Publications by authors named "Philip V Holmes"

39 Publications

Engineered glycomaterial implants orchestrate large-scale functional repair of brain tissue chronically after severe traumatic brain injury.

Sci Adv 2021 Mar 5;7(10). Epub 2021 Mar 5.

Regenerative Bioscience Center, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.

Severe traumatic brain injury (sTBI) survivors experience permanent functional disabilities due to significant volume loss and the brain's poor capacity to regenerate. Chondroitin sulfate glycosaminoglycans (CS-GAGs) are key regulators of growth factor signaling and neural stem cell homeostasis in the brain. However, the efficacy of engineered CS (eCS) matrices in mediating structural and functional recovery chronically after sTBI has not been investigated. We report that neurotrophic factor functionalized acellular eCS matrices implanted into the rat M1 region acutely after sTBI significantly enhanced cellular repair and gross motor function recovery when compared to controls 20 weeks after sTBI. Animals subjected to M2 region injuries followed by eCS matrix implantations demonstrated the significant recovery of "reach-to-grasp" function. This was attributed to enhanced volumetric vascularization, activity-regulated cytoskeleton (Arc) protein expression, and perilesional sensorimotor connectivity. These findings indicate that eCS matrices implanted acutely after sTBI can support complex cellular, vascular, and neuronal circuit repair chronically after sTBI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abe0207DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7935369PMC
March 2021

Chronic Environmental or Genetic Elevation of Galanin in Noradrenergic Neurons Confers Stress Resilience in Mice.

J Neurosci 2020 09 31;40(39):7464-7474. Epub 2020 Aug 31.

Department of Human Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322

The neuropeptide galanin has been implicated in stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders in humans and rodent models. While pharmacological treatments for these disorders are ineffective for many individuals, physical activity is beneficial for stress-related symptoms. Galanin is highly expressed in the noradrenergic system, particularly the locus coeruleus (LC), which is dysregulated in stress-related disorders and activated by exercise. Galanin expression is elevated in the LC by chronic exercise, and blockade of galanin transmission attenuates exercise-induced stress resilience. However, most research on this topic has been done in rats, so it is unclear whether the relationship between exercise and galanin is species specific. Moreover, use of intracerebroventricular (ICV) galanin receptor antagonists in prior studies precluded defining a causal role for LC-derived galanin specifically. Therefore, the goals of this study were twofold. First, we investigated whether physical activity (chronic wheel running) increases stress resilience and galanin expression in the LC of male and female mice. Next, we used transgenic mice that overexpress galanin in noradrenergic neurons (Gal OX) to determine how chronically elevated noradrenergic-derived galanin, alone, alters anxiogenic-like responses to stress. We found that three weeks of access to a running wheel in their home cage increased galanin mRNA in the LC of mice, which was correlated with and conferred resilience to stress. The effects of exercise were phenocopied by galanin overexpression in noradrenergic neurons, and Gal OX mice were resistant to the anxiogenic effect of optogenetic LC activation. These findings support a role for chronically increased noradrenergic galanin in mediating resilience to stress. Understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying behavioral responses to stress is necessary to improve treatments for stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders. Increased physical activity is associated with stress resilience in humans, but the neurobiological mechanisms underlying this effect are not clear. Here, we investigate a potential causal mechanism of this effect driven by the neuropeptide galanin from the main noradrenergic nucleus, the locus coeruleus (LC). We show that chronic voluntary wheel running in mice increases stress resilience and increases galanin expression in the LC. Furthermore, we show that genetic overexpression of galanin in noradrenergic neurons causes resilience to a stressor and the anxiogenic effects of optogenetic LC activation. These findings support a role for chronically increased noradrenergic galanin in mediating resilience to stress.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0973-20.2020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7511191PMC
September 2020

Extracellular Vesicles Mediate Neuroprotection and Functional Recovery after Traumatic Brain Injury.

J Neurotrauma 2020 06 10;37(11):1358-1369. Epub 2020 Feb 10.

Regenerative Bioscience Center, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA.

The lack of effective therapies for moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) leaves patients with lifelong disabilities. Neural stem cells (NSCs) have demonstrated great promise for neural repair and regeneration. However, direct evidence to support their use as a cell replacement therapy for neural injuries is currently lacking. We hypothesized that NSC-derived extracellular vesicles (NSC EVs) mediate repair indirectly after TBI by enhancing neuroprotection and therapeutic efficacy of endogenous NSCs. We evaluated the short-term effects of acute intravenous injections of NSC EVs immediately following a rat TBI. Male NSC EV-treated rats demonstrated significantly reduced lesion sizes, enhanced presence of endogenous NSCs, and attenuated motor function impairments 4 weeks post-TBI, when compared with vehicle- and TBI-only male controls. Although statistically not significant, we observed a therapeutic effect of NSC EVs on brain lesion volume, nestin expression, and behavioral recovery in female subjects. Our study demonstrates the neuroprotective and functional benefits of NSC EVs for treating TBI and points to gender-dependent effects on treatment outcomes, which requires further investigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/neu.2019.6443DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7249471PMC
June 2020

Galanin administration into the prelimbic cortex impairs consolidation and expression of contextual fear conditioning.

Behav Brain Res 2019 12 18;375:112160. Epub 2019 Aug 18.

Neuroscience Division of the Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, University of Georgia, 310 E Campus Road, Athens, GA, 30602, USA; Psychology Department, University of Georgia, 125 Baldwin Street, Athens, GA, 30602, USA. Electronic address:

The neuropeptide galanin is a potential therapeutic target for treating stress-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); however, its effects on contextual fear conditioning (CFC), an accepted animal model of PTSD, are not well understood. Dysregulation of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is implicated in PTSD. We investigated the effects of galanin (1 ug) administrated bilaterally into the prelimbic cortex, a division of the mPFC, on the consolidation, expression, and extinction of CFC of male Sprague-Dawley rats. Galanin administration significantly reduced consolidation and expression of CFC, but had no effect on retention or retrieval of extinction learning. These data further implicate galanin as a potential therapeutic target for treating stress-related disorders, particularly those characterized by aberrant emotional memory.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2019.112160DOI Listing
December 2019

Effects of macular xanthophyll supplementation on brain-derived neurotrophic factor, pro-inflammatory cytokines, and cognitive performance.

Physiol Behav 2019 11 16;211:112650. Epub 2019 Aug 16.

Visual Performance Laboratory, Duke Eye Center, Durham, NC 27705, United States of America. Electronic address:

Purpose: Oxidative and inflammatory processes play a major role in stress-induced neural atrophy. There is a wide body of literature linking oxidative and inflammatory stress with reductions in neurotrophic factors, stress resilience, and cognitive function. Based on their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity, we investigated the effect of the dietary carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, along with the zeaxanthin isomer meso-zeaxanthin (collectively the "macular xanthophylls" [MXans]) on systemic brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and anti-oxidant capacity (AOC), and the pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-1β. To investigate higher-order effects, we assessed cognitive performance.

Methods: 59 young (18-25 yrs.), healthy subjects participated in a 6-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the effects of MXan supplementation on the aforementioned serum parameters and cognitive performance. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three groups: placebo, 13 mg, or 27 mg/day total MXans; all measures were taken at baseline and 6 months. Blood was obtained via fasting blood draw, and MXan concentration in the retina (termed macular pigment optical density [MPOD]) was measured via customized heterochromatic flicker photometry. Serum BDNF and cytokines were assessed via ELISA. Serum antioxidant capacity (AOC) and serum MXan concentrations were quantified via colorimetric microplate assay, and high-performance liquid chromatography, respectively. Cognitive performance was measured via a computer-based assessment tool (CNS Vital Signs).

Results: BDNF, MPOD, serum MXans, and AOC all increased significantly versus placebo in both treatment groups over the 6-month study period (p < .05 for all). IL-1β decreased significantly versus placebo in both treatment groups (p = .0036 and p = .006, respectively). For cognitive measures, scores for composite memory, verbal memory, sustained attention, psychomotor speed, and processing speed all improved significantly in treatment groups (p < .05 for all) and remained unchanged in the placebo group. Several measures were found to be significantly associated in terms of relational changes over the course of the study. Notably, change in BDNF was related to change in IL-1β (r = -0.47; p < .001) and MPOD (r = 0.44; p = .0086). Additionally, changes in serum MXans were strongly related to AOC (r = 0.79 & 0.61 for lutein and zeaxanthin isomers respectively; p < .001). For cognitive scores, change in BDNF was correlated to change in composite memory (r = 0.32; p = .014) and verbal memory (r = 0.35; p = .007), whereas change in MPOD was correlated with change in both psychomotor speed (r = 0.38; p = .003), and processing speed (r = 0.35; p = .007). Change in serum lutein was found to be significantly correlated to change in verbal memory (r = 0.41; p < .001), composite memory (r = 0.31; p = .009), and sustained attention (r = 0.28; p = .036). Change in serum zeaxanthin isomers was significantly correlated with change in verbal memory (r = 0.33; p = .017). Lastly, change in AOC was significantly associated with verbal memory (r = 0.34; p = .021), composite memory (r = 0.29; p = .03), and sustained attention (r = 0.35; p = .016). No significant relational changes in any cognitive parameter were found for the placebo group.

Conclusions: Six months of daily supplementation with at least 13 mg of MXans significantly reduces serum IL-1β, significantly increases serum MXans, BDNF, MPOD, and AOC, and improves several parameters of cognitive performance. Findings suggest that increased systemic antioxidant/anti-inflammatory capacity (and not necessarily deposition of the carotenoids in neural tissues), may explain many of the effects determined in this study. The significant relationship between change in BDNF and IL-1β over the course of the study suggests that regular consumption of MXans interrupts the inflammatory cascade that can lead to reduction of BDNF. Changes in MPOD and BDNF appear to account for enhancement in cognitive parameters that involve speed of processing and complex processing, respectively. ISRCTN Clinical Trial Registration: ISRCTN16156382.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2019.112650DOI Listing
November 2019

Supplementation with macular carotenoids reduces psychological stress, serum cortisol, and sub-optimal symptoms of physical and emotional health in young adults.

Nutr Neurosci 2018 May 15;21(4):286-296. Epub 2017 Feb 15.

b Department of Psychology , University of Georgia , Athens, GA 30602, USA.

Purpose: Oxidative stress and systemic inflammation are the root cause of several deleterious effects of chronic psychological stress. We hypothesize that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities of the macular carotenoids (MCs) lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin could, via daily supplementation, provide a dietary means of benefit.

Methods: A total of 59 young healthy subjects participated in a 12-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the effects of MC supplementation on blood cortisol, psychological stress ratings, behavioural measures of mood, and symptoms of sub-optimal health. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three groups: placebo, 13 mg, or 27 mg / day total MCs. All parameters were assessed at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months. Serum MCs were determined via HPLC, serum cortisol via ELISA, and macular pigment optical density (MPOD) via customized heterochromatic flicker photometry. Behavioural data were obtained via questionnaire.

Results: Significant baseline correlations were found between MPOD and Beck anxiety scores (r = -0.28; P = 0.032), MPOD and Brief Symptom Inventory scores (r = 0.27; P = 0.037), and serum cortisol and psychological stress scores (r = 0.46; P < 0.001). Supplementation for 6 months improved psychological stress, serum cortisol, and measures of emotional and physical health (P < 0.05 for all), versus placebo. These outcomes were either maintained or improved further at 12 months.

Conclusions: Supplementation with the MCs significantly reduces stress, cortisol, and symptoms of sub-optimal emotional and physical health. Determining the basis for these effects, whether systemic or a more central (i.e. brain) is a question that warrants further study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1028415X.2017.1286445DOI Listing
May 2018

Pharmacological stimulation of GAL1R but not GAL2R attenuates kainic acid-induced neuronal cell death in the rat hippocampus.

Neuropeptides 2016 Aug 11;58:83-92. Epub 2015 Dec 11.

Department of Neurochemistry, Stockholm University, Svante Arrheniusv. 16B, SE-10691, Stockholm, Sweden; Institute of technology, University of Tartu, Nooruse 1, 50411, Tartu, Estonia.

The neuropeptide galanin is widely distributed in the central and peripheral nervous systems and part of a bigger family of bioactive peptides. Galanin exerts its biological activity through three G-protein coupled receptor subtypes, GAL1-3R. Throughout the last 20years, data has accumulated that galanin can have a neuroprotective effect presumably mediated through the activation of GAL1R and GAL2R. In order to test the pharmaceutical potential of galanin receptor subtype selective ligands to inhibit excitotoxic cell death, the GAL1R selective ligand M617 and the GAL2R selective ligand M1145 were compared to the novel GAL1/2R ligand M1154, in their ability to reduce the excitotoxic effects of intracerebroventricular injected kainate acid in rats. The peptide ligands were evaluated in vitro for their binding preference in a competitive (125)I-galanin receptor subtype binding assay, and G-protein signaling was evaluated using both classical signaling and a label-free real-time technique. Even though there was no significant difference in the time course or severity of the kainic acid induced epileptic behavior in vivo, administration of either M617 or M1154 before kainic acid administration significantly attenuated the neuronal cell death in the hippocampus. Our results indicate the potential therapeutic value of agonists selective for GAL1R in the prevention of neuronal cell death.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.npep.2015.12.009DOI Listing
August 2016

Regulation of neurological and neuropsychiatric phenotypes by locus coeruleus-derived galanin.

Brain Res 2016 06 20;1641(Pt B):320-37. Epub 2015 Nov 20.

Neuroscience Program, Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute and Psychology Department, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA. Electronic address:

Decades of research confirm that noradrenergic locus coeruleus (LC) neurons are essential for arousal, attention, motivation, and stress responses. While most studies on LC transmission focused unsurprisingly on norepinephrine (NE), adrenergic signaling cannot account for all the consequences of LC activation. Galanin coexists with NE in the vast majority of LC neurons, yet the precise function of this neuropeptide has proved to be surprisingly elusive given our solid understanding of the LC system. To elucidate the contribution of galanin to LC physiology, here we briefly summarize the nature of stimuli that drive LC activity from a neuroanatomical perspective. We go on to describe the LC pathways in which galanin most likely exerts its effects on behavior, with a focus on addiction, depression, epilepsy, stress, and Alzheimer׳s disease. We propose a model in which LC-derived galanin has two distinct functions: as a neuromodulator, primarily acting via the galanin 1 receptor (GAL1), and as a trophic factor, primarily acting via galanin receptor 2 (GAL2). Finally, we discuss how the recent advances in neuropeptide detection, optogenetics and chemical genetics, and galanin receptor pharmacology can be harnessed to identify the roles of LC-derived galanin definitively. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled SI: Noradrenergic System.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2015.11.025DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4874918PMC
June 2016

Ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel alter cognition and anxiety in rats concurrent with a decrease in tyrosine hydroxylase expression in the locus coeruleus and brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression in the hippocampus.

Psychoneuroendocrinology 2015 Dec 28;62:265-78. Epub 2015 Aug 28.

Neuroscience, Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, University of Georgia, 150 Paul D. Coverdell Center, Athens, GA 30602, USA; Psychology, University of Georgia, 125 Baldwin Street, Athens, GA 30602, USA. Electronic address:

In the United States, more than ten million women use contraceptive hormones. Ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel have been mainstay contraceptive hormones for the last four decades. Surprisingly, there is scant information regarding their action on the central nervous system and behavior. Intact female rats received three weeks of subcutaneous ethinyl estradiol (10 or 30μg/rat/day), levonorgestrel (20 or 60μg/rat/day), a combination of both (10/20μg/rat/day and 30/60μg/rat/day), or vehicle. Subsequently, the rats were tested in three versions of the novel object recognition test to assess learning and memory, and a battery of tests for anxiety-like behavior. Serum estradiol and ovarian weights were measured. All treatment groups exhibited low endogenous 17β-estradiol levels at the time of testing. Dose-dependent effects of drug treatment manifested in both cognitive and anxiety tests. All low dose drugs decreased anxiety-like behavior and impaired performance on novel object recognition. In contrast, the high dose ethinyl estradiol increased anxiety-like behavior and improved performance in cognitive testing. In the cell molecular analyses, low doses of all drugs induced a decrease in tyrosine hydroxylase mRNA and protein in the locus coeruleus. At the same time, low doses of ethinyl estradiol and ethinyl estradiol/levonorgestrel increased galanin protein in this structure. Consistent with the findings above, the low dose treatments of ethinyl estradiol and combination ethinyl estradiol/levonorgestrel reduced brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA in the hippocampus. These effects of ethinyl estradiol 10μg alone and in combination with levonorgestrel 20μg suggest a diminution of norepinephrine input into the hippocampus resulting in a decline in learning and memory.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.08.015DOI Listing
December 2015

Chronic exercise dampens hippocampal glutamate overflow induced by kainic acid in rats.

Behav Brain Res 2015 May 7;284:19-23. Epub 2015 Feb 7.

Neuroscience Program, Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA, United States.

Our laboratory has previously reported that chronic, voluntary exercise diminishes seizure-related behaviors induced by convulsant doses of kainic acid. The present experiments tested the hypothesis that exercise exerts this protective effect through a mechanism involving suppression of glutamate release in the hippocampal formation. Following three weeks of voluntary wheel running or sedentary conditions, rats were injected with 10 mg/kg of kainic acid, and hippocampal glutamate was measured in real time using a telemetric, in vivo voltammetry system. A separate experiment measured electroencephalographic (EEG) activity following kainic acid treatment. Results of the voltammetry experiment revealed that the rise in hippocampal glutamate induced by kainic acid is attenuated in exercising rats compared to sedentary controls, indicating that the exercise-induced protection against seizures involves regulation of hippocampal glutamate release. The findings reveal the potential benefit of regular exercise in the treatment and prevention of seizure disorders and suggest a possible neurobiological mechanism underlying this effect.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2015.02.002DOI Listing
May 2015

The effects of post-extinction exercise on cocaine-primed and stress-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking in rats.

Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2015 Apr 31;232(8):1395-403. Epub 2014 Oct 31.

Neuroscience Graduate Program, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, 30322, USA.

Rationale: Voluntary aerobic exercise has shown promise as a treatment for substance abuse, reducing relapse in cocaine-dependent people. Wheel running also attenuates drug-primed and cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking in rats, an animal model of relapse. However, in most of these studies, wheel access was provided throughout cocaine self-administration and/or extinction and had effects on several parameters of drug seeking. Moreover, the effects of exercise on footshock stress-induced reinstatement have not been investigated.

Objectives: The purposes of this study were to isolate and specifically examine the protective effect of exercise on relapse-like behavior elicited by a drug prime or stress.

Methods: Rats were trained to self-administer cocaine at a stable level, followed by extinction training. Once extinction criteria were met, rats were split into exercise (24 h, continuous access to running wheel) and sedentary groups for 3 weeks, after which, drug-seeking behavior was assessed following a cocaine prime or footshock. We also measured galanin messenger RNA (mRNA) in the locus coeruleus and A2 noradrenergic nucleus.

Results: Exercising rats ran ∼4-6 km/day, comparable to levels previously reported for rats without a history of cocaine self-administration. Post-extinction exercise significantly attenuated cocaine-primed, but not footshock stress-induced, reinstatement of cocaine seeking, and increased galanin mRNA expression in the LC but not A2.

Conclusion: These results indicate that chronic wheel running can attenuate some forms of reinstatement, even when initiated after the cessation of cocaine self-administration, supporting the idea that voluntary exercise programs may help maintain abstinence in clinical populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00213-014-3778-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4388768PMC
April 2015

Trophic Mechanisms for Exercise-Induced Stress Resilience: Potential Role of Interactions between BDNF and Galanin.

Authors:
Philip V Holmes

Front Psychiatry 2014 28;5:90. Epub 2014 Jul 28.

Neuroscience Program, Psychology Department, Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, The University of Georgia , Athens, GA , USA.

Current concepts of the neurobiology of stress-related disorders, such as anxiety and depression emphasize disruptions in neural plasticity and neurotrophins. The potent trophic actions of exercise, therefore, represent not only an effective means for prevention and treatment of these disorders, they also afford the opportunity to employ exercise paradigms as a basic research tool to uncover the neurobiological mechanisms underlying these disorders. Novel approaches to studying stress-related disorders focus increasingly on trophic factor signaling in corticolimbic circuits that both mediate and regulate cognitive, behavioral, and physiological responses to deleterious stress. Recent evidence demonstrates that the neural plasticity supported by these trophic mechanisms is vital for establishing and maintaining resilience to stress. Therapeutic interventions that promote these mechanisms, be they pharmacological, behavioral, or environmental, may therefore prevent or reverse stress-related mental illness by enhancing resilience. The present paper will provide an overview of trophic mechanisms responsible for the enhancement of resilience by voluntary exercise with an emphasis on brain-derived neurotrophic factor, galanin, and interactions between these two trophic factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2014.00090DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4112800PMC
August 2014

The galanin receptor agonist, galnon, attenuates cocaine-induced reinstatement and dopamine overflow in the frontal cortex.

Addict Biol 2015 Jul 23;20(4):701-13. Epub 2014 Jul 23.

Department of Human Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA.

Relapse represents one of the most significant problems in the long-term treatment of drug addiction. Cocaine blocks plasma membrane monoamine transporters and increases dopamine (DA) overflow in the brain, and DA is critical for the motivational and primary reinforcing effects of the drug as well as cocaine-primed reinstatement of cocaine seeking in rats, a model of relapse. Thus, modulators of the DA system may be effective for the treatment of cocaine dependence. The endogenous neuropeptide galanin inhibits DA transmission, and both galanin and the synthetic galanin receptor agonist, galnon, interfere with some rewarding properties of cocaine. The purpose of this study was to further assess the effects of galnon on cocaine-induced behaviors and neurochemistry in rats. We found that galnon attenuated cocaine-induced motor activity, reinstatement and DA overflow in the frontal cortex at a dose that did not reduce baseline motor activity, stable self-administration of cocaine, baseline extracellular DA levels or cocaine-induced DA overflow in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Similar to cocaine, galnon had no effect on stable food self-administration but reduced food-primed reinstatement. These results indicate that galnon can diminish cocaine-induced hyperactivity and relapse-like behavior, possibly in part by modulating DA transmission in the frontal cortex.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/adb.12166DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4305031PMC
July 2015

Striatal enkephalinergic differences in rats selectively bred for intrinsic running capacity.

Brain Res 2014 Jul 17;1572:11-7. Epub 2014 May 17.

Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, 330 River Road, Athens, GA 30602-6554, USA. Electronic address:

Unlabelled: Rats selectively bred for high- and low-capacity for running on a treadmill (HCR; LCR) also differ in wheel-running behavior, but whether wheel-running can be explained by intrinsic or adaptive brain mechanisms is not as yet understood. It is established that motivation of locomotory behavior is driven by dopaminergic transmission in mesolimbic and mesostriatal systems. However, whether voluntary wheel running is associated with enkephalinergic activity in the ventral striatum is not known.

Materials And Methods: 40 male (20 HCR and 20 LCR) and 40 female (20 HCR and 20 LCR) rats were randomly assigned to 3 weeks of activity wheel exposure or sedentary conditions without wheel access. After 3 weeks of activity-wheel running, rats were decapitated and brains were extracted. Coronal sections were analyzed utilizing in situ hybridization histochemistry for enkephalin (ENK) mRNA in the ventral striatum.

Results: HCR rats expressed less ENK than LCR rats in the nucleus accumbens among females (p<0.01) and in the olfactory tubercle among both females (p<0.05) and males (p<0.05). There was no effect of wheel running on ENK mRNA expression.

Conclusion: Line differences in ENK expression in the olfactory tubercle, and possibly the nucleus accumbens, partly explain divergent wheel-running behavior. The lower striatal ENK in the HCR line is consistent with enhanced dopaminergic tone, which may explain the increased motivation for wheel running observed in the HCR line.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2014.05.014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126082PMC
July 2014

Antidepressant and anticonvulsant effects of exercise in a rat model of epilepsy and depression comorbidity.

Epilepsy Behav 2013 Oct 8;29(1):47-52. Epub 2013 Aug 8.

Department of Human Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.

The bidirectional comorbidity between epilepsy and depression is associated with severe challenges for treatment efficacy and safety, often resulting in poor prognosis and outcome for the patient. We showed previously that rats selectively bred for depression-like behaviors (SwLo rats) also have increased limbic seizure susceptibility compared with their depression-resistant counterparts (SwHi rats). In this study, we examined the therapeutic efficacy of voluntary exercise in our animal model of epilepsy and depression comorbidity. We found that chronic wheel running significantly increased both struggling duration in the forced swim test and latency to pilocarpine-induced limbic motor seizure in SwLo rats but not in SwHi rats. The antidepressant and anticonvulsant effects of exercise were associated with an increase in galanin mRNA specifically in the locus coeruleus of SwLo rats. These results demonstrate the beneficial effects of exercise in a rodent model of epilepsy and depression comorbidity and suggest a potential role for galanin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2013.06.023DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3783960PMC
October 2013

Exercise offers anxiolytic potential: a role for stress and brain noradrenergic-galaninergic mechanisms.

Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2012 Oct 5;36(9):1965-84. Epub 2012 Jul 5.

Neuroscience Program, Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, United States.

Although physical activity reduces anxiety in humans, the neural basis for this response is unclear. Rodent models are essential to understand the mechanisms that underlie the benefits of exercise. However, it is controversial whether exercise exerts anxiolytic-like potential in rodents. Evidence is reviewed to evaluate the effects of wheel running, an experimental mode of exercise in rodents, on behavior in tests of anxiety and on norepinephrine and galanin systems in neural circuits that regulate stress. Stress is proposed to account for mixed behavioral findings in this literature. Indeed, running promotes an adaptive response to stress and alters anxiety-like behaviors in a manner dependent on stress. Running amplifies galanin expression in noradrenergic locus coeruleus (LC) and suppresses stress-induced activity of the LC and norepinephrine output in LC-target regions. Thus, enhanced galanin-mediated suppression of brain norepinephrine in runners is supported by current literature as a mechanism that may contribute to the stress-protective effects of exercise. These data support the use of rodents to study the emotional and neurobiological consequences of exercise.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.06.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4815919PMC
October 2012

Voluntary exercise offers anxiolytic potential and amplifies galanin gene expression in the locus coeruleus of the rat.

Behav Brain Res 2012 Jul 9;233(1):191-200. Epub 2012 May 9.

Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program, Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, USA.

Although exercise improves anxiety in humans, it is controversial whether exercise is anxiolytic in rodents. We tested the hypothesis that stress influences the effect of exercise on anxiety-like and defensive behaviors. To explore the neurobiological mechanisms of exercise, we also examined whether exercise alters gene expression for the stress-related peptide galanin. Rats were housed in the presence or absence of a running wheel for 21 d. A subset of these rats were (1) not injected or received a single high, dose of the β-carboline FG7142 (inverse agonist at the benzodiazepine receptor site) immediately prior to testing or (2) were injected repeatedly with vehicle or FG7142 during the last 10d of exercise. On day 22, anxiety-like and defensive behaviors were measured in the elevated plus maze, shock probe defensive burying, and defensive withdrawal tests. Locus coeruleus prepro-galanin mRNA was measured by in situ hybridization. Exercise and sedentary rats that were not injected exhibited similar behavior in all tests, whereas FG7142 injected immediately prior to the test battery produced intense avoidance and immobility consistent with an anxiety-like response. However, exercise produced anxiolytic-like and active defensive behaviors in the test battery relative to the sedentary condition in rats injected repeatedly with vehicle or FG7142. Exercise also increased prepro-galanin mRNA in the locus coeruleus relative to sedentary controls. These data suggest that the emergence of enhanced adaptive behavior after chronic voluntary exercise is influenced by stress. Our data support a role for galanin in the beneficial consequences of wheel running.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2012.05.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3409590PMC
July 2012

Changes in mRNA levels for brain-derived neurotrophic factor after wheel running in rats selectively bred for high- and low-aerobic capacity.

Brain Res 2011 Nov 6;1425:90-7. Epub 2011 Oct 6.

Department of Kinesiology, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.

We evaluated levels of exercise-induced brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) messenger RNA (mRNA) within the hippocampal formation in rats selectively bred for 1) high intrinsic (i.e., untrained) aerobic capacity (High Capacity Runners, HCR), 2) low intrinsic aerobic capacity (Low Capacity Runners, LCR), and 3) unselected Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats with or without free access to running wheels for 3 weeks. The specific aim of the study was to determine whether a dose-response relationship exists between cumulative running distance and levels of BDNF mRNA. No additional treatments or behavioral manipulations were used. HCR, LCR, and SD rats were grouped by strain and randomly assigned to sedentary or activity (voluntary access to activity wheel) conditions. Animals were killed after 21 days of exposure to the assigned conditions. Daily running distances (mean ± standard deviation meters/day) during week three were: HCR (4726 ± 3220), SD (2293 ± 3461), LCR (672 ± 323). Regardless of strain, levels of BDNF mRNA in CA1 were elevated in wheel runners compared to sedentary rats and this difference persisted after adjustment for age (p=0.040). BDNF mRNA was not affected by intrinsic aerobic capacity and was not related to total running distance. The results support that BDNF mRNA expression is increased by unlimited access to activity wheel running for 3 weeks but is not dependent upon accumulated running distance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2011.09.059DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3312391PMC
November 2011

An overview of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and implications for excitotoxic vulnerability in the hippocampus.

Int J Pept 2011 28;2011:654085. Epub 2011 Sep 28.

Neuroscience Program, Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.

The present paper examines the nature and function of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampal formation and the consequences of changes in its expression. The paper focuses on literature describing the role of BDNF in hippocampal development and neuroplasticity. BDNF expression is highly sensitive to developmental and environmental factors, and increased BDNF signaling enhances neurogenesis, neurite sprouting, electrophysiological activity, and other processes reflective of a general enhancement of hippocampal function. Such increases in activity may mediate beneficial effects such as enhanced learning and memory. However, the increased activity also comes at a cost: BDNF plasticity renders the hippocampus more vulnerable to hyperexcitability and/or excitotoxic damage. Exercise dramatically increases hippocampal BDNF levels and produces behavioral effects consistent with this phenomenon. In analyzing the literature regarding exercise-induced regulation of BDNF, this paper provides a theoretical model for how the potentially deleterious consequences of BDNF plasticity may be modulated by other endogenous factors. The peptide galanin may play such a role by regulating hippocampal excitability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2011/654085DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3182334PMC
November 2011

The importance of corticosterone in mediating restraint-induced weight loss in rats.

Physiol Behav 2011 Feb 16;102(2):225-33. Epub 2010 Nov 16.

Department of Foods and Nutrition, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, United States.

I. J. Scherer, P. V. Holmes, R. B.S. Harris. The importance of corticosterone in mediating restraint-induced weight loss in rats. PHYSIOL BEHAV 00 (0) 000-000, 2010. Rats restrained for 3 h/day for 3d ays (RR) lose weight and do not return to the weight of non-restrained controls once restraint has ended. This study tested the importance of restraint-induced corticosterone release in mediating the change in body weight by injecting ADX rats with 2.0mg corticosterone/kg before each restraint to replicate the restraint-induced surge in circulating corticosterone. Restrained adrenalectomized (ADX) rats injected with corticosterone had the same initial weight loss as intact restrained rats, whereas corticosterone injection in non-restrained ADX rats and restraint of ADX rats injected with saline each produced only half as much initial weight loss. Sustained weight loss, measured for 14 days after the end of RR, was the same for restrained intact rats and restrained ADX rats injected with corticosterone whereas restrained ADX rats injected with saline achieved the same weight gain as their controls. Corticosterone injections had no effect on weight gain of non-restrained intact rats. In situ hybridization showed that corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) mRNA expression in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) was increased by the same degree in ADX rats and restrained intact rats and was not modified by corticosterone injections. There was no significant effect of restraint, ADX or corticosterone injection on PVN arginine vasopressin (AVP) mRNA expression. These data indicate that a surge in corticosterone causes sustained weight loss in ADX rats through a mechanism that can be compensated for in intact rats and is independent of changes in PVN CRF or AVP mRNA expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.11.014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3010503PMC
February 2011

Locus coeruleus galanin expression is enhanced after exercise in rats selectively bred for high capacity for aerobic activity.

Peptides 2010 Dec 16;31(12):2264-8. Epub 2010 Sep 16.

Neuroscience Program, Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, United States.

The neuropeptide galanin extensively coexists with norepinephrine in locus coeruleus (LC) neurons. Previous research in this laboratory has demonstrated that unlimited access to activity wheels in the home cage increases mRNA for galanin (GAL) in the LC, and that GAL mediates some of the beneficial effects of exercise on brain function. To assess whether capacity for aerobic exercise modulates this upregulation in galanin mRNA, three heterogeneous rat models were tested: rats selectively bred for (1) high intrinsic (untrained) aerobic capacity (High Capacity Runners, HCR) and (2) low intrinsic aerobic capacity (Low Capacity Runners, LCR) and (3) unselected Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats with and without free access to running wheels for 3 weeks. Following this exercise protocol, mRNA for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and GAL was measured in the LC. The wheel running distances between the three models were significantly different, and age contributed as a significant covariate. Both selection and wheel access condition significantly affected GAL mRNA expression, but not TH mRNA expression. GAL was elevated in exercising HCR and SD rats compared to sedentary rats while LCR rats did not differ between conditions. Overall running distance significantly correlated with GAL mRNA expression, but not with TH mRNA expression. No strain differences in GAL or TH gene expression were observed in sedentary rats. Thus, intrinsic aerobic running capacity influences GAL gene expression in the LC only insofar as actual running behavior is concerned; aerobic capacity does not influence GAL expression in addition to changes associated with running.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.peptides.2010.09.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2967655PMC
December 2010

Disulfiram attenuates drug-primed reinstatement of cocaine seeking via inhibition of dopamine β-hydroxylase.

Neuropsychopharmacology 2010 Nov 25;35(12):2440-9. Epub 2010 Aug 25.

Department of Human Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.

The antialcoholism medication disulfiram (Antabuse) inhibits aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which results in the accumulation of acetaldehyde upon ethanol ingestion and produces the aversive 'Antabuse reaction' that deters alcohol consumption. Disulfiram has also been shown to deter cocaine use, even in the absence of an interaction with alcohol, indicating the existence of an ALDH-independent therapeutic mechanism. We hypothesized that disulfiram's inhibition of dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH), the catecholamine biosynthetic enzyme that converts dopamine (DA) to norepinephrine (NE) in noradrenergic neurons, underlies the drug's ability to treat cocaine dependence. We tested the effects of disulfiram on cocaine and food self-administration behavior and drug-primed reinstatement of cocaine seeking in rats. We then compared the effects of disulfiram with those of the selective DBH inhibitor, nepicastat. Disulfiram, at a dose (100 mg/kg, i.p.) that reduced brain NE by ∼40%, did not alter the response for food or cocaine on a fixed ratio 1 schedule, whereas it completely blocked cocaine-primed (10 mg/kg, i.p.) reinstatement of drug seeking following extinction. A lower dose of disulfiram (10 mg/kg) that did not reduce NE had no effect on cocaine-primed reinstatement. Nepicastat recapitulated the behavioral effects of disulfiram (100 mg/kg) at a dose (50 mg/kg, i.p.) that produced a similar reduction in brain NE. Food-primed reinstatement of food seeking was not impaired by DBH inhibition. Our results suggest that disulfiram's efficacy in the treatment of cocaine addiction is associated with the inhibition of DBH and interference with the ability of environmental stimuli to trigger relapse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/npp.2010.127DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956132PMC
November 2010

A role for 2-arachidonoylglycerol and endocannabinoid signaling in the locomotor response to novelty induced by olfactory bulbectomy.

Pharmacol Res 2010 May 5;61(5):419-29. Epub 2010 Jan 5.

Neuroscience and Behavior Program, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-3013, USA.

Bilateral olfactory bulbectomy (OBX) in rodents produces behavioral and neurochemical changes associated clinically with depression and schizophrenia. Most notably, OBX induces hyperlocomotion in response to the stress of exposure to a novel environment. We examined the role of the endocannabinoid system in regulating this locomotor response in OBX and sham-operated rats. In our study, OBX-induced hyperactivity was restricted to the first 3 min of the open field test, demonstrating the presence of novelty (0-3 min) and habituation (3-30 min) phases of the open field locomotor response. Levels of the endocannabinoids 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and anandamide were decreased in the ventral striatum, a brain region deafferented by OBX, whereas cannabinoid receptor densities were unaltered. In sham-operated rats, 2-AG levels in the ventral striatum were negatively correlated with distance traveled during the novelty phase. Thus, low levels of 2-AG are reflected in a hyperactive open field response. This correlation was not observed in OBX rats. Conversely, 2-AG levels in endocannabinoid-compromised OBX rats correlated with distance traveled during the habituation phase. In OBX rats, pharmacological blockade of cannabinoid CB(1) receptors with either AM251 (1 mg kg(-1) i.p.) or rimonabant (1 mg kg(-1) i.p.) increased distance traveled during the habituation phase. Thus, blockade of endocannabinoid signaling impairs habituation of the hyperlocomotor response in OBX, but not sham-operated, rats. By contrast, in sham-operated rats, effects of CB(1) antagonism were restricted to the novelty phase. These findings suggest that dysregulation in the endocannabinoid system, and 2-AG in particular, is implicated in the hyperactive locomotor response induced by OBX. Our studies suggest that drugs that enhance 2-AG signaling, such as 2-AG degradation inhibitors, might be useful in human brain disorders modeled by OBX.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2009.12.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2867105PMC
May 2010

Endocannabinoid modulation of amphetamine sensitization is disrupted in a rodent model of lesion-induced dopamine dysregulation.

Synapse 2009 Nov;63(11):941-50

Neuroscience and Behavior Program, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-3013, USA.

We tested the hypothesis that increased dopaminergic sensitivity induced by olfactory bulbectomy is mediated by dysregulation of endocannabinoid signaling. Bilateral olfactory bulbectomy induces behavioral and neurobiological symptomatology related to increased dopaminergic sensitivity. Rats underwent olfactory bulbectomy or sham operations and were assessed 2 weeks later in two tests of hyperdopaminergic responsivity: locomotor response to novelty and locomotor sensitization to amphetamine. Amphetamine (1 mg/kg i.p.) was administered to rats once daily for 8 consecutive days to induce locomotor sensitization. URB597, an inhibitor of the anandamide hydrolyzing enzyme fatty-acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), was administered daily (0.3 mg/kg i.p.) to sham and olfactory bulbectomized (OBX) rats to investigate the impact of FAAH inhibition on locomotor sensitization to amphetamine. Pharmacological specificity was evaluated with the CB(1) antagonist/inverse agonist rimonabant (1 mg/kg i.p). OBX rats exhibited heightened locomotor activity in response to exposure either to a novel open field or to amphetamine administration relative to sham-operated rats. URB597 produced a CB(1)-mediated attenuation of amphetamine-induced locomotor sensitization in sham-operated rats. By contrast, URB597 failed to inhibit amphetamine sensitization in OBX rats. The present results demonstrate that enhanced endocannabinoid transmission attenuates development of amphetamine sensitization in intact animals but not in animals with OBX-induced dopaminergic dysfunction. Our data collectively suggest that the endocannabinoid system is compromised in olfactory bulbectomized rats.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/syn.20679DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2739243PMC
November 2009

Effects of exercise on male copulatory behavior after beta-adrenoreceptor blockade.

Brain Res Bull 2009 Aug 20;79(6):414-7. Epub 2009 May 20.

Department of Kinesiology, The University of Georgia, USA.

Unlabelled: Chronic activity-wheel running enhances male copulation and is associated with brain noradrenergic adaptations that may be modulated by the neuropeptide galanin (GAL). When injected into the medial pre-optic area (MPOA) of the hypothalamus, norepinephrine facilitates, and the beta-adrenoreceptor antagonist propranolol inhibits, male copulation. The present experiment tested whether chronic exercise mitigates copulatory decrements induced by adrenergic blockade in the MPOA. It was hypothesized that 3 weeks of activity-wheel running would (1) reverse deficits in male copulatory performance and (2) increase GAL mRNA in the MPOA after beta-adrenoreceptor blockade with propranolol.

Materials And Methods: Long-Evans male rats were randomly assigned to three experimental groups: sedentary/propranolol, activity-wheel/propranolol, and home-cage control. Animals were chronically administered propranolol in saline vehicle (6 microm/day) via an osmotic mini-pump connected to a cannula implanted into the third ventricle. After 3 weeks of activity-wheel running, rats underwent copulatory testing. After rapid decapitation 24h later, rat brains were analyzed utilizing in situ hybridization histochemistry for GAL mRNA in the MPOA.

Results: Chronic exercise mitigated reductions in the percentage of males that intromitted and ejaculated after propranolol treatment, but there was no effect of exercise on GAL mRNA.

Conclusion: The findings are consistent with noradrenergic adaptations in the MPOA that facilitate male copulation after wheel running independently of GAL mRNA expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainresbull.2009.05.002DOI Listing
August 2009

Chronic and voluntary exercise enhances learning of conditioned place preference to morphine in rats.

Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2007 Apr 9;86(4):607-15. Epub 2007 Feb 9.

Neuroscience and Behavior Program, Psychology Department, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.

Previous research has shown that brief and intermittent activity wheel running attenuates conditioned place preference (CPP) to morphine in rats, which suggests that exercise may produce a cross-tolerance to opiates. On the other hand, a different exercise paradigm, chronic and voluntary wheel running, enhances learning in contextual conditioning tasks. The present experiments tested CPP to 2.5, 5, and 7.5 mg/kg morphine in sedentary rats and rats provided free access to running wheels for three weeks. Sucrose preference was also tested to determine exercise's influence on appetitive processes. Levels of mRNA encoding brain-derived neurotrophic factor and preprogalanin mRNA were quantified using in situ hybridization. In rats that exhibited CPP to morphine, exercising rats spent significantly more time per entry in the morphine-paired chamber during the CPP test. CPP to morphine was dose-dependent. The expression of hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) was greater in exercising rats compared to the sedentary group. Preprogalanin (GAL) mRNA expression in the locus coeruleus (LC) was positively correlated with mean distance run. These results suggest that while chronic exercise may produce cross-tolerance to opioids, exercise-induced enhancement of associative learning caused by exercise may override this effect in the conditioned place preference procedure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2007.02.002DOI Listing
April 2007

Intracerebroventricular administration of galanin or galanin receptor subtype 1 agonist M617 induces c-Fos activation in central amygdala and dorsomedial hypothalamus.

Peptides 2007 May 1;28(5):1120-4. Epub 2007 Feb 1.

Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500, USA.

The neuropeptide galanin and galanin receptors are widespread throughout cortical, limbic and midbrain areas implicated in reward, learning/memory, pain, drinking and feeding. While many studies have shown that galanin produces a variety of presynaptic and post-synaptic responses, work studying the effects of galanin on neural activation is limited. The present study examined patterns of c-Fos immunoreactivity resulting from intracerebroventricular administration of galanin versus saline injection in awake rats. An initial comprehensive qualitative survey was conducted to identify regions of high c-Fos expression followed up with quantitative analysis. Galanin induced a significant increase in c-Fos levels relative to saline-treated controls in dorsomedial hypothalamus and in the central nucleus of the amygdala. This pattern of activation was also produced by galanin receptor type 1 agonist M617. The present findings confirm that galanin upregulates c-Fos activation in hypothalamic nuclei, and supports roles for galanin in central amygdala-mediated regulation of stress-responses, food intake, and Pavlovian conditioning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.peptides.2007.01.015DOI Listing
May 2007

Voluntary exercise and clomipramine treatment elevate prepro-galanin mRNA levels in the locus coeruleus in rats.

Neurosci Lett 2006 Nov 22;408(1):1-4. Epub 2006 Sep 22.

Neuroscience and Behavior Program, Psychology Department, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.

Exercise exerts antidepressant effects in humans and rodent models of affective disorders. These effects may be mediated by the upregulation of endogenous factors that exert antidepressant actions. The physiological functions and behavioral actions of the neuropeptide galanin (GAL) suggest antidepressant activity. Previous studies have shown that various modes of exercise elevate GAL gene expression in the locus coeruleus (LC) in rats. The present experiments examined the interaction between voluntary exercise and antidepressant pharmacotherapy. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were provided access to activity wheels (exercise condition) or inoperative wheels (sedentary condition) for 28 days. Rats in each group were injected with clomipramine (10mg/kg/day) or vehicle throughout this period (for 3 weeks). Prepro-GAL mRNA in the LC was measured by in situ hybridization histochemistry. Exercise and clomipramine treatment significantly elevated GAL gene expression, though prepro-GAL mRNA levels in rats receiving both interventions did not differ from sedentary controls that received vehicle. Prepro-GAL mRNA levels were significantly correlated with running distance. The results further implicate a role for GAL in the antidepressant effects of exercise and pharmacotherapy, though the mechanisms through which these treatments influence GAL gene expression appear to differ significantly.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2006.04.057DOI Listing
November 2006

An endocannabinoid mechanism for stress-induced analgesia.

Nature 2005 Jun;435(7045):1108-12

Neuroscience and Behavior Program, Department of Psychology, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-3013, USA.

Acute stress suppresses pain by activating brain pathways that engage opioid or non-opioid mechanisms. Here we show that an opioid-independent form of this phenomenon, termed stress-induced analgesia, is mediated by the release of endogenous marijuana-like (cannabinoid) compounds in the brain. Blockade of cannabinoid CB(1) receptors in the periaqueductal grey matter of the midbrain prevents non-opioid stress-induced analgesia. In this region, stress elicits the rapid formation of two endogenous cannabinoids, the lipids 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and anandamide. A newly developed inhibitor of the 2-AG-deactivating enzyme, monoacylglycerol lipase, selectively increases 2-AG concentrations and, when injected into the periaqueductal grey matter, enhances stress-induced analgesia in a CB1-dependent manner. Inhibitors of the anandamide-deactivating enzyme fatty-acid amide hydrolase, which selectively elevate anandamide concentrations, exert similar effects. Our results indicate that the coordinated release of 2-AG and anandamide in the periaqueductal grey matter might mediate opioid-independent stress-induced analgesia. These studies also identify monoacylglycerol lipase as a previously unrecognized therapeutic target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature03658DOI Listing
June 2005

Area postrema-lesions increase operant responding to sucrose in rats.

Neurosci Lett 2005 Jun 10-17;381(1-2):135-8. Epub 2005 Feb 25.

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.

Rats with lesions of the area postrema (APX) are known to exhibit an enhanced intake of highly palatable foods such as sweetened condensed milk and cookies. These observations suggest the possibility that APX rats find these foods more rewarding and will work harder to obtain these foods. Sham and APX rats were tested on fixed ratio (FR) and progressive ratio (PR) schedules. APX rats consistently pressed more times to receive sucrose solution and attained both FR 3 and FR 5 criteria significantly faster than sham-lesioned control rats. Furthermore, rats with APX had significantly higher break points than sham-lesioned control rats on a progressive ratio schedule. These results support the hypothesis that rats with lesions of the area postrema will consistently work harder to obtain a highly palatable food reward.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2005.02.009DOI Listing
August 2005
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