Environmental conditions of recognition memory testing induce neurovascular changes in the hippocampus in a sex-specific manner in mice.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Behav Brain Res, Volume 448, p.114443 (2023)


Animals, Brain, Depressive Disorder, Major, Female, Hippocampus, Humans, Male, Memory, Short-Term, Mice, Recognition, Psychology


<p>Experiences are linked to emotions impacting memory consolidation and associated brain neuronal circuits. Posttraumatic stress disorder is an example of strong negative emotions affecting memory processes by flashbacks of past traumas. Stress-related memory deficits are also observed in major depressive disorder (MDD). We recently highlighted that sex-specific blood-brain barrier (BBB) alterations underlie stress responses in mice and human depression. However, little is known about the relationship between emotional valence, memory encoding and BBB gene expression. Here, we investigated the effects of novel object recognition (NOR) test, an experience considered of neutral emotional valence, on BBB properties in dorsal vs ventral hippocampus (HIPP) in the context of various environmental conditions (arena size, handling, age). The HIPP is a brain area central for learning and memory processes with the dorsal and ventral subregions being associated with working memory vs reference memory retrieval, respectively. Expression of genes related to BBB integrity are altered in line with learning and memory processes in a region- and sex-specific manner. We observed correlations between poor learning, anxiety, stress-induced corticosterone release and changes in BBB-associated gene expression. Comparison of BBB transcriptomes between sexes also revealed profound differences at baseline in both ventral and dorsal HIPP. Finally, we identified circulating vascular biomarkers, such as sE-selectin and matrix metallopeptidase 9 (MMP-9), altered following NOR exposure supporting that recognition memory formation has an impact on the neurovasculature. Although deemed as a neutral valence test, NOR experimental conditions can shift it toward a negative valence, impacting performance and highlighting the need to minimize anxiety when performing this commonly used test in mice.</p>

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