Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root extract attenuates hepatic and cognitive deficits in thioacetamide-induced rat model of hepatic encephalopathy via induction of Nrf2/HO-1 and mitigation of NF-κB/MAPK signaling pathways.

Citation:
Khalil, H. M. A., H. A. Eliwa, R. A. El-Shiekh, A. K. Al-Mokaddem, M. Hassan, A. M. Tawfek, and W. H. El-Maadawy, "Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root extract attenuates hepatic and cognitive deficits in thioacetamide-induced rat model of hepatic encephalopathy via induction of Nrf2/HO-1 and mitigation of NF-κB/MAPK signaling pathways.", Journal of ethnopharmacology, vol. 277, pp. 114141, 2021.

Abstract:

ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Ashwagandha (ASH) is one of the medicinal plants used in traditional Indian, Ayurvedic, and Unani medicines for their broad range of pharmacological activities including, tonic, aphrodisiac, energy stimulant, and counteracting chronic fatigue. Besides, it is used in the treatment of nervous exhaustion, memory-related conditions, insomnia, as well as improving learning ability and memory capacity. ASH is preclinically proven to be efficient in hepatoprotection and improving cognitive impairment, however, its beneficial effects against hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is still unclear. Therefore, this study aimed at investigating the protective effects of ASH root extract against thioacetamide (TAA)-induced HE and delineate the underlying behavioral and pharmacological mechanisms.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: ASH metabolites were identified using UPLC-HRMS. Rats were pretreated with ASH (200 and 400 mg/kg) for 29 days and administrated TAA (i.p, 350 mg/kg) in a single dose. Then, behavioral (open field test, Y-maze, modified elevated plus maze and novel object recognition test), and biochemical (ammonia and hepatic toxicity indices) assessments, as well as oxidative stress markers (MDA and GSH) were evaluated. The hepatic and brain levels of glutamine synthetase (GS), nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), heme-oxygenase (HO)-1, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The mRNA expressions of p38/ERK½ were determined using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Moreover, histopathological investigations and immunohistochemical (NF-κB and TNF-α immunohistochemical expressions) examinations were performed.

RESULTS: Metabolite profiling of ASH revealed more than 45 identified metabolites including phenolic acids, flavonoids and steroidal lactone triterpenoids. Compared to the TAA-intoxicated group, ASH improved the locomotor and cognitive deficits, serum hepatotoxicity indices and ammonia levels, as well as brain and hepatic histopathological alterations. ASH reduced hepatic and brain levels of MDA, GS, and iNOS, and increased their GSH, Nrf2, and HO-1 levels. Also, ASH downregulated p38 and ERK½ mRNA expressions, and NF-κB and TNF-α immunohistochemical expressions in brain and hepatic tissues.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results provided insights into the promising hepato- and neuroprotective effects of ASH, with superiority to 400 mg/kg ASH, to ameliorate HE with its sequential hyperammonemia and liver/brain injuries. This could be attributed to the recorded increase in the spontaneous alternation % and recognition index, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, as well as upregulation of Nrf2 and downregualtion of MAPK signaling pathways.