To interrogate particular neuronal pathways in non-human primates under natural and stress-free conditions, we applied designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) technology to common marmosets. We injected adeno-associated virus vectors expressing the excitatory DREADD hM3Dq into the unilateral substantia nigra in three marmosets. Using multi-tracer positron emission tomography imaging, we detected DREADD expression in vivo, which was confirmed in nigrostriatal dopamine neurons by immunohistochemistry, and assessed activation of the substantia nigra and dopamine release following agonist administration. The marmosets rotated in a contralateral direction relative to the activated side 30–90 min after consuming food containing the highly potent DREADD agonist deschloroclozapine (DCZ), but not on the following days without DCZ. These results indicate that non-invasive and reversible DREADD manipulation will extend the utility of marmoset as a primate model for linking neuronal activity and natural behavior in various contexts.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience