ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

›› 2011, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (05): 544-552.

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Cdk5 Kinase Activity, Caspase-3 Expression and Synaptic Structural Plasticity in Infra-limbic Cortex of Rats with Conditioned Fear

LI Pei-Pei;ZHANG Li-Li;WEI Mei;LI Min   

  1. (1 Department of Psychology, School of Nursing, the Third Military Medical University, Chongqing 400038, China)
    (2 Institute of Medicine and Nursing, Hubei University of Medicine, Shiyan 442000, China)
  • Received:2010-05-07 Revised:1900-01-01 Published:2011-05-30 Online:2011-05-30
  • Contact: LI Min

Abstract: Classical fear conditioning is a behavioral paradigm that is widely used to study the neuronal mechanisms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Previous studies have clearly identified the medial prefrontal cortex as a key brain area for fear memory traces, but the molecules involving are poorly understood. Recently, the neuronal cyclin dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) has been implicated in both functional and structural plasticity through affecting ion channel conductance, dendritic spine formation, protein expressions and transcriptions in the postsynaptic neurons. Importantly, dysregulation of Cdk5 has been linked to cell apoptosis, which involves perturbation in synaptic function. How the kinase activity, expression of caspase-3 and synaptic structure have changed in infra-limbic cortex (IL) of conditioned fear? The present study is aimed to answer this question by two experiments.
Male adult SD rats were randomly divided into fear group and naive group. Conditioned fear model of rats was established by tone paired foot shock. At the 2nd, 4th and 8th days after fear conditioning, the Cdk5 activity, and expressions of P35 or P25 and caspase-3 in IL area were studied by immunoprecipitation and kinase assay, Western blotting and immunnohistochemical assay. Then the change of synaptic structure at the 8th and 22nd days after conditioned fear was observed with electron microscopy. The results of our experiment 1 showed that Cdk5 activity and expressions of P25 and caspase-3 were all higher in fear group than naive group. In experiment 2, the postsynaptic density (PSD) was thinner in fear group than naive group at the 8th and 22nd days after fear conditioning, but the numerical densities of IL synapse was decreased in fear group at the 22nd day after fear conditioning.
Our date suggested that at 8th days after conditioned fear established, the expression of P25 and Cdk5 activity in fear group were higher than naive group, which may lead to the change of synaptic structural plasticity of IL area and further lead to fear expression of rats.

Key words: conditioned fear, infra-limbic cortex, Cdk5, synaptic structure