The present study used pharmacological, biochemical, and behavioral methods to examine the role of protein synthesis in the hippocampus in memory processes of a passive avoidance learning in rats. Results indicated that corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) significantly improved memory retention in rats. Both cycloheximide (CHX) and actinomycin-D (ACT-D) impaired memory at high doses. At doses of CHX and ACT-D that did not affect memory alone, they both antagonized the memory-enhancing effect of CRF. Biochemically, there were specific increases in the optical density of three protein bands in the cytosolic fraction of hippocampal cells in rats showing good memory. There were also marked increases in the optical density of two protein bands in the nucleus fraction of the same animals. Similar results were observed in animals injected with CRF. However, no significant protein alteration was observed in animals receiving stress. These results together suggest that there are new protein syntheses in the hippocampus that are specifically associated with passive avoidance learning in rats.
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