Effects of Salvia officinalis L. (sage) leaves on memory retention and its interaction with the cholinergic system in rats

Nutrition. 2006 Mar;22(3):321-6. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2005.06.010.


Objective: The leaves of sage (Salvia officinalis L., Lamiaceae) are reported to have a wide range of biological activities, such as anti-bacterial, fungistatic, virustatic, astringent, eupeptic and anti-hydrotic effects. To determine the mnemogenic effect of sage leaves, we investigated the effects of ethanolic extract of sage leaves and its interaction with cholinergic system on memory retention of passive avoidance learning in rats.

Methods: Post-training intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) injections were carried out in all the experiments except ethanolic extract (i.p. intraperitoneally).

Results: Administration of ethanolic extract (50 mg/kg), pilocarpine (0.5 and 1 mg/rat), the muscarinic cholinoceptor agonist, and nicotine (0.1 and 1 microg/rat) increased, while mecamylamine (1, 5 microg/rat), the muscarinic cholinoceptor antagonist, and mecamylamine (0.01 and 0.1 microg/rat), the nicotine cholinoceptor antagonist decreased memory retention in rats. Activation of muscarinic cholinoceptors by pilocarpine potentiated the response of ethanolic extract. Also, pharmacological blockade of scopolamine attenuated potentiating effect of ethanolic extract. Activation of nicotinic cholinoceptor by nicotine potentiated the response of ethanolic extract. Blockade of nicotinic cholinoceptor by mecamylamine attenuated the response of ethanolic extract.

Conclusion: It is concluded that the ethanolic extract of salvia officinalis potentiated memory retention and also it has an interaction with muscarinic and nicotinic cholinergic systems that is involved in the memory retention process.

MeSH terms

  • Andorra
  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / drug effects*
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology
  • Cholinergic Antagonists / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Memory / physiology
  • Muscarinic Agonists / metabolism
  • Nicotine / agonists
  • Nicotine / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nicotine / metabolism
  • Nicotinic Agonists / metabolism
  • Pilocarpine / agonists
  • Pilocarpine / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Pilocarpine / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Cholinergic* / drug effects
  • Receptors, Cholinergic* / metabolism
  • Salvia officinalis / chemistry*


  • Cholinergic Antagonists
  • Muscarinic Agonists
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Plant Extracts
  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • Pilocarpine
  • Nicotine