Chronic cerebral hypoperfusion produces brain ischemia and is associated with related memory impairment. In this study, we investigated the effect of methanolic extract of Nasturtium officinale (watercress) on deteriorated cognitive function using morris water maze test after permanent occlusion of common carotid leading to hypoperfusion and spatial memory impairment. We also determined the amount of myristicin (active constitute of watercress) in the three different extracts (hexanic, aqueous-ethanolic and methanolic) of watercress using HPLC analysis.
Finally, the animals were euthanatized in CO2 chamber and histopathological changes in cerebral cortex and hippocampus were investigated. The results indicated that the escape latency time significantly decreased in watercress hexanic extract treated rats, in comparison with control animals. Also, the percentage of time spent and traveled distance in target quadrant on final test trial day increased in hexanic watercress extract 250 mg/kg group, compared to control group, while no difference was observed between groups in swimming speed. All behavioral results were confirmed by histopathological analysis. According to our data, watercress hexanic extract (250 mg/kg) could properly protect cerebrocortical and hippocampus neurons against ischemia. In conclusion, treatment with watercress hexanic extract could effectively prevent neuropathological alterations in hippocampus thereby resulting in improvement of spatial learning memory in rats after chronic cerebral hypoperfusion.

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