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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Hyperactive striatal neurons in symptomatic Huntington R6/2 mice: variations with behavioral state and repeated ascorbate treatment.

Membrane and morphological abnormalities occur in the striatum of R6/2 transgenics, a widely used mouse model of Huntington's disease. To assess changes in behavior-related neuronal activity, we implanted micro-wire bundles in the striatum of symptomatic R6/2 mice and wild-type controls. Unit activity was recorded in an open-field arena once weekly for the next several weeks. For each recording session, firing rate was monitored before, during, and after a period of light anesthesia to assess the influence of behavioral arousal. Because low ascorbate in striatal extracellular fluid may contribute to Huntington's disease symptoms, all animals received an injection of either 300 mg/kg sodium ascorbate or vehicle for three consecutive days prior to each recording session. In R6/2 mice, regardless of treatment, striatal unit activity was significantly faster than in wild-type controls. The difference in mean (+/-S.E.M.) firing was most apparent during wakefulness (6.4+/-0.8 vs. 3.5+/-0.3 spikes/s) but also persisted during anesthesia (2.0+/-0.3 vs. 0.7+/-0.1 spikes/s). Assessment of treatment duration indicated that R6/2 mean waking discharge rate was significantly slower after three weeks than after one week of ascorbate treatment (3.1+/-0.6 vs. 10.2+/-2.7 spikes/s). Vehicle-treated R6/2s showed no such decline in striatal activity ruling out an age- or injection-related effect. Slow-scan voltammetry in separate animals confirmed that ascorbate-injections returned the level of striatal extracellular ascorbate in R6/2 mice to that of wild-type controls. Our results indicate that although striatal neurons modulate firing in relation to behavioral state, impulse activity is consistently elevated in transgenic relative to wild-type mice. Restoring extracellular ascorbate to the wild-type level reverses this effect suggesting a role for ascorbate in normalizing neuronal function in Huntington's disease striatum.[1]


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