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Behav Brain Funct. 2012 May 16;8:21. doi: 10.1186/1744-9081-8-21.

Brain antioxidant markers, cognitive performance and acetylcholinesterase activity of rats: efficiency of Sonchus asper.

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Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Science and Technology Bannu, Bannu, Pakistan.



Sonchus asper (SA) is traditionally used as a folk medicine to treat mental disorders in Pakistan. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of polyphenolic rich methanolic fraction of SA on cognitive performance, brain antioxidant activities and acetylcholinesterase activity in male rats.


30 male Sprague-Dawley rats were equally divided into three groups in this study. Animals of group I (control) received saline (vehicle), group II received SA (50 mg/kg) body weight (b.w.), and group III treated with SA (100 mg/kg b.w.,) orally in dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) for 7 days. The effect of SA was checked on rat cognitive performance, brain antioxidatant and acetylcholinesterase activities. Evaluation of learning and memory was assessed by a step-through a passive avoidance test on day 6 after two habituation trials and an initial acquisition trial on day 5. Antioxidant potential was determined by measuring activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), contents of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and reduced glutathione (GSH) in whole-brain homogenates. Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity was determined by the colorimetric method.


Results showed that 100 mg/kg b.w., SA treated rats exhibited a significant improvement in learning and memory (step-through latency time). SA administration reduced lipid peroxidation products and elevated glutathione levels in the SA100-treated group. Furthermore, salt and detergent soluble AChE activity was significantly decreased in both SA-treated groups. Short-term orally supplementation of SA showed significant cognitive enhancement as well as elevated brain antioxidant enzymes and inhibited AChE activity.


These findings stress the critical impact of Sonchus asper bioactive components on brain function.

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