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Eur J Pharmacol. 2010 Dec 15;649(1-3):224-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2010.09.035. Epub 2010 Sep 22.

Effects of N-acetyl-cysteine treatment on glutathione depletion and a short-term spatial memory deficit in 2-cyclohexene-1-one-treated rats.

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  • 1Mental Health Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


Glutathione (GSH) is the primary antioxidant in the body and is present in high levels in the brain. Levels of GSH and other antioxidants are significantly altered in major psychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia. Recent clinical trials have demonstrated that chronic treatment with N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC), a GSH precursor, improved symptoms in individuals with this illness. We previously showed in rats and mice that depletion of GSH by treatment with 2-cyclohexene-1-one (CHX) induced short-term spatial memory deficits in the Y-maze test. The aim of present study was to characterise the effect of NAC in this CHX-induced glutathione depletion model. Consistent with our previous studies, CHX treatment induced approximately 50% reduction of GSH levels in striatum, hippocampus and frontal cortex tissue. GSH depletion was significantly rescued by either 1.2 g/kg or 1.6 g/kg of NAC administration, with a full recovery observed in the frontal cortex after the high dose of NAC. CHX treatment also induced a disruption in short-term spatial recognition memory in Y-maze test, as measured by the duration of time spent in the novel arm. This disruption was reversed by treatment with 1.6 g/kg of NAC. In conclusion, this study suggests that rescue of depleted levels of GSH in the brain restores cognitive deficits, as measured by the Y-maze. These effects appear to be dose-dependent and region-specific. These results may be relevant to the understanding and management of the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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