The underlying mechanism of short-term memory improvement after inhibition of specific phosphodiesterases (PDEs) is still poorly understood. The present study aimed to reveal the ability of PDE5 and PDE2 inhibitors, that increase cyclic guanosine morrophosphate (cGMP) and both cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and cGMP, respectively, to reverse an object recognition deficit induced by acute tryptophan depletion. Acute tryptophan depletion is a pharmacological challenge tool to lower central serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) levels by depleting the availability of its dietary precursor tryptophan. Short-term object memory was tested in male Wistar rats by exposing them to the object recognition task. First, the effects of acute tryptophan depletion upon object recognition 2 h after administration of the nutritional mixture were established. Subsequently, acute tryptophan depletion was combined with the PDE5 inhibitor vardenafil (1, 3 and 10 mg/kg) or with the PDE2 inhibitor BAY 60-7550 (0.3, 1 and 3 mg/kg), 30 min prior to testing. Acute tryptophan depletion significantly lowered plasma tryptophan levels and impaired object recognition performance. Vardenafil (3 and 10 mg/kg) and BAY 60-7550 (3 mg/kg) were able to attenuate the acute tryptophan depletion induced object recognition impairment. Thus, both PDE5 and PDE2 inhibition improved short-term object recognition performance after an acute tryptophan depletion induced deficit. The underlying mechanisms, however, remain poorly understood and further studies are needed to determine whether the present findings can be explained by a direct effect of enhanced cAMP and cGMP levels upon 5-HT activity, or even other neurotransmitter systems, and possibly an interaction with synthesis of nitric oxide or effects upon cerebral blood flow function.
van Donkelaar, E. L., Rutten, K., Blokland, A., Akkerman, S., Steinbusch, H. P., & Prickaerts, J. H. H. J. (2008). Phosphodiesterase 2 and 5 inhibition attenuates the object memory deficit induced by acute tryptophan depletion. European Journal of Pharmacology, 600(1-3), 98-104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2008.10.027