Parvalbumin-positive GABAergic interneurons are increased in the dorsal hippocampus of the dystrophic mdx mouse
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Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is characterized by variable alterations of the dystrophin gene and by muscle weakness and cognitive impairment. We postulated an association between cognitive impairment and architectural changes of the hippocampal GABAergic system. We investigated a major subpopulation of GABAergic neurons, the parvalbumin-immunopositive (PV-I) cells, in the dorsal hippocampus of the mdx mouse, an acknowledged model of DMD. PV-I neurons were quantified and their distribution was compared in CA1, CA2, CA3, and dentate gyrus in wild-type and mdx mice. The cell morphology and topography of PV-I neurons were maintained. Conversely, the number of PV-I neurons was significantly increased in the mdx mouse. The percent increase of PV-I neurons was from 45% for CA2, up to 125% for the dentate gyrus. In addition, the increased parvalbumin content in the mdx hippocampus was confirmed by Western blot. A change in the hippocampus processing abilities is the expected functional counterpart of the modification displayed by PV-I GABAergic neurons. Altered hippocampal functionality can be responsible for part of the cognitive impairment in DMD.