Mice deficient for striatal Vesicular Acetylcholine Transporter (VAChT) display impaired short-term but normal long-term object recognition memory

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Abstract

Substantial evidence implicates Acetylcholine (ACh) in the acquisition of object memories. While most research has focused on the role of the cholinergic basal forebrain and its cortical targets, there are additional cholinergic networks that may contribute to object recognition. The striatum contains an independent cholinergic network comprised of interneurons. In the current study, we investigated the role of this cholinergic signalling in object recognition using mice deficient for Vesicular Acetylcholine Transporter (VAChT) within interneurons of the striatum. We tested whether these striatal VAChTD2−Cre−flox/flox mice would display normal short-term (5 or 15 min retention delay) and long-term (3 h retention delay) object recognition memory. In a home cage object recognition task, male and female VAChTD2−Cre−flox/flox mice were impaired selectively with a 15 min retention delay. When tested on an object location task, VAChTD2−Cre−flox/flox mice displayed intact spatial memory. Finally, when object recognition was tested in a Y-shaped apparatus, designed to minimize the influence of spatial and contextual cues, only females displayed impaired recognition with a 5 min retention delay, but when males were challenged with a 15 min retention delay, they were also impaired; neither males nor females were impaired with the 3 h delay. The pattern of results suggests that striatal cholinergic transmission plays a role in the short-term memory for object features, but not spatial location.

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