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Inflammatory processes in the central nervous system are thought to contribute to Alzheimer's disease (AD). Chronic administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) decreases the incidence of Alzheimer's disease. There are very few studies, however, on the cognitive impact of chronic NSAID administration. The N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor is implicated in learning and memory, and age-related decreases in the NMDA NR2B subunit correlate with memory deficits. Sulindac, an NSAID that is a nonselective cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitor was chronically administered to aged Fischer 344 rats for 2 months. Sulindac, but not its non-COX active metabolite, attenuated age-related deficits in learning and memory as assessed in the radial arm water maze and contextual fear conditioning tasks. Sulindac treatment also attenuated an age-related decrease in the NR1 and NR2B NMDA receptor subunits and prevented an age-related increase in the pro-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin 1beta (IL-1beta), in the hippocampus. These findings support the inflammation hypothesis of aging and have important implications for potential cognitive enhancing effects of NSAIDs in the elderly.

Original publication




Journal article


Neurobiol Aging

Publication Date





315 - 324


Aging, Aldehyde Dehydrogenase, Aldehyde Dehydrogenase, Mitochondrial, Animals, Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal, Conditioning (Psychology), Disease Models, Animal, Down-Regulation, Encephalitis, Interleukin-1, Male, Maze Learning, Memory Disorders, Neuroprotective Agents, Nootropic Agents, Rats, Rats, Inbred F344, Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate, Sulindac, Treatment Outcome, Up-Regulation