Cognitive performances and locomotor activity following dentate granule cell damage in rats: role of lesion extent and type of memory tested.Neurobiol Learn Mem 2001; 76(1):81-105NL
Intradentate injection of colchicine is one of the techniques used to destroy granule cells. This study compared the behavioral effects of various amounts of colchicine (1.0, 3.0, and 6.0 microg; Col 1, Col 3, and Col 6, respectively) injected into the dentate gyrus of adult Long-Evans male rats. Starting 10 days after lesion surgery, behavioral testing assessed home-cage and open-field locomotion, alternation in a T-maze, water-maze, and radial-maze learning according to protocols placing emphasis on reference, and working memory. All of these tasks are sensitive to hippocampal disruption. Histological verifications showed that the extent of the lesions depends on the dose of colchicine (index of dentate gyrus shrinkage: -33% in Col 1, -54% in Col 3, and -67% in Col 6 rats). Colchicine dose-dependently increased nocturnal home cage activity (an effect found 10 days but not 5 months after surgery), but had no significant effect on open-field locomotion or T-maze alternation. A dose-dependent reference memory impairment was found during the acquisition of spatial navigation in the water maze; Col 3 and Col 6 rats were more impaired than Col 1 rats. During the probe trial (platform removed), control rats spent a longer distance swimming over the platform area than all rats with colchicine lesions. In the working memory version of the test, all rats with colchicine lesions showed significant deficits. The deficits were larger in Col 3 and Col 6 rats compared to Col 1 rats. The lesions had no effect on swimming speed. In the radial-maze test, there was also a dose-dependent working memory impairment. However, reference memory was disrupted in a manner that did not differ among the three groups of lesioned rats. Our data are in line with the view that the dentate gyrus plays an important role in the acquisition of new information and is an integral neural substrate for spatial reference and spatial working memory. They also suggest that damage to granule cells might have more pronounced effects on reference than on working memory in the radial maze. Finally, they demonstrate that part of the variability in the conclusions from previous experiments concerning the role of granule cells in cognitive processes, particularly in spatial learning and memory, may be due to the type of tests used and/or the extent of the damage produced.