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PLoS One. 2014 Mar 11;9(3):e91641. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091641. eCollection 2014.

Unexpected improvements of spatial learning and memory abilities in chronic rotenone intoxicated mice.

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Department of Physiology, Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Pathogenesis and Prevention of Neurological Disorders and State Key Disciplines: Physiology, Medical College of Qingdao University, Qingdao, China.


The liposoluble insecticide rotenone is commonly used as a mitochondrial complex I inhibitor to replicate Parkinson's disease (PD) pathological features. However, there was no assessment of the spatial learning and memory abilities in chronic rotenone-induced PD models. In the present study, by rotarod test and Thioflavine T staining, we first noted the impairment of motor coordination in rotenone-treated group for 3 months, as well as alpha-synuclein inclusions in the nigral dopaminergic neurons in C57BL/6 mice with intragastrical delivery of rotenone (5 mg/Kg) for 3 months rather than 1 month. We then evaluated spatial learning and memory abilities by Morris water maze task in this model. The results showed escape latency reduced in rotenone-intoxicated mice for 3 months, indicating an improvement of learning ability. However, it was delayed slightly but not significantly in rotenone-intoxicated mice for 1 month. Similarly, we demonstrated that spatial memory ability was enhanced in 3-month-treatment group, but impaired in 1-month-treatment group. There were no proliferating cell nuclear antigen and doublecortin positive cells in the hippocampus by double immunofluorescent staining, indicating the absence of hippocampal neurogenesis in rotenone-intoxicated mice. These results suggest that spatial learning and memory abilities are disturbed in chronic rotenone-intoxicated PD model.

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