Manganese (Mn2+)-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) imaging (MEMRI) in rodents offers unique opportunities for the longitudinal study of hippocampal structure and function in parallel with cognitive testing. However, Mn2+ is a potent toxin and there is evidence that it can interfere with neuronal function. Thus, apart from causing adverse peripheral side effects, Mn2+ may disrupt the function of brain areas where it accumulates to produce signal enhancement and, thereby, Mn2+ administration may confound cognitive testing. Here, we examined in male adult Lister hooded rats if a moderate systemic dose of MnCl2 (200 μmol/kg; two intraperitoneal injections of 100 μmol/kg separated by 1 h) that produces hippocampal MR signal enhancement would disrupt hippocampal function. To this end, we used a delayed-matching-to-place (DMP) watermaze task, which requires rapid allocentric place learning and is highly sensitive to interference with hippocampal function. Tested on the DMP task 1 h and 24 h after MnCl2 injection, rats did not show any impairment in indices of memory performance (latencies, search preference) or any sensorimotor effects. However, MnCl2 injection caused acute peripheral effects (severe ataxia and erythema, i.e. redness of paws, ears, and nose) which subsided over 30 min. Additionally, rats injected with MnCl2 showed reduced weight 1 day after injection and failed to reach the normal weight–growth curve of control rats within the 16 days monitored. Our results indicate that 200 μmol/kg MnCl2 produces hippocampal MR signal enhancement without disrupting hippocampus-dependent behavior on a rapid place learning task, even though attention must be paid to peripheral side effects.
- Learning and memory
- Delayed-matching-to-place task
- Water maze