The TNFα-transgenic rat: Hippocampal synaptic integrity, cognition, function, and post-ischemic cell loss

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The cytokine, tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), is a key regulator of neuroinflammation linked to numerous neurodegenerative conditions and diseases. The present study used transgenic rats that overexpress a murine TNFα gene, under the control of its own promoter, to investigate the impact of chronically elevated TNFα on hippocampal synaptic function. Neuronal viability and cognitive recovery in TNFα Tg rats were also determined following an ischemic insult arising from reversible middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). Basal CA3-CA1 synaptic strength, recorded in acute brain slices, was not significantly different between eight-week-old TNFα Tg rats and non-Tg rats. In contrast, slices from TNFα Tg rats showed significantly greater levels of long-term potentiation (LTP) in response to 100 Hz stimulation, suggesting that synaptic networks may be hyperexcitable in the context of elevated TNFα. Cognitive and motor deficits (assessed on the Morris Water Maze and Rotarod task, respectively) were present in TNFα Tg rats in the absence of significant differences in the loss of cortical and hippocampal neurons. TNF overexpression exacerbated MCAO-dependent deficits on the rotarod, but ameliorated cortical neuron loss in response to MCAO.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0154721
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Pettigrew et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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