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BioMed Research International
Volume 2018 (2018), Article ID 2547532, 11 pages
Research Article

Involvement of Cholinergic Dysfunction and Oxidative Damage in the Effects of Simulated Weightlessness on Learning and Memory in Rats

1School of Life Sciences, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an 710072, China
2The Affiliated (TCM) Hospital/School of Pharmacy/Sino-Portugal TCM International Cooperation Center, Southwest Medical University, Luzhou 646000, China
3State Key Laboratory of Space Medicine Fundamentals and Application, China Astronaut Research and Training Center, Beijing 100094, China
4Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100193, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Yinghui Li; moc.anis.piv@ddiuhgniy and Lina Qu; ten.362@uqanil

Received 7 September 2017; Revised 1 January 2018; Accepted 11 January 2018; Published 8 February 2018

Academic Editor: Jack van Horssen

Copyright © 2018 Yongliang Zhang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The present study aimed to determine how the learning and memory gradually change with the prolonged hindlimb unloading (HU) treatment in rats. Different HU durations (7 d, 14 d, 21 d, and 28 d) in Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were implemented. Cognitive function was assessed using the Morris water maze (MWM) and the shuttle box test. Additionally, parameters about cholinergic activity and oxidative stress were tested. Results showed that longer-than-14 d HU led to the inferior performances in the behavioral tasks. Besides, acetylcholine esterase (AChE) activity, malondialdehyde (MDA) level in brain, reactive oxygen species (ROS), and 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) concentrations of HU rats were significantly increased. Furthermore, choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and catalase (CAT) activity in brain were notably attenuated. Most of these effects were more pronounced after longer exposure (21 d and 28 d) to HU, although some indicators had their own characteristics of change. These results indicate that cholinergic dysfunction and oxidative damage were involved in the learning and memory impairments induced by longer-than-14 d HU. Moreover, the negative effects of HU tend to be augmented as the HU duration becomes longer. The results may be helpful to present possible biochemical targets for countermeasures development regarding the memory deficits under extreme environmental conditions.