Role of nitric oxide and endocannabinoids in synaptic plasticity in the perirhinal cortex and in visual recognition memory

Tamagnini, Francesco (2011) Role of nitric oxide and endocannabinoids in synaptic plasticity in the perirhinal cortex and in visual recognition memory , [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze biomediche: progetto n. 4 "Neurofisiologia", 23 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/3926.
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Introduction and aims of the research Nitric oxide (NO) and endocannabinoids (eCBs) are major retrograde messengers, involved in synaptic plasticity (long-term potentiation, LTP, and long-term depression, LTD) in many brain areas (including hippocampus and neocortex), as well as in learning and memory processes. NO is synthesized by NO synthase (NOS) in response to increased cytosolic Ca2+ and mainly exerts its functions through soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) and cGMP production. The main target of cGMP is the cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG). Activity-dependent release of eCBs in the CNS leads to the activation of the Gαi/o-coupled cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) at both glutamatergic and inhibitory synapses. The perirhinal cortex (Prh) is a multimodal associative cortex of the temporal lobe, critically involved in visual recognition memory. LTD is proposed to be the cellular correlate underlying this form of memory. Cholinergic neurotransmission has been shown to play a critical role in both visual recognition memory and LTD in Prh. Moreover, visual recognition memory is one of the main cognitive functions impaired in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The main aim of my research was to investigate the role of NO and ECBs in synaptic plasticity in rat Prh and in visual recognition memory. Part of this research was dedicated to the study of synaptic transmission and plasticity in a murine model (Tg2576) of Alzheimer’s disease. Methods Field potential recordings. Extracellular field potential recordings were carried out in horizontal Prh slices from Sprague-Dawley or Dark Agouti juvenile (p21-35) rats. LTD was induced with a single train of 3000 pulses delivered at 5 Hz (10 min), or via bath application of carbachol (Cch; 50 μM) for 10 min. LTP was induced by theta-burst stimulation (TBS). In addition, input/output curves and 5Hz-LTD were carried out in Prh slices from 3 month-old Tg2576 mice and littermate controls. Behavioural experiments. The spontaneous novel object exploration task was performed in intra-Prh bilaterally cannulated adult Dark Agouti rats. Drugs or vehicle (saline) were directly infused into the Prh 15 min before training to verify the role of nNOS and CB1 in visual recognition memory acquisition. Object recognition memory was tested at 20 min and 24h after the end of the training phase. Results Electrophysiological experiments in Prh slices from juvenile rats showed that 5Hz-LTD is due to the activation of the NOS/sGC/PKG pathway, whereas Cch-LTD relies on NOS/sGC but not PKG activation. By contrast, NO does not appear to be involved in LTP in this preparation. Furthermore, I found that eCBs are involved in LTP induction, but not in basal synaptic transmission, 5Hz-LTD and Cch-LTD. Behavioural experiments demonstrated that the blockade of nNOS impairs rat visual recognition memory tested at 24 hours, but not at 20 min; however, the blockade of CB1 did not affect visual recognition memory acquisition tested at both time points specified. In three month-old Tg2576 mice, deficits in basal synaptic transmission and 5Hz-LTD were observed compared to littermate controls. Conclusions The results obtained in Prh slices from juvenile rats indicate that NO and CB1 play a role in the induction of LTD and LTP, respectively. These results are confirmed by the observation that nNOS, but not CB1, is involved in visual recognition memory acquisition. The preliminary results obtained in the murine model of Alzheimer’s disease indicate that deficits in synaptic transmission and plasticity occur very early in Prh; further investigations are required to characterize the molecular mechanisms underlying these deficits.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Tamagnini, Francesco
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze mediche e chirurgiche cliniche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
nitric oxide endocannabinoids memory and learning perirhinal cortex visual recognition memory synaptic plasticity long term depression long term potentiation Alzheimer's disease
Data di discussione
27 Maggio 2011

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