Publications -- Thomas Cunningham

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This collection is limited to articles published under the terms of a creative commons license or other open access publishing agreement since 2016. It is not intended as a complete list of the author's works.


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Now showing 1 - 5 of 5
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    Effects of bile duct ligation on the inhibitory control of supraoptic vasopressin neurons
    (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2023-06-20) Aikins, Ato O.; Farmer, George E.; Little, Joel T.; Cunningham, J. Thomas
    Dilutional hyponatremia due to increased plasma arginine vasopressin (AVP) is associated with liver cirrhosis. However, plasma AVP remains elevated despite progressive hypoosmolality. This study investigated changes to inhibitory control of supraoptic nucleus (SON) AVP neurons during liver cirrhosis. Experiments were conducted with adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. Bile duct ligation was used as a model of chronic liver cirrhosis. An adeno-associated virus containing a construct with an AVP promoter and either green fluorescent protein (GFP) or a ratiometric chloride indicator, ClopHensorN, was bilaterally injected into the SON of rats. After 2 weeks, rats received either BDL or sham surgery, and liver cirrhosis was allowed to develop for 4 weeks. In vitro, loose patch recordings of action potentials were obtained from GFP-labeled and unlabeled SON neurons in response to a brief focal application of the GABA(A) agonist muscimol (100 muM). Changes to intracellular chloride ([Cl]i) following muscimol application were determined by changes to the fluorescence ratio of ClopHensorN. The contribution of cation chloride cotransporters NKCC1 and KCC2 to changes in intracellular chloride was investigated using their respective antagonists, bumetanide (BU, 10 muM) and VU0240551 (10 muM). Plasma osmolality and hematocrit were measured as a marker of dilutional hyponatremia. The results showed reduced or absent GABA(A) -mediated inhibition in a greater proportion of AVP neurons from BDL rats as compared to sham rats (100% inhibition in sham vs. 47% in BDL, p = .001). Muscimol application was associated with increased [Cl]i in most cells from BDL as compared to cells from sham rats (chi(2) = 30.24, p < .001). NKCC1 contributed to the impaired inhibition observed in BDL rats (p < .001 BDL - BU vs. BDL + BU). The results show that impaired inhibition of SON AVP neurons and increased intracellular chloride contribute to the sustained dilutional hyponatremia in liver cirrhosis.
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    Establishing Equivalent Aerobic Exercise Parameters Between Early-Stage Parkinson's Disease and Pink1 Knockout Rats
    (IOS Press, 2022-06-28) Salvatore, Michael F.; Soto, Isabel; Kasanga, Ella A.; James, Rachael; Shifflet, Marla K.; Doshier, Kirby; Little, Joel T.; John, Joshia; Alphonso, Helene M.; Cunningham, J. Thomas; Nejtek, Vicki A.
    BACKGROUND: Rodent Parkinson's disease (PD) models are valuable to interrogate neurobiological mechanisms of exercise that mitigate motor impairment. Translating these mechanisms to human PD must account for physical capabilities of the patient. OBJECTIVE: To establish cardiovascular parameters as a common metric for cross-species translation of aerobic exercise impact. METHOD: We evaluated aerobic exercise impact on heart rate (HR) in 21 early-stage PD subjects (Hoehn Yahr /=3 months, >/=3x/week. In 4-month-old Pink1 knockout (KO) rats exercising in a progressively-increased treadmill speed regimen, we determined a specific treadmill speed that increased HR to an extent similar in human subjects. RESULTS: After completing aerobic exercise for approximately 30 min, PD subjects had increased HR approximately 35% above baseline ( approximately 63% maximum HR). Motor and cognitive test results indicated the exercising subjects completed the timed up and go (TUG) and trail-making test (TMT-A) in significantly less time versus exercise-naive PD subjects. In KO and age-matched wild-type (WT) rats, treadmill speeds of 8-10 m/min increased HR up to 25% above baseline ( approximately 67% maximum HR), with no further increases up to 16 m/min. Exercised KO, but not WT, rats showed increased locomotor activity compared to an age-matched exercise-naive cohort at 5 months old. CONCLUSION: These proof-of-concept results indicate HR is a cross-species translation parameter to evaluate aerobic exercise impact on specific motor or cognitive functions in human subjects and rat PD models. Moreover, a moderate intensity exercise regimen is within the physical abilities of early-stage PD patients and is therefore applicable for interrogating neurobiological mechanisms in rat PD models.
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    Cardiovascular Metrics Associated With Prevention of Aging-Related Parkinsonian Signs Following Exercise Intervention in Sedentary Older Rats
    (Frontiers Media S.A., 2021-12-15) Kasanga, Ella A.; Little, Joel; McInnis, Tamara R.; Bugnariu, Nicoleta; Cunningham, J. Thomas; Salvatore, Michael F.
    Preservation of motor capabilities is vital to maintaining independent daily living throughout a person's lifespan and may mitigate aging-related parkinsonism, a progressive and prevalent motor impairment. Physically active lifestyles can mitigate aging-related motor impairment. However, the metrics of physical activity necessary for mitigating parkinsonian signs are not established. Consistent moderate intensity (~10 m/min) treadmill exercise can reverse aging-related parkinsonian signs by 20 weeks in a 2-week on, 2-week off, regimen in previously sedentary advanced middle-aged rats. In this study, we initiated treadmill exercise in sedentary 18-month-old male rats to address two questions: (1) if a rest period not longer than 1-week off exercise, with 15 exercise sessions per month, could attenuate parkinsonian signs within 2 months after exercise initiation, and the associated impact on heart rate (HR) and mean arterial pressure (MAP) and (2) if continuation of this regimen, up to 20 weeks, will be associated with continual prevention of parkinsonian signs. The intensity and frequency of treadmill exercise attenuated aging-related parkinsonian signs by 8 weeks and were maintained till 23 months old. The exercise regimen increased HR by 25% above baseline and gradually reduced pre-intervention MAP. Together, these studies indicate that a practicable frequency and intensity of exercise reduces parkinsonian sign severity commensurate with a modest increase in HR after exercise. These cardiovascular changes provide a baseline of metrics, easily measured in humans, for predictive validity that practicable exercise intensity and schedule can be initiated in previously sedentary older adults to delay the onset of aging-related parkinsonian signs.
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    Sniffer cells for the detection of neural Angiotensin II in vitro
    (Springer Nature, 2019-06-19) Farmer, George E.; Amune, Anna; Bachelor, Martha E.; Duong, Phong; Yuan, Joseph P.; Cunningham, J. Thomas
    Neuropeptide release in the brain has traditionally been difficult to observe. Existing methods lack temporal and spatial resolution that is consistent with the function and size of neurons. We use cultured "sniffer cells" to improve the temporal and spatial resolution of observing neuropeptide release. Sniffer cells were created by stably transfecting Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells with plasmids encoding the rat angiotensin type 1a receptor and a genetically encoded Ca2+ sensor. Isolated, cultured sniffer cells showed dose-dependent increases in fluorescence in response to exogenously applied angiotensin II and III, but not other common neurotransmitters. Sniffer cells placed on the median preoptic nucleus (a presumptive site of angiotensin release) displayed spontaneous activity and evoked responses to either electrical or optogenetic stimulation of the subfornical organ. Stable sniffer cell lines could be a viable method for detecting neuropeptide release in vitro, while still being able to distinguish differences in neuropeptide concentration.
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    Selectively Inhibiting the Median Preoptic Nucleus Attenuates Angiotensin II and Hyperosmotic-Induced Drinking Behavior and Vasopressin Release in Adult Male Rats
    (Society for Neuroscience, 2019-03-26) Marciante, Alexandria B.; Wang, Lei A.; Farmer, George E.; Cunningham, J. Thomas
    The median preoptic nucleus (MnPO) is a putative integrative region that contributes to body fluid balance. Activation of the MnPO can influence thirst, but it is not clear how these responses are linked to body fluid homeostasis. We used designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) to determine the role of the MnPO in drinking behavior and vasopressin release in response to peripheral angiotensin II (ANG II) or 3% hypertonic saline (3% HTN) in adult male Sprague Dawley rats (250-300 g). Rats were anesthetized with isoflurane and stereotaxically injected with an inhibitory DREADD (rAAV5-CaMKIIa-hM4D(Gi)-mCherry) or control (rAAV5-CaMKIIa-mCherry) virus in the MnPO. After two weeks' recovery, a subset of rats was used for extracellular recordings to verify functional effects of ANG II or hyperosmotic challenges in MnPO slice preparations. Remaining rats were used in drinking behavior studies. Each rat was administered either 10 mg/kg of exogenous clozapine-N-oxide (CNO) to inhibit DREADD-expressing cells or vehicle intraperitoneal followed by a test treatment with either 2-mg/kg ANG II or 3% HTN (1 ml/100-g bw, s.c.), twice per week for two separate treatment weeks. CNO-induced inhibition during either test treatment significantly attenuated drinking responses compared to vehicle treatments and controls. Brain tissue processed for cFos immunohistochemistry showed decreased expression with CNO-induced inhibition during either test treatment in the MnPO and downstream nuclei compared to controls. CNO-mediated inhibition significantly attenuated treatment-induced increases in plasma vasopressin compared to controls. The results indicate inhibition of CaMKIIa-expressing MnPO neurons significantly reduces drinking and vasopressin release in response to ANG II or hyperosmotic challenge.