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Keywords:

  • granule cell;
  • learning;
  • mating;
  • pheromone;
  • synaptic plasticity

Abstract

The mouse accessory olfactory bulb contains a high density of nitric oxide synthase and, in females, is involved in the formation of a mating and pheromone-specific recognition memory. The exact role of nitric oxide in this memory model is not yet clearly understood. In this study, in situ hybridization was used to assess neuronal nitric oxide synthase mRNA expression during the critical interval associated with synaptic plasticity in the accessory olfactory bulb of female mice leading to the formation of a recognition memory for the stud male pheromones present following mating. Nitric oxide synthase mRNA was significantly increased following mating and 120-min stud male exposure compared with oestrus mice. The mRNA expression was more predominant in the anterior than the posterior regions of the bulb. These observations indicate a stimulus-specific activation of nitric oxide gene expression in the female mouse accessory olfactory bulb and support the hypothesis that nitric oxide may modulate intermediate synaptic pathways during the formation of a pheromone-dependent olfactory recognition for stud males.