Anatomy and Neuroscience - Research Publications

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    Myenteric neurons of the mouse small intestine undergo significant electrophysiological and morphological changes during postnatal development
    Foong, JPP ; Nguyen, TV ; Furness, JB ; Bornstein, JC ; Young, HM (WILEY, 2012-05-01)
    Organized motility patterns in the gut depend on circuitry within the enteric nervous system (ENS), but little is known about the development of electrophysiological properties and synapses within the ENS. We examined the electrophysiology and morphology of myenteric neurons in the mouse duodenum at three developmental stages: postnatal day (P)0, P10–11, and adult. Like adults, two main classes of neurons could be identified at P0 and P10–11 based on morphology: neurons with multiple long processes that projected circumferentially (Dogiel type II morphology) and neurons with a single long process. However, postnatal Dogiel type II neurons differed in several electrophysiological properties from adult Dogiel type II neurons. P0 and P10–11 Dogiel type II neurons exhibited very prominent Ca(2+)-mediated after depolarizing potentials (ADPs) following action potentials compared to adult neurons. Adult Dogiel type II neurons are characterized by the presence of a prolonged after hyperpolarizing potential (AHP), but AHPs were very rarely observed at P0. The projection lengths of the long processes of Dogiel type II neurons were mature by P10–11. Uniaxonal neurons in adults typically have fast excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs, ‘S-type' electrophysiology) mainly mediated by nicotinic receptors. Nicotinic-fEPSPs were also recorded from neurons with a single long process at P0 and P10–11. However, these neurons underwent major developmental changes in morphology, from predominantly filamentous neurites at birth to lamellar dendrites in mature mice. Unlike Dogiel type II neurons, the projection lengths of neurons with a single long process matured after P10–11. Slow EPSPs were rarely observed in P0/P10–11 neurons. This work shows that, although functional synapses are present and two classes of neurons can be distinguished electrophysiologically and morphologically at P0, major changes in electrophysiological properties and morphology occur during the postnatal development of the ENS.
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    Prominent contribution of L-type Ca2+ channels to cutaneous neurovascular transmission that is revealed after spinal cord injury augments vasoconstriction
    Al Dera, H ; Habgood, MD ; Furness, JB ; Brock, JA (AMER PHYSIOLOGICAL SOC, 2012-02-01)
    In patients with spinal cord injury (SCI), somatosympathetic reflexes produce exaggerated decreases in skin blood flow below the lesion. This hypoperfusion appears to result from an increased responsiveness of cutaneous arterial vessels to neural activation. Here we investigated the mechanisms that underlie SCI-induced enhancement of neurovascular transmission in a cutaneous vessel, the rat tail artery. Isometric contractions of arterial segments from T11 spinal cord transected and sham-operated rats were compared 6 wk postoperatively. SCI more than doubled the amplitudes of contractions of arteries in response to moderate frequencies of nerve stimulation (0.1 to 1 Hz). In arteries from SCI rats, but not those from sham-operated rats, the L-type Ca(2+) channel blocker nifedipine (1 μM) reduced the amplitudes of nerve-evoked contractions. Furthermore, while the sensitivity to the agonists phenylephrine (α(1)-adrenoceptor selective) and clonidine (α(2)-adrenoceptor selective) did not differ significantly between arteries from SCI and sham-operated rats, nifedipine had a greater inhibitory effect on contractions to both agents in arteries from SCI rats. Although sensitivity to clonidine was unchanged, SCI selectively reduced the contribution of postjunctional α(2)-adenceptors to nerve-evoked contractions. In arteries from unoperated rats, the L-type channel agonist BAY K 8644 (0.1 μM) produced a similar enhancement of nerve-evoked contraction to that produced by SCI and also selectively reduced the contribution of α(2)-adrenceptors to these responses. Together the findings demonstrate that the SCI-induced enhancement of neurovascular transmission in the rat tail artery can largely be accounted for by an increased contribution of L-type Ca(2+) channels to activation of the vascular smooth muscle.
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    Knock out of neuronal nitric oxide synthase exacerbates intestinal ischemia/reperfusion injury in mice
    Rivera, LR ; Pontell, L ; Cho, H-J ; Castelucci, P ; Thacker, M ; Poole, DP ; Frugier, T ; Furness, JB (SPRINGER, 2012-08-01)
    Recent investigation of the intestine following ischemia and reperfusion (I/R) has revealed that nitric oxide synthase (NOS) neurons are more strongly affected than other neuron types. This implies that NO originating from NOS neurons contributes to neuronal damage. However, there is also evidence of the neuroprotective effects of NO. In this study, we compared the effects of I/R on the intestines of neuronal NOS knockout (nNOS(-/-)) mice and wild-type mice. I/R caused histological damage to the mucosa and muscle and infiltration of neutrophils into the external muscle layers. Damage to the mucosa and muscle was more severe and greater infiltration by neutrophils occurred in the first 24 h in nNOS(-/-) mice. Immunohistochemistry for the contractile protein, α-smooth muscle actin, was used to evaluate muscle damage. Smooth muscle actin occurred in the majority of smooth muscle cells in the external musculature of normal mice but was absent from most cells and was reduced in the cytoplasm of other cells following I/R. The loss was greater in nNOS(-/-) mice. Basal contractile activity of the longitudinal muscle and contractile responses to nerve stimulation or a muscarinic agonist were reduced in regions subjected to I/R and the effects were greater in nNOS(-/-) mice. Reductions in responsiveness also occurred in regions of operated mice not subjected to I/R. This is attributed to post-operative ileus that is not significantly affected by knockout of nNOS. The results indicate that deleterious effects are greater in regions subjected to I/R in mice lacking nNOS compared with normal mice, implying that NO produced by nNOS has protective effects that outweigh any damaging effect of this free radical produced by enteric neurons.
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    The roles of purinergic signaling during gastrointestinal inflammation
    Roberts, JA ; Lukewich, MK ; Sharkey, KA ; Furness, JB ; Mawe, GM ; Lomax, AE (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2012-12-01)
    Extracellular purines play important roles as neurotransmitters and paracrine mediators in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Inflammation of the GI tract causes marked changes in the release and extracellular catabolism of purines, and can modulate purinoceptor expression and/or signaling. The functional consequences of this include suppression of the purinergic component of inhibitory neuromuscular and neurovascular transmission, increased release of purines from immune and epithelial cells, loss of enteric neurons to damage through P2X(7) purinoceptors, and enhanced activation of pain fibres. The purinergic system represents an important target for drug therapies that may improve GI inflammation and its consequences.
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    Sites of action of ghrelin receptor ligands in cardiovascular control
    Callaghan, B ; Hunne, B ; Hirayama, H ; Sartor, DM ; Nguyen, TV ; Abogadie, FC ; Ferens, D ; McIntyre, P ; Ban, K ; Baell, J ; Furness, JB ; Brock, JA (AMER PHYSIOLOGICAL SOC, 2012-10-01)
    Circulating ghrelin reduces blood pressure, but the mechanism for this action is unknown. This study investigated whether ghrelin has direct vasodilator effects mediated through the growth hormone secretagogue receptor 1a (GHSR1a) and whether ghrelin reduces sympathetic nerve activity. Mice expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein under control of the promoter for growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR) and RT-PCR were used to locate sites of receptor expression. Effects of ghrelin and the nonpeptide GHSR1a agonist capromorelin on rat arteries and on transmission in sympathetic ganglia were measured in vitro. In addition, rat blood pressure and sympathetic nerve activity responses to ghrelin were determined in vivo. In reporter mice, expression of GHSR was revealed at sites where it has been previously demonstrated (hypothalamic neurons, renal tubules, sympathetic preganglionic neurons) but not in any artery studied, including mesenteric, cerebral, and coronary arteries. In rat, RT-PCR detected GHSR1a mRNA expression in spinal cord and kidney but not in the aorta or in mesenteric arteries. Moreover, the aorta and mesenteric arteries from rats were not dilated by ghrelin or capromorelin at concentrations >100 times their EC(50) determined in cells transfected with human or rat GHSR1a. These agonists did not affect transmission from preganglionic sympathetic neurons that express GHSR1a. Intravenous application of ghrelin lowered blood pressure and decreased splanchnic nerve activity. It is concluded that the blood pressure reduction to ghrelin occurs concomitantly with a decrease in sympathetic nerve activity and is not caused by direct actions on blood vessels or by inhibition of transmission in sympathetic ganglia.