Microgravity leads to muscle loss, usually accompanied by cognitive impairment. Muscle reduction was associated with the decline of cognitive ability. Our previous studies showed that low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) promoted muscle hypertrophy and prevented muscle atrophy. This study aims to verify whether LIPUS can improve cognitive impairment by preventing muscle atrophy in hindlimb unloaded mice. In this study, mice were randomly divided into normal control (NC), hindlimb unloading (HU), hindlimb unloading + LIPUS (HU+LIPUS) groups. The mice in the HU+LIPUS group received a 30 mW/cm2 LIPUS irradiation on gastrocnemius for 20 min/d. After 21 days, LIPUS significantly prevented the decrease in muscle mass and strength caused by tail suspension. The HU+LIPUS mice showed an enhanced desire to explore unfamiliar environments and their spatial learning and memory abilities, enabling them to quickly identify differences between different objects, as well as their social discrimination abilities. MSTN is a negative regulator of muscle growth and also plays a role in regulating cognition. LIPUS significantly inhibited MSTN expression in skeletal muscle and serum and its receptor ActRIIB expression in brain, upregulated AKT and BDNF expression in brain. Taken together, LIPUS may improve the cognitive dysfunction in hindlimb unloaded rats by inhibiting muscle atrophy through MSTN/AKT/BDNF pathway.

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