Vitamin C May Prevent Spatial Memory Impairment Due to Sleep Deprivation

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Experimental models suggest that vitamin C supplementation can ameliorate spatial memory impairment induced by chronic sleep deprivation, a new study published in April 2015 reports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that an estimated 50 to 70 million U.S. adults have sleep or wakefulness disorders. Sleep insufficiency is linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors as well as increased risk for chronic diseases including cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and depression.

The scientists induced sleep deprivation in rats using a modified multiple platform apparatus for eight hours per day for six weeks. Some of the rats received vitamin C at a dose of 150 mg/kg per day or 500 mg/kg per day. The rats underwent the Radial Arm Water Maze to assess spatial learning and memory performance after the six-week sleep deprivation period. The researchers also evaluated the hippocampus of the rats, measuring activities of antioxidant defense biomarkers including reduced glutathione, oxidized glutathione, the reduced-to-oxidized glutathione ratio, catalase, superoxide dismutase, and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances.

Sleep deprivation impaired short and long-term memories and this impairment was prevented by supplementation with vitamin C. Supplementation with vitamin C returned to normal the decreases in hippocampal reduced-to-oxidized glutathione ratio caused by sleep deprivation and normalized activities of catalase and superoxide dismutase as well as the increase in oxidized glutathione levels.

The investigators concluded, “Collectively, spatial memory impairment was induced by chronic sleep deprivation, and vitamin C treatment prevented such impairment. This was possibly achieved via normalizing antioxidant defense mechanisms of the hippocampus.”