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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Feb 20;93(4):1429-33.

Adrenocortical suppression blocks the memory-enhancing effects of amphetamine and epinephrine.

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Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, University of California, Irvine 92717-3800, USA.


This study examined glucocorticoid-adrenergic interactions in modulating acquisition and memory storage for inhibitory avoidance training. Systemically (s.c.) administered amphetamine (1 mg/kg), but not epinephrine (0.1 mg/kg) or the peripherally acting amphetamine derivative 4-OH amphetamine (2 mg/kg), given to rats shortly before training facilitated acquisition performance in a continuous multiple-trial inhibitory avoidance (CMIA) task. Adrenocortical suppression with the 11beta-hydroxylase inhibitor metyrapone (50 mg/kg; s.c.), given to rats 90 min before training, did not block the effect of amphetamine and did not affect acquisition performance of otherwise untreated animals. Retention of CMIA and one-trial inhibitory avoidance was enhanced by either pre- or posttraining injections of amphetamine as well as 4-OH amphetamine and epinephrine. The finding that injections of amphetamine and epinephrine have comparable effects on memory is consistent with the view that amphetamine may modulate memory storage, at least in part, by inducing the release of epinephrine from the adrenal medulla. Metyrapone pretreatment blocked the memory-enhancing effects of amphetamine, 4-OH amphetamine, and epinephrine but did not affect retention performance of otherwise untreated animals. Posttraining injections of different doses of epinephrine (ranging from 0.0001 to 1.0 mg/kg) produced a dose-dependent memory enhancement for inhibitory avoidance training and metyrapone blocked the memory-enhancing effects of all these doses. These findings provide further evidence that the sympathoadrenal and adrenocortical systems are intimately coupled during processes of memory storage.

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