The purpose of the investigation is to reveal the mechanism of the decreased ability of learning and memory induced by coal burning fluorosis. Ten offspring SD rats aged 30days, who were born from the mothers with chronic coal burning fluorosis, and ten offspring with same age from the normal mothers as controls were selected. Spatial learning and memory of the rats were evaluated by Morris Water Maze test. Cholinesterase activity was detected by photometric method. The expressions of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) at protein and mRNA levels were detected by Western blotting and Real-time PCR, respectively. The results showed that in the rat offspring exposed to higher fluoride as compared to controls, the learning and memory ability declined; the cholinesterase activities in the brains were inhibited; the protein levels of alpha3, alpha4 and alpha7 nAChR subunits were decreased which showed certain significant correlations with the declined learning and memory ability; and the mRNA levels of alpha3 and alpha4 nAChRs were decreased, whereas the alpha7 mRNA increased. The data indicated that coal burning fluorosis can induce the decreased ability of learning and memory of rat offspring, in which the mechanism might be connected to the changed nAChRs and cholinesterase.
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