Baclofen ameliorates spatial working memory impairments induced by chronic cerebral hypoperfusion via up-regulation of HCN2 expression in the PFC in rats

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Chronic cerebral hypoperfusion (CCH) causes memory deficits and increases the risk of vascular dementia (VD) through several biologically plausible pathways. However, whether CCH causes prefrontal cortex (PFC)-dependent spatial working memory impairments and Baclofen, a GABAB receptor agonist, could ameliorate the impairments is still not clear especially the mechanisms underlying the process. In this study, rats were subjected to permanent bilateral occlusion of the common carotid arteries (two-vessel occlusion, 2VO) to induce CCH. Two weeks later, rats were treated with 25 mg/kg Baclofen (intraperitioneal injection, i.p.) for 3 weeks. Spatial working memory was evaluated in a Morris water maze using a modified delayed matching-to-place (DMP) procedure. Western blotting and immunohistochemistry were used to quantify the protein levels and protein localization. Our results showed that 2VO caused striking spatial working memory impairments, accompanied with a decreased HCN2 expression in PFC, but the protein levels of protein gene product 9.5 (PGP9.5, a neuron specific protein), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), synaptophysin (SYP), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), parvalbumin (PV) and HCN1 were not distinguishably changed as compared with sham-operated rats. Baclofen treatment significantly improved the spatial working memory impairments caused by 2VO, accompanied with a reversion of 2VO-induced down-regulation of HCN2. Furthermore, there was a co-localization of HCN2 subunits and parvalbumin-positive neurons in PFC. Therefore, HCN2 may target inhibitory interneurons that is implicated in working memory processes, which may be a possible mechanism of the up-regulation of HCN2 by Baclofen treatment that reliefs spatial working memory deficits in rats with CCH.

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