METABOLIC BRAIN DISEASE, vol.37, no.2, pp.545-557, 2022 (SCI-Expanded)
Phenylketonuria (PKU) is an inborn error disease in phenylalanine metabolism resulting from defects in the stages of converting phenylalanine to tyrosine. Although the pathophysiology of PKU is not elucidated yet, the toxic effect of phenylalanine on the brain causes severe mental retardation. In relation to learning and memory, the hippocampal PKA / CREB / BDNF pathway may play a role in learning deficits in PKU patients. This study aimed to investigate PKA/CREB/BDNF pathway in hippocampus of chemically induced PKU rats with regard to gender. Sprague-Dawley rat pups were randomized into two groups of both genders. To chemically induce PKU, animals received subcutaneous administration of phenylalanine (5.2 mmol / g) plus p-chlorophenylalanine, phenylalanine hydroxylase inhibitor (0.9 mmol / g); control animals received 0.9% NaCl. Injections started on the 6th day and continued until the 21st day after which locomotor activity, learning and memory were tested. In male PKU rats, locomotor activity was reduced. There were no differences in learning and memory performances of male and female PKU rats. In PKU rats, pCREB / CREB levels in males was unchanged while it decreased in females. Elevated PKA activity, BDNF levels and decreased pCREB/CREB ratio found in female PKU rats were not replicated in PKU males in which BDNF is decreased. Our results display that in this disease model a gender specific differential activation of cAMP/PKA-CREB-BDNF signaling pathway in hippocampus occurs investigation of which can help us to a better understanding of disease pathophysiology.