Acquisition and long-term retention of spatial learning in the human immunodeficiency virus-1 transgenic rat: effects of repeated nicotine treatment
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- Vigorito, M., Cao, J., Li, M.D. et al. J. Neurovirol. (2013) 19: 157. doi:10.1007/s13365-013-0154-1
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The HIV-1 transgenic (HIV-1Tg) rat shows a deficit in learning to locate a submerged platform in a multiple-trial water maze task compared to transgenic littermate and F344 control rats (Vigorito et al., J.Neuroimmune Pharmacol 2:319–328, 2007; Lashomb et al., J.Neurovirol 15:14–24, 2009). Nicotine is known to have neuroprotective effects possibly by minimizing cytotoxic effects of glutamate or by modulating a cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway. Nicotine also improves performance in a variety of learning tasks by enhancing attention and short-term memory (STM). The purpose of this study was to determine if the learning deficit in HIV-1Tg is ameliorated by repeated nicotine treatment independent of its effects on STM. HIV-1Tg and F344 rats were treated (subcutaneous) with nicotine (0.25 mg/kg/injection) or saline twice daily and tested in a single-trial-per-day procedure which precludes the impact of STM on the acquisition of the spatial learning task. HIV-1Tg rats showed a deficit in the acquisition of the task and in the long-term retention for the platform location in a probe test. Nicotine did not ameliorate the deficit in HIV-1Tg rats and slightly worsened performance during acquisition. Analysis of individual differences in performance during the probe test suggested that nicotine improved performance in some F344 rats but not in HIV-1Tg rats. These results indicate that a deficit in the consolidation of long-term memory contributes to the acquisition deficit of HIV1-Tg rats. The results, however, do not provide any evidence of the amelioration of the learning deficit observed in this behavioral model at least with the nicotine dose tested.