Introduction: Ginseng’s active compounds exert beneficial effects on central and peripheral nervous system disorders.
Aim of the study: The sciatic nerve was used as a model to study the possible protective effect of ginseng on peripheral neuropathy induced by acrylamide.
Materials and methods: The study was carried out on 35 adult male albino rats. The animals were divided into three groups: group I (control), group II treated daily with acrylamide (30 mg/kg body weight) orally for 4 weeks, and group III (protective) treated with acrylamide at same dose, route, and duration as in group II concomitantly with ginseng (20 mg/kg body weight). After 4 weeks, rats were sacrificed. Samples from sciatic nerve were taken and processed for light and electron microscopic and morphometric studies.
Results: Light and electron microscopic observations of group II revealed infoldings, splitting, and degeneration of myelin. Changes in axons included degeneration, compression, irregularity, and shrinkage with swollen mitochondria. Large vacuoles and swollen mitochondria were seen inside the Schwann cells. Changes in the myelin and axons in group III were much less frequent than those observed in group II. Only mild splitting and irregular thickening of the myelin with few swollen mitochondria were observed in some axons and Schwann cells. Morphometric study revealed a highly significant reduction (89.6%) in the mean g-ratio (axon/fiber ratio) and body weight in group II compared with the control and group III.
Conclusion: Ginseng protected the sciatic nerve from the harmful effect of acrylamide to a great extent.