Deletion of a single copy of the BDNF gene has been shown to affect the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system of young adult BDNF mice. In the present report we evaluated various indices of nigrostriatal dopaminergic function between 9-month-old wild-type (+/+) and heterozygous (+/-) BDNF mutant mice. Performance in a sensorimotor beam walking task was significantly decreased in +/- mice as indicated by increased times required to traverse both a wide (21 mm) and narrow (6 mm) beam. No differences in spontaneous locomotor behavior were observed between the +/+ and +/- mice. Amphetamine-stimulated (5 mg/kg) locomotor behavior was increased to a greater degree in the +/- mice, with the number of movements performed by these mice being significantly greater than their +/+ controls. Corpus striatal dopamine concentrations were significantly greater in the +/- BDNF mice. The absence of any significant differences for dopamine concentrations within the hypothalamus and olfactory bulb of these mice, as well as an absence of any difference in striatal norepinephrine concentrations, suggested a relative specificity of these effects to the corpus striatum. Both the +/- and +/+ mice showed similar reductions in striatal dopamine concentrations in response to a neurotoxic regimen of methamphetamine (20 mg/kg). Collectively these data show increased levels of striatal dopamine concentrations associated with altered behavioral responses involving the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system within the heterozygous BDNF mutant mice.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.