Overexpression of the NR2A subunit in the forebrain impairs long-term social recognition and non-social olfactory memory.
ABSTRACT Animals must recognize and remember conspecifics and potential mates, and distinguish these animals from potential heterospecific competitors and predators. Despite its necessity, aged animals are known to exhibit impaired social recognition memory. As the brain ages, the ratio of NR2A:NR2B in the brain increases over time and has been postulated to underlie the cognitive decline observed during the aging process. Here, we test the hypothesis that an increased NR2A:NR2B subunit ratio underlies long-term social recognition memory. Using transgenic overexpression of NR2A in the forebrain regions, we investigated the ability of these mice to learn and remember male and female conspecifics, mice of another strain and animals of another rodent species, the rat. Furthermore, due to the importance of olfaction in social recognition, we tested the olfactory memory in the NR2A transgenic mice. Our series of behavioral experiments revealed significant impairments in the NR2A transgenic mice in long-term social memory of both male and female conspecifics. Additionally, the NR2A transgenic mice are unable to recognize mice of another strain or rats. The NR2A transgenic mice also exhibited long-term memory impairments in the olfactory recognition task. Taken together, our results provide evidence that an increased NR2A:NR2B ratio in the forebrain leads to reduced long-term memory function, including the ethologically important memories such as social recognition and olfactory memory.
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ABSTRACT: Inhibition of the kynurenine pathway of tryptophan metabolism during gestation can lead to changes in synaptic transmission, neuronal morphology and plasticity in the rat hippocampus. This suggests a role for the kynurenine pathway in early brain development, probably caused by kynurenine modulation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptors which are activated by the tryptophan metabolite quinolinic acid and blocked by kynurenic acid. We have now examined samples of neocortex and cerebellum of adult animals to assess the effects of a prenatally administered kynurenine-3-monoxygenase inhibitor (Ro61-8048) on protein and mRNA expression, dendritic structure and immuno-histochemistry. No changes were seen in mRNA expression using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Changes were detected in the expression of several proteins including the GluN2A subunit, unco-ordinated-5H3 (unc5H3), doublecortin, cyclo-oxygenase, sonic hedgehog and Disrupted in schizophrenia-1 (DISC1), although no differences in immunoreactive cell numbers were observed. In the midbrain, dependence receptor expression was also changed. The numbers and lengths of individual dendritic regions were not changed but there were significant increases in the overall complexity values of apical and basal dendritic trees. The data support the hypothesis that constitutive kynurenine metabolism plays a critical role in early, embryonic brain development, although fewer effects are produced in the neocortex and cerebellum than in the hippocampus and the nature of the changes seen are qualitatively different. The significant changes in DISC1 and unc5H3 may be relevant to cerebellar dysfunction and schizophrenia respectively, in which these proteins have been previously implicated.Brain Research 06/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.brainres.2014.06.016 · 2.83 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Prenatal exposure to alcohol affects the expression and function of glutamatergic neurotransmitter receptors in diverse brain regions. The present study was undertaken to fill a current gap in knowledge regarding the regional specificity of ethanol-related alterations in glutamatergic receptors in the frontal cortex. We quantified subregional expression and function of glutamatergic neurotransmitter receptors (AMPARs, NMDARs, GluN2B-containing NMDARs, mGluR1s, and mGluR5s) by radioligand binding in the agranular insular cortex (AID), lateral orbital area (LO), prelimbic cortex (PrL) and primary motor cortex (M1) of adult rats exposed to moderate levels of ethanol during prenatal development. Increased expression of GluN2B-containing NMDARs was observed in AID of ethanol-exposed rats compared to modest reductions in other regions. We subsequently performed slice electrophysiology measurements in a whole-cell patch-clamp preparation to quantify the sensitivity of evoked NMDAR-mediated excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in layer II/III pyramidal neurons of AID to the GluN2B negative allosteric modulator ifenprodil. Consistent with increased GluN2B expression, ifenprodil caused a greater reduction in NMDAR-mediated EPSCs from prenatal alcohol-exposed rats than saccharin-exposed control animals. No alterations in AMPAR-mediated EPSCs or the ratio of AMPARs/NMDARs were observed. Together, these data indicate that moderate prenatal alcohol exposure has a significant and lasting impact on GluN2B-containing receptors in AID, which could help to explain ethanol-related alterations in learning and behaviors that depend on this region.PLoS ONE 01/2015; 10(3):e0118721. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0118721 · 3.53 Impact Factor