Vitamin E prevents the cognitive impairments in post-traumatic stress disorder rat model: behavioral and molecular study

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2020 Feb;237(2):599-607. doi: 10.1007/s00213-019-05395-w. Epub 2019 Nov 16.


Rationale: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder developed after an exposure to severe traumatic events. Patients with PTSD suffer from different symptoms including memory impairment. In addition, PTSD is associated with oxidative stress. Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin, possesses cognition protective effects via its antioxidative properties.

Objectives: To investigate the impact of vitamin E on memory impairment induced by PTSD in animals.

Methods: A rat model of PTSD-like behavior and the radial arm water maze (RAWM) for testing of learning and memory paradigm were used. Rats were divided into 4 groups: control, vitamin E, PTSD, and vitamin E + PTSD.

Results: In the learning phase, results showed no significant differences among experimental groups, indicating that PTSD-like behavior did not impair learning ability in rats. However, memory tests in the RAWM showed that PTSD-like animals had impairment in both short-term and long-term memories. Vitamin E, on the other hand, prevented this impairment of memory. With respect to oxidative stress, significant decreases were detected in reduced glutathione/oxidized glutathione (GSH/GSSG) ratio, glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and catalase enzyme activities, global histone 3 acetylation, and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in the PTSD-like animals group compared with other groups (P < 0.05). Vitamin E protected the reduction of these oxidative stress biomarkers, global histone 3 acetylation, and BDNF levels.

Conclusions: Vitamin E prevented memory impairment associated with PTSD-like behavior in animals, probably via its antioxidative properties, and preservation of epigenetic changes induced in PTSD-like animals.

Keywords: BDNF; Behavioral tests; Histones; Maze; Oxidative stress; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Single-prolonged stress; Vitamin E.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / drug therapy*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / metabolism*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / drug therapy*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / metabolism*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Vitamin E / pharmacology
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use*


  • Antioxidants
  • Bdnf protein, rat
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Vitamin E
  • Glutathione Peroxidase