The effects of prolonged administration of norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors on long-term potentiation in dentate gyrus, and on tests of spatial and object recognition memory in rats

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Phasic norepinephrine (NE) release events are involved in arousal, novelty detection and in plasticity processes underlying learning and memory in mammalian systems. Although the effects of phasic NE release events on plasticity and memory are prevalently documented, it is less understood what effects chronic NE reuptake inhibition and sustained increases in noradrenergic tone, might have on plasticity and cognitive processes in rodent models of learning and memory. This study investigates the effects of chronic NE reuptake inhibition on hippocampal plasticity and memory in rats. Rats were administered NE reuptake inhibitors (NRIs) desipramine (DMI; 0, 3, or 7.5 mg/kg/day) or nortriptyline (NTP; 0, 10 or 20 mg/kg/day) in drinking water. Long-term potentiation (LTP; 200 Hz) of the perforant path-dentate gyrus evoked potential was examined in urethane anesthetized rats after 30–32 days of DMI treatment. Short- (4-h) and long-term (24-h) spatial memory was tested in separate rats administered 0 or 7.5 mg/kg/day DMI (25–30 days) using a two-trial spatial memory test. Additionally, the effects of chronically administered DMI and NTP were tested in rats using a two-trial, Object Recognition Test (ORT) at 2- and 24-h after 45 and 60 days of drug administration. Rats administered 3 or 7.5 mg/kg/day DMI had attenuated LTP of the EPSP slope but not the population spike at the perforant path-dentate gyrus synapse. Short- and long-term memory for objects is differentially disrupted in rats after prolonged administration of DMI and NTP. Rats that were administered 7.5 mg/kg/day DMI showed decreased memory for a two-trial spatial task when tested at 4-h. In the novel ORT, rats receiving 0 or 7.5 mg/kg/day DMI showed a preference for the arm containing a Novel object when tested at both 2- and 24-h demonstrating both short- and long-term memory retention of the Familiar object. Rats that received either dose of NTP or 3 mg/kg/day DMI showed impaired memory at 2-h, however this impairment was largely reversed at 24-h. Animals in the high-dose NTP (20 mg/kg/day) group were impaired at both short- and long-term intervals. Activity levels, used as an index of location memory during the ORT, demonstrated that rats receiving DMI were again impaired at retaining memory for location. DMI dose-dependently disrupts LTP in the dentate gyrus of anesthetized rats and also disrupts memory for tests of spatial memory when administered for long periods.

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