Previous research has demonstrated that diabetes induces learning and memory deficits. However, the mechanism of memory impairment induced by diabetes is poorly understood. The present study investigated the effect of streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes on spatial learning and memory using the Morris Water Maze. The effects of diabetes on CA1 pyramidal neurons in hippocampus were also examined. Diabetes impaired spatial learning and memory of rats. Diabetes induced the apoptosis of neurons and translocation of Bax from cytoplasm to mitochondria. On the contrary, diabetes induced cytochrome c release into the cytoplasm from mitochondria. Release of Cyt-c from mitochondria into cytoplasm may play a role in apoptosis of the CA1 pyramidal neurons, which resulted in a decrease of the number of neurons in hippocampus and impaired the performance function. These results partially explain the mechanism of the effect of diabetes on learning and memory. To protect mitochondrial function is possible candidate for preventing the impairments of diabetes on hippocampal function.
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