• Attenuated Activity across Multiple Cell Types and Reduced Monosynaptic Connectivity in the Aged Perirhinal Cortex

      Maurer, Andrew P.; Burke, Sara N.; Diba, Kamran; Barnes, Carol A.; Univ Arizona, Evelyn F McKnight Brain Inst; Univ Arizona, Div Neural Syst Memory & Aging; Univ Arizona, Dept Psychol; Univ Arizona, Dept Neurol; Univ Arizona, Dept Neurosci (SOC NEUROSCIENCE, 2017-09-13)
      The perirhinal cortex (PER), which is critical for associative memory and stimulus discrimination, has been described as a wall of inhibition between the neocortex and hippocampus. With advanced age, rats show deficits on PER-dependent behavioral tasks and fewer PER principal neurons are activated by stimuli, but the role of PER interneurons in these altered circuit properties in old age has not been characterized. In the present study, PER neurons were recorded while rats traversed a circular track bidirectionally in which the track was either empty or contained eight novel objects evenly spaced around the track. Putative interneurons were discriminated from principal cells based on the autocorrelogram, waveform parameters, and firing rate. While object modulation of interneuron firing was observed in both young and aged rats, PER interneurons recorded from old animals had lower firing rates compared with those from young animals. This difference could not be accounted for by differences in running speed, as the firing rates of PER interneurons did not show significant velocity modulation. Finally, in the aged rats, relative to young rats, there was a significant reduction in detected excitatory and inhibitory monosynaptic connections. Together these data suggest that with advanced age there may be reduced afferent drive from excitatory cells onto interneurons that may compromise the wall of inhibition between the hippocampus and cortex. This circuit dysfunction could erode the function of temporal lobe networks and ultimately contribute to cognitive aging.
    • Mediation of Movement-Induced Breakthrough Cancer Pain by IB4-Binding Nociceptors in Rats

      Havelin, Joshua; Imbert, Ian; Sukhtankar, Devki; Remeniuk, Bethany; Pelletier, Ian; Gentry, Jonathan; Okun, Alec; Tiutan, Timothy; Porreca, Frank; King, Tamara E.; et al. (SOC NEUROSCIENCE, 2017-05-17)
      Cancer-induced bone pain is characterized by moderate to severe ongoing pain that commonly requires the use of opiates. Even when ongoing pain is well controlled, patients can suffer breakthrough pain (BTP), episodic severe pain that "breaks through" the medication. We developed a novel model of cancer-induced BTP using female rats with mammary adenocarcinoma cells sealed within the tibia. We demonstrated previously that rats with bone cancer learn to prefer a context paired with saphenous nerve block to elicit pain relief (i.e., conditioned place preference, CPP), revealing the presence of ongoing pain. Treatment with systemic morphine abolished CPP to saphenous nerve block, demonstrating control of ongoing pain. Here, we show that pairing BTP induced by experimenter-induced movement of the tumor-bearing hindlimb with a context produces conditioned place avoidance (CPA) in rats treated with morphine to control ongoing pain, consistent with clinical observation of BTP. Preventing movement-induced afferent input by saphenous nerve block before, but not after, hindlimb movement blocked movement-induced BTP. Ablation of isolectin B4 (IB4)-binding, but not TRPV1(+), sensory afferents eliminated movement-induced BTP, suggesting that input from IB4-binding fibers mediates BTP. Identification of potential molecular targets specific to this population of fibers may allow for the development of peripherally restricted analgesics that control BTP and improve quality of life in patients with skeletal metastases.
    • The MNK–eIF4E Signaling Axis Contributes to Injury-Induced Nociceptive Plasticity and the Development of Chronic Pain

      Moy, Jamie K.; Khoutorsky, Arkady; Asiedu, Marina N.; Black, Bryan J.; Kuhn, Jasper L.; Barragán-Iglesias, Paulino; Megat, Salim; Burton, Michael D.; Burgos-Vega, Carolina C.; Melemedjian, Ohannes K.; et al. (SOC NEUROSCIENCE, 2017-08-02)
      Injury-induced sensitization of nociceptors contributes to pain states and the development of chronic pain. Inhibiting activity-dependent mRNA translation through mechanistic target of rapamycin and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways blocks the development of nociceptor sensitization. These pathways convergently signal to the eukaryotic translation initiation factor (eIF) 4F complex to regulate the sensitization of nociceptors, but the details of this process are ill defined. Here we investigated the hypothesis that phosphorylation of the 5' cap-binding protein eIF4E by its specific kinase MAPK interacting kinases (MNKs) 1/2 is a key factor in nociceptor sensitization and the development of chronic pain. Phosphorylation of ser209 on eIF4E regulates the translation of a subset of mRNAs. We show that pronociceptive and inflammatory factors, such as nerve growth factor (NGF), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and carrageenan, produce decreased mechanical and thermal hypersensitivity, decreased affective pain behaviors, and strongly reduced hyperalgesic priming in mice lacking eIF4E phosphorylation (eIF4E(S209A)). Tests were done in both sexes, and no sex differences were found. Moreover, in patch-clamp electrophysiology and Ca2+ imaging experiments on dorsal root ganglion neurons, NGF-and IL-6-induced increases in excitability were attenuated in neurons from eIF4ES209A mice. These effects were recapitulated in Mnk1/2(-/-) mice and with the MNK1/2 inhibitor cercosporamide. We also find that cold hypersensitivity induced by peripheral nerve injury is reduced in eIF4ES209A and Mnk1/2 (-/-) mice and following cercosporamide treatment. Our findings demonstrate that the MNK1/2-eIF4E signaling axis is an important contributing factor to mechanisms of nociceptor plasticity and the development of chronic pain.
    • Targeting a Potassium Channel/Syntaxin Interaction Ameliorates Cell Death in Ischemic Stroke

      Yeh, Chung-Yang; Bulas, Ashlyn M.; Moutal, Aubin; Saloman, Jami L.; Hartnett, Karen A.; Anderson, Charles T.; Tzounopoulos, Thanos; Sun, Dandan; Khanna, Rajesh; Aizenman, Elias; et al. (SOC NEUROSCIENCE, 2017-06-07)
      The voltage-gated K+ channel Kv2.1 has been intimately linked with neuronal apoptosis. After ischemic, oxidative, or inflammatory insults, Kv2.1 mediates a pronounced, delayed enhancement of K+ efflux, generating an optimal intracellular environment for caspase and nuclease activity, key components of programmed cell death. This apoptosis-enabling mechanism is initiated via Zn2+-dependent dual phosphorylation of Kv2.1, increasing the interaction between the channel's intracellular C-terminus domain and the SNARE(soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor activating protein receptor) protein syntaxin 1A. Subsequently, an upregulation of de novo channel insertion into the plasma membrane leads to the critical enhancement of K+ efflux in damaged neurons. Here, we investigated whether a strategy designed to interfere with the cell death-facilitating properties of Kv2.1, specifically its interaction with syntaxin 1A, could lead to neuroprotection following ischemic injury in vivo. The minimal syntaxin 1A-binding sequence of Kv2.1 C terminus (C1aB) was first identified via a far-Western peptide screen and used to create a protherapeutic product by conjugating C1aB to a cell-penetrating domain. The resulting peptide (TAT-C1aB) suppressed enhanced whole-cell K+ currents produced by a mutated form of Kv2.1 mimicking apoptosis in a mammalian expression system, and protected cortical neurons from slow excitotoxic injury in vitro, without influencing NMDA-induced intracellular calcium responses. Importantly, intraperitoneal administration of TAT-C1aB in mice following transient middle cerebral artery occlusion significantly reduced ischemic stroke damage and improved neurological outcome. These results provide strong evidence that targeting the proapoptotic function of Kv2.1 is an effective and highly promising neuroprotective strategy.