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Targeting glia with N-Acetylcysteine modulates brain glutamate and behaviors relevant to neurodevelopmental disorders in C57BL/6J mice


Durieux, Alice M S; Fernandes, Cathy; Murphy, Declan; Labouesse, Marie Anais; Giovanoli, Sandra; Meyer, Urs; Li, Qi; So, Po-Wah; McAlonan, Grainne (2015). Targeting glia with N-Acetylcysteine modulates brain glutamate and behaviors relevant to neurodevelopmental disorders in C57BL/6J mice. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 9(343):online.

Abstract

An imbalance between excitatory (E) glutamate and inhibitory (I) GABA transmission may underlie neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia. This may be direct, through alterations in synaptic genes, but there is increasing evidence for the importance of indirect modulation of E/I balance through glial mechanisms. Here, we used C57BL/6J mice to test the hypothesis that striatal glutamate levels can be shifted by N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which acts at the cystine-glutamate antiporter of glial cells. Striatal glutamate was quantified in vivo using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The effect of NAC on behaviors relevant to ASD was examined in a separate cohort. NAC induced a time-dependent decrease in striatal glutamate, which recapitulated findings of lower striatal glutamate reported in ASD. NAC-treated animals were significantly less active and more anxious in the open field test; and NAC-treated females had significantly impaired prepulse inhibition of startle response. This at least partly mimics greater anxiety and impaired sensorimotor gating reported in neurodevelopmental disorders. Thus glial mechanisms regulate glutamate acutely and have functional consequences even in adulthood. Glial cells may be a potential drug target for the development of new therapies for neurodevelopmental disorders across the life-span.

Abstract

An imbalance between excitatory (E) glutamate and inhibitory (I) GABA transmission may underlie neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia. This may be direct, through alterations in synaptic genes, but there is increasing evidence for the importance of indirect modulation of E/I balance through glial mechanisms. Here, we used C57BL/6J mice to test the hypothesis that striatal glutamate levels can be shifted by N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which acts at the cystine-glutamate antiporter of glial cells. Striatal glutamate was quantified in vivo using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The effect of NAC on behaviors relevant to ASD was examined in a separate cohort. NAC induced a time-dependent decrease in striatal glutamate, which recapitulated findings of lower striatal glutamate reported in ASD. NAC-treated animals were significantly less active and more anxious in the open field test; and NAC-treated females had significantly impaired prepulse inhibition of startle response. This at least partly mimics greater anxiety and impaired sensorimotor gating reported in neurodevelopmental disorders. Thus glial mechanisms regulate glutamate acutely and have functional consequences even in adulthood. Glial cells may be a potential drug target for the development of new therapies for neurodevelopmental disorders across the life-span.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Institute of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Language:English
Date:15 December 2015
Deposited On:03 Feb 2016 11:48
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:59
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1662-5153
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00343
PubMed ID:26696857

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