Optogenetic Strategies to Investigate Neural Circuitry Engaged by Stress.

Optogenetic strategies to investigate neural circuitry engaged by stress.

Behav Brain Res. 2013 May 15;
Sparta DR, Jennings JH, Ung RL, Stuber GD

Optogenetic techniques have given researchers unprecedented access to the function of discrete neural circuit elements and have been instrumental in the identification of novel brain pathways that become dysregulated in neuropsychiatric diseases. For example, stress is integrally linked to the manifestation and pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric illness, including anxiety, addiction and depression. Due to the heterogeneous populations of genetically and neurochemically distinct neurons in areas such as the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), as well as their substantial number of projections, our understanding of how neural circuits become disturbed after stress has been limited. Using optogenetic tools, we are now able to selectively isolate distinct neural circuits that contribute to these disorders and perturb these circuits in vivo, which in turn may lead to the normalization of maladaptive behavior. This review will focus on current optogenetic strategies to identify, manipulate, and record from discrete neural circuit elements in vivo as well as highlight recent optogenetic studies that have been utilized to parcel out BNST function. HubMed – addiction


Long-duration transcutaneous electric acupoint stimulation alters small-world brain functional networks.

Magn Reson Imaging. 2013 May 15;
Zhang Y, Jiang Y, Glielmi CB, Li L, Hu X, Wang X, Han J, Zhang J, Cui C, Fang J

Acupuncture, which is recognized as an alternative and complementary treatment in Western medicine, has long shown efficiencies in chronic pain relief, drug addiction treatment, stroke rehabilitation and other clinical practices. The neural mechanism underlying acupuncture, however, is still unclear. Many studies have focused on the sustained effects of acupuncture on healthy subjects, yet there are very few on the topological organization of functional networks in the whole brain in response to long-duration acupuncture (longer than 20 min). This paper presents a novel study on the effects of long-duration transcutaneous electric acupoint stimulation (TEAS) on the small-world properties of brain functional networks. Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to construct brain functional networks of 18 healthy subjects (9 males and 9 females) during the resting state. All subjects received both TEAS and minimal TEAS (MTEAS) and were scanned before and after each stimulation. An altered functional network was found with lower local efficiency and no significant change in global efficiency for healthy subjects after TEAS, while no significant difference was observed after MTEAS. The experiments also showed that the nodal efficiencies in several paralimbic/limbic regions were altered by TEAS, and those in middle frontal gyrus and other regions by MTEAS. To remove the psychological effects and the baseline, we compared the difference between diffTEAS (difference between after and before TEAS) and diffMTEAS (difference between after and before MTEAS). The results showed that the local efficiency was decreased and that the nodal efficiencies in frontal gyrus, orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate gyrus and hippocampus gyrus were changed. Based on those observations, we conclude that long-duration TEAS may modulate the short-range connections of brain functional networks and also the limbic system. HubMed – addiction


S-adenosylmethionine modifies cocaine-induced DNA methylation and increases locomotor sensitization in mice.

Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2013 May 20; 1-14
Anier K, Zharkovsky A, Kalda A

Several studies suggest that individual variability is a critical component underlying drug addiction as not all members of a population who use addictive substance become addicted. There is evidence that the overall epigenetic status of a cell (epigenome) can be modulated by a variety of environmental factors, such as nutrients and chemicals. Based on these data, our aim was to investigate whether environmental factors like S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) via affecting epigenome could alter cocaine-induced gene expression and locomotor sensitization in mice. Our results demonstrate that repeated SAM (10 mm/kg) pretreatment significantly potentiated cocaine-induced locomotor sensitization. Using mouse nucleus accumbens (NAc) tissue, whole-genome gene expression profiling revealed that repeated SAM treatment affected a limited number of genes, but significantly modified cocaine-induced gene expression by blunting non-specifically the cocaine response. At the gene level, we discovered that SAM modulated cocaine-induced DNA methylation by inhibiting both promoter-associated CpG-island hyper- and hypomethylation in the NAc but not in the reference tissue cerebellum. Finally, our in vitro and in vivo data show that the modulating effect of SAM is in part due to decreased methyltransferase activity via down-regulation of Dnmt3a mRNA. Taken together, our results suggest that environmental factors that affect the NAc-cell epigenome may alter the development of psychostimulant-induced addiction and this may explain, at least partly, why some individuals are more vulnerable to drug addiction. HubMed – addiction