Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation effectively facilitates spatial cognition and synaptic plasticity associated with increasing the levels of BDNF and synaptic proteins in Wistar rats

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Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive technique, by which cognitive deficits can be alleviated. Furthermore, rTMS may facilitate learning and memory. However, its underlying mechanism is still little known. The aim of this study was to investigate if the facilitation of spatial cognition and synaptic plasticity, induced by rTMS, is regulated by enhancing pre- and postsynaptic proteins in normal rats. Morris water maze (MWM) test was performed to examine the spatial cognition. The synaptic plasticity, including long-term potentiation (LTP) and depotentiation (DEP), presynaptic plasticity paired-pulse facilitation (PPF), from the hippocampal Schaffer collaterals to CA1 region was subsequently measured using in vivo electrophysiological techniques. The expressions of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), presynaptic protein synaptophysin (SYP) and postsynaptic protein NR2B were measured by Western blot. Our data show that the spatial learning/memory and reversal learning/memory in rTMS rats were remarkably enhanced compared to that in the Sham group. Furthermore, LTP and DEP as well as PPF were effectively facilitated by 5 Hz-rTMS. Additionally, the expressions of BDNF, SYP and NR2B were significantly increased via magnetic stimulation. The results suggest that rTMS considerably increases the expressions of BDNF, postsynaptic protein NR2B and presynaptic protein SYP, and thereby significantly enhances the synaptic plasticity and spatial cognition in normal animals.

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