Evidence that increased 5-HT release evokes region-specific effects on blood-oxygenation level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging responses in the rat brain.
Preece MA., Taylor MJ., Raley J., Blamire A., Sharp T., Sibson NR.
This study aimed to determine the potential of in vivo functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) methods as a non-invasive means of detecting effects of increased 5-HT release in brain. Changes in blood-oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) contrast induced by administration of the 5-HT-releasing agent, fenfluramine, were measured in selected brain regions of halothane-anesthetized rats. Initial immunohistochemical measurements of the marker of neural activation, Fos, confirmed that in halothane-anesthetized rats fenfluramine (10 mg/kg i.v.) evoked cellular responses in cortical regions which were attenuated by pre-treatment with the 5-HT synthesis inhibitor p-chlorophenylalanine (300 mg/kg i.p. once daily for 2 days). Fenfluramine-induced Fos was demonstrated in numerous glutamatergic pyramidal neurons (Fos/excitatory amino acid carrier 1 (EAAC1) co-labeled), but also a small number of GABA interneurons (Fos/glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD)(67) colabeled). Fenfluramine (10 mg/kg i.v.) evoked changes in BOLD signal intensity in a number of cortical and sub-cortical regions with the greatest effects being observed in the nucleus accumbens (-13.0%+/-2.7%), prefrontal cortex (-10.1%+/-3.2%) and motor cortex (+2.3%+/-1.0%). Pre-treatment with p-chlorophenylalanine, significantly attenuated the response to fenfluramine (10 mg/kg i.v.) in all regions with the exception of the motor cortex which showed a trend. These experiments demonstrate that increased 5-HT release evokes region-specific changes in the BOLD signal in rats, and that this effect is attenuated in almost all regions by 5-HT depletion. These findings support the use of fMRI imaging methods as a non-invasive tool to study 5-HT function in animal models, with the potential for extension to clinical studies.