The adenosine A2A receptor (A2AR) is highly enriched in the striatum where it is uniquely positioned to integrate dopaminergic, glutamatergic, and other signals to modulate cognition. Although previous studies support the hypothesis that A2AR inactivation can be pro-cognitive, analyses of A2AR's effects on cognitive functions have been restricted to a small subset of cognitive domains. Furthermore, the relative contribution of A2ARs in distinct brain regions remains largely unknown. Here, we studied the regulation of multiple memory processes by brain region-specific populations of A2ARs. Specifically, we evaluated the cognitive impacts of conditional A2AR deletion restricted to either the entire forebrain (i.e., cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and striatum, fb-A2AR KO) or to striatum alone (st-A2AR KO) in recognition memory, working memory, reference memory, and reversal learning. This comprehensive, comparative analysis showed for the first time that depletion of A2AR-dependent signaling in either the entire forebrain or striatum alone is associated with two specific phenotypes indicative of cognitive flexibility - enhanced working memory and enhanced reversal learning. These selective pro-cognitive phenotypes seemed largely attributed to inactivation of striatal A2ARs as they were captured by A2AR deletion restricted to striatal neurons. Neither spatial reference memory acquisition nor spatial recognition memory were grossly affected, and no evidence for compensatory changes in striatal or cortical D1, D2, or A1 receptor expression was found. This study provides the first direct demonstration that targeting striatal A2ARs may be an effective, novel strategy to facilitate cognitive flexibility under normal and pathologic conditions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience