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Biometals. 2008 Oct;21(5):545-52. doi: 10.1007/s10534-008-9140-0. Epub 2008 Mar 27.

Enhancement of hippocampal mossy fiber activity in zinc deficiency and its influence on behavior.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Shizuoka, 52-1 Yada, Shizuoka 422-8526, Japan.


The extracellular concentration of glutamate in the hippocampus is increased by hippocampal perfusion with CaEDTA, a membrane-impermeable zinc chelator, suggesting that the activity of glutamatergic neurons in the hippocampus are influenced by the extracellular concentrations of zinc. In the present study, the relationship between the extracellular concentrations of zinc and mossy fiber activity in the hippocampus was examined in mice and rats fed a zinc-deficient diet for 4 weeks. Timm's stain, by which histochemically reactive zinc in the presynaptic vesicles is detected, was attenuated in the hippocampus in zinc deficiency. The extracellular signal of ZnAF-2, a membrane-impermeable zinc indicator, was also lower in the hippocampal CA3, suggesting that the basal extracellular concentrations of zinc are lower maintained in zinc deficiency. To check mossy fiber activity after 4-week zinc deprivation, the decrease in the signal of FM4-64, an indicator of presynaptic activity (exocytosis), at mossy fiber synapses was measured under the condition of spontaneous depolarization. The decrease was significantly facilitated by zinc deficiency, suggesting that the basal exocytosis at mossy fiber synapses is enhanced by zinc deficiency. On the other hand, the increase in anxiety-like behavior was observed in the open-field test after 4-week zinc deprivation. The present study demonstrates that the decrease in the basal extracellular concentrations of zinc may be linked to the enhancement of the basal mossy fiber activity in zinc deficiency. This decrease seems to be also involved in neuropsychological behavior in zinc deficiency.

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