Correlations of recognition memory performance with expression and methylation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in rats
Object recognition memory allows discrimination between novel and familiar objects. This kind of memory consists of two components: recollection, which depends on the hippocampus, and familiarity, which depends on the perirhinal cortex (Pcx). The importance of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) for recognition memory has already been recognized. Recent evidence suggests that DNA methylation regulates the expression of BDNF and memory. Behavioral and molecular approaches were used to understand the potential contribution of DNA methylation to recognition memory. To that end, rats were tested for their ability to distinguish novel from familiar objects by using a spontaneous object recognition task. Furthermore, the level of DNA methylation was estimated after trials with a methyl-sensitive PCR. We found a signifcant correlation between performance on the novel object task and the expression of BDNF, negatively in hippocampal slices and positively in perirhinal cortical slices. By contrast, methylation of DNA in CpG island 1 in the promoter of exon 1 in BDNF only correlated in hippocampal slices, but not in the Pxc cortical slices from trained animals. These results suggest that DNA methylation may be involved in the regulation of the BDNF gene during recognition memory, at least in the hippocampus.