Chronic Hyperhomocysteinemia provokes a memory defi- cit in rats in the Morris water maze task
Homocystinuria is an inherited metabolic disease biochemically characterized by tissue accumulation of homocysteine. Affected patients present mental retardation and other neurological symptoms whose mechanisms are still obscure. In the present study, we investigated the effect of chronic hyperhomocysteinemia on rat performance in the Morris water maze task. Chronic treatment was administered from the 6th to the 28th day of life by s.c. injection of homocysteine, twice a day at 8-h intervals; control rats received the same volume of saline solution. Animals were left to recover until the 60th day of life. Morris water maze tasks were then performed, in order to verify any effect of early homocysteine administration on reference and working memory of rats. Results showed that chronic treatment with homocysteine impaired memory of the platform location and that homocysteine treated animals presented fewer crossings to the place where the platform was located in training trials when compared to saline-treated animals (controls). In the working memory task, homocysteine treated animals also needed more time to find the platform. Our findings suggest that chronic experimental hyperhomocysteinemia causes cognitive dysfunction and that might be related to the neurological complications characteristic of homocystinuric patients.
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