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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2013 Jul;103:34-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2013.03.003. Epub 2013 Apr 8.

Impaired fear extinction learning in adult heterozygous BDNF knock-out mice.

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Institute of Physiology, Medical Faculty, Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg, Leipziger Str. 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a crucial regulator of neuroplasticity, which underlies learning and memory processes in different brain areas. To investigate the role of BDNF in the extinction of amygdala-dependent cued fear memories, we analyzed fear extinction learning in heterozygous BDNF knock-out mice, which possess a reduction of endogenous BDNF protein levels to ~50% of wild-type animals. Since BDNF expression has been shown to decline with aging of animals, we tested the performance in extinction learning of these mice at 2 months (young adults) and 7 months (older adults) of age. The present study shows that older adult heterozygous BDNF knock-out mice, which have a chronic 50% lack of BDNF, also possess a deficit in the acquisition of extinction memory, while extinction learning remains unaffected in young adult heterozygous BDNF knock-out mice. This deficit in extinction learning is accompanied by a reduction of BDNF protein in the hippocampus, amygdala and the prefrontal cortex.

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