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Neonatal dopamine lesions: Cognitive impairment or hyper-sensitivity to stress

Sherren N, Pappas BA (2002) Neonatal dopamine lesions: Cognitive impairment or hyper-sensitivity to stress. Neuroscience 2002 Abstracts 782.19. Society for Neuroscience, Orlando, FL.

Summary: Neonatal rat pups given a selective cholinergic immunotoxin exhibit large reductions in cortical (30-70%) and hippocampal (75%) choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity which persist into adulthood. However these rats do not show spatial learning deficits in the Morris water maze despite the sensitivity of this task to muscarinic receptor blockade and hippocampal damage. We hypothesized that while the developing brain may be able to compensate for early loss of ACh transmission, it may also become more vulnerable to additional disruptions in other systems. We combined postnatal day 7 i.c.v. administration of 192 IgG-saporin with 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) to lesion either or both ACh and DA terminals respectively. 6-OHDA treatment produced a 90% loss in striatal and a 75% loss in frontocortical DA levels. No differences in exploratory behaviour were found between ACh, DA and ACh/DA lesioned rats. However upon placement in the Morris water maze, DA depleted rats displayed behaviour suggestive of panic and were unable to search for the hidden platform effectively. In order to determine whether the DA depletion was producing a spatial learning deficit or an exaggerated reaction to a stressor (the hidden platform task), a separate cohort of lesioned rats was tested in the cued platform version of the maze. Just prior to testing, the rats received 4 days of shaping in order to gradually habituate them to the pool and teach them the task. Platform location improved in half of the DA and ACh/DA rats, but never approached control or ACh only levels. Thus rats with neonatal DA lesions may be particularly sensitive to stressful tasks. This sensitivity may be partly dependent on lesion extent.

Related Products: 192-IgG-SAP (Cat. #IT-01)

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