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Brain Res. 1999 Jan 9;815(2):169-76.

Effects of novelty and pain on behavior and hippocampal extracellular ACh levels in male and female rats.

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Institute of Human Physiology, University of Siena, viale Aldo Moro, I-53100, Siena, Italy.


In vivo microdialysis was used to assess the effects of novelty and pain on hippocampal ACh release in male and female rats. Experiments were carried out during the dark phase and consisted of 2 days of tests: on Day 1, after Baseline 1, animals were exposed to a new cage (Novelty) to which, 30 min later, a plastic cylinder (Object) was introduced. On Day 2, after Baseline 2, the Formalin test (50 microl of formalin 10%, s.c. injected in the dorsal hindpaw) was carried out in the animal's home cage. All behaviors were recorded. The extracellular levels of ACh in the dorsal hippocampus were estimated, in 10-min samples, by assay of ACh in the dialysates by HPLC. On Day 1 the raw values of ACh were higher in females than in males, but no sex difference was present when the percentage of change was considered. In both sexes the Novelty and Object tests induced an increase in ACh levels with respect to Baseline. Higher levels of exploration were present in females than males during the first 10 min of Novelty. On Day 2, ACh release increased in both sexes during the Formalin test. No sex difference in either ACh raw values or the percentages of change were found. Females showed higher levels of licking and lower levels of activity than males. The present study shows that novelty and pain induce similar hippocampal cholinergic activation in male and female rats but different behaviors. The results are discussed in light of the several anatomical and functional sex differences present in the hippocampus.

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