Fermented rice peptide (FRP) suppressed scopolamine-induced cognitive impairment.•
FRP upregulated levels of BDNF and phosphorylated CREB and ERK in the hippocampus.•
Acetylcholine levels in the hippocampus were elevated by FRP administration.•
FRPs might be useful for the prevention of age-related cognitive decline and dementia.
This study investigated the preventive effects of fermented rice peptides (FRPs) against scopolamine-induced memory impairment in mice and their potential mechanisms. Mice were pretreated with FRPs (25 and 100 mg/kg body weight) via intraperitoneal injection for 7 days, followed by intraperitoneal injection of scopolamine. FRP pretreatment suppressed scopolamine-induced cognitive impairment in passive-avoidance test and significantly upregulated levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and induced the phosphorylation of cAMP response element binding (CREB) protein and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in the hippocampus of scopolamine-treated mice. Additionally, scopolamine-treated mice showed significantly decreased acetylcholine levels and increased acetylcholine-esterase activity in the hippocampus as compared with controls; however, these changes were suppressed by FRP pretreatment. Among the fractions separated by size-exclusion chromatography, the non-glycosylated peptide fraction of FRP suppressed H2O2-induced neuronal damage in SK-N-SH cells via upregulated BDNF levels. Our findings demonstrated that FRP prevented memory impairment, and that the underlying mechanism might involve regulation of the ERK/CREB/BDNF signaling pathway. These results suggest FRP as a potential agent for the prevention of age-related cognitive decline and dementia.