Post-stroke depression (PSD) is the most common mood disorder following a stroke, and is also the main factor limiting recovery and rehabilitation in stroke patients. The present study was aimed to investigate whether Huperzine A (HupA) has antidepressant-like activity in a rat model of PSD, which was developed by middle cerebral artery occlusion followed by an 18-day chronic unpredictable mild stress in conjunction with isolation rearing. The sucrose preference and forced swim tests were used to assess depression-like behavior. Neurological and cognitive functions following ischemia were evaluated by neurological evaluation, the beam-walking test, the forelimb grip force test, and the water maze test. Levels of norepinephrine (NE), dopamine (DA), and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex were assayed by high performance liquid chromatography. Western blot analysis was used to evaluate hippocampal expression of the 5-hydroxytryptamine 1A receptor (5-HT1AR), cAMP response element binding (CREB), phosphorylated CREB (p-CREB) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The results showed that treatment with HupA for 4weeks ameliorated behavioral abnormalities and the impairment of neurological and cognitive functions in PSD rats. This was accompanied by the upregulated hippocampal expression of 5-HT1AR, p-CREB and BDNF, and increased levels of NE, DA, and 5-HT in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. These findings suggest that HupA has antidepressant-like effect and can improve neurological and cognitive functions in PSD rats, which suggest its therapeutic potential for depression after stroke.
Keywords: Cognitive function; Huperzine A; Neurological function; Neurotransmitter; Post-stroke depression.
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