High altitude memory impairment is due to neuronal apoptosis in hippocampus, cortex and striatum

Panchanan Maiti, Shashi B. Singh, Birendranath Mallick, Sangu Muthuraju, Govindasami Ilavazhagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


Cognitive and neuropsychological functions have been impaired at high altitude and the effects depend on altitude and duration of stay. However, the neurobiological mechanism of this impairment is poorly understood especially exposure to different duration. Aim of the present study was to investigate the changes of behavior, biochemistry and morphology after exposure to different duration of hypobaric hypoxia. The rats were exposed continuously to a simulated high altitude of 6100 m for 3, 7, 14 and 21 days in an animal decompression chamber. Spatial reference memory was tested by Morris water maze. The oxidative stress markers like free radicals, NO, lipid peroxidation, LDH activity and antioxidant systems like GSH, GSSG, GPx, GR, SOD were estimated from cortex, hippocampus and striatum. The morphological changes, neurodegeneration, DNA fragmentation and mode of cell death have also been studied. It was observed that the spatial reference memory was significantly affected after exposure to hypobaric hypoxia. Increased oxidative stress markers along with decreased effectiveness of antioxidant system were also observed in hypoxia-exposed animals. Further pyknotic, shrunken, tangle-like neurons were observed in all these regions after hypoxia and neurodegeneration, DNA fragmentation and apoptosis were also observed in all the three regions. But after 21 days of exposure, the spatial memory was improved along with improvement of antioxidant activities. Our result suggests that the apoptotic death may be involved in HA-induced memory impairment and after 7 days of exposure the effect was more pronounced but after 21 days of exposure recovery was observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-238
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Chemical Neuroanatomy
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • DNA fragmentation
  • Hypoxia
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Oxidative stress
  • Spatial memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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