Depletion of perineuronal nets enhances recognition memory and long-term depression in the perirhinal cortex

J Neurosci. 2013 Apr 17;33(16):7057-65. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6267-11.2013.


Perineuronal nets (PNNs) are extracellular matrix structures surrounding cortical neuronal cell bodies and proximal dendrites and are involved in the control of brain plasticity and the closure of critical periods. Expression of the link protein Crtl1/Hapln1 in neurons has recently been identified as the key event triggering the formation of PNNs. Here we show that the genetic attenuation of PNNs in adult brain Crtl1 knock-out mice enhances long-term object recognition memory and facilitates long-term depression in the perirhinal cortex, a neural correlate of object recognition memory. Identical prolongation of memory follows localized digestion of PNNs with chondroitinase ABC, an enzyme that degrades the chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan components of PNNs. The memory-enhancing effect of chondroitinase ABC treatment attenuated over time, suggesting that the regeneration of PNNs gradually restored control plasticity levels. Our findings indicate that PNNs regulate both memory and experience-driven synaptic plasticity in adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Chondroitin ABC Lyase / pharmacology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / deficiency
  • Genotype
  • Long-Term Synaptic Depression / drug effects
  • Long-Term Synaptic Depression / genetics
  • Long-Term Synaptic Depression / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Penicillinase / pharmacology
  • Proteoglycans / deficiency
  • Recognition, Psychology / drug effects
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Proteoglycans
  • link protein
  • Penicillinase
  • Chondroitin ABC Lyase