Unique responses of midbrain CART neurons in macaques to ovarian steroids.
ABSTRACT: CART (cocaine and amphetamine regulated transcript) is a neuropeptide involved in the control of several physiological processes, such as response to psychostimulants, food intake, depressive diseases and neuroprotection. It is robustly expressed in the brain, mainly in regions that control emotional and stress responses and it is regulated by estrogen in the hypothalamus. There is a distinct population of CART neurons located in the vicinity of the Edinger-Westphal nucleus of the midbrain that also colocalize urocortin-1. The aims of this study were 1) to determine the distribution of CART immunoreactive neurons in the monkey midbrain, 2) to examine the effects of estrogen (E) and progesterone (P) on midbrain CART mRNA and peptide expression and 3) to determine whether midbrain CART neurons contain steroid receptors. Adult female rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) were spayed and either treated with placebo (OVX), estrogen alone (E), progesterone alone (P) or E+P. Animals were prepared (a) for RNA extraction followed by microarray analysis and quantitative (q) RT-PCR (n=3/group); (b) for immunohistochemical analysis of CART and CART+tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH), CART+estrogen receptors (ER) or CART+progesterone receptors (n=5/group) and (c) for Western blots (n=3/group). Both E- and E+P-administration decreased CART gene expression on the microarray and with qRT-PCR. Stereological analysis of CART immunostaining at five levels of the Edinger-Westphal nucleus indicated little effect of E or E+P administration on the area of CART immunostaining. However, P administration increased CART-immunopositive area in comparison to the OVX control group with Student's t-test, but not with ANOVA. CART 55-102 detection on Western blot was unchanged by hormone administration. ERbeta and PR were detected in CART neurons and CART fibers appeared to innervate TPH-positive serotonin neurons in the dorsal raphe. In summary, E decreased CART mRNA, but this effect did not translate to the protein level. Moreover, P administration alone had a variable effect on CART mRNA, but it caused an increase in CART immunostaining. Together, the data suggest that CART neurons in the midbrain have a unique steroid response, which may be mediated by nuclear receptors, neuroactive steroids or interneurons.
Project description:Midbrain neurons of the centrally projecting Edinger-Westphal nucleus (EWcp) are activated by alcohol, and enriched with stress-responsive neuropeptide modulators (including the paralog of corticotropin-releasing factor, urocortin-1). Evidence suggests that EWcp neurons promote behavioral processes for alcohol-seeking and consumption, but a definitive role for these cells remains elusive. Here we combined targeted viral manipulations and gene array profiling of EWcp neurons with mass behavioral phenotyping in C57BL/6?J mice to directly define the links between EWcp-specific urocortin-1 expression and voluntary binge alcohol intake, demonstrating a specific importance for EWcp urocortin-1 activity in escalation of alcohol intake.
Project description:Brain nuclei are spatially organized collections of neurons that share functional properties. Despite being central to vertebrate brain circuitry, little is known about how nuclei are generated during development. We have chosen the chick midbrain oculomotor complex (OMC) as a model with which to study the developmental mechanisms of nucleogenesis. The chick OMC comprises two distinct cell groups: a dorsal Edinger-Westphal nucleus of visceral oculomotor neurons and a ventral nucleus of somatic oculomotor neurons. Genetic studies in mice and humans have established that the homeobox transcription factor gene PHOX2A is required for midbrain motoneuron development. We probed, in forced expression experiments, the capacity of PHOX2A to generate a spatially organized midbrain OMC. We found that exogenous Phox2a delivery to embryonic chick midbrain can drive a complete OMC molecular program, including the production of visceral and somatic motoneurons. Phox2a overexpression was also able to generate ectopic motor nerves. The exit points of such auxiliary nerves were invested with ectopic boundary cap cells and, in four examples, the ectopic nerves were seen to innervate extraocular muscle directly. Finally, Phox2a delivery was able to direct ectopic visceral and somatic motoneurons to their correct native spatial positions, with visceral motoneurons settling close to the ventricular surface and somatic motoneurons migrating deeper into the midbrain. These findings establish that in midbrain, a single transcription factor can both specify motoneuron cell fates and orchestrate the construction of a spatially organized motoneuron nuclear complex.
Project description:Midbrain dopamine neurons (mDA) are important regulators of diverse physiological functions, including movement, attention, and reward behaviors. Accordingly, aberrant function of dopamine neurons underlies a wide spectrum of disorders, such as Parkinson's disease (PD), dystonia, and schizophrenia. The distinct functions of the dopamine system are carried out by neuroanatomically discrete subgroups of dopamine neurons, which differ in gene expression, axonal projections, and susceptibility in PD. The developmental underpinnings of this heterogeneity are undefined. We have recently shown that in the embryonic CNS, mDA originate from the midbrain floor plate, a ventral midline structure that is operationally defined by the expression of the molecule Shh. Here, we develop these findings to reveal that in the embryonic midbrain, the spatiotemporally dynamic Shh domain defines multiple progenitor pools. We deduce 3 distinct progenitor pools, medial, intermediate, and lateral, which contribute to different mDA clusters. The earliest progenitors to express Shh, here referred to as the medial pool, contributes neurons to the rostral linear nucleus and mDA of the ventral tegmental area/interfascicular regions, but remarkably, little to the substantia nigra pars compacta. The intermediate Shh+ progenitors give rise to neurons of all dopaminergic nuclei, including the SNpc. The last and lateral pool of Shh+ progenitors generates a cohort that populates the red nucleus, Edinger Westphal nucleus, and supraoculomotor nucleus and cap. Subsequently, these lateral Shh+ progenitors produce mDA. This refined ontogenetic definition will expand understanding of dopamine neuron biology and selective susceptibility, and will impact stem cell-derived therapies and models for PD.
Project description:Ovariectomized monkeys were treated with placebo, estrogen or estrogen plus progesterone for one month. The brain was perfused with RNA Later plus 20% sucrose. Sections through the dorsal raphe nucleus were immunostained for TPH and then TPH positive neurons were laser captured. The RNA was extracted and hybridized to the Rhesus Affymetrix chip. Overall design: Each chip represents one monkey. N=2 monkeys per treatment.
Project description:Ovariectomized monkeys were treated with placebo, estrogen or estrogen plus progesterone for one month. The brain was perfused with RNA Later plus 20% sucrose. Sections through the dorsal raphe nucleus were immunostained for TPH and then TPH positive neurons were laser captured. The RNA was extracted and hybridized to the Rhesus Affymetrix chip. Each chip represents one monkey. N=2 monkeys per treatment.
Project description:A significant number of postmenopausal women report increased anxiety and vulnerability to stress, which has been linked to decreased secretion of ovarian steroids. Communication between the serotonin system and the corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) system determines stress sensitivity or resilience. This study examines the effects of the ovarian steroids, estradiol (E) and progesterone (P) on the CRF system components that impact serotonin neurons in the midbrain of nonhuman primates. Ovariectomized rhesus macaques were treated with placebo, E alone for 1 month, or E supplemented with P for the last 2 weeks. Quantitative (q)RT-PCR and immunocytochemistry were employed. E±P treatment decreased CRF-R1 and increased CRF-R2 gene expression in hemi-midbrain blocks and in laser captured serotonin neurons. Also in hemi-midbrains, E treatment increased urocortin 1 (UCN1) and CRFBP gene expression, but supplemental P treatment reversed these effects. E±P decreased CRF fiber density in the dorsal, interfascicular and median raphe nuclei and decreased CRF-R1 immunostaining in the dorsal raphe. E increased CRF-R2 immunostaining in the dorsal and median raphe. E±P increased UCN1 immunostaining in the cell bodies and increased UCN1 fiber density in the caudal linear nucleus. Estrogen receptor beta (ER?), but not ER? was detected in the nucleus of UCN1-positive neurons. While the mechanism of ovarian hormone regulation of the midbrain CRF system requires further investigation, these studies clearly demonstrate another pathway by which ovarian hormones may have positive effects on anxiety and mood regulation.
Project description:The paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus (PVH) contains many neurons that innervate the brainstem, but information regarding their target sites remains incomplete. Here we labeled neurons in the rat PVH with an anterograde axonal tracer, Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin (PHAL), and studied their descending projections in reference to specific neuronal subpopulations throughout the brainstem. While many of their target sites were identified previously, numerous new observations were made. Major findings include: 1) In the midbrain, the PVH projects lightly to the ventral tegmental area, Edinger-Westphal nucleus, ventrolateral periaqueductal gray matter, reticular formation, pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus, and dorsal raphe nucleus. 2) In the dorsal pons, the PVH projects heavily to the pre-locus coeruleus, yet very little to the catecholamine neurons in the locus coeruleus, and selectively targets the viscerosensory subregions of the parabrachial nucleus. 3) In the ventral medulla, the superior salivatory nucleus, retrotrapezoid nucleus, compact and external formations of the nucleus ambiguous, A1 and caudal C1 catecholamine neurons, and caudal pressor area receive dense axonal projections, generally exceeding the PVH projection to the rostral C1 region. 4) The medial nucleus of the solitary tract (including A2 noradrenergic and aldosterone-sensitive neurons) receives the most extensive projections of the PVH, substantially more than the dorsal vagal nucleus or area postrema. Our findings suggest that the PVH may modulate a range of homeostatic functions, including cerebral and ocular blood flow, corneal and nasal hydration, ingestive behavior, sodium intake, and glucose metabolism, as well as cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and respiratory activities.
Project description:Background:Progesterone receptor (PR) modulates neuroprotective and regenerative responses in Parkinson's disease and related neurological diseases. Objectives:The present study was designed to determine whether botanical drug puerarin could exhibit neuroprotective and neurorestorative activities via PR signaling. Methods:The neuroprotective and neurotrophic activities of puerarin were investigated in MPTP-lesioned mice and MPP+-challenged primary rat midbrain neurons. Rotarod performance test and tail suspension test were used to assess motor functions. Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and PR were determined by immunostaining, Western blotting, and luciferase reporter assays. Neurite outgrowth was assessed by fluorescence staining and immunostaining. Results:Puerarin effectively ameliorated the MPTP-induced motor abnormalities in MPTP-lesioned mice and protected primary rat midbrain neurons against MPP+-induced toxicity via PR signaling although progesterone exhibited the neuroprotection. PR antagonist mifepristone (RU486) diminished the neuroprotection of puerarin in MPTP-lesioned mice and MPP+-induced primary rat midbrain neurons. Moreover, puerarin promoted the differentiation of primary rat midbrain neurons and potentiated NGF to induce neuritogenesis in PC12 cells. RU486 and PR-siRNA could inhibit the effect of puerarin. Puerarin and progesterone could enhance the PR promoter. Conclusion:Puerarin attenuated MPTP- and MPP+-induced toxicity and potentiated neurite outgrowth via PR. These results suggested that puerarin may become an alternative hormone for suppressing MPTP- and MPP+-induced toxicity in neurodegenerative diseases.
Project description:Estrogen reduces brain injury after experimental cerebral ischemia in part through a genomic mechanism of action. Using DNA microarrays, we analyzed the genomic response of the brain to estradiol, and we identified a transcript, cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART), that is highly induced in the cerebral cortex by estradiol under ischemic conditions. Using in vitro and in vivo models of neural injury, we confirmed and characterized CART mRNA and protein up-regulation by estradiol in surviving neurons, and we demonstrated that i.v. administration of a rat CART peptide is protective against ischemic brain injury in vivo. We further demonstrated binding of cAMP response element (CRE)-binding protein to a CART promoter CRE site in ischemic brain and rapid activation by CART of ERK in primary cultured cortical neurons. The findings suggest that CART is an important player in estrogen-mediated neuroprotection and a potential therapeutic agent for stroke and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Project description:Nuclear factor kappa B (NFkappaB) is a transcription factor that activates gene expression in response to proinflammatory cytokines, and elevated cytokines are associated with depression, which has a serotonergic component. We questioned (1) whether serotonin neurons contain NFkappaB, (2) whether NFkappaB detection with immunocytochemistry is changed in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) by ovarian hormone treatment and (3) whether ovarian hormones regulate midbrain NFkappaB gene or protein expression.Monkeys were spayed and treated with placebo, estrogen (E), progesterone (P) or E+P for 1 month (n = 4 animals/treatment group), and the midbrain was harvested for immunocytochemistry and stereology. An antibody that detects nuclear location-specific (NLS)-NFkappaB p65 was applied, and the numbers of NLS-NFkappaB-immunopositive cells were counted in 9 sections of the DRN. Additional monkeys were used for Western blot analysis and quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for NFkappaB p65.In placebo-treated macaques, neurons were double-immunostained for serotonin and nuclear NFkappaB p65 throughout the DRN. The mean total number of NFkappaB-positive cells equalled 2178 (and standard error of the mean [SEM] 129) in the placebo group, 1631 (SEM 221) in the E-treated group, 2314 (SEM 186) in the P-treated group and 1162 (SEM 100) in the E+P-treated group (analysis of variance p = 0.003). The E-treated and E+P-treated groups had a significantly lower density of cells stained positive for NFkappaB than the placebo or P-treated groups (post hoc). Unmasking of NLS-NFkappaB immunostaining in the DRN revealed dense immunostaining in the cytoplasm of large dorsal raphe neurons. There was no difference between treatment groups in the amount of NFkappaB p65 detected by Western blot or in the relative expression of NFkappaB p65 mRNA with quantitative RT-PCR.These observations are consistent with the notion that gene and protein expression of NFkappaB are constitutive but that ovarian hormones can decrease the nuclear location of NFkappaB in dorsal raphe neurons and, thereby, decrease the ability of NFkappaB to drive gene expression in response to cytokines.