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Dendrite extension by methanol extract of Ashwagandha (roots of Withania somnifera) in SK-N-SH cells

Tohda, Chihiro1; Kuboyama, Tomoharu1; Komatsu, Katsuko1,2


Extension of dendrites and axons in neurons may compensate for and repair damaged neuronal circuits in the dementia brain. Our aim in the present study was to explore drugs activating neurite outgrowth and regenerating the neuronal network. We found that the methanol extract of Ashwagandha (roots of Withania somnifera; 5 μg/ml) significantly increased the percentage of cells with neurites in human neuroblastoma SK-N-SH cells. The effect of the extract was dose- and time-dependent. mRNA levels of the dendritic markers MAP2 and PSD-95 by RT-PCR were found to be markedly increased by treatment with the extract, whereas those of the axonal marker Tau were not. Immunocytochemistry demonstrated the specific expression of MAP2 in neurites extended by the extract. These results suggest that the methanol extract of Ashwagandha promotes the formation of dendrites.

1Research Center for Ethnomedicines, Institute of Natural Medicine, Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, 2630 Sugitani, Toyama 930-0194, Japan

2Corresponding Author: Katsuko Komatsu

Received 15 March 2000; accepted 10 April 2000

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.