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The effect of erythropoietin on electroconvulsive stimulation induced cognitive impairment in rats

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Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the most effective and fast-acting treatment for severe depression but associated with troublesome cognitive side-effects. Systemically administered erythropoietin (EPO) crosses the blood-brain-barrier and is a promising treatment for cognitive dysfunction in a wide array of neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders. In this study we trained rats to locate a submerged platform in a water maze and then subjected them to electroconvulsive stimulations (ECS, the rodent equivalent to ECT) and EPO treatment. We then analysed their ability to remember and relearn the location of the platform. In addition, we examined "wall-clinging" (thigmotaxis), a behavioural indicator of stress. ECS caused significant deficit in a probe trial administered after three weeks (nine stimulations) as well as one week (six stimulations) of treatment, indicative of induction of retrograde amnesia. ECS had no effect on relearning of the water maze task or performance in a subsequent probe trial. EPO treatment did not ameliorate the ECS-induced retrograde amnesia, but after nine ECS stimulations the animals that had received EPO relearned the position of the hidden platform faster than the animals that had not. We also found EPO to decrease "wall-clinging" behaviour, suggesting an effect of EPO on the stress response in rats. Thus, we establish the Morris Water Maze as a suitable model for ECS-induced memory loss in rats and provide some evidence for potential beneficial effects of EPO.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112484
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Pages (from-to)112484
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2020

    Research areas

  • Amnesia, Depression, Electroconvulsive therapy, Erythropoietin

ID: 59449355