Oleanolic acid ameliorates cognitive dysfunction caused by cholinergic blockade via TrkB-dependent BDNF signaling

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Oleanolic acid is a naturally occurring triterpenoid and is widely present in food and medicinal plants. To examine the effect of oleanolic acid on memory deficits, we employed a cholinergic blockade-induced cognitive deficit mouse model. A single administration of oleanolic acid significantly increased the latency on the passive avoidance task and affected the alternation behavior on the Y-maze task and the exploration time on the novel object recognition task, indicating that oleanolic acid reverses the cognitive impairment induced by scopolamine. In accordance with previous reports, oleanolic acid enhanced extracellular-signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression in the hippocampus. Interestingly, ameliorating effect of oleanolic acid on scopolamine-induced memory impairment was abolished by N2-(2-{[(2-oxoazepan-3-yl)amino]carbonyl}phenyl)benzo[b]thiophene-2-carboxamide (ANA-12), a potent and specific inhibitor of tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB), in the passive avoidance task. Similarly, oleanolic acid significantly evoked long-term potentiation in a dose-dependent manner, which was diminished by ANA-12 treatment as shown in the electrophysiology study. Together, these results imply that oleanolic acid ameliorates scopolamine-induced memory impairment by modulating the BDNF-ERK1/2-CREB pathway through TrkB activation in mice, suggesting that oleanolic acid would be a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of cognitive deficits.

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