C Fernando Valenzuela

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States

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Publications (121)467.79 Total impact

  • Source
    Brian C Baculis · Marvin R Diaz · C Fernando Valenzuela
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    ABSTRACT: Ethanol consumption during pregnancy produces a wide range of morphological and behavioral alterations known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Among the behavioral deficits associated with FASD is an increased probability of developing anxiety disorders. Studies with animal models of FASD have demonstrated that ethanol exposure during the equivalent to the 1st and 2nd trimesters of human pregnancy increases anxiety-like behavior. Here, we examined the impact on this type of behavior of exposure to high doses of ethanol in vapor inhalation chambers during the rat equivalent to the human 3rd trimester of pregnancy (i.e., neonatal period in these animals). We evaluated anxiety-like behavior with the elevated plus maze. Using whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiological techniques in brain slices, we also characterized glutamatergic and GABAergic synaptic transmission in the basolateral amygdala, a brain region that has been implicated to play a role in emotional behavior. We found that ethanol-exposed adolescent offspring preferred the closed arms over the open arms in the elevated plus maze and displayed lower head dipping activity than controls. Electrophysiological measurements showed an increase in the frequency of spontaneous and miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents in pyramidal neurons from the ethanol group. These findings suggest that high-dose ethanol exposure during the equivalent to the last trimester of human pregnancy can persistently increase excitatory synaptic inputs to principal neurons in the basolateral amygdala, leading to an increase in anxiety-like behaviors. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 08/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.pbb.2015.08.009 · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    James N Reynolds · C. Fernando Valenzuela · Alexandre E Medina · Jeffrey R Wozniak
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    ABSTRACT: The 2014 Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group (FASDSG) meeting focused on the dual themes of the risks associated with low to moderate alcohol exposure during pregnancy and knowledge translation practices to enhance the impact of scientific research. The meeting theme was titled "Low drinking versus no drinking: Matching science with policy and public perception." Despite decades of basic science and clinical evidence that has documented the risks associated with prenatal alcohol exposure, there still exists confusion and uncertainty on the part of health professionals and the public regarding the question of whether or not there is a "safe" level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The first keynote presentation reviewed the data obtained from large-scale epidemiological studies that have attempted to address the question of relative risk associated with low to moderate alcohol exposure during pregnancy. This presentation was followed by an expert panel discussion of the state of scientific evidence obtained from clinical and basic science investigations concerning this question, and strategies for moving research evidence into policy and practice. The second keynote presentation presented a framework for knowledge translation and mobilization to move research discoveries toward implementation. The conference also featured updates by government agencies, FASt data talks that highlighted new and innovative findings in FASD research, and award presentations, including a lifetime achievement award presented to Dr. Kenneth Warren to acknowledge his longstanding support for FASD research. A highlight of the meeting was the presentation of the 2014 Henry Rosett award to Dr. Philip May in recognition of his substantial contributions to epidemiological studies on FASD.
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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 03/2015; 10(3):e0118721. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0118721 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    C. Fernando Valenzuela · Karick Jotty
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    ABSTRACT: Studies from several laboratories have shown that ethanol impairs cerebellar function, in part, by altering GABAergic transmission. Here, we discuss recent advances in our understanding of the acute effects of ethanol on GABAA receptor-mediated neurotransmission at cerebellar cortical circuits, mainly focusing on electrophysiological studies with slices from laboratory animals. These studies have shown that acute ethanol exposure increases GABA release at molecular layer interneuron-to-Purkinje cell synapses and also at reciprocal synapses between molecular layer interneurons. In granule cells, studies with rat cerebellar slices have consistently shown that acute ethanol exposure both potentiates tonic currents mediated by extrasynaptic GABAA receptors and also increases the frequency of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents mediated by synaptic GABAA receptors. These effects have been also documented in some granule cells from mice and nonhuman primates. Currently, there are two distinct models on how ethanol produces these effects. In one model, ethanol primarily acts by directly potentiating extrasynaptic GABAA receptors, including a population that excites granule cell axons and stimulates glutamate release onto Golgi cells. In the other model, ethanol acts indirectly by increasing spontaneous Golgi cell firing via inhibition of the Na+/K+ATPase, a quinidine-sensitive K+ channel, and neuronal nitric oxide synthase. It was also demonstrated that a direct inhibitory effect of ethanol on tonic currents can be unmasked under conditions of low protein kinase C activity. In the last section, we briefly discuss studies on the chronic effect of ethanol on cerebellar GABAA receptor-mediated transmission and highlight potential areas where future research is needed.
    The Cerebellum 01/2015; 14(4). DOI:10.1007/s12311-014-0639-3 · 2.86 Impact Factor
  • Lauren A. Topper · C. Fernando Valenzuela
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    ABSTRACT: Microglia undergo maturation during the third trimester of human development (equivalent to the first 1–2 weeks of postnatal life in rodents), during which these cells may be particularly sensitive to insult. Alcohol exposure during this period can activate the neuroimmune system, an effect that may contribute to the pathophysiology of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Here, we investigated whether repeated alcohol exposure during the third trimester-equivalent in rats has a priming effect on the neuroimmune response to injection of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Pups were exposed to alcohol in vapor chambers for 4 h daily from postnatal day (PD)2 to PD16 (peak blood alcohol concentrations ∼150 mg/dL). On PD17, rats were injected with either saline or LPS (50 μg/kg) and the frontal cortex, cerebellar vermis, and dentate gyrus were collected 2 h later. Messenger RNA (mRNA) levels for the pro-inflammatory agents interleukin 1β (IL-1β) and chemokine (C-C) motif ligand 2 (CCL2), as well as levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin 10 (IL-10), were measured using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. LPS consistently increased IL-1β and CCL2 mRNA levels in the dentate gyrus, frontal cortex, and cerebellum of both male and female rats. Furthermore, the LPS-induced increase of IL-1β mRNA levels was significantly blunted in the frontal cortex of alcohol-exposed female rats. Conversely, LPS only minimally affected IL-10 mRNA expression and there were no significant differences between air- and alcohol-exposed rats. Taken together with the literature regarding the effect of third-trimester alcohol exposure on the neuroimmune system, our findings suggest that chronic exposure to lower levels is less disruptive to the neuroimmune system than binge-like exposure to high doses of alcohol.
    Alcohol 12/2014; 48(8). DOI:10.1016/j.alcohol.2014.09.032 · 2.04 Impact Factor
  • Karick Jotty · C William Shuttleworth · C Fernando Valenzuela
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    ABSTRACT: Flavoprotein autofluorescence signals attributed to neuronal metabolism have been used to assess synaptic function. Here, we characterized flavoprotein autofluorescence responses in the molecular layer of rat cerebellar slices. High frequency stimulation elicited a transient fluorescence increase (peak phase) that was followed by a longer-lasting fluorescence decrease (valley phase). The peak phase was restricted to the molecular layer, whereas the valley phase extended into the Purkinje cell layer and a portion of the granule cell layer. Responses were abolished by either the Na(+) channel antagonist, tetrodotoxin, or a combination of the AMPA receptor antagonists, NBQX and GIKI-53655, and were also reduced by a flavoprotein inhibitor (diphenyleneiodonium). These findings are consistent with responses being mediated by an increase in mitochondrial activity triggered by increased energy demands evoked by AMPA receptor-mediated synaptic transmission. The GABAA receptor antagonist picrotoxin did not significantly influence evoked responses. Likewise, exogenous application of ethanol, at concentrations known to increase GABAA receptor-mediated synaptic transmission at Purkinje cells, did not modify peak responses. These observations indicate that flavoprotein autofluorescence imaging could be useful to assess the coupling between glutamatergic synaptic transmission and neuronal metabolism in cerebellar slices.
    Neuroscience Letters 10/2014; 584. DOI:10.1016/j.neulet.2014.09.052 · 2.06 Impact Factor
  • Julie A. Kable · James N. Reynolds · C. Fernando Valenzuela · Alexandre E. Medina
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    ABSTRACT: The 2014 Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group (FASDSG) meeting focused on the dual themes of the risks associated with low to moderate alcohol exposure during pregnancy and knowledge translation practices to enhance the impact of scientific research. The meeting theme was titled "Low drinking versus no drinking: Matching science with policy and public perception." Despite decades of basic science and clinical evidence that has documented the risks associated with prenatal alcohol exposure, there still exists confusion and uncertainty on the part of health professionals and the public regarding the question of whether or not there is a "safe" level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The first keynote presentation reviewed the data obtained from large-scale epidemiological studies that have attempted to address the question of relative risk associated with low to moderate alcohol exposure during pregnancy. This presentation was followed by an expert panel discussion of the state of scientific evidence obtained from clinical and basic science investigations concerning this question, and strategies for moving research evidence into policy and practice. The second keynote presentation presented a framework for knowledge translation and mobilization to move research discoveries toward implementation. The conference also featured updates by government agencies, FASt data talks that highlighted new and innovative findings in FASD research, and award presentations, including a lifetime achievement award presented to Dr. Kenneth Warren to acknowledge his longstanding support for FASD research. A highlight of the meeting was the presentation of the 2014 Henry Rosett award to Dr. Philip May in recognition of his substantial contributions to epidemiological studies on FASD. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Alcohol 08/2014; 48(7). DOI:10.1016/j.alcohol.2014.08.002 · 2.04 Impact Factor
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    Marvin Rafael Diaz · Karick Jotty · Jason L Locke · Sara R Jones · Carlos Fernando Valenzuela
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    ABSTRACT: Fetal ethanol (EtOH) exposure leads to a range of neurobehavioral alterations, including deficits in emotional processing. The basolateral amygdala (BLA) plays a critical role in modulating emotional processing, in part, via dopamine (DA) regulation of GABA transmission. This BLA modulatory system is acquired during the first 2 weeks of postnatal life in rodents (equivalent to the third trimester of human pregnancy) and we hypothesized that it could be altered by EtOH exposure during this period. We found that exposure of rats to moderate levels of EtOH vapor during the third trimester-equivalent [postnatal days (P) 2-12] alters DA modulation of GABAergic transmission in BLA pyramidal neurons during periadolescence. Specifically, D1R-mediated potentiation of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) was significantly attenuated in EtOH-exposed animals. However, this was associated with a compensatory decrease in D3R-mediated suppression of miniature IPSCs. Western blot analysis revealed that these effects were not a result of altered D1R or D3R levels. BLA samples from EtOH-exposed animals also had significantly lower levels of the DA precursor (L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine) but DA levels were not affected. This is likely a consequence of reduced catabolism of DA, as indicated by reduced levels of 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid and homovanillic acid in the BLA samples. Anxiety-like behavior was not altered in EtOH-exposed animals. This is the first study to demonstrate that the modulatory actions of DA in the BLA are altered by developmental EtOH exposure. Although compensatory adaptations were engaged in our moderate EtOH exposure paradigm, it is possible that these are not able to restore homeostasis and correct anxiety-like behaviors under conditions of heavier EtOH exposure. Therefore, future studies should investigate the potential role of alterations in the modulatory actions of DA in the pathophysiology of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
    Frontiers in Pediatrics 05/2014; 2:46. DOI:10.3389/fped.2014.00046
  • Paula A Zamudio-Bulcock · Russell A Morton · C Fernando Valenzuela
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    ABSTRACT: Studies indicate that exposure to ethanol (EtOH) during fetal development damages cerebellar Purkinje cells (PCs). PC proximal dendrites receive glutamatergic input from climbing fibers (CFs) originating at the inferior olive. CF input produces a characteristic response in PCs known as the complex spike (CS). During the first 2 weeks of life in rodents (equivalent to the human third trimester of pregnancy), CF-PC synapses undergo profound refinement. Here, we characterized the impact of EtOH exposure during this period on CF-evoked responses in PCs. Using vapor chambers, neonatal rat pups and their mothers were exposed to air or EtOH for 4 h/d between postnatal day 2 (P2) and P12 (pup serum EtOH concentration, 0.16 g/dl). The function of CF-PC synapses was characterized using patch-clamp electrophysiological techniques in acute slices from the cerebellar vermis. Experiments were performed soon after EtOH withdrawal, when perisomatic CFs are still being eliminated (P15 to P17), and after weaning when CF dendritic translocation is almost complete (P21 to P34). Neither the baseline characteristics of the CS (Na(+) spike amplitude, area, coastline index, and afterhyperpolarization [AHP] amplitude) nor the type-1 metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR1)-mediated component of both the CS and AHP were significantly affected by EtOH exposure at P15 to P17 or P21 to P34. The mGluR1-dependent long-term depression (LTD) of CF-evoked excitatory postsynaptic currents was not significantly affected by EtOH exposure at P21 to P34. EtOH exposure during the third trimester equivalent neither affected basal characteristics of the CS nor CF-LTD at rat cerebellar PCs from juvenile rats.
    Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 04/2014; 38(5). DOI:10.1111/acer.12362 · 3.31 Impact Factor
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    Paolo Botta · Aya Zucca · C Fernando Valenzuela
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    ABSTRACT: Golgi cells (GoCs) are specialized interneurons that provide inhibitory input to granule cells in the cerebellar cortex. GoCs are pacemaker neurons that spontaneously fire action potentials, triggering spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents in granule cells and also contributing to the generation tonic GABAA receptor-mediated currents in granule cells. In turn, granule cell axons provide feedback glutamatergic input to GoCs. It has been shown that high frequency stimulation of granule cell axons induces a transient pause in GoC firing in a type 2-metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR2)-dependent manner. Here, we investigated the effect ethanol on the pause of GoC firing induced by high frequency stimulation of granule cell axons. GoC electrophysiological recordings were performed in parasagittal cerebellar vermis slices from postnatal day 23 to 26 rats. Loose-patch cell-attached recordings revealed that ethanol (40 mM) reversibly decreases the pause duration. An antagonist of mGluR2 reduced the pause duration but did not affect the effect of ethanol. Whole-cell voltage-clamp recordings showed that currents evoked by an mGluR2 agonist were not significantly affected by ethanol. Perforated-patch experiments in which hyperpolarizing and depolarizing currents were injected into GoCs demonstrated that there is an inverse relationship between spontaneous firing and pause duration. Slight inhibition of the Na(+)/K(+) pump mimicked the effect of ethanol on pause duration. In conclusion, ethanol reduces the granule cell axon-mediated feedback mechanism by reducing the input responsiveness of GoCs. This would result in a transient increase of GABAA receptor-mediated inhibition of granule cells, limiting information flow at the input stage of the cerebellar cortex.
    Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience 02/2014; 8:10. DOI:10.3389/fnint.2014.00010
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    Russell A Morton · Marvin R Diaz · Lauren A Topper · C Fernando Valenzuela
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    ABSTRACT: Exposure to alcohol during development can result in a constellation of morphological and behavioral abnormalities that are collectively known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs). At the most severe end of the spectrum is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), characterized by growth retardation, craniofacial dysmorphology, and neurobehavioral deficits. Studies with animal models, including rodents, have elucidated many molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of FASDs. Ethanol administration to pregnant rodents has been used to model human exposure during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy. Third trimester ethanol consumption in humans has been modeled using neonatal rodents. However, few rodent studies have characterized the effect of ethanol exposure during the equivalent to all three trimesters of human pregnancy, a pattern of exposure that is common in pregnant women. Here, we show how to build vapor chambers from readily obtainable materials that can each accommodate up to six standard mouse cages. We describe a vapor chamber paradigm that can be used to model exposure to ethanol, with minimal handling, during all three trimesters. Our studies demonstrate that pregnant dams developed significant metabolic tolerance to ethanol. However, neonatal mice did not develop metabolic tolerance and the number of fetuses, fetus weight, placenta weight, number of pups/litter, number of dead pups/litter, and pup weight were not significantly affected by ethanol exposure. An important advantage of this paradigm is its applicability to studies with genetically-modified mice. Additionally, this paradigm minimizes handling of animals, a major confound in fetal alcohol research.
    Journal of Visualized Experiments 01/2014; 89(89). DOI:10.3791/51839 · 1.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Exposure to ethanol (EtOH) during fetal development can lead to long-lasting alterations, including deficits in fine motor skills and motor learning. Studies suggest that these are, in part, a consequence of cerebellar damage. Cerebellar granule neurons (CGNs) are the gateway of information into the cerebellar cortex. Functionally, CGNs are heavily regulated by phasic and tonic GABAergic inhibition from Golgi cell interneurons; however, the effect of EtOH exposure on the development of GABAergic transmission in immature CGNs has not been investigated. To model EtOH exposure during the 3(rd) trimester-equivalent of human pregnancy, neonatal pups were exposed intermittently to high levels of vaporized EtOH from postnatal day (P) 2 to P12. This exposure gradually increased pup serum EtOH concentrations (SECs) to ∼60 mM (∼0.28 g/dl) during the 4 hours of exposure. EtOH levels gradually decreased to baseline 8 hrs after the end of exposure. Surprisingly, basal tonic and phasic GABAergic currents in CGNs were not significantly affected by postnatal alcohol exposure (PAE). However, PAE increased the expression of δ subunit expression at P28 as detected by immunohistochemical and western blot analyses. Also, electrophysiological studies with an agonist that is highly selective for δ-containing GABAA receptors, 4,5,6,7-tetrahydroisoxazolo[4,5-c]pyridine-3-ol (THIP), showed an increase in THIP-induced tonic current. Behavioral studies of PAE rats did not reveal any deficits in motor coordination, except for a delay in the acquisition of the mid-air righting reflex that was apparent at P15 to P18. These findings demonstrate that repeated intermittent exposure to high levels of EtOH during the equivalent of the last trimester of human pregnancy has significant but relatively subtle effects on motor coordination and GABAergic transmission in CGNs in rats.
    Neuropharmacology 12/2013; 79. DOI:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2013.11.020 · 4.82 Impact Factor
  • Rajesh C Miranda · Julie Kable · James N Reynolds · C Fernando Valenzuela
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    ABSTRACT: The 2012 meeting of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group (FASDSG) focused on the development and ethics of biomarkers for fetal alcohol exposure. This one-day international conference brought students and trainees together with clinicians and researchers to discuss the latest research on FASD. One keynote speaker discussed the value of profiling epigenetic modifications in readily available fetal tissues to diagnose fetal exposure to environmental agents, while the second speaker discussed the ethics of biomarker development within the context of core principles of justice, autonomy, beneficence and non-maleficence. Three sessions of short data talks informed the audience of research advances with particular emphasis on the diagnosis of FASD. Other activities included updates on FASD-related activities by representatives of government agencies, a report on the implementation FASD-related diagnostic criteria in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) of the American Psychiatric Association and a networking lunch, and the presentation of the "Merit Award" to Dr. Nathan Muraski for his work on behavioral outcomes of fetal alcohol exposure. The capstone of the meeting was the presentation of the "Henri Rosett" award to Dr. Denis Viljoen, in recognition of his role in raising awareness about the incidence of FASD in South Africa and in promoting FASD prevention and treatment programs as chairperson and chief executive officer of the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR).
    Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.) 10/2013; 47(8). DOI:10.1016/j.alcohol.2013.09.042 · 2.04 Impact Factor
  • R.A. Morton · M S Norlin · C C Vollmer · C F Valenzuela
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    ABSTRACT: Voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) play a major role during the development of the central nervous system (CNS). Ca2+ influx via VGCCs regulates axonal growth and neuronal migration as well as synaptic plasticity. Specifically, L-type VGCCs have been well characterized to be involved in the formation and refinement of the connections within the CA3 region of the hippocampus. The majority of the growth, formation, and refinement in the CNS occurs during the third human trimester. An equivalent developmental time period in rodents occurs during the first 2weeks of post-natal life, and the expression pattern of L-type VGCCs during this time period has not been well characterized. In this study, we show that Cav1.2 channels are more highly expressed during this developmental period compared to adolescence (post-natal day 30) and that L-type VGCCs significantly contribute to the overall Ca2+ currents. These findings suggest that L-type VGCCs are functionally expressed during the crucial developmental period.
    Neuroscience 02/2013; 238. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.02.008 · 3.33 Impact Factor
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    Marvin R Diaz · Aya Wadleigh · Shyam Kumar · Erik De Schutter · C Fernando Valenzuela
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    ABSTRACT: Cerebellar granule cells (CGNs) are one of many neurons that express phasic and tonic GABAergic conductances. Although it is well established that Golgi cells (GoCs) mediate phasic GABAergic currents in CGNs, their role in mediating tonic currents in CGNs (CGN-I(tonic)) is controversial. Earlier studies suggested that GoCs mediate a component of CGN-I(tonic) that is present only in preparations from immature rodents. However, more recent studies have detected a GoC-dependent component of CGN-I(tonic) in preparations of mature rodents. In addition, acute exposure to ethanol was shown to potentiate the GoC component of CGN-I(tonic) and to induce a parallel increase in spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic current frequency at CGNs. Here, we tested the hypothesis that these effects of ethanol on GABAergic transmission in CGNs are mediated by inhibition of the Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase. We used whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology techniques in cerebellar slices of male rats (postnatal day 23-30). Under these conditions, we reliably detected a GoC-dependent component of CGN-I(tonic) that could be blocked with tetrodotoxin. Further analysis revealed a positive correlation between basal sIPSC frequency and the magnitude of the GoC-dependent component of CGN-I(tonic). Inhibition of the Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase with a submaximal concentration of ouabain partially mimicked the ethanol-induced potentiation of both phasic and tonic GABAergic currents in CGNs. Modeling studies suggest that selective inhibition of the Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase in GoCs can, in part, explain these effects of ethanol. These findings establish a novel mechanism of action of ethanol on GABAergic transmission in the central nervous system.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(1):e55673. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0055673 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although it is well documented that heavy consumption of alcohol during pregnancy impairs brain development, it remains controversial whether moderate consumption causes significant damage. Using a limited access, voluntary consumption paradigm, we recently demonstrated that moderate prenatal alcohol exposure (MPAE) is associated with dentate gyrus-dependent learning and memory deficits that are manifested in adulthood. Here, we identified a novel mechanism that may underlie this effect of MPAE. We found that MPAE mice exhibit deficits in NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP) in the dentate gyrus. Further, using semiquantitative immunoblotting techniques, we found that the levels of GluN2B subunits were decreased in the synaptic membrane, while levels of C2'-containing GluN1 and GluN3A subunits were increased, in the dentate gyrus of MPAE mice. These data suggest that MPAE alters the subunit composition of synaptic NMDARs, leading to impaired NMDAR-dependent LTP in the dentate gyrus.
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 01/2013; 33(3):1062-7. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1217-12.2013 · 6.75 Impact Factor
  • Julie C Everett · Yamhilette Licón-Muñoz · C Fernando Valenzuela
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    ABSTRACT: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are often associated with structural and functional hippocampal abnormalities, leading to long-lasting learning and memory deficits. The mechanisms underlying these abnormalities are not fully understood. Here, we investigated whether ethanol exposure during the 3rd trimester-equivalent period alters spontaneous network activity that is involved in neuronal circuit development in the CA3 hippocampal region. This activity is driven by GABA(A) receptors, which can have excitatory actions in developing neurons as a consequence of greater expression of the Cl(-) importer, NKCC1, with respect to expression of the Cl(-) exporter, KCC2, resulting in high [Cl(-)](i). Rat pups were exposed to ethanol vapor from postnatal day (P) 2-16 (4 h/day). Weight gain was significantly reduced in pups exposed to ethanol compared to control at P15 and 16. Brain slices were prepared immediately after the end of the 4-h exposure on P4-16 and experiments were also performed under ethanol-free conditions at the end of the exposure paradigm (P17-22). Ethanol exposure did not significantly affect expression of KCC2 or NKCC1, nor did it affect network activity in the CA3 hippocampal region. Ethanol exposure significantly decreased the frequency (at P9-11) and increased the amplitude (at P5-8 and P17-21) of GABA(A) receptor-mediated miniature postsynaptic currents. These data suggest that repeated in vivo exposure to ethanol during the 3rd trimester-equivalent period alters GABAergic transmission in the CA3 hippocampal region, an effect that could lead to abnormal circuit maturation and perhaps contribute to the pathophysiology of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
    Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.) 06/2012; 46(6):595-601. DOI:10.1016/j.alcohol.2012.04.003 · 2.04 Impact Factor
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    C Fernando Valenzuela · Russell A Morton · Marvin R Diaz · Lauren Topper
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    ABSTRACT: Although public health campaigns advise pregnant women to abstain from ethanol, drinking during pregnancy is pervasive. Here, we highlight recent studies that have clearly demonstrated long-lasting neurobehavioral deficits in the offspring of laboratory animals exposed to moderate levels of ethanol during development. Alterations in learning, memory, motor coordination, social behavior, and stress responses were identified in these animals. Increased vulnerability to substance abuse was also demonstrated. These behavioral alterations have been associated with impairments in neurotransmitter systems, neuromodulators, and/or synaptic plasticity in several brain regions. With this review we hope to contribute to a better appreciation of the potential effects of developmental exposure to moderate ethanol levels, leading to better interventions aimed at relieving fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
    Trends in Neurosciences 03/2012; 35(5):284-92. DOI:10.1016/j.tins.2012.01.006 · 12.90 Impact Factor
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    Aya Wadleigh · C Fernando Valenzuela
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    ABSTRACT: This study assessed the acute effect of ethanol on GABAergic transmission at molecular layer interneurons (MLIs; i.e. basket and stellate cells) in the cerebellar cortex. The actions of ethanol on spontaneous firing of these pacemaker neurons were also measured. Transgenic mice (glutamic acid-decarboxylase 67-green fluorescent protein knock-in mice) that express green fluorescence protein in GABAergic interneurons were used to aid in the identification of MLIs. Parasagittal cerebellar slices were prepared and whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiological techniques were used to measure GABA(A) receptor-mediated spontaneous and miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs and mIPSCs). Loose-seal cell-attached recordings were used to measure spontaneous action potential firing. Stellate cells received spontaneous GABAergic input in the form of a mixture of action potential-dependent events (sIPSCs) and quantal events (mIPSCs); ethanol increased sIPSC frequency to a greater extent than mIPSC frequency. Ethanol increased spontaneous action potential firing of MLIs, which could explain the increase in sIPSC frequency in stellate cells. Basket cells received GABAergic input in the form of quantal events only. Ethanol significantly increased the frequency of these events, which may be mediated by a different type of interneuron (perhaps, the Lugaro cell) or Purkinje cell collaterals. Ethanol exposure differentially increases GABA release at stellate cell vs. basket cell-to-Purkinje cell synapses. This effect may contribute to the abnormalities in cerebellar function associated with alcohol intoxication.
    Alcohol and Alcoholism 11/2011; 47(1):1-8. DOI:10.1093/alcalc/agr147 · 2.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Studies with rodents suggest that acute ethanol exposure impairs information flow through the cerebellar cortex, in part, by increasing GABAergic input to granule cells. Experiments suggest that an increase in the excitability of specialized GABAergic interneurons that regulate granule cell activity (i.e., Golgi cells [GoCs]) contributes to this effect. In GoCs, ethanol increases spontaneous action potential firing frequency, decreases the afterhyperpolarization amplitude, and depolarizes the membrane potential. Studies suggest that these effects could be mediated by inhibition of the Na(+)/K(+) ATPase. The purpose of this study was to characterize the potential role of other GoC conductances in the mechanism of action of ethanol. Computer modeling techniques and patch-clamp electrophysiological recordings with acute slices from rat cerebella were used for these studies. Computer modeling suggested that modulation of subthreshold Na(+) channels, hyperpolarization-activated currents, and several K(+) conductances could explain some but not all actions of ethanol on GoCs. Electrophysiological studies did not find evidence consistent with a contribution of these conductances. Quinidine, a nonselective blocker of several types of channels (including several K(+) channels) that also antagonizes the Na(+)/K(+) ATPase, reduced the effect of ethanol on GoC firing. These findings further support that ethanol increases GoC excitability via modulation of the Na(+)/K(+) ATPase and suggest that a quinidine-sensitive K(+) channel may also play a role in the mechanism of action of ethanol.
    Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 10/2011; 36(4):616-24. DOI:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2011.01658.x · 3.31 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

4k Citations
467.79 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2001–2015
    • University of New Mexico
      • • Department of Psychology
      • • Department of Neurosciences
      • • Division of Hospital Medicine
      Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
  • 2000–2011
    • University of New Mexico Hospitals
      Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
    • University of São Paulo
      • Faculdade de Ciências Farmacêuticas de Ribeirão Preto (FCFRP)
      São Paulo, Estado de Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • 2000–2001
    • Federal University of Santa Catarina
      • Departamento de Farmacologia
      Nossa Senhora do Destêrro, Santa Catarina, Brazil
  • 1999
    • University of Toronto
      • Department of Physiology
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 1995–1998
    • University of Colorado
      • Department of Pharmacology
      Denver, Colorado, United States