The present study investigated the effect of schizandrin, a component of the fruit of Schizandra chinesis Baill (Fructus Schizandrae), on memory impairment in rats. Scopolamine (0.5 mg/kg, i.p.), a non-selective muscarinic receptor antagonist, markedly impaired spatial memory in an eight-arm radial maze. A higher dose of scopolamine (3 mg/kg, i.p.) also impaired the passive avoidance response. Schizandrin (1 and 10 mg/kg, p.o.) significantly reversed the scopolamine-induced impairment of spatial memory. Similarly, schizandrin (1 mg/kg, p.o.) significantly reversed the scopolamine-induced impairment of the passive avoidance response. Moreover, in mice, schizandrin (1 and 10 mg/kg, p.o.) enhanced tremors induced by oxotremorine, a muscarinic M(1) receptor agonist. Taken together these findings suggest that schizandrin reverses scopolamine-induced memory impairment, in part, by enhancing cholinergic function, and that schizandrin might be useful for treating memory deficits.
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