Lysine vasopressin (0.03 μg/kg, sc) enhanced retention test performance on a one-trial step-through inhibitory avoidance task when injected into male Swiss mice 20 min before the retention test. Tests were done 48 h following training. A low dose of the vasopressin antagonist AAVP (0.01 μg/kg, sc, 20 min prior to testing) did not significantly affect retention test performance, whereas a higher dose (0.03 μg/kg, sc) impaired it. Neither lysine vasopressin nor AAVP when given prior to testing modified latencies to step-through of mice that had not received a footshock during training. The simultaneous administration of AAVP (0.01 μg/kg, sc) prevented the enhancement of retention test performance induced by lysine vasopressin. The influence of lysine vasopressin on retention test performance was antagonized by the simultaneous administration of mecamylamine (5 mg/kg, sc) but not by hexamethonium (5 mg/kg, sc), atropine (0.5 mg/kg, sc), or methylatropine (0.5 mg/kg, sc). A modulatory role of vasopressin on the activity of central cholinergic nicotinic mechanisms which probably operate at the time of testing is suggested.
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