Background: Centella asiatica (CeA) is a creeper, growing in moist places in India and other Asian countries. Leaves of CeA are used for memory enhancement in the Ayurvedic system of medicine, an alternate system of medicine in India. In the present study, we investigated the role of CeA fresh leaf extract treatment on the dendritic morphology of hippocampal CA3 neurons, one of the regions concerned with learning and memory, in adult rats. Methods: In the present study, adult rats (2.5 months old) were fed with 2, 4 and 6 mL/kg body weight of fresh leaf extract of CeA for 2, 4 and 6 weeks, respectively. After the treatment period, the rats were killed, brains were removed and hippocampal neurons were impregnated with silver nitrate (Golgi staining). Hippocampal CA3 neurons were traced using camera lucida, and dendritic branching points (a measure of dendritic arborization) and intersections (a measure of dendritic length) were quantified. These data were compared with those of age-matched control rats. Results: The results showed a significant increase in the dendritic length (intersections) and dendritic branching points along the length of both apical and basal dendrites in rats treated with 6 mL/kg body weight/day of CeA for 6 weeks. However, the rats treated with 2 and 4 mL/ kg body weight/day for 2 and 4 weeks did not show any significant change in hippocampal CA3 neuronal dendritic arborization. Conclusion: We conclude that constituents present in Centella asiatica fresh leaf extract has neuronal dendritic growth-stimulating properties.
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