Inhaled Lavandula angustifolia essential oil enhances extinction learning and inhibits memory updating in mice submitted to the contextual fear conditioning.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2020 Jun 7:113048. Epub 2020 Jun 7. PMID: 32525067
Fabiana Aparecida Manganiello Terra
ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil (EO) has a long history of use in emotional illness, including anxiety disorders. Cognitive mechanisms of learning and memory play a pivotal role in the etiology and maintenance of anxiety since exposure to cues related to aversive situations induces high arousal and anticipatory anxiety. Memory become labile after its reactivation and can be modulated by reconsolidation or extinction. Inhibition of memory reconsolidation or facilitation of memory extinction may be effective in preventing or minimizing the effect of contextual cues on anticipatory anxiety.
AIM OF THE STUDY: We investigated the effect of Lavandula angustifolia EO in the memory updating of conditioned contextual fear.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Adult male C57Bl6 mice were submitted to fear conditioning. Two days after conditioning the mice underwent a reactivation session in a hybrid context and were then immediately exposed to vaporized water or essential oil at concentrations of 1%, 2.5% or 5% for 3 h. Two days later, the mice were tested in the original or an altered context and their freezing behavior was measured. In addition, mice were subjected to a fear memory recovery protocol followed by a reinstatement session.
RESULTS: In the contextual fear test, 1% essential oil, but not 2.5% or 5%, reduced the freezing behavior response, whereas after a reinstatement session, exposure to 1% essential oil increased the freezing behavior response.
CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that Lavandula angustifolia essential oil enhances memory extinction and, consequently, inhibits memory updating.