Nitric oxide (NO) is an atypical neurotransmitter that causes changes in cognition. Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and guanylate cyclase (GC) inhibitors have been shown to exert some effects on cognition in previous studies; however, the findings have been controversial. This study was aimed at understanding the effects of an NOS inhibitor, 7-nitroindazole (7-NI), and a guanylate cyclase inhibitor, 1H-[1,2,4]oxadiazolo[4,3-a]quinoxalin-1-one (ODQ), on spatial memory in modified elevated plus maze (mEPM), Morris water maze (MWM), and radial arm maze (RAM) tests. Male Balb-c mice were treated via intraperitoneal injections with 7-NI (15 mg/kg), ODQ (3, 10 mg/kg), L-arginine (100 mg/kg) + 7-NI (15 mg/kg), or physiological saline. ODQ (3 mg/kg) and 7-NI (15 mg/kg) significantly increased the second-day latency in the mEPM test. 7-NI (15 mg/kg) and ODQ (10 mg/kg) significantly increased the escape latency in second, third, and fourth sessions, decreased the time spent in the escape platform's quadrant, and increased the mean distance to the platform in the probe trial of the MWM test. ODQ (3, 10 mg/kg) and 7-NI (15 mg/kg) significantly increased the number of errors, whereas only 7-NI increased the latency in the RAM test. The administration of L-arginine (100 mg/kg) prior to 7-NI inverted the effects of 7-NI, which supports the role of NO on cognition. Our study shows that the NO/cGMP/GS pathway can regulate spatial memory in mice.
Keywords: 7-NI; ODQ; memory; mice.