Reversal of scopolamine-induced deficits in navigational memory performance by the seed oil of Celastrus paniculatus

M Gattu, K L Boss, A V Terry, J J Buccafusco
Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior 1997, 57 (4): 793-9
Celastrus paniculatus (CP), a medicinal plant from India has been reputed to be useful as a pharmaceutical aid for learning and memory. We investigated the effects of the seed oil of CP on the 6 day performance of young adult rats in a navigational memory task-the Morris water maze. Chronic oral (gavage) daily treatment with CP. (50, 200, or 400 mg/kg) for 14 days completely reversed the scopolamine (0.5 mg/kg)-induced task performance deficit. On the other hand, acute treatment (single injection prior to scopolamine treatment) with CP (200 mg/kg) did not significantly reverse the scopolamine-induced impairment in maze performance. Alone, CP produced a slight, but significant improvement in maze performance on the first day of testing. Acute treatment or chronic 14 day treatment with CP resulted in no significant alteration in normal locomotor activity in an open field. Moreover, CP did not alter the scopolamine-induced increases in locomotor activity. Chronic treatment with CP did not alter brain acetylcholinesterase levels and no signs of cholinergic overstimulation were ever noted during or after treatment. Thus, the seed oil of CP, when administered chronically, selectively reversed the impairment in spatial memory produced by acute central muscarinic receptor blockade, supporting the possibility that one or more constituents of the oil may offer cognitive enhancing properties. The neural mechanism underlying the reversal of scopolamine's mnemonic effects by CP is not yet known, but it is not related to an anticholinesterase-like action.

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