Context: Peripheral axon injury and degeneration are often mediated by oxidative stress and inflammation. The hydroalcoholic extract of the red propolis (HERP) has attracted great attention because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.
Objective: The objective of this work is to study the effect of HERP on nerve repair and functional recovery after sciatic nerve injury (SNI) in rats.
Materials and methods: The chemical markers in HERP were identified using high-resolution mass spectroscopy. After axonotmesis of sciatic nerve, ibuprofen (IBP) and HERP treatments were orally administered for 28 d. Behavioural tests were performed weekly after SNI. The myelinated axon number was counted using morphometric analysis.
Results: The compounds found in HERP were pinocembrin, formononetin, vestitol, and biochanin A. The animals that underwent SNI showed a significant decrease in motor function based on the Basso, Beattie and Bresnahan scale and sciatic functional index compared with sham animals until 7 d after the surgery (p < 0.05). After 14 and 21 d, the SNI groups treated with either HERP or IBP showed significant improvement (p < 0.01), and the SNI group treated with HERP 10 mg/kg showed accelerated motor recovery compared with the other groups (p < 0.01). SNI caused also a reduction in the myelinated axon counts, and treatment with HERP 10 mg/kg induced a significant increase in the number of myelinated fibres compared with all other groups.
Conclusion: HERP promoted regenerative responses and accelerated functional recovery after sciatic nerve crush. Thus, it can be considered to be a new strategy or complementary therapy for treating nerve injuries.
Keywords: Axonotmesis; crush; high-resolution mass spectroscopy; isoflavones; nerve regeneration; sciatic functional index.