Effects of cannabinoid and glutamate receptor antagonists and their interactions on learning and memory in male rats

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Despite previous findings on the effects of cannabinoid and glutamatergic systems on learning and memory, the effects of the combined stimulation or the simultaneous inactivation of these two systems on learning and memory have not been studied. In addition, it is not clear whether the effects of the cannabinoid system on learning and memory occur through the modulation of glutamatergic synaptic transmission. Hence, in this study, we examined the effects of the simultaneous inactivation of the cannabinoid and glutamatergic systems on learning and memory using a passive avoidance (PA) test in rats.

Materials and methods:

On the test day, AM251, which is a CB1 cannabinoid receptor antagonist; MK-801, which is a glutamate receptor antagonist; or both substances were injected intraperitoneally into male Wistar rats 30 min before placing the animal in a shuttle box. A learning test (acquisition) was then performed, and a retrieval test was performed the following day.


Learning and memory in the PA test were significantly different among the groups. The CB1 receptor antagonist improved the scores on the PA acquisition and retention tests. However, the glutamatergic receptor antagonist decreased the acquisition and retrieval scores on the PA task. The CB1 receptor antagonist partly decreased the glutamatergic receptor antagonist effects on PA learning and memory.


These results indicated that the acute administration of a CB1 antagonist improved cognitive performance on a PA task in normal rats and that a glutamate-related mechanism may underlie the antagonism of cannabinoid by AM251 in learning and memory.

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