Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibition improves early memory consolidation of object information

Neurochem Int. 2004 Nov;45(6):915-28. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2004.03.022.


The nitric oxide (NO)-cyclic GMP (cGMP) signaling pathway is assumed to play an important role in processes underlying learning and memory. We used phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors to study the role of cGMP in object- and spatial memory. Our results and those reported in other studies indicate that elevated hippocampal cGMP levels are required to improve the memory performance of rodents in object recognition and passive avoidance learning, but not in spatial learning. The timing of treatment modulates the effects on memory and strongly supports a role for cGMP in early stages of memory formation. Alternative explanations for the improved memory performance of PDE5 inhibitors are also discussed. Immunocytochemical studies showed that in vitro slice incubations with PDE5 inhibitors increase NO-stimulated cGMP levels mainly in hippocampal varicose fibers. Reviewing the available data on the localization of the different components of the NO-cGMP signaling pathway, indicates a complex interaction between NO and cGMP, which may be independent of each other. It is discussed that further studies are needed, immunocytochemical and behavioral, to better understand the cGMP-mediated molecular mechanisms underlying memory formation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 3',5'-Cyclic-GMP Phosphodiesterases
  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / drug effects
  • Brain Chemistry / physiology
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Cyclic GMP / physiology
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 5
  • Humans
  • Learning / drug effects*
  • Long-Term Potentiation / drug effects
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases / metabolism*


  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases
  • 3',5'-Cyclic-GMP Phosphodiesterases
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 5
  • PDE5A protein, human
  • Cyclic GMP