Dopamine-β-hydroxylase (DβH) deficiency is a rare genetic syndrome characterized by the complete absence of norepinephrine in the peripheral and the central nervous system. DβH-deficient patients suffer from several physical symptoms, which can be treated successfully with L-threo-3,4-dihydroxyphenylserine, a synthetic precursor of norepinephrine. Informal clinical observations suggest that DβH-deficient patients do not have obvious cognitive impairments, even when they are not medicated, which is remarkable given the important role of norepinephrine in normal neurocognitive function. This study provided the first systematic investigation of neurocognitive function in human DβH deficiency. We tested 5 DβH-deficient patients and 10 matched healthy control participants on a comprehensive cognitive task battery, and examined their pupil dynamics, brain structure, and the P3 component of the electroencephalogram. All participants were tested twice; the patients were tested once ON and once OFF medication. Magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brain revealed that the patients had a smaller total brain volume than the control group, which is in line with the recent hypothesis that norepinephrine has a neurotrophic effect. In addition, the patients showed an abnormally small or absent task-evoked pupil dilation. However, we found no substantial differences in cognitive performance or P3 amplitude between the patients and the control participants, with the exception of a temporal-attention deficit in the patients OFF medication. The largely spared neurocognitive function in DβH-deficient patients suggests that other neuromodulators have taken over the function of norepinephrine in the brains of these patients.
dopamine-β-hydroxylase deficiency; norepinephrine; cognition; brain; DOPS; catecholamines; clinical pharmacology/clinical trials; cognition; biological psychiatry; dopamine-beta-hydroxylase deficiency; norepinephrine; brain; attention; EEG
Norepinephrine (NE) is thought to play a key role in fear and anxiety, but its role in amygdala-dependent Pavlovian fear conditioning, a major model for understanding the neural basis of fear, is poorly understood. The lateral nucleus of the amygdala (LA) is a critical brain region for fear learning and regulating the effects of stress on memory. To understand better the cellular mechanisms of NE and its adrenergic receptors in the LA, we used antibodies directed against dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DβH), the synthetic enzyme for NE, or against two different isoforms of the beta-adrenergic receptors (βARs), one that predominately recognizes neurons (βAR 248) and the other astrocytes (βAR 404), to characterize the microenvironments of DβH and βAR. By electron microscopy, most DβH terminals did not make synapses, but when they did, they formed both asymmetric and symmetric synapses. By light microscopy, βARs were present in both neurons and astrocytes. Confocal microscopy revealed that both excitatory and inhibitory neurons express βAR248. By electron microscopy, βAR 248 was present in neuronal cell bodies, dendritic shafts and spines, and some axon terminals and astrocytes. When in dendrites and spines, βAR 248 was frequently concentrated along plasma membranes and at post-synaptic densities of asymmetric (excitatory) synapses. βAR 404 was expressed predominately in astrocytic cell bodies and processes. These astrocytic processes were frequently interposed between unlabeled terminals or ensheathed asymmetric synapses. Our findings provide a morphological basis for understanding ways in which NE may modulate transmission by acting via synaptic or non-synaptic mechanisms in the LA.
norepinephrine; DBH; synapse; volume transmission; astrocyte; electron microscopy; fear; lateral amygdala
Dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DβH) deficiency is a very rare form of primary autonomic failure characterized by a complete absence of noradrenaline and adrenaline in plasma together with increased dopamine plasma levels. The prevalence of DβH deficiency is unknown. Only a limited number of cases with this disease have been reported. DβH deficiency is mainly characterized by cardiovascular disorders and severe orthostatic hypotension. First symptoms often start during a complicated perinatal period with hypotension, muscle hypotonia, hypothermia and hypoglycemia. Children with DβH deficiency exhibit reduced ability to exercise because of blood pressure inadaptation with exertion and syncope. Symptoms usually worsen progressively during late adolescence and early adulthood with severe orthostatic hypotension, eyelid ptosis, nasal stuffiness and sexual disorders. Limitation in standing tolerance, limited ability to exercise and traumatic morbidity related to falls and syncope may represent later evolution. The syndrome is caused by heterogeneous molecular alterations of the DBH gene and is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. Restoration of plasma noradrenaline to the normal range can be achieved by therapy with the synthetic precursor of noradrenaline, L-threo-dihydroxyphenylserine (DOPS). Oral administration of 100 to 500 mg DOPS, twice or three times daily, increases blood pressure and reverses the orthostatic intolerance.
Pharmacogenetics uses genetic variation to predict individual differences in response to medications and holds much promise to improve treatment of addictive disorders.
To review how genetic variation affects responses to cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine and how this information may guide pharmacotherapy.
We performed a cross-referenced literature search on pharmacogenetics, cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine.
We describe functional genetic variants for enzymes dopamine-beta-hydroxylase (DβH), catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), and dopamine transporter (DAT1), dopamine D4 receptor, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP; C-1021T) in the DβH gene is relevant to paranoia associated with disulfiram pharmacotherapy for cocaine addiction. Individuals with variable number tandem repeats (VNTR) of the SLC6A3 gene 3′-untranslated region polymorphism of DAT1 have altered responses to drugs. The 10/10 repeat respond poorly to methylphenidate pharmacotherapy and the 9/9 DAT1 variant show blunted euphoria and physiological response to amphetamine. COMT, D4 receptor, and BDNF polymorphisms are linked to methamphetamine abuse and psychosis.
Disulfiram and methylphenidate pharmacotherapies for cocaine addiction are optimized by considering polymorphisms affecting DβH and DAT1 respectively. Altered subjective effects for amphetamine in DAT1 VNTR variants suggest a ‘protected’ phenotype.
Pharmacogenetic-based treatments for psychostimulant addiction are critical for successful treatment.
Gene variants; pharmacotherapies; drug therapy; stimulants; individualized therapy; gene-based therapeutics; polymorphisms; genetic variation; subjective effects; drug dependence; addiction psychiatry
Background: Activation of the sympathetic nervous system is an important feature in hypertension and congestive heart failure. A strategy for directly modulating sympathetic nerve function is to reduce the biosynthesis of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) via inhibition of dopamine-β-hydroxylase (DβH).
Objective: To assess the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of etamicastat (BIA 5–453), a new DβH inhibitor, following repeated dosing.
Methods: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study was conducted in healthy young male volunteers. Participants received once-daily doses of placebo or etamicastat 25, 50, 100, 200, 400, or 600 mg, for 10 days.
Results: Etamicastat underwent N-acetylation to its metabolite BIA 5–961. Etamicastat and BIA 5–961 maximum concentrations were achieved at 1–3 and 2–4 hours, respectively, after dosing. Elimination half-lives ranged from 18.1 to 25.7 hours for etamicastat and 6.7 to 22.5 hours for BIA 5–961. Both etamicastat and BIA 5-961 followed linear pharmacokinetics. The extent of systemic exposure to etamicastat and BIA 5–961 increased in an approximately dose-proportional manner, and steady-state plasma concentrations were attained up to 9 days of dosing. Etamicastat accumulated in plasma following repeated administration. The mean observed accumulation ratio was 1.3–1.9 for etamicastat and 1.3–1.6 for BIA 5–961. Approximately 40%of the etamicastat dose was recovered in urine in the form of parent compound and BIA 5–961. There was a high variability in pharmacokinetic parameters, attributable to different N-acetyltransferase-2 (NAT2) phenotype. Urinary excretion of norepinephrine decreased following repeated administration of etamicastat. Etamicastat was generally well tolerated. There was no serious adverse event or clinically significant abnormality in clinical laboratory tests, vital signs, or ECG parameters.
Conclusion: Etamicastat was well tolerated. Etamicastat undergoes N-acetylation, which is markedly influenced by NAT2 phenotype. NAT2 genotyping could be a step toward personalized medicine for etamicastat.
Trial Registration: EudraCT No. 2007-004142-33
Dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH) plays an essential role in catecholamine synthesis by converting dopamine into norepinephrine. Here we systematically investigated DBH polymorphisms associated with enzymatic activity as well as autonomic and BP/disease phenotypes in vivo.
Methods and Results
70 genetic variants were discovered at the locus; across ethnicities, much of the promoter was spanned by a 5’ haplotype block, with a larger block spanning the promoter in whites than blacks. DBH secretion was predicted by genetic variants in the DBH promoter, rather than the amino acid coding region. The C allele of common promoter variant C-970T increased plasma DBH activity, epinephrine excretion, the heritable change in BP during environmental stress in twin pairs, and also predicted higher basal BP in three independent populations. Mutagenesis and expression studies with isolated/transfected DBH promoter/luciferase reporters in chromaffin cells indicated that variant C-970T was functional. C-970T partially disrupted consensus transcriptional motifs for n-MYC and MEF-2, and this variant affected not only basal expression, but also the response to exogenous/co-transfected n-MYC or MEF-2; during ChIP, these two endogenous factors interacted with the motif.
These results suggest that common DBH promoter variant C-970T plays a role in the pathogenesis of human essential hypertension: common genetic variation in the DBH promoter region seems to initiate a cascade of biochemical and physiological changes eventuating in alterations of basal BP. These observations suggest new molecular strategies for probing the pathophysiology, risk, and rational treatment of systemic hypertension.
Dopamine beta-hydroxylase; polymorphism; hypertension
Catecholaminergic neurons of the A2 area play a prominent role in brain stem vagal circuits. It is not clear, however, whether these neurons are noradrenergic or adrenergic, i.e., display tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and dopamine-β-hydroxylase (DβH) immunoreactivity (-IR) or dopaminergic (i.e., TH- but not DβH-IR). Our aims were to investigate whether a subpopulation of neurons in the A2 area was dopaminergic and, if so, to investigate the effects of dopamine (DA) on the membrane of gastric-projecting vagal motoneurons. We observed that although the majority of A2 neurons were both TH- and DβH-IR, a small percentage of nucleus tractus solitarius neurons were TH-IR only, suggesting that DA itself may play role in these circuits. Whole cell recordings from thin brain stem slices showed that 71% of identified gastric-projecting motoneurons responded to DA (1–300 µM) with either an excitation (28%) or an inhibition (43%) of the membrane; the remaining 29% of the neurons were unresponsive. The DA-induced depolarization was mimicked by SK 38393 and prevented by pretreatment with SCH 23390. Conversely, the DA-induced inhibition was mimicked by bromoergocryptine and prevented by pretreatment with L741626. When tested on the same neuron, the effects of DA and NE were not always similar. In fact, in neurons in which DA induced a membrane depolarization, 77% were inhibited by NE, whereas 75% of neurons unresponsive to DA were inhibited by NE. Our data suggest that DA modulates the membrane properties of gastric-projecting motoneurons via D1- and D2-like receptors, and DA may play different roles than norepinephrine in brain stem vagal circuits.
brain stem; electrophysiology; gastric
The present study examined the role of endogenous noradrenaline on glial and neuronal plasticity in the spinal cord in rats after peripheral nerve injury. An intrathecal injection of dopamine-β-hydroxylase antibody conjugated to saporin (DβH-saporin) completely depleted noradrenergic axons in the spinal cord and also reduced noradrenergic neurons in the locus coeruleus (A6) and A5 noradrenergic nucleus in the brainstem and noradrenergic axons in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. DβH-saporin treatment itself did not alter mechanical withdrawal threshold, but enhanced mechanical hypersensitivity and intrathecal clonidine analgesia after L5–L6 spinal nerve ligation (SNL). In the spinal dorsal horn of SNL rats, DβH-saporin treatment increased choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) immunoreactivity as well as immunoreactivity in microglia of ionized calcium binding adaptor molecule 1[IBA1] and in astrocytes of glial fibrillary acidic protein [GFAP], and brain derived nerve growth factor (BDNF) content. DβH-saporin treatment did not, however alter the fractional release of acetylcholine from terminals by dexmedetomidine after nerve injury. These results suggest that endogenous tone of noradrenergic fibers is not necessary for the plasticity of α2-adrenoceptor analgesia and glial activation after nerve injury, but might play an inhibitory role on glial activation.
This study demonstrates that endogenous noradrenaline modulates plasticity of glia and cholinergic neurons in the spinal cord after peripheral nerve injury and hence influences the pathophysiology of spinal cord changes associated with neuropathic pain.
neuropathic pain; noradrenaline; acetylcholine; brain-derived neurotrophic factor; microglia; astrocytes
During development, sympathetic neurons and chromaffin cells originate from bipotential sympathoadrenal (SA) progenitors arising from neural crests (NC) in the trunk regions. Recently, we showed that AP-2β, a member of the AP2 family, plays a critical role in the development of sympathetic neurons and locus coeruleus and their norepinephrine (NE) neurotransmitter phenotype. In the present study, we investigated the potential role of AP-2β in the development of NC-derived neuroendocrine chromaffin cells of the adrenal medulla and the epinephrine (EPI) phenotype determination. In support of its role in chromaffin cell development, AP-2β is prominently expressed in both embryonic and adult adrenal medulla. In adrenal chromaffin cells of the AP-2β−/− mouse, the expression levels of catecholamine biosynthesizing enzymes, dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH) and phenylethanolamine-N-methyl-transferase (PNMT), as well as the SA-specific transcription factor, Phox2b, are significantly reduced compared to wild type. In addition, ultrastructural analysis demonstrated that formation of large secretory vesicles, a hallmark of differentiated chromaffin cells, is defective in AP-2β−/− mice. Furthermore, the level of EPI content is largely diminished (>80%) in the adrenal gland of AP-2β−/− mice. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays of rat adrenal gland showed that AP-2β binds to the upstream promoter of the PNMT gene in vivo; strongly suggesting that it is a direct target gene. Overall, our data suggest that AP-2β plays critical roles in the epinephrine phenotype and maturation of adrenal chromaffin cells.
AP-2β; epinephrine; chromaffin cells; phenylethanolamine-N-methyl-transferase; large secretory vesicles; Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays
Norepinephrine (NE) plays a central role in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dopamine β-hydroxylase (DβH) converts dopamine (DA) to NE and its activity varies widely across individuals. Mustapic et al. (2007) reported a PTSD-associated deficit in serum DβH activity (sDβH) in a genotype-controlled analysis of combat veterans. We tested whether such a deficit would occur in a sample of civilians.
The severity of current adult PTSD symptoms and current DSM-IV diagnosis of PTSD were determined by the PTSD Symptom Scale (PSS). Adulthood trauma exposure was assessed using the Traumatic Experience Inventory (TEI). sDβH was assayed by HPLC with electrochemical detection and genotypes were determined using the Taqman® platform.
Two hundred and twenty seven African American (AA) subjects were enrolled in this study, with a mean age (± SD) of 42.9 (±12.9) years. We found a strong association between rs1611115 genotype and sDβH (p<0.0001). After controlling for adulthood trauma exposure, there were no significant differences of sDβH between subjects who met a PTSD diagnosis and those who did not (p>0.05) in any genotype group. No significant correlations were found between sDβH and PTSD severity, but sDβH significantly associated with the status of comorbid depression based on the cutoff of HAMD (p=0.014) in subjects with PTSD.
We have replicated in this sample the prior finding that DBH rs1611115 genotype strongly associates with sDβH. No associations between sDβH and PTSD diagnosis or symptom severity in this civilian sample.
post-traumatic stress disorder; serum dopamine β-hydroxylase; genotype; depression; civilian trauma; association
Cocaine addiction involves a number of medical, psychological and social problems. Understanding the genetic aetiology of this disorder will be essential for design of effective treatments. Dopamine-beta hydroxylase (DbH) catalyzes the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine and could, therefore, have an influence on both cocaine action and the basal sensitivity of neurotransmitter systems to cocaine. Recently, the -1021C>T polymorphism have been found to strongly correlated with individual variation in plasma DbH activity. To test the influence of this polymorphism on the susceptibility of cocaine addiction, we decided to genotype it in a sample of 689 cocaine addicts and 832 healthy individuals. Genotypic and allelic analyses did not show any evidence of association with cocaine addiction, even after correcting for the effect of population stratification and other possible confounders. Our results do not support a major role of the -1021C>T polymorphism or the gene itself in the development of cocaine addiction but further examination of other variants within this gene will be necessary to completely rule out an effect.
Myocardial infarction causes heterogeneity of noradrenergic transmission that contributes to the development of ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. Ischemia-induced alterations in sympathetic transmission include regional variations in cardiac norepinephrine (NE) and in tyrosine hydroxylase, the rate-limiting enzyme in NE synthesis. Inflammatory cytokines that act through gp130 are elevated in the heart after myocardial infarction. These cytokines decrease expression of tyrosine hydroxylase in sympathetic neurons, and indirect evidence suggests they contribute to the local depletion of tyrosine hydroxylase in the damaged left ventricle. However, gp130 cytokines are also important for the survival of cardiac myocytes following damage to the heart. To examine the effect of cytokines on tyrosine hydroxylase and NE content in cardiac nerves we used gp130DBH-Cre/lox mice, which have a deletion of the gp130 receptor in neurons expressing dopamine beta hydroxylase. The absence of neuronal gp130 prevented the loss of tyrosine hydroxylase in cardiac sympathetic nerves innervating the left ventricle one week after ischemia-reperfusion. Surprisingly, restoring tyrosine hydroxylase in the damaged ventricle did not return neuronal NE content to normal levels. NE uptake into cardiac nerves was significantly lower in gp130 KO mice, contributing to the lack of neuronal NE stores. There were no significant differences in left ventricular peak systolic pressure, dP/dtMAX, or dP/dtMIN between the two genotypes after myocardial infarction, but ganglionic blockade revealed differences in autonomic tone between the genotypes. Stimulating the heart with dobutamine or releasing endogenous NE with tyramine generated similar responses in both genotypes. Thus, the removal of gp130 from sympathetic neurons prevents the post-infarct depletion of TH in the left ventricle, but does not alter NE content or cardiac function.
cardiac; sympathetic; ischemia-reperfusion
The antialcoholism drug disulfiram has shown recent promise as a pharmacotherapy for treating cocaine dependence, probably via inhibition of dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH), the enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of dopamine (DA) to norepinephrine (NE). We previously showed that DBH knockout (Dbh -/-) mice, which lack NE, are susceptible to seizures and are hypersensitive to the psychomotor, rewarding, and aversive effects of cocaine, suggesting that disulfiram might exacerbate cocaine-induced seizures (CIS) by inhibiting DBH. To test this, we examined CIS in wild-type and Dbh -/- mice following administration of disulfiram or the selective DBH inhibitor nepicastat. We found that Dbh genotype had no effect on CIS probability or frequency, whereas disulfiram, but not nepicastat, increased the probability of having CIS in both wild-type and Dbh -/- mice. Both disulfiram and nepicastat increased CIS frequency in wild-type but not Dbh -/- mice. There were no genotype or treatment effects on serum cocaine levels, except for an increase in disulfiram-treated Dbh -/- mice at the highest dose of cocaine. These results suggest that disulfiram enhances CIS via two distinct mechanisms: it both increases CIS frequency by inhibiting DBH and increases CIS frequency in a DBH-independent manner.
norepinephrine; dopamine beta-hydroxylase; disulfiram; nepicastat; seizure; cocaine
For both model-free and model-based linkage analysis the S.A.G.E. (Statistical Analysis for Genetic Epidemiology) program package has some unique capabilities in analyzing both continuous traits and binary traits with variable age of onset. Here we highlight model-based linkage analysis of a quantitative trait (plasma dopamine β hydroxylase) that is known to be largely determined by monogenic inheritance, using a prior segregation analysis to produce the best fitting model for the trait. For a binary trait with variable age of onset (schizophrenia), we illustrate how using age of onset information to obtain a quantitative susceptibility trait leads to more statistically significant linkage signals, suggesting better power.
Age of onset; Best linear unbiased predictor; Haseman-Elston; Individual-specific penetrance values; Multipoint; Power transform; Segregation model for a continuous trait
Computerized aiding systems can assist human decision makers in complex tasks but can impair performance when they provide incorrect advice that humans erroneously follow, a phenomenon known as “automation bias.” The extent to which people exhibit automation bias varies significantly and may reflect inter-individual variation in the capacity of working memory and the efficiency of executive function, both of which are highly heritable and under dopaminergic and noradrenergic control in prefrontal cortex. The dopamine beta hydroxylase (DBH) gene is thought to regulate the differential availability of dopamine and norepinephrine in prefrontal cortex. We therefore examined decision-making performance under imperfect computer aiding in 100 participants performing a simulated command and control task. Based on two single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) of the DBH gene, −1041 C/T (rs1611115) and 444 G/A (rs1108580), participants were divided into groups of low and high DBH enzyme activity, where low enzyme activity is associated with greater dopamine relative to norepinephrine levels in cortex. Compared to those in the high DBH enzyme activity group, individuals in the low DBH enzyme activity group were more accurate and speedier in their decisions when incorrect advice was given and verified automation recommendations more frequently. These results indicate that a gene that regulates relative prefrontal cortex dopamine availability, DBH, can identify those individuals who are less susceptible to bias in using computerized decision-aiding systems.
Angiotensin II (Ang II) exerts chronic stimulatory actions on tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), dopamine β-hydroxylase (DβH), and the norepinephrine transporter (NET), in part, by influencing the transcription of their genes. These neuromodulatory actions of Ang II involve Ras-Raf-MAP kinase signal transduction pathways (Lu, D., H. Yang, and M.K. Raizada. 1997. J. Cell Biol. 135:1609–1617). In this study, we present evidence to demonstrate participation of another signaling pathway in these neuronal actions of Ang II. It involves activation of protein kinase C (PKC)β subtype and phosphorylation and redistribution of myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate (MARCKS) in neurites. Ang II caused a dramatic redistribution of MARCKS from neuronal varicosities to neurites. This was accompanied by a time-dependent stimulation of its phosphorylation, that was mediated by the angiotensin type 1 receptor subtype (AT1). Incubation of neurons with PKCβ subtype specific antisense oligonucleotide (AON) significantly attenuated both redistribution and phosphorylation of MARCKS. Furthermore, depletion of MARCKS by MARCKS-AON treatment of neurons resulted in a significant decrease in Ang II–stimulated accumulation of TH and DβH immunoreactivities and [3H]NE uptake activity in synaptosomes. In contrast, mRNA levels of TH, DβH, and NET were not influenced by MARKS-AON treatment. MARCKS pep148–165, which contains PKC phosphorylation sites, inhibited Ang II stimulation of MARCKS phosphorylation and reduced the amount of TH, DβH, and [3H]NE uptake in neuronal synaptosomes. These observations demonstrate that phosphorylation of MARCKS by PKCβ and its redistribution from varicosities to neurites is important in Ang II–induced synaptic accumulation of TH, DβH, and NE. They suggest that a coordinated stimulation of transcription of TH, DβH, and NET, mediated by Ras-Raf-MAP kinase followed by their transport mediated by PKCβ-MARCKS pathway are key in persistent stimulation of Ang II's neuromodulatory actions.
MARCKS; brain neurons; AT1 receptors; neuromodulation; protein kinase C subtypes
Cannabinoid agonists exert complex actions on modulatory neurotransmitters involved in attention and cognition. Previous studies have demonstrated that acute systemic administration of the synthetic cannabinoid agonist, WIN 55,212-2, increases norepinephrine efflux in the rat frontal cortex. In an effort to elucidate whether cannabinoid (CB1) receptors are positioned to presynaptically modulate norepinephrine release in the frontal cortex, immunocytochemical detection of the CB1 receptor and the catecholamine-synthesizing enzyme dopamine-β-hydroxylase (DβH) was performed using confocal immunofluorescence microscopy and immunoelectron microscopy in rat brain. Fluorescence microscopy analysis of dually-labeled tissue sections from the frontal cortex indicated that individual axonal processes exhibited both CB1 receptor and DßH immunoreactivities. Ultrastructural analysis confirmed that one-third of axon terminals containing CB1 immunolabeling also exhibited DβH labeling. Cortical neurons were also found to be targeted by separately labeled CB1- and DβH-containing axon terminals. In conclusion, the present neuroanatomical data suggest that cortical norepinephrine release may be modulated, in part, by CB1 receptors that are presynaptically distributed on noradrenergic axon terminals.
locus coeruleus; cognition; electron microscopy; confocal microscopy
Catecholamines are among the first molecules that displayed a kind of response to prolonged or repeated stress. It is well established that long-term stress leads to the induction of catecholamine biosynthetic enzymes such as tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH) in adrenal medulla. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of ginseng on TH and DBH mRNA expression. Repeated (2 h daily, 14 days) immobilization stress resulted in a significant increase of TH and DBH mRNA levels in rat adrenal medulla. However, ginseng treatment reversed the stress-induced increase of TH and DBH mRNA expression in the immobilization-stressed rats. Nicotine as a ligand of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) in adrenal medulla stimulates catecholamine secretion and activates TH and DBH gene expression. Nicotine treatment increased mRNA levels of TH and DBH by 3.3- and 3.1-fold in PC12 cells. The ginseng total saponin exhibited a significant reversal in the nicotine-induced increase of TH and DBH mRNA expression, decreasing the mRNA levels of TH and DBH by 57.2% and 48.9%, respectively in PC12 cells. In conclusion, immobilization stress induced catecholamine biosynthetic enzymes gene expression, while ginseng appeared to restore homeostasis via suppression of TH and DBH gene expression. In part, the regulatory activity in the TH and DBH gene expression of ginseng may account for the anti-stress action produced by ginseng.
Stress; catecholamine; ginseng; tyrosine hydroxylase; dopamine β-hydroxylase
The anti-alcoholism medication, disulfiram (Antabuse), decreases cocaine use in humans regardless of concurrent alcohol consumption and facilitates cocaine sensitization in rats, but the functional targets are unknown. Disulfiram inhibits dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH), the enzyme that converts dopamine (DA) to norepinephrine (NE) in noradrenergic neurons. The goal of this study was to test the effects of chronic genetic or pharmacological DBH inhibition on behavioral responses to cocaine using DBH knockout (Dbh −/−) mice, disulfiram, and the selective DBH inhibitor, nepicastat. Locomotor activity was measured in control (Dbh +/−) and Dbh −/− mice during a 5 day regimen of saline+saline, disulfiram+saline, nepicastat+saline, saline+cocaine, disulfiram+cocaine, or nepicastat+cocaine. After a 10 day withdrawal period, all groups were administered cocaine, and locomotor activity and stereotypy were measured. Drug-naïve Dbh −/− mice were hypersensitive to cocaine-induced locomotion and resembled cocaine-sensitized Dbh +/− mice. Chronic disulfiram administration facilitated cocaine-induced locomotion in some mice and induced stereotypy in others during the development of sensitization, while cocaine-induced stereotypy was evident in all nepicastat-treated mice. Cocaine-induced stereotypy was profoundly increased in the disulfiram+cocaine, nepicastat+cocaine, and nepicastat+saline groups upon cocaine challenge after withdrawal in Dbh +/− mice. Disulfiram or nepicastat treatment had no effect on behavioral responses to cocaine in Dbh −/− mice. These results demonstrate that chronic DBH inhibition facilitates behavioral responses to cocaine, although different methods of inhibition (genetic vs. non-selective inhibitor vs. selective inhibitor) enhance qualitatively different cocaine-induced behaviors.
To determine how norepinephrine affects the basic physiological properties of catecholaminergic neurons, brain slices containing the Substantia Nigra Pars Compacta and Locus Coeruleus were studied with cell-attached and whole-cell recordings in control and dopamine β-hydroxylase knockout (Dbh −/−) mice that lack norepinephrine. In the cell-attached configuration, the spontaneous firing rate and pattern of Locus Coeruleus neurons recorded from Dbh −/− mice was the same as the firing rate and pattern recorded from heterozygous littermates (Dbh +/−). During whole-cell recordings, synaptic stimulation produced an α-2 receptor-mediated outward current in the Locus Coeruleus of control mice that was absent in Dbh −/− mice. Normal α-2 mediated outward currents were restored in Dbh −/− slices after pre-incubation with norepinephrine. Locus Coeruleus neurons also displayed similar changes in holding current in response to bath application of norepinephrine, UK 14304, and methionine-enkephalin. Dopamine neurons recorded in the Substantia Nigra Pars Compacta similarly showed no differences between slices harvested from Dbh −/− and control mice. These results indicate that endogenous norepinephrine is not necessary for the expression of catecholaminergic neuron firing properties or responses to direct agonists, but is necessary for auto-inhibition mediated by indirect α-2 receptor stimulation.
dopamine β-hydroxylase knockout; locus coeruleus; substantia nigra pars compacta; cocaine
Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a human hyperkinetic movement disorder as a result of potentially irreversible long-term chronic first-generation antipsychotic medications. Unfortunately, mechanisms involved in the development of TD have been poorly understood. Previous studies have indicated that some genetic polymorphisms of immune system and dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH) genes may be involved in the pathogenesis of TD. Rs1800872 and rs72393728 are located on the promoter of interleukin-10 (IL10) and DBH gene, respectively. The genetic association between the rs1800872 and TD is unclear. Previous studies have indicated that genetic variations of IL 10 and DBH are implicated in the positive and negative symptoms in schizophrenia. However, the interaction of two variations with severity of TD and symptoms of schizophrenic patients with TD has not been reported. The present study investigated whether these variations and their interaction were associated with clinical phenotypes of TD with schizophrenia in a genetically homogeneous northern Chinese Han population.
Rs1800872 and rs72393728 were genotyped in schizophrenic patients with TD (n = 372) and without TD (NTD; n = 412). The Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS) and Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) were applied to assess the severity of TD and psychopathology of schizophrenia, respectively.
The allele and genotype frequencies of rs1800872 and rs72393728 did not significantly differ between TD and NTD patients (p>0.05). No significant difference was found in the AIMS total score among the genotypes of two loci (p>0.05). Interestingly, the interaction of rs1800872 and rs72393728 showed a significant association with the PANSS general score (p = 0.011), and a trend toward to the PANSS total score (p = 0.055).
These findings suggest that the interaction of rs1800872 and rs72393728 variants may play a role in psychopathology of the general symptoms on PANSS in schizophrenic patients with TD in a northern Chinese Han population.
Vocal communication is critical for successful social interactions among conspecifics, but little is known about how the brain regulates context-appropriate communication. The neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) is involved in modulating highly motivated, goal-directed behaviors (including sexually motivated singing behavior), and emerging data suggest that the role of DA in vocal communication DA may differ depending on the context in which it occurs. To address this possibility, relationships between immunolabeled tyrosine hydroxylase (TH, the rate-limiting enzyme in catecholamine synthesis) and song produced within versus outside of a breeding context were explored in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Immunocytochemistry for dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH; the enzyme that converts DA to norepinephrine) was also performed to provide insight into whether relationships between song and TH immunoreactivity reflected dopaminergic or noradrenergic neurotransmission. Measures of TH and DBH were quantified in song control regions (HVC, Area X, robust nucleus of the acropallium) and regions implicated in motivation (medial preoptic nucleus (POM), ventral tegmental area (VTA), and midbrain central gray). In Area X, POM, and VTA measures of TH correlated with song produced within, but not outside of a breeding context. DBH in these regions did not correlate with song in either context. Together, these data suggest DA in both song control and motivation brain regions may be more tightly linked to the regulation of highly goal-directed, sexually motivated vocal behavior.
tyrosine hydroxylase; dopamine beta-hydroxylase; context; Area X; medial preoptic nucleus; ventral tegmental area; songbird, European starling, Sturnus vulgaris
It is well-established that long-term stress leads to induction of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) mRNA and TH protein in adrenal medulla and brain. This induction is usually associated with stimulation of TH gene transcription rate. However, a number of studies have reported major discrepancies between the stress-induced changes in TH gene transcription, TH mRNA and TH protein. These discrepancies suggest that post-transcriptional mechanisms also play an important role in regulating TH expression in response to stress and other stimuli. In this report we summarize some of our findings and literature reports that demonstrate these discrepancies in adrenal medulla, locus coeruleus and midbrain dopamine neurons. We then describe our recent work investigating the molecular mechanisms that mediate this post-transcriptional regulation in adrenal medulla and midbrain. Our results suggest that trans-acting factors binding to the polypyrimidine-rich region of the 3′UTR of TH mRNA play a role in these post-transcriptional mechanisms. A hypothetical cellular model describing this post-transcriptional regulation is proposed.
tyrosine hydroxylase; stress; adrenal medulla; locus coeruleus; midbrain dopamine neurons; post-transcriptional regulation
Inheritance plays an important role in the determination of human plasma dopamine-β-hydroxylase (DBH) enzymatic activity. It has been demonstrated that an allele (d) for very low enzymatic plasma DBH is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. A radioimmunoassay for human DBH was developed to test the hypothesis that the presence of this allele results in a decrease in plasma DBH protein levels. The mean immunoreactive DBH (IDBH) in blood from a randomly selected population of adolescents was 824±38 ng/ml (mean±SEM, n = 134). The correlation coefficient of enzymatic DBH with IDBH for this group of 134 adolescents was 0.84 (P < 0.001). Of these subjects, 3.7% had values of < 100 ng/ml and appeared to compose a separate subgroup analogous to the 3-4% of the population that is homozygous for the allele for low enzymatic activity. There was a significant sibling-sibling correlation of IDBH values in the 14 sibling pairs included among the 134 subjects studied (r = 0.60, P < 0.025). IDBH was also measured in blood from 56 subjects homozygous (dd) for the allele for low enzymatic DBH (enzymatic activity < 50 U/ml) and in blood of 80 first-degree relatives of homozygous probands. All but two dd subjects had IDBH levels of <100 ng/ml. Results of family studies were compatible with the autosomal recessive inheritance of an allele for IDBH levels of less than 100 ng/ml which segregates with the allele for very low enzymatic activity. Average IDBH in blood of 37 obligate heterozygotes as determined by family studies (Dd) was 599±53 ng/ml (mean ± SEM), significantly lower than the IDBH values found in a randomly selected population (P < 0.005). These results are compatible with the conclusion that the presence of the allele for low plasma enzymatic DBH results in a decrease in the quantity of DBH protein in human plasma.
Menkes disease is an X-linked recessive neurodevelopmental disorder resulting from mutation in a copper-transporting ATPase gene. Menkes disease can be detected by relatively high concentrations of dopamine (DA) and its metabolites compared to norepinephrine (NE) and its metabolites, presumably because dopamine-beta-hydroxylase (DBH) requires copper as a co-factor. The relative diagnostic efficiencies of levels of catechol analytes, alone or in combination, in neonates at genetic risk of Menkes disease have been unknown.
Plasma from 44 at-risk neonates less than 30 days old were assayed for DA, NE, and other catechols. Of the 44, 19 were diagnosed subsequently with Menkes disease, and 25 were unaffected.
Compared to unaffected at-risk infants, those with Menkes disease had high plasma DA (P < 10−6) and low NE (P < 10−6) levels. Considered alone, neither DA nor NE levels had perfect sensitivity, whereas the ratio of DA:NE was higher in all affected than in all unaffected subjects (P = 2 × 10−8). Analogously, levels of the DA metabolite, dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), and the NE metabolite, dihydroxyphenylglycol (DHPG), were imperfectly sensitive, whereas the DOPAC:DHPG ratio was higher in all affected than in all unaffected subjects (P = 2 × 10−4). Plasma dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) and the ratio of epinephrine (EPI):NE levels were higher in affected than in unaffected neonates (P = 0.0015; P = 0.013).
Plasma DA:NE and DOPAC:DHPG ratios are remarkably sensitive and specific for diagnosing Menkes disease in at-risk newborns. Affected newborns also have elevated DOPA and EPI:NE ratios, which decreased DBH activity alone cannot explain.
Menkes; Dopamine; Norepinephrine; Dopamine-β-hydroxylase; DHPG; DOPAC; Diagnosis