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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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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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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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Date Created
2013

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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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Cellular mechanisms underlying the effects of repeated D₂-like agonist treatment on prepulse Inhibition

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Patients with schizophrenia have deficits in sensorimotor gating, the ability to gate out irrelevant stimuli in order to attend to relevant stimuli. Prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the startle response is a reliable and valid model of sensorimotor gating across species.

Patients with schizophrenia have deficits in sensorimotor gating, the ability to gate out irrelevant stimuli in order to attend to relevant stimuli. Prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the startle response is a reliable and valid model of sensorimotor gating across species. Repeated D2-like agonist treatment alleviates prior PPI deficits in rats, termed a PPI recovery, and is observable 28 days after treatment. The aim of the current project is to illuminate the underlying mechanism for this persistent change of behavior and determine the clinical relevance of repeated D2-like agonist treatment. Our results revealed a significant increase in Delta FosB, a transcription factor, in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) 10 days after repeated D2-like agonist treatment. Additionally, we investigated if Delta FosB was necessary for long-lasting PPI recovery and discovered a bilateral infusion of dominant-negative Delta JunD prevented PPI recovery after repeated D2-like agonist treatment. To further develop the underlying mechanism of PPI recovery, we observed that dominant negative mutant cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) response biding element protein (CREB) prevented repeated D2-like agonist-induced Delta FosB expression in the NAc. We then compared our previous behavioral and intracellular findings to the results of repeated aripiprazole, a novel D2-like partial agonist antipsychotic, to determine if repeated D2-like receptor agonist action is a clinically relevant pharmacological approach. As compared to previous PPI recovery and Delta FosB expression after repeated D2-like agonist treatment, we found similar PPI recovery and Delta FosB expression after repeated aripiprazole treatment in rats. We can conclude that repeated D2-like agonist treatment produces persistent PPI recovery through CREB phosphorylation and Delta FosB, which is necessary for PPI recovery. Furthermore, this pharmacological approach produces behavioral and intracellular changes similar to an effective novel antipsychotic. These findings suggest the underlying intracellular mechanism for sustained PPI recovery is clinically relevant and may be a potential target of therapeutic intervention to alleviate sensorimotor gating deficits, which are associated with cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia.

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Date Created
2013

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High serum androstenedione levels correlate with impaired memory in the surgically menopausal rat: a replication and new findings

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After natural menopause in women, androstenedione becomes the primary hormone secreted by the residual follicle deplete ovaries. Two independent studies, in rodents that had undergone ovarian follicular depletion, found that higher serum androstenedione levels correlated with increased working memory errors.

After natural menopause in women, androstenedione becomes the primary hormone secreted by the residual follicle deplete ovaries. Two independent studies, in rodents that had undergone ovarian follicular depletion, found that higher serum androstenedione levels correlated with increased working memory errors. This led to the hypothesis that androstenedione impairs memory. The current study directly tested this hypothesis, examining the cognitive effects of androstenedione administration in a rodent model. Middle-aged ovariectomized rats received vehicle or one of two doses of androstenedione (4 or 8 mg/kg daily). Rats were tested on a spatial working and reference memory maze battery including the water radial arm maze, Morris maze, and delay-match-to-sample task. Results showed that androstenedione at the highest dose impaired reference memory and working memory, including ability to maintain performance as memory demand was elevated. The latter was true for both high temporal demand memory retention of one item of spatial information, as well as the ability to handle multiple items of spatial working memory information. Glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) levels were measured in multiple brain regions to determine whether the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system mediates androstenedione's cognitive impairments. Results showed that higher entorhinal cortex GAD levels were correlated with poorer Morris maze performance, regardless of androstenedione treatment. These findings suggest that androstenedione, the main hormone produced by the follicle deplete ovary, is detrimental to spatial learning, reference memory, and working memory, and that spatial reference memory performance might be related to the GABAergic system.

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2012

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Cognitive changes across the menopause transition: a longitudinal evaluation of the impact of age and ovarian status on spatial memory

Description

Aging and the menopause transition are both intricately linked to cognitive changes

during mid-life and beyond. Clinical literature suggests the age at menopause onset can differentially impact cognitive status later in life. Yet, little is known about the relationship between behavioral

Aging and the menopause transition are both intricately linked to cognitive changes

during mid-life and beyond. Clinical literature suggests the age at menopause onset can differentially impact cognitive status later in life. Yet, little is known about the relationship between behavioral and brain changes that occur during the transitional stage into the post-menopausal state. Much of the pre-clinical work evaluating an animal model of menopause involves ovariectomy in rodents; however, ovariectomy results in an abrupt loss of circulating hormones and ovarian tissue, limiting the ability to evaluate gradual follicular depletion. The 4-vinylcyclohexene diepoxide (VCD) model simulates transitional menopause in rodents by selectively depleting the immature ovarian follicle reserve and allowing animals to retain their follicle-deplete ovarian tissue, resulting in a profile similar to the majority of menopausal women. Here, Vehicle or VCD treatment was administered to ovary-intact adult and middle-aged Fischer-344 rats to assess the cognitive effects of transitional menopause via VCD-induced follicular depletion over time, as well as to understand potential interactions with age, with VCD treatment beginning at either six or twelve months of age. Results indicated that subjects that experience menopause onset at a younger age had impaired spatial working memory early in the transition to a follicle-deplete state. Moreover, in the mid- and post- menopause time points, VCD-induced follicular depletion amplified an age effect, whereby Middle-Aged VCD-treated animals had poorer spatial working and reference memory performance than Young VCD-treated animals. Correlations suggested that in middle age, animals with higher circulating estrogen levels tended to perform better on spatial memory tasks. Overall, these findings suggest that the age at menopause onset is a critical parameter to consider when evaluating learning and memory across the transition to reproductive senescence. From a translational perspective, this study informs the field with respect to how the age at menopause onset might impact cognition in menopausal women, as well as provides insight into time points to explore for the window of opportunity for hormone therapy during the menopause transition to attenuate age- and menopause- related cognitive decline, and produce healthy brain aging profiles in women who retain their ovaries throughout the lifespan.

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Date Created
2015

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Young Adult and Middle-Age Rats Display Unique Working Memory Impairment and Differential Neurobiological Profiles following Hysterectomy

Description

Hysterectomy is the second most common gynecological surgery performed in women. Half of these surgeries involve removal of the uterus alone, and half involve concomitant removal of the ovaries. While the field has retained the notion that the nonpregnant uterus

Hysterectomy is the second most common gynecological surgery performed in women. Half of these surgeries involve removal of the uterus alone, and half involve concomitant removal of the ovaries. While the field has retained the notion that the nonpregnant uterus is dormant, more recent findings suggest that hysterectomy is associated with cognitive detriment. Of note, the clinical literature suggests that an earlier age at hysterectomy, with or without concomitant ovarian removal, increases dementia risk, implicating age at surgery as a variable of interest. While preclinical work in a rodent model of hysterectomy has demonstrated spatial working memory impairments, the role of age at surgery has yet to be addressed. The current experiment utilized a rodent model of hysterectomy to investigate the importance of age at surgery in post- surgical cognitive outcomes and to evaluate relative protein expression related to brain activity, FosB and ∆FosB, in regions critical to spatial learning processes. Young adult and middle-aged female rats underwent sham surgery, hysterectomy, or hysterectomy with ovariectomy, and were tested on a behavioral battery that evaluated spatial working and reference memory. Following the behavioral battery, animals were sacrificed and brain tissues from the Dorsal Hippocampus and Entorhinal Cortex were processed via Western Blot for relative FosB and ∆FosB expression. Behavioral analyses demonstrated that animals receiving hysterectomy, regardless of age or ovarian status, were generally impaired in learning a complex spatial working memory task. However, rats that received hysterectomy in middle-age uniquely demonstrated persistent working memory impairment, particularly with a high working memory demand. Subsequent neurobiological analyses revealed young rats that underwent hysterectomy had reduced relative FosB expression in the Entorhinal Cortex compared to sham controls, where no significant effects were observed for rats that received surgery in middle-age. Finally, unique relationships between neurobiological and behavioral outcomes were observed largely for sham rats, suggesting that such surgical manipulations might modulate these relationships. Taken together, these findings suggest that age at surgery plays an important role in learning and memory outcomes following hysterectomy, and demonstrate the need for further research into the role of the uterus in communications between the reproductive tract and brain.

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Date Created
2020