Enhancement of learning behaviour by a potent nitric oxide-guanylate cyclase activator YC-1


Dr W.-M. Fu, as above.
E-mail: wenmei@ha.mc.ntu.edu.tw


Memory is one of the most fundamental mental processes, and various approaches have been used to understand the mechanisms underlying this process. Nitric oxide (NO), cGMP and protein kinase G (PKG) are involved in the modulation of synaptic plasticity in various brain regions. YC-1, which is a benzylindazole derivative, greatly potentiated the response of soluble guanylate cyclase to NO (up to several hundreds fold). We have previously shown that YC-1 markedly enhances long-term potentiation in hippocampal and amygdala slices via NO-cGMP-PKG-dependent pathway. We here further investigated whether YC-1 promotes learning behaviour in Morris water maze and avoidance tests. It was found that YC-1 shortened the escape latency in the task of water maze, increased and decreased the retention scores in passive and active avoidance task, respectively. Administration of YC-1 30 min after foot-shock stimulation did not significantly affect retention scores in response to passive avoidance test. Administration of scopolamine, a muscarinic antagonist, markedly impaired the memory acquisition. Pretreatment of YC-1 inhibited the scopolamine-induced learning deficit. The enhancement of learning behaviour by YC-1 was antagonized by intracerebroventricular injection of NOS inhibitor L-NAME and PKG inhibitors of KT5823 and Rp-8-Br-PET-cGMPS, indicating that NO-cGMP-PKG pathway is also involved in the learning enhancement action of YC-1. YC-1 is thus a good drug candidate for the improvement of learning and memory.