Deficiency of transforming growth factor-β signaling disrupts memory processes in rats

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Cytokines, in addition to their participation in immune and inflammatory processes, play an important role in synaptic plasticity, neoneurogenesis, and cognitive functions. In our work, we aimed to clarify the role of the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), which is recognized as a multifunctional cytokine, in memory processes. Behavioral experiments were carried out in rats using step-through passive avoidance test. The results obtained showed that the learning of animals after treatment with SB431542, a selective inhibitor of TGF-β receptors, was impaired, which indicated a significant memory deterioration. Nevertheless, the memory of rats remained at the control level when TGF-β and SB431542 were coadministered. Thus, the role of TGF-β in memory retrieval after the passive avoidance test was revealed: memory in rats was weakened if the TGF-β signaling pathway was inhibited during learning. Evidently, successful consolidation of at least some types of memory requires a normal level of TGF-β, indicating the modulation of cognitive functions by cytokines under normal physiological conditions.

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