SFN Poster of the Year 2007

Awarded by ATS at Society for Neuroscience (SFN) San Diego, CA • November 3-7, 2007

Be sure to check out the cover article contributed by Dr. Pang in
our Targeting Trends newsletter (First Quarter, 2008).

932.22/WW17 Understanding the role of non-cholinergic medial septal neurons in learning and memory: Implications for disease- and aging-related impairments
*K Pang, SP Sinha, X Jiao, RJ Servatius
featuring IT-32 Anti-GAT-SAP (Poster)

The medial septum-diagonal band of Broca (MS) has an important function in learning and memory. Furthermore, degeneration of the MS may contribute to cognitive impairments associated with Alzheimer’s disease and normal aging. Because the MS contains several types of neurons, the neuronal population(s) involved in learning and memory has been actively investigated. Animal studies have mainly focused on the cholinergic neurons that project to the hippocampus. Although complete lesions of the MS or fimbria-fornix transaction leads to spatial memory impairments, selective damage of cholinergic MS neurons produces no or a mild impairment in spatial memory, suggesting an important role of non-cholinergic neurons. Most of these non-cholinergic neurons are GABAergic. Previously, we used low concentrations of kainic acid to examine the importance of non-cholinergic MS neurons in spatial memory. However, a more selective toxin for GABAergic neurons would facilitate research, as it has done for the cholinergic system. In the present study, we use a new GABAergic immunotoxin that combines an antibody to the GABA transporter GAT1 with saporin. GAT1-saporin was administered into the medial septum of male Sprague Dawley rats. Our preliminary results show that GABAergic septohippocampal neurons as assessed by parvalbumin-immunoreactivity were virtually eliminated, while cholinergic neurons were spared in the medial septum. Current work is focused on further characterizing the cell populations affected by GAT1-saporin. Preliminary behavioral results demonstrate that GABA MS lesions did not impair spatial reference memory in the initial acquisition of a water maze task. However, a deficit was observed in reversal learning. Further testing in a procedure where the escape platform moves to a new location every day showed that rats treated with GAT1-saporin were mildly impaired in within-session learning of the new platform location. These preliminary results demonstrate that intraseptal GAT1-saporin is effective in eliminating at least some populations of GABAergic neurons in the MS. Furthermore, the preliminary behavioral results are consistent with our previous results demonstrating that damage of non-cholinergic MS neurons produces a very specific impairment on reversal learning. In summary, GAT1-saporin may be a useful tool to examine the function of GABA MS neurons in learning and memory and their contribution to cognitive impairments in disease and aging.