Memory consolidation of Pavlovian fear conditioning requires nitric oxide signaling in the lateral amygdala

Eur J Neurosci. 2005 Jul;22(1):201-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2005.04209.x.


Nitric oxide (NO) has been widely implicated in synaptic plasticity and memory formation. In studies of long-term potentiation (LTP), NO is thought to serve as a 'retrograde messenger' that contributes to presynaptic aspects of LTP expression. In this study, we examined the role of NO signaling in Pavlovian fear conditioning. We first show that neuronal nitric oxide synthase is localized in the lateral nucleus of the amygdala (LA), a critical site of plasticity in fear conditioning. We next show that NO signaling is required for LTP at thalamic inputs to the LA and for the long-term consolidation of auditory fear conditioning. Collectively, the findings suggest that NO signaling is an important component of memory formation of auditory fear conditioning, possibly as a retrograde signal that participates in presynaptic aspects of plasticity in the LA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Amygdala / metabolism*
  • Amygdala / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Neural Pathways / ultrastructure
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Nitrergic Neurons / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism
  • Presynaptic Terminals / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Thalamus / metabolism
  • Thalamus / ultrastructure


  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase