Age-related learning and memory deficits in rats: role of altered brain neurotransmitters, acetylcholinesterase activity and changes in antioxidant defense system
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Oxidative stress from generation of increased reactive oxygen species or free radicals of oxygen has been reported to play an important role in the aging. To investigate the relationship between the oxidative stress and memory decline during aging, we have determined the level of lipid peroxidation, activities of antioxidant enzymes, and activity of acetylcholine esterase (AChE) in brain and plasma as well as biogenic amine levels in brain from Albino–Wistar rats at age of 4 and 24 months. The results showed that the level of lipid peroxidation in the brain and plasma was significantly higher in older than that in the young rats. The activities of antioxidant enzymes displayed an age-dependent decline in both brain and plasma. Glutathione peroxidase and catalase activities were found to be significantly decreased in brain and plasma of aged rats. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) was also significantly decreased in plasma of aged rats; however, a decreased tendency (non-significant) of SOD in brain was also observed. AChE activity in brain and plasma was significantly decreased in aged rats. Learning and memory of rats in the present study was assessed by Morris Water Maze (MWM) and Elevated plus Maze (EPM) test. Short-term memory and long-term memory was impaired significantly in older rats, which was evident by a significant increase in the latency time in MWM and increase in transfer latency in EPM. Moreover, a marked decrease in biogenic amines (NA, DA, and 5-HT) was also found in the brain of aged rats. In conclusion, our data suggest that increased oxidative stress, decline of antioxidant enzyme activities, altered AChE activity, and decreased biogenic amines level in the brain of aged rats may potentially be involved in diminished memory function.
KeywordsAging Memory AChE Antioxidant enzymes Biogenic amines
Authors are grateful to Dr. Rafat Siddiqui for help in writing the manuscript. The study was financially supported from a grant from the University of Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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