Differentially expressed genes in Hirudo medicinalis ganglia after acetyl-L-carnitine treatment. - CORE

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Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is a naturally occurring substance that, when administered at supra-physiological concentration, is neuroprotective. It is involved in membrane stabilization and in enhancement of mitochondrial functions. It is a molecule of considerable interest for its clinical application in various neural disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and painful neuropathies. ALC is known to improve the cognitive capability of aged animals chronically treated with the drug and, recently, it has been reported that it impairs forms of non-associative learning in the leech. In the present study the effects of ALC on gene expression have been analyzed in the leech Hirudo medicinalis. The suppression subtractive hybridisation methodology was used for the generation of subtracted cDNA libraries and the subsequent identification of differentially expressed transcripts in the leech nervous system after ALC treatment. The method detects differentially but also little expressed transcripts of genes whose sequence or identity is still unknown. We report that a single administration of ALC is able to modulate positively the expression of genes coding for functions that reveal a lasting effect of ALC on the invertebrate, and confirm the neuroprotective and neuromodulative role of the substance. In addition an important finding is the modulation of genes of vegetal origin. This might be considered an instance of ectosymbiotic mutualism