Systemic and intra-rhinal-cortical 17-β estradiol administration modulate object-recognition memory in ovariectomized female rats

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Previous studies using the novel-object-preference (NOP) test suggest that estrogen (E) replacement in ovariectomized rodents can lead to enhanced novelty preference. The present study aimed to determine: 1) whether the effect of E on NOP performance is the result of enhanced preference for novelty, per se, or facilitated object-recognition memory, and 2) whether E affects NOP performance through actions it has within the perirhinal cortex/entorhinal cortex region (PRh/EC). Ovariectomized rats received either systemic chronic low 17-β estradiol (E2; ˜20 pg/ml serum) replacement alone or in combination with systemic acute high administration of estradiol benzoate (EB; 10 μg), or in combination with intracranial infusions of E2 (244.8 pg/μl) or vehicle into the PRh/EC. For one of the intracranial experiments, E2 was infused either immediately before, immediately after, or 2 h following the familiarization (i.e., learning) phase of the NOP test. In light of recent evidence that raises questions about the internal validity of the NOP test as a method of indexing object-recognition memory, we also tested rats on a delayed nonmatch-to-sample (DNMS) task of object recognition following systemic and intra-PRh/EC infusions of E2. Both systemic acute and intra-PRh/EC infusions of E enhanced novelty preference, but only when administered either before or immediately following familiarization. In contrast, high E (both systemic acute and intra-PRh/EC) impaired performance on the DNMS task. The findings suggest that while E2 in the PRh/EC can enhance novelty preference, this effect is probably not due to an improvement in object-recognition abilities.

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