Environmental enrichment rescues postnatal neurogenesis defect in the male and female Ts65Dn mouse model of Down syndrome.
ABSTRACT: Down syndrome (DS), the most frequent genetic cause of intellectual disability and developmental delay, results from impaired neural stem cell proliferation and differentiation. Impaired neurogenesis in the neocortex, hippocampus and cerebellum is believed to be the underlying cause of learning and behavioral deficits in the Ts65Dn mouse model of DS. Aggressive sensorimotor and cognitive therapies have shown promise in mitigating the cognitive disabilities in DS but these behavioral therapies have not yet been investigated at the cellular level. Here, using the Ts65Dn mouse model of DS, we demonstrate that a combination of environmental enrichment and physical exercise starting in juvenile mice (postnatal day 18) markedly increases cell proliferation, neurogenesis and gliogenesis in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) and the forebrain subventricular zone (SVZ) of both male and female mice. Enrichment and exercise increased the rate of Ts65Dn DG neurogenesis to be comparable to that of the nonenriched euploid group, while the effect on SVZ neurogenesis was reduced and seen only after prolonged exposure. These results clearly indicate that in a comprehensive stimulatory environment, the postnatal DS brain has the intrinsic capability of improving neurogenesis and gliogenesis to the levels of normal matched controls and that this cellular response underlies the cognitive improvement seen following behavioral therapies.
Project description:Down syndrome (DS) is a high-incidence genetic pathology characterized by severe impairment of cognitive functions, including declarative memory. Impairment of hippocampus-dependent long-term memory in DS appears to be related to anatomo-functional alterations of the hippocampal trisynaptic circuit formed by the dentate gyrus (DG) granule cells - CA3 pyramidal neurons - CA1 pyramidal neurons. No therapies exist to improve cognitive disability in individuals with DS. In previous studies we demonstrated that pharmacotherapy with fluoxetine restores neurogenesis, granule cell number and dendritic morphology in the DG of the Ts65Dn mouse model of DS. The goal of the current study was to establish whether treatment rescues the impairment of synaptic connectivity between the DG and CA3 that characterizes the trisomic condition. Euploid and Ts65Dn mice were treated with fluoxetine during the first two postnatal weeks and examined 45-60 days after treatment cessation. Untreated Ts65Dn mice had a hypotrophyc mossy fiber bundle, fewer synaptic contacts, fewer glutamatergic contacts, and fewer dendritic spines in the stratum lucidum of CA3, the terminal field of the granule cell projections. Electrophysiological recordings from CA3 pyramidal neurons showed that in Ts65Dn mice the frequency of both mEPSCs and mIPSCs was reduced, indicating an overall impairment of excitatory and inhibitory inputs to CA3 pyramidal neurons. In treated Ts65Dn mice all these aberrant features were fully normalized, indicating that fluoxetine can rescue functional connectivity between the DG and CA3. The positive effects of fluoxetine on the DG-CA3 system suggest that early treatment with this drug could be a suitable therapy, possibly usable in humans, to restore the physiology of the hippocampal networks and, hence, memory functions.
Project description:Down syndrome (DS) patients exhibit abnormalities of hippocampal-dependent explicit memory, a feature that is replicated in relevant mouse models of the disease. Adult hippocampal neurogenesis, which is impaired in DS and other neuropsychiatric diseases, plays a key role in hippocampal circuit plasticity and has been implicated in learning and memory. However, it remains unknown whether increasing adult neurogenesis improves hippocampal plasticity and behavioral performance in the multifactorial context of DS. We report that, in the Ts65Dn mouse model of DS, chronic administration of lithium, a clinically used mood stabilizer, promoted the proliferation of neuronal precursor cells through the pharmacological activation of the Wnt/?-catenin pathway and restored adult neurogenesis in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) to physiological levels. The restoration of adult neurogenesis completely rescued the synaptic plasticity of newborn neurons in the DG and led to the full recovery of behavioral performance in fear conditioning, object location, and novel object recognition tests. These findings indicate that reestablishing a functional population of hippocampal newborn neurons in adult DS mice rescues hippocampal plasticity and memory and implicate adult neurogenesis as a promising therapeutic target to alleviate cognitive deficits in DS patients.
Project description:Down syndrome (DS) is a genetic pathology characterized by intellectual disability and brain hypotrophy. Widespread neurogenesis impairment characterizes the fetal and neonatal DS brain, strongly suggesting that this defect may be a major determinant of mental retardation. Our goal was to establish, in a mouse model for DS, whether early pharmacotherapy improves neurogenesis and cognitive behavior. Neonate Ts65Dn mice were treated from postnatal day (P) 3 to P15 with fluoxetine, an antidepressant that inhibits serotonin (5-HT) reuptake and increases proliferation in the adult Ts65Dn mouse (Clark et al., 2006). On P15, they received a BrdU injection and were killed after either 2 h or 1 month. Results showed that P15 Ts65Dn mice had notably defective proliferation in the hippocampal dentate gyrus, subventricular zone, striatum, and neocortex and that proliferation was completely rescued by fluoxetine. In the hippocampus of untreated P15 Ts65Dn mice, we found normal 5-HT levels but a lower expression of 5-HT1A receptors and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). In Ts65Dn mice, fluoxetine treatment restored the expression of 5-HT1A receptors and BDNF. One month after cessation of treatment, there were more surviving cells in the dentate gyrus of Ts65Dn mice, more cells with a neuronal phenotype, more proliferating precursors, and more granule cells. These animals were tested for contextual fear conditioning, a hippocampus-dependent memory task, and exhibited a complete recovery of memory performance. Results show that early pharmacotherapy with a drug usable by humans can correct neurogenesis and behavioral impairment in a model for DS.
Project description:Down syndrome (DS) results from triplication of human chromosome 21. Neuropathological hallmarks of DS include atypical central nervous system development that manifests prenatally and extends throughout life. As a result, individuals with DS exhibit cognitive and motor deficits, and have delays in achieving developmental milestones. To determine whether different mouse models of DS recapitulate the human prenatal and postnatal phenotypes, here, we directly compared brain histogenesis, gene expression and behavior over the lifespan of three cytogenetically distinct mouse models of DS: Ts1Cje, Ts65Dn and Dp(16)1/Yey. Histological data indicated that Ts65Dn mice were the most consistently affected with respect to somatic growth, neurogenesis and brain morphogenesis. Embryonic and adult gene expression results showed that Ts1Cje and Ts65Dn brains had considerably more differentially expressed (DEX) genes compared with Dp(16)1/Yey mice, despite the larger number of triplicated genes in the latter model. In addition, DEX genes showed little overlap in identity and chromosomal distribution in the three models, leading to dissimilarities in affected functional pathways. Perinatal and adult behavioral testing also highlighted differences among the models in their abilities to achieve various developmental milestones and perform hippocampal- and motor-based tasks. Interestingly, Dp(16)1/Yey mice showed no abnormalities in prenatal brain phenotypes, yet they manifested behavioral deficits starting at postnatal day 15 that continued through adulthood. In contrast, Ts1Cje mice showed mildly abnormal embryonic brain phenotypes, but only select behavioral deficits as neonates and adults. Altogether, our data showed widespread and unexpected fundamental differences in behavioral, gene expression and brain development phenotypes between these three mouse models. Our findings illustrate unique limitations of each model when studying aspects of brain development and function in DS. This work helps to inform model selection in future studies investigating how observed neurodevelopmental abnormalities arise, how they contribute to cognitive impairment, and when testing therapeutic molecules to ameliorate the intellectual disability associated with DS.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.
Project description:While several major classes of neocortical neural precursor cells have been identified, the lineal relationships and molecular profiles of these cells are still largely unknown. Furthermore, the individual contribution of each cell class to neocortical growth during normal development and in neurodevelopmental disorders has not been determined. Using a novel fate-mapping approach, we demonstrate that precursors in the embryonic ventricular (VZ) and subventricular zones (SVZ), which give rise to excitatory neurons, are divided into distinct subtypes based on lineage profile, morphology, and transcription factor expression in vivo. Using this technique, we show that short neural precursors are a unique class of VZ intermediate progenitors derived from radial glial cells and are distinct from the multipolar Tbr2((+)) intermediate progenitors, which divide in the SVZ. To test whether these multiple groups of intermediate progenitors are redundant or whether they are necessary for proper neocortical growth, we measured precursor cell diversity in the Ts65Dn mouse model of Down syndrome (DS), which exhibits reduced neurogenesis and postnatal microcephaly. We report that SNP generation is markedly reduced in the Ts65Dn VZ during mid-neurogenesis, indicating that faulty specification of this progenitor pool is a central component of the neocortical abnormality in DS. Together, these findings demonstrate that neocortical neurons are produced via multiple indirect routes during embryonic development and that these parallel streams of neurogenesis collectively contribute to the proper growth and development of the neocortex.
Project description:Cognitive impairment in Down syndrome (DS) is characterized by deficient learning and memory. Mouse genetic models of DS exhibit impaired cognition in hippocampally mediated behavioral tasks and reduced synaptic plasticity of hippocampal pathways. Enhanced efficiency of GABAergic neurotransmission was implicated in those changes. We have recently shown that signaling through postsynaptic GABA(B) receptors is significantly increased in the dentate gyrus of Ts65Dn mice, a genetic model of DS. Here we examined a role for GABA(B) receptors in cognitive deficits in DS by defining the effect of selective GABA(B) receptor antagonists on behavior and synaptic plasticity of adult Ts65Dn mice. Treatment with the GABA(B) receptor antagonist CGP55845 restored memory of Ts65Dn mice in the novel place recognition, novel object recognition, and contextual fear conditioning tasks, but did not affect locomotion and performance in T-maze. The treatment increased hippocampal levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, equally in 2N and Ts65Dn mice. In hippocampal slices, treatment with the GABA(B) receptor antagonists CGP55845 or CGP52432 enhanced long-term potentiation (LTP) in the Ts65Dn DG. The enhancement of LTP was accompanied by an increase in the NMDA receptor-mediated component of the tetanus-evoked responses. These findings are evidence for a contribution of GABA(B) receptors to changes in hippocampal-based cognition in the Ts65Dn mouse. The ability to rescue cognitive performance through treatment with selective GABA(B) receptor antagonists motivates studies to further explore the therapeutic potential of these compounds in people with DS.
Project description:The adult mammalian brain can produce new neurons in a process called adult neurogenesis, which occurs mainly in the subventricular zone (SVZ) and in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG). Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signaling and cannabinoid type 1 and 2 receptors (CB1R and CB2R) have been shown to independently modulate neurogenesis, but how they may interact is unknown. We now used SVZ and DG neurosphere cultures from early (P1-3) postnatal rats to study the CB1R and CB2R crosstalk with BDNF in modulating neurogenesis. BDNF promoted an increase in SVZ and DG stemness and cell proliferation, an effect blocked by a CB2R selective antagonist. CB2R selective activation promoted an increase in DG multipotency, which was inhibited by the presence of a BDNF scavenger. CB1R activation induced an increase in SVZ and DG cell proliferation, being both effects dependent on BDNF. Furthermore, SVZ and DG neuronal differentiation was facilitated by CB1R and/or CB2R activation and this effect was blocked by sequestering endogenous BDNF. Conversely, BDNF promoted neuronal differentiation, an effect abrogated in SVZ cells by CB1R or CB2R blockade while in DG cells was inhibited by CB2R blockade. We conclude that endogenous BDNF is crucial for the cannabinoid-mediated effects on SVZ and DG neurogenesis. On the other hand, cannabinoid receptor signaling is also determinant for BDNF actions upon neurogenesis. These findings provide support for an interaction between BDNF and endocannabinoid signaling to control neurogenesis at distinct levels, further contributing to highlight novel mechanisms in the emerging field of brain repair.
Project description:Down syndrome (DS), trisomy 21, is caused by increased dose of genes present on human chromosome 21 (HSA21). The gene-dose hypothesis argues that a change in the dose of individual genes or regulatory sequences on HSA21 is necessary for creating DS-related phenotypes, including cognitive impairment. We focused on a possible role for Kcnj6, the gene encoding Kir3.2 (Girk2) subunits of a G-protein-coupled inwardly-rectifying potassium channel. This gene resides on a segment of mouse Chromosome 16 that is present in one extra copy in the genome of the Ts65Dn mouse, a well-studied genetic model of DS. Kir3.2 subunit-containing potassium channels serve as effectors for a number of postsynaptic metabotropic receptors including GABAB receptors. Several studies raise the possibility that increased Kcnj6 dose contributes to synaptic and cognitive abnormalities in DS. To assess directly a role for Kcnj6 gene dose in cognitive deficits in DS, we produced Ts65Dn mice that harbor only 2 copies of Kcnj6 (Ts65Dn:Kcnj6++- mice). The reduction in Kcnj6 gene dose restored to normal the hippocampal level of Kir3.2. Long-term memory, examined in the novel object recognition test with the retention period of 24h, was improved to the level observed in the normosomic littermate control mice (2N:Kcnj6++). Significantly, both short-term and long-term potentiation (STP and LTP) was improved to control levels in the dentate gyrus (DG) of the Ts65Dn:Kcnj6++- mouse. In view of the ability of fluoxetine to suppress Kir3.2 channels, we asked if fluoxetine-treated DG slices of Ts65Dn:Kcnj6+++ mice would rescue synaptic plasticity. Fluoxetine increased STP and LTP to control levels. These results are evidence that increased Kcnj6 gene dose is necessary for synaptic and cognitive dysfunction in the Ts65Dn mouse model of DS. Strategies aimed at pharmacologically reducing channel function should be explored for enhancing cognition in DS.
Project description:Neurogenesis in the adult mammalian brain occurs mainly in two neurogenic niches, the subventricular zone (SVZ) and the subgranular zone (SGZ) of the dentate gyrus (DG). Cannabinoid type 1 and 2 receptors (CB1R and CB2R) have been shown to differently modulate neurogenesis. However, low attention has been given to the interaction between CB1R and CB2R in modulating postnatal neurogenesis (proliferation, neuronal differentiation and maturation). We focused on a putative crosstalk between CB1R and CB2R to modulate neurogenesis and cultured SVZ and DG stem/progenitor cells from early postnatal (P1-3) Sprague-Dawley rats. Data showed that the non-selective cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN55,212-2 promotes DG cell proliferation (measured by BrdU staining), an effect blocked by either CB1R or CB2R selective antagonists. Experiments with selective agonists showed that facilitation of DG cell proliferation requires co-activation of both CB1R and CB2R. Cell proliferation in the SVZ was not affected by the non-selective receptor agonist, but it was enhanced by CB1R selective activation. However, either CB1R or CB2R selective antagonists abolished the effect of the CB1R agonist in SVZ cell proliferation. Neuronal differentiation (measured by immunocytochemistry against neuronal markers of different stages and calcium imaging) was facilitated by WIN55,212-2 at both SVZ and DG. This effect was mimicked by either CB1R or CB2R selective agonists and blocked by either CB1R or CB2R selective antagonists, cross-antagonism being evident. In summary, our findings indicate a tight interaction between CB1R and CB2R to modulate neurogenesis in the two major neurogenic niches, thus contributing to further unraveling the mechanisms behind the action of endocannabinoids in the brain.
Project description:All individuals with Down syndrome (DS) have a varying but significant degree of cognitive disability. Although hippocampal deficits clearly play an important role, behavioral studies also suggest that deficits within the neocortex contribute to somatosensory deficits and impaired cognition in DS. Using thalamocortical slices from the Ts65Dn mouse model of DS, we investigated the intrinsic and network properties of regular spiking neurons within layer 4 of the somatosensory cortex. In these neurons, the membrane capacitance was increased and specific membrane resistance decreased in slices from Ts65Dn mice. Examination of combined active and passive membrane properties suggests that trisomic layer 4 neurons are less excitable than those from euploid mice. The frequencies of excitatory and inhibitory spontaneous synaptic activities were also reduced in Ts65Dn neurons. With respect to network activity, spontaneous network oscillations (Up states) were shorter and less numerous in the neocortex from Ts65Dn mice when compared to euploid. Up states evoked by electrical stimulation of the ventrobasal nucleus (VBN) of the thalamus were similarly affected in Ts65Dn mice. Additionally, monosynaptic EPSCs and polysynaptic IPSCs evoked by VBN stimulation were significantly delayed in layer 4 regular spiking neurons from Ts65Dn mice. These results indicate that, in the Ts65Dn model of DS, the overall electrophysiological properties of neocortical neurons are altered leading to aberrant network activity within the neocortex. Similar changes in DS individuals may contribute to sensory and cognitive dysfunction and therefore may implicate new targets for cognitive therapies in this developmental disorder.