Evidence of neuroprotective effects of saffron and crocin in a Drosophila model of parkinsonism.
Neurotoxicology. 2015 Dec 17 ;52:230-242. Epub 2015 Dec 17. PMID: 26705857
Sriranjini Venkat Rao
Evidence suggests that saffron and its major bioactives exhibit significant neuromodulatory effects in various animal models. However, specific data related to their efficacy to attenuate oxidative stress and neurotoxicity in animal models of Parkinson's disease (PD) are limited. Hence, we investigated the neuroprotective efficacy of saffron methanolic extract (SME) and its active constituent, crocin (CR) employing a Drosophila model of parkinsonism. We focussed on attenuation of Rotenone (ROT)-induced locomotor phenotype, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and neurotoxicity in this model. SME and CR-enrichment significantly reduced ROT (500μM) induced mortality, rescued the locomotor phenotype and diminished the enhanced levels of oxidative stress markers in head/body regions of flies. The reduced levels of reduced glutathione (GSH) and total thiols (TSH) resulting from ROT exposure were significantly restored with concomitant enhancement of the antioxidant enzymes activities. Further, ROT-induced mitochondrial dysfunctions (MTT reduction, activities of SDH and NADH-Cyt C reductase (complexes I-III) enzymes) were markedly attenuated by SME/CR enrichment. While ROT elevated the activity of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) in head/body regions, both the treatments caused marked diminution of AChE activity and restored the dopamine levels suggesting their effectiveness to mitigate cholinergic function. Interestingly, SME/CR enrichment significantly delayed the onset of locomotor deficits and extended life span of flies among ROT(50μM)-stressed flies. In a satellite study, flies provided with SME/CR prophylaxis exhibited marked resistance to an acute Paraquat (PQ) challenge as evidenced by the lower incidence of lethality and improved locomotor phenotype. Taken together, the neuroprotective effects of saffron and crocin inthe fly model may be largely attributable to its antioxidant action. Based on our findings, we propose that saffron may be exploited as a supplementary therapeutic agent in PD and other oxidative stress mediated neurodegenerative conditions.