Compared with apoE3, apoE4 is associated with increased risk to develop age-related cognitive decline, particularly in women. In this study, young, middle-aged, and old female mice expressing human apoE under control of the mouse apoE promoter were behaviorally analyzed. Cognitive performance in the water maze decreased with age in all mice. Compared with apoE2 and apoE3 mice, apoE4 mice showed better cognitive performance and higher measures of anxiety than apoE2 and apoE3 mice. Measures of anxiety correlated with cognitive performance in the water maze and passive avoidance tests and might have contributed to the enhanced cognitive performance of the apoE4 mice. ApoE4 mice showed better water maze learning and higher cortical apoE levels than mice expressing apoE4 in astrocytes under control of the GFAP promoter. This was not seen in apoE3 mice. There were no line differences in either genotype in spatial memory retention in the probe trial following the last day of hidden platform training. Thus, the promoter used to express apoE4 critically modulates its effects on brain function.
Aging; Anxiety; Apolipoprotein E; Cognition
In nonhuman primates, anxiety levels are typically assessed by observing social hierarchies or behavior in an intruder task. As measures of anxiety might influence performance on a particular cognitive task, it is important to analyze these measures in the same room as used for the cognitive task. As we use a playroom for the spatial maze test, we classified elderly female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) monkeys, as bold or reserved monkeys based on the time spent in specific areas of this room. Based on their exploratory behavior in the playroom, bold monkeys were defined as animals that spent 20% more time in the unprotected areas of the room than in the protected areas, whereas reserved monkeys spent a comparable amount of time in both areas. MRI analyses showed that reserved monkeys had a smaller amygdala compared to bold monkeys but there were no group differences in hippocampal volumes. In addition, the amount of time spent in the corners of the room was negatively correlated with the right and total amygdala size. Finally, reserved monkeys showed a lower phMRI response to the muscarinic receptor antagonist scopolamine compared to the bold monkeys. Thus, in elderly female nonhuman primates measures of anxiety are associated with structural amygdala differences and hippocampal muscarinic receptor function.
anxiety; nonhuman primate; amygdala; hippocampus; scopolamine; phMRI
Of the acetylcholine muscarinic receptors, the type 1 (M1) and type 2 (M2) receptors are expressed at the highest levels in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and hippocampus, brain regions important for cognition. As equivocal findings of age-related changes of M1 and M2 in the nonhuman primate brain have been reported, we first assessed age-related changes in M1 and M2 in the PFC and hippocampus using saturation binding assays. Maximum M1 receptor binding, but not affinity of M1 receptor binding, decreased with age. In contrast, the affinity of M2 receptor binding, but not maximum M2 receptor binding, increased with age. To determine if in the elderly cognitive performance is associated with M1 or M2 function, we assessed muscarinic function in elderly female rhesus macaques in vivo using a scopolamine challenge pharmacological magnetic resonance imaging and in vitro using saturation binding assays. Based on their performance in a spatial maze, the animals were classified as good spatial performers (GSP) or poor spatial performers (PSP). In the hippocampus, but not PFC, the GSP group showed a greater change in T2*-weighted signal intensity after scopolamine challenge than the PSP group. The maximum M1 receptor binding and receptor binding affinity was greater in the GSP than the PSP group, but no group difference was found in M2 receptor binding. Parameters of circadian activity positively correlated with the difference in T2*-weighted signal intensity before and after the challenge, the maximum M1 receptor binding, and the M1 receptor binding affinity. Thus, while in rhesus macaques, there are age-related decreases in M1 and M2 receptor binding, in aged females, hippocampal M1, but not M2, receptor function is associated with spatial learning and memory and circadian activity.
M1 receptor; Scopolamine phMRI; Spatial maze
Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) modulate glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission. mGluR8, a member of group III receptors, is generally located presynaptically where it regulates neurotransmitter release. Previously we reported higher measures of anxiety in 6- and 12-month-old mGluR8−/− male mice than age- and sex-matched wild-type mice and that acute pharmacological stimulation with the mGluR8 agonist (S)-3,4,-dicarboxyphenylglycine (DCPG) or the Positive Allosteric Modulator (PAM) AZ12216052 reduced measures of anxiety in wild-type mice. As in humans and animals, ageing is associated with enhanced measures of anxiety following non-social and social challenges, increased understanding of these measures and how to potentially modulate them is particularly important in the elderly. Here we determined whether the effects of AZ12216052 on measures of anxiety are mediated by mGluR8 using 24-month-old mGluR8−/− and wild-type male mice. AZ12216052 also reduced measures of anxiety in the elevated zero maze and the acoustic startle response in mGluR8−/− mice. The remaining anxiolytic effects of AZ12216052 in mGluR8−/− mice might involve mGluR4, as the mGluR4 PAM VU 0155041 also reduced measures of anxiety in wild-type mice. In contrast, mGluR8−/− mice show enhanced social interaction but AZ12216052 does not affect social interaction in wild-type mice. Thus, while mGluR8 is an attractive target to modulate measures of anxiety and social interaction, the effects of AZ12216052 on measures of anxiety likely also involve receptors other than mGluR8.
metabotropic; group-III mGluR; allosteric modulator; zero maze; acoustic startle; social interaction
In experimental designs of animal models, memory is often assessed by the time for a performance measure to occur (latency). Depending on the cognitive test, this may be the time it takes an animal to escape to a hidden platform (water maze), an escape tunnel (Barnes maze) or to enter a dark component (passive avoidance test). Latency outcomes are usually statistically analyzed using ANOVAs. Besides strong distributional assumptions, ANOVA cannot properly deal with animals not showing the performance measure within the trial time, potentially causing biased and misleading results. We propose an alternative approach for statistical analyses of latency outcomes. These analyses have less distributional assumptions and adequately handle results of trials in which the performance measure did not occur within the trial time. The proposed method is well known from survival analyses, provides comprehensible statistical results and allows the generation of meaningful graphs. Experiments of behavioral neuroscience and anesthesiology are used to illustrate this method.
Statistical analysis; Latency; Barnes maze; Morris water maze; Passive avoidance
Memory Island and the Novel-Image Novel-Location are recently developed measures of spatial learning and recognition-memory modeled after the Morris water maze and the novel object-recognition tests. The goal of this study was to characterize how sex, age, and handedness contribute to Memory Island and Novel-Image Novel-Location performance. Volunteers (N=287, ages 6 to 67) from a local science museum completed four Memory Island trials containing a visible target and four trials containing a hidden target. A pronounced sex difference favoring males was noted in all measures of hidden trial performance. The total latency during the hidden trials among older-adults was longer than younger-adults or adolescents. Faster and more efficient performance by males was also identified during the visible trials, particularly among children. Adolescents and younger-adults outperformed children and older ages. Sinistrals had a lower cumulative distance to the target. Novel-Image Novel-Location behavior was examined in a separate sample (N=128, ages 6 to 86). Females had higher Novel-Image and Novel-Location scores than males. Novel-Image performance was independent of age while sinistrals had elevated Novel-Image scores relative to dextrals. Together, these findings identify how sex, age, and handedness uniquely contribute to performance on these tasks.
aging; female; learning; left-handedness; memory; sinistrality
Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) are important modulators of excitatory transmission, and have been implicated in anxiety and stress-related behaviors. Previously, we showed that group III mGluR agonists could depress excitatory synaptic transmission in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), an integral component of the anxiety circuitry. Here, we provide converging evidence indicating that this effect is mediated primarily by mGluR8, is exerted presynaptically, and is modulated by noradrenergic signaling and stress. The effects of the group III mGluR agonist L-AP4 on excitatory transmission are not potentiated by the mGluR4-selective allosteric potentiator PHCCC, but are mimicked by the mGluR8-selective agonist DCPG. Consistent with these results, mGluR8-like immunoreactivity is seen in the BNST, and the actions of L-AP4 on excitatory transmission are absent in slices from mGluR8 knockout (KO) mice. Application of DCPG is associated with an increase in paired-pulse evoked glutamate synaptic currents, and a decrease in spontaneous glutamate synaptic current frequency, consistent with a primarily presynaptic action. mGluR8-mediated suppression of excitatory transmission is disrupted ex vivo by activation of α1 adrenergic receptors (α1 ARs). BNST mGluR8 function is also disrupted by both acute and chronic in vivo exposure to restraint stress, and in brain slices from α2A AR KO mice. These studies show that mGluR8 is an important regulator of excitatory transmission in the BNST, and suggest that this receptor is selectively disrupted by noradrenergic signaling and by both acute and chronic stress.
mGluR8; stress; glutamate; norepinephrine; α1 ARs; BNST; glutamate; mood/anxiety/stress disorders; catecholamines; neurophysiology; mGluR8; alpha1 adrenergic receptors; BNST; norepinephrine
Methamphetamine (MA) use is a growing problem across the United States. Effects of MA include hyperactivity and increased anxiety. Using a mouse model system, we examined behavioral performance in the open field and elevated zero maze and shock-startle response of 12-month-old wild-type mice injected with MA once (1mg/kg) 30 min prior to behavioral testing. MA treatment resulted in behavioral sensitization in the open field, consistent with studies in younger mice. There was an increased activity in the elevated zero maze and an increased shock-startle response 30 and 60 min post-injection. Since histamine mediates some effects of MA in the brain, we assessed whether 12-month-old mice lacking histidine decarboxylase (Hdc−/−), the enzyme required to synthesize histamine, respond differently to MA than wild-type (Hdc+/+) mice. Compared to saline treatment, acute and repeated MA administration increased activity in the open field and measures of anxiety, though more so in Hdc−/− than Hdc+/+ mice. In the elevated zero maze, opposite effects of MA on activity and measures of anxiety were seen in Hdc+/+ mice. In contrast, MA similarly increased the shock-startle response in Hdc−/− and Hdc+/+ mice, compared to saline-treated genotype-matched mice. These results are similar to those in younger mice suggesting that the effects are not age-dependent. Overall, single or repeated MA treatment causes histamine-dependent changes in 12-month-old mice in the open field and elevated zero-maze, but not in the shock-startle response.
HDC; mouse; open field; elevated zero-maze; shock startle
Exposure to methamphetamine during brain development impairs cognition in children and adult rodents. In mice, these impairments are greater in females than males. Adult female, but not male, mice show impairments in novel location recognition following methamphetamine exposure during brain development. In contrast to adulthood, little is known about the potential effects of methamphetamine exposure on cognition in adolescent mice. As adolescence is an important time of development and is relatively understudied, the aim of the current study was to examine potential long-term effects of neonatal methamphetamine exposure on behavior and cognition during adolescence. Male and female mice were exposed to methamphetamine (5 mg/kg) or saline once a day from postnatal day 11-20, the period of rodent hippocampal development. Behavioral and cognitive function was assessed during adolescence beginning on postnatal day 30. During the injection period, methamphetamine-exposed mice gained less weight on average compared to saline-exposed mice. In both male and female mice, methamphetamine exposure significantly impaired novel object recognition and there was a trend towards impaired novel location recognition. Anxiety-like behavior, sensorimotor gating, and contextual and cued fear conditioning were not affected by methamphetamine exposure. Thus, neonatal methamphetamine exposure affects cognition in adolescence and unlike in adulthood equally affects male and female mice.
Methamphetamine; cognition; adolescence; hippocampus; postnatal
Methamphetamine/polysubstance abuse in women of childbearing age is a major concern because of the potential long-term detrimental effects on the brain function of the fetus following in utero exposure. A battery of established tests, including the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence, Conners’ Continuous Performance Test II, Behavioral Rating Inventory of Executive Function, the CMS Family Pictures and Dot Location tests, the Spatial Span test from the WISC-IV-Integrated, and a recently developed spatial learning and memory measure (Memory Island), was used to assess the effects of prenatal drug exposure on neurobehavioral performance. Participants were 7 to 9 year old children from similar socioeconomic backgrounds who either had (N = 31) or had not (N = 35) been exposed to methamphetamine/polysubstance during pregnancy. Compared to unexposed children, exposed children showed pronounced elevations (i.e. more problems) in parental ratings of executive function, including behavioral regulation and metacognition. Exposed children also exhibited subtle reductions in spatial performance in the Memory Island test. In contrast, IQ, Spatial Span, Family Pictures, Dot Location, and vigilance performance was unaffected by prenatal drug exposure history. Thus, children of women who reported using methamphetamine and other recreational drugs during pregnancy showed a selective profile of abnormalities in parentally rated executive function.
alcohol; learning; neuropsychology; nicotine
SynCAM1 is an adhesion molecule involved in synaptic differentiation and organization. SynCAM1 is also expressed in astroglial cells where it mediates astrocyte-to astrocyte and glial-neuronal adhesive communication. In astrocytes, SynCAM1 is functionally linked to erbB4 receptors, which are involved in the control of both neuronal/glial development and mature neuronal and glial function. Here we report that mice carrying a dominant-negative form of SynCAM1 specifically targeted to astrocytes (termed GFAP-DNSynCAM1 mice) exhibit disrupted diurnal locomotor activity with enhanced and more frequent episodes of activity than control littermates during the day (when the animals are normally sleeping) accompanied by shorter periods of rest. GFAP-DNSynCAM1 mice also display high levels of basal activity in the dark period (the rodent's awake/active time) that are attenuated by the psychostimulant D,L-amphetamine, and reduced anxiety levels in response to both avoidable and unavoidable provoking stimuli. These results indicate that disruption of SynCAM1-dependent astroglial function results in behavioral abnormalities similar to those described in animals model of attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), and suggest a hitherto unappreciated contribution of glial cells to the pathophysiology of this disorder.
We recently reported that in aged female rhesus macaques, spatial learning and memory correlates with circadian sleep-wake measures and hippocampal muscarinic type 1 (M1) receptor binding. To investigate if spatial memory also correlates with measures of immune function, we now assessed the magnitude of the adaptive immune response to vaccination in the same old female rhesus macaques. Cognitively characterized animals were classified as good spatial performers (GSP) or poor spatial performers (PSP) based on performance in the Spatial Foodport maze. The GSP group had higher frequency of CD8, but not CD4, interferon-γ (IFN-γ) producing cells following vaccination compared to the PSP group, suggesting a stronger CD8 T cell response in the GSP group. In addition, the number of CD-8 IFN-γ positive cells correlated with measures of sleep quality. Interestingly, the PSP group had a significantly higher antibody titer compared to the GSP group, and antibody titer negatively correlated with day-time activity. Thus, in aged female rhesus macaques, superior cognitive performance is correlated with a more robust CD8 T cell response but a reduced antibody response to vaccination.
spatial learning and memory; immune senescence; circadian activity
Female mice are more susceptible to radiation-induced cognitive changes than male mice. Previously, we showed that in female mice, androgens antagonize age-related cognitive decline in aged wild-type mice and androgens and selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) antagonize cognitive changes induced by human apolipoprotein E4, a risk factor for developing age-related cognitive decline. In this study, the potential effects of the SARM ACP-105 were assessed in female mice that were either sham-irradiated or irradiated with 137Cesium at a dose of 10 Gy. Behavioral testing started 2 weeks following irradiation. Irradiation impaired sensorimotor function in vehicle-treated mice but not in ACP-105-treated mice. Irradiation impaired cued fear conditioning and ACP-105 enhanced fear conditioning in sham-irradiated and irradiated mice. When immunoreactivity for microtubule-associated protein was assessed in the cortex of sham-irradiated mice, there was a brain area × ACP-105 interaction. While ACP-105 reduced MAP-2 immunoreactivity in the sensorymotor cortex, it increased MAP-2 immunoreactivity in the enthorhinal cortex. No effect on MAP-2 immunoreactivity was seen in the irradiated cortex or sham-irradiated or irradiated hippocampus. Thus, there are relatively early radiation-induced behavioral changes in female mice and reduced MAP-2 levels in the sensorimotor cortex following ACP-105 treatment might contribue to enhanced rotorod performance.
androgen receptor; SARM; fear conditioning; rotorod; MAP-2; synaptophysin
Rett syndrome (RTT) is an X-chromosome-linked autism spectrum disorder caused by loss of function of the transcription factor methyl CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2)1. Although MeCP2 is expressed in most tissues2, loss of MeCP2 results primarily in neurological symptoms1,3,4. Earlier studies propelled the idea that RTT is due exclusively to loss of MeCP2 function in neurons2,4-10. While defective neurons clearly underlie the aberrant behaviors, we and others showed recently that the loss of MeCP2 from glia negatively influences neurons in a non-cell autonomous fashion11-13. Here, we show that in globally MeCP2-deficient mice, re-expression of MeCP2 preferentially in astrocytes significantly improved locomotion and anxiety levels, restored respiratory abnormalities to a normal pattern, and greatly prolonged lifespan compared to globally null mice. Furthermore, restoration of MeCP2 in the mutant astrocytes exerted a non-cell-autonomous positive effect on mutant neurons in vivo, restoring normal dendritic morphology and increasing levels of the excitatory glutamate transporter (VGlut1). Our study shows that glia, like neurons, are integral components of the neuropathology of RTT, and supports targeting glia as a strategy for improving the associated symptoms.
Exposure to uncontrolled irradiation in a radiologic terrorism scenario, a natural disaster or a nuclear battlefield, will likely be concomitantly superimposed on other types of injury, such as trauma. In the central nervous system, radiation combined injury (RCI) involving irradiation and traumatic brain injury may have a multifaceted character. This may entail cellular and molecular changes that are associated with cognitive performance, including changes in neurogenesis and the expression of the plasticity-related immediate early gene Arc. Because traumatic stimuli initiate a characteristic early increase in polyamine metabolism, we hypothesized that treatment with the polyamine inhibitor alpha-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) would reduce the adverse effects of single or combined injury on hippocampus structure and function. Hippocampal dependent cognitive impairments were quantified with the Morris water maze and showed that DFMO effectively reversed cognitive impairments after all injuries, particularly traumatic brain injury. Similar results were seen with respect to the expression of Arc protein, but not neurogenesis. Given that polyamines have been found to modulate inflammatory responses in the brain we also assessed the numbers of total and newly born activated microglia, and found reduced numbers of newly born cells. While the mechanisms responsible for the improvement in cognition after DFMO treatment are not yet clear, the present study provides new and compelling data regarding the potential use of DFMO as a potential countermeasure against the adverse effects of single or combined injury.
The effects of ionizing irradiation on the brain are associated with oxidative stress. While oxidative stress following irradiation is generally viewed as detrimental for hippocampal function, it might have beneficial effects as part of an adaptive or preconditioning response to a subsequent challenge. Here we show that in contrast to what is seen in wild-type mice, irradiation enhances hippocampus-dependent cognitive measures in mice lacking extracellular superoxide dismutase. These outcomes were associated with genotype-dependent effects on measures of oxidative stress. When cortices and hippocampi were analyzed for nitrotyrosine formation as an index of oxidative stress, the levels were chronically elevated in mice lacking extracellular superoxide dismutase. However, irradiation caused a greater increase in nitrotyrosine levels in wild-type mice than mice lacking extracellular superoxide dismutase. These paradoxical genotype-dependent effects of irradiation on measures of oxidative stress and cognitive function underscore potential beneficial effects associated with chronic oxidative stress if it exists prior to a secondary insult such as irradiation.
Apolipoprotein E (apoE) is involved in the risk to develop sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Since impaired central acetylcholine (ACh) function is a hallmark of AD, apoE may influence ACh function by modulating muscarinic ACh receptors (mAChRs). To test this hypothesis, mAChR binding was measured in mice lacking apoE and wild type C57BL/6J mice. Mice were also tested on the pre-pulse inhibition, delay eyeblink classical conditioning, and 5-choice serial reaction time tasks, which are all modulated by ACh transmission. Mice were also given scopolamine to challenge central mAChR function. Compared to wild type mice, mice lacking apoE had reduced number of cortical and hippocampal mAChRs. Scopolamine had a small effect on delay eyeblink classical conditioning in wild type mice but a large effect in mice lacking apoE. Mice lacking apoE were also unable to acquire performance on the 5-choice serial reaction time task. These results support a role for apoE in ACh function and suggest that modulation of cortical and hippocampal mAChRs might contribute to genotype differences in scopolamine sensitivity and task acquisition. Impaired apoE functioning may result in cholinergic deficits that contribute to the cognitive impairments seen in AD.
Acetylcholine; apolipoprotein E; Alzheimer’s disease; muscarinic; stress; attention
Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs), which are coupled to second messenger pathways via G proteins, modulate glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission. Because of their role in modulating neurotransmission, mGluRs are attractive therapeutic targets for anxiety disorders. Previously we showed that mGluR8−/− male mice showed higher measures of anxiety in the open field and elevated plus maze than age-matched wild-type mice. In this study, we assessed the potential effects of acute pharmacological modulation of mGluR8 on measures of avoidable and unavoidable anxiety. In addition to wild-type mice, we also tested apolipoprotein E-deficient (Apoe−/−) mice, as these mice show increased levels of anxiety-like behaviors and therefore might show an altered sensitivity to mGluR8 stimulation. mGluR8 stimulation with the specific agonist DCPG, or modulation with AZ12216052, a new, positive allosteric modulator of mGluR8 reduced measures of anxiety in both wild-type mice. The effects of mGluR8 positive allosteric modulators, which only affect neurotransmission in the presence of extracellular glutamate, seem particularly promising for patients with anxiety disorders showing benzodiazepine insensitivity.
metabotropic; group-III mGluR; allosteric modulator; behavior
Exposure to methamphetamine during brain development impairs cognition in humans and rodents. In mice, these impairments are greater in females than males. Genetic factors, such as apolipoprotein E genotype, may modulate the cognitive effects of methamphetamine. Methamphetamine-induced alterations in the brain acetylcholine system may contribute to the cognitive effects of methamphetamine and may also be modulated by apolipoprotein E isoform. We assessed the long-term effects of methamphetamine exposure during brain development on cognitive function and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in mice, and whether apolipoprotein E isoform modulates these effects. Mice expressing human apolipoprotein E3 or E4 were exposed to methamphetamine (5 mg/kg) or saline once a day from postnatal day 11-20 and behaviorally tested in adulthood. Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor binding was measured in the hippocampus and cortex. Methamphetamine exposure impaired novel location recognition in female, but not male, mice. Methamphetamine-exposed male and female mice showed impaired novel object recognition and increased number of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in the hippocampus. The cognitive and cholinergic effects of methamphetamine were similar in apolipoprotein E3 and E4 mice. Thus, the cholinergic system, but not apolipoprotein E isoform, might play an important role in the long-term methamphetamine-induced cognitive deficits in adulthood.
Methamphetamine; acetylcholine; cognition; hippocampus; apolipoprotein E; mouse
With the rise in methamphetamine use among women of childbearing age, the potential consequences of methamphetamine exposure to the developing brain for cognition in adulthood is a major concern. Histamine might mediate these methamphetamine effects. Following methamphetamine administration in neonatal mice, histamine levels in brain were elevated and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis was activated. Co-administration of methamphetamine with the H3 receptor agonist immepip antagonized these effects. The effects of methamphetamine on histamine levels and on HPA axis activation at P20 were more pronounced in female than male mice. These sex differences could have contributed to the increased susceptibility of female mice to the detrimental long-term cognitive effects of methamphetamine and the H3/H4 antagonist thioperamide. Following behavioral testing, mice neonatally treated with methamphetamine or thioperamide showed reduced levels of the dendritic marker microtubule-associated protein 2 in the CA3 region of the hippocampus and the enthorhinal cortex. This was not seen in mice neonatally treated with immepip and methamphetamine who did not show cognitive impairments, suggesting that these brain areas might be particularly important for the long-term effects of methamphetamine on cognitive function. These data support a role for histamine in the effects of methamphetamine on the developing brain.
MAP-2; methamphetamine; mouse; histamine; sex; HPA axis
Loss of synaptic integrity in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (PFC) may play an integral role in age-related cognitive decline. Previously, we showed age-related increases in the dendritic marker microtubule associated protein 2 (MAP-2) and the synaptic marker synaptophysin (SYN) in mice. Similarly, apolipoprotein E (apoE), involved in lipid transport and metabolism, and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), a glia specific marker, increase with age in rodents. In this study, we assessed whether these four proteins show similar age-related changes in a nonhuman primate, the rhesus macaque. Free-floating sections from the PFC and hippocampus from adult, middle-aged, and aged rhesus macaques were immunohistochemically labeled for MAP-2, SYN, apoE, and GFAP. Protein levels were measured as area occupied by fluorescence using confocal microscopy as well as by Western blot. In the PFC and hippocampus of adult and middle-aged animals, the levels of SYN, apoE, and GFAP immunoreactivity were comparable but there was a trend towards higher MAP-2 levels in middle-aged than adult animals. There was significantly less SYN and more MAP-2, apoE, and GFAP immunoreactivity in the PFC and hippocampus of aged animals compared to adult or middle-aged animals. Thus, the age-related changes in MAP-2, apoE, and GFAP levels were similar to those previously observed in rodents. On the other hand, the age-related changes in SYN levels were not, but were similar to those previously observed in the aging human brain. Taken together, these data emphasize the value of the rhesus macaque as a pragmatic translational model for human brain aging.
Aging; Nonhuman primate; MAP-2; Synaptophysin; apoE
Memory Island (MI) is a human spatial memory assessment, modeled after the Morris water maze, which has been used in adults and the elderly. In this study, we examined whether MI can be used with children and validate the procedure. The objectives of this study were to: 1) examine spatial function with MI in children and 2) determine the associations between MI and other cognitive measures. Seven to ten year old children (N=50) completed MI and a battery of tests of attention, visual-spatial memory, and executive function. Spatial memory, as indicated by the percent time in the target quadrant on MI, was better at age ten relative to ages seven or eight. Target preference also correlated with performance on the Conners’ Continuous Performance Test and Backwards Spatial Span. These findings indicate there is rapid increase in spatial memory between ages nine and ten and that MI is a translational neuroscience paradigm which provides information that complements and extends upon that obtained using other neuropsychological paradigms in children.
attention; behavior; development; human; learning; memory
New neurons are generated in the granule cell layer of the dentate gyrus (GCL) throughout adulthood. This process is modulated by many environmental and neurochemical factors. We previously observed that castrated mice, compared to sham-operated mice, perform poorly in the delayed matching to place water-maze task (DMTP). In this study we quantified the number of doublecortin expressing (DCX+) immature neurons and Ki-67 expressing (Ki-67+) proliferating progenitors in mice previously tested in a spatial DMTP task, a non-spatial DMTP, or that received equivalent amounts of handling only. Regardless of DMTP training experience castration reduced immature neuron number in the GCL but had no effect on proliferating progenitors. Compared to handling only, visible DMTP training reduced the immature neuron number but hidden DMTP training had no effect. Castration did not alter these environmental effects. Finally, performance on the spatial DMTP task did not correlate with immature neuron number. In addition, while the number of immature neurons was strongly reduced following cranial irradiation with 137Cs, this treatment did not affect spatial DMTP performance. Thus, in mice, castration disrupts spatial memory and reduces immature neuron number, but there is no strong link between these effects.
Hippocampus; Spatial Memory; Irradiation; Androgens; Neurogenesis
Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) modulate glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission. mGluR8 is generally located presynaptically where it regulates neurotransmitter release. Previously we reported that 6-month-old mGluR8-/- male mice show higher measures of anxiety in anxiety tests involving avoidable anxiety-provoking stimuli than age-matched wild-type male mice. In wild-type mice, middle-aged females and males show higher measures of anxiety in such tests and reduced spatial learning than young adults. In this study we evaluated in middle-aged mice the effects of mGluR8 deficiency on measures of anxiety involving avoidable and unavoidable anxiety-provoking stimuli and on cognitive performance and whether these effects are sex-dependent. Female and male mGluR8-/- mice showed increased measures of anxiety in the open field. In contrast, male mGluR8-/- mice showed increased but female male mGluR8-/- mice decreased measures of anxiety in the elevated plus maze and the acoustic startle response. mGluR8 deficiency impaired novel location recognition and spatial memory retention in the water maze. The impairment in spatial memory retention in the water maze, but not in novel location recognition, was more pronounced in female than male mice. Thus, potential sex differences in the therapeutic effects of mGluR8 modulation to reduce measures of anxiety and improve cognitive performance should be carefully considered.
water maze; novel location recognition; sex differences; open field; elevated plus maze; acoustic startle
Apolipoprotein E4 (apoE4) and female sex are risk factors for developing Alzheimer's disease. It is unclear whether apoE4 contributes to behavioral function at younger ages. Standard neuropsychological assessments (IQ, attention, executive function) and a test developed in this laboratory (Memory Island test of spatial learning and memory) were used to determine whether E4 and sex affect neuropsychological performance in healthy primary school children (age 7-10). A medical history was also obtained from the mother to determine if negative birth outcomes were associated with apoE4. Mothers of apoE4+ children were more likely to report that their newborn was placed in an Intensive Care Unit. A sex difference in birth weight was noted among apoE4- (males > females), but not apoE4+, offspring. Conversely, among apoE4+, but not apoE4- children, there was a sex difference in the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) Vocabulary score favoring boys. ApoE4- girls had better visual recall than apoE4+ girls or apoE4- boys on the Family Pictures test. Finally, apoE4+, unlike ApoE4-, children did not show spatial memory retention during the Memory Island probe trial. Thus, apoE4 may affect neurobehavioral performance, particularly spatial memory, as well as antenatal health, decades before any clinical expression of neurodegenerative processes.