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Eur J Pharmacol. 2001 Jun 15;421(3):149-56.

Huperzine A attenuates cognitive dysfunction and neuronal degeneration caused by beta-amyloid protein-(1-40) in rat.

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State Key Laboratory of Drug Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 200031, Shanghai, People's Republic of China.


Huperzine A, a promising therapeutic agent for Alzheimer's disease, was examined for its potential to antagonize the deleterious neurochemical, structural, and cognitive effects of infusing beta-amyloid protein-(1-40) into the cerebral ventricles of rats. Daily intraperitoneal administration of huperzine A for 12 consecutive days produced significant reversals of the beta-amyloid-induced deficit in learning a water maze task. This treatment also reduced the loss of choline acetyltransferase activity in cerebral cortex, and the neuronal degeneration induced by beta-amyloid protein-(1-40). In addition, huperzine A partly reversed the down-regulation of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 and the up-regulation of pro-apoptotic Bax and P53 proteins and reduced the apoptosis that normally followed beta-amyloid injection. The present findings confirm that huperzine A can alleviate the cognitive dysfunction induced by intracerebroventricular infusion of beta-amyloid protein-(1-40) in rats. The beneficial effects are not confined to the cholinergic system, but also include favorable changes in the expression of apoptosis-related proteins and in the extent of apoptosis in widespread regions of the brain.

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