Retinoic acid induces changes in electrical properties of adult neurons in a dose- and isomer-dependent manner.
ABSTRACT: The electrical activity of neurons is known to play a role in neuronal development, as well as repair of adult nervous tissue. For example, the extension of neurites and motility of growth cones can be modulated by changes in the electrical firing of neurons. The vitamin A metabolite retinoic acid also plays a critical role during nervous system development and is also known to elicit regenerative responses, namely the induction, enhancement, and directionality of neurite outgrowth. However, no studies have previously reported the ability of retinoic acid to modify the electrical activity of neurons. In this study, we determined whether retinoic acid might exert effects on the nervous system by altering the electrical properties of neurons. Using cultured adult neurons from Lymnaea stagnalis, we showed that acute application of retinoic acid can rapidly elicit changes in neuronal firing properties. Retinoic acid caused the presence of atypical firing behavior such as rhythmic bursting and altered the shape of action potentials, causing increases in half-amplitude duration and decay time. Retinoic acid also caused cell silencing, whereby neuronal activity was halted within an hour. These effects of retinoic acid were shown to be both dose and isomer dependent. We then showed that the effects of retinoic acid on cell firing (but not silencing) were significantly reduced in the presence of an retinoid X receptor pan-antagonist HX531. This study suggests that some of the effects of retinoic acid during neuronal development or regeneration might possibly occur as a result of changes in electrical activity of neurons.
Project description:The enteric nervous system (ENS) contains millions of neurons essential for organization of motor behavior of the intestine. It is well established that the large intestine requires ENS activity to drive propulsive motor behaviors. However, the firing pattern of the ENS underlying propagating neurogenic contractions of the large intestine remains unknown. To identify this, we used high-resolution neuronal imaging with electrophysiology from neighboring smooth muscle. Myoelectric activity underlying propagating neurogenic contractions along murine large intestine [also referred to as colonic migrating motor complexes, (CMMCs)] consisted of prolonged bursts of rhythmic depolarizations at a frequency of ∼2 Hz. Temporal coordination of this activity in the smooth muscle over large spatial fields (∼7 mm, longitudinally) was dependent on the ENS. During quiescent periods between neurogenic contractions, recordings from large populations of enteric neurons, in mice of either sex, revealed ongoing activity. The onset of neurogenic contractions was characterized by the emergence of temporally synchronized activity across large populations of excitatory and inhibitory neurons. This neuronal firing pattern was rhythmic and temporally synchronized across large numbers of ganglia at ∼2 Hz. ENS activation preceded smooth muscle depolarization, indicating rhythmic depolarizations in smooth muscle were controlled by firing of enteric neurons. The cyclical emergence of temporally coordinated firing of large populations of enteric neurons represents a unique neural motor pattern outside the CNS. This is the first direct observation of rhythmic firing in the ENS underlying rhythmic electrical depolarizations in smooth muscle. The pattern of neuronal activity we identified underlies the generation of CMMCs.<b>SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT</b> How the enteric nervous system (ENS) generates neurogenic contractions of smooth muscle in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract has been a long-standing mystery in vertebrates. It is well known that myogenic pacemaker cells exist in the GI tract [called interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs)] that generate rhythmic myogenic contractions. However, the mechanisms underlying the generation of rhythmic neurogenic contractions of smooth muscle in the GI tract remains unknown. We developed a high-resolution neuronal imaging method with electrophysiology to address this issue. This technique revealed a novel pattern of rhythmic coordinated neuronal firing in the ENS that has never been identified. Rhythmic neuronal firing in the ENS was found to generate rhythmic neurogenic depolarizations in smooth muscle that underlie contraction of the GI tract.
Project description:Nitric oxide (NO) is a radical and a gas, properties that allow NO to diffuse through membranes and potentially enable it to function as a "volume messenger." This study had two goals: first, to investigate the mechanisms by which NO functions as a modulator of neuronal excitability, and second, to compare NO effects produced by NO release from chemical NO donors with those elicited by physiological NO release from single neurons. We demonstrate that NO depolarizes the membrane potential of B5 neurons of the mollusk Helisoma trivolvis, initially increasing their firing rate and later causing neuronal silencing. Both effects of NO were mediated by inhibition of Ca-activated iberiotoxin- and apamin-sensitive K channels, but only inhibition of apamin-sensitive K channels fully mimicked all effects of NO on firing activity, suggesting that the majority of electrical effects of NO are mediated via inhibition of apamin-sensitive K channels. We further show that single neurons release sufficient amounts of NO to affect the electrical activity of B5 neurons located nearby. These effects are similar to NO release from the chemical NO donor NOC-7 [3-(2-hydroxy-1-methyl-2-nitrosohydazino)-N-methyl-1-propyanamine], validating the use of NO donors in studies of neuronal excitability. Together with previous findings demonstrating a role for NO in neurite outgrowth and growth cone motility, the results suggest that NO has the potential to shape the development of the nervous system by modulating both electrical activity and neurite outgrowth in neurons located in the vicinity of NO-producing cells, supporting the notion of NO functioning as a volume messenger.
Project description:The ability to control and modulate the action potential firing in neurons represents a powerful tool for neuroscience research and clinical applications. While neuronal excitation has been achieved with many tools, including electrical and optical stimulation, hyperpolarization and neuronal inhibition are typically obtained through patch-clamp or optogenetic manipulations. Here we report the use of conjugated polymer films interfaced with neurons for inducing a light-mediated inhibition of their electrical activity. We show that prolonged illumination of the interface triggers a sustained hyperpolarization of the neuronal membrane that significantly reduces both spontaneous and evoked action potential firing. We demonstrate that the polymeric interface can be activated by either visible or infrared light and is capable of modulating neuronal activity in brain slices and explanted retinas. These findings prove the ability of conjugated polymers to tune neuronal firing and suggest their potential application for the in-vivo modulation of neuronal activity.
Project description:Neuronal cultures provide a basis for reductionist insights that rely on molecular and pharmacological manipulation. However, the inability to culture mature <i>adult</i> CNS neurons limits our understanding of adult neuronal physiology. Here, we report methods for culturing <i>adult</i> central nervous system neurons in large numbers and across multiple brain regions for extended time periods. Primary adult neuronal cultures develop polarity; they establish segregated dendritic and axonal compartments, maintain resting membrane potentials, exhibit spontaneous and evoked electrical activity, and form neural networks. Cultured adult neurons isolated from different brain regions such as the hippocampus, cortex, brainstem, and cerebellum exhibit distinct cell morphologies, growth patterns, and spontaneous firing characteristics reflective of their regions of origin. Using adult motor cortex cultures, we identify a CNS "conditioning" effect after spinal cord injury. The ability to culture adult neurons offers a valuable tool for studying basic and therapeutic science of the brain.
Project description:The use of composite biomaterials as innovative bio-friendly neuronal interfaces has been poorly developed so far. Smart strategies to target neuro-pathologies are currently exploiting the mixed and complementary characteristics of composite materials to better design future neural interfaces. Here we present a polymer-based scaffold that has been rendered suitable for primary neurons by embedding graphene nanoplatelets (GnP). In particular, the growth, network formation, and functionality of primary neurons on poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) [P(3HB)] polymer supports functionalized with various concentrations of GnP were explored. After growing primary cortical neurons onto the supports for 14 days, all specimens were found to be biocompatible, revealing physiological growth and maturation of the neuronal network. When network functionality was investigated by whole patch-clamp measurements, pure P(3HB) led to changes in the action potential waveform and reduction in firing frequency, resulting in decreased neuronal excitability. However, the addition of GnP to the polymer matrix restored the electrophysiological parameters to physiological values. Interestingly, a low concentration of graphene was able to promote firing activity at a low level of injected current. The results indicate that the P(3HB)/GnP composites show great potential for electrical interfacing with primary neurons to eventually target central nervous system disorders.
Project description:Alpha-herpesviruses, including human herpes simplex virus 1 & 2, varicella zoster virus and the swine pseudorabies virus (PRV), infect the peripheral nervous system of their hosts. Symptoms of infection often include itching, numbness, or pain indicative of altered neurological function. To determine if there is an in vitro electrophysiological correlate to these characteristic in vivo symptoms, we infected cultured rat sympathetic neurons with well-characterized strains of PRV known to produce virulent or attenuated symptoms in animals. Whole-cell patch clamp recordings were made at various times after infection. By 8 hours of infection with virulent PRV, action potential (AP) firing rates increased substantially and were accompanied by hyperpolarized resting membrane potentials and spikelet-like events. Coincident with the increase in AP firing rate, adjacent neurons exhibited coupled firing events, first with AP-spikelets and later with near identical resting membrane potentials and AP firing. Small fusion pores between adjacent cell bodies formed early after infection as demonstrated by transfer of the low molecular weight dye, Lucifer Yellow. Later, larger pores formed as demonstrated by transfer of high molecular weight Texas red-dextran conjugates between infected cells. Further evidence for viral-induced fusion pores was obtained by infecting neurons with a viral mutant defective for glycoprotein B, a component of the viral membrane fusion complex. These infected neurons were essentially identical to mock infected neurons: no increased AP firing, no spikelet-like events, and no electrical or dye transfer. Infection with PRV Bartha, an attenuated circuit-tracing strain delayed, but did not eliminate the increased neuronal activity and coupling events. We suggest that formation of fusion pores between infected neurons results in electrical coupling and elevated firing rates, and that these processes may contribute to the altered neural function seen in PRV-infected animals.
Project description:A fundamental question in neuroscience concerns the relation between the spiking of individual neurons and the aggregate electrical activity of neuronal ensembles as seen in local field potentials (LFPs). Because LFPs reflect both spiking activity and subthreshold events, this question is not simply one of data aggregation. Recording from 20 neurosurgical patients, we directly examined the relation between LFPs and neuronal spiking. Examining 2030 neurons in widespread brain regions, we found that firing rates were positively correlated with broadband (2-150 Hz) shifts in the LFP power spectrum. In contrast, narrowband oscillations correlated both positively and negatively with firing rates at different recording sites. Broadband power shifts were a more reliable predictor of neuronal spiking than narrowband power shifts. These findings suggest that broadband LFP power provides valuable information concerning neuronal activity beyond that contained in narrowband oscillations.
Project description:How neurons encode intracellular biochemical signalling cascades into electrical signals is not fully understood. Neurons in the central circadian clock in mammals provide a model system to investigate electrical encoding of biochemical timing signals. Here, using experimental and modelling approaches, we show how the activation of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) contributes to neuronal excitability through regulation of the persistent sodium current (INaP). INaP exhibits a day/night difference in peak magnitude and is regulated by GSK3. Using mathematical modelling, we predict and confirm that GSK3 activation of INaP affects the action potential afterhyperpolarization, which increases the spontaneous firing rate without affecting the resting membrane potential. Together, these results demonstrate a crucial link between the molecular circadian clock and electrical activity, providing examples of kinase regulation of electrical activity and the propagation of intracellular signals in neuronal networks.
Project description:The importance of self-feedback autaptic transmission in modulating spike-time irregularity is still poorly understood. By using a biophysical model that incorporates autaptic coupling, we here show that self-innervation of neurons participates in the modulation of irregular neuronal firing, primarily by regulating the occurrence frequency of burst firing. In particular, we find that both excitatory and electrical autapses increase the occurrence of burst firing, thus reducing neuronal firing regularity. In contrast, inhibitory autapses suppress burst firing and therefore tend to improve the regularity of neuronal firing. Importantly, we show that these findings are independent of the firing properties of individual neurons, and as such can be observed for neurons operating in different modes. Our results provide an insightful mechanistic understanding of how different types of autapses shape irregular firing at the single-neuron level, and they highlight the functional importance of autaptic self-innervation in taming and modulating neurodynamics.
Project description:Correlated activation of cortical neurons often occurs in the brain and repetitive correlated neuronal firing could cause long-term modifications of synaptic efficacy and intrinsic excitability. We found that repetitive optogenetic activation of neuronal populations in the mouse cortex caused enhancement of optogenetically evoked firing of local coactivated neurons as well as distant cortical neurons in both ipsilateral and contralateral hemispheres. This global enhancement of evoked responses required coactivation of a sufficiently large population of neurons either within one cortical area or distributed in several areas. Enhancement of neuronal firing was saturable after repeated episodes of coactivation, diminished by inhibition of <i>N</i>-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptors, and accompanied by elevated excitatory postsynaptic potentials, all consistent with activity-induced synaptic potentiation. Chemogenetic inhibition of neuronal activity of the thalamus decreased the enhancement effect, suggesting thalamic involvement. Thus, correlated excitation of large neuronal populations leads to global enhancement of neuronal excitability.