Phellodendron amurense and Its Major Alkaloid Compound, Berberine Ameliorates Scopolamine-Induced Neuronal Impairment and Memory Dysfunction in Rats.
We examine whether Phellodendron amurense (PA) and its major alkaloid compound, berberine (BER), improved memory defects caused by administering scopolamine in rats. Effects of PA and BER on the acetylcholinergic system and pro-inflammatory cytokines in the hippocampus were also investigated. Male rats were administered daily doses for 14 days of PA (100 and 200 mg/kg, i.p.) and BER (20 mg/kg, i.p.) 30 min before scopolamine injection (2 mg/kg, i.p.). Daily administration of PA and BER improved memory impairment as measured by the passive avoidance test and reduced the escape latency for finding the platform in the Morris water maze test. Administration of PA and BER significantly alleviated memory-associated decreases in cholinergic immunoreactivity and restored brain-derived neurotrophic factor and cAMP-response element-binding protein mRNA expression in the hippocampus. PA and BER also decreased significantly the expression of proinflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1β, tumor necrosis factor-α and cyclooxygenase-2 mRNA in the hippocampus. These results demonstrated that PA and BER had significant neuroprotective effects against neuronal impairment and memory dysfunction caused by scopolamine in rats. These results suggest that PA and BER may be useful as therapeutic agents for improving cognitive functioning by stimulating cholinergic enzyme activity and alleviating inflammatory responses.