The second messengers cGMP and cAMP have a vital role in synaptic plasticity and memory processes. As such, phosphodiesterases inhibitors (PDE-Is), which prevent the breakdown of these cyclic nucleotides, represent a potential treatment strategy in memory decline. Recently it has been demonstrated that cGMP and cAMP signaling act in sequence during memory consolidation, with early cGMP signaling requiring subsequent cAMP signaling. Here, we sought to confirm this relationship, and to evaluate its therapeutic implications. Combining sub-efficacious doses of the cGMP-specific PDE type 5 inhibitor vardenafil (0.1 mg/kg) and cAMP-specific PDE type 4 inhibitor rolipram (0.01 mg/kg) during the early and late memory consolidation phase, respectively, led to improved memory performance in a 24 h interval object recognition task. Similarly, such a sub-efficacious combination treatment enhanced the transition of early-phase long-term potentiation (LTP) to late-phase LTP in hippocampal slices. In addition, both object memory and LTP were improved after administration of two sub-efficacious doses of the dual substrate PDE type 2 inhibitor BAY60 7550 (0.3 mg/kg) at the early and late consolidation phase, respectively. Taken together, combinations of sub-efficacious doses of cAMP- and cGMP-specific PDE-Is have an additive effect on long-term synaptic plasticity and memory formation and might prove a superior alternative to single PDE-I treatment.
Keywords: Memory; Phosphodiesterase inhibitors; Synaptic plasticity.
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