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Inhalation anesthetics are reported to affect cognition in both animals and humans. The influence of inhalation anesthetics in learning and memory are contradictory. We therefore investigated the effects of sevoflurane anesthesia with different durations on cognitive performance and the levels of NMDA receptor subunit NR2B, phosphorylated ERK1/2 (p-ERK1/2) and activated caspase3 in mouse hippocampus. We anaesthetized eight-week old male C57BL/6 mice with 2.5% sevoflurane for durations ranging from one to four hours. Non-anaesthetized mice served as controls. Mice exposed to sevoflurane for one to three hours showed improved performance, whereas mice with exposure up to four hours displayed similar behavioral performance as control group. NR2B was increased both at 24h and at two weeks post sevoflurane exposure in all groups. The p-ERK1/2: total ERK1/2 ratio increased at 24h in all anesthesia groups. The ratio remained elevated at two weeks in groups with two- to four-hour exposure. Activated caspase3 was detected elevated at 24h in groups with two- to four-hour exposure. The elevated trend of activated caspase3 was still detectable at two weeks in groups with three- to four-hour exposure. At two weeks post anesthesia, the typical morphology associated with apoptotic cells was observed in the hippocampus of mice exposed to four hours of sevoflurane. Our results indicate that 2.5% sevoflurane exposure for one to three hours improved spatial cognitive performance in young adult mice. The cognitive improvement might be related to the increase of NR2B, the p-ERK1/2: total ERK1/2 ratio in hippocampus. However, exposure to sevoflurane for four hours caused neurotoxicity due to caspase3 activation and apoptosis.
Dopamine (DA) is a catecholamine neurotransmitter that regulates many aspects of motivated behavior in animals. Extracellular DA is highly regulated by the presynaptic high-affinity dopamine transporter (DAT), and drug- or genetically induced deficiencies in DAT function result in loss of DA reuptake. Mice in which DAT expression has been ablated have been previously proposed to be a relevant model of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and have led to mechanistic insights regarding psychostimulant drug actions. However, very little previous work has emphasized the biobehavioral development of DAT-deficient mice. We therefore examined motoric, emotional and cognitive phenotypes in preadolescent (P22-26) DAT mutant mice. Consistent with previous reports in adult DAT(-/-) mice, we observed a hyperlocomotive phenotype in preadolescent mice across multiple assays. Somewhat surprisingly, spatial working memory in a Y-maze appeared intact, suggesting that cognitive phenotypes may emerge relatively late in development following hyperdopaminergia. Anxiety levels appeared to be reduced in DAT(-/-) mice, as defined by elevated plus maze and light-dark preference assays. No significant differences were observed between wild-type and heterozygous mice, suggesting a minimal impact of DAT haploinsufficiency on neurobehavioral status. Taken together, these data for the first time establish behavioral phenotypes of DAT mutant mice during development and suggest complex developmental stage-dependent effects of DA signaling on cognitive and emotional behaviors.
Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.
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.
The effects of abnormally high or low stress on learning are well established. The Barnes maze and Morris water maze are two commonly used tests of spatial memory, of which the water maze is considered more stressful; however, until now this has not been demonstrated empirically. In the present study, mice matched for performance on commonly used anxiety tasks were trained on either the Barnes maze or water maze or received no cognitive testing. Water-maze training induced greater increases in plasma corticosterone than did Barnes maze training, assessed 30 min after the final session. Importantly, spatial learning was inversely correlated with corticosterone levels in the water maze but not the Barnes maze, suggesting that performance on the water maze may be more affected by test-induced stress even within wild-type subjects of the same age and gender. These findings are important when considering the appropriate cognitive tasks for any experiment in which stress responses may differ systematically across groups.
Subregional analyses of the hippocampus suggest CA1-dependent memory processes rely heavily upon interactions between the CA1 subregion and entorhinal cortex. There is evidence that the direct perforant path (pp) projection to CA1 is selectively modulated by dopamine while having little to no effect on the Schaffer collateral (SC) projection to CA1. The current study takes advantage of this pharmacological dissociation to demonstrate that local infusion of the non-selective dopamine agonist, apomorphine (10, 15 microg), into the CA1 subregion of awake animals produces impairments in working memory at intermediate (5 min), but not short-term (10 s) delays within a delayed non-match-to-place task on a radial arm maze. Sustained impairments were also found in a novel context with similar object-space relationships. Infusion of apomorphine into CA1 is also shown here to produce deficits in spatial, but not non-spatial novelty detection within an object exploration paradigm. In contrast, apomorphine produces no behavioral deficits when infused into the CA3 subregion or overlying cortex. These behavioral studies are supported by previous electrophysiological data that demonstrate local infusion of the same doses of apomorphine significantly modifies evoked responses in the distal dendrites of CA1 following angular bundle stimulation, but produces no significant effects in the proximal dendritic layer following stimulation of the SC. These results support a modulatory role for dopamine in EC-CA1, but not CA3-CA1 circuitry, and suggest the possibility of a fundamental role for EC-CA1 synaptic transmission in terms of detection of spatial novelty, and intermediate-term, but not short-term spatial working memory or object-novelty detection.
Gonadal steroid effects during puberty are often hypothesized to account for the male advantage seen in certain spatial tasks. One spatial task where males consistently show better performance than females is the Morris Water Task in which subjects must navigate to a goal location in a pool. We examined whether sex differences exist in pre-pubertal children completing a Virtual Morris Water Task, which has previously shown strong sex differences in adults. Pre-pubertal boys show superior performance to similar-aged girls, as evidenced by shorter latencies to find the platform and stronger preferences for the platform location during a probe trial. These results suggest that sex differences in spatial learning and memory exist prior to puberty and do not appear to require the effects of sex hormones at puberty. Rather, these differences may reflect early-life hormonal effects on hippocampal-dependent processes and may suggest different preferential learning strategies by boys and girls.
Mice co-expressing the Swedish amyloid precursor protein mutation (APP(Swe)) and exon 9 deletion (DeltaE9) of the PSEN1 gene begin to develop amyloid plaques at 6-7 months of age. We demonstrate here a spatial learning deficit in 7-month-old APP(Swe) + PSEN1DeltaE9 bigenic mice using an adaptation of the Barnes maze. Mice were first trained on a cued target followed by a hidden-target condition. Although bigenic mice quickly learned the cued-target version of the task, they were significantly impaired when switched to the hidden-target version. In contrast, a separate group of double-transgenic mice trained first on the spatial hidden-target version of the task were unimpaired relative to wild-type controls. We propose that processes such as general rule learning, context learning and exploratory habituation exert a greater influence when the testing environment is novel and overshadow the spatial memory deficit in naive bigenic mice. However, when cued-target training is conducted first, these processes habituate and the spatial learning deficit is unmasked. Seven-month-old APP(Swe) + PSEN1DeltaE9 mice were unimpaired on tests of memory that did not involve learning the rules governing spatial associations.
The Barnes maze is a spatial memory task that requires subjects to learn the position of a hole that can be used to escape the brightly lit, open surface of the maze. Two experiments assessed the relative importance of spatial (extra-maze) versus proximal visible cues in solving the maze. In Experiment 1, four groups of mice were trained either with or without a discrete visible cue marking the location of the escape hole, which was either in a fixed or variable location across trials. In Experiment 2, all mice were trained with the discrete visible cue marking the target hole location. Two groups were identical to the cued-target groups from Experiment 1, with either fixed or variable escape locations. For these mice, the discrete cue either was the sole predictor of the target location or was perfectly confounded with the spatial extra-maze cues. The third group also used a cued variable target, but a curtain was drawn around the maze to prevent the use of spatial cues to guide navigation. Probe trials with all escape holes blocked were conducted to dissociate the use of spatial and discrete proximal cues. We conclude that the Barnes maze can be solved efficiently using spatial, visual cue, or serial-search strategies. However, mice showed a strong preference for using the distal room cues, even when a discrete visible cue clearly marked the escape location. Importantly, these data show that the cued-target control version of the Barnes maze as typically conducted does not dissociate spatial from nonspatial abilities.
Cholinergic neurons elaborate a hemicholinium-3 (HC-3) sensitive choline transporter (CHT) that mediates presynaptic, high-affinity choline uptake (HACU) in support of acetylcholine (ACh) synthesis and release. Homozygous deletion of CHT (-/-) is lethal shortly after birth (Ferguson et al. 2004), consistent with CHT as an essential component of cholinergic signaling, but precluding functional analyses of CHT contributions in adult animals. In contrast, CHT+/- mice are viable, fertile and display normal levels of synaptosomal HACU, yet demonstrate reduced CHT protein and increased sensitivity to HC-3, suggestive of underlying cholinergic hypofunction. We find that CHT+/- mice are equivalent to CHT+/+ siblings on measures of motor co-ordination (rotarod), general activity (open field), anxiety (elevated plus maze, light/dark paradigms) and spatial learning and memory (Morris water maze). However, CHT+/- mice display impaired performance as a result of physical challenge in the treadmill paradigm, as well as reduced sensitivity to challenge with the muscarinic receptor antagonist scopolamine in the open field paradigm. These behavioral alterations are accompanied by significantly reduced brain ACh levels, elevated choline levels and brain region-specific decreased expression of M1 and M2 muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. Our studies suggest that CHT hemizygosity results in adequate baseline ACh stores, sufficient to sustain many phenotypes, but normal sensitivities to physical and/or pharmacological challenge require full cholinergic signaling capacity.
This study examined the contribution of object perception and spatial localization to functional dependence among Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. Forty patients with probable AD completed measures assessing verbal recognition memory, working memory, object perception, spatial localization, semantic knowledge, and global cognition. Primary caregivers completed a measure of activities of daily living (ADLs) that included instrumental and basic self-care subscales (i.e., IADLs and BADLs, respectively). Stepwise multiple regressions revealed that global cognition accounted for significant portions of variance among the ADL total, IADL, and BADL scores. However, when global cognition was removed from the model, object perception was the only significant cognitive predictor of the ADL total and IADL subscale scores, accounting for 18.5% and 19.3% of the variance, respectively. When considering multiple cognitive components simultaneously, object perception and the integrity of the inferotemporal cortex is important in the completion of functional abilities in general and IADLs in particular among AD patients.