Modulatory Neurotransmitter Systems and Behavior: Towards Zebrafish Models of Neurodegenerative Diseases

  • Panula P
  • Sallinen V
  • Sundvik M
 et al. 
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The modulatory aminergic neurotransmitters are involved in practically all important physiological systems in the brain, and many of them are also involved in human central nervous system diseases, including Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, and depression. The zebrafish brain aminergic systems share many structural properties with the mammalian systems. The noradrenergic, serotonergic, and histaminergic systems are highly similar. The dopaminergic systems also show similarities with the major difference being the lack of dopaminergic neurons in zebrafish mesencephalon. Development of automated quantitative behavioral analysis methods for zebrafish and imaging systems of complete brain neurotransmitter networks have enabled comprehensive studies on these systems in normal and pathological conditions. It is possible to visualize complete neurotransmitter systems in the whole zebrafish brain at an age when the fish already displays all major vital behaviors except reproduction. Alterations of brain dopaminergic systems with MPTP, the neurotoxin that in humans and rodents induces Parkinson's disease, induces both changes in zebrafish dopaminergic system and quantifiable abnormalities in motor behavior. Chemically-induced brain histamine deficiency causes an identifiable alteration in histaminergic neurons and terminal networks, and a clear change in swimming behavior and long-term memory. Combining the imaging techniques and behavioral methods with zebrafish genetics is likely to help reveal how the modulatory transmitter systems interact to produce important behaviors, and how they are regulated in pathophysiological conditions and diseases.

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  • Pertti Panula

  • Ville Sallinen

  • Maria Sundvik

  • Juha Kolehmainen

  • Veera Torkko

  • Anu Tiittula

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