Uncaria tomentosa improves cognition, memory and learning in middle-aged rats

Exp Gerontol. 2020 Sep:138:111016. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2020.111016. Epub 2020 Jul 3.


Aging accelerates neurodegeneration, while natural and safe neuroprotective agents, such as Uncaria tomentosa, may help to overcome this problem. This study assessed the effects of U. tomentosa extract treatment on the aging process in the brain of Wistar rats. The spatial memory and learning, acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity, and DNA damage were assessed. Animals of 14 months were tested with different doses of U. tomentosa (5 mg/kg, 15 mg/kg, and 30 mg/kg) and with different durations of treatment (one month and one year). In the Morris Water Maze (MWM), the escape latency was significantly (p < 0.0001) shorter in rats that received 5 mg/kg, 15 mg/kg, and 30 mg/kg of U. tomentosa for both one month and one year of treatment. There was a significant difference in time spent at the platform zone (p < 0.05) of the middle-aged rats treated with U. tomentosa extract for one year when compared to the control rats. The cortex and hippocampus of rats treated with U. tomentosa for one year showed significant (p > 0.05) reduction in AChE activity. DNA damage index on cortex was significantly lower (p < 0.05) in animals treated with 30 mg/kg of U. tomentosa for one month while all the tested doses demonstrated significant (p < 0.001) reductions in DNA damage index in animals treated for one year. In conclusion, U. tomentosa may represent a source of phytochemicals that could enhance memory activity, repair DNA damage, and alter AChE activity, thereby providing neuroprotection during the aging process.

Keywords: Acetylcholinesterase; Aging; Cat's claw; Neurodeneration; Uncaria tomentosa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants
  • Cat's Claw*
  • Cognition
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts