Longitudinal calcium imaging of VIP interneuron circuits reveals shifting response fidelity dynamics in the stroke damaged brain




Motaharinia, Mohammad

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Although inhibitory cortical interneurons play a critical role in regulating brain excitability and function, the effects of stroke on these neurons is poorly understood. In particular, interneurons expressing vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) specialize in inhibiting other classes of inhibitory neurons, and thus serve to modulate cortical sensory processing. To understand how stroke affects this circuit, we imaged VIP neuron responses (using GCaMP6s) to low and high intensity forepaw stimulation, both before and after focal stroke in somatosensory cortex. Our data show that the fraction of forelimb responsive VIP interneurons and their response fidelity (defined as a cell’s number of responsive trials out of eight trials at a certain imaging week) was significantly reduced in the first week after stroke, especially when lower intensity forepaw stimulation was employed. The loss of responsiveness was most evident in highly active VIP neurons (defined by their level of responsiveness before stroke), whereas less active neurons were minimally affected. Of note, a small fraction of VIP neurons that were minimally active before stroke, became responsive afterwards suggesting that stroke may unmask sensory responses in some neurons. Although VIP responses to forepaw stimulation generally improved from 2-5 weeks recovery, the variance in response fidelity after stroke was comparatively high and therefore less predictable than that observed before stroke. Lastly, stroke related changes in response properties were restricted to within 400μm of the infarct border. These findings reveal the dynamic and resilient nature of VIP neurons and suggest that a sub-population of these cells are more apt to lose sensory responsiveness during the initial phase of stroke, whereas some minimally responsive cells are progressively recruited into the forelimb sensory circuit. Furthermore, stroke appears to disrupt the predictability of sensory-evoked responses in these cortical interneurons which could have important consequences for sensory perception.



Vasoactive intestinal peptide, VIP, Dis-inhibition, Stroke, Calcium imaging, Cortical excitability