Background Fragile X Syndrome is the most common known genetic cause of autism. The Fmr1-KO mouse, lacks the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), and is used as a model of the syndrome. The core behavioral deficits of autism may be conceptualized either as excessive adherence to patterns as seen in repetitive actions and aberrant language, or as insensitivity to subtle but socially important changes in patterns. The hippocampus receives information from the entorhinal cortex and plays a crucial role in the processing of patterned information. To gain more insight into the physiological function of FMRP and the neuronal mechanisms underlying fragile X syndrome, we examined the electrophysiological response of the hippocampus to pair pulse stimulation as a measure of patterned information processing and how it is affected in the Fmr1-KO mouse. Methods In this study, we used paired-pulse stimulation of the afferent perforant path and recorded from the CA1 region of the hippocampus. Two-month-old FVB/NJ male mice and age-matched Fmr1-KO mice were used in this study. Hippocampal slices were prepared, equilibrated in artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF), and excitatory post synaptic potentials (EPSPs) measured by stimulating the perforant path of the dentate gyrus (DG) while recording from the molecular layer of CA1. Stimulation occurred by setting current and pulse width to evoke a fixed percentage of maximal EPSP amplitude. This stimulation paradigm allowed us to examine the processing capabilities of the hippocampus as a function of increasing interstimulus intervals (ISI) and how taurine, a GABAA receptor agonist, affects such information processing. Results We found that hippocampal slices from wild type (WT) showed pair-pulse facilitation at ISI of 100-300 ms whereas slices from Fmr1-KO brains showed a consistent pair-pulse depression at a comparable ISI. Addition of 10 μM taurine to WT slices resulted in a drastic decrease of the peak response to the second stimulus, resulting in an initial depression at 100 ms ISI followed by potentiation at higher ISI (150 ms and above). In the presence of taurine, the amplitude of the second response remained significantly lower than in its absence. Fmr1-KO mice however, were completely insensitive to taurine application and pair-pulse stimulation always resulted in a depression of the response to the second stimulus. Conclusions Previously we reported that Fmr1-KO mice have reduced beta subunits of the GABAA receptors. We also showed as well as others that taurine acts as an agonist or a modulator for GABAA receptors. Therefore, the insensitivity of Fmr1-KO slices to taurine application could be due to the reduced binding sites on the GABAA receptors in the Fmr1-KO mice.
El Idrissi, A., Neuwirth, L. S. & L’Amoreaux, W. (2010). Taurine regulation of short term synaptic plasticity in fragile X mice. Journal of Biomedical Science, 17(Suppl 1), S15-S15. doi:10.1186/1423-0127-17-S1-S15.