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Neuroscience. 2003;119(1):9-13.

Involvement of cholinergic and gabaergic systems in the fragile X knockout mice.

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  • 1IRCCS Neuromed, Località Camerelle, 86077 Pozzilli (IS), Italy.


Fragile X syndrome is an inherited cause of mental retardation. We used extra- and intracellular recordings in brain slices obtained from wild type and fragile X knockout mice to establish whether bath application of the cholinergic agent carbachol (5 microM) induces different responses in neurons of the subiculum, a limbic structure involved in learning and memory. We found that carbachol diminished excitatory post-synaptic responses induced by CA1 stratum radiatum stimulation in wild type mice, but caused an unexpected increase in knockout animals. Moreover, these responses augmented in knockout mice after carbachol washout, a phenomenon that resembled the muscarinic long-term potentiation seen in wild type mice during application of carbachol and GABA(A) receptor antagonists. We also used paired-pulse stimulation to determine whether the changes in synaptic excitability induced by carbachol were caused by pre- or post-synaptic mechanism. Under control conditions, this protocol induced facilitation in both wild type and knockout mice; in contrast, during carbachol application, this facilitatory effect was seen in wild type mice only. In conclusion, our data highlight for the first time differences in cholinergic and GABA-ergic mechanisms that may contribute to the phenotype of fragile X patients.

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