Tripchlorolide improves age-associated cognitive deficits by reversing hippocampal synaptic plasticity impairment and NMDA receptor dysfunction in SAMP8 mice

Behav Brain Res. 2014 Jan 1;258:8-18. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.10.010. Epub 2013 Oct 17.


Deficits in cognition and performance accompanying age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) are closely associated with the impairment of synaptic plasticity. Here, using a mouse model of senescence-accelerated P8 (SAMP8), we reported the role of tripchlorolide (T4), an extract of the natural herb Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F, in improving cognitive deficits and promoting the long-term potentiation (LTP) of hippocampal slices via the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR)-dependent signaling pathway. Our results demonstrated that chronic administration of T4 at low doses (0.25, 1.0, or 4.0 μg/kg per day, injected intraperitoneally for 75 days) significantly improved learning and memory function in aged SAMP8 mice, as indicated by a chain of behavioral tests including the Y-maze and Morris water maze. Additionally, T4 reversed the impaired LTP in hippocampal CA1 regions of SAMP8 mice in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, it upregulated the levels of phospho-NMDAR1, postsynaptic density-95 (PSD-95), phospho-calcium-calmodulin dependent kinase II (CaMKII), phospho-CREB and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus. This indicates that T4 prevents the impairment of NMDAR-mediated synaptic plasticity-related signal molecules. At optimal doses, T4 did not show significant side-effects on blood counts, blood biochemical measures, or survival of the mice. This novel mechanism in reversing age-related synaptic dysfunction and NMDAR functional deficits suggests that T4 can halt the manifestation of a key early-stage event in AD. With the consideration of SAMP8 mice as a model to develop therapeutic interventions for AD, our findings provide new insight into the clinical application of tripchlorolide in AD treatment.

Keywords: AD; Aging; Alzheimer's Disease; BDNF; CREB; CaMKII; Cognition; EPSPs; LTP; Long-term potentiation; MWM; Morris water maze; N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor; NMDA receptor; NMDAR; PSD-95; SAMP8; Synaptic plasticity; T(4); Tripchlorolide; brain-derived neurotrophic factor; calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II; cyclic AMP-response element binding protein; excitatory postsynaptic potentials; long-term potentiation; postsynaptic density-95; senescence-accelerated mouse Prone 8 SAMR1; tripchlorolide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / drug effects
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Cognition Disorders / metabolism
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Diterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Diterpenes / therapeutic use
  • Hippocampus / drug effects*
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Phenanthrenes / pharmacology*
  • Phenanthrenes / therapeutic use
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism*
  • Synapses / drug effects*
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Diterpenes
  • Phenanthrenes
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • tripchlorolide