Sildenafil treatment of vascular dementia in aged rats

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Neurochemistry international


BACKGROUND: and purpose: In this study, we employed a multiple microinfarction (MMI) based vascular dementia (VaD) model in aged rats and tested the therapeutic effects of Sildenafil, a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor, on cognitive decline, white matter damage, autophagy and inflammatory response associated with VaD.

METHODS: Male, aged (16-18 months) Wistar rats were subjected to MMI (800 ± 100, 70-100 μm cholesterol crystals injected into the internal carotid artery) and treated with or without Sildenafil (2 mg/kg, i.p) starting at 24 h after MMI daily for 28 days. Four experimental groups were employed: Sham control, Sham + Sildenafil, MMI, and MMI + Sildenafil. A battery of cognitive tests were performed and rats were sacrificed at 28 days after MMI for immunohistochemical evaluation and PCR assay.

RESULTS: Sildenafil treatment in aged MMI rats significantly improves short term memory evaluated by the novel object recognition test and improves spatial learning and memory in the Morris water maze test compared to aged control MMI rats. Sildenafil treatment of aged MMI rats significantly increases axon and myelin density in the corpus callosum and white matter bundles in the striatum, increases oligodendrocyte and oligodendrocyte progenitor cell number in the corpus callosum, cortex and striatum, and increases synaptic protein expression in the cortex and striatum compared to aged control MMI rats. In addition, Sildenafil treatment of MMI in aged rats significantly decreases Beclin1 expression and inflammatory factors Monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 and Interleukin-1β expression in brain. Sildenafil treatment in aged rats does not improve cognitive outcome compared to aged sham control rats.

CONCLUSIONS: Sildenafil treatment of MMI in aged rats significantly improves cognition and memory at 1 month after MMI. Sildenafil treatment increases axon and myelin density, increases Synaptophysin expression, decreases autophagic activity and exerts anti-inflammatory effects which in concert may contribute to cognitive improvement in aged rats subjected to MMI.

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