How neurons control grooming - OT-D3 neuron study in the Calleja Islands.
The Calleja Islands (IC), although one might associate them with it, are not a chain of islands in the South Seas. These islands are found in the basal forebrain (striatum), at the junction with the hyperthalamus of mammals, and instead of sand and shells, clusters of densely packed granule cells are found in these brain areas. Located at the center of the "olfactory brain", IC neurons receive sensory input from the odor system and are thought to be involved in associative learning, reinforcement, and reward-related behavior. However, the exact functions of the neurons in the Calleja islands have not been confirmed with certainty to date.
The study of an international scientific team has now investigated the neuronal processes of grooming in mice. The subject of the study, in which JARA-BRAIN member Prof. Marc Spehr played a major role, was the circuitry and function of OT-D3 neurons within the Calleja islands in mice under different conditions. Surprisingly, the results provided evidence for a correlation between the activation and deactivation of OT-D3 neurons and the performance, frequency as well as duration of grooming of the rodents. It should be noted, however, that other brain areas beyond IC neurons, such as the lateral hyperthalamus and the medial amygdala, are involved in maintaining the hygiene.
Disturbances in grooming behavior are observed not only in humans but also in animals if they are impaired by brain diseases. In humans, for example, depression can lead to neglect of hygiene. Whereas a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder may be excessive cleanliness. Exactly how psychological disorders are related to neurological processes remains unclear. In the new study led by Professor Spehr, impaired hygiene in animals was particularly evident in striatal switching circuits, which in humans are associated with disorders such as Tourette syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, and also obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The results of the study were recently published in the journal "Nature Neuroscience". The article "Ventral striatal islands of Calleja neurons control grooming in mice" is available on the Nature Neuroscience website: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-021-00952-z#Abs1
The results of the study were recently published in the journal "Nature Neuroscience". The following were involved in the investigations and the study:
- Department of Chemosensation, Institute of Biology II of RWTH Aachen University
- Institute of Imaging and Computer Vision, RWTH Aachen University
- Department of Neuroscience Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
- Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
- Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania
- Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics der University of Florida
- Department of Neuroscience des Baylor College of Medicine