ResearchPad - hippocampal-formation Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Distinct patterns of dentate gyrus cell activation distinguish physiologic from aberrant stimuli]]> Under physiologic conditions, the dentate gyrus (DG) exhibits exceptionally low levels of activity compared to other brain regions. A sparse activation pattern is observed even when the DG is engaged to process new information; for example, only ~1–3% of neurons in the DG granule cell layer (GCL) are activated after placing animals in a novel, enriched environment. Moreover, such physiologic stimulation of GCL neurons recruits young granule cells more readily than older cells. This sparse pattern of cell activation has largely been attributed to intrinsic circuit properties of the DG, such as reduced threshold for activation in younger cells, and increased inhibition onto older cells. Given these intrinsic properties, we asked whether such activation of young granule cells was unique to physiologic stimulation, or could be elicited by general pharmacological activation of the hippocampus. We found that administration of kainic acid (KA) at a low dose (5 mg/kg) to wildtype C57BL/6 mice activated a similarly sparse number of cells in the GCL as physiologic DG stimulation by exposure to a novel, enriched environment. However, unlike physiologic stimulation, 5 mg/kg KA activated primarily old granule cells as well as GABAergic interneurons. This finding indicates that intrinsic circuit properties of the DG alone may not be sufficient to support the engagement of young granule cells, and suggest that other factors such as the specificity of the pattern of inputs, may be involved.

<![CDATA[BAHD1 haploinsufficiency results in anxiety-like phenotypes in male mice]]> BAHD1 is a heterochomatinization factor recently described as a component of a multiprotein complex associated with histone deacetylases HDAC1/2. The physiological and patho-physiological functions of BAHD1 are not yet well characterized. Here, we examined the consequences of BAHD1 deficiency in the brains of male mice. While Bahd1 knockout mice had no detectable defects in brain anatomy, RNA sequencing profiling revealed about 2500 deregulated genes in Bahd1-/- brains compared to Bahd1+/+ brains. A majority of these genes were involved in nervous system development and function, behavior, metabolism and immunity. Exploration of the Allen Brain Atlas and Dropviz databases, assessing gene expression in the brain, revealed that expression of the Bahd1 gene was limited to a few territories and cell subtypes, particularly in the hippocampal formation, the isocortex and the olfactory regions. The effect of partial BAHD1 deficiency on behavior was then evaluated on Bahd1 heterozygous male mice, which have no lethal or metabolic phenotypes. Bahd1+/- mice showed anxiety-like behavior and reduced prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the startle response. Altogether, these results suggest that BAHD1 plays a role in chromatin-dependent gene regulation in a subset of brain cells and support recent evidence linking genetic alteration of BAHD1 to psychiatric disorders in a human patient.

<![CDATA[A Single Postnatal Dose of Dexamethasone Enhances Memory of Rat Pups Later in Life]]>

Postnatal dexamethasone (Dex) therapy is associated with adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes, which might be related to its timing of administration. We used time-dated pregnant Wistar albino rats, whose litters were divided into experimental (Dex) and control groups intraperitoneally administered one dose of Dex (0.5 mg/kg) or normal saline (NS), respectively, at either day 1 (P1) or 7 (P7). The magnitude of the contextual freezing response and performance on the Morris water maze were significantly higher in the Dex-P7 group than in those of the other groups at P56. Dendritic spine density, membranous expression of the N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) subunit NR2A/2B, and postsynaptic density-95 (PSD-95) were significantly higher in the Dex-P7 group than in the other groups. Furthermore, cytosolic expression of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) was significantly higher in the Dex group than in NS group. Moreover, Dex administration at P7 increased cell proliferation, neuronal differentiation, and the survival of newly born neurons in the dentate gyrus. These results suggest Dex at P7 enhances the acquisition of contextual fear and spatial memory later in life due to the modulation of the newly born neurons, increase in dendritic spine number, and NMDAR expression.

<![CDATA[Downregulation of KCNMB4 expression and changes in BK channel subtype in hippocampal granule neurons following seizure activity]]>

A major challenge is to understand maladaptive changes in ion channels that sets neurons on a course towards epilepsy development. Voltage- and calcium-activated K+ (BK) channels contribute to early spike timing in neurons, and studies indicate that the BK channel plays a pathological role in increasing excitability early after a seizure. Here, we have investigated changes in BK channels and their accessory β4 subunit (KCNMB4) in dentate gyrus (DG) granule neurons of the hippocampus, key neurons that regulate excitability of the hippocampus circuit. Two days after pilocarpine-induced seizures, we found that the predominant effect is a downregulation of the β4 accessory subunit mRNA. Consistent with reduced expression, single channel recording and pharmacology indicate a switch in the subtype of channels expressed; from iberiotoxin-resistant, type II BK channels (BK α/β4) that have higher channel open probability and slow gating, to iberiotoxin-sensitive type I channels (BK α alone) with low open probability and faster gating. The switch to a majority of type I channel expression following seizure activity is correlated with a loss of BK channel function on spike threshold while maintaining the channel’s contribution to increased early spike frequency. Using heterozygous β4 knockout mice, we find reduced expression is sufficient to increase seizure sensitivity. We conclude that seizure-induced downregulation of KCNMB4 is an activity dependent mechanism that increases the excitability of DG neurons. These novel findings indicate that BK channel subtypes are not only defined by cell-specific expression, but can also be plastic depending on the recent history of neuronal excitability.

<![CDATA[Perceived Stress Is Differentially Related to Hippocampal Subfield Volumes among Older Adults]]>


Chronic exposure to stress has been shown to impact a wide range of health-related outcomes in older adults. Despite extensive animal literature revealing deleterious effects of biological markers of stress on the dentate gyrus subfield of the hippocampus, links between hippocampal subfields and psychological stress have not been studied in humans.

This study examined the relationship between perceived stress and hippocampal subfield volumes among racially/ethnically diverse older adults.

Methods and Materials

Between July 2011 and March 2014, 116 nondemented participants were consecutively drawn from the Einstein Aging Study, an ongoing community-based sample of individuals over the age of 70 residing in Bronx, New York. All participants completed the Perceived Stress Scale, Geriatric Depression Scale, and underwent 3.0 T MRI. FreeSurfer was used to derive total hippocampal volume, hippocampal subfield volumes (CA1, CA2/CA3, CA4/Dentate Gyrus (CA4/DG), and subiculum), entorhinal cortex volume, whole brain volume, and total intracranial volume.


Linear regression analyses revealed that higher levels of perceived stress were associated with smaller total hippocampal volume (β = -0.20, t = -2.40, p = 0.02), smaller CA2/CA3 volumes (β = -0.18, t = -2.24, p = 0.03) and smaller CA4/DG volumes (β = -0.19, t = -2.28, p = 0.03) after controlling for total intracranial volume, age, gender, and race. These findings remained unchanged after removal of individuals with clinically significant symptoms of depression.


Our findings provide evidence of a relationship between a direct indicator of psychological stress and specific hippocampal subfield volumes in elderly individuals. These results highlight the importance of clinical screening for chronic stress in otherwise healthy older adults.

<![CDATA[Genetic Deletion of the Clathrin Adaptor GGA3 Reduces Anxiety and Alters GABAergic Transmission]]>

Golgi-localized γ-ear-containing ARF binding protein 3 (GGA3) is a monomeric clathrin adaptor that has been shown to regulate the trafficking of the Beta-site APP-cleaving enzyme (BACE1), which is required for production of the Alzheimer’s disease (AD)-associated amyloid βpeptide. Our previous studies have shown that BACE1 is degraded via the lysosomal pathway and that depletion of GGA3 results in increased BACE1 levels and activity owing to impaired lysosomal trafficking and degradation. We further demonstrated the role of GGA3 in the regulation of BACE1 in vivo by showing that BACE1 levels are increased in the brain of GGA3 null mice. We report here that GGA3 deletion results in novelty-induced hyperactivity and decreased anxiety-like behaviors. Given the pivotal role of GABAergic transmission in the regulation of anxiety-like behaviors, we performed electrophysiological recordings in hippocampal slices and found increased phasic and decreased tonic inhibition in the dentate gyrus granule cells (DGGC). Moreover, we found that the number of inhibitory synapses is increased in the dentate gyrus of GGA3 null mice in further support of the electrophysiological data. Thus, the increased GABAergic transmission is a leading candidate mechanism underlying the reduced anxiety-like behaviors observed in GGA3 null mice. All together these findings suggest that GGA3 plays a key role in GABAergic transmission. Since BACE1 levels are elevated in the brain of GGA3 null mice, it is possible that at least some of these phenotypes are a consequence of increased processing of BACE1 substrates.

<![CDATA[R-Modafinil exerts weak effects on spatial memory acquisition and dentate gyrus synaptic plasticity]]>

Modafinil is a wake promoting drug approved for clinical use and also has cognitive enhancing properties. Its enantiomer R-Modafinil (R-MO) is not well studied in regard to cognitive enhancing properties. Hence we studied its effect in a spatial memory paradigm and its possible effects on dentate gyrus long-term potentiation (DG-LTP). Clinically relevant doses of R-MO, vehicle dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) or saline were administered for three days during the hole-board test and in in vivo DG-LTP. Synaptic levels of dopamine receptors D1R, D2R, dopamine transporter (DAT), and its phosphorylated form (ph-DAT) in DG tissue 4 h after LTP induction were quantified by western blot analysis. Monoamine reuptake and release assays were performed by using transfected HEK-293 cells. Possible neurotoxic side effects on general behaviour were also studied. R-MO at both doses significantly enhanced spatial reference memory during the last training session and during memory retrieval compared to DMSO vehicle but not when compared to saline treated rats. Similarly, R-MO rescues DG-LTP from impairing effects of DMSO. DMSO reduced memory performance and LTP magnitude when compared to saline treated groups. The synaptic DR1 levels in R-MO groups were significantly decreased compared to DMSO group but were comparable with saline treated animals. We found no effect of R-MO in neurotoxicity tests. Thus, our results support the notion that LTP-like synaptic plasticity processes could be one of the factors contributing to the cognitive enhancing effects of spatial memory traces. D1R may play an important regulatory role in these processes.

<![CDATA[Probabilistic Learning by Rodent Grid Cells]]>

Mounting evidence shows mammalian brains are probabilistic computers, but the specific cells involved remain elusive. Parallel research suggests that grid cells of the mammalian hippocampal formation are fundamental to spatial cognition but their diverse response properties still defy explanation. No plausible model exists which explains stable grids in darkness for twenty minutes or longer, despite being one of the first results ever published on grid cells. Similarly, no current explanation can tie together grid fragmentation and grid rescaling, which show very different forms of flexibility in grid responses when the environment is varied. Other properties such as attractor dynamics and grid anisotropy seem to be at odds with one another unless additional properties are assumed such as a varying velocity gain. Modelling efforts have largely ignored the breadth of response patterns, while also failing to account for the disastrous effects of sensory noise during spatial learning and recall, especially in darkness. Here, published electrophysiological evidence from a range of experiments are reinterpreted using a novel probabilistic learning model, which shows that grid cell responses are accurately predicted by a probabilistic learning process. Diverse response properties of probabilistic grid cells are statistically indistinguishable from rat grid cells across key manipulations. A simple coherent set of probabilistic computations explains stable grid fields in darkness, partial grid rescaling in resized arenas, low-dimensional attractor grid cell dynamics, and grid fragmentation in hairpin mazes. The same computations also reconcile oscillatory dynamics at the single cell level with attractor dynamics at the cell ensemble level. Additionally, a clear functional role for boundary cells is proposed for spatial learning. These findings provide a parsimonious and unified explanation of grid cell function, and implicate grid cells as an accessible neuronal population readout of a set of probabilistic spatial computations.

<![CDATA[Effects of Neurotrophic Support and Amyloid-Targeted Combined Therapy on Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis in a Transgenic Model of Alzheimer's Disease]]>

Although it is recognized that multi-drug therapies may be necessary to combat AD, there is a paucity of preclinical proof of concept studies. We present a combination treatment paradigm, which temporally affects different aspects of Alzheimer’s disease (AD)-like pathology, specifically Aβ-toxicity and neurogenesis. At early stages of AD-like pathology, in TgCRND8 mice, we found that combating Aβ pathology with scyllo-inositol ameliorated deficits in neurogenesis. Older TgCRND8 mice with established amyloid load had decreased progenitor cell proliferation and survival compared to non-transgenic mice, regardless of scyllo-inositol treatment. The prolonged exposure to Aβ-pathology leads to deficits in the neurogenic niche, thus targeting Aβ alone is insufficient to rescue neurogenesis. To support the neurogenic niche, we combined scyllo-inositol treatment with leteprinim potassium (neotrofin), the latter of which stimulates neurotrophin expression. We show that the combination treatment of scyllo-inositol and neotrofin enhances neuronal survival and differentiation. We propose this proof of concept combination therapy of targeting Aβ-pathology and neurotrophin deficits as a potential treatment for AD.

<![CDATA[Chronically dysregulated NOTCH1 interactome in the dentate gyrus after traumatic brain injury]]>

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result in several dentate gyrus-regulated disabilities. Almost nothing is known about the chronic molecular changes after TBI, and their potential as treatment targets. We hypothesized that chronic transcriptional alterations after TBI are under microRNA (miRNA) control. Expression of miRNAs and their targets in the dentate gyrus was analyzed using microarrays at 3 months after experimental TBI. Of 305 miRNAs present on the miRNA-array, 12 were downregulated (p<0.05). In parallel, 75 of their target genes were upregulated (p<0.05). A bioinformatics analysis of miRNA targets highlighted the dysregulation of the transcription factor NOTCH1 and 39 of its target genes (NOTCH1 interactome). Validation assays confirmed downregulation of miR-139-5p, upregulation of Notch1 and its activated protein, and positive enrichment of NOTCH1 target gene expression. These findings demonstrate that miRNA-based transcriptional regulation can be present at chronic time points after TBI, and highlight the NOTCH1 interactome as one of the mechanisms behind the dentate gyrus pathology-related morbidities.

<![CDATA[MicroRNAs, miR-23a-3p and miR-151-3p, Are Regulated in Dentate Gyrus Neuropil following Induction of Long-Term Potentiation In Vivo]]>

Translation of synaptic mRNA contributes to alterations in the proteome necessary to consolidate long-term potentiation (LTP), a model of memory processes. Yet, how this process is controlled is not fully resolved. MicroRNAs are non-coding RNAs that negatively regulate gene expression by suppressing translation or promoting mRNA degradation. As specific microRNAs are synaptically located, we hypothesized that they are ideally suited to couple synaptic activation, translational regulation, and LTP persistence. The aim of this study was to identify LTP-regulated microRNAs at or near synapses. Accordingly, LTP was induced unilaterally at perforant path-dentate gyrus synapses in awake adult Sprague-Dawley rats. Five hours later, dentate gyrus middle molecular layer neuropil, containing potentiated synapses, was laser-microdissected. MicroRNA expression profiling, using TaqMan Low Density MicroRNA Microarrays (n = 4), identified eight regulated microRNAs. Subsequent individual TaqMan assays confirmed upregulation of miR-23a-3p (1.30 ± 0.10; p = 0.015) and miR-151-3p (1.17 ± 0.19; p = 0.045) in a second cohort (n = 7). Interestingly, bioinformatic analysis indicated that miR-151-3p and miR-23a-3p regulate synaptic reorganisation and transcription, respectively. In summary, we have demonstrated for the first time that microRNAs are regulated in isolated neuropil following LTP induction in vivo, supporting the hypothesis that synaptic, LTP-responsive microRNAs contribute to LTP persistence via regulation of the synaptic proteome.

<![CDATA[Hippocampal neurogenesis and volume in migrating and wintering semipalmated sandpipers (Calidris pusilla)]]>

Long distance migratory birds find their way by sensing and integrating information from a large number of cues in their environment. These cues are essential to navigate over thousands of kilometers and reach the same breeding, stopover, and wintering sites every year. The semipalmated sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) is a long-distance migrant that breeds in the arctic tundra of Canada and Alaska and winters on the northeast coast of South America. Its fall migration includes a 5,300-kilometer nonstop flight over the Atlantic Ocean. The avian hippocampus has been proposed to play a central role in the integration of multisensory spatial information for navigation. Hippocampal neurogenesis may contribute to hippocampal function and a variety of factors including cognitive activity, exercise, enrichment, diet and stress influence neurogenesis in the hippocampus. We quantified hippocampal neurogenesis and volume in adult migrating and wintering semipalmated sandpipers using stereological counts of doublecortin (DCX) immunolabeled immature neurons. We found that birds captured in the coastal region of Bragança, Brazil during the wintering period had more DCX positive neurons and larger volume in the hippocampus than individuals captured in the Bay of Fundy, Canada during fall migration. We also estimate the number of NeuN immunolabeled cells in migrating and wintering birds and found no significant differences between them. These findings suggest that, at this time window, neurogenesis just replaced neurons that might be lost during the transatlantic flight. Our findings also show that in active fall migrating birds, a lower level of adult hippocampal neurogenesis is associated with a smaller hippocampal formation. High levels of adult hippocampal neurogenesis and a larger hippocampal formation found in wintering birds may be late occurring effects of long distance migratory flight or the result of conditions the birds experienced while wintering.

<![CDATA[MiR-338-3p regulates neuronal maturation and suppresses glioblastoma proliferation]]>

Neurogenesis is a highly-regulated process occurring in the dentate gyrus that has been linked to learning, memory, and antidepressant efficacy. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been previously shown to play an important role in the regulation of neuronal development and neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus via modulation of gene expression. However, this mode of regulation is both incompletely described in the literature thus far and highly multifactorial. In this study, we designed sensors and detected relative levels of expression of 10 different miRNAs and found miR-338-3p was most highly expressed in the dentate gyrus. Comparison of miR-338-3p expression with neuronal markers of maturity indicates miR-338-3p is expressed most highly in the mature neuron. We also designed a viral “sponge” to knock down in vivo expression of miR-338-3p. When miR-338-3p is knocked down, neurons sprout multiple primary dendrites that branch off of the soma in a disorganized manner, cellular proliferation is upregulated, and neoplasms form spontaneously in vivo. Additionally, miR-338-3p overexpression in glioblastoma cell lines slows their proliferation in vitro. Further, low miR-338-3p expression is associated with increased mortality and disease progression in patients with glioblastoma. These data identify miR-338-3p as a clinically relevant tumor suppressor in glioblastoma.