Serotonin depletion exacerbates changes in striatal gene expression following quinolinic acid injection.
Controversy exists as to whether serotonin (5-HT) plays a neuroprotective role during brain injury. We sought to determine if prior 5-HT depletion alters gene expression patterns normally associated with NMDA receptor-mediated excitotoxicity of the rodent striatum. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were treated systemically with saline or p-chlorophenylalanine (pCPA, 350 mg/kg) to block 5-HT synthesis. After 3 days, these rats received unilateral injection (1 microliter) of quinolinic acid (QA, 40 micrograms in 0.1 M phosphate buffered saline, pH 7.4) or saline vehicle directly into the anterior striatum. All rats were sacrificed 6 or 48 h later. Striatal tissues containing the saline or QA injection site were subjected to Northern analysis of preprotachykinin (PPT), preproenkephalin (PPE), and zif/268 mRNAs, as well as HPLC-EC detection of monoamines. At the time of the intrastriatal injection, 5-HT levels were depleted greater than 95% by pCPA as compared to saline controls. At 48 h post-QA injection, PPT and PPE mRNAs were markedly reduced within the striatal lesion site of saline/QA and pCPA/QA groups with respect to their contralateral uninjected control sides. In the pCPA/QA group, striatal PPE and PPT mRNA levels were further reduced as compared to the saline/QA group with PPE mRNA reductions reaching statistical significance at 95% (ANOVA with Scheffe F-test). Exacerbation of the excitotoxic lesion in the 5-HT depleted rat was further exemplified by a larger increase in zif/268 mRNA measured at 6 h post-intrastriatal injection in the pCPA/QA group as compared to saline/QA animals (P < 0.05 by ANOVA with Scheffe F-test). These results suggest that 5-HT depletion may adversely affect neuronal survival following intrastriatal QA exposure and lend support to the hypothesis that increasing 5-HT levels during NMDA receptor-mediated excitotoxicity may spare neurons destined to degenerate.
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