Clonidine preconditioning improved cerebral ischemia-induced learning and memory deficits in rats via ERK1/2-CREB/ NF-κB-NR2B pathway

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Clonidine, a classical α-2 adrenergic agonists, has been shown to antagonize brain damage caused by hypoxia, cerebral ischemia and excitotoxicity and reduce cerebral infarction volume in recent studies. We herein investigate the regulatory effect and possible underlying mechanism of clonidine on learning and memory in rats with cerebral ischemia. The cerebral ischemia rat model was established by right middle cerebral artery occlusion for 2 h and reperfusion for 28 days. Drugs were administrated to the rats for consecutive 7 days intraperitoneally and once again on the day of surgery. The learning and memory in rats was assayed by Morris water maze. Moreover, protein expression levels of NMDAR2B (NR2B)/ phosphor - NR2B, ERK1/2/phosphor- ERK1/2, CREB/phosphor-CREB and NF-κB/phosphor-NF-κB in the cortex and hippocampus of the rats were assayed by western blotting. Our results demonstrated that clonidine treatment significantly abrogated the negative effect induced by cerebral ischemia on the learning and memory in the rats. In the Western blotting assay, clonidine treatment led to significant up-regulation of the expression level of NR2B and Phospho-NR2B in the hippocampus of the rats when compared with the cerebral ischemia group. Furthermore, clonidine also significantly decreased the protein expression levels of ERK1/2, Phospho-ERK1/2, CREB, Phospho-CREB and Phospho-NF-κB in the hippocampus of the rats when compared with the cerebral ischemia group. In conclusion, clonidine could improve the learning and memory ability of rats with cerebral ischemia, and NR2B, ERK1/2, CREB, NF-κB were involved in this effect.

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