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BACKGROUND - Aversive olfactory classical conditioning has been the standard method to assess Drosophila learning and memory behavior for decades, yet training and testing are conducted manually under exceedingly labor-intensive conditions. To overcome this severe limitation, a fully automated, inexpensive system has been developed, which allows accurate and efficient Pavlovian associative learning/memory analyses for high-throughput pharmacological and genetic studies.
NEW METHOD - The automated system employs a linear actuator coupled to an odorant T-maze with airflow-mediated transfer of animals between training and testing stages. Odorant, airflow and electrical shock delivery are automatically administered and monitored during training trials. Control software allows operator-input variables to define parameters of Drosophila learning, short-term memory and long-term memory assays.
RESULTS - The approach allows accurate learning/memory determinations with operational fail-safes. Automated learning indices (immediately post-training) and memory indices (after 24h) are comparable to traditional manual experiments, while minimizing experimenter involvement.
COMPARISON WITH EXISTING METHODS - The automated system provides vast improvements over labor-intensive manual approaches with no experimenter involvement required during either training or testing phases. It provides quality control tracking of airflow rates, odorant delivery and electrical shock treatments, and an expanded platform for high-throughput studies of combinational drug tests and genetic screens. The design uses inexpensive hardware and software for a total cost of ∼$500US, making it affordable to a wide range of investigators.
CONCLUSIONS - This study demonstrates the design, construction and testing of a fully automated Drosophila olfactory classical association apparatus to provide low-labor, high-fidelity, quality-monitored, high-throughput and inexpensive learning and memory behavioral assays.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
The G-protein activated, inward-rectifying potassium (K(+)) channels, "GIRKs", are a family of ion channels (Kir3.1-Kir3.4) that has been the focus of intense research interest for nearly two decades. GIRKs are comprised of various homo- and heterotetrameric combinations of four different subunits. These subunits are expressed in different combinations in a variety of regions throughout the central nervous system and in the periphery. The body of GIRK research implicates GIRK in processes as diverse as controlling heart rhythm, to effects on reward/addiction, to modulation of response to analgesics. Despite years of GIRK research, very few tools exist to selectively modulate GIRK channels' activity and until now no tools existed that potently and selectively activated GIRKs. Here we report the development and characterization of the first truly potent, effective, and selective GIRK activator, ML297 (VU0456810). We further demonstrate that ML297 is active in two in vivo models of epilepsy, a disease where up to 40% of patients remain with symptoms refractory to present treatments. The development of ML297 represents a truly significant advancement in our ability to selectively probe GIRK's role in physiology as well as providing the first tool for beginning to understand GIRK's potential as a target for a diversity of therapeutic indications.
Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is a neuronal immediate early gene that is regulated by N-methyl d aspartate (NMDA) receptor activity. COX-2 enzymatic activity catalyzes the first committed step in prostaglandin synthesis. Recent studies demonstrate an emerging role for the downstream PGE(2) EP2 receptor in diverse models of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity and a significant function in models of neurological disease including cerebral ischemia, Familial Alzheimer's disease, and Familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Little is known, however, about the normal function of the EP2 receptor in behavior and cognition. Here we report that deletion of the EP2 receptor leads to significant cognitive deficits in standard tests of fear and social memory. EP2-/- mice also demonstrated impaired prepulse inhibition (PPI) and heightened anxiety, but normal startle reactivity, exploratory behavior, and spatial reference memory. This complex behavioral phenotype of EP2-/- mice was associated with a deficit in long-term depression (LTD) in hippocampus. Our findings suggest that PGE(2) signaling via the EP2 receptors plays an important role in cognitive and emotional behaviors that recapitulate some aspects of human psychopathology related to schizophrenia.
Previous studies indicate that the endocannabinoid system is a potential target for the treatment of depression. To further examine this question we assessed the effects of electroconvulsive shock (ECS) treatment, both a single session and 10 daily sessions, on endocannabinoid content, CB(1) receptor binding parameters and CB(1) receptor-mediated [(35)S]GTPgammaS binding in the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, hypothalamus and amygdala. A single ECS session resulted in a general reduction in the binding affinity of the CB(1) receptor in all brain regions examined, as well as reductions in N-arachidonylethanolamine (anandamide) content in the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, reduced hydrolysis of anandamide by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) in the prefrontal cortex and an increase in the binding site density of the CB(1) receptor in the amygdala. Following 10 ECS sessions, all these effects subsided except for the reductions in anandamide content in the prefrontal cortex, which increased in magnitude, as well as the reductions in FAAH activity in the prefrontal cortex. Additionally, repeated ECS treatment resulted in a significant reduction in the binding site density of the CB(1) receptor in the prefrontal cortex, but did not alter CB(1) receptor-mediated [(35)S]GTPgammaS binding. Repeated ECS treatment also significantly enhanced the sensitivity of CB(1) receptor-mediated [(35)S]GTPgammaS binding in the amygdala. Collectively, these data demonstrate that ECS treatment results in a down-regulation of cortical and an up-regulation of subcortical endocannabinoid activity, illustrating the possibility that the role of the endocannabinoid system in affective illness may be both complex and regionally specific.
BACKGROUND - Reductions in cell number are found within the medial prefrontal cortex (PFC) in major depression and bipolar disorder, conditions for which electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a highly effective treatment. We investigated whether electroconvulsive seizure (ECS) in rats stimulates cellular proliferation in the PFC immediately and four weeks after the treatments. In parallel, we examined if ECS also alters the expression of Sprouty2 (SPRY2), an inhibitor of cell proliferation.
METHODS - Sprague-Dawley rats received 10 days of ECS treatments and bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) injections. After a four week survival period, we estimated the density and number of BrdU-, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA)-, and SPRY2-immunoreactive cells in the medial (infralimbic) PFC (ILPFC). We also determined the percentage of BrdU-labeled cells that were immunoreactive for markers specific to oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, endothelial cells and neurons.
RESULTS - ECS dramatically enhanced the proliferation of new cells in the infralimbic PFC, and this effect persisted four weeks following the treatments. The percentage of new cells expressing oligodendrocyte precursor cell markers increased slightly following ECS. In contrast, ECS dramatically reduced the number of cells expressing SPRY2.
CONCLUSIONS - ECS stimulates long-lasting increases in glial proliferation within the ILPFC. ECS also decreases SPRY2 expression in the same region, an effect that might contribute to increased glial proliferation.
The paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus (PVT) is a midline thalamic nucleus that responds strongly to exposure to various stressors. Many of the projection targets of PVT neurons, including the medial prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, and central/basolateral nuclei of the amygdala, are also activated by stress. We sought to determine if PVT neurons that respond to stress are those that project to one or more of these forebrain sites. Retrograde tract tracing combined with immunohistochemical detection of Fos protein-like immunoreactivity was used to assess the activation of target-specific populations of PVT projection neurons by mild footshock stress in the rat. Stress markedly increased Fos protein-like immunoreactivity in PVT neurons, but without regard to the projection target of the thalamic neurons. Thus, the percentage of PVT cells that were retrogradely labeled from either the prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, or amygdala, and that expressed Fos-like immunoreactivity did not differ substantially across the three forebrain sites. These data suggest that the PVT may have a role as a generalized relay for information relating to stress, and may serve an important role in the stress-induced activation of limbic forebrain areas.
Rat brains were imaged after cortical electroshock pulse trains (1 ms pulses at 100 Hz) of varying durations (0.1-10 s), with diffusion-weighted echo planar imaging sequences at 2.0 T. The apparent water diffusion coefficient (ADC) decreased after either single or repeat electroshock trains. ADC reductions were observed within 6 s after the first shock. The size of the affected area of the brain increased in subsequent images during the 1st min after a 10-pulse (0.1 s) train, and also increased with the duration of electroshock trains. ADC reduction was reproducible in extent and time course after single 10-shock trains and was reversible. In the affected pixels the mean ADC reduction was 4% for a single shock train (0.1 s), and 7-8% for trains repeated once a minute, independent of electroshock train duration. The results indicate that neuronal activity associated with electrostimulation may be monitored with water diffusion measurements, and they may be useful for measuring the severity of seizure activity in patients with medically intractable epilepsy.
The apparent diffusion coefficient of brain water was decreased by frontal cortical electroshock, usually but not always associated with brief epileptic afterdischarge detectable at the parietal cortex. Previous studies have shown that status epilepticus causes similar larger decreases, which are largely reversible by the termination of seizure discharge with pentobarbital. Cerebral blood flow is elevated in these conditions, and biochemical energy failure does not occur. The brain water diffusion coefficient also decreases in spreading depression, without depletion of energy stores. All of these findings may be due in part to the reduction of brain extracellular space caused by cell swelling, which occurs to some degree in all three conditions. However, major biological differences between brain activation and brain ischemia and new evidence for increased cytosolic viscosity in the latter both suggest that other mechanisms deserve further investigation. Use-dependent motility of dendritic spines and other phenomena that may allow direct detection of neural activity by diffusion-weighted NMR imaging are of special interest.
The effects of stress on dopamine (DA) metabolism in the mesencephalic DA cell body areas and DA terminal field regions were examined. Both mild footshock stress and exposure to a neutral stimulus previously paired with footshock resulted in a selective increase in the levels of the DA metabolite 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) in the prefrontal cortex as has been previously reported. Footshock stress also resulted in a slight but significant increase in DOPAC levels in the olfactory tubercles. DOPAC levels were selectively increased in the A10 cell body area (ventral tegmental area) but not A9 region (substantia nigra) by both footshock and the conditioned stress paradigm. These data indicate that the cell bodies of origin of the mesocortical dopaminergic system are activated by stress in contrast to those DA neurons innervating the striatum. It appears that mesocortical dopaminergic neurons exhibit different regulatory features than mesolimbic or nigrostriatal neurons.