Enriched environments reportedly show neuroprotective effects. Here, we evaluated the effect of an enriched environment prior to cerebral ischemia on neuronal cell death and neurogenesis in rats. Male SD rats were housed under standard conditions (SC) or in an enriched environment (EE), then subjected to global ischemia. The Y-maze test and novel object cognition test were used to evaluate cognitive function before and after ischemia. At 7 days post-ischemia, we evaluated hippocampal neuronal cell death with Fluoro-Jade B staining and neurogenesis with BrdU staining. Phosphorylated cAMP response element-binding protein (phospho-CREB) was also evaluated immunohistochemically. The EE + ischemia group showed a significant decrease of cell death post-ischemia compared with the SC + ischemia group. There was no difference in neurogenesis post-ischemia between SC + ischemia and EE + ischemia. The EE + ischemia group showed a significant increase of performance before and after ischemia compared with the SC + ischemia group. Phospho-CREB-positive cells were significantly increased post-ischemia in EE + ischemia compared with SC + ischemia. EE suppressed hippocampal cell death due to global ischemia. Additionally, enhancement of cognitive function before and after ischemia and prevention of cognitive impairment associated with ischemia were observed compared with the controls (rats housed in SC without ischemia). The CREB pathway may play an important role in protection of cognitive ability.
Enriched environment Cerebral ischemia Neurogenesis Neuronal cell death Hippocampus
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