Abstract: Stress is a major driving force in alcohol use disorders (AUDs). It influences how much one consumes, craving intensity and whether an abstinent individual will return to harmful alcohol consumption. We are most vulnerable to the effects of stress during early development, and exposure to multiple traumatic early life events dramatically increases the risk for AUDs. However, not everyone exposed to early life stress will develop an AUD. The mechanisms determining whether an individual’s brain adapts and becomes resilient to the effects of stress or succumbs and is unable to cope with stress remain elusive. Emerging evidence suggests that neuroplastic changes in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) following early life stress underlie the development of AUDs. This review discusses the impact of early life stress on NAc structure and function, how these changes affect cholinergic signaling within the mesolimbic reward pathway and the role nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) play in this process. Understanding the neural pathways and mechanism determining stress resilience or susceptibility will improve our ability to identify individuals susceptible to developing AUDs, formulate cognitive interventions to prevent AUDs in susceptible individuals and to elucidate and enhance potential therapeutic targets, such as the nAChRs, for those struggling to overcome an AUD.
Abstract: The mechanism by which the hippocampus facilitates declarative memory formation appears to involve, among other things, restructuring of the actin cytoskeleton within neuronal dendrites. One protein involved in this process is cortactin, which is an important link between extracellular signaling and cytoskeletal reorganization. In this paper, we demonstrate that total hippocampal cortactin, as well as Y421-phosphorylated cortactin are transiently reduced following spatial working memory formation in the radial arm maze (RAM). Because cortactin is a substrate of the cysteine protease calpain, we also assessed the effect of chronic calpain inhibition on RAM performance and cortactin expression. Calpain inhibition impaired spatial working memory and blocked the reduction in hippocampal cortactin levels following RAM training. These findings add to a growing body of research implicating cortactin and calpain in hippocampus-dependent memory formation.
Abstract: Neonatal hypoxia ischemia (HI; reduced oxygen and/or blood flow to the brain) can cause various degrees of tissue damage, as well as subsequent cognitive/behavioral deficits such as motor, learning/memory, and auditory impairments. These outcomes frequently result from cardiovascular and/or respiratory events observed in premature infants. Data suggests that there is a sex difference in HI outcome, with males being more adversely affected relative to comparably injured females. Brain/body temperature may play a role in modulating the severity of an HI insult, with hypothermia during an insult yielding more favorable anatomical and behavioral outcomes. The current study utilized a postnatal day (P) 7 rodent model of HI injury to assess the effect of temperature modulation during injury in each sex. We hypothesized that female P7 rats would benefit more from lowered body temperatures as compared to male P7 rats. We assessed all subjects on rota-rod, auditory discrimination, and spatial/non-spatial maze tasks. Our results revealed a significant benefit of temperature reduction in HI females as measured by most of the employed behavioral tasks. However, HI males benefitted from temperature reduction as measured on auditory and non-spatial tasks. Our data suggest that temperature reduction protects both sexes from the deleterious effects of HI injury, but task and sex specific patterns of relative efficacy are seen.
Abstract: Stress can increase emotional vigilance at the cost of a decrease in attention towards non-emotional stimuli. However, the time-dependent effects of acute stress on emotion processing are uncertain. We tested the effects of acute stress on subsequent emotion processing up to 40 min following an acute stressor. Our measure of emotion processing was the late positive potential (LPP) component of the visual event-related potential (ERP), and our measure of non-emotional attention was the sustained attention to response task (SART). We also measured cortisol levels before and after the socially evaluated cold pressor test (SECPT) induction. We found that the effects of stress on the LPP ERP emotion measure were time sensitive. Specifically, the LPP ERP was only altered in the late time-point (30–40 min post-stress) when cortisol was at its highest level. Here, the LPP no longer discriminated between the emotional and non-emotional picture categories, most likely because neutral pictures were perceived as emotional. Moreover, compared to the non-stress condition, the stress-condition showed impaired performance on the SART. Our results support the idea that a limit in attention resources after an emotional stressor is associated with the brain incorrectly processing non-emotional stimuli as emotional and interferes with sustained attention.
Abstract: CD157, also referred to as bone marrow stromal cell antigen-1 (BST-1), is a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored molecule that promotes pre-B-cell growth. Previous studies have reported associations between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the CD157/BST1 gene with Parkinson’s disease. In an attempt to determine whether SNPs or haplotypes in the CD157/BST1 are associated with other brain disorders, we performed a case-control study including 147 autism spectrum disorder (ASD) patients at Kanazawa University Hospital in Japan and 150 unselected Japanese volunteers by the sequence-specific primer-polymerase chain reaction method combined with fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. Of 93 SNPs examined, two SNPs showed significantly higher allele frequencies in cases with ASDs than in unaffected controls (rs4301112, OR = 6.4, 95% CI = 1.9 to 22, p = 0.0007; and rs28532698, OR = 6.2, 95% CI = 1.8 to 21, p = 0.0012; Fisher’s exact test; p < 0.002 was considered significant after multiple testing correction). In addition, CT genotype in rs10001565 was more frequently observed in the ASD group than in the control group (OR = 15, 95% CI = 2.0 to 117, p = 0.0007; Fisher’s exact test). The present data indicate that genetic variation of the CD157/BST1 gene might confer susceptibility to ASDs.
Abstract: Hypoxia induced endoplasmic reticulum stress causes accumulation of unfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum and activates the unfolded protein response, resulting in apoptosis through CCAAT-enhancer-binding protein homologous protein (CHOP) activation. In an in vitro and in vivo model of ischemic stroke, we investigated whether hypothermia regulates the unfolded protein response of CHOP and Endoplasmic reticulum oxidoreductin-α (Ero1-α), because Ero1-α is suggested to be a downstream CHOP target. The gene expression of CHOP and Ero1-α was measured using Quantitative-PCR (Q-PCR) in rat hippocampi following global cerebral ischemia, and in hypoxic pheochromocytoma cells during normothermic (37 °C) and hypothermic (31 °C) conditions. As a result of ischemia, a significant increase in expression of CHOP and Ero1-α was observed after three, six and twelve hours of reperfusion following global ischemia. A stable increase in CHOP expression was observed throughout the time course (p < 0.01, p < 0.0001), whereas Ero1-α expression peaked at three to six hours (p < 0.0001). Induced hypothermia in hypoxia stressed PC12 cells resulted in a decreased expression of CHOP after three, six and twelve hours (p < 0.0001). On the contrary, the gene expression of Ero1-α increased as a result of hypothermia and peaked at twelve hours (p < 0.0001). Hypothermia attenuated the expression of CHOP, supporting that hypothermia suppress endoplasmic reticulum stress induced apoptosis in stroke. As hypothermia further induced up-regulation of Ero1-α, and since CHOP and Ero1-α showed differential regulation as a consequence of both disease (hypoxia) and treatment (hypothermia), we conclude that they are regulated independently.