Stress and re-stress increases conditioned taste aversion learning in rats: possible frontal cortical and hippocampal muscarinic receptor involvement
Harvey, Brian H.
Stein, Dan J.
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Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder are often precipitated by sensory cues in the form of visual, auditory, olfactory and gustatory “flashbacks” resulting in enhanced fear-memory consolidation and the characteristic symptoms of re-experiencing, avoidance and hyper-arousal. Single prolonged stress with and without re-stress have been used to explore the neurobiology of this disorder, particularly with respect to contextual conditioning and spatial memory impairment. However, less work has been done regarding associative sensory-related memories linked to aversive events. Although growing evidence supports a role for cholinergic pathways in stress, this has not been studied in the above animal models. We studied the effects of single prolonged stress with and without re-stress on conditioned taste aversion learning in rats, together with differential analysis of frontal cortical and hippocampal [3H]-quinuclidinyl benzylate ([3H]-QNB) muscarinic receptor binding. Single prolonged stress with and without re-stress both enhanced associative sensory aversion learning 7 days after stressor-taste pairing, although re-stress did not strengthen this response. Increased cortical and hippocampal muscarinic receptor density (Bmax) was found 7 days after single prolonged stress with re-stress, although receptor affinity remained unaltered. Frontal cortical and hippocampal muscarinic receptor changes may thus underlie conditioned taste aversion learning in rats exposed to stress and re-stress. These data suggest that it may be useful to study the role of cholinergic pathways in mediating associative memory in psychiatric disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder
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