We recorded brain activity when 21 subjects judged the beauty (aesthetic or affective judgment) and brightness (perceptual or cognitive judgment) of simultaneously presented paintings. Aesthetic judgments engaged medial and lateral subdivisions of the orbitofrontal cortex as well as subcortical stations associated with affective motor planning (globus pallidus, putamen–claustrum, amygdala, and cerebellar vermis), whereas the motor, premotor and supplementary motor areas, as well as the anterior insula and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, were engaged by both kinds of judgment. The results lead us to conclude: (i) that there is a functional specialization for judgment, with aesthetic judgments engaging distinct systems, in addition to those that they share with perceptual judgments; (ii) that the systems engaged by affective judgments are those in which activity correlates with polar experiences (e.g. love–hate, beauty–ugliness, and attraction–repulsion); and (iii) that there is also a functional specialization in the motor pathways, with aesthetic judgments engaging motor systems not engaged by perceptual judgments, in addition to those engaged by both kinds of judgment.
affective and perceptual judgment; affective motor planning; functional specialization; orbitofrontal cortex
Regulation of microRNA (miRNA) expression and function in the context of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity in the adult brain is little understood. Here, we examined miRNA expression during long-term potentiation (LTP) in the dentate gyrus of adult anesthetized rats. Microarray expression profiling identified a subpopulation of regulated mature miRNAs 2 h after the induction of LTP by high-frequency stimulation (HFS) of the medial perforant pathway. Real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis confirmed modest upregulation of miR-132 and miR-212, and downregulation of miR-219, while no changes occurred at 10 min post-HFS. Surprisingly, pharmacological blockade of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR)-dependent LTP enhanced expression of these mature miRNAs. This HFS-evoked expression was abolished by local infusion of the group 1 metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) antagonist, (RS)-1-aminoindan-1,5-dicarboxylic acid (AIDA). AIDA had no effect on LTP induction or maintenance, but blocked activity-dependent depotentiation of LTP. Turning to the analysis of miRNA precursors, we show that HFS elicits 50-fold elevations of primary (pri) and precursor (pre) miR-132/212 that is transcription dependent and mGluR dependent, but insensitive to NMDAR blockade. Primary miR-219 expression was unchanged during LTP. In situ hybridization showed upregulation of the pri-miR-132/212 cluster restricted to dentate granule cell somata. Thus, HFS induces transcription miR-132/212 that is mGluR dependent and functionally correlated with depotentiation rather than LTP. In contrast, NMDAR activation selectively downregulates mature miR-132, -212 and -219 levels, indicating accelerated decay of these mature miRNAs. This study demonstrates differential regulation of primary and mature miRNA expression by mGluR and NMDAR signaling following LTP induction, the function of which remains to be defined.
depotentiation; gene expression; hippocampus; long-term potentiation; synaptic plasticity
Abnormalities in frontostriatal systems are thought to be central to the pathophysiology of addiction, and may underlie maladaptive processing of the highly generalizable reinforcer, money. Although abnormal frontostriatal structure and function have been observed in individuals addicted to cocaine, it is less clear how individual variability in brain structure is associated with brain function to influence behavior. Our objective was to examine frontostriatal structure and neural processing of money value in chronic cocaine users and closely matched healthy controls. A reward task that manipulated different levels of money was used to isolate neural activity associated with money value. Gray matter volume measures were used to assess frontostriatal structure. Our results indicated that cocaine users had an abnormal money value signal in the sensorimotor striatum (right putamen/globus pallidus) which was negatively associated with accuracy adjustments to money and was more pronounced in individuals with more severe use. In parallel, group differences were also observed in both function and gray matter volume of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex; in the cocaine users, the former was directly associated with response to money in the striatum. These results provide strong evidence for abnormalities in the neural mechanisms of valuation in addiction and link these functional abnormalities with deficits in brain structure. In addition, as value signals represent acquired associations, their abnormal processing in the sensorimotor striatum, a region centrally implicated in habit formation, could signal disadvantageous associative learning in cocaine addiction.
sensorimotor striatum; ventromedial prefrontal cortex; reward; addiction; fMRI; VBM
We employed an EEG paradigm manipulating predictive context to dissociate the neural dynamics of anticipatory mechanisms. Subjects either detected random targets or targets preceded by a predictive sequence of three distinct stimuli. The last stimulus in the 3-stimulus sequence (decisive stimulus) did not require any motor response but 100% predicted a subsequent target event. We show that predictive context optimizes target processing via the deployment of distinct anticipatory mechanisms at different times of the predictive sequence. Prior to the occurrence of the decisive stimulus, enhanced attentional preparation was manifested by reductions in the alpha oscillatory activities over visual cortices, resulting in facilitation of processing of the decisive stimulus. Conversely, the subsequent 100% predictable target event did not reveal deployment of attentional preparation in the visual cortices, but elicited enhanced motor preparation mechanisms, indexed by an increased contingent negative variation (CNV) and reduced mu oscillatory activities over motor cortices before movement onset. The present results provide evidence that anticipation operates via different attentional and motor preparation mechanisms by selectively pre-activating task-dependent brain areas as predictability gradually increases.
attention; motor preparation; alpha; mu; beta
Surround inhibition is a neural mechanism that assists in the focusing of excitatory drive to muscles responsible for a given movement (agonist muscles) by suppressing unwanted activity in muscles not relevant to the movement (surround muscles). The purpose of the study was to determine the contribution of GABAB receptor mediated intracortical inhibition as assessed by the cortical silent period (CSP) to the generation of surround inhibition in the motor system. Eight healthy adults (5 women and 3 men, 29.8 ± 9 years) performed isometric contractions with the abductor digiti minimi (ADM) muscle in separate conditions with and without an index finger flexion movement. The ADM motor evoked potential (MEP) amplitude and CSP duration elicited by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) were compared between a control condition in which the ADM was activated independently and during conditions involving three phases (premotor, phasic, and tonic) of the index finger flexion movement. The MEP amplitude of the ADM was greater during the control condition compared with the phasic condition. Thus, the presence of surround inhibition was confirmed in the present study. Most critically, the CSP duration of the ADM decreased during the phasic stage of finger flexion compared to the control condition, which indicated a reduction of this type of intracortical inhibition during the phasic condition. These findings indicate that GABAB receptor mediated intracortical inhibition as measured by the duration of the CSP does not contribute to the generation of surround inhibition in hand muscles.
facilitation; transcranial magnetic stimulation; inhibition; motor cortex
After natural menopause in women, androstenedione becomes the primary hormone secreted by the residual follicle-depleted ovaries. In two independent studies, in rodents that had undergone ovarian follicular depletion, we found that higher endogenous serum androstenedione levels correlated with increased working memory errors. This led to the hypothesis that higher androstenedione levels impair memory. The current study directly tested this hypothesis, examining the cognitive effects of exogenous androstenedione administration in rodents. Middle-aged ovariectomized rats received vehicle or one of two doses of androstenedione. Rats were tested on a spatial working and reference memory maze battery including the water-radial arm maze, Morris water maze (MM) and delay match-to-sample task. Androstenedione at the highest dose impaired reference memory as well as the ability to maintain performance as memory demand was elevated. This was true for both high temporal demand memory retention of one item of spatial information, as well as the ability to handle multiple items of spatial working memory information. We measured glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) protein in multiple brain regions to determine whether the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system relates to androstenedione-induced memory impairments. Results showed that higher entorhinal cortex GAD levels were correlated with worse MM performance, irrespective of androstenedione treatment. These findings suggest that androstenedione, the main hormone produced by the follicle-depleted ovary, is detrimental to working memory, reference memory and memory retention. Furthermore, while spatial reference memory performance might be related to the GABAergic system, it does not appear to be altered with androstenedione administration.
aging; animal model; GABA; ovariectomy; working memory
Zn2+ is an essential ion that is stored in and co-released from glutamatergic synapses and it modulates neurotransmitter receptors involved in long-term potentiation (LTP). However, the mechanism(s) underlying Zn2+-induced modulation of LTP remain(s) unclear. As the purinergic P2X receptors are relevant targets for Zn2+ action, we have studied their role in LTP modulation by Zn2+ in the CA1 region of rat hippocampal slices. Induction of LTP in the presence of Zn2+ revealed a biphasic effect – 5–50 μm enhanced LTP induction, whereas 100–300 μm Zn2+ inhibited LTP. The involvement of a purinergic mechanism is supported by the fact that application of the P2X receptor antagonists 2′,3′-O-(2,4,6-trinitrophenyl) ATP (TNP-ATP) and periodate-oxidized ATP fully abolished the facilitatory effect of Zn2+. Notably, application of the P2X7 receptor-specific antagonist Brilliant Blue G did not modify the Zn2+-dependent facilitation of LTP. Exogenous ATP also produced a biphasic effect – 0.1–1 μm ATP facilitated LTP, whereas 5–10 μm inhibited LTP. The facilitatory effect of ATP was abolished by the application of TNP-ATP and was modified in the presence of 5 μm Zn2+, suggesting that P2X receptors are involved in LTP induction and that Zn2+ leads to an increase in the affinity of P2X receptors for ATP. The latter confirms our previous results from heterologous expression systems. Collectively, our results indicate that Zn2+ at low concentrations enhances LTP by modulating P2X receptors. Although it is not yet clear which purinergic receptor subtype(s) is responsible for these effects on LTP, the data presented here suggest that P2X4 but not P2X7 is involved.
hippocampus; long-term potentiation; P2X; purinergic receptors; rat; zinc
Although delay discounting, the attenuation of the value of future rewards, is a robust finding, the mechanism of discounting is not known. We propose a potential mechanism for delay discounting such that discounting emerges from a search process trying to determine what rewards will be available in the future. In this theory, the delay dependence of the discounting of future expected rewards arises from three assumptions. First, that evaluation of outcomes involves a search process. Second, that value is assigned to an outcome proportionally to how easy it is to find. Third, that outcomes that are less delayed are typically easier for the search process to find. By relaxing this third assumption (for example, by assuming that episodically cued outcomes are easier to find), our model suggests that it is possible to dissociate discounting from delay. Our theory thereby explains the empirical result that discounting is slower to episodically-imagined outcomes, because these outcomes are easier for the search process to find. Additionally, the theory explains why improving cognitive resources such as working memory slows discounting, by improving searches and thereby making rewards easier to find. The three assumptions outlined here are likely to be instantiated during deliberative decision-making, but unlikely in habitual decision-making. We model two simple implementations of this theory and show that they unify empirical results about the role of cognitive function in delay discounting, and make new neural, behavioral, and pharmacological predictions.
Cerebellar Purkinje cells (PCs) are particularly sensitive to cerebral ischemia, and decreased GABAA receptor function following injury is thought to contribute to PC sensitivity to ischemia-induced excitotoxicity. Here we examined the functional properties of the GABAA receptors that are spared following ischemia in cultured Purkinje cells from rat and in vivo ischemia in mouse. Using subunit-specific positive modulators of GABAA receptors, we observed that oxygen and glucose deprivation (OGD) and cardiac arrest-induced cerebral ischemia cause a decrease in sensitivity to the β2/3-subunit-preferring compound, etomidate. However, sensitivity to propofol, a β-subunit-acting compound that modulates β1–3-subunits, was not affected by OGD. The α/γ-subunit-act-ing compounds, diazepam and zolpidem, were also unaffected by OGD. We performed single-cell reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction on isolated PCs from acutely dissociated cerebellar tissue and observed that PCs expressed the β1-subunit, contrary to previous reports examining GABAA receptor subunit expression in PCs. GABAA receptor β1-subunit protein was also detected in cultured PCs by western blot and by immunohistochemistry in the adult mouse cerebellum and levels remained unaffected by ischemia. High concentrations of loreclezole (30 µm) inhibited PC GABA-mediated currents, as previously demonstrated with β1-subunit-containing GABAA receptors expressed in heterologous systems. From our data we conclude that PCs express the β1-subunit and that there is a greater contribution of β1-subunit-containing GABAA receptors following OGD.
electrophysiology; GABAA receptor; mouse; oxygen–glucose deprivation; Purkinje cells; rat
Levels of kynurenic acid (KYNA), an endogenous product of tryptophan degradation, are elevated in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid of individuals with schizophrenia (SZ). This increase has been implicated in the cognitive dysfunctions seen in the disease since KYNA is an antagonist of the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor and the NMDA receptor, both of which are critically involved in cognitive processes and in a defining neurodevelopmental period in the pathophysiology of SZ. We tested the hypothesis that early developmental increases in brain KYNA synthesis might cause biochemical and functional impairments in adulthood. To this end, we stimulated KYNA formation by adding the KYNA precursor kynurenine (100 mg/day) to the chow fed to rat dams from gestational day 15 to postnatal day 21 (PD 21). This treatment raised brain KYNA levels in the offspring by 341% on PD 2 and 210% on PD 21. Rats were then fed normal chow until adulthood (PD 56-PD 80). In the adult animals, basal levels of extracellular KYNA, measured in the hippocampus by in vivo microdialysis, were elevated (+12%), whereas extracellular glutamate levels were significantly reduced (−13%). In separate adult animals, early kynurenine treatment was shown to impair performance in two behavioral tasks linked to hippocampal function, the passive avoidance test and the Morris water maze test. Collectively, these studies introduce a novel, naturalistic rat model of SZ and also suggest that increases in brain KYNA during a vulnerable period in brain development may play a significant role in the pathophysiology of the disease.
Rats; Cognition; Hippocampus; Kynurenic acid; Schizophrenia
Evidence has been presented that CA1 pyramidal cells, during spontaneous in vitro sharp wave/ripple (SPW-R) complexes, generate somatic action potentials that originate in axons. ‘Participating’ (somatically firing) pyramidal cells fire (almost always) at most once during a particular SPW-R whereas non-participating cells virtually never fire during an SPW-R. Somatic spikelets were small or absent, while ripple-frequency EPSCs and IPSCs occurred during the SPW-R in pyramidal neurons. These experimental findings could be replicated with a network model in which electrical coupling was present between small pyramidal cell axonal branches. Here, we explore this model in more depth. Factors that influence somatic participation include: (i) the diameter of axonal branches that contain coupling sites to other axons, because firing in larger branches injects more current into the main axon, increasing antidromic firing probability; (ii) axonal K+ currents; and (iii) somatic hyperpolarization and shunting. We predict that portions of axons fire at high frequency during SPW-R, while somata fire much less. In the model, somatic firing can occur by occasional generation of full action potentials in proximal axonal branches, which are excited by high-frequency spikelets. When the network contains phasic synaptic inhibition, at the axonal gap junction site, gamma oscillations result, again with more frequent axonal firing than somatic firing. Combining the models, so as to generate gamma followed by sharp waves, leads to strong overlap between the population of cells firing during gamma the population of cells firing during a subsequent sharp wave, as observed in vivo.
gap junction; axonal branch; transient K+ current; antidromic spike
Long-term dopamine replacement therapy with L-DOPA in Parkinson’s disease often leads to the development of abnormal involuntary movements known as L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia. Growing evidence suggests that following dopamine cell loss, serotonin neurons acting as surrogates for dopaminergic processes, take up L-DOPA, convert it to dopamine and release it in an unregulated fashion that precipitates dyskinesia. While most studies have focused on serotonin 5-HT1 receptor stimulation as an anti-dyskinetic strategy, targeting serotonin transporter modulation of dopamine activity has been overlooked. Therefore, in the current study, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors were tested for their ability to reduce L-DOPA- and apomorphine-induced dyskinesia. In experiments 1 and 2, hemi-parkinsonian rats were primed with L-DOPA until stable dyskinesia developed. Rats in experiment 1 were administered the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors paroxetine, citalopram or fluoxetine, followed by L-DOPA. Abnormal involuntary movements and forepaw adjusting steps were recorded to determine the effects of these compounds on dyskinesia and motor performance, respectively. Brains were collected on the final test day, after which striatal and raphe monoamines were examined via high performance liquid chromatography. In experiment 2, dyskinesias were measured after selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and apomorphine. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors dose-dependently attenuated L-DOPA- but not apomorphine-induced dyskinesia, while preserving L-DOPA efficacy. Neurochemically, serotonin transporter inhibition enhanced striatal and raphe serotonin levels and reduced its turnover, indicating a potential mechanism of action. The present results support targeting serotonin transporters to improve Parkinson’s disease treatment and provide further evidence for the role of the serotonin system in L-DOPA’s effects.
Abnormal involuntary movements; Dopamine; Parkinson’s disease; Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
Most candidate genes and genetic abnormalities linked to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are thought to play a role in developmental and experience-dependent plasticity. As a possible index of plasticity, we assessed the modulation of motor corticospinal excitability in individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). We measured the modulatory effects of Theta Burst Stimulation (TBS) on motor evoked potentials (MEPs) induced by single-pulse TMS in individuals with AS as compared with age-, gender-, and IQ-matched neurotypical controls. The effect of TBS lasted significantly longer in the AS group. The duration of the TBS-induced modulation alone enabled the reliable classification of a second study cohort of subjects as AS or neurotypical. The alteration in the modulation of corticospinal excitability in AS is thought to reflect aberrant mechanisms of plasticity, and might provide a valuable future diagnostic biomarker for the disease and ultimately offer a target for novel therapeutic interventions.
Autism Spectrum Disorders; Theta Burst Stimulation; Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation; Plasticity
A recent clinical study demonstrated that damage to the insular cortex can disrupt tobacco addiction. The neurobiological mechanisms for this effect are not yet understood. In this study we used an animal model of nicotine addiction to examine the possibility that changes in insular cortex levels of dopamine (DA)- and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein of 32 kDa (DARPP-32), a phosphoprotein enriched in DA neurons containing DA D1 receptors, may be associated with changes in vulnerability to nicotine addiction. Once rats acquired self-administration, they were given unlimited access to nicotine (0.01 mg/kg/infusion) for 23 h/day for a total of 10 days. Each infusion was paired with a visual cue (stimulus light) and auditory cue (sound of pump). Nicotine seeking, as assessed under a cue-induced reinstatement paradigm, and markers of DARPP-32 signaling, as assessed using western blot analysis, were examined in separate groups of rats at two different abstinent intervals: 1 and 7 days. Consistent with findings with other drugs of abuse, rats in the 7-day abstinence group took longer to extinguish and responded at higher levels during reinstatement testing as compared with rats in the 1-day reinstatement group. Relative to saline controls, rats in the 7-day but not the 1-day abstinence group had higher levels of DARPP-32 phosphorylated at the protein kinase A site in the insular cortex. These results demonstrate incubation of drug seeking following extended access to nicotine self-administration and suggest that enhanced protein kinase A signaling in the insular cortex via phosphorylation of DARPP-32 at Thr34 is associated with this effect.
addiction; dopamine- and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein of 32 kDa; rat; reinstatement; self-administration
The ventral tegmental area (VTA) forms part of the mesocorticolimbic system and plays a pivotal role in reward and reinforcing actions of drugs of abuse. Glutamate transmission within the VTA controls important aspects of goal-directed behavior and motivation. Noradrenergic receptors also present in the VTA have important functions in the modulation of neuronal activity. Here we studied the effects of alpha-2 noradrenergic receptor activation in the alteration of glutamate neurotransmission in VTA dopaminergic neurons from male Sprague-Dawley rats. We used whole cell patch clamp recordings from putative VTA dopaminergic neurons and measured excitatory postsynaptic currents. Clonidine (40 μM) and UK 13,408 (40 μM), both alpha-2 receptor agonists, reduced (~ 40%) the amplitude of glutamate-induced excitatory postsynaptic currents. After clonidine administration, there was a dose-dependent reduction over the concentration range of 15–40 μM. Using yohimbine (20μM) and two other alpha-2 adrenergic receptor antagonists, idaxozan (40 μM) and atipemazole (20μM), we demonstrated that the inhibitory action is specifically mediated by alpha-2 receptors. Moreover, by inhibiting protein kinases with H-7 (75 μM), Rp-adenosine 3′,5′-cyclic (11 μM) and chelerythrine (1 μM) it was shown that the clonidine-induced inhibition seems to involve a selective activation of the protein kinase C intracellular pathway. An increased paired-pulse ratios and changes in spontaneous and miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents frequencies but not amplitudes indicated that the alpha-2 agonist’s effect was presynaptically mediated. It is suggested that the suppression of glutamate excitatory inputs onto VTA dopaminergic neurons might be relevant in the regulation of reward and drug seeking behaviors.
rats; clonidine; addiction; dopamine; patch clamp
Social isolation (SI) rearing, a model of early life stress, results in profound behavioral alterations, including increased anxiety-like behavior, impaired sensorimotor gating and increased self-administration of addictive substances. These changes are accompanied by alterations in mesolimbic dopamine function, such as increased dopamine and metabolite tissue content, increased dopamine responses to cues and psychostimulants, and increased dopamine neuron burst firing. Using voltammetric techniques, we examined the effects of SI rearing on dopamine transporter activity, vesicular release and dopamine D2-type autoreceptor activity in the nucleus accumbens core. Long–Evans rats were housed in group (GH; 4/cage) or SI (1/cage) conditions from weaning into early adulthood [postnatal day (PD) 28–77]. After this initial housing period, rats were assessed on the elevated plus-maze for an anxiety-like phenotype, and then slice voltammetry experiments were performed. To study the enduring effects of SI rearing on anxiety-like behavior and dopamine terminal function, another cohort of similarly reared rats was isolated for an additional 4 months (until PD 174) and then tested. Our findings demonstrate that SI rearing results in lasting increases in anxiety-like behavior, dopamine release and dopamine transporter activity, but not D2 activity. Interestingly, GH-reared rats that were isolated as adults did not develop the anxiety-like behavior or dopamine changes seen in SI-reared rats. Together, our data suggest that early life stress results in an anxiety-like phenotype, with lasting increases in dopamine terminal function.
fast-scan cyclic voltammetry; release; social; stress; uptake
To successfully evaluate potential courses of action and choose the most favorable, we must consider the outcomes that may result. Many choices involve risk, our assessment of which may lead us to success or failure in matters financial, legal or health-related. The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has been implicated as critical for evaluating choices based on risk. To measure how outcomes of risky decisions are represented in the OFC, we recorded the electrophysiological activity of single neurons while rats made behavioral responses to obtain rewards under conditions of either certainty or risk. Rats exhibited different risk-preferences when given the opportunity to choose. In risk-preferring rats, OFC responses were enhanced following the delivery of large rewards obtained under risk compared with smaller, certain rewards and reward omission. However, in risk-neutral rats, neurons showed similarly enhanced responses to both large rewards obtained under risk and smaller, certain rewards compared with reward omission. Thus, the responses of OFC neurons reflected the subjective evaluation of outcomes in individuals with different risk-preferences. Such enhanced neural responding to risky rewards may serve to bias individuals towards risk-preference in decision-making.
decision-making; electrophysiology; rat; risk
While it is now established that sensory neurons in both the main olfactory epithelium and the vomeronasal organ may be activated by both general and pheromonal odorants, it remains unclear what initiates sampling by the VNO. Anterograde transport of wheat germ agglutinin-horseradish peroxidase was used to determine that adequate intranasal syringing with zinc sulfate interrupted all inputs to the main olfactory bulb but left intact those to the accessory olfactory bulb. Adult male treated mice were frankly anosmic when tested with pheromonal and non-pheromonal odors and failed to engage in aggressive behavior. Treated juvenile females failed to show puberty acceleration subsequent to exposure to bedding from adult males. Activation of the immediate early gene c-Fos and electro-vomeronasogram recording confirmed the integrity of the vomeronasal system in zinc sulfate treated mice. These results support the hypothesis that odor detection by the main olfactory epithelium is required to initiate sampling by the vomeronasal system.
vomeronasal organ; accessory olfactory bulb; main olfactory bulb; odor detection
Horizontal cells are lateral interneurons that participate in visual processing in the outer retina but the cellular mechanisms underlying transmitter release from these cells are not fully understood. In non-mammalian horizontal cells, GABA release has been shown to occur by a non-vesicular mechanism. However, recent evidence in mammalian horizontal cells favors a vesicular mechanism as they lack plasmalemmal GABA transporters and some soluble NSF attachment protein receptor (SNARE) core proteins have been identified in rodent horizontal cells. Moreover, immunoreactivity for GABA and the molecular machinery to synthesize GABA have been found in guinea pig horizontal cells, suggesting that if components of the SNARE complex are expressed they could contribute to the vesicular release of GABA. In this study we investigated whether these vesicular and synaptic proteins are expressed by guinea pig horizontal cells using immunohistochemistry with well-characterized antibodies to evaluate their cellular distribution. Components of synaptic vesicles including vesicular GABA transporter, synapsin I and synaptic vesicle protein 2A were localized to horizontal cell processes and endings, along with the SNARE core complex proteins, syntaxin-1a, syntaxin-4 and synaptosomal-associated protein 25 (SNAP-25). Complexin I/II, a cytosolic protein that stabilizes the activated SNARE fusion core, strongly immunostained horizontal cell soma and processes. In addition, the vesicular Ca2+-sensor, synaptotagmin-2, which is essential for Ca2+-mediated vesicular release, was also localized to horizontal cell processes and somata. These morphological findings from guinea pig horizontal cells suggest that mammalian horizontal cells have the capacity to utilize a regulated Ca2+-dependent vesicular pathway to release neurotransmitter, and that this mechanism may be shared among many mammalian species.
mammalian visual system; retina; synaptic proteins; synaptic vesicle
The relief of itch by scratching is thought to involve inhibition of pruritogen-responsive neurons in the spinal cord. We presently recorded responses of superficial dorsal horn neurons in mice to intradermal injection of the pruritogens chloroquine and histamine. Scratching within an area 5–17 mm distant from the injection site, outside of the units’ mechanoreceptive fields (off-site), significantly inhibited chloroquine- and histamine-evoked responses without affecting capsaicin-evoked firing. This is consistent with observations that scratching at a distance from a site of itch is antipruritic. In contrast, scratching directly at the injection site (within the receptive field; on-site) had no effect on chloroquine-evoked neuronal firing, but enhanced the same neurons’ responses to intradermal injection of the algogen, capsaicin. Moreover, neuronal responses to histamine were enhanced during on-site scratching, followed by suppression of firing below baseline levels after termination of scratching. Scratching thus inhibits pruritogen-responsive neurons in a manner that depends on the input modality (i.e., pain vs. histamine-dependent or histamine-independent itch) and skin location.
itch; pain; histamine; mice; superficial dorsal horn neurons
Calcium is tightly regulated in cochlear outer hair cells (OHCs). It enters mainly via mechanotransducer (MT) channels and is extruded by the PMCA2 isoform of the plasma membrane calcium ATPase, mutations in which cause hearing loss. To assess how pump expression matches the demands of Ca2+ homeostasis, the distribution of PMCA2 at different cochlear locations during development was quantified using immunofluorescence and post-embedding immunogold labeling. The PMCA2 isoform was confined to stereociliary bundles, first appearing at the base of the cochlea around post-natal day 0 (P0) followed by the middle and then the apex by P3, and was unchanged after P8. The developmental appearance matches maturation of the MT channels in rat OHCs. High-resolution immunogold labeling in adult rats showed PMCA2 was distributed along the membranes of all three rows of OHC stereocilia at similar densities and at about a quarter the density in IHC stereocilia. The difference between OHCs and inner hair cells (IHCs) is similar to the ratio of their MT channel resting open probabilities. Gold particle counts revealed no difference in PMCA2 density between low- and high-frequency OHC bundles despite larger MT currents in high-frequency OHCs. The PMCA2 density in OHC stereocilia was determined in low- and high-frequency regions from calibration of immunogold particle counts as 2200/μm2 from which an extrusion rate of ~200 ions·s−1 per pump was inferred. The limited ability of PMCA2 to extrude the Ca2+ load through MT channels may constitute a major cause of OHC vulnerability and high-frequency hearing loss.
outer hair cell; mechanotransducer channels; adaptation; calcium; voltage-sensitive Ca2+ channels
Early experience considerably modulates the organization and function of all sensory systems. In the mammalian olfactory system, deprivation of the sensory inputs via neonatal, unilateral naris closure has been shown to induce structural, molecular, and functional changes from the olfactory epithelium to the olfactory bulb and cortex. However, it remains unknown how early experience shapes functional properties of individual olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs), the primary odor detectors in the nose. To address this question, we examined odorant response properties of mouse OSNs in both the closed and open nostril after four weeks of unilateral naris closure with age-matched untreated animals as control. Using patch-clamp technique on genetically-tagged OSNs with defined odorant receptors (ORs), we found that sensory deprivation increased the sensitivity of MOR23 neurons in the closed side while overexposure caused the opposite effect in the open side. We next analyzed the response properties including rise time, decay time, and adaptation induced by repeated stimulation in MOR23 and M71 neurons. Even though these two types of neurons showed distinct properties in dynamic range and response kinetics, sensory deprivation significantly slowed down the decay phase of odorant-induced transduction events in both types. Using western blotting and antibody staining, we confirmed upregulation of several signaling proteins in the closed side as compared with the open side. This study suggests that early experience modulates functional properties of OSNs, probably via modifying the signal transduction cascade.
naris-closure; experience-dependent plasticity; olfactory signal transduction; patch clamp; and gene-targeting
Intrapallidal application of GAT-1 or GAT-3 transporter blockers (SKF 89976A or SNAP 5114) reduces the activity of pallidal neurons in monkey. This effect could be mediated through activation of presynaptic GABAB heteroreceptors in glutamatergic terminals by GABA spillover following GABA transporters (GATs) blockade. To test this hypothesis, we applied the whole-cell recording technique to study the effects of SKF 89976A and SNAP 5114 on evoked excitatory post synaptic currents (eEPSCs) in presence of gabazine, a GABAA receptor antagonist, in rat GP slice preparations. Under the condition of postsynaptic GABAB receptor blockade by intracellular application of OX314, bath application of SKF 89976A (10 μM) or SNAP 5114 (10 μM) decreased the amplitude of eEPSCs, without significant effect on its holding current and whole cell input resistance. The inhibitory effect of GATs blockade on eEPSCs was blocked by CGP 58845, a GABAB receptor antagonist. The paired-pulse ratio (PPR) of evoked EPSCs was increased, while the frequency, but not the amplitude, of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) was reduced in presence of either GAT blockers, demonstrating a presynaptic effect. These results suggest that synaptically released GABA can inhibit glutamatergic transmission through activation of presynaptic GABAB heteroreceptors following GAT-1 or GAT-3 blockade.
In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that pre-synaptic GABAB heteroreceptors in putative glutamatergic subthalamic afferents to GP are sensitive to increases in extracellular GABA induced by GATs inactivation, thereby suggesting that GATs blockade represents a potential mechanism by which overactive subthalamopallidal activity may be reduced in parkinsonism.
EPSC; patch-clamp; striatum; GATs; GABA receptor
Recent findings suggest the reward system encodes metabolic value independent of taste, provoking speculation that the hedonic value of taste could be derived from nutritional value as a secondary appetitive property. We therefore dissociated and compared the impact of nutrition and taste on appetitive behavior in several paradigms. Though taste alone induces preference and increased consumption, in the absence of nutritional value its reinforcing properties are greatly diminished and it does not, like sucrose, induce increased responding over time. In agreement with behavioral data, saccharin- but not sucrose- evoked dopamine release is greatly attenuated following pre-exposure, suggesting that nutritional value is critical for dopamine mediated reward and reinforcement. Further supporting the primacy of nutrition over taste, genetically increased dopaminergic tone enhances incentive associated with nutritional value with minimal impact on taste-based, hedonic incentive. Overall, we suggest that the sensory-hedonic incentive value associated with taste functions as a conditioned stimulus that requires nutritional value to sustainably organize appetitive behavior.
dopamine; reinforcement; feeding; obesity; palatability; reward; cyclic voltammetry
The role of dopamine in reward is a topic of debate. For example, some have argued that phasic dopamine signaling provides a prediction-error signal necessary for stimulus-reward learning, whereas others have hypothesized that dopamine is not necessary for learning per se, but for attributing incentive motivational value (“incentive salience”) to reward cues. These psychological processes are difficult to tease apart, because they tend to change together. To disentangle them we took advantage of natural individual variation in the extent to which reward cues are attributed with incentive salience, and asked whether dopamine (specifically in the core of the nucleus accumbens) is necessary for the expression of two forms of Pavlovian conditioned approach behavior - one in which the cue acquires powerful motivational properties (sign-tracking) and another closely related one in which it does not (goal-tracking). After acquisition of these conditioned responses (CRs), intra-accumbens injection of the dopamine receptor antagonist flupenthixol markedly impaired the expression of a sign-tracking CR, but not a goal-tracking CR. Furthermore, dopamine antagonism did not produce a gradual extinction-like decline in behavior, but maximally impaired expression of a sign-tracking CR on the very first trial, indicating the effect was not due to new learning (i.e., it occurred in the absence of new prediction-error computations). The data support the view that dopamine in the accumbens core is not necessary for learning stimulus-reward associations, but in attributing incentive salience to reward cues, transforming predictive CSs into incentive stimuli with powerful motivational properties.
rat; sign-tracking; goal-tracking; motivation; learning