Ethanol-induced damage in the developing brain may result in cognitive impairment including deficits on neuropsychological tests of learning, memory and executive function, yet the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. In the present study we investigated the protective effect of tocotrienol against cognitive deficit, neuroinflammation and neuronal apoptosis in rat pups postnatally exposed to ethanol. Pups were administered ethanol (5g/kg, 12% v/v) by intragastric intubation on postnatal days 7, 8 and 9. Ethanol-exposed pups showed significant memory impairment in Morris water maze task as evident from increase in escape latency and total distance travelled to reach the hidden platform. Time spent in target quadrant, % total distance traversed in target quadrant and frequency of appearance in target quadrant was also significantly decreased in ethanol exposed pups in probe trial. Poor memory retention was exhibited by ethanol-exposed pups in elevated plus maze test also. Impaired cognition was associated with significantly enhanced acetylcholinesterase activity, increased neuroinflammation (oxidative-nitrosative stress, TNF-α, IL-1β and TGF-β1) and neuronal apoptosis (NF-κβ and Caspase-3) in different brain regions of ethanol-exposed pups. Co-administration with tocotrienol significantly ameliorated all the behavioral, biochemical and molecular alterations in the different brain regions of ethanol exposed pups. The current study thus demonstrates the possible involvement of NF-κβ mediated apoptotic signaling in cognitive deficits associated with postnatal ethanol exposure in rats and points to the potential of tocotrienol in the prevention of cognitive deficits in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).
Tiwari V, Arora V, Chopra K. Attenuation of NF-κβ mediated apoptotic signaling by tocotrienol ameliorates cognitive deficits in rats postnatally exposed to ethanol. Neurochem Int. 2012 August Pharmacology Research Laboratory, University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UGC Center of Advanced Study, Panjab University, Chandigarh 160 014, India.