The loss of cholinergic neurons has been a major issue in researches on Alzheimer's disease (AD) for about 40 years. Therefore, the scopolamine model of amnesia has been widely used in AD researches. Recently, it was reported that the early stage amnesia of AD is related to memory retrieval deficit. Curcumin, as the main ingredient of turmeric, has been suggested to decrease the prevalence of AD in human population. This study was conducted to assess if curcumin prevents retrieval deficit induced by scopolamine in passive avoidance task. Moreover, according to the proposed link between cholinergic system and Akt/GSK-3β (Glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta) signaling, the hippocampal contents of these proteins were determined. Male NMRI mice (20-25 g body weight) were treated with 50 or 100 mg/kg/po curcumin or its vehicle for 10 days. On day 10, the animals were trained in passive avoidance apparatus. The retention trial was performed 24 h later. Scopolamine (1 mg/kg/i.p.) or its vehicle was administered 30 min before retention test. At the completion of behavioral studies, the hippocampi were removed and western blot analysis was performed to determine hippocampal phosphorylated and total Akt and GSK-3β and beta actin contents. The results showed that curcumin treatment at 50 and 100 mg/kg doses prevented scopolamine-induced memory retrieval deficit and restored Akt and GSK dephosphorylation caused by scopolamine. Overall, these findings showed that pre-test scopolamine administration disrupts memory retrieval along with the diminished Akt and GSK-3β phosphorylation in hippocampus while curcumin administration prevented those changes.
Keywords: Akt; Curcumin; GSK-3β; Hippocampus; Memory; Retrieval.
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