Center of Experimental Morphology

Departamento de Anatomia - Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto

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Prolonged protein deprivation, but not food restriction, affects parvalbumin-containing interneurons in the dentate gyrus of adult rats

Research Area: Uncategorized Year: 2013
Type of Publication: Article
Journal: Brain Research
Number: 1522: Pages: 22-30
Several studies have demonstrated the vulnerability of the hippocampal formation to malnutrition. In this study, we compared the effects of food restriction and protein malnutrition in the total number of neurons of the dentate gyrus and in the number of parvalbumin-immunoreactive (PV-IR) interneurons, which are related to the control of calcium homeostasis and fine tuning of the hippocampal circuits. Two month-old rats were randomly assigned to control, food-restricted and low-protein diet groups. After 6 months, 10 rats from the low-protein diet group were selected at random and fed with a normal protein diet for 2 months. The total number of granule and hilar cells was reduced in protein-deprived rats and the nutritional reestablishment with a normal protein diet did not recover neuron numbers. Protein deprivation increased the number of PV-IR interneurons in the granule cell layer and hilus, but their number returned to values similar to controls after nutritional rehabilitation. Food restriction did not affect the total number of neurons or the density of PV-IR interneurons in the dentate gyrus. These results support the view that protein deprivation may disturb calcium homeostasis, leading to neuronal death. The up-regulation of PV-IR cells may reflect a protective mechanism to counteract the calcium overload and protect the remaining neurons of the dentate gyrus. This imbalance in cell-ratio favoring GABAergic interneurons may justify some learning and memory impairments described in protein-deprived animals. This contrast between the results of food restriction and protein deprivation should be further analyzed in future studies.

Centro de Morfologia Experimental
Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto
Al. Professor Hernâni Monteiro
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