Neonatal polyamine depletion by alpha-difluoromethylornithine: effects on adenylyl cyclase cell signaling are separable from effects on brain region growth.


Journal Article

Ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and the polyamines play an essential role in brain cell replication and differentiation. We administered alpha-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), an irreversible inhibitor of ODC, to neonatal rats on postnatal days 5-12, during the mitotic peak of the cerebellum, a treatment regimen that leads to selective growth inhibition and dysmorphology. In adulthood, cell signaling responses mediated through the adenylyl cyclase pathway were evaluated in order to determine if synaptic dysfunction extends to regions that appear to be otherwise unaffected by DFMO. Total adenylyl cyclase catalytic activity, evaluated with the direct enzymatic stimulant, Mn(2+), was significantly elevated in male rats both in the cerebellum and in brain regions showing no growth retardation (cerebral cortex, brainstem); there were no significant effects in females. In contrast, signaling mediated through the G proteins that couple neurotransmitter receptors to adenylyl cyclase showed a deficit in the DFMO group, as evaluated with the response to fluoride; in males, there was no corresponding increase in activity as would have been expected solely from the enhancement of adenylyl cyclase, and in females, there was actually a significant decrease in the response to fluoride. Again, the deficits were not restricted to the cerebellum. Stimulation of adenylyl cyclase by isoproterenol, a beta-adrenergic receptor agonist that acts through G(s), likewise displayed deficits in both males and females, and without distinction by brain region. These results indicate that the ODC/polyamine pathway plays a role in the development of cell signaling, and hence in neurotransmission, above and beyond its role in cell replication and differentiation. Given the fact that numerous drugs and environmental contaminants have been shown to alter ODC and the polyamines in the developing brain, our findings suggest that changes in brain region growth or structure are inadequate to predict the targeting of specific neurotransmitter or signaling pathways, and that gender-selective functional defects may be present despite the absence of morphological differences.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Slotkin, TA; Ferguson, SA; Cada, AM; McCook, EC; Seidler, FJ

Published Date

  • December 22, 2000

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 887 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 16 - 22

PubMed ID

  • 11134585

Pubmed Central ID

  • 11134585

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0006-8993

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/s0006-8993(00)02961-9


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands