In order to verify whether vitamin E improves the cognitive impairment induced through aging, aged rats fed a vitamin E-supplemented diet had their learning and memory functions assessed in comparison with the aged rats fed a normal diet using a Morris water maze test. Although normal aged rats showed very poor learning ability concerning the place of a platform in the water maze apparatus, the aged rats fed the vitamin E-supplemented diet learned the place with a marked speed in only 5 trials. After old animals showed the maximum learning ability, they were kept in a normal atmosphere for 48 h without a trial followed by an assessment of their memory function using the same apparatus. The vitamin E-supplementation to aged rats resulted in marked retention of their maximum memory function, although normal aged rats showed a significant memory loss of about 60%. Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), which increases in the production of nerve growth factor, and protects neurons, had a similar effect on cognitive function to that of vitamin E in the aged rats. These results suggest that vitamin E may improve cognitive deficit caused through aging by not only its neuro-protecting effect but an antioxidant efficacy.
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