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Deficits in the mid-brain raphe nuclei and striatum of the AS/AGU rat, a protein kinase C-gamma mutant

Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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  • Biology


The AS/AGU rat carries a recessive mutation (agu) in the gene coding for the gamma isoform of protein kinase C. The rat is characterized by disordered locomotion and progressive dysfunction of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic (DA) system. This dysfunction begins with a failure to release DA within the striatum and culminates in cell loss within the substantia nigra pars compacta. The present study examines another midbrain aminergic system with input to the basal ganglia, the serotonergic (5-HT) raphe–striatal system originating in the dorsal raphe nucleus. By 3 months after birth, there is a very substantial reduction in the extracellular levels of 5-HT in the dorsal caudate-putamen of the mutants compared with controls (c. 70%). This is accompanied by a proportional increase in the levels of the 5-HT metabolite 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid (5-HIAA). At a later age, there are reductions in whole tissue 5-HT (and increases in 5-HIAA) in both the striatum and the region containing the dorsal raphe nucleus, as well as numbers of 5-HT-immunoreactive cells in the dorsal raphe nucleus. The median raphe appears to be unaffected. The results are seen in terms of an initial dysfunction in transmitter release leading to cell death, perhaps through the formation of free radicals or neurotoxin

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