Dendrite extension by methanol extract of Ashwagandha (roots of Withania somnifera) in SK-N-SH cells

Neuroreport. 2000 Jun 26;11(9):1981-5. doi: 10.1097/00001756-200006260-00035.


Extension of dendrites and axons in neurons may compensate for and repair damaged neuronal circuits in the dementia brain. Our aim in the present study was to explore drugs activating neurite outgrowth and regenerating the neuronal network. We found that the methanol extract of Ashwagandha (roots of Withania somnifera; 5 microg/ml) significantly increased the percentage of cells with neurites in human neuroblastoma SK-N-SH cells. The effect of the extract was dose- and time-dependent mRNA levels of the dendritic markers MAP2 and PSD-95 by RT-PCR were found to be markedly increased by treatment with the extract, whereas those of the axonal marker Tau were not. Immunocytochemistry demonstrated the specific expression of MAP2 in neurites extended by the extract. These results suggest that the methanol extract of Ashwagandha promotes the formation of dendrites.

MeSH terms

  • Dendrites / drug effects*
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Methanol
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Neurites / physiology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Withania*
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Plant Extracts
  • RNA, Messenger
  • postsynaptic density proteins
  • tau Proteins
  • Ashwagandha
  • Methanol