Loss of synaptic integrity in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (PFC) may play an integral role in age-related cognitive decline. Previously, we showed age-related increases in the dendritic marker microtubule associated protein 2 (MAP-2) and the synaptic marker synaptophysin (SYN) in mice. Similarly, apolipoprotein E (apoE), involved in lipid transport and metabolism, and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), a glia specific marker, increase with age in rodents. In this study, we assessed whether these four proteins show similar age-related changes in a nonhuman primate, the rhesus macaque. Free-floating sections from the PFC and hippocampus from adult, middle-aged, and aged rhesus macaques were immunohistochemically labeled for MAP-2, SYN, apoE, and GFAP. Protein levels were measured as area occupied by fluorescence using confocal microscopy as well as by Western blot. In the PFC and hippocampus of adult and middle-aged animals, the levels of SYN, apoE, and GFAP immunoreactivity were comparable but there was a trend towards higher MAP-2 levels in middle-aged than adult animals. There was significantly less SYN and more MAP-2, apoE, and GFAP immunoreactivity in the PFC and hippocampus of aged animals compared to adult or middle-aged animals. Thus, the age-related changes in MAP-2, apoE, and GFAP levels were similar to those previously observed in rodents. On the other hand, the age-related changes in SYN levels were not, but were similar to those previously observed in the aging human brain. Taken together, these data emphasize the value of the rhesus macaque as a pragmatic translational model for human brain aging.
Aging; Nonhuman primate; MAP-2; Synaptophysin; apoE
Exposure to methamphetamine during brain development impairs cognition in humans and rodents. In mice, these impairments are greater in females than males. Genetic factors, such as apolipoprotein E genotype, may modulate the cognitive effects of methamphetamine. Methamphetamine-induced alterations in the brain acetylcholine system may contribute to the cognitive effects of methamphetamine and may also be modulated by apolipoprotein E isoform. We assessed the long-term effects of methamphetamine exposure during brain development on cognitive function and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in mice, and whether apolipoprotein E isoform modulates these effects. Mice expressing human apolipoprotein E3 or E4 were exposed to methamphetamine (5 mg/kg) or saline once a day from postnatal day 11-20 and behaviorally tested in adulthood. Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor binding was measured in the hippocampus and cortex. Methamphetamine exposure impaired novel location recognition in female, but not male, mice. Methamphetamine-exposed male and female mice showed impaired novel object recognition and increased number of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in the hippocampus. The cognitive and cholinergic effects of methamphetamine were similar in apolipoprotein E3 and E4 mice. Thus, the cholinergic system, but not apolipoprotein E isoform, might play an important role in the long-term methamphetamine-induced cognitive deficits in adulthood.
Methamphetamine; acetylcholine; cognition; hippocampus; apolipoprotein E; mouse
We recently reported that in aged female rhesus macaques, spatial learning and memory correlates with circadian sleep-wake measures and hippocampal muscarinic type 1 (M1) receptor binding. To investigate if spatial memory also correlates with measures of immune function, we now assessed the magnitude of the adaptive immune response to vaccination in the same old female rhesus macaques. Cognitively characterized animals were classified as good spatial performers (GSP) or poor spatial performers (PSP) based on performance in the Spatial Foodport maze. The GSP group had higher frequency of CD8, but not CD4, interferon-γ (IFN-γ) producing cells following vaccination compared to the PSP group, suggesting a stronger CD8 T cell response in the GSP group. In addition, the number of CD-8 IFN-γ positive cells correlated with measures of sleep quality. Interestingly, the PSP group had a significantly higher antibody titer compared to the GSP group, and antibody titer negatively correlated with day-time activity. Thus, in aged female rhesus macaques, superior cognitive performance is correlated with a more robust CD8 T cell response but a reduced antibody response to vaccination.
spatial learning and memory; immune senescence; circadian activity
Prefrontal cortical (PFC) activity in the primate brain emerging from minicolumnar microcircuits plays a critical role in cognitive processes dealing with executive control of behavior. However, the specific operations of columnar laminar processing in prefrontal cortex (PFC) are not completely understood. Here we show via implementation of unique microanatomical recording and stimulating arrays, that minicolumns in PFC are involved in the executive control of behavior in rhesus macaque nonhuman primates (NHPs) performing a delayed-match-to-sample (DMS) task. PFC neurons demonstrate functional interactions between pairs of putative pyramidal cells within specified cortical layers via anatomically oriented minicolumns. Results reveal target-specific, spatially tuned firing between inter-laminar (layer 2/3 and layer 5) pairs of neurons participating in the gating of information during the decision making phase of the task with differential correlations between activity in layer 2/3 and layer 5 in the integration of spatial vs. object-specific information for correct task performance. Such inter-laminar processing was exploited by the interfacing of an online model which delivered stimulation to layer 5 locations in a pattern associated with successful performance thereby closing the columnar loop externally in a manner that mimicked normal processing in the same task. These unique technologies demonstrate that PFC neurons encode and process information via minicolumns which provides a closed loop form of “executive function,” hence disruption of such inter-laminar processing could form the bases for cognitive dysfunction in primate brain.
prefrontal cortex; inter-laminar correlated firing; nonhuman primates; columnar correlates of target selection; columnar correlates of task difficulty; spatial vs. object tuning
Acetylcholine (ACh) is a neurotransmitter acting via muscarinic and nicotinic receptors that is implicated in several cognitive functions and impairments, such as Alzheimer’s disease. It is believed to especially affect the acquisition of new information, which is particularly important when behavior needs to be adapted to new situations and to novel sensory events. Categorization, the process of assigning stimuli to a category, is a cognitive function that also involves information acquisition. The role of ACh on categorization has not been previously studied. We have examined the effects of scopolamine, an antagonist of muscarinic ACh receptors, on visual categorization in macaque monkeys using familiar and novel stimuli. When the peripheral effects of scopolamine on the parasympathetic nervous system were controlled for, categorization performance was disrupted following systemic injections of scopolamine. This impairment was observed only when the stimuli that needed to be categorized had not been seen before. In other words, the monkeys were not impaired by the central action of scopolamine in categorizing a set of familiar stimuli (stimuli which they had categorized successfully in previous sessions). Categorization performance also deteriorated as the stimulus became less salient by an increase in the level of visual noise. However, scopolamine did not cause additional performance disruptions for difficult categorization judgments at lower coherence levels. Scopolamine, therefore, specifically affects the assignment of new exemplars to established cognitive categories, presumably by impairing the processing of novel information. Since we did not find an effect of scopolamine in the categorization of familiar stimuli, scopolamine had no significant central action on other cognitive functions such as perception, attention, memory, or executive control within the context of our categorization task.
macaque; learning; categorization; cognition; cognitive; muscarinic; acetylcholine; scopolamine
Spatiotemporal and recognition memory are affected by aging in humans and macaque monkeys. To investigate whether these deficits are coupled with atrophy of memory-related brain regions, T1-weighted magnetic resonance images were acquired and volumes of the cerebrum, ventricles, prefrontal cortex (PFC), calcarine cortex, hippocampus, and striatum were quantified in young and aged rhesus monkeys. Subjects were tested on a spatiotemporal memory procedure (delayed response [DR]) that requires the integrity of the PFC and a medial temporal lobe-dependent recognition memory task (delayed nonmatching to sample [DNMS]). Region of interest analyses revealed that age inversely correlated with striatal, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), and anterior cingulate cortex volumes. Hippocampal volume predicted acquisition of the DR task. Striatal volume correlated with DNMS acquisition, whereas total prefrontal gray matter, prefrontal white matter, and dlPFC volumes each predicted DNMS accuracy. A regional covariance analysis revealed that age-related volumetric changes could be captured in a distributed network that was coupled with declining performance across delays on the DNMS task. This volumetric analysis adds to growing evidence that cognitive aging in primates arises from region-specific morphometric alterations distributed across multiple memory-related brain systems, including subdivisions of the PFC.
age-related memory impairment; medial temporal lobe; MRI; prefrontal cortex; rhesus monkey
The status of cholinergic receptors in dementia is related to the question of potential cholinergic therapy. Whilst muscarinic receptor binding is generally reported to be normal or near normal, findings are reported which indicate substantial reductions of hippocampal nicotinic (high affinity nicotine) binding (occurring in conjunction with decreased choline acetyltransferase) in both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's but not Huntington's disease. A further indication that nicotinic receptor function may be abnormal in Alzheimer's disease is the extensive loss of an endogenous compound, detected for the first time in human brain, which inhibits normal nicotinic binding. Both receptor binding and the inhibitor are also substantially decreased with increasing age in the normal hippocampus.
GABAB receptors (GABABRs) have been linked to a wide range of physiological and cognitive processes and are of interest for treating a number of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. As many of these diseases are associated with advanced age, it is important to understand how the normal aging process impacts GABABR expression and signaling. Thus, we investigated GABABR expression and function in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and hippocampus of young and aged rats characterized in a spatial learning task. Baclofen-stimulated GTP-binding and GABABR1 and GABABR2 proteins were reduced in the PFC of aged rats but these reductions were not associated with spatial learning abilities. In contrast, hippocampal GTP-binding was comparable between young and aged rats but reduced hippocampal GABABR1 expression was observed in aged rats with spatial learning impairment. These data demonstrate marked regional differences in GABABR complexes in the adult and aged brain and could have implications for both understanding the role of GABAergic processes in normal brain function and the development of putative interventions that target this system.
Aging; Baclofen; Spatial learning; GABABR; PFC; Memory
The dendritic protein microtubule associated protein 2 (MAP-2), the presynaptic marker synaptophysin (SYN), and apolipoprotein E (apoE), a protein which plays a role in lipid transport and metabolism and affects synaptic activity show changes with age. We analyzed post-mortem tissue from aged female Rhesus macaques cognitively tested in a spatial maze and classified as good spatial performers (GSP) or poor spatial performers (PSP) and behaviorally tested in a playroom and classified as bold or reserved animals. MAP2, SYN, and APOE mRNA and protein levels in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), hippocampus, and amygdala, were assessed using qRT-PCR and western blot. In the amygdala, bold monkeys had higher levels of MAP2 and SYN mRNA than reserved monkeys. MAP2 mRNA correlated positively with amygdala size on the right, left, and combined left and right sides, while SYN mRNA levels correlated positively with the size of the right amygdala. In the hippocampus, SYN and apoE protein levels were higher in GSP than PSP animals. Thus, in aged nonhuman primates, classification of measures of anxiety is associated with differences in selected mRNA, but not protein, levels. In contrast, classification of cognitive performance is associated with differences in selected protein, but not mRNA, levels.
MAP-2; SYN; APOE; cognitive function
Characterizing normal brain development in the rhesus macaque is a necessary prerequisite for establishing better nonhuman primate models of neuropathology. Structural magnetic resonance imaging scans were obtained on 37 rhesus monkeys (20 Male, 17 Female) between 10 and 64 months of age. Effects of age and sex were analyzed with a cross-sectional design. Gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) volumes were determined for total brain and major cortical regions using an automatic segmentation and parcellation pipeline. Volumes of major subcortical structures were evaluated. Unlike neural maturation in humans, GM volumes did not show a postpubertal decline in most cortical regions, with the notable exception of the prefrontal cortex. Similar to humans, WM volumes increased through puberty with less change thereafter. Caudate, putamen, amygdala, and hippocampus increased linearly as did the corpus callosum. Males and females showed similar maturational patterns, although males had significantly larger brain volumes. Females had a proportionately larger caudate, putamen, and hippocampus, whereas males had both an absolute and relatively larger corpus callosum. The authors discuss the possible implications of these findings for research using the rhesus macaque as a model for neurodevelopmental disorders.
adolescence; cerebral cortex; Macaca mulatta; puberty; rhesus
Acetylcholine (ACh), the first neurotransmitter to be identified, regulate the activities of central and peripheral functions through interactions with muscarinic receptors. Changes in muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) have been implicated in the pathophysiology of many major diseases of the central nervous system (CNS). Previous reports from our laboratory on streptozotocin (STZ) induced diabetic rats showed down regulation of muscarinic M1 receptors in the brainstem, hypothalamus, cerebral cortex and pancreatic islets. In this study, we have investigated the changes of acetylcholine esterase (AChE) enzyme activity, total muscarinic and muscarinic M1 receptor binding and gene expression in the corpus striatum of STZ – diabetic rats and the insulin treated diabetic rats. The striatum, a neuronal nucleus intimately involved in motor behaviour, is one of the brain regions with the highest acetylcholine content. ACh has complex and clinically important actions in the striatum that are mediated predominantly by muscarinic receptors. We observed that insulin treatment brought back the decreased maximal velocity (Vmax) of acetylcholine esterase in the corpus striatum during diabetes to near control state. In diabetic rats there was a decrease in maximal number (Bmax) and affinity (Kd) of total muscarinic receptors whereas muscarinic M1 receptors were increased with decrease in affinity in diabetic rats. We observed that, in all cases, the binding parameters were reversed to near control by the treatment of diabetic rats with insulin. Real-time PCR experiment confirmed the increase in muscarinic M1 receptor gene expression and a similar reversal with insulin treatment. These results suggest the diabetes-induced changes of the cholinergic activity in the corpus striatum and the regulatory role of insulin on binding parameters and gene expression of total and muscarinic M1 receptors.
PET imaging of the neuroreceptor systems in the brain has earned a prominent role in studying normal development, neuropsychiatric illness and developing targeted drugs. The dopaminergic system is of particular interest due to its role in the development of cognitive function and mood as well as its suspected involvement in neuropsychiatric illness. Nonhuman primate animal models provide a valuable resource for relating neurochemical changes to behavior. To facilitate comparison within and between primate models, we report in vivo D2/D3 binding in a large cohort of adolescent rhesus monkeys.
In this work, the in vivo D2/D3 dopamine receptor availability was measured in a cohort of 33 rhesus monkeys in the adolescent stage of development (3.2 – 5.3 years). Both striatal and extrastriatal D2/D3 binding were measured using [F-18]fallypride with a high resolution small animal PET scanner. The distribution volume ratio (DVR) was measured for all subjects and group comparisons of D2/D3 binding among the cohort were made based on age and sex. Because two sequential studies were acquired from a single [F-18]fallypride batch, the effect of competing (unlabeled) ligand mass was also investigated.
Among this cohort, the rank order of regional D2/D3 receptor binding did not vary from previous studies with adult rhesus monkeys, with: putamen > caudate > ventral striatum > amygdala ~ substantia nigra > medial dorsal thalamus > lateral temporal cortex ~ frontal cortex. The DVR coefficient of variation ranged from 14% – 26%, with the greatest variance seen in the head of the caudate. There were significant sex differences in [F-18]fallypride kinetics in the pituitary gland, but this was not observed for regions within the blood-brain barrier. Furthermore, no regions in the brain showed significant sex or age related differences in DVR within this small age range. Based on a wide range of injected fallypride mass across the cohort, significant competition effects could only be detected in the substantia nigra, thalamus, and frontal cortex, and were not evident above intersubject variability in all other regions.
These data represent the first report of large cohort in vivo D2/D3 dopamine whole brain binding in the adolescent brain and will serve as a valuable comparison for understanding dopamine changes during this critical time of development and provide a framework for creating a dopaminergic biochemical atlas for the rhesus monkey.
Human aging is characterized by a marked decrease in circulating levels of dehydroepiandrosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), hormonal changes associated with cognitive decline. Despite beneficial effects of DHEA supplementation in rodents, studies in elderly humans have generally failed to show cognitive improvement after treatment. In the present study we evaluate the effects of age and estradiol supplementation on expression of genes involved in the de novo synthesis of DHEA and its conversion to estradiol in the rhesus macaque hippocampus. Using RT-PCR we demonstrate the expression of genes associated with this synthesis in several areas of the rhesus brain. Furthermore, real-time PCR reveals an age-related attenuation of hippocampal expression level of the genes CYP17A1, STS, and 3BHSD1/2. Additionally, short-term administration of estradiol is associated with decreased expression of CYP17A1, STS, SULT2B1, and AROMATASE, consistent with a downregulation not only of estrogen synthesis from circulating DHEA, but also of de novo DHEA synthesis within the hippocampus. These findings suggest a decline in neurosteroidogenesis may account for the inefficacy of DHEA supplementation in elderly humans, and that central steroidogenesis may be a function of circulating hormones and menopausal status.
Aging; Dehydroepiandrosterone; Hormone replacement; Menopause; Neurosteroidogenesis
Acetylcholine (ACh), the first neurotransmitter discovered, participates in many CNS functions including sensory and motor processing, sleep, nociception, mood, stress response, attention, arousal, memory, motivation and reward. These diverse cholinergic effects are mediated by nicotinic (nAChR) and muscarinic (mAChR) type cholinergic receptors. The goal of this review is to synthesize a growing literature that supports the potential role of ACh as a treatment target for stimulant addiction. ACh interacts with the dopaminergic reward system in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), nucleus accumbens (NAc) and prefrontal cortex (PFC). In the VTA, both nAChR and mAChR stimulate the dopaminergic system. In the NAc, cholinergic interneurons integrate cortical and subcortical information related to reward. In the PFC, the cholinergic system contributes to the cognitive aspects of addiction. Preclinical studies support a facilitative role of nicotinic agonists in the development of stimulant addiction. Muscarinic agonists seem to have an inhibitory role depending on the subtype of mAChR. In human studies acetylcholine esterase (AChE) inhibitors, which increase synaptic ACh levels, have shown promise for the treatment of stimulant addiction. Further studies testing the efficacy of cholinergic medications for stimulant addiction are warranted.
acetylcholine; dopamine; nicotinic; muscarinic; stimulant addiction; brain reward system
In nonhuman primates, anxiety levels are typically assessed by observing social hierarchies or behavior in an intruder task. As measures of anxiety might influence performance on a particular cognitive task, it is important to analyze these measures in the same room as used for the cognitive task. As we use a playroom for the spatial maze test, we classified elderly female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) monkeys, as bold or reserved monkeys based on the time spent in specific areas of this room. Based on their exploratory behavior in the playroom, bold monkeys were defined as animals that spent 20% more time in the unprotected areas of the room than in the protected areas, whereas reserved monkeys spent a comparable amount of time in both areas. MRI analyses showed that reserved monkeys had a smaller amygdala compared to bold monkeys but there were no group differences in hippocampal volumes. In addition, the amount of time spent in the corners of the room was negatively correlated with the right and total amygdala size. Finally, reserved monkeys showed a lower phMRI response to the muscarinic receptor antagonist scopolamine compared to the bold monkeys. Thus, in elderly female nonhuman primates measures of anxiety are associated with structural amygdala differences and hippocampal muscarinic receptor function.
anxiety; nonhuman primate; amygdala; hippocampus; scopolamine; phMRI
Attention exerts a strong influence over neuronal processing in cortical areas1,2. It selectively increases firing rates2-4 and affects tuning properties1,5, including changing receptive field locations and sizes3,6. Although these effects are well studied, their cellular mechanisms are poorly understood. To study the cellular mechanisms, we combined iontophoretic pharmacological analysis of cholinergic receptors with single cell recordings in V1 while rhesus macaque monkeys (Macaca mulatta) performed a task that demanded top-down spatial attention. Attending to the receptive field of the V1 neuron under study caused an increase in firing rates. Here we show that this attentional modulation was enhanced by low doses of acetylcholine. Furthermore, applying the muscarinic antagonist scopolamine reduced attentional modulation, whereas the nicotinic antagonist mecamylamine had no systematic effect. These results demonstrate that muscarinic cholinergic mechanisms play a central part in mediating the effects of attention in V1.
M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs) may represent a viable target for treatment of disorders involving impaired cognitive function. However, a major limitation to testing this hypothesis has been a lack of highly selective ligands for individual mAChR subtypes. We now report the rigorous molecular characterization of a novel compound, BQCA, which acts as a potent, highly selective positive allosteric modulator (PAM) of the rat M1 receptor. This compound does not directly activate the receptor, but acts at an allosteric site to increase functional responses to orthosteric agonists. Radioligand binding studies revealed that BQCA increases M1 receptor affinity for acetylcholine. We found that activation of the M1 receptor by BQCA induces a robust inward current and increases spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) pyramidal cells, effects which are absent in acute slices from M1 receptor knockout mice. Furthermore, to determine the effect of BQCA on intact and functioning brain circuits, multiple single-unit recordings were obtained from the mPFC of rats that showed BQCA increases firing of mPFC pyramidal cells in vivo. BQCA also restored discrimination reversal learning in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease and was found to regulate non-amyloidogenic APP processing in vitro, suggesting that M1 receptor PAMs have the potential to provide both symptomatic and disease modifying effects in Alzheimer's disease patients. Together, these studies provide compelling evidence that M1 receptor activation induces a dramatic excitation of PFC neurons and suggest that selectively activating the M1 mAChR subtype may ameliorate impairments in cognitive function.
GPCR; muscarinic; acetylcholine receptor (AChR); prefrontal cortex; cognition; Alzheimer's disease
Aged individuals are more susceptible to infections due to a general decline in immune function broadly referred to as immune senescence. While age-related changes in the adaptive immune system are well documented, aging of the innate immune system remains less well understood, particularly in nonhuman primates. A more robust understanding of age-related changes in innate immune function would provide mechanistic insight into the increased susceptibility of the elderly to infection. Rhesus macaques have proved a critical translational model for aging research, and present a unique opportunity to dissect age-dependent modulation of the innate immune system. We examined age-related changes in: (i) innate immune cell frequencies; (ii) expression of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) and innate signaling molecules; (iii) cytokine responses of monocytes and dendritic cells (DC) following stimulation with PRR agonists; and (iv) plasma cytokine levels in this model. We found marked changes in both the phenotype and function of innate immune cells. This included an age-associated increased frequency of myeloid DC (mDC). Moreover, we found toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists lipopolysaccharide (TLR4), fibroblast stimulating ligand-1 (TLR2/6), and ODN2006 (TLR7/9) induced reduced cytokine responses in aged mDC. Interestingly, with the exception of the monocyte-derived TNFα response to LPS, which increased with age, TNFα, IL-6, and IFNα responses declined with age. We also found that TLR4, TLR5, and innate negative regulator, sterile alpha and TIR motif containing protein (SARM), were all expressed at lower levels in young animals. By contrast, absent in melanoma 2 and retinoic acid-inducible gene I expression was lowest in aged animals. Together, these observations indicate that several parameters of innate immunity are significantly modulated by age and contribute to differential immune function in aged macaques.
nonhuman primate; innate immunity; myeloid; immune senscence; pattern recognition receptor
Caloric restriction (CR) reduces the pathological effects of aging and extends the lifespan in many species, including nonhuman primates, although the effect on the brain is less well characterized. We used two common indicators of aging, motor performance speed and brain iron deposition measured in vivo using MRI, to determine the potential effect of CR on elderly rhesus macaques eating restricted (n = 24, 13 males, 11 females) and standard diets (n= 17, 8 males, 9 females). Both the CR and control monkeys showed age-related increases in iron concentrations in globus pallidus (GP) and substantia nigra (SN), although the CR group had significantly less iron deposition in the GP, SN, red nucleus and temporal cortex. A Diet x Age interaction revealed that CR modified age-related brain changes, evidenced as attenuation in the rate of iron accumulation in basal ganglia and parietal, temporal, and perirhinal cortex. Additionally, control monkeys had significantly slower fine motor performance on the Movement Assessment Panel, which was negatively correlated with iron accumulation in left SN and parietal lobe, although CR animals did not show this relationship. Our observations suggest that the CR induced benefit of reduced iron deposition and preserved motor function may indicate neural protection similar to effects described previously in aging rodent and primate species.
Aging; Diet; Macaque; Motor; Basal Ganglia; Globus Pallidus; Substantia Nigra; Caudate; Putamen
There is considerable interest in identifying pharmacological compounds that could be used to facilitate fear extinction. Recently, we showed that the modulation of M-type K+ channels regulates the intrinsic excitability of infralimbic (IL) neurons and fear expression. As muscarinic acetylcholine receptors inhibit M-type K+ channels, cholinergic inputs to IL may have an important role in controlling IL excitability and, thereby, fear expression and extinction. To test this model, we combined whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology and auditory fear conditioning. In prefrontal brain slices, muscarine enhanced the intrinsic excitability of IL neurons by reducing the M-current and the slow afterhyperpolarization, resulting in an increased number of spikes with shorter inter-spike intervals. Next, we examined the role of endogenous activation of muscarinic receptors in fear extinction. Systemic injected scopolamine (Scop) (muscarinic receptor antagonist) before or immediately after extinction training impaired recall of extinction 24-h later, suggesting that muscarinic receptors are critically involved in consolidation of extinction memory. Similarly, infusion of Scop into IL before extinction training also impaired recall of extinction 24-h later. Finally, we demonstrated that systemic injections of the muscarinic agonist, cevimeline (Cev), given before or immediately after extinction training facilitated recall of extinction the following day. Taken together, these findings suggest that cholinergic inputs to IL have a critical role in modulating consolidation of fear extinction and that muscarinic agonists such as Cev might be useful for facilitating extinction memory in patients suffering from anxiety disorders.
amygdale; prefrontal; M-type K+ channels; plasticity; fear conditioning; PTSD; muscarinic receptors modulate the intrinsic excitability of infralimbic neurons and consolidation of fear extinction
Serotonin1A (5-HT1A) receptors are reported altered in the brain of subjects with major depressive disorder (MDD). Recent studies have identified transcriptional regulators of the 5-HT1A receptor and have documented gender-specific alterations in 5-HT1A transcription factor and 5-HT1A receptors in female MDD subjects. The 5′ repressor element under dual repression binding protein-1 (Freud-1) is a calcium-regulated repressor that negatively regulates the 5-HT1A receptor gene. This study documented the cellular expression of Freud-1 in the human prefrontal cortex (PFC) and quantified Freud-1 protein in the PFC of MDD and control subjects as well as in the PFC of rhesus monkeys chronically treated with fluoxetine. Freud-1 immunoreactivity was present in neurons and glia and was co-localized with 5-HT1A receptors. Freud-1 protein level was significantly decreased in the PFC of male MDD subjects (37%, p=0.02) relative to gender-matched control subjects. Freud-1 protein was also reduced in the PFC of female MDD subjects (36%, p=0.18) but was not statistically significant. When the data was combined across genders and analysed by age, the decrease in Freud-1 protein level was greater in the younger MDD subjects (48%, p=0.01) relative to age-matched controls as opposed to older depressed subjects. Similarly, 5-HT1A receptor protein was significantly reduced in the PFC of the younger MDD subjects (48%, p=0.01) relative to age-matched controls. Adult male rhesus monkeys administered fluoxetine daily for 39 wk revealed no significant change in cortical Freud-1 or 5-HT1A receptor proteins compared to vehicle-treated control monkeys. Reduced protein expression of Freud-1 in MDD subjects may reflect dysregulation of this transcription factor, which may contribute to the altered regulation of 5-HT1A receptors observed in subjects with MDD. These data may also suggest that reductions in Freud-1 protein expression in the PFC may be associated with early onset of MDD.
Major depression; prefrontal cortex; 5-HT1A receptors; serotonin; transcription factor
Circulating levels of dehydroepiandrosterone, a major adrenal steroid, show a marked age-related decrease in both humans and nonhuman primates. Because this decrease has been implicated in age-related cognitive decline, we administered supplementary dehydroepiandrosterone to perimenopausal rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) to test for cognitive benefits. Although recognition memory improved, there was no benefit to spatial working memory. To address the limitations of this study we developed a hormone supplementation regimen in aged male macaques that more accurately replicates the 24-hr androgen profiles of young animals. We hypothesize that this more comprehensive physiological hormone replacement paradigm will enhance cognitive function in the elderly.
In Alzheimer’s disease (AD) there is a significant loss of locus coeruleus (LC) noradrenergic neurons. However, recent work has shown the surviving noradrenergic neurons to display many compensatory changes, including axonal sprouting to the hippocampus. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is a forebrain region that is affected in dementia, and receives innervation from the LC noradrenergic neurons. Reduced PFC function can reduce cognition and disrupt behavior. Because the PFC is an important area in AD, we determined if noradrenergic innervation from the LC noradrenergic neurons is maintained and if adrenoreceptors are altered postsynaptically. Presynaptic PFC α2-adrenoreceptor (AR) binding site density, as determined by 3H-RX821002, suggests that axons from surviving noradrenergic neurons in the LC are sprouting to the PFC of subjects with dementia. Changes in postsynaptic α1-AR in the PFC of subjects with dementia indicate normal to elevated levels of binding sites. Expression of α1-AR subtypes (α1A- and α1D-AR) and α2C-AR subtype mRNA in the PFC of subjects with dementia is similar to what was observed in the hippocampus with one exception, the expression of α1A-AR mRNA. The expression of the α1A-AR mRNA subtype is significantly reduced in specific layers of the PFC in subjects with dementia. The loss of α1A-, α1D- and α2C-AR mRNA subtype expression in the PFC may be attributed to neuronal loss observed in dementia. These changes in postsynaptic AR would suggest a reduced function of the PFC. Consequence of this reduced function of the PFC in dementia is still unknown but it may affect memory and behavior.
norepinephrine; RX 821002; prazosin; α1-adrenoreceptor; α2-adrenoreceptor; sprouting; Alzheimer’s disease
The study provides evidence that endothelial M3 muscarinic acetylcholine receptors mediate cholinergic vasodilation in murine retinal arterioles via activation of nitric oxide synthase.
To identify the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtype that mediates cholinergic vasodilation in murine retinal arterioles.
Muscarinic receptor gene expression was determined in murine retinal arterioles using real-time PCR. To assess the functional relevance of muscarinic receptors for mediating vascular responses, retinal vascular preparations from muscarinic receptor–deficient mice were studied in vitro. Changes in luminal arteriole diameter in response to muscarinic and nonmuscarinic vasoactive substances were measured by video microscopy.
Only mRNA for the M3 receptor was detected in retinal arterioles. Thus, M3 receptor–deficient mice (M3R−/−) and respective wild-type controls were used for functional studies. Acetylcholine concentration-dependently dilated retinal arterioles from wild-type mice. In contrast, vasodilation to acetylcholine was almost completely abolished in retinal arterioles from M3R−/− mice, whereas responses to the nitric oxide (NO) donor nitroprusside were retained. Carbachol, an acetylcholinesterase-resistant analog of acetylcholine, also evoked dilation in retinal arterioles from wild-type, but not from M3R−/−, mice. Vasodilation responses from wild-type mice to acetylcholine were negligible after incubation with the non–subtype-selective muscarinic receptor blocker atropine or the NO synthase inhibitor Nω-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester, and were even reversed to contraction after endothelial damage with 3-[(3-cholamidopropyl)dimethylammonio]-1-propanesulfonate.
These findings provide evidence that endothelial M3 receptors mediate cholinergic vasodilation in murine retinal arterioles via activation of NO synthase.
The brain concentration of kynurenic acid (KYNA), a metabolite of the kynurenine pathway of tryptophan degradation and antagonist at both the glycine coagonist site of the N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptor (NMDAR) and the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7nAChR), is elevated in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of individuals with schizophrenia. This increase may be clinically relevant because hypofunction of both the NMDAR and the α7nAChR are implicated in the pathophysiology, and especially in the cognitive deficits associated with the disease. In rat PFC, fluctuations in endogenous KYNA levels bidirectionally modulate extracellular levels of 3 neurotransmitters closely related to cognitive function (glutamate, dopamine, and acetylcholine). Moreover, behavioral studies in rats have demonstrated a causal link between increased cortical KYNA levels and neurocognitive deficits, including impairment in spatial working memory, contextual learning, sensory gating, and prepulse inhibition of the startle reflex. In recent human postmortem studies, impairments in gene expression and activity of kynurenine pathway enzymes were found in cortical areas of individuals with schizophrenia. Additional studies have revealed an interesting association between a sequence variant in the gene of one of these enzymes, kynurenine 3-monooxygenase, and neurocognitive deficits seen in patients. The emerging, remarkable confluence of data from humans and animals suggests an opportunity for developing a rational pharmacology by targeting cortical kynurenine pathway metabolism for cognition enhancement in schizophrenia and beyond.
kynurenic acid; endophenotype; cognition; schizophrenia; kynurenine 3-monooxygenase; prefrontal cortex; genetic association