Activation of β-adrenoceptor facilitates active avoidance learning through enhancement of glutamate levels in the hippocampal dentate gyrus

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Long-term potentiation (LTP) is widely accepted as the best studied model for neurophysiological mechanisms that could underlie learning and memory formation. Despite a number of studies indicating that β-adrenoceptors in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) is involved in the modulation of learning and memory as well as LTP, few studies have used glutamate release as a visual indicator in awake animals to explore the role of β-adrenoceptors in learning-dependent LTP. Therefore, in the present study, the effects of propranolol (an antagonist of β-adrenoceptor) and isoproterenol (an agonist of β-adrenoceptor) on extracellular concentrations of glutamate and amplitudes of field excitatory postsynaptic potential were measured in the DG region during active avoidance learning in freely moving conscious rats. In the control group, the glutamate level in the DG was significantly increased during the acquisition of active avoidance behavior and returned to basal level following extinction training. In propranolol group, antagonism of β-adrenoceptors in the DG significantly reduced the change in glutamate level, and the acquisition of the active avoidance behavior was significantly inhibited. In contrast, the change in glutamate level was significantly enhanced by isoproterenol, and the acquisition of the active avoidance behavior was significantly accelerated. Furthermore, in all groups, the changes in glutamate level were accompanied by corresponding changes in field excitatory postsynaptic potential amplitude and active avoidance behavior. Our results suggest that activation of β-adrenoceptors in the hippocampal DG facilitates active avoidance learning by modulations of glutamate level and synaptic efficiency in rats.

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