Cyclic AMP response element-binding protein (CREB), a transcription factor on which multiple signal transduction pathways converge, has been implicated in long-term memory. We examined whether the sex difference in the performance of contextual fear or passive avoidance conditioning is associated with a change in the activation of CREB in the hippocampus, a neural structure important for long-term memory. The activation of CREB in different subregions within the hippocampus in male and female rats was determined immunohistochemically with an antibody that specifically recognizes the phosphorylated form of CREB (pCREB). With respect to the freezing time in contextual fear conditioning and the step-through latency in passive avoidance conditioning, male rats exhibited better performance than female rats. Phosphorylation of CREB (% pCREB) as revealed by the ratio of the pCREB-immunoreactive (pCREB-ir) cell number to the CREB-immunoreactive cell number was increased in the CA1 region, but not in CA3, CA4, or in the dentate gyrus following training for both types of conditioning in males. In females, such an increase in % pCREB was not found in any hippocampal subregion at any time after conditioning or by increasing the intensity of foot shock. Orchidectomy in males did not alter either the performance of contextual conditioning or conditioning-induced CREB phosphorylation in CA1. The close relationship between behavioral performance and CREB phosphorylation in the CA1 region suggests that hippocampal CREB is involved in the sex difference in some forms of learning and memory.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Clinical Neurology
- Developmental Biology