Improving effects of huperzine A on spatial working memory in aged monkeys and young adult monkeys with experimental cognitive impairment.

Our previous studies demonstrated that huperzine A, a reversible and selective acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, exerts beneficial effects on memory deficits in various rodent models of amnesia. To extend the antiamnesic action of huperzine A to nonhuman primates, huperzine A was evaluated for its ability to reverse the deficits in spatial memory produced by scopolamine in young adult monkeys or those that are naturally occurring in aged monkeys using a delayed-response task.

Scopolamine, a muscarinic receptor antagonist, dose dependently impaired performance with the highest dose (0.03 mg/kg, i.m.) producing a significant reduction in choice accuracy in young adult monkeys. The delayed performance changed from an average of 26.8/30 trials correct on saline control to an average of 20.2/30 trials correct after scopolamine administration. Huperzine A (0.01-0. 1 mg/kg, i.m.) significantly reversed deficits induced by scopolamine in young adult monkeys on a delayed-response task; performance after an optimal dose (0.1 mg/kg) averaged 25.0/30 correct. In four aged monkeys, huperzine A (0.001-0.01 mg/kg, i.m.) significantly increased choice accuracy from 20.5/30 on saline control to 25.2/30 at the optimal dose (0.001 mg/kg for two monkeys and 0.01 mg/kg for the other two monkeys).

The beneficial effects of huperzine A on delayed-response performance were long lasting; monkeys remained improved for about 24 h after a single injection of huperzine A. This study extended the findings that huperzine A improves the mnemonic performance requiring working memory in monkeys, and suggests that huperzine A may be a promising agent for clinical therapy of cognitive impairments in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Source: J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1999 Feb;288(2):814-9. State Key Laboratory of Drug Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, P.R. China.
PMID: 9918593, UI: 99117457

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