[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chronic placental insufficiency (CPI) severe enough to cause growth restriction (GR) results in alterations to the retina, including a reduction in tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactive (TH-IR)-dopaminergic amacrine cells. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays a role in the development of the retinal dopaminergic network and may therefore be an appropriate therapy for restoring dopaminergic cells after prenatal compromise. This study was conducted (1) to establish whether BDNF and its receptor NTRK2 (Trk B) are altered in the retina after CPI and (2) to explore the potential of BDNF to enhance dopaminergic cell survival in organotypic retinal cultures from prenatally compromised animals.
CPI was induced in pregnant guinea pigs at 30 days' gestation (dg; term, approximately 67 dg) via unilateral ligation of the uterine artery. Fetuses were euthanatized at 60 dg and the retinas prepared for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) analysis of BDNF protein levels and for immunohistochemistry to localize BDNF and NTRK2. Organotypic cultures of retinas from GR and control fetuses at 50 to 52 dg were treated with BDNF, and dopaminergic amacrine cells counts were assessed.
Retinal BDNF protein levels and the intensity of BDNF-immunoreactivity (IR) in the ganglion cell layer were reduced (P < 0.05) in GR fetuses compared with control fetuses. Addition of BDNF to organotypic cultures increased (P < 0.05) the survival and neurite growth of dopaminergic neurons from both control and GR fetuses.
Alterations to BDNF levels may underlie reductions in dopaminergic amacrine cells observed after CPI. The addition of BDNF has the potential to increase survival and neurite growth of dopaminergic amacrine cells.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prenatal hypoxia affects neuronal survival and process outgrowth. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which influences neural growth, is decreased in these conditions. We tested whether addition of brain-derived neurotrophic factor enhances growth of neurons cultured from guinea pig fetuses (n=7) compromised by chronic placental insufficiency from 30-52 days gestation (term approximately 67 days). Cultures were prepared from the olfactory bulb, hippocampus and cerebellum. Compared with controls (n=7), chronic placental insufficiency resulted in reduced total neurite length in olfactory bulb cultures. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor treatment for 5 days increased the total olfactory neurite length and somal size and number of primary neurites in all cultures from both control and compromised animals. Thus, brain-derived neurotrophic factor can influence the growth of compromised fetal neurons supporting its therapeutic use following chronic placental insufficiency.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intrauterine infection may be causally related to inflammation and injury of the fetal brain, however the mechanisms by which this occurs are unclear. We have investigated whether nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB, a transcription factor for proinflammatory cytokines, is activated in the fetal brain after acute LPS-exposure. At 95 days of gestation (term = approximately 147 days), 5 fetuses received a single intravenous bolus dose of LPS (1 microg/kg); 6 fetuses served as controls. Fetal blood samples were taken hourly for 6 hr post LPS-exposure to assess physiological status. Ewes and fetuses were then euthanased, placental and brain tissue examined histologically, and NF-kappaB activation assessed in several regions of the fetal brain using an electromobility shift assay (EMSA). Oxidative stress was measured using lipid peroxidation and 8-isoprostane biochemical assays and brain cytokine concentrations analysed by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). LPS-exposed fetuses (relative to controls) were hypoxemic and the haematocrit and lactate levels had increased. In the brains of LPS-exposed fetuses compared to controls, NF-kappaB binding activity was elevated in the hippocampus and the thalamus/basal ganglia; 8-isoprostane levels were elevated overall (P < 0.05) in the parietal/occipital/temporal lobes and thalamus/basal ganglia. TNF-alpha and IL-6 concentrations were not elevated, however, there was a tendency for an elevation of IFN-gamma concentrations in the thalamus/basal ganglia. IFN-gamma concentration was elevated (P < 0.05) in the plasma 4 hr after LPS-exposure. In the placenta, NF-kappaB binding activity was increased (P < 0.05). We conclude that acute systemic administration of LPS leads to increased binding activity of NF-kappaB subunits in specific regions of the fetal brain and in the placenta, but that there is no clear-cut relationship between this elevation and vulnerability to endotoxic damage.
Journal of Neuroscience Research 03/2006; 83(4):567-74. · 2.97 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Survivors of very premature birth face an increased risk of adverse motor, cognitive, and behavior sequelae. In order to understand the pathogenesis of these adverse outcomes, an animal model of premature birth and neonatal care in a species with a close similarity to the human infant is sought. In this histological and immunohistochemical study we have defined the pattern of cerebral injury in a premature baboon model undergoing similar neonatal intensive care to that of the human premature infant. Sixteen baboons were delivered at 125 days gestation (dg; term approximately184 dg) with 14 days neonatal intensive care and were compared with gestational control brains at 125, 140, and 160 dg. The premature baboons undergoing neonatal intensive care sustained a spectrum of neuropathologies including white matter injury, hemorrhage, and ventriculomegaly, which resemble lesions frequently observed in the human premature infant. These data suggest that the premature baboon is a model with similarities in maturation and pattern of cerebral injury to the human infant that may provide useful insights of relevance to the human preterm infant.
Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 01/2005; 63(12):1297-309. · 4.35 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to determine the long-term effects of chronic placental insufficiency on the metabolic state and organ structure in the fetal and adolescent guinea pig.
The maternal uterine artery was ligated at day 28-30 to reduce placental function and restrict fetal growth. Whole body and tissue weights and plasma metabolites were determined at 60 days of gestation and 8 weeks of age; tissue structure was determined at the latter age in restricted and control offspring.
Fetal growth restriction increased fibrosis in the heart and kidneys (P < .05), increased aortic wall thickening (P < .01), reduced the number of glomeruli in the kidneys (P < .05), and increased the plasma urea and chloride in adolescent offspring.
This study demonstrates that diseases in the heart, aorta, and kidneys that result from an adverse prenatal environment are evident at adolescence and may contribute to subsequent adult disease.
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 09/2004; 191(3):847-55. · 3.88 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Very low birth weight (VLBW) and fetal growth restriction are associated with increased risks of long-term visual impairments, including alterations to contrast sensitivity, a parameter mediated in part by dopaminergic amacrine cells. This study was conducted to determine whether chronic placental insufficiency (CPI), sufficient to cause growth restriction, results in neurochemical alterations to retinal interneurons, specifically amacrine and horizontal cell populations near term.
CPI was induced just before midgestation (term approximately 67 days of gestation, dg) in guinea pigs through unilateral ligation of the uterine artery. Growth-restricted (GR, n = 32) and control (n = 29) fetuses were euthanized at 60 dg and retinas prepared for analysis of amacrine cell populations by using antibodies to calbindin, calretinin, cholineacetyltransferase (ChAT), gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA), dopamine beta-hydroxylase (D beta H), tyrosine hydroxylase (TH, dopaminergic), and NADPH-diaphorase histochemistry (nitrergic). Calbindin immunoreactivity (IR) was also used to identify horizontal cells. HPLC was used to assess concentrations of catecholamines and Western blot analysis to detect total TH levels.
In GR compared with control fetuses the total number of TH-IR amacrine (P < 0.02) and calbindin-IR horizontal (P < 0.05) cells was reduced; however, there were no differences in the number of the ChAT, calbindin, calretinin, GABAergic, or nitrergic amacrine cell populations. HPLC revealed a reduction in the concentration of dopamine (P < 0.05) and noradrenaline (P < 0.05), and Western blot analysis revealed a reduction in TH in the retinas of GR compared with control fetuses (P < 0.05).
CPI results in alterations to specific populations of retinal neurons. Such effects could contribute to visual impairments reported for VLBW children.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Evidence now suggests that compromised prenatal brain development may increase the risk for the manifestation of neurological disorders such as schizophrenia. We present a guinea-pig model which mimics a condition of human pregnancy, namely, chronic placental insufficiency. Previously we reported that at term there are changes in the brains of these offspring which are relevant to changes in patients with schizophrenia. The aim of this study was to examine whether deficits in brain structure persist to adolescence and young adulthood (8-12 weeks) and have implications for behavioral function. Reduced uteroplacental blood flow was induced via unilateral ligation of the uterine artery at mid-gestation. The brain was examined in control and prenatally compromised (PC) animals 8 weeks after birth using morphometric and immunohistochemical markers. In a separate cohort of animals, prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the acoustic startle response was assessed at 4, 8 and 12 weeks of age. Brain neurochemistry was examined by determining the concentrations of dopamine and its metabolite, dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), at 12 weeks using high performance liquid chromatography. In PC animals compared with controls there was a reduction in brain weight, persistent enlargement of the lateral ventricles, a reduction in the volume of the basal ganglia and septal region and no evidence of gliosis. No differences were observed in concentration of catecholamines in any brain region examined. At 12, but not 4 or 8, weeks of age, PPI was reduced in PC animals compared with controls. The findings of reduced brain weight, ventriculomegaly, reduced basal ganglia volume and absence of astrogliosis in the PC guinea-pig brain at adolescence parallel some of the changes observed in patients with schizophrenia. The impairment of PPI is comparable to sensorimotor gating deficits observed in patients with schizophrenia. These results indicate that adverse prenatal conditions lead to long-term alterations in brain structure and function which resemble alterations seen in patients with schizophrenia and therefore support the early neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia.