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Neuroscience. 2007 Nov 23;149(4):739-46. Epub 2007 Sep 12.

Changes in hippocampal synapses and learning-memory abilities in age-increasing rats and effects of tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside in aged rats.

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Department of Pharmacology, Xuanwu Hospital of Capital Medical University, Key Laboratory for Neurodegenerative Diseases of Ministry of Education, Beijing 100053, China.


The aim of the present study is to investigate the changes in hippocampal synapses and their relation with learning-memory abilities at different ages, and evaluate the effects of 2,3,5,4'-tetrahydroxystilbene-2-O-beta-d-glucoside (TSG), which is one of the major components of a traditional Chinese herb Polygonum multiflorum, on brain aging. Sprague-Dawley rats at the age of 1, 3, 6, 18 and 24 months were used. TSG at doses of 30 and 60 mg/kg/day was intragastrically administered to 21-month-old rats for 3 months, respectively. Learning-memory abilities were determined by Morris water maze and passageway water maze tests. The ultrastructure of synapses in the hippocampal CA1 region was observed by electronic microscopy. The expression of synaptophysin (SYP) in whole hippocampus was measured by using immunohistochemistry. Compared with rats at 6 months of age, both the 1-month-old rats and 24-month-old rats showed longer escape latency and swimming distance in the Morris water maze test, while more errors were detected in the passageway water maze test, with a smaller number of synapses and synaptic vesicles and less expression of SYP in the hippocampus. Treatment with high-dose TSG in rats at 24 months of age had significant improvement in the learning-memory abilities in the water maze tests associated with an increase in the number of synapses and synaptic vesicles, and an elevation of expression of SYP in the hippocampus. In conclusion, hippocampal synapses count and synaptophysin expression decreased in aged rats, which may be one of the mechanisms involved in learning-memory deficit. TSG reversed the above changes in aged rats, suggesting that TSG may be beneficial for the treatment of Alzheimer disease or cognitive impairment in old people.

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