Journal of Biosciences

, 28:121 | Cite as

Phenolic antioxidants attenuate hippocampal neuronal cell damage against kainic acid induced excitotoxicity



Increasing evidence supports the role of excitotoxicity in neuronal cell injury. Thus, it is extremely important to explore methods to retard or reverse excitotoxic neuronal injury. In this regard, certain dietary compounds are begining to receive increased attention, in particular those involving phytochemicals found in medicinal plants in alleviating neuronal injury. In the present study, we examined whether medicinal plant extracts protect neurons against excitotoxic lesions induced by kainic acid (KA) in female Swiss albino mice. Mice were anesthetized with ketamine and xylazine (200 mg and 2 mg/kg body wt. respectively) and KA (0.25 μg in a volume of 0.5 μ1) was administered to mice by intra hippocampal injections. The results showed an impairment of the hippocampus region of brain after KA injection. The lipid peroxidation and protein carbonyl content were significantly(P 005) increased in comparison to controls. Glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity (EC 1.11-1.9) and reduced glutathione (GSH) content declined after appearance of excitotoxic lesions. As GPx and GSH represent a major pathway in the cell for metabolizing hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), their depletion would be expected to allow H2O2 to accumulate to toxic levels. Dried ethanolic plant extracts ofWithania somnifera (WS),Convolvulus pleuricauas (CP) andAloe vera (AV) dissolved in distilled water were tested for their total antioxidant activity. The diet was prepared in terms of total antioxidant activity of plant extracts. The iron (Fe3+) reducing activity of plant extracts was also tested and it was found that WS and AV were potent reductants of Fe3+ at pH 5.5. CP had lower Fe3+ reducing activity in comparison to WS and AV. Plant extracts given singly and in combination 3 weeks prior to KA injections resulted in a decrease in neurotoxicity. Measures of lipid peroxidation and protein carbonyl declined. GPx activity and GSH content were elevated in hippocampus supplemented with WS and combination of WS + CP + AV. However, when CP and AV were given alone, the changes in the GPx activity and GSH content were not significant. Although the major factors involved in these properties of phytochemicals remain to be specified, the finding of this study has suggested that phytochemicals present in plant extracts mitigate the effects of excitotoxicity and oxidative damage in hippocampus and this might be accomplished by their antioxidative properties.


xcitotoxicity hippocampus neurodegeneration oxidative stress phytochemicals reactive oxygen species 

Abbreviations used


Aloe vera


Convolvulus pleuricauas


2,4-dinitrophenyl hydrazine


ferric reducing/antioxidant power


glutathione peroxidase




kainic acid


malonaldehyde equivalent


superoxide radical


Withania somnifera


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biochemistry Division, Faculty of Life Science, School of Studies in ZoologyVikram UniversityUjjainIndia

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