Betulinic acid, a natural PDE inhibitor restores hippocampal cAMP/cGMP and BDNF, improve cerebral blood flow and recover memory deficits in permanent BCCAO induced vascular dementia in rats

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Vascular dementia (VaD) is the second most common form of senile dementia, embraces memory deficits, neuroinflammation, executive function damage, mood and behavioral changes and abnormal cerebral blood flow. The purpose of the study was to explore the therapeutic potential of betulinic acid in bilateral common carotid artery occlusion (BCCAO) induced VaD in experimental rats. VaD was induced by BCCAO in rats and betulinic acid (10 and 15 mg/kg/day po) was administered 1 week after surgery. The cerebral blood pressure of the animal was recorded before and after the treatment using Laser Doppler flow meter. Object recognition task for non-spatial, Morris water maze for spatial and locomotor activity was performed to evaluate behavioral changes in rats. At the end of the study, animals were decapitated and hippocampus was separated to perform biochemical, neuroinflammatory and second messengers cAMP/cGMP analysis. Histology was done to study the brain pathophysiology. BCCAO surgery was able to significantly impaired memory in rats as observed behavioral and biochemical parameters. Moreover, BA demonstrated a neuroprotective effect in a dose-dependent manner. BA was able to re-establish cerebral blood flow, restore behavioral parameters and showed significant improvements in the as cAMP,cGMP and BDNF levels, restrain the oxidative stress and inflammatory parameters. In histopathology, betulinic acid treated groups showed a decrease in microgliosis and less pathological abnormalities comparable to diseased rat's brain. The observed effect might be attributed to the neuroprotective potential of betulinic acid and its ability to restore cognitive impairment and hippocampal neurochemistry in VaD.

Graphical abstract

Abbreviations: (cAMP) - cyclic nucleotides such as cyclic adenosine 3′,5′monophosphate; (cGMP)- cyclic guanine 3′,5′monophosphate; BDNF- brain derived neurotic factors; NTs neurotransmitters

Graphical abstract

Symbols: ↑- upregulation; ↓down regulation; Symbol– inhibition

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