, Volume 123, Issue 1-2, pp 52-59

N-methyl-D-aspartate and dopamine receptor involvement in the modulation of locomotor activity and memory processes

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In this study we report on the effects of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA)- and dopamine (DA)-receptor manipulation on the modulation of one-trial inhibitory avoidance response and the encoding of spatial information, as assessed with a non-associative task. Further, a comparison with the well-known effects of the manipulation of these two receptor systems on locomotor activity is outlined. It is well assessed that NMDA-receptor blockage induces a stimulatory action on locomotor activity similar to that exerted by DA agonists. There is evidence showing that the nucleus accumbens is involved in the response induced by both NMDA antagonists and DA agonists. We show results indicating a functional interaction between these two neural systems in modulating locomotor activity, with D2 DA-receptor antagonists (sulpiride and haloperidol) being more effective than the D1 antagonist (SCH 23390) in blocking MK-801-induced locomotion. A different profile is shown in the effects of NMDA antagonists and DA agonists in the modulation of memory processes. In one-trial inhibitory avoidance response, NMDA antagonists (MK-801 and CPP) impair the response on test day, while DA agonists exert a facilitatory effect; furthermore, sub-effective doses of both D1 (SKF 23390) and D2 (quinpirole) are able to attenuate the impairing effect in a way similar to that induced by NMDA antagonists. The effects of NMDA- and DA-acting drugs on the response to spatial novelty, as assessed with a task designed to study the ability of animals to react to discrete spatial changes, are in good accord with the effects observed on passive avoidance. The results show that NMDA as well as DA antagonists, at low doses, selectively impair the reactivity of mice to spatial changes. In a last series of experiments, the possible role of NMDA receptors located in the nucleus accumbens was investigated regarding reactivity to spatial novelty. The experiments gave apparently contrasting results: while showing an impairing effect of focal administrations of NMDA antagonists in the nucleus accumbens on reactivity to spatial novelty, no effect of ibotenic acid lesions of the same structure was observed.