Age-dependent effects of esculetin on mood-related behavior and cognition from stressed mice are associated with restoring brain antioxidant status☆

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Dietary antioxidants might exert an important role in the aging process by relieving oxidative damage, a likely cause of age-associated brain dysfunctions.

This study aims to investigate the influence of esculetin (6,7-dihydroxycoumarin), a naturally occurring antioxidant in the diet, on mood-related behaviors and cognitive function and its relation with age and brain oxidative damage. Behavioral tests were employed in 11-, 17- and 22-month-old male C57BL/6J mice upon an oral 35 day-esculetin treatment (25 mg/kg). Activity of antioxidant enzymes, GSH and GSSG levels, GSH/GSSG ratio, and mitochondrial function were analyzed in brain cortex at the end of treatment in order to assess the oxidative status related to mouse behavior.

Esculetin treatment attenuated the increased immobility time and enhanced the diminished climbing time in the forced swim task elicited by acute restraint stress (ARS) in the 11- and 17-month-old mice versus their counterpart controls. Furthermore, ARS caused an impairment of contextual memory in the step-through passive avoidance both in mature adult and aged mice which was partially reversed by esculetin only in the 11-month-old mice. Esculetin was effective to prevent the ARS-induced oxidative stress mostly in mature adult mice by restoring antioxidant enzyme activities, augmenting the GSH/GSSG ratio and increasing cytochrome c oxidase (COX) activity in cortex.

Modulation of the mood-related behavior and cognitive function upon esculetin treatment in a mouse model of ARS depends on age and is partly due to the enhancement of redox status and levels of COX activity in cortex.

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