Transient inhibition of protein synthesis in the rat insular cortex delays extinction of conditioned taste aversion with cyclosporine A

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Conditioned responses gradually weaken and eventually disappear when subjects are repeatedly exposed to the conditioned stimulus (CS) in the absence of the unconditioned stimulus (US), a process called extinction. Studies have demonstrated that extinction of conditioned taste aversion (CTA) can be prevented by interfering with protein synthesis in the insular cortex (IC). However, it remained unknown whether it is possible to pharmacologically stabilize the taste aversive memory trace over longer periods of time. Thus, the present study aimed at investigating the time frame during which extinction of CTA can be efficiently prevented by blocking protein synthesis in the IC. Employing an established conditioning paradigm in rats with saccharin as CS, and the immunosuppressant cyclosporine A (CsA) as US, we show here that daily bilateral intra-insular injections of the protein synthesis inhibitor anisomycin (120 μg/μl) immediately after retrieval significantly diminished CTA extinction over a period of five retrieval days and subsequently reached levels of saline-infused controls. These findings demonstrate that it is possible to efficiently delay but not to fully prevent CTA extinction during repeated retrieval trials by blocking protein translation with daily bilateral infusions of anisomycin in the IC. These data confirm and extent earlier reports indicating that the role of protein synthesis in CTA extinction learning is not limited to gastrointestinal malaise-inducing drugs such as lithium chloride (LiCl).

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