ResearchPad - homeostatic-mechanisms Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[An electrodiffusive, ion conserving Pinsky-Rinzel model with homeostatic mechanisms]]> Neurons generate their electrical signals by letting ions pass through their membranes. Despite this fact, most models of neurons apply the simplifying assumption that ion concentrations remain effectively constant during neural activity. This assumption is often quite good, as neurons contain a set of homeostatic mechanisms that make sure that ion concentrations vary quite little under normal circumstances. However, under some conditions, these mechanisms can fail, and ion concentrations can vary quite dramatically. Standard models are thus not able to simulate such conditions. Here, we present what to our knowledge is the first multicompartmental neuron model that accounts for ion concentration variations in a way that ensures complete and consistent ion concentration and charge conservation. In this work, we use the model to explore under which activity conditions the ion concentration variations become important for predicting the neurodynamics. We expect the model to be of great value for the field of neuroscience, as it can be used to simulate a range of pathological conditions, such as spreading depression or epilepsy, which are associated with large changes in extracellular ion concentrations.

<![CDATA[Astrocyte Inositol Triphosphate Receptor Type 2 and Cytosolic Phospholipase A2 Alpha Regulate Arteriole Responses in Mouse Neocortical Brain Slices]]>

Functional hyperemia of the cerebral vascular system matches regional blood flow to the metabolic demands of the brain. One current model of neurovascular control holds that glutamate released by neurons activates group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) on astrocytes, resulting in the production of diffusible messengers that act to regulate smooth muscle cells surrounding cerebral arterioles. The acute mouse brain slice is an experimental system in which changes in arteriole diameter can precisely measured with light microscopy. Stimulation of the brain slice triggers specific cellular responses that can be correlated to changes in arteriole diameter. Here we used inositol trisphosphate receptor type 2 (IP3R2) and cytosolic phospholipase A2 alpha (cPLA2α) deficient mice to determine if astrocyte mGluR activation coupled to IP3R2-mediated Ca2+ release and subsequent cPLA2α activation is required for arteriole regulation. We measured changes in astrocyte cytosolic free Ca2+ and arteriole diameters in response to mGluR agonist or electrical field stimulation in acute neocortical mouse brain slices maintained in 95% or 20% O2. Astrocyte Ca2+ and arteriole responses to mGluR activation were absent in IP3R2/− slices. Astrocyte Ca2+ responses to mGluR activation were unchanged by deletion of cPLA2α but arteriole responses to either mGluR agonist or electrical stimulation were ablated. The valence of changes in arteriole diameter (dilation/constriction) was dependent upon both stimulus and O2 concentration. Neuron-derived NO and activation of the group I mGluRs are required for responses to electrical stimulation. These findings indicate that an mGluR/IP3R2/cPLA2α signaling cascade in astrocytes is required to transduce neuronal glutamate release into arteriole responses.

<![CDATA[The Organization of Controller Motifs Leading to Robust Plant Iron Homeostasis]]>

Iron is an essential element needed by all organisms for growth and development. Because iron becomes toxic at higher concentrations iron is under homeostatic control. Plants face also the problem that iron in the soil is tightly bound to oxygen and difficult to access. Plants have therefore developed special mechanisms for iron uptake and regulation. During the last years key components of plant iron regulation have been identified. How these components integrate and maintain robust iron homeostasis is presently not well understood. Here we use a computational approach to identify mechanisms for robust iron homeostasis in non-graminaceous plants. In comparison with experimental results certain control arrangements can be eliminated, among them that iron homeostasis is solely based on an iron-dependent degradation of the transporter IRT1. Recent IRT1 overexpression experiments suggested that IRT1-degradation is iron-independent. This suggestion appears to be misleading. We show that iron signaling pathways under IRT1 overexpression conditions become saturated, leading to a breakdown in iron regulation and to the observed iron-independent degradation of IRT1. A model, which complies with experimental data places the regulation of cytosolic iron at the transcript level of the transcription factor FIT. Including the experimental observation that FIT induces inhibition of IRT1 turnover we found a significant improvement in the system’s response time, suggesting a functional role for the FIT-mediated inhibition of IRT1 degradation. By combining iron uptake with storage and remobilization mechanisms a model is obtained which in a concerted manner integrates iron uptake, storage and remobilization. In agreement with experiments the model does not store iron during its high-affinity uptake. As an iron biofortification approach we discuss the possibility how iron can be accumulated even during high-affinity uptake.

<![CDATA[Bidirectional Scaling of Astrocytic Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Signaling following Long-Term Changes in Neuronal Firing Rates]]>

Very little is known about the ability of astrocytic receptors to exhibit plasticity as a result of changes in neuronal activity. Here we provide evidence for bidirectional scaling of astrocytic group I metabotropic glutamate receptor signaling in acute mouse hippocampal slices following long-term changes in neuronal firing rates. Plasticity of astrocytic mGluRs was measured by recording spontaneous and evoked Ca2+ elevations in both astrocytic somata and processes. An exogenous astrocytic Gq G protein-coupled receptor was resistant to scaling, suggesting that the alterations in astrocyte Ca2+ signaling result from changes in activity of the surface mGluRs rather than a change in intracellular G protein signaling molecules. These findings suggest that astrocytes actively detect shifts in neuronal firing rates and adjust their receptor signaling accordingly. This type of long-term plasticity in astrocytes resembles neuronal homeostatic plasticity and might be important to ensure an optimal or expected level of input from neurons.

<![CDATA[Sodium/myo-Inositol Transporters: Substrate Transport Requirements and Regional Brain Expression in the TgCRND8 Mouse Model of Amyloid Pathology]]>

Inositol stereoisomers, myo- and scyllo-inositol, are known to enter the brain and are significantly elevated following oral administration. Elevations in brain inositol levels occur across a concentration gradient as a result of active transport from the periphery. There are two sodium/myo-inositol transporters (SMIT1, SMIT2) that may be responsible for regulating brain inositol levels. The goals of this study were to determine the effects of aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD)-like amyloid pathology on transporter expression, to compare regional expression and to analyze substrate requirements of the inositol transporters. QPCR was used to examine expression of the two transporters in the cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum of TgCRND8 mice, a mouse model of amyloid pathology, in comparison to non-transgenic littermates. In addition, we examined the structural features of inositol required for active transport, utilizing a cell-based competitive uptake assay. Disease pathology did not alter transporter expression in the cortex or hippocampus (p>0.005), with only minimal effects of aging observed in the cerebellum (SMIT1: F2,26 = 12.62; p = 0.0002; SMIT2: F2,26 = 8.71; p = 0.0015). Overall, brain SMIT1 levels were higher than SMIT2, however, regional differences were observed. For SMIT1, at 4 and 6 months cerebellar SMIT1 levels were significantly higher than cortical and hippocampal levels (p<0.05). For SMIT2, at all three ages both cortical and cerebellar SMIT2 levels were significantly higher than hippocampal levels (p<0.05) and at 4 and 6 months of age, cerebellar SMIT2 levels were also significantly higher than cortical levels (p<0.05). Inositol transporter levels are stably expressed as a function of age, and expression is unaltered with disease pathology in the TgCRND8 mouse. Given the fact that scyllo-inositol is currently in clinical trials for the treatment of AD, the stable expression of inositol transporters regardless of disease pathology is an important finding.

<![CDATA[Sleep Phenotyping in a Mouse Model of Extreme Trait Anxiety]]>


There is accumulating evidence that anxiety impairs sleep. However, due to high sleep variability in anxiety disorders, it has been difficult to state particular changes in sleep parameters caused by anxiety. Sleep profiling in an animal model with extremely high vs. low levels of trait anxiety might serve to further define sleep patterns associated with this psychopathology.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Sleep-wake behavior in mouse lines with high (HAB), low (LAB) and normal (NAB) anxiety-related behaviors was monitored for 24 h during baseline and recovery after 6 h sleep deprivation (SD). The amounts of each vigilance state, sleep architecture, and EEG spectral variations were compared between the mouse lines. In comparison to NAB mice, HAB mice slept more and exhibited consistently increased delta power during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Their sleep patterns were characterized by heavy fragmentation, reduced maintenance of wakefulness, and frequent intrusions of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. In contrast, LAB mice showed a robust sleep-wake rhythm with remarkably prolonged sleep latency and a long, persistent period of wakefulness. In addition, the accumulation of delta power after SD was impaired in the LAB line, as compared to HAB mice.


Sleep-wake patterns were significantly different between HAB and LAB mice, indicating that the genetic predisposition to extremes in trait anxiety leaves a biological scar on sleep quality. The enhanced sleep demand observed in HAB mice, with a strong drive toward REM sleep, may resemble a unique phenotype reflecting not only elevated anxiety but also a depression-like attribute.

<![CDATA[GPR54-Dependent Stimulation of Luteinizing Hormone Secretion by Neurokinin B in Prepubertal Rats]]>

Kisspeptin, neurokinin B (NKB) and dynorphin A (Dyn) are coexpressed within KNDy neurons that project from the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus (ARC) to GnRH neurons and numerous other hypothalamic targets. Each of the KNDy neuropeptides has been implicated in regulating pulsatile GnRH/LH secretion. In isolation, kisspeptin is generally known to stimulate, and Dyn to inhibit LH secretion. However, the NKB analog, senktide, has variously been reported to inhibit, stimulate or have no effect on LH secretion. In prepubertal mice, rats and monkeys, senktide stimulates LH secretion. Furthermore, in the monkey this effect is dependent on kisspeptin signaling through its receptor, GPR54. The present study tested the hypotheses that the stimulatory effects of NKB on LH secretion in intact rats are mediated by kisspeptin/GPR54 signaling and are independent of a Dyn tone. To test this, ovarian-intact prepubertal rats were subjected to frequent automated blood sampling before and after intracerebroventricular injections of KNDy neuropeptide analogs. Senktide robustly induced single LH pulses, while neither the GPR54 antagonist, Kp-234, nor the Dyn agonist and antagonist (U50488 and nor-BNI, respectively) had an effect on basal LH levels. However, Kp-234 potently blocked the senktide-induced LH pulses. Modulation of the Dyn tone by U50488 or nor-BNI did not affect the senktide-induced LH pulses. These data demonstrate that the stimulatory effect of NKB on LH secretion in intact female rats is dependent upon kisspeptin/GPR54 signaling, but not on Dyn signaling.

<![CDATA[Protein Kinase C-Dependent Dephosphorylation of Tyrosine Hydroxylase Requires the B56δ Heterotrimeric Form of Protein Phosphatase 2A]]>

Tyrosine hydroxylase, which plays a critical role in regulation of dopamine synthesis, is known to be controlled by phosphorylation at several critical sites. One of these sites, Ser40, is phosphorylated by a number of protein kinases, including protein kinase A. The major protein phosphatase that dephosphorylates Ser40 is protein phosphatase-2A (PP2A). A recent study has also linked protein kinase C to the dephosphorylation of Ser40 [1], but the mechanism is unclear. PP2A isoforms are comprised of catalytic, scaffold, and regulatory subunits, the regulatory B subunits being able to influence cellular localization and substrate selection. In the current study, we find that protein kinase C is able to phosphorylate a key regulatory site in the B56δ subunit leading to activation of PP2A. In turn, activation of the B56δ-containing heterotrimeric form of PP2A is responsible for enhanced dephosphorylation of Ser40 of tyrosine hydroylase in response to stimulation of PKC. In support of this mechanism, down-regulation of B56δ expression in N27 cells using RNAi was found to increase dopamine synthesis. Together these studies reveal molecular details of how protein kinase C is linked to reduced tyrosine hydroxylase activity via control of PP2A, and also add to the complexity of protein kinase/protein phosphatase interactions.

<![CDATA[Achieving global perfect homeostasis through transporter regulation]]>

Nutrient homeostasis—the maintenance of relatively constant internal nutrient concentrations in fluctuating external environments—is essential to the survival of most organisms. Transcriptional regulation of plasma membrane transporters by internal nutrient concentrations is typically assumed to be the main mechanism by which homeostasis is achieved. While this mechanism is homeostatic we show that it does not achieve global perfect homeostasis—a condition where internal nutrient concentrations are completely independent of external nutrient concentrations for all external nutrient concentrations. We show that the criterion for global perfect homeostasis is that transporter levels must be inversely proportional to net nutrient flux into the cell and that downregulation of active transporters (activity-dependent regulation) is a simple and biologically plausible mechanism that meets this criterion. Activity-dependent transporter regulation creates a trade-off between robustness and efficiency, i.e., the system's ability to withstand perturbation in external nutrients and the transporter production rate needed to maintain homeostasis. Additionally, we show that a system that utilizes both activity-dependent transporter downregulation and regulation of transporter synthesis by internal nutrient levels can create a system that mitigates the shortcomings of each of the individual mechanisms. This analysis highlights the utility of activity-dependent regulation in achieving homeostasis and calls for a re-examination of the mechanisms of regulation of other homeostatic systems.

<![CDATA[Neuroligin-1 Loss Is Associated with Reduced Tenacity of Excitatory Synapses]]>

Neuroligins (Nlgns) are postsynaptic, integral membrane cell adhesion molecules that play important roles in the formation, validation, and maturation of synapses in the mammalian central nervous system. Given their prominent roles in the life cycle of synapses, it might be expected that the loss of neuroligin family members would affect the stability of synaptic organization, and ultimately, affect the tenacity and persistence of individual synaptic junctions. Here we examined whether and to what extent the loss of Nlgn-1 affects the dynamics of several key synaptic molecules and the constancy of their contents at individual synapses over time. Fluorescently tagged versions of the postsynaptic scaffold molecule PSD-95, the AMPA-type glutamate receptor subunit GluA2 and the presynaptic vesicle molecule SV2A were expressed in primary cortical cultures from Nlgn-1 KO mice and wild-type (WT) littermates, and live imaging was used to follow the constancy of their contents at individual synapses over periods of 8–12 hours. We found that the loss of Nlgn-1 was associated with larger fluctuations in the synaptic contents of these molecules and a poorer preservation of their contents at individual synapses. Furthermore, rates of synaptic turnover were somewhat greater in neurons from Nlgn-1 knockout mice. Finally, the increased GluA2 redistribution rates observed in neurons from Nlgn-1 knockout mice were negated by suppressing spontaneous network activity. These findings suggest that the loss of Nlgn-1 is associated with some use-dependent destabilization of excitatory synapse organization, and indicate that in the absence of Nlgn-1, the tenacity of excitatory synapses might be somewhat impaired.

<![CDATA[A High Throughput Screen Identifies Chemical Modulators of the Laminin-Induced Clustering of Dystroglycan and Aquaporin-4 in Primary Astrocytes]]>


Aquaporin-4 (AQP4) constitutes the principal water channel in the brain and is clusteredat the perivascular astrocyte endfeet. This specific distribution of AQP4 plays a major role in maintaining water homeostasis in the brain. A growing body of evidence points to a role ofthe dystroglycan complex and its interaction with perivascular laminin in the clusteringof AQP4 atperivascular astrocyte endfeet. Indeed, mice lacking components of this complex or in which laminin-dystroglycan interaction is disrupted show a delayed onset of brain edema due to a redistribution of AQP4 away from astrocyte endfeet. It is therefore important to identify inhibitory drugs of laminin-dependent AQP4 clustering which may prevent or reduce brain edema.

Methodolgy/Principal Findings

In the present study we used primary rat astrocyte cultures toscreen a library of >3,500 chemicals and identified 6 drugs that inhibit the laminin-induced clustering of dystroglycan and AQP4. Detailed analysis of the inhibitory drug, chloranil, revealed that its inhibition of the clustering is due to the metalloproteinase-2-mediated ß-dystroglycan shedding and subsequent loss of laminin interaction with dystroglycan. Furthermore, chemical variants of chloranil induced a similar effect on ß-dystroglycan and this was prevented by the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine.


These findings reveal the mechanism of action of chloranil in preventing the laminin-induced clustering of dystroglycan and AQP4 and validate the use of high-throughput screening as a tool to identify drugs that modulate AQP4 clustering and that could be tested in models of brain edema.

<![CDATA[ACE2-Mediated Reduction of Oxidative Stress in the Central Nervous System Is Associated with Improvement of Autonomic Function]]>

Oxidative stress in the central nervous system mediates the increase in sympathetic tone that precedes the development of hypertension. We hypothesized that by transforming Angiotensin-II (AngII) into Ang-(1–7), ACE2 might reduce AngII-mediated oxidative stress in the brain and prevent autonomic dysfunction. To test this hypothesis, a relationship between ACE2 and oxidative stress was first confirmed in a mouse neuroblastoma cell line (Neuro2A cells) treated with AngII and infected with Ad-hACE2. ACE2 overexpression resulted in a reduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation. In vivo, ACE2 knockout (ACE2−/y) mice and non-transgenic (NT) littermates were infused with AngII (10 days) and infected with Ad-hACE2 in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN). Baseline blood pressure (BP), AngII and brain ROS levels were not different between young mice (12 weeks). However, cardiac sympathetic tone, brain NADPH oxidase and SOD activities were significantly increased in ACE2−/y. Post infusion, plasma and brain AngII levels were also significantly higher in ACE2−/y, although BP was similarly increased in both genotypes. ROS formation in the PVN and RVLM was significantly higher in ACE2−/y mice following AngII infusion. Similar phenotypes, i.e. increased oxidative stress, exacerbated dysautonomia and hypertension, were also observed on baseline in mature ACE2−/y mice (48 weeks). ACE2 gene therapy to the PVN reduced AngII-mediated increase in NADPH oxidase activity and normalized cardiac dysautonomia in ACE2−/y mice. Altogether, these data indicate that ACE2 gene deletion promotes age-dependent oxidative stress, autonomic dysfunction and hypertension, while PVN-targeted ACE2 gene therapy decreases ROS formation via NADPH oxidase inhibition and improves autonomic function. Accordingly, ACE2 could represent a new target for the treatment of hypertension-associated dysautonomia and oxidative stress.

<![CDATA[Synaptic and Intrinsic Activation of GABAergic Neurons in the Cardiorespiratory Brainstem Network]]>

GABAergic pathways in the brainstem play an essential role in respiratory rhythmogenesis and interactions between the respiratory and cardiovascular neuronal control networks. However, little is known about the identity and function of these GABAergic inhibitory neurons and what determines their activity. In this study we have identified a population of GABAergic neurons in the ventrolateral medulla that receive increased excitatory post-synaptic potentials during inspiration, but also have spontaneous firing in the absence of synaptic input. Using transgenic mice that express GFP under the control of the Gad1 (GAD67) gene promoter, we determined that this population of GABAergic neurons is in close apposition to cardioinhibitory parasympathetic cardiac neurons in the nucleus ambiguus (NA). These neurons fire in synchronization with inspiratory activity. Although they receive excitatory glutamatergic synaptic inputs during inspiration, this excitatory neurotransmission was not altered by blocking nicotinic receptors, and many of these GABAergic neurons continue to fire after synaptic blockade. The spontaneous firing in these GABAergic neurons was not altered by the voltage-gated calcium channel blocker cadmium chloride that blocks both neurotransmission to these neurons and voltage-gated Ca2+ currents, but spontaneous firing was diminished by riluzole, demonstrating a role of persistent sodium channels in the spontaneous firing in these cardiorespiratory GABAergic neurons that possess a pacemaker phenotype. The spontaneously firing GABAergic neurons identified in this study that increase their activity during inspiration would support respiratory rhythm generation if they acted primarily to inhibit post-inspiratory neurons and thereby release inspiration neurons to increase their activity. This population of inspiratory-modulated GABAergic neurons could also play a role in inhibiting neurons that are most active during expiration and provide a framework for respiratory sinus arrhythmia as there is an increase in heart rate during inspiration that occurs via inhibition of premotor parasympathetic cardioinhibitory neurons in the NA during inspiration.

<![CDATA[MTF-1-Mediated Repression of the Zinc Transporter Zip10 Is Alleviated by Zinc Restriction]]>

The regulation of cellular zinc uptake is a key process in the overall mechanism governing mammalian zinc homeostasis and how zinc participates in cellular functions. We analyzed the zinc transporters of the Zip family in both the brain and liver of zinc-deficient animals and found a large, significant increase in Zip10 expression. Additionally, Zip10 expression decreased in response to zinc repletion. Moreover, isolated mouse hepatocytes, AML12 hepatocytes, and Neuro 2A cells also respond differentially to zinc availability in vitro. Measurement of Zip10 hnRNA and actinomycin D inhibition studies indicate that Zip10 was transcriptionally regulated by zinc deficiency. Through luciferase promoter constructs and ChIP analysis, binding of MTF-1 to a metal response element located 17 bp downstream of the transcription start site was shown to be necessary for zinc-induced repression of Zip10. Furthermore, zinc-activated MTF-1 causes down-regulation of Zip10 transcription by physically blocking Pol II movement through the gene. Lastly, ZIP10 is localized to the plasma membrane of hepatocytes and neuro 2A cells. Collectively, these results reveal a novel repressive role for MTF-1 in the regulation of the Zip10 zinc transporter expression by pausing Pol II transcription. ZIP10 may have roles in control of zinc homeostasis in specific sites particularly those of the brain and liver. Within that context ZIP10 may act as an important survival mechanism during periods of zinc inadequacy.

<![CDATA[Phosphorylation of AMPA Receptors Is Required for Sensory Deprivation-Induced Homeostatic Synaptic Plasticity]]>

Sensory experience, and the lack thereof, can alter the function of excitatory synapses in the primary sensory cortices. Recent evidence suggests that changes in sensory experience can regulate the synaptic level of Ca2+-permeable AMPA receptors (CP-AMPARs). However, the molecular mechanisms underlying such a process have not been determined. We found that binocular visual deprivation, which is a well-established in vivo model to produce multiplicative synaptic scaling in visual cortex of juvenile rodents, is accompanied by an increase in the phosphorylation of AMPAR GluR1 (or GluA1) subunit at the serine 845 (S845) site and the appearance of CP-AMPARs at synapses. To address the role of GluR1-S845 in visual deprivation-induced homeostatic synaptic plasticity, we used mice lacking key phosphorylation sites on the GluR1 subunit. We found that mice specifically lacking the GluR1-S845 site (GluR1-S845A mutants), which is a substrate of cAMP-dependent kinase (PKA), show abnormal basal excitatory synaptic transmission and lack visual deprivation-induced homeostatic synaptic plasticity. We also found evidence that increasing GluR1-S845 phosphorylation alone is not sufficient to produce normal multiplicative synaptic scaling. Our study provides concrete evidence that a GluR1 dependent mechanism, especially S845 phosphorylation, is a necessary pre-requisite step for in vivo homeostatic synaptic plasticity.

<![CDATA[Spontaneous Hemodynamic Oscillations during Human Sleep and Sleep Stage Transitions Characterized with Near-Infrared Spectroscopy]]>

Understanding the interaction between the nervous system and cerebral vasculature is fundamental to forming a complete picture of the neurophysiology of sleep and its role in maintaining physiological homeostasis. However, the intrinsic hemodynamics of slow-wave sleep (SWS) are still poorly known. We carried out 30 all-night sleep measurements with combined near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and polysomnography to investigate spontaneous hemodynamic behavior in SWS compared to light (LS) and rapid-eye-movement sleep (REM). In particular, we concentrated on slow oscillations (3–150 mHz) in oxy- and deoxyhemoglobin concentrations, heart rate, arterial oxygen saturation, and the pulsation amplitude of the photoplethysmographic signal. We also analyzed the behavior of these variables during sleep stage transitions. The results indicate that slow spontaneous cortical and systemic hemodynamic activity is reduced in SWS compared to LS, REM, and wakefulness. This behavior may be explained by neuronal synchronization observed in electrophysiological studies of SWS and a reduction in autonomic nervous system activity. Also, sleep stage transitions are asymmetric, so that the SWS-to-LS and LS-to-REM transitions, which are associated with an increase in the complexity of cortical electrophysiological activity, are characterized by more dramatic hemodynamic changes than the opposite transitions. Thus, it appears that while the onset of SWS and termination of REM occur only as gradual processes over time, the termination of SWS and onset of REM may be triggered more abruptly by a particular physiological event or condition. The results suggest that scalp hemodynamic changes should be considered alongside cortical hemodynamic changes in NIRS sleep studies to assess the interaction between the autonomic and central nervous systems.

<![CDATA[The Impact of Disulfiram Treatment on the Reinforcing Effects of Cocaine: A Randomized Clinical Trial]]>


Clinical trials indicate that disulfiram (250 mg/d) reduces cocaine use, though one study found that treatment with lower doses of disulfiram (62.5 and 125 mg/d) increased cocaine use. We conducted the present study to better understand how disulfiram alters the reinforcing effects of cocaine in cocaine users.


Seventeen non-treatment seeking, cocaine-dependent volunteers participated in this double-blind, placebo-controlled, laboratory-based study. A cross-over design was utilized in which participants received placebo in one phase and disulfiram (250 mg/d) in the other. Following three days of study medication participants completed two choice sessions. In one they made 10 choices between receiving an intravenous infusion of saline or money that increased in value (US$ 0.05–16) and in the other cocaine (20 mg) or money.


Participants chose cocaine more than saline under both disulfiram and placebo conditions (p<0.05). Unexpectedly, disulfiram increased both the number of cocaine and saline infusion choices (p<0.05). We next examined the relationship between disulfiram dose and cocaine choices. Disulfiram dose (mg/kg bodyweight) was negatively correlated with number of choices for cocaine (p<0.05). Disulfiram also enhanced cocaine-induced increases in cardiovascular measures (p's<0.05–0.01).


Disulfiram's impact on the reinforcing effects of cocaine depends on dose relative to body weight. Our results suggest that the use of weight-based medication doses would produce more reliable effects, consistent with weight-based dosing used in pediatrics and in preclinical research.

Trial Registration NCT00729300

<![CDATA[Nociceptin Induces Hypophagia in the Perifornical and Lateral Hypothalamic Area]]>

Nociceptin/orphanin FQ (N/OFQ) is known to induce food intake when administered into the lateral ventricle or certain brain areas. This is somewhat contradictory to its reward-suppressing role, as food is a strong rewarding stimulus. This discrepancy may be due to the functional diversity of N/OFQ’s target brain areas. N/OFQ has been shown to inhibit orexin and melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) neurons, both of which are appetite-inducing cells. As the expression of these neurons is largely confined to the lateral hypothalamus/perifornical area (LH/PFA), we hypothesized that N/OFQ inhibits food intake by acting in this area. To test this hypothesis, we examined the effect of local N/OFQ infusion within the LH/PFA on food intake in the rat and found that N/OFQ decreased sugar pellet as well as chow intake. This effect was not seen when the injection site was outside of the LH/PFA, suggesting a site-specific effect. Next, to determine a possible cellular mechanism of N/OFQ action on food intake, whole cell patch clamp recordings were performed on rat orexin neurons. As previously reported in mice, N/OFQ induced a strong and long lasting hyperpolarization. Pharmacological study indicated that N/OFQ directly inhibited orexin neurons by activating ATP-sensitive potassium (KATP) channels. This effect was partially but significantly attenuated by the inhibitors of PI3K, PKC and PKA, suggesting that the N/OFQ signaling is mediated by these protein kinases. In summary, our results demonstrate a KATP channel-dependent N/OFQ signaling and that N/OFQ is a site-specific anorexic peptide.

<![CDATA[Cholinergic Modulation of Narcoleptic Attacks in Double Orexin Receptor Knockout Mice]]>

To investigate how cholinergic systems regulate aspects of the sleep disorder narcolepsy, we video-monitored mice lacking both orexin (hypocretin) receptors (double knockout; DKO mice) while pharmacologically altering cholinergic transmission. Spontaneous behavioral arrests in DKO mice were highly similar to those reported in orexin-deficient mice and were never observed in wild-type (WT) mice. A survival analysis revealed that arrest lifetimes were exponentially distributed indicating that random, Markovian processes determine arrest lifetime. Low doses (0.01, 0.03 mg/kg, IP), but not a high dose (0.08 mg/kg, IP) of the cholinesterase inhibitor physostigmine increased the number of arrests but did not alter arrest lifetimes. The muscarinic antagonist atropine (0.5 mg/kg, IP) decreased the number of arrests, also without altering arrest lifetimes. To determine if muscarinic transmission in pontine areas linked to REM sleep control also influences behavioral arrests, we microinjected neostigmine (50 nl, 62.5 µM) or neostigmine + atropine (62.5 µM and 111 µM respectively) into the nucleus pontis oralis and caudalis. Neostigmine increased the number of arrests in DKO mice without altering arrest lifetimes but did not provoke arrests in WT mice. Co-injection of atropine abolished this effect. Collectively, our findings establish that behavioral arrests in DKO mice are similar to those in orexin deficient mice and that arrests have exponentially distributed lifetimes. We also show, for the first time in a rodent narcolepsy model, that cholinergic systems can regulate arrest dynamics. Since perturbations of muscarinic transmission altered arrest frequency but not lifetime, our findings suggest cholinergic systems influence arrest initiation without influencing circuits that determine arrest duration.

<![CDATA[Working for Food Shifts Nocturnal Mouse Activity into the Day]]>

Nocturnal rodents show diurnal food anticipatory activity when food access is restricted to a few hours in daytime. Timed food access also results in reduced food intake, but the role of food intake in circadian organization per se has not been described. By simulating natural food shortage in mice that work for food we show that reduced food intake alone shifts the activity phase from the night into the day and eventually causes nocturnal torpor (natural hypothermia). Release into continuous darkness with ad libitum food, elicits immediate reversal of activity to the previous nocturnal phase, indicating that the classical circadian pacemaker maintained its phase to the light-dark cycle. This flexibility in behavioral timing would allow mice to exploit the diurnal temporal niche while minimizing energy expenditure under poor feeding conditions in nature. This study reveals an intimate link between metabolism and mammalian circadian organization.