Several studies suggest that acetyl-l-carnitine (ALC) might influence learning processes. Along this line of investigation, we have previously shown that ALC impaired sensitization and dishabituation induced by nociceptive stimulation of the dorsal skin of the leech Hirudo medicinalis, in the behavioural paradigm of the swim induction (SI). In previous works we showed that 5HT was involved in both sensitization and dishabituation of SI acting through the second messenger cAMP.
In this work, we have reported that for given doses and temporal ranges ALC was able to block sensitization and to impair dishabituation mimicked by the injection of 5-HT or 8Br-cAMP, a membrane permeable analogue of cAMP. Our results show that a single treatment with 2 mM ALC was the most effective concentration to block the onset of sensitization induced by 5-HT injection and its major effects occurred 11 days after ALC treatment. 2 mM ALC also blocked sensitization induced by 8Br-cAMP injection, whereas, ALC did not completely abolish dishabituation induced by 5-HT or 8Br-cAMP injection at the tested concentrations and at every time point.