Differential effects of enrichment on learning and memory function in NR2B transgenic mice
Tang YP, Wang H, Feng R, Kyin M, Tsien JZ.
Department of Molecular Biology,
Princeton University, Washington Road,
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.
Neuropharmacology 2001 Nov;41(6):779-90


It has been known that environmental enrichment leads to better learning and memory in mice. However, the molecular mechanisms are not known. In this study, we used the 10th-12th of the NR2B transgenic (Tg) lines, in which the NMDA receptor function is enhanced via the NR2B subunit transgene in neurons of the forebrain, to test the hypothesis of the involvement of NMDA receptor function in enrichment-induced better learning and memory. Consistent with our previous results, both larger long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampus and superior learning and memory were observed in naive NR2B Tg mice even after the 10th-12th generation of breeding. After enrichment, wild-type mice exhibited overall improvement in their performances in contextual and cued conditioning, fear extinctions, and novel object recognition tasks. Interestingly, the same enrichment procedures could not further increase the performance of NR2B Tg mice in contextual conditioning, cued conditioning, or fear extinction, thereby indicating that enhanced NMDA receptor function can occlude these enrichment effects. However, we found that in the novel object recognition task enriched NR2B Tg mice exhibited much longer recognition memory (up to 1 week), compared to that (up to 3 days) in naive NR2B Tg mice. Furthermore, our biochemical experiments showed that enrichment significantly increased protein levels of GluR1, NR2B, and NR2A subunits of glutamate receptors in both wild-type and NR2B Tg mice. Therefore, our results suggest an interactive nature of molecular pathways involved in both environmental and genetic NMDA receptor manipulations for enhancing learning and memory.
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