Matching Items (7)

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Motor Learning Loss Due to MEK1 Hyperactivation in Cortical Excitatory Neurons

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Rasopathies are a family of developmental syndromes that exhibit craniofacial abnormalities, cognitive disabilities, developmental delay and increased risk of cancer. However, little is known about the pathogenesis of developmental defects

Rasopathies are a family of developmental syndromes that exhibit craniofacial abnormalities, cognitive disabilities, developmental delay and increased risk of cancer. However, little is known about the pathogenesis of developmental defects in the nervous system. Frequently, gain-of-function mutations in the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK cascade (aka ERK/MAPK) are associated with the observed pathogenesis. My research focuses on defining the relationship between increased ERK/MAPK signaling and its effects on the nervous system, specifically in the context of motor learning. Motor function depends on several neuroanatomically distinct regions, especially the spinal cord, cerebellum, striatum, and cerebral cortex. We tested whether hyperactivation of ERK/MAPK specifically in the cortex was sufficient to drive changes in motor function. We used a series of genetically modified mouse models and cre-lox technology to hyperactivate ERK/MAPK in the cerebral cortex. Nex:Cre/NeuroD6:Cre was employed to express a constitutively active MEK mutation throughout all layers of the cerebral cortex from an early stage of development. RBP4:Cre, caMEK only exhibited hyper activation in cortical glutamatergic neurons responsible for cortical output (neurons in layer V of the cerebral cortex). First, the two mouse strains were tested in an open field paradigm to assess global locomotor abilities and overall fitness for fine motor tasks. Next, a skilled motor reaching task was used to evaluate motor learning capabilities. The results show that Nex:Cre/NeuroD6:Cre, caMEK mutants do not learn the motor reaching task, although they performed normally on the open field task. Preliminary results suggest RBP4:Cre, caMEK mutants exhibit normal locomotor capabilities and a partial lack of learning. The difference in motor learning capabilities might be explained by the extent of altered connectivity in different regions of the corticospinal tract. Once we have identified the neuropathological effects of various layers in the cortex we will be able to determine whether therapeutic interventions are sufficient to reverse these learning defects.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016-12

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Peg Forest Rehabilitation Mitigates the Onset of Injury-Induced Cognitive Disability in Juvenile Rats

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI)—sudden impact or acceleration trauma to the head—is a major cause of death and disability worldwide and is particularly amplified in pediatric cases. TBI is the leading

Traumatic brain injury (TBI)—sudden impact or acceleration trauma to the head—is a major cause of death and disability worldwide and is particularly amplified in pediatric cases. TBI is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in children and adolescents. Adolescence is a critical time where the brain undergoes cognitive development and brain injury-induced disruptions to these processes can lead to life-long debilitating morbidities. The aim of this study was to determine if exercising spatial and contextual memory circuits using a novel rehabilitation strategy called Peg Forest Rehabilitation (PFR) could mitigate the onset of injury-induced cognitive deficits in juvenile rats subjected to diffuse TBI. The PFR aims to synthesize neuroplasticity-based enrichment to improve cognitive outcomes after TBI. We hypothesized that PFR treatment would mitigate the onset of brain injury-induced cognitive deficits and reduce neuroinflammation. Juvenile male Sprague-Dawley rats (post-natal day 35) were subjected to diffuse traumatic brain injury via midline fluid percussion injury or a control surgery. One-week post-injury, rats were exposed to PFR or cage control exploration (15 min/day). PFR allowed free navigation through random configuration of the peg-filled arena for 10 days over 2 weeks. Control rats remained in home cages in the center of the arena with the peg-board removed for 15 min/day/10 days. One-week post-rehabilitation (one-month post-injury), cognitive performance was assessed for short-term (novel object recognition; NOR), long-term (novel location recognition; NLR), and working (temporal order recognition; TOR) memory performance, calculated as a discrimination index between novel and familiar objects. Tissue was collected for immunohistochemistry and stained for ionized calcium binding proteins (Iba-1) to visualize microglia morphology, and somatostatin. PFR attenuated TBI-induced deficits on the NOR task, where the TBI-PFR treatment group spent significantly more time with the novel object compared with the familiar (*p=0.0046). Regardless of rehabilitation, brain-injured rats had hyper-ramified microglia in the hypothalamus indicated by longer branch lengths and more endpoints per cell compared with uninjured shams. Analysis of somatostatin data is ongoing. In this study, passive, intermittent PFR that involved dynamic, novel spatial navigation, prevented TBI-induced cognitive impairment in adolescent rats. Spatial navigation training may have clinical efficacy and should be further investigated.

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Date Created
  • 2020-05

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Together but not for better? Conjugated equine estrogens, estradiol, androstenedione, and their interactions on spatial memory in C-57 mice

Description

Menopause is associated with a wide array of negative symptoms. As average lifespan increases due to advances in healthcare and technology, more women are spending a larger portion of their

Menopause is associated with a wide array of negative symptoms. As average lifespan increases due to advances in healthcare and technology, more women are spending a larger portion of their lives in a menopausal state low in estrogen and progesterone. Hormone therapies such as Conjugated Equine Estrogens (CEE) and the bioidentical estrogen, 17-estradiol (E2), are commonly prescribed to treat the negative symptoms of menopause. Our laboratory has previously shown that CEE has differential effects on cognitive ability depending on whether menopause is transitional (VCD) or surgical (ovariectomy, OVX). Further, the negative impact of CEE on cognitive function in a transitional ovary-intact model of menopause was associated with high levels of serum androstenedione; the primary hormone circulating in a follicle-deplete menopausal state. Here, we investigate the cognitive effects of these two common hormone therapies separately, and in conjunction with the hormone androstenedione, in a "blank-slate" OVX mouse model. We assessed cognitive ability using two behavioral tasks such at the Water Radial Arm Maze (WRAM, measuring spatial working and reference memory) and the Morris water maze (MM, measuring spatial reference memory). In the WRAM, every treatment group saw impaired performance compared to Vehicle but the combination group of E2 plus Androstenedione. In the MM, the combination group of E2 plus Androstenedione actually enhanced performance in the maze compared to every other comparable group. Translationally, these results suggest that CEE given in the presence of an androstenedione-dominant hormone milieu is impairing to cognition, E2 in this same manner is not. These results yield valuable insight into optimal hormone therapies for menopausal women.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016-05

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Discovering why less is more: A comparative evaluation of protein expression in the central nervous system, and how it relates to cognition, following treatment with different doses of 17beta-estradiol

Description

Hormone therapy (HT) containing 17beta-estradiol (E2) can greatly reduce physiological symptoms associated with declines in ovarian hormones that are seen with menopause. HT containing E2 has also been shown to

Hormone therapy (HT) containing 17beta-estradiol (E2) can greatly reduce physiological symptoms associated with declines in ovarian hormones that are seen with menopause. HT containing E2 has also been shown to play a beneficial role in cognitive function. There is discrepancy, however, surrounding which dose of E2 is the most optimal for cognition. A previous rodent behavioral study in our laboratory evaluated the effects of different doses of E2 on spatial memory performance, and results indicated that rats treated with a low E2 dose (0.3 g E2) made fewer working memory incorrect (WMI) errors, indicating enhanced spatial memory performance, compared to vehicle (0.1ml sesame oil)- and high E2 (3.0 g E2)- treated groups. This finding warranted the present investigation with the overarching aim to evaluate underlying neuromolecular mechanisms that may be modulating these cognitive effects. Both the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF1-R) and extracellular regulated kinase (Erk) 2 have been observed to mediate E2-induced memory enhancements. We used the Western Blot to measure IGF1-R and activated Erk1/2 expression in brain regions involved in learning and memory, including the dorsal hippocampus, ventral CA1/CA2 hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, and perirhinal cortex. Results demonstrated a linear relationship between IGF1-R expression and administered E2 dose in the perirhinal cortex, whereby IGF1-R expression increased as the dose of E2 increased. Additionally, in the perirhinal cortex, IGF1-R expression tended to increase as activated Erk1 increased for all treatment groups. Further, number of WMI errors tended to decrease as IGF1-R expression and activated Erk1 expression in the perirhinal cortex tended to increase in the low E2 treatment group. Collectively, these findings suggest a downstream-dependent relationship between IGF1-R and activated Erk1 in the perirhinal cortex that may be contributing to the enhancements in spatial memory performance observed in animals in the low E2 treatment group. These findings are a crucial piece in the greater understanding of what underlying molecular mechanisms may be modulating a cognitively beneficial dose of E2, and further contribute to the search for a HT that would be beneficial for cognition in menopausal women.

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Date Created
  • 2018-05

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Cognitive efficacy of three bioidentical, endogenously circulating estrogens given as hormone therapy: Extending prior findings and navigating into unchartered territory

Description

Women are now living longer than ever before, yet the age of spontaneous menopause has remained stable. This results in an increasing realization of the need for an effective treatment

Women are now living longer than ever before, yet the age of spontaneous menopause has remained stable. This results in an increasing realization of the need for an effective treatment of cognitive and physiological menopausal and post-menopausal symptoms. The most common estrogen component of hormone therapy, conjugated equine estrogens (CEE; Premarin) contains many estrogens that are not endogenous to the human body, and that may or may not be detrimental to cognition (Campbell and Whitehead, 1977; Engler-Chiurazzi et al., 2011; Acosta et al., 2010). We propose the use of a novel treatment option in the form of a naturally-circulating (bioidentical) estrogen called estriol. Due to estriol’s observed positive effects on synaptic functioning and neuroprotective effects in the hippocampus (Ziehn et al., 2012; Goodman et al., 1996), a brain structure important for spatial learning and memory, estriol is promising as a hormone therapy option that may attenuate menopausal- and age- related memory decline. In the current study, we administered one of the three bioidentical estrogens (17β-Estradiol, 4.0 µg/day; Estrone, 8.0 µg/day; Estriol, 8.0 µg/day) or the vehicle polyethylene glycol by subcutaneous osmotic pump to ovariectomized Fisher-344 rats. We compared these groups to each other using a battery of spatial learning tasks, including the water radial-arm maze (WRAM), Morris water maze (MM), and delayed-match-to-sample maze (DMS). We found that all estrogens impaired performance on the WRAM compared to vehicle, while 17β-estradiol administration improved overnight forgetting performance for the MM. The estriol group showed no cognitive enhancements relative to vehicle; however, there were several factors indicating that both our estriol and estradiol doses were too high, so future studies should investigate whether lower doses of estriol may be beneficial to cognition.

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Date Created
  • 2015-05

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The effects of age, hormone loss, and estrogen treatment on spatial cognition in the rat: parameters and putative mechanisms

Description

Cognitive function is multidimensional and complex, and research indicates that it is impacted by age, lifetime experience, and ovarian hormone milieu. One particular domain of cognitive function that is susceptible

Cognitive function is multidimensional and complex, and research indicates that it is impacted by age, lifetime experience, and ovarian hormone milieu. One particular domain of cognitive function that is susceptible to age-related decrements is spatial memory. Cognitive practice can affect spatial memory when aged in both males and females, and in females alone ovarian hormones have been found to alter spatial memory via modulating brain microstructure and function in many of the same brain areas affected by aging. The research in this dissertation has implications that promote an understanding of the effects of cognitive practice on aging memory, why males and females respond differently to cognitive practice, and the parameters and mechanisms underlying estrogen's effects on memory. This body of work suggests that cognitive practice can enhance memory when aged and that estrogen is a probable candidate facilitating the observed differences in the effects of cognitive practice depending on sex. This enhancement in cognitive practice effects via estrogen is supported by data demonstrating that estrogen enhances spatial memory and hippocampal synaptic plasticity. The estrogen-facilitated memory enhancements and alterations in hippocampal synaptic plasticity are at least partially facilitated via enhancements in cholinergic signaling from the basal forebrain. Finally, age, dose, and type of estrogen utilized are important factors to consider when evaluating estrogen's effects on memory and its underlying mechanisms, since age alters the responsiveness to estrogen treatment and the dose of estrogen needed, and small alterations in the molecular structure of estrogen can have a profound impact on estrogen's efficacy on memory. Collectively, this dissertation elucidates many parameters that dictate the outcome, and even the direction, of the effects that cognitive practice and estrogens have on cognition during aging. Indeed, many parameters including the ones described here are important considerations when designing future putative behavioral interventions, behavioral therapies, and hormone therapies. Ideally, the parameters described here will be used to help design the next generation of interventions, therapies, and nootropic agents that will allow individuals to maintain their cognitive capacity when aged, above and beyond what is currently possible, thus enacting lasting improvement in women's health and public health in general.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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Individual differences in taste perception and bitterness masking

Description

The unpleasant bitter taste found in many nutritious vegetables may deter people from consuming a healthy diet. We investigated individual differences in taste perception and whether these differences influence the

The unpleasant bitter taste found in many nutritious vegetables may deter people from consuming a healthy diet. We investigated individual differences in taste perception and whether these differences influence the effectiveness of bitterness masking. To test whether phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) `supertasters' also taste salt and sugar with greater intensity, as suggested by Bartoshuk and colleagues (2004), we infused strips of paper with salt water or sugar water. The bitterness rating of the PTC strip had a significant positive linear relationship with ratings of both the intensity of sweet and salt, but the effect sizes were very low, suggesting that the PTC strip does not give a complete picture of tasting ability. Next we investigated whether various seasonings could mask the bitter taste of vegetables and whether this varied with tasting ability. We found that sugar decreased bitterness and lemon decreased liking for vegetables of varying degrees of bitterness. The results did not differ by ability to taste any of the flavors. Therefore, even though there are remarkable individual differences in taste perception, sugar can be used to improve the initial palatability of vegetables and increase their acceptance and consumption.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012