Effects of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) and its active constituent, crocin, on recognition and spatial memory after chronic cerebral hypoperfusion in rats

Hossein Hosseinzadeh, Hamid Reza Sadeghnia, Fatemeh Abbasi Ghaeni, Vahideh Sadat Motamedshariaty, Seyed Ahmad Mohajeri
Phytotherapy Research: PTR 2012, 26 (3): 381-6
Cerebral ischemia produces brain damage and related behavioral deficits such as memory. In this study, a rat model of chronic cerebral hypoperfusion was used to determine whether saffron extract and crocin, which are potent antioxidants and free radical scavengers, can reduce vascular cognitive impairment. Male adult Wistar rats were administered different doses of an aqueous solution of crocin or hydroalcohol extract of saffron intraperitoneally (i.p.) 5 days after permanent occlusion of the common carotid arteries. Spatial learning and memory were assessed in training trials, 7-11 days after common carotid artery ligation using the Morris water maze. The results showed that the escape latency time was significantly reduced from 24.64 s in the control group to 8.77 and 10.47 s by crocin (25 mg/kg) and saffron extract (250 mg/kg). The traveled distance to find the platform was also changed from 772 cm in the control group to 251 and 294 cm in the crocin (25 mg/kg) and saffron extract (250 mg/kg) groups. The percentages of time spent in the target quadrant, in comparison with the control group (24.16%), increased to 34.25% in the crocin (25 mg/kg) and 34.85% in the saffron extract (250 mg/kg) group. This study suggests that saffron extract and crocin improve spatial cognitive abilities following chronic cerebral hypoperfusion and that these effects may be related to the antioxidant effects of these compounds.

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