Sulforaphane enhances long-term potentiation and ameliorate scopolamine-induced memory impairment.
Physiol Behav. 2021 May 24 ;238:113467. Epub 2021 May 24. PMID: 34033847
Increases in human life expectancy have led to increases in the prevalence of senile dementia and neurodegenerative diseases. This is a major problem because there are no curative treatments for these diseases, and patients with unmanaged cognitive and neurodegenerative symptoms experience many social problems. Sulforaphane is a type of organosulfur compound known as an isothiocyanate. It is derived from glucoraphanin, a compound found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbages, via an enzymatic reaction that is triggered by plant damage (e.g., chewing). Sulforaphane exhibits activity against cancer, inflammation, depression, and severe cardiac diseases. It can also alleviate oxidative stress and neural dysfunction in the brain. However, there is insufficient knowledge about the electrophysiological and behavioral basis of the effects of sulforaphane on learning and memory. Therefore, we evaluated whether acute sulforaphane administration affected long-term potentiation (LTP) in organotypic cultured rat hippocampal tissues. We also measured the effect of sulforaphane on the performance of three behavioral tests, the Y-maze test, the passive avoidance test, and the Morris water maze, which assess short-term memory, avoidance memory, and short and long-term spatial memory, respectively. We found that sulforaphane increased the total field excitatory postsynaptic potential (fEPSP) in a dose-dependent manner after high frequency stimulation and attenuated scopolamine-induced interference of the fEPSP in the hippocampal CA1 area. Sulforaphane also restored cognitive function and inhibited memory impairment as indicated by the alleviation of the negative neurological effects of scopolamine, i.e, a lowered ratio of spontaneous alternation in the Y-maze, a reduced step-through latency in the passive avoidance test, and an increased navigation time in the Morris water maze. These results indicate that sulforaphane can effectively prevent the attenuation of LTP and cognitive abilities induced by cholinergic and muscarinic receptor blockade. Further research is warranted to explore the potential therapeutic and prophylactic utility of sulforaphane for improving learning and memory, especially in those suffering from neurodegenerative disorders.