Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary Rats with unilateral or bilateral partial section of the fornix were impaired on an eight arm radial maze task. Neurochemical analysis of hippocampal tissue four weeks after the lesions revealed a 50% reduction of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity. The cholinergic marker was correlated negatively with the number of errors in the maze; the lower the ChAT activity, the higher the error score. The fornix lesion also induced a 50% reduction in norepinephrine (NE), but no change in the noradrenergic metabolite methylhydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG), suggesting a net increase in turnover of NE in these animals. Additional lesion of the noradrenergic system with the neurotoxin DSP4 reduced both MHPG and NE levels by more than 90%, compared to nonlesioned controls, and reversed the behavioral deficit. This treatment had no further effect on cholinergic markers. There was a significant negative correlation between ChAT activity and the index of NE turnover, suggesting that hyperactivity in the noradrenergic system after fornix section inhibits the spared cholinergic function and thus exacerbates the cognitive deficit. The pattern of neurochemical results bear a striking resemblance to those seen in some Alzheimer's patients and suggest that an equilibrium among neurotransmitters is important to cognitive function.
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