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    In two related experiments, neurotoxic lesions were placed in the anterior thalamic nuclei of adult rats. The rats were then trained on behavioral tasks, immediately followed by the immunohistochemical measurement of molecules linked to neural plasticity. These measurements were made in limbic sites including the retrosplenial cortex, the hippocampal formation, and parahippocampal areas. In Experiment 1, rats with unilateral anterior thalamic lesions explored either novel or familiar objects prior to analysis of the immediate-early gene zif268. The lesions reduced zif268 activity in the granular retrosplenial cortex and postsubiculum. Exploring novel objects resulted in local changes of hippocampal zif268, but this change was not moderated by anterior thalamic lesions. In Experiment 2, rats that had received either bilateral anterior thalamic lesions or control surgeries were exposed to novel room cues while running in the arms of a radial maze. In addition to zif268, measurements of c-AMP response element binding protein (CREB), phosphorylated CREB (pCREB), and growth associated protein43 (GAP-43) were made. As before, anterior thalamic lesions reduced zif268 in retrosplenial cortex and postsubiculum, but there were also reductions of pCREB in granular retrosplenial cortex. Again, the hippocampus did not show lesion-induced changes in zif268, but there were differential effects on CREB and pCREB consistent with reduced levels of hippocampal CREB phosphorylation following anterior thalamic damage. No changes in GAP-43 were detected. The results not only point to changes in several limbic sites (retrosplenial cortex and hippocampus) following anterior thalamic damage, but also indicate that these changes include decreased levels of pCREB. As pCREB is required for neuronal plasticity, partly because of its regulation of immediate early-gene expression, the present findings reinforce the concept of an 'extended hippocampal system' in which hippocampal function is dependent on distal sites such as the anterior thalamic nuclei. Copyright © 2012 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


    J R Dumont, E Amin, G L Poirier, M M Albasser, J P Aggleton. Anterior thalamic nuclei lesions in rats disrupt markers of neural plasticity in distal limbic brain regions. Neuroscience. 2012 Nov 08;224:81-101

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    PMID: 22917615

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