Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder with cognitive and memory impairment. Benincasa hispida is being used in the treatment of various neurological diseases in Ayurveda system of medicine. The objective of the study was to investigate the effect of Benincasa hispida fruit extract in the Alzheimer’s disease rats.
Benincasa hispida fruits extract was administered orally for 16 weeks at doses of 250 and 500-mg/kg/day. The cognitive deficits were examined by behavioural tests like Morris water maze test, Y-maze and rota-rod test. Biochemical and neurochemical analysis of Acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin levels and anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory markers were evaluated and the mRNA expression of Keap/Nrf2 axis was analysed by RT-PCR.
Aluminum chloride (AlCl) induction altered the behavioural profile and produced significant alterations in the cortical and hippocampal regions of the brain and the treatment with Benincasa hispida extract at doses of 250-mg/kg/day (p<0.05) and 500mg/kg/day (p<0.05) alleviated the acetylcholine, dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitter levels. The antioxidant enzyme markers such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), Catalase (CAT), glutathione (GSH) were increased and the oxidative stress marker malondialdehyde(MDA) was decreased. The inflammatory cytokine levels of TNF-α, IL-1β were decreased in Alzheimer's disease induced rats. We further estimated Keap/Nrf2/HO-1 genes these anti-oxidant genes were upregulated(p < 0.001) in treatment groups. Further, the neuroprotective activity of Benincasa was further confirmed by histopathological studies of hippocampal CA3 fields.
The findings of the current study indicates Benincasa hispida as a possible neuroprotective alternative for Alzheimer’s disease.

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