Cyclosporin A, an inhibitor of calcineurin, impairs memory formation in day-old chicks

Pauleen C. Bennett, Weiqin Zhao, Alfons Lawen, Kim T. Ng

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Considerable evidence exists that changes in the phosphorylation state of neuronal proteins are correlated with learning and that inhibition of various protein kinases disrupts memory formation. Given the reversible nature of protein phosphorylation, a role for protein phosphatases in memory processing also seems likely. It has been shown recently that administration of the phosphatase inhibitor, okadaic acid, disrupts memory formation in day-old chicks, with retention deficits first appearing at approximately 40 min post-training [93]. In the present study the intracranial administration of the immunosuppressant cyclosporin A was also found to produce retention deficits in day-old chicks trained on a single-trial, passive-avoidance task, but the deficits were not significant until 85 min post-training. The difference could not be attributed to differences in the pharmacokinetics of the drugs. Since okadaic acid preferentially inhibits protein phosphatases 1 and 2A, while cyclosporin A is reported to inhibit only the Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein phosphatase, calcineurin, it is possible that different phosphatases may be involved in distinct stages of memory formation, as has been reported previously for protein kinases. The possibility that cyclosporin A may, in addition, act through inhibition of cyclophilin's peptidyl-prolyl-cis/transisomerase activity is also canvassed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-117
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 1996


  • calcineurin
  • cyclosporin A
  • dephosphorylation
  • immunosuppressant
  • memory
  • phosphatase

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