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Tenuifolin improves learning and memory by regulating long-term potentiation and dendritic structure of hippocampal CA1 area in healthy female mice but not male mice.

Polygala tenuifolia Wild is an ancient traditional Chinese medicine. Its main component, tenuifolin (TEN), has been proven to improve cognitive impairment caused by neurodegenerative diseases and ovariectomy. However, there was hardly any pharmacological research about TEN and its potential gender differences. Considering the reduction of TEN on learning and memory dysfunction in ovariectomized animals, therefore, we focused on the impact of TEN in different mice genders in the current study. Spontaneous alternation behavior (SAB), light-dark discrimination, and Morris water maze (MWM) tests were used to evaluate the mice's learning and memory abilities. The field excitatory postsynaptic potential (fEPSP) of the hippocampal CA1 region was recorded using an electrophysiological method, and the morphology of the dendritic structure was examined using Golgi staining. In the behavioral experiments, TEN improved the correct rate in female mice in the SAB test, the correct rate in the light-dark discrimination test, and the number of crossing platforms in the MWM test. Additionally, TEN reduced the latency of female mice rather than male mice in light-dark discrimination and MWM tests. Moreover, TEN could significantly increase the slope of fEPSP in hippocampal Schaffer-CA1 and enhance the total length and the number of intersections of dendrites in the hippocampal CA1 area in female mice but not in male mice. Collectively, the results of the current study showed that TEN improved learning and memory by regulating long-term potentiation (LTP) and dendritic structure of hippocampal CA1 area in female mice but not in males. These findings would help to explore the improvement mechanism of TEN on cognition and expand the knowledge of the potential therapeutic value of TEN in the treatment of cognitive impairment.

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