Hippocampal polyamine levels and transglutaminase activity are paralleling spatial memory retrieval in the C57BL/6J mouse

Hippocampus. 2012 May;22(5):1068-74. doi: 10.1002/hipo.22016. Epub 2012 Mar 30.


Although a potential role for polyamines and transglutaminases (TGs) in memory mechanisms have been proposed, hippocampal spermine (SPM) and spermidine (SPD) levels as well as transamidating activity of TG in spatial memory have not been addressed yet. It was therefore the aim of the study to assess hippocampal polyamines and TG activity at the probe trial in a spatial memory paradigm. C57BL/6J mice (20 animals per group) were used for the experiments and divided into a trained and a yoked (untrained) group. The Morris water maze (MWM) was selected as the memory test, animals were sacrificed within 5 min following the probe trial and hippocampi were taken for biochemical analysis. SPD and SPM levels were assessed by an analytical procedure according to Gismondi et al. Transamidating activity of TG was determined following the method described by Chung and Folk using [14C] methylamine as substrate. γ-(Glutamyl)-polyamine levels were evaluated by ion exchange chromatography according to Folk et al. Animals learned the task in the MWM as latencies and pathlengths were significantly reduced. At the probe trial mice showed significantly higher preference for the target quadrant. Free SPD and SPM levels were manifold decreased in the trained as compared to the yoked group. Transamidating activity of TG was fourfold increased in trained as compared to yoked controls. γ-(Glutamyl)-SPD was comparable while γ-(glutamyl)-SPM was significantly higher in the trained group. The findings show a potential role for polyamines, their derivative γ-(glutamyl)-SPM and transamidating activity of TG at memory retrieval or formation. Results from this study are extending and knowledge on polyamines and report for the first time involvement of γ-(glutamyl)-SPM and transamidating activity of TG that may form the basis for future neurochemical and pharmacological studies and indeed, modulation of polyamine and TG activity has been already proposed as a tentative therapeutical concept.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hippocampus / chemistry
  • Hippocampus / enzymology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Polyamines / analysis
  • Polyamines / metabolism*
  • Spatial Behavior*
  • Spermidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Spermidine / analysis
  • Spermidine / metabolism
  • Spermine / analogs & derivatives
  • Spermine / analysis
  • Spermine / metabolism
  • Transglutaminases / metabolism*


  • Polyamines
  • Spermine
  • Transglutaminases
  • Spermidine