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Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2009 Aug;105(2):98-104. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-7843.2009.00404.x. Epub 2009 Mar 27.

Effect of N-acetyl cysteine against aluminium-induced cognitive dysfunction and oxidative damage in rats.

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Pharmacology Division, University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India.


Aluminium is a potent neurotoxin involved in the initiation and progression of various cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's disease. Chronic aluminium exposure induces oxidative stress and increases amyloid beta levels in vivo. The role of oxidative stress has been well-suggested in these cognitive problems. Therefore, the present study was designed to explore the possible role of N-acetyl cysteine against aluminium mediating cognitive dysfunction and oxidative stress in rats. Aluminium chloride (100 mg/kg, p.o.) was given to rats daily for 6 weeks. N-acetyl cysteine (per se; 50 and 100 mg/kg, i.p.) pre-treatment was given 30 min. before aluminium daily for 6 weeks. On the third (21st day) and sixth week (42nd day) of the study, various behavioural tests (Morris water maze and elevated plus maze task paradigms) and locomotion (photoactometer) were done to evaluate cognitive tasks. The rats were killed on the 43rd day following the last behavioural test, and various biochemical tests were performed to assess the extent of oxidative damage. Chronic aluminium chloride administration resulted in poor retention of memory in Morris water maze, elevated plus maze task paradigms and caused marked oxidative damage. It also caused a significant increase in the acetylcholinesterase activity. Chronic administration of N-acetyl cysteine significantly improved memory retention in tasks, attenuated oxidative damage and acetylcholinesterase activity in aluminium-treated rats. The study suggests a neuroprotective effect of N-acetyl cysteine against aluminium-induced cognitive dysfunction and oxidative damage.

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