Cerebrolysin improves memory and ameliorates neuronal atrophy in spontaneously hypertensive, aged rats

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The spontaneously hypertensive (SH) rat has been used as an animal model of vascular dementia (VD). Our previous report showed that, SH rats exhibited dendritic atrophy of pyramidal neurons of the CA1 dorsal hippocampus and layers 3 and 5 of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) at 8 months of age. In addition, we showed that cerebrolysin (Cbl), a neurotrophic peptide mixture, reduces the dendritic atrophy in aged animal models. This study aimed to determine whether Cbl was capable of reducing behavioral and neuronal alterations, in old female SH rats. The level of diastolic and systolic pressure was measured every month for the 6 first months and only animals with more than 160 mm Hg of systolic pressure were used. Female SH rats (6 months old) received 6 months of Cbl treatment. Immediately after the Cbl treatment, two behavioral tests were applied, the Morris water maze test for memory and learning and locomotor activity in novel environments. Immediately after the last behavioral test, dendritic morphology was studied with the Golgi-Cox stain procedure followed by a Sholl analysis. Clearly, SH rats with Cbl showed an increase in the dendritic length and dendritic spine density of pyramidal neurons in the CA1 in the dorsal hippocampus and layers 3 and 5 of the PFC. Interestingly, Cbl improved memory of the old SH rats. Our results support the possibility that Cbl may have beneficial effects on the management of brain alterations in an animal model with VD. Synapse 70:378–389, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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