Memory-enhancing effects ofCuscuta japonicaChoisyviaenhancement of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in mice

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Abstract

It is generally accepted that functional and structural changes within the hippocampus are involved in learning and memory and that adult neurogenesis in this region may modulate cognition. The extract of Cuscuta japonica Choisy (CJ) is a well-known traditional Chinese herbal medicine that has been used since ancient times as a rejuvenation remedy. The systemic effects of this herb are widely known and can be applied for the treatment of a number of physiological diseases, but there is a lack of evidence describing its effects on brain function. Thus, the present study investigated whether CJ would enhance memory function and/or increase hippocampal neurogenesis using mice orally administered with CJ water extract or vehicle for 21 days. Performance on the novel object recognition and passive avoidance tests revealed that treatment with CJ dose-dependently improved the cognitive function of mice. Additionally, CJ increased the Ki-67-positive proliferating cells and the number of doublecortin-stained neuroblasts in the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampus, and double labeling with 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine and neuronal specific nuclear protein showed that CJ increased the number of mature neurons in the DG. Finally, CJ resulted in the upregulated expression of neurogenic differentiation factor, which is essential for the maturation and differentiation of granule cells in the hippocampus. Taken together, the present findings indicate that CJ stimulated neuronal cell proliferation, differentiation, and maturation, which are all processes associated with neurogenesis. Additionally, these findings suggest that CJ may improve learning and memory via the enhancement of adult hippocampal neurogenesis.

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