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Intrahippocampal cholinergic grafts in aged rats compensate impairments in a radial maze and in a place learning task
Experimental Brain Research
Journal Article Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Age-related cognitive impairments were studied in rats kept in semi-enriched conditions during their whole life, and tested during ontogeny and adult life in various classical spatial tasks. In addition, the effect of intrahippocampal grafts of fetal septal-diagonal band tissue, rich in cholinergic neurons, was studied in some of these subjects. The rats received bilateral cell suspensions when aged 23-24 months. Starting 4 weeks after grafting, they were trained during 5 weeks in an 8-arm maze made of connected plexiglass tunnels. No age-related impairment was detected during the first eight trials, when the maze shape was that of a classical radial maze in which the rats had already been trained when young. The older rats were impaired when the task was made more difficult by rendering two arms parallel to each other. They developed an important neglect of one of the parallel tunnels resulting in a high amount of errors before completion of the task. In addition, the old rats developed a systematic response pattern of visits to adjacent arms in a sequence, which was not observed in the younger subjects. None of these behaviours were observed in the old rats with a septal transplant. Sixteen weeks after grafting, another experiment was conducted in a homing hole board task. Rats were allowed to escape from a large circular arena through one hole out of many, and to reach home via a flexible tube under the table. The escape hole was at a fixed position according to distant room cues, and olfactory cues were made irrelevant by rotating the table between the trials. An additional cue was placed on the escape position. No age-related difference in escape was observed during training. During a probe trial with no hole connected and no proximal cue present, the old untreated rats were less clearly focussed on the training sector than were either the younger or the grafted old subjects. Taken together, these experiments indicate that enriched housing conditions and spatial training during adult life do not protect against all age-related deterioration in spatial ability. However, it might be that the considerable improvement observed in the grafted subjects results from an interaction between the graft treatment and the housing conditions.
Acetylcholinesterase/*analysis Aging Animals Brain Tissue Transplantation/*physiology Fetal Tissue Transplantation/*physiology Hippocampus/enzymology/*growth & development/physiology *Learning Male Neurons/physiology/*transplantation Rats Rats, Inbred Strains
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