University of Alberta

Year: 2013

FG7142, yohimbine, and βCCE produce anxiogenic-like effects in the elevated plus-maze but do not affect brainstem activated hippocampal theta

PMID: 23851259

Yeung M, Lu L, Hughes AM, Treit D, Dickson CT

Neuropharmacology 2013 Dec;75:47-52


The neurobiological underpinnings of anxiety are of paramount importance to selective and efficacious pharmaceutical intervention. Hippocampal theta frequency in urethane anaesthetized rats is suppressed by all known (and some previously unknown) anti-anxiety (anxiolytic) drugs. Although these findings support the predictive validity of this assay, its construct validity (i.e., whether theta frequency actually indexes anxiety per se) has not been a subject of systematic investigation. We reasoned that if anxiolytic drugs suppress hippocampal theta frequency, then drugs that increase anxiety (i.e., anxiogenic agents) should increase theta frequency, thus providing evidence of construct validity. We used three proven anxiogenic drugs–two benzodiazepine receptor inverse agonists, N-methyl-β-carboline-3-carboxamide (FG7142) and β-carboline-3-carboxylate ethyl ester (βCCE), and one α2 noradrenergic receptor antagonist, 17α-hydroxy-yohimban-16α-carboxylic acid methyl ester (yohimbine) as pharmacological probes to assess the construct validity of the theta model. Although all three anxiogenic drugs significantly increased behavioural measures of anxiety in the elevated plus-maze, none of the three increased the frequency of hippocampal theta oscillations in the neurophysiological model. As a positive control, we demonstrated that diazepam, a proven anxiolytic drug, decreased the frequency of hippocampal theta, as in all other studies using this model. Given this discrepancy between the significant effects of anxiogenic drugs in the behavioural model and the null effects of these drugs in the neurophysiological model, we conclude that the construct validity of the hippocampal theta model of anxiety is questionable.

Spontaneous and electrically modulated spatiotemporal dynamics of the neocortical slow oscillation and associated local fast activity

PMID: 23876244

Greenberg A, Dickson CT

Neuroimage 2013 Dec;83:782-94


The neocortical slow oscillation (SO; ~1Hz) of non-REM sleep and anesthesia reflects synchronized network activity composed of alternating active and silent (ON/OFF) phases at the local network and cellular level. The SO itself shows self-organized spatiotemporal dynamics as it appears to originate at unique foci on each cycle and then propagates across the cortical surface. During sleep, this rhythm is relevant for neuroplastic processes mediating memory consolidation especially since its enhancement by slow, rhythmic electrical fields improves subsequent recall. However, the neurobiological mechanism by which spontaneous or enhanced SO activity might operate on memory traces is unknown. Here we show a series of original results, using cycle to cycle tracking across multiple neocortical sites in urethane anesthetized rats: The spontaneous spatiotemporal dynamics of the SO are complex, showing interfering propagation patterns in the anterior-to-posterior plane. These patterns compete for expression and tend to alternate following phase resets that take place during the silent OFF phase of the SO. Applying sinusoidal electrical field stimulation to the anterior pole of the cerebral cortex progressively entrained local field, gamma, and multi-unit activity at all sites, while disrupting the coordination of endogenous SO activity. Field stimulation also biased propagation in the anterior-to-posterior direction and more notably, enhanced the long-range gamma synchrony between cortical regions. These results are the first to show that changes to slow wave dynamics cause enhancements in high frequency cortico-cortical communication and provide mechanistic clues into how the SO is relevant for sleep-dependent memory consolidation.

Breathing and brain state: urethane anesthesia as a model for natural sleep

PMID: 23751523

Pagliardini S, Funk GD, Dickson CT

Respir Physiol Neurobiol 2013 Sep;188(3):324-32


Respiratory control differs dramatically across sleep stages. Indeed, along with rapid eye movements (REM), respiration was one of the first physiological variables shown to be modulated across sleep stages. The study of sleep stages, their physiological correlates, and neurobiological underpinnings present a challenge because of the fragility and unpredictability of individual stages, not to mention sleep itself. Although anesthesia has often substituted as a model for a unitary stage of slow-wave (non-REM) sleep, it is only recently that urethane anesthesia has been proposed to model the full spectrum of sleep given the presence of spontaneous brain state alternations and concurrent physiological correlates that appear remarkably similar to natural sleep. We describe this model, its parallels with natural sleep, and its power for studying modulation of respiration. Specifically, we report data on the EEG characteristics across brain states under urethane anesthesia, the dependence of brain alternations on neurotransmitter systems, and the observations on state dependent modulation of respiration.

Intrahippocampal infusion of the Ih blocker ZD7288 slows evoked theta rhythm and produces anxiolytic-like effects in the elevated plus maze

PMID: 23280856

Yeung M, Dickson CT, Treit D

Hippocampus 2013 Apr;23(4):278-86


Hippocampal theta rhythm has been associated with a number of behavioral processes, including learning and memory, spatial behavior, sensorimotor integration and affective responses. Suppression of hippocampal theta frequency has been shown to be a reliable neurophysiological signature of anxiolytic drug action in tests using known anxiolytic drugs (i.e., correlational evidence), but only one study to date (Yeung et al. (2012) Neuropharmacology 62:155-160) has shown that a drug with no known effect on either hippocampal theta or anxiety can in fact separately suppress hippocampal theta and anxiety in behavioral tests (i.e., prima facie evidence). Here, we attempt a further critical test of the hippocampal theta model by performing intrahippocampal administrations of the Ih blocker ZD7288, which is known to disrupt theta frequency subthreshold oscillations and resonance at the membrane level but is not known to have anxiolytic action. Intrahippocampal microinfusions of ZD7288 at high (15 µg), but not low (1 µg) doses slowed brainstem-evoked hippocampal theta responses in the urethane anesthetized rat, and more importantly, promoted anxiolytic action in freely behaving rats in the elevated plus maze. Taken together with our previous demonstration, these data provide converging, prima facie evidence of the validity of the theta suppression model.

Spontaneous sleep-like brain state alternations and breathing characteristics in urethane anesthetized mice

PMID: 23936201

Pagliardini S, Gosgnach S, Dickson CT

PLoS ONE 2013;8(7):e70411


Brain state alternations resembling those of sleep spontaneously occur in rats under urethane anesthesia and they are closely linked with sleep-like respiratory changes. Although rats are a common model for both sleep and respiratory physiology, we sought to determine if similar brain state and respiratory changes occur in mice under urethane. We made local field potential recordings from the hippocampus and measured respiratory activity by means of EMG recordings in intercostal, genioglossus, and abdominal muscles. Similar to results in adult rats, urethane anesthetized mice displayed quasi-periodic spontaneous forebrain state alternations between deactivated patterns resembling slow wave sleep (SWS) and activated patterns resembling rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. These alternations were associated with an increase in breathing rate, respiratory variability, a depression of inspiratory related activity in genioglossus muscle and an increase in expiratory-related abdominal muscle activity when comparing deactivated (SWS-like) to activated (REM-like) states. These results demonstrate that urethane anesthesia consistently induces sleep-like brain state alternations and correlated changes in respiratory activity across different rodent species. They open up the powerful possibility of utilizing transgenic mouse technology for the advancement and translation of knowledge regarding sleep cycle alternations and their impact on respiration.

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