Exposure in fetus of methylazoxymethanol in the rat alters brain neurotrophins' levels and brain cells' proliferation.
ABSTRACT Changes during gestation have been shown to induce brain maldevelopment associated with changes in neurotrophins as nerve growth factor (NGF), brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neuropsychiatric disorders in humans. A rat model of altered prenatal brain development resembling the onset of schizophrenia has been obtained by administering in fetus methylazoxymethanol (MAM) at gestational day 12 which impairs the growth of limbic pathways between the entorhinal cortex and the hippocampus. Using the MAM model we studied in young rats the brain levels of both NGF/BDNF and their main receptors, TrkA/TrkB, to investigate whether or not changes in neurotrophins could affect the presence of brain BrdU positive cells. We found increased NGF and BDNF protein levels, associated with elevated TrkA and TrkB expression, in the hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, olfactory lobes and subventricular zone (SVZ), brain areas playing a key role in the production and migration of new dividing cells. We also found higher levels of BrdU positive cells in the SVZ and hippocampus but not a significant potentiation in the entorhinal cortex and olfactory lobes. All together the findings indicate that prenatal MAM exposure in young rats may elicit both neurotrophins' elevation and cell proliferation in limbic brain areas.
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ABSTRACT: Children with malformations of cortical development (MCD) frequently have associated cognitive impairments which reduce quality of life. We hypothesized that cognitive deficits associated with MCD can be improved with environmental manipulation or additional training. The E17 methylazoxymethanol acetate (MAM) exposure model bears many anatomical hallmarks seen in human MCDs as well as similar behavioral and cognitive deficits. We divided control and MAM exposed Sprague-Dawley rats into enriched and non-enriched groups and tested performance in the Morris water maze. Another group similarly divided underwent sociability testing and also underwent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans pre and post enrichment. A third group of control and MAM rats without enrichment were trained until they reached criterion on the place avoidance task. MAM rats had impaired performance on spatial tasks and enrichment improved performance of both control and MAM animals. Although MAM rats did not have a deficit in sociability they showed similar improvement with enrichment as controls. MRI revealed a whole brain volume decrease with MAM exposure, and an increase in both MAM and control enriched volumes in comparison to non-enriched animals. In the place avoidance task, MAM rats required approximately 3 times as long to reach criterion as control animals, but with additional training were able to reach control performance. Environmental manipulation and additional training can improve cognition in a rodent MCD model. We therefore suggest that patients with MCD may benefit from appropriate alterations in educational strategies, social interaction and environment. These factors should be considered in therapeutic strategies.PLoS ONE 12/2013; 8(12):e84492. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0084492 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a neurotrophin critical for many developmental and physiological aspects of CNS function. Severe hypothyroidism in the early neonatal period results in developmental and cognitive impairments and reductions in mRNA and protein expression of BDNF in a number of brain regions. The present study examined the impact of modest levels of developmental thyroid hormone insufficiency on BDNF protein expression in the hippocampus, cortex and cerebellum in the neonatal and adult offspring of rat dams treated throughout pregnancy and lactation. Graded levels of hormone insufficiency were induced by adding propylthiouracil (PTU, 0, 1, 2, 3 and 10 ppm) to the drinking water of pregnant dams from early gestation (gestational day 6) until weaning of the pups. Pups were sacrificed on postnatal days (PN) 14 and 21, and -PN100, and trunk blood collected for thyroid hormone analysis. Hippocampus, cortex, and cerebellum were separated from dissected brains and assessed for BDNF protein. Dose-dependent reductions in serum hormones in dams and pups were produced by PTU. Consistent with previous findings, age and regional differences in BDNF concentrations were observed. However, no differences in BDNF expression were detected in the preweanling animals as a function of PTU exposure; yet dose-dependent alterations emerged in adulthood despite the return of thyroid hormone levels to control values. Males were more affected by PTU than females, BDNF levels in hippocampus and cortex were altered but not those in cerebellum, and biphasic dose-response functions were detected in both sexes. These findings indicate that BDNF may mediate some of the adverse effects accompanying developmental thyroid hormone insufficiency, and reflect the potential for delayed impact of modest reductions in thyroid hormones during critical periods of brain development on a protein important for normal synaptic function.Neurotoxicology and Teratology 04/2011; 33(4):464-72. DOI:10.1016/j.ntt.2011.04.001 · 3.22 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The aim of this review is to highlight past and ongoing studies on neurotrophin (NT) role, in particular focusing on nerve growth factor (NGF), on behavioral response to stress, agonistic and emotional behavior, anxiety, and schizophrenia. One of the first evidences of NGF involvement in behavioral response to a social challenge was published in 1986. In male mice, agonistic encounters caused a massive NGF release into the bloodstream and in the hypothalamus. Subsequent studies revealed that this NGF release was not strictly linked to agonistic behavior, but to mice hierarchical status, with subordinates having higher NGF levels than dominants. This observation led to the hypothesis and later to the demonstration that NGF release is associated to anxiety-related behaviors. Later studies provided evidence for the involvement of NTs, including NGF, in the development of neuropsychiatric disorders. Interestingly, pharmacological treatment can reduce the effects of the maldevelopment and neuropathology due to NT imbalance during early periods of life crucial for development. Further understanding of the core pathophysiological mechanism for neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders will eventually provide tools for amelioration of symptoms of those psychiatric disorders characterized by an NT imbalance.Rivista di Psichiatria 01/2009; 44(2):88-94. · 0.28 Impact Factor