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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2004 Nov;29(11):1980-7.

Impoverished rearing environment alters metabotropic glutamate receptor expression and function in the prefrontal cortex.

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Department of Physiology and Neuroscience, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.


Rearing rats in impoverished (IC) and enriched (EC) environmental conditions alters synaptic plasticity and cognitive processes. Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) are known to play a key role in synaptic and behavioral plasticity. In the present study, the effect of rearing conditions on the expression of mGluR proteins in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) was assessed by immunoblotting. A significant difference in the content of prefrontal mGluR1 and mGluR5 (ie group I) and mGluR2/3 (ie group II) was observed between IC and EC rats. To functionally characterize this difference, in vivo microdialysis was used to verify differences in mGluR regulation of extracellular glutamate in the PFC. The results indicate that the capacity of group I and II mGluRs to elevate extracellular glutamate levels was significantly blunted in the PFC of IC rats compared to either EC subjects, or rats reared in normal environmental conditions (ie NIH standards). Group II mGluR receptors regulate performance in a forced T-maze spatial memory task that involves the PFC, and IC rats demonstrated deficits in this task relative to EC rats. These data suggest that reduced mGluR transmission in the PFC produced by impoverished, relative to enriched, rearing environments may contribute to cognitive deficits.

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