Unilateral Lesioning of Brain Tissues

So far in my research this summer, we have received and sectioned the rat brain tissues from Hampden-Sydney College. The brains received unilateral (in one hemisphere) infusions of anti-ChAT-saporin, the new immunotoxin we are testing. The other hemisphere was injected with saline solution as a control, which is known as a “sham lesion,” something similar to a placebo.

To reiterate some background information, we hypothesize that Anti-ChAT-saporin should selectively destroy cholinergic neurons, but not GABAergic (noncholinergic) neurons. Anti-ChAT-saporin cross-reacts with rat, mouse, and human choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), which is the enzyme that synthesizes acetylcholine from choline and acetyl-CoA, which is what cholinergic neurons utilize. Parvalbumin is a calcium-binding protein marker for GABAergic neurons. We expect that there will be fewer ChAT-positive neurons in the lesioned hemisphere compared with the sham-lesioned hemisphere, but no difference in the number of parvalbumin-positive neurons. The next steps entail quantifying these neurons by plating tissue sections and staining them.