Central role for NMDA receptors in redox mediated impairment of synaptic function during aging and Alzheimer's disease.
Pycnogenol (PYC) is a patented mix of bioflavonoids with potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Previously, we showed that PYC administration to rats within hours after a controlled cortical impact (CCI) injury significantly protects against the loss of several synaptic proteins in the hippocampus. Here, we investigated the effects of PYC on CA3-CA1 synaptic function following CCI. Adult Sprague-Dawley rats received an ipsilateral CCI injury followed 15 min later by intravenous injection of saline vehicle or PYC (10 mg/kg). Hippocampal slices from the injured (ipsilateral) and uninjured (contralateral) hemispheres were prepared at seven and fourteen days post-CCI for electrophysiological analyses of CA3-CA1 synaptic function and induction of long-term depression (LTD). Basal synaptic strength was impaired in slices from the ipsilateral, relative to the contralateral, hemisphere at seven days post-CCI and susceptibility to LTD was enhanced in the ipsilateral hemisphere at both post-injury timepoints. No interhemispheric differences in basal synaptic strength or LTD induction were observed in rats treated with PYC. The results show that PYC preserves synaptic function after CCI and provides further rationale for investigating the use of PYC as a therapeutic in humans suffering from neurotrauma.