Effects on brain development of prenatal inhibition of Kynurenine-3-Monooxygenase

Khalil, Omari S (2014) Effects on brain development of prenatal inhibition of Kynurenine-3-Monooxygenase. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3057139


Much is known about the disease pathology related to schizophrenia, however, little is known with regards to its aetiology. Recent evidences suggest a neurodevelopmental hypothesis for schizophrenia where environmental factors including: infection, stress and malnutrition, can adversely affect the pregnant mother thereby elevating the risk for schizophrenia developing in the offspring during adulthood (Meyer et al., 2008d; Meyer and Feldon, 2009; 2012; Forrest et al., 2012; Meyer, 2013). Since a variety of viral and bacterial infections in animal models have demonstrated to increase the risk in schizophrenia, it is proposed that factors common to the immune response may mediate this link. While many laboratories have reported several behavioural abnormalities following maternal immune activation, we sought to examine molecular changes following poly(I:C) exposure, a synthetic viral mimetic, in the pregnant mother and assessed a range of protein markers with known developmental roles, since an appreciable understanding of the molecular alterations taking place would permit suitable therapies to follow. Interestingly, poly(I:C) was able to induce a range of changes resembling those observed during schizophrenia, where the major NMDA receptor subunit GluN1 and α-Synuclein was reduced in postnatal day 21 animals born to mothers treated with poly(I:C) during gestation days 14, 16 and 18. Furthermore, these changes suggest a mechanism by which maternal immune activation may lead to the subsequent emergence of schizophrenia.

Another aspect of this work examined the role of the kynurenine pathway on brain development. There is increasing evidence suggesting the involvement of the kynurenine pathway, a biochemical pathway responsible for the oxidative metabolism of tryptophan, in the disease pathology of schizophrenia, including neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease (Giorgini et al., 2005; Ting et al., 2009; Bonda et al., 2010). Since immune activation induces the activation of the kynurenine pathway, it was hypothesised that alterations in central kynurenine concentrations during development may be involved in mediating the subsequent increased risk for schizophrenia (Forrest et al., 2013, Khalil et al., 2013, 2014). As very little is known about the physiological activity of the kynurenine pathway during development, we sought to examine the potential consequence of disrupting this pathway and examining its effects upon brain development. Therefore, a kynurenine monooxygenase inhibitor, Ro61-8048, was administered to pregnant rats during gestation day 14, 16, and 18, that would inhibit the synthesis of the neurotoxic metabolite quinolinic acid, while redirecting the pathway to increase the neuroprotectant kynurenic acid. Brain development was assessed by examining changes in protein expression of markers intimately involved in synaptic transmitter release machinery, neurogenesis and many aspects of neuronal development. Interestingly, we found the kynurenine pathway is highly active during brain development, and induces a variety of changes in protein markers that may be involved in precipitating a range of neuronal and cognitive deficits. While Ro61-8048 induced no changes in the embryo brains at 5 and 24 h following treatment, delayed changes were seen in postnatal day 21 animals displaying a decrease in RhoB expression as examined in the western blots. Since the full blow symptoms of schizophrenia become apparent during early adulthood, we sought to examine any changes in protein expression in postnatal day 60 animals in regions of the cortex, hippocampus, midbrain and cerebellum. Interestingly, profound alterations were seen in doublecortin and the netrin receptors responsible for axonal guidance. Perhaps the most striking protein change in the postnatal day 60 animals is the significant alteration induced in the expression of disrupted in schizophrenia (DISC)-1, a protein strongly linked with schizophrenia. Glutamate function was assessed as indicated by the density of glutamate transporters, VGLUT-1 and VGLUT-2, in the CA1 region of the hippocampus of postnatal day 60 animals using immunocytochemistry. While the relative density of glutamate transporters were substantially increased, there were no changes in the GABA transporters, indicating that while GABA transmission remained the same, glutamate function may have increased in the absence of an increase in synaptic connections. Spine densities of pyramidal neurons in the hippocampus were also examined, using the golgi-impregnation method, to reveal a significant loss in spines of the apical and basal dendrites, consistent with reports in schizophrenia. To conclude, the kynurenine pathway is highly active during development, and alterations in central kynurenines during pregnancy, as induced by environmental factors such as stress and infection, may be involved in the subsequent emergence of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Kynurenines, Brain Development, Hippocampus, Schizophrenia, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Kynurenic Acid, Kynurenine-3-monooxygenase
Subjects: Q Science > QM Human anatomy
Q Science > QP Physiology
Q Science > QR Microbiology
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR180 Immunology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Supervisor's Name: Stone, Prof. Trevor W
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Mr Omari Khalil
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5075
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 16 May 2014 15:14
Last Modified: 16 May 2014 15:17
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/5075

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