Florey Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health - Research Publications

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    Evaluating retinal biomarkers in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease
    Nguyen, CTO ; Tran, K ; Lim, JKH ; Wong, VHY ; Shahandeh, A ; Vingrys, AJ ; Bui, BV ; Finkelstein, D (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, 2019-07-01)
    Purpose : The retina, an accessible outpouching of the central nervous system, may manifest cortical changes that occur with Parkinson’s disease (PD), lending itself as a potential biomarker. PD is characterised by reduced dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter found in amacrine cells. Human PD patients have also shown structural changes in the outer retina. This work aims to determine if retinal function and structure are altered in a murine model of PD and whether deficits can be ameliorated with L-DOPA treatment. Methods : A PD model was induced in adult C57BL6/J mice using MPTP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine, 4x i.p. injections, 20mg/kg) and vehicle control and examined at day 21 and 45. Another MPTP group was administered L-DOPA (L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine 0.2 mg/ml) or control in their drinking water and assessed at day 45 (n=12–15/group). In ketamine:xylazine anaesthetised (80:10mg/kg) mice full-field dark- and light-adapted electroretinography (ERG) was assessed to target dopamine-related responses. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) was used to quantify thickness of retinal layers. Retinal and cortical tissue were collected for immunohistochemical assessment of changes in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)and imaged using confocal microscopy. Data (mean±SEM) were compared using unpaired ANOVA and t-tests as appropriate. Results : At day 21 no retinal changes were found. At day 45 dark and light adapted ERGs showed slower amacrine cell responses (oscillatory potential, p<0.05), a finding which reversed with L-DOPA treatment (p<0.05). Other components of the ERG were unchanged. TH staining showed a trend towards decreased retinal levels in MPTP mice but this did not reach significance (p=0.10). Reduced levels of TH were found in the ventral hippocampus of MPTP mice compared with control (p<0.05). OCT revealed thinning of the outer plexiform layer at day 45, and the L-DOPA group exhibited a thinning of the outer nuclear layer (p<0.05). Conclusions : This study shows for the first time that the MPTP model recapitulates key dopaminergic changes previously reported in humans. In particular, electroretinographic changes that correspond with dopaminergic retinal cells occur in the Parkinson’s model and reverse with therapeutic treatment. Structural thinning of the outer retinal layers also occur, which parallels some human findings. This work paves the way for retinal measures as preclinical screening tools in drug development.
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    Progressive impairments in executive function in the APP/PS1 model of Alzheimer’s disease as measured by translatable touchscreen testing
    Shepherd, A ; Lim, JKH ; Wong, VHY ; Zeleznikow-Johnston, AM ; Churilov, L ; Nguyen, CTO ; Bui, BV ; Hannan, AJ ; Burrows, EL ( 2019-08-21)
    Executive function deficits in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) occur early in disease progression and may be predictive of cognitive decline. However, no preclinical studies have identified deficits in rewarded executive function in the commonly used APP/PS1 mouse model. To address this, we assessed 12-26 month old APP/PS1 mice on rewarded reversal and/or extinction tasks. 16-month-old, but not 13- or 26-month-old, APP/PS1 mice showed an attenuated rate of extinction. Reversal deficits were seen in 22-month-old, but not 13-month-old APP/PS1 animals. We then confirmed that impairments in reversal were unrelated to previously reported visual impairments in both AD mouse models and humans. Age, but not genotype, had a significant effect on markers of retinal health, indicating the deficits seen in APP/PS1 mice were directly related to cognition. This is the first characterisation of rewarded executive function in APP/PS1 mice, and has great potential to facilitate translation from preclinical models to the clinic.