Inhibition of matrix metalloproteinase activity disrupts reconsolidation but not consolidation of a fear memory

Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2009 Jan;91(1):66-72. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2008.09.003. Epub 2008 Oct 23.


The reconsolidation hypothesis posits that memories that have been reactivated can be either enhanced or disrupted by pharmacological manipulation. Synaptic plasticity is presumed to underlie the reconsolidation process. Matrix metalloproteinases are proteins that regulate the extracellular matrix involved in plasticity events, and these proteins have recently been shown to influence learning and memory. However, all studies on the role of matrix metalloproteinases in learning and memory have employed tasks that rely on contextual cues. The goal of this study was to determine the extent to which FN-439 would disrupt the consolidation and/or reconsolidation of a fear memory associated with a conditioned stimulus that signaled tone-shock pairings and that was independent of contextual cues. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were given infusions of FN-439 (35 microg intracerebroventricular) 30 min prior to conditioning (tone-shock paired association) or 30 min prior to a single reactivation session given 24h after conditioning. Administration of FN-439 did not disrupt consolidation of the freezing response when the tone (conditioned stimulus) was presented. In contrast, FN-439 infusion disrupted reconsolidation of the fear memory in a reactivation-dependent manner. The reduced freezing behavior was not due to a decrease in general anxiety levels, since FN-439 had no effect on the percent of open-arm time or open-arm entries in an elevated-plus maze task. Thus, we demonstrated for the first time that matrix metalloproteinase inhibition in the brain is capable of disrupting the reconsolidation of a tone-shock association memory that does not depend on contextual cues. The finding that a fear response to a previously paired conditioned stimulus can be disrupted by treatment with an MMP inhibitor during a single reactivation session suggests that this class of compounds may have therapeutic potential for posttraumatic stress disorder and/or simple phobias.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Catheterization
  • Conditioning, Classical
  • Cues
  • Electroshock
  • Escape Reaction / drug effects
  • Fear*
  • Freezing Reaction, Cataleptic / drug effects
  • Hearing
  • Hydroxamic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors*
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / metabolism*
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Microinjections
  • Oligopeptides / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • 4-aminobenzoyl-glycyl-prolyl-leucyl-alanine hydroxamic acid
  • Hydroxamic Acids
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors
  • Oligopeptides
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases