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Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2015;33(2):143-57. doi: 10.3233/RNN-140446.

Quercetin ameliorates hypobaric hypoxia-induced memory impairment through mitochondrial and neuron function adaptation via the PGC-1α pathway.

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Research Center for Nutrition and Food Safety, Institute of Military Preventive Medicine, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing Key Laboratory of Nutrition and Food Safety, Chongqing Medical Nutrition Research Center, Chongqing, PR China.



Acute hypobaric hypoxia (HH) causes persistent cognitive impairment, affecting memory function specifically. Mitochondrial dysfunction and synaptic morphological change were the prominent pathological features of HH exposure on brain. Quercetin, a flavonoid found in fruits, vegetables, leaves and grains, is reported to prevent ischemia induced by neuronal injury. This study investigated the efficacy of quercetin to ameliorate HH-induced memory deficit.


Rats were exposed to HH equivalent to 5000 m for 7 days in a decompression chamber and received quercetin daily (50, 75 or 100 mg/kg·bw) via gavage during the period of exposure. Cognitive performance was assessed by the Morris water maze test. In vitro, the effect of quercetin was tested in hippocampus tissue.


Quercetin, especially at 100 mg/kg·bw, significantly reduced HH-induced memory decline. Meanwhile, HH-induced hippocampus mitochondrial and synaptic lesions were ameliorated by quercetin. Furthermore, quercetin regulated the expression of sirtuin 1(Sirt1), PGC-1α, and the proteins related with mitochondrial biogenesis and dynamics. Moreover, quercetin increased expression of fibronectin type III domain-containing protein 5 (FNDC5) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), showing the PGC-1α/FNDC5/BNDF pathways might be involved in neuronal adaptation.


The results suggest quercetin has prophylactic potential for amelioration of HH-induced memory impairment, which is associated with the mitochondrial and neuronal adaptation in hippocampus.


Hypobaric hypoxia; PGC-1α; memory impairment; mitochondria; neuroprotection; quercetin

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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