Matching Items (29)

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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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Modeling acquisition of nicotine self-administration in rats

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Nicotine is thought to underlie the reinforcing and dependence-producing effects of tobacco-containing products. Nicotine supports self-administration in rodents, although measures of its reinforcing effects are often confounded by procedures that are used to facilitate acquisition, such as food restriction, prior

Nicotine is thought to underlie the reinforcing and dependence-producing effects of tobacco-containing products. Nicotine supports self-administration in rodents, although measures of its reinforcing effects are often confounded by procedures that are used to facilitate acquisition, such as food restriction, prior reinforcement training, or response-contingent co-delivery of a naturally reinforcing light. This study examined whether rats acquire nicotine self-administration in the absence of these facilitators. A new mathematical modeling procedure was used to define the criterion for acquisition and to determine dose-dependent differences in rate and asymptote levels of intake. Rats were trained across 20 daily 2-h sessions occurring 6 days/week in chambers equipped with active and inactive levers. Each active lever press resulted in nicotine reinforcement (0, 0.015, 0.03, 0.06 mg/kg, IV) and retraction of both levers for a 20-s time out, whereas inactive lever presses had no consequences. Acquisition was defined by the best fit of a logistic function (i.e., S-shaped) versus a constant function (i.e., flat line) for reinforcers obtained across sessions using a corrected Akaike information criterion (AICc) as a model selection tool. The results showed an inverted-U shaped function for dose in relation to the percentage of animals that acquired nicotine self-administration, with 46% acquiring at 0.015 mg/kg, 73% at 0.03 mg/kg, and 58% at 0.06 mg/kg. All saline rats failed to acquire as expected. For rats that acquired nicotine self-administration, multiple model comparisons demonstrated that the asymptote (highest number of reinforcers/session) and half learning point (h; session during which half the assymptote had been achieved) were justified as free parameters of the reinforcers/session function, indicating that these parameters vary with nicotine dose. Asymptote exhibited an inverted U-shaped function across doses and half learning point exhibited a negative relationship to dose (i.e., the higher the dose the fewer sessions to reach h). These findings suggest that some rats acquire nicotine self-administration without using procedures that confound measures of acquisition rate. Furthermore, the modeling approach provides a new way of defining acquisition of drug self-administration that takes advantage of using all data generated from individual subjects and is less arbitrary than some criteria that are currently used.

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2011

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Chronic stress and plasticity in the limbic system: implications for post traumatic stress disorder

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The brain is a fundamental target of the stress response that promotes adaptation and survival but the repeated activation of the stress response has the potential alter cognition, emotion, and motivation, key functions of the limbic system. Three structures of

The brain is a fundamental target of the stress response that promotes adaptation and survival but the repeated activation of the stress response has the potential alter cognition, emotion, and motivation, key functions of the limbic system. Three structures of the limbic system in particular, the hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and amygdala, are of special interest due to documented structural changes and their implication in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One of many notable chronic stress-induced changes include dendritic arbor restructuring, which reflect plasticity patterns in parallel with the direction of alterations observed in functional imaging studies in PTSD patients. For instance, chronic stress produces dendritic retraction in the hippocampus and mPFC, but dendritic hypertrophy in the amygdala, consistent with functional imaging in patients with PTSD. Some have hypothesized that these limbic region's modifications contribute to one's susceptibility to develop PTSD following a traumatic event. Consequently, we used a familiar chronic stress procedure in a rat model to create a vulnerable brain that might develop traits consistent with PTSD when presented with a challenge. In adult male rats, chronic stress by wire mesh restraint (6h/d/21d) was followed by a variety of behavioral tasks including radial arm water maze (RAWM), fear conditioning and extinction, and fear memory reconsolidation to determine chronic stress effects on behaviors mediated by these limbic structures. In chapter 2, we corroborated past findings that chronic stress caused hippocampal CA3 dendritic retraction. Importantly, we present new findings that CA3 dendritic retraction corresponded with poor spatial memory in the RAWM and that these outcomes reversed after a recovery period. In chapter 3, we also showed that chronic stress impaired mPFC-mediated extinction memory, findings that others have reported. Using carefully assessed behavior, we present new findings that chronic stress impacted nonassociative fear by enhancing contextual fear during extinction that generalized to a new context. Moreover, the generalization behavior corresponded with enhanced functional activation in the hippocampus and amygdala during fear extinction memory retrieval. In chapter 5, we showed for the first time that chronic stress enhanced amygdala functional activation during fear memory retrieval, i.e., reactivation. Moreover, these enhanced fear memories were resistant to protein synthesis interference to disrupt a previously formed memory, called reconsolidation in a novel attempt to weaken chronic stress enhanced traumatic memory. Collectively, these studies demonstrated the plastic and dynamic effects of chronic stress on limbic neurocircuitry implicated in PTSD. We showed that chronic stress created a structural and functional imbalance across the hippocampus, mPFC, and amygdala, which lead to a PTSD-like phenotype with persistent and exaggerated fear following fear conditioning. These behavioral disruptions in conjunction with morphological and functional imaging data reflect a chronic stress-induced imbalance between hippocampal and mPFC regulation in favor of amygdala function overdrive, and supports a novel approach for traumatic memory processing in PTSD.

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2013

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Optimization of menopausal hormone therapies for cognitive and brain aging using a rat model

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Each year, millions of aging women will experience menopause, a transition from reproductive capability to reproductive senescence. In women, this transition is characterized by depleted ovarian follicles, declines in levels of sex hormones, and a dysregulation of gonadotrophin feedback loops.

Each year, millions of aging women will experience menopause, a transition from reproductive capability to reproductive senescence. In women, this transition is characterized by depleted ovarian follicles, declines in levels of sex hormones, and a dysregulation of gonadotrophin feedback loops. Consequently, menopause is accompanied by hot flashes, urogenital atrophy, cognitive decline, and other symptoms that reduce quality of life. To ameliorate these negative consequences, estrogen-containing hormone therapy is prescribed. Findings from clinical and pre-clinical research studies suggest that menopausal hormone therapies can benefit memory and associated neural substrates. However, findings are variable, with some studies reporting null or even detrimental cognitive and neurobiological effects of these therapies. Thus, at present, treatment options for optimal cognitive and brain health outcomes in menopausal women are limited. As such, elucidating factors that influence the cognitive and neurobiological effects of menopausal hormone therapy represents an important need relevant to every aging woman. To this end, work in this dissertation has supported the hypothesis that multiple factors, including post-treatment circulating estrogen levels, experimental handling, type of estrogen treatment, and estrogen receptor activity, can impact the realization of cognitive benefits with Premarin hormone therapy. We found that the dose-dependent working memory benefits of subcutaneous Premarin administration were potentially regulated by the ratios of circulating estrogens present following treatment (Chapter 2). When we administered Premarin orally, it impaired memory (Chapter 3). Follow-up studies revealed that this impairment was likely due to the handling associated with treatment administration and the task difficulty of the memory measurement used (Chapters 3 and 4). Further, we demonstrated that the unique cognitive impacts of estrogens that become increased in circulation following Premarin treatments, such as estrone (Chapter 5), and their interactions with the estrogen receptors (Chapter 6), may influence the realization of hormone therapy-induced cognitive benefits. Future directions include assessing the mnemonic effects of: 1) individual biologically relevant estrogens and 2) clinically-used bioidentical hormone therapy combinations of estrogens. Taken together, information gathered from these studies can inform the development of novel hormone therapies in which these parameters are optimized.

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2013

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Age related changes in cognition and brain: a focus on progestogens

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Cognitive function declines with normal age and disease states, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Loss of ovarian hormones at menopause has been shown to exacerbate age-related memory decline and may be related to the increased risk of AD in women

Cognitive function declines with normal age and disease states, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Loss of ovarian hormones at menopause has been shown to exacerbate age-related memory decline and may be related to the increased risk of AD in women versus men. Some studies show that hormone therapy (HT) can have beneficial effects on cognition in normal aging and AD, but increasing evidence suggests that the most commonly used HT formulation is not ideal. Work in this dissertation used the surgically menopausal rat to evaluate the cognitive effects and mechanisms of progestogens proscribed to women. I also translated these questions to the clinic, evaluating whether history of HT use impacts hippocampal and entorhinal cortex volumes assessed via imaging, and cognition, in menopausal women. Further, this dissertation investigates how sex impacts responsiveness to dietary interventions in a mouse model of AD. Results indicate that the most commonly used progestogen component of HT, medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), impairs cognition in the middle-aged and aged surgically menopausal rat. Further, MPA is the sole hormone component of the contraceptive Depo Provera, and my research indicates that MPA administered to young-adult rats leads to long lasting cognitive impairments, evident at middle age. Natural progesterone has been gaining increasing popularity as an alternate option to MPA for HT; however, my findings suggest that progesterone also impairs cognition in the middle-aged and aged surgically menopausal rat, and that the mechanism may be through increased GABAergic activation. This dissertation identified two less commonly used progestogens, norethindrone acetate and levonorgestrel, as potential HTs that could improve cognition in the surgically menopausal rat. Parameters guiding divergent effects on cognition were discovered. In women, prior HT use was associated with larger hippocampal and entorhinal cortex volumes, as well as a modest verbal memory enhancement. Finally, in a model of AD, sex impacts responsiveness to a dietary cognitive intervention, with benefits seen in male, but not female, transgenic mice. These findings have clinical implications, especially since women are at higher risk for AD diagnosis. Together, it is my hope that this information adds to the overarching goal of optimizing cognitive aging in women.

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2012

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Hippocampal BDNF mediates recovery from chronic stress-induced spatial reference memory deficits

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Chronic restraint stress impairs hippocampal-mediated spatial learning and memory, which improves following a post-stress recovery period. Here, we investigated whether brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein important for hippocampal function, would alter the recovery from chronic stress-induced spatial memory

Chronic restraint stress impairs hippocampal-mediated spatial learning and memory, which improves following a post-stress recovery period. Here, we investigated whether brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein important for hippocampal function, would alter the recovery from chronic stress-induced spatial memory deficits. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were infused into the hippocampus with adeno- associated viral vectors containing the coding sequence for short interfering (si)RNA directed against BDNF or a scrambled sequence (Scr), with both containing the coding information for green fluorescent protein to aid in anatomical localization. Rats were then chronically restrained (wire mesh, 6h/d/21d) and assessed for spatial learning and memory using a radial arm water maze (RAWM) either immediately after stressor cessation (Str-Imm) or following a 21-day post-stress recovery period (Str-Rec). All groups learned the RAWM task similarly, but differed on the memory retention trial. Rats in the Str-Imm group, regardless of viral vector contents, committed more errors in the spatial reference memory domain than did non-stressed controls. Importantly, the typical improvement in spatial memory following recovery from chronic stress was blocked with the siRNA against BDNF, as Str-Rec-siRNA performed worse on the RAWM compared to the non-stressed controls or Str-Rec-Scr. These effects were specific for the reference memory domain as repeated entry errors that reflect spatial working memory were unaffected by stress condition or viral vector contents. These results demonstrate that hippocampal BDNF is necessary for the recovery from stress-induced hippocampal dependent spatial memory deficits in the reference memory domain.

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2013

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The role of the serotonin 2 family of receptors in cocaine-elicited and cocaine-conditioned behaviors

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5-HT2A receptor (R) antagonists and 5-HT2CR agonists attenuate reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior (i.e., incentive motivation). 5-HT2Rs are distributed throughout the brain, primarily in regions involved in reward circuitry, including the prefrontal cortex (PFC), caudate putamen (CPu), and basolateral (BlA) and

5-HT2A receptor (R) antagonists and 5-HT2CR agonists attenuate reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior (i.e., incentive motivation). 5-HT2Rs are distributed throughout the brain, primarily in regions involved in reward circuitry, including the prefrontal cortex (PFC), caudate putamen (CPu), and basolateral (BlA) and central (CeA) amygdala. Using animal models, we tested our hypotheses that 5-HT2ARs in the medial (m) PFC mediate the incentive motivational effects of cocaine and cocaine-paired cues; 5-HT2ARs and 5-HT2CRs interact to attenuate cocaine hyperlocomotion and functional neuronal activation (i.e, Fos protein); and 5-HT2CRs in the BlA mediate the incentive motivational effects of cocaine-paired cues and anxiety-like behavior, while 5-HT2CRs in the CeA mediate the incentive motivational effects of cocaine. In chapter 2, we infused M100907, a selective 5-HT2AR antagonist, directly into the mPFC and examined its effects on reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior. We found that M100907 in the mPFC dose- dependently attenuated cue-primed reinstatement, without affecting cocaine-primed reinstatement, cue-primed reinstatement of sucrose-seeking behavior, or locomotor activity. In chapter 3, we used subthreshold doses of M100907 and MK212, a 5-HT2CR agonist, to investigate whether these compounds interact to attenuate cocaine hyperlocomotion and Fos protein expression. Only the drug combination attenuated cocaine hyperlocomotion and cocaine-induced Fos expression in the CPu, but had no effect on spontaneous locomotion. Finally, in chapter 4 we investigated the effects of a 5- HT2CR agonist in the BlA and CeA on cocaine-seeking behavior and anxiety-like behavior. We found that CP809101, a selective 5-HT2CR agonist, infused into the BlA increased anxiety-like behavior on the elevated plus maze (EPM), but failed to alter cocaine-seeking behavior. CP809101 infused into the CeA attenuated cocaine-primed reinstatement and this effect was blocked by co-administration of a 5-HT2CR antagonist. Together, these results suggest that 5-HT2ARs in the mPFC are involved in cue-primed reinstatement, 5-HT2A and 5-HT2CRs may interact in the nigrostriatal pathway to attenuate cocaine hyperlocomotion and Fos expression, and 5-HT2CRs are involved in anxiety-like behavior in the BlA and cocaine-primed reinstatement in the CeA. Our findings add to the literature on the localization of 5-HT2AR antagonist and 5-HT2CR agonist effects, and suggest a potential treatment mechanism via concurrent 5-HT2AR antagonism and 5-HT2CR agonism.

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2013

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Relationships Between the Inflammatory Responses of the Immune System and Periods of Critical Hormonal Shifts in Females Across the Lifespan: A Pregnancy Review

Description

In females, critical hormonal shifts occur during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and <br/>menopause. The fluctuating ovarian hormone levels across a woman’s lifespan likely contribute <br/>to inflammatory responses driven by the immune system, which is regulated by a variety of <br/>physiological pathways

In females, critical hormonal shifts occur during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and <br/>menopause. The fluctuating ovarian hormone levels across a woman’s lifespan likely contribute <br/>to inflammatory responses driven by the immune system, which is regulated by a variety of <br/>physiological pathways and microbiological cues. Pregnancy in particular results in drastic <br/>changes in circulating hormone profiles, and involves a variety of physiological changes, <br/>including inflammatory responses of the immune system. There is evidence that these effects are <br/>mediated, in part, by the significant hormone fluctuations that characterize pregnancy and <br/>postpartum periods. This thesis highlights and synthesizes important physiological changes <br/>associated with pregnancy, and their potential implications on cognitive and brain aging in <br/>women. A tertiary model of cognition is presented depicting interactions between hormonal <br/>history, reproductive history, and immune functions. This research is important to create a better <br/>understanding of women’s health and enhance medical care for women throughout pregnancy <br/>and across reproductive hormone shifts across the lifespan.

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2021-05

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

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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

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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2011

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What's in a name: effect of breed perceptions & labeling on attractiveness, adoptions & length of stay for pit-bull-type dogs

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Previous research has indicated that certain breeds of dogs stay longer in shelters than others; however exactly how breed perception and identification influences potential adopters' decisions remains unclear. Current dog breed identification practices in animal shelters are often based upon

Previous research has indicated that certain breeds of dogs stay longer in shelters than others; however exactly how breed perception and identification influences potential adopters' decisions remains unclear. Current dog breed identification practices in animal shelters are often based upon information supplied by the relinquishing owner, or staff determination based on the dog's phenotype. However discrepancies have been found between breed identification as typically assessed by welfare agencies and the outcome of DNA analysis. In Study 1, the perceived behavioral and adoptability characteristics of a pit-bull-type dog were compared with those of a Labrador Retriever and Border Collie. How the addition of a human handler influenced those perceptions was also assessed. In Study 2, lengths of stay and perceived attractiveness of dogs that were labeled as pit bull breeds to dogs that were phenotypically similar but were labeled as another breed at an animal shelter were compared. The latter dogs were called "lookalikes." In Study 3, perceived attractiveness in video recordings of pit-bull-type dogs and lookalikes with and without breed labels were compared. Lastly, data from an animal shelter that ceased applying breed labeling on kennels was analyzed, and lengths of stay and outcomes for all dog breeds, including pit bulls, before and after the change in labeling practice were compared. In total, these findings suggest that breed labeling influences potential adopters' perceptions and decision-making. Given the inherent complexity of breed assignment based on morphology coupled with negative breed perceptions, removing breed labels is a relatively low-cost strategy that will likely improve outcomes for dogs in animal shelters.

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Date Created
2015