Human adolescents often consume alcohol in a binge-like manner at a time when changes are occurring within specific brain structures, such as the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLN). In particular, neuron and glia number are changing in both of these areas in the rat between adolescence and adulthood (Markham et al., 2007; Rubinow and Juraska, 2009). The current study investigated the effects of ethanol exposure during adolescence on the number of neurons and glia in the adult mPFC and BLN in Long-Evans male and female rats. Saline or 3 g/kg ethanol was administered between postnatal days (P) 35–45 in a binge-like pattern, with 2 days of injections followed by 1 day without an injection. Stereological analyses of the ventral mPFC (prelimbic and infralimbic areas) and the BLN were performed on brains from rats at 100 days of age. Neuron and glia densities were assessed with the optical disector and then multiplied by the volume to calculate the total number of neurons and glia. In the adult mPFC, ethanol administration during adolescence resulted in a decreased number of glia in males, but not females, and had no effect on the number of neurons. Adolescent ethanol exposure had no effects on glia or neuron number in the BLN. These results suggest that glia cells in the prefrontal cortex are particularly sensitive to binge-like exposure to ethanol during adolescence in male rats only, potentially due to a decrease in proliferation in males or protective mechanisms in females.
alcohol; sex differences; stereology; cell death; cell proliferation
Aging is associated with many physiological alterations—such as changes in sleep patterns, metabolism and food intake—suggestive of hypothalamic dysfunction, but the effects of senescence on specific hypothalamic nuclei and neuronal groups that mediate these alterations is unclear. The lateral hypothalamus and contiguous perifornical area (LH/PFA) contains several populations of neurons, including those that express the neuropeptides orexin (hypocretin) or melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH). Collectively, orexin and MCH neurons influence many integrative homeostatic processes related to wakefulness and energy balance. Here, we determined the effect of aging on numbers of orexin and MCH neurons in young adult (3–4 months) and old (26–28 months) Fisher 344/Brown Norway F1 hybrid rats. Aged rats exhibited a loss of greater than 40% of orexin-immunoreactive neurons in both the medial and lateral (relative to the fornix) sectors of the LH/PFA. MCH-immunoreactive neurons were also lost in aged rats, primarily in the medial LH/PFA. Neuronal loss in this area was not global as no change in cells immunoreactive for the pan-neuronal marker, NeuN, was observed in aged rats. Combined with other reports of altered receptor expression or behavioral responses to exogenously-administered neuropeptide, these data suggest that compromised orexin (and, perhaps, MCH) function is an important mediator of age-related homeostatic disturbances of hypothalamic origin. The orexin system may represent a crucial substrate linking homeostatic and cognitive dysfunction in aging, as well as a novel therapeutic target for pharmacological or genetic restoration approaches to preventing or ameliorating these disturbances.
orexin; hypocretin; melanin concentrating hormone; hypothalamus; aging; energy balance
Progressive losses of cortical gray matter volumes and increases in ventricular volumes have been reported in patients with childhood-onset schizophrenia (COS) during adolescence. Longitudinal studies suggest that the rate of cortical loss seen in COS during adolescence plateaus during early adulthood. Patients with first-episode adolescent-onset schizophrenia show less marked progressive changes, although the number of studies in this population is small. Some studies show that, although less exaggerated, progressive changes are also present in nonschizophrenia early-onset psychosis. The greater loss of brain tissue seen in COS, even some years after the first episode, as compared to adolescent- or adult-onset schizophrenia may be due to variables such as sample bias (more severe, treatment refractory sample of childhood-onset patients studied), a process uniquely related to adolescent development in COS, differential brain effects of drug treatment in this population, clinical outcome, or interactions among these variables. Findings from both cross-sectional studies of first-episode patients and longitudinal studies in COS and adolescent onset support the concept of early-onset schizophrenia as a progressive neurodevelopmental disorder with both early and late developmental abnormalities. Future studies should look for correlates at a cellular level and for pathophysiological explanations of volume changes in these populations. The association of risk genes involved in circuitries associated with schizophrenia and their relationship to developmental trajectories is another promising area of future research.
early-onset; MRI; children; adolescents; psychosis; neurodevelopment
Further understanding of how prefrontal cortex (PFC) circuit change during postnatal development is of great interest due to its role in working memory and decision-making, two cognitive abilities that are refined late in adolescence and become altered in schizophrenia. While it is evident that dopamine facilitation of glutamate responses occurs during adolescence in the PFC, little is known about the cellular mechanisms that support these changes. Among them, a developmental facilitation of postsynaptic Ca2+ function is of particular interest given its role in coordinating neuronal ensembles, a process thought to contribute to maturation of PFC function. Here we conducted whole-cell patch clamp recordings of deep-layer pyramidal neurons in PFC brain slices and determined how somatic-evoked Ca2+-mediated plateau depolarizations change throughout postnatal day (PD) 25 (juvenile) to adulthood (PD 80). Postsynaptic Ca2+ potentials in the PFC increase in duration throughout postnatal development. A remarkable shift from short to prolonged depolarizations was observed after PD 40. This change is reflected by an enhancement of L-type Ca2+ channel function and postsynaptic PKA signaling. We speculate that such a protracted developmental facilitation of Ca2+ response in the PFC may contribute to improvement of working memory performance through adolescence.
adolescence; postsynaptic plasticity; electrophysiology; plateau potentials
There is compelling evidence to support the idea that autophagy has a protective function in neurons and its disruption results in neurodegenerative disorders. Neuronal damage is well-documented in the brains of HIV-infected individuals, and evidence of inflammation, oxidative stress, damage to synaptic and dendritic structures, and neuronal loss are present in the brains of those with HIV-associated dementia. We investigated the role of autophagy in microglia-induced neurotoxicity in primary rodent neurons, primate and human models. We demonstrate here that products of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected microglia inhibit neuronal autophagy, resulting in decreased neuronal survival. Quantitative analysis of autophagy vacuole numbers in rat primary neurons revealed a striking loss from the processes. Assessment of multiple biochemical markers of autophagic activity confirmed the inhibition of autophagy in neurons. Importantly, autophagy could be induced in neurons through rapamycin treatment, and such treatment conferred significant protection to neurons. Two major mediators of HIV-induced neurotoxicity, tumor necrosis factor-α and glutamate, had similar effects on reducing autophagy in neurons. The mRNA level of p62 was increased in the brain in SIV encephalitis and as well as in brains from individuals with HIV dementia, and abnormal neuronal p62 dot structures immunoreactivity was present and had a similar pattern with abnormal ubiquitinylated proteins. Taken together, these results identify that induction of deficits in autophagy is a significant mechanism for neurodegenerative processes that arise from glial, as opposed to neuronal, sources, and that the maintenance of autophagy may have a pivotal role in neuroprotection in the setting of HIV infection.
After birth, there is striking biological and functional development of the brain’s fiber tracts as well as remodeling of cortical and subcortical structures. Behavioral development in children involves a complex and dynamic set of genetically guided processes by which neural structures interact constantly with the environment. This is a protracted process, beginning in the third week of gestation and continuing into early adulthood. Reviewed here are studies using structural imaging techniques, with a special focus on diffusion weighted imaging, describing age-related brain maturational changes in children and adolescents, as well as studies that link these changes to behavioral differences. Finally, we discuss evidence for effects on the brain of several factors that may play a role in mediating these brain–behavior associations in children, including genetic variation, behavioral interventions, and hormonal variation associated with puberty. At present longitudinal studies are few, and we do not yet know how variability in individual trajectories of biological development in specific neural systems map onto similar variability in behavioral trajectories.
MRI; DTI; brain development; cognitive development; individual differences; fiber tracts
Adolescence is a transitional period between childhood and adulthood that encompasses vast changes within brain systems that parallel some, but not all, behavioral changes. Elevations in emotional reactivity and reward processing follow an inverted U shape in terms of onset and remission, with the peak occurring during adolescence. However, cognitive processing follows a more linear course of development. This review will focus on changes within key structures and will highlight the relationships between brain changes and behavior, with evidence spanning from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in humans to molecular studies of receptor and signaling factors in animals. Adolescent changes in neuronal substrates will be used to understand how typical and atypical behaviors arise during adolescence. We draw upon clinical and preclinical studies to provide a neural framework for defining adolescence and its role in the transition to adulthood.
Adolescence; gray matter; pruning; sex differences; white matter
During aging, changes in the structure of the cerebral cortex of the rat have been seen, but potential changes in neuron number remain largely unexplored. In the present study, stereological methods were used to examine neuron number in the medial prefrontal cortex and primary visual cortex of young adult (85–90 days of age) and aged (19–22 months old) male and female rats in order to investigate any age-related losses. Possible sex differences in aging were also examined since sexually dimorphic patterns of aging have been seen in other measures. An age-related loss of neurons (18–20%), which was mirrored in volume losses, was found to occur in the primary visual cortex in both sexes in all layers except IV. Males, but not females, also lost neurons (15 %) from layer V/VI of the ventral medial prefrontal cortex and showed an overall decrease in volume of this region. In contrast, dorsal medial prefrontal cortex showed no age-related changes. The effects of aging clearly differ among regions of the rat brain and to some degree, between the sexes.
Nervous system development; regeneration; aging; sex differences; stereology; neuron number; volume; aging; anterior cingulate
The formation and storage of fear memory is needed to adapt behavior and avoid danger during subsequent fearful events. However, fear memory may also play a significant role in stress and anxiety disorders. When fear becomes disproportionate to that necessary to cope with a given stimulus, or begins to occur in inappropriate situations, a fear or anxiety disorder exists. Thus, the study of cellular and molecular mechanisms underpinning fear memory may shed light on the formation of memory and on anxiety and stress related disorders. Evidence indicates that fear learning leads to changes in neuronal synaptic transmission and morphology in brain areas underlying fear memory formation including the amygdala and hippocampus. The actin cytoskeleton has been shown to participate in these key neuronal processes. Recent findings show that the actin cytoskeleton is needed for fear memory formation and extinction. Moreover, the actin cytoskeleton is involved in synaptic plasticity and in neuronal morphogenesis in brain areas that mediate fear memory. The actin cytoskeleton may therefore mediate between synaptic transmission during fear learning and long-term cellular alterations mandatory for fear memory formation.
actin cytoskeleton; fear memory; synaptic plasticity; amygdala; hippocampus
Microglia, the resident innate immune cells in the brain, have long been implicated in the pathology of neurodegenerative diseases. Accumulating evidence points to activated microglia as a chronic source of multiple neurotoxic factors, including TNFα, NO, IL1-β, and reactive oxygen species (ROS), driving progressive neuron damage. Microglia can become chronically activated by either a single stimulus (ex. LPS or neuron damage) or multiple stimuli exposures to result in cumulative neuronal loss over time. While the mechanisms driving these phenomena are just beginning to be understood, reactive microgliosis (the microglial response to neuron damage) and ROS have been implicated as key mechanisms of chronic and neurotoxic microglial activation, particularly in the case of Parkinson’s Disease. Here, we review the mechanisms of neurotoxicity associated with chronic microglial activation and discuss the role of neuronal death and microglial ROS driving the chronic and toxic microglial phenotype.
Microglia; inflammation-mediated neurodegeneration; oxidative stress; chronic neurotoxicity; reactive microgliosis
The rat basolateral nucleus of the amygdala continues to develop connectivity with the frontal cortex through the periadolescent period and even into young adulthood. Although neuronal loss in the prefrontal cortex has been found during the periadolescent period, prior literature has not examined whether neuron number in the basolateral amygdala is stable through this period. In addition, aging of the rat basolateral nucleus is accompanied by significant increases in the dendritic tree of its principal neurons, but whether this occurs in the context of neuronal death has not been previously explored. In the present study, a stereological examination of neuron and glia numbers in the rat basolateral amygdalar nucleus was undertaken in male and female hooded rats at one of four ages across the lifespan. Our findings indicate (1) a significant decrease in the number of neurons and glia in the basolateral nucleus between adolescence and adulthood, and (2) the number of glia, as well as the volume of the basolateral nucleus, increase between adulthood and old age, while neuron number remains stable. These findings provide an important cellular context for interpretation of the neurochemical and other alterations documented in developmental and age-related literature on the rat basolateral amygdala, and underline the substantial development of this brain area during adolescence, as well as its comparative preservation during aging.
basolateral amygdala; stereology; development; adolescence; aging; sex differences
Diffusion Tensor magnetic resonance imaging and computational neuroanatomy are used to quantify postnatal developmental patterns of C57BL/6J mouse brain. Changes in neuronal organization and myelination occurring as the brain matures into adulthood are examined, and a normative baseline is developed, against which transgenic mice may be compared in genotype–phenotype studies. In early postnatal days, gray matter–based cortical and hippocampal structures exhibit high water diffusion anisotropy, presumably reflecting the radial neuronal organization. Anisotropy drops rapidly within a week, indicating that the underlying brain tissue becomes more isotropic in orientation, possibly due to formation of a complex randomly intertwined web of dendrites. Gradual white matter anisotropy increase implies progressively more organized axonal pathways, likely reflecting the myelination of axons forming tightly packed fiber bundles. In contrast to the spatially complex pattern of tissue maturation, volumetric growth is somewhat uniform, with the cortex and the cerebellum exhibiting slightly more pronounced growth. Temporally, structural growth rates demonstrate an initial rapid volumetric increase in most structures, gradually tapering off to a steady state by about 20 days. Fiber maturation reaches steady state in about 10 days for the cortex, to 30–40 days for the corpus callosum, the hippocampus, and the internal and external capsules.
computational neuroanatomy; development atlas; diffusion tensor imaging; fractional anisotropy; mouse brain
While multiple theories have been put forth regarding the origin of schizophrenia, by far the vast majority of evidence points to the neurodevelopmental model in which developmental insults as early as late first or early second trimester lead to the activation of pathologic neural circuits during adolescence or young adulthood leading to the emergence of positive or negative symptoms. In this report, we examine the evidence from brain pathology (enlargement of the cerebroventricular system, changes in gray and white matters, and abnormal laminar organization), genetics (changes in the normal expression of proteins that are involved in early migration of neurons and glia, cell proliferation, axonal outgrowth, synaptogenesis, and apoptosis), environmental factors (increased frequency of obstetric complications and increased rates of schizophrenic births due to prenatal viral or bacterial infections), and gene-environmental interactions (a disproportionate number of schizophrenia candidate genes are regulated by hypoxia, microdeletions and microduplications, the overrepresentation of pathogen-related genes among schizophrenia candidate genes) in support of the neurodevelopmental model. We relate the neurodevelopmental model to a number of findings about schizophrenia. Finally, we also examine alternate explanations of the origin of schizophrenia including the neurodegenerative model.
brain; genes; animal model; pathology; epidemiology; antiviral model; schizophrenia
While many factors contribute to aging, changes in calcium homeostasis and calcium related neuronal processes are likely to be important. High intracellular calcium is toxic to cells and alterations in calcium homeostasis are associated with changes in calcium-binding proteins, which confine free Ca2+. We therefore assayed the expression of the calcium binding proteins calretinin and calbindin in the central auditory nervous system of rats.
Using antibodies to calretinin and calbindin, we assayed their expression in the cochlear nucleus, superior olivary nucleus, inferior colliculus, medial geniculate body and auditory cortex of young (4 months old) and aged (24 months old) rats.
Calretinin and calbindin staining intensity in neurons of the cochlear nucleus was significantly higher in aged than in young rats (p<0.05) The number and staining intensity of calretinin-positive neurons in the inferior colliculus, and of calbindin-positive neurons in the superior olivary nucleus were greater in aged than in young rats (p<0.05).
These results suggest that auditory processing is altered during aging, which may be due to increased intracellular Ca2+ concentration, consequently leading to increased immunoreactivity toward calcium-binding proteins.
Calcium-binding proteins; Aging; Auditory pathway
The developmental neurotoxicity of organophosphate pesticides involves mechanisms other than their shared property of cholinesterase inhibition.
We gave diazinon (DZN) to newborn rats on postnatal days 1–4, using doses (0.5 or 2 mg/kg) spanning the threshold for barely detectable cholinesterase inhibition.
We then evaluated the lasting effects on indices of neural cell number and size, and on functional markers of acetylcholine (ACh) synapses (choline acetyltransferase, presynaptic high-affinity choline transporter, nicotinic cholinergic receptors) in a variety of brain regions.
DZN exposure produced a significant overall increase in cell-packing density in adolescence and adulthood, suggestive of neuronal loss and reactive gliosis; however, some regions (temporal/occipital cortex, striatum) showed evidence of net cell loss, reflecting a greater sensitivity to neurotoxic effects of DZN. Deficits were seen in ACh markers in cerebrocortical areas and the hippocampus, regions enriched in ACh projections. In contrast, there were no significant effects in the midbrain, the major locus for ACh cell bodies. The striatum showed a unique pattern, with robust initial elevations in the ACh markers that regressed in adulthood to normal or subnormal values.
These results indicate that developmental exposures to apparently nontoxic doses of DZN compromise neural cell development and alter ACh synaptic function in adolescence and adulthood. The patterns seen here differ substantially from those seen in earlier work with chlorpyrifos, reinforcing the concept that the various organophosphates have fundamentally different effects on the developmental trajectories of specific neurotransmitter systems, unrelated to their shared action as cholinesterase inhibitors.
acetylcholine; brain development; diazinon; organophosphate insecticides
The amyloid precursor protein (APP) was assumed to be an important neuron-morphoregulatory protein and plays a central role in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology. In the study presented here, we analyzed the APP-transgenic mouse model APP23 using 2-dimensional gel electrophoresis technology in combination with DIGE and mass spectrometry. We investigated cortex and hippocampus of transgenic and wildtype mice at 1, 2, 7 and 15 months of age. Furthermore, cortices of 16 days old embryos were analyzed. When comparing the protein patterns of APP23 with wildtype mice, we detected a relatively large number of altered protein spots at all age stages and brain regions examined which largely preceded the occurrence of amyloid plaques. Interestingly, in hippocampus of adolescent, two-month old mice, a considerable peak in the number of protein changes was observed. Moreover, when protein patterns were compared longitudinally between age stages, we found that a large number of proteins were altered in wildtype mice. Those alterations were largely absent in hippocampus of APP23 mice at two months of age although not in other stages compared. Apparently, the large difference in the hippocampal protein patterns between two-month old APP23 and wildtype mice was caused by the absence of distinct developmental changes in the hippocampal proteome of APP23 mice. In summary, the absence of developmental proteome alterations as well as a down-regulation of proteins related to plasticity suggest the disturption of a normally occurring peak of hippocampal plasticity during adolescence in APP23 mice. Our findings are in line with the observation that AD is preceded by a clinically silent period of several years to decades. We also demonstrate that it is of utmost importance to analyze different brain regions and different age stages to obtain information about disease-causing mechanisms.
Adolescence refers to the period of physical and psychological development between childhood and adulthood. The beginning of adolescence is loosely anchored to the onset of puberty, which brings dramatic alterations in hormone levels and a number of consequent physical changes. Puberty onset is also associated with profound changes in drives, motivations, psychology, and social life; these changes continue throughout adolescence. There is an increasing number of neuroimaging studies looking at the development of the brain, both structurally and functionally, during adolescence. Almost all of these studies have defined development by chronological age, which shows a strong—but not unitary—correlation with pubertal stage. Very few neuroimaging studies have associated brain development with pubertal stage, and yet there is tentative evidence to suggest that puberty might play an important role in some aspects of brain and cognitive development. In this paper we describe this research, and we suggest that, in the future, developmental neuroimaging studies of adolescence should consider the role of puberty. Hum Brain Mapp, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
puberty; adolescence; development; hormones; prefrontal cortex
Epilepsy is characterized by spontaneous recurrent seizures and comprises a diverse group of syndromes with different etiologies. Epileptogenesis refers to the process whereby the brain becomes epileptic and can be related to several factors, such as acquired structural brain lesions, inborn brain malformations, alterations in neuronal signaling, and defects in maturation and plasticity of neuronal networks. In this review, we will focus on alterations of brain development that lead to an hyperexcitability phenotype in adulthood, providing examples from both animal and human studies. Malformations of cortical development (including focal cortical dysplasia, lissencephaly, heterotopia, and polymicrogyria) are frequently epileptogenic and result from defects in cell proliferation in the germinal zone and/or impaired neuronal migration and differentiation. Delayed or reduced arrival of inhibitory interneurons into the cortical plate is another possible cause of epileptogenesis. GABAergic neurons are generated during early development in the ganglionic eminences, and failure to pursue migration toward the cortex alters the excitatory/inhibitory balance resulting in aberrant network hyperexcitability. More subtle defects in the developmental assembly of excitatory and inhibitory synapses are also involved in epilepsy. For example, mutations in the presynaptic proteins synapsins and SNAP-25 cause derangements of synaptic transmission and plasticity which underlie appearance of an epileptic phenotype. Finally, there is evidence that defects in synapse elimination and remodeling during early “critical periods” can trigger hyperexcitability later in life. Further clarification of the developmental pathways to epilepsy has important implications for disease prevention and therapy.
cortex; hippocampus; GABA; glutamate; critical period; sodium channels
Prenatal exposure to high levels of alcohol is strongly associated with poor cognitive outcomes particularly in relation to learning and memory. It is also becoming more evident that anxiety disorders and anxiety-like behaviour can be associated with prenatal alcohol exposure. This study used a rat model to determine if prenatal exposure to a relatively small amount of alcohol would result in anxiety-like behaviour and to determine if this was associated with morphological changes in the basolateral amygdala. Pregnant Sprague Dawley rats were fed a liquid diet containing either no alcohol (Control) or 6% (vol/vol) ethanol (EtOH) throughout gestation. Male and Female offspring underwent behavioural testing at 8 months (Adult) or 15 months (Aged) of age. Rats were perfusion fixed and brains were collected at the end of behavioural testing for morphological analysis of pyramidal neuron number and dendritic morphology within the basolateral amygdala. EtOH exposed offspring displayed anxiety-like behaviour in the elevated plus maze, holeboard and emergence tests. Although sexually dimorphic behaviour was apparent, sex did not impact anxiety-like behaviour induced by prenatal alcohol exposure. This increase in anxiety – like behaviour could not be attributed to a change in pyramidal cell number within the BLA but rather was associated with an increase in dendritic spines along the apical dendrite which is indicative of an increase in synaptic connectivity and activity within these neurons. This study is the first to link increases in anxiety like behaviour to structural changes within the basolateral amygdala in a model of prenatal ethanol exposure. In addition, this study has shown that exposure to even a relatively small amount of alcohol during development leads to long term alterations in anxiety-like behaviour.
It is of critical importance to understand the numbers and distributions of neurons and non-neurons in the cerebral cortex because cell numbers are reduced with normal aging and by diseases of the CNS. The isotropic fractionator method provides a faster way of estimating numbers of total cells and neurons in whole brains and dissected brain parts. Several comparative studies have illustrated the accuracy and utility of the isotropic fractionator method, yet it is a relatively new methodology, and there is opportunity to adjust procedures to optimize its efficiency and minimize error. In the present study, we use 142 samples from a dissected baboon cortical hemisphere to evaluate if isotropic fractionator counts using a Neubauer counting chamber and fluorescence microscopy could be accurately reproduced using flow cytometry methods. We find greater repeatability in flow cytometry counts, and no evidence of constant or proportional bias when comparing microscopy to flow cytometry counts. We conclude that cell number estimation using a flow cytometer is more efficient and more precise than comparable counts using a Neubauer chamber on a fluorescence microscope. This method for higher throughput, precise estimation of cell numbers has the potential to rapidly advance research in post-mortem human brains and vastly improve our understanding of cortical and subcortical structures in normal, injured, aged, and diseased brains.
isotropic fractionator; flow cytometry; Neubauer chamber; neuron number
Serotonin neurons in 14-d embryonic rat brain stem were identified by peroxidase-antiperoxidase immunocytochemistry with an affinity-purified antiserotonin antibody. Brain-stem tissue was dissected from 14- or 15- d embryonic rats, dissociated and grown in cell culture for up to 5 wk, and serotonin neurons were identified by immunocytochemistry. Within 24 h of plating, serotonin immunoreactivity was present in 3.3% of neurons. Immunoreactivity in neuronal cell bodies decreased with time, whereas staining of processes increased. The number of serotonin- immunoreactive neurons remained constant at 3-5% over the first 14 d in culture. From 14 to 28 d, the total number of neurons decreased with little change in the number of serotonin neurons, such that, by day 28 in culture, up to 36% of surviving neurons exhibited serotonin immunoreactivity. Similar percentages of cultured brain stem neurons accumulating 3H-serotonin were identified by autoradiography. Uptake was abolished by the serotonin-uptake inhibitor, clomipramine, but was unaffected by excess norepinephrine, or by the norepinephrine-uptake inhibitor, maprotiline. Synthesis of 3H-serotonin was detected after incubation of cultures with 3H-tryptophan, and newly synthesized serotonin was released by potassium depolarization in a calcium- dependent manner. More than 95% of serotonin neurons were destroyed after incubation of cultures with 5,6-dihydroxytryptamine. Brain-stem cultures contained virtually no neurons with the ability to accumulate 3H-norepinephrine or 3H-dopamine. Approximately 40% of brain-stem neurons were labeled with gamma-aminobutyric acid (3H-GABA). However, there was almost no overlap in the surface area of neurons accumulating 3H-serotonin or 3H-GABA.
Rather than arising from the passive accumulation of excess calories, obesity is a state in which the biologically defended level of body fat stores increases due to defects in the homeostatic process that matches food intake and energy expenditure over time. By deleting leptin receptors from distinct brain regions and neuronal subsets, researchers are beginning to identify the neuroanatomical substrates responsible for this regulation. In this issue of the JCI, Scott et al. demonstrate that loss of leptin receptors in a subset of hindbrain neurons increases food intake in mice, but, unlike what is observed when leptin receptors are deleted from hypothalamic neurons, these mice compensate by increasing energy expenditure and hence do not become obese. Although many brain areas can regulate energy intake and/or energy expenditure, it is likely that only a small subset of neurons actively matches the two over time. It is vital to clarify how this works if we are to improve our understanding of obesity pathogenesis and options available for its treatment.
Clathrin-coated vesicles are known to play diverse and pivotal roles in cells. The proper formation of clathrin-coated vesicles is dependent on, and highly regulated by, a large number of clathrin assembly proteins. These assembly proteins likely determine the functional specificity of clathrin-coated vesicles, and together they control a multitude of intracellular trafficking pathways—including those involved in embryonic development. In this study, we focus on two closely related clathrin assembly proteins, AP180 and CALM (clathrin assembly lymphoid myeloid leukemia protein), in the developing embryonic rat brain. We find that AP180 begins to be expressed at embryonic day 14 (E14), but only in postmitotic cells that have acquired a neuronal fate. CALM, on the other hand, is expressed as early as E12, by both neural stem cells and postmitotic neurons. In vitro loss-of-function studies using RNA interference (RNAi) indicate that AP180 and CALM are dispensable for some aspects of embryonic neurogenesis but are required for the growth of postmitotic neurons. These results identify the developmental staging of AP180 and CALM expression and suggest that each protein has distinct functions in neural development.
intracellular trafficking; neural stem cells; postmitotic neurons; dopaminergic
To assess the impact of aging on the radiation response in the adult rat brain.
Methods and Materials
Male rats 8, 18, or 28 months of age received a single 10Gy dose of whole brain irradiation (WBI). The hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) was analyzed one and ten weeks later for sensitive neurobiological markers associated with radiation-induced damage: changes in the density of proliferating cells, immature neurons, total microglia, and activated microglia.
A significant reduction in basal levels of proliferating cells and immature neurons and increased microglial activation occurred with normal aging. WBI induced a transient increase in proliferation that was greater in older animals. This proliferation response did not increase the number of immature neurons, which decreased following WBI in young rats but not in old rats. Total microglial number decreased following WBI at all ages but microglial activation increased markedly, particularly in older animals.
Age is an important factor to consider when investigating the radiation response of the brain. In contrast to young adults, older rats show no sustained decrease in the number of immature neurons following WBI but have a greater inflammatory response. The latter may play an enhanced role in the development of radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction in older individuals.
WBI; aging; microglia; neurogenesis; hippocampus
The number of neurons in the ventrobasal thalamus (VB) in the adolescent rat is unaffected by prenatal exposure to ethanol. This is in sharp contrast to other parts of the trigeminal-somatosensory system which exhibit 30–35% fewer neurons after prenatal ethanol exposure. The present study tested the hypothesis that prenatal ethanol exposure affects dynamic changes in the numbers of VB neurons; such changes reflect the sum of cell proliferation and death. Neuronal number in the VB was determined during the first postnatal month in the offspring of pregnant Long-Evans rats fed an ethanol-containing diet or pair-fed an isocaloric non-alcoholic liquid diet. Offspring were examined between postnatal day (P) 1 and P30. The size of the VB and neuronal number were determined stereologically. Prenatal exposure to ethanol did not significantly alter neuronal number on any individual day, nor was the prenatal generation of VB neurons affected. Interestingly, prenatal ethanol exposure did affect the pattern of the change in neuronal number over time; total neuronal number was stable in the ethanol-treated pups after P12, but it continued to rise in the controls until P21. In addition, the rate of cell proliferation during the postnatal period was greater in ethanol-treated animals. Thus, the rate of neuronal acquisition is altered by ethanol, and by deduction there appears to be less ethanol-induced neuronal loss in the VB. A contributor to these changes is a latent effect of ethanol on postnatal neurogenesis in the VB and the apparent survival of new neurons.
alcohol; brain development; fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; fetal alcohol syndrome; neural stem cell; proliferation; somatosensory; trigeminal; ventrobasal