Dysfunctional mesocorticolimbic dopamine signaling has been linked to alterations in motor and reward-based functions associated with psychiatric disorders. Converging evidence from patients with psychiatric disorders and use of antipsychotics suggests that imbalance of dopamine signaling deeply alters hippocampal functions. However, given the lack of full characterization of a functional mesohippocampal pathway, the precise role of dopamine transmission in memory deficits associated with these disorders and their dedicated therapies is unknown. In particular, the positive outcome of antipsychotic treatments, commonly antagonizing D2 dopamine receptors (D2Rs), on cognitive deficits and memory impairments remains questionable.
Perturbations in the perinatal environment have been shown to significantly alter mesolimbic dopamine (DA) and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) responses to stressors in adulthood. We have previously demonstrated that adult offspring exposed to high fat during the last week of gestation and throughout lactation display permanent alterations in mesolimbic DA function and behavior. The goal of the present study was to investigate nucleus accumbens (NAc) DA and HPA responses to acute and repeated stress in high fat exposed (HFD, 30% fat) and control (CD, 5% fat) offspring. Using microdialysis to monitor extracellular DA, we report that adult HFD offspring show an enhanced NAc DA response to acute tail-pinch compared to CD offspring. With repeated tail-pinch, the response of the HFD animals remains unchanged while CD offspring exhibit a sensitized DA response. The pattern of the DA response to both acute and repeated stress is also significantly altered by early diet exposure with an earlier peak and faster return to baseline levels in CD compared with HFD offspring. Similarly, neuroendocrine adaptations to repeated tail-pinch are observed in CD animals, but not in HFD animals. While controls display a habituated adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) response to repeated tail-pinch, and an exacerbated ACTH response to a novel stressor, this effect was not observed in the HFD offspring. Together, our data demonstrate that exposure to high fat during early development impairs adaptations in NAc DA and HPA responses usually observed with repeated stress.
Glutamate in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) plays a significant role in several mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, addiction and anxiety. Previous studies on PFC glutamate-mediated function have used techniques that raise questions on the neuronal versus astrocytic origin of glutamate. The present studies used enzyme-based microelectrode arrays to monitor second-by-second resting glutamate levels in the PFC of awake rats. Locally applied drugs were employed in an attempt to discriminate between the neuronal or glial components of the resting glutamate signal. Local application of tetrodotoxin (sodium channel blocker), produced a significant (? 40%) decline in resting glutamate levels. In addition significant reductions in extracellular glutamate were seen with locally applied ?-conotoxin (MVIIC; ? 50%; calcium channel blocker), and the mGluR(2/3) agonist, LY379268 (? 20%), and a significant increase with the mGluR(2/3) antagonist LY341495 (? 40%), effects all consistent with a large neuronal contribution to the resting glutamate levels. Local administration of D,L-threo-?-benzyloxyaspartate (glutamate transporter inhibitor) produced an ? 120% increase in extracellular glutamate levels, supporting that excitatory amino acid transporters, which are largely located on glia, modulate clearance of extracellular glutamate. Interestingly, local application of (S)-4-carboxyphenylglycine (cystine/glutamate antiporter inhibitor), produced small, non-significant bi-phasic changes in extracellular glutamate versus vehicle control. Finally, pre-administration of tetrodotoxin completely blocked the glutamate response to tail pinch stress. Taken together, these results support that PFC resting glutamate levels in rats as measured by the microelectrode array technology are at least 40-50% derived from neurons. Furthermore, these data support that the impulse flow-dependent glutamate release from a physiologically -evoked event is entirely neuronally derived.
While stressors are known to increase medial prefrontal cortex (PFC) glutamate (GLU) levels, the mechanism(s) subserving this response remain to be elucidated. We used microdialysis and local drug applications to investigate, in male Long-Evans rats, whether the PFC GLU stress response might reflect increased interhemispheric communication by callosal projection neurons. We report here that tail-pinch stress (20 min) elicited comparable increases in GLU in the left and right PFC that were sodium and calcium dependent and insensitive to local glial cystine-GLU exchanger blockade. Unilateral ibotenate-induced PFC lesions abolished the GLU stress response in the opposite hemisphere, as did contralateral mGlu(2/3) receptor activation. Local dopamine (DA) D(1) receptor blockade in the left PFC potently enhanced the right PFC GLU stress response, whereas the same treatment applied to the right PFC had a much weaker effect on the left PFC GLU response. Finally, the PFC GLU stress response was attenuated and potentiated, respectively, following alpha(1)-adrenoreceptor blockade and GABA(B) receptor activation in the opposite hemisphere. These findings indicate that the PFC GLU stress response reflects, at least in part, activation of callosal neurons located in the opposite hemisphere and that stress-induced activation of these neurons is regulated by GLU-, DA-, norepinephrine-, and GABA-sensitive mechanisms. In the case of DA, this control is asymmetrical, with a marked regulatory bias of the left PFC DA input over the right PFC GLU stress response. Together, these findings suggest that callosal neurons and their afferentation play an important role in the hemispheric specialization of PFC-mediated responses to stressors.
Variations in maternal behavior among lactating rats associate with differences in estrogen-oxytocin interactions in the medial preoptic area (mPOA) and in dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens (nAcc). Thus, stable, individual differences in pup licking/grooming (LG) are abolished by oxytocin receptor blockade or treatments that eliminate differences in the nAcc dopamine signal. We provide novel evidence for a direct effect of oxytocin at the level of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) in the regulation of nAcc dopamine levels. Mothers that exhibit consistently increased pup LG (i.e. high LG mothers) by comparison with low LG mothers show increased oxytocin expression in the mPOA and the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus and increased projections of oxytocin-positive cells from both mPOA and paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus to the VTA. Direct infusion of oxytocin into the VTA increased the dopamine signal in the nAcc. Finally, high compared with low LG mothers show greater increases in dopamine signal in the nAcc during bouts of pup LG, and this difference is abolished with infusions of an oxytocin receptor antagonist directly into the VTA. These studies reveal a direct effect of oxytocin on dopamine release within the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system and are consistent with previous reports of oxytocin-dopamine interactions in the establishment and maintenance of social bonds.
Recent studies have implicated alterations in the expression of polyamine-related genes in the brains of suicide completers including widespread downregulation of spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase, the key enzyme in polyamine catabolism, suggesting compensatory mechanisms attempting to increase brain levels of polyamines. Given the complexity of the polyamine system, quantification of the levels of the polyamines is an essential step in understanding the downstream effects of dysregulated gene expression. We developed a method using high-resolution capillary gas chromatography (GC) in combination with mass spectrometry (MS) for quantitation of polyamines from post-mortem brain tissue, which allowed us to accurately measure spermidine and putrescine concentrations in post-mortem brain tissues. Using this method, we analyzed putrescine and spermidine levels in a total of 126 samples from Brodmann areas 4, 8/9, and 11, from 42 subjects, comprising 16 suicide completers with major depression, 13 non-depressed suicide completers, and 13 control subjects. Both putrescine and spermidine levels fell within the expected nanomolar ranges and were significantly elevated in the brain of suicide completers with a history of major depression as compared with controls. These results were not accounted by possible confounders. This is the first GC-MS study to analyze the expression of putrescine and spermidine from post-mortem brain tissue and confirms the hypothesis raised by previous studies indicating alterations in putrescine and spermidine levels in suicide/major depression.
Most studies investigating the neurobiology of depression and suicide have focused on the serotonergic system. While it seems clear that serotonergic alterations play a role in the pathogenesis of these major public health problems, dysfunction in additional neurotransmitter systems and other molecular alterations may also be implicated. Microarray expression studies are excellent screening tools to generate hypotheses about additional molecular processes that may be at play. In this study we investigated brain regions that are known to be implicated in the neurobiology of suicide and major depression are likely to represent valid global molecular alterations.
Although most of the effort to understand the neurobiology of depressive states and suicide has focused on neuronal processes, recent studies suggest that astroglial dysfunction may play an important role. A truncated variant of the tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB.T1) is expressed in astrocytes, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor-TrkB signaling has been linked to mood disorders.
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