The nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) is the principal integrating relay in the processing of visceral sensory and gustatory information. In the present study, patch-clamp electrophysiological experiments were conducted using rat horizontal brainstem sections. Pre-synaptic and somatic/dendritic nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) expressed in neurons of the caudal NTS (cNTS) were found to be randomly distributed between pre-synaptic and somatic/dendritic sites (χ2 =0.72, df =3, p>0.87, n=200). Pre-synaptic nAChRs were detected by their facilitating effects on glutamatergic neurotransmission of a sub-population of cNTS neurons (categorized as “effect-positive”) upon brief picospritzer applications of 0.1-0.5 mM nicotine. These effects were resistant to inhibition by 20 nM methyllycaconitine (MLA) and 4 μM dihydro-β-erythroidine (DHβE), and were replicated by brief picospritzer applications of 0.2-1 mM cytisine. Picospritzer applications of 0.2 mM RJR-2403, a potent agonist of α4β2 nAChRs, did not facilitate synaptic release of glutamate in effect-positive cNTS neurons. The population of somatic/dendritic nAChRs has been found to be heterogeneous and included nAChRs that were activated by RJR-2403 and/or cytisine; or insensitive to cytisine; or inhibited by MLA. The presented results are consistent with the expression of β4-containing (i.e., β4*) nAChRs, likely α3β4*, in presynaptic terminals of effect-positive cNTS neurons. Somatic/dendritic nAChRs appear to involve both α7 and non-α7 subunits. Heterogeneity in the subunit composition of pre-synaptic and somatic/dendritic nAChRs may underlie diverse roles that these receptors play in regulation of behavioral and visceral reflexes, and may reflect specific targeting by endogenous nicotinic agents and nicotine.
nicotine; RJR-2403; cytisine; brainstem; solitary tract; pre-synaptic
Hypofunction of N-methyl-D-aspartic acid-type glutamate receptors (NMDAR) induced by the systemic administration of NMDAR antagonists is well known to cause schizophrenia-like symptoms in otherwise healthy subjects. However, the brain areas or cell types responsible for the emergence of these symptoms following NMDAR hypofunction remain largely unknown. One possibility, the so-called “GABAergic origin hypothesis,” is that NMDAR hypofunction at GABAergic interneurons, in particular, is sufficient for schizophrenia-like effects. In one attempt to address this issue, transgenic mice were generated in which NMDARs were selectively deleted from cortical and hippocampal GABAergic interneurons, a majority of which were parvalbumin (PV)-positive. This manipulation triggered a constellation of phenotypes—from molecular and physiological to behavioral—resembling characteristics of human schizophrenia. Based on these results, and in conjunction with previous literature, we argue that during development, NMDAR hypofunction at cortical, PV-positive, fast-spiking interneurons produces schizophrenia-like effects. This review summarizes the data demonstrating that in schizophrenia, GABAergic (particularly PV-positive) interneurons are disrupted. PV-positive interneurons, many of which display a fast-spiking firing pattern, are critical not only for tight temporal control of cortical inhibition but also for the generation of synchronous membrane-potential gamma-band oscillations. We therefore suggest that in schizophrenia the specific ability of fast-spiking interneurons to control and synchronize disparate cortical circuits is disrupted and that this disruption may underlie many of the schizophrenia symptoms. We further argue that the high vulnerability of corticolimbic fast-spiking interneurons to genetic predispositions and to early environmental insults—including excitotoxicity and oxidative stress—might help to explain their significant contribution to the development of schizophrenia.
schizophrenia; fast-spiking interneuron; NMDA receptor hypofunction; parvalbumin; oxidative stress; transgenic mice
Disturbed cortical γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmission in schizophrenia is evident from lamina- and cell type- specific alterations in presynaptic markers. In the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), these alterations include lower transcript expression of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD67) and somatostatin (SST), a neuropeptide expressed in the Martinotti subpopulation of GABA neurons whose axons innervate the distal apical dendrites of pyramidal neurons. However, whether the alterations in SST-containing interneurons are associated with changes in post-synaptic receptors for SST has not been examined. Thus, we used in situ hybridization to quantify the mRNA expression levels of SST receptors subtype 1 (SSTR1) and subtype 2 (SSTR2) in DLPFC area 9 from 23 matched pairs of subjects with schizophrenia and normal comparison subjects. We also assessed the effects of potential confounding variables within the human subjects and in brain specimens from macaque monkeys with long term exposure to antipsychotic drugs. SSTR1 mRNA levels did not differ between subject groups. In contrast, mean cortical SSTR2 mRNA levels were significantly 19% lower in the subjects with schizophrenia. Laminar and cellular level analyses revealed that lower SSTR2 mRNA levels were localized to pyramidal cells in cortical layers 5-6. Expression of SSTR2 mRNA did not differ between monkeys exposed chronically to high doses of haloperidol or olanzapine and control animals, or between subjects with schizophrenia on or off antipsychotic medications at the time of death. However, levels of SSTR2 mRNA were significantly 37.6% lower in monkeys exposed chronically to low dose haloperidol, suggesting that the lower levels of SSTR2 mRNA selectively in pyramidal neurons in DLPFC layers 5-6 in schizophrenia should be interpreted with caution. In concert with prior findings of lower SST mRNA expression in the same subjects, the results of this study suggest the convergence of pre- and post-synaptic mechanisms to reduce inhibitory inputs to pyramidal neurons in the infragranular layers of the DLPFC.
GABA; interneurons; inhibition; dendrite; prefrontal cortex; postmortem
Oxidative-stress, in response to the activation of the superoxide-producing enzyme Nox2, has been implicated in the schizophrenia-like behavioral dysfunction that develops in animals that were subject to either neonatal NMDA receptor-antagonist treatment or social isolation. In both of these animal models of schizophrenia, an environmental insult occurring during the period of active maturation of the fast-spiking parvalbumin-positive (PV+) interneuronal circuit leads to a diminished expression of parvalbumin in GABA-inhibitory neurons when animals reach adulthood. The loss of PV+ interneurons in animal models had been tentatively attributed to the death of these neurons. However, present results show that for the perinatal NMDA-R antagonist model these interneurons are still alive when animals are 5–6 weeks of age even though they have lost their phenotype and no longer express parvalbumin. Alterations in parvalbumin expression and sensory-evoked gamma oscillatory activity, regulated by PV+ interneurons, are consistently observed in schizophrenia. We propose that cortical networks consisting of faulty PV+ interneurons interacting with pyramidal neurons may be responsible for the aberrant oscillatory activity observed in schizophrenia. Thus, oxidative stress during the maturation window for PV+ interneurons may, by alteration of normal brain development, lead to the emergence of schizophrenia-like behavioral dysfunctions when subjects reach early adulthood.
redox; parvalbumin; fast-spiking; gamma oscillations; GABAergic; Interleukin-6; NADPH oxidase; schizophrenia
Repeated phencyclidine (PCP) administration induces cognitive disruptions resembling those seen in schizophrenia. Alterations in glutamate transmission and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) function in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) have been implicated in these PCP-induced deficits, as well as in cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. PCP-induced cognitive deficits are reversed by chronic treatment with the atypical antipsychotic clozapine in rats. We investigated the effects of a single injection vs. repeated administration of PCP on glutamate levels in the PFC using in vivo microdialysis. Furthermore, we examined how these PCP regimens affect GABA neuronal markers in the PFC. Finally, we investigated the effects of clozapine on disruptions in glutamate levels and GABA neuronal markers induced by repeated PCP administration. Acute PCP administration (2 mg/kg) increased extracellular PFC glutamate; this increase appeared blunted, but was not eliminated, after repeated PCP pretreatment. PCP administration also strongly decreased levels of parvalbumin and glutamic acid decarboxylase-67 (two markers of GABA function) in the PFC, an effect that was maintained after a 10 day drug-free washout period and unaltered by the resumption of repeated PCP injections. All of the observed PCP effects were attenuated by chronic treatment with clozapine, an atypical antipsychotic that has partial effectiveness on cognitive impairment in schizophrenia. These findings suggest that abnormal cortical glutamate transmission, possibly driven by pathological changes in GABA function in parvalbumin-positive fast-spiking interneurons, may underlie some of the cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. A better understanding of glutamate and GABA dysregulation in schizophrenia may uncover new treatment targets for schizophrenia-related cognitive dysfunction.
schizophrenia; phencyclidine; glutamate; GABA; clozapine; antipsychotic; cognition
Genetic factors involved in neuroplasticity have been implicated in major psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, and substance abuse. Given its extended interactome, variants in the Disrupted-In-Schizophrenia-1 (DISC1) gene could contribute to drug addiction and psychiatric diseases. Thus, we evaluated how dominant-negative mutant DISC1 influenced the neurobehavioral and molecular effects of methamphetamine (METH). Control and mutant DISC1 mice were studied before or after treatment with non-toxic escalating dose (ED) of METH. In naïve mice, we assessed METH-induced conditioned place preference (CPP), dopamine (DA) D2 receptor density and the basal and METH-induced activity of DISC1 partners, AKT and GSK-3β in the ventral striatum. In ED treated mice, 4 weeks after METH treatment, we evaluated fear conditioning, depression-like responses in forced swim test, and the basal and METH-induced activity of AKT and GSK-3β in the ventral striatum. We found impairment in METH-induced CPP, decreased DA D2 receptor density and altered METH-induced phosphorylation of AKT and GSK-3β in naïve DISC1 female mice. The ED regimen was not neurotoxic as evidenced by unaltered brain regional monoamine tissue content. Mutant DISC1 significantly delayed METH ED-produced sensitization and affected drug-induced phosphorylation of AKT and GSK-3β in female mice. Our results suggest that perturbations in DISC1 functions in the ventral striatum may impact the molecular mechanisms of reward and sensitization, contributing to comorbidity between drug abuse and major mental diseases.
comorbidity; schizophrenia; drug abuse; methamphetamine; DISC1; AKT; GSK-3β; dopamine; D2 receptors
Tobacco smoking is a preventable cause of morbidity and mortality throughout the world. Very high rates of tobacco smoking are seen in patients with schizophrenia. Importantly, smokers with schizophrenia generally have higher nicotine dependence scores, experience more severe withdrawal symptoms upon smoking cessation, have lower cessation rates than healthy individuals, and suffer from significant smoking-related morbidity and premature mortality compared with the general population. Interestingly, significant disturbances in cholinergic function are reported in schizophrenia patients. The high smoking-schizophrenia comorbidity observed in schizophrenia patients may be an attempt to compensate for this cholinergic dysfunction. Cholinergic neurotransmission plays an important role in cognition and is hypothesized to play an important role in schizophrenia-associated cognitive deficits. In this review, preclinical evidence highlighting the beneficial effects of nicotine and subtype-selective nicotinic receptor agonists in schizophrenia-associated cognitive deficits, such as working memory and attention, is discussed. Furthermore, some of the challenges involved in the development of procognitive medications, particularly subtype-selective nicotinic receptor agonists, are also discussed. Amelioration of schizophrenia-associated cognitive deficits may help in the treatment of schizophrenia-smoking comorbidity by promoting smoking cessation and thus help in the better management of schizophrenia patients.
Pharmacotherapy of schizophrenia based on the dopamine hypothesis remains unsatisfactory for the negative and cognitive symptoms of the disease. Enhancing N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDAR) function is expected to alleviate such persistent symptoms, but successful development of novel clinically effective compounds remains challenging. Adenosine is a homeostatic bioenergetic network modulator that is able to affect complex networks synergistically at different levels (receptor dependent pathways, biochemistry, bioenergetics, and epigenetics). By affecting brain dopamine and glutamate activities it represents a promising candidate for restoring the functional imbalance in these neurotransmitter systems believed to underlie the genesis of schizophrenia symptoms, as well as restoring homeostasis of bioenergetics. Suggestion of an adenosine hypothesis of schizophrenia further posits that adenosinergic dysfunction might contribute to the emergence of multiple neurotransmitter dysfunctionscharacteristic of schizophrenia via diverse mechanisms. Given the importance of adenosine in early brain development and regulation of brain immune response, it also bears direct relevance to the aetiology of schizophrenia. Here, we provide an overview of the rationale and evidence in support of the therapeutic potential of multiple adenosinergic targets, including the high-affinity adenosine receptors (A1R and A2AR), and the regulatory enzyme adenosine kinase (ADK). Key preliminary clinical data and preclinical findings are reviewed.
animal model; antipsychotics; dopamine; glutamate; NMDA; psychosis
Schizophrenia is a complex developmental disorder that presents challenges to modern neuroscience in terms of discovering etiology and aiding in effective treatment of afflicted humans. One approach is to divide the constellation of symptoms of human neuropsychiatric disorders into discrete units for study. Multiple animal models are used to study brain ontogeny, response to psychoactive compounds, substrates of defined behaviors. Frontal cortical areas have been found to have abnormal anatomy and neurotransmitter levels in postmortem brains from schizophrenic patients. The mouse model has the advantage of rather straightforward genetic manipulation and offers numerous genetic variations within the same species. However, until recently, the behavioral analyses in the mice lagged behind the primate and rat, especially with respect to test of frontal cortical regions. Current reports of mouse prefrontal anatomy and function advocate the mouse as a feasible animal model to study prefrontal cortical function. This review highlights the most recent developments from behavioral paradigms for testing orbital and medial prefrontal cortical function in pharmacological and genetic models of human schizophrenia.
Distorted interval timing is a common feature of the cognitive impairment observed in patients with schizophrenia. The neural circuits which are required for interval timing and those thought to be compromised in schizophrenia overlap and include the cortico-striatal pathways. Here, we suggest that a focus on temporal information processing offers a window into understanding the cognitive deficits of schizophrenia and how deficits might contribute to a variety of symptoms. A disruption in the functioning of the cortico-striatal pathways may lead to cognitive deficits which in turn lead to impaired processing of temporal information. Disrupted temporal processing may also contribute to a variety of other symptoms associated with the disorder. Because interval timing is a cognitive/behavioral phenotype that can easily be assessed in animals it can be used as a sensitive screen for deficits in animal models. Using a recently developed transgenic mouse that models increased D2 receptor upregulation in the striatum similar to that observed in patients with schizophrenia we illustrate the utility of an interval timing approach in assessing cognitive impairment. We further discuss how variants of timing procedures can be used to assess attention and working memory performance as well as other necessary components of adaptive cognitive function.
Researchers have long noted an excess of patients with schizophrenia were born during the months of January and March. This winter birth effect has been hypothesized to result either from various causes such as vitamin D deficiency (McGrath, 1999; McGrath et al., 2010), or from maternal infection during pregnancy. Infection with a number of viruses during pregnancy including influenza, and rubella are known to increase the risk of schizophrenia in the offspring (Brown, 2006). Animal models using influenza virus or PolyI:C, a viral mimic, have been able to replicate many of the brain morphological, genetic, and behavioral deficits of schizophrenia (Meyer et al., 2006, 2008a, 2009; Bitanihirwe et al. 2010; Meyer and Feldon, 2010; Short et al., 2010). Using a murine model of prenatal viral infection, our laboratory has shown that viral infection on embryonic days 9, 16, and 18 leads to abnormal expression of brain genes and brain structural abnormalities in the exposed offspring (Fatemi et al., 2005, 2008a,b, 2009a,b). The purpose of the current study was to examine gene expression and morphological changes in the placenta, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex as a result of viral infection on embryonic day 7 of pregnancy. Pregnant mice were either infected with influenza virus [A/WSN/33 strain (H1N1)] or sham-infected with vehicle solution. At E16, placentas were harvested and prepared for either microarray analysis or for light microscopy. We observed significant, upregulation of 77 genes and significant downregulation of 93 genes in placentas. In brains of exposed offspring following E7 infection, there were changes in gene expression in prefrontal cortex (6 upregulated and 24 downregulated at P0; 5 upregulated and 14 downregulated at P56) and hippocampus (4 upregulated and 6 downregulated at P0; 6 upregulated and 13 downregulated at P56). QRT-PCR verified the direction and magnitude of change for a number of genes associated with hypoxia, inflammation, schizophrenia, and autism. Placentas from infected mice showed a number of morphological abnormalities including presence of thrombi and increased presence of immune cells. Additionally, we searched for presence of H1N1 viral-specific genes for M1/M2, NA, and NS1 in placentas of infected mice and brains of exposed offspring and found none. Our results demonstrate that prenatal viral infection disrupts structure and gene expression of the placenta, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex potentially explaining deleterious effects in the exposed offspring without evidence for presence of viral RNAs in the target tissues.
placenta; influenza; brain; microarray; schizophrenia; viral genes
We describe a touchscreen method that satisfies a proposed ‘wish-list’ of desirables for a cognitive testing method for assessing rodent models of schizophrenia. A number of tests relevant to schizophrenia research are described which are currently being developed and validated using this method. These tests can be used to study reward learning, memory, perceptual discrimination, object-place associative learning, attention, impulsivity, compulsivity, extinction, simple Pavlovian conditioning, and other constructs. The tests can be deployed using a ‘flexible battery’ approach to establish a cognitive profile for a particular mouse or rat model. We have found these tests to be capable of detecting not just impairments in function, but enhancements as well, which is essential for testing putative cognitive therapies. New tests are being continuously developed, many of which may prove particularly valuable for schizophrenia research.
For decades, the predominant hypothesis of schizophrenia centered on dysfunctions of the dopamine system. However, recent evidence now suggests that the dopamine system may be “normal” in its configuration, but instead is regulated abnormally by modulatory processes. Convergent studies in animals and in humans have now focused on the hippocampus as a central component in the generation of psychosis and possibly other symptom states in schizophrenia. Thus, activity in the ventral hippocampus has been shown to regulate dopamine neuron responsivity by controlling the number of dopamine neurons that can be phasically activated by stimuli. In this way, this structure determines the gain of the dopamine signal in response to stimuli. However, in schizophrenia, the hippocampus appears to be hyperactive, possibly due to attenuation of function of inhibitory interneurons. As a result, the dopamine system is driven into an overly responsive state. Current medications have focused on blockade of overstimulated dopamine receptors; however, this now appears to be several synapses downstream from the pathological antecedent. Therapeutic approaches that focus on normalizing hippocampal function may prove to be more effective treatment avenues for the schizophrenia patient.
Treatment options for schizophrenia that address all symptom categories (positive, negative, and cognitive) are lacking in current therapies for this disorder. Compounds targeting the metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors hold promise as a more comprehensive therapeutic alternative to typical and atypical antipsychotics and may avoid the occurrence of extrapyramidal side effects that accompany these treatments. Activation of the group II mGlu receptors (mGlu2 and mGlu3) and the group I mGlu5 are hypothesized to normalize the disruption of thalamocortical glutamatergic circuitry that results in abnormal glutamaterigic signaling in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Agonists of mGlu2 and mGlu3 have demonstrated efficacy for the positive symptom group in both animal models and clinical trials with mGlu2 being the subtype most likely responsible for the therapeutic effect. Limitations in the chemical space tolerated by the orthosteric site of the mGlu receptors has led to the pursuit of compounds that potentiate the receptor’s response to glutamate by acting at less highly conserved allosteric sites. Several series of selective positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) for mGlu2 and mGlu5 have demonstrated efficacy in animal models used for the evaluation of antipsychotic agents. In addition, evidence from animal studies indicates that mGlu5 PAMs hold promise for the treatment of cognitive deficits that occur in schizophrenia. Hopefully, further optimization of allosteric modulators of mGlu receptors will yield clinical candidates that will allow full evaluation of the potential efficacy of these compounds in the treatment of multiple symptom domains in schizophrenia patients in the near future.
metabotropic; glutamate; schizophrenia; NMDA; allosteric
The glutamate system has been strongly implicated in the pathophysiology of psychotic illnesses, including schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. We recently found that knockout (KO) mice lacking the AMPA GluA1 subunit displayed behavioral abnormalities relevant to some of the positive symptoms of these disorders. Here we phenotyped GluA1 KO mice for behavioral phenotypes pertinent to negative and cognitive/executive symptoms. GluA1 KO mice were tested for conspecific social interactions, the acquisition and extinction of an operant response for food-reward, operant-based pairwise visual discrimination and reversal learning, and impulsive choice in a delay-based cost/benefit decision-making T-maze task. Results showed that GluA1 KO mice engaged in less social interaction than wildtype (WT) controls when tested in a non-habituated, novel environment, but, conversely, displayed more social interaction in a well habituated, familiar environment. GluA1 KO mice were faster to acquire an operant stimulus-response for food reward than WT and were subsequently slower to extinguish the response. Genotypes showed similar pairwise discrimination learning and reversal, although GluA1 KO mice made fewer errors during early reversal. GluA1 KO mice also displayed increased impulsive choice, being less inclined to choose a delayed, larger reward when given a choice between this and a smaller, immediate reward, compared to WT mice. Finally, sucrose preference did not differ between genotypes. Collectively, these data add to the growing evidence that GluA1 KO mice display at least some phenotypic abnormalities mimicking those found in schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder. Although these mice, like any other single mutant line, are unlikely to model the entire disease, they may nevertheless provide a useful tool for studying the role of GluA1 in certain aspects of the pathophysiology of major psychotic illness.
Glutamate; Schizophrenia; Schizoaffective; Cognition; Executive function; Knockout
Schizophrenia is a debilitating cognitive disorder. The link between cognitive debilitation and functional outcome in patients with schizophrenia has prompted research to develop procognitive therapies. It is hoped that by improving cognition in these patients, their functional outcome will also improve. Although no established treatments exist as yet, progress has been made toward understanding how to evaluate putative compounds in the clinic. Genetic mouse models and pharmacological rat models of cognitive disruption are being developed that may help to evaluate these putative compounds preclinically. Considering the increased number of genetic mouse models relevant to schizophrenia, there is a need to evaluate pharmacological manipulations on cognition in mice. Here we review the current literature on mouse pharmacological models relevant to schizophrenia. In this review, we discuss where different pharmacological effects between rats and mice on cognitive tasks are observed and assess the validity offered by these models. We conclude that the predictive validity of these models is currently difficult to assess and that much more needs to be done to develop useful mouse pharmacological models of cognitive disruption in schizophrenia.
Mice; pharmacological; animal models; schizophrenia; learning; memory; attention; phencyclidine, amphetamine, scopolamine
Emerging evidence points to the involvement of the brain extracellular matrix (ECM) in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia (SZ). Abnormalities affecting several ECM components, including Reelin and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs), have been described in subjects with this disease. Solid evidence supports the involvement of Reelin, an ECM glycoprotein involved in corticogenesis, synaptic functions and glutamate NMDA receptor regulation, expressed prevalently in distinct populations of GABAergic neurons, which secrete it into the ECM. Marked changes of Reelin expression in SZ have typically been reported in association with GABA-related abnormalities in subjects with SZ and bipolar disorder. Recent findings from our group point to substantial abnormalities affecting CSPGs, a main ECM component, in the amygdala and entorhinal cortex of subjects with schizophrenia, but not bipolar disorder. Striking increases of glial cells expressing CSPGs were accompanied by reductions of perineuronal nets, CSPG- and Reelin-enriched ECM aggregates enveloping distinct neuronal populations. CSPGs developmental and adult functions, including neuronal migration, axon guidance, synaptic and neurotransmission regulation are highly relevant to the pathophysiology of SZ. Together with reports of anomalies affecting several other ECM components, these findings point to the ECM as a key component of the pathology of SZ. We propose that ECM abnormalities may contribute to several aspects of the pathophysiology of this disease, including disrupted connectivity and neuronal migration, synaptic anomalies and altered GABAergic, glutamatergic and dopaminergic neurotransmission.
extracellular matrix; chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans; perineuronal nets; astrocytes; schizophrenia; Reelin
The lack of efficacy for antipsychotics with respect to negative symptoms and cognitive deficits is a significant obstacle for the treatment of schizophrenia. Developing new drugs to target these symptoms requires appropriate neural biomarkers that can be investigated in model organisms, be used to track treatment response, and provide insight into pathophysiological disease mechanisms. A growing body of evidence indicates that neural oscillations in the gamma frequency range (30–80 Hz) are disturbed in schizophrenia. Gamma synchrony has been shown to mediate a host of sensory and cognitive functions, including perceptual encoding, selective attention, salience, and working memory – neurocognitive processes that are dysfunctional in schizophrenia and largely refractory to treatment. This review summarizes the current state of clinical literature with respect to gamma band responses (GBRs) in schizophrenia, focusing on resting and auditory paradigms. Next, preclinical studies of schizophrenia that have investigated gamma band activity are reviewed to gain insight into neural mechanisms associated with these deficits. We conclude that abnormalities in gamma synchrony are ubiquitous in schizophrenia and likely reflect an elevation in baseline cortical gamma synchrony (‘noise’) coupled with reduced stimulus-evoked GBRs (‘signal’). Such a model likely reflects hippocampal and cortical dysfunction, as well as reduced glutamatergic signaling with downstream GABAergic deficits, but is probably less influenced by dopaminergic abnormalities implicated in schizophrenia. Finally, we propose that analogous signal-to-noise deficits in the flow of cortical information in preclinical models are useful targets for the development of new drugs that target the treatment-resistant symptoms of schizophrenia.
schizophrenia; gamma oscillations; electrophysiology; endophenotype; animal models; GABA
Over-activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors is critically involved in many neurological conditions, thus there has been considerable interest in developing NMDA receptor antagonists. We have recently identified a series of naphthoic and phenanthroic acid compounds that allosterically modulate NMDA receptors through a novel mechanism of action. In the present study, we have determined the structure-activity relationships of 18 naphthoic acid derivatives for the ability to inhibit the four GluN1/GluN2(A-D) NMDA receptor subtypes. 2-Naphthoic acid has low activity at GluN2A-containing receptors and yet lower activity at other NMDA receptors. 3-Amino addition, and especially 3-hydroxy addition, to 2-naphthoic acid increased inhibitory activity at GluN1/GluN2C and GluN1/GluN2D receptors. Further halogen and phenyl substitutions to 2-hydroxy-3-naphthoic acid leads to several relatively potent inhibitors, the most potent of which is UBP618 (1-bromo-2-hydroxy-6-phenylnaphthalene-3-carboxylic acid) with an IC50 ~ 2 μM at each of the NMDA receptor subtypes. While UBP618 is non-selective, elimination of the hydroxyl group in UBP618, as in UBP628 and UBP608, leads to an increase in GluN1/GluN2A selectivity. Of the compounds evaluated, specifically those with a 6-phenyl substitution were less able to fully inhibit GluN1/GluN2A, GluN1/GluN2B and GluN1/GluN2C responses (maximal % inhibition of 60 – 90%). Such antagonists may potentially have reduced adverse effects by not excessively blocking NMDA receptor signaling. Together, these studies reveal discrete structure-activity relationships for the allosteric antagonism of NMDA receptors that may facilitate the development of NMDA receptor modulator agents for a variety of neuropsychiatric and neurological conditions.
Repeated psychostimulant exposure progressively increases their potency to stimulate motor activity in rodents. This behavioral or locomotor sensitization is considered a model for some aspects of drug addiction in humans, particularly drug craving during abstinence. However, the role of increased motor behavior in drug reward remains incompletely understood. Intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) was measured concurrently with locomotor activity to determine if acute intermittent cocaine administration had distinguishable effects on motor behavior and perception of brain stimulation-reward (BSR) in the same mice. Sensitization is associated with changes in neuronal activity and glutamatergic neurotransmission in brain reward circuitry. Expression of AMPA receptor subunits (GluR1 and GluR2) and CRE binding protein (CREB) was measured in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), dorsolateral striatum (STR) and nucleus accumbens (NAc) before and after a sensitizing regimen of cocaine, with and without ICSS. Repeated cocaine administration sensitized mice to its locomotor stimulating effects but not its ability to potentiate BSR. ICSS increased GluR1 in the VTA but not NAc or STR, demonstrating selective changes in protein expression with electrical stimulation of discrete brain structures. Repeated cocaine reduced GluR1, GluR2 and CREB expression in the NAc, and reductions of GluR1 and GluR2 but not CREB were further enhanced by ICSS. These data suggest that the effects of repeated cocaine exposure on reward and motor processes are dissociable in mice, and that reduction of excitatory neurotransmission in the NAc may predict altered motor function independently from changes in reward perception.
Intracranial Self-Stimulation; Brain Stimulation Reward; Sensitization; GluR1; GluR2; CREB
N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptors are critical for both normal brain functions and the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. We investigated the functional changes of glutamatergic receptors in the pyramidal cells and fast-spiking (FS) interneurons in the adolescent rat prefrontal cortex in MK-801 model of schizophrenia. We found that although both pyramidal cells and FS interneurons were affected by in vivo subchronic blockade of NMDA receptors, MK-801 induced distinct changes in αamino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) and NMDA receptors in the FS interneurons compared with pyramidal cells. Specifically, the amplitude, but not the frequency, of AMPA-mediated miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) in FS interneurons was significantly decreased whereas both the frequency and amplitude in pyramidal neurons were increased. In addition, MK-801-induced new presynaptic NMDA receptors were detected in the glutamatergic terminals targeting pyramidal neurons but not FS interneurons. MK-801 also induced distinct alterations in FS interneurons but not in pyramidal neurons, including significantly decreased rectification index and increased calcium permeability. These data suggest a distinct cell-type specific and homeostatic synaptic scaling and redistribution of AMPA and NMDA receptors in response to the subchronic blockade of NMDA receptors and thus provide a direct mechanistic explanation for the NMDA hypofunction hypothesis that have long been proposed for the schizophrenia pathophysiology.
MK-801; AMPA receptors; fast-spiking interneurons; NMDA receptor hypofunction; schizophrenia
The anterolateral cell group of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNSTALG) serves as an important relay station in stress circuitry. Limbic inputs to the BNSTALG are primarily glutamatergic and activity-dependent changes in this input have been implicated in abnormal behaviors associated with chronic stress and addiction. Significantly, local infusion of acetylcholine (ACh) receptor agonists into the BNST trigger stress-like cardiovascular responses, however, little is known about the effects of these agents on glutamatergic transmission in the BNSTALG. Here, we show that glutamate- and ACh-containing fibers are found in close association in the BNSTALG. Moreover, in the presence of the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, eserine, endogenous ACh release evoked a long-lasting reduction of the amplitude of stimulus-evoked EPSCs. This effect was mimicked by exogenous application of the ACh analogue, carbachol, which caused a reversible, dose-dependent, reduction of the evoked EPSC amplitude, and an increase in both the paired pulse ratio and coefficient of variation, suggesting a presynaptic site of action. Uncoupling of postsynaptic G-proteins with intracellular GDP-β-S, or application of the nicotinic receptor antagonist, tubocurarine, failed to block the carbachol effect. In contrast, the carbachol effect was blocked by prior application of atropine or M2 receptor-preferring antagonists, and was absent in M2/M4 receptor knockout mice, suggesting that presynaptic M2 receptors mediate the effect of ACh. Immuno-electron microscopy studies further revealed the presence of M2 receptors on axon terminals that formed asymmetric synapses with BNST neurons. Our findings suggest that presynaptic M2 receptors might be an important modulator of the stress circuit and hence a novel target for drug development.
Acetylcholine; Eserine; Carbachol; Muscarinic receptor knockout mice; EPSCs
The efficacy of bifunctional peptide inhibitor (BPI) in preventing blood-brain barrier (BBB) breakdown during onset of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) and suppression of the disease was evaluated in mice. The mechanism that defines how BPI prevents the disease was investigated by measuring the in vitro cytokine production of splenocytes. Peptides were injected 5 to 11 days prior to induction of EAE, and the severity of the disease was monitored by a standard clinical scoring protocol and change in body weight. The BBB breakdown in diseased and treated mice was compared to that in normal control mice by determining deposition of gadolinium diethylenetriaminepentaacetate (Gd-DTPA) in the brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Mice treated with PLP-BPI showed no or low indication of EAE as well as normal increase in body weight. In contrast, mice treated with the control peptide or PBS showed a decrease in body weight and a high disease score. The diseased mice had high deposition of Gd-DTPA in the brain, indicating breakdown in the BBB. However, the deposition of Gd-DTPA in PLP-BPI-treated mice was similar to that in normal control mice. Thus, PLP-BPI can suppress EAE when administered as a peptide vaccine and maintain the integrity of the BBB.
Blood Brain Barrier; Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis; Bifunctional Peptide Inhibitor; Antigen Presenting Cell; T cell; Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Numerous rodent and human studies have demonstrated that neuropeptide Y (NPY) is involved in the regulation of anxiety-related behaviors. In this study, we examined whether there were differences in NPY signaling between two inbred mouse strains (C57BL/6J and DBA/2J) that exhibit divergent basal and stress-induced anxiety phenotypes. We focused on the bed nucleus of the stria terminals (BNST), a structure in the extended amygdala that is important for the regulation of anxiety-like behavior and contains NPY receptors. While results from whole-cell voltage-clamp recordings and immunofluorescence histochemistry revealed no significant basal differences in NPY signaling or NPY and NPY Y2 receptor (Y2R) expression in the BNST, these measures were differentially altered by chronic restraint stress. Ten days of chronic restraint stress increased basal GABAergic transmission and decreased NPY’s ability to inhibit evoked GABAergic transmission in the dorsolateral BNST (dlBNST) via Y2R in DBA/2J, but not C57BL/6J, mice. Additionally, restraint stress increased NPY and Y2R expression across subregions of the BNST of DBA/2J mice 24 hrs after the last stress exposure, but no changes were observed in C57BL/6J mice. Together, these results suggest that chronic restraint stress engages the NPY system and alters NPY modulation of inhibitory transmission in the dlBNST of DBA/2J mice, but not C57BL/6J mice, which may be related to increased expression of anxiety-related behaviors in this strain.
chronic stress; extended amygdala; NPY; inhibition; GABA
The norepinephrine nucleus, locus coeruleus (LC), has been implicated in cognitive aspects of the stress response, in part through its regulation by the stress-related neuropeptide, corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF). LC neurons discharge in tonic and phasic modes that differentially modulate attention and behavior. Here, the effects of exposure to an ethologically relevant stressor, predator odor, on spontaneous (tonic) and auditory-evoked (phasic) LC discharge were characterized in unanesthetized rats. Similar to the effects of CRF, stressor presentation increased tonic LC discharge and decreased phasic auditory-evoked discharge, thereby decreasing the signal-to-noise ratio of the sensory response. This stress-induced shift in LC discharge towards a high tonic mode was prevented by a CRF antagonist. Moreover, CRF antagonism during stress unmasked a large decrease in tonic discharge rate that was opioid mediated because it was prevented by pretreatment with the opiate antagonist, naloxone. Elimination of both CRF and opioid influences with an antagonist combination rendered LC activity unaffected by the stressor. These results demonstrate that both CRF and opioid afferents are engaged during stress to fine-tune LC activity. The predominant CRF influence shifts the operational mode of LC activity towards a high tonic state that is thought to facilitate behavioral flexibility and may be adaptive in coping with the stressor. Simultaneously, stress engages an opposing opioid influence that restrains the CRF influence and may facilitate recovery towards pre-stress levels of activity. Changes in the balance of CRF:opioid regulation of the LC could have consequences for stress vulnerability.
corticotropin-releasing hormone; arousal; synchrony; naloxone; auditory-evoked response