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Does chronic unpredictable restraint produce dendritic retraction in long-shaft CA3 hippocampal neurons?

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Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a widespread mood disorder that affects more than 300 million people worldwide and yet, high relapse rates persist. This current study aimed to use an animal model for depression, unpredictable intermittent restraint (UIR), to investigate

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a widespread mood disorder that affects more than 300 million people worldwide and yet, high relapse rates persist. This current study aimed to use an animal model for depression, unpredictable intermittent restraint (UIR), to investigate changes in a subset of neurons within the hippocampus, a region of high susceptibility in MDD. Adult male and female Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to four treatment groups based on sex (n = 48, n = 12/group). Half of the rats underwent UIR that involved restraint with orbital shaking (30 min or 1 h) for 2-6 consecutive days, followed by one or two days of no stressors; the other half of the rats were undisturbed (CON). UIR rats were stressed for 28 days (21 days of actual stressors) before behavioral testing began with UIR continuing between testing days for nearly 70 days. Rats were then euthanized between 9 and 11 days after the last UIR session. Brains were processed for Golgi stain and long-shaft (LS) neurons within the hippocampal CA3a and CA3b regions were quantified for dendritic complexity using a Camera Lucida attachment. Our findings failed to support our hypothesis that UIR would produce apical dendritic retraction in CA3 hippocampal LS neurons in both males and females. Given that UIR failed to produce CA3 apical dendritic retraction in males, which is commonly observed in the literature, we discuss several reasons for these findings including, time from the end of UIR to when brains were sampled, and the effects of repeated cognitive testing. Given our published findings that UIR impaired spatial ability in males, but not females, we believe that UIR holds validity as a chronic stress paradigm, as UIR attenuated body weight gain in both males and females and produced reductions in thymus gland weight in UIR males. These findings corroborate UIR as an effective stressor in males and warrant further research into the timing of UIR-induced changes in hippocampal CA3 apical dendritic morphology.

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2020-12

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Dysregulated ERK/MAPK Signaling in RASopathy Animal Model Systems Leads to a Decrease in mTOR Expression and Activation of Translational Machinery

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The RAS/MAPK (RAS/Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase) pathway is a highly conserved, canonical signaling cascade that is highly involved in cellular growth and proliferation as well as cell migration. As such, it plays an important role in development, specifically in development

The RAS/MAPK (RAS/Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase) pathway is a highly conserved, canonical signaling cascade that is highly involved in cellular growth and proliferation as well as cell migration. As such, it plays an important role in development, specifically in development of the nervous system. Activation of ERK is indispensable for the differentiation of Embryonic Stem Cells (ESC) into neuronal precursors (Li z et al, 2006). ERK signaling has also shown to mediate Schwann cell myelination of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) as well as oligodendrocyte proliferation (Newbern et al, 2011). The class of developmental disorders that result in the dysregulation of RAS signaling are known as RASopathies. The molecular and cell-specific consequences of these various pathway mutations remain to be elucidated. While there is evidence for altered DNA transcription in RASopathies, there is little work examining the effects of the RASopathy-linked mutations on protein translation and post-translational modifications in vivo. RASopathies have phenotypic and molecular similarities to other disorders such as Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) and Tuberous Sclerosis (TSC) that show evidence of aberrant protein synthesis and affect related pathways. There are also well-defined downstream RAS pathway elements involved in translation. Additionally, aberrant corticospinal axon outgrowth has been observed in disease models of RASopathies (Xing et al, 2016). For these reasons, this present study examines a subset of proteins involved in translation and translational regulation in the context of RASopathy disease states. Results indicate that in both of the tested RASopathy model systems, there is altered mTOR expression. Additionally the loss of function model showed a decrease in rps6 activation. This data supports a role for the selective dysregulation of translational control elements in RASopathy models. This data also indicates that the primary candidate mechanism for control of altered translation in these modes is through the altered expression of mTOR.

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2017-05

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Unpredictable, intermittent, chronic stress may increase dendritic complexity of short shaft hippocampal neurons

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Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) affects over 300 million people worldwide, with the hippocampus showing decreased volume and activity in patients with MDD. The current study investigated whether a novel preclinical model of depression, unpredictable intermittent restraint (UIR), would decrease hippocampal

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) affects over 300 million people worldwide, with the hippocampus showing decreased volume and activity in patients with MDD. The current study investigated whether a novel preclinical model of depression, unpredictable intermittent restraint (UIR), would decrease hippocampal neuronal dendritic complexity. Adult Sprague Dawley rats (24 male, 24 female) were equally divided into 4 groups: control males (CON-M), UIR males (UIR-M), control females (CON-F) and UIR females (UIR-F). UIR groups received restraint and shaking on an orbital shaker on a randomized schedule for 30 or 60 minutes/day for two to six days in a row for 26 days (21 total UIR days) before behavioral testing commenced. UIR continued and was interspersed between behavioral test days. At the end of behavioral testing, brains were processed. The behavior is published and not part of my honor’s thesis; my contribution involved quantifying and analyzing neurons in the hippocampus. Several neuronal types are found in the CA3 subregion of the hippocampus and I focused on short shaft (SS) neurons, which show different sensitivities to stress than the more common long shaft (LS) variety. Brains sections were mounted to slides and Golgi stained. SS neurons were drawn using a microscope with camera lucida attachment and quantified using the number of bifurcations and dendritic intersections as metrics for dendritic complexity in the apical and basal areas separately. The hypothesis that SS neurons in the CA3 region of the hippocampus would exhibit apical dendritic simplification in both sexes after UIR was not supported by our findings. In contrast, following UIR, SS apical dendrites were more complex in both sexes compared to controls. Although unexpected, we believe that the UIR paradigm was an effective stressor, robust enough to illicit neuronal adaptations. It appears that the time from the end of UIR to when the brain tissue was collected, or the post-stress recovery period, and/or repeated behavioral testing may have played a role in the observed increased neuronal complexity. Future studies are needed to parse out these potential effects.

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2020-12