We studied some of the characteristics of the improving effect of the non-specific adenosine receptor antagonist, caffeine, using an animal model of learning and memory. Groups of 12 adult male Wistar rats receiving caffeine (0.3-30 mg/kg, ip, in 0.1 ml/100 g body weight) administered 30 min before training, immediately after training, or 30 min before the test session were tested in the spatial version of the Morris water maze task. Post-training administration of caffeine improved memory retention at the doses of 0.3-10 mg/kg (the rats swam up to 600 cm less to find the platform in the test session, P£0.05) but not at the dose of 30 mg/kg. Pre-test caffeine administration also caused a small increase in memory retrieval (the escape path of the rats was up to 500 cm shorter, P£0.05). In contrast, pre-training caffeine administration did not alter the performance of the animals either in the training or in the test session. These data provide evidence that caffeine improves memory retention but not memory acquisition, explaining some discrepancies among reports in the literature. Correspondence
Studies of callosal projections in striate cortex show that the retina is involved in the development of topographical connections. In normal animals callosal fibers connect retinotopically corresponding, nonmirror-symmetric cortical loci, whereas in animals bilaterally enucleated at birth, callosal fibers connect topographically mismatched, mirror-symmetric loci. Moreover, in rodents the overall pattern of visual callosal connections is adult-like by postnatal day 12 (P12). In this study we delayed the onset of retinal deafferentation in rats and mice in order to determine the period when retinal influences are critically needed for the development of retinotopically matched callosal linkages. Callosal maps were revealed by placing small injections of retrogradely and anterogradely transported tracers into different loci of lateral striate cortex. We found that the patterns of callosal linkages in rats enucleated at P12, P8, and P6 were nonmirror-symmetric, as in normally reared rats. In contrast, the patterns of linkages in rats enucleated at P4 closely resembled the mirror-symmetric pattern seen in rats enucleated at birth (P0). A similar reversal in topography (from symmetric to nonsymmetric) occurred in mice when enucleation was delayed from P4 to P6. These findings indicate that retinal input prior to P6, but not prior to P4, is sufficient for specifying normal callosal topography. Moreover, they suggest that development of retinotopically matched callosal linkages depends critically on retinal influences during a brief period between P4 and P6, when callosal connections are still very immature.
Most estrogen-based hormone therapies are administered in combination with a progestogen, such as Levonorgestrel (Levo). Individually, the estrogen 17β-estradiol (E2) and Levo can improve cognition in preclinical models. However, although these hormones are often given together clinically, the impact of the E2 + Levo combination on cognitive function has yet to be methodically examined. Thus, we investigated E2 + Levo treatment on a cognitive battery in middle-aged, ovariectomized rats. When administered alone, E2 and Levo treatments each enhanced spatial working memory relative to vehicle treatment, whereas the E2 + Levo combination impaired high working memory load performance relative to E2 only and Levo only treatments. There were no effects on spatial reference memory. Mitogen-activated protein kinases/extracellular signal-regulated kinases pathway activation, which is involved in memory formation and estrogen-induced memory effects, was evaluated in 5 brain regions implicated in learning and memory. A distinct relationship was seen in the E2-only treatment group between mitogen-activated protein kinases/extracellular signal-regulated kinases pathway activation in the frontal cortex and working memory performance. Collectively, the results indicate that the differential neurocognitive effects of combination versus sole treatments are vital considerations as we move forward as a field to develop novel, and to understand currently used, exogenous hormone regimens across the lifespan.
Background 5-HT1B autoreceptors regulate release of serotonin from terminals of dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) projections. 5-HT1B expression in the DRN correlates with behavioral measures of emotion, and viral-mediated overexpression of 5-HT1B receptors in the middle DRN reduces measures of fear and anxiety in unstressed rats. Since the caudal subregion of the DRN is important in translating stress into emotional dysregulation, we explored behavioral functions of 5-HT1B autoreceptors in the caudal DRN. Methods We manipulated 5-HT1B autoreceptor function in rats using either viral-mediated gene transfer into the caudal DRN or systemic injections of the 5-HT1B agonist 3-(1,2,5,6-tetrahydro-4-pyridyl)-5-propoxypyrrolo[3,2-b]pyridine (CP-94,253). Rats were tested in forced swim test, open field test, and contextual fear conditioning. Results 5-HT1B overexpression in the caudal DRN increased swimming in the forced swim test. It did not alter locomotion or thigmotaxis in the open field test, but did reduce conditioned freezing. Freezing was reduced when 5-HT1B overexpression was present only during testing, but not training. CP-94,253 exerted an inverted U-shaped dose response curve on conditioned freezing, with most pronounced effects seen at 1 mg/kg. At this dose, CP-94,253 administered before a fear retention test reduced freezing both during that session and in subsequent drug-free testing, but only when drug was paired with re-exposure to the fear context. Conclusions 5-HT1B autoreceptors originating in the caudal DRN regulate behavioral expression of helplessness and fear. Since systemic pharmacological treatment with a 5-HT1B agonist facilitates reductions in fear, 5-HT1B receptors may be a target for the treatment of certain anxiety disorders.
The clinical use of synthetic glucocorticoids in preterm infants to promote lung development has received considerable attention due to the potential for increased risk of developing metabolic disease in adulthood after such treatment. In this study, we examined the hypothesis that exposure to the synthetic glucocorticoid, dexamethasone (DEX), during late gestation in the rat results in the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in adult offspring. Pregnant Sprague Dawley dams were treated with 0.4 mg/kg DEX beginning on gestational d 18 until parturition (gestational d 23). At postnatal d 21, offspring were weaned onto either a standard chow or high-fat (60% fat-derived calories) diet. In adulthood (postnatal d 60-65), hepatic tissue was harvested and examined for pathology. Liver steatosis, or fat accumulation, was found to be more severe in the DEX-exposed female offspring that were weaned onto the high-fat diet. This finding corresponded with decreased plasma IGF-I concentrations, as well as decreased hypothalamic expression of GHRH mRNA. Morphological measurements on body and long bone length further implicate a GH signaling deficit after fetal DEX exposure. Collectively, these data indicate suppression of GH axis function in the female DEX/high-fat cohort but not in the male offspring. Because deficits in the GH signaling can be linked to the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, our results suggest that the prominent liver injury noted in female offspring exposed to DEX during late gestation may stem from abnormal development of the GH axis at the hypothalamic level.
Exposure to glucocorticoids (GCs) in early development can lead to long-term changes in brain function and behavior although little is known about the underlying neural mechanisms. Perinatal exposure to GCs alters adult anxiety and neuroendocrine responses to stress. Therefore, we investigated the effects of either late gestational or neonatal exposure to the GC receptor agonist dexamethasone (DEX), on apoptosis within the amygdala, a region critical for emotional regulation. DEX was administered to timed-pregnant rat dams from gestational day 18 until parturition, or postnatal day 4-6. Offspring were sacrificed the day following the last DEX treatment and tissue was processed for immunohistochemical detection of cleaved caspase-3, a marker for apoptotic cells. Prenatal DEX treatment significantly increased the number of cleaved caspase-3 positive cells in the amygdala of both sexes, largely due to increases within the medial and basomedial sub-regions. Postnatal DEX treatment also increased cleaved caspase-3 immunoreactivity within the amygdala, although effects reached significance only in the central nucleus of females. Overall, DEX induction of cleaved caspase-3 in the amygdala was greater following prenatal compared to postnatal treatment, yet in both instances elevations in cleaved caspase-3 correlated with an increase in pro-apoptotic Bax mRNA expression. Dual-label immunohistochemistry of cleaved caspase-3 and the neuronal marker NeuN confirmed that virtually all cleaved caspase-3 positive cells in the amygdala were neurons and a subset of these cells (primarily following postnatal treatment) expressed a GABAergic calcium binding protein phenotype (calbindin or calretinin). Together these results indicate that early developmental GC exposure induces neuronal apoptosis within the amygdala in an age, sex, and region dependent manner.
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