Central actions of liver-derived insulin-like growth factor I underlying its pro-cognitive effects.

Trejo JL, Piriz J, Llorens-Martin MV, Fernandez AM, Bolós M, LeRoith D, Nuñez A, Torres-Aleman I.

Molecular Psychiatry. 
doi: 10.1038/sj.mp.4002076.

Increasing evidence indicates that circulating insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) acts as a peripheral neuroactive signal participating not only in protection against injury but also in normal brain function. Epidemiological studies in humans as well as recent evidence in experimental animals suggest that blood-borne IGF-I may be involved in cognitive performance. In agreement with observations in humans, we found that mice with low-serum IGF-I levels due to liver-specific targeted disruption of the IGF-I gene presented cognitive deficits, as evidenced by impaired performance in a hippocampal-dependent spatial-recognition task. Mice with serum IGF-I deficiency also have disrupted long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampus, but not in cortex. Impaired hippocampal LTP was associated with a reduction in the density of glutamatergic boutons that led to an imbalance in the glutamatergic/GABAergic synapse ratio in this brain area. Behavioral and synaptic deficits were ameliorated in serum IGF-I-deficient mice by prolonged systemic administration of IGF-I that normalized the density of glutamatergic boutons in the hippocampus. Altogether these results indicate that liver-derived circulating IGF-I affects crucial aspects of mature brain function; that is, learning and synaptic plasticity, through its trophic effects on central glutamatergic synapses. Declining levels of serum IGF-I during aging may therefore contribute to age-associated cognitive loss.

Both increases in immature dentate neuron number and decreases of immobility time in the forced swim test occurred in parallel after environmental enrichment of mice.

Llorens-Martín MV, Rueda N, Martínez-Cué C, Torres-Alemán I, Flórez J, Trejo JL.

doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2007.04.054.

A direct relation between the rate of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in mice and the immobility time in a forced swim test after living in an enriched environment has been suggested previously. In the present work, young adult mice living in an enriched environment for 2 months developed considerably more immature differentiating neurons (doublecortin-positive, DCX(+)) than control, non-enriched animals. Furthermore, we found that the more DCX(+) cells they possessed, the lower the immobility time they scored in the forced swim test. This DCX(+) subpopulation is composed of mostly differentiating dentate neurons independently of the birthdates of every individual cell. However, variations found in this subpopulation were not the result of a general effect on the survival of any newborn neuron in the granule cell layer, as 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU)-labeled cells born during a narrow time window included in the longer lifetime period of DCX(+) cells, were not significantly modified after enrichment. In contrast, the survival of the mature population of neurons in the granule cell layer of the dentate gyrus in enriched animals increased, although this did not influence their performance in the Porsolt test, nor did it influence the dentate gyrus volume or granule neuronal nuclei size. These results indicate that the population of immature, differentiating neurons in the adult hippocampus is one factor directly related to the protective effect of an enriched environment against a highly stressful event.

Spared place and object-place learning but limited spatial working memory capacity in rats with selective lesions of the dentate gyrus.

Hernández-Rabaza V, Barcia JA, Llorens-Martín M, Trejo JL, Canales JJ.

Brain Research Bulletin.
doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2007.01.013.

We studied the cognitive performance of rats with colchicine-induced lesions of the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) on a range of spatial, non-spatial and mixed spatial/procedural tasks. Rats were assigned to three experimental groups receiving large colchicine lesions (7 microg per hippocampus), small colchicine lesions (1.75 microg per hippocampus) or sham lesions. Stereological estimates of cell density indicated that the colchicine treatments induced dose-dependent damage to the DG, while sparing in large part other hippocampal subfields. Remarkably, the behavioural results showed that the colchicine lesions did not affect the performance of rats in an object discrimination task, in an object-place associative task in which a familiar object was displaced from a given position nor in a spontaneous spatial discrimination task performed in the T-maze. However, rats in both lesion groups were severely impaired in a reinforced non-matching-to-position working memory task conducted in the T-maze. Importantly, performance in the working memory task correlated strongly with cell density in the DG but not with cell density in the CA1 and CA3 areas. Only rats with large-lesions showed a transient deficit in a reinforced rule-based conditional discrimination task. These data demonstrated that rats with selective lesions of the DG readily acquire and retain neural representations relative to objects and places but are specifically impaired in their ability to update rapidly and flexibly spatial information that is essential to guide goal-directed actions.


Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CBMSO) Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Campus de Cantoblanco)
C/ Nicolás Cabrera 1 - 28049 Madrid (Spain)

María Llorens-Martín (PI)
+34 911964632