Selective immunotoxic lesions of basal forebrain cholinergic cells: effects on learning and memory in rats

Behav Neurosci. 1995 Aug;109(4):714-22. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.109.4.714.


Male Long-Evans rats were given injections of either 192 IgG-saporin, an apparently selective toxin for basal forebrain cholinergic neurons (LES), or vehicle (CON) into either the medial septum and vertical limb of the diagonal band (MS/VDB) or bilaterally into the nucleus basalis magnocellularis and substantia innominata (nBM/SI). Place discrimination in the Morris water maze assessed spatial learning, and a trial-unique matching-to-place task in the water maze assessed memory for place information over varying delays. MS/VDB-LES and nBM/SI-LES rats were not impaired relative to CON rats in acquisition of the place discrimination, but were mildly impaired relative to CON rats in performance of the memory task even at the shortest delay, suggesting a nonmnemonic deficit. These results contrast with effects of less selective lesions, which have been taken to support a role for basal forebrain cholinergic neurons in learning and memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / metabolism
  • Amygdala / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / metabolism
  • Cholinergic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cholinergic Fibers / drug effects*
  • Discrimination Learning / drug effects
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / drug effects
  • Immunotoxins / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects*
  • Mental Recall / drug effects*
  • N-Glycosyl Hydrolases
  • Neural Pathways / drug effects
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Orientation / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Retention, Psychology / drug effects*
  • Ribosome Inactivating Proteins, Type 1
  • Saporins
  • Septum Pellucidum / drug effects
  • Substantia Innominata / drug effects*


  • 192 IgG-saporin
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Cholinergic Agents
  • Immunotoxins
  • Ribosome Inactivating Proteins, Type 1
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase
  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • N-Glycosyl Hydrolases
  • Saporins