Idebenone improves learning and memory impairment induced by cholinergic or serotonergic dysfunction in rats.

Yamazaki N, Nomura M, Nagaoka A, Nagawa Y.

Central Research Division,
Takeda Chemical Industries, Ltd., Osaka, Japan.
Arch Gerontol Geriatr 1989 May;8(3):225-39


The effects of idebenone, a cerebral metabolic enhancer, on learning and memory impairment in two rat models with central cholinergic or serotonergic dysfunction were investigated using positively reinforced learning tasks. A delayed alternation task using a T maze was employed to test the effect of idebenone on short-term memory impairment induced by a cholinergic antagonist, scopolamine. A correct response, defined as a turn toward the arm opposite to that in the forced run, was rewarded with food pellets. Scopolamine (0.2 and 0.5 mg/kg, i.p.) significantly decreased the correct responses to the chance level in the 60-s-delayed alternation task. The scopolamine (0.2 mg/kg, i.p.)-induced impairment of short-term memory was improved by idebenone (3-30 mg/kg, i.p.) or an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, physostigmine (0.1 and 0.2 mg/kg, i.p.), administered simultaneously. The central serotonergic dysfunction model was produced by giving rats a diet deficient in tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin. The rats fed on a tryptophan-deficient diet (TDD) showed a slower learning process in the operant brightness discrimination task (mult V115 EXT) than did rats fed on a normal diet. idebenone (60 mg/kg/day) admixed with the TDD decreased the number of lever-pressing responses emitted during the extinction periods. The percentage of correct responses was significantly higher in the idebenone-treated group than in the control TDD group. These results suggest that idebenone may improve both the impairment of short-term memory induced by a decreased cholinergic activity and the retardation of discrimination learning induced by central serotonergic dysfunction.