Publications by authors named "Sue A Aicher"

45 Publications

Diurnal changes in perineuronal nets and parvalbumin neurons in the rat medial prefrontal cortex.

Brain Struct Funct 2021 May 14;226(4):1135-1153. Epub 2021 Feb 14.

Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience, Washington State University Vancouver, Washington, 98686, USA.

Perineuronal nets (PNNs) surrounding fast-spiking, parvalbumin (PV) interneurons provide excitatory:inhibitory balance, which is impaired in several disorders associated with altered diurnal rhythms, yet few studies have examined diurnal rhythms of PNNs or PV cells. We measured the intensity and number of PV cells and PNNs labeled with Wisteria floribunda agglutinin (WFA) and also the oxidative stress marker 8-oxo-deoxyguanosine (8-oxo-dG) in rat prelimbic medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) at Zeitgeber times (ZT) ZT0 (lights-on, inactive phase), ZT6 (mid-inactive phase), ZT12 (lights-off, active phase), and ZT18 (mid-active phase). Relative to ZT0, the intensities of PNN and PV labeling were increased in the dark (active) phase compared with the light (inactive) phase. The intensity of 8-oxo-dG was decreased from ZT0 at all times (ZT6,12,18). We also measured GAD 65/67 and vGLUT1 puncta apposed to PV cells with and without PNNs. There were more excitatory puncta on PV cells with PNNs at ZT18 vs. ZT6, but no changes in PV cells without PNNs and no changes in inhibitory puncta. Whole-cell slice recordings in fast-spiking (PV) cells with PNNs showed an increased ratio of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor:N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (AMPA: NMDA) at ZT18 vs. ZT6. The number of PV cells and PV/PNN cells containing orthodenticle homeobox 2 (OTX2), which maintains PNNs, showed a strong trend toward an increase from ZT6 to ZT18. Diurnal fluctuations in PNNs and PV cells are expected to alter cortical excitatory:inhibitory balance and provide new insights into treatments for diseases impacted by disturbances in sleep and circadian rhythms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00429-021-02229-4DOI Listing
May 2021

PRC2 Acts as a Critical Timer That Drives Oligodendrocyte Fate over Astrocyte Identity by Repressing the Notch Pathway.

Cell Rep 2020 09;32(11):108147

Department of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA. Electronic address:

PRC2 creates the repressive mark histone H3 Lys27 trimethylation. Although PRC2 is involved in various biological processes, its role in glial development remains ambiguous. Here, we show that PRC2 is required for oligodendrocyte (OL) differentiation and myelination, but not for OL precursor formation. PRC2-deficient OL lineage cells differentiate into OL precursors, but they fail to trigger the molecular program for myelination, highlighting that PRC2 is essential for directing the differentiation timing of OL precursors. PRC2 null OL lineage cells aberrantly induce Notch pathway genes and acquire astrocytic features. The repression of the Notch pathway restores the myelination program and inhibits abnormal astrocytic differentiation in the PRC2-deficient OL lineage, indicating that Notch is a major target of PRC2. Altogether, our studies propose a specific action of PRC2 as a novel gatekeeper that determines the glial fate choice and the timing of OL lineage progression and myelination by impinging on the Notch pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108147DOI Listing
September 2020

Cocaine memory reactivation induces functional adaptations within parvalbumin interneurons in the rat medial prefrontal cortex.

Addict Biol 2020 Aug 4:e12947. Epub 2020 Aug 4.

Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA.

Substance use disorder is a complex disease created in part by maladaptive learning and memory mechanisms following repeated drug use. Exposure to drug-associated stimuli engages prefrontal cortex circuits, and dysfunction of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is thought to underlie drug-seeking behaviors. Growing evidence supports a role for parvalbumin containing fast-spiking interneurons (FSI) in modulating prefrontal cortical microcircuit activity by influencing the balance of excitation and inhibition, which can influence learning and memory processes. Most parvalbumin FSIs within layer V of the prelimbic mPFC are surrounded by specialized extracellular matrix structures called perineuronal nets (PNN). Previous work by our group found that cocaine exposure altered PNN-surrounded FSI function, and pharmacological removal of PNNs reduced cocaine-seeking behavior. However, the role of FSIs and associated constituents (parvalbumin and PNNs) in cocaine-related memories was not previously explored and is still unknown. Here, we found that reactivation of a cocaine conditioned place preference memory produced changes in cortical PNN-surrounded parvalbumin FSIs, including decreased parvalbumin intensity, increased parvalbumin cell axis diameter, decreased intrinsic excitability, and increased excitatory synaptic input. Further investigation of intrinsic properties revealed changes in the interspike interval, membrane capacitance, and afterhyperpolarization recovery time. Changes in these specific properties suggest an increase in potassium-mediated currents, which was validated with additional electrophysiological analysis. Collectively, our results indicate that cocaine memory reactivation induces functional adaptations in PNN-surrounded parvalbumin neurons, which likely alters cortical output to promote cocaine-seeking behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/adb.12947DOI Listing
August 2020

Lacrimal Gland Denervation Alters Tear Protein Composition and Impairs Ipsilateral Eye Closures and Corneal Nociception.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2018 10;59(12):5217-5224

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, United States.

Purpose: To evaluate spontaneous and evoked ocular sensory responses in rats after denervation of the lacrimal gland, as well as protein changes in tears that may mediate functional changes.

Methods: Sprague-Dawley rats served as subjects. The left lacrimal gland was partially denervated with saporin toxin conjugated to p75. Unilateral and bilateral eye closures (winks and blinks) and grooming behaviors were measured weekly. Nociceptive responses were evoked by ocular application of menthol; tear production was assessed using the phenol thread test. Relative changes in tear protein abundances were measured using a Tandem Mass Tagging approach.

Results: Denervation of the lacrimal gland reduced eye closure behavior, particularly in the ipsilateral eye, and eye wipe responses to noxious menthol were also reduced. Tear volume did not change, but tear protein composition was altered. Proteins implicated in the structural integrity of epithelial cells and in protective functions were reduced by lacrimal denervation, including keratins, serotransferrin, and beta-defensin. Other proteins that may modulate TRPM8 channels and alter sensory neuronal function were reduced, including arachidonate 15-lipoxygenase B. A low-abundance protein that responds to oxidative stress and injury, proteasome subunit beta type 10, was upregulated in denervated rats.

Conclusions: Denervation of the lacrimal gland causes long-lasting hypoalgesia, impairs the blink response, and alters tear proteins. Tear proteins were altered without changing tear volume. We speculate that impaired TRPM8 function in corneal sensory nerves may contribute to ocular hypoalgesia, supporting growing evidence that this transduction molecule is important for both nociceptive and spontaneous blinking behaviors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1167/iovs.18-25267DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6203219PMC
October 2018

Cocaine Exposure Modulates Perineuronal Nets and Synaptic Excitability of Fast-Spiking Interneurons in the Medial Prefrontal Cortex.

eNeuro 2018 Sep-Oct;5(5). Epub 2018 Oct 4.

Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience, Translational Addiction Research Center, Washington State University, Vancouver, Washington 98686.

We previously reported that perineuronal nets (PNNs) are required for cocaine-associated memories. Perineuronal nets are extracellular matrix that primarily surrounds parvalbumin (PV)-containing, GABAergic fast-spiking interneurons (FSIs) in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Here we measured the impact of acute (1 d) or repeated (5 d) cocaine exposure on PNNs and PV cells within the prelimbic and infralimbic regions of the mPFC. Adult rats were exposed to 1 or 5 d of cocaine and stained for PNNs (using agglutinin) and PV intensity 2 or 24 h later. In the prelimbic and infralimbic PFC, PNN staining intensity decreased 2 h after 1 d of cocaine exposure but increased after 5 d of cocaine exposure. Cocaine also produced changes in PV intensity, which generally lagged behind that of PNNs. In the prelimbic PFC, both 1 and 5 d of cocaine exposure increased GAD65/67 puncta near PNN-surrounded PV cells, with an increase in the GAD65/67-to-VGluT1 puncta ratio after 5 d of cocaine exposure. In the prelimbic PFC, slice electrophysiology studies in FSIs surrounded by PNNs revealed that both 1 and 5 d of cocaine exposure reduced the number of action potentials 2 h later. Synaptic changes demonstrated that 5 d of cocaine exposure increased the inhibition of FSIs, potentially reducing the inhibition of pyramidal neurons and contributing to their hyperexcitability during relapse behavior. These early and rapid responses to cocaine may alter the network stability of PV FSIs that partially mediate the persistent and chronic nature of drug addiction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0221-18.2018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6171740PMC
April 2019

Acute hyperalgesia and delayed dry eye after corneal abrasion injury.

Pain Rep 2018 Jul-Aug;3(4):e664. Epub 2018 Jun 20.

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA.

Introduction: Corneal nerves mediate pain from the ocular surface, lacrimation, and blinking, all of which protect corneal surface homeostasis and help preserve vision. Because pain, lacrimation and blinking are rarely assessed at the same time, it is not known whether these responses and their underlying mechanisms have similar temporal dynamics after acute corneal injury.

Methods: We examined changes in corneal nerve density, evoked and spontaneous pain, and ocular homeostasis in Sprague-Dawley male rats after a superficial epithelial injury with heptanol. We also measured changes in calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which has been implicated in both pain and epithelial repair.

Results: Hyperalgesia was seen 24 hours after abrasion injury, while basal tear production was normal. One week after abrasion injury, pain responses had returned to baseline levels and dry eye symptoms emerged. There was no correlation between epithelial nerve density and pain responses. Expression of both ATF3 (a nerve injury marker) and CGRP increased in trigeminal ganglia 24 hours after injury when hyperalgesia was seen, and returned to normal one week later when pain behavior was normal. These molecular changes were absent in the contralateral ganglion, despite reductions in corneal epithelial nerve density in the uninjured eye. By contrast, CGRP was upregulated in peripheral corneal endings 1 week after injury, when dry eye symptoms emerged.

Conclusion: Our results demonstrate dynamic trafficking of CGRP within trigeminal sensory nerves following corneal injury, with elevations in the ganglion correlated with pain behaviors and elevations in peripheral endings correlated with dry eye symptoms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/PR9.0000000000000664DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6085140PMC
June 2018

Endogenous opioids regulate moment-to-moment neuronal communication and excitability.

Nat Commun 2017 03 22;8:14611. Epub 2017 Mar 22.

Discipline of Pharmacology, School of Medical Sciences, University of Sydney, W300 Blackburn Building, Blackburn Circuit, Camperdown, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia.

Fear and emotional learning are modulated by endogenous opioids but the cellular basis for this is unknown. The intercalated cells (ITCs) gate amygdala output and thus regulate the fear response. Here we find endogenous opioids are released by synaptic stimulation to act via two distinct mechanisms within the main ITC cluster. Endogenously released opioids inhibit glutamate release through the δ-opioid receptor (DOR), an effect potentiated by a DOR-positive allosteric modulator. Postsynaptically, the opioids activate a potassium conductance through the μ-opioid receptor (MOR), suggesting for the first time that endogenously released opioids directly regulate neuronal excitability. Ultrastructural localization of endogenous ligands support these functional findings. This study demonstrates a new role for endogenously released opioids as neuromodulators engaged by synaptic activity to regulate moment-to-moment neuronal communication and excitability. These distinct actions through MOR and DOR may underlie the opposing effect of these receptor systems on anxiety and fear.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms14611DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5364458PMC
March 2017

Select noxious stimuli induce changes on corneal nerve morphology.

J Comp Neurol 2017 Jun 14;525(8):2019-2031. Epub 2017 Mar 14.

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon.

The surface of the cornea contains the highest density of nociceptive nerves of any tissue in the body. These nerves are responsive to a variety of modalities of noxious stimuli and can signal pain even when activated by low threshold stimulation. Injury of corneal nerves can lead to altered nerve morphology, including neuropathic changes which can be associated with chronic pain. Emerging technologies that allow imaging of corneal nerves in vivo are spawning questions regarding the relationship between corneal nerve density, morphology, and function. We tested whether noxious stimulation of the corneal surface can alter nerve morphology and neurochemistry. We used concentrations of menthol, capsaicin, and hypertonic saline that evoked comparable levels of nocifensive eye wipe behaviors when applied to the ocular surface of an awake rat. Animals were sacrificed and corneal nerves were examined using immunocytochemistry and three-dimensional volumetric analyses. We found that menthol and capsaicin both caused a significant reduction in corneal nerve density as detected with β-tubulin immunoreactivity 2 hr after stimulation. Hypertonic saline did not reduce nerve density, but did cause qualitative changes in nerves including enlarged varicosities that were also seen following capsaicin and menthol stimulation. All three types of noxious stimuli caused a depletion of CGRP from corneal nerves, indicating that all modalities of noxious stimuli evoked peptide release. Our findings suggest that studies aimed at understanding the relationship between corneal nerve morphology and chronic disease may also need to consider the effects of acute stimulation on corneal nerve morphology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cne.24191DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6391161PMC
June 2017

Optogenetic Stimulation of Arcuate Nucleus Kiss1 Neurons Reveals a Steroid-Dependent Glutamatergic Input to POMC and AgRP Neurons in Male Mice.

Mol Endocrinol 2016 Jun 19;30(6):630-44. Epub 2016 Apr 19.

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology (C.CN., J.Q., C.Z., M.A.B., S.A.A., O.K.R., M.J.K.) and Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and Knight Cardiovascular Institute (W.F.), Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon 97239; Division of Neuroscience (O.K.R., M.J.K.), Oregon National Primate Research Center, Oregon Health & Science University, Beaverton, Oregon 97006; and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (S.L.P., R.D.P.), University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195.

Kisspeptin (Kiss1) neurons are essential for reproduction, but their role in the control of energy balance and other homeostatic functions remains unclear. Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) and agouti-related peptide (AgRP) neurons, located in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) of the hypothalamus, integrate numerous excitatory and inhibitory inputs to ultimately regulate energy homeostasis. Given that POMC and AgRP neurons are contacted by Kiss1 neurons in the ARC (Kiss1(ARC)) and they express androgen receptors, Kiss1(ARC) neurons may mediate the orexigenic action of testosterone via POMC and/or AgRP neurons. Quantitative PCR analysis of pooled Kiss1(ARC) neurons revealed that mRNA levels for Kiss1 and vesicular glutamate transporter 2 were higher in castrated male mice compared with gonad-intact males. Single-cell RT-PCR analysis of yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) ARC neurons harvested from males injected with AAV1-EF1α-DIO-ChR2:YFP revealed that 100% and 88% expressed mRNAs for Kiss1 and vesicular glutamate transporter 2, respectively. Whole-cell, voltage-clamp recordings from nonfluorescent postsynaptic ARC neurons showed that low frequency photo-stimulation (0.5 Hz) of Kiss1-ChR2:YFP neurons elicited a fast glutamatergic inward current in POMC and AgRP neurons. Paired-pulse, photo-stimulation revealed paired-pulse depression, which is indicative of greater glutamate release, in the castrated male mice compared with gonad-intact male mice. Group I and group II metabotropic glutamate receptor agonists depolarized and hyperpolarized POMC and AgRP neurons, respectively, which was mimicked by high frequency photo-stimulation (20 Hz) of Kiss1(ARC) neurons. Therefore, POMC and AgRP neurons receive direct steroid- and frequency-dependent glutamatergic synaptic input from Kiss1(ARC) neurons in male mice, which may be a critical pathway for Kiss1 neurons to help coordinate energy homeostasis and reproduction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/me.2016-1026DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4884339PMC
June 2016

Localization of TRPV1 and P2X3 in unmyelinated and myelinated vagal afferents in the rat.

J Chem Neuroanat 2016 Mar 17;72:1-7. Epub 2015 Dec 17.

Oregon Health & Science University, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, 3181 Sam Jackson Park Road, Mailcode: L334, Portland, OR 97239-3098, United States. Electronic address:

The vagus nerve is dominated by afferent fibers that convey sensory information from the viscera to the brain. Most vagal afferents are unmyelinated, slow-conducting C-fibers, while a smaller portion are myelinated, fast-conducting A-fibers. Vagal afferents terminate in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) in the dorsal brainstem and regulate autonomic and respiratory reflexes, as well as ascending pathways throughout the brain. Vagal afferents form glutamatergic excitatory synapses with postsynaptic NTS neurons that are modulated by a variety of channels. The organization of vagal afferents with regard to fiber type and channels is not well understood. In the present study, we used tract tracing methods to identify distinct populations of vagal afferents to determine if key channels are selectively localized to specific groups of afferent fibers. Vagal afferents were labeled with isolectin B4 (IB4) or cholera toxin B (CTb) to detect unmyelinated and myelinated afferents, respectively. We find that TRPV1 channels are preferentially found in unmyelinated vagal afferents identified with IB4, with almost half of all IB4 fibers showing co-localization with TRPV1. These results agree with prior electrophysiological findings. In contrast, we found that the ATP-sensitive channel P2X3 is found in a subset of both myelinated and unmyelinated vagal afferent fibers. Specifically, 18% of IB4 and 23% of CTb afferents contained P2X3. The majority of CTb-ir vagal afferents contained neither channel. Since neither channel was found in all vagal afferents, there are likely further degrees of heterogeneity in the modulation of vagal afferent sensory input to the NTS beyond fiber type.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jchemneu.2015.12.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4764453PMC
March 2016

Denervation of the Lacrimal Gland Leads to Corneal Hypoalgesia in a Novel Rat Model of Aqueous Dry Eye Disease.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2015 Oct;56(11):6981-9

Purpose: Some dry eye disease (DED) patients have sensitized responses to corneal stimulation, while others experience hypoalgesia. Many patients have normal tear production, suggesting that reduced tears are not always the cause of DED sensory dysfunction. In this study, we show that disruption of lacrimal innervation can produce hypoalgesia without changing basal tear production.

Methods: Injection of a saporin toxin conjugate into the extraorbital lacrimal gland of male Sprague-Dawley rats was used to disrupt cholinergic innervation to the gland. Tear production was assessed by phenol thread test. Corneal sensory responses to noxious stimuli were assessed using eye wipe behavior. Saporin DED animals were compared to animals treated with atropine to produce aqueous DED.

Results: Cholinergic innervation and acetylcholine content of the lacrimal gland were significantly reduced in saporin DED animals, yet basal tear production was normal. Saporin DED animals demonstrated normal eye wipe responses to corneal application of capsaicin, but showed hypoalgesia to corneal menthol. Corneal nerve fiber density was normal in saporin DED animals. Atropine-treated animals had reduced tear production but normal responses to ocular stimuli.

Conclusions: Because only menthol responses were impaired, cold-sensitive corneal afferents appear to be selectively altered in our saporin DED model. Hypoalgesia is not due to reduced tear production, since we did not observe hypoalgesia in an atropine DED model. Corneal fiber density is unaltered in saporin DED animals, suggesting that molecular mechanisms of nociceptive signaling may be impaired. The saporin DED model will be useful for exploring the mechanism underlying corneal hypoalgesia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1167/iovs.15-17497DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4627470PMC
October 2015

Ligand-biased activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 leads to differences in opioid induced antinociception and tolerance.

Behav Brain Res 2016 Feb 20;298(Pt B):17-24. Epub 2015 Oct 20.

Washington State University, Department of Psychology, 14204 NE Salmon Creek Ave, Vancouver, WA 98686, United States.

Opioids produce antinociception by activation of G protein signaling linked to the mu-opioid receptor (MOPr). However, opioid binding to the MOPr also activates β-arrestin signaling. Opioids such as DAMGO and fentanyl differ in their relative efficacy for activation of these signaling cascades, but the behavioral consequences of this differential signaling are not known. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the behavioral significance of G protein and internalization dependent signaling within ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG). Antinociception induced by microinjecting DAMGO into the vlPAG was attenuated by blocking Gαi/o protein signaling with administration of pertussis toxin (PTX), preventing internalization with administration of dynamin dominant-negative inhibitory peptide (dyn-DN) or direct inhibition of ERK1/2 with administration of the MEK inhibitor, U0126. In contrast, the antinociceptive effect of microinjecting fentanyl into the vlPAG was not altered by administration of PTX or U0126, and was enhanced by administration of dyn-DN. Microinjection of DAMGO, but not fentanyl, into the vlPAG induced phosphorylation of ERK1/2, which was blocked by inhibiting receptor internalization with administration of dyn-DN, but not by inhibition of Gαi/o proteins. ERK1/2 inhibition also prevented the development and expression of tolerance to repeated DAMGO microinjections, but had no effect on fentanyl tolerance. These data reveal that ERK1/2 activation following MOPr internalization contributes to the antinociceptive effect of some (e.g., DAMGO), but not all opioids (e.g., fentanyl) despite the known similarities for these agonists to induce β-arrestin recruitment and internalization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2015.10.032DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4779316PMC
February 2016

Localization and expression of GABA transporters in the suprachiasmatic nucleus.

Eur J Neurosci 2015 Dec 8;42(12):3018-32. Epub 2015 Dec 8.

Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, Oregon Health & Science University, 3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR, 97239-3098, USA.

GABA is a principal neurotransmitter in the suprachiasmatic hypothalamic nucleus (SCN), the master circadian clock. Despite the importance of GABA and GABA uptake for functioning of the circadian pacemaker, the localization and expression of GABA transporters (GATs) in the SCN has not been investigated. The present studies used Western blot analysis, immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy to demonstrate the presence of GABA transporter 1 (GAT1) and GAT3 in the SCN. By using light microscopy, GAT1 and GAT3 were co-localized throughout the SCN, but were not expressed in the perikarya of arginine vasopressin- or vasoactive intestinal peptide-immunoreactive (-ir) neurons of adult rats, nor in the neuronal processes labelled with the neurofilament heavy chain. Using electron microscopy, GAT1- and GAT3-ir was found in glial processes surrounding unlabelled neuronal perikarya, axons, dendrites, and enveloped symmetric and asymmetric axo-dendritic synapses. Glial fibrillary acidic protein-ir astrocytes grown in cell culture were immunopositive for GAT1 and GAT3 and both GATs could be observed in the same glial cell. These data demonstrate that synapses in the SCN function as 'tripartite' synapses consisting of presynaptic axon terminals, postsynaptic membranes and astrocytes that contain GABA transporters. This model suggests that astrocytes expressing both GATs may regulate the extracellular GABA, and thereby modulate the activity of neuronal networks in the SCN.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ejn.13083DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4715658PMC
December 2015

Capsaicin-responsive corneal afferents do not contain TRPV1 at their central terminals in trigeminal nucleus caudalis in rats.

J Chem Neuroanat 2014 Nov 1;61-62:1-12. Epub 2014 Jul 1.

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Oregon Health & Science University, Mail code: L334, 3181 Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97239-3098, United States. Electronic address:

We examined the substrates for ocular nociception in adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. Capsaicin application to the ocular surface in awake rats evoked nocifensive responses and suppressed spontaneous grooming responses. Thus, peripheral capsaicin was able to activate the central pathways encoding ocular nociception. Our capsaicin stimulus evoked c-Fos expression in a select population of neurons within rostral trigeminal nucleus caudalis in anesthetized rats. These activated neurons also received direct contacts from corneal afferent fibers traced with cholera toxin B from the corneal surface. However, the central terminals of the corneal afferents that contacted capsaicin-activated trigeminal neurons did not contain TRPV1. To determine if TRPV1 expression had been altered by capsaicin stimulation, we examined TRPV1 content of corneal afferents in animals that did not receive capsaicin stimulation. These studies confirmed that while TRPV1 was present in 30% of CTb-labeled corneal afferent neurons within the trigeminal ganglion, TRPV1 was only detected in 2% of the central terminals of these corneal afferents within the trigeminal nucleus caudalis. Other TRP channels were also present in low proportions of central corneal afferent terminals in unstimulated animals (TRPM8, 2%; TRPA1, 10%). These findings indicate that a pathway from the cornea to rostral trigeminal nucleus caudalis is involved in corneal nociceptive transmission, but that central TRP channel expression is unrelated to the type of stimulus transduced by the peripheral nociceptive endings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jchemneu.2014.06.006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4268050PMC
November 2014

Physiological temperatures drive glutamate release onto trigeminal superficial dorsal horn neurons.

J Neurophysiol 2014 Jun 5;111(11):2222-31. Epub 2014 Mar 5.

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon.

Trigeminal sensory afferent fibers terminating in nucleus caudalis (Vc) relay sensory information from craniofacial regions to the brain and are known to express transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels. TRP channels are activated by H(+), thermal, and chemical stimuli. The present study investigated the relationships among the spontaneous release of glutamate, temperature, and TRPV1 localization at synapses in the Vc. Spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs) were recorded from Vc neurons (n = 151) in horizontal brain-stem slices obtained from Sprague-Dawley rats. Neurons had basal sEPSC rates that fell into two distinct frequency categories: High (≥10 Hz) or Low (<10 Hz) at 35°C. Of all recorded neurons, those with High basal release rates (67%) at near-physiological temperatures greatly reduced their sEPSC rate when cooled to 30°C without amplitude changes. Such responses persisted during blockade of action potentials indicating that the High rate of glutamate release arises from presynaptic thermal mechanisms. Neurons with Low basal frequencies (33%) showed minor thermal changes in sEPSC rate that were abolished after addition of TTX, suggesting these responses were indirect and required local circuits. Activation of TRPV1 with capsaicin (100 nM) increased miniature EPSC (mEPSC) frequency in 70% of neurons, but half of these neurons had Low basal mEPSC rates and no temperature sensitivity. Our evidence indicates that normal temperatures (35-37°C) drive spontaneous excitatory synaptic activity within superficial Vc by a mechanism independent of presynaptic action potentials. Thus thermally sensitive inputs on superficial Vc neurons may tonically activate these neurons without afferent stimulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/jn.00912.2013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4097869PMC
June 2014

Corneal pain activates a trigemino-parabrachial pathway in rats.

Brain Res 2014 Mar 10;1550:18-26. Epub 2014 Jan 10.

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Oregon Health & Science University, Mail code: L334, 3181 Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97239-3098, United States. Electronic address:

Corneal pain is mediated by primary afferent fibers projecting to the dorsal horn of the medulla, specifically the trigeminal nucleus caudalis. In contrast to reflex responses, the conscious perception of pain requires transmission of neural activity to higher brain centers. Ascending pain transmission is mediated primarily by pathways to either the thalamus or parabrachial nuclei. We previously showed that some corneal afferent fibers preferentially contact parabrachial-projecting neurons in the rostral pole of the trigeminal nucleus caudalis, but the role of these projection neurons in transmitting noxious information from the cornea has not been established. In the present study, we show that noxious stimulation of the corneal surface activates neurons in the rostral pole of the nucleus caudalis, including parabrachially projecting neurons that receive direct input from corneal afferent fibers. We used immunocytochemical detection of c-Fos protein as an index of neuronal activation after noxious ocular stimulation. Animals had previously received injections of a retrograde tracer into either thalamic or parabrachial nuclei to identify projection neurons in the trigeminal dorsal horn. Noxious stimulation of the cornea induced c-Fos in neurons sending projections to parabrachial nuclei, but not thalamic nuclei. We also confirmed that corneal afferent fibers identified with cholera toxin B preferentially target trigeminal dorsal horn neurons projecting to the parabrachial nucleus. The parabrachial region sends ascending projections to brain regions involved in emotional and homeostatic responses. Activation of the ascending parabrachial system may explain the extraordinary salience of stimulation of corneal nociceptors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2014.01.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3972123PMC
March 2014

Chronic inflammatory pain prevents tolerance to the antinociceptive effect of morphine microinjected into the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray of the rat.

J Pain 2013 Dec 22;14(12):1601-10. Epub 2013 Oct 22.

Department of Psychology, Washington State University Vancouver, Vancouver, Washington. Electronic address:

Unlabelled: The ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG) contributes to morphine antinociception and tolerance. Chronic inflammatory pain causes changes within the PAG that are expected to enhance morphine tolerance. This hypothesis was tested by assessing antinociception and tolerance following repeated microinjections of morphine into the vlPAG of rats with chronic inflammatory pain. Microinjection of morphine into the vlPAG reversed the allodynia caused by intraplantar administration of complete Freund's adjuvant and produced antinociception on the hot plate test. Although there was a gradual decrease in morphine antinociception with repeated testing, there was no evidence of tolerance when morphine- and saline-treated rats with hind paw inflammation were tested with cumulative doses of morphine. In contrast, repeated morphine injections into the vlPAG caused a rightward shift in the morphine dose-response curve in rats without hind paw inflammation, as would be expected with the development of tolerance. The lack of tolerance in complete Freund's adjuvant-treated rats was evident whether rats were exposed to repeated behavioral testing or not (experiment 2) and whether they were treated with 4 or 8 prior microinjections of morphine into the vlPAG (experiment 3). These data demonstrate that chronic inflammatory pain does not disrupt the antinociceptive effect of microinjecting morphine into the vlPAG, but it does disrupt the development of tolerance.

Perspective: The present data show that induction of chronic inflammatory pain does not disrupt the antinociceptive effect of microinjecting morphine into the vlPAG, but it does attenuate the development of tolerance. This finding indicates that tolerance to opioids in rats with inflammatory pain is mediated by structures other than the vlPAG.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpain.2013.08.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3876795PMC
December 2013

Differential content of vesicular glutamate transporters in subsets of vagal afferents projecting to the nucleus tractus solitarii in the rat.

J Comp Neurol 2014 Feb;522(3):642-53

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, 97239-3098.

The vagus nerve contains primary visceral afferents that convey sensory information from cardiovascular, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal tissues to the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS). The heterogeneity of vagal afferents and their central terminals within the NTS is a common obstacle for evaluating functional groups of afferents. To determine whether different anterograde tracers can be used to identify distinct subpopulations of vagal afferents within NTS, we injected cholera toxin B subunit (CTb) and isolectin B4 (IB4) into the vagus nerve. Confocal analyses of medial NTS following injections of both CTb and IB4 into the same vagus nerve resulted in labeling of two exclusive populations of fibers. The ultrastructural patterns were also distinct. CTb was found in both myelinated and unmyelinated vagal axons and terminals in medial NTS, whereas IB4 was found only in unmyelinated afferents. Both tracers were observed in terminals with asymmetric synapses, suggesting excitatory transmission. Because glutamate is thought to be the neurotransmitter at this first primary afferent synapse in NTS, we determined whether vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUTs) were differentially distributed among the two distinct populations of vagal afferents. Anterograde tracing from the vagus with CTb or IB4 was combined with immunohistochemistry for VGLUT1 or VGLUT2 in medial NTS and evaluated with confocal microscopy. CTb-labeled afferents contained primarily VGLUT2 (83%), whereas IB4-labeled afferents had low levels of vesicular transporters, VGLUT1 (5%) or VGLUT2 (21%). These findings suggest the possibility that glutamate release from unmyelinated vagal afferents may be regulated by a distinct, non-VGLUT, mechanism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cne.23438DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3877231PMC
February 2014

Columnar distribution of catecholaminergic neurons in the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray and their relationship to efferent pathways.

Synapse 2013 Feb 28;67(2):94-108. Epub 2012 Nov 28.

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon 97223, USA.

The periaqueductal gray (PAG) is a critical brain region involved in opioid analgesia and provides efferents to descending pathways that modulate nociception. In addition, the PAG contains ascending pathways to regions involved in the regulation of reward, including the substantia nigra (SN) and the ventral tegmental area (VTA). SN and VTA contain dopaminergic neurons that are critical for the maintenance of positive reinforcement. Interestingly, the PAG is also reported to contain a population of dopaminergic neurons. In this study, the distribution of catecholaminergic neurons within the ventrolateral (vl) PAG was examined using immunocytochemical methods. In addition, the catecholaminergic PAG neurons were examined to determine whether these neurons are integrated into ascending (VTA, SN) and descending rostral ventral medulla (RVM) efferent pathways from this region. The immunocytochemical analysis determined that catecholaminergic neurons in the PAG are both dopaminergic and noradrenergic and these neurons have a distinct rostrocaudal distribution within the ventrolateral column of PAG. Dopaminergic neurons were concentrated rostrally and were significantly smaller than noradrenergic neurons. Combined immunocytochemistry and tract tracing methods revealed that catecholaminergic neurons are distinct from, but closely associated with, both ascending and descending efferent projection neurons. Finally, by electron microscopy, catecholaminergic neurons showed close dendritic appositions with other neurons in PAG, suggesting a possible nonsynaptic mechanism for regulation of PAG output by these neurons. In conclusion, our data indicate that there are two populations of catecholaminergic neurons in the vlPAG that form dendritic associations with both ascending and descending efferents suggesting a possible nonsynaptic modulation of vlPAG neurons.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/syn.21624DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3553663PMC
February 2013

Chronic psychostimulant exposure to adult, but not periadolescent rats reduces subsequent morphine antinociception.

Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2012 Jun 3;101(4):538-43. Epub 2012 Mar 3.

Department of Psychology, Washington State University Vancouver, 14204 NE Salmon Creek Ave, Vancouver, WA 98686-9600, USA.

Preweanling methylphenidate (MPH) exposure produces a long lasting enhanced sensitivity to opioids. Two important questions are whether this enhancement is specific to the age of psychostimulant exposure and the type of psychostimulant. To answer these questions periadolescent (PD 35) and adult (PD 55) rats received daily injections of saline, MPH, or methamphetamine (METH) for 10 consecutive days. Two weeks later, acute morphine antinociception was assessed on the hot plate using a cumulative dose response procedure. Following acute antinociceptive testing, morphine tolerance was induced in half the animals by administering morphine twice a day over 2 days. Rats pretreated with MPH and METH during the periadolescent period of ontogeny showed no change in acute morphine antinociception, but rats exposed to a relatively high METH dose (3 mg/kg) displayed enhanced morphine tolerance compared to saline pretreated controls. MPH and METH pretreatment during adulthood led to a reduction in morphine antinociceptive potency and an apparent reduction in morphine tolerance. When combined with our previously published findings, these data indicate that the developmental stage during which MPH and METH exposure occurs differentially alters adult morphine responsiveness. That is, psychostimulant exposure to preweanling rats enhances morphine antinociception and facilitates the development of tolerance, whereas psychostimulant exposure to adult rats reduces subsequent morphine antinociception and tolerance. These alterations indicate that it could be important for physicians to know about prior psychostimulant use when prescribing opioids for pain relief.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2012.02.018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3399697PMC
June 2012

Descending projections from the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM) to trigeminal and spinal dorsal horns are morphologically and neurochemically distinct.

J Chem Neuroanat 2012 Mar 20;43(2):103-11. Epub 2011 Nov 20.

Department of Physiology & Pharmacology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR 97239-3098, United States.

Neurons in the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM) are thought to modulate nociceptive transmission via projections to spinal and trigeminal dorsal horns. The cellular substrate for this descending modulation has been studied with regard to projections to spinal dorsal horn, but studies of the projections to trigeminal dorsal horn have been less complete. In this study, we combined anterograde tracing from RVM with immunocytochemical detection of the GABAergic synthetic enzyme, GAD67, to determine if the RVM sends inhibitory projections to trigeminal dorsal horn. We also examined the neuronal targets of this projection using immunocytochemical detection of NeuN. Finally, we used electron microscopy to verify cellular targets. We compared projections to both trigeminal and spinal dorsal horns. We found that RVM projections to both trigeminal and spinal dorsal horn were directed to postsynaptic profiles in the dorsal horn, including somata and dendrites, and not to primary afferent terminals. We found that RVM projections to spinal dorsal horn were more likely to contact neuronal somata and were more likely to contain GAD67 than projections from RVM to trigeminal dorsal horn. These findings suggest that RVM neurons send predominantly GABAergic projections to spinal dorsal horn and provide direct input to postsynaptic neurons such as interneurons or ascending projection neurons. The RVM projection to trigeminal dorsal horn is more heavily targeted to dendrites and is only modestly GABAergic in nature. These anatomical features may underlie differences between trigeminal and spinal dorsal horns with regard to the degree of inhibition or facilitation evoked by RVM stimulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jchemneu.2011.11.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3319838PMC
March 2012

Insulin acts in the arcuate nucleus to increase lumbar sympathetic nerve activity and baroreflex function in rats.

J Physiol 2011 Apr 7;589(Pt 7):1643-62. Epub 2011 Feb 7.

Oregon Health and Science University, 1381 SW Sam Jackson Park Road - L334, Portland, OR 97239, USA.

Although the central effects of insulin to activate the sympathetic nervous system and enhance baroreflex gain are well known, the specific brain site(s) at which insulin acts has not been identified. We tested the hypotheses that (1) the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) and the arcuate nucleus (ArcN) are necessary brain sites and (2) insulin initiates its effects directly in the PVN and/or the ArcN. In α-chloralose anaesthetised female Sprague–Dawley rats, mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR) and lumbar sympathetic nerve activity (LSNA) were recorded continuously, and baroreflex gain of HR and LSNA were measured before and during a hyperinsulinaemic–euglycaemic clamp. After 60 min, intravenous infusion of insulin (15 mU kg−1 min−1), but not saline, significantly increased (P < 0.05) basal LSNA (to 228 ± 28% control) and gain of baroreflex control of LSNA (from 3.8 ± 1.1 to 7.4 ± 2.4% control mmHg−1). These effects were reversed (P < 0.05) by local inhibition (bilateral microinjection of musimol) of the PVN (LSNA to 124 ± 8.8% control; LSNA gain to 3.9 ± 1.7% control mmHg−1) or of the ArcN (LSNA in % control: from 100 ± 0 to 198 ± 24 (insulin), then 133 ± 23 (muscimol) LSNA gain in % control mmHg−1: from 3.9 ± 0.3 to 8.9 ± 0.9 (insulin), then 5.1 ± 0.5 (muscimol)). While insulin receptor immunoreactivity was identified in neurons in pre-autonomic PVN subnuclei, microinjection of insulin (0.6, 6 and 60 nU) into the PVN failed to alter LSNA or LSNA gain. However, ArcN insulin increased (P < 0.05) basal LSNA (in % control to 162 ± 19, 0.6 nU; 193 ± 19, 6 nU; and 205 ± 28, 60 nU) and LSNA baroreflex gain (in % control mmHg−1 from 4.3 ± 1.2 to 6.9 ± 1.0, 0.6 nU; 7.7 ± 1.2, 6 nU; and 7.8 ± 1.3, 60 nU). None of the treatments altered MAP, HR, or baroreflex control of HR. Our findings identify the ArcN as the site at which insulin acts to activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase baroreflex gain, via a neural pathway that includes the PVN.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1113/jphysiol.2011.205575DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099021PMC
April 2011

Differential localization of vesicular glutamate transporters and peptides in corneal afferents to trigeminal nucleus caudalis.

J Comp Neurol 2010 Sep;518(17):3557-69

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Oregon Health & Science University, Beaverton, Oregon 97006, USA.

Trigeminal afferents convey nociceptive information from the corneal surface of the eye to the trigeminal subnucleus caudalis (Vc). Trigeminal afferents, like other nociceptors, are thought to use glutamate and neuropeptides as neurotransmitters. The current studies examined whether corneal afferents contain both neuropeptides and vesicular glutamate transporters. Corneal afferents to the Vc were identified by using cholera toxin B (CTb). Corneal afferents project in two clusters to the rostral and caudal borders of the Vc, regions that contain functionally distinct nociceptive neurons. Thus, corneal afferents projecting to these two regions were examined separately. Dual immunocytochemical studies combined CTb with either calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), substance P (SP), vesicular glutamate transporter 1 (VGluT1), or VGluT2. Corneal afferents were more likely to contain CGRP than SP, and corneal afferents projecting to the rostral region were more likely to contain CGRP than afferents projecting caudally. Overall, corneal afferents were equally likely to contain VGluT1 or VGluT2. Together, 61% of corneal afferents contained either VGluT1 or VGluT2, suggesting that some afferents lack a VGluT. Caudal corneal afferents were more likely to contain VGluT2 than VGluT1, whereas rostral corneal afferents were more likely to contain VGluT1 than VGluT2. Triple-labeling studies combining CTb, CGRP, and VGluT2 showed that very few corneal afferents contain both CGRP and VGluT2, caudally (1%) and rostrally (2%). These results suggest that most corneal afferents contain a peptide or a VGluT, but rarely both. Our results are consistent with a growing literature suggesting that glutamatergic and peptidergic sensory afferents may be distinct populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cne.22414DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2933108PMC
September 2010

Extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 activation counteracts morphine tolerance in the periaqueductal gray of the rat.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2009 Nov 14;331(2):412-8. Epub 2009 Aug 14.

Department of Psychology, Washington State University Vancouver, Vancouver, Washington 98686, USA.

Repeated administration of opioids produces long-lasting changes in micro-opioid receptor (MOR) signaling that underlie behavioral changes such as tolerance. Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways, including MAPK extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2), are modulated by opioids and are known to produce long-lasting changes in cell signaling. Thus, we tested the hypothesis that ERK1/2 activation contributes to the development and/or expression of morphine tolerance mediated by the periaqueductal gray (PAG). Changes in phosphorylated ERK1/2 expression were assessed with confocal microscopy and compared to behavioral measures of tolerance to the antinociceptive effects of chronic morphine administration. Repeated microinjection of morphine into the PAG produced tolerance and caused a significant increase in ERK1/2 phosphorylation, an effect not evident with acute morphine microinjection. Microinjection of the MAPK/ERK kinase inhibitor, 1,4-diamino-2,3-dicyano-1,4-bis(o-aminophenylmercapto)butadiene ethanolate (U0126), into the PAG had no effect on antinociception produced by acute morphine administration. However, repeated coadministration of U0126 and morphine into the PAG blocked ERK1/2 phosphorylation and enhanced the development of morphine tolerance. Coadministration of U0126 with morphine only on the test day also enhanced the expression of morphine tolerance. Administration of the irreversible opioid receptor antagonist beta-chlornaltrexamine blocked the activation of ERK1/2 caused by repeated morphine microinjections, demonstrating that ERK1/2 activation was a MOR-mediated event. In summary, these studies show that chronic morphine administration alters ERK1/2 signaling and that disruption of ERK1/2 signaling enhances both the development and expression of morphine tolerance. Contrary to expectations, these data indicate that ERK1/2 activation opposes the development of morphine tolerance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/jpet.109.152157DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2775267PMC
November 2009

Absence of gp130 in dopamine beta-hydroxylase-expressing neurons leads to autonomic imbalance and increased reperfusion arrhythmias.

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 2009 Sep 10;297(3):H960-7. Epub 2009 Jul 10.

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR 97239, USA.

Inflammatory cytokines that act through glycoprotein (gp)130 are elevated in the heart after myocardial infarction and in heart failure. These cytokines are potent regulators of neurotransmitter and neuropeptide production in sympathetic neurons but are also important for the survival of cardiac myocytes after damage to the heart. To examine the effect of gp130 cytokines on cardiac nerves, we used gp130(DBH-Cre/lox) mice, which have a selective deletion of the gp130 cytokine receptor in neurons expressing dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH). Basal sympathetic parameters, including norepinephrine (NE) content, tyrosine hydroxylase expression, NE transporter expression, and sympathetic innervation density, appeared normal in gp130(DBH-Cre/lox) compared with wild-type mice. Likewise, basal cardiovascular parameters measured under isoflurane anesthesia were similar in both genotypes, including mean arterial pressure, left ventricular peak systolic pressure, dP/dt(max), and dP/dt(min). However, pharmacological interventions revealed an autonomic imbalance in gp130(DBH-Cre/lox) mice that was correlated with an increased incidence of premature ventricular complexes after reperfusion. Stimulation of NE release with tyramine and infusion of the beta-agonist dobutamine revealed blunted adrenergic transmission that correlated with decreased beta-receptor expression in gp130(DBH-Cre/lox) hearts. Due to the developmental expression of the DBH-Cre transgene in parasympathetic ganglia, gp130 was eliminated. Cholinergic transmission was impaired in gp130(DBH-Cre/lox) hearts due to decreased parasympathetic drive, but tyrosine hydroxylase immunohistochemistry in the brain stem revealed that catecholaminergic nuclei appeared grossly normal. Thus, the apparently normal basal parameters in gp130(DBH-Cre/lox) mice mask an autonomic imbalance that includes alterations in sympathetic and parasympathetic transmission.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpheart.00409.2009DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2755986PMC
September 2009

Periaqueductal gray neurons project to spinally projecting GABAergic neurons in the rostral ventromedial medulla.

Pain 2008 Nov 15;140(2):376-386. Epub 2008 Oct 15.

Neurological Sciences Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, 505 NW 185th Avenue, Beaverton, OR 97006, USA Department of Psychology, Washington State University Vancouver, Vancouver, WA 98686, USA.

The analgesic effects of morphine are mediated, in part, by periaqueductal gray (PAG) neurons that project to the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM). Although much of the neural circuitry within the RVM has been described, the relationship between RVM neurons and PAG input and spinal output is not known. The objective of this study was to determine whether GABAergic output neurons from the PAG target RVM reticulospinal neurons. Immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy revealed that PAG neurons project extensively to RVM neurons projecting to the spinal cord, and two-thirds of these reticulospinal neurons appear to be GABAergic (contain GAD67 immunoreactivity). The majority (71%) of PAG fibers that contact RVM reticulospinal GAD67-immunoreactive neurons also contained GAD67 immunoreactivity. Thus, there is an inhibitory projection from PAG to inhibitory RVM reticulospinal neurons. However, there were also PAG projections to the RVM that did not contain GAD67 immunoreactivity. Additional experiments were conducted to determine whether the heterogeneity in this projection can be explained by the electrophysiological character of the RVM target neurons. PAG projections to electrophysiologically defined and juxtacellularly filled ON, OFF, and Neutral cells in the RVM were examined. Similar to the pattern reported above, both GAD67- and non-GAD67-immunoreactive PAG neurons project to RVM ON, OFF, and Neutral cells in the RVM. These inputs include a GAD67-immunoreactive projection to a GAD67-immunoreactive ON cell and non-GAD67 projections to GAD67-immunoreactive OFF cells. This pattern is consistent with PAG neurons producing antinociception by direct excitation of RVM OFF cells and inhibition of ON cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pain.2008.09.009DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2704017PMC
November 2008

Sustained hypertension increases the density of AMPA receptor subunit, GluR1, in baroreceptive regions of the nucleus tractus solitarii of the rat.

Brain Res 2008 Jan 24;1187:125-36. Epub 2007 Oct 24.

Neurological Sciences Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, 505 NW 185th Avenue, Beaverton, OR 97006, USA.

AMPA-type glutamate receptors in the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS) are necessary for the baroreceptor reflex, a primary mechanism for homeostatic regulation of blood pressure. Within NTS, the GluR1 subunit of the AMPA receptor is found primarily in dendritic spines. We previously showed that both GluR1 and dendritic spine density are increased in NTS of spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs). We hypothesize that both receptor and synaptic plasticity are induced by a sustained elevation in arterial pressure. To test the general nature of this hypothesis, we examined whether similar changes in GluR1 density are found in a renovascular model of hypertension, the DOCA-salt rat, and if these changes are preventable by normalizing blood pressure with hydralazine, a peripherally acting vasodilator. Using immunoperoxidase detection, GluR1 appears as small puncta at the light microscopic level, and is found in dendritic spines at the ultrastructural level. Following the development of hypertension, GluR1 spine and puncta counts were significantly greater in DOCA-salt rats than controls. Hydralazine treatment (4-5 weeks) prevented the development of hypertension in DOCA-salt rats and reduced blood pressure of SHRs to normotensive levels. The density of GluR1 puncta in the NTS was significantly reduced by hydralazine treatment in the SHR model. These results show that hypertension alters dendritic spines containing AMPA-type glutamate receptors within NTS, suggesting that adjustments in GluR1 expression within NTS are part of the synaptic adaptations to the hypertensive state.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2007.10.041DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2225988PMC
January 2008

Kainate receptors are primarily postsynaptic to SP-containing axon terminals in the trigeminal dorsal horn.

Brain Res 2007 Dec 4;1184:149-59. Epub 2007 Oct 4.

Oregon Health and Science University, Neurological Sciences Institute, Beaverton, OR 97006, USA.

Kainate receptors (KARs) are involved in the modulation and transmission of nociceptive information from peripheral afferents to neurons in the spinal cord and trigeminal dorsal horns. KARs are found at both pre- and postsynaptic sites in the dorsal horn. We hypothesized that KARs and Substance P (SP), a modulatory neuropeptide that is used as a marker of nociceptive afferents, have a complex interactive relationship. To determine the cellular relationship and connectivity between KARs and SP afferents, we used electron microscopic dual immunocytochemical analysis to examine the ultrastructural localization of KAR subunits GluR5, 6 and 7 (GluR5,6,7) in relation to SP within laminae I and II in the rat trigeminal dorsal horn. KARs were distributed both postsynaptically in dendrites and somata (51% of GluR5,6,7 immunoreactive (-ir) profiles) and presynaptically in axons and axon terminals (45%). We also found GluR5,6,7-ir glial profiles (5%). The majority of SP-ir profiles were presynaptic axons and axon terminals. SP-ir dendritic profiles were rare, yet 23% contained GluR5,6,7 immunoreactivity. GluR5,6,7 and SP were also colocalized at presynaptic sites (18% of GluR5,6,7-ir axons and axon terminals contained SP; while 11% of SP-ir axons and axon terminals contained GluR5,6,7). The most common interaction between KARs and SP we observed was GluR5,6,7-ir dendrites contacted by SP-ir axon terminals; 54% of the dendritic targets of SP-ir axon terminals were GluR5,6,7-ir. These results provide anatomical evidence that KARs primarily mediate nociceptive transmission postsynaptic to SP-containing afferents and may also modulate the presynaptic release of SP and glutamate in trigeminal dorsal horn.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2007.09.070DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2238683PMC
December 2007

Decreased substance P and NK1 receptor immunoreactivity and function in the spinal cord dorsal horn of morphine-treated neonatal rats.

J Pain 2008 Jan 24;9(1):11-9. Epub 2007 Oct 24.

Department of Anesthesiology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, USA.

Unlabelled: Opiate analgesic tolerance is defined as a need for higher doses of opiates to maintain pain relief after prolonged opiate exposure. Though changes in the opioid receptor undoubtedly occur during conditions of opiate tolerance, there is increasing evidence that opiate analgesic tolerance is also caused by pronociceptive adaptations in the spinal cord. We have previously observed increased glutamate release in the spinal cord dorsal horn of neonatal rats made tolerant to the opiate morphine. In this study, we investigate whether spinal substance P (SP) and its receptor, the neurokinin 1 (NK1) receptor, are also modulated by prolonged morphine exposure. Immunocytochemical studies show decreased SP- and NK1-immunoreactivity in the dorsal horn of morphine-treated rats, whereas SP mRNA in the dorsal root ganglia is not changed. Electrophysiological studies show that SP fails to activate the NK1 receptor in the morphine-treated rat. Taken together, the data indicate that chronic morphine treatment in the neonatal rat is characterized by a loss of SP effects on the NK1 receptor in lamina I of the neonatal spinal cord dorsal horn. The results are discussed in terms of compensatory spinal cord processes that may contribute to opiate analgesic tolerance.

Perspective: This article describes anatomical and physiological changes that occur in the spinal cord dorsal horn of neonatal rats after chronic morphine treatment. These changes may represent an additional compensatory process of morphine tolerance and may represent an additional therapeutic target for the retention and restoration of pain relief with prolonged morphine treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpain.2007.07.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2241645PMC
January 2008

Kappa opioid receptors in the rostral ventromedial medulla of male and female rats.

J Comp Neurol 2007 Jan;500(3):465-76

Department of Neurology and Neuroscience, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York 10021, USA.

Kappa opioid receptor (KOR) ligands alter nociceptive responses when applied to the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM). However, the effects of kappa opioid receptor ligands are distinct in males and females. The present study examined the distribution of kappa opioid receptor immunoreactivity in the RVM of male and female rats. KOR immunoreactivity was found at pre- and postsynaptic sites within the RVM of both sexes. The most common KOR-immunoreactive (KOR-ir) neuronal structures were unmyelinated axons, followed by axon terminals, dendrites, and somata. Different proportions of KOR-ir axon terminals and dendrites were found in females at different estrous stages. Specifically, dendrites containing KOR immunoreactivity were less abundant in proestrus females compared with estrus females and showed a trend toward being less abundant in males, suggesting that KOR ligands applied to the RVM may be less potent in proestrus females. These findings suggest that the distribution of KORs in the RVM may be influenced by reproductive hormone levels. We also found KOR immunoreactivity in many spinally projecting neurons within the RVM of female rats. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that KOR ligands influence nociceptive behaviors by altering the activity of specific populations of neurons within the RVM. The abundance of KOR in axons and axon terminals in RVM indicates a substantial role for presynaptic effects of KOR ligands through pathways that have not been clearly delineated. Altering the balance between pre- and postsynaptic receptive sites may underlie differences in the effects of KOR agonists on nociceptive responses in males and females.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cne.21184DOI Listing
January 2007