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Lactulose is known to improve cognitive function in patients with early hepatic encephalopathy; however, the underlying mechanism remains poorly understood. In the present study, we investigated the behavioral and neurochemical effects of lactulose in a rat model of early hepatic encephalopathy induced by carbon tetrachloride. Immunohistochemistry showed that lactulose treatment promoted neurogenesis and increased the number of neurons and astrocytes in the hippocampus. Moreover, lactulose-treated rats showed shorter escape latencies than model rats in the Morris water maze, indicating that lactulose improved the cognitive impairments caused by hepatic encephalopathy. The present findings suggest that lactulose effectively improves cognitive function by enhancing neuroplasticity in a rat model of early hepatic encephalopathy.

Original publication




Journal article


Neural regeneration research

Publication Date





1457 - 1462


Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & School of Basic Medicine, Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China.