Bacopa monniera (L.) Wettst Ameliorates Behavioral Alterations and Oxidative Markers in Sodium Valproate Induced Autism in Rats
Early prenatal or post natal exposure to environmental insults such as valproic acid (VPA), thalidomide and ethanol could induce behavioral alterations similar to autistic symptoms. Bacopa monniera, a renowned plant in ayurvedic medicine is useful in several neurological disorders. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effect of B. monniera on VPA induced autism. On 12.5 day of gestation the female pregnant rats were divided into control and VPA treated groups. They were administered saline/VPA (600 mg/kg, i.p.) respectively and allowed to raise their own litters. Group I-male pups of saline treated mothers. On postnatal day (PND) 21 VPA induced autistic male pups were divided into two groups (n = 6); Group II-received saline and Group III-received B. monniera (300 mg/kg/p.o.) from PND 21-35. Behavioral tests (nociception, locomotor activity, exploratory activity, anxiety and social behavior) were performed in both adolescence (PND 30-40) and adulthood (PND 90-110) period. At the end of behavioral testing animals were sacrificed, brain was isolated for biochemical estimations (serotonin, glutathione, catalase and nitric oxide) and histopathological examination. Induction of autism significantly affected normal behavior, increased oxidative stress and serotonin level, altered histoarchitecture of cerebellum (decreased number of purkinje cells, neuronal degeneration and chromatolysis) when compared with normal control group. Treatment with B. monniera significantly (p < 0.05) improved behavioral alterations, decreased oxidative stress markers and restored histoarchitecture of cerebellum. In conclusion, the present study suggests that B. monniera ameliorates the autistic symptoms possibly due to its anti-anxiety, antioxidant and neuro-protective activity.