Impaired fear memory, altered object memory and modified hippocampal synaptic plasticity in split-brain mice.

University of Alberta School of Medicine, Department of Physiology, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2H7.
Brain Research (Impact Factor: 2.83). 06/2008; 1210:179-88. DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2008.03.008
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The hippocampus is critical for memory formation. However, the contributions of the hippocampal commissure (HC) and the corpus callosum (CC) are less clear. To elucidate the role of the forebrain commissures in learning and memory, we performed a behavioural and electrophysiological characterization of an inbred mouse strain that displays agenesis of the CC and congenitally reduced HC (BTBR T+ tf/J; 'BTBR'). Compared to a control strain, BTBR mice have severely impaired contextual fear memory, with normal object recognition memory. Interestingly, continuous environmental "enrichment" significantly increased object recognition in BTBR, but not in control C57BL/6 ('BL/6') mice. In area CA1 of hippocampal slices, BTBR displayed intact expression of long-term potentiation (LTP), paired-pulse facilitation (PPF) and basal synaptic transmission, compared to BL/6 mice. However, BTBR hippocampal slices show an increased susceptibility to depotentiation (DPT), an activity-induced reversal of LTP. We conclude that the HC and CC are critical for some forms of hippocampal memory and for synaptic resistance to DPT. Agenesis of the CC and HC may unmask some latent ability to encode, store or retrieve certain forms of recognition memory. We suggest that the increased susceptibility to DPT in BTBR may underlie the memory phenotype reported here.

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    ABSTRACT: The BTBR T+tf/J (BTBR) strain of mice is a model for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). These mice display reduced social behavior, altered communication, and high levels of repetitive behavior. BTBR mice have shown a deficit in learning cued and contextual fear conditioning. In this study, experiments were conducted to determine if either changes in training or drug administration would improve learning in BTBR mice when compared to C57BL/6 (B6) mice in contextual and cued fear conditioning. The first experiment examined the effects of three conditioned stimulus-unconditioned stimulus (CS-US) training paradigms; a 1P (1 CS-US pairing), 4P (4 CS-US pairings), and 10P (10 CS-US pairings). Increasing the number of CS-US pairings to 10 caused an increase in freezing behavior by the BTBR mice in contextual and cued conditioning indicating that more training facilitated BTBR learning. B6 mice had a more complex reaction to the increased training; the mice increased freezing behavior in the cued fear conditioning but not contextual fear conditioning. The second experiment determined whether atomoxetine, a noradrenergic reuptake inhibitor that has been shown to improve attention and decrease hyperactivity, impulsivity, and social withdrawal, would enhance learning. There was a significant increase in freezing behavior in contextual fear conditioning following atomoxetine administration in BTBR mice but not in B6 mice. Our data demonstrates that contextual and cued learning in BTBR mice is facilitated by increased training. Furthermore, contextual learning is improved in BTBR mice with use of atomoxetine, which helps to improve attention. Both increased training and pharmacological intervention improved learning in the BTBR mice suggesting a role for the combination of the two.
    Neuroscience Letters 07/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.neulet.2013.06.032 · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social and communication impairments and repetitive behaviours. The inbred BTBR T+tf/J (BTBR) strain, a putative mouse model of autism, exhibits lower social interactions, higher repetitive self-grooming levels and unusual pattern of vocalizations as compared to C57BL/6J strain. First aim of the present study was to evaluate at adolescence (postnatal days 30-35) male BTBR and C57BL/6J performances in two different tasks involving either investigation of social cues (same strain partners) or non social ones (inanimate objects). In the social interaction test, BTBR mice showed a reduction of investigation of the social partner, due to a selective reduction of head sniffing, associated with a decrease in ultrasonic vocalizations. By contrast, no strain differences were detected in object investigations. Second aim of the study was to evaluate adult male BTBR and C57BL/6J performances in a fear conditioning task. Strain differences were evident during contextual retest: these strain differences primarily suggested a lack of behavioural flexibility in BTBR mice (i.e. realizing the occurrence of changes in the experimental paradigm). Subsequent electrophysiological analysis in hippocampal slices from adult BTBR and C57BL/6J mice revealed a significant reduction of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF)-induced potentiation of synaptic transmission in BTBR mice. BDNF and tyrosine kinase B (TrkB) protein levels measured in the hippocampal region were also lower in BTBR as compared to C57BL/6J mice. These data confirm the presence of low levels of direct interaction with social stimuli in BTBR mice at adolescence, in the absence of any strain difference as for investigation of physical objects. At adulthood in BTBR mice clear signs of behavioural inflexibility were evident whereas both biochemical and electrophysiological data point to decreased BDNF signalling (likely due to a reduction in TrkB levels) in the hippocampus of this mouse strain.
    Behavioural brain research 12/2012; 251. DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2012.12.028 · 3.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BTBR mice are potentially useful tools for autism research because their behavior parallels core social interaction impairments and restricted-repetitive behaviors. Altered regulation of central serotonin (5-HT) neurotransmission may underlie such behavioral deficits. To test this, we compared 5-HT transporter (SERT), 5-HT(1A) and 5-HT(2A) receptor densities among BTBR and C57 strains. Autoradiographic [(3) H] cyanoimipramine (1 nM) binding to SERT was 20-30% lower throughout the adult BTBR brain as compared to C57BL/10J mice. In hippocampal membrane homogenates, [(3) H] citalopram maximal binding (B(max) ) to SERT was 95 ± 13 fmol/mg protein in BTBR and 171 ± 20 fmol/mg protein in C57BL/6J mice, and the BTBR dissociation constant (K(D) ) was 2.0 ± 0.3 nM versus 1.1 ± 0.2 in C57BL/6J mice. Hippocampal 5-HT(1A) and 5-HT(2A) receptor binding was similar among strains. However, 8-OH-DPAT-stimulated [(35) S] GTPγS binding in the BTBR hippocampal CA(1) region was 28% higher, indicating elevated 5-HT(1A) capacity to activate G-proteins. In BTBR mice, the SERT blocker, fluoxetine (10 mg/kg) and the 5-HT(1A) receptor partial-agonist, buspirone (2 mg/kg) enhanced social interactions. The D(2) /5-HT(2) receptor antagonist, risperidone (0.1 mg/kg) reduced marble burying, but failed to improve sociability. Overall, altered SERT and/or 5-HT(1A) functionality in hippocampus could contribute to the relatively low sociability of BTBR mice.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 11/2010; 116(2):291-303. DOI:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2010.07104.x · 4.24 Impact Factor


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