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Information Resources on the Care and Welfare of Ferrets


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Neurological/Nervous System

Gierdalski, M., S.P. Sardi, G. Corfas, and S.L. Juliano (2005). Endogenous neuregulin restores radial glia in a (ferret) model of cortical dysplasia. Journal of Neuroscience 25(37): 8498-8504. ISSN: 1529-2401.
Abstract: Radial glia are integral components of the developing neocortex. During corticogenesis, they form an important scaffold for neurons migrating into the cortical plate. Recent attention has focused on neuregulin (NRG1), acting through erbB receptors, in maintaining their morphology. We developed a model of developmental radial glial disruption by delivering an antimitotic [methylazoxy methanol (MAM)] to pregnant ferrets on embryonic day 24 (E24). We previously found that normal ferret cortex contains a soluble factor capable of realigning the disorganized radial glia back toward their normal morphology. Characterization of the reorganizing activity in normal cortex demonstrated that the probable factor mediating these responses was a 30-50 kDa protein. To test whether this endogenous soluble factor was NRG1, we used organotypic cultures of E24 MAM-treated ferret neocortex supplemented with the endogenous factor obtained from normal cortical implants, exogenous NRG1beta, antibodies that either blocked or stimulated erbB receptors, or a soluble erbB subtype that binds to available NRG1. We report that exogenous NRG1 or antibodies that stimulate erbB receptors dramatically improve the morphology of disrupted radial glia, whereas blockade of NRG1-erbB signaling prevents the radial glial repair. Our results suggest that NRG1 is an endogenous factor in ferret neocortex capable of repairing damaged radial glia and that it acts via one or more erbB receptors.
Descriptors: ferrets, cerebral cortex, neuregulins, neuroglia, animal models, newborn disease models, methylazoxymethanol acetate, prenatal exposure, corticogenesis.

Hoffmann, K.P., N. Garipis, and C. Distler (2004). Optokinetic deficits in albino ferrets (Mustela putorius furo): A behavioral and electrophysiological study. Journal of Neuroscience 24(16): 4061-4069. ISSN: 1529-2401.
Abstract: We compared the horizontal optokinetic reaction (OKR) and response properties of retinal slip neurons in the nucleus of the optic tract and dorsal terminal nucleus (NOT-DTN) of albino and wild-type ferrets (Mustela putorius furo). In contrast to pigmented ferrets, we were unable to observe OKR in albino ferrets during binocular and monocular viewing using random dot full field stimulation and electro-oculography (EOG). Observations during early postnatal life indicate that regular OKR is present in pigmented pups 3 d after eye opening but is absent at any stage during development in albino ferrets. Unilateral muscimol injections to inactivate all neurons in the NOT-DTN containing GABA(A) and GABA(C) receptors caused spontaneous horizontal nystagmus with slow phases away from the injected hemisphere in albino as well as in pigmented animals. Retinal slip neurons in the NOT-DTN of albino ferrets identified by antidromic activation from the inferior olive and orthodromic activation from the optic chiasm were well responding to intermittent bright light stimuli, but many showed a profound reduction of responsiveness to moving stimuli. The movement-sensitive neurons exhibited no clear direction selectivity for ipsiversive stimulus movement, a characteristic property of these neurons in pigmented ferrets and other mammals. Thus, the defect rendering albino ferrets optokinetically nonresponsive is located in the visual pathway subserving the OKR, namely in or before the NOT-DTN, and not in oculomotor centers.
Descriptors: ferrets, albinism, physiopathology, eye movements, motion perception, visual pathways, behavior, electrooculography, electrophysiology, nystagmus, olivary nucleus, optic chiasm, photic stimulation.

Kawasaki, H., J.C. Crowley, F.J. Livesey, and L.C. Katz (2004). Molecular organization of the ferret visual thalamus. Journal of Neuroscience 24(44): 9962-9970. ISSN: 1529-2401.
Abstract: The visual system encodes and deciphers information using parallel, anatomically segregated, processing streams. To reveal patterns of gene expression in the visual thalamus correlated with physiological processing streams, we designed a custom ferret cDNA microarray. By isolating specific subregions and layers of the thalamus, we identified a set of transcription factors, including Zic2, Islet1, and Six3, the unique distribution profiles of which differentiated the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) from the associated perigeniculate nucleus. Within the LGN, odd homeobox1 differentiated the A layers, which contain X cells and Y cells, from the C layers. One neuron-specific protein, Purkinje cell protein 4 (PCP4), was strongly expressed in Y cells in the ferret LGN and in the magnocellular layers of the primate LGN. In the ferret LGN, PCP4 expression began as early as postnatal day 7 (P7), suggesting that Y cells are already specified by P7. These results reveal a rich molecular repertoire that correlates with functional divisions of the LGN.
Descriptors: ferrets, geniculate bodies, neurons, visual pathways, ferret growth and development, gene expression profiling, immunohistochemistry, Macaca fascicularis, nerve tissue protein biosynthesis, visual pathways.

Odekunle, A. and T.I. Chinnah (2003). Brainstem origin of duodenal vagal preganglionic parasympathetic neurons. A WGA-HRP study in the ferret (Mustela Putorius Furo), a human model. West Indian Medical Journal 52(4): 267-272. ISSN: 0043-3144.
Abstract: The projections of vagal brainstem neurons to the duodenal segment of the gastrointestinal tract were studied in the ferret using the WGA-HRP neurohistochemical technique. Fourteen adult ferrets with weights ranging from 800 gm to 1500 gm were used for the study. The muscular wall of the duodenum of six ferrets was injected with 0.1 ml of 5% WGA-HRP in 0.5 M sodium chloride. The eight remaining ferrets were used as controls. Two of these had injections of 0.1 ml normal saline into the muscular wall of the duodenum. The second set of two ferrets was injected with 0.1 ml of 5% WGA-HRP in buffer after bilateral truncal vagotomy. The third set of two ferrets received intraperitoneal injection of 0.1 ml of 5% WGA-HRP while, in the last set, the tracer was injected into the hepatic portal vein. Following the injections, the ferrets were allowed to survive for 48-72 hours after which each ferret was perfused transcardially first with normal saline followed by a fixative containing 1% paraformaldehyde and 1.25% glutaraldehyde in 0.1 M phosphate buffer, pH 7.4 at room temperature and finally with 10% buffered sucrose at 4 degrees C. Transverse serial frozen sections of the brainstem were then taken and processed for WGA-HRP neurohistochemistry and were analyzed under light and dark-field illuminations. The analyses of the sections taken from the six ferrets injected with WGA-HRP revealed neurons labelled with the tracer in the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve (DMNV). Sections taken from the control ferrets did not reveal any WGA-HRP labelled neurons in the brainstem.
Descriptors: ferrets, preganglionic autonomic fibers, duodenum innervation, molecular probes, parasympathetic nervous system, vagus nerve, animal models, neural pathways.

Philipp, R., C. Distler, and K.P. Hoffmann (2006). A motion-sensitive area in ferret extrastriate visual cortex: An analysis in pigmented and albino animals. Cerebral Cortex 16(6): 779-790. ISSN: 1047-3211.
Abstract: In search of the neuronal substrate for motion analysis in the ferret (Mustela putorius furo), we extracellularly recorded from extrastriate visual cortex in five pigmented and two albino ferrets under general anaesthesia and paralysis. Visual stimulation consisted of large area random dot patterns moving either on a circular path in the frontoparallel plane or expanding and contracting radially. Strongly direction-selective neurons were recorded in a circumscribed area in and just posterior to the suprasylvian sulcus, thus named by us the posterior suprasylvian area (area PSS). Altogether, we recorded 210 (90%) and 95 (72%) PSS neurons in pigmented and albino ferrets, respectively, that were direction selective. In these neurons responses during random dot pattern stimulation in the preferred direction were at least twice as strong than stimulation in the non-preferred direction. Response strength in preferred direction and tuning sharpness of PSS neurons in albinos were significantly reduced when compared to pigmented animals (median values: 34.1 versus 14.8 spikes/s and 142 versus 165 degrees for pigmented and albino ferrets, respectively). Inter-spike-intervals during visual stimulation were significantly shorter in pigmented (median 9 ms) than in albino PSS neurons (median 14 ms). Our data indicate that area PSS may play a crucial role in motion perception in the ferret.
Descriptors: ferrets, albinism, ocular physiopathology, motion perception, nerve net, visual cortex, evoked potentials, photic stimulation, pigmentation.

Platt, S.R., P.M. Dennis, and L.J. McSherry (2004). Composition of cerebrospinal fluid in clinically normal adult ferrets. American Journal of Veterinary Research: 758-760. ISSN: 0002-9645.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 Am3A
Abstract: Objective--To determine the protein and cellular composition of CSF in healthy adult ferrets. Animals--42 clinically normal adult ferrets. Procedure--CSF samples were collected from the cerebellomedullary cistern of anesthetized ferrets by use of disposable 25-gauge, 1.6-cm-long hypodermic needles. Samples were processed within 20 minutes after collection. The number of WBCs and RBCs per microliter of CSF was counted by use of a hemacytometer. The total protein concentration was determined by use of an automated chemistry analyzer. Results--Total WBC counts (range, 0 to 8 cells/mL; mean, 1.59 cells/mL) in CSF of ferrets were similar to reference range values obtained for CSF from other species. Twenty-seven CSF samples had < 100 RBCs/mL (mean, 20.3 RBCs/mL). A small but significant effect of blood contamination on WBC counts was found between the 27 CSF samples with < 100 RBCs/mL and the remaining samples. Protein concentrations in CSF of ferrets (range, 28.0 to 68.0 mg/dL; mean, 31.4 mg/dL) were higher than has been reported for the CSF of dogs and cats. A significant effect of blood contamination on the CSF protein concentration was not found. Conclusion and Clinical Relevance--We have established reference range values for WBC counts and protein concentrations in CSF from healthy adult ferrets that may be useful in the clinical investigation of CNS disease. Results of our study indicate that the WBC count is significantly affected by blood contamination of the CSF sample. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
Descriptors: normal ferrets, adult, cerebral spinal fluid, anesthesia, white blood cell counts.

Shintani, T., A.R. Anker, I. Billig, J.P. Card, and B.J. Yates (2003). Transneuronal tracing of neural pathways influencing both diaphragm and genioglossal muscle activity in the ferret. Society for Neuroscience Abstract Viewer and Itinerary Planner 2003: Abstract No. 609.1.
Descriptors: ferret, neural pathways, transneuronal tracing, diaphragm, genioglossal muscle activity, upper airway, respiratory pump muscles.
Notes: 33rd Annual Meeting of the Society of Neuroscience, New Orleans, LA, USA; November 08-12, 2003.

Shintani, T., R.L. Mori, and B.J. Yates (2003). Locations of neurons with respiratory-related activity in the ferret brainstem. Brain Research 974(1-2): 236-242. ISSN: 0006-8993.
Descriptors: ferret, brain stem, respiratory related activity, coughing, emesis, location, quiet breathing, motoneurons.

White, L.E. and D. Fitzpatrick (2003). Dark - rearing prevents the development of direction selectivity in ferret visual cortex. Society for Neuroscience Abstract Viewer and Itinerary Planner 2003: Abstract No. 567.12.
Descriptors: ferrets, dark rearing, visual cortex, development, direction selectivity, prevents, visual experience, meeting abstract.
Notes: 33rd Annual Meeting of the Society of Neuroscience, New Orleans, LA, USA; November 08-12, 2003.

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