Cognition Enhancing Activity of Sulforaphane Against Scopolamine Induced Cognitive Impairment in Zebra Fish (Danio rerio)

Neurochem Res. 2016 Oct;41(10):2538-2548. doi: 10.1007/s11064-016-1965-2. Epub 2016 Jun 2.


Several epidemiological studies have shown that consumption of large quantities of vegetables especially cruciferous vegetables (Broccoli and Brussels sprouts) can protect against chronic diseases. Sulforaphane, an isothiocynate found in cruciferous vegetables has been demonstrated to have neuroprotective effects in several experimental paradigms. This study was undertaken to examine the effect of sulforaphane on cognitive impairment in zebra fish model using a novel method of fear conditioning. Initially, the normal behaviour of zebra fishes was studied in light-dark tank for 10 min daily for 10 days. Fishes were then divided into seven groups of twelve in each. Group I served as normal, group II served as fear conditioned control, group III and group IV were sulforaphane (25 µM/L) and piracetam (200 mg/L) treated respectively. Group V served as scopolamine (400 µM/L) induced memory impairment fishes. Group VI and VII were sulforaphane (25 µM/L) and piracetam (200 mg/L) treated scopolamine induced memory impairment groups respectively. In normal behavioural analysis, fishes preferred to stay in dark compartment. The average number of entries into the dark and time spent in dark were significantly more. Fishes in group II to VII were individually subjected to fear conditioning passive avoidance task and evaluated for learned task memory. It was observed that the average number of entries into dark and time spent in dark were significantly decreased. After exposure to respective treatment fishes in group III to VII were subjected to cognitive evaluation. There was no significant difference in cognition of group III and IV fishes exposed to sulforaphane and piracetam alone respectively. Fishes exposed to scopolamine showed a significant cognitive impairment. Sulforaphane exposure prior to scopolamine significantly retained the memory of learned task. These findings suggest that sulforaphane might be a promising therapeutic agent for cognitive enhancement in Alzheimer's disease.

Keywords: Cognition; Fear conditioning; Light-dark tank; Passive avoidance; Scopolamine; Sulforaphane; Zebra fish.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Nootropic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Scopolamine / pharmacology*
  • Zebrafish


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Nootropic Agents
  • Scopolamine