Intracellular accumulation of amyloid-? (A?) protein has been proposed as an early event in AD pathogenesis. In patients with mild cognitive impairment, intraneuronal A? immunoreactivity was found especially in brain regions critically involved in the cognitive deficits of AD. Although a large body of evidence demonstrates that A?42 accumulates intraneuronally ((in)A?), the action and the role of A?42 buildup on synaptic function have been poorly investigated. Here, we demonstrate that basal synaptic transmission and LTP were markedly depressed following A?42 injection into the neuron through the patch pipette. Control experiments performed with the reverse peptide (A?42-1) allowed us to exclude that the effects of (in)A? depended on changes in oncotic pressure. To further investigate (in)A? synaptotoxicity we used an A? variant harboring oxidized methionine in position 35 that does not cross the neuronal plasma membrane and is not uploaded from the extracellular space. This A?42 variant had no effects on synaptic transmission and plasticity when applied extracellularly, but induced synaptic depression and LTP inhibition after patch-pipette dialysis. Finally, the injection of an antibody raised against human A?42 (6E10) in CA1 pyramidal neurons of mouse hippocampal brain slices and autaptic microcultures did not, per se, significantly affect LTP and basal synaptic transmission, but it protected against the toxic effects of extracellular A?42. Collectively, these findings suggest that A?42-induced impairment of glutamatergic synaptic function depends on its internalization and intracellular accumulation thus paving the way to a systemic proteomic analysis of intracellular targets/partners of A?42.
Modulation of endogenous neurogenesis is regarded as a promising challenge in neuroprotection. In the rat model of hippocampal neurodegeneration obtained by Trimethyltin (TMT) administration (8 mg/kg), characterised by selective pyramidal cell loss, enhanced neurogenesis, seizures and cognitive impairment, we previously demonstrated a proliferative role of exogenous neuropeptide Y (NPY), on dentate progenitors in the early phases of neurodegeneration. To investigate the functional integration of newly-born neurons, here we studied in adult rats the long-term effects of intracerebroventricular administration of NPY (2 µg/2 µl, 4 days after TMT-treatment), which plays an adjuvant role in neurodegeneration and epilepsy. Our results indicate that 30 days after NPY administration the number of new neurons was still higher in TMT+NPY-treated rats than in control+saline group. As a functional correlate of the integration of new neurons into the hippocampal network, long-term potentiation recorded in Dentate Gyrus (DG) in the absence of GABAA receptor blockade was higher in the TMT+NPY-treated group than in all other groups. Furthermore, qPCR analysis of Kruppel-like factor 9, a transcription factor essential for late-phase maturation of neurons in the DG, and of the cyclin-dependent kinase 5, critically involved in the maturation and dendrite extension of newly-born neurons, revealed a significant up-regulation of both genes in TMT+NPY-treated rats compared with all other groups. To explore the early molecular events activated by NPY administration, the Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) signalling pathway, which participates in the maintenance of the neurogenic hippocampal niche, was evaluated by qPCR 1, 3 and 5 days after NPY-treatment. An early significant up-regulation of Shh expression was detected in TMT+NPY-treated rats compared with all other groups, associated with a modulation of downstream genes. Our data indicate that the neurogenic effect of NPY administration during TMT-induced neurodegeneration involves early Shh pathway activation and results in a functional integration of newly-generated neurons into the local circuit.
Cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) channels are nonselective cation channels activated by cyclic AMP (cAMP) or cyclic GMP (cGMP). They were originally identified in retinal and olfactory receptors, but evidence has also emerged for their expression in several mammalian brain areas. Because cGMP and cAMP control important aspects of glial cell physiology, we wondered whether CNG channels are expressed in astrocytes, the most functionally relevant glial cells in the CNS. Immunoblot and immunofluorescence experiments demonstrated expression of the CNG channel olfactory-type A subunit, CNGA2, in cultured rat cortical astrocytes. In patch-clamp experiments, currents elicited in these cells by voltage ramps from -100 to +100 mV in the presence of the cGMP analogue, dB-cGMP, were significantly reduced by the CNG channel blockers, L-cis-diltiazem (LCD) and Cd(2+) . The reversal potentials of the LCD- and Cd(2+) -sensitive currents were more positive than that of K(+) , as expected for a mixed cation current. Noninactivating, voltage-independent currents were also elicited by extracellular application of the membrane permeant cGMP analogue, 8-Br-cGMP. These effects were blocked by LCD and were mimicked by natriuretic peptide receptor activation and inhibition of phosphodiesterase activity. Voltage-independent, LCD-sensitive currents were also elicited by 8-Br-cGMP in astrocytes of hippocampal and neocortical brain slices. Immunohistochemistry confirmed a broad distribution of CNG channels in astrocytes of the rat forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain. These findings suggest that CNG channels are downstream targets of cyclic nucleotides in astrocytes, and they may be involved in the glial-mediated regulation of CNS functions under physiological and pathological conditions.
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