© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs after exposure to traumatic situations and it is characterized by cognitive deficits that include impaired explicit memory. The neurobiological bases of such PTSD-associated memory alterations are yet to be elucidated and no satisfactory treatment for them exists. To address this issue, we first studied whether a single exposure of young adult rats (60 days) to immobilization on boards (IMO), a putative model of PTSD, produces long-term behavioral effects (2–8 days) similar to those found in PTSD patients. Subsequently, we investigated whether the administration of the TrkB agonist 7,8-dihydroxyflavone (DHF) 8 h after stress (therapeutic window) ameliorated the PTSD-like effect of IMO and the associated changes in synaptic plasticity. A single IMO exposure induced a spatial memory impairment similar to that found in other animal models of PTSD or in PTSD patients. IMO also increased spine density and long-term potentiation (LTP) in the CA3-CA1 pathway. Significantly, DHF reverted both spatial memory impairment and the increase in LTP, while it produced no effect in the controls. These data provide novel insights into the possible neurobiological substrate for explicit memory impairment in PTSD patients, supporting the idea that the activation of the BDNF/TrkB pathway fulfils a protective role after severe stress. Administration of DHF in the aftermath of a traumatic experience might be relevant to prevent its long-term consequences. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- spatial memory
- synaptic plasticity