Abstract

The ventral portion of medial prefrontal cortex (vMPFC) is involved in contextual fear-conditioning expression in rats. In the present study, we investigated the role of local N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) glutamate receptors and nitric oxide (NO) in vMPFC on the behavioral (freezing) and cardiovascular (increase of arterial pressure and heart rate) responses of rats exposed to a context fear conditioning. The results showed that both freezing and cardiovascular responses to contextual fear conditioning were reduced by bilateral administration of NMDA receptor antagonist LY235959 (4 nmol/200 nL) into the vMPFC before reexposition to conditioned chamber. Bilateral inhibition of neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) by local vMPFC administration of the Nω-propyl-L-arginine (N-propyl, 0.04 nmol/200 nL) or the NO scavenger carboxy-PTIO (1 nmol/200 nL) caused similar results, inhibiting the fear responses. We also investigated the effects of inhibiting glutamate- and NO-mediated neurotransmission in the vMPFC at the time of aversive context exposure on reexposure to the same context. It was observed that the 1st exposure results in a significant attenuation of the fear responses on reexposure in vehicle-treated animals, which was not modified by the drugs. The present results suggest that a vMPFC NMDA–NO pathway may play an important role on expression of contextual fear conditioning.

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