Children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) are prone to learning and behavioral abnormalities, including problems with spatial learning and attention. The molecular etiology for these deficits is unclear, as previous studies have implicated defective dopamine, cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), and Ras homeostasis. Using behavioral, electrophysiological, and primary culture, we now demonstrate that reduced dopamine signaling is responsible for cAMP-dependent defects in neuron function and learning. Collectively, these results establish defective dopaminergic function as a contributing factor underlying impaired spatial learning and memory in children and adults with NF1, and support the use of treatments that restore normal dopamine homeostasis for select individuals.
Copyright © 2012 American Neurological Association.