Ascorbic acid attenuates scopolamine-induced spatial learning deficits in the water maze.

Harrison FE, Hosseini AH, Dawes SM, Weaver S, May JM
Behav Brain Res. 2009 205 (2): 550-8

PMID: 19703495 · PMCID: PMC2759855 · DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2009.08.017

Vitamin C (ascorbate) has important antioxidant functions that can help protect against oxidative stress in the brain and damage associated with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. When administered parenterally ascorbate can bypass saturable uptake mechanisms in the gut and thus higher tissue concentrations can be achieved than by oral administration. In the present study we show that ascorbate (125 mg/kg) administered intraperitoneally (i.p.) 1-h before testing, partially attenuated scopolamine-induced (1 mg/kg i.p.) cognitive deficits in Morris water maze performance in young mice. Cumulative search error, but not escape latency nor path length, was significantly improved during acquisition in ascorbate plus scopolamine-treated mice although performance did not equal that of control mice. During the probe trial, scopolamine led to increased search error and chance level of time spent in the platform quadrant, whereas mice pre-treated with ascorbate prior to scopolamine did not differ from control mice on these measures. Ascorbate had no effect on unimpaired, control mice and neither did it reduce the peripheral, activity-increasing effects of scopolamine. Ascorbate alone increased acetylcholinesterase activity in the medial forebrain area but had no effect in cortex or striatum. This change, and its action against the amnestic effects of the muscarinic antagonist scopolamine, suggest that ascorbate may be acting in part via altered cholinergic signaling. However, further investigation is necessary to isolate the cognition-enhancing effects of ascorbate.

MeSH Terms (19)

Acetylcholinesterase Animals Ascorbic Acid Cerebral Cortex Corpus Striatum Escape Reaction Female Learning Disabilities Liver Locomotion Male Maze Learning Mice Mice, Inbred Strains Nootropic Agents Prosencephalon Scopolamine Space Perception Time Factors

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