Neurogenesis persists in the adult mammalian brain and can be a target for modulation for therapeutic purposes. This study investigated the effect of a Polygala tenuifolia root extract on the proliferation of a stem cell population in the rat hippocampus. The root extract of P. tenuifolia (2 mg/kg/day, 14 times intraperitoneal injections) increased the incorporation of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) into cells in the hippocampal CA1 region. This activity was enriched in the saponin-containing fraction. The majority of cells labelled with BrdU were immunoreactive to nestin or Tuj1 and the percentages of nestin/BrdU- and Tuj1/BrdU-double positive cells were increased by the P. tenuifolia root extract, suggesting that the P. tenuifolia root extract promotes the proliferation of neural stem cells. In addition, this extract promoted the neurite outgrowth of rat neuronal precursor cells, HiB5. These activities of P. tenuifolia root extract may contribute to the therapeutic benefits of herbal medicines containing P. tenuifolia root for the treatment of patients with insomnia, neurosis and dementia.
(c) 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.