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An unprecedented mechanism for the formation of social memory discovered in mice

The neuropeptide enkephalin, made up of 5 amino acids, it’s important for the encounter with somebody that we have now not seen earlier than stays archived in our memory. That is acknowledged by a research led by the Institute of Neurosciences of Alicante (CSIC / UMH) and carried out on mice, a social species like people. The outcomes are revealed in Molecular Psychiatry.

“This work offers a novel and hitherto unknown mechanism for memory storage, in which the motion of native inhibitory neurons produces a long-lasting synaptic plasticity –indispensable for the formation of this social memory– via the launch of enkephalin and its motion on delta opioid receptors ”, he explains Felix leroy, scientist from the Valencian establishment.

We wish to see how the plasticity that we have now demonstrated in this publication can be utilized to rescue the capability to kind social memory in these animals.

Felix leroy

The synaptic plasticity refers to the adjustments that happen in the depth of communication between neurons, and is the fundamental mechanism concerned in memory and studying. In the meantime, enkephalin acts as a depressant of neuronal communication and is launched by VIP neurons.

The VIP neurons, so referred to as as a result of they produce a peptide that was initially remoted in the gut referred to as vasoactive intestinal peptide, they’re discovered in a small space of ​​the hippocampus referred to as CA2, which is concerned in the formation of social memory. These VIP cells act in this space of ​​the mind as disinhibitory neurons, as a result of they decelerate the inhibitory neurons. On this method, excitatory neurons could be activated not directly.

Thus, VIP neurons present better exercise throughout the encounter with an unknown particular person than towards one other relative and in addition when confronted with a brand new object. When the VIP interneurons in CA2 launch enkephalin, a particular sort of plasticity is induced, referred to as ITDP (Enter-timing-dependent plasticity), which is key for the formation of the social memory.

When the VIP interneurons in CA2 launch enkephalin, a particular sort of plasticity is induced that’s important for the formation of social memory

Reverse schizophrenia

“CA2 dysfunction has been linked to schizophrenia in people and is believed to contribute to social memory deficits. A greater understanding of how endogenous opioids regulate CA2 operate will contribute to a greater understanding of the mechanisms of the illness, ”provides Leroy.

“From the mouse fashions of schizophrenia we all know that the CA2 zone is poorly regulated in this pathology, and that these mice can’t kind social memory. What we’re doing now’s to see how the plasticity demonstrated in this publication can be utilized to rescue the capability to kind mentioned social memory in these animals ”, concludes the researcher.


Leroy, F., de Solis, CA, Boyle, LM et al. Enkephalin launch from VIP interneurons in the hippocampal CA2 / 3a area mediates heterosynaptic plasticity and social memory. Mol Psychiatry (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41380-021-01124-y

Rights: Artistic Commons.

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