Central Histamine Boosts Perirhinal Cortex Activity and Restores Forgotten Object Memories
Abstract Background A method that promotes the retrieval of lost long-term memories has not been well established. Histamine in the central nervous system is implicated in learning and memory, and treatment with antihistamines impairs learning and memory. Because histamine H 3 receptor inverse agonists upregulate histamine release, the inverse agonists may enhance learning and memory. However, whether the inverse agonists promote the retrieval of forgotten long-term memory has not yet been determined. Methods Here, we employed multidisciplinary methods, including mouse behavior, calcium imaging, and chemogenetic manipulation, to examine whether and how the histamine H 3 receptor inverse agonists, thioperamide and betahistine, promote the retrieval of a forgotten long-term object memory in mice. In addition, we conducted a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial in healthy adult participants to investigate whether betahistine treatment promotes memory retrieval in humans. Results The treatment of H 3 receptor inverse agonists induced the recall of forgotten memories even 1 week and 1 month after training in mice. The memory recovery was mediated by the disinhibition of histamine release in the perirhinal cortex, which activated the histamine H 2 receptor. Histamine depolarized perirhinal cortex neurons, enhanced their spontaneous activity, and facilitated the reactivation of behaviorally activated neuronal ensembles. A human clinical trial revealed that treatment of H 3 receptor inverse agonists is specifically more effective for items that are more difficult to remember and subjects with poorer performance. Conclusions These results highlight a novel interaction between the central histamine signaling and memory engrams.