Centella asiatica modulates antioxidant and mitochondrial pathways and improves cognitive function in mice

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Ethnopharmacological relevance This study investigates the cognitive enhancing effects of the plant Centella asiatica which is widely used Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. Aim of the study The goal of this study was to determine the effects of a water extract of the medicinal plant Centella asiatica (CAW) on cognitive ability as well as mitochondrial and antioxidant response pathways in vivo. Materials and methods Old and young C57BL/6 mice were treated with CAW (2 mg/mL) in their drinking water. Learning and memory was assessed using Morris Water Maze (MWM) and then tissue was collected and gene expression analyzed. Results CAW improved performance in the MWM in aged animals and had a modest effect on the performance of young animals. CAW also increased the expression of mitochondrial and antioxidant response genes in the brain and liver of both young and old animals. Expression of synaptic markers was also increased in the hippocampus and frontal cortex, but not in the cerebellum of CAW-treated animals. Conclusions These data indicate a cognitive enhancing effect of CAW in healthy mice. The gene expression changes caused by CAW suggest a possible effect on mitochondrial biogenesis, which in conjunction with activation of antioxidant response genes could contribute to cognitive improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-86
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
StatePublished - Mar 2 2016


  • Aging
  • Centella asiatica
  • Cognition
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Reactive oxygen species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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