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J Pharm Pharmacol. 2005 Sep;57(9):1221-9.

Centella asiatica accelerates nerve regeneration upon oral administration and contains multiple active fractions increasing neurite elongation in-vitro.

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Department of Neurology, Oregon Health & Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland OR 97239, USA.


Axonal regeneration is important for functional recovery following nerve damage. Centella asiatica Urban herb, also known as Hydrocotyle asiatica L., has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries as a nerve tonic. Here, we show that Centella asiatica ethanolic extract (100 microg mL-1) elicits a marked increase in neurite outgrowth in human SH-SY5Y cells in the presence of nerve growth factor (NGF). However, a water extract of Centella was ineffective at 100 microg mL-1. Sub-fractions of Centella ethanolic extract, obtained through silica-gel chromatography, were tested (100 microg mL-1) for neurite elongation in the presence of NGF. Greatest activity was found with a non-polar fraction (GKF4). Relatively polar fractions (GKF10 to GKF13) also showed activity, albeit less than GKF4. Thus, Centella contains more than one active component. Asiatic acid (AA), a triterpenoid compound found in Centella ethanolic extract and GKF4, showed marked activity at 1 microM (microg mL-1). AA was not present in GKF10 to GKF13, further indicating that other active components must be present. Neurite elongation by AA was completely blocked by the extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway inhibitor PD 098059 (10 microM). Male Sprague-Dawley rats given Centella ethanolic extract in their drinking water (300-330 mg kg-1 daily) demonstrated more rapid functional recovery and increased axonal regeneration (larger calibre axons and greater numbers of myelinated axons) compared with controls, indicating that the axons grew at a faster rate. Taken together, our findings indicate that components in Centella ethanolic extract may be useful for accelerating repair of damaged neurons.

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