Administration of Huperzine A exerts antidepressant-like activity in a rat model of post-stroke depression
Post-stroke depression (PSD) is the most common mood disorder following a stroke, and is also the main factor limiting recovery and rehabilitation in stroke patients. The present study was aimed to investigate whether Huperzine A (HupA) has antidepressant-like activity in a rat model of PSD, which was developed by middle cerebral artery occlusion followed by an 18-day chronic unpredictable mild stress in conjunction with isolation rearing. The sucrose preference and forced swim tests were used to assess depression-like behavior. Neurological and cognitive functions following ischemia were evaluated by neurological evaluation, the beam-walking test, the forelimb grip force test, and the water maze test. Levels of norepinephrine (NE), dopamine (DA), and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex were assayed by high performance liquid chromatography. Western blot analysis was used to evaluate hippocampal expression of the 5-hydroxytryptamine 1A receptor (5-HT1AR), cAMP response element binding (CREB), phosphorylated CREB (p-CREB) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The results showed that treatment with HupA for 4 weeks ameliorated behavioral abnormalities and the impairment of neurological and cognitive functions in PSD rats. This was accompanied by the upregulated hippocampal expression of 5-HT1AR, p-CREB and BDNF, and increased levels of NE, DA, and 5-HT in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. These findings suggest that HupA has antidepressant-like effect and can improve neurological and cognitive functions in PSD rats, which suggest its therapeutic potential for depression after stroke.