Alterations in the density and morphology of dendritic spines are characteristic of multiple cognitive disorders. Elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying spine alterations are facilitated by the use of experimental and analytical methods that permit concurrent evaluation of changes in spine density, morphology and composition. Here, an automated and quantitative immunocytochemical method for the simultaneous analysis of changes in the density and morphology of spines and excitatory glutamate receptors was established to analyze neuron maturation, in vitro. In neurons of long-term neuron-glia co-cultures, spine density as measured by drebrin cluster fluorescence, increased from DIV (days in vitro)10 to DIV18 (formation phase), remained stable from DIV18 to DIV21 (maintenance phase), and decreased from DIV21 to DIV26 (loss phase). The densities of spine-localized NMDAR and AMPAR clusters followed a similar trend. Spine head sizes as measured by the fluorescence intensities of drebrin clusters increased from DIV10 to DIV21 and decreased from DIV21 to DIV26. Changes in the densities of NR1-only, GluR2-only, and NR1+GluR2 spines were measured by the colocalizations of NR1 and GluR2 clusters with drebrin clusters. The densities of NR1-only spines remained stable from the maintenance to the loss phases, while GluR2-only and NR1+GluR2 spines decreased during the loss phase, thus suggesting GluR2 loss as a proximal molecular event that may underlie spine alterations during neuron maturation. This study demonstrates a sensitive and quantitative immunocytochemical method for the concurrent analysis of changes in spine density, morphology and composition, a valuable tool for determining molecular events involved in dendritic spine alterations.
"As previously described (Nwabuisi-Heath et al., 2012), drebrin, GluN1 and GluA2 cluster quantifications were performed with ImageJ NIH software using custom plugins. For co-localization analysis, juxtaposed (within 1 pixel distance) and overlapping clusters were measured as co-localized. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ε4 allele of the gene that encodes apolipoprotein E (APOE4) is the greatest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD), while APOE2 reduces AD risk, compared to APOE3. The mechanism(s) underlying the effects of APOE on AD pathology remains unclear. In vivo, dendritic spine density is lower in APOE4-targeted replacement (APOE-TR) mice compared with APOE2- and APOE3-TR mice. To investigate whether this apoE4-induced decrease in spine density results from alterations in the formation or the loss of dendritic spines, the effects of neuron age and apoE isoform on the total number and subclasses of spines were examined in long-term wild-type neurons co-cultured with glia from APOE2-, APOE3- and APOE4-TR mice. Dendritic spine density and maturation were evaluated by immunocytochemistry via the presence of drebrin (an actin-binding protein) with GluN1 (NMDA receptor subunit) and GluA2 (AMPA receptor subunit) clusters. ApoE isoform effects were analyzed via a method previously established that identifies phases of spine formation (day-in-vitro, DIV10-18), maintenance (DIV18-21) and loss (DIV21-26). In the formation phase, apoE4 delayed total spine formation. During the maintenance phase, the density of GluN1+GluA2 spines did not change with apoE2, while the density of these spines decreased with apoE4 compared to apoE3, primarily due to the loss of GluA2 in spines. During the loss phase, total spine density was lower in neurons with apoE4 compared to apoE3. Thus, apoE4 delays total spine formation and may induce early synaptic dysfunction via impaired regulation of GluA2 in spines.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dendritic spines are specialised membrane protrusions of neuronal dendrites that receive the majority of excitatory synaptic inputs. Abnormal changes in their density, size and morphology have been associated with various neurological and psychiatric disorders, including those deriving from drug addiction. Dendritic spine formation, morphology and synaptic functions are governed by the actin cytoskeleton. Previous in vivo studies have shown that ethanol alters the number and morphology of spines, although the mechanisms underlying these alterations remain unknown. It has also been described how chronic ethanol exposure affects the levels, assembly and cellular organisation of the actin cytoskeleton in hippocampal neurons in primary culture. Therefore, we hypothesised that the ethanol-induced alterations in the number and shape of dendritic spines are due to alterations in the mechanisms regulating actin cytoskeleton integrity. The results presented herein show that chronic exposure to moderate levels of alcohol (30 mM) during the first 2 weeks of culture reduces dendritic spine density and alters the proportion of the different morphologies of these structures in hippocampal neurons, which affects the formation of mature spines. Apparently, these effects are associated with an increase in the G-actin/F-actin ratio due to a reduction of the F-actin fraction, leading to changes in the levels of the different factors regulating the organisation of this cytoskeletal component. The data presented herein indicate that these effects occur between weeks 1 and 2 of culture, an important period in dendritic spines development. These changes may be related to the dysfunction in the memory and learning processes present in children prenatally exposed to ethanol.
Neurotoxicity Research 07/2013; 24(4). DOI:10.1007/s12640-013-9409-0 · 3.54 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), the transcriptional master regulator of the stress-induced antioxidant response, plays a key role in neuronal resistance to oxidative stress and glutamate-induced excitotoxicity. Nrf2-mediated neuroprotection is primarily conferred by astrocytes both in vitro and in vivo, but little is known about physiologic signals that regulate neuronal and astrocytic Nrf2 signaling. Here, we report that activity of the Nrf2 pathway in the brain is fine-tuned through a regulatory loop between neurons and astrocytes: elevated neuronal activity leads to secretion of glutamate and other soluble factors, which activate the astrocytic Nrf2 pathway through a signaling cascade that involves group I metabotropic glutamate receptors and intracellular Ca(2+). Therefore, regulation of endogenous antioxidant signaling is one of the functions of the neuron-astrocyte tripartite synapse; by matching the astrocyte neuroprotective capacity to the degree of activity in adjacent neuronal synapses, this regulatory mechanism may limit the physiologic costs associated with Nrf2 activation.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2013; 110(45). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1208764110 · 9.67 Impact Factor
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