Aim of the study: The fruit of Euphoria longan (Lour.) Steud. (Sapindaceae) is sweet and edible. Dried Euphoria longan fruit is prescribed as a tonic and for the treatment of forgetfulness, insomnia, or palpitations caused by fright in traditional Chinese medicine. The effects of aqueous extract of Euphoria longan fruit (ELE) on learning and memory and their underlying mechanisms were investigated.
Materials and methods: Aqueous extract of Euphoria longan fruit (ELE) was administered to ICR mice for 14 days. Piracetam was used as a positive control for its known memory-enhancing effects. Memory performances were assessed using the passive avoidance task. The expressions of phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (pERK) 1/2, phosphorylated cAMP response element binding protein (pCREB), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), doublecortin (DCX) and the incorporation of 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) in hippocampal dentate gyrus and CA1 regions were investigated using immunohistochemical methods.
Results: The step-through latency in the ELE-treated group was significantly increased compared with that in the vehicle-treated controls (P<0.05) in the passive avoidance task. Piracetam-treated group also showed enhanced cognitive performaces in the passive avoidance task. Immunohistochemical studies revealed that the number of cells immunopositive for BDNF, pCREB, or pERK 1/2 was significantly increased in the hippocampal dentate gyrus and CA1 regions after ELE treatment for 14 days (P<0.05). DCX and BrdU immunostaining also revealed that ELE significantly enhanced immature neuronal survival, but not neuronal cell proliferation in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus.
Conclusions: The present results suggest that subchronic administration of aqueous extract of Euphoria longan fruit enhances learning and memory, and that its beneficial effects are mediated, in part, by BDNF expression and immature neuronal survival.
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