Differential Involvement of Protein Synthesis and Actin Rearrangement in the Reacquisition of Contextual Fear Conditioning

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Abstract

Extinction learning is associated with a decline of the conditioned fear response (CR). However, re-exposure to the unconditioned stimulus (US, shock) is associated with the return of the fear response. This study aimed to study the role of protein synthesis and actin rearrangement in the CA1 hippocampal subregion and the basolateral amygdala (BLA) in acquisition and reacquisition of contextual fear conditioning. To that end, we trained rats on contextual fear conditioning and extinction, and on the last extinction training session we reconditioned the animals by re-exposure to the US. Immediately after, rats were microinfused with the protein synthesis inhibitor anisomycin or the actin rearrangement inhibitor cytochalasin D into either the BLA or the CA1. The results of this study show differential involvement of anisomycin and cytochalasin D in the acquisition and reacquisition of contextual fear conditioning. Specifically, while the microinfusion of anisomycin into the BLA or the CA1 immediately after reconditioning of fear did not inhibit the return of fear, the microinfusion of cytochalsin D into either the BLA or the CA1 attenuated fear responses. Interestingly, the initial acquisition of contextual fear memory is dependent on intra-BLA and CA1 protein synthesis and cytoskeletal rearrangement, since the microinfusion of these drugs blocked the formation of long-term fear memory. The results suggest that the two processes of acquisition and reacquisition of fear are not identical and they engage different mechanisms.

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