Enhanced learning and memory in GAT1 heterozygous mice

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γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. The termination of GABA transmission is through the action of a family of membrane proteins, called GABA transporters (GAT1–4). It is well established that GABA system is involved in the modulation of memory. Our previous study showed that homozygous GAT1−/− mice exhibited impaired hippocampus-dependent learning and memory. To evaluate the impact of endogenous reduced GABA reuptake on mice cognitive behaviors, the ability of learning and memory of heterozygous GAT1+/− mice was detected by the passive avoidance paradigm and Morris water maze. The hole board paradigm was also used to measure changes in anxiety-related behavior or exploratory behavior in such mice. As one form of synaptic plasticity, long-term potentiation was recorded in the mouse hippocampal CA1 area. We found that GAT1+/− mice displayed increased learning and memory, decreased anxiety-like behaviors, and highest synaptic plasticity compared with wild-type and homozygous GAT1−/− mice. Our results suggest that a moderate reduction in GAT1 activity causes the enhancement of learning and memory in mice.

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