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J Neurosci. 2007 Jan 3;27(1):158-66.

Facilitation of extinction learning for contextual fear memory by PEPA: a potentiator of AMPA receptors.

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Department of Degenerative Neurological Diseases, National Institute of Neuroscience, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Kodaira, Tokyo 187-8502, Japan.


Contextual fear memory is attenuated by the re-exposure of mice to the context without aversive stimulus. This phenomenon is called extinction. Here, we report that a potentiator of AMPA receptors, 4-[2-(phenylsulfonylamino)ethylthio]-2,6-difluorophenoxyacetamide (PEPA), potently facilitates extinction learning in mice. C57BL/6J mice were exposed to novel context and stimulated by electrical footshock. After 24 h (extinction training) and 72 h (extinction test), the mice were repeatedly exposed to the context without footshock and the duration of their freezing response was measured. The duration of freezing response in the extinction test was consistently shorter than the value in extinction training. Intraperitoneal injection of PEPA 15 min before extinction training remarkably reduced the duration of freezing responses during the extinction training and test, compared with the vehicle-injected control mice. This action of PEPA on extinction was dose-dependent and inhibited by NBQX (1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-6-nitro-2,3-dioxo-benzo[f]quinoxaline-7-sulfonamide), an AMPA receptor antagonist. PEPA had no effect on acquisition and consolidation of fear memory itself. Electrophysiological studies suggested that PEPA activates the neural network much more potently in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) than in the basolateral amygdala and hippocampal CA1 field. Quantitative PCR studies suggested the pronounced expression of PEPA-preferring AMPA receptor subunits (GluR3 and GluR4) and a splice variant (flop) in the mPFC. An intra-mPFC injection of PEPA facilitated the extinction much more potently than an intra-amygdala injection of PEPA did. These results suggest that PEPA facilitates extinction learning through AMPA receptor activation mainly in the mPFC.

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