Both ceftriaxone (CEF) and erythropoietin (EPO) show neuroprotection and cognitive improvement in neurodegenerative disease. The present study was aimed at clarifying whether combined treatment with CEF and EPO (CEF. +. EPO) had superior neuroprotective and behavioral effects than treatment with CEF or EPO alone in a 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-induced Parkinson's disease (PD) rat model. The rats were injected with CEF (5. mg/kg/day), EPO (100. IU/kg/day), or CEF. +. EPO after MPTP lesioning and underwent the bar-test, T-maze test, and object recognition test, then the brains were taken for histological evaluation. MPTP lesioning resulted in deficits in working memory and in object recognition, but the cognitive deficits were markedly reduced or eliminated in rats treated with CEF or CEF. +. EPO, with the combination having a greater effect. Lesioning also caused neurodegeneration in the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system and the hippocampal CA1 area and these changes were reduced or eliminated by treatment with CEF, EPO, or CEF. +. EPO, with the combination having a greater effect than single treatment in the densities of DAergic terminals in the striatum and neurons in the hippocampal CA1 area. Thus, compared to treatment with CEF or EPO alone, combined treatment with CEF. +. EPO had a greater inhibitory effect on the lesion-induced behavioral and neuronal deficits. To our knowledge, this is the first study showing a synergistic effect of CEF and EPO on neuroprotection and improvement in cognition in a PD rat model. Combined CEF and EPO treatment may have clinical potential for the treatment of the dementia associated with PD.
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