Sulforaphane alleviates scopolamine-induced memory impairment in mice

Pharmacol Res. 2014 Jul;85:23-32. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2014.05.003. Epub 2014 May 14.


Sulforaphane, an organosulfur compound present in cruciferous vegetables, has been shown to exert neuroprotective effects in experimental in vitro and in vivo models of neurodegeneration. To determine whether sulforaphane can preserve cognitive function, we examined its effects on scopolamine-induced memory impairment in mice using the Morris water maze test. Sulforaphane (10 or 50mg/kg) was administered to C57BL/6 mice by oral gavage for 14 days (days 1-14), and memory impairment was induced by intraperitoneal injection of scopolamine (1mg/kg) for 7 days (days 8-14). Mice that received scopolamine alone showed impaired learning and memory retention and considerably decreased cholinergic system reactivity in the hippocampus and frontal cortex, as indicated by a decreased acetylcholine (ACh) level and an increased acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity. Sulforaphane significantly attenuated the scopolamine-induced memory impairment and improved cholinergic system reactivity, as indicated by an increased ACh level, decreased AChE activity, and increased choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) expression in the hippocampus and frontal cortex. These effects of sulforaphane on cholinergic system reactivity were confirmed in vitro. Sulforaphane (10 or 20μM) increased the ACh level, decreased the AChE activity, and increased ChAT expression in scopolamine-treated primary cortical neurons. These observations suggest that sulforaphane might exert a significant neuroprotective effect on cholinergic deficit and cognitive impairment.

Keywords: Acetylcholine; Acetylcholinesterase; Choline acetyltransferase; Memory; Sulforaphane.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Acetylcholinesterase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / metabolism
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / drug effects
  • Frontal Lobe / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Isothiocyanates / pharmacology
  • Isothiocyanates / therapeutic use*
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Memory Disorders / chemically induced
  • Memory Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Memory Disorders / metabolism
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Scopolamine


  • Isothiocyanates
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Scopolamine
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase
  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • sulforaphane
  • Acetylcholine