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Brain Res. 2006 Sep 13;1109(1):201-6. Epub 2006 Jul 26.

Protective effect of N-acetyl-L-cysteine on amyloid beta-peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice.

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  • 1Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Beijing, 100850, China.


This study aimed to examine the effects of N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) on protecting neurons function and improving learning and memory deficits in mice. Mice were intracerebroventricularly (icv) injected with the aggregated amyloid beta-peptide (Abeta) to produce Alzheimer's disease (AD). Learning and memory functions in mice were examined by the step through test and the water maze performance. The results showed that the mice pretreated with NAC had significantly greater retention in the step through test and shorter latencies in the water maze performance. Biochemical studies showed the potential role of free radical toxicity and the damage of cholinergic neurons in the Abeta-treated mice. There was an increased lipid peroxidation as indicated by elevated malondehyde (MDA) and decrease of glutathione (GSH) levels. There was also an increase in acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity and a reduction in the choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity and acetylcholine (ACh) levels. NAC pretreatment significantly reversed the elevated MDA, AChE and the reduced GSH, ChAT and ACh in the Abeta-model mice. The results of the present study suggest the potential usage of the neuroprotective action of NAC on AD.

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