L-type VDCCs participate in behavioral-LTP and memory retention

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Although L-type voltage-dependent calcium channels (VDCCs) have been reported to display different even contrary actions on cognitive functions and long-term potentiation (LTP) formation, there is little information regarding the role of L-type VDCCs in behavioral LTP, a learning-induced LTP model, in the intact brain of freely behaving animals. Here we investigated the effects of verapamil, a non-selective blocker of L-type VDCCs, on behavioral LTP and cognitive functions. Population spikes (PS) were recorded by using electrophysiological methods to examine the role of verapamil in behavioral LTP in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) region. Y-maze assay was used to evaluate the effects of verapamil on learning and memory. Electron microscope was used to observe the changes on synaptic ultrastructural morphology in hippocampal DG area. We found that intrahippocampal verapamil treatments had no significant changes on the PS amplitude during a 90 min recordings period. However, intrahippocampal applications of verapamil, including pre- or post-training, reduced behavioral LTP magnitude and memory retention but did not prevent the induction of behavioral LTP and the acquisition of learning. The saline group with behaving trainings showed obvious increases in the number of smile synapses, the length of active zones and the thickness of postsynaptic density as compared to the baseline group, but verapamil with pre-training treatment almost returned these changes to the baseline levels except for the synaptic interface curvature. In conclusion, our results suggest that L-type VDCCs may only contribute to the magnitude of behavioral LTP and the memory maintenance with an activity-independent relationship. L-type VDCCs may be critical to new information long-term storage rather than acquisition in hippocampus.

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