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Editor's Highlight: Genetic Targets of Acute Toluene Inhalation in Drosophila melanogaster.

Interpretation and use of data from high-throughput assays for chemical toxicity require links between effects at molecular targets and adverse outcomes in whole animals. The well-characterized genome of Drosophila melanogaster provides a potential model system by which phenotypic responses to chemicals can be mapped to genes associated with those responses, which may in turn suggest adverse outcome pathways associated with those genes. To determine the utility of this approach, we used the Drosophila Genetics Reference Panel (DGRP), a collection of ∼200 homozygous lines of fruit flies whose genomes have been sequenced. We quantified toluene-induced suppression of motor activity in 123 lines of these flies during exposure to toluene, a volatile organic compound known to induce narcosis in mammals via its effects on neuronal ion channels. We then applied genome-wide association analyses on this effect of toluene using the DGRP web portal (http://dgrp2.gnets.ncsu.edu), which identified polymorphisms in candidate genes associated with the variation in response to toluene exposure. We tested ∼2 million variants and found 82 polymorphisms located in or near 66 candidate genes that were associated with phenotypic variation for sensitivity to toluene at P < 5 × 10-5, and human orthologs for 52 of these candidate Drosophila genes. None of these orthologs are known to be involved in canonical pathways for mammalian neuronal ion channels, including GABA, glutamate, dopamine, glycine, serotonin, and voltage sensitive calcium channels. Thus this analysis did not reveal a genetic signature consistent with processes previously shown to be involved in toluene-induced narcosis in mammals. The list of the human orthologs included Gene Ontology terms associated with signaling, nervous system development and embryonic morphogenesis; these orthologs may provide insight into potential new pathways that could mediate the narcotic effects of toluene.

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Serotonin transporter occupancy by escitalopram and citalopram in the non-human primate brain: a [(11)C]MADAM PET study.

A number of serotonin receptor positron emission tomography (PET) radioligands have been shown to be sensitive to changes in extracellular serotonin concentration, in a generalization of the well-known dopamine competition model. High doses of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) decrease serotonin receptor availability in monkey brain, consistent with increased serotonin concentrations. However, two recent studies on healthy human subjects, using a single, lower and clinically relevant SSRI dose, showed increased cortical serotonin receptor radioligand binding, suggesting potential decreases in serotonin concentration in projection regions when initiating treatment.

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Melatonin receptor and KATP channel modulation in experimental vascular dementia.

Cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases are stated as important risk factors of vascular dementia (VaD) and other cognitive disorders. In the central nervous system, melatonin (MT1/MT2) as well as serotonin subtype 2C (5-HT2C) receptors is pharmacologically associated with various neurological disorders. Brain mitochondrial potassium channels have been reported for their role in neuroprotection. This study has been structured to investigate the role of agomelatine, a melatonergic MT1/MT2 agonist and nicorandil, a selective ATP sensitive potassium (KATP) channel opener in renal artery ligation (two-kidney-one-clip: 2K1C) hypertension induced endothelial dysfunction, brain damage and VaD. 2K1C-renovascular hypertension has increased mean arterial blood pressure (MABP), impaired memory (elevated plus maze and Morris water maze), endothelial function, reduced serum nitrite/nitrate and increased brain damage (TTC staining of brain sections). Furthermore, 2K1C animals have shown high levels of oxidative stress in serum (increased thiobarbituric acid reactive species-TBARS with decreased levels of glutathione-GSH, superoxide dismutase-SOD and catalase-CAT), in the aorta (increased aortic superoxide anion) and in the brain (increased TBARS with decreased GSH, SOD and CAT). 2K1C has also induced a significant increase in brain inflammation (myeloperoxidase-MPO levels), acetylcholinesterase activity (AChE) and calcium levels. Impairment in mitochondrial complexes like NADH dehydrogenase (complex-I), succinate dehydrogenase (complex-II) and cytochrome oxidase (complex-IV) was also noted in 2K1C animals. Administration of agomelatine, nicorandil and donepezil significantly attenuated 2K1C-hypertension induced impairments in memory, endothelial function, nitrosative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation and brain damage. Therefore, modulators of MT1/MT2 receptors and KATP channels may be considered as potential agents for the management of renovascular hypertension induced VaD.

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Antidepressant effects on serotonin 1A/1B receptors in the rat brain using a gene x environment model.

A gene-environment (GxE) interaction is implicated in both the pathophysiology and treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). This study modeled the effects of genetic vulnerability by using the Flinders sensitive line (FSL), a rat model of depression and its control counterpart-the Flinders resistant line (FRL). The effects of environmental vulnerability (e.g., early-life stress) were modeled by using maternal separation. Rats (n=105) were drawn from four groups reflecting experimental crossing of strain (FSL vs. FRL) and early-life stress (high vs. low) to assess the effects of two antidepressants (escitalopram or nortriptyline) compared to vehicle. Quantitative in vitro autoradiography was performed using [(125)I]MPPI (5-HT1A) and [(125)I]CYP (5-HT1B) in prefrontal cortex (PFC) and hippocampus. Stringent, Bonferroni-corrected statistical analyses showed significant strain-by-rearing-by-treatment (three-way) interactions in PFC 5-HT1A and hippocampal 5-HT1B receptors. Either vulnerability reduced serotonergic binding; no additive effects were associated with the two vulnerabilities. Both antidepressants increased hippocampal 5-HT1B receptor binding; however, only nortriptyline selectively increased PFC 5-HT1A receptor binding. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that antidepressant effects on the serotonergic system are shaped by a GxE interaction that depends on antidepressant class and brain region.

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A novel translational assay of response inhibition and impulsivity: effects of prefrontal cortex lesions, drugs used in ADHD, and serotonin 2C receptor antagonism.

Animal models are making an increasing contribution to our understanding of the psychology and brain mechanisms underlying behavioral inhibition and impulsivity. The aim here was to develop, for the first time, a mouse analog of the stop-signal reaction time task with high translational validity in order to be able to exploit this species in genetic and molecular investigations of impulsive behaviors. Cohorts of mice were trained to nose-poke to presentations of visual stimuli. Control of responding was manipulated by altering the onset of an auditory 'stop-signal' during the go response. The anticipated systematic changes in action cancellation were observed as stopping was made more difficult by placing the stop-signal closer to the execution of the action. Excitotoxic lesions of medial prefrontal cortex resulted in impaired stopping, while the clinically effective drugs methylphenidate and atomoxetine enhanced stopping abilities. The specific 5-HT2C receptor antagonist SB242084 also led to enhanced response control in this task. We conclude that stop-signal reaction time task performance can be successfully modeled in mice and is sensitive to prefrontal cortex dysfunction and drug treatments in a qualitatively similar manner to humans and previous rat models. Additionally, using this model we show novel and highly discrete effects of 5-HT2C receptor antagonism that suggest manipulation of 5-HT2C receptor function may be of use in correcting maladaptive impulsive behaviors and provide further evidence for dissociable contributions of serotonergic transmission to response control.

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Double and triple in situ hybridization for coexpression studies: combined fluorescent and chromogenic detection of neuropeptide Y (NPY) and serotonin receptor subtype mRNAs expressed at different abundance levels.

Multiple fluorescence in situ hybridization is the method of choice for studies aimed at determining simultaneous production of signal transduction molecules and neuromodulators in neurons. In our analyses of the monoamine receptor mRNA expression of peptidergic neurons in the rat telencephalon, double tyramide-signal-amplified fluorescence in situ hybridization delivered satisfactory results for coexpression analysis of neuropeptide Y (NPY) and serotonin receptor 2C (5-HT2C) mRNA, a receptor subtype expressed at high-to-moderate abundance in the regions analyzed. However, expression of 5-HT1A mRNA, which is expressed at comparatively low abundance in many telencephalic areas, could not be unequivocally identified in NPY mRNA-reactive neurons due to high background and poor signal-to-noise ratio in fluorescent receptor mRNA detections. Parallel chromogenic in situ hybridization provided clear labeling for 5-HT1A mRNA and additionally offered the possibility to monitor the chromogen deposition at regular time intervals to determine the optimal signal-to-noise ratio. We first developed a double labeling protocol combining fluorescence and chromogenic in situ hybridization and subsequently expanded this variation to combine double fluorescence and chromogenic in situ hybridization for triple labelings. With this method, we documented expression of 5-HT2C and/or 5-HT1A in subpopulations of telencephalic NPY-producing neurons. The method developed in the present study appears suitable for conventional light and fluorescence microscopy, combines advantages of fluorescence and chromogenic in situ hybridization protocols and thus provides a reliable non-radioactive alternative to previously published multiple labeling methods for coexpression analyses in which one mRNA species requires highly sensitive detection.

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Mountain cedar pollen induces IgE-independent mast cell degranulation, IL-4 production, and intracellular reactive oxygen species generation.

Cedar pollens cause severe allergic disease throughout the world. We have previously characterized allergenic pollen glycoproteins from mountain cedar (Juniperus ashei) that bind to allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE). In the present report, we investigated an alternative pathway of mast cell activation by mountain cedar pollen extract through IgE-independent mechanisms. We show that mountain cedar pollen directly induces mast cell serotonin and IL-4 release and enhances release induced by IgE cross-linking. Concomitant with mediator release, high levels of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) were generated, and both ROS and serotonin release were inhibited by anti-oxidants. These findings suggest that alternative mechanisms exist whereby pollen exposure enhances allergic inflammatory mediator release through mechanisms that involve ROS. These mechanisms have the potential for enhancing the allergenic potency of pollens.

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Differential stress-induced alterations in tryptophan hydroxylase activity and serotonin turnover in two inbred mouse strains.

Chronic stress and alterations in the serotonergic system are key predisposing factors to the development of major depression. Tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) is the key enzyme in the biosynthesis of serotonin (5-HT). The effects of chronic stress on TPH activity remain uncertain. The BALB/c strain is stress-sensitive, highly anxious and possess a single nucleotide polymorphism in their tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) 2 gene (tph2), resulting in reduced levels of central serotonin compared to C57BL/6J mice, which harbour the wild-type allele. We examined the effects of repeated restraint stress on the serotonergic system and TPH activity in these two inbred strains. TPH activity was assessed by accumulation of 5-hydroxytryptophan, a rapidly decarboxylated intermediate metabolite of tryptophan and precursor of 5-HT, using an enzyme inhibition strategy. Furthermore, the concentrations of 5-HT and its major metabolite 5-hydroxy indole acetic acid were assessed. Interestingly, 5-HT turnover was significantly increased in the majority of the brain regions assessed following acute stress in C57BL/6J. In contrast, BALB/c mice exhibit significant increases in 5-HT turnover in the striatum and hippocampus only following repeated stress. On the other hand, TPH activity was significantly decreased in the brainstem and cortical regions of C57BL/6J mice following both acute and chronic stress. Conversely, no significant stress-induced change in BALB/c TPH activity was observed. Together these data highlight the differential serotonergic response of BALB/c and C57BL/6J mice to acute and chronic restraint stress and may offer insight into the observed differences in their stress-related phenotypes.

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Effects of chronic fluoxetine treatment on catalepsy and the immune response in mice with a genetic predisposition to freezing reactions: the roles of types 1A and 2A serotonin receptors and the tph2 and SERT genes.

ASC (Antidepressant-Sensitive Catalepsy) mice, bred for a high predisposition to catalepsy, are characterized by depression-like behavior and decreased immune responses. Chronic administration of fluoxetine, which is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant widely used in clinical practice, to mice of this strain weakened catalepsy and normalized the number of rosette-forming cells in the spleen. In mice of the parental cataleptic strain CBA/Lac, fluoxetine had no effect on the level of catalepsy or the immune response. Analysis of the effects of fluoxetine on the functional activity of 5-HT(1A) and 5-HT(2A) receptors, and the expression of 5-HT(1A) receptor genes in the frontal cortex and midbrain and 5-HT(2A) receptors in the frontal cortex, as well as the tryptophan hydroxylase-2 and the serotonin transporter genes in the midbrain showed that the antidepressant had no effect on these parameters in ASC mice, but decreased the functional activity of 5-HT(2A) receptors in CBA/Lac mice. The possibility that the actions of fluoxetine on catalepsy and the immune response in mice with depression-like states are mediated via other serotoninergic mechanisms is discussed.

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[Effects of chronic fluoxetine treatment on catalepsy and immune response in mice genetically predisposed to freezing reaction: the role of 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A receptors and tph2 and SERT genes].

ASC/Icg (Antidepressant Sensitive Catalepsy) mouse strain selected for high predisposition to pinch-induced catalepsy is characterized by depressive-like behavior and impaired immune response. Chronic treatment with SSRI fluoxetine attenuated catalepsy manifestation and normalized a decreased number of rosette-forming cells (RFC) in spleen in ASC mice. Chronic fluoxetine administration had no effect on catalepsy and RFC number in mice of parental cataleptic CBA/Lac strain. Fluoxetine failed to alter 5-HT1A receptor functional activity in mice of both strains and diminished 5-HT2A receptor functional activity in CBA but not in ASC mice. No effect on cortical 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A receptor mRNA levels and on 5-HT1A receptor, tph2 (tryptophan hydroxylase-2) and SERT (serotonin transporter) mesencephalic gene expression was observed in ASC mice. Other possible serotonergic mechanisms of fluoxetine effect on catalepsy and immune response in mice with depressive-like state are discussed.

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