[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Conditioned taste aversion (CTA) can be applied to study associative learning and its relevant underpinning molecular mechanisms in discrete brain regions. The present study examined, by immunohistochemistry and immunocytochemistry, the effects of acquisition and expression of lithium-induced CTA on activated Extracellular signal Regulated Kinase (p-ERK) in the prefrontal cortex (PFCx) and nucleus accumbens (Acb) of male Sprague-Dawley rats. The study also examined, by immunoblotting, whether acquisition and expression of lithium-induced CTA resulted in modified levels of phosphorylation of glutamate receptor subunits (NR1 and GluR1) and Thr(34)- and Thr(75-Dopamine-and-cAMP-Regulated) PhosphoProtein (DARPP-32). CTA acquisition was associated with an increase of p-ERK-positive neurons and phosphorylated NR1 receptor subunit (p-NR1) in the PFCx, whereas p-GluR1, p-Thr(34)- and p-Thr(75)-DARPP-32 levels were not changed in this brain region. CTA expression increased the number of p-ERK-positive neurons in the shell (AcbSh) and core (AcbC) but left unmodified p-NR1, p-GluR1, p-Thr(34)- and p-Thr(75-DARPP-32) levels. Furthermore, post-embedding immunogold quantitative analysis in AcbSh revealed that CTA expression significantly increased nuclear p-ERK immunostaining as well as p-ERK-labeled axo-spinous contacts. Overall, these results indicate that ERK and NR1, but not GluR1 and DARPP-32, are differentially phosphorylated as a consequence of acquisition and expression of aversive associative learning. Moreover, these results confirm that CTA represents an useful approach to study the molecular basis of associative learning in rats and suggest the involvement of ERK cascade in learning-associated synaptic plasticity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are involved in seizure mechanisms. Hence, nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy was the first idiopathic epilepsy linked with specific mutations in α4 or β2 nAChR subunit genes. These mutations confer gain of function to nAChRs by increasing sensitivity toward acetylcholine. Consistently, nicotine elicits seizures through nAChRs and mimics the excessive nAChR activation observed in animal models of the disease. Treatments aimed at reducing nicotinic inputs are sought as therapies for epilepsies where these receptors contribute to neuronal excitation and synchronization. Previous studies demonstrated that peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors-α (PPARα), nuclear receptor transcription factors, suppress nicotine-induced behavioral and electrophysiological effects by modulating nAChRs containing β2 subunits. On these bases, we tested whether PPARα agonists were protective against nicotine-induced seizures. To this aim we utilized behavioral and electroencephalographic (EEG) experiments in C57BL/J6 mice and in vitro patch clamp recordings from mice and rats. Convulsive doses of nicotine evoked severe seizures and bursts of spike-waves discharges in ∼100% of mice. A single dose of the synthetic PPARα agonist WY14643 (WY, 80 mg/kg, i.p.) or chronic administration of fenofibrate, clinically available for lipid metabolism disorders, in the diet (0.2%) for 14 days significantly reduced or abolished behavioral and EEG expressions of nicotine-induced seizures. Acute WY effects were reverted by the PPARα antagonist MK886 (3 mg/kg, i.p.). Since neocortical networks are crucial in the generation of ictal activity and synchrony, we performed patch clamp recordings of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs) from frontal cortex layer II/III pyramidal neurons. We found that both acute and chronic treatment with PPARα agonists abolished nicotine-induced sIPSC increases. PPARα within the CNS are key regulators of neuronal activity through modulation of nAChRs. These effects might be therapeutically exploited for idiopathic or genetically determined forms of epilepsy where nAChRs play a major role.
PLoS ONE 05/2013; 8(5):e64541. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0064541 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons control reward-driven learning, and their dysregulation can lead to psychiatric disorders. Tonic and phasic activity of these dopaminergic neurons depends on cholinergic tone and activation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), particularly those containing the β2 subunit (β2*-nAChRs). Nuclear peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors type-α (PPARα) tonically regulate β2*-nAChRs and thereby control dopamine neuron firing activity. However, it is unknown how and when PPARα endogenous ligands are synthesized by dopamine cells. Using ex vivo and in vivo electrophysiological techniques combined with biochemical and behavioral analysis, we show that activation of α7-nAChRs increases in the rat VTA both the tyrosine phosphorylation of the β2 subunit of nAChRs and the levels of two PPARα endogenous ligands in a Ca(2+)-dependent manner. Accordingly, in vivo production of endogenous PPARα ligands, triggered by α7-nAChR activation, blocks in rats nicotine-induced increased firing activity of dopamine neurons and displays antidepressant-like properties. These data demonstrate that endogenous PPARα ligands are effectors of α7-nAChRs and that their neuromodulatory properties depend on phosphorylation of β2*-nAChRs on VTA dopamine cells. This reveals an autoinhibitory mechanism aimed at reducing dopamine cell overexcitation engaged during hypercholinergic drive. Our results unveil important physiological functions of nAChR/PPARα signaling in dopamine neurons and how behavioral output can change after modifications of this signaling pathway. Overall, the present study suggests PPARα as new therapeutic targets for disorders associated with unbalanced dopamine-acetylcholine systems.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 04/2013; 33(14):6203-11. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4647-12.2013 · 6.34 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In recent studies performed in our laboratory we have shown that acute administration of (-)-linalool, the natural occurring enantiomer in essential oils, possesses anti-inflammatory, antihyperalgesic and antinociceptive effects in different animal models. The antihyperalgesic and antinociceptive effects of (-)-linalool have been ascribed to its capacity in stimulating the opioidergic, cholinergic and dopaminergic systems, as well as to its interaction with K+ channels, or to its local anaesthetic activity and/or to the negative modulation of glutamate transmission. Activation of A1 or A2A receptors has been shown to induce antinociceptive effects, and the possible involvement of adenosine in (-)-linalool antinociceptive effect, has not been elucidated yet. Therefore, in the present study, we have investigated the effects of 1,3-dipropyl-8-cyclopentylxanthine (DPCPX), a selective adenosine A1 receptor antagonist and the effects of 3,7-dimethyl-1-propargilxanthine (DMPX), a selective adenosine A2A receptor antagonist on the antinociception of (-)-linalool in mice, measured in the hot-plate test. Both DPCPX (0.1 mg/kg; i.p.) and DMPX (0.1 mg/kg; i.p.) pre-treatment significantly depressed the antinociceptive effect of (-)-linalool at the highest doses tested. These findings demonstrated that the effect of (-)-linalool on pain responses is, at least partially, mediated by the activity of adenosine A1 and A2A receptors.
Life Sciences 05/2006; 78(21):2471-4. DOI:10.1016/j.lfs.2005.10.025 · 2.70 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We previously reported that administration of (-)-linalool, the naturally occurring enantiomer in essential oils, induced a significant reduction in carrageenin-induced oedema and in acetic acid-induced writhing. The latter effect was completely antagonised by the muscarinic receptor antagonist atropine and by the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone. To further characterise the antinociceptive profile of (-)-linalool, we studied its effect in the hot plate and the formalin in tests. In addition, to determine the possible involvement of the cholinergic, opioidergic and dopaminergic systems, we tested the effects of atropine, pirenzepine, a muscarinic M1 receptor antagonist, naloxone, sulpiride, a dopamine D2 receptor antagonist and (R)-(+)-7-chloro-8-hydroxy-3-methyl-1-phenyl-2,3,4,5-tetrahydro-1H-3-benzazepine (SCH-23390), a dopamine D1 receptor antagonist on (-)-linalool-induced antinociception. Moreover, since K(+) channels seem to play an important role in the mechanisms of pain modulation, we examined the effect of glibenclamide, an ATP-sensitive K(+) channel inhibitor on (-)-linalool-induced antinociception. The administration of (-)-linalool (100 and 150 mg/kg, s.c.) increased the reaction time in the hot-plate test. Moreover, (-)-linalool (50 and 100 mg/kg) produced a significant reduction in the early acute phase of the formalin model, but not in the late tonic phase. The highest dose (150 mg/kg) caused a significant antinociceptive effect on both phases. The antinociceptive effects of (-)-linalool were decreased by pre-treatment with atropine, naloxone, sulpiride and glibenclamide but not by pirenzepine and SCH-23390. These results are in agreement with the demonstrated pharmacological properties of linalool, mainly its cholinergic, local anaesthetic activity and its ability to block NMDA receptors. Furthermore, a key role seems to be played by K(+) channels, whose opening might be the consequence of a stimulation of muscarinic M2, opioid or dopamine D2 receptors.
European Journal of Pharmacology 03/2004; 485(1-3):165-74. DOI:10.1016/j.ejphar.2003.11.066 · 2.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Long-term acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) administration prevents the development of escape deficit produced by acute exposure to unavoidable stress. However, it does not revert the escape deficit sustained by chronic stress exposure. Rats exposed to chronic stress show a low dopamine (DA) output in the nucleus accumbens shell (NAcS) and do not acquire an appetitive behavior sustained by the earning of vanilla sugar (VS) made contingent on the choice of one of the two divergent arms of a Y-maze (VS-sustained appetitive behavior, VAB), while control rats consistently do. The present study shows that ALCAR treatment in rats exposed to a 7-day stress protocol prevented a decrease in DA output in the NAcS and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of rats, and that it strengthened the DA response to VS consummation in the same two areas. Moreover, rats treated with long-term ALCAR or exposed to chronic stress while treated with ALCAR acquired VAB as efficiently as control rats. Moreover, VAB acquisition in stressed rats treated with ALCAR coincided with the reversal of the deficits in escape and in dopaminergic transmission in the NAcS. Thus, repeated ALCAR treatment preserved the DA response to VS in chronically stressed rats and this effect appeared to be predictive of the rat's competence to acquire VAB.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) is the acetyl ester of carnitine that has been reported to be beneficial in depressive disorders and Alzheimer's disease. A 7-day administration of ALCAR in rats increased dopamine and serotonin output in the nucleus accumbens shell and it prevented the development of escape deficit produced by acute exposure to unavoidable stress. No tolerance developed to this protective effect, which appeared to be mediated by (1) the activation of 5-HT(1A) receptors, as it was antagonized by the administration of WAY100635 30 min before stress exposure; and (2) a process of neuronal plasticity dependent on NMDA receptor activity, as subcutaneous dizocilpine infusion during ALCAR treatment prevented the development of the protective effect on stress. Chronic stress exposure maintains an escape deficit condition that is reverted by a long-term treatment with antidepressants, but the same condition was not modified by long-term ALCAR administration. Thus, ALCAR cannot be defined as an antidepressant.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rats exposed to acute unavoidable stress develop a deficit in escaping avoidable aversive stimuli that lasts as long as unavoidable stress exposure is repeated. A 3-week exposure to unavoidable stress also reduces dopamine (DA) output in the nucleus accumbens shell (NAcS). This study showed that a 7-day exposure to unavoidable stress induced in rats an escape deficit and a decrease in extraneuronal DA basal concentration in the NAcS. Moreover, animals had reduced DA and serotonin (5-HT) accumulation after cocaine administration in the medial pre-frontal cortex (mPFC) and NAcS, compared with control animals. After a 3-week exposure to unavoidable stress, escape deficit and reduced DA output in the NAcS were still significant at day 14 after the last stress administration. In the mPFC we observed: (i) a short-term reduction in DA basal levels that was back to control values at day 14; (ii) a decrease in DA accumulation at day 3 followed by a significant increase beyond control values at day 14; (iii) a significant reduction in 5-HT extraneuronal basal levels at day 3, but not at day 14. Finally, a significant decrease in 5-HT accumulation following cocaine administration was present in the NAcS and mPFC at day 3, but not at day 14. In conclusion, a long-term stress exposure induced long-lasting behavioral sequelae associated with reproducible neurochemical modifications.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The treatment of unselected depressed patients with an hydro-alcoholic extract of Hypericum perforatum has been reported to have an efficacy similar to that of classical antidepressants. In the present report, the effects of H. perforatum were studied on three animal models of depression: (i) an acute form of escape deficit (ED) induced by an unavoidable stress; (ii) a chronic model of ED, which can be maintained by the administration of mild stressors on alternate days; (iii) a model of anhedonia based on the finding that repeated stressors prevent the development of an appetitive behavior induced by vanilla sugar in satiated rats fed ad libitum. H. perforatum acutely protected animals from the sequelae of unavoidable stress; such an effect was partially prevented by the administration of SCH 23390 or (-)-pindolol. Moreover, H. perforatum reverted the ED maintained by repeated stressors and preserved the animal's capacity to learn to operate for earning a positive reinforcer. It was concluded that H. perforatum contains some active principle(s) endowed with antidepressant activity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cocaine is spontaneously and experimentally self-administered and, when given repeatedly, it induces a stable form of sensitization to a previously assessed minimum active dose. In the present study, triads of rats chronically implanted with a jugular catheter were treated as follows: one animal was trained to self-inject cocaine, while the other two passively received either cocaine or saline whenever the self-administering rat completed the response requirement. After 30 days of stable responding, the animals were sacrificed and dopamine D1 receptor density and adenylyl cyclase activity were measured in different brain areas. Animals receiving cocaine (both self-administering and yoked) showed a down-regulation of dopamine D1 receptor number and of dopamine stimulated adenylyl cyclase activity in the nucleus accumbens, as compared to saline rats. In the olfactory tubercle, dopamine stimulated adenylyl cyclase activity appeared selectively and significantly down-regulated in self-administering animals.
European Journal of Pharmacology 12/1998; 362(1):9-15. DOI:10.1016/S0014-2999(98)00731-6 · 2.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor blockade is thought to prevent the development of cocaine-induced sensitization. Moreover, when cocaine is administered daily along with dizocilpine infusion to previously sensitized rats, the extinction of sensitization occurs. We report here two sets of experiments: (1) Rats were infused with dizocilpine through a subcutaneous mini-pump (0.1 mg/kg/day) during the induction of cocaine sensitization and, after 2 or 7 days of wash-out, were challenged with: cocaine, dizocilpine plus cocaine or 3-((+/-)2-carboxypiperazin-4-yl)-propyl-L-phosphonic acid (CPP) plus cocaine. Cocaine induced stereotypy scores significantly lower than that produced by the two drug combinations. Animals infused with dizocilpine alone did not present stereotypies when challenged either with dizocilpine or with dizocilpine plus cocaine. (2) Rats previously sensitized to cocaine received dizocilpine by infusion and daily cocaine treatments for a week. During the first days of infusion, sensitization appeared to be significantly decreased, but it resumed the initial intensity on days 6-7. After 2 and 9 days of wash-out, the expression of sensitization could be retrieved only by dizocilpine plus cocaine. Two distinct forms of sensitization to cocaine thus seem to exist: one dependent on and the second independent of NMDA receptor activity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 1. The present study investigated the effect of long-term D1 dopamine receptor stimulation on an animal model of depression derived from the learned helplessness paradigm. 2. The model used is based on the escape deficit produced by a series of unavoidable shocks administered to rats 24 h before the test session. SKF 38393 administered acutely, completely prevented the development of animal hyporeactivity, while given repeatedly produced tolerance to its own protective effect. Moreover it also reduced the spontaneous escape reactivity of rats not exposed to the inescapable shocks. Animals chronically receiving SKF 38393 and showing a clearcut escape deficit, were treated daily with either imipramine, fluoxetine, or clomipramine. After 21 days of combined treatment the 3 antidepressants appeared equally effective in reverting the behavioral deficit. Moreover, long term administration of both imipramine or SKF 38393 down regulated D1 dopamine receptor number in the prefrontal cortex, while the association of the two drugs resulted in a receptor density similar to that of control rats. 3. The present results further support the crucial role played by D1 dopamine receptors in the control of animal reactivity to stressful stimuli and in the mechanism of action of imipramine. Moreover they show that the D1 dopamine receptor related escape deficit is sensitive also to compounds selectively acting through the serotonergic neuronal system.
Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 10/1995; 19(5):741-55. DOI:10.1016/0278-5846(95)00128-I · 3.69 Impact Factor