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Increasing the function of the glutamate-nitric oxide-cyclic guanosine monophosphate pathway increases the ability to learn a Y-maze task.

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      N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors play a crucial role in learning. However, the molecular mechanisms by which NMDA receptors contribute to learning processes are not known in detail. Activation of NMDA receptors leads to increased calcium in the postsynaptic neuron. Calcium binds to calmodulin and activates neuronal nitric oxide synthase, increasing nitric oxide (NO), which activates soluble guanylate cyclase, increasing cGMP. Part of this cGMP is released to the extracellular space. Several reports indicate that impairment of this glutamate-NO-cGMP pathway reduces the ability to learn a Y-maze conditional discrimination task by rats. The aim of this work was to assess whether enhancing the function of this pathway increases the ability to learn this task. Prenatal exposure to the polybrominated diphenylether PBDE-99 during embryonic days 2-9 or 11-19 enhances the function of the glutamate-NO-cGMP pathway in cerebellum in vivo as assessed by microdialysis in freely moving rats. This was associated with an increase in the ability to learn the Y-maze task. Rats prenatally exposed to PBDE need fewer trials than control rats to learn the Y-maze task. These results show that the function of the glutamate-NO-cGMP modulates the ability of rats to learn the Y-maze task, that the function of the pathway under physiological conditions is not optimal for learning, and that performance in the Y-maze task may be improved by enhancing slightly the function of the pathway and cGMP formation.

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      [1 ] Laboratory of Neurobiology, Centro de Investigación Principe Felipe, Valencia, Spain.
      J. Neurosci. Res.
      Journal of neuroscience research
      Aug 1 2009
      : 87
      : 10
      19326454 10.1002/jnr.22064
      Copyright 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


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