Aging is associated with reduced hippocampal neurogenesis, which may in turn contribute to cognitive impairment. We assessed the effect of Ginkgo biloba (Gb) on hippocampal neurogenesis in elderly male mice using immunohistochemistry. We used anti-caspase-3 as a marker of apoptosis, anti-GFAP as a marker of neural stem cells, anti-Ki-67 as a specific marker for cellular proliferation and anti-doublecortin (DCX) to detect newly born neurons in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) of aged male mice. The 24-month-old male mice were divided into two groups: a control group treated with distilled water and a group fed with Gb at a dose of 100 mg/kg once daily for 28 days. A sharp decrease in apoptotic cells in Gb-treated compared to nontreated mice was observed by anti-csapase-3 immunostaining. A large number of GFAP+ve cells was found in the subgranular zone of the DG of Gb-treated mice, suggesting an increase in the pool of neural stem cells by Gb treatment. There was also an increase in Ki-67 immunoreactive cells, indicating increased cell proliferation in the DG in the Gb-treated compared to nontreated group. A significant increase in newborn DCX+ve neurons with well-developed tertiary dendrites was also found in the Gb-treated compared to nontreated group. Using Western blot analysis, the expression of DCX protein in the Gb group was also significantly increased compared to the control. The results support a beneficial role of Gb on hippocampal neurogenesis in the context of brain aging.
Keywords: Ginkgo biloba leaf extract; Immunohistochemistry; Neurogenesis; Old-aged mice.