Anatomy and Neuroscience - Research Publications

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    Toluene inhalation in adolescent rats reduces flexible behaviour in adulthood and alters glutamatergic and GABAergic signalling
    Furlong, TM ; Duncan, JR ; Corbit, LH ; Rae, CD ; Rowlands, BD ; Maher, AD ; Nasrallah, FA ; Milligan, CJ ; Petrou, S ; Lawrence, AJ ; Balleine, BW (WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2016-12-01)
    Toluene is a commonly abused inhalant that is easily accessible to adolescents. Despite the increasing incidence of use, our understanding of its long-term impact remains limited. Here, we used a range of techniques to examine the acute and chronic effects of toluene exposure on glutameteric and GABAergic function, and on indices of psychological function in adult rats after adolescent exposure. Metabolomics conducted on cortical tissue established that acute exposure to toluene produces alterations in cellular metabolism indicative of a glutamatergic and GABAergic profile. Similarly, in vitro electrophysiology in Xenopus oocytes found that acute toluene exposure reduced NMDA receptor signalling. Finally, in an adolescent rodent model of chronic intermittent exposure to toluene (10 000 ppm), we found that, while toluene exposure did not affect initial learning, it induced a deficit in updating that learning when response-outcome relationships were reversed or degraded in an instrumental conditioning paradigm. There were also group differences when more effort was required to obtain the reward; toluene-exposed animals were less sensitive to progressive ratio schedules and to delayed discounting. These behavioural deficits were accompanied by changes in subunit expression of both NMDA and GABA receptors in adulthood, up to 10 weeks after the final exposure to toluene in the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and ventromedial striatum; regions with recognized roles in behavioural flexibility and decision-making. Collectively, our data suggest that exposure to toluene is sufficient to induce adaptive changes in glutamatergic and GABAergic systems and in adaptive behaviour that may underlie the deficits observed following adolescent inhalant abuse, including susceptibility to further drug-use.
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    Current perspectives on the neurobiology of drug addiction: a focus on genetics and factors regulating gene expression.
    Duncan, JR (Hindawi Limited, 2012)
    Drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder defined by cyclic patterns of compulsive drug seeking and taking interspersed with episodes of abstinence. While genetic variability may increase the risk of addictive behaviours in an individual, exposure to a drug results in neuroadaptations in interconnected brain circuits which, in susceptible individuals, are believed to underlie the transition to, and maintenance of, an addicted state. These adaptations can occur at the cellular, molecular, or (epi)genetic level and are associated with synaptic plasticity and altered gene expression, the latter being mediated via both factors affecting translation (epigenetics) and transcription (non coding microRNAs) of the DNA or RNA itself. New advances using techniques such as optogenetics have the potential to increase our understanding of the microcircuitry mediating addictive behaviours. However, the processes leading to addiction are complex and multifactorial and thus we face a major contemporary challenge to elucidate the factors implicated in the development and maintenance of an addicted state.
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    Abnormalities in substance P neurokinin-1 receptor binding in key brainstem nuclei in sudden infant death syndrome related to prematurity and sex
    Bright, FM ; Vink, R ; Byard, RW ; Duncan, JR ; Krous, HF ; Paterson, DS ; Song, C (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2017-09-20)
    Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) involves failure of arousal to potentially life threatening events, including hypoxia, during sleep. While neuronal dysfunction and abnormalities in neurotransmitter systems within the medulla oblongata have been implicated, the specific pathways associated with autonomic and cardiorespiratory failure are unknown. The neuropeptide substance P (SP) and its tachykinin neurokinin-1 receptor (NK1R) have been shown to play an integral role in the modulation of homeostatic function in the medulla, including regulation of respiratory rhythm generation, integration of cardiovascular control, and modulation of the baroreceptor reflex and mediation of the chemoreceptor reflex in response to hypoxia. Abnormalities in SP neurotransmission may therefore result in autonomic dysfunction during sleep and contribute to SIDS deaths. [125I] Bolton Hunter SP autoradiography was used to map the distribution and density of the SP, NK1R to 13 specific nuclei intimately related to cardiorespiratory function and autonomic control in the human infant medulla of 55 SIDS and 21 control (non-SIDS) infants. Compared to controls, SIDS cases exhibited a differential, abnormal developmental profile of the SP/NK1R system in the medulla. Furthermore the study revealed significantly decreased NK1R binding within key medullary nuclei in SIDS cases, principally in the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS) and all three subdivisions of the inferior portion of the olivo-cerebellar complex; the principal inferior olivary complex (PIO), medial accessory olive (MAO) and dorsal accessory olive (DAO). Altered NK1R binding was significantly influenced by prematurity and male sex, which may explain the increased risk of SIDS in premature and male infants. Abnormal NK1R binding in these medullary nuclei may contribute to the defective interaction of critical medullary mechanisms with cerebellar sites, resulting in an inability of a SIDS infant to illicit appropriate respiratory and motor responses to life threatening challenges during sleep. These observations support the concept that abnormalities in a multi-neurotransmitter network within key nuclei of the medullary homeostatic system may underlie the pathogenesis of a subset of SIDS cases.
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    The effect of adolescent inhalant abuse on energy balance and growth
    Crossin, R ; Qama, A ; Andrews, ZB ; Lawrence, AJ ; Duncan, JR (JOHN WILEY & SONS LTD, 2019-08-01)
    The abuse of volatile solvents such as toluene is a significant public health concern, predominantly affecting adolescents. To date, inhalant abuse research has primarily focused on the central nervous system; however, inhalants also exert effects on other organ systems and processes, including metabolic function and energy balance. Adolescent inhalant abuse is characterized by a negative energy balance phenotype, with the peak period of abuse overlapping with the adolescent growth spurt. There are multiple components within the central and peripheral regulation of energy balance that may be affected by adolescent inhalant abuse, such as impaired metabolic signaling, decreased food intake, altered dietary preferences, disrupted glucose tolerance and insulin release, reduced adiposity and skeletal density, and adrenal hypertrophy. These effects may persist into abstinence and adulthood, and the long-term consequences of inhalant-induced metabolic dysfunction are currently unknown. The signs and symptoms resulting from chronic adolescent inhalant abuse may result in a propensity for the development of adult-onset metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes, however, further research investigating the long-term effects of inhalant abuse upon energy balance and metabolism are needed. This review addresses several aspects of the short- and long-term effects of inhalant abuse relating to energy and metabolic processes, including energy balance, intake and expenditure; dietary preferences and glycemic control; and the dysfunction of metabolic homeostasis through altered adipose tissue, bone, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function.
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    Exploring the Modulation of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor (HIF)-1 alpha by Volatile Anesthetics as a Possible Mechanism Underlying Volatile Anesthetic-Induced CNS Injury
    Giles, EK ; Lawrence, AJ ; Duncan, JR (SPRINGER/PLENUM PUBLISHERS, 2014-09-01)
    This review summarizes recent research on the potential cognitive and behavioural abnormalities induced by exposure to volatile anesthetics and suggests a role of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α in mediating these events. Volatile anesthetics are widely utilized in clinical and research settings, yet the long-term safety of exposure to these agents is under debate. Findings from various animal models suggest volatile anesthetics induce widespread apoptosis in the central nervous system (CNS) that correlates with lasting deficits in learning and memory. Longitudinal analysis of clinical data highlight an increased risk of developmental disorders later in life when children are exposed to volatile anesthetics, particularly when exposures occur over multiple sessions. However, the mechanisms underlying these events have yet to be established. Considering the extensive use of volatile anesthetics, it is crucial that these events are better understood. The possible role of HIF-1α in volatile anesthetic-induced CNS abnormalities will be suggested and areas requiring urgent attention will be outlined.
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    Adolescent inhalant abuse leads to other drug use and impaired growth; implications for diagnosis
    Crossin, R ; Cairney, S ; Lawrence, AJ ; Duncan, JR (WILEY, 2017-02-01)
    OBJECTIVE: Abuse of inhalants containing the volatile solvent toluene is a significant public health issue, especially for adolescent and Indigenous communities. Adolescent inhalant abuse can lead to chronic health issues and may initiate a trajectory towards further drug use. Identification of at-risk individuals is difficult and diagnostic tools are limited primarily to measurement of serum toluene. Our objective was to identify the effects of adolescent inhalant abuse on subsequent drug use and growth parameters, and to test the predictive power of growth parameters as a diagnostic measure for inhalant abuse. METHODS: We retrospectively analysed drug use and growth data from 118 Indigenous males; 86 chronically sniffed petrol as adolescents. RESULTS: Petrol sniffing was the earliest drug used (mean 13 years) and increased the likelihood and earlier use of other drugs. Petrol sniffing significantly impaired height and weight and was associated with meeting 'failure to thrive' criteria; growth diagnostically out-performed serum toluene. CONCLUSIONS: Adolescent inhalant abuse increases the risk for subsequent and earlier drug use. It also impairs growth such that individuals meet 'failure to thrive' criteria, representing an improved diagnostic model for inhalant abuse. Implications for Public Health: Improved diagnosis of adolescent inhalant abuse may lead to earlier detection and enhanced health outcomes.
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    Chronic intermittent toluene inhalation in adolescent rats results in metabolic dysfunction with altered glucose homeostasis
    Dick, ALW ; Simpson, A ; Qama, A ; Andrews, Z ; Lawrence, AJ ; Duncan, JR (WILEY, 2015-11-01)
    BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Abuse of toluene-containing inhalants is an increasing public health problem, especially among adolescents. Abuse during adolescence is associated with emaciation, while industrial exposure leads to altered glycaemic control suggesting metabolic instability. However, the relationship between adolescent inhalant abuse and metabolic dysfunction remains unknown. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: To model human abuse patterns, we exposed male adolescent Wistar rats [postnatal day (PND) 27] to chronic intermittent inhaled toluene (CIT, 10,000 ppm) or air (control) for 1 h·day(-1) , three times a week for 4 weeks. Feeding and body composition were monitored. After 4 weeks, circulating metabolic hormone concentrations and responses to a glucose tolerance test (GTT) were measured. Dietary preference was measured by giving animals access to either a 'western diet' plus standard chow (WC + SC) or standard chow alone during 4 weeks of abstinence. Metabolic hormones and GTT were subsequently measured. KEY RESULTS: Adolescent CIT exposure significantly retarded weight gain, altered body composition, circulating metabolic hormones and responses to a GTT. While reduced body weight persisted, responses to a GTT and circulating hormones appeared to normalize for animals on standard chow following abstinence. In CIT-exposed WC + SC rats, we observed impaired glucose tolerance associated with altered metabolic hormones. Analysis of hypothalamic genes revealed differential expression profiles in CIT-exposed rats following both the exposure period and abstinence, suggesting a central contribution to inhalant-induced metabolic dysfunction. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: CIT exposure during adolescence has long-term effects on metabolic function, which may increase the risk of disorders related to energy balance and glycaemic control.
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    Chronic intermittent toluene inhalation in adolescent rats alters behavioural responses to amphetamine and MK801
    Duncan, JR ; Gibbs, SJ ; Lawrence, AJ (ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, 2014-03-01)
    Abuse of toluene-containing inhalants is common during adolescence, with ongoing chronic misuse associated with adverse outcomes and increased risk for addictive behaviours in adulthood. However, the mechanisms mediating the adaptive processes related to these outcomes are not well defined. To model human abuse patterns we exposed male adolescent Wistar rats (postnatal day 27) to chronic intermittent inhaled toluene (CIT, 10,000 ppm) or air (control) for 1h/day, three times/week for 3 weeks. The effects of CIT on behaviour and recovery were monitored. Locomotor activity was recorded following two consecutive injections of amphetamine (1mg/kg, i.p.) 72 and 96 h after the last exposure. This was followed with injection of the NMDA receptor antagonist MK801 (0.5mg/kg, i.p.) 20 days after the last exposure. CIT resulted in a significant and persistent retardation in weight gain during the exposure period and abstinence (p<0.05). Repeated exposure resulted in tolerance to the onset of toluene-induced behaviours and recovery latency. There was a reduction in the acute stimulant effects of amphetamine in CIT-exposed animals and an increase in the magnitude of locomotor activity (p<0.0125) following a subsequent exposure when compared to the responses observed in controls; this was associated with altered locomotor responses to MK801. Repeated exposure to CIT during adolescence alters parameters of growth, as measured by body weight, and leads to tolerance, indicating that increasing concentrations of the compound may be needed to reach the same behavioural state. Toluene during this period also alters responses to a psychostimulant which may be related to long-term glutamatergic dysfunction.
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    Inhalants what you need to know
    Black, ; MacLean, SJ ; Duncan, JR (Academic Press, 2014)
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    Chronic intermittent toluene inhalation initiated during adolescence in rats does not alter voluntary consumption of ethanol in adulthood
    Dick, ALW ; Lawrence, AJ ; Duncan, JR (ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC, 2014-09-01)
    Voluntary inhalation of organic solvents, such as toluene, is particularly prevalent in adolescent populations and is considered to be a contributing factor to substance use and dependence later in life. While inhalants are often the initial "drug" experienced during this period, alcohol is another substance readily abused by adolescent populations. Although both substances are thought to have similar actions within the brain, our understanding of the implications of adolescent inhalant abuse upon subsequent exposure to alcohol remains to be investigated. Thus, this study aimed to assess locomotor responses to acute ethanol and voluntary ethanol consumption following a period of toluene inhalation throughout adolescence/early adulthood. Adolescent male Wistar rats (postnatal day [PN] 27) inhaled air or toluene (3000 ppm) for 1 h/day, 3 days/week for 4 (PN 27-52) or 8 weeks (PN 27-80) to mimic the patterns observed in human inhalant abusers. Following the exposure period, cross-sensitization to acute ethanol challenge (0.5 g/kg, intra-peritoneally [i.p.]), and voluntary consumption of 20% ethanol in a chronic intermittent 2-bottle choice paradigm, were assessed. Hepatic ethanol and acetaldehyde metabolism and liver histopathology were also investigated. Chronic intermittent toluene (CIT) exposure throughout adolescence for up to 8 weeks did not alter the behavioral response to acute ethanol or voluntary consumption of ethanol in adulthood, although an age-dependent effect on ethanol consumption was observed (p<0.05). Both liver function and pathology did not differ between treatment groups. Thus, in the paradigm employed, CIT exposure throughout adolescence and early adulthood did not predispose rats to subsequent locomotor sensitivity or voluntary consumption of ethanol in adulthood.