Azadirachta indica ethanolic extract protects neurons from apoptosis and mitigates brain swelling in experimental cerebral malaria.
Malar J. 2013 ;12:298. Epub 2013 Aug 29. PMID: 23984986
BACKGROUND: Cerebral malaria is a rapidly developing encephalopathy caused by the apicomplexan parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Drugs currently in use are associated with poor outcome in an increasing number of cases and new drugs are urgently needed. The potential of the medicinal plant Azadirachta indica (Neem) for the treatment of experimental cerebral malaria was evaluated in mice.
METHODS: Experimental cerebral malaria was induced in mice by infection with Plasmodium berghei ANKA. Infected mice were administered with Azadirachta indica ethanolic extract at doses of 300, 500, or 1000 mg/kg intraperitoneally (i.p.) in experimental groups, or with the anti-malarial drugs chloroquine (12 mg/kg, i.p.) or artemether (1.6 mg/kg, i.p.), in the positive control groups. Treatment was initiated at the onset of signs of brain involvement and pursued for five days on a daily basis. Mice brains were dissected out and processed for the study of the effects of the extract on pyramidal cells' fate and on markers of neuroinflammation and apoptosis, in the medial temporal lobe.
RESULTS: Azadirachta indica ethanolic extract mitigated neuroinflammation, decreased the severity of brain oedema, and protected pyramidal neurons from apoptosis, particularly at the highest dose used, comparable to chloroquine and artemether.
CONCLUSIONS: The present findings suggest that Azadirachta indica ethanolic extract has protective effects on neuronal populations in the inflamed central nervous system, and justify at least in part its use in African and Asian folk medicine and practices.