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Brain Res. 1998 Jul 13;799(1):16-25.

AMPA receptor properties in adult rat hippocampus following environmental enrichment.

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Département de Chimie-Biologie, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, C.P. 500, Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada.


In adult rats, environmental enrichment has been shown to selectively increase -AMPA binding in the hippocampus but the molecular mechanisms underlying this effect remain unknown. We used in situ hybridization with antisense oligonucleotides to determine possible changes in the hippocampal expression of messenger RNAs for different subunits of AMPA receptors in adult rats following exposure to an enriched environment. Quantitative analysis revealed that mRNA levels for three subtypes of AMPA glutamate receptors (GluR1-3; Flip and Flop variants) were not modified in any hippocampal region after environmental enrichment. In addition, no differences were detected in the levels of GluR1 and GluR2/3 proteins in Western blots of hippocampal membranes from enriched rats. Nevertheless, quantitative ligand binding autoradiography indicated that environmental enrichment evoked a significant and uniform decrease in the capacity of calcium or phosphatidylserine (PS) to up-regulate -AMPA binding in various hippocampal regions but not in the cerebral cortex. These findings support previous observations suggesting that post-translational changes in AMPA receptor properties, as a result of the activation of calcium-dependent processes, may represent an important mechanism underlying long-term modifications of synaptic efficacy in the rat hippocampus.

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