Accumulating evidence suggests that agmatine, a metabolite of L-arginine by arginine decarboxylase, is a novel neurotransmitter, and exogenous agmatine can modulate behavior functions including learning and memory. However, direct evidence of its involvement in learning and memory processes is currently lacking. This study measured agmatine levels in the hippocampus, parahippocampal region, cerebellum, and vestibular nucleus in rats that were trained to find a hidden escape platform in the water-maze task, or forced to swim in the pool with no platform presented, or kept in the holding-box, using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. Compared with the swimming only group and holding-box group, agmatine levels were significantly increased in the CA1 and dentate gyrus subregions of the hippocampus, the entorhinal cortex and the vestibular nucleus in the water-maze training group. These results, for the first time, demonstrate spatial learning-induced region-specific elevation in agmatine, and raise a novel issue of the involvement of agmatine in the processes of learning and memory.
Copyright 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.