J Alzheimers Dis. 2021 ;81(4):1453-1468. PMID: 33935097
Prolonged Treatment with Centella asiatica Improves Memory, Reduces Amyloid-β Pathology, and Activates NRF2-Regulated Antioxidant Response Pathway in 5xFAD Mice.
BACKGROUND: The medicinal herb Centella asiatica has been long been used for its neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing effects. We have previously shown that two weeks of treatment with a water extract of Centella asiatica (CAW) improves cognition and activates the endogenous antioxidant response pathway without altering amyloid-β (Aβ) plaque burden.OBJECTIVE: Here, we assess the effect of long-term treatment of CAW in the 5xFAD mouse model of Aβ accumulation.METHODS: Four-month-old 5xFAD mice were treated with CAW in their drinking water (2 g/L) for three months at which point they underwent cognitive testing as well as analysis of Aβ plaque levels and antioxidant and synaptic gene expression. In order to confirm the involvement of the antioxidant regulatory transcription factor NRF2 on the effects of CAW on synaptic plasticity, neurons isolated from 5xFAD mice were also treated with CAW and the targeted inhibitor ML385.RESULTS: Three months of treatment with CAW improved spatial and contextual memory as well as executive function in 5xFAD mice. This improvement was accompanied by increased antioxidant gene expression and a decrease in Aβ plaque burden relative to untreated 5xFAD animals. In isolated neurons, treatment with ML385 blocked the effects of CAW on dendritic arborization and synaptic gene expression.CONCLUSION: These results suggest that prolonged CAW exposure could be beneficial in Alzheimer’s disease and that these effects likely involve NRF2 activation. Moreover, these findings suggest that targeting NRF2 itself may be a relevant therapeutic strategy for improving synaptic plasticity and cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease.