Aim: Histamine plays an important role in morphine addiction and memory-dependent behavior. However, little is known about the effect of histamine on the impairment of memory after morphine withdrawal. This study was designed to investigate the effect of histamine on memory impairment induced by morphine withdrawal in histidine decarboxylase knockout (HDC-KO) and wild-type (WT) mice. Methods: WT and HDC-KO mice were given subcutaneous morphine or saline twice daily for 5 consecutive days. The mice received a cued or contextual fear conditioning session 7 days after the last injection. During subsequent days, mice received 4 cued or contextual extinction sessions (one session per day). Western blot was used to assess extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation in the amygdala and hippocampus. Results: Morphine withdrawal did not affect the acquisition of cued or contextual fear responses. It impaired cued but not contextual fear extinction. The acquisition of cued and contextual fear responses was accelerated in HDC-KO mice. Histamine deficiency aggravated the impairment of cued fear extinction induced by morphine withdrawal, whereas histamine (icv, 5 g/mouse) reversed this effect. Morphine withdrawal decreased ERK phosphorylation in the amygdala after cued fear extinction, especially in HDC-KO mice. Conclusion: These results suggest that morphine withdrawal specifically impairs cued fear extinction and histamine ameliorates this impairment. Its action might be mediated by the modulation of ERK phosphorylation in the amygdala. Histamine should be explored for possible roles in the prevention or treatment of morphine abuse and relapse.
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