Current Molecular Medicine (v.15, #3)

Specific Roles of NMDA Receptor Subunits in Mental Disorders by H. Yamamoto, Y. Hagino, S. Kasai, K. Ikeda (193-205).
N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor plays important roles in learning and memory. NMDA receptors are a tetramer that consists of two glycine-binding subunits GluN1, two glutamate-binding subunits (i.e., GluN2A, GluN2B, GluN2C, and GluN2D), a combination of a GluN2 subunit and glycine-binding GluN3 subunit (i.e., GluN3A or GluN3B), or two GluN3 subunits. Recent studies revealed that the specific expression and distribution of each subunit are deeply involved in neural excitability, plasticity, and synaptic deficits. The present article summarizes reports on the dysfunction of NMDA receptors and responsible subunits in various neurological and psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, autoimmune-induced glutamatergic receptor dysfunction, mood disorders, and autism. A key role for the GluN2D subunit in NMDA receptor antagonist-induced psychosis has been recently revealed.

Glutamate, a major excitatory neurotransmitter, plays important roles in synaptic plasticity, such as long-term potentiation (LTP) and new synapse formation. Growing evidence suggests that glutamate signaling is involved in the neurobiology of psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BP). Postmortem brain studies demonstrated altered spine density in brains from patients with these psychiatric disorders, indicating that remodeled neuronal circuits may contribute to the pathobiology of these psychiatric diseases. Drugs targeting the glutamate system have typically attracted attention as they show efficacy in animal studies and potential therapeutic effects in the clinical setting. In particular, the Nmethyl- D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, ketamine exerts a rapid and robust antidepressant effect in treatment-resistant patients with MDD and BP, whereas conventional antidepressants require several weeks for therapeutic onset. Animal studies showed that ketamine induced rapid synaptogenesis, suggestive of synaptic plasticity via NMDA receptor signaling being an essential event in the treatment of depression. Therefore, drugs modulating glutamate signaling could also be potential therapeutic drugs for psychiatric disorders. First, we summarize the role of glutamate signaling on dendritic spine formation, maintenance and remodeling. Then, we discuss the abnormalities identified in dendritic spine and glutamate signaling from postmortem brain studies and animal models of psychiatric disorders. Finally, we review the potential benefits of drugs acting on the NMDA receptor in clinical and animal models of psychiatric disorders.

Neurobehavioral Differences Between Mice Receiving Distinct Neuregulin Variants as Neonates; Impact on Sensitivity to MK-801 by T. Kato, Y. Abe, S. Hirokawa, Y. Iwakura, M. Mizuno, H. Namba, H. Nawa (222-236).
Neuregulin-1 (NRG1) is a well-recognized risk gene for schizophrenia and is often implicated in the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of this illness. Alternative splicing and proteolytic processing of the NRG1 gene produce more than 30 structural variants; however, the neuropathological roles of individual variants remain to be characterized. On the basis of the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia, we administered eNRG1 (0.1~1.0 μg/g), a core epidermal growth factor-like (EGF) domain common for all splicing NRG1 variants, to neonatal mice and compared their behavioral performance with mice challenged with a full mature form of type 1 NRG1 variant. During the neonatal stage, recombinant eNRG1 protein administrated from the periphery passed the blood-brain barrier and activated its receptor (ErbB4) in the brain. In adults, the mice receiving the highest dose exhibited lower locomotor activity and deficits in prepulse inhibition and tonedependent fear learning, although the hearing reduction of the eNRG1-treated mice may explain these behavioral deficits. Neonatal eNRG1 treatment also significantly potentiated MK-801-driven locomotor activity in an eNRG1 dose-dependent manner. In parallel eNRG1 treatment enhanced MK-801-driven c-Fos induction and decreased immunoreactivity for NMDA receptor subunits in adult brain. In contrast, mice that had been treated with the same molar dose of a full mature form of type 1 NRG1 as neonates did not exhibit hypersensitivity to MK-801. However, both animal models exhibited similar hypersensitivity to methamphetamine. Collectively, our findings suggest that aberrant peripheral NRG1 signals during neurodevelopment alter later behavioral traits and auditory functions in the NRG1 subtype-dependent manner.

Region-Specific Dendritic Spine Loss of Pyramidal Neurons in Dopamine Transporter Knockout Mice by Y. Kasahara, Y. Arime, F.S. Hall, G.R. Uhl, I. Sora (237-244).
Dopamine transporter (DAT) knockout (KO) mice show numerous behavioral alterations, including hyperlocomotion, cognitive deficits, impulsivity and impairment of prepulse inhibition of the startle reflex (PPI), phenotypes that may be relevant to frontostriatal disorders such as schizophrenia. Dendritic spine changes of pyramidal neurons in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) are among the most replicated of findings in postmortem studies of schizophrenia. The mechanisms that account for dendritic changes in the DLPFC in schizophrenia are unclear. Here, we report basal spine density of pyramidal neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), the motor cortex, the CA1 region of the hippocampus, and the basolateral amygdala in DAT KO mice. Pyramidal neurons were visualized using DAT KO mice crossbred with a Thy1-GFP transgenic mouse line. We observed a significant decrease in spine density of pyramidal neurons in the mPFC and the CA1 region of the hippocampus in DAT KO mice compared to that in WT mice. On the other hand, no difference was observed in spine density of pyramidal neurons in the motor cortex or the basolateral amygdala between DAT genotypes. These results suggest that decreased spine density could cause hypofunction of the mPFC and the hippocampus, and contribute to the behavioral abnormalities observed in DAT KO mice, including cognitive deficits. This might suggest that aberrant dopaminergic signaling may trigger dystrophic changes in dendrites of hippocampal and prefrontocortical pyramidal neurons in schizophrenia.

Improvement of Learning and Increase in Dopamine Level in the Frontal Cortex by Methylphenidate in Mice Lacking Dopamine Transporter by Y. Takamatsu, Y. Hagino, A. Sato, T. Takahashi, S.Y. Nagasawa, Y. Kubo, M. Mizuguchi, G.R. Uhl, I. Sora, K. Ikeda (245-252).
The symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are characterized by inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. It is a common childhood neurodevelopmental disorder that often persists into adulthood. Improvements in ADHD symptoms using psychostimulants have been recognized as a paradoxical calming effect. The psychostimulant methylphenidate (MPH) is currently used as the first-line medication for the management of ADHD. Recent studies have drawn attention to altered dopamine-mediated neurotransmission in ADHD, particularly reuptake by the dopamine transporter (DAT). This hypothesis is supported by the observation that DAT knockout mice exhibit marked hyperactivity that is responsive to acute MPH treatment. However, other behaviors relevant to ADHD have not been fully clarified. In the present study, we observed learning impairment in shuttle-box avoidance behavior together with hyperactivity in a novel environment in DAT knockout mice. Methylphenidate normalized these behaviors and enhanced escape activity in the tail suspension test. Interestingly, the effective dose of MPH increased extracellular dopamine in the prefrontal cortex but not striatum, suggesting an important role for changes in prefrontal dopamine in ADHD. Research that uses rodent models such as DAT knockout mice may be useful for elucidating the pathophysiology of ADHD.

A considerable body of data supports a role for the central cholinergic system in the aetiologies of schizophrenia and mood disorders. There have been breakthroughs in gaining structural data on muscarinic receptors (CHRMs), understanding their role in CNS functioning and in synthesising drugs that can specifically target each of the 5 CHRMs. This means it is opportune to consider the role of specific CHRMs in the pathophysiologies of schizophrenia and mood disorders. This review will focus on data suggesting changes in levels of CHRM1 and CHRM4 implicate these receptors in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia whereas data suggest a role for CHRM2 in mood disorders. There will be a selected reference to recent developments in understanding the roles of CHRM1, 2 and 4 in CNS function and how these predict mechanisms by which these receptors could induce the symptoms prevalent in schizophrenia and mood disorders. Finally, there will be comments on the potential advantages and problems in targeting CHRM1 and CHRM4 to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia and CHRM2 to treat the symptom of depression.

The Piccolo Intronic Single Nucleotide Polymorphism rs13438494 Regulates Dopamine and Serotonin Uptake and Shows Associations with Dependence-Like Behavior in Genomic Association Study by K. Uno, D. Nishizawa, S. Seo, K. Takayama, S. Matsumura, N. Sakai, K. Ohi, T. Nabeshima, R. Hashimoto, N. Ozaki, J. Hasegawa, N. Sato, F. Tanioka, H. Sugimura, K.-I.- Fukuda, S. Higuchi, H. Ujike, T. Inada, N. Iwata, I. Sora, M. Iyo, N. Kondo, M.-J. Won, N. Naruse, K. Uehara-Aoyama, M. Itokawa, M. Yamada, K. Ikeda, Y. Miyamoto, A. Nitta (265-274).
Piccolo (PCLO) inhibits methamphetamine-induced neuropharmacological effects via modulation of dopamine (DA) uptake and regulation of the transport of synaptic vesicles in neuronal cells. Clinical studies have recently suggested that the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs13438494 in the intron 24 of the PCLO gene is associated with psychiatric disorder, in the meta-analysis of GWAS. Therefore, in this study, we attempted to evaluate the possible role of the PCLO SNP in the mechanisms of uptake of monoamines. To characterize rs13438494 in the PCLO gene, we constructed plasmids carrying either the C or A allele of the SNP and transiently transfected them into SH-SY5Y cells to analyze genetic effects on the splicing of PCLO mRNA. The C and A allele constructs produced different composition of the transcripts, indicating that the intronic SNP does affect the splicing pattern. We also transfected DA and serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5- HT) transporters into cells and analyzed their uptakes to elucidate the association to psychiatric disorders. In the cells transfected with the C allele, both the DA and 5-HT uptake were enhanced compared to the A allele. We also conducted a clinical study, in order to clarify the genetic associations. PCLO rs13438494 exhibits a relationship with the symptoms of drug dependence or related parameters, such as the age of first exposure to methamphetamine, eating disorders, tobacco dependence and fentanyl requirement. Our findings suggest that rs13438494 is associated with drug abuse and contributes to the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders via modulation of neurotransmitter turnover.

Purinergic Signaling and Energy Homeostasis in Psychiatric Disorders by D. Lindberg, D. Shan, J. Ayers-Ringler, A. Oliveros, J. Benitez, M. Prieto, R. McCullumsmith, D.-S. Choi (275-295).
Purinergic signaling regulates numerous vital biological processes in the central nervous system (CNS). The two principle purines, ATP and adenosine act as excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters, respectively. Compared to other classical neurotransmitters, the role of purinergic signaling in psychiatric disorders is not well understood or appreciated. Because ATP exerts its main effect on energy homeostasis, neuronal function of ATP has been underestimated. Similarly, adenosine is primarily appreciated as a precursor of nucleotide synthesis during active cell growth and division. However, recent findings suggest that purinergic signaling may explain how neuronal activity is associated neuronal energy charge and energy homeostasis, especially in mental disorders. In this review, we provide an overview of the synaptic function of mitochondria and purines in neuromodulation, synaptic plasticity, and neuron-glia interactions. We summarize how mitochondrial and purinergic dysfunction contribute to mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), depression, and addiction. Finally, we discuss future implications regarding the pharmacological targeting of mitochondrial and purinergic function for the treatment of psychiatric disorders.