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Huperzine A, reduces brain iron overload and alleviates cognitive deficit in mice exposed to chronic intermittent hypoxia

An, Ji-Ren, Zhao, Ya-Shuo, Luo, Li-Fei, Guan, Peng, Tan, Miao, Ji, En-Sheng
Life sciences 2020 v.250 pp. 117573
NAD(P)H oxidase (H2O2-forming), NADP (coenzyme), animal models, apoptosis, caspase-3, chelating agents, cognitive disorders, enzyme inhibition, ferritin, hippocampus, hypoxia, iron, iron absorption, iron overload, mice, neurons, neuroplasticity, oxidative stress, oxygen, protein synthesis, reactive oxygen species, sleep apnea, transferrin receptors
Chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) is a consequence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which increases reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, resulting in oxidative damage and neurocognitive impairment. This study was designed to determine whether abnormal iron metabolism occurs in the brain under conditions of CIH and whether Huperzine A (HuA) could improve abnormal iron metabolism and neurological damage. The mouse model of CIH was established by reducing the percentage of inspired O₂ (FiO₂) from 21% to 9% 20 times/h for 8 h/day, and Huperzine A (HuA, 0.1 mg/kg, i.p.) was administered during CIH exposure for 21 days. HuA significantly improved cognitive impairment and neuronal damage in the hippocampus of CIH mice via increasing the ratio of Bcl-2/Bax and inhibiting caspase-3 cleavage. HuA considerably decreased ROS levels by downregulating the high levels of NADPH oxidase (NOX 2, NOX 4) mediated by CIH. There was an overload of iron, which was characterized by high levels of ferritin (FTL and FTH) and transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1) and low levels of ferroportin 1 (FPN1) in the hippocampus of CIH mice. Decreased levels of TfR1 and FTL proteins observed in HuA treated CIH group, could reduce iron overload in hippocampus. HuA increased PSD 95 protein expression, CREB activation and BDNF protein expression to protect against synaptic plasticity impairment induced by CIH. HuA acts as an effective iron chelator to attenuate apoptosis, oxidative stress and synaptic plasticity mediated by CIH.