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Int J Dev Neurosci. 1997 Apr;15(2):147-54.

Behavioral symptoms in adult rats after postnatal L-nitro-arginine.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


We addressed experimentally the suggestion by Gally et al. [Gally J. A., Read Montague P., Reeke G. N. Jr and Edelman G. M. (1990) Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 87, 3547-3551] that nitric oxide may play a role in the use-dependent modification of synaptic efficacy in the developing nervous system. In a preliminary control experiment, we treated rat pups from postnatal day 8 to postnatal day 22 with a nitric oxide synthase blocker (L-nitro-arginine) and compared their growth curves and brain weights to those of saline injected control pubs. No significant differences were found after the 14 days of nitric oxide synthase inhibition. In the subsequent experiment, we inhibited nitric oxide synthesis in rat pups from postnatal day 8 to day 29 and assessed their place learning ability and open field behavior as adults. We found an increased speed of habituation of locomotion in an open field in 5-month-old rats that had been treated postnatally with a nitric oxide synthase blocker. There was no difference between treated and non-treated rats with respect to place learning in a water maze. We conclude that perturbation of nitric oxide production during early postnatal development does not preclude normal learning and memory function in the adult.

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