Trans-urocanic acid (trans-UCA) is an isomer of cis-UCA and is widely distributed in the brain, predominantly in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Previous studies have investigated the role of trans-UCA in non-spatial memory; however, its influence on spatial memory remains unclear. In the present study, network pharmacology strategy and behavioral testing were used to evaluate the role of trans-UCA in spatial memory and predict its possible mechanism. The results showed that there are 40 intersecting targets between trans-UCA and spatial memory identified by several databases and Venn diagram, indicating that trans-UCA may be involved in spatial memory. Behavioral results show that trans-UCA facilitates spatial working memory in the Y-maze test as well as spatial recognition memory acquisition, consolidation and retrieval in an object location recognition (OLR) task. Furthermore, PPI (protein-protein interaction) network analysis, GO (gene ontology) and KEGG (Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes) pathway enrichment analyses show that the molecular mechanisms underlying the enhancing effect of trans-UCA on spatial memory are mainly associated with the regulation of insulin, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and nuclear factor Kappa B (NF-κB) signaling pathways, serotonergic synapse and arginine and proline metabolism. The results of this study suggest that trans-UCA facilitates spatial memory in the Y-maze test and OLR task and may offer therapeutic potential for Alzheimer's disease (AD). The underlying mechanisms predicted by network pharmacology should be further verified.
Physiology and Behavior, Volume 252, 1 August 2022,