The peptide neurotransmitter N-acetylaspartylglutamate (NAAG) is inactivated by the extracellular enzyme glutamate carboxypeptidase II. Inhibitors of this enzyme reverse dizocilpine (MK-801)-induced impairment of short-term memory in the novel object recognition test. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that NAAG peptidase inhibition enhances long-term (24 h delay) memory of C57BL mice. These mice and mice in which glutamate carboxypeptidase II had been knocked out were presented with two identical objects to explore for 10 min on day 1 and tested with one of these familiar objects and one novel object on day 2. Memory was assessed as the degree to which the mice recalled the familiar object and explored the novel object to a greater extent on day 2. Uninjected mice or mice injected with saline prior to the acquisition session on day 1 demonstrated a lack of memory of the acquisition experience by exploring the familiar and novel objects to the same extent on day 2. Mice treated with glutamate carboxypeptidase II inhibitors ZJ43 or 2-PMPA prior to the acquisition trial explored the novel object significantly more time than the familiar object on day 2. Consistent with these results, mice in which glutamate carboxypeptidase II had been knocked out distinguished the novel from the familiar object on day 2 while their heterozygous colony mates did not. Inhibition of glutamate carboxypeptidase II enhances recognition memory, a therapeutic action that might be useful in treatment of memory deficits related to age and neurological disorders.
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