OBJECTIVE: Chronic stress has been shown to cause oxidative damage in the central nervous system. Although stress-induced impairments in learning and memory have been studied extensively, very few studies have investigated possible ways to prevent their ill effects. The present work was designed to study the protective effects of ascorbic acid in memory loss induced by chronic restraint stress. METHODS: Adult male Wistar rats were designated into the following groups: (i) Normal control, (ii) Ascorbic acid treatment, (iii) Vehicle control, (iv) Restraint stress, (v) Restraint stress + vehicle, and (vi) Restraint stress + ascorbic acid treatment. At the end of 21 days, animals of all groups were subjected to memory tests using Morris water maze and passive avoidance apparatus. Then, the results obtained were compared between the experimental groups. RESULTS: Rats exposed to restraint stress alone and those pretreated with vehicle solution before restrained stress showed deficits in learning and impaired memory retention in the memory tests when compared to animals in other experimental groups. Animals pretreated with ascorbic acid before restraining showed significant improvement in memory retention in the same memory tests. CONCLUSIONS: Results of this study suggest the possibility of using ascorbic acid as a dietary supplement to prevent stressinduced memory impairments.
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