, Volume 34, Issue 8, pp 1355-1365
Date: 28 Nov 2012

Dietary cholesterol alters memory and synaptic structural plasticity in young rat brain

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Abstract

Cholesterol plays an important role in synaptic plasticity, learning and memory. To better explore how dietary cholesterol contributes to learning and memory and the related changes in synaptic structural plasticity, rats were categorized into a regular diet (RD) group and a cholesterol-enriched diet (CD) group, and were fed with respective diet for 2 months. Dietary cholesterol impacts on learning and memory, hippocampal synaptic ultrastructure, expression levels of postsynaptic density-95 (PSD-95), synaptophysin (SYP) and cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1R) were investigated. We found CD rats had better performances in learning and memory using Morris water maze and object recognition test than RD rats. The memory improvement was accompanied with alterations of synaptic ultrastructure in the CA1 area of the hippocampus evaluated by electron microscopy, enhanced immunoreactivity of SYP, a presynaptic marker in hippocampus detected by immunocytochemistry, as well as increased levels of PSD-95, SYP and decreased level of CB1R in brains of CD rats determined by Western blot. Taken together, the results suggest that the improvement of learning and memory abilities of the young adult rats induced by dietary cholesterol may be linked with changes in synaptic structural plasticity in the brain.