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Behaviour and Degenerative Changes in the Basal Forebrain Systems of Aged Rats (12 Months Old) after Levo-Acetyl-Carnitine Treatments

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Author(s): Maurizio Mariotti | Ivana Gritti | Roberta Freddi | Piergiorgio Duca

Journal: Advances in Molecular Imaging
ISSN 2161-6728

Volume: 02;
Issue: 01;
Start page: 18;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Acetyl-L-Carnitine-HCl | Ageing | Choline Acetyltransferase Neurons | Substantia Innominata | Morris Maze-Water Task

ABSTRACT
One group of six male control rats [12 months old] and one group of six male rats of the same age, singularly maintained in a cage, and treated with acetyl-L-carnitine-HCl [(gamma-trimethyl-beta-acetyl-butyrobetaine-HCl: Sigma-Tau code ST200 or ALCAR: 60 mg/kg/day[7]/po)] for six months were tested in the spatial learning/memory Morris mazewater task and for atrophy and cell loss in seven myelo- and cytostructurally defined basal forebrain (BF) cholinergic regions [Freddi et al., 2009]. Coronal sections 25 ?m thick were cut through the BF regions and processed every 200 ?m for choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) immunohistochemistry. The ALCAR-treated rats had significantly shorter exit times on the Morris maze-water task test than the control rats (average ± SD 28.3 ± 12.4 s vs. 61.16 ± 4.67 s; t = 6.07, DOF = 10, P = 0.0001). Degenerative morphological changes in the BF ChAT-positive cells were observed in the substantia innominata pars anterior of the control rats but not in the treated animals (P < 0.05). In the BF, the counted and estimated average number of ChAT + cells in the 12-month-old ALCAR-treated rats (ChAT-ALCAR-12+ [Nos. 2,3,4]) was higher but not significantly (15.288 ± 3281) than that counted and estimated in the 12-month-old control rats [(ChAT-CT-12 [Nos. 1,2,3]) (11.508 ± 3868), t = 1.82, DOF = 10, P = 0.319]. In the substantia innominata pars posterior, the ChAT+ cells were significantly more numerous (P < 0.05) in the 12-month-old ALCAR-treated rats (ChAT-ALCAR-12 + [Nos. 2,3,4]) than in the control rats (ChAT-CT-12 [Nos. 1,2,3]). Above all, these results dem-onstrate that treatment with ALCAR from the age of 6 up to 12 months significantly attenuated spatial learning/memory impairment on the Morris maze-water behavioral task (P < 0.001) and also importantly reduced degeneration in size and number of cholinergic cells in the nucleus basalis magnocellularis of the BF. Accordingly, the surviving cholinergic neurons found in the BF of the ALCAR-treated rats might play an important role in modulating cortical activity and facilitating processes of attention, learning and memory.
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