Memory Impairment Induced by Chronic Psychosocial Stress Is Prevented by L-Carnitine

Drug Des Devel Ther. 2019 Dec 19;13:4341-4350. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S225264. eCollection 2019.


Introduction: Psychosocial stress (STS) negatively influences memory. This might be associated to oxidative stress-induced progressive destruction of numerous brain structures and functions. L-carnitine (L-CAR) is a widely used antioxidant compound that is endogenously made in mammalian species. The current study investigated the effect of L-CAR on STS-induced memory impairment in the rat hippocampus.

Methods: The STS was induced using intruder model, where two rats were randomly switched from each one cage to another, once/day for 6 weeks. Concurrently, L-CAR (300mg/kg/day) was intraperitoneally administered for 6 weeks. After that, radial arm water maze (RAWM) was used to assess spatial learning memory in rats. Hippocampal biomarkers of oxidative stress, including thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBARs), oxidized glutathione (GSSG), reduced glutathione (GSH), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), catalase, and superoxide dismutase (SOD), and Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) were examined.

Results: The results showed impairment of short-term memory (P < 0.05) during STS, whereas L-CAR treatment protected against this effect. Furthermore, while no change was observed in GSH, GSSG, GPx, catalase, and SOD, L-carnitine normalized STS-induced reduction in the hippocampal BDNF levels and increase in TBARS levels.

Discussion: Chronic psychosocial stress-induced memory impairment was prevented via L-CAR administration, which could have been achieved via normalizing changes in lipid peroxidation (TBARs) and BDNF levels in the hippocampus.

Keywords: BDNF; L-carnitine; hippocampus; maze; memory; oxidative stress; psychosocial stress.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carnitine / pharmacology*
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Memory Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*


  • Carnitine