- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Relaxin-3 has been proposed to modulate emotional-behavioural functions such as arousal and behavioural activation, appetite regulation, stress responses, anxiety, memory, sleep, and circadian rhythm. The nucleus incertus (NI), in the midline tegmentum close to the fourth ventricle, projects widely throughout the brain and is the primary site of relaxin-3 neurons. Over recent years, a number of preclinical studies have been conducted to explore the function of the NI and relaxin-3 signalling, including reports of mRNA or peptide expression changes in the NI in response to behavioural or pharmacological manipulations, effects of lesions or electrical or pharmacological manipulations of the NI, effects of central microinfusions of relaxin-3 or related agonist or antagonist ligands on physiology and behaviour, and the impact of relaxin-3 gene/peptide deletion or knockdown. Although these individual studies reveal facets of the likely functional relevance of the NI and relaxin-3 systems for human physiology and behaviour, the differences observed in responses between species (e.g. rat vs. mouse), the clearly identified heterogeneity of NI neurons and procedural differences between laboratories are some of the factors that have retarded a precise understanding of their function. This review aims to draw attention to the current preclinical evidence available that suggests the relevance of the NI/relaxin-3 system to the pathology and/or symptoms of certain neuropsychiatric disorders and to provide cognizant directions for future research to effectively and efficiently uncover its therapeutic potential.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Relaxin-3 or insulin-like peptide 7 (INSL7) is the most recently discovered relaxin/insulin-like family peptide. Mature relaxin-3 consists of an A chain and a B chain held by disulphide bonds. According to structure activity relationship studies, the relaxin-3B chain is more important in binding and activating the receptor. RXFP3 (also known as Relaxin-3 receptor 1, GPCR 135, somatostatin- and angiotensin- like peptide receptor or SALPR) was identified as the cognate receptor for relaxin-3 by expression profiles and binding studies. Recent studies imply roles of this system in mediating stress and anxiety, feeding, metabolism and cognition. Stapling of peptides is a technique used to develop peptide drugs for otherwise undruggable targets. The main advantages of stapling include, increased activity due to reduced proteolysis, increased affinity to receptors and increased cell permeability. Stable agonists and antagonists of RXFP3 are crucial for understanding the physiological significance of this system. So far, agonists and antagonists of RXFP3 are peptides. In this study, for the first time, we have introduced stapling of the relaxin-3B chain at 14th and 18th positions (14s18) and 18th and 22nd position (18s22). These stapled peptides showed greater helicity than the unstapled relaxin-3B chain in circular dichroism analysis. Both stapled peptides bound RXFP3 and activated RXFP3 as observed in an inhibition of forskolin-induced cAMP assay and a ERK1/2 activation assay, although with different potencies. Therefore, we conclude that stapling of the relaxin3B chain does not compromise its ability to activate RXFP3 and is a promising method for developing stable peptide agonists and antagonists of RXFP3 to aid relaxin-3/RXFP3 research.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The nucleus incertus (NI), a brainstem structure with diverse anatomical connections, is implicated in anxiety, arousal, hippocampal theta modulation, and stress responses. It expresses a variety of neurotransmitters, neuropeptides and receptors such as 5-HT1A, D2 and CRF1 receptors. We hypothesized that the NI may play a role in the neuropharmacology of buspirone, a clinical anxiolytic which is a 5-HT1A receptor partial agonist and a D2 receptor antagonist. Several preclinical studies have reported a biphasic anxiety-modulating effect of buspirone but the precise mechanism and structures underlying this effect are not well-understood. The present study implicates the NI in the anxiogenic effects of a high dose of buspirone. Systemic buspirone (3 mg/kg) induced anxiogenic effects in elevated plus maze, light-dark box and open field exploration paradigms in rats and strongly activated the NI, as reflected by c-Fos expression. This anxiogenic effect was reproduced by direct infusion of buspirone (5 μg) into the NI, but was abolished in NI-CRF-saporin-lesioned rats, indicating that the NI is present in neural circuits driving anxiogenic behaviour. Pharmacological studies with NAD 299, a selective 5-HT1A antagonist, or quinpirole, a D2/D3 agonist, were conducted to examine the receptor system in the NI involved in this anxiogenic effect. Opposing the 5-HT1A agonism but not the D2 antagonism of buspirone in the NI attenuated the anxiogenic effects of systemic buspirone. In conclusion, 5-HT1A receptors in the NI contribute to the anxiogenic effect of an acute high dose of buspirone in rats and may be functionally relevant to physiological anxiety.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Priming phenomenon, in which an earlier exposure to a stimulus or condition alters synaptic plasticity in response to a subsequent stimulus or condition, known as a challenge, is an example of metaplasticity. In this review, we make the case that the locus coeruleus noradrenergic system-medial perforant path-dentate gyrus pathway is a neural ensemble amenable to studying priming-challenge effects on synaptic plasticity. Accumulating evidence points to a tyrosine hydroxylase-dependent priming effect achieved by pharmacological (nicotine and antipsychotics) or physiological (septal theta driving) manipulations of the locus coeruleus noradrenergic system that can facilitate noradrenaline-induced synaptic plasticity in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. The evidence suggests the hypothesis that behavioural experiences inducing tyrosine hydroxylase expression in the locus coeruleus may be sufficient to prime this form of metaplasticity. We propose exploring this phenomenon of priming and challenge physiologically, to determine whether behavioural experiences are sufficient to prime the locus coeruleus, enabling subsequent pharmacological or behavioural challenge conditions that increase locus coeruleus firing to release sufficient noradrenaline to induce long-lasting potentiation in the dentate gyrus. Such an approach may contribute to unravelling mechanisms underlying this form of metaplasticity and its importance in stress-related mnemonic processes.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Locomotion is essential for goal-oriented behavior. Theta frequency oscillations in the hippocampus have been associated with behavioral activation and initiation of movement. Recently, the nucleus incertus, a brainstem nucleus with widespread cortical and subcortical projections, has been reported to modulate the septo-hippocampal axis triggering theta activity in the hippocampus. This suggests that activation of the nucleus incertus would induce movement. In this study, we investigated the effects of electrical microstimulation of the nucleus incertus on locomotion in conscious rats. Rats chronically implanted with microelectrodes targeting the nucleus incertus were electrically stimulated while their behavior was tracked. High frequency electrical microstimulation of the nucleus incertus was sufficient to induce forward locomotion and rotation. The latencies of evoked locomotion were consistent with a role of the nucleus incertus in modulating premotor areas, possibly the septo-hippocampal axis. Electrical microstimulation of the nucleus incertus increased velocity, mobility and rotations during stimulation and post-stimulation. These results suggest that the nucleus incertus plays a role in behavioral activation and locomotion.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rationale The G-protein-coupled relaxin family receptors RXFP1 and RXFP3 are widely expressed in the cortex and are involved in stress responses and memory and emotional processing. However, the identification of these receptors in human cortex and their status in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which is characterized by both cognitive impairments and neuropsychiatric behaviours, have not been reported. Objectives In this study, we characterized RXFP receptors for immunoblotting and measured RXFP1 and RXFP3 immunoreactivities in the postmortem neocortex of AD patients longitudinally assessed for depressive symptoms. Methods RXFP1 and RXFP3 antibodies were characterized by immunoblotting with lysates from transfected HEK cells and preadsorption with RXFP3 peptides. Also, postmortem neocortical tissues from behaviourally assessed AD and age-matched controls were processed for immunoblotting with RXFP1 and RXFP3 antibodies. Results Compared to controls, putative RXFP1 immunoreactivity was reduced in parietal cortex of non-depressed AD patients but unchanged in depressed patients. Furthermore, putative RXFP3 immunoreactivity was increased only in depressed AD patients. RXFP1 levels in the parietal cortex also correlated with severity of depression symptoms. In contrast, RXFP1 and RXFP3 levels did not correlate with dementia severity or β-amyloid burden. Conclusion Alterations of RXFP1 and RXFP3 may be neurochemical markers of depression in AD, and relaxin family receptors warrant further preclinical investigations as possible therapeutic targets for neuropsychiatric symptoms in dementia.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The nucleus incertus (NI) is a small brainstem cluster of neurons presumed to play a role in stress responses. We show that swim stress (normal water: 30min and cold water: 20min) and elevation stress robustly induced c-Fos expression in the NI and significantly suppressed long term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampo-medial prefrontal cortical (HP-mPFC) pathway. To examine whether activation of CRF1 receptors in the NI plays a role in the suppression of HP-mPFC LTP, antalarmin, a specific CRF1 receptor antagonist, was infused directly into the NI either before presentation of (1) elevation stress or (2) high frequency stimulation. As predicted, the intra-NI infusion of antalarmin reversed the elevation stress-induced suppression of LTP in the HP-mPFC pathway. This short report suggests that the CRF1 receptor system in the NI contributes to stress-related impairment in the plasticity of HP-mPFC pathway. The findings suggest that the NI-HP-mPFC is a stress responsive circuit in the rodent brain.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adaptation of the nervous system to different chemical and physiologic conditions is important for the homeostasis of brain processes and for learning and remembering appropriate responses to challenges. Although processes such as tolerance and dependence to various drugs of abuse have been known for a long time, it was recently discovered that even a single pharmacologically relevant dose of various drugs of abuse induces neuroplasticity in selected neuronal populations, such as the dopamine neurons of the ventral tegmental area, which persist long after the drug has been excreted. Prolonged (self-) administration of drugs induces gene expression, neurochemical, neurophysiological, and structural changes in many brain cell populations. These region-specific changes correlate with addiction, drug intake, and conditioned drugs effects, such as cue- or stress-induced reinstatement of drug seeking. In rodents, adolescent drug exposure often causes significantly more behavioral changes later in adulthood than a corresponding exposure in adults. Clinically the most impairing and devastating effects on the brain are produced by alcohol during fetal development. In adult recreational drug users or in medicated patients, it has been difficult to find persistent functional or behavioral changes, suggesting that heavy exposure to drugs of abuse is needed for neurotoxicity and for persistent emotional and cognitive alterations. This review describes recent advances in this important area of research, which harbors the aim of translating this knowledge to better treatments for addictions and related neuropsychiatric illnesses.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The nucleus incertus (NI), located in the caudal brainstem, mainly consists of GABAergic neurons with widespread projections across the brain. It is the chief source of relaxin-3 in the mammalian brain and densely expresses corticotropin-releasing factor type 1 (CRF1) receptors. Several other neurotransmitters, peptides and receptors are reportedly expressed in the NI. In the present investigation, we show the expression of dopamine type-2 (D2) receptors in the NI by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), Western blotting (WB) and immunofluorescence (IF). RT-PCR did not show expression of D3 receptors. Cells of the NI co-labelled with D2 receptor short isoform (D2S)-like immunoreactivity and relaxin-3, CRF1/2 receptors and NeuN immunoreactivity. Behavioural effects of D2 receptor activation by intra-NI infusion of quinpirole (a D2/D3 agonist) were evaluated. Hypolocomotion was observed in home cage monitoring system (LABORAS) and novel environment-induced suppression of feeding behavioural paradigms. Thus the D2 receptors expressed in the NI are likely to play a role in locomotion. Based on its strong bidirectional connections to the median raphe and interpeduncular nuclei, the NI was predicted to play a role in modulating behavioural activity  and the present results lend support to this hypothesis. This is the first evidence of expression of a catecholamine receptor, D2-like immunoreactivity, in the NI. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The iron siderophore binding protein lipocalin 2 (LCN2, also known as 24p3, NGAL and siderocalin) may be involved in iron homeostasis, but till date, little is known about expression of its putative receptor, brain-type organic cation transporter (BOCT, also known as BOCT1, 24p3R, NGALR and LCN2R), in the brain during neurodegeneration. The present study was carried out to elucidate the expression of LCN2 and BOCT in hippocampus after excitotoxicity induced by the glutamate analog, kainate (KA) and a possible role of LCN2 in neuronal injury. As reported previously, a rapid and sustained induction in expression of LCN2 was found in the hippocampus after intracerebroventicular injection of KA. BOCT was expressed in neurons of the saline-injected control hippocampus, and immunolabel for BOCT protein was preserved in pyramidal neurons of CA1 at 1 day post-KA injection, likely due to the delayed onset of neurodegeneration after KA injection. At 3 days and 2 weeks after KA injections, loss of immunolabel was observed due to degenerated neurons, although remaining neurons continued to express BOCT, and induction of BOCT was found in OX-42 positive microglia. This resulted in an overall decrease in BOCT mRNA and protein expression after KA treatment. Increased expression of the pro-apoptotic marker, Bim, was found in both neurons and microglia after KA injection, but TUNEL staining indicating apoptosis was found primarily in Bim- expressing neurons, but not microglia. Apo-LCN2 caused no significant differences in neuronal Bim expression or cell survival, whereas holo-LCN2 increased Bim mRNA expression and decreased cell survival. Together, the results suggest that LCN2 and BOCT may have a role in neuronal injury. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Depression and suicide are known to be intricately entwined but the neurobiological basis underlying this association is yet to be understood. Ketamine is an N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist used for induction and maintenance of general anaesthesia but paradoxically its euphoric effects lead to its classification under drugs of abuse. The serendipitous finding of rapid-onset antidepressant action of subanaesthetic dose ketamine intravenous infusion has sparked many preclinical and clinical investigations. A remarkable suppression of suicidal ideation was also reported in depressed patients. This review focuses on the clinical trials on ketamine that reported remedial effects in suicidal ideation in depression and addresses also the molecular mechanisms underlying the antidepressant and psychotomimetic actions of ketamine. The neuropsychiatric profile of subanaesthetic doses of ketamine encourages its use in the management of suicidal ideation that could avert emergent self-harm or suicide. Finally, the need for neuroimaging studies in suicidal patients to identify the brain region specific and temporal effects of ketamine, and the possibility of employing ketamine as an experimental tool in rodent-based studies to study the mechanisms underlying suicidal behaviour are highlighted. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyloid precursor protein (APP), is commonly associated with Alzheimers disease, but its physiological function remains unknown. Nav1.6 is a key determinant of neuronal excitability in vivo. Since mouse models of gain-of-function and loss-of-function of APP and Nav1.6 share some similar phenotypes, we hypothesized that APP might be a candidate molecule for sodium channel modulation. Here, we report that APP co-localized and interacted with Nav1.6 in mouse cortical neurons. Knocking down APP decreased Nav1.6 sodium channel currents and cell surface expression. APP-induced increases in Nav1.6 cell surface expression were Go protein-dependent and were enhanced by a constitutively active Go-protein mutant and blocked by a dominant negative Go-protein mutant. APP also regulated c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activity in a Go-protein-dependent manner. JNK inhibition attenuated increases in cell surface expression of Nav1.6 sodium channels induced by overexpression of APP. JNK in turn phosphorylated APP. Nav1.6 sodium channel surface expression was increased by T668E, and decreased by T668A, mutations of APP695 mimicking and preventing T668 phosphorylation, respectively. Phosphorylation of APP695 at T668 enhanced its interaction with Nav1.6. Thus, we show that APP enhances Nav1.6 sodium channel cell surface expression through a Go-coupled JNK pathway. Copyright © 2015, The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyloid precursor protein (APP) is best known for its involvement in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. We have previously demonstrated that APP intracellular domain (AICD) regulates neurogenesis; however, the mechanisms underlying AICD-mediated regulation of neuronal differentiation are not yet fully characterized. Using genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation approaches, we found that AICD is specifically recruited to the regulatory regions of several microRNA genes, and acts as a transcriptional regulator for miR-663, miR-3648 and miR-3687 in human neural stem cells. Functional assays show that AICD negatively modulates neuronal differentiation through miR-663, a primate-specific microRNA. Microarray data further demonstrate that miR-663 suppresses the expression of multiple genes implicated in neurogenesis, including FBXL18 and CDK6. Our results indicate that AICD has a novel role in suppression of neuronal differentiation via transcriptional regulation of miR-663 in human neural stem cells.
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Dataset: Supplementary Information