Neonatal 6-hydroxydopamine lesions of the frontal cortex in rats: persisting effects on locomotor activity, learning and nicotine self-administration.
Dopaminergic innervation of the frontal cortex in adults is important for a variety of cognitive functions and behavioral control. However, the role of frontal cortical dopaminergic innervation for neurobehavioral development has received little attention. In the current study, rats were given dopaminergic lesions in the frontal cortex with local micro-infusions of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) at 1 week of age. The long-term behavioral effects of neonatal frontal cortical 6-OHDA lesions were assessed in a series of tests of locomotor activity, spatial learning and memory, and i.v. nicotine self-administration. In addition, neurochemical indices were assessed with tissue homogenization and HPLC in the frontal cortex, striatum, and nucleus accumbens of neonatal and adult rats after neonatal 6-OHDA lesions. In neonatal rats, frontal 6-OHDA lesions as intended caused a significant reduction in frontal cortical dopamine without effects on frontal cortical 5-HT and norepinephrine. The frontal cortical dopamine depletion increased 5-HT and norepinephrine levels in the nucleus accumbens. Locomotor activity assessment during adulthood in the figure-8 maze showed that lesioned male rats were hyperactive relative to sham-lesioned males. Locomotor activity of female rats was not significantly affected by the neonatal frontal 6-OHDA lesion. Learning and memory in the radial-arm maze was also affected by neonatal frontal 6-OHDA lesions. There was a general trend toward impaired performance in early maze acquisition and a paradoxical improvement at the end of cognitive testing. Nicotine self-administration showed significant lesion x sex interactions. The sex difference in nicotine self-administration with females self-administering significantly more nicotine than males was reversed by neonatal 6-OHDA frontal cortical lesions. Neurochemical studies in adult rats showed that frontal cortical dopamine and DOPAC levels significantly correlated with nicotine self-administration in the 6-OHDA-lesioned animals but not in the controls. Frontal cortical 5-HT and 5HIAA showed inverse correlations with nicotine self-administration in the 6-OHDA-lesioned animals but not in the controls. These results show that interfering with normal dopamine innervation of the frontal cortex during early postnatal development has persisting behavioral effects, which are sex-specific.
Rezvani, AH; Eddins, D; Slade, S; Hampton, DS; Christopher, NC; Petro, A; Horton, K; Johnson, M; Levin, ED
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