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Behavioral effect of chemogenetic inhibition is directly related to receptor transduction levels in rhesus monkeys

By Nicholas A. Upright, Stephen W. Brookshire, Wendy Schnebelen, Christienne G Damatac, Patrick R. Hof, Philip G. F. Browning, Paula L. Croxson, Peter H Rudebeck, Mark G. Baxter

Posted 25 May 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/331694 (published DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.1422-18.2018)

We used inhibitory DREADDs (Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs) to reversibly disrupt dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) function in male macaque monkeys. Monkeys were tested on a spatial delayed response task to assess working memory function after intramuscular injection of either clozapine-N-oxide (CNO) or vehicle. CNO injections given before DREADD transduction were without effect on behavior. rAAV5/hsyn-hM4Di-mCherry was injected bilaterally into the dlPFC of five male rhesus monkeys, to produce neuronal expression of the inhibitory (Gi-coupled) DREADD receptor. We quantified the percentage of DREADD-transduced cells using stereological analysis of mCherry-immunolabeled cells. We found a greater number of immunolabeled neurons in monkeys that displayed CNO-induced behavioral impairment after DREADD transduction compared to monkeys that showed no behavioral effect after CNO. Even in monkeys that showed reliable effects of CNO on behavior after DREADD transduction, the number of prefrontal neurons transduced with DREADD receptor was on the order of 3% of total prefrontal neurons counted. This level of histological analysis facilitates our understanding of behavioral effects, or lack thereof, after DREADD vector injection in monkeys. It also implies that a functional silencing of a relatively small fraction of dlPFC neurons, albeit in a widely distributed area, is sufficient to disrupt spatial working memory.

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