Changes in Dopamine Signalling Do Not Underlie Aberrant Hippocampal Plasticity in a Mouse Model of Huntington’s Disease

Dallerac, Glenn M.; Cummings, Damian M.; Hirst, Mark C.; Milnerwood, Austen J. and Murphy, Kerry P. S. J. (2016). Changes in Dopamine Signalling Do Not Underlie Aberrant Hippocampal Plasticity in a Mouse Model of Huntington’s Disease. NeuroMolecular Medicine, 18(1) pp. 146–153.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12017-016-8384-z

Abstract

Altered dopamine receptor labelling has been demonstrated in presymptomatic and symptomatic Huntington's disease (HD) gene carriers, indicating that alterations in dopaminergic signalling are an early event in HD. We have previously described early alterations in synaptic transmission and plasticity in both the cortex and hippocampus of the R6/1 mouse model of Huntington's disease. Deficits in cortical synaptic plasticity were associated with altered dopaminergic signalling and could be reversed by D1- or D2-like dopamine receptor activation. In light of these findings we here investigated whether defects in dopamine signalling could also contribute to the marked alteration in hippocampal synaptic function. To this end we performed dopamine receptor labelling and pharmacology in the R6/1 hippocampus and report a marked, age-dependent elevation of hippocampal D1 and D2 receptor labelling in R6/1 hippocampal subfields. Yet, pharmacological inhibition or activation of D1- or D2-like receptors did not modify the aberrant synaptic plasticity observed in R6/1 mice. These findings demonstrate that global perturbations to dopamine receptor expression do occur in HD transgenic mice, similarly in HD gene carriers and patients. However, the direction of change and the lack of effect of dopaminergic pharmacological agents on synaptic function demonstrate that the perturbations are heterogeneous and region-specific, a finding that may explain the mixed results of dopamine therapy in HD.

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