The aim of the current study was to investigate the probable mechanism and effect of crocin on brain oxidative damage and memory deficits induced by unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS).
Materials and methods
Male Wistar rats were randomly divided into six groups consisting of one vehicle group (received normal saline), four groups included rats who received UCMS 4 weeks out of which three groups were pretreated with different doses of crocin (10, 20, and 30 mg/kg/day) concomitantly. To assess the pure effect of crocin, the last experimental group received a high dose of crocin (30 mg/kg/day) without exposure to the UCMS procedure. The behavioral tests including Morris water maze (MWM) and passive avoidance (PA) were performed and eventually they were sacrificed for the estimation of biochemical parameters.
The increase in Malondialdehyde (MDA) as an oxidative stress indicator and nitrite levels in the hippocampus were observed in UCMS rats, along with memory deficits in behavioral tests including passive avoidance and Morris water maze (MWM) test. Moreover, treatment with crocin decreased MDA, nitrite, pro-inflammatory cytokine such as TNF-α, and pathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease including amyloid-β (Aβ), and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in the hippocampus, whereas antioxidant agents including total thiol content, SOD, and catalase activity were increased. Also behavioral test demonstrated a positive effect of crocin on memory deficit induced by UCMS. Interlukin-10 as an important anti-inflammatory agent was increased as well. Interestingly, in some behavioral and biochemical findings, treatment with 30 mg/kg of crocin has given better results compared to vehicle group, which means the administration of crocin could have preventive effects on learning and memory impairment.
The present study strongly confirmed the positive effect of crocin and has the potential as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that could improve memory impairment induced by UCMS.