Reactivated memory of an inhibitory avoidance response in mice is sensitive to a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor

Carlos M Baratti, Mariano M Boccia, Mariano G Blake, Gabriela B Acosta
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 2008, 89 (4): 426-40
It is accepted that once consolidation is completed memory becomes permanent. However, it has also been suggested that reactivation (retrieval) of the original memory, again, makes it sensitive to the same treatments that affect memory consolidation when given after training. Previous results demonstrated that the immediate post-training intraperitoneal administration of N(omega)-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), a non-specific inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), impairs retention test performance of a one-trial step-through inhibitory avoidance response in adult mice. The effect of L-NAME on retention was attributed to an action on memory consolidation of the original learning. For the first time, we report that the administration of L-NAME after the first retention test (memory reactivation) of the inhibitory avoidance response impairs retention performance over six consecutive days. This impairment effect is dose-and-time dependent and could not be attributed to a retrieval deficit since a mild footshock did not reinstate the original avoidance response and no spontaneous recovery was observed at least 21 days after training. Further support for a storage deficit interpretation as opposed to a retrieval deficit was obtained from the fact that L-NAME's effects after retrieval were not due to state-dependency. The impairment effect of L-NAME was dependent on the age of the original memory. That is, there was an inverse correlation between the susceptibility of the memory trace when reactivated and the time elapsed between training and the first retrieval session. We suggest an action of L-NAME on memory reactivation-induced processes that are different from memory extinction of the original learning extending the biological significance of nitric oxide on memory.

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