GABA mediated neuronal system regulates hippocampus-dependent memory and stress responses by controlling plasticity and neuronal excitability. Here, we demonstrate that betaine ameliorates water-immersion restraint stress (WIRS)-induced memory impairments. This improvement was inhibited by a betaine/GABA transporter-1 (GABA transporter-2: GAT2) inhibitor, NNC 05–2090. In this study, we investigated whether memory amelioration by betaine was mediated by the GABAergic neuronal system. Adult male mice were co-administered betaine and GABA receptor antagonists after WIRS. We also examined whether memory impairment after WIRS was attenuated by GABA receptor agonists. The memory functions were evaluated using a novel object recognition test 3–6 days after WIRS and/or the step-down type passive avoidance test at 7–8 days. The co-administration of the GABAAreceptor antagonist bicuculline (1 mg/kg) or the GABABreceptor antagonist phaclofen (10 mg/kg) 1 h after WIRS suppressed the memory-improving effects induced by betaine. Additionally, the administration of the GABAAreceptor agonist muscimol (1 mg/kg) or the GABABreceptor agonist baclofen (10 mg/kg) 1 h after WIRS attenuated memory impairments. These results were similar to the data observed with betaine. The treatment with betaine after WIRS significantly decreased the expression of GABA transaminase, and this effect was partially blocked by NNC 05–2090 in the hippocampus. WIRS caused a transient increase in hippocampal GABA levels and the changes after WIRS were not affected by betaine treatment in an in vivo microdialysis study. These results suggest that the beneficial effects of betaine may be mediated in part by changing the GABAergic neuronal system.
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