Differential expression of molecular markers of synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and amygdala in response to spatial learning and predator stress-induced amnesia.
We have studied the effects of spatial learning and predator stress-induced amnesia on the expression of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and calcineurin in the hippocampus, basolateral amygdala (BLA), and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Adult male rats were given a single training session in the radial-arm water maze (RAWM) composed of 12 trials followed by a 30-min delay period, during which rats were either returned to their home cages or given inescapable exposure to a cat. Immediately following the 30-min delay period, the rats were given a single test trial in the RAWM to assess their memory for the hidden platform location. Under control (no stress) conditions, rats exhibited intact spatial memory and an increase in phosphorylated CaMKII (p-CaMKII), total CaMKII, and BDNF in dorsal CA1. Under stress conditions, rats exhibited impaired spatial memory and a suppression of all measured markers of molecular plasticity in dorsal CA1. The molecular profiles observed in the BLA, mPFC, and ventral CA1 were markedly different from those observed in dorsal CA1. Stress exposure increased p-CaMKII in the BLA, decreased p-CaMKII in the mPFC, and had no effect on any of the markers of molecular plasticity in ventral CA1. These findings provide novel observations regarding rapidly induced changes in the expression of molecular plasticity in response to spatial learning, predator exposure, and stress-induced amnesia in brainregions involved in different aspects of memory processing.