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Ceftriaxone rescues hippocampal neurons from excitotoxicity and enhances memory retrieval in chronic hypobaric hypoxia

Elsevier Inc.
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2008.01.003
  • Hypobaric Hypoxia
  • Memory
  • Morris Water Maze
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Glial Glutamate Transporter
  • Glutamate Excitotoxicity
  • Medicine


Abstract Exposure to high altitude is known to cause impairment in cognitive functions in sojourners. The molecular events leading to this behavioral manifestation, however, still remain an enigma. The present study aims at exploring the nature of memory impairment occurring on chronic exposure to hypobaric hypoxia and the possible role of glutamate in mediating it. Increased ionotropic receptor stimulation by glutamate under hypobaric hypoxic conditions could lead to calcium mediated excitotoxic cell death resulting in impaired cognitive functions. Since glutamate is cleared from the synapse by the Glial Glutamate Transporter, upregulation of the transporter can be a good strategy in preventing excitotoxic cell death. Considering previous reports on upregulation of the expression of Glial Glutamate Transporter on ceftriaxone administration, the therapeutic potential of ceftriaxone in ameliorating hypobaric hypoxia induced memory impairment was investigated in male Sprague Dawley rats. Exposure to hypobaric hypoxia equivalent to an altitude of 7600 m for 14 days lead to oxidative stress, chromatin condensation and neuronal degeneration in the hippocampus. This was accompanied by delayed memory retrieval as evident from increased latency and pathlength in Morris Water Maze. Administration of ceftriaxone at a dose of 200 mg/kg for 7 days and 14 days during the exposure on the other hand improved the performance of rats in the water maze along with decreased oxidative stress and enhanced neuronal survival when compared to hypoxic group without drug administration. An increased expression of Glial Glutamate Transporter was also observed following drug administration indicating faster clearance of glutamate from the synapse. The present study not only brings to light the effect of longer duration of exposure to hypobaric hypoxia on the memory functions, but also indicates the pivotal role played by glutamate in mediating excitotoxic neuronal degeneration at high altitude. The therapeutic potential of ceftriaxone in providing neuroprotection in excitotoxic conditions by increasing Glial Glutamate Transporter expression and thereby enhancing glutamate uptake from the synapse has also been explored.

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