Role of ornithine decarboxylase and the polyamines in nervous system development: Short-term postnatal administration of α-difluoromethylornithine, an irreversible inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase.
The role of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and the polyamines in development of central and peripheral catecholaminergic neurons was examined through the use of α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), a specific irreversible inhibitor of ODC. Short-term postnatal administration of DFMO (500 mg/kg daily on days 1-6) to neonatal rats resulted in effective inhibition of ODC and depletion of both putrescine and spermidine in brain, heart and kidney; after cessation of DFMO administration, polyamine levels returned to normal by 10-13 days of age. There were no signs of generalized toxicity of short-term DFMO treatment, as body weight gains were largely unaffected over the course of study (through weaning). However, development of peripheral sympathetic neurons was severely retarded by DFMO, with persistent and profound deficits of both cardiac and renal norepinephrine; the catecholamine deficiencies were unrelated to effects on end-organ growth, as cardiac weights were essentially normal whereas kidney weights were adversely affected by DFMO. Development of the adrenal medulla, a peripheral catecholaminergic tissue which displays approximately the same developmental profile as do sympathetic neurons but which does not develop axonal projections, was not slowed by DFMO treatment; similarly, central noradrenergic and dopaminergic neurons, which undergo the majority of axonal outgrowth and synaptogenesis during the second to third postnatal week (just after the period in which polyamines returned to control levels), developed normally as assessed by measurements of transmitter levels, tyrosine hydroxylase activity and synaptosomal uptake of [(3)H]norepinephrine or [(3)H]dopamine. Extension of the period of DFMO treatment and consequent depletion of polyamines into the period in which central synaptogenesis occurs does, however, produce slowing of development of brain catecholamine neuronal projections. Thus, the ODC/polyamine system appears to play a critical postnatal role in catecholamine systems specifically undergoing active synaptogenesis.
Slotkin, TA; Whitmore, WL; Lerea, L; Slepetis, RJ; Weigel, SJ; Trepanier, PA; Seidler, FJ
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