Previous studies have suggested that neurodegeneration is an aberrant form of development, mediated by a novel peptide from the C-terminus of acetylcholinesterase (AChE). Using voltage-sensitive dye imaging we have investigated the effects of a synthetic version of this peptide in the in vitro rat basal forebrain, a key site of degeneration in Alzheimer's disease. The brain slice preparation enables direct visualisation in real-time of sub-second meso-scale neuronal coalitions ('Neuronal Assemblies') that serve as a powerful index of brain functional activity. Here we show that (1) assemblies are site-specific in their activity profile with the cortex displaying a significantly more extensive network activity than the sub-cortical basal forebrain; (2) there is an age-dependency, in both cortical and sub-cortical sites, with the younger brain (p14 rats) exhibiting more conspicuous assemblies over space and time compared to their older counterparts (p35-40 rats). (3) AChE-derived peptide significantly modulates the dynamics of neuronal assemblies in the basal forebrain of the p14 rat with the degree of modulation negatively correlated with age, (4) the differential in assembly size with age parallels the level of endogenous peptide in the brain, which also declines with maturity, and (5) this effect is completely reversed by a cyclised variant of AChE-peptide, 'NBP14'. These observations are attributed to an enhanced calcium entry that, according to developmental stage, could be either trophic or toxic, and as such may provide insight into the basic neurodegenerative process as well as an eventual therapeutic intervention.
Keywords: AChE-peptides; Acetylcholinesterase; Basal forebrain; Electrophysiology; Field potentials; In vitro; Neuronal assemblies; Optical imaging; Population activity; Voltage-sensitive dye imaging.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.