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Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2006 Aug;9(4):417-26. Epub 2005 Sep 5.

Nicotine blocks stress-induced impairment of spatial memory and long-term potentiation of the hippocampal CA1 region.

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  • 1University of Houston, College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Houston, TX 77204, USA.


The effect of chronic nicotine treatment on chronic psychosocial stress-induced impairment of short-term memory and long-term potentiation (LTP) was determined. An "intruder" stress model was used to induce psychosocial stress for 4-6 wk, during which rats were injected with saline or nicotine (1 mg/kg s.c.) twice a day. The radial arm water maze memory task was used to test hippocampus-dependent spatial memory. Chronic psychosocial stress impaired short-term memory without affecting the learning phase or long-term memory. Concurrent chronic nicotine treatment prevented stress-induced short-term memory impairment. In normal rats chronic nicotine treatment had no effect on learning and memory. Extracellular recordings from the CA1 region of anaesthetized rats showed severe reduction of LTP magnitude in stressed rats, which was normalized in nicotine-treated stressed rats. Nicotine had no effect on LTP in control animals. These results showed that chronic nicotine treatment improved hippocampus-dependent spatial memory and LTP only when impaired by stress.

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