Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 218, Issue 5, pp 1177–1196 | Cite as

Retrieval of contextual memories increases activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein in the amygdala and hippocampus

  • David A. Figge
  • IhteshamUr Rahman
  • Philip J. Dougherty
  • David J. RademacherEmail author
Original Article


Activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein (Arc) integrates information from multiple intracellular signaling cascades and, in turn, regulates cytoskeletal proteins involved in structural synaptic modifications. The purposes of the present study were: (1) to determine if the retrieval of contextual memories would induce Arc in hippocampal and amygdalar neurons; (2) use unbiased stereology at the ultrastructural level to quantify synapses contacting Arc-labeled (Arc+) and unlabeled (Arc−) postsynaptic structures in brain regions in which the amount of Arc integrated density (ID) correlated strongly with the degree of amphetamine conditioned place preference (AMPH CPP). The retrieval of contextual memories increased the Arc ID in the dentate gyrus, cornu ammonis (CA)1, and CA3 fields of the hippocampus and the basolateral, lateral, and central nuclei of the amygdala but not the primary auditory cortex, a control region. Stereological quantification of Arc+ and Arc− synapses in the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA) was undertaken because the strongest relationship between the amount of Arc ID and AMPH CPP was observed in the BLA. The retrieval of contextual memories increased the number and density of asymmetric (presumed excitatory) synapses contacting Arc+ spines and dendrites of BLA neurons, symmetric (presumed inhibitory or modulatory) synapses contacting Arc+ dendrites of BLA neurons, and multisynaptic boutons contacting Arc+ postsynaptic structures. Thus, the retrieval of contextual memories increases Arc in the amygdala and hippocampus, an effect that could be important for approach behavior to a drug-associated context.


Amphetamine Classical conditioning Conditioned place preference Activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein Amygdala Hippocampus 



These studies were funded by Grant DA024790 to D.J.R. from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and summer research fellowships to P.J.D. and I.R. We thank Figen Seiler of the Electron Microscopy Center at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science for her careful and diligent technical assistance.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Figge
    • 1
  • IhteshamUr Rahman
    • 1
  • Philip J. Dougherty
    • 1
  • David J. Rademacher
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, Chicago Medical SchoolRosalind Franklin University of Medicine and ScienceNorth ChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Translational Science and Molecular MedicineMichigan State University, College of Human MedicineGrand RapidsUSA

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