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Eff ect of a single asenapine treatment on Fos expression in the brain catecholamine-synthesizing neurons: impact of a chronic mild stress preconditioning

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Objective. Fos protein expression in catecholamine-synthesizing neurons of the substantia nigra (SN) pars compacta (SNC, A8), pars reticulata (SNR, A9), and pars lateralis (SNL), the ventral tegmental area (VTA, A10), the locus coeruleus (LC, A6) and subcoeruleus (sLC), the ventrolateral pons (PON-A5), the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS-A2), the area postrema (AP), and the ventrolateral medulla (VLM-A1) was quantitatively evaluated aft er a single administration of asenapine (ASE) (designated for schizophrenia treatment) in male Wistar rats preconditioned with a chronic unpredictable variable mild stress (CMS) for 21 days. Th e aim of the present study was to reveal whether a single ASE treatment may 1) activate Fos expression in the brain areas selected; 2) activate tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-synthesizing cells displaying Fos presence; and 3) be modulated by CMS preconditioning.

Methods. Control (CON), ASE, CMS, and CMS+ASE groups were used. CMS included restraint, social isolation, crowding, swimming, and cold. Th e ASE and CMS+ASE groups received a single dose of ASE (0.3 mg/kg, s.c.) and CON and CMS saline (300 μl/rat, s.c.). The animals were sacrificed 90 min aft er the treatments. Fos protein and TH-labeled immunoreactive perikarya were analyzed on double labeled histological sections and enumerated on captured pictures using combined light and fluorescence microscope illumination.

Results. Saline or CMS alone did not promote Fos expression in any of the structures investigated. ASE alone or in combination with CMS elicited Fos expression in two parts of the SN (SNC, SNR) and the VTA. Aside from some cells in the central gray tegmental nuclei adjacent to LC, where a small number of Fos profiles occurred, none or negligible Fos occurrence was detected in the other structures investigated including the LC and sLC, PON-A5, NTS-A2, AP, and VLM-A1. CMS preconditioning did not infl uence the level of Fos induction in the SN and VTA elicited by ASE administration. Similarly, the ratio between the amount of free Fos and Fos colocalized with TH was not aff ected by stress preconditioning in the SNC, SNR, and the VTA.

Conclusions. Th e present study provides an anatomical/functional knowledge about the nature of the acute ASE treatment on the catecholamine-synthesizing neurons activity in certain brain structures and their missing interplay with the CMS preconditioning.