Centella asiatica promotes early differentiation, axodendritic maturation and synaptic formation in primary hippocampal neurons.
Neurochem Int. 2021 Jan 11:104957. Epub 2021 Jan 11. PMID: 33444677
Md Abdul Hannan
BACKGROUND: Centella asiatica is a 'medhya-rasayana (nootrophic or memory booster)' herb that has been indicated in Ayurveda for improving memory function and treating dementia disorders. Although the neuroprotective effects of C. asiatica have been reported in earlier studies, the information on whether this nootropic herb could promote early differentiation and development of axon and dendrites in primary hippocampal neurons is currently limited.
THE AIM OF THE STUDY: To investigate the effects of C. asiatica and asiatic acid, one of the principal active constituents of C. asiatica, on the various stages of neuronal polarity, including early neuronal differentiation, axonal outgrowth, dendritic arborization, axonal maturation, and synaptic formation.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Embryonic rat hippocampal neurons were incubated with C. asiatica leaf extract (CAE) or asiatic acid. After an indicated time, neurons were fixed and immunolabeled to visualize the neuronal morphology. Morphometric analyses for early neuronal differentiation, axonal and dendritic maturation and synaptogenesis were performed using Image J software. Neuronal viability was determined using trypan blue exclusion assay.
RESULTS: CAE at varying concentrations ranging from 3.75 to 15μg/mL enhanced neurite outgrowth with the highest optimal concentration of 7.5 μg/mL. The effects of CAE commenced immediately after cell seeding, as indicated by its accelerating effect on neuronal differentiation. Subsequently, CAE significantly elaborated dendritic and axonal morphology and facilitated synapse formation. Asiatic acid also facilitated neurite outgrowth, but to a lesser extent than CAE.
CONCLUSION: These findings revealed that CAE exerted its modulatory effects in every stage of neuronal development, supporting its previously claimed neurotrophic function and suggest that this natural nootropic and its active component asiatic acid can be further investigated to explore a promising solution for degenerative brain disorders and injuries.