Background: Contextual fear conditioning (CFC) is a rodent model that induces a high and long-lasting level of conditioning associated with traumatic memory formation; this behavioral paradigm resembles many characteristics of posttraumatic stress disorder (PSTD). Chemokines (chemotactic cytokines) play a known role in neuronal migration and neurodegeneration but their role in cognition is not totally elucidated. Aim: We ascertain whether CCR5/RANTES beta chemokines (hippocampus/prefrontal cortex) could play a role in fear memory consolidation (CFC paradigm). We also evaluated whether chronic stress restraint (21 days of restraint, 6-h/day) could regulate levels of these beta chemokines in CFC-trained rats; fear memory retention was determined taking the level of freezing (context and tone) by the animals as an index of fear memory consolidation 24 h after CFC training session; these chemokines (CCR5/RANTES) and IL-6 levels were measured in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex of chronically stressed rats, 24 h after CFC post-training, and compared with undisturbed CFC-trained rats (Experiment 1). In Experiment 2, rats received 1 mA of footshock during the CFC training session and fear memory consolidation was evaluated at 12 and 24 h after CFC training sessions. We evaluated whether RANTES levels could be differentially regulated at 12 and 24 h after CFC training; in Experiment 3, maraviroc was administered to rats (i.m: 100 mg/Kg, a CCR5 antagonist) before CFC training. These rats were not subjected to chronic stress restraint. We evaluated whether CCR5 blockade before CFC training could increase corticosterone, RANTES, or IL-6 levels and affects fear memory consolidation in the rats 24-h post-testing compared with vehicle CFC-trained rats. Results: Elevations of CCR5/RANTES chemokine levels in the hippocampus could have contributed to fear memory consolidation (24 h post-training) and chronic stress restraint did not affect these chemokines in the hippocampus; there were no significant differences in CCR5/RANTES levels between stressed and control rats in the prefrontal cortex (Experiment 1). In Experiment 2, hippocampal CCR5/RANTES levels increased and enhanced fear memory consolidation was observed 12 and 24 h after CFC training sessions with 1 mA of footshock. Increased corticosterone and CCR5/RANTES levels, as well as a higher freezing percentage to the context, were found at 24 h CFC post-testing in maraviroc-treated rats as compared to vehicle-treated animals (experiment-3). Conversely, IL-6 is not affected by maraviroc treatment in CFC training. Conclusion. Our findings suggest a role for a hippocampal CCR5/RANTES axis in contextual fear memory consolidation; in fact, RANTES levels increased at 12 and 24 h after CFC training. When CCR5 was blocked by maraviroc before CFC training, RANTES (hippocampus), corticosterone levels, and fear memory consolidation were greater than in vehicle CFC-trained rats 24 h after the CFC session.
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