Effects of cholinergic-rich neural grafts on radial maze performance of rats after excitotoxic lesions of the forebrain cholinergic projection system--II. Cholinergic drugs as probes to investigate lesion-induced deficits and transplant-induced functional recovery.

Article date: 1991/1/1

PubMed ID: 1775236

Journal name: Neuroscience (ISSN: 0306-4522)


The effects of two doses of muscarinic (arecoline and scopolamine) and nicotinic (nicotine and mecamylamine) cholinergic receptor agonists and antagonists on the radial maze errors of rats, performing poorly after ibotenate lesions to the nucleus basalis and medial septal brain regions, were assessed before and after transplantation of cholinergic-rich and -poor fetal grafts, using tasks which measured short- (working) and long-term (reference) spatial and associative memory. Lesioned rats showed improvement with the agonists, and impairment with the antagonists, at low doses which did not affect the performance of controls; these effects were more marked for working than reference memory, especially in the spatial task. The peripherally acting antagonists N-methylscopolamine and hexamethonium did not affect the performance of control or lesioned rats. Effects of the cholinergic probes were re-examined 16 weeks after grafting, in groups with cholinergic-rich grafts to cortex and/or hippocampus which showed functional recovery, and groups with cholinergic-rich grafts to basal forebrain, or cholinergic-poor grafts to basal forebrain, cortex, and hippocampus, which showed no improvement. All lesioned rats, regardless of site, type, or efficacy of transplant, continued to show marked impairment with the antagonists. Poorly performing grafted animals also showed improvement with the agonists. In rats with behaviourally effective cholinergic-rich grafts, arecoline had no effect, but nicotine substantially increased working and reference memory errors, particularly spatial working memory errors. Rats with grafts in both cortex and hippocampus showed the largest increases in errors after nicotine. These results show that lesioned rats were more sensitive to the bi-directional effects of cholinergic receptor ligands than controls, consistent with a role for acetylcholine in the lesion-induced deficits. The predominant effect of drugs on working memory may also be consistent with disruption of acquisition rather than of storage or retrieval processes in memory, and may be related to impairment of attention. The results further show that, despite behavioural recovery, supersensitive responses to cholinergic drugs were not normalized in rats with cholinergic-rich grafts, and that an additive interaction between graft and host may have occurred in response to nicotine.

Author List: Hodges H, Allen Y, Sinden J, Lantos P L, Gray J A

Publication Types: Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Substances mentioned in the article: Parasympatholytics; Parasympathomimetics; Ibotenic Acid; Acetylcholine;

Mesh terms: Acetylcholine/physiology; Animals; Basal Ganglia/drug effects; Brain Tissue Transplantation; Cerebral Cortex/physiology; Cholinergic Fibers/drug effects; Fetal Tissue Transplantation; Hippocampus/physiology; Ibotenic Acid/toxicity; Learning/drug effects; Male; Memory/drug effects; Parasympatholytics/pharmacology; Parasympathomimetics/pharmacology; Rats; Rats, Inbred Strains; Septum Pellucidum/drug effects; Spatial Behavior;

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