Ohio State Neuroscientists Use Neurolucida to Analyze Brain Cells in Sexually Active Hamsters

A Golgi stained human neocortical pyramidal neuron. Morris et al studied cells like this to determine the affect of sexual experience on the adult brain. Using Neurolucida, they saw shorter, less extensive dendrites in hamsters which mated during adolescence versus controls.

A Golgi-stained human neocortical pyramidal neuron. Morris et al. studied cells like this to determine the effect of sexual experience on the adult brain. Using Neurolucida, they saw shorter, less extensive dendrites in hamsters which mated during adolescence versus controls.

Scientists hypothesize that during puberty, experiences influence brain development in ways that shape brain structure and even behavior in adulthood. One type of experience that often arises in the minds of pubescent teens and adolescents is sex. But a study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior suggests engaging in sexual activity too soon could be detrimental to the adult brain, and may lead to depression.

In their study of Siberian hamsters, scientists at the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University say adolescent sexual experiences alter brain structure.

“We used Neurolucida to reconstruct the morphology of prefrontal cortical neurons in the brains of Siberian hamsters that were exposed to sexual experience during early adolescence, later in young adulthood, or left socially isolated,” said Dr. Zachary M. Weil, an author of the study. “Interestingly, hamsters that engaged in sexual experience during early adolescence but not during other developmental periods exhibited reduced branching and dendritic length in the prefrontal cortex.”

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Take a Look at the Latest Research Using MBF Systems (week of 4/29/13)

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Our systems were mentioned in 24 published research papers last week alone.  Take a closer look at some of the research…

Neurolucida:

  • Badura, A., Schonewille, M., Voges, K., Galliano, E., Renier, N., Gao, Z., … & De Zeeuw, C. I. (2013). Climbing Fiber Input Shapes Reciprocity of Purkinje Cell Firing. Neuron.
  • Bony, G., Szczurkowska, J., Tamagno, I., Shelly, M., Contestabile, A., & Cancedda, L. (2013). Non-hyperpolarizing GABAB receptor activation regulates neuronal migration and neurite growth and specification by cAMP/LKB1. Nature Communications4, 1800. doi:10.1038/ncomms2820
  • Booker, S. A., Gross, A., Althof, D., Shigemoto, R., Bettler, B., Frotscher, M., … & Vida, I. (2013). Differential GABAB-Receptor-Mediated Effects in Perisomatic-and Dendrite-Targeting Parvalbumin Interneurons. The Journal of Neuroscience33(18), 7961-7974.  doi: 10.1523/​JNEUROSCI.1186-12.2013
  • Corson, J. A., & Erisir, A. (2013). Monosynaptic convergence of chorda tympani and glossopharyngeal afferents onto ascending relay neurons in the nucleus of the solitary tract: A high‐resolution confocal and correlative electron microscopy approach. Journal of Comparative Neurology. doi: 10.1002/cne.23357
  • Djogo, N., Jakovcevski, I., Müller, C., Lee, H. J., Xu, J. C., Jakovcevski, M., … & Schachner, M. (2013). Adhesion molecule L1 binds to amyloid beta and reduces Alzheimer’s disease pathology in mice. Neurobiology of Disease. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2013.04.014                                                                        Continue reading “Take a Look at the Latest Research Using MBF Systems (week of 4/29/13)” »

It’s Not You, It’s Your Hormones. Scientists Study Estrogen’s Role in Stress.

Scientific research shows that women are twice as likely as men to develop stress disorders. Why are women more sensitive than men to stress? A recent research study presents new evidence that estrogen could play a role.

The symptoms of disorders like major depressive disorder and post traumatic stress disorder lead neuroscientists to speculate that a dysfunction occurs in the way the medial prefrontal cortex connects to the amygdala–regions of the brain associated with the regulation of memory and behavior. Following research published in 2009 determining resilience against changes in dendritic morphology in this region in male rats, scientists at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine turned their focus to female rats. They discovered unexpected changes in dendritic length and spine density to the neurons in this region when both estrogen and stress are present.

After removing the ovaries from all subjects and implanting half of the rats with estrogen, the researchers exposed them to ten days of either immobilization stress (two hours in a rodent immobilization bag) or home cage rest. They then sectioned the rats’ brains and examined the neurons in question.

“We used Neurolucida and Neurolucida Explorer to measure dendritic length and branch point number in a set of pyramidal neurons that had been filled with the fluorescent dye Lucifer Yellow,” said lead author Dr. Rebecca Shansky. “The software was very user-friendly, and we were easily able to customize the settings to get just the analyses we wanted,” Dr. Shansky added.

What they found was increased dendritic arborization and spine density in the females treated with estrogen, “indicating that estrogen and stress can interact at the level of this circuit to produce a unique response to stress in females,” according to the paper “Estrogen Promotes Stress Sensitivity in a Prefrontal Cortex–Amygdala Pathway,” published earlier this year in Cerebral Cortex.

Read the free abstract, or download the full paper at Cerebral Cortex.

Rebecca M. Shansky, Carine Hamo, Patrick R. Hof, Wendy Lou, Bruce S. McEwen, and John H. Morrison, “Estrogen Promotes Stress Sensitivity in a Prefrontal Cortex–Amygdala Pathway” (Cereb Cortex 2010; 20: 2560-2567)

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Brain Inflammation May Cause Autoimmune Disease Stress

When your mouth is dry, your joints are stiff, or your heart is inflamed because your immune system is attacking your own body, chances are you’re suffering from a little stress. A recent study shows that there may be physiological reasons why patients with autoimmune diseases experience increased levels of anxiety.

Scientists at the City University of New York Medical School, Columbia University, and the University of Messina suggest it may be brain inflammation that leads to elevated stress in patients with autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s syndrome.

After modeling these diseases in a population of mice by introducing cytokine B-cell activating factor (BAFF), the research group examined their emotional behavior. They also checked for brain inflammation, stress-induced c-Fos protein, and the proliferation of progenitor cells in the hippocampus, using Neurolucida Explorer.

They found that the older mice produced anxiety-like characteristics associated with brain inflammation. These anxious mice responded to mild stress-inducing stimuli by displaying abnormal activity within the limbic system — the region of the brain that controls basic emotions.

During the course of the study, Neurolucida Explorer was used to calculate dendritic length. “I was very pleased with Neurolucida Explorer,” said Dr. Fortunato Battaglia. “I find the software very friendly and the quantitative data were crucial for our work. I am looking forward to using it again in future experiments.”

Read the free abstract or download the complete paper “Reduced Adult Neurogenesis and Altered Emotional Behaviors in Autoimmune-Prone B-Cell Activating Factor Transgenic Mice” at Biological Psychiatry.

Rosalia Crupi, Marco Cambiaghi, Linda Spatz, Rene Hen, Mitchell Thorn, Eitan Friedman, Giuseppe Vita, Fortunato Battaglia, “Reduced Adult Neurogenesis and Altered Emotional Behaviors in Autoimmune-Prone B-Cell Activating Factor Transgenic Mice” (Biological Psychiatry (2010) 67 6, 558-566)

{Illustration of a human brain and skull licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license}