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Blocking human fear memory with the matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor doxycycline

Bach, DR; Tzovara, A; Vunder, J; (2018) Blocking human fear memory with the matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor doxycycline. Molecular Psychiatry , 23 pp. 1584-1589. 10.1038/mp.2017.65. Green open access

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Abstract

Learning to predict threat is a fundamental ability of many biological organisms, and a laboratory model for anxiety disorders. Interfering with such memories in humans would be of high clinical relevance. On the basis of studies in cell cultures and slice preparations, it is hypothesised that synaptic remodelling required for threat learning involves the extracellular enzyme matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 9. However, in vivo evidence for this proposal is lacking. Here we investigate human Pavlovian fear conditioning under the blood-brain barrier crossing MMP inhibitor doxycyline in a pre-registered, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. We find that recall of threat memory, measured with fear-potentiated startle 7 days after acquisition, is attenuated by ~60% in individuals who were under doxycycline during acquisition. This threat memory impairment is also reflected in increased behavioural surprise signals to the conditioned stimulus during subsequent re-learning, and already late during initial acquisition. Our findings support an emerging view that extracellular signalling pathways are crucially required for threat memory formation. Furthermore, they suggest novel pharmacological methods for primary prevention and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 4 April 2017; doi:10.1038/mp.2017.65.

Type: Article
Title: Blocking human fear memory with the matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor doxycycline
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/mp.2017.65
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/mp.2017.65
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2017. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by/4.0/
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1550797
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