Sweet dream oral liquid (SDOL), a traditional Chinese herbal compound contains 17 traditional Chinese medicines. It has various pharmacological effects, such as improving brain dysfunction and increasing sleeping quality. This study investigated the neuroprotective effect and the underlying mechanisms of SDOL-impaired hippocampus learning and memory-induced paradoxical sleep deprivation (PSD) in rats. Sixty Male Wistar rats were randomly divided into six groups. Before PSD, SDOL treatment group rats were intragastrically administered SDOL for 25 days at dose of 2.1, 4.2, and 8.4 mL/kg body weight per day. Normal control group, large platform control group, and PSD groups were treated with normal saline instead of SDOL. After 25 days treatment, PSD and SDOL groups were deprived of paradoxical sleep for 72 h. Then two behavioral studies were conducted to test the spatial learning and memory ability using the open field test and Morris water maze test. Expression of the c-fos, c-jun, cyclic AMP response element binding protein (CREB), extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK), mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK)/ERK kinase (MEK), and p-CREB, p-ERK, and p-MEK in the hippocampus were also assayed by western blot. In this study, PSD decreased the levels of p-CREB, p-ERK, p-MEK, c-fos, and c-jun. However, SDOL treatment increased expressions of these proteins. Our results showed that SDOL improved 72-h PSD-induced cognitive impairment. These affects may be mediated by increasing the contents of c-fos, c-jun, and p-CREB/ERK signaling.
Keywords: cyclic AMP response element binding protein; extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase; sleep deprivation; traditional Chinese medicine.