Selective immunolesioning of cholinergic neurons in nucleus basalis magnocellularis impairs prepulse inhibition of acoustic startle

M. Ballmaier, F. Casamenti, M. Zoli, G. Pepeu, P. Spano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Information processing and attentional abnormalities are prominent in neuropsychiatric disorders. Since the cholinergic neurons located in the nucleus basalis magnocellularis have been shown to be involved in attentional performance and information processing, recent efforts to analyze the significance of the basal forebrain in the context of schizophrenia have focused on this nucleus and its projections to the cerebral cortex. We report here that bilateral selective immunolesioning of the cholinergic neurons in the nucleus basalis magnocellularis is followed by significant deficits in sensorimotor gating measured by prepulse inhibition of the startle reflex in adult rats. This behavioral approach is used in both humans and rodents and has been proposed as a valuable model contributing to the understanding of the neurobiological substrates of schizophrenia. The disruption of prepulse inhibition persisted over repeated testing. The selective lesions were induced by bilateral intraparenchymal infusions of 192 IgG saporin at a concentration having minimal diffusion into adjacent nuclei of the basal forebrain. The infusions were followed by extensive loss of choline acetyltransferase-immunopositive neurons. Our results show that the cholinergic neurons of the nucleus basalis magnocellularis represent a critical station of the startle gating circuitry and suggest that dysfunction of these neurons may result in impaired sensorimotor gating characteristic of schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-305
Number of pages7
JournalNeuroscience
Volume108
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 10 2001

Keywords

  • Cholinergic basal forebrain
  • Immunotoxin
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sensorimotor gating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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