International journal of developmental neuroscience : the official journal of the International Society for Developmental Neuroscience

Differential effects of developmental hypo- and hyperthyroidism on acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase activity in the spinal cord of developing postnatal rat pups.

PMID 22982053


The plasticity and vulnerability of the rat spinal cord (SC) during postnatal development has been less investigated compared to other CNS structures. In this study, we determined the effects of thyroid hormonal (TH) deficiency and excess on postnatal growth and neurochemical development of the rat SC. The growth as well as the specific and total activity of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE) enzymes of the SC were determined in hypo- and hyperthyroid rat pups at postnatal (P) days P1, P5, P10 and P21 (weaning), and were compared to age-matched untreated normal controls. AChE is a cholinergic synaptic enzyme while BuChE is a metabolic enzyme mainly found in glial cells and neurovascular cells. The SC is rich in somatic motor, autonomic cholinergic neurons and associated interneurons. Daily subcutaneous injection of pups with thyroxine (T4) and administration of antithyroid goitrogen propylthiouracil (PTU) in the litter's drinking water were used to induce hyper- and hypothyroidism, respectively. Enzyme assays were carried out spectrophotometrically at the above-mentioned ages, using SC homogenates with acetylthiocholine-chloride as the substrate, together with specific cholinesterase inhibitors, which specifically target AChE and BuChE. SC weights were significantly lower at P10 and P21 in hypothyroid pups but unchanged in the hyperthyroid ones. Hypothyroidism significantly reduced both specific and total AChE activity in SC of P10 and P21 rat pups, while having no effects on the BuChE activity, although total BuChE activity was decreased due to reduced total tissue weight. In contrast both specific and total AChE activities were markedly and significantly increased (>100%) in the P10 and P21 hyperthyroid pups. However, BuChE specific activity was unaffected by this treatment. The results indicate that hypothyroid condition significantly reduces, while hyperthyroidism increases, the postnatal development of cholinergic synapses, thereby influencing the functional development of this major sensory and motor structure. However, the neurochemical development of glia and other non-neuronal cells, where BuChE is mainly localized, is comparatively unaffected in these abnormal developmental conditions.

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