Neurobiology of learning and memory

Central noradrenergic lesion induced by DSP-4 impairs the acquisition of avoidance reactions and prevents molecular changes in the amygdala.

PMID 20650329


The noradrenergic system plays and an important modulatory role in memory consolidation of emotionally arousing tasks. However, the molecular cascades regulated in the brain by norepinephrine and involved in memory formation are still largely unknown. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the role of the noradrenergic system on the acquisition of a highly emotionally arousing task-two-way active avoidance training-and its molecular and cellular substrates. The selective norepinephrine neurotoxin N-(2-chloroethyl)-N-ethyl-2 bromobenzylamine (DSP-4, 50mg/kg) was used. DSP-4-treated rats were trained in a shuttle box to avoid a footshock signaled by an auditory stimulus. Immunohistochemical mapping of the neuronal plasticity-related molecules c-Fos protein and the activated form of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (phosphorylated ERK [pERK]) was then employed. We found that DSP-4 treatment depleted the expression of the norepinephrine marker dopamine -hydroxylase (DBH) in the locus coeruleus and its projection area, the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala, confirming locus coeruleus noradrenergic lesion in the experimental animals. Furthermore, DSP-4 treatment impaired the acquisition of the avoidance reaction. We also found that acquisition of the active avoidance reaction induced c-Fos expression and ERK activation in the amygdala and piriform cortex. This upregulation was prevented by DSP-4 treatment. Thus, our data suggest that the noradrenergic system is involved in the acquisition of the active avoidance reaction by regulating ERK pathway activity and c-Fos expression in the amygdala and piriform cortex.

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N-(2-Chloroethyl)-N-ethyl-2-bromobenzylamine hydrochloride, ≥98%, solid
C11H15BrClN · HCl