Analysis of immunoreactivity of NOS isoforms (nNOS, eNOS, iNOS) in hippocampus of young rats classified as good and poor learners

Keçecioğlu, Ekin
Despite very extensive studies on molecular mechanisms of learning and memory formation it is little known about individual variation in the learning skills within a random animal population and about the differences in the brain biochemistry behind this variation. In the present study, we have focused on the expression and distribution of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), one of the molecules implemented in activity-dependent neuroplasticity, in the rat hippocampus, the structure critical for episodic memory in humans and animals. The aim of the present study was to investigate the differences in expression of three different NOS isoforms: neural (n), epithelial (e), and inducible (i), in four hippocampal subregions (CA1, CA3, DG, and hilus) between Wistar rats classified on the basis of their performance in partially baited 12-arm radial maze as “good” and “poor” learners. The NOS isoforms were visualized on coronal hippocampal sections using fluorescent immunohistochemistry technique and n- and eNOS images were processed using ImageJ software, while iNOS immunoreactivity (IR) was assessed by counting immunoreactive cells. In this study, overall hippocampal levels of nNOS were significantly higher than those of eNOS and iNOS. The level of n and eNOS was higher in CA1 compared to DG/hilus areas, but lower than that in CA3 region. The expression of iNOS was the highest in CA1 and the lowest in hilus region. nNOS IR was significantly higher in “poor” than in “good” learners but only in CA1 region. No significant between-group differences were found in eNOS expression. iNOS expression was higher in “poor” learners but it did not reach the required significance level.