Parvalbumin expression and gamma oscillation occurrence increase over time in a neurodevelopmental model of NMDA receptor dysfunction

PeerJ. 2018 Sep 19:6:e5543. doi: 10.7717/peerj.5543. eCollection 2018.


Dysfunction of the N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) is thought to play a role in the pathophysiology of neurodevelopmental diseases like schizophrenia. To study the effects of NMDAR dysfunction on synaptic transmission and network oscillations, we used hippocampal tissue of NMDAR subunit GluN2A knockout (KO) mice. Field excitatory postsynaptic potentials were recorded in acute hippocampal slices of adult animals. Synaptic transmission was impaired in GluN2A KO slices compared to wild-type (WT) slices. Further, to investigate whether NMDAR dysfunction would alter neurodevelopment in vitro, we used organotypic hippocampal slice cultures of WT and GluN2A KO mice. Immunostaining performed with cultures kept two, seven, 14, 25 days in vitro (DIV) revealed an increasing expression of parvalbumin (PV) over time. As a functional readout, oscillatory activity induced by the cholinergic agonist carbachol was recorded in cultures kept seven, 13, and 26 DIV using microelectrode arrays. Initial analysis focused on the occurrence of delta, theta, beta and gamma oscillations over genotype, DIV and hippocampal area (CA1, CA3, dentate gyrus (DG)). In a follow-up analysis, we studied the peak frequency and the peak power of each of the four oscillation bands per condition. The occurrence of gamma oscillations displayed an increase by DIV similar to the PV immunostaining. Unlike gamma occurrence, delta, theta, and beta occurrence did not change over time in culture. The peak frequency and peak power in the different bands of the oscillations were not different in slices of WT and GluN2A KO mice. However, the level of PV expression was lower in GluN2A KO compared to WT mice. Given the role of PV-containing fast-spiking basket cells in generation of oscillations and the decreased PV expression in subjects with schizophrenia, the study of gamma oscillations in organotypic hippocampal slices represents a potentially valuable tool for the characterization of novel therapeutic drugs.

Keywords: Gamma; GluN2A; Hippocampus; Interneuron; MEA; NMDAR; Organotypic; Oscillation; Parvalbumin; Schizophrenia.

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.6882788.v1

Grants and funding

This project formed part of the EU Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) “Biomedical engineering for cancer and brain disease diagnosis and therapy development: EngCaBra,” contract no. 264417. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.