Kohei Koga

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (19)102.32 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Long-term potentiation (LTP) is the key cellular mechanism for physiological learning and pathological chronic pain. Postsynaptic accumulation of AMPA receptor (AMPAR) GluA1 plays an important role for injury-related cortical LTP. However, there is no direct evidence for postsynaptic GluA1 insertion or accumulation after peripheral injury. Here we report nerve injury increased the postsynaptic expression of AMPAR GluA1 in pyramidal neurons in the layer V of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), including the corticospinal projecting neurons. Electrophysiological recordings show that potentiation of postsynaptic responses was reversed by Ca2+ permeable AMPAR antagonist NASPM. Finally, behavioral studies show that microinjection of NASPM into the ACC inhibited behavioral sensitization caused by nerve injury. Our findings provide direct evidence that peripheral nerve injury induces postsynaptic GluA1 accumulation in cingulate cortical neurons, and inhibits postsynaptic GluA1 accumulation which may serve as a novel target for treating neuropathic pain.
    Molecular brain. 10/2014; 7(1):76.
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    ABSTRACT: Long-term potentiation (LTP) is a key cellular mechanism for pathological pain in the central nervous system. LTP contains at least two different phases: early-phase LTP (E-LTP) and late-phase LTP (L-LTP). Among several major cortical areas, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is a critical brain region for pain perception and its related emotional changes. Periphery tissue or nerve injuries cause LTP of excitatory synaptic transmission in the ACC. Our previous studies have demonstrated that genetic deletion of calcium-stimulated adenylyl cyclase 1 (AC1) or pharmacological application of a selective AC1 inhibitor NB001 blocked E-LTP in the ACC. However, the effect of AC1 on L-LTP, which requires new protein synthesis and is important for the process of chronic pain, has not been investigated. Here we tested the effects of NB001 on the ACC L-LTP and found that bath application of NB001 (0.1 muM) totally blocked the induction of L-LTP and recruitment of cortical circuitry without affecting basal excitatory transmission. In contrast, gabapentin, a widely used analgesic drug for neuropathic pain, did not block the induction of L-LTP and circuitry recruitment even at a high concentration (100 muM). Gabapentin non-selectively decreased basal synaptic transmission. Our results provide strong evidence that the selective AC1 inhibitor NB001 can be used to inhibit pain-related cortical L-LTP without affecting basal synaptic transmission. It also provides basic mechanisms for possible side effects of gabapentin in the central nervous system and its ineffectiveness in some patients with neuropathic pain.
    Molecular Pain 10/2014; 10(1):65. · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Temporal properties of spike firing in the central nervous system (CNS) are critical for neuronal coding and the precision of information storage. Chronic pain has been reported to affect cognitive and emotional functions, in addition to trigger long-term plasticity in sensory synapses and behavioral sensitization. Less is known about the possible changes in temporal precision of cortical neurons in chronic pain conditions. In the present study, we investigated the temporal precision of action potential firing in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) by using both in vivo and in vitro electrophysiological approaches. We found that peripheral inflammation caused by complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) increased the standard deviation (SD) of spikes latency (also called jitter) of ∼51% of recorded neurons in the ACC of adult rats in vivo. Similar increases in jitter were found in ACC neurons using in vitro brain slices from adult mice with peripheral inflammation or nerve injury. Bath application of glutamate receptor antagonists CNQX and AP5 abolished the enhancement of jitter induced by CFA injection or nerve injury, suggesting that the increased jitter depends on the glutamatergic synaptic transmission. Activation of adenylyl cyclases (ACs) by bath application of forskolin increased jitter, whereas genetic deletion of AC1 abolished the change of jitter caused by CFA inflammation. Our study provides strong evidence for long-term changes of temporal precision of information coding in cortical neurons after peripheral injuries and explains neuronal mechanism for chronic pain caused cognitive and emotional impairment.
    The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 08/2014; 34(32):10675-87.
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    ABSTRACT: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is characterized by recurrent abdominal discomfort, spontaneous pain, colorectal hypersensitivity and bowel dysfunction. Patients with IBS also suffer from emotional anxiety and depression. However, few animal studies have investigated IBS-induced spontaneous pain and behavioral anxiety. In this study, we assessed spontaneous pain and anxiety behaviors in an adult mouse model of IBS induced by zymosan administration. By using Fos protein as a marker, we found that sensory and emotion related brain regions were activated at day 7 after the treatment with zymosan; these regions include the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, insular cortex and amygdala. Behaviorally, zymosan administration triggered spontaneous pain (decreased spontaneous activities in the open field test) and increased anxiety-like behaviors in three different tests (the open field, elevated plus maze and light/dark box tests). Intraperitoneal injection of NB001, an adenylyl cyclase 1 (AC1) inhibitor, reduced spontaneous pain but had no significant effect on behavioral anxiety. In contrast, gabapentin reduced both spontaneous pain and behavioral anxiety. These results indicate that NB001 and gabapentin may inhibit spontaneous pain and anxiety-like behaviors through different mechanisms.
    Molecular brain. 06/2014; 7(1):47.
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    ABSTRACT: Long-term potentiation (LTP) is the key cellular mechanism for physiological learning and pathological chronic pain. In the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), postsynaptic recruitment or modification of AMPA receptor (AMPAR) GluA1 contribute to the expression of LTP. Here we report that pyramidal cells in the deep layers of the ACC send direct descending projecting terminals to the dorsal horn of the spinal cord (lamina I-III). After peripheral nerve injury, these projection cells are activated, and postsynaptic excitatory responses of these descending projecting neurons were significantly enhanced. Newly recruited AMPARs contribute to the potentiated synaptic transmission of cingulate neurons. PKA-dependent phosphorylation of GluA1 is important, since enhanced synaptic transmission was abolished in GluA1 phosphorylation site serine-845 mutant mice. Our findings provide strong evidence that peripheral nerve injury induce long-term enhancement of cortical-spinal projecting cells in the ACC. Direct top-down projection system provides rapid and profound modulation of spinal sensory transmission, including painful information. Inhibiting cortical top-down descending facilitation may serve as a novel target for treating neuropathic pain.
    Molecular Pain 06/2014; 10(1):33. · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fragile X syndrome, caused by the mutation of the Fmr1 gene, is characterized by deficits of attention and learning ability. In hippocampus of Fmr1 knockout mice (KO), long term depression is enhanced while long-term potentiation (LTP) including late-phase LTP (L-LTP) is reduced or unaffected. Here we examined L-LTP in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in Fmr1 KO mice by using a 64-electrode array recording system. In wild-type mice, theta burst stimulation induced L-LTP, which does not occur in all active electrodes/channels within the cingulate circuit and is typically detected in about 75% of active channels. Furthermore, L-LTP recruited new responses from previous inactive channels. Both L-LTP and the recruitment of inactive responses were blocked in the ACC slices of Fmr1 KO mice. Bath application of metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) antagonist or glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3) inhibitors rescued the L-LTP and network recruitment. Our results demonstrate that loss of FMRP will greatly impair L-LTP and recruitment of cortical network in the ACC, which can be rescued by pharmacological inhibition of mGluR5 or GSK3. This study is the first report of the network properties of L-LTP in the ACC, and provides basic mechanisms for future treatment of cortex-related cognitive defects in fragile X patients.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 20 February 2014; doi:10.1038/npp.2014.44.
    Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 02/2014; · 8.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The insular cortex (IC) is known to play important roles in higher brain functions such as memory and pain. Activity-dependent long-term depression (LTD) is a major form of synaptic plasticity related to memory and chronic pain. Previous studies of LTD have mainly focused on the hippocampus, and no study in the IC has been reported. In this study, using a 64-channel recording system, we show for the first time that repetitive low-frequency stimulation (LFS) can elicit frequency-dependent LTD of glutamate receptor-mediated excitatory synaptic transmission in both superficial and deep layers of the IC of adult mice. The induction of LTD in the IC required activation of the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR)5, and L-type voltage-gated calcium channel. Protein phosphatase 1/2A and endocannabinoid signaling are also critical for the induction of LTD. In contrast, inhibiting protein kinase C, protein kinase A, protein kinase Mζ or calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II did not affect LFS-evoked LTD in the IC. Bath application of the group I mGluR agonist (RS)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine produced another form of LTD in the IC, which was NMDA receptor-independent and could not be occluded by LFS-induced LTD. Our studies have characterised the basic mechanisms of LTD in the IC at the network level, and suggest that two different forms of LTD may co-exist in the same population of IC synapses.
    European Journal of Neuroscience 08/2013; · 3.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent investigations into the mechanisms mediating itch transmission have focused on spinal mechanisms, whereas few studies have investigated the role of the cerebral cortex in itch related behaviors. Human imaging studies show that several cortical regions are active in correspondence with itch, including the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). We present here evidence of cortical modulation of pruritogen-induced scratching behavior. We combine pharmacological, genetic, and electrophysiological approaches to show that cortical GluK1-containing kainate (KA) receptors are involved in scratching induced by histamine and non-histamine dependent itching stimuli. We further show that scratching corresponds with enhanced excitatory transmission in the ACC through KA receptor modulation of inhibitory circuitry. In addition, we found that inhibiting GluK1-containing KA receptors in the ACC also reduced behavioral nociceptive responses induced by formalin. Our results reveal a new role of the cortex in pruritogen-induced scratching. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 06/2013; · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The insular cortex (IC) is widely believed to be an important forebrain structure involved in cognitive and sensory processes such as memory and pain. However, little work has been performed at the cellular level to investigate the synaptic basis of IC-related brain functions. To bridge the gap, the present study was designed to characterize the basic synaptic mechanisms for insular long-term potentiation (LTP). Using a 64-channel recording system, we found that an enduring form of late-phase LTP (L-LTP) could be reliably recorded for at least 3 h in different layers of the IC slices following theta burst stimulation. The induction of insular LTP is protein synthesis-dependent and requires activation of both GluN2A and GluN2B subunits of the NMDA receptor, L-type voltage-gated calcium channels, and metabotropic glutamate receptor 1. The paired-pulse facilitation ratio was unaffected by insular L-LTP induction, and expression of insular L-LTP requires the recruitment of postsynaptic calcium-permeable AMPA receptors. Our results provide the first in vitro report of long-term multi-channel recordings of L-LTP in the IC from adult mice, and suggest its potential important roles in insular-related memory and chronic pain.
    Journal of Neurophysiology 05/2013; · 3.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neurons in the insular cortex are activated by acute and chronic pain, and inhibition of neuronal activity in the insular cortex has analgesic effects. We found that in a mouse model in which peripheral nerve injury leads to the development of neuropathic pain, the insular cortex showed changes in synaptic plasticity, which were associated with a long-term increase in the amount of synaptic N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDARs), but not that of extrasynaptic NMDARs. Activation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-dependent signaling enhanced the amount of synaptic NMDARs in acutely isolated insular cortical slices and increased the surface localization of NMDARs in cultured cortical neurons. We found that the increase in the amount of NMDARs required phosphorylation of the NMDAR subunit GluN2B at Tyr(1472) by a pathway involving adenylyl cyclase subtype 1 (AC1), protein kinase A (PKA), and Src family kinases. Finally, injecting NMDAR or GluN2B-specific antagonists into the insular cortex reduced behavioral responses to normally nonnoxious stimuli in the mouse model of neuropathic pain. Our results suggest that activity-dependent plasticity takes place in the insular cortex after nerve injury and that inhibiting the increase in NMDAR function may help to prevent or treat neuropathic pain.
    Science Signaling 01/2013; 6(275):ra34. · 7.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The neurons in neocortex layer I (LI) provide inhibition to the cortical networks. Despite increasing use of mice for the study of brain functions, few studies are reported about mouse LI neurons. In the present study, we characterized intrinsic properties of LI neurons of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a key cortical area for sensory and cognitive functions, by using whole-cell patch clamp recording approach. Seventy one neurons in LI and 12 pyramidal neurons in LII/III were recorded. Although all the LI neurons expressed continuous adapting firing characteristics, the unsupervised clustering results revealed five groups in the ACC, including: Spontaneous firing neurons; Delay-sAHP neurons, Delay-fAHP neurons, and two groups of neurons with ADP , ADP1 and ADP2. Using pharmacological approaches, we found that LI neurons receive both excitatory (mediated by AMPA, kainate and NMDA receptors), and inhibitory inputs (which were mediated by GABAA receptors). Our studies provide the first report characterizing the electrophysiological properties of neurons in LI of the ACC from adult mice.
    Molecular Pain 07/2012; 8(1):53. · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Kainate (KA) receptors are expressed widely in the central nervous system and regulate both excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission. KA receptors play important roles in fear memory, anxiety, and pain. However, little is known about their function in synaptic transmission in the insular cortex (IC), a critical region for taste, memory, and pain. Using whole cell patch-clamp recordings, we have shown that KA receptors contribute to fast synaptic transmission in neurons in all layers of the IC. In the presence of the GABA(A) receptor antagonist picrotoxin, the NMDA receptor antagonist AP-5, and the selective AMPA receptor antagonist GYKI 53655, KA receptor-mediated excitatory postsynaptic currents (KA EPSCs) were revealed. We found that KA EPSCs are ∼5-10% of AMPA/KA EPSCs in all layers of the adult mouse IC. Similar results were found in adult rat IC. KA EPSCs had a significantly slower rise time course and decay time constant compared with AMPA receptor-mediated EPSCs. High-frequency repetitive stimulations at 200 Hz significantly facilitated the summation of KA EPSCs. In addition, genetic deletion of GluK1 or GluK2 subunit partially reduced postsynaptic KA EPSCs, and exposure of GluK2 knockout mice to the selective GluK1 antagonist UBP 302 could significantly reduce the KA EPSCs. These data suggest that both GluK1 and GluK2 play functional roles in the IC. Our study may provide the synaptic basis for the physiology and pathology of KA receptors in the IC-related functions.
    Journal of Neurophysiology 07/2012; 108(7):1988-98. · 3.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although the cortex has been extensively studied in long-term memory storage, less emphasis has been placed on immediate cortical contributions to fear memory formation. AMPA receptor plasticity is strongly implicated in learning and memory, and studies have identified calcium permeable AMPA receptors (CP-AMPARs) as mediators of synaptic strengthening. Trace fear learning engages the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), but whether plastic events occur within the ACC in response to trace fear learning, and whether GluN2B subunits are required remains unknown. Here we show that the ACC is necessary for trace fear learning, and shows a rapid 20% upregulation of membrane AMPA receptor GluA1 subunits that is evident immediately after conditioning. Inhibition of NMDA receptor GluN2B subunits during training prevented the upregulation, and disrupted trace fear memory retrieval 48 h later. Furthermore, intra-ACC injections of the CP-AMPAR channel antagonist, 1-naphthylacetyl spermine (NASPM) immediately following trace fear conditioning blocked 24 h fear memory retrieval. Accordingly, whole cell patch clamp recordings from c-fos positive and c-fos negative neurons within the ACC in response to trace fear learning revealed an increased sensitivity to NASPM in recently activated neurons that was reversed by reconsolidation update extinction. Our results suggest that trace fear learning is mediated through rapid GluN2B dependent trafficking of CP-AMPARs, and present in vivo evidence that CP-AMPAR activity within the ACC immediately after conditioning is necessary for subsequent memory consolidation processes.
    Molecular Brain 01/2012; 5:6. · 4.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Itch sensation is one of the major sensory experiences of human and animals. Recent studies have proposed that gastrin releasing peptide (GRP) is a key neurotransmitter for itch in spinal cord. However, no direct evidence is available to indicate that GRP actually mediate responses between primary afferent fibers and dorsal horn neurons. Here we performed integrative neurobiological experiments to test this question. We found that a small population of rat dorsal horn neurons responded to GRP application with increases in calcium signaling. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings revealed that a part of superficial dorsal horn neurons responded to GRP application with the increase of action potential firing in adult rats and mice, and these dorsal horn neurons received exclusively primary afferent C-fiber inputs. On the other hands, few A(δ) inputs receiving cells were found to be GRP positive. Finally, we found that evoked sensory responses between primary afferent C fibers and GRP positive superficial dorsal horn neurons are mediated by glutamate but not GRP. CNQX, a blocker of AMPA and kainate (KA) receptors, completely inhibited evoked EPSCs, including in those Fos-GFP positive dorsal horn cells activated by itching. Our findings provide the direct evidence that glutamate is the principal excitatory transmitter between C fibers and GRP positive dorsal horn neurons. Our results will help to understand the neuronal mechanism of itch and aid future treatment for patients with pruritic disease.
    Molecular Pain 06/2011; 7:47. · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neuropathic pain, often caused by nerve injury, is commonly observed among patients with different diseases. Because its basic mechanisms are poorly understood, effective medications are limited. Previous investigations of basic pain mechanisms and drug discovery efforts have focused mainly on early sensory neurons such as dorsal root ganglion and spinal dorsal horn neurons, and few synaptic-level studies or new drugs are designed to target the injury-related cortical plasticity that accompanies neuropathic pain. Our previous work has demonstrated that calcium-stimulated adenylyl cyclase 1 (AC1) is critical for nerve injury-induced synaptic changes in the anterior cingulate cortex. Through rational drug design and chemical screening, we have identified a lead candidate AC1 inhibitor, NB001, which is relatively selective for AC1 over other adenylate cyclase isoforms. Using a variety of behavioral tests and toxicity studies, we have found that NB001, when administered intraperitoneally or orally, has an analgesic effect in animal models of neuropathic pain, without any apparent side effects. Our study thus shows that AC1 could be a productive therapeutic target for neuropathic pain and describes a new agent for the possible treatment of neuropathic pain.
    Science translational medicine 01/2011; 3(65):65ra3. · 10.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The amygdala is known to be a critical brain region for emotional fear. It is believed that synaptic plasticity within the amygdala is the cellular basis of fear memory. Recent studies demonstrate that cortical areas such as the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) may also contribute to the formation of fear memory, including trace fear memory and remote fear memory. At synaptic level, fear conditioning also triggers plastic changes within the cortical areas immediately after the condition. These results raise the possibility that certain forms of synaptic plasticity may occur within the cortex while synaptic potentiation takes place within synapses in the hippocampus and amygdala. This hypothesis is supported by electrophysiological evidence obtained from freely moving animals that neurons in the hippocampus/amygdala fire synchronous activities with cortical neurons during the learning. To study fear-related synaptic plasticity in the cortex and its functional connectivity with neurons in the amygdala and hippocampus will help us understand brain mechanisms of fear and improve clinical treatment of emotional disorders in patients.
    Neural Plasticity 01/2011; 2011:813749. · 2.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Synaptic plasticity is a key mechanism for chronic pain. It occurs at different levels of the central nervous system, including spinal cord and cortex. Studies have mainly focused on signaling proteins that trigger these plastic changes, whereas few have addressed the maintenance of plastic changes related to chronic pain. We found that protein kinase M zeta (PKMζ) maintains pain-induced persistent changes in the mouse anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Peripheral nerve injury caused activation of PKMζ in the ACC, and inhibiting PKMζ by a selective inhibitor, ζ-pseudosubstrate inhibitory peptide (ZIP), erased synaptic potentiation. Microinjection of ZIP into the ACC blocked behavioral sensitization. These results suggest that PKMζ in the ACC acts to maintain neuropathic pain. PKMζ could thus be a new therapeutic target for treating chronic pain.
    Science 12/2010; 330(6009):1400-4. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) plays important roles in emotion, learning, memory and persistent pain. Our previous in vitro studies have demonstrated that pyramidal neurons in layer II/III of the adult mouse ACC can be characterized into three types: regular spiking (RS), intermediate (IM) and intrinsic bursting (IB) cells, according to their action potential (AP) firing patterns. However, no in vivo information is available for the intrinsic properties and sensory responses of ACC neurons of adult mice. Here, we performed in vivo whole-cell patch-clamp recordings from pyramidal neurons in adult mice ACC under urethane anesthetized conditions. First, we classified the intrinsic properties and analyzed their slow oscillations. The population ratios of RS, IM and IB cells were 10, 62 and 28%, respectively. The mean spontaneous APs frequency of IB cells was significantly greater than those of RS and IM cells, while the slow oscillations were similar among ACC neurons. Peripheral noxious pinch stimuli induced evoked spike responses in all three types of ACC neurons. Interestingly, IB cells showed significantly greater firing frequencies than RS and IM cells. In contrast, non-noxious brush did not induce any significant response. Our studies provide the first in vivo characterization of ACC neurons in adult mice, and demonstrate that ACC neurons are indeed nociceptive. These findings support the critical roles of ACC in nociception, from mice to humans.
    Molecular Pain 09/2010; 6:62. · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Microglia are the resident macrophages in the central nervous system. In the spinal cord dorsal horn, microglia stay in resting condition during physiological sensory processing, and are activated under pathological conditions such as peripheral nerve injury. In cases such as this, the nearby resting microglia increase their motility and accumulate at the site of injury. However, direct evidence to support that nerve activity can enhance the motility of microglia has not yet to be reported. In this study we investigated whether the activation of spinal microglia under in vivo nerve injury may be mimicked by neuronal activity in the spinal cord slice preparation. We found that local application of spinal excitatory neurotransmitters, such as glutamate and substance P did not cause any change in the motility of microglial cells in the spinal cord dorsal horn. The motility of microglial cells is unlikely modulated by other transmitters, neuromodulators and chemokines, because similar applications such as GABA, serotonin, noradrenaline, carbachol, fractalkine or interleukin did not produce any obvious effect. Furthermore, low or high frequency stimulation of spinal dorsal root fibers at noxious intensities failed to cause any enhanced extension or retraction of the microglia processes. By contrast, focal application of ATP triggered rapid and robust activation of microglial cells in the spinal dorsal horn. Our results provide the first evidence that the activation of microglia in the spinal cord after nerve injury is unlikely due solely to neuronal activity, non-neuronal factors are likely responsible for the activation of nerve injury-related microglial cells in the spinal dorsal horn.
    Molecular Pain 04/2010; 6:19. · 3.77 Impact Factor