Background: Previous studies have revealed that gypenosides (GPS) improve the symptoms of anxiety disorders in a 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-lesioned rat model of Parkinson's disease (PD). The present study aimed to investigate the effects of GPS on memory deficits in an MPTP-lesioned mouse model of PD treated with L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA).
Methods: MPTP (30 mg/kg/day, 5 days)-lesioned mice were treated with GPS (50 mg/kg) and/or L-DOPA (10 and 25 mg/kg) for 21 days. After the final treatments, behavioral changes were assessed in all mice using passive avoidance and elevated plus-maze tests. We then evaluated the biochemical influences of GPS treatment on levels of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), dopamine, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2), and cyclic AMP-response element binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation.
Results: MPTP-lesioned mice exhibited deficits associated with habit learning and spatial memory, which were further aggravated by treatment with L-DOPA (25 mg/kg). However, treatment with GPS (50 mg/kg) ameliorated memory deficits. Treatment with GPS (50 mg/kg) also improved L-DOPA (25 mg/kg)-treated MPTP lesion-induced decreases in retention latency on the passive avoidance test, as well as levels of TH-immunopositive cells and dopamine in the substantia nigra and striatum. GPS treatment also attenuated increases in retention transfer latency on the elevated plus-maze test and in NMDA receptor expression, as well as decreases in the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and CREB in the hippocampus. Treatment with L-DOPA (10 mg/kg) also ameliorated deficits in habit learning and spatial memory in MPTP-lesioned mice, and this effect was further enhanced by treatment with GPS (50 mg/kg).
Conclusion: GPS ameliorate deficits in habit learning and spatial memory by modulating the dopaminergic neuronal and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor-mediated signaling systems in MPTP-lesioned mice treated with L-DOPA. GPS may serve as an adjuvant therapeutic agent for memory deficits in patients with PD receiving L-DOPA.
Keywords: Gypenosides; Habit learning memory; L-DOPA; MPTP-lesioned mice; Parkinson’s disease; Spatial memory.