Lavender is used in traditional medicines in Asia, Europe, ancient Greece and Rome, and was mentioned in the Bible and in ancient Jewish texts. Also, lavender is reported to be an effective medical plant in treating inflammation, depression, stress and headache. The present study was undertaken in order to investigate the antioxidant and antiapoptotic activities of the lavender essential oils from Lavandula angustifolia ssp. angustifolia Mill. and Lavandula hybrida Rev. using superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPX) and catalase (CAT) specific activities, total content of reduced glutathione (GSH), malondialdehyde (MDA) level (lipid peroxidation) and DNA fragmentation assays in male Wistar rats subjected to scopolamine-induced dementia rat model. In scopolamine-treated rats, lavender essential oils showed potent antioxidant and antiapoptotic activities. Subacute exposures (daily, for 7 continuous days) to lavender oils significantly increased antioxidant enzyme activities (SOD, GPX and CAT), total content of reduced GSH and reduced lipid peroxidation (MDA level) in rat temporal lobe homogenates, suggesting antioxidant potential. Also, DNA cleavage patterns were absent in the lavender groups, suggesting antiapoptotic activity. Taken together, our results suggest that antioxidant and antiapoptotic activities of the lavender essential oils are the major mechanisms for their potent neuroprotective effects against scopolamine-induced oxidative stress in the rat brain.
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