Hypothyroidism is a common disorder that is associated with psychological disturbances such as dementia, depression, and psychomotor disorders. We recently found that chronic treatment with the T-type calcium channel enhancer SAK3 prevents the cholinergic neurodegeneration induced by a single intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of methimazole (MMI; 75 mg/kg), thereby improving cognition. Here, we evaluated the acute effect of SAK3 on cognitive impairments and its mechanism of action following the induction of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism was induced by 2 injections of MMI (75 mg/kg, i.p.) administered once per week. Four weeks after the final MMI treatment, MMI-treated mice showed reduced serum thyroxine (T4) levels and cognitive impairments without depression-like behaviors. Although acute SAK3 (1.0 mg/kg, p.o.) administration failed to ameliorate the decreased T4 levels and histochemical destruction of the glomerular structure, acute SAK3 (1.0 mg/kg, p.o.) administration significantly reduced cognitive impairments in MMI-treated mice. Importantly, the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR)-selective inhibitor methyllycaconitine (MLA; 12 mg/kg, i.p.) and T-type calcium channel-specific blocker NNC 55–0396 (25 mg/kg, i.p.) antagonized the acute effect of SAK3 on memory deficits in MMI-treated mice. We also confirmed that acute SAK3 administration does not rescue reduced olfactory marker protein or choline acetyltransferase immunoreactivity levels in the olfactory bulb or medial septum. Taken together, these results suggest that SAK3 has the ability to improve the cognitive decline caused by hypothyroidism directly through activation of nAChR signaling and T-type calcium channels.

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