Reduction in cortical parvalbumin expression due to intermittent theta-burst stimulation correlates with maturation of the perineuronal nets in young rats

Annika Mix, Kathrin Hoppenrath, Klaus Funke
Developmental Neurobiology 2015, 75 (1): 1-11
We recently showed that intermittent theta-burst stimulation (iTBS) using transcranial magnetic stimulation strongly reduces the number of rat neocortical interneurons expressing glutamic acid decarboxylase 67 kDa (GAD67) and parvalbumin (PV), indicating changed activity of fast-spiking (FS) interneurons. In advance of in vitro studies intended to characterize changes in electrical properties of FS interneurons under these conditions, we tested whether the iTBS effect is age-dependent. Conscious Sprague-Dawley rats aged between 28 and 90 days received three blocks of iTBS at 15 min intervals. We found that iTBS-related reduction in PV+ cells was absent up to an age of 32 days, then gradually increased, and approached a maximum of about 40% reduction at an age of about 40 days. The relative number of cells expressing PV (PV+, 8-9%) did not change with age in sham-controls and also the increase in cortical c-Fos expression induced by iTBS was not principally age-dependent. However, a prominent growth of the perineuronal nets, typically surrounding the PV+ cells, exactly paralleled the increase in the iTBS effect. Based on these findings, we conclude that the functional development of the inhibitory network of PV+ interneurons with regard to intracortical synaptic connectivity is not sufficiently matured in rats younger than 35 d to enable activity-dependent modifications during iTBS. Outgrowth of the perineuronal nets and associated maturation of excitatory cortical inputs, as is characteristic for the critical cortical period, may take place before PV+ interneurons can be sufficiently activated via repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, allowing plastic changes of molecular phenotype and likely also synaptic plasticity.

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