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Authors Pultorak JD, Kelm-Nelson CA, Holt LR, Blue KV, Ciucci MR, Johnson AM
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Journal Soc Neurosci Volume: 11 Issue: 4 Pages: 365-79
Publish Date 2016
PubMed ID 26313334
PMC ID 4791201
Abstract

Many individuals with Parkinson disease (PD) have difficulty producing normal speech and voice, resulting in problems with interpersonal communication and reduced quality of life. Translational animal models of communicative dysfunction have been developed to assess disease pathology. However, it is unknown whether acoustic feature changes associated with vocal production deficits in these animal models lead to compromised communication. In rodents, male ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) have a well-established role in functional inter-sexual communication. To test whether acoustic deficits in USVs observed in a PTEN-induced putative kinase 1 (PINK1) knockout (KO) PD rat model compromise communication, we presented recordings of male PINK1 KO USVs and normal wild-type (WT) USVs to female rat listeners. We measured approached behavior and immediate early gene expression (c-Fos) in brain regions implicated in auditory processing and sexual motivation. Our results suggest that females show reduced approach in response to PINK1 KO USVs compared with WT. Moreover, females exposed to PINK1 KO USVs had lower c-Fos immunolabeling in the nucleus accumbens, a region implicated in sexual motivation. These results are the first to demonstrate that vocalization deficits in a rat PD model result in compromised communication. Thus, the PINK1 KO PD model may be valuable for assessing treatments aimed at restoring vocal communicative function.

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