Diabetes mellitus is mainly associated with degeneration of the central nervous system, which eventually leads to cognitive deficit. Although some studies suggest that exercise can improve the cognitive decline associated with diabetes, the potential effects of endurance training (ET) accompanied by Matricaria chamomilla (M.ch) flowers extract on cognitive impairment in type 2 diabetes has been poorly understood. Forty male Wistar rats were randomized into 5 equal groups of 8: healthy-sedentary (H-sed), diabetes-sedentary (D-sed), diabetes-endurance training (D-ET), diabetes-Matricaria chamomilla. (D-M.ch), and diabetes-endurance training-Matricaria chamomilla. (D-ET-M.ch). Nicotinamide (110 mg/kg, i.p.) and Streptozotocin (65 mg/kg, i.p.) were utilized to initiate type 2 diabetes. Then, ET (5 days/week) and M.ch (200 mg/kg body weight/daily) were administered for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks of the experiment, cognitive functions were assessed using the Morris Water Maze (MWM) test and a passive avoidance paradigm using a shuttle box device. Subsequently, using crystal violet staining, neuron necrosis was examined in the CA3 area of the hippocampus. Diabetic rats showed cognitive impairment following an increase in the number of necrotic cells in region CA3 of the hippocampal tissue. Also, diabetes increased serum levels of lipid peroxidation and decreased total antioxidant capacity in serum and hippocampal tissue. ET + M.ch treatment prevented the necrosis of neurons in the hippocampal tissue. Following positive changes in hippocampal tissue and serum antioxidant enzyme levels, an improvement was observed in the cognitive impairment of the diabetic rats receiving ET + M.ch. Therefore the results showed that treatment with ET + M.ch could ameliorate memory and inactive avoidance in diabetic rats. Hence, the use of ET + M.ch interventions is proposed as a new therapeutic perspective on the death of hippocampal neurons and cognitive deficit caused by diabetes.
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