Lithium Exposure Induced Changes At Glutamatergic Synapses In Hippocampal Neurons- Insights From In Vitro Electrophysiology And Imaging Studies
Ankolekar, Shreya Maruti
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Lithium is a drug used to treat mood disorders and also has many side effects, including central nervous system (CNS) complications (such as cognitive dulling), associated with its use. The mechanism of its action still remains unknown. Over the years, many leads have started emerging. It has been shown to inhibit several enzymes in the cell and has been implicated in altering many neurotransmitter systems and signal transduction pathways (serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmissions). Effect of exposure to therapeutic levels of lithium on mature glutamatergic synapses is being studied and several changes in glutamate receptor subtypes have already been reported. Effects of lithium on developing glutamatergic synapses have not been studied. The thesis tries to document and understand the changes brought about by long term lithium treatment on developing glutamatergic synapses in vitro in hippocampal neuronal cultures. In the present work, patch clamp technique was used to monitor the changes in the postsynapse and fluorescence imaging to study the presynaptic changes. The hippocampal neuronal cultures were treated with 1 mM lithium for 6 days during the synaptogenesis stage (DIV 4-10) and termed as chronic Li treatment (CLi). Following CLi treatment the changes occurring in amplitude and rectification property of the AMPA receptor (AMPAR), a subtype of glutamate ionotropic receptor, mediated miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) have been reported (Chapter III). Lithium inhibits protein kinase A (PKA), glycogen synthase kinase–3β (GSK-3β) and glutamate reuptake. Effect of inhibiting PKA, GSK-3β and glutamate reuptake was also studied with a view to understand the molecular basis of lithium action on AMPAR mEPSCs (Chapter IV). It was found that chronic lithium treatment (CLi) caused a reduction in the mean amplitude of mEPSCs mediated by AMPARs and also changed the rectification property of these receptors from being more outwardly rectifying to being more inwardly rectifying, an indication probably of increase in contribution of Ca2+-permeable AMPARs to the synaptic events. AMPAR events in chronic lithium treated cultures were more sensitive to both N-acetyl spermine (NASPM) application and di-fluoro-methyl-ornithine (DFMO) treatment, both specific to Ca2+-permeable AMPARs, indicating that there was an increase in the contribution from Ca2+-permeable AMPARs to the synaptic events. PKA inhibition with H-89 treatment (starting from DIV 4 (for 6 days)) reduced the mean amplitude of AMPAR mEPSCs and increased the mean rectification index (RI). GSK-3β inhibition with SB415286 (starting from DIV 4 (for 6 days)) did not alter the mean mEPSC amplitude but reduced the mean RI. Transient (24 hrs) glutamate reuptake inhibition with threo-β-Hydroxy-Aspartic-Acid (THA) at DIV 4 followed by a period of recovery led to smaller amplitudes but no change in RI. The 24 hr glutamate reuptake block on DIV 4 had long term effects. It led to an increase in AMPAR mEPSC frequency while AMPAR mEPSC amplitudes were reduced. The mean RI decrease seen when glutamate reuptake was blocked for 24 hrs on DIV 10, was absent in DIV 4 THA treated neurons. However, when the neuronal cultures were maintained in the presence of PKA and GSK-3β inhibitors, the DIV 4 THA treated neurons showed AMPAR mEPSC characteristics similar to CLi neurons. Thus, it was seen that individual inhibition of PKA, GSK-3β and glutamate reuptake did not lead to changes in AMPAR mEPSCs similar to that seen in lithium treated neurons. The effect of lithium exposure during synapse development on AMPARs could be reproduced closely by co-inhibiting PKA, GSK-3β and glutamate reuptake. Using the styryl dye FM1-43, the changes induced in presynaptic release by a similar chronic lithium treatment was studied (Chapter V). It was found that lithium exposure (1 mM, DIV 4-10) brought down the extent of dye loading, destaining and also slowed down the rate of dye loss in response to high KCl stimulation (the τfast component of destaining was significantly slower). Minimum loading experiments did not reveal any difference in mode of exocytosis (kiss and run/full-collapse) in control and lithium treated cultures. Chlorpromazine treatment (that inhibits clathrin-mediated endocytosis) affected dye loading to a lesser extent in lithium treated cultures as compared to control. Surprisingly, exposure to hyperosmotic solution 10 minutes after dye wash out boosted the extent of dye loading and destaining in lithium treated cultures (a phenomenon not seen in control). This could happen if the FM1-43 is trapped away from the wash solution during the wash period. This would be possible if endocytosis in CLi takes place, differently from control, through a process involving membrane infoldings similar to bulk endocytosis albeit a slower/compromised one. Taken together, the data presented here indicates that lithium treatment during synaptogenesis affects vesicular recycling mostly at the endocytosis and docking/priming steps (mobilization of vesicles for release). Lithium treated cultures also did not show the high KCl associated presynaptic potentiation observed in control which is a significant finding. In conclusion, chronic lithium treatment affected both the presynaptic and postsynaptic compartments of the glutamatergic synapse. The effect of lithium on AMPAR mEPSC could not be reproduced by individual inhibitions of biochemical effectors but by multiple inhibitions. Thus, the study done here underscores the need to look at the manifold effect of lithium in an integrated way. The study also might have implications in understanding the CNS complications seen in patients taking lithium treatment and in babies perinatally exposed to lithium.