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1.  Neurocognitive Endophenotypes in Schizophrenia: Modulation by Nicotinic Receptor Systems 
Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the Western world, with a considerably higher prevalence observed in schizophrenia compared to the general population. Despite the negative health consequences of smoking heavily, it has been proposed that individuals with schizophrenia may maintain smoking behaviours to remediate symptoms associated with the disorder. Neurocognitive deficits are a core feature of schizophrenia and are present in approximately 80% of patients. Further, these deficits constitute an endophenotype of schizophrenia, as they are stable across disease phases, and heritable. The neurocognitive deficits that are present in schizophrenia are especially debilitating, since they are associated with poor clinical and functional outcomes and community integration. Interestingly, these deficits may also constitute a vulnerability factor towards the initiation and maintenance of tobacco use. Contributing to the potential shared vulnerability between schizophrenia and tobacco dependence is a dysregulation of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) system. Pre-clinical evidence has shown that nicotine affects several neurotransmitter systems, including dopamine (DA), glutamate, and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and certain neuropsychological deficits associated with these neurotransmitters (reaction time, spatial working memory, sustained attention, and sensory gating) are improved after nicotine administration in patients with schizophrenia. These positive effects on neurocognition appear to be more pronounced in smokers with schizophrenia, and may be an important mechanism that explains the co-morbidity of schizophrenia and tobacco dependence.
PMCID: PMC3851927  PMID: 23871750
Tobacco; Mental Illness; Schizophrenia; Cognition; Nicotine; Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors; Endophenotype
2.  Tales from the dark side: do neuromodulators of drug withdrawal require changes in endocannabinoid tone? 
Environmental and interoceptive cues are theorized to serve as ‘signals’ that motivate drug seeking, effects that may be augmented in the withdrawn state. Phasic dopamine release events are observed in the nucleus accumbens in response to such motivational salient stimuli and are thought to be necessary for drug-associated cues to trigger craving. We recently demonstrated how dopamine neurons encode stimuli conditioned to a negative event, as might occur during conditioned withdrawal, and stimuli predicting the avoidance of negative events, as might occur as an addict seeks out drugs to prevent withdrawal. In this review we first discuss how the subsecond dopamine release events might process conditioned withdrawal and drug seeking driven by negative reinforcement processes within the context of our dopamine data obtained during conditioned avoidance procedures. We next describe how the endocannabinoid system modulates phasic dopamine release events and how it might be harnessed to treat negative affective states in addiction. Specifically, we have demonstrated that endocannabinoids in the ventral tegmentum sculpt cue-induced accumbal surges in dopamine release and, therefore, may also be mobilized during drug withdrawal.
PMCID: PMC3874071  PMID: 23911441
Addiction; dependence; endocannabinoid; dopamine; avoidance
3.  Translational strategies for therapeutic development in nicotine addiction: Rethinking the conventional bench to bedside approach 
Tobacco produces an impressive burden of disease resulting in premature death in half of users. Despite effective smoking cessation medications (nicotine replacement therapies, bupropion and varenicline), there is a very high rate of relapse following quit attempts. The use of efficient strategies for the development of novel treatments is a necessity. A `bench to bedside strategy' was initially used to develop cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonists for the treatment of nicotine addiction. Unfortunately, after being tested on experimental animals, what seemed to be an interesting approach for the treatment of nicotine addiction resulted in serious unwanted side effects when tested in humans. Current research is focusing again on pre-clinical models in an effort to eliminate unwanted side effects while preserving the initially observed efficacy. A `bed side to bench strategy' was used to study the role of the insula (part of the frontal cortex) in nicotine addiction. This line of research started based on clinical observations that patients suffering stroke-induced lesions to the insula showed a greater likelihood to report immediate smoking cessation without craving or relapse. Subsequently, animal models of addiction are used to explore the role of insula in addiction. Due to the inherent limitations existing in clinical versus preclinical studies, the possibility of close interaction between both models seems to be critical for the successful development of novel therapeutic strategies for nicotine dependence.
PMCID: PMC4002666  PMID: 24140878
Dependence; Nicotine; Reinstatement; Therapy; Treatment
5.  Release of endogenous cannabinoids from ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons and the modulation of synaptic processes 
Endogenous cannabinoids play important roles in a variety of functions in the mammalian brain, including the regulation reward-related information processing. The primary mechanism through which this achieved is the presynaptic modulation of synaptic transmission. During reward- and reinforcement-related behavior dopamine levels increase in forebrain areas and this has recently been shown to be modulated by the endocannabinoid system. Therefore, understanding how endocannabinoids are mobilized to modulate synaptic inputs impinging on midbrain dopamine neurons is crucial to a complete understanding of the roles that these molecules play in reward behavior, drug abuse and addiction. Here we summarize the literature describing short-term and long-term regulation of afferent connections on dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area via endocannabinoid activation of cannabinoid CB1 receptors, and describe the mechanisms through which these molecules are released during reward-based behavior and exposure to abused drugs.
PMCID: PMC4018213  PMID: 24495779
ventral tegmental area; dopamine neuron; endocannabinoid; synaptic modulation; CB1 receptor
6.  Preliminary findings of the effects of rivastigmine, an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, on working memory in cocaine-dependent volunteers 
Long-term cocaine use is a risk factor for the onset of neurocognitive impairment. This study sought to determine whether the cholinesterase inhibitor rivastigmine could improve neurocognitive performance in cocaine-dependent individuals. Cocaine-dependent individuals who were not seeking treatment at the time of enrollment in the study were randomly assigned to receive placebo (n = 16), rivastigmine 3 mg (n = 13), or rivastigmine 6 mg (n = 12). The baseline neurocognitive assessment, which included measures of attention/information processing (as measured by the Continuous Performance Task-II (CPT-II)), verbal learning/episodic memory (as measured by the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised (HVLT-R)), and working memory (as measured by the Dual N-Back Task), was conducted prior to the administration of study medication (Day 0). The follow-up assessment was conducted on Day 8 after the participants had received rivastigmine or placebo for 7 days (Day 2–8). Rivastigmine administration significantly improved performance on one measure of working memory span (mean n-back span). This study provides additional data showing that cocaine-associated neurocognitive impairment, specifically working memory deficits, can be remediated, at least to some degree.
PMCID: PMC4432863  PMID: 24239594
Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor; Cocaine; Neurocognition; Rivastigmine; Working memory
7.  Increased Stability of Microtubules in Cultured Olfactory Neuroepithelial Cells from Individuals with Schizophrenia 
Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry  2013;S0278-5846(13)00236-4 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2013.10.015.
Microtubules (MTs) are essential components of the cytoskeleton that play critical roles in neurodevelopment and adaptive central nervous system functioning. MTs are essential to growth cone advance and ultrastructural events integral to synaptic plasticity; these functions figure significantly into current pathophysiologic conceptualizations of schizophrenia. To date, no study has directly investigated MT dynamics in humans with schizophrenia. We therefore compared the stability of MTs in olfactory neuroepithelial (OE) cells between schizophrenia cases and matched nonpsychiatric comparison subjects. For this purpose, we applied nocodazole (Nz) to cultured OE cells obtained from tissue biopsies from seven living schizophrenia patients and seven matched comparison subjects; all schizophrenia cases were on antipsychotic medications. Nz allows MT depolymerization to be followed but prevents repolymerization, so that in living cells treated for varying time intervals, the MTs that are stable for a given treatment interval remain. Our readout of MT stability was the time at which fewer than 10 MTs per cell could be distinguished by anti-β-tubulin immunofluorescence. The percentage of cells with ≥10 intact MTs at specified intervals following Nz treatment was estimated by systematic uniform random sampling with Visiopharm software. These analyses showed that the mean percentages of OE cells with intact MTs were significantly greater for schizophrenia cases than for the matched comparison subjects at 10, 15, and 30 minutes following Nz treatment indicating increased MT stability in OE cells from schizophrenia patients (p=.0007 at 10 minutes; p=.0008 at 15 minutes; p=.036 at 30 minutes). In conclusion, we have demonstrated increased MT stability in nearly all cultures of OE cells from individuals with schizophrenia who received several antipsychotic treatments, versus comparison subjects matched for age and sex. While we cannot rule out a possible confounding effect of antipsychotic medications, these findings may reflect analogous neurobiological events in at least a subset of immature neurons or other cell types during gestation, or newly generated cells destined for the olfactory bulb or hippocampus, suggesting a mechanism that underlies findings of postmortem and neuroimaging investigations of schizophrenia. Future studies aimed at replicating these findings, including samples of medication-naïve subjects with schizophrenia, and reconciling the results with other studies, will be necessary. Although the observed abnormalities may suggest one of a number of putative pathophysiologic anomalies in schizophrenia, this work may ultimately have implications for an improved understanding of pathogenic processes related to this disorder.
PMCID: PMC3999307  PMID: 24513021
schizophrenia; microtubules; olfactory
8.  Morphine-induced trafficking of a mu-opioid receptor interacting protein in rat locus coeruleus neurons 
Opiate addiction is a devastating health problem, with approximately 2 million people currently addicted to heroin or non-medical prescription opiates in the United States alone. In neurons, adaptations in cell signaling cascades develop following opioid actions at the mu opioid receptor (MOR). A novel putative target for intervention involves interacting proteins that may regulate trafficking of MOR. Morphine has been shown to induce a re-distribution of a MOR-interacting protein Wntless (WLS, a transport molecule necessary for secretion of neurotrophic Wnt proteins), from cytoplasmic to membrane compartments in rat striatal neurons. Given its opiate-sensitivity and its well-characterized molecular and cellular adaptations to morphine exposure, we investigated the anatomical distribution of WLS and MOR in the rat locus coeruleus (LC)-norepinephrine (NE) system. Dual immunofluorescence microscopy was used to test the hypothesis that WLS is localized to noradrenergic neurons of the LC and that WLS and MOR co-exist in common LC somatodendritic processes, providing an anatomical substrate for their putative interactions. We also hypothesized that morphine would influence WLS distribution in the LC. Rats received saline, morphine or the opiate agonist [D-Ala2, N-Me-Phe4, Gly-ol5]-enkephalin (DAMGO), and tissue sections through the LC were processed for immunogold-silver detection of WLS and MOR. Statistical analysis showed a significant re-distribution of WLS to the plasma membrane following morphine treatment in addition to an increase in the proximity of gold-silver labels for MOR and WLS. Following DAMGO treatment, MOR and WLS were predominantly localized within the cytoplasmic compartment when compared to morphine and control. In a separate cohort of rats, brains were obtained from saline-treated or heroin self-administering male rats for pulldown co-immunoprecipitation studies. Results showed an increased association of WLS and MOR following heroin exposure. As the LC-NE system is important for cognition as well as decisions underlying substance abuse, adaptations in WLS trafficking and expression may play a role in modulating MOR function in the LC and contribute to the negative sequelae of opiate exposure on executive function.
PMCID: PMC3928604  PMID: 24333843
Wntless; g-protein receptor; trafficking; norepinephrine; electron microscopy; confocal microscopy
9.  Acute, but not repeated, administration of the neurotensin NTS1 receptor agonist PD149163 decreases conditioned footshock-induced ultrasonic vocalizations in rats 
Neurotensin is an endogenous neuropeptide that has significant interactions with monoamine neurotransmitter systems. To date, neurotensin NTS1 receptor agonists, such as PD149163, have been primarily evaluated for the treatment for schizophrenia, drug addiction, and pain. Recently, PD149163 was found to attenuate fear-potentiated startle in rats, an experimental procedure used for screening anxiolytic drugs. The present study sought to extend these findings through testing PD149163 in a conditioned footshock-induced ultrasonic vocalization (USV) model. Conditioning was conducted in Male Wistar rats using chambers equipped with shock grid floors and an ultrasonic vocalization detector. PD149163 and the 5-HT1A receptor partial agonist buspirone produced a statistically significant reduction of 22 kHz USV counts. The typical antipsychotic haloperidol also reduced 22 kHz USV counts, but did so at cataleptic doses. Ten days of repeated administration of PD149163 abolished the inhibitory effects of PD149163 on 22 kHz USVs. These findings further support an anxiolytic profile for PD149163. However, tolerance to these effects may limit the utility of these drugs for the treatment of anxiety.
PMCID: PMC3923471  PMID: 24275076
neurotensin; PD149163; buspirone; ultrasonic vocalization; anxiety
10.  The α1 adrenoceptor antagonist prazosin enhances sleep continuity in fear-conditioned Wistar-Kyoto rats 
Fragmentation of rapid eye movement sleep (REMS) is well described in individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and likely has significant functional consequences. Fear-conditioned rodents may offer an attractive model of the changes in sleep that characterize PTSD. Following fear conditioning (FC), Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats, a strain known to be particularly stress-sensitive, have increased REMS fragmentation that can be quantified as a shift in the distribution of REMS episodes towards the more frequent occurrence of sequential REMS (inter-REMS episode interval ≤ 3 min) vs. single REMS (interval > 3 min). The α1 adrenoceptor antagonist prazosin has demonstrated efficacy in normalizing sleep in PTSD. To determine the utility of fear-conditioned WKY rats as a model of sleep disturbances typical of PTSD and as a platform for the development of new treatments, we tested the hypothesis that prazosin would reduce REMS fragmentation in fear-conditioned WKY rats. Sleep parameters and freezing (a standard measure of anxiety in rodents) were quantified at baseline and on days 1, 7, and 14 following FC, with either prazosin (0.01 mg/kg, i.p.) or vehicle injections administered prior to testing in a between-group design. Fear conditioning was achieved by pairing tones with a mild electric foot shock (1.0 mA, 0.5 s). One, 7, and 14 days following FC, prazosin or vehicle was injected, the tone was presented, freezing was measured, and then sleep was recorded from 11 AM to 3 PM. WKY rats given prazosin, compared to those given vehicle, had a lower amount of seq-REMS relative to total REMS time 14 days after FC. They also had a shorter non-REMS latency and fewer non-REMS arousals at baseline and on days 1 and 7 after FC. Thus, in FC rats, prazosin reduced both REMS fragmentation and non-REMS discontinuity.
PMCID: PMC3969852  PMID: 24246572
Fear conditioning; Norepinephrine; Posttraumatic stress disorder; REM sleep; Wistar-Kyoto rats
11.  Behavioral and neurochemical effects of repeated MDMA administration during late adolescence in the rat 
Adolescents and young adults disproportionately abuse 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; ‘Ecstasy’); however, since most MDMA research has concentrated on adults, the effects of MDMA on the developing brain remain obscure. Therefore, we evaluated place conditioning to MDMA (or saline) during late adolescence and assessed anxiety-like behavior and monoamine levels during abstinence. Rats were conditioned to associate 5 or 10 mg/kg MDMA or saline with contextual cues over 4 twice-daily sessions. Five days after conditioning, anxiety-like behavior was examined with the open field test and brain tissue was collected to assess serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) and its metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) in the dorsal raphe, amygdala, and hippocampus by high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). In a separate group of rats, anxiety-like and avoidant behaviors were measured using the light–dark box test under similar experimental conditions. MDMA conditioning caused a place aversion at 10, but not at 5, mg/kg, as well as increased anxiety-like behavior in the open field and avoidant behavior in light–dark box test at the same dose. Additionally, 10 mg/kg MDMA decreased 5-HT in the dorsal raphe, increased 5-HT and 5-HIAA in the amygdala, and did not alter levels in the hippocampus. Overall, we show that repeated high (10 mg/kg), but not low (5 mg/kg), dose MDMA during late adolescence in rats increases anxiety-like and avoidant behaviors, accompanied by region-specific alterations in 5-HT levels during abstinence. These results suggest that MDMA causes a region-specific dysregulation of the serotonin system during adolescence that may contribute to maladaptive behavior.
PMCID: PMC4348097  PMID: 24121061
Amygdala; Anxiety; Conditioned place preference; Dorsal raphe; MDMA; Serotonin
12.  MRSI correlates of cognitive-behavioral therapy in pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder 
The brain mechanisms of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a highly effective treatment for pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), are unknown. Neuroimaging in adult OCD indicates that CBT is associated with metabolic changes in striatum, thalamus, and anterior cingulate cortex. We therefore probed putative metabolic effects of CBT on these brain structures in pediatric OCD using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (1H MRSI).
Five unmedicated OCD patients (4 ♀, 13.5±2.8) and 9 healthy controls (7 ♀, 13.0±2.5) underwent MRSI (1.5 T, repetition-time/echo-time=1500/30 ms) of bilateral putamen, thalamus and pregenual anterior cingulate cortex (pACC). Patients were rescanned after 12 weeks of exposure-based CBT. The Children's Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (CY-BOCS) of OCD symptoms was administered before and after CBT.
Four of 5 patients responded to CBT (mean 32.8% CY-BOCS reduction). Multiple metabolite effects emerged. Pre-CBT, N-acetyl-aspartate+N-acetyl-aspartyl-glutamate (tNAA) in left pregenual anterior cingulate cortex (pACC) was 55.5% higher in patients than controls. Post-CBT, tNAA (15.0%) and Cr (23.9%) in left pACC decreased and choline compounds (Cho) in right thalamus increased (10.6%) in all 5 patients. In left thalamus, lower pre-CBT tNAA, glutamate+glutamine (Glx), and myo-inositol (mI) predicted greater post-CBT drop in CY-BOCS (r = 0.98) and CY-BOCS decrease correlated with increased Cho.
Interpretations are offered in terms of the Glutamatergic Hypothesis of Pediatric OCD. Similar to 18FDG-PET in adults, objectively measurable regional MRSI metabolites may indicate pediatric OCD and predict its response to CBT.
PMCID: PMC4344316  PMID: 21983143
Child OCD CBT; Pregenual anterior cingulate; Thalamus; N-acetyl-aspartate; Glutamate
13.  The human parental brain: In vivo neuroimaging 
Interacting parenting thoughts and behaviors, supported by key brain circuits, critically shape human infants’ current and future behavior. Indeed, the parent–infant relationship provides infants with their first social environment, forming templates for what they can expect from others, how to interact with them and ultimately how they go on to themselves to be parents. This review concentrates on magnetic resonance imaging experiments of the human parent brain, which link brain physiology with parental thoughts and behaviors. After reviewing brain imaging techniques, certain social cognitive and affective concepts are reviewed, including empathy and trust—likely critical to parenting. Following that is a thorough study-by-study review of the state-of-the-art with respect to human neuroimaging studies of the parental brain—from parent brain responses to salient infant stimuli, including emotionally charged baby cries and brief visual stimuli to the latest structural brain studies. Taken together, this research suggests that networks of highly conserved hypothalamic–midbrain–limbic–paralimbic–cortical circuits act in concert to support parental brain responses to infants, including circuits for limbic emotion response and regulation. Thus, a model is presented in which infant stimuli activate sensory analysis brain regions, affect corticolimbic limbic circuits that regulate emotional response, motivation and reward related to their infant, ultimately organizing parenting impulses, thoughts and emotions into coordinated behaviors as a map for future studies. Finally, future directions towards integrated understanding of the brain basis of human parenting are outlined with profound implications for understanding and contributing to long term parent and infant mental health.
PMCID: PMC4329016  PMID: 21036196
Attachment; Brain imaging; fMRI; Parent–child relationships; Parenting and caregiving
14.  Betaxolol, a selective β1-adrenergic receptor antagonist, diminishes anxiety-like behavior during early withdrawal from chronic cocaine administration in rats 
Anxiety has been indicated as one of the main symptoms of the cocaine withdrawal syndrome in human addicts and severe anxiety during withdrawal may potentially contribute to relapse. As alterations in noradrenergic transmission in limbic areas underlie withdrawal symptomatology for many drugs of abuse, the present study sought to determine the effect of cocaine withdrawal on β-adrenergic receptor (β1 and β2) expression in the amygdala.
Male Sprague Dawley rats were administered intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of cocaine (20 mg/kg) once daily for 14 days. Two days following the last cocaine injection, amygdala brain regions were micro-dissected and processed for Western blot analysis. Results showed that β1–adrenergic receptor, but not β2–adrenergic receptor expression was significantly increased in amygdala extracts of cocaine-withdrawn animals as compared to controls. This finding motivated further studies aimed at determining whether treatment with betaxolol, a highly selective β1–adrenergic receptor antagonist, could ameliorate cocaine withdrawal-induced anxiety. In these studies, betaxolol (5 mg/kg via i.p. injection) was administered at 24 and then 44 hours following the final chronic cocaine administration. Anxiety-like behavior was evaluated using the elevated plus maze test approximately 2 hours following the last betaxolol injection. Following behavioral testing, betaxolol effects on β1-adrenergic receptor protein expression were examined by Western blotting in amygdala extracts from rats undergoing cocaine withdrawal.
Animals treated with betaxolol during cocaine withdrawal exhibited a significant attenuation of anxiety-like behavior characterized by increased time spent in the open arms and increased entries into the open arms compared to animals treated with only saline during cocaine withdrawal. In contrast, betaxolol did not produce anxiolytic-like effects in control animals treated chronically with saline. Furthermore, treatment with betaxolol during early cocaine withdrawal significantly decreased β1-adrenergic receptor protein expression in the amygdala to levels comparable to those of control animals.
The present findings suggest that the anxiolytic-like effect of betaxolol on cocaine-induced anxiety may be related to its effect on amygdalar β1-adrenergic receptors that are up-regulated during early phases of drug withdrawal. These data support the efficacy of betaxolol as a potential effective pharmacotherapy in treating cocaine withdrawal-induced anxiety during early phases of abstinence.
PMCID: PMC4287233  PMID: 17513029
norepinephrine; cocaine; amygdala; anxiety; withdrawal; beta-adrenergic receptor antagonists; betaxolol; western blot; elevated plus maze; rat
15.  Long-term impacts of adolescent risperidone treatment on behavioral responsiveness to olanzapine and clozapine in adulthood 
This preclinical study investigated how a short-term risperidone treatment in adolescence impacts antipsychotic response to olanzapine and clozapine in adulthood. Antipsychotic effect was indexed by a drug’s suppressive effect on avoidance responding in a rat conditioned avoidance response (CAR) model. Male adolescent Sprague-Dawley rats were first treated with risperidone (1.0 mg/kg, sc) or sterile water and tested in the CAR model for 5 consecutive days from postnatal days P 40 to 44. After they became adults (~P 80–84), they were switched to olanzapine (0.5 mg/kg, sc), clozapine (5.0 mg/kg, sc) or vehicle treatment and tested for avoidance for additional 5 days. During the adolescent period, repeated risperidone treatment produced a persistent inhibition of avoidance response. Throughout the 5 days of adulthood drug testing, rats previously treated with risperidone in adolescence made significantly fewer avoidance responses than the vehicle ones when they all were switched to olanzapine, indicating a risperidone-induced enhancement of behavioral sensitivity to olanzapine. In contrast, when switched to clozapine, rats previously treated with risperidone made significantly more avoidance responses than the vehicle rats, indicating a risperidone-induced decrease of behavioral sensitivity to clozapine. Performance in the prepulse inhibition of acoustic startle response in adulthood was not altered by adolescent risperidone treatment. Collectively, adolescent risperidone exposure induced a long-term change in behavioral sensitivity to other atypical antipsychotic drugs, with the specific direction of change (i.e. increase or decrease) dependent on the drug. These long-lasting changes are likely mediated by drug-induced neuroplastic changes and may also have significant clinical implications for antipsychotic treatment of chronic patients with an early onset of psychotic symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3859461  PMID: 24140929
Risperidone; Olanzapine; Clozapine; Conditioned avoidance response; Adolescence; Sensitization
16.  Correspondence of Executive Function Related Functional and Anatomical Alterations in Aging Brain 
Neurocognitive aging studies have focused on age-related changes in neural activity or neural structure but few studies have focused on relationships between the two. The present study quantitatively reviewed 24 studies of age-related changes in fMRI activation across a broad spectrum of executive function tasks using activation likelihood estimation (ALE) and 22 separate studies of age-related changes in gray matter using voxel-based morphometry (VBM). Conjunction analyses between functional and structural alteration maps were constructed. Overlaps were only observed in the conjunction of dorsalateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) gray matter reduction and functional hyperactivation but not hypoactivation. It was not evident that the conjunctions between gray matter and activation were related to task performance. Theoretical implications of these results are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3870052  PMID: 24036319
aging; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; efficiency; executive function; meta-analysis; plasticity
17.  Baseline impulsive choice predicts the effects of nicotine and nicotine withdrawal on impulsivity in rats 
Impulsive choice, a form of impulsivity, is associated with tobacco smoking in humans. Trait impulsivity may be a vulnerability factor for smoking, or smoking may lead to impulsive behaviors. We investigated the effects of 14-day nicotine exposure (6.32 mg/kg/day base, subcutaneous minipumps) and spontaneous nicotine withdrawal on impulsive choice in low impulsive (LI) and high impulsive (HI) rats. Impulsive choice was measured in the delayed reward task in which rats choose between a small immediate reward and a large delayed reward. HI and LI rats were selected from the highest and lowest quartiles of the group before exposure to nicotine. In non-selected rats, nicotine or nicotine withdrawal had no effect on impulsive choice. In LI rats, chronic nicotine exposure decreased preference for the large reward with larger effects at longer delays indicating increased impulsive choice. Impulsive choices for the smaller immediate rewards continued to be increased during nicotine withdrawal in LI rats. In HI rats, nicotine exposure and nicotine withdrawal had no effect on impulsive choice, although there was a tendency for decreased preference for the large reward at short delays. These results indicate that nicotine- and nicotine withdrawal-induced increases in impulsive choice depend on trait impulsivity with more pronounced increases in impulsive choice in LI compared to HI subjects. Increased impulsivity during nicotine exposure may strengthen the addictive properties of nicotine and contribute to compulsive nicotine use.
PMCID: PMC3858513  PMID: 24060391
Delayed reward; delay discounting; high and low impulsive rats; Wistar rats
18.  The utility of zebrafish to study the mechanisms by which ethanol affects social behavior and anxiety during early brain development 
Exposure to moderate levels of ethanol during brain development has a number of effects on social behavior but the molecular mechanisms that mediate this are not well understood. Gaining a better understanding of these factors may help to develop therapeutic interventions in the future. Zebrafish offer a potentially useful model in this regard. Here, we introduce a zebrafish model of moderate prenatal ethanol exposure. Embryos were exposed to 20 mM ethanol for seven days (48hpfs–9dpf) and tested as adults for individual social behavior and shoaling. We also tested their basal anxiety with the novel tank diving test. We found that the ethanol-exposed fish displayed reductions in social approach and shoaling, and an increase in anxiety in the novel tank test. These behavioral differences corresponded to differences in hrt1aa, slc6a4 and oxtr expression. Namely, acute ethanol caused a spike in oxtr and ht1aa mRNA expression, which was followed by down-regulation at 7dpf, and an up-regulation in slc6a4 at 72hpf. This study confirms the utility of zebrafish as a model system for studying the molecular basis of developmental ethanol exposure. Furthermore, it proposes a putative developmental mechanism characterized by ethanol-induced OT inhibition leading to suppression of 5-HT and up-regulation of 5-HT1A, which leads, in turn, to possible homeostatic up-regulation of 5-HTT at 72hpf and subsequent imbalance of the 5-HT system.
PMCID: PMC4186787  PMID: 24690524
Moderate prenatal ethanol; Oxytocin; Serotonin; Social; Vasopressin; Zebrafish
19.  Can Bariatric Surgery Reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease? 
Recent studies demonstrate that obesity is independently associated with poor neurocognitive outcomes, including cognitive impairment, increased risk for dementia, and regional alterations in brain structure. Bariatric surgery is an effective treatment for obesity and initial findings suggest that it may result in cognitive improvements. The current paper reviews and integrates recent research in this area, with a focus on potential mediators and moderators of neuropsychological outcome in bariatric surgery patients, including anesthetic and nutritional complications and proposes novel avenues for continued study in this area.
PMCID: PMC3491171  PMID: 22771689
obesity; Alzheimer’s disease; bariatric surgery; cognitive function
20.  Anesthesia, Surgery, Illness and Alzheimer’s Disease 
Patients and their families have, for many decades, detected subtle changes in cognition subsequent to surgery, and only recently has this been subjected to scientific scrutiny. Through a combination of retrospective human studies, small prospective biomarker studies, and experiments in animals, it is now clear that durable consequences of both anesthesia and surgery occur, and that these intersect with the normal processes of aging, and the abnormal processes of chronic neurodegeneration. It is highly likely that inflammatory cascades are at the heart of this intersection, and if confirmed, this suggests a therapeutic strategy to mitigate enhanced neuropathology in vulnerable surgical patients.
PMCID: PMC3509241  PMID: 22729032
neuroinflammation; peripheral inflammation; cytokines; Alzheimer transgenic mice; POCD; biomarkers
21.  General anesthetics and β-amyloid protein 
With roughly 234 million people undergoing surgery with anesthesia each year worldwide, it is important to determine whether commonly used anesthetics can induce any neurotoxicity. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of age-related dementia, and a rapidly growing health problem. Several studies suggest that anesthesia could be associated with the development of AD. Moreover, studies in cultured cells and animals show that commonly used inhalation anesthetics may induce changes consistent with AD neuropathogenesis, e.g., β-amyloid protein accumulation. Therefore, in this mini review, we focus on the recent research investigating the effects of commonly used anesthetics including isoflurane, sevoflurane, desflurane, nitrous oxide, and propofol, on Aβ accumulation in vitro and in vivo. We further discuss the future direction of the research determining the effects of anesthetics on β-amyloid protein accumulation.
PMCID: PMC3510311  PMID: 22918033
22.  Anesthetic effects in Alzheimer transgenic mouse models 
Research has improved the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, and at earlier stages, but effective therapy continues to be elusive. Current effort is focused on delay. Environmental factors are thought to interact with genetics to modulate the progression of the disease, and one such environmental factor is exposure to general anesthetics. The possibility that some anesthetic effects have long-term consequences is of general interest and concern. The difficulty of studying a chronic, age-related disease in humans combined with the fact that anesthetics are rarely given without surgery, has led to a focus on animal models. Transgenic mouse models have been developed to mimic the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, including amyloid beta accumulation (plaque), neurofibrillary tangles, and cognitive dysfunction. While none of the models recapitulate the human disease with high fidelity, they allow a first look at anesthetic - Alzheimer interactions in a reasonable time frame. In studies found to date, none have concluded that anesthetics alone cause a significant change in cognitive decline, but rather an acceleration in Alzheimer neuropathology. Further studies are required to define the best anesthetic paradigm for our elderly population to mitigate changes in neuropathology and potentially cognition.
PMCID: PMC3521854  PMID: 22705294
isoflurane; sevoflurane; desflurane; amyloidopathy; tauopathy; anesthetic sensitivity
23.  Anesthesia and Tau Pathology 
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia and remains a growing worldwide health problem. As life expectancy continues to increase, the number of AD patients presenting for surgery and anesthesia will steadily rise. The etiology of sporadic AD is thought to be multifactorial, with environmental, biological and genetic factors interacting together to influence AD pathogenesis. Recent reports suggest that general anesthetics may be such a factor and may contribute to the development and exacerbation of this neurodegenerative disorder. Intra-neuronal neurofibrillary tangles (NFT), composed of hyperphosphorylated and aggregated tau protein are one of the main neuropathological hallmarks of AD. Tau pathology is important in AD as it correlates very well with cognitive dysfunction. Lately, several studies have begun to elucidate the mechanisms by which anesthetic exposure might affect the phosphorylation, aggregation and function of this microtubule-associated protein. Here, we specifically review the literature detailing the impact of anesthetic administration on aberrant tau hyperphosphorylation as well as the subsequent development of neurofibrillary pathology and degeneration.
PMCID: PMC3741335  PMID: 23535147
Anesthesia; Alzheimer’s disease; Tau; Kinase; Phosphatase
24.  Dual effects of neuroprotection and neurotoxicity by general anesthetics: Role of intracellular calcium homeostasis 
Although general anesthetics have long been considered neuroprotective, there are growing concerns about neurotoxicity. Preclinical studies clearly demonstrated that commonly used general anesthetics are both neuroprotective and neurotoxic, with unclear mechanisms. Recent studies suggest that differential activation of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors, a calcium release channel located on the membrane of endoplasmic reticulum (ER), play important role on determining the fate of neuroprotection or neurotoxicity by general anesthetics. General anesthetics at low concentrations for short duration are sublethal stress factors which induce endogenous neuroprotective mechanisms and provide neuroprotection via adequate activation of InsP3R and moderate calcium release from ER. On the other hand, general anesthetics at high concentrations for prolonged duration are lethal stress factors which induce neuronal damage by over activation of InsP3R and excessive and abnormal Ca2+ release from ER. This review emphasizes the duel effects of both neuroprotection and neurotoxicity via differential regulation of intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis by commonly used general anesthetics and recommends strategy to maximize neuroprotective but minimize neurotoxic effects of general anesthetics.
PMCID: PMC3791176  PMID: 23721657
25.  Influence of Aripiprazole Pretreatment on the Reinforcing Effects of Methamphetamine In Humans 
Methamphetamine use disorders remain a significant public health concern. Methamphetamine produces its behavioral effects by facilitating release of monoamines like dopamine (DA) and serotonin (5-HT). Results from animal studies show that acute pretreatment with DA and 5-HT antagonists attenuates the effects of methamphetamine, but this area remains largely unexplored in humans. This study sought to assess whether aripiprazole, a partial agonist at D2/5-HT1A receptors and an antagonist at 5-HT2A receptors, would attenuate the reinforcing and subject-rated effects of oral methamphetamine. Seven subjects with histories of recreational stimulant use completed a placebo-controlled, crossover, double-blind protocol in which they first sampled doses of oral methamphetamine (0, 4, 8 or 16 mg) following acute pretreatment with aripiprazole (0 and 15 mg). During each Sampling Session, subjects also completed a battery of subject-rated, cardiovascular, and other performance measures. In subsequent Self-Administration Sessions, subjects were provided the opportunity to earn the previously sampled methamphetamine dose on a progressive-ratio procedure. Methamphetamine functioned as a reinforcer, produced prototypical stimulant-like subject-rated and cardiovascular effects (e.g., increased ratings of Stimulated; elevated blood pressure). Aripiprazole reduced methamphetamine self-administration and attenuated some of the positive subject-rated effects of methamphetamine (e.g., ratings of Like Drug). These results indicate that acute aripiprazole pretreatment attenuates the abuse-related effects of methamphetamine.
PMCID: PMC3825805  PMID: 23994622
Methamphetamine; Aripiprazole; Monoamines; Humans

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