Synaptic levels of the monoamine neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine are modulated by their respective plasma membrane transporters, albeit with a few exceptions. Monoamine transporters remove monoamines from the synaptic cleft and thus influence the degree and duration of signaling. Abnormal concentrations of these neuronal transmitters are implicated in a number of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including addiction, depression, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. This work concentrates on the norepinephrine transporter (NET), using a battery of in vivo magnetic resonance imaging techniques and histological correlates to probe the effects of genetic deletion of the norepinephrine transporter on brain metabolism, anatomy and functional connectivity. MRS recorded in the striatum of NET knockout mice indicated a lower concentration of NAA that correlates with histological observations of subtle dysmorphisms in the striatum and internal capsule. As with DAT and SERT knockout mice, we detected minimal structural alterations in NET knockout mice by tensor-based morphometric analysis. In contrast, longitudinal imaging after stereotaxic prefrontal cortical injection of manganese, an established neuronal circuitry tracer, revealed that the reward circuit in the NET knockout mouse is biased toward anterior portions of the brain. This is similar to previous results observed for the dopamine transporter (DAT) knockout mouse, but dissimilar from work with serotonin transporter (SERT) knockout mice where Mn2+ tracings extended to more posterior structures than in wildtype animals. These observations correlate with behavioral studies indicating that SERT knockout mice display anxiety-like phenotypes, while NET knockouts and to a lesser extent DAT knockout mice display antidepressant-like phenotypic features. Thus, the mainly anterior activity detected with manganese-enhanced MRI in the DAT and NET knockout mice is likely indicative of more robust connectivity in the frontal portion of the reward circuit of the DAT and NET knockout mice compared to the SERT knockout mice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)