Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are first-line therapies for Alzheimer's disease. These drugs increase cholinergic tone in the target areas of the cholinergic neurons of the basal forebrain. Basal forebrain cholinergic neurons are dependent upon trophic support by nerve growth factor (NGF) through its neurotrophin receptor, TrkA. In the present study, we investigated whether the acetylcholinesterase inhibitors donepezil and galantamine could influence neurotrophin receptor signaling in the brain. Acute administration of donepezil (3 mg/kg, i.p.) led to the rapid autophosphorylation of TrkA and TrkB neurotrophin receptors in the adult mouse hippocampus. Similarly, galantamine dose-dependently (3, 9 mg/kg, i.p.) increased TrkA and TrkB phosphorylation in the mouse hippocampus. Both treatments also increased the phosphorylation of transcription factor CREB and tended to increase the phosphorylation of AKT kinase but did not alter the activity of MAPK42/44. Chronic treatment with galantamine (3 mg/kg, i.p., 14 days), did not induce changes in hippocampal NGF and BDNF synthesis or protein levels. Our findings show that acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are capable of rapidly activating hippocampal neurotrophin signaling and thus suggest that therapies targeting Trk signaling may already be in clinical use in the treatment of AD.
Trk receptor phosphorylation; donepezil; galantamine; nerve growth factor; acetylcholinesterase inhibitor
Effective treatment of the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia has remained an elusive goal. Despite the intense focus on treatments acting at or via cholinergic mechanisms, little remains known about the dynamic cholinergic abnormalities that contribute to the manifestation of the cognitive symptoms in patients. Evidence from basic neuroscientific and psychopharmacological investigations assists in proposing detailed cholinergic mechanisms and treatment targets for enhancement of attentional performance. Dynamic, cognitive performance-dependent abnormalities in cholinergic activity have been observed in animal models of the disorder and serve to further refine such proposals. Finally, the potential usefulness of individual groups of cholinergic drugs and important issues concerning the interactions between pro-cholinergic and antipsychotic treatments are addressed. The limited evidence available from patient studies and animal models indicates pressing research needs in order to guide the development of cholinergic treatments of the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia.
Acetylcholine; Cognition; Schizophrenia; Attention; Cortex; Translational research
Agonists and positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are currently being considered as novel therapeutic approaches for managing cognitive deficits in schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. Though α7 agonists were recently found to possess antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties in rodent models of chronic neuropathic pain and inflammation, the effects of α7 nAChRs PAMs on chronic pain and inflammation remain largely unknown. The present study investigated whether PAMs, by increasing endogenous cholinergic tone, potentiate α7 nAChRs function to attenuate inflammatory and chronic neuropathic pain in mice. We tested two types of PAMS, type I (NS1738) and type II (PNU-120596) in carrageenan-induced inflammatory pain and chronic constriction injury (CCI) neuropathic pain models. We found that both NS1738 and PNU-120596 significantly reduced thermal hyperalgesia, while only PNU-120596 significantly reduced edema caused by a hind paw infusion of carrageenan. Importantly, PNU-120596 reversed established thermal hyperalgesia and edema induced by carrageenan. In the CCI model, PNU-120596 had long-lasting (up to 6 hrs), dose-dependent anti-hyperalgesic and anti-allodynic effects after a single injection, while NS1738 was inactive. Systemic administration of the α7 nAChR antagonist MLA reversed PNU-120596’s effects, suggesting the involvement of central and peripheral α7 nAChRs. Furthermore, PNU-120596 enhanced an ineffective dose of selective agonist PHA-543613 to produce anti-allodynic effects in the CCI model. Our results indicate that the type II α7 nAChRs PAM PNU-120596, but not the type I α7 nAChRs PAM NS1738, shows significant anti-edematous and anti-allodynic effects in inflammatory and CCI pain models in mice.
nicotinic receptors; chronic pain; inflammation; mice; allosteric modulators
Amygdala glutamatergic neurotransmission regulates withdrawal induced anxiety-like behaviors following chronic ethanol exposure. The lateral/basolateral amygdala receives multiple glutamatergic projections that contribute to overall amygdala function. Our lab has previously shown that rat cortical (external capsule) afferents express postsynaptic alterations during chronic intermittent ethanol exposure and withdrawal. However, thalamic (internal capsule) afferents also provide crucial glutamatergic input during behavioral conditioning, and they have not been studied in the context of chronic drug exposure. We report here that these thalamic inputs express altered presynaptic function during withdrawal from chronic ethanol exposure. This is characterized by enhanced release probability, as exemplified by altered paired-pulse ratios and decreased failure rates of unitary events, and increased concentrations of synaptic glutamate. Quantal analysis further implicates a withdrawal-dependent enhancement of the readily-releasable pool of vesicles as a probable mechanism. These functional alterations are accompanied by increased expression of vesicle associated protein markers. These data demonstrate that chronic ethanol modulation of glutamate neurotransmission in the rat lateral/basolateral amygdala is afferent-specific. Further, presynaptic regulation of lateral/basolateral amygdala thalamic inputs by chronic ethanol may be a novel neurobiological mechanism contributing to the increased anxiety-like behaviors that characterize withdrawal.
Strontium Substitution; Coefficient of Variation; Whole-cell patch clamp electrophysiology; Paired Pulse Ratio; Soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE); γ-D-glutamylglycine (DGG)
Diabetes causes mitochondrial dysfunction in sensory neurons that may contribute to peripheral neuropathy. Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) promotes sensory neuron survival and axon regeneration and prevents axonal dwindling, nerve conduction deficits and thermal hypoalgesia in diabetic rats. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that CNTF protects sensory neuron function during diabetes through normalization of impaired mitochondrial bioenergetics. In addition, we investigated whether the NF-κB signal transduction pathway was mobilized by CNTF. Neurite outgrowth of sensory neurons derived from streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats was reduced compared to neurons from control rats and exposure to CNTF for 24 h enhanced neurite outgrowth. CNTF also activated NF-κB, as assessed by Western blotting for the NF-κB p50 subunit and reporter assays for NF-κB promoter activity. Conversely, blockade of NF-κB signaling using SN50 peptide inhibited CNTF-mediated neurite outgrowth. Studies in mice with STZ-induced diabetes demonstrated that systemic therapy with CNTF prevented functional and structural indices of peripheral neuropathy along with deficiencies in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) NF-κB p50 expression and DNA binding activity. DRG neurons derived from STZ-diabetic mice also exhibited deficiencies in maximal oxygen consumption rate and associated spare respiratory capacity that were corrected by exposure to CNTF for 24 h in an NF-κB-dependent manner. We propose that the ability of CNTF to enhance axon regeneration and protect peripheral nerve from structural and functional indices of diabetic peripheral neuropathy is associated with targeting of mitochondrial function, in part via NF-κB activation, and improvement of cellular bioenergetics.
Axon regeneration; bioenergetics profile; dorsal root ganglia; CNTF; NF-κB; diabetes; diabetic neuropathy; oxidative phosphorylation; respiration
Risk taking behavior increases during adolescence, which is also a critical period for the onset of drug abuse. The central serotonergic system matures during the adolescent period, and its immaturity during early adolescence may contribute to adolescent risk taking, as deficits in central serotonergic function have been associated with impulsivity, aggression, and risk taking. We investigated serotonergic modulation of behavior and presynaptic serotonergic function in adult (67–74 days old) and adolescent (28–34 days old) male rats. Fenfluramine (2 mg/kg, i.p.) produced greater anxiogenic effects in adult rats in both the light/dark and elevated plus maze tests for anxiety-like behavior, and stimulated greater increases in extracellular serotonin in the adult medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) (1, 2.5, and 10 mg/kg, i.p.). Local infusion of 100 mM potassium chloride into the mPFC also stimulated greater serotonin efflux in adult rats. Adult rats had higher tissue serotonin content than adolescents in the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus, but the rate of serotonin synthesis was similar between age groups. Serotonin transporter (SERT) immunoreactivity and SERT radioligand binding were comparable between age groups in all three brain regions. These data suggest that lower tissue serotonin stores in adolescents limit fenfluramine-stimulated serotonin release and so contribute to the lesser anxiogenic effects of fenfluramine.
Adolescence; Serotonin; Anxiety; Microdialysis
High-fat feeding or CNS leptin overexpression in chow-fed rats results in a region-specific cellular leptin resistance in medial basal hypothalamic regions and the ventral tegmental area (VTA). The present investigation examined the effects of targeted chronic leptin overexpression in the VTA as compared with the medial basal hypothalamus on long-term body weight homeostasis. The study also examined if this targeted intervention conserves regional leptin sensitivity or results in localized leptin resistance. Cellular leptin resistance was assessed by leptin-stimulated phosphorylation of signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3). Tyrosine hydroxylase was measured in hypothalamus and VTA along with brown adipose tissue uncoupling protein 1. Leptin overexpression in VTA tempered HF-induced obesity, but to a slightly lesser extent than that with leptin overexpression in the hypothalamus. Moreover, the overexpression of leptin in the VTA stimulated cellular STAT3 phosphorylation in several regions of the medial basal hypothalamus, whereas verexpression in the hypothalamus did not activate STAT3 signaling in the VTA. This unidirectional trans-stimulation did not appear to involve migration of either the vector or the gene product. Long-term leptin overexpression in either the medial basal hypothalamus or VTA caused desensitization of leptin signaling in the treated region and cross-desensitization of leptin signaling in the untreated region. These results demonstrate a role of leptin receptors in the VTA in long-term body weight regulation, but the trans-activation of the hypothalamus following VTA leptin stimulation suggests that an integrative response involving both brain regions may account for the observed physiological outcomes.
Attention deficits are a core cognitive symptom of schizophrenia; the neuropathology underlying these deficits is not known. Attention is regulated, at least in part, by the prefrontal cortex (PFC), a brain area in which pathology of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurons has been consistently observed in post-mortem analysis of the brains of people with schizophrenia. Specifically, expression of the 67-kD isoform of the GABA synthesis enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD67) is reduced in parvalbumin-containing fast-spiking GABA interneurons. Thus it is hypothesized that reduced cortical GABA synthesis and release may contribute to the attention deficits in schizophrenia. Here the effect of reducing cortical GABA synthesis with L-allylglycine (LAG) on attention was tested using three different versions of the 5-choice serial reaction time task (5CSRTT). Because 5CSRTT performance can be affected by locomotor activity, we also measured this behavior in an open field. Finally, the expression of Fos protein was used as an indirect measure of reduced GABA synthesis. Intra-cortical LAG (10 μg/0.5 μl/side) infusions increased Fos expression and resulted in hyperactivity in the open field. Intra-cortical LAG infusions did not affect attention in any version of the 5CSRTT. These results suggest that a general decrease in GABA synthesis is not sufficient to cause attention deficits. It remains to be tested whether a selective decrease in GABA synthesis in parvalbumin-containing GABA neurons could cause attention deficits. Decreased cortical GABA synthesis did increase locomotor activity; this may reflect the positive symptoms of schizophrenia.
attention; schizophrenia; GABA; 5-choice serial reaction time task; locomotor activity; prefrontal cortex
Pasteurella multocida toxin (PMT) activates the G-proteins Gαi(1-3), Gαq, Gα11, Gα12 and Gα13 by deamidation of specific glutamine residues. A number of these alpha subunits have signalling roles in neurones. Hence we studied the action of this toxin on rat superior cervical ganglion (SCG) neurones and NG108-15 neuronal cells. Both Gαq and Gα11 could be identified in SCGs with immunocytochemistry. PMT had no direct action on Kv7 or Cav2 channels in SCGs. However PMT treatment enhanced muscarinic receptor mediated inhibition of M-current (Kv7.2 + 7. 3) as measured by a 19-fold leftward shift in the oxotremorine-M concentration–inhibition curve. Agonists of other receptors, such as bradykinin or angiotensin, that inhibit M-current did not produce this effect. However the amount of PIP2 hydrolysis could be enhanced by PMT for all three agonists. In a transduction system in SCGs that is unlikely to be affected by PMT, Go mediated inhibition of calcium current, PMT was ineffective whereas the response was blocked by pertussis toxin as expected.
M1 muscarinic receptor evoked calcium mobilisation in transformed NG108-15 cells was enhanced by PMT. The calcium rises evoked by uridine triphosphate acting on endogenous P2Y2 receptors in NG108-15 cells were enhanced by PMT. The time and concentration dependence of the PMT effect was different for the resting calcium compared to the calcium rise produced by activation of P2Y2 receptors. PMT's action on these neuronal cells would suggest that if it got into the brain, symptoms of a hyperexcitable nature would be seen, such as seizures.
•Pasteurella multocida toxin (PMT) activates a range of G-protein alpha subunits.•PMT increased muscarinic receptor mediated suppression of Kv7 potassium current in sympathetic neurones.•PMT enhances both muscarinic and purinergic receptor mediated calcium mobilisation in NG108-15 cells.•Both these events are mediated by the G-proteins Gq or G11.•We would predict that the symptoms of central nervous system PMT toxicity would be hyperexcitable events such as seizures.
Pasteurella multocida toxin; G-protein; M-current; Kv7 channels; Calcium current; Intracellular calcium; Neurones; Superior cervical ganglion cell; NG108-15 cells; Muscarinic receptors; P2Y receptors
Parkinson's disease (PD) shows a complex etiology, where both genetic and environmental factors contribute to initiation and advance of pathology. Mitochondrial dysfunction and mutation of genes implicated in mitochondria quality control are recognized contributors to etiopathology and progression of PD. Here we report the development and characterization of a genetic mouse model of PD with a combined etiology comprising: 1) induction of mitochondrial stress achieved through the expression of a mitochondrial matrix protein that accumulates in an unfolded state and 2) deletion of PINK1 gene. Using this model we address the role of PINK1 in mitochondrial quality control and disease progression.
To induce mitochondrial stress specifically in catecholaminergic neurons we generated transgenic animals where the conditional expression of mitochondrial unfolded ornithine transcarbamylase (dOTC) is achieved under the tyrosine hydroxylase (Th) promoter. The mice were characterized in terms of survival, growth and motor behaviour. The characterization was followed by analysis of cell death induced in dopaminergic neurons and responsiveness to l-dopa. We demonstrate that accumulation of dOTC in dopaminergic neurons causes neurodegeneration and motor behaviour impairment that illustrates a parkinsonian phenotype. This associates with l-dopa responsiveness validating the model as a model of PD. The combined transgenic model where dOTC is overexpressed in PINK1 KO background presents increased neurodegeneration as compared to dOTC transgenic in wild-type background. Moreover, this combined model does not show responsiveness to l-dopa. Our in vivo data show that loss of PINK1 accelerates neurodegenerative phenotypes induced by mitochondrial stress triggered by the expression of an unfolded protein in this organelle.
•We developed a novel genetic mouse model of Parkinson's disease (PD).•The model has a combined aetiology: 1) mitochondrial stress and 2) deletion of PINK1.•Unfolded proteins in mitochondria of dopaminergic neurons cause PD phenotypes.•Loss of PINK1 accelerates PD phenotypes induced by mitochondrial stress.
Mitochondria quality control; Neurodegeneration; Parkinson's disease
Cholinergic receptors have been implicated in schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. However, to better target therapeutically the appropriate receptor subsystems, we need to understand more about the functions of those subsystems. In the current series of experiments, we assessed the functional role of M1 receptors in cognition by testing M1 receptor-deficient mice (M1R−/−) on the five-choice serial reaction time test of attentional and response functions, carried out using a computer-automated touchscreen test system. In addition, we tested these mice on several tasks featuring learning, memory and perceptual challenges. An advantage of the touchscreen method is that each test in the battery is carried out in the same task setting, using the same types of stimuli, responses and feedback, thus providing a high level of control and task comparability. The surprising finding, given the predominance of the M1 receptor in cortex, was the complete lack of effect of M1 deletion on measures of attentional function per se. Moreover, M1R−/− mice performed relatively normally on tests of learning, memory and perception, although they were impaired in object recognition memory with, but not without an interposed delay interval. They did, however, show clear abnormalities on a variety of response measures: M1R−/− mice displayed fewer omissions, more premature responses, and increased perseverative responding compared to wild-types. These data suggest that M1R−/− mice display abnormal responding in the face of relatively preserved attention, learning and perception.
Psychostimulant effects are enhanced by ovarian hormones in women and female rodents. Estradiol increases behavioral responses to psychostimulants in women and female rats, although the underlying mechanism is unknown. This study utilized mice to investigate the time frame and receptor mediation of estradiol’s enhancement of cocaine-induced behavior as mice enable parallel use of genetic, surgical and pharmacological methods. The spontaneous behavior of Sham and Ovariectomized (Ovx) female wild-type (WT) mice was determined during habituation to a novel environment and after cocaine administration. Ovx mice were replaced with vehicle (sesame oil) or 17β-estradiol (E2) for 2 days or 30 min prior to a cocaine challenge to investigate the time course of E2’s effects. To examine receptor mediation of estradiol effects, Ovx mice replaced for 2 days with either the ERα-selective agonist PPT or the ERβ-selective agonist DPN were compared to Sham mice, and mice lacking either ERα (αERKO) or ERβ (βERKO) were compared to WT littermates. Ovx mice exhibited fewer ambulations during habituation than Sham females. Cocaine-induced increases in behavioral ratings were greater in Sham than in Ovx mice. Two days but not 30 min of E2 replacement in Ovx mice increased cocaine responses to Sham levels. PPT replacement also increased the cocaine response relative to vehicle- or DPN- treated Ovx mice. αERKO mice displayed modestly attenuated behavioral responses to novelty and cocaine compared to αWT littermates, but no behavioral differences were found between βERKO and βWT mice. These results suggest that E2 enhances cocaine-stimulated locomotion in mice predominantly through ERα.
Behavior; Cocaine; Dopamine; Estradiol; Mice; Ovariectomy
PKMζ is an autonomously active, atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) isoform that is both necessary and sufficient for maintaining long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term memory. The myristoylated ζ-pseudosubstrate peptide, ZIP, potently inhibits PKMζ biochemically in vitro, within cultured cells, and within neurons in hippocampal slices, and reverses LTP maintenance and erases long-term memory storage. A recent study (Wu-Zhang, et al., 2012), however, suggested ZIP was not effective on a PKMζ fusion protein overexpressed in cultured cells. Chelerythrine, a redox-sensitive PKC inhibitor that inhibits PKMζ and disrupts LTP maintenance and memory storage, was also reported by Wu-Zhang, et al. (2012) not to inhibit the expressed PKMζ fusion protein. However, the efficacy of inhibitors on endogenous enzymes in cells may not be adequately assessed in expression systems in which exogenous enzymes are present at much higher levels. Thus, we show, biochemically, that when PKMζ reaches a level beyond that necessary for substrate phosphorylation such that much of the enzyme is excess or ‘spare’ kinase, ZIP and chelerythrine do not effectively block substrate phosphorylation. We also show that the cellular overexpression techniques used by Wu-Zhang, et al. (2012) induce a ~30-40 fold increase in kinase levels. Using a mathematical model we show that at such level of overexpression, standard concentrations of inhibitor should have no noticeable effect. Furthermore, we demonstrate the standard concentrations of ZIP, but not scrambled ZIP, inhibit the ability of PKMζ to potentiate AMPAR responses at postsynaptic sites, the physiological function of the kinase. Wu-Zhang, et al. (2012) had also claimed that staurosporine, a general kinase inhibitor that does not effectively inhibit PKMζ biochemically in vitro, nonetheless indirectly blocked the PKMζ fusion protein overexpressed in cultured cells by inhibiting phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1 (PDK1). However, here we show that staurosporine does not affect PDK1 phosphorylation of the endogenous PKMζ in hippocampal slices. Thus, the biochemical in vitro effects of PKMζ inhibitors correspond with their intracellular effects, and ZIP and chelerythrine, together with scrambled ZIP and staurosporine as controls, are effective tools to examine the function of PKMζ in neurons.
PKMzeta; PKM zeta; aPKC; ZIP; chelerythrine; staurosporine
A condition of excess activity in the hippocampal formation is observed in the aging brain and in conditions that confer additional risk during aging for Alzheimer’s disease. Compounds that act as positive allosteric modulators at GABAA α5 receptors might be useful in targeting this condition because GABAA α5 receptors mediate tonic inhibition of principal neurons in the affected network. While agents to improve cognitive function in the past focused on inverse agonists, which are negative allosteric modulators at GABAA α5 receptors, research supporting that approach used only young animals and predated current evidence for excessive hippocampal activity in age-related conditions of cognitive impairment. Here, we used two compounds, Compound 44 [6,6-dimethyl-3-(3-hydroxypropyl)thio-1-(thiazol-2-yl)-6,7-dihydro-2-benzothiophen-4(5H)-one] and Compound 6 [methyl 3,5-diphenylpyridazine-4-carboxylate], with functional activity as potentiators of γ-aminobutyric acid at GABAA α5 receptors, to test their ability to improve hippocampal-dependent memory in aged rats with identified cognitive impairment. Improvement was obtained in aged rats across protocols differing in motivational and performance demands and across varying retention intervals. Significant memory improvement occurred after either intracereboventricular infusion with Compound 44 (100 μg) in a water maze task or systemic administration with Compound 6 (3 mg/kg) in a radial arm maze task. Furthermore, systemic administration improved behavioral performance at dosing shown to provide drug exposure in the brain and in vivo receptor occupancy in the hippocampus. These data suggest a novel approach to improve neural network function in clinical conditions of excess hippocampal activity.
GABA agonist; inverse agonist; neural hyperactivity; water maze; radial arm maze; mild cognitive impairment
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder in which the first diagnostic symptom is unusual reciprocal social interactions. Approximately half of the children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder also have intellectual impairments. General cognitive abilities may be fundamental to many aspects of social cognition. Cognitive enhancers could conceivably be of significant benefit to children and adults with autism. AMPAKINE compounds are a novel class of pharmacological agents that act as positive modulators of AMPA receptors to enhance excitatory glutamatergic neurotransmission. This class of compounds was reported to improve learning and memory in several rodent and non-human primate tasks, and to normalize respiratory abnormalities in a mouse model of Rett syndrome. Here we evaluate the actions of AMPA compounds in adult male and female BTBR mice, a well characterized mouse model of autism. Acute treatment with CX1837 and CX1739 reversed the deficit in sociability in BTBR mice on the most sensitive parameter, time spent sniffing a novel mouse as compared to time spent sniffing a novel object. The less sensitive parameter, time in the chamber containing the novel mouse versus time in the chamber containing the novel object, was not rescued by CX1837 or CX1739 treatment. Preliminary data with CX546, in which β-cyclodextrin was the vehicle, revealed behavioral effects of the acute intraperitoneal and oral administration of vehicle alone. To circumvent the artifacts introduced by the vehicle administration, we employed a novel treatment regimen using pellets of peanut butter for drug delivery. Absence of vehicle treatment effects when CX1837 and CX1739 were given in the peanut butter pellets, to multiple cohorts of BTBR and B6 control mice, confirmed that the pharmacologically-induced improvements in sociability in BTBR were not confounded by the administration procedures. The highest dose of CX1837 improved the cognitive deficit in novel object recognition in BTBR. No drug effects were detected on the high levels of repetitive self-grooming in BTBR. In open field tests, CX1837 and CX1739 did not induce hyperactivity or sedation in either strain. It is interesting to speculate that the ability of CX1837 and CX1739 to restore aspects of sociability in BTBR mice could utilize synaptic mechanisms regulating social cognition, suggesting a potential pharmacological target for interventions to treat symptoms of autism.
Atomoxetine (ATM) is a potent norepinephrine (NE) uptake inhibitor and increases both NE and dopamine synaptic levels in prefrontal cortex, where it is thought to exert its beneficial effects on attention and impulsivity. At the behavioral level, ATM has been shown to cause improvements on measures of executive functions, such as response inhibition, working memory and attentional set shifting across different species. However, the exact mechanism of action for ATM’s effects on cognition is still not clear. One possible target for the cognitive enhancing effects of ATM is the noradrenergic locus coeruleus (LC), the only source of NE to key forebrain areas such as cerebral cortex and hippocampus. Although it is known that ATM increases NE availability overall by blocking reuptake of NE, the effects of this agent on impulse activity of LC neurons have not been reported. Here, the effect of ATM (0.1 – 1 mg/kg, ip) on NE-LC neurons was investigated by recording extracellular activity of LC neurons in isoflurane-anesthetized rats. ATM caused a significant decrease of the tonic activity of LC single-units, although leaving intact the sensory-evoked excitatory component of LC phasic response. Moreover, the magnitude of the inhibitory component of LC response to paw stimulation was increased after 1 mg/kg of ATM and its duration was prolonged at 0.3 mg/kg. Together, these effects of ATM produced an increase in the phasic-to-tonic ratio of LC phasic response to sensory stimulation. ATM also modulated the average sensory-evoked local field potential (LFP) and spike-field coherence in LC depending on the dose tested. The lower dose (0.1 mg/kg) significantly decreased early positive and negative components of the sensory-evoked LFP response. Higher doses (0.3–1 mg/kg) initially increased and then decreased the amplitude of components of the evoked fields, whereas the spike-field coherence was enhanced by 1 mg/kg ATM across frequency bands. Finally, coherence between LC fields and EEG signals was generally increased by 1 mg/kg ATM, whereas 0.1 and 0.3 mg/kg respectively decreased and increased coherence values in specific frequency bands. Taken together these results suggest that ATM effects on LC neuronal activity are dose-dependent, with different doses affecting different aspects of LC firing. This modulation of activity of LC-NE neurons may play a role in the cognitive effects of ATM.
atomoxetine; norepinephrine; locus coeruleus; sensory response; local field potentials; spike-field coherence
Drug addiction continues to be an important public health problem, with an estimated 22.6 million current illicit drug users in the United States alone. For many addictions, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana addiction, there are no approved pharmacological treatments. Behavioral treatments are effective but effects vary widely across individuals. Treatments that are effective across multiple addictions are greatly needed, and accumulating evidence suggests that one such approach may be pharmacological or behavioral interventions that enhance executive inhibitory control in addicts. Current evidence indicates that most forms of chronic drug use may be associated with significant cognitive impairments, especially in attention, working memory, and response inhibition functions. In some studies, these impairments predict poor treatment retention and outcome. A number of cognitive enhancing agents, including galantamine, modafinil, atomoxetine, methylphenidate, and guanfacine, have shown promising findings in human studies. Specific behavioral interventions, including cognitive remediation, also show promise. However, whether improvement of selective cognitive functions reduces drug use behavior remains to be determined. Cognitive enhancement to improve treatment outcomes is a novel strategy worthy of future research, as are related questions such as whether these approaches may be broadly beneficial to most addicts or best reserved for substance users with specific demonstrated cognitive impairments.
A first-line approach to treat anxiety disorders is exposure-based therapy, which relies on extinction processes such as repeatedly exposing the patient to stimuli (conditioned stimuli; CS) associated with the traumatic, fear-related memory. However, a significant number of patients fail to maintain their gains, partly attributed to the fact that this inhibitory learning and its maintenance is temporary and conditioned fear responses can return. Animal studies have shown that activation of the cannabinoid system during extinction learning enhances fear extinction and its retention. Specifically, CB1 receptor agonists, such as Δ9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), can facilitate extinction recall by preventing recovery of extinguished fear in rats. However, this phenomenon has not been investigated in humans. We conducted a study using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, between-subjects design, coupling a standard Pavlovian fear extinction paradigm and simultaneous skin conductance response (SCR) recording with an acute pharmacological challenge with oral dronabinol (synthetic THC) or placebo (PBO) 2 hours prior to extinction learning in 29 healthy adult volunteers (THC = 14; PBO = 15) and tested extinction retention 24 hours after extinction learning. Compared to subjects that received PBO, subjects that received THC showed low SCR to a previously extinguished CS when extinction memory recall was tested 24 hours after extinction learning, suggesting that THC prevented the recovery of fear. These results provide the first evidence that pharmacological enhancement of extinction learning is feasible in humans using cannabinoid system modulators, which may thus warrant further development and clinical testing.
New neurons are produced each day in the hippocampus through the process of neurogenesis. Both mental and physical training can modify this process by increasing the number of new cells that mature into functional neurons in the adult brain. However, the mechanisms whereby these increases occur are not necessarily the same. Physical activity, especially aerobic exercise greatly increases the number of new neurons that are produced in the hippocamal formation. In contrast, mental training via skill learning increases the numbers that survive, particularly when the training goals are challenging. Both manipulations can increase cognitive performance in the future, some of which are reportedly mediated by the presence of new neurons in the adult hippocampus. Based on these data, we suggest that a combination of mental and physical training, referred to here as MAP training, is more beneficial for neuronal recruitment and overall mental health than either activity alone.
Neurogenesis; Learning; Hippocampus; Exercise; Mental Training; Physical Training; Cognitive Enhancement; Fluid Intelligence
Attentional impairments are found in a range of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders. However, the development of procognitive enhancers to alleviate these impairments has been hindered by a lack of comprehensive hypotheses regarding the circuitry mediating the targeted attentional functions. Here we discuss the role of the cortical cholinergic system in mediating cue detection and attentional control and propose two target mechanisms for cognition enhancers: stimulation of prefrontal α4β2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) for the enhancement of cue detection and augmentation of tonic acetylcholine levels for the enhancement of attentional control.
actelycholine; cognition enhancers; attentional control; cue detection
Drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) improve prefrontal cortex (PFC)-dependent cognitive function. The majority of ADHD-related treatments act either as dual norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (DA) reuptake inhibitors (psychostimulants) or selective NE reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Certain benztropine analogs act as highly selective DA reuptake inhibitors while lacking the reinforcing actions, and thus abuse potential, of psychostimulants. To assess the potential use of these compounds in the treatment of ADHD, we examined the effects of a well-characterized benztropine analog, AHN 2-005, on performance of rats in a PFC-dependent delayed-alternation task of spatial working memory. Similar to that seen with all drugs currently approved for ADHD, AHN 2-005 dose-dependently improved performance in this task. Clinically-relevant doses of psychostimulants and SNRIs elevate NE and DA preferentially in the PFC. Despite the selectivity of this compound for the DA transporter, additional microdialysis studies demonstrated that a cognition-enhancing dose of AHN 2-005 that lacked locomotor activating effects increased extracellular levels of both DA and NE in the PFC. AHN 2-005 produced a larger increase in extracellular DA in the nucleus accumbens, although the magnitude of this was well below that seen with motor activating doses of psychostimulants. Collectively, these observations suggest that benztropine analogs may be efficacious in the treatment of ADHD or other disorders associated with PFC dysfunction. These studies provide a strong rationale for future research focused on the neural mechanisms contributing to the cognition-enhancing actions and the potential clinical utility of AHN 2-005 and related compounds.
Positive allosteric modulators of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-isoxazole-propionic acid (AMPA) receptors facilitate synaptic plasticity and can improve various forms of learning and memory. These modulators show promise as therapeutic agents for the treatment of neurological disorders such as schizophrenia, ADHD, and mental depression. Three classes of positive modulator, the benzamides, the thiadiazides, and the biarylsulfonamides differentially occupy a solvent accessible binding pocket at the interface between the two subunits that form the AMPA receptor ligand-binding pocket. Here, we describe the electrophysiological properties of a new chemotype derived from a structure-based drug design strategy (SBDD), which makes similar receptor interactions compared to previously reported classes of modulator. This pyrazole amide derivative, JAMI1001A, with a promising developability profile, efficaciously modulates AMPA receptor deactivation and desensitization of both flip and flop receptor isoforms.
Addiction is a disease that is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and use despite negative health and social consequences. One obstacle in treating addiction is a high susceptibility for relapse which persists despite prolonged periods of abstinence. Relapse can be triggered by drug predictive stimuli such as environmental context and drug associated cues, as well as the addictive drug itself. The conditioned place preference (CPP) behavioral model is a useful paradigm for studying the ability of these drug predictive stimuli to reinstate drug-seeking behavior. The present study investigated the dose-dependent effects of D-serine (10 mg/kg, 30 mg/kg and 100 mg/kg) on extinction training and drug-primed reinstatement in cocaine-conditioned rats. In the first experiment, D-serine had no effect on the acquisition or development of cocaine-induced locomotor sensitization or CPP. In the second experiment, D-serine treatment resulted in significantly decreased time spent in the drug-paired compartment following completion of an extinction protocol. A cocaine-primed reinstatement test indicated that the combination of extinction training along with D-serine treatment resulted in a significant reduction of drug-seeking behavior. The third experiment assessed D-serine’s long-term effects to diminish drug-primed reinstatement. D-serine treatment given during extinction was effective in reducing drug-seeking for more than four weeks of abstinence after the last cocaine exposure. These findings demonstrate that D-serine may be an effective adjunct therapeutic agent along with cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of cocaine addiction.
place preference; cocaine; D-serine; extinction; reinstatement
The fundamental observation that the temporal spacing of learning episodes plays a critical role in the efficiency of memory encoding has had little effect on either research on long-term potentiation (LTP) or efforts to develop cognitive enhancers. Here we review recent findings describing a spaced trials phenomenon for LTP that appears to be related to recent evidence that plasticity thresholds differ between synapses in the adult hippocampus. Results of tests with one memory enhancing drug suggest that the compound potently facilitates LTP via effects on high threshold synapses and thus alters the temporally extended timing rules. Possible implications of these results for our understanding of LTP substrates, neurobiological contributors to the distributed practice effect, and the consequences of memory enhancement are discussed.
hippocampus; actin; spaced trials; integrin; cofilin; cytoskeleton; ampakine; brefeldin; glutamate uncaging