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Orexin-A modulates neuronal network activity in vitro

I. Stoyanova, J. le Feber


Orexin A (OXA) is a neuropeptide, isolated from neurons in the hypothalamus, which regulates various brain ac­tivities, including wakefulness and higher brain functions like learning and memory. There is a growing inter­est in OXA`s role in neurodegenerative diseases with respect to non-motor symptoms such as sleep, attention and cognitive disorders. Recent studies in Parkinson`s and Alzheimer`s patients found lower concentrations of OXA in the prefrontal cortex and cerebro-spinal fluid. It is widely assumed that deteriorated cognitive processes are related to impaired network connectivity. However, little is known about the effects of OXA on the network activ­ity and synaptogenesis. Therefore, we investigated the development of activity in dissociated cortical neurons of rat chronically treated with 0.5 μM OXA for three weeks. Network activity was recorded with multielectrode ar­rays. Additionally, after one, two or three weeks, cultures were stained immunocytochemically for detection of the presynaptic marker synaptophysin. OXA-treated cultures became spontaneously active earlier and the pla­teau of their activity was higher than in controls. Immunostaining revealed that the synaptic density was much higher in OXA-treated cultures across all age groups. Hence, OXA has a strong stimulating effect on network for­mation and activity, the latter probably being a consequence of the accelerated synaptogenesis. These results indi­cate that drugs, based on OXA, are potential candidates for prevention and treatment of disorders associated with neuronal connectivity and activity decline.



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About The Authors

I. Stoyanova
Medical University of Varna

J. le Feber
University of Twente, Enschede

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