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K. Jhamandas et al- Quinolinate-induced cortical cholinergic damage: modulation by tryptophan metabolites

K. Jhamandas et al- Quinolinate-induced cortical cholinergic damage: modulation by tryptophan metabolites

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Brain Research,
529 (1990) 185-191 185ElsevierBRES 15905
Quinolinate-induced cortical cholinergic damage: modulation bytryptophan metabolites
K. Jhamandas 1, R.J. Boegman 1, R.J. Beninger 2 and M. Bialik 1
Departments of 1Pharmacology and Toxicology and 2psychology, Queen's University Kingston, Ont. (Canada)
(Accepted 3 April 1990)
Key words:
Quinolinic acid; Acetylcholine; Neurotoxicity; Nucleus basalis; Tryptophan metaboliteCertain products of tryptophan metabolism interact with excitatory amino acid receptors to produce or protect against excitotoxicity. In thisstudy, the action of several tryptophan metabolites, yielded by the kynurenine pathway, on cortical cholinergic toxicity was evaluated followingfocal injection into the rat nucleus basalis magnocellularis (nbM). Metabolites were injected singly or in combination with a fixed dose ofquinolinic acid (QUIN). Cholinergic toxicity, or protection against it, was evaluated by measurements of choline acetyitransferase (CHAT)activity or potassium-evoked release of [3H]acetylcholine ([3H]ACh) from slices of the frontoparietal cortex, from the injected and uninjectedsides. Focal injections of QUIN and 3-hydroxyanthranilic, but not kynurenic, picolinic, quinaldic or anthranilic acid, produced a dose-relateddecrease in ChAT activity, with QUIN being more potent. Kynurenic, picolinic, quinaldic and anthranilic acid, co-injected into the nbM withQUIN (120 nmol), produced dose-related antagonism of the neurotoxicity associated with QUIN alone. Picolinic acid also prevented thereduction in cortical [3H]ACh release induced by injections of QUIN. Kynurenic and picolinic acid produced a complete blockade of QUIN'seffect on cortical ChAT activity, while quinaldic and anthranilic acid produced a partial blockade. The order of effectiveness against QUINwas kynurenic > picolinic > quinaldic or anthranilic acid. Evaluation of thin sections following Cresyl violet staining indicated that injectionsof QUIN produced neuronal loss and glial proliferation, while co-injections of picolinic or quinaldic acid with QUIN protected neurons. Thesefindings show that several tryptophan metabolites have the potential to either produce or antagonize cholinergic toxicity. It is suggested thata balance between tryptophan metabolites producing neurotoxicity and those antagonizing this action may influence neuronal cell survival indisorders associated with neuronal degeneration.INTRODUCTIONTryptophan metabolism via the kynurenine pathwayyields certain metabolites which interact with excitatoryamino acid receptors in the central nervous system(CNS). One such metabolite, quinolinic acid (QUIN), apyridine dicarboxylic acid, excites neurons by activationof NMDA receptors, while kynurenic acid (KYA),another metabolite, blocks this excitation 7'13. Focal in-jection of QUIN into brain regions innervated byglutamatergic neurons produces excitotoxic action similarto that induced by the exogenous excitotoxins kainic oribotenic acid. Schwarcz et al. 16 showed that focal injec-tions of QUIN in the rat produce axon sparing lesions inthe striatum and other areas of the CNS. Foster et al. 6reported that KYA blocks the excitotoxic action of QUINon striatal cholinergic neurons and prevents seizuresinduced by this agent. We have previously shown thatinjections of QUIN into the nucleus basalis magnocellu-laris (nbM) destroy cholinergic cells projecting to thefrontoparietal cortex and produce impairments in mem-ory-related tasks 4A8. It was also shown that co-injectionof KYA protects against both biochemical and behav-ioural manifestations of QUIN-induced damage to thenbM neurons 1'1s. These and other observations on theaction of QUIN have stimulated interest in the possibilitythat endogenous excitotoxins such as QUIN may play arole in the neuronal degeneration that characterizescertain neurological disorders 15.Besides QUIN and KYA, the kynurenine pathwayyields a number of other metabolites with structuralfeatures in common with QUIN or KYA. In a recentelectrophysiological study, some of these tryptophanmetabolites were found to inhibit neuronal firing in thehippocampus 14. However, the extent to which variousintermediates share the excitotoxic properties of QUINor the anti-excitotoxic properties of KYA is largelyunknown. The present study addresses this question byevaluating the effects of a single injection into the nbMof these agents, alone or in combination, on the survivalof cholinergic neurons projecting to the cerebral cortex.The status of cortical cholinergic neurons was examinedby measurement of choline acetyltransferase (CHAT)activity or potassium-evoked release of [3H]acetylcholine([3H]ACh) in the frontoparietal cortex. This reportdemonstrates that tryptophan metabolites have differen-tial effects on cholinergic neurotoxicity. A brief accountof this work has recently been presented 8.
Correspondence:
K. Jhamandas, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ont., K7L 3N6, Canada.0006-8993/90/$03.50 © 1990 Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. (Biomedical Division)
 
186MATERIALS AND METHODS
Stereotaxic in/ections
All experiments were performed on male Sprague-Dawley rats(275-350 g) anesthetized with a 2% halothane/98% oxygen mixture.The anesthetized animal was placed in a stereotaxic frame and givena single injection of saline or a tryptophan metabolite into the rightnbM. In some experiments, the tryptophan metabolite was co-injected with a fixed dose of QUIN. All injections were deliveredin a 0.5 /~i volume using the coordinates: 0.8 mm posterior toBregma, 2.6 mm lateral and 8.0 mm ventral to the surface of theskull, with the incisor bar set at -3.3 mm4. The injection was madeover 2.5 min, and the cannula (Hamilton 0.35 o.d.) was left in placefor 3.0 additional minutes to allow for diffusion. All agents tested(all obtained from Sigma Chemical Co., St. Louis, MO), except3-hydroxyanthranilic acid, were suspended in 0.9% saline andsolubilized by adjusting pH to 7.4 by addition of 0.1 N NaOH. Inthe case of 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid, the pH was adjusted to 9.0,and the corresponding control injection of saline was also adjustedto this pH. The animals were allowed to recover and killed 7 dayspost-injection for biochemical assessment of cholinergic markersand morphological evaluation of the lesion site.
Biochemical assessment
A slab of frontoparietal cortex was dissected from the injectedand uninjected hemispheres and immediately homogenized formeasurement of ChAT activity. The assay for ChAT was conductedin triplicate using the method of Fonnum5. Protein was measured bythe method of Lowry et al. 11 with bovine serum albumin asstandard. In some experiments, the release of [3H]ACh from slicesof frontoparietal cortex, removed from the injected and uninjectedsides, was also examined using the procedure described in precedingpapers 1,4.
Histological assessment
For histological evaluation of lesions, neurotoxin injections weremade into a separate group of animals. The animals were anesthe-tized with sodium pentobarbital (50/~g/kg) (Sigma Chemical Co.)and perfused through the ascending aorta with 200 ml 0.9% NaCI,followed by 500 ml 4% paraformaldehyde in 50 mM sodiumphosphate buffer (pH 7.4). The brain was dissected out and placedin the same fixative for 2-3 h at 6 °C. This was followed byimmersion in 30% sucrose and 0.1 M sodium phosphate buffer (pH7.4) for at least 12 h. Transverse sections were cut on :~ freezingmicrotome and stained with Cresyl violet.
Statistical analysis
Statistical analysis of data was performed using a Student's t-testfor paired comparisons.RESULTS
Single injection experiments
A unilateral focal injection of QUIN (45-150 nmol)into the nbM resulted in a dose-related reduction incortical ChAT activity 7 days post-administration (Fig.1). A maximal decrease of 52.6 + 9.7% (n = 6) wasobserved at a dose of 120 nmol. Similar injections of thetryptophan metabolite, 3-hydroxyanthrani!ic acid (240-600 nm), also produced a significant dose-related reduc-tion in cortical ChAT activity (P < 0.01), but thismetabolite was much less potent than QUIN. At a doseof QUIN which produced a maximal reduction in ChATactivity (120 nmol), 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid produced a10.1 + 2.5% (n = 5) reduction, an effect not significantlydifferent from that produced by an infusion of salinealone (13.0 + 4.6%) (P > 0.05). However, the maximalreduction in ChAT activity (45.0 + 4.9%) produced by
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Fig. 1. Comparative effects of quinolinic acid (11) and 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid (D) on cortical ChAT activity after unilateral injection intothe rat nbM. ChAT activity was measured 7 days post-injection in the ipsilaterai and contralateral frontoparietal cortex. The percent differencebetween the two values is graphed as a function of drug concentration. The value on the far right corresponding to control ChAT activity(32.8 + 4.3 nmol/mg protein/h) after a saline injection into the nbM. Each value is the mean _+_S.E.M. and is an average of 5-6 experi-ments.
 
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Fig. 2. Conical ChAT activity after injection of different molar ratios of kynurenic acid plus quinolinic acid (D) and picolinic acid plus quinolinicacid (~). The dose of quinolinic acid (Quin) was held constant at 120 nmol. Injections were made into the fight nbM and cortical ChAT activityin the ipsilateral and contralateral cortex was measured 7 days later. The percent difference between the two values was graphed as a functionof molar ratios. The values on the far fight represent actions of kynurenic and picolinic acid in the absence of QUIN. Each value is the mean+ S.E.M. from 6 experiments.
480 nmol of 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid was comparable tothat elicited by 120-150 nmol of QUIN. Injections ofKYA, quinaldic, anthranilic and picolinic acid producedreductions in ChAT activity that were not significantlydifferent from those produced by a saline injection (datanot shown). Thus, of the metabolites tested here, only
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Fig. 3. Potassium-evoked release of [3H]ACh from slices of the frontoparietal cortex 7 days after injections of the following into the nbMgraphed as mean + S.E.M.: A, QUIN (120 nmol) (n = 5); B, picolinic acid (360 nmol) (n = 5); and C, picolinic plus quinolinic acid (molarratio 1:3) (n = 6). The blank bars and hatched bars in each figure represents [3H]ACh release from the uninjected side and injected side,respectively. Each collection period represents a 5-min collection. Slices were exposed to a 5-min pulse of potassium (35 raM) at the fifthcollection period. *Significantly different (P < 0.001) from corresponding collection (blank bar).

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