Immunostaining with NKCC1 was similar to AQP1 and revealed no particular pattern related to AQP4. Co-staining of AQP4 and Na/K-ATPase indicated a trend for an inverse correlation of their expression. We hypothesized that AQP4 expression in the CP was caused by age-related changes. To address this, we investigated mouse brains from young (2 months), adult (12 months) and old (30 months) mice. We found a significant increase of AQP4 on the mRNA level in old mice compared to young and adult animals. Taken together, we provide evidence for AQP4 expression in the CP of the aging brain which likely contributes to the water flow through the CP epithelium and CSF production. In two alternative hypotheses, we discuss this as a beneficial compensatory, or a detrimental mechanism influencing the previously observed CSF changes during aging.
In the past, water homeostasis of the brain was understood as a certain quantitative equilibrium of water content between intravascular, interstitial, and intracellular spaces governed mostly by hydrostatic effects i.e., strictly by physical laws. The recent achievements in molecular bioscience have led to substantial changes in this regard. Some new concepts elaborate the idea that all compartments involved in cerebral fluid homeostasis create a functional continuum with an active and precise regulation of fluid exchange between them rather than only serving as separate fluid receptacles with mere passive diffusion mechanisms, based on hydrostatic pressure. According to these concepts, aquaporin-4 (AQP4) plays the central role in cerebral fluid homeostasis, acting as a water channel protein. The AQP4 not only enables water permeability through the blood-brain barrier but also regulates water exchange between perivascular spaces and the rest of the glymphatic system, described as pan-cerebral fluid pathway interlacing macroscopic cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) spaces with the interstitial fluid of brain tissue. With regards to this, AQP4 makes water shift strongly dependent on active processes including changes in cerebral microcirculation and autoregulation of brain vessels capacity. In this paper, the role of the AQP4 as the gatekeeper, regulating the water exchange between intracellular space, glymphatic system (including the so-called neurovascular units), and intravascular compartment is reviewed. In addition, the new concepts of brain edema as a misbalance in water homeostasis are critically appraised based on the newly described role of AQP4 for fluid permeation. Finally, the relevance of these hypotheses for clinical conditions (including brain trauma and stroke) and for both new and old therapy concepts are analyzed.