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Genes Brain Behav. 2010 Oct;9(7):681-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2010.00602.x. Epub 2010 Jun 21.

Hyperactivity, startle reactivity and cell-proliferation deficits are resistant to chronic lithium treatment in adult Nr2e1(frc/frc) mice.

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  • 1Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics at the Child & Family Research Institute, and Department of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


The NR2E1 region on Chromosome 6q21-22 has been repeatedly linked to bipolar disorder (BP) and NR2E1 has been associated with BP, and more specifically bipolar I disorder (BPI). In addition, patient sequencing has shown an enrichment of rare candidate-regulatory variants. Interestingly, mice carrying either spontaneous (Nr2e1(frc) ) or targeted (Tlx(-) ) deletions of Nr2e1 (here collectively known as Nr2e1-null) show similar neurological and behavioral anomalies, including hypoplasia of the cerebrum, reduced neural stem cell proliferation, extreme aggression and deficits in fear conditioning; these are the traits that have been observed in some patients with BP. Thus, NR2E1 is a positional and functional candidate for a role in BP. However, no Nr2e1-null mice have been fully evaluated for behaviors used to model BP in rodents or pharmacological responses to drugs effective in treating BP symptoms. In this study we examine Nr2e1(frc/frc) mice, homozygous for the spontaneous deletion, for abnormalities in activity, learning and information processing, and cell proliferation; these are the phenotypes that are either affected in patients with BP or commonly assessed in rodent models of BP. The effect of lithium, a drug used to treat BP, was also evaluated for its ability to attenuate Nr2e1(frc/frc) behavioral and neural stem cell-proliferation phenotypes. We show for the first time that Nr2e1-null mice exhibit extreme hyperactivity in the open field as early as postnatal day 18 and in the home cage, deficits in open-field habituation and passive avoidance, and surprisingly, an absence of acoustic startle. We observed a reduction in neural stem/progenitor cell proliferation in Nr2e1(frc/frc) mice, similar to that seen in other Nr2e1-null strains. These behavioral and cell-proliferation phenotypes were resistant to chronic-adult-lithium treatment. Thus, Nr2e1(frc/frc) mice exhibit behavioral traits used to model BP in rodents, but our results do not support Nr2e1(frc/frc) mice as pharmacological models for BP.

© 2010 The Authors. Genes, Brain and Behavior © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society.

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