Catechol-o-methyltransferase inhibitor tolcapone improves learning and memory in naïve but not in haloperidol challenged rats

Document Type: Original Article


1 Department of Pharmacology and Drug Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Medical University Plovdiv, 15A Vassil Aprilov Blvd., Plovdiv 4002, Bulgaria

2 Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Medical University Plovdiv, 15A Vassil Aprilov Blvd., Plovdiv 4002, Bulgaria


Objective(s): Dopamine plays an important role in cognitive functions. Inhibition of the dopamine-degrading enzyme catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) may have beneficial effects. Our aim was to assess the effect of COMT inhibitor tolcapone (TCP) on learning and memory in naïve and haloperidol-challenged rats.
Materials and Methods: Male Wistar rats were divided into 9 groups (n=8):  naïve-saline, tolcapone 5; 15 and 30 mg/kg BW; haloperidol (HP) challenged-saline, haloperidol, haloperidol+tolcapone 5; 15 and 30 mg/kg BW. Two-way active avoidance test (TWAA), elevated T-maze, and activity cage were performed. Observed parameters were: number of conditioned responses (CR) and unconditioned responses (UCR), working memory index, and vertical and horizontal movements.
Results: Naïve rats with 30 mg/kg BW TCP had a significantly increased number of CR  and  UCR during the long-term memory test. The animals with 5 mg/kg BW TCP significantly increased the number of UCR during the two retention tests. In haloperidol-challenged rats, the three experimental groups decreased the number of CR and UCR during the learning session and the two memory tests, compared to the saline group.  There was no significant difference between the HP-challenged rats treated with TCP and the haloperidol control group. All experimental naïve groups had significantly increased working memory index whereas none of the HP-challenged groups showed significant increase in this parameter.
Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that in naïve rats tolcapone improves memory in the hippocampal-dependent TWAA task and spatial working memory in T-maze.


Main Subjects

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