Transcription and protein synthesis inhibitors influence long-term effects of acetyl-L-carnitine on non-associative learning in the leech

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Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is the principal acetyl ester of L-carnitine and it plays an essential role in intermediary metabolism. ALC affects several targets in the nervous system. Along this line of investigation, we analyzed the long-term effects of ALC on elementary nonassociative learning in the swimming induction model of the leech Hirudo medicinalis, in which nociceptive stimulation of the dorsal skin produces a more rapid swim response to a test stimulus (sensitization). In this simplified model a single ALC administration blocked the sensitizing effects of nociceptive stimulation in swim induction showing increasingly long lasting effects. Herein, we have analyzed the long-term effects of ALC on sensitization and dishabituation. Leeches were treated with inhibitors of either transcription or protein synthesis 30 min after the administration of ALC and, subsequently, subjected to noxious stimuli: the animals exhibited a sensitized swimming response 6 days after ALC treatment but not after 2 hours indicating that the long-term suppressive effects of ALC on sensitization/dishabituation needed mRNA and protein synthesis.

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