Intracranial self-stimulation induces expression of learning and memory-related genes in rat amygdala

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Intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) in the lateral hypothalamus improves memory when administered immediately after a training session. In our laboratory, ICSS has been shown as a very reliable way to increase two-way active avoidance (TWAA) conditioning, an amygdala-dependent task. The aim of this work was to study, in the rat amygdala, anatomical and molecular aspects of ICSS, using the same parameters facilitating TWAA. First, we examined the activation of ipsilateral and contralateral lateral (LA) and basolateral (BLA) amygdala, the main amygdalar regions involved in the TWAA, by the immunohistochemical determination of c-Fos protein expression. Second, we tested the effects of the ICSS treatment on the expression of 14 genes related to learning and memory processes using real-time polymerase chain reaction. Results showed a bilateral increase in c-Fos protein expression in LA and BLA nuclei after ICSS treatment. We also found that Fos, brain-derived nerve growth factor (BDNF), Arc, inducible cAMP early repressor (ICER), COX-2, Dnajb1, FKpb5 and Ret genes were upregulated in the amygdala 90 min and 4.5 h post ICSS. From this set of genes, BDNF, Arc and ICER are functionally associated with the cAMP-responsive element-mediated gene transcription molecular pathway that plays a pivotal role in memory, whereas Dnajb1 and Ret are associated with protein folding required for plasticity or neuroprotection. Our results suggest that ICSS induces expression of genes related with synaptic plasticity and protein folding functions in the rat amygdaloid area, which may be involved in the molecular mechanisms by which ICSS may improve or restore memory functions related to this brain structure. © 2010 The Authors. Genes, Brain and Behavior © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-77
JournalGenes, Brain and Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2011


  • Amygdala
  • ICSS
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Protein folding
  • Real-time PCR
  • Synaptic plasticity


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