Spatial memory and NGF levels in aged rats: Natural variability and effects of acetyl-L-carnitine treatment

Giulio Taglialatela, Antonio Caprioli, Alessandro Giuliani, Orlando Ghirardi

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28 Scopus citations


The natural variability of behavioral performance of aged rats was used to evaluate the effect of acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) on spatial learning and NGF levels in different brain areas. We used a cluster analysis procedure to subdivide the aged animals into three classes of performance (good, intermediate, and poor). These three classes were equally subdivided into controls and ALCAR treated animals in order to investigate its effect on spatial retention. The stratification of animals prior to treatment allowed us to highlight the state dependency of the action of ALCAR. The effect of the molecule in improving spatial retention was evident only in the intermediate performance group. Furthermore, the drug reduced the NGF levels in the basal forebrain of treated animals, especially in the intermediate performance group. These results suggest a performance-dependent effect of ALCAR and a nonlinear relationship between NGF levels and learning ability in aged rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-587
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Gerontology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996



  • Morris water maze
  • acetyl-L-carnitine
  • aging
  • cluster analysis
  • learning
  • memory
  • nerve growth factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Aging
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology

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