Prenatal immune challenge in rats: Altered responses to dopaminergic and glutamatergic agents, prepulse inhibition of acoustic startle, and reduced route-based learning as a function of maternal body weight gain after prenatal exposure to poly IC
ABSTRACT Prenatal maternal immune activation has been used to test the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia. Most of the data are in mouse models; far less is available for rats. We previously showed that maternal weight change in response to the immune activator polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (Poly IC) in rats differentially affects offspring. Therefore, we treated gravid Harlan Sprague-Dawley rats i.p. on embryonic day 14 with 8 mg/kg of Poly IC or Saline. The Poly IC group was divided into those that lost or gained the least weight, Poly IC (L), versus those that gained the most weight, Poly IC (H), following treatment. The study design controlled for litter size, litter sampling, sex distribution, and test experience. We found no effects of Poly IC on elevated zero maze, open-field activity, object burying, light-dark test, straight channel swimming, Morris water maze spatial acquisition, reversal, or shift navigation or spatial working or reference memory, or conditioned contextual or cued fear or latent inhibition. The Poly IC (H) group showed a significant decrease in the rate of route-based learning when visible cues were unavailable in the Cincinnati water maze and reduced prepulse inhibition of acoustic startle in females, but not males. The Poly IC (L) group exhibited altered responses to acute pharmacological challenges: exaggerated hyperactivity in response to (+)-amphetamine and an attenuated hyperactivity in response to MK-801. This model did not exhibit the cognitive, or latent inhibition deficits reported in Poly IC-treated rats but showed changes in response to drugs acting on neurotransmitter systems implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia (dopaminergic hyperfunction and glutamatergic hypofunction).
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- "The present results using Long Evans rats are consistent with previous reports that MIA during pregnancy does not alter classical fear conditioning in the adult male offspring of either Wistar (Zuckerman and Weiner, 2005) or Sprague Dawley rat strains (Vorhees et al., 2012; Yee et al., 2012). The previous studies assessed freezing to auditory cues and context previously paired with footshock (Vorhees et al., 2012; Yee et al., 2012) and suppression of licking to an auditory cue previously paired with footshock in a conditioned emotional response paradigm (Zuckerman and Weiner, 2005). We report robust freezing to the cue and context on day one during conditioning and day 2 during the initial phase of the first extinction session, which provides a measure of conditioning recall 24 h after training (Figure 2). "
ABSTRACT: Maternal immune activation (MIA) during pregnancy is an environmental risk factor for psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and autism in the offspring. Hence, changes in an array of behaviors, including behavioral flexibility, consistent with altered functioning of cortico-limbic circuits have been reported in rodent models of MIA. Surprisingly, previous studies have not examined the effect of MIA on the extinction of fear conditioning which depends on cortico-limbic circuits. Thus, we tested the effects of treating pregnant Long Evans rats with the viral mimetic polyI:C (gestational day 15; 4 mg/kg; i.v.) on fear conditioning and extinction in the male offspring using two different tasks. In the first experiment, we observed no effect of polyI:C treatment on the acquisition or extinction of a classically conditioned fear memory in a non-discriminative auditory cue paradigm. However, polyI:C-treated offspring did increase contextual freezing during the recall of fear extinction in this non-discriminative paradigm. The second experiment utilized a recently developed task to explicitly test the ability of rats to discriminate among cues signifying fear, reward, and safety; a task that requires behavioral flexibility. To our surprise, polyI:C-treated rats acquired the task in a manner similar to saline-treated rats. However, upon subsequent extinction training, they showed significantly faster extinction of the freezing response to the fear cue. In contrast, during the extinction recall test, polyI:C-treated offspring showed enhanced freezing behavior before and after presentation of the fear cue, suggesting an impairment in their ability to regulate fear behavior. These behavioral results are integrated into the literature suggesting impairments in cortico-limbic brain function in the offspring of rats treated with polyI:C during pregnancy.Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 05/2014; 8:168. DOI:10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00168 · 4.16 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Autism is a severe neurodevelopmental disorder, diagnosed on the basis of core behavioral symptoms. Although the mechanistic basis for the disorder is not yet known, genetic analyses have suggested a role for abnormal excitatory/inhibitory signaling systems in brain, including dysregulation of glutamatergic neurotransmission. In mice, the constitutive knockdown of NMDA receptors leads to social deficits, repetitive behavior, and self-injurious responses that reflect aspects of the autism clinical profile. However, social phenotypes differ with age: mice with reduced NMDA-receptor function exhibit hypersociability in adolescence, but markedly deficient sociability in adulthood. The present studies determined whether acute disruption of NMDA neurotransmission leads to exaggerated social approach, similar to that observed with constitutive disruption, in adolescent C57BL/6J mice. The effects of MK-801, an NMDA receptor antagonist, were compared with amphetamine, a dopamine agonist, and fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, on performance in a three-chamber choice task. Results showed that acute treatment with MK-801 led to social approach deficits at doses without effects on entry numbers. Amphetamine also decreased social preference, but increased number of entries at every dose. Fluoxetine (10mg/kg) had selective effects on social novelty preference. Withdrawal from a chronic ethanol regimen decreased activity, but did not attenuate sociability. Low doses of MK-801 and amphetamine were also evaluated in a marble-burying assay for repetitive behavior. MK-801, at a dose that did not disrupt sociability or alter entries, led to a profound reduction in marble-burying. Overall, these findings demonstrate that moderate alteration of NMDA, dopamine, or serotonin function can attenuate social preference in wild type mice.Neurotoxicology and Teratology 08/2012; DOI:10.1016/j.ntt.2012.07.007 · 3.22 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The vague relationship between diagnosis, underlying etiology and a rudimentary understanding of the pathophysiology of psychosis, particularly schizophrenia, has made it difficult to develop and validate suitable disease models for such disorders. Despite recent technological advancements, animal models have yet to yield a revolutionary treatment for schizophrenia. Refinement and standardization of assessment methods in the preclinical domain and streamlining of concepts from which animal models are generated are required, particularly in relation to models that recapitulate cognitive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. In this review, caveats of current treatments for schizophrenia and current animal modeling strategies are examined in the context of their validity and potential for discovery of novel therapies, and finally, future prospects for the field are considered.Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology 11/2012; 5(6):667-76. DOI:10.1586/ecp.12.57