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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Feb 22;102(8):3070-5. Epub 2005 Feb 14.

Cognitive deficit associated with cholinergic and nerve growth factor down-regulation in experimental allergic encephalomyelitis in rats.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Morphophysiology and Animal Production, University of Bologna, 40064 Ozzano Emilia (Bologna), Italy.


Clinical symptoms in multiple sclerosis include cognitive dysfunction. Difficulties in learning and remembering new information represent the most common cognitive deficit and are associated with a general and progressive brain pathology. Possible pathogenetic mechanisms for neuronal damage such as neuroprotective strategies are under active investigation also in experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, the most widely used experimental model for multiple sclerosis. In this paper we demonstrate that a selective deficit in learning and memory performance, as investigated by the Morris water maze test, is a consistent feature in rat encephalomyelitis, which correlates with a decline in choline acetyltransferase activity and nerve growth factor mRNA level in cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and basal forebrain. Treatment aimed to restore acetylcholine content through chronic administration of selective acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (rivastigmine and donepezil) restores cognitive performance, choline acetyltransferase activity, and nerve growth factor mRNA expression.

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