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June 2006

Neuritic regeneration and synaptic reconstruction induced by withanolide A.

We investigated whether withanolide A (WL-A), isolated from the Indian herbal drug Ashwagandha (root of Withania somnifera), could regenerate neurites and reconstruct synapses in severely damaged neurons. We also investigated the effect of WL-A on memory-deficient mice showing neuronal atrophy and synaptic loss in the brain. Axons, dendrites, presynapses, and postsynapses were visualized by immunostaining for phosphorylated neurofilament-H (NF-H), microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2), synaptophysin, and postsynaptic density-95 (PSD-95), respectively. Treatment with A beta(25-35) (10 microM) induced axonal and dendritic atrophy, and pre- and postsynaptic loss in cultured rat cortical neurons. Subsequent treatment with WL-A (1 microM) induced significant regeneration of both axons and dendrites, in addition to the reconstruction of pre- and postsynapses in the neurons. WL-A (10 micromol kg(-1) day(-1), for 13 days, p.o.) recovered A beta(25-35)-induced memory deficit in mice. At that time, the decline of axons, dendrites, and synapses in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus was almost recovered. WL-A is therefore an important candidate for the therapeutic treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, as it is able to reconstruct neuronal networks.

Br J Pharmacol. 2005 Apr;144(7):961-71

Neuroprotective effects of Withania somnifera on 6-hydroxydopamine induced Parkinsonism in rats.

6-Hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) is one of the most widely used rat models for Parkinson's disease. There is ample evidence in the literature that 6-OHDA elicits its toxic manifestations through oxidant stress. In the present study, we evaluated the anti-parkinsonian effects of Withania somnifera extract, which has been reported to have potent anti-oxidant, anti-peroxidative and free radical quenching properties in various diseased conditions. Rats were pretreated with 100, 200 and 300 mg/kg b.w. of the W. somnifera extract orally for 3 weeks. On day 21, 2 microL of 6-OHDA (10 microg in 0.1% in ascorbic acid-saline) was infused into the right striatum while sham operated group received 2 microL of the vehicle. Three weeks after 6-OHDA injections, rats were tested for neurobehavioral activity and were killed 5 weeks after lesioning for the estimation of lipidperoxidation, reduced glutathione content, activities of glutathione-S-transferase, glutathione reductase, glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase and catalase, catecholamine content, dopaminergic D2 receptor binding and tyrosine hydroxylase expression. W. somnifera extract was found to reverse all the parameters significantly in a dose-dependent manner. Thus, the study demonstrates that the extract of W. somnifera may be helpful in protecting the neuronal injury in Parkinson's disease.

Hum Exp Toxicol. 2005 Mar;24(3):137-47

Cholinesterase inhibiting withanolides from Withania somnifera.

A total of two new (1, 2) and four known (3-6) withanolides were isolated from the whole plant of Withania somnifera. Their structures were elucidated on the basis of spectroscopic techniques and were characterized as 6alpha,7alpha-epoxy-3beta,5alpha,20beta-trihydroxy-1-oxowitha-24-enolide (1), 5beta,6beta-epoxy-4beta,17alpha,27-trihydroxy-1-oxowitha-2,24-dienolide (2), withaferin-A (3), 2,3-dihydrowithaferin-A (4), 6alpha,7alpha-epoxy-5alpha,20beta-dihydroxy-1-oxowitha-2,24-dienolide (5), and 5beta,6beta-epoxy-4beta-hydroxy-1-oxowitha-2,14,24-trienolide (6), respectively. Compounds 2, 3, 5, and 6 displayed inhibitory potential against butyrylcholinesterase, but only compounds 3, 4, and 6 were found to be active against acetylcholinesterase.

Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2004 Nov;52(11):1358-61

Anticarcinogenic activity of Withania somnifera Dunal against Dalton's ascitic lymphoma.

The effect of ethanolic extract of the root of Withania somnifera Dunal (REWS) against Dalton's Ascitic Lymphoma has been evaluated in Swiss albino mice. A significant increase in the life span and a decrease in the cancer cell number and tumour weight were noted in the tumour-induced mice after treatment with REWS. The hematological parameters were also corrected by REWS in tumour-induced mice. These observations are suggestive of the protective effect of REWS in Dalton's Ascitic Lymphoma (DAL).

J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Aug;93(2-3):359-61

Antioxidant approach to disease management and the role of 'Rasayana' herbs of Ayurveda.

The disease preventive and health promotive approach of 'Ayurveda', which takes into consideration the whole body, mind and spirit while dealing with the maintenance of health, promotion of health and treating ailments is holistic and finds increasing acceptability in many regions of the world. Ancient Ayurvedic physicians had developed certain dietary and therapeutic measures to arrest/delay ageing and rejuvenating whole functional dynamics of the body system. This revitalization and rejuvenation is known as the 'Rasayan chikitsa' (rejuvenation therapy). Traditionally, Rasayana drugs are used against a plethora of seemingly diverse disorders with no pathophysiological connections according to modern medicine. Though, this group of plants generally possesses strong antioxidant activity, only a few have been investigated in detail. Over about 100 disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, hemorrhagic shock, CVS disorders, cystic fibrosis, metabolic disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, gastrointestinal ulcerogenesis and AIDS have been reported as reactive oxygen species mediated. In this review, the role of free radicals in these diseases has been briefly reviewed. 'Rasayana' plants with potent antioxidant activity have been reviewed for their traditional uses, and mechanism of antioxidant action. Fifteen such plants have been dealt with in detail and some more plants with less work have also been reviewed briefly.

J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Jun 3;99(2):165-78

Importance of hemoglobin concentration to exercise: Acute manipulations.

An acute reduction of blood hemoglobin concentration ([Hb]), even when the circulating blood volume is maintained, results in lower [Formula: see text] and endurance performance, due to the reduction of the oxygen carrying capacity of blood. Conversely, an increase of [Hb] is associated with enhanced [Formula: see text] and endurance capacity, that is also proportional to the increase in the oxygen carrying capacity of blood. The effects on endurance capacity appear more pronounced and prolonged than on [Formula: see text] . During submaximal exercise, there is a tight coupling between O(2) demand and O(2) delivery, such that if [Hb] is acutely decreased muscle blood flow is increased proportionally and vice versa. During maximal exercise with either a small or a large muscle mass, neither peak cardiac output nor peak leg blood flow are affected by reduced [Hb]. An acute increase of [Hb] has no effect on maximal exercise capacity or [Formula: see text] during exercise in acute hypoxia. Likewise, reducing [Hb] in altitude-acclimatized humans to pre-acclimatization values has no effect on [Formula: see text] during exercise in hypoxia.

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2006 Mar 2

Antibacterial efficacy of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) an indigenous medicinal plant against experimental murine salmonellosis.

In the present study, we evaluated the antibacterial activity of ashwagandha [Withania somnifera L. Dunal (Solanaceae; root and leaves)], an Indian traditional medicinal plant against pathogenic bacteria. Both aqueous as well as alcoholic extracts of the plant (root as well as leaves) were found to possess strong antibacterial activity against a range of bacteria, as revealed by in vitro Agar Well Diffusion Method. The methanolic extract was further subfractionated using various solvents and the butanolic sub-fraction was found to possess maximum inhibitory activity against a spectrum of bacteria including Salmonella typhimurium. Moreover, in contrast to the synthetic antibiotic (viz. chloramphenicol), these extracts did not induce lysis on incubation with human erythrocytes, advocating their safety to the living cells. Finally, the antibacterial efficacy of the extracts isolated from plant (both root and leaves) was determined against experimental salmonellosis in Balb/C mice. Oral administration of the aqueous extracts successfully obliterated salmonella infection in Balb/C mice as revealed by increased survival rate as well as less bacterial load in various vital organs of the treated animals.

Phytomedicine. 2005 Mar;12(3):229-35

Mechanisms of cardioprotective effect of Withania somnifera in experimentally induced myocardial infarction.

The present study was designed to evaluate the cardioprotective potential of hydro-alcoholic extract of Withania somnifera on the basis of haemodynamic, histopathological and biochemical parameters in the isoprenaline-(isoproterenol) induced myocardial necrosis in rats and to compare with Vitamin E, a known cardioprotective antioxidant. Wistar albino male rats (150-200 g) were divided into six main groups: sham, isoprenaline control, Withania somnifera/Vitamin E control and Withania somnifera/Vitamin E treatment groups. Withania somnifera was administered at doses 25, 50 and 100 mg/kg and Vitamin E at a dose of 100 mg/kg, orally for 4 weeks. On days 29 and 30, the rats in the isoprenaline control and Withania somnifera/Vitamin E treatment groups were given isoprenaline (85 mg/kg), subcutaneously at an interval of 24 hr. On day 31, haemodynamic parameters were recorded and the hearts were subsequently removed and processed for histopathological and biochemical studies. A significant decrease in glutathione (P<0.05), activities of superoxide dismutase, catalase, creatinine phosphokinase and lactate dehydrogenase (P<0.01) as well as increase in lipid peroxidation marker malonyldialdehyde level (P<0.01) was observed in the hearts of isoproterenol control group rats as compared to sham control. However, we have not observed any significant changes in activity of glutathione peroxidase and protein levels. Left ventricular dysfunction was seen as a decrease in heart rate, left ventricular rate of peak positive and negative pressure change and elevated left ventricular end-diastolic pressure in the control group was recorded. On histopathological examination, myocardial damage was further confirmed. Our data show that Withania somnifera (25, 50, and 100 mg/kg) exerts a strong cardioprotective effect in the experimental model of isoprenaline-induced myonecrosis in rats. Augmentation of endogenous antioxidants, maintenance of the myocardial antioxidant status and significant restoration of most of the altered haemodynamic parameters may contribute to its cardioprotective effect. Among the different doses studied, Withania somnifera at 50 mg/kg dose produced maximum cardioprotective effect.

Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2004 Apr;94(4):184-90

Growth inhibition of human tumor cell lines by withanolides from Withania somnifera leaves.

Ayurvedic medicines prepared in India consist of Withania somnifera roots as one of the main ingredients. It is consumed as a dietary supplement around the world. The leaves of W. somnifera were used in the treatment of tumors and inflammation in several Asian countries. We have isolated twelve withanolides such as withaferin A (1), sitoindoside IX (2), 4-(1-hydroxy-2, 2-dimethylcyclpropanone)-2, 3-dihydrowithaferin A (3), 2, 3-dihydrowithaferin A (4), 24, 25-dihydro-27-desoxywithaferin A (5), physagulin D (1-->6)-beta-D-glucopyranosyl- (1-->4)-beta-D-glucopyranoside (6), 27-O-beta-D-glucopyranosylphysagulin D (7), physagulin D (8), withanoside IV (9), and 27-O-beta-D-glucopyranosylviscosalactone B (10), 4, 16-dihydroxy-5beta, 6beta-epoxyphysagulin D (11), viscosalactone B (12) from the leaves of this species. Compounds 1-12 and diacetylwithaferin A (13) were tested for their antiproliferative activity on NCI-H460 (Lung), HCT-116 (Colon), SF-268 (Central Nervous System; CNS and MCF-7 (Breast) human tumor cell lines. The inhibitory concentration to afford 50% cell viability (IC50) for these compounds was determined by MTT (3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide) assay. Withaferin A and its derivatives exhibited inhibitory concentrations (50%) ranging from 0.24 +/- 0.01 to 11.6 +/- 1.9 microg/mL. Viscosalactone B (12) showed the 50% inhibition at concentrations ranging from 0.32 +/- 0.05 to 0.47 +/- 0.15 microg/mL whereas its 27-O-glucoside derivative (10) exhibited IC50 between 7.9 +/- 2.9 and 17.3 +/- 3.9 microg/ml. However, Physagulin D type withanolides showed either weak or no activity at 30 microg/mL. Therefore, incorporation of withanolides in the diet may prevent or decrease the growth of tumors in human.

Life Sci. 2003 Nov 21;74(1):125-32

Evaluation of the effect of Withania somnifera root extracts on cell cycle and angiogenesis.

In the Indian System of Medicine, the medicinal plant, Withania somnifera Dunal (Solanaceae) finds application for numerous ailments including cancer. This study explores the mechanism(s) underlying this property. The hydroalcoholic extract of the roots (WS) was partitioned between chloroform (WS-chloroform) and water (WS-water). Further, WS-chloroform was fractionated (A1-A12) by reverse-phase column chromatography and their withanolide content was quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Preliminarily, the anti-proliferative activity of all the extracts and fractions was screened against human laryngeal carcinoma (Hep2) cells by microculture tetrazolium assay (MTT). Two extracts (WS and WS-chloroform) and three fractions (A4, A5 and A6) negatively affected Hep2 viability at the concentration of 25mug/ml and these were further investigated pharmacologically. Flow cytometry revealed cell cycle block and accumulation of hypoploid (sub G1) cells as the mode of anti-proliferative activity of all but A4. Their anti-angiogenic potential was investigated by a chickchorio-allantoic membrane (CAM) wherein a significant inhibition (p<0.0001) of vascular endothelium growth factor (VEGF), induced neovascularization was recorded. The effect was confirmed in vivo by mouse sponge implantation method. These findings suggest that the roots of Withania somnifera possess cell cycle disruption and anti-angiogenic activity, which may be a critical mediator for its anti-cancer action.

J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Jan 9