Research Summary: Altered Dopamine and Serotonin Metabolism in Motorically Asymptomatic R6/2 Mice


The pattern of cerebral dopamine (DA) abnormalities in Huntington disease (HD) is complex, as reflected by the variable clinical benefit of both DA antagonists and agonists in treating HD symptoms. In addition, little is known about serotonin metabolism despite the early occurrence of anxiety and depression in HD. Post-mortem enzymatic changes are likely to interfere with the in vivo profile of biogenic amines. Hence, in order to reliably characterize the regional and chronological profile of brain neurotransmitters in a HD mouse model, we used a microwave fixation system that preserves in vivo concentrations of dopaminergic and serotoninergic amines. DA was decreased in the striatum of R6/2 mice at 8 and 12 weeks of age while DA metabolites, 3-methoxytyramine and homovanillic acid, were already significantly reduced in 4-week-old motorically asymptomatic R6/2 mice. In the striatum, hippocampus and frontal cortex of 4, 8 and 12-week-old R6/2 mice, serotonin and its metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid were significantly decreased in association with a decreased turnover of serotonin. In addition, automated high-resolution behavioural analyses displayed stress-like behaviours such as jumping and grooming and altered spatial learning in R6/2 mice at age 4 and 6 weeks respectively. Therefore, we describe the earliest alterations of DA and serotonin metabolism in a HD murine model. Our findings likely underpin the neuropsychological symptoms at time of disease onset in HD.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 31-March-2011

Author(s): Mochel F., Durant B., Durr A., Schiffmann R.


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