In this study, we have assessed the impact of vitamin E and exercise on acquisition and retention of spatial memory for a given task in aging rats, using a T-maze. Acetylcholine esterase (AChE) and cholineacetyl transferase (ChAT) activities and acetylcholine (ACh) were measured in the cerebral cortex (CC) of male Wistar rats of 4- (adult), 12- (middle-aged) and 18-months (old) of age. Animals were categorized into sedentary [(SEC (N)], sedentary supplemented [SEC (+E)], swim trained [SWT (N)] and swim trained supplemented [SWT (+E)]. In the old, ChAT activity increased in the SEC (+E). AChE activity was highest in the adults, irrespective of training or supplementation. By contrast, ACh concentration remained unaltered with age, exercise and supplementation. Middle-aged and old rats were benefited in terms of a better acquisition and retention in the case of those that were trained and supplemented with Vitamin E. Adults showed better retention in all the groups after 7 and 15 days, while in the middle-aged, training was beneficial after 15 days. We observed decreased AChE activity when old rats were trained with the supplement. Our results also suggest that this regimen may be analogous to the AChE inhibitors that are widely advocated to derive positive benefits in up-regulating the possible reduction in ACh and in turn age-associated memory deficits.
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The present study was supported by a research grant sanctioned by the University Grants Commission, New Delhi to Ms. S. Asha Devi (F.3-196/2001 (SR-II). Thanks are due to Dr. B. S. Shankaranarayana Rao, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore for his assistance in the behavioral studies. We are also grateful to Mr. A. K. Goyal for statistical analyses. Thanks to Prof. M. A. Yadugiri for editing the initial draft of this paper.
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