Digoxin Exhibits Neuroprotective Properties in a Rat Model of Dementia
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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is by far the most common cause of cognitive impairment in older adults. Current treatments are entirely focused on the symptoms of AD. A complex etiology for AD has been proposed recently, in which AD leads in elevated levels of inflammation. We previously studied digoxin's involvement in the sporadic-AD intracerebroventricular (ICV)-streptozotocin (STZ) animal model due to its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective characteristics. 18 adult sprague-dawley rats were split into three groups: control (n = 6), STZ + Saline (n = 6), and STZ + Digoxin (n = 6). Twelve AD-induced rats were split into two groups using stereotaxy five days after STZ injection (3 mg/kg) into both lateral ventricles: one group got digoxin (0.1 mg/kg/day, i.p.) for three weeks, while the other group received saline. Following treatment, each subject was subjected to a passive avoidance learning (PAL) test, followed by brain tissue harvesting. The levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and choline acetyl transferase (ChAT) were measured in the brain, and neurons were counted using Cresyl violet staining in cornu ammonis-1 (CA1) and cornu ammonis-3 (CA3) cornu ammonis (CA3). ICV-STZ significantly shortened PAL latency, increased brain TNF-alpha levels, decreased brain ChAT activity, and decreased hippocampus neuron number. On the other hand, digoxin significantly reduced all of these STZ-induced deleterious effects. Digoxin significantly rescued rats from memory loss caused by ICV-STZ by decreasing hippocampal cell death, neuroinflammation, and cholinergic deficiency. These findings suggest that digoxin may be beneficial in treating cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease.