• Glucocorticoids Orchestrate Adult Hippocampal Plasticity: Growth Points and Translational Aspects

    The review analyzes modern concepts about the control of various mechanisms of the hippocampal neuroplasticity in adult mammals and humans by glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoid hormones ensure the coordinated functioning of key components and mechanisms of hippocampal plasticity: neurogenesis, glutamatergic neurotransmission, microglia and astrocytes, systems of neurotrophic factors, neuroinflammation, proteases, metabolic hormones, neurosteroids. Regulatory mechanisms are diverse; along with the direct action of glucocorticoids through their receptors, there are conciliated glucocorticoid-dependent effects, as well as numerous interactions between various systems and components. Despite the fact that many connections in this complex regulatory scheme have not yet been established, the study of the factors and mechanisms considered in the work forms growth points in the field of glucocorticoid-regulated processes in the brain and primarily in the hippocampus. These studies are fundamentally important for the translation into the clinic and the potential treatment/prevention of common diseases of the emotional and cognitive spheres and respective comorbid conditions.

  • Neural versus alternative integrative systems: molecular insights into origins of neurotransmitters

    Transmitter signalling is the universal chemical language of any nervous system, but little is known about its early evolution. Here, we summarize data about the distribution and functions of neurotransmitter systems in basal metazoans as well as outline hypotheses of their origins. We explore the scenario that neurons arose from genetically different populations of secretory cells capable of volume chemical transmission and integration of behaviours without canonical synapses. The closest representation of this primordial organization is currently found in Placozoa, disk-like animals with the simplest known cell composition but complex behaviours. We propose that injury-related signalling was the evolutionary predecessor for integrative functions of early transmitters such as nitric oxide, ATP, protons, glutamate and small peptides. By contrast, acetylcholine, dopamine, noradrenaline, octopamine, serotonin and histamine were recruited as canonical neurotransmitters relatively later in animal evolution, only in bilaterians. Ligand-gated ion channels often preceded the establishment of novel neurotransmitter systems. Moreover, lineage-specific diversification of neurotransmitter receptors occurred in parallel within Cnidaria and several bilaterian lineages, including acoels. In summary, ancestral diversification of secretory signal molecules provides unique chemical microenvironments for behaviour-driven innovations that pave the way to complex brain functions and elementary cognition.