The present study was designed to evaluate the beneficial effects of Withania somnifera (WS) pre-supplementation on middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) model of ischemic stroke. Ischemic stroke was induced in the rats by inserting intraluminal suture for 90 min, followed by reperfusion injury for 24 h. The animals were assessed for locomotor functions (by neurological deficit scores, narrow beam walk and rotarod test), cognitive and anxiety-like behavioural functions (by morris water maze and elevated plus maze test). MCAO animals showed significant impairment in locomotor and cognitive functions. Neurobehavioural changes were accompanied by decreased acetylcholinesterase activity, increased oxidative stress in terms of enhanced lipid peroxidation and lowered thiol levels in the MCAO animals. In addition, MCAO animals had cerebral infarcts and the presence of pycnotic nuclei. Single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) of MCAO animals revealed a cerebral infarct as a hypoactive area. On the other hand, pre-supplementation with WS (300 mg/kg body weight) for 30 days to MCAO animals was effective in restoring the acetylcholinesterase activity, lipid peroxidation, thiols and attenuated MCAO induced behavioural deficits. WS significantly reduced the cerebral infarct volume and ameliorated histopathological alterations. Improved blood flow was observed in the SPECT images from the brain regions of ischemic rats pre-treated with WS. The results of the study showed a protective effect of WS supplementation in ischemic stroke and are suggestive of its potential application in stroke management.
Keywords: Antioxidant; Behaviour; Cerebral ischemia; Oxidative stress; Withania somnifera.