Previous research has demonstrated that diabetes induced learning and memory deficits. However, the mechanism of memory impairment induced by diabetes is poorly understood. Dietary fatty acids, especially polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), have been shown to enhance learning and memory and prevent memory deficits in various experimental conditions. Sprague-Dawley rats were used in the present study to investigate the effect of fish oil supplementation on spatial learning and memory of streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats with the Morris Water Maze. The excitability of CA1 pyramidal neurons and the related ionic currents was also examined. Diabetes impaired spatial learning and memory of rats. Diabetes decreased the sodium currents and increased the potassium currents, and further led to the reduction of excitability of CA1 pyramidal neurons, effects which may contribute to the behavioral deficits. Fish oil dietary supplementation decreased the transient currents and Kv4.2 expression in the hippocampus and partially improved learning performance of diabetic rats. The results of the present study suggested that sodium and potassium currents contributed to the inhibitory effect of diabetes on neuron excitability, further influencing learning and memory processing. Dietary fish oil may modulate the membrane excitability and is a possible strategy for preventing the impairments of diabetes on hippocampal function.
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