Journal of Molecular Medicine

, Volume 86, Issue 5, pp 563–571

Impaired spatial memory and altered dendritic spine morphology in angiotensin II type 2 receptor-deficient mice


  • Björn Maul
    • Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie
  • Oliver von Bohlen und Halbach
    • Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences (IZN), Department of NeuroanatomyUniversity of Heidelberg
  • Axel Becker
    • Institute of Pharmacology and ToxicologyUniversity of Magdeburg
  • Anja Sterner-Kock
    • Institute of Pathology, Veterinary MedicineFreie Universität Berlin
  • Jörg-Peter Voigt
    • Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Veterinary MedicineFreie Universität Berlin
  • Wolf-Eberhard Siems
    • Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie
  • Gisela Grecksch
    • Institute of Pharmacology and ToxicologyUniversity of Magdeburg
    • Department of Cardiology and PneumologyCharité-University Medicine, Campus Benjamin Franklin (CBF)
    • Biomedical SciencesHull York Medical School
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00109-008-0316-4

Cite this article as:
Maul, B., von Bohlen und Halbach, O., Becker, A. et al. J Mol Med (2008) 86: 563. doi:10.1007/s00109-008-0316-4


Mental retardation is the most frequent cause of serious handicap in children and young adults. Mutations in the human angiotensin II type 2 receptor (AT2) have been implicated in X-linked forms of mental retardation. We here demonstrate that mice lacking the AT2 receptor gene are significantly impaired in their performance in a spatial memory task and in a one-way active avoidance task. As no difference was observed between the genotypes in fear conditioning, the detected deficit in spatial memory may not relate to fear. Notably, receptor knockout mice showed increased motility in an activity meter and elevated plus maze. Importantly, these mice are characterized by abnormal dendritic spine morphology and length, both features also found to be associated with some cases of mental retardation. These findings suggest a crucial role of AT2 in normal brain function and that dysfunction of the receptor has impact on brain development and ultrastructural morphology with distinct consequences on learning and memory.


Anxiety AT2 receptor Gene deficiency Learning Morris water maze X-linked mental retardation



angiotensin II


angiotensin II type 1 receptor


angiotensin II type 2 receptor


postsynaptic densities

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008