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Brain Res. 2003 Feb 21;964(1):159-63.

Cortico-striatal synaptic plasticity in endothelial nitric oxide synthase deficient mice.

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Department of Physiology II, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, POB 101007, D-40001 Düsseldorf, Germany.


Nitric oxide (NO) is a retrograde messenger involved in the processes of learning and memory. The role of the endothelial isoform of nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in striatal synaptic plasticity was investigated in eNOS-deficient (eNOS(-/-)) and wild type (WT) mice. Tetanic stimulation of cortical afferents in WT mice evoked either long-term potentiation (LTP), or long-term depression (LTD) of cortico-striatal transmission. Both these plasticity related phenomena were NMDA-receptor-dependent; LTD was blocked by sulpiride, a dopamine D2-receptor antagonist. LTP occurrence in slices from eNOS(-/-) mice was significantly reduced when compared with WT mice. The NOS inhibitor NL-ARG reduced the occurrence of LTP and increased the occurrence of LTD in WT mice, resembling the balance of LTP/LTD in eNOS(-/-) mice. Impairment of NO-synthesis thus shifts striatal plasticity towards LTD. This indicates a possible involvement of eNOS from endothelia in neuronal modulation.

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