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Loss of cognition is one of the age related mental problems and a characteristic symptom of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s. Crataeva nurvala Buch-Ham, a well explored traditional Indian medicinal plant of Westernghats, is routinely used as folkloric medicine to treat various ailments in particular urolithiasis and neurological disorders associated with cognitive dysfunction. The objective of the study was to evaluate the nootropic activity of Crataeva nurvala Buch-Ham stem bark in different learning and memory paradigm viz. Elevated plus maze and Y-maze against scopolamine induced cognitive impairment. Moreover, to elucidate possible mechanism, we studied the influence of Crataeva nurvala ethanolic extract on central cholinergic activity via estimating the whole brain acetyl cholinesterase enzyme. Ethanolic extracts of Crataeva nurvala (100, 200 and 400 mg/kg body weight) were administered to adult Wistar rats for successive seven days and the acquisition, retention and retrieval of spatial recognition memory was determined against scopolamine (1 mg/kg, i.p.) induced amnesia through exteroceptive behavioral models viz. Elevated plus maze and Y-maze models. Further, whole brain acetyl cholinesterase enzyme was estimated through Ellman’s method. Pretreatment with Crataeva nurvala ethanolic extract significantly improved spatial learning and memory against scopolamine induced amnesia. Moreover, Crataeva nurvala extract decreased rat brain acetyl cholinesterase activity in a dose dependent manner and comparable to the standard drug Piracetam. The results indicate that ethanolic extract of Crataeva nurvala might be a useful as nootropic agent to delay the onset and reduce the severity of symptoms associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The underlying mechanism of action of its nootropic potentiality might be attributed to its anticholinesterase property.
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