Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an angiogenic protein with therapeutic potential in ischemic disorders, including stroke. VEGF confers neuroprotection and promotes neurogenesis and cerebral angiogenesis, but the manner in which these effects may interact in the ischemic brain is poorly understood. We produced focal cerebral ischemia by middle cerebral artery occlusion for 90 minutes in the adult rat brain and measured infarct size, neurological function, BrdU labeling of neuroproliferative zones, and vWF-immunoreactive vascular profiles, without and with intracerebroventricular administration of VEGF on days 1–3 of reperfusion. VEGF reduced infarct size, improved neurological performance, enhanced the delayed survival of newborn neurons in the dentate gyrus and subventricular zone, and stimulated angiogenesis in the striatal ischemic penumbra, but not the dentate gyrus. We conclude that in the ischemic brain VEGF exerts an acute neuroprotective effect, as well as longer latency effects on survival of new neurons and on angiogenesis, and that these effects appear to operate independently. VEGF may, therefore, improve histological and functional outcome from stroke through multiple mechanisms.
Stroke potently stimulates cell proliferation in the subventricular zone of the lateral ventricles with subsequent neuroblast migration to the injured striatum and cortex. However, most of the cells do not survive and mature. Extracellular Wnt proteins promote adult neurogenesis in the neurogenic niches. The aim of the study was to examine the efficacy of Wnt signaling on neurogenesis and functional outcome after focal ischemic injury. Lentivirus expressing Wnt3a-HA (LV-Wnt3a-HA) or GFP (LV-GFP) was injected into the striatum or subventricular zone of mice. Five days later, focal ischemic injury was induced by injection of the vasoconstrictor endothelin-1 into the striatum of the same hemisphere. Treatment with LV-Wnt3a-HA into the striatum significantly enhanced functional recovery after ischemic injury and increased the number of BrdU-positive cells that differentiated into mature neurons in the ischemic striatum by day 28. Treatment with LV-Wnt3a-HA into the subventricular zone significantly enhanced functional recovery from the second day after injury and increased the number of immature neurons in the striatum and subventricular zone. This was accompanied by reduced dissemination of the neuronal injury. Our data indicate that Wnt signaling appears to contribute to functional recovery after ischemic injury by increasing neurogenesis or neuronal survival in the striatum.
Increasing evidence has shown the potential of neuronal plasticity in adult brain after injury. Neural proliferation can be triggered by a focal sublethal ischemic preconditioning event; whether mild global ischemia could cause neurogenesis has been not clear. The present study investigated stimulating effects of sublethal transient global ischemia (TGI) on endogenous neurogenesis and neuroblast migration in the subventricular zone (SVZ), dentate gyrus, and peri-infarct areas of the adult cortex. Adult mice of 129S2/Sv strain were subjected to 8-min bilateral common carotid artery ligation followed by 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU; 50 mg/kg, intraperitoneal) administration every day until being sacrificed at 1–21 days after reperfusion. The mild TGI did not induce neuronal cell death for up to 7 days after TGI, as evidenced by negative terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling staining among NeuN-positive cells in the hippocampus and neocortex. In TGI animals, BrdU staining revealed enhanced proliferation of neuroblasts and their migration track from the SVZ into the striatum and neocortex. In the corpus callosum, there were more BrdU-positive cells in the TGI group in the first 2 days. Increasing numbers of BrdU-positive cells were seen 7–21 days later in the striatum and cortex of TGI mice. The cortex of TGI animals showed increased expression of erythropoietin, erythropoietin receptor, fibroblast growth factor 2, vascular endothelial growth factor, and phosphorylated Jun N-terminal kinase; the expression was peaked 2 to 3 days after reperfusion. BrdU and NeuN double staining in the dentate gyrus, striatum, and cortex implied increased neurogenesis induced by the TGI preconditioning. Doublecortin (DCX)-positive cells increased in the cortex of TGI mice, localized to cortical layers II, III, and V, and many stained positive for the mature neuronal markers NeuN, neurofilament, N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptor subunit gene NR1, or the gamma-aminobutyric-acid-synthesizing enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD67). The atypical localization of DCX-positive cells and the colabeling with mature neuronal markers suggested that, in addition to indentifying migrating neuroblasts, DCX might also be a stress marker in the cortex. It is suggested that the sublethal TGI-induced regenerative responses may contribute to the beneficial effects of ischemic preconditioning.
Transient global ischemia; Neuroblasts; Neurogenesis; Cell migration; Doublecortin (DCX); Subventricular zone (SVZ)
The stabilization of new spines in the barrel cortex is enhanced after whisker trimming, but its relationship to experience-dependent plasticity is unclear. Here we show that in wild type mice whisker potentiation and spine stabilization is most pronounced for layer 5 neurons at the border between spared and deprived barrel columns. In homozygote αCaMKII-T286A mice, which lack experience-dependent potentiation of responses to spared whiskers, there is no increase in new spine stabilization at the border between barrel columns after whisker trimming. Our data provide a causal link between new spine synapses and plasticity of adult cortical circuits and suggest that αCaMKII autophosphorylation plays a role in the stabilization but not formation of new spines.
dendritic spine; in vivo imaging; 2-photon; receptive field plasticity; barrel cortex; perceptual learning
In the healthy adult brain, neurogenesis normally occurs in the subventricular zone (SVZ) and hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG). Cerebral ischemia enhances neurogenesis in neurogenic and non-neurogenic regions of the ischemic brain of adult rodents. The present study demonstrated that post-insult treatment with an HDAC inhibitor, sodium butyrate (SB), stimulated the incorporation of bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU) in the SVZ, DG, striatum, and frontal cortex in the ischemic brain of rats subjected to permanent cerebral ischemia. SB treatment also increased the number of cells expressing polysialic acid-neural cell adhesion molecule (PSA-NCAM), nestin, GFAP, phospho-CREB, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in various brain regions after cerebral ischemia. Furthermore, extensive co-localization of BrdU and PSA-NCAM was observed in multiple regions after ischemia, and SB treatment upregulated protein levels of BDNF, phospho-CREB and GFAP. Intraventricular injection of K252a, a TrkB receptor antagonist, markedly reduced SB-induced cell proliferation detected by BrdU and Ki67 in the ipsilateral SVZ, DG and other brain regions, blocked SB-induced nestin expression and CREB activation, and attenuated the long-lasting behavioral benefits of SB. Together, these results suggest that HDAC inhibitor-induced cell proliferation, migration and differentiation require BDNF-TrkB signaling and may contribute to SB’s long-term beneficial effects after ischemic injury.
HDAC inhibitors; cerebral ischemia; neurogenesis; BrdU; BDNF; K252a
Development of whisker-specific neural patterns in the rodent somatosensory system requires NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-mediated activity. In cortex-specific NR1 knockout (CxNR1KO) mice, while thalamocortical afferents (TCAs) develop rudimentary whisker-specific patterns in the primary somatosensory (barrel) cortex, layer IV cells do not develop barrels or orient their dendrites towards TCAs. To determine the role of postsynaptic NMDARs in presynaptic afferent development and patterning in the barrel cortex, we examined the single TCA arbors in CxNR1KO mice between postnatal days (P) 1–7. Sparsely branched TCAs invade the cortical plate on P1 in CxNR1KO mice as in control mice. In control animals, TCAs progressively elaborate patchy terminals, mostly restricted to layer IV. In CxNR1KO mice, TCAs develop far more extensive arbors between P3–7. Their lateral extent is twice that of controls from P3 onwards. By P7, CxNR1KO TCAs have significantly fewer branch points and terminal endings in layers IV and VI but more in layers II/III and V than control mouse TCAs. Within expansive terminal arbors, CxNR1KO TCAs develop focal terminal densities in layer IV, corresponding to the rudimentary whisker-specific patches. Given that thalamic NMDARs are spared in CxNR1KO mice, the present results show that postsynaptic NMDARs play an important role in refinement of presynaptic afferent arbors and whisker-specific patterning in the developing barrel cortex.
barrels; barreloids; trigeminal system; somatosensory cortex; region-specific gene knockout
Ischemic stroke is a leading cause of death and disability, but treatment options are severely limited. Cell therapy offers an attractive strategy for regenerating lost tissues and enhancing the endogenous healing process. In this study, we investigated the use of human embryonic stem cell-derived neural precursors as a cell therapy in a murine stroke model.
Neural precursors were derived from human embryonic stem cells by using a fully adherent SMAD inhibition protocol employing small molecules. The efficiency of neural induction and the ability of these cells to further differentiate into neurons were assessed by using immunocytochemistry. Whole-cell patch-clamp recording was used to demonstrate the electrophysiological activity of human embryonic stem cell-derived neurons. Neural precursors were transplanted into the core and penumbra regions of a focal ischemic stroke in the barrel cortex of mice. Animals received injections of bromodeoxyuridine to track regeneration. Neural differentiation of the transplanted cells and regenerative markers were measured by using immunohistochemistry. The adhesive removal test was used to determine functional improvement after stroke and intervention.
After 11 days of neural induction by using the small-molecule protocol, over 95% of human embryonic stem-derived cells expressed at least one neural marker. Further in vitro differentiation yielded cells that stained for mature neuronal markers and exhibited high-amplitude, repetitive action potentials in response to depolarization. Neuronal differentiation also occurred after transplantation into the ischemic cortex. A greater level of bromodeoxyuridine co-localization with neurons was observed in the penumbra region of animals receiving cell transplantation. Transplantation also improved sensory recovery in transplant animals over that in control animals.
Human embryonic stem cell-derived neural precursors derived by using a highly efficient small-molecule SMAD inhibition protocol can differentiate into electrophysiologically functional neurons in vitro. These cells also differentiate into neurons in vivo, enhance regenerative activities, and improve sensory recovery after ischemic stroke.
Human embryonic stem cell; Neural precursor; Electrophysiology; Stem cell; Cell therapy; Ischemic stroke; Neurogenesis; Small molecule
Regulation of gene transcription by neuronal activity is thought to be key to the translation of sensory experience into long-term changes in synaptic structure and function. Here we show that cpg15, a gene encoding an extracellular signaling molecule that promotes dendritic and axonal growth and synaptic maturation, is regulated in the somatosensory cortex by sensory experience capable of inducing cortical plasticity. Using in situ hybridization, we monitored cpg15 expression in 4-week-old mouse barrel cortex after trimming all whiskers except D1. We found that cpg15 expression is depressed in the deprived barrels and enhanced in the barrel column corresponding to the spared D1 whisker. Changes in cpg15 mRNA levels first appear in layer IV, peak 12 h after deprivation, and then decline rapidly. In layers II/III, changes in cpg15 expression appear later, peak at 24 h, and persist for days. Induction of cpg15 expression is significantly diminished in adolescent as well as adult CREB knockout mice. cpg15's spatio-temporal expression pattern and its regulation by CREB are consistent with a role in experience-dependent plasticity of cortical circuits. Our results suggest that local structural and/or synaptic changes may be a mechanism by which the adult cortex can adapt to peripheral manipulations.
barrel cortex; cpg15; deprivation; experience-dependent plasticity
It is well known that focal ischemia increases neurogenesis in the adult dentate gyrus of the hippocampal formation but the cellular mechanisms underlying this proliferative response are only poorly understood. We here investigated whether precursor cells which constitutively proliferate before the ischemic infarct contribute to post-ischemic neurogenesis. To this purpose, transgenic mice expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the control of the nestin promoter received repetitive injections of the proliferation marker bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) prior to induction of cortical infarcts. We then immunocytochemically analyzed the fate of these BrdU-positive precursor cell subtypes from day 4 to day 28 after the lesion.
Quantification of BrdU-expressing precursor cell populations revealed no alteration in number of radial glia-like type 1 cells but a sequential increase of later precursor cell subtypes in lesioned animals (type 2a cells at day 7, type 3 cells/immature neurons at day 14). These alterations result in an enhanced survival of mature neurons 4 weeks postinfarct.
Focal cortical infarcts recruit dentate precursor cells generated already before the infarct and significantly contribute to an enhanced neurogenesis. Our findings thereby increase our understanding of the complex cellular mechanisms of postlesional neurogenesis.
Disruption and consequent reorganization of central nervous system circuits following traumatic brain injury may manifest as functional deficits and behavioral morbidities. We previously reported axotomy and neuronal atrophy in the ventral basal (VB) complex of the thalamus, without gross degeneration after experimental diffuse brain injury in adult rats. Pathology in VB coincided with the development of late-onset aberrant behavioral responses to whisker stimulation, which lead to the current hypothesis that neurodegeneration after experimental diffuse brain injury includes the primary somatosensory barrel cortex (S1BF), which receives projection of VB neurons and mediates whisker somatosensation. Over 28 days after midline fluid percussion brain injury, argyrophilic reaction product within superficial layers and layer IV barrels at 1 day progresses into the cortex to subcortical white matter by 7 days, and selective inter-barrel septa and subcortical white matter labeling at 28 days. Cellular consequences were determined by stereological estimates of neuronal nuclear volumes and number. In all cortical layers, neuronal nuclear volumes significantly atrophied by 42–49% at 7 days compared to sham, which marginally attenuated by 28 days. Concomitantly, the number of healthy neurons was reduced by 34–45% at 7 days compared to sham, returning to control levels by 28 days. Progressive neurodegeneration, including argyrophilic reaction product and neuronal nuclear atrophy, indicates injury-induced damage and reorganization of the reciprocal thalamocortical projections that mediate whisker somatosensation. The rodent whisker barrel circuit may serve as a discrete model to evaluate the causes and consequences of circuit reorganization after diffuse brain injury.
Disector; Fractionator; Nucleator
Cortical surface evoked potentials (SEPs) are larger during sleep and characterize a sleep-like state in cortical columns. Since tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF) may be involved in sleep regulation and is produced as a consequence of waking activity, we tested the hypothesis that direct application of TNF to the cortex will induce a sleep-like state within cortical columns and enhance SEP amplitudes. We found that microinjection of TNF onto the surface of the somatosensory cortex enhanced whisker stimulation-induced SEP amplitude relative to a control heat-inactivated TNF microinjection. We also determined if whisker stimulation enhanced endogenous TNF expression. TNF immunoreactivity (IR) was visualized after 2 h of bilateral deflection of a single whisker bilaterally. The number of TNF-IR cells increased in layers II–IV of the activated somatosensory barrel column. In two separate studies, unilateral deflection of multiple whiskers for 2 h increased the number of TNF-IR cells in layers II–V in columns that also exhibited enhanced Fos-IR. TNF-IR also colocalized with NeuN-IR suggesting that TNF expression was in neurons. Collectively these data are consistent with the hypotheses that TNF is produced in response to neural activity and in turn enhances the probability of a local sleep-like state as determined by increases in SEP amplitudes.
barrel field; evoked response potentials; surface evoked potentials; local sleep; cortical columns; cytokine
Neurogenesis increases in the adult rodent forebrain subventricular zone (SVZ) after experimental stroke. Newborn neurons migrate to the injured striatum, but few survive long-term and little evidence exists to suggest that they integrate or contribute to functional recovery. One potential strategy to improve stroke recovery is to stimulate neurogenesis and integration of adult-born neurons by using treatments that enhance neurogenesis. We examined the influence of retinoic acid (RA), which stimulates neonatal SVZ and adult hippocampal neurogenesis, and environmental enrichment (EE), which enhances survival of adult-born hippocampal neurons. We hypothesized that the combination of RA and EE would promote survival of adult-generated SVZ-derived neurons and improve functional recovery after stroke. Adult rats underwent middle cerebral artery occlusion, received BrdU on days 5–11 after stroke and were treated with RA/EE, RA alone, EE/vehicle or vehicle alone and were killed 61 days after stroke. Rats underwent repeated MRI and behavioral testing. We found that RA/EE treatment preserved striatal and hemisphere tissue and increased SVZ neurogenesis as demonstrated by Ki67 and doublecortin (DCx) immunolabeling. All treatments influenced the location of BrdU- and DCx-positive cells in the post-stroke striatum. RA/EE increased the number of BrdU/NeuN-positive cells in the injured striatum but did not lead to improvements in behavioral function. These results demonstrate that combined pharmacotherapy and behavioral manipulation enhances post-stroke striatal neurogenesis and decreases infarct volume without promoting detectable functional recovery. Further study of the integration of adult-born neurons in the ischemic striatum is necessary to determine their restorative potential.
subventricular zone; neurogenesis; stroke; focal ischemia; regeneration; doublecortin; retinoic acid; environmental enrichment; striatum; neural cell proliferation
Loss of a sensory input causes the hypersensitivity in other modalities. In addition to cross-modal plasticity, the sensory cortices without receiving inputs undergo the plastic changes. It is not clear how the different types of neurons and synapses in the sensory cortex coordinately change after input deficits in order to prevent loss of their functions and to be used for other modalities. We studied this subject in the barrel cortices from whiskers-trimmed mice vs. controls. After whisker trimming for a week, the intrinsic properties of pyramidal neurons and the transmission of excitatory synapses were upregulated in the barrel cortex, but inhibitory neurons and GABAergic synapses were downregulated. The morphological analyses indicated that the number of processes and spines in pyramidal neurons increased, whereas the processes of GABAergic neurons decreased in the barrel cortex. The upregulation of excitatory neurons and the downregulation of inhibitory neurons boost the activity of network neurons in the barrel cortex to be high levels, which prevent the loss of their functions and enhances their sensitivity to sensory inputs. These changes may prepare for attracting the innervations from sensory cortices and/or peripheral nerves for other modalities during cross-modal plasticity.
Neural plasticity; Neuron; Synapse; GABA; Glutamate; Barrel cortex and whisker
The present series of experiments assessed how information from the whiskers controls and modulates infant rat behavior during early learning and attachment. Passive vibrissal stimulation can elicit behavioral activity in pups throughout the first two postnatal weeks, although orienting to the source of stimulation is evident only after ontogenetic emergence of whisking. In addition, while pups were capable of demonstrating learning in a classical conditioning paradigm pairing vibrissa stimulation with electric shock, no corresponding changes were detected in the anatomy of the barrel cortex as determined by cytochrome oxidase (CO) staining. Finally, the role of whiskers in a more naturalistic setting was determined in postnatal day (PN)3–5 and PN11–12 pups. Our results showed that both nipple attachment and huddling were disrupted in whisker-clipped PN3–5 pups but only marginally altered in PN11–12 pups. Together, these results suggest that the neonatal whisker system is behaviorally functional and relevant for normal mother–infant interactions, though it lacks the sophistication of a mature whisker system that evokes very specific and directed responses.
mother-infant interactions; nipple attachment; huddling; vibrissae; whiskers; development; plasticity; cortical barrels
Neurons in layer IV of the rodent whisker somatosensory cortex are tangentially organized in periodic clusters called barrels, each of which is innervated by thalamocortical axons transmitting sensory information from a single principal whisker, together forming a somatotopic map of the whisker pad. Proper thalamocortical innervation is critical for barrel formation during development, but the molecular mechanisms controlling layer IV neuron clustering are unknown. Here, we investigate the role in this mapping of the nuclear orphan receptor RORβ, which is expressed in neurons in layer IV during corticogenesis. We find that RORβ protein expression specifically increases in the whisker barrel cortex during barrel formation and that in vivo overexpression of RORβ is sufficient to induce periodic barrel-like clustering of cortical neurons. Remarkably, this clustering can be induced as early as E18, prior to innervation by thalamocortical afferents and whisker derived-input. At later developmental stages, these ectopic neuronal clusters are specifically innervated by thalamocortical axons, demonstrated by anterograde labeling from the thalamus and by expression of thalamocortical-specific synaptic markers. Together, these data indicate that RORβ expression levels control cytoarchitectural patterning of neocortical neurons during development, a critical process for the topographical mapping of whisker input onto the cortical surface.
barrel cortex; cortical patterning; cytoarchitecture; RORβ; thalamocortical innervation
Neurovascular coupling (NVC) in the adult central nervous system (CNS) is a mechanism that provides regions of the brain with more oxygen and glucose upon increased levels of neural activation. Hemodynamic changes that go along with neural activation evoke a blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that can be used to study brain activity non-invasively. A correct correlation of the BOLD signal to neural activity is pivotal to understand this signal in neuronal development, health and disease. However, the function of NVC during development is largely unknown. The rodent whisker-to-barrel cortex is an experimentally well established model to study neurovascular interdependences. Using extracellular multi-electrode recordings and laser-Doppler-flowmetry (LDF) we show in the murine barrel cortex of postnatal day 7 (P7) and P30 mice in vivo that NVC undergoes a physiological shift during the first month of life. In the mature CNS it is well accepted that cortical sensory processing results in a rise in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF). We show in P7 animals that rCBF decreases during prolonged multi-whisker stimulation and goes along with multi unit activity (MUA) fatigue. In contrast at P30, MUA remains stable during repetitive stimulation and is associated with an increase in rCBF. Further we characterize in both age groups the responses in NVC to single sensory stimuli. We suggest that the observed shift in NVC is an important process in cortical development that may be of high relevance for the correct interpretation of brain activity e.g. in fMRI studies of the immature central nervous system (CNS).
Associative fear learning, resulting from whisker stimulation paired with application of a mild electric shock to the tail in a classical conditioning paradigm, changes the motor behavior of mice and modifies the cortical functional representation of sensory receptors involved in the conditioning. It also induces the formation of new inhibitory synapses on double-synapse spines of the cognate barrel hollows. We studied density and distribution of polyribosomes, the putative structural markers of enhanced synaptic activation, following conditioning. By analyzing serial sections of the barrel cortex by electron microscopy and stereology, we found that the density of polyribosomes was significantly increased in dendrites of the barrel activated during conditioning. The results revealed fear learning-induced increase in the density of polyribosomes associated with both excitatory and inhibitory synapses located on dendritic spines (in both single- and double-synapse spines) and only with the inhibitory synapses located on dendritic shafts. This effect was accompanied by a significant increase in the postsynaptic density area of the excitatory synapses on single-synapse spines and of the inhibitory synapses on double-synapse spines containing polyribosomes. The present results show that associative fear learning not only induces inhibitory synaptogenesis, as demonstrated in the previous studies, but also stimulates local protein synthesis and produces modifications of the synapses that indicate their potentiation.
The one-to-one relationship between whiskers, barrels, and barrel columns described for rat barrel cortex demonstrates that the organization of cortical function adheres to topographical and columnar principles. Supporting evidence is typically based on a single or few whiskers being stimulated, although behaving rats rely on the use of all their whiskers. Less is known about the cortical response when many whiskers are stimulated. Here, we use intrinsic signal optical imaging and supra- and sub-threshold electrophysiology recordings to map and characterize the cortical response to an array of all large whiskers. The cortical response was found to possess a single peak located centrally within a large activation spread, thereby no longer conveying information about the individual identities of the stimulated whiskers (e.g., many local peaks). Using modeling and pharmacological manipulations, we determined that this single central peak, plus other salient properties, can be predicted by and depends on large cortical activation spreads evoked by individual whisker stimulation. Compared to single whisker stimulation, the peak magnitude was comparable in strength and the response area was 2.6-fold larger, with both exhibiting a reduction in variability that was particularly pronounced (3.8x) for the peak magnitude. Findings extended to a different collection (subset) of whiskers. Our results indicate the rat barrel cortex response to multi-site stimulation transcends one-to-one topography to culminate in a large activation spread with a single central peak, and offer a potential neurobiological mechanism for the psychophysical phenomenon of multi-site stimulation being perceived as though a single, central site has been stimulated.
vibrissa; whisker; topography; column; intrinsic signal optical imaging; multi-unit; local field potential; lidocaine
The perception of external sensory information by the brain requires highly ordered synaptic connectivity between peripheral sensory neurons and their targets in the central nervous system. Since the discovery of the whisker-related barrel patterns in the mouse cortex, the trigeminal system has become a favorite model for study of how its connectivity and somatotopic maps are established during development. The trigeminal brainstem nuclei are the first CNS regions where whisker-specific neural patterns are set up by the trigeminal afferents that innervate the whiskers. In particular, barrelette patterns in the principal sensory nucleus of the trigeminal nerve provide the template for similar patterns in the face representation areas of the thalamus and subsequently in the primary somatosensory cortex. Here, we describe and review studies of neurotrophins, multiple axon guidance molecules, transcription factors, and glutamate receptors during early development of trigeminal connections between the whiskers and the brainstem that lead to emergence of patterned face maps. Studies from our laboratories and others’ showed that developing trigeminal ganglion cells and their axons depend on a variety of molecular signals that cooperatively direct them to proper peripheral and central targets and sculpt their synaptic terminal fields into patterns that replicate the organization of the whiskers on the muzzle. Similar mechanisms may also be used by trigeminothalamic and thalamocortical projections in establishing patterned neural modules upstream from the trigeminal brainstem.
brainstem trigeminal complex; trigeminal ganglion; NGF; NT3; GDNF; Slits; transcription factors; NMDA receptors
In the rodent trigeminal principal nucleus (PrV), trigeminal afferent terminals and postsynaptic cells form discrete modules (“barrelettes”) that replicate the patterned array of whiskers and sinus hairs on the snout. Barrelette neurons of the PrV relay whisker-specific patterns to the contralateral thalamus and, subsequently, to the primary somatosensory barrel cortex. Genetic impairment of NMDA receptor (NMDAR) function blocks development of barrelettes in the PrV. Underlying cellular and functional defects are not known. Here, we examined morphological differentiation of whisker afferents, dendritic differentiation of barrelette cells, and their electrophysiological properties in mice with genetic perturbations of the essential subunit NR1 of NMDARs. We show that in NR1 gene knock-down (KD) and knock-out mice, whisker afferents begin their embryonic development normally but, over time, fail to segregate into patches, and instead they develop exuberant terminal arbors spanning most of the PrV. Postnatal NR1KD barrelette cells, with significantly reduced NMDA currents, retain their membrane and synaptic properties but develop longer dendrites with no orientation preference. These results indicate that NMDARs regulate growth of presynaptic terminal arbors and postsynaptic dendritic branching, thereby leading to consolidation of synapses and patterning of presynaptic and postsynaptic elements.
barrelettes; transgenic mice; trigeminal afferents; trigeminal principal nucleus; membrane properties; pattern formation
When delivered within 1 and in most cases 2 hours of permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (pMCAO), mild sensory stimulation (intermittent single whisker stimulation) was shown to be completely neuroprotective according to assessment with multiple techniques 24 hours after pMCAO in a rodent model of ischemic stroke (Lay et al., 2010). The acute effect of stimulation treatment on the ischemic cortex however, had yet to be reported. Here we characterize cortical function and perfusion during the 120 minute whisker stimulation period in four experimental groups with treatment initiated 0, 1, 2 hours (protected groups) or 3 hours post-pMCAO (unprotected group) using multiple techniques. According to functional imaging, a gradual return of evoked whisker functional representation to baseline levels was initiated with treatment onset and completed within the treatment period. Evoked neuronal activity and reperfusion to the ischemic area also showed a gradual recovery in protected animals. Surprisingly, a similar recovery profile was observed in response to treatment in all protected animals, irrespective of treatment onset time. Non-stimulated pMCAO control group data demonstrate that reperfusion is not spontaneous. This makes the complete protection observed in the majority of animals stimulated at 2 hours post-pMCAO even more surprising as these animals recovered despite having been in this severely ischemic state for two full hours. In summary, when delivered within a 2 hour window post- pMCAO, whisker stimulation treatment initiated reperfusion and a gradual recovery of cortical function that was completed or nearly completed within the treatment period.
stroke; ischemia; optical imaging; electrophysiology; histology; laser speckle imaging; acute phase; protection; reperfusion; stimulation treatment; rodent model; anastomoses; collateral flow
The cytokine transforming growth factor α (TGFα) has proangiogenic and proneurogenic effects and can potentially reduce infarct volumes. Therefore, we administered TGFα or vehicle directly into the area surrounding the infarct in female mice that received gender-mismatched bone marrow transplants from GFP-expressing males prior to undergoing permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion. Newborn cells were tracked with BrdU labeling and immunohistochemistry at 90 days after stroke onset. We also studied the ingress of bone marrow derived cells into the ischemic brain to determine whether such cells contribute to angiogenesis or neurogenesis. Infarct volumes were measured at 90 days post stroke. The results show that TGFα led to significant increments in the number of newborn neurons and glia in the ischemic hemisphere. TGFα also led to significant increments in the number of bone marrow derived cells entering into the ischemic hemisphere. Most of these cells did not label with BrdU and represented endothelial cells that incorporated into blood vessels in the infarct border zone. Our results also show that infarct size was significantly reduced in animals treated with TGFα compared with controls. These results suggest that TGFα can induce angiogenesis, neurogenesis and neuroprotection after stroke. At least part of the pro-angiogenic effect appears to be secondary to the incorporation of bone marrow derived endothelial cells into blood vessels in the infarct border zone.
Stroke; Transforming Growth Factor Alpha; Neurogenesis; Angiogenesis
An important constraint on how hemodynamic neuroimaging signals such as fMRI can be interpreted in terms of the underlying evoked activity is an understanding of neurovascular coupling mechanisms that actually generate hemodynamic responses. The predominant view at present is that the hemodynamic response is most correlated with synaptic input and subsequent neural processing rather than spiking output. It is still not clear whether input or processing is more important in the generation of hemodynamics responses. In order to investigate this we measured the hemodynamic and neural responses to electrical whisker pad stimuli in rat whisker barrel somatosensory cortex both before and after the local cortical injections of the GABAA agonist muscimol. Muscimol would not be expected to affect the thalamocortical input into the cortex but would inhibit subsequent intra-cortical processing. Pre-muscimol infusion whisker stimuli elicited the expected neural and accompanying hemodynamic responses to that reported previously. Following infusion of muscimol, although the temporal profile of neural responses to each pulse of the stimulus train was similar, the average response was reduced in magnitude by ∼79% compared to that elicited pre-infusion. The whisker-evoked hemodynamic responses were reduced by a commensurate magnitude suggesting that, although the neurovascular coupling relationships were similar for synaptic input as well as for cortical processing, the magnitude of the overall response is dominated by processing rather than from that produced from the thalamocortical input alone.
neurovascular coupling; synaptic activity; muscimol; barrel cortex; whisker
In primary sensory cortices, neuronal circuits change throughout life as a function of learning. During associative learning a neutral sensory stimulus acquires the emotional valence of an aversive event or a reward after repetitive contingent pairing. One important consequence is the enlargement of the representational area of the conditioned stimulus in the cortical map of its sensory modality. The details of this phenomenon at the circuit level are still largely unknown. Here, mice were trained in a differential conditioning paradigm where the deflections of one whisker row were paired with tail shocks and the deflections of two others were not. Changes occurring in excitatory circuits of barrel cortex were then examined in brain slices with laser scanning photostimulation mapping. We found that learning affected the projections targeting the supragranular layers in the columns of unpaired whiskers: Pyramidal cells located in layer (L) 3 received enhanced inputs from L5A cells located in their home column and new inputs from L2/3 and L4 cells located in the neighboring column of the paired whisker. In contrast, the excitatory projections impinging onto L2/3 cells in the column of the paired whisker were not altered. Together, these data reveal that associative learning alters the canonical columnar organization of functional ascending L4 projections and strengthens transcolumnar excitatory projections in barrel cortex. These phenomena could participate to the transformation of the whisker somatotopic map induced by associative learning.
synaptic connectivity; cortical circuits; glutamate uncaging; layer 2/3; fear conditioning
Formation of whisker-related barrels in primary somatosensory cortex (S1) requires communication between presynaptic thalamocortical afferents (TCAs) and postsynaptic cortical neurons. GAP-43 is crucially involved in targeting TCAs to postsynaptic S1 neurons but its influence on the interactions between these 2 elements has not been explored. Here, we tested the hypothesis that reduced early expression of presynaptic GAP-43 (GAP-43 heterozygous [HZ] mice) alters postsynaptic differentiation of barrel cells. We found a transient increase in cytochrome oxidase staining between P6 and P14 in HZ animals, indicative of increased metabolic activity in barrel cortex during this time. Golgi impregnation and microtubule-associated protein 2 immunohistochemistry showed anomalous dendritic patterning in GAP-43 HZ cortex at P5, with altered dendritic length and branching and abnormal retention of dendrites that extend into developing septa. This deficiency was no longer apparent at P7, suggesting partial recovery of dendritic pruning processes. Finally, we showed early defects in synaptogenesis from P4 to P5 with increased colocalization of NR1 and GluR1 staining in HZ mice. By P7, this colocalization had normalized to wild type levels. Taken together, our findings suggest abnormal postsynaptic differentiation in GAP-43 HZ cortex during early barrel development, followed by adaptive compensation and partial phenotypic rescue.
cortical development; dendrite morphology; glutamate receptors; postsynaptic specialization