In humans and animals, anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) increase aggression, but the underlying behavioral mechanisms are unclear. AAS may increase the motivation to fight. Alternatively, AAS may increase impulsive behavior, consistent with the popular image of ‘roid rage. To test this, adolescent male rats were treated chronically with testosterone (7.5 mg/kg) or vehicle and tested for aggressive motivation and impulsivity. Rats were trained to respond on a nose-poke on a 10 min fixed-interval schedule for the opportunity to fight in their home cage with an unfamiliar rat. Although testosterone increased aggression (6.3±1.3 fights/5 min vs 2.4±0.8 for controls, p<0.05), there was no difference in operant responding (28.4±1.6 nose-pokes/ 10 min for testosterone, 32.4±7.0 for vehicle). This suggests that testosterone does not enhance motivation for aggression. To test for impulsivity, rats were trained to respond for food in a delay-discounting procedure. In an operant chamber, one lever delivered one food pellet immediately, the other lever gave 4 pellets after a delay (0, 15, 30 or 45 s). In testosterone- and vehicle-treated rats, body weights and food intake did not differ. However, testosterone-treated rats chose the larger, delayed reward more often (4.5±0.7 times in 10 trials with 45 s delay) than vehicle controls (2.5±0.5 times, p<0.05), consistent with a reduction in impulsive choice. Thus, although chronic high-dose testosterone enhances aggression, this does not include an increase in impulsive behavior or motivation to fight. This is further supported by measurement of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) by Western immunoblot analysis in brain regions important for motivation (nucleus accumbens, Acb) and executive function (medial prefrontal cortex, PFC). There were no differences in TH between testosterone- and vehicle-treated rats in Acb or PFC. However, testosterone significantly reduced TH (to 76.9±3.1% of controls, p<0.05) in the caudate-putamen, a brain area important for behavioral inhibition, motor control and habit learning.
Anabolic agents; Agonistic behavior; Androgen; Fighting; Dopamine
Evidence in the literature raises the possibility that alterations in neuropeptide Y (NPY) in the dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH) may contribute to hyperphagia leading to body weight gain. Previously, we have shown that compared to AAVGFP controls, adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated overexpression of NPY in the DMH of lean rats resulted in significantly higher body weight gain that was attributed to increased food intake, and this was further exacerbated by a high-fat diet. Here, we tested AAVNPY and AAVGFP control rats in a brief-access taste procedure (10-s trials, 30-min sessions) to an array of sucrose concentrations under ad libitum and partial food and water access conditions. The test allows for some segregation of the behavioral components by providing a measure of trial initiation (appetitive) and unconditioned licks at each concentration (consummatory). Consistent with previous findings suggesting that NPY has a primary effect on appetitive function, overexpression of DMH NPY did not significantly alter concentration-dependent licking response to sucrose but when tested in a non-restricted food and water schedule, AAVNPY rats initiated significantly more sucrose trials compared to AAVGFP controls in a brief-access taste test.
NPY; hypothalamus; adeno-associated virus; sucrose; appetitive; taste
Despite living in an obesogenic environment, some individuals maintain a thin phenotype compared to the majority who are at risk for weight gain and obesity. Understanding how these different phenotypes regulate energy intake is critical. The objective of this study was to examine the differences in neuronal response to visual food cues in adults recruited as either obesity-resistant (OR) or obesity-prone (OP) based on self-identification, BMI, and personal/family weight history. 25 OR and 28 OP individuals were studied after 4 days of eucaloric energy intake. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was performed in the fasted and acute fed states (30 minutes after a test meal) while subjects viewed images of foods of high hedonic value and neutral non-food objects. Measures of appetite using visual analog scales were performed before and every 30 minutes after the test meal for 3 hours. In the fasted state, food as compared to nonfood images elicited significant response in the insula, somatosensory cortex, parietal cortex, and visual cortex in both OR and OP. The acute fed state resulted in significant attenuation of these and other brain areas in the OR but not OP individuals. Furthermore, OP as compared to OR individuals showed greater activation of medial and anterior prefrontal cortex (PFC) in response to the test meal. Adjusting for fat mass did not impact these results. Attenuation of insula/PFC response to food images in the fed state was associated with greater reductions in hunger. These findings suggest that individuals prone to weight gain and obesity have altered neuronal responses to food cues in brain regions known to be important in energy intake regulation. These altered responses may represent an important mechanism contributing to excess energy intake and risk for obesity.
fMRI; neuroimaging; pre-obesity; overweight; insula; prefrontal cortex
Human alcoholics display dramatic disruptions of circadian rhythms that may contribute to the maintenance of excessive drinking, thus creating a vicious cycle. While clinical studies cannot establish direct causal mechanisms, recent animal experiments have revealed bidirectional interactions between circadian rhythms and ethanol intake, suggesting that the chronobiological disruptions seen in human alcoholics are mediated in part by alterations in circadian pacemaker function. The present study was designed to further explore these interactions using C57BL/6J (B6) and DBA/2J (D2) inbred mice, two widely employed strains differing in both circadian and alcohol-related phenotypes. Mice were maintained in running-wheel cages with or without free-choice access to ethanol and exposed to a variety of lighting regimens, including standard light–dark cycles, constant darkness, constant light, and a “shift-lag” schedule consisting of repeated light–dark phase shifts. Relative to the standard light–dark cycle, B6 mice showed reduced ethanol intake in both constant darkness and constant light, while D2 mice showed reduced ethanol intake only in constant darkness. In contrast, shift-lag lighting failed to affect ethanol intake in either strain. Access to ethanol altered daily activity patterns in both B6 and D2 mice, and increased activity levels in D2 mice, but had no effects on other circadian parameters. Thus, the overall pattern of results was broadly similar in both strains, and consistent with previous observations that chronic ethanol intake alters circadian activity patterns while environmental perturbation of circadian rhythms modulates voluntary ethanol intake. These results suggest that circadian-based interventions may prove useful in the management of alcohol use disorders.
Circadian rhythm; Ethanol intake; Inbred mice; Environmental lighting
The onset of major depressive disorder is likely precipitated by a combination of heredity and life stress. The present study tested the hypothesis that rats selectivity bred on a trait related to emotional reactivity would show differential susceptibility or resilience to the development of depression-like signs in response to chronic mild variable intermittent stress (CMS).
Male Sprague-Dawley rats that were bred based on the trait of either high or low locomotor activity in response to a novel environment were exposed to four weeks of CMS or control conditions. Changes in hedonic behavior were assessed using weekly sucrose preference tests and anxiety-like behavior was evaluated using the novelty-suppressed feeding test.
During four weeks of CMS, bred low responder (bLR) rats became anhedonic at a faster rate and to a larger degree than bred high responder (bHR) rats, based on weekly sucrose preference tests. Measures of anxiety-like behavior in the novelty-suppressed feeding test were also significantly increased in the CMS-exposed bLR rats, though no differences were observed between CMS-exposed bHR rats and their unstressed controls.
These findings present further evidence that increased emotional reactivity is an important factor in stress susceptibility and the etiology of mood disorders, and that bHR and bLR rats provide a model of resistance or vulnerability to stress-induced depression. Furthermore, exposing bHR and bLR rats to CMS provides an excellent way to study the interaction of genetic and environmental factors in the development of depression-like behavior.
depression; chronic mild stress; high responder; low responder; selectively bred rat; vulnerability
Depressor responses to peripheral or central infusion of Angiotensin II type 1 (AT1) receptor antagonists (AT1X) are greater in pregnant (P) compared to nonpregnant (NP) animals. AT1 and ionotropic excitatory amino acid (EAA) receptors contribute to pressor responses to GABAA receptor blockade with bicuculline (Bic) in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of male rats. Therefore, we hypothesized that GABAergic inhibition is decreased and AT1 receptors play a greater excitatory role in the PVN of P versus NP rats. Unilateral microinjection of Bic was performed before (Bic1), after AT1X (Bic2), and after AT1X + EAA blockade (kynurenate, Kyn) (Bic3) in the PVN. Increases in mean arterial pressure (MAP: NP= 20 ± 2; P= 12 ± 2 mmHg), heart rate (HR: NP= 57 ± 6; P= 19 ± 6 beats/min) and renal sympathetic nerve activity (RSNA: NP= 70 ± 9; P= 33 ± 7 %) due to Bic (Bic1) were attenuated in P rats. Responses to AT1X and Kyn alone were insignificant in both groups. In NP rats, AT1X attenuated (+12 ± 4 mmHg), and AT1X + Kyn further decreased the pressor response to Bic in the PVN (+6 ± 2 mmHg). In P rats AT1X reduced the pressor response to Bic (+5 ± 1 mm Hg), and Kyn had no additional effect (+3 ± 1 mmHg). Effects of PVN Bic to alter the autospectra of RSNA were suppressed by prior AT1X and Kyn in both groups. Thus, tonic GABAergic inhibition is decreased and the contribution of AT1 receptors in the PVN may be greater in P rats.
rats; excitatory amino acid receptors; angiotensin AT1 receptors; renal sympathetic nerve activity; kynurenate; L158,809; bicuculline; PVN
In a recent study, intragastric (IG) self-infusion of 16% glucose stimulated 1-h intake and conditioned a preference for a flavored saccharin solution in C57BL/6J mice (Zukerman et al., 2011). Experiment 1 of the present study presents a concentration-response analysis of IG glucose-induced intake stimulation monitored by recording licking response every min of the 1 h/day sessions. Separate groups of food-restricted mice consumed a flavored saccharin solution (the CS−) paired with IG self-infusions of water (Test 0) followed by a different flavored solution (the CS+) paired with IG self-infusions of 2, 4, 8, 16, or 32% glucose (Tests 1–3). Following additional CS− and CS+ training sessions, a two-bottle CS+ vs. CS− choice test was conducted without infusions. Self-infusions of 8%, 16% or 32% glucose stimulated CS+ licking within 12 min of the first test session and even earlier in subsequent test sessions, and also conditioned significant CS+ preferences in the two-bottle test. The stimulation of early licking and CS+ preference increased as a function of glucose concentration. The amount of glucose solute self-infused increased with sugar concentration as did post-infusion blood glucose levels. The 2% glucose infusion did not stimulate CS+ intake and the 2% and 4% infusions failed to produce a CS+ preference in the 1-h test. Experiment 2 revealed that intraperitoneal self-infusions of 8% glucose, unlike IG glucose self-infusions, failed to stimulate CS+ licking or preference despite producing maximal increases in blood glucose levels. Taken together, these and other findings suggest that glucose rapidly produces concentration-dependent intestinal signals that stimulate intake and condition flavor preferences while postoral satiation signals limit total amounts consumed.
Postoral sugar conditioning; intragastric; intraperitoneal; appetition
Obesity, high-fat diets, and subsequent type 2 diabetes (T2DM) are associated with cognitive impairment. Moreover, T2DM increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and leads to abnormal elevation of brain beta-amyloid levels, one of the hallmarks of AD. The psychoactive alkaloid caffeine has been shown to have therapeutic potential in AD but the central impact of caffeine has not been well-studied in the context of a high-fat diet. Here we investigated the impact of caffeine administration on metabolism and cognitive performance, both in control rats and in rats placed on a high-fat diet. The effects of caffeine were significant: caffeine both (i) prevented the weight-gain associated with the high-fat diet and (ii) prevented cognitive impairment. Caffeine did not alter hippocampal metabolism or insulin signaling, likely because the high-fat-fed animals did not develop full-blown diabetes; however, caffeine did prevent or reverse a decrease in hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) seen in high-fat-fed animals. These data confirm that caffeine may serve as a neuroprotective agent against cognitive impairment caused by obesity and/or a high-fat diet. Increased hippocampal BDNF following caffeine administration could explain, at least in part, the effects of caffeine on cognition and metabolism.
Human studies suggest that prior emotional responses are stored within the brain as associations called somatic markers and are recalled to inform rapid decision-making. Consequently, behavioural and physiological indicators of arousal are detectable in humans when making decisions, and influence decision outcomes. Here we provide the first evidence of anticipatory arousal around the time of decision-making in non-human animals. Chickens were subjected to five experimental conditions, which varied in the number (one versus two), type (mealworms or empty bowl) and choice (same or different) of T-maze goals. As indicators of arousal, heart-rate and head movements were measured when goals were visible but not accessible; latency to reach the goal indicated motivation. We found a greater increase in heart-rate from baseline to the goal-viewing period, more head movements and shorter latencies in all conditions including mealworms compared to those with empty bowls. More head movements when two mealworm bowls were available compared to just one, and prior to occasions when hens accessed an empty bowl rather than declining to move, showed that arousal preceded and influenced decision-making. Our results provide an important foundation for investigating arousal during animal decision-making and suggest that the somatic-marker hypothesis might not only apply to humans.
•Anticipatory arousal was detectable around the time of decision-making in chickens.•Increased heart-rate and head movements were measured prior to preferred goal access.•More head movements were measured when two preferred goals were available.•Fewer head movements were measured preceding decisions not to access a goal.•Provides an important foundation for exploring arousal during animal decision-making.
Chicken; Choice; Heart-rate; Head movements; Anticipation; Motivation
Synthetic glucocorticoids (GC) have been used to promote lung development in preterm infants, thereby decreasing respiratory distress syndrome and mortality, yet, concern has arisen from reports that such treatment predisposes individuals to disease in adulthood. Given the variety of preclinical studies that show metabolic and behavioral abnormalities in adulthood following fetal exposure to synthetic GC, we examined the effect of in utero exposure to the synthetic GC, dexamethasone (DEX), on hypothalamic expression of thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) a central neuropeptide involved in mediating behavior and metabolic balance. Pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were administered 0.4 mg/kg DEX on gestational days 18–21. As adults (postnatal day (PD) 60), the offspring were fitted with temperature sensing transmitters allowing real-time monitoring of core body temperature (CBT) across the 24 hr light dark period. This revealed a significant decrease in CBT throughout the day in prenatal DEX-treated females on estrus and diestrus, but not in male offspring. The reduction in CBT by prenatal DEX exposure was accompanied by a significant decrease in the expression of Trh transcript in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) of female rats at PD 60 and this effect was also present on PD7. There was also a female-specific reduction in the number of preproTRH -immunoreactive (ir) neurons in the PVN, with ppTRH-ir nerve fibers decreases that were present in both male and female offspring. No changes in thyroid hormone (triiodothyronine, T3; thyroxine, T4) were observed in adult offspring, but during development, both males and females (PD14) had lower T3 and T4 levels. These data indicate abnormal expression of TRH results from fetal DEX exposure during late gestation, possibly explaining the decreased CBT observed in the female offspring.
Thyrotropin Releasing Hormone; Thyroid Hormone; Dexamethasone; Glucocorticoid; Core Body Temperature
The obese Zucker rat carries two recessive fa alleles that result in the expression of an obese phenotype. Obese Zuckers have higher food intake than lean controls in free-feed studies in which rats have ready access to a large amount of one type of food. The present study examined differences in obese and lean Zucker rats using concurrent schedules of reinforcement, which more ecologically models food selection using two food choices that have limited, but generally predictable, availability. Lever-pressing of ten lean (Fa/Fa or Fa/fa) and ten obese (fa/fa) Zucker rats was placed under three concurrent variable interval variable interval (conc VI VI) schedules of sucrose and carrot reinforcement, in which the reinforcer ratios for 45-mg food pellets were 5:1, 1:1, and 1:5. Allocation of responses to the two food alternatives was characterized using the generalized matching equation, which allows sensitivity to reinforcer rates (a) and bias toward one alternative (log k) to be quantified. All rats showed a bias to sucrose, though there were no differences between lean and obese Zucker rats. In addition, obese Zucker rats exhibited higher sensitivity to reinforcement rates than lean rats. This efficient pattern of responding was related to overall higher deliveries of food pellets. Effective matching for food, then, may be another behavioral pattern that contributes to an obese phenotype.
concurrent schedules of reinforcement; generalized matching; obesity; palatability; sensitivity; Zucker rats (fa/fa)
The peptide hormone ghrelin regulates a variety of eating behaviors. Not only does it potently increase intake of freely-available food, but it also shifts food preference towards diets rich in fat, enhances operant responding for food rewards, and induces conditioned place preference for food rewards. Here, we postulated that ghrelin also enables cue-potentiated feeding, in which eating is enhanced upon presentation of a food-conditioned stimulus. To test this hypothesis, a novel cue-potentiated feeding protocol adapted for use in mice was designed and validated, and then the effects of pharmacologic ghrelin receptor (GHSR) antagonism and GHSR transcriptional blockade (as occurs in GHSR-null mice) were assessed. Sated C57BL/6J mice indeed demonstrated cue-potentiated intake of grain-based pellets specifically upon presentation of a positive conditioned stimulus (CS+) but not a negative conditioned stimulus (CS-). Treatment with a GHSR antagonist blocked potentiated feeding in sated C57BL/6J mice in response to the CS+. In contrast, while GHSR-null mice also lacked a potentiation of feeding specifically in response to the CS+, they displayed an enhanced intake of pellets in response to both the positive and negative conditioned stimuli. The pattern of immediate early gene expression within the basolateral amygdala -- a brain region previously linked to cue-potentiated feeding -- paralleled the observed behavior of these mice, suggesting uncharacteristic activation of the amygdala in response to negative conditioned stimuli in GHSR-null mice as compared to wild-type littermates. Thus, although the observed disruptions in cue-potentiated feeding are different depending upon whether GHSR activity or GHSR expression is blocked, a key role for GHSRs in establishing a specific positive cue-food association has now been established.
ghrelin; GHSR; amygdala; feeding; cue
Inbred mouse strains differ greatly in social behaviors, making them a valuable resource to study genetic and non-genetic mechanisms underlying social deficits relevant to autism spectrum disorders. A hallmark symptom of autism is a lack of ability to understand other people’s thoughts and intentions, which leads to impairments in adjusting behaviors in response to ever-changing social situations in daily life. We compared the ability of BTBR T+ tf/J (BTBR), a strain with low sociability, and C57BL/6J (B6), a strain with high sociability, for their abilities to modulate responses to social cues from different partners in the reciprocal social interaction test. Results indicate that BTBR exhibited low sociability toward different partners and displayed minimal ability to modify behaviors toward different partners. In contract, B6 showed high sociability toward different partners and was able to modify social behaviors toward different partners. Consistent results were found in two independent cohorts of different ages, and in both sexes. In the three-chambered test, high sociability in B6 and low sociability in BTBR were independent of strain of the novel mouse. Since social deficits in BTBR could potentially be caused by physical disabilities in detecting social olfactory cues, or in cognitive abilities, we tested BTBR and B6 mice on measures of olfaction and cognition. BTBR mice displayed more sniffing of social odors emitted by soiled bedding than of an odorless novel object, but failed to show a preference for a live novel mouse over a novel object. On olfactory habituation/dishabituation to a sequence of odors, BTBR displayed discrimination abilities across three non-social and two social odors. However, as compared to B6, BTBR displayed less sniff time for both non-social and social odors, and no significant dishabituation between cage odors from two different novel mouse strains, findings that will be important to investigate further. BTBR was generally normal in spatial acquisition on the Morris water maze test, but showed deficits in reversal learning. Time spent freezing on contextual and cued fear conditioning was lower in BTBR than in B6. Our findings suggest that BTBR has poor abilities to modulate its responses to different social partners, which may be analogous to social cognition deficits in autism, adding to the value of this strain as a mouse model of autism.
Autism; mouse models mouse social behaviors; inbred strains; three-chambered social approach task; reciprocal social interaction; BTBR T+tf/J; social partner; olfactory habituation/dishabituation; repetitive behaviors
This commentary summarizes the research presented during the symposium “Examining the genetic and neural components of cognitive flexibility using mice” at the annual meeting of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society 2011. Research presented includes examining: 1) Corticostriatal networks underlying reversal learning using GluN2B knockout mice, cFos expression, and in vivo electrophysiological recording; 2) Cerebellar contribution to reversal learning using mutants with Purkinje cell loss and in vivo electrochemical recording; 3) Parvalbumin contribution to reversal learning and set-shifting using PLAUR mutants and in vitro recording to examine fast-spiking interneurones; and 4) Alpha 7 nAChR contribution to reversal learning, set-shifting, motivation, and the ‘eureka moment’ of rule acquisition. It is proposed that these studies revealed more about the neurobiology underlying these behaviors than could be discovered using pharmacological techniques alone. Together, the research presented stressed the importance of exploring the genetic contribution to neuropsychiatric disease and the important role that the mouse, coupled with robust behavioral measures, can play in understanding neurobiology underlying cognitive flexibility.
executive functioning; reversal learning; mouse; in vivo electrophysiology; learning
To address the mechanisms underlying hatha yoga’s potential stress-reduction benefits, we compared adiponectin and leptin data from well-matched novice and expert yoga practitioners. These adipocytokines have counter-regulatory functions in inflammation; leptin plays a proinflammatory role, while adiponectin has anti-inflammatory properties. Fifty healthy women (mean age=41.32, range=30-65), 25 novices and 25 experts, provided fasting blood samples during three separate visits. Leptin was 36% higher among novices compared to experts, P = .008. Analysis of adiponectin revealed a borderline effect of yoga expertise, P = .08; experts’ average adiponectin levels were 28% higher than novices across the three visits. In contrast, experts’ average adiponectin to leptin ratio was nearly twice that of novices, P = .009. Frequency of self-reported yoga practice showed significant negative relationships with leptin; more weeks of yoga practice over the last year, more lifetime yoga sessions, and more years of yoga practice were all significantly associated with lower leptin, with similar findings for the adiponectin to leptin ratio. Novices and experts did not show even marginal differences on behavioral and physiological dimensions that might represent potential confounds, including BMI, central adiposity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and diet. Prospective studies addressing increased risk for type II diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease have highlighted the importance of these adipocytokines in modulating inflammation. Although these health risks are clearly related to more extreme values then we found in our healthy sample, our data raise the possibility that longer-term and/or more intensive yoga practice could have beneficial health consequences by altering leptin and adiponectin production.
adiponectin; leptin; yoga; inflammation; psychoneuroimmunology; complementary medicine
The zebrafish is becoming increasingly popular in behavior genetics because it may allow one to conduct large scale mutation and drug screens facilitating the discovery of mechanisms of complex traits. Strain differences in adult zebrafish behavior have already been reported, which may have important implications in neurobehavioral genetics. For example, we have found the AB and SF strains to differ in their behavioral responses to both acute and chronic alcohol exposure. In the current study, we further characterize these strains using semi-quantitative RT-PCR to measure the expression of ten selected genes and HPLC to measure the levels of nine neurochemicals. We chose the target genes and neurochemicals based upon their potential involvement in alcohol and other drugs of abuse related mechanisms. We quantified the expression of the genes encoding D1-R, D2a-R, D4a-R dopamine receptors, GABAA-R, GABAB-R1, GAD1, MAO, NMDA-R (NR2D subunit), 5HT-R1bd and SLC6 a4a. We found the gene encoding D1 dopamine receptor over-expressed and the genes encoding GABAB1 receptor and solute family carrier protein 6 (SLC6) 4a under-expressed in SF compared to AB. We also found the level of all (dopamine, DOPAC, Serotonin, GABA, Glutamate, Glycine, Aspartate, Taurine) but one (5HIAA) neurochemicals tested decreased in SF as compared to AB. These results, combined with previously identified behavioral differences between the AB and SF strains, demonstrate the importance of strain characterization in zebrafish. They now also allow formulation of working hypotheses about possible mechanisms underlying the differential effects of acute and chronic alcohol treatment on these two zebrafish strains.
gene expression; neurotransmitters; RT-PCR; HPLC; strain differences; zebrafish
We recently discovered that inhibiting neurons in the dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH) attenuated hyperthermia, tachycardia, hypertension, and hyperactivity evoked by the substituted amphetamine 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). Neurons that synthesize orexin are also found in the region of the DMH. As orexin and its receptors are involved in the regulation of heart rate and temperature, they would seem to be logical candidates as mediators of the effects evoked by amphetamines. The goal of this study was to determine if blockade of orexin-1 receptors in conscious rats would suppress cardiovascular and thermogenic responses evoked by a range of methamphetamine (METH) doses. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (n=6 per group) were implanted with telemetric transmitters measuring body temperature, heart rate, and mean arterial pressure. Animals were randomized to receive pretreatment with either the orexin-1 receptor antagonist SB-334867 (10 mg/kg) or an equal volume of vehicle. Thirty min later animals were given intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of either saline, a low (1 mg/kg), moderate (5 mg/kg) or high (10 mg/kg) dose of METH. Pretreatment with SB-334867 significantly attenuated increases in body temperature and mean arterial pressure evoked by the moderate but not the low or high dose of METH. Furthermore, animals treated with SB-334867, compared to vehicle, had lower temperature and heart rate increases after the stress of an i.p. injection. In conclusion, temperature and cardiovascular responses to a moderate dose of METH and to stress appear to involve orexin-1 receptors. The failure to affect a low and a high dose of METH suggests a complex pharmacology dependent on dose. A better understanding of this may lead to the knowledge of how monoamines influence the orexin system and vice versa.
Orexin; Thermoregulation; Stress; Amphetamines
The development of tasks measuring behaviors specific to the three major symptom categories for autism makes it possible to differentiate mouse models of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in terms of changes in these specific categories. Prior studies indicate that BTBR T+tf/J mice, the strain that has been evaluated most extensively, show autism-relevant changes in all three symptom categories; reciprocal social interactions; communication; and repetitive, ritualized behaviors. This report reviews the behaviors of oxytocin receptor (Oxtr) and Mecp2308/Y wild-type (WT) and knockout (KO) mice, in a number of tests specifically designed to provide information on behaviors that may show functional parallels to the core symptoms of ASD. Oxtr KO mice show robust decreases in reciprocal social interactions, and reduced levels of communication, but no changes in repetitive, ritualized behaviors; whereas Mecp2308/Y KO mice show a slight but consistent enhancement of social behavior and communication, and no changes in repetitive, ritualized behaviors. This data base, although small, strongly indicates that mouse models can sort the diagnostic symptoms of autism, and suggests that biological and physiological analyses of these strains may be capable of providing differential information on the brain systems involved in particular symptoms of this disorder. Profiles of behavioral changes in other mouse models of ASD should provide additional specificity in the search for biomarkers associated with particular ASD symptoms and symptom clusters.
Autism; Oxytocin Receptor; Mecp2; Social Behavior; Mouse Models
The ability to learn a rule to guide behavior is crucial for cognition and executive function. However, in a constantly changing environment, flexibility in terms of learning and changing rules is paramount. Research suggests there may be common underlying causes for the similar rule learning impairments observed in many psychiatric disorders. One of these common anatomical manifestations involves deficits to the GABAergic system, particularly in the frontal cerebral cortical regions. Many common anti-epileptic drugs and mood stabilizers activate the GABA system with the reported adverse side effects of cognitive dysfunction. The mouse reversal/set-shifting test was used to evaluate effects in mice given topiramate, which is reported to impair attention in humans. Here we report that in mice topiramate prevents formation of the attentional set, but does not alter reversal learning. Differences in the GABA system are also found in many neuropsychiatric disorders that are more common in males, including schizophrenia and autism. Initial findings with the reversal/set-shifting task excluded female subjects. In this study, female mice tested on the standard reversal/set-shifting task showed similar reversal learning, but were not able to form the attentional set. The behavioral paradigm was modified and when presented with sufficient discrimination tasks, female mice performed the same as male mice, requiring the same number of trials to reach criterion and form the attentional set. The notable difference was that female mice had an extended latency to complete the trials for all discriminations. In summary, the reversal/set-shifting test can be used to screen for cognitive effects of potential therapeutic compounds in both male and female mice.
Reversal learning; Attentional set-shift; Topiramate; GABA; Female
This review addresses the recent convergence of our long-standing knowledge of the regulation of behavioral phenotypes by developmental experience with recent advances in our understanding of mechanisms regulating gene expression. This review supports a particular perspective on the developmental regulation of behavioral phenotypes: That the role of common developmental experiences (e.g. maternal interactions, peer interactions, exposure to a complex environment, etc.) is to fit individuals to the circumstances of their lives within bounds determined by long-standing (evolutionary) mechanisms that have shaped responses to critical and fundamental types of experience via those aspects of gene structure that regulate gene expression. The phenotype of a given species is not absolute for a given genotype but rather variable within bounds that are determined by mechanisms regulated by experience (e.g. epigenetic mechanisms). This phenotypic variation is not necessarily random, or evenly distributed along a continuum of description or measurement, but often highly disjointed, producing distinct, even opposing, phenotypes. The potentiality for these varying phenotypes is itself the product of evolution, the potential for alternative phenotypes itself conveying evolutionary advantage. Examples of such phenotypic variation, resulting from environmental or experiential influences, have a long history of study in neurobiology, and a number of these will be discussed in this review: neurodevelopmental experiences that produce phenotypic variation in visual perception, cognitive function, and emotional behavior. Although other examples will be discussed, particular emphasis will be made on the role of social behavior on neurodevelopment and phenotypic determination. It will be argued that an important purpose of some aspects of social behavior is regulation of neurobehavioral phenotypes by experience via genetic regulatory mechanisms.
Environmental enrichment; social isolation; maternal deprivation; gene-environment interaction; epigenetic mechanisms
Brain electrical activity is one means of assessing neural development in awake, reactive infants. The development of the electroencephalogram (EEG) in the first week of infant rhesus macaque life is poorly understood though recent work has demonstrated the utility of using this measure to assess neural responses to biologically meaningful stimuli. Here we report on the emergence of EEG rhythms in one-week-old infant rhesus macaques under both light and dark conditions. Our data show that the 5 – 7 Hz frequency band responds reliably to changes in illumination. As well, we found EEG in higher frequencies (12 – 20 Hz) that significantly increase between dark and light conditions similar to the increase in the beta band of humans during cognitive tasks. These findings demonstrate similarities between infant human and infant monkey EEG and suggest approaches for future translational research in developmental psychobiology.
Development; Electroencephalogram; EEG; Non-Human Primates; Alpha Rhythm
Previous studies have found that adolescent social isolation of rats can lead to an increased anxiety state during adulthood, while chronic anxiety states are associated with dysregulated local GABAergic inhibition within the basolateral amygdala (BL). Therefore, we investigated the effects of post-weaning social isolation of female rats, in combination with a challenge with the anxiogenic drug, N-methyl-beta-carboline-3-carboxamide (FG-7142), on a subset of GABAergic interneurons in the BL in adulthood using dual immunohistochemical staining for c-Fos and parvalbumin. Juvenile female rats were reared in isolation or in groups of three for a 3-week period from weaning to mid-adolescence, after which all rats were group-housed for an additional 2 weeks. Group-reared rats and isolation-reared rats injected with FG-7142 had increased c-Fos expression in GABAergic interneurons in the anterior part of the BL compared to group-reared rats and isolation-reared rats, respectively, injected with vehicle. Isolation rearing had a main effect to decrease c-Fos expression in GABAergic interneurons in the anterior part of the BL compared to group-reared rats. These data suggest that post-weaning social isolation of female rats leads to dysregulation of a parvalbumin-containing subset of local GABAergic interneurons in the anterior part of the BL, which have previously been implicated in the pathophysiology of chronic anxiety states. These cellular changes may lead to an increased vulnerability to stress- and anxiety-related responses in adulthood.
basolateral amygdala; c-Fos; paravalbumin; FG-7142; immunohistochemistry; isolation-rearing
Clinical studies have shown that children diagnosed with autism show abnormal sulfate chemistry, which is critical for cellular and metabolic processes. To determine if the inbred BTBR T+tf/J mouse shows autism-relevant aberrations in sulfate chemistry, the present study examined plasma sulfate concentrations in BTBR T+tf/J, inbred C57BL/6J, and outbred CD-1 mice. Results showed that the BTBR T+tf/J mouse exhibits significantly lower plasma sulfate concentrations in comparison to both C57BL/6J and CD-1 mice. These results suggest that the BTBR mouse shows autism-relevant abnormalities in sulfate chemistry and may serve additional utility in examining the role of sulfate and sulfate-dependent systems in relation to autism-relevant behavioral aberrations.
Autism spectrum disorders; Animal model; BTBR; Sulfate
Although the hypothalamic orexin system is known to regulate appetitive behaviors and promote wakefulness and arousal (Sakurai, 2007), this system may also be important in adaptive and pathological anxiety/stress responses (Suzuki et al., 2005). In a recent study, we demonstrated that CSF orexin levels were significantly higher in patients experiencing panic attacks compared to non-panicking depressed subjects (Johnson et al., 2010). Furthermore, genetically silencing orexin synthesis or blocking orexin 1 receptors attenuated lactate-induced panic in an animal model of panic disorder. Therefore, in the present study, we tested if orexin (ORX) modulates the panic responses and brain pathways activated by two different panicogenic drugs.
We conducted a series of pharmacological, behavioral, physiological and immunohistochemical experiments to study the modulation by the orexinergic inputs of anxiety behaviors, autonomic responses, and activation of brain pathways elicited by systemic injections of anxiogenic/panicogenic drugs in rats.
We show that systemic injections of two different anxiogenic/panicogenic drugs (FG-7142, an inverse agonist at the benzodiazepine site of the GABAA receptor, and caffeine, a nonselective competitive adenosine receptor antagonist) increased c-Fos induction in a specific subset of orexin neurons located in the dorsomedial/ perifornical (DMH/PeF) but not the lateral hypothalamus. Pre-treating rats with an orexin 1 receptor antagonist attenuated the FG-7142-induced anxiety-like behaviors, increased heart rate, and neuronal activation in key panic pathways, including subregions of the central nucleus of the amygdala, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, periaqueductal gray and in the rostroventrolateral medulla.
Overall, the data here suggest that the ORX neurons in the DMH/PeF region are critical to eliciting a coordinated panic responses and that ORX1 receptor antagonists constitute a potential novel treatment strategy for panic and related anxiety disorders. The neural pathways through which ORX1 receptor antagonists attenuate panic responses involve the extended amygdala, periaqueductal gray, and medullary autonomic centers.
The hypothalamic neuropeptide orexin (ORX) has been implicated in anxiety, and anxiety-like behaviors. The purpose of these studies was to determine the role of ORX, specifically orexin-A (ORX-A) in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) on anxiety-like behaviors in rats. Rats injected with ORX-A into the BNST displayed greater anxiety-like measures in the social interaction and elevated plus maze tests compared to vehicle treated controls. Such anxiety-like behaviors were not observed when the ORX-A injections were adjacent to the BNST, in the medial septum. The anxiety-inducing effects of direct infusions of ORX-A into the BNST may be a consequence of increased activation of BNST neurons. In BNST slice preparations using patch-clamp techniques, ORX-A induced membrane depolarization and generation of action potentials in a subset of BNST neurons. The anxiety-inducing effects of ORX-A in the BNST also appear to be dependent on NMDA-type glutamate receptor activity, as pre-injecting the NMDA antagonist AP5 into the BNST blocked anxiogenic effects of local ORX-A injections. Injections of AMPA-type receptor antagonists into the BNST prior to ORX-A resulted in only a partial attenuation of anxiety-like behaviors.
Anxiety; Neuropeptide; Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis