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Int Immunopharmacol. 2013 Feb;15(2):260-74. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2012.11.018. Epub 2012 Dec 17.

Diverse age-related effects of Bacopa monnieri and donepezil in vitro on cytokine production, antioxidant enzyme activities, and intracellular targets in splenocytes of F344 male rats.

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Integrative Medicine Laboratory, Department of Biotechnology, School of Bioengineering, SRM University, Kattankulathur 603 203, Tamil Nadu, India.


Aged people are more prone to developing neurodegenerative and infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, and cancer due to impairment of neuroendocrine-immune functions. Neuronal degeneration and immunosuppression aided by increased generation of reactive oxygen species combined with loss of antioxidant enzyme activities promote the aging process. Bacopa monnieri (brahmi), an Ayurvedic herb, and donepezil, a reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, have been used to reverse cognitive dysfunctions in several neurodegenerative diseases. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of in vitro incubation of lymphocytes from spleens of young (3-month-old), early middle-aged (8- to 9-month-old), and old (18-month-old) F344 rats with brahmi (0.001%, 0.01%, 0.05%, 0.1%, and 1%) and donepezil (5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 μg/ml) on Concanavalin (Con A)-induced proliferation of T lymphocytes and cytokine production, and the activities of antioxidant enzymes [superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and glutathione-S-transferase (GST)]. In addition, the effects of these compounds on the expression of intracellular signaling pathway markers (ERK, p-ERK, CREB, p-CREB, Akt and p-Akt), nitric oxide (NO) production, and the extent of lipid peroxidation were measured in the splenocytes. Age-related decline in Con A-induced proliferation of T lymphocytes was not reversed by treatment with brahmi and donepezil but donepezil alone further reduced the lymphocyte proliferation in young rats. Lower doses of brahmi treatment reversed the age-related decrease in Con A-induced IL-2 and IFN-γ production by the splenocytes while their production by splenocytes was suppressed by treatment with donepezil in the young and early middle-aged rats. An age-associated decline in the activities of SOD, CAT, GPx, and GST was evident in the lymphocytes of spleen. Brahmi enhanced CAT activity of lymphocytes in all the age groups while donepezil increased SOD activity in old rats. Both brahmi and donepezil increased GPx and GST activities in a dose-dependent manner in the lymphocytes of all age groups. There was an age-related decline in NO production and increase in the extent of lipid peroxidation in the splenocytes. Brahmi and donepezil increased NO production in the lymphocytes of early middle-aged and old rats. Brahmi reversed the age-related increase in lipid peroxidation in the splenocytes of both early-middle-aged and old rats while donepezil suppressed lipid peroxidation only in the splenocytes of old rats. The expressions of p-ERK1/2 and p-CREB in the splenocytes were elevated following treatment with brahmi and donepezil in the early middle-aged and old rats while age-related decline in p-Akt expression was reversed by treatment of lymphocytes with brahmi alone in early-middle-aged and old rats. Taken together, these results suggest that both brahmi and donepezil exert distinct age-related effects on the cell-mediated immune responses through selective modulation of antioxidant enzyme activities and intracellular targets that may influence the therapeutic efficacy of these drugs in neurodegenerative diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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