Withania somnifera ameliorates nandrolone-decanoate-induced brain damage in rats by inhibiting cell death, prodynorphin mRNA expression and acetylcholinesterase activity

Sivanesan, Senthilkumar ; Vasavan, Smitha S; Jagadesan, Vijayakumar


The misuse of anabolic-androgenic steroids by athletes and non-athletes causes harmful effects on the central nervous system. In Ayurvedic medicine, Withania somnifera (WS) as an herbal drug has been reported for several functions including adaptogenic, anticonvulsant, cytoprotective and antioxidant. The present study investigated the neuroprotective functions of WS (100, 200 and 400 mg/kg body weight) in nandrolone decanoate (ND)-induced (16 mg/kg body weight) brain injury in male Wistar rats. ND was injected intramuscularly twice weekly for 4 weeks. The water emulsion of WS root powder was administered orally once daily for 30 days to ND-treated rats. At the end of the experiment, anxiety-like behaviour was assessed in rats using the elevated plus maze. Haematoxylin-and-eosin-stained coronal sections of the parietal cortex and hippocampus of ND rats showed severe alterations in brain histology compared with control rats. Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity in the striatum and prodynorphin gene expression in the hippocampus was significantly elevated in the ND group compared with the control group. Treating ND induced rats with various doses of WS significantly reversed the brain damage, anxiety behaviour, increased striatal AChE activity and reduced prodynorphin gene expression in the hippocampus. In conclusion, WS extract can be used as a neuroprotective agent to reduce the effects of anabolic steroids.


Acetylcholinesterase, Anabolic-androgenic steroids, Nandrolone decanoate, Necrosis, Striatum, Withania somnifera


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